2018 – Three Words to Live By, an update

Last December as I usually do I reflect on the past year and prepare to become better, if possible, in mind, body and spirit: 2018 – Three Words to Live By. This year I decided to review my yearly plan much like businesses do to stay on track to meet the goals and objectives for the new year.

My approach for 2018 or mission statement is to live by three words: frugality, grace and truth.

Frugality

At this stage in the game of life I decided I had no time to waste, no money to waste, and in reality; no creative cells to waste. In whatever time God has for me to fulfill the purpose he has given me. Earlier this year I adopted a mantra, I only want what God wants for me.”

No time to waste

My husband, Vinny Sal and I decided to list our cottage in northern Michigan for sale on April 9th. We would take advantage of the seller’s market and decide where, when, and how to invest the proceeds. Invest in upgrades for our primary home, invest in a future retirement home, or bank it until later. We had no idea what development was coming our way only 3 days later.

“I only want what God wants for me.”

This mantra is what got me through yet another employer announcing their dissolution of the company in April of this year… 3 days after my birthday… On Friday, April 13th, the company made the news public.

My response was 180 degrees different when the same thing occurred in 2009. I was calm, cool and collected.  I knew that God was working on my behalf for a better opportunity than the one I just lost. That was my attitude. The evening of the company’s announcement, I updated my resume and immediately began my search.

Within days I had several interviews lined up. On April 25th, I was invited to interview for a position outside of the industry I was in which was my prayer at the time. I was “frugal” in my thinking… no climbing ladders… no compensation package that met certain personal requirements… no, it was simply, “God, place me where you want me.”

“God, place me where you want me.”

On May 29th, I started a new position earning less money but with advancement opportunities if I wanted to take advantage of them. Although earning less income for the time being, I am still able to continue having all my monthly obligations on auto-pay which I had setup in January.

While no company is above dissolving due to wide ranging economic factors or board of director’s view of “going in another direction,” I will joyfully serve where God has placed me for however long that may be.

No time to spend

I came across the blog, Frugalwoods and an article written by Mrs. Frugalwoods, 19 Reasons Why Frugality Is the Best Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me. 

Mrs. Frugalwoods spoke to my mind, body and spirit in her blog post of May 17, 2018. Since the beginning of the year, my attempt at frugality has taught me that Mrs. Frugalwoods was spot on in her blog post. Although I admit I am still working on her number 14 reason. I have Mrs. Frugalwoods 19 Reasons posted in my office and saved on my iPhone when I have that urge to splurge.

Grace

In my initial post on December 17th, 2018 – Three Words to Live By, I didn’t realize then how the quotes, my personal initiative, “The Watering Can – Helping All of God’s Creature’s Thrive” would become central to the first six months of 2018.

As I quoted then, and it bears repeating for many reasons:

God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

As Thomas Merton was quoted as saying, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

Grace in action is about serving those who need my gifts. Kindness in action is living the commandment,‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’’’ Matthew 22:39

I was happy to help a few of co-workers rewrite their resumes. I used to write resumes as a side-line gig after I lost my job in 2009. My small way of helping my co-workers potentially find their new career has blessed me as much as those who, like me have found employment quickly. I’m not suggesting my resume writing made the difference, but it is a confidence booster nonetheless when anyone can present their value and what they can offer to an organization without hesitation.

In March, our beloved Barkley blew out a disc in his back and required surgery. Frugality helped us being able to afford over $6,500 in medical costs so our fur-baby would not be paralyzed for life. He will never be a 100% in his walking or running abilities, but we are overjoyed that we still have our faithful companion. Sadly, many pet owners would have faced the tough decision of raising the money through other means or having to put their pet down because of the medical costs.

Truth

If there is one thing I am certain living my truth in mind, body and spirit has been the biggest blessing. I could not have reached this point in my life without faith through Christ because he gives me the confidence to live my truth each day.

A recent post on my Facebook page, The Prayer Journals, I posted: “Don’t worry about expressing your faith. Those who God wants to listen will hear. You may be someone’s angel.” There have been angels here on earth that I know God sent to help me to listen to him. And there are probably more angels that I didn’t even recognize helped me to feel God’s presence in my life.

