Happy New Year

Did you really think I would let the first day of the New Year pass without a post? Well, I have in the past but not this year. This is my year to write, to work.

I am thankful. Are you?

2 Things You Can Do To Combat Holiday Loneliness

For many, the holiday season can be a time of turmoil, a constant reminder of the lack of family, friends, and finances. It can also be a time of brokenness as we ponder over failed love and the desire for that perfect mate. Many people feel lonely.

lonely

According to Miriam Webster, loneliness is when one is sad from being alone. Sadness is an emotion, a feeling. There are people whose lives are filled with family and close friends yet they still feel lonely around the holidays. These feelings can creep into any persons mind.

This holiday season, I encourage you to embrace your current situation by doing the following:

ONE: Pray
Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

If you are in a lonely place, do what Jesus did. Do more than contemplate your past relationships and hurts; take the time to evaluate the impact you had in those relationships. How can you become a better friend, parent or spouse? Do you have goals that you’ve pushed off due to procrastination or fear?

Although Jesus made the choice to seek out a lonely place and you didn’t, take advantage of it.
Get ahead of everyone caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, start praying for guidance on how you can be your absolute best next year.

TWO: Be a Blessing

The single most important thing you can do for others is to send up fervent prayers of blessings. Refer to task one.

The next thing you can do is to be kind. This year, make it a point not to get lost in your own business. Be aware of what’s going on around you and in your community. When you meet someone on the street, say “hello.” Find the time to help that elderly neighbor take the trash out on one of these cold winter mornings. If you have a few extra bucks, help a less fortunate family celebrate Christmas with toys for their kids and a nice spread for dinner.

Whatever you can do for someone, do it; it may stop the loneliness bug in you and prevent it in others.

The Importance and Benefits of Exercise

courtesty getty images As the wife of a collegiate level strength and conditioning coach I am constantly informed of the importance of living an active lifestyle. However, I did not realize how being sedentary could adversely effect my life until I read The Toll of Sedentary Living in chapter 5 of "An Invitation to Health" (Hales, 2009).

“Sedentary living claims some 250,000 lives, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths in America every year, and contributes to four of the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.” (p. 110)

Three of these risk factors cause poor health in my family or my husband’s family. While my husband’s biological risks do not directly impact my personal health, we are the parents of two boys, ages 17 months and 4 years. Hence, I am spiritually and intellectually motivated to change my fitness habits in order to promote a lifestyle of wellness to my children.

One of the dimensions of health is spiritual health. For me, good parenting goes beyond moral issues it’s a matter of faith. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he shall not depart from it.” (NASB) From my understanding of this scripture “train” means “to teach”. In most of my classes my teachers lead by example: most health and physical education teachers are physically fit; most English teachers use proper grammar; and most home economics teacher can sew. If I desire to raise good children as my faith instructs me, the insurance that they lead healthy, active lives comes from me leading one. My goal is to eliminate some of the predisposing factors of unhealthy behavior in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, values, and perceptions (p. 15).

The intellectual side of my wants to be certain that as I live my life I take into consideration the information provided to me. As an African American my race alone predisposes me to certain risks. However, applying what I have learned will most likely increase my life expectancy.

Being physically fit should be more than a goal of aesthetic appeal, although it can be a mitigating factor. Fitness for a healthy lifestyle should be forefront in ones motivation for change as a continuous commitment unlike reaching a milestone of 20 pounds. In project management, once a milestone is reached resources are rallied around the next task at hand. However, in athletic performance – a lifestyle in itself – once a race is won training for the next begins.

Participating in a planned, deliberate exercise regimen promotes cardio respiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, healthy body composition, and functional fitness (p. 108). Exercise improves your mood, reduces psychological symptoms, and sharpens your thinking (p. 111). As a college student and a mother, I need all the extra brain capacity I can get.

Making the change from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one benefits me physically, spiritually, intellectually, and socially.

Momma So Fine: Expand My Territory, Not My Weight

This morning I started reading "The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkinson.  Its not my first time reading it.  I just need a refresher on how to increase something besides my ever-growing waste line.

My baby boy is 17 months old so the "baby fat" excuse no longer works.  I’m 5’6" and I weigh – I am so embarrassed to admit this – 176 pounds.  Fortunately, I’ve lost a whole pound since last week.  My other measurements are too embarrassing to post.  But, I will – later.

What I found this morning during my devotion time is my lack of accountability in the weight-loss arena.  For writing, I am in forums, writers groups, and social networks.  For my spiritual development, I attend church, participate in forums, and read my bible.  However, many of the people I deal with accept their current weight so they don’t struggle with shedding a few pounds like I am.

I’ve decided to start a weight loss group called Momma So Fine.  Before I was married, I was a diva.  Now, with 2 kids under 5 in tow it seems I have lost all of my diva-ish qualities.  I’ve traded 3 inch heels for flip-flops; designer purses for backpacks and diaper bags; and, it seems, my body for motherhood.  I’ve got to get it back.

This brings me back to my title.  In the book, Bruce talks about appointments that help you help others.  I truly believe this could be our appointment to help each other.  Let’s be accountability partners.  I’ll make the first step.

