Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery (Part 2)

Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recovery (Part 2)

~Joel’s Blog

Fear Of Debt? Crawl Before You Walk

It’s simple enough and requires no math skill. Spend more money than you make. You go into debt.

That was true for us, as we revealed in part one of this series. In retrospect, there really was no way to avoid that unpleasant money outcome, given our meager income versus the cost-of-living challenges we faced. Consequently, as soon as we could we sought out greater income opportunities. Things got better.

As we saw last time, having loads of money doesn’t mean you will feel secure. Kara and Ron taught me that, as a financial planner.

Many people around the world, especially in America, had been living very high until the Great Recession hit. Things were pretty good. Money was moving easily. Account values and home prices were rising quickly. The expectation of that continuing may have actually set us up for the crash.

Life is what happens after you make plans.

But that assumes that there was a plan. Many people, around 2007, didn’t have any plan. They were winging it. Things felt good. And making a plan felt like work. Even unnecessary. They found out the hard way that not having a plan feels terrible and creates much more work, headaches, and heartache.

5 Steps to Emotional Recovery

So, what does it mean and how do you “prepare for rain” in your life? Prepare For Rain is a place where people get “unstuck,” start growing again, and renew their dreams and passions. To do that, you must take these five key steps:

  1. Recognize that you need “rain” in your life. Because of the Great Recession, that’s not so hard these days. Of course, we’re not talking about physical rain. Too many people are stuck in the mindset and expectation of scarcity, rather than abundance, even with money. “Rain” here means renewal, restoration, maybe even rebirth.
  2. Honestly reflect on where you are right now. Is your work satisfying to you? Sure, it’s important to have income, but are you trading your time for too little money? Is there something else you could do to supplement your income? A part-time job? Better yet, a home-based business that involves something you love…something you are gifted at?
  3. Get serious Money & Fear: 5 Steps To Emotional Recoveryabout your debt/income ratio. I’m all in favor of not having debt. But I don’t advocate people get out of debt as fast as they can—as many financial experts do. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally on board with the concept and the goal of becoming debt-free. The problem isn’t with the concept. It’s with people’s money habits. Many behaviors need to change, simultaneously, to achieve a “no-debt” status. Debt isn’t evil. It makes economies run and allows companies to expand, which includes hiring more people. The critical issue is how expensive is the debt: how much does it actually cost to buy the money. As an advisor—and then a leader of advisors—I saw many people work very hard at paying off their debt, using every spare dollar to do so. Often, I was advising and helping them to do so. While their goal was admirable, when life threw them a curve some stopped trying. Because every dollar had gone to debt-reduction, no money went to savings [not what I recommended]. So, what happened when life threw them a curve? They went back into debt to deal with the challenge. For some, this became a rinse & repeat cycle. They felt defeated. Therefore, I advocate that you continue building a savings account even while paying down the debt because it’s proactive and responsible.
  4. Re-engage your dreams. Chances are high that you put them on a shelf some time ago. Maybe a very long time ago. Why? Because you needed to work? OK, but why does it have to be one or the other? If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, then write. Get up a little earlier every day for a month…and write. See how you feel a month from now! You’ll feel awesome. Maybe you’ll have something to publish. Same thing for painting, music, poetry, whatever. It’s your dream. No one else can bring it to life besides you.
  5. Give back. Our perspective about things gets very skewed when we’re in our own little bubble. Volunteer somewhere. Lots of organizations need help, so find one that engages your passions.

Engage here. Does any of this resonate with you? Someone you care about? Have you downloaded our free guide yet?

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

If It’s Broke, Fix It: 5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life

If It’s Broke, Fix It: 5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life

If It's Broke, Fix It: 5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life

~Joel’s Blog

Wait! Isn’t it “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

It’s a well-known truism that if something isn’t “broke”–like a car or something you depend on–you don’t mess with it. “Mess with it” meaning attempting to fix it. Which really means “making it better.” Because what’s the point? The argument is that if something is working properly, even if it’s not especially cool or “new,” it still works…so monkeying around with it could go badly.

It’s not a bad principle. Until it breaks.

In our society, even post- “Great Recession” (assuming you believe the premise that we are, in fact, “post”), we’ve become accustomed to just throwing things away when they are broken. Which is odd, since people post-Depression rarely threw anything away, even when it was broken. They’d fix it.

