Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

This has been floating around Facebook, and well, I was bored...

1. When I eat animal crackers, I eat their legs first, then their heads and their bodies last.

2. I love to play roulette!

3. I keep a list of potential names for my unborn children in my desk.

4. I want to go to Comic-Con.

5. I dove hunt with a Remington 11-87.

6. I would love to meet Kate Winslet. She's fabulous!

7. I have a birthmark on the right side of my mouth that many people mistake for food.

8. I nickname my cars.

9. My knee caps can come out of place...and stay there. It's not like being double-jointed either.

10. To follow up #9, I really admire the people who say they wouldn't change a thing about themselves, but I would give quite a bit to not be in constant pain every day.

11. I prefer Subway over Quizno's.

12. As sad as it might be to some people that I will probably never leave WF, I think it's neat that my children will be the third generation born and fourth generation raised here.

13. I miss my friend Rachel more now that we are in contact again than when we weren't.

14. My favorite food is pasta.

15. My parents are the two people I admire most in this world. I am so proud to be their daughter!

16. I can not eat Jello, scallops, oysters, gummi worms or anything squishy of the like because it makes me want to hurl.

17. I love movie trivia, and I love quoting movies to make people laugh.

18. If I want to get lost in a store, I go to Hobby Lobby. I can spend hours there!

19. I ♥ chai tea lattes.

20. I can not tie my shoes the proper way. I am stubborn, and at five years old, I was determined to teach myself...the wrong way. It can not be unlearned.

21. I really liked The Black Donnellys. It was a show on NBC that got cancelled halfway into its first season, but the DVDs my sister got me for Christmas have all the unaired episodes!

22. I have to use two alarms to get up in the morning.

23. I am such a fan of Shiner beers that, one day, I will have a chocolate Lab named Shiner.

24. My three favorite Disney movies are The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Beauty and the Beast - in that order.

25. I truly love my husband more each day than the one before it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Do you like my new look? I love it! Shout out to Amanda for the great idea! You can check out more super cute backgrounds here:

Well, it's been several days since my last post, so let me update you on the "stepchild" situation.

The vet gave Roxy dog a completely clean bill of health on the 16th. She was really good on the leash harness at the vet, and she was perfectly still in the bathtub while we cleaned her up. She was so fluffy and pretty once she was clean!

She is getting settled into a routine at the house. She has picked up on "outside" and is very good with "sit." She also definitely recognizes "no!" We had some visitors on Thursday, and she was incredibly timid with them and very attached to us. She's really come a long way in the trust department with us.

She is getting along with the dogs so well - Roxy and Riley run circles around the backyard, and she and Gidget wrestle all over the house. Gidget has really let her guard down, but every now and then she growls at Roxy just to remind her who is boss. But I've noticed that Riley and Gidget haven't really played with each other since Roxy has come into the house, and that makes me kind of sad. She likes to play a lot, and she likes to drag everything out in the backyard.

Today was her first accident in the house in twelve days. It could be due to a number of things. The weather is super crummy today, and Tony took Riley to work with him, so we put Roxy in Riley's crate. She doesn't like it, and she cries when we put her in there since she's not used to being confined. I could smell that she had peed in there when I came home for lunch, and when Tony wasn't looking, she left a present for him in the guitar room. I want to chalk it up to a stressful day for her with the weather, the crate and all.

We are still looking for Roxy a good home (know anyone??), but I go back and forth on whether or not to keep her with us. Part of me thinks it is not fair to her because we don't have enough time to devote to her, but the other part of me sees how settled she has become. I hate to rip her away from all that has become familiar to her. There is a woman in town that offered to help us place her through a rescue group, but we would have to get her spayed first. We already spent $130 at the vet on her - if I'm going to shell out more cash to get her spayed, she's staying with me! I have gotten attached to her, but the three dogs are quite a bit to handle. We'll see how it goes...