Mind

Writing is my passion and I hope in some ways it is a gift. I have three blogs. The Blogging Owl, The Prayer Journals, and The Owl Poet. And I have convinced my husband, Vinny Sal to collaborate with me on another one which I think we will have fun doing together, The Corked Owl. We hope to be posting soon on wine, spirits, food and fun.

Reading, writing and poetry. It’s what keeps me sane… or going insane.

Body

I continue to struggle with my health and weight. Early this year, I went through a battery of tests and MRIs. There was a serious prognosis of MS, Multiple Sclerosis, gratefully, that would not be the case. Autoimmune diseases are tricky and mine, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can present itself in different and devastating ways. But I stay positive in prayer and with practice.

Spirit

Six months into 2018, Vinny Sal and I have not found our faith community with regards to finding a church we are eager to attend each week. I’ll be honest. We’ve been lazy. This is the most critical part of my 2018 mission plan and I am failing. God has been good… and patient… and I pray He directs us to where he wants us to attend and to serve.

My spiritual journey continues in my prayer journal in writing my spiritual memoir.

Spirit of Faith

In the remaining year

I succeeded and failed in the first half of 2018. Looking forward to living more successfully in these three words: Frugality, Grace and Truth.

Cheers!

New web photo - Sheri

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

Review: Forged in Crisis, The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by Nancy Koehn

Each of us will be faced with a crisis at some point in our lives. We will either lead or be led through it. Either way, author Nancy Koehn in her first book for popular audience identifies five ordinary individuals in history who persevere through their own crisis to become the leaders we are to emulate or who we would be wise look for to lead us.

Forged in Crisis, The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by Nancy Koehn and published by Scribner, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. is a must read.

Forged in CrisisThe author, Nancy Koehn

On CBS’ Face the Nation television program on November 26, 2017, the program gathered a leadership panel of four authors, Ron Chernow, Mark Updegrove, Robert Dallek and Nancy Koehn to discuss their new books on leadership. As my husband and I sat there sipping our morning coffee, I marveled at the contrast between the Nancy Koehn and the other authors. Ms. Koehn spoke with such passion and enthusiasm (when given the chance) about not only the topic of leadership, but the historical leaders upon which her book is based.

“I must read her book!” I commented to my husband to which I thought I had given a strong enough indicator for a great Christmas gift… obviously, I was wrong. I purchased the gift myself shortly after the Christmas holiday.

As written on the back flap of the book cover, Nancy Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School, where she holds the James E. Robison chair of Business Administration. She earned her MA and PhD degrees at Harvard and has coached leaders from many organizations.

Although Ms. Koehn is not a first-time author, Forged in Crisis is her first book as I mentioned previously for ordinary readers like myself. This is not the usual history book filled with dense detail proving the author knows their stuff and the reader is forced to slog their way through, but one cleverly written in rich reverence that swept me off my feet into the world in which her subjects lived.

“Are you ready to hear the call to action contained in each of these stories? Ernest Shackleton, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rachel Carson have something important to offer each of us right now, as we try to craft lives of purpose, dignity, and impact. Read these stories and get to work. The world has never needed you and other real leaders more than it does now.” Page 9, Introduction

To say that I inhaled the words on the pages is an understatement.

From the first page of the Introduction to the last page of the Acknowledgements I was captivated by Ms. Koehn’s writing prowess, imagery and historical knowledge to show me how these five individuals who came from different circumstances were made to lead through the crisis at hand.

“For all the diversity among these five individuals, the threads that connect them are considerably more important. The most obvious is that these leaders were made, not born.” P437

As she shares each of their unique life stories, Ms. Koehn weaves together these threads into a remarkable tapestry the reader should view today. Throughout each chapter and particularly near the end of the chapter she coaches the reader on the relevancy of the information she presents.

The familiar and the unfamiliar

The book began with a written portrait of polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton and the book ends with ecologist, Rachel Carson. While I may not have remembered Ernest Shackleton from history class, I do remember the impact of Rachel Carlson even though I did not recognize her name. Raised on a farm in southeast Michigan, I am all too familiar with the use and the effects of the poison, DDT in the early 1970’s. The use of DDT in the military and in farming for weed control would be the reason my stepfather believed was the culprit of his multiple myeloma in which he ultimately succumbed to in 2007.