My Current Measurements

Weight Chest Right Arm Left Arm Waist Hips Right Thigh Left Thigh
176 38 13 13 35 1/4 43 24 1/2 25 1/8

 

My Current Goal

I figure if I can lose a pound a week, it will only take me about 41 weeks to lose 41 pounds.  Who knows, I may lose it quicker.  But my short term goal is to lose 10 pounds by October 8, 2008.  I know its only 8 weeks but with your help, I know I can lose 10 pounds.  So, how about it?

An Invitation for You

Earlier, I wrote that I had started a group called Momma So Fine. Its true and I would love for you to join me in my quest to get healthier.  If you join the group, you will receive weekly journal topics and customized journal pages.  You will also receive a weekly food log that you can print, fold, and place in your wallet to keep track of what you are consuming.  But most of all, you will get someone – maybe even a group of other women, who can encourage you to stay the course in reaching your desired goal.

You can start by using the box below to join Momma So Fine.  After you join, you will be able to download the 1st weeks Journal Pages.  So, hopefully, soon I’ll see you in a smaller pair of jeans.

If you look into the sidebar, you will see a place to join Momma So Fine.

5 Steps to Receiving Better Customer Service

Long ago are the days when "service with a smile" and exceeding customer expectations" were more than just tag lines.  The ideals of customer satisfaction and "the client is always right" have taken a backseat to the quick sell, got your money, don’t care if you received or even liked your product business practices, both on-line and in brick and mortar establishments.

You’ve been at ABC Restaurant when the service associate failed to greet or even acknowledge your presence because she was too busy talking to her baby daddy cousin through an annoyingly, cockroach looking Bluetooth headset while texting her BFF about how annoyed she is with all the customers coming in for food.  When she finally greets you its with a blank stare or a flat harsh, "what you want" instead of "how may I help you".

What’s even worse is that when you ask for a manager because they’ve brought your order to you 4 times and its still wrong, he gets an attitude because he was on the phone with his momma.  Fed up, you take the screwed up order and the number to the customer complaint line, which is thrown into the bottom of your purse with the ones from the bank, supermarket, shoes store, and two grocery stores, because your lunch break is almost over.

Stop giving away your money!  Factored into every price for every product you will ever purchase is overhead.  Service is a part of the price so why not demand better service?  Below are 5 things you can do to get better service.

5 Steps to Receiving Better Service

  1. Be Nice and Follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Your aura proceeds you and your voice tone can provoke defensiveness in others.  Pay attention to your facial expressions, make eye contact, and be pleasant when conducting business.
  2. Shop, Pay Bills and Conduct Banking Transactions During Non-Peak Hours.  When I told my girlfriend this she laughed and said, "They get paid to work all day, so they should be nice all day."  That’s true but everyone does not follow step number one which may cause your service representative to still be in defense mode when you reach her counter.  This also prevents you from developing a bad attitude because your wait is not as long as it would be during peak hours.
  3. Make Friends with Associates at Businesses You Frequent.  Following step one will make this step much easier.  If you are nice, Service Sam won’t have the there goes mean Shopper Sue attitude when he sees you.  Since you have already established a good rapport with him, more than likely he will go above and beyond with you so that he won’t have to deal with Shopper Sue.
  4. When Something is Wrong Speak Up.  If you’ve followed steps one and three, this will be a breeze because you’ve already established your self as an ideal customer.  Instead of asking for a manager immediately, try to resolve the problem with the person serving you.  In many cases, this person will acknowledge the error and proceed to rectify it.  If not, then ask for the manager or supervisor.  Usually, this will get your issue resolved.  If so, then stop here.  If not, take the customer complaint line number and use it.
  5. Stop Patronizing Establishments That Don’t Appreciate Your Business. There is an old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."  That is the way we should look at service.  If you patronize an establishment and consistently you get poor products or service, find somewhere else to go.  If more of us had this attitude businesses would have to ship up or shut down.

I know these steps places most of the responsibility on the customer.  However, great service starts with what you project.  If you project a good attitude, 9 times out of 10 those around you will follow suit.

Muse: The Jena 6

For months, I’ve watched the news, listened to the radio, and read blogs about the Jena 6.

I am utterly disappointed in the way the media, the church, and our “black leaders” have handled this incident.

Dr. Phil, although I did not care for the way he handled the parent’s of the black students, asked a very valid question: “If the boys committed a crime, should they be punished?”
Since Reverend Sharpton didn’t answer it, I will. Yes, the boys should be punished if they committed a crime. However, the punishment should fit the crime and should be carried out in a “colorless” fashion – meaning give the boys the same sort of punishment that any white child in the neighborhood would have gotten. I am certain that a group of white schoolboys have attached just one black boy in Jena. Were they charged with attempted murder? Probably not.

While I empathize with Justin Barker and his parents, I believe that they should take responsibility in their contribution to the situation. Mom and Pop Barker, wake up – YOUR SON IS PROBABLY LYING! Peer pressure or something one of you said at home made him act out. No child in the South, black or white, can use the excuse that they didn’t know about racism. He knows, you know, and God knows.