We've had a lot of fun in the last several days. Tony has been able to be home more, and I just love it when he is around! On Tuesday, we had a lot of fun playing 31 (a card game) with the guys at the shop. It was my first time to play, and I took the pot home - all $7!! heehee We also went to the casino on Saturday and played roulette for about three hours. Tony and I won $250!! Our friend Josh also won himself some cash monies. We had such a good time!

On Sunday, we took my parents out to Lake Kemp to see Fort Smith for the first time. The workers weren't as far along as we had hoped, but there was enough done to give us an idea of the finished project. They have replaced all the windows and put in the new doors, and the french door looks awesome!

The siding was only done on one side, so it really made for a good contrast with the front of the house in the picture.

It is still so rough, but little by little, it's getting better. We are guessing it will be another week before they are finished, and then we can begin the overwhelming overhaul of the inside. We have less than four months until the big Memorial Day weekend bash - ack!!

Oh, and Happy Birthday to one of our very best friends - Josh!!

The Three Deceivers - Part V

I dropped the ball a little, but if you were following my postings on The Three Deceivers, here is the final essay. I still haven't received my book, darn it, but I am really looking forward to reading it!

Part V - Friday, January 16, 2009
Did you notice that all three alternatives were 11 letter “S” words? Maybe that will make them easier to remember which in turn may make us all more aware of them and hopefully more capable of implementing them in our daily lives and in the way we think about ourselves and about our world.

I have loved the experience of trying to capsulize each of the three Alternatives in these short articles, but I may have only succeeded in whetting your appetite to read the full explanations of what Serendipity, Stewardship and Synergicity are and of how they can be put into practical practice. You can get it all 5 segments by clicking here.

I would also love to get reactions and feedback from you my readers. Just go to and comment, or send e-mail directly to me: you can comment on these short segments or the book if you decide to get it.

Today, in this final article, let’s summarize (and please forgive me if the summary takes on a Spiritual tone, because the central things that separate the Three Alternatives from the Three Deceivers are spiritual in nature.

As we said earlier, all three of the Deceivers are useful as economic principles. We live in a world that is obsessed with all three, and a world that is viewed, by most people, through an economic lens.

Ownership and the right of property is the basic and foundational principle of a free enterprise system, and is the motivation that makes it work.

Control fits well and factors into both the macro and micro economic model. The Fed controls interest rates, Government tries to control fiscal and monetary policy, and Individuals try to control spending and cash flow. Control is a good economic objective.

Independence is often the goal within the economic model. "Financial independence" is a term we throw around a lot and all think we want, even though none of us can quite define exactly what it might entail.....some combination of unlimited resources and limited needs I suppose, instead of the opposite which is what we all seem to have.

So CO&I are very useful and perhaps very desirable economic concepts, though even when confined to economic definitions they tend toward win-lose competition, envy, jealousy, and pride. The real problem with them comes when they "run over the economic banks" (excuse the pun) and spill into our paradigm for the bigger picture, and even into our spiritual perspective. If we think we own our house and our car, it’s too easy to think we can also own our kids, or our circumstances, or our opportunities....or the many other things that in fact can be owned only by God.

Why COI is the Perfect Formula for Unhappiness in Today's World

Unhappiness could be defined as working hard for something only to discover that it can never be completely achieved and that even the part we do achieve is empty and hollow. The stories are so old that they are almost clich├ęs....someone working so hard to possess something, thinking that it will bring him happiness, only to find that he has traded his real chance at happiness for it.....or desperately seeking independence, only to find loneliness and isolation.....or trying to control things that can't be controlled and being driven nuts by it.

At the heart of the deception is the false claim that CO&I are the conditions that bring happiness. Actually, the opposite is true. By obsessing over CO&I, we set up the very conditions that insure ever greater unhappiness. We stress and then overload ourselves because of the illusion of ownership. We isolate and harden ourselves trying for independence. And we fool ourselves into frustration by trying to control everything.

The times we live in make us so susceptible to the three deceivers. In earlier, more agrarian times, our dependence on God and interdependence on each other was more apparent. Big, uncontrollable things, like the weather, were more apparent to us and affected us more. And there were not nearly as many "things" in our lives that we could think that we owned. Today, with our sophistication and our isolation from nature, and within our cocoon of technology and artificial environments, it becomes easier to think that we independently own and control things. The very artificiality of our world enhances the deception and multiplies our unhappiness.