The stories of their bravery and leadership were just as intriguing as the familiar stories as the other three leaders she includes in her book. Yet even in the familiar stories of these other three individuals, Ms. Koehn breathes new insight and a fresh perspective to the historical figures of President Abraham Lincoln, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

What makes a leader? Read Forged in Crisis and then let us have our own discussion!

Conclusion: The Power of Courageous Leadership

I find it almost prophetic on Ms. Koehn’s part to have started her work on this book project over 10 years ago and have its’ debut at such a crucial time in our history today. While I encourage readers to begin reading Forged in Crisis from page one of the Introduction to the end of the Acknowledgements, let me just say the last chapter and especially the Acknowledgements chapter give the reader an impressive glimpse into this author’s amazing research to bring what she terms her “literary child” into this world for readers to not only learn about the qualities of leadership we must all pursue but to enjoy stepping back in time to read about these fascinating historical individuals.

Judging by her impressive Harvard credentials and career, the author is no doubt a leader as a historian and leadership coach, but in this reader’s humble opinion, Nancy Koehn became an even greater leader forged from her own crisis in this ten-year writing journey. I only wish I could have been one of her students at Harvard.

Forged in crisis page markersI have page markers throughout this reference treasure, Forged in Crisis, The Power of Leadership in Turbulent Times that my husband, Vinny Sal will just have to buy his own copy (or maybe a gift for Father’s Day.)

Hoot Rating

Genre: Historical Memoirs, Business & Economics, Politics & Government

On a scale of 1 to 5 Hoots, Forged in Crisis, The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by Nancy Koehn earns an enthusiastic 5-Hoot Rating.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale

Happy Reading!

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The Blogging Owl

 

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

Review: The Amazing Journey of Johnny Thumbnail by John Spaziani

The Blogging Owl starts the New Year off with a book review for young readers that I ran across on Twitter. The Amazing Journey of Johnny Thumbnail, An Environmental Tale, written and illustrated by John Spaziani, published by Mascot Books, Herndon, VA, © 2016.

I never read other reader reviews before purchasing books for writing my own reviews. I purchased this book from Amazon.com.

Johnny Thumbnail.jpg

I was intrigued with reading this book with the premise to teach young children about nature and preserving the environment for its inhabitants. The author, John Spaziani is a retired teacher from upstate New York who (like myself) is concerned with the current state and the future of our natural environment. The book is written for grade levels 1 to 2. This is Mr. Spaziani’s first book.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The author illustrated the beginning and other parts of the book for young readers who may wish to color the pages. The author cautions the readers to use colored pencils instead of crayons or markers without any explanation as to why.

The illustrations are fun and appropriate

Whether in black and white or in color, the author’s illustrations are well done, fun and appropriate for grade levels 1 to 2. I would love to color the pages myself. However, the story line is somewhat stilted with confusing transitions from Johnny’s experiences from one animal to the next.

A book that tries to do too much

While the illustrations become beautifully colored pictures, I didn’t really care much for the author’s writing. The book suddenly goes from a black and white coloring story book to z story book written in large paragraphs and the story continues to be a bit difficult to follow.

On the other hand, there is a great story here. I just think the author tried to do too much with the format of the book. Is it a coloring book that involves the reader in learning about the animals that live in nature through the eyes of Johnny Thumbnail, or is it a story for a slightly older reader (3 to 4 grade levels) to understand how they, as individuals, and through the eyes of Johnny Thumbnail can make an impact on preserving nature and wildlife?

“A” for illustrations, “B” for storytelling, “C” for execution

With a good editor, this would be a great book for children. I love the author’s passion for teaching children about nature and the environment. I can see it hidden there between the lines and I hope Mr. Spaziani continues to work on his illustrations and storytelling craft.

Hoot Rating:

Genre: Children’s Books, Education and Reference

On a scale of 1 to 5 Hoots, children’s book, The Amazing Journey of Johnny Thumbnail, An Environmental Tale, written and illustrated by John Spaziani earned 3-Hoot Rating

1 to 5 Hoot Scale - 3 hoots

Happy Reading!

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The Blogging Owl

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved