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Archive for January, 2011

Be Beautiful

I’ve been thinking about what happens when a woman develops unhealthy narcissism. I’m sure you’ve seen this, just as I have. As women, if we give ourselves permission to be so self absorbed, we can become out of control and unattractive. To avoid this personality trait, I’m reminded that it’s important to look outside of myself.  By this I mean doing things like: volunteering;  developing good listening skills; looking out for others; and being kind. Regular self examination is really helpful too. Ladies, please don’t become vain, practice a few of the things I’ve mentioned and be beautiful. Have a wonderful day.

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My souls been thirsty for awhile now and really needs quenching. With life’s challenges over the last year, the wind in my sails seems a little depleted. I decided to read the book, ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’,  for direction in going deeper spiritually and increasing my awareness of the presence of God. What I like about Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is he learned about God by being with God. I read a chapter each morning and then reflect on the reading throughout the day. I have been so impacted by his writing, that I’ve invited a girlfriend to read it also and together we’re going to have a weekly soulful discussion – chapter by chapter (39 chapters).    This book is a keeper and I’ll be referring to it over and over again in the future.

Quote from the book – ‘Every moment and every event of every man’s life plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them. For such seeds cannot spring up anywhere, except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love’. Thomas Merton

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This past summer I came across an article in Real Simple featuring artful outdoor furniture pieces. Being a gardener, I was very interested in acquiring a piece or two. I thought ‘I’ve seen stuff like that at the thrift store’. I decided to keep a look out for older metal pieces that I could spray paint.  In October, I came across a brilliantly blue (painted) vintage metal table.  It was $2.00. I really liked the snowflake pattern and thought the bright blue would look great in my new garden. I brought it home and stored it in the shed.  Meanwhile, in the back of my mind was the desire to add to our living room a visually lightweight, gold colored table.  So just the other day, I decided to spray paint the blue metal table, that was in the shed, gold. Well,  I’m really happy with the outcome. I used Tremclad Hammered paint ($8.99 per can). Just 2 coats and the job was done. I want to stress how home decorating can be done on the smallest of budgets. If you have patience, shop used, and use spray paint! As for the garden piece, I’m confident I’ll find other items at the thrift store or at a garage sale in the future. I hope I’ve encouraged you to reuse where you can and be adventurous with your decorating.

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It’s January and I’m keeping the spirit of Christmas alive. You see, each day I re-read a Christmas card and say a special prayer for the sender.  I’ve been blessed over and over as I continue this practice year after year. When our girls were home, we would put the cards in a basket. Each evening at the supper table, one girl selected a card which we then read together and prayed a special prayer for the sender. Maybe this is a tradition you would like to start. It sure is special. Have a wonderful week.

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One component of budgeting that has worked really well for us  is the envelop system.  As our lives change  – our envelops change.  At present, the envelops include: groceries, gas, recreation, gifts, and vacation home. These are areas where we could easily overspend if we were not paying with cash. We’ve had other envelops but with life changes; online banking; and pre approved bank withdrawals we’ve cut back on the quantity of envelops. Here is how we use envelops: At the beginning of the month, after we review our budget, we put the allocated cash amounts into envelops. We spend only what is in the envelop. This keeps us from overindulging and we make better decisions about using our money.   No matter how much money is available (or not) we stick to our budget and this system.  It has allowed us to build savings and better use money – for over 20 years now.

Other envelop categories we have used over the years have included: dog expenses; school fees; recreation; hair cuts; etc.

When our girls each turned 12 years old, we put them on this system to teach them how to use money.  We gave them a monthly allowance and set them up with envelops. The categories were recreation, saving, charity, & clothing.  They put 10 % each into savings and charity. The other amounts depended on the circumstances. We allowed them to ‘rob’ from any envelop but not savings or charity. For example, if they needed extra clothing they were permitted to take from recreation. Once our girls started to earn their own money, they each wandered from this system. They’re now returning to it as they mature and have more financial responsibilities.

This system is so easy to use, I hope you give it a try. Linda

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