"Wrong" as in False

“Wrong could be defined as morally wrong (bad) or as factually wrong (false). To one who believes in God and in his omnipotence, CO&I are simply and eternally false concepts. We own nothing (except perhaps our agency or ability to choose). We control nothing (except perhaps, someday, ourselves). And we are independent of nothing in an eternal life where we all affect each other (and rely on our Maker for life itself.

It is important to see "things as they really are" if we are to become the true children of God who perceive both the possibility and the difficulty of returning to Him. The great gift of God’s word is the insights it gives to who we really are, and what our relationship to each other and to God can become. These divine insights tell us (and make us so thankful that we know) that we are anything but independent, anything but in control, and anything but owners. Only God is those things.

Wrong because they Separate us from God

It has been said that the best definitions of "right" and "wrong" is that Right brings us closer to God and Wrong further separates us from God. When you think you own something, it separates you a bit more from He who owns all. When you think you control something, it separates you a bit more from He who controls all. And when you think you are independent, it separates you a little from He on whom you depend. Humility is a quality that draws us closer to Him, and the illusion of CO&I is destructive to humility and constructive to pride.

What the Three Alternatives can give Us

What we are all looking for, in the Three Alternatives, is insight.... new and better (and more accurate) ways to look at the world, at other people, and at ourselves.

Over the last three days, we have established the Three Alternatives...three alternative paradigms or "ways to view the world" that can take the place of the Three Deceivers. The exciting and adventurous (and faith promoting) attitude of Serendipity can replace the obsession of Control. The humble and guidance seeking approach of Stewardship can substitute for the prideful and self-centering addiction to Ownership. And the connected, trusting and inspiration-drawing perspective of Synergicity can take over for the false notion of Independence.

Should you decide to buy a copy of The Three Deceivers, you should know that the first quarter of the book is devoted to pointing out the problems with the three Deceivers, then you flip the book over, reading now from the Three Alternatives side, and the other three quarters of the book tries to provide methods and exercises that can gradually allow you to adopt and absorb the new attitudes, new approaches, new world views (and new definitions of success) that we call the Three Alternatives.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Look what the Tony-cat dragged in!

So, when the Ambient Control/Autumn Air/Gage Metal crew moved out to the business park, they picked up a new friend - this sweet girl:

Roxanne, as the sheet metal guys named her, looks to be a German Shepherd/heeler cross, maybe even border collie. She has been hanging around there for weeks because the guys feed her and let her come in the shop to get out of the cold. In the mornings when Tony shows up, she trots her self up to his truck and rolls over for a belly rub.

The other day, the neighbors decided to stop by and welcome her to the neighborhood. Tony said she wanted them to play with her so badly.

And yes, those are goats...with collars! That is so funny to me!

I'm a complete sucker, and I have hated the idea of her being out there alone. And yesterday, Tony started to think it would be sad if she got hit by a car on their busy corner. So, when he walked in the door last night, he said, "Come here." I said, "What's wrong???" He said, "nothing," and I followed him out to his truck, where...Roxy is waiting. I couldn't believe he had actually brought her home! I always talk a big game about wanting a third, but three dogs? Are we crazy?!?!

She took to Riley pretty quickly. They were running circles around the back yard in no time, but Miss Gidget was not so eager to play. Gidget is not only an alpha female, but she is also top dog - the boss. I bet she was thinking, "who the heck is this beeyotch??" Haha! They all came in the house, and she went to exploring. Gidget, so far, does not like Roxy around her food or beds. She growls at Roxy when she wants her to back down...and Roxy does. She is such a sweetheart!

Aside, from putting her paws up on the furniture a few times, she's been very well behaved. Last night, we let her sleep in our room with the other two (with the door closed to keep her in) and no accidents! And none since she came in the house last night, either. It took a while for Roxy and Riley to quit playing and settle down for sleep. Gidget didn't even sleep in her bed. She slept in between our bed and Roxy so that she could keep a watchful eye to make sure that Roxy didn't get into any of her stuff.