The Banker’s Light Fiasco

Many years ago I worked in a small, 3rd generation office supply store. The prices were a bit higher than the big box stores we’re used to now, but they had great service and many products you simply couldn’t get elsewhere. Like the banker’s light you see above. It’s mine. I’ve owned it almost 20 years. So, when the irresistible force of something that had been hanging in my office decided to let go, the lamp became the immovable object that stopped it. Until it couldn’t.

Looking at the collected remains, and tentatively putting a few together–like a nightmare jigsaw puzzle, I decided it was worth fixing. What you see is the result. Super-glue to the rescue! Where the bits of glass were too far gone to redeem, I filled in the void with clear caulking.

Viola! Good as new…and it looks cooler, too.

Come on! You know it looks gnarly and you want one now. Word of advice: make stuff “broke” carefully…

Go For “Broke”

OK, so I fixed a busted lamp. Is there a metaphor here? Indeed, there is.

When a relationship looks like the lamp, what does our culture advocate? Dump it. Dump the loser. It’s broke. Get a new one. Move on and let go. That viewpoint is everywhere in social media. This comes from a Facebook post of a friend:

Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you and make you happy. If you have people who do none of the above, let them go.

Am I so naive as to think that all relationships must be continued, even when toxic? Of course not. But here’s the rub. Where do you see toxic in the maxim above? Doesn’t the manifesto strike you as, at least, a little too egocentric? More to the point, who really just discovers one day that they have relationships with people who aren’t like this? Wouldn’t that say more about their own motivations?

5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life

  1. Lose the sense of royal disdain. Just because someone in your life doesn’t fulfill Your Highness’s needs all the time, show some royal grace. You might be the grump someday. It could happen.
  2. Get your vision checked. Rather than going through your day like Mr. Magoo, see whose life you can bring love, motivation, encouragement and inspiration to. Let them be in charge of their own happiness.
  3. Own your own. Look after your own happiness. Really. We need others, yes. But not to the extent we dump them when they fail to meet our lengthy list of expectations.
  4. Seek out discomfort. Have you ever learned something, been enhanced or motivated…by someone that just rubbed you wrong? Thought so.
  5. Seize the day. When relationships are less than satisfying, try fixing them first. Work at it. Consume and discard people at your own risk. One day, you might be the one “let go.”

Engage here. What are your thoughts? Agree? Strongly disagree? For more steps to living a satisfied life, click here.

Post-It Notes! Friend or Foe

Post-It Notes! Friend or Foe

Post-ItsIn Praise of Post-Its

One of the best ways for someone with ADHD or anyone for that matter to start up a new routine is to have reminder post-it notes.  They are safe to basically put on most anything!

For the longest time I couldn’t remember to hide our dog’s bed away in our bedroom each morning.  The cats are tucked away at night but set free throughout the day.  One of our cats loves to remind all of us that he was here first–the alpha pet, if you will–by peeing on the dog’s bed.  Not awesome. So not awesome. As long as the bed isn’t out for Stuart to leave his legacy, there is no problem. But if I forget to put it away…it means an unhappy and avoidable chore of washing Bronx’s big bed outside, waiting for it to dry, cleaning and sanitizing the carpet inside, etc.  Makes for a full day. 😛

I finally resolved this issure with this two part plan.

Post-It Notes Are My Friend

1) I put up post-it notes that say, “Got Bed?” in all the areas that I am, first thing in the morning.

Now, there is a catch!  After awhile the post-it notes can become “invisible” to you and you might end up looking right through, around, and past them.  So, ultimately I have found a part two for this mission.

2) Linking new tasks to other tasks or rituals I already have up and running = victory.  For me, my routine is that I am not allowed to go downstairs in the morning until Bronx’s bed has been put away.

To accomplish this two part task you must stop what you are doing and think about what the problem is, how it can be resolved, where the sticky notes should go to start up the new routine and then finally what will be the long-term link you can mentally make to continue to remember to routinely do this task.

Some situations are harder to resolve than others.  So, celebrate each one that gets resolved!  Seriously!  Repeat after me:

Celebrate!

A Final Note (!) To Remember

Sometimes a change in routine, like a vacation, visitors, crisis, or a schedule change, can shake you out of your routines. You then need to reingage the sticky-notes until you can link it back onto something that will keep the routine going.  The more gracious you are with yourself the easier it will be to get back on track!

Helping your family understand that there will be times that routines get totally erased due to changes in schedules, etc., will also help you feel less stress as you get back to your special routine again.

Hit an office supply store and have some fun picking out eye-catching sticky notes!  You and your family will be glad you did!

What’s your story?  Are you a lover of the little notes? Or do you find them annoying? What works best for you?