Parents of the Jena 6 –

Michael Bell’s parents: You should have left him in jail after the bail was paid. Since he has a history of committing violent crimes, it is time that you take some responsibility for his behavior. His juvenile record should not have been made public record. However, you have to do something about him and his behavior before he causes you and the black race (you know that when one black person does something we all are responsible) further embarrassment. While I do not believe he should have the book thrown at him I do believe that he has a problem. Help him: PLEASE!

Jesse Ray Beard’s parents: He is just a baby. Take that child home and teach him that he is better than what he has been called and how he acted. Show him that the best way to get back at the people who want to oppress him is rise above them. Educate him so that he can use this situation as his defining moment. Teach him about the movement and how black men need leaders, not more followers. We need men who think with their mind and use their strength to uplift, encourage, and progress.

All the parents involved: Find a way to put this behind you while making it a part of your journey. These young men have been given a platform for good. Don’t use the media just for your benefit – use it to fight social injustice. Deep down inside, all of you know that all seven of the children acted inappropriately in some way. Barker’s, stop hiding behind Justin’s injuries; parents of the Jena 6, stop hiding behind the unfair legal system. Help you children to help the world.

Demeaning others with words, fists, or boots incites division. Uplift one another and offer the Word of God to your children:

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. [Matthew 7:120]”

The Jena 6 have been bruised and hurt by this just as Justin. The sad thing about it is that Justin’s physical hurt will soon fade away but the pain of being called the “N” word never dies. Every time the Jena 6 look in the mirror, go through routine traffic stops, or see a police officer the fact that they are black men will put fear in their hearts – especially when much of the majority treats them, their families, and friends like they truly are the epitome of the “N” word.

Are Your Friends, Friends of Your Marriage?

Situation 

Karen doesn’t care for her husband’s relationship with Dahlia.  Dahlia has been disrespectful to Karen by calling her names and by pursing a “friendship” with Jarious, her husband; even though Karen has expressed to the both of them that she is uncomfortable with the relationship.  To make matters worse, Dahlia has a history of being in unhealthy companionship with men, married and unmarried, and has participated in over the line flirtation with Jarious.  Jarious has admitted to crossing the line and has asked his wife to forgive him but refuses to end the relationship because they work together and because Dahlia is a Christian woman.  Jarious also feels like his wife should trust him more.

Karen feels like Jarious has chosen Dahlia over her and that Dahlia has won.  Karen has been tempted to re-enter relationships with friends that she has let go for the sake of her marriage just to get back at Jarious for choosing another woman over her.  She is tired of being disrespected by her husband and his “friend”.  However, Karen’s friend Tina told her that she should not do anything wrong just because her feelings are hurt. 

Scripture:  Proverbs 27:6 KJVFaithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.

Solution All too often I hear married women and men complaining about their spouses’ relationships with others.  Whether it’s a parent, a friend, a sibling, or co-worker all external relationships should strengthen your marital bond.

In the Life Application Study Bible‘s concordance, a friend is defined as an intimate companion or associate; one attached to one another by affection or esteem.  When determining the validity of friendships that strain your relationship with your spouse, you need to figure out why you are maintaining the relationship by asking yourself the following questions:

Do I have an intimate relationship with this person?  If so, would I feel comfortable with my spouse maintaining the same kind of relationship with another person? 

Intimacy goes beyond the bedroom and sex.  Intimate conversations can include the discussion of finances, marital problems, and even work issues.  When an intimate relationship happens between members of the opposite sex, the natural attributions of the male and female psyche begins to operate.  Men have the inclination to rescue; women, to nurture making it easier to cross the line.  Would you want your wife to be rescued by another man? Would you want your husband to be nurtured by another woman?

Am I attached to this person by affection or esteem?  Why am I attached in this way?

For the sake of argument, let’s look at several of Miriam-Webster‘s definitions of affection and esteem.

affection:  a moderate feeling or emotion / tender attachment / the feeling aspect (as in pleasure) of consciousness

esteem:  the regard in which one is held; especially : high regard

The biggest part of this step is why you are attached to the friend in question.  If your spouse’s discomfort with the relationship is valid, holding on to that friend is selfish and may cause detriment to your marriage.  Marriage is about love. Love is not selfish (1 Corinthians 13:5).

What are the motives of the friend in question?

This part of the self-evaluation ties into the chosen scripture reference.  Your friends are honest with you about your wrongdoings and will encourage you to do what is best for you and your family.  An enemy – someone who does not love you – will tell you what you want to hear and send you off to fail.

A person cannot be fond of you if they are not fond of your spouse; you are one.  Your spouse is a direct reflection of you.  If you have a friend that does not respect or like your spouse, that friend is truly a foe.

Am I being obedient to God in maintaining this relationship?

Ephesians 5:21 – 23 is clear on how the marriage relationship should be handled.  Verse 21 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” 

If an external relationship causes your spouse pain, you should walk away from it.  If the relationship is a work relationship, it should be modified meaning that only situations and conversations related directly to the business at hand should be entered.  Anything outside of this may put your relationship with your spouse under duress.

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