Tony's at home with all three today, so I don't know yet how that's going. Later this afternoon, I am taking her to the vet to find out a little more about her and make sure she's healthy. Will this last? I don't know. I want to be fair to our two. Our two have been by themselves with us for close to six years. Outside of a few fur friends that have stayed over every now and then, they have never had to share us. Riley seems to care less to have her around, but Gidget is going to be the key player. See, Gidget is from the streets y'all. She spent some time locked up in the pen! She's had to fend for herself (unlike Riley), and even though that was a long time ago, I think she's still concerned with self-preservation because of that.

So, we're not committing to anything yet. We'd like to find her a loving home, whether it be ours or not. Stay tuned to see what happens!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Three Deceivers - Parts III & IV

See 1/13/09 entry below for the first two essays on The Three Deceivers by Richard M. Eyre. Good stuff!

Part III - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Today let’s talk about the second Deceiver of “Ownership” (see below) to read the introductory first article in this series which explains the nature of the three deceivers).

Ownership is a great principle of a free enterprise system, but on a personal level it can take over our lives and become an addiction.

Life seems to present itself to us in today’s world as a giant scoreboard where we are measured by what we own. We may work longer and harder than any people in the history of the world because we want more wealth, more possessions, and more ownership. And when we compare what we own to what others own (a form of judgment we seem to find irresistible) the outcome is either envy and jealousy or pride and condescension—both of which lead to unhappiness.

We need to think hard about the obsession we have with ownership. We need to ask ourselves what we really own. We pass through this life and we may obtain deeds and titles, but does anything really belong to us? Isn’t this the mentality of greed and debt that got us to where we are today in this economic meltdown?

Is there an alternative attitude that frees us from all the materialism and comparing?

There is! The alternative is an attitude and paradigm of Stewardship.

Ownership is a self-centering and ultimately false concept. Stewardship, defined as the understanding that God owns all and gives us the opportunity to care for and be responsible for certain things, is simply (and eternally) true. The concept contrasts dramatically with Ownership, and produces different results, and different kinds of motivation.

The paradigm of Ownership pits us against each other and fosters a negative kind of competition in which we are always comparing ourselves with others and wanting more and more. e.e. Cummings coined a clever phrase that explains the “more” mentality and hints at the effects of it. He said, “more, more, more, more…..what are we all becoming, morticians?”

The two ultimate and most predictable (and most damning) results of an ownership perspective are greed and pride. These are things we often do not recognize or acknowledge in ourselves. We can become like the man who said, “I’m not greedy, all I want is the land next to mine.”
Stewardship, on the other hand, implies that we are only taking card of what we have, for the true Owner. In this attitude, neither greed nor pride can flourish. A Stewardship paradigm brings with it a natural humility and gratitude that work as well for happiness as greed and pride work against it.

Another way to grasp the difference is to think of Ownership and Stewardship as the trunks of two trees, and to observe the limbs that grow on each.

On the tree with the Ownership trunk, there is a jealousy limb and an envy limb and a covetousness limb, because ownership is always comparing and competing, and it is easy to notice those who have more than we do. There is also a pride limb and a condescension limb, and a superiority limb because it is also easy to see those who have less than we do.

And there are selfishness limbs and frustration limbs and overly-ambitious limbs because we want to climb over others so we can look down on them instead of up at them. There are some good branches on the tree too of course—a responsibility branch because we are motivated to take care of things we feel ownership for. Even branches of charity and giving can sprout, but they are often choked out by the larger selfish limbs.

On the Stewardship trunk, a very different kind of branches tends to grow, such as large humility branches and limbs of gratitude because we acknowledge from whence all things come. Appreciation branches sprout for the beauty and opportunity and options that God gives us. Strong empathy limbs grow for the challenges of others. Limbs for prayer, and faith, and hope are inevitable, because they are known principles by which stewardships are honored. Branches of charity intertwine with limbs of love and sensitivity, because we know things are not ours in the first place, so it is much easier to share them with others.