Add to the conversation! We’ll be glad you did. And please share the love.

photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

Hand of Heaven – Final song on “Up & Strumming”

Hand of Heaven – Final song on “Up & Strumming”

Hand of Heaven

Tears poured down my face as I wrote out the words to this song. I sang Hand of Heaven probably a hundred times before I could get all the way through without crying.

The three years following my retirement from Youth Ministry ended up being one of the most lonely and painful periods in my life. After 7 years of working so hard at my career I realized that all the relationships I had were tied to that church. (When you retire from a church staff position it is proper to leave that church. This helps the congregation adjust to the new person. It also gives the new person some breathing room without the old guard watching over their shoulder.  I have seen the dysfunction that takes place when pastors don’t leave their congregation and isn’t very pretty.)

So we left. It was like starting all over again, accept we were living in the same home.

For those three years I found myself in a friendship drought.  If it hadn’t been for a very small number of people in my life and songwriting, life would have been so much harder than it already was. The depression due to the extreme chronic pain in my hands made regular life even more difficult.

When Jessica was in first grade, Joel was offered a promotion and a move to Boise.  We had been in Yakima 10 years; we were ready for a new adventure!

Joel moved 7 weeks before we did.  So for 7 weeks I prayed that God would prepare some special ladies to become my friends.   I also prayed that He would prepare my heart to be a good friend to these new ladies.  Frankly, I was feeling pretty rusty at friendships by that point. I had come to believe that I was a pretty boring person who was no fun to be around.

In the Hand…Heaven

Well, God pulled through and multi-blessed me with friendships.  It was during that time I discovered a bunch of ladies who for some odd reason loved me to pieces and thoroughly enjoyed my company.  I had never experienced so much love from so many ladies at one time in my life ever!!  Their love really set me free from feelings from the past.  It also empowered me to open up and reach out to others.  All this became very helpful both in boosting my self-confidence and encouraging my music along.

Of course, as time has gone by some friends have moved and others our paths just don’t cross anymore. I seem to be in another drought but I have confidence that I will get through this. When I desperately needed to know I was lovable, God blessed me a rainstorm! So I am just preparing for rain once again.

I can’t thank God enough for pouring down on me so much love in the past!! He provided a hand of heaven. I can’t wait to see what God comes up with next. He has already started the process of ending the drought with one new girlfriend. Yeah!

Have you ever experienced a friendship drought?  Are you there now?

Express your thoughts here…. If you know of someone who is going through a friendship drought, give them a little TLC and then encourage them to read this blog.  Knowing that you are not alone in the experience can make a big difference!

photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller via photopin cc

 

First Church of the Holy Sausage

First Church of the Holy Sausage

Making Sausage

Is Church Leadership Really Like Watching Sausage Being Made?

Recently, I heard it said, a bit jokingly, that there are two things a person shouldn’t see:

  1. Sausage being made
  2. Church leadership in action

Having seen my fill of church leadership in action, both as a full-time staff member and a deeply involved volunteer, I can tell you that there is some truth to the metaphorical warning. Like any institution that involves multiple people in a decision making process, the very process can be laborious and messy. Points of view, positions and even feelings can get ground up and extruded out, while the goal is that something palatable and useful is being made in that process.

I can also assert that more than a few times I felt as if I was the sausage. Or at least the raw material from which the sausage was squeezed from. Very little seemed “sacred” within the discussion and implementation of the leadership of the church. Indeed, it seemed no better than the poorest of secular behaviors.

But Must It Be Like This?

Here’s the thing: why is it acceptable for the church to behave in the same way as the secular? Indeed, is it so commonplace that it’s to be joked about?

Sausage, by its very nature, has a predictable sameness to it. Precise widths. Uniform lengths. Consistency of texture and taste. One link just like the next. Like little soldiers. After having been crushed, mangled and ground.

Is this what we really want from our church leaders’ experience? Numbing repetition? Commitment to “the way it’s always been done?” Creativity crushed? Acceptance of poor behavior amongst leaders?

A New Metaphor

If, in fact, the actions of the leadership of any church can be compared in any way to the making of sausage, then something is completely out of whack. While this may be commonplace among the secular (and I’m not convinced that’s true), it is not acceptable within a Christian community. It’s nothing more than a glaring symptom of disease, a heartbreaking lack of vision, capitulation and a full embrace of the world’s mediocrity.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Does that sound like sausage making and something to avoid watching?

Engage here. Do you believe that church leaders are called to something higher than sausage creation? Is there someone you know that may need to consider this paradigm shift in metaphors…and behavior?

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