Hard economic times are good times to re-define success. And the alternative attitude of Stewardship can help us to make our new definition both true and fulfilling.

Part IV - Thursday, January 15, 2009

One thing that Glenn said in our first interview was that the book The Three Deceivers initially “hacked him off” and made him want to defend the concepts of Control, Ownership, and Independence. Then, he said, after reading into it, he realized what obsessions these three deceivers can become and understood the problems they cause, and wanted to turn the book over and discover The Three Alternatives.

Glenn’s reaction is being repeated with almost everyone who reads the book. It is hard to “turn loose” of our desire to control everything, to covet more ownership, and to think we can stand alone and not need anyone else. But once we really look at ourselves, and at the greedy, competing, fractioned world we live in, it starts to become clear how addicted we can become to these Three Deceivers.

We have talked about the first two deceivers in the last two newsletters. The third deceiver, Independence, is such a revered concept that we have a holiday named for it. And we revere it. Of course it is a virtue to think for yourself, to be as financially independent as possible, and to try not to be a burden to others. But we carry it too far and try to need no one but ourselves, to stand alone, to be co-dependent no more.....these are the mottos of today.

Yet we continually find out how interdependent we are, how much we need other people and how dependent we are on God for all that we have, and for life itself.

The real problem with Independence is in the "I". Independence, at the lengths we often try to carry it, is the attitude of I. It’s about me and about what I can do on my own. Real life, the way God intended it to be lived is always about we, about us, about our interdependence, and about how all of us are brothers and sisters because we are all His children, and all equally and totally dependent on Him. The old, positive "can-do" attitude is a great place to start, but a better (and higher) place is a positive "can't-do" attitude that essentially says "Of myself, I am nothing, and can't do much of anything, but with the help of friends and family, and most of all with the guidance and assistance of God, I can do anything that is His will."

Coming up with a viable alternative to the attitude of Independence required the coining of a new word, and that word is SYNERGICITY. As you may recognize, it is a combination of two other words, "synergy" and "synchronicity".

Synergicity is the attitude and paradigm alternative to Independence. Instead of saying that we can stand alone, it says that we are completely dependent on God. Instead of implying that we don't need others, it suggests that we are all interdependent, and that people working together can accomplish much more than the total of what everyone could do individually. Instead of exclusive focus on individualism, it focuses on family, on friends, on communities, and on connecting everything to God. Instead of looking for ways to do better than others, it aims at ways of doing better with others. Instead of striving to do things in spite of the circumstances around us, it prompts us to do things within and in harmony with the "circumstances" around us. And instead of the goal of lifting ourselves by our bootstraps to the objectives we have set, it teaches us to let God lift us to the foreordinations He has given us. Synergicity is a lens through which we try to view the world with a little bigger perspective.....with everything interconnected, everything benefiting from everything else, and in one way or another depending on everything else.

It is interesting to compare the deceiver of Independence with the alternative of Synergicity. They can be compared on criteria of truth, of motivation, and of results:

Truth: Independence is not reality. As hard as we might try to convince ourselves that we are independent, we are actually completely dependent on God, even for every breath we take, and interdependent on so many people. Synergicity recognizes this, and turns it into a magnificent blessing.

Motivation: The self-centering notion of trying to do everything ourselves, to stand alone, to depend only on self, is a stubborn and defensive kind of motivation, likely to burn out and turn brittle. The motivation of synergicity reaches out, and has the excitement of lifting others as it lift us, and the adventure of trying to fit the pieces of God's puzzle together.

Results: Independence, doing things with only our own capacity and our narrow perspective, has the potential of only very limited results, and often negative results. Synergicity, and finding the connections God wants us to discover, makes our results part of His, and all limits are off.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Three Deceivers

If God makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you skip this entry...and maybe this blog in general.

Next, this entry has nothing to do with politics. But if, at the mention of a name, you're incapable of separating a man's politics from the other aspects of his life, even though he might have something universally valuable to say, it's probably a good time for you to duck out too.

Now, if you're still with me, for those of you who don't know, I am a pretty big Glenn Beck fan. Yesterday, he interviewed a man, Richard M. Eyre, who has written The Three Deceivers: How Today’s Obsession with Control, Ownership and Independence are Destroying the Quality of Our Lives. In the interview, he briefly explained his theory that in pursuing Control, Ownership and Independence to obtain success and happiness, we actually cheat ourselves out of a full life. Sounds a little strange at first, right? Give it a chance.

As a total control freak, his message really rang true for me. I'm not really one for traditional New Year's resolutions - it's too much pressure for me to keep them! But I do like the reflection and evaluation that the start of a new year brings. And so, when Mr. Eyre's book arrives in my mailbox, I'm really going to try and surrender control this year and pursue my happiness differently.

He’s doing a five part series this week, and I’ve included the first two essays in this entry. I'll post the other three as they become available.

Part I – Monday, January 12, 2009
Why is it that most Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction? Why is every newscast filled with stories about corruption and greed? And most of all, why has our economy melted down (not to mention our faith and trust in most all of our institutions)?

Could it all have a fundamental cause that is so basic, so personal, and so simple that none of us notice it?

Could it be that the roots of our problems lie not in our institutions or our society but in our individual lives and in our personal measurements of “success?’

Could it be that we are, almost all of us, pursuing the wrong goals?

Could it be that we have developed obsessions with three subtly insidious deceivers—three things that we respect and revere almost to the point of worship—things which we think are worthy pursuits and the ingredients of happiness—but which are actually false and hollow goals that rope us off from the true meaning of our lives?

The three most self-pursued things in today’s world are control, ownership, and independence. (If you want to verify that, walk up and down the isle of the self-help section of a Barnes and Noble.)

The problem with each of the three is their pursuit detracts from our happiness and contributes to our frustration. And there is a deeper problem: They are false and unobtainable

Control, Ownership, and Independence—let’s call them CO&I. Each starts out good. It is good to control our temper and our appetites, good to own the basic necessities, good to have independent thoughts and ideas. But we carry all three too far! We try to control everything and everyone, to make our lists and check everything off and have everything go just the way we planned and everyone do just what we think they should. We are frustrated by surprise and by people and circumstances that go in a different direction and can’t be controlled. We want to own more and more and we measure ourselves and judge others by possessions. We try so hard to be independent and to need no one but ourselves that we become isolated and lonely and forget how interdependent we are on each other and how dependent we are on God.

When we really think, or really pray, we see the deceivers for what they are. We realize that we control so little and that life is better lived by accepting and taking joy in what comes. We realize that we don’t really own anything, that things just pass through us and are temporary. We realize that we need everyone and are vulnerable and interdependent with countless people in countless situations. Ultimately, we realize that it is God who controls everything, who owns everything, and on whom we are dependent for all. Finally, we start to realize that recognizing the three deceivers and finding alternatives for them is the key to happiness in this world.

There are powerful alternatives to the three deceivers—alternative attitudes that are peaceful rather than frustrating, inclusive rather than isolating, and true rather than false.

The alternative attitude to Control is Serendipity—the joyful acceptance of what comes, and the magical ability to be observant and aware enough to frequently find things better than what we were seeking.

The alternative attitude to Ownership is Stewardship—the understanding that we take care of some of God’s things and that the best things in life really are free.

The alternative attitude to Independence is Synergicity—a combination of synergy and synchronicity that helps us to see how all is interrelated and how we can always do more by working with others.

Over the next four days, we will explore these three eleven-letter “S” words, which we will call “The Three Alternatives” and will look at how each of us can replace CO&I with SS&S!

The bottom line is that each of us has two basic options: To continue to compete for the world’s definition of success (CO&I) and to find mostly frustration and envy in the process-- OR to redefine what success truly is—to look within, and to our families, and to the spirituality each of us has inside—and to measure ourselves in terms of our Serendipity, our Stewardship, and our Synergicity!

If we choose the latter, better course, maybe, over time, the world will follow our individual examples, and as greed, domination and isolation dissipate, so will some of the world’s biggest problems. We change big things by working on the very smallest things—ourselves.

Part II – Tuesday, January 13, 2009
As Glenn and I talked yesterday, I thought how interesting it is that we were both really writing about the same things in his Christmas Sweater and my Three Deceivers. We are both saying, essentially, that the only way we fix the world is by fixing ourselves and that the real problem is that we want the wrong things. We want to control everything, we want more and more stuff (ownership), and we want to stubbornly stand on our own, be independent, and not need anyone else. All these “wants” (I call them the three deceivers of Control, Ownership, and Independence or “CO&I”) distance us from other people, destroy our relationships, and undermine our happiness.

Glenn and I agree that all three are great economic concepts. It is a good thing to control our expenses and our appetites, a good thing to be out of debt and own things and take care of them, and a good thing to try to be as financially independent as we can. The problem is that we carry CO&I too far, and make them our personal and spiritual paradigms. We want to control those around us and to control every part of our day and of our lives. We want to check off everything on our lists and let nothing get in the way of our agenda. But things never go exactly as we had planned, and that loss of control frustrates us.

And since to measure ourselves by how much we own and by how independent we can become or how little help we need from others. All three deceivers isolate us from other people and from God and most importantly, in the big picture, they are all lies! We don’t really own anything in this world, and we control so very little, and we need others (and need God) every day and in every way.

Today and over the next two days, we will be talking about alternatives to the three deceivers….about new attitudes and new paradigms that are more true, and that lead us toward humility and appreciation and happiness and better relationships rather than away from them.

The alternative to the deceiver of Control is Serendipity, an attitude that pursues pro-active goals but stays open to surprises and looks for the spontaneous, the unexpected, and the adventure in life and welcomes them all. Let me tell you a story:

While I was a student at the Harvard Business School, I had a favorite professor named Livingstone. He would say “We are training you to be CEOs, therefore you must be in control and in charge, you must be on the offense, you must never be surprised. If you are ever surprised, it is because you have failed to do sufficient contingency planning!” I loved him. I wanted to be just like that.

That summer, I had an internship in Hawaii, with an airline. I would fly to one of the outer islands each week end and hitchhike. One Saturday, on the big island, I got a ride with a bona fide Hawaiian couple who introduced themselves as “Rusty and Honey.” They picked me up in Hilo and off we went for Kona, on the other side of the island. They kept stopping to show me a waterfall, or some big lilies, or an old volcano. All day they delightedly showed me their island, and at sunset, we pulled into Kona. I thanked them and said how lucky I felt that they had been going all the way to Kona. “Oh no,” Rusty said in his pigeon English, “We were not going Kona, we were going grocery store.”

I stared at him in amazement and he explained, “We can go grocery store tomorrow—cannot take you to Kona tomorrow!”

I wondered how that kind of joyful spontaneity would play with Professor Livingstone, and I spent the rest of the summer wondering whether I would rather be Rusty.

Later I found a word that I think is a “bridge” between the pro-active, structured, control-what-you-can world of Livingstone and the flexible, live-in-the-moment and good-relationships world of Rusty and Honey. The word is serendipity which actually means:

“A state of mind wherein a person, through awareness and sensitivity, frequently finds something that is better than the thing he was seeking.”

The Serendipity alternative to the Control deceiver simply means that as we pursue our goals and check off our lists, we take off our blinders and see other people and their needs and the opportunities that come up unexpectedly. We relish rather than resent surprises and we look for chances to meet new people or go in new directions that we couldn’t have predicted or planned. We accept the fact that we don’t (and can’t and wouldn’t want to) control everything, and thus each day becomes an adventure.

To get the full story on all three deceivers and all three of their alternatives, click here. (Right now the book is only available to Glenn Beck listeners, so I am not sure if the direct link will work or not.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

"I'm Nuts. This is my partner, Pretzels." - Berg

After blog stalking for months, I am now joining the ranks of the stalked ones (assuming someone out there is actually going to read this drivel). Did you ever watch the show "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place?" It was about three grad students - Sharon and roommates Pete and Berg. It hasn't been on the air for years now, but I always thought it was a funny show. Anyway, in trying to come up with a clever name for this blog, the show title came to mind, and I ran with it.

I'm not sure why I've decided to start this. Maybe it's because I miss writing, or maybe I'm just bored, but whatever the reason - here it is!

This is Dog #1 - Gidget AKA Miss Gidget, Gidget Girl, the Brain and Baby Girl.

Miss Gidget was a puppy that I fell in love with almost six years ago when she was featured as the "Pet of the Week" in the newspaper. She was listed as Harley, and Tony (then boyfriend, now husband) took me out to the Humane Society to see her. When I asked about Harley at the reception desk, the volunteers told me that she had already been adopted, and I was just heartbroken. Since I was really bummed, and we were already out there, we walked outside to see the other dogs available for adoption. I came across one of the kennels, saw the cutest little face looking at me through the chain link, and I shrieked, "That's her!!"

I hurried back inside to ask about her, and it was then that the volunteers explained that there had been a mix-up, and "Harley," as seen in the paper, was actually Gidget. I was so happy to see that she was still there! We took her out to the yard and instantly bonded. I paid the fee, and I actually had to wait a few weeks for her to be spayed before I could take her home to Tony's house. I visited her a few times out there, and we got to bring Miss Gidget (the name the shelter had given her was so fitting for her little personality that we kept it) home Memorial Day weekend 2003. She was estimated then to be four months old, so that makes my little princess six as of this month. She is part Chihuahua, part unknown terrier and all heart.

Then, there is Dog #2 - Riley AKA Riley Dog, Pinky, Fatty and Bud.

Riley came about when my parents' neighbors bred their female yellow Lab, which I often dog-sat, with a Field Trial Champion Lab. Tony wanted a bird dog, and I'm a sucker for, it was kind of a no-brainer for us to claim one of the pups. I wanted one of the white pups, but they were all females, and Tony had his heart set on a yellow male. Six weeks later in August 2003, we brought the little guy home. I honestly can't remember how Tony came up with the name Riley, but I loved it from the moment he suggested it.

He can't be classified as full blooded because his mom Abby - who was very much a Lab - was found as a stray, so not much is known about her lineage. But, he's about as close to full blood as he can be without actually being 100%. Riley was quite the challenge, as most Lab pups are, although thankfully he has never been a chewer or a digger! He was a huge cry baby and would keep Tony up at night, and he gave us fits with crate training. But, he grew into a great companion and bird dog, and he will be six in July. He lives for September 1 when we all go out on opening day of dove season. By the time sundown comes around, he is exhausted, but he's the happiest you will see him all year. I spend a lot of time alone because of Tony's work schedule, and he is always the protector by my side.

There's the Girl - Me AKA Jordan, Nadroj, the Yellow Dart, TPT, Karen and Jo.

If you know me, well, you know me, and if you don't, you'll catch on...

As for the Husband's Grace part of the blog title, when I decided to play off the show title, the two dogs and a girl part came easily. But, I wanted to include my husband, Tony AKA Tone, T, and Tone Loc.

He was a little more difficult to fit in the title. I was sitting there thinking of words that rhymed with place, and I came to grace. Normally, when I think of grace, I think of God's mercy, so I wasn't sure if it was going to be appropriate. But in googling the official definitions, I came across this:

Grace 1Definition: The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.

And it just clicked. I couldn't think of anything more fitting of the character of the man who chose me to be his wife. Plus he has the grace just to put up with me! He's been my partner from the day we met, March 7, 2003. I can remember my Dad telling me that I would marry him after the first time he met Tony. I thought he was crazy! We didn't date long before - wouldn't you know Dad was right?? - we were engaged in December that same year. Tony's placement in a fire station shifted our wedding plans up from October to July 8, 2004 in Las Vegas, baby! We are coming up on our fifth anniversary this summer, and we're planning a trip back to catch all the things we missed on the first go-round. I'm so excited!

Stay tuned for more episodes of "Two Dogs, a Girl and a Husband's Grace"!