Having a Martha Home the Mary Way book review

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The Bible story about sisters Mary and Martha always troubled me a bit. I knew if I were in that situation, I’d be the sister fussing with refreshments, not the sister listening to Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong. While I am not a bad cook, housekeeping is so not my thing. Still, I have that conscientious older sister thing going on. I hoped that reading Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul by Sarah Mae would help me see my way to both increased domesticity and spirituality. It did.

The author points out that homemaking is a way to express love for one’s family and guests. When our home is a mess, we have what she calls chaos in our souls. If we rid ourselves of that chaos, we have more energy and capacity to love. What a concept.

Each of the 31 days has both a Mary and a Martha challenge. The Mary challenges start with an appropriate Bible verse and are designed to get our heart in the right place. Then the Martha challenges give practical, bite-size instructions on how to clean and organize room by room.

The book has a lot of humor and encouragement for those who, like me, are not natural born cleaners. The takeaway for me: Good enough is good enough.

 

About the book:
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself―yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.
 
Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart―and your home―at the same time?
 
Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/sarahmae15

I’m Sarah Mae, a woman saved and loved by Jesus Christ. Because oh my yes, how I was lost and in need of some saving. And I still need saving, every day, because I am so fully human, so breakable, and so mess-up prone. I am also perfect according to heaven because of Jesus, so I walk free.

I love to read, drink coffee (I’ll take it black), write, watch movies with my man, and homeschool my babes.

I’m the coauthor of Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe (written with the lovely Sally Clarkson), author of Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure…Right Where She Is, and Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to Clean House and a Satisfied Soul. I also have the privilege of being a cohost with Amy Smoker of an event for moms called, A Night to Breathe.

– See more at: http://sarahmae.com/about/#sthash.xuvB4VxO.dpuf

 

 

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Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle book review

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P J Sharon’s book Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle offers to help couch potatoes. Yes, that’s me all right. She’s a massage therapist, personal trainer, and yoga teacher, so she has plenty of real life experience to draw from.

Fortunately for me, I don’t suffer from chronic pain or have existing medical issues that often go hand in hand with a sedentary lifestyle. If you do, Sharon gives helpful advice on how to choose both traditional and alternative healthcare providers.

What I do suffer from is chronic dieting. Sharon wants me to think weight management instead of weight loss. Makes sense. This has to be forever, not a one-time thing.

The statistics are sobering. More and more people fall into the “obese” category. And these people, on average, sit two and a half hours more per day than thinner people. Other contributing factors are heavily marketed processed food, stress, sleep deprivation, social pressures, and emotions. Some of these are easier to overcome than others. The emotional component is probably the hardest. Sharon provides tips to get started in the right direction, but you have to love yourself as you are first.

Separate chapters address the other challenges. Much of it you’ve seen before if you have read other self-help books; however, Sharon includes just enough science to prove her points without boring you to death. If you do nothing else, check out the pages of illustrated stretches and try them.

Above all, Sharon says you must figure out your own personal “why.” Hint: it should be bigger in scope than looking good at your high school reunion. Once you’re clear on your intrinsic motivation, all things are possible.

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In addition to authoring award winning young adult novels, PJ Sharon owns ABSolute Fitness and Therapeutic Bodywork, a private practice massage therapy and personal training business in East Granby, CT. With over twenty-five years in the health and fitness industry, Ms. Sharon offers a multidisciplinary approach to wellness. As a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), Massage Therapist (LMT), Certified Personal Fitness Trainer (CPFT), and Yoga Instructor, Ms. Sharon brings a wealth of knowledge to her clients and workshops. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College and the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy, Ms. Sharon also holds certifications as a trainer through the NFPT and teaches therapeutic yoga. A Black Belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate and former figure skating and power skating instructor, Ms. Sharon’s passion for holistic health and healing comes through in her writing—whether she is penning romantic and hopeful stories for teens or sharing her wisdom and experience with clients and workshop attendees. When she’s not writing or spreading the love through her practice, she can be found kayaking in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts and renovating an old farmhouse with the love of her life. Author contact info and social media sites: Website: http://www.pjsharon.com Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon http://www.twitter.com/pjsharon “Like” PJ on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pjsharonbooks Signup for PJ’s Newsletter at her website: http://eepurl.com/bm7rj5

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book review

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Now that I have read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I see why it became a best seller. She spells out very specifically just what to do to rid yourself of clutter. Forever. I really believe I desperately want that, but I also confess that there is no way I would be willing to follow her directions, excellent though they are. My guess is most of the 2 million people who bought the book won’t take her advice either. Her clients who have used her methods, however, have thrown or given away an average of 20 to 30 45-liter bags of “stuff.”

I used to pay attention to feng shui once upon a time, and some of what Kondo recommends hearkens back to those theories. It is not enough to look at items of clothing hanging in your closet or books on shelves. You have to spread them out and touch them to absorb whether or not they give you sufficient joy to make them worth keeping. And that means all of them. Yes, every single piece of clothing you own spread over the floor. Every book.

On the other hand, much of what she says is intensely practical. You really don’t need to keep all those operating manuals. Nobody ever reads them, and even if you did, you’d be better off talking to a person at the store where you bought the appliance when a problem arises.

One big takeaway is to keep storage as simple as possible. No putting off season items in a covered bin. That’s how we accumulate so much stuff. Complicated storage lets us forget what or how much we have. Store all similar items together, not spread all over the house, for the same reason. Her categories are clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous, and mementos. Or you can divide by similarities in materials: cloth-like, paper-like, or electrical. Store all items for one person together if possible. Everything should have an assigned spot.

One piece of advice I have already implemented is to store purses inside each other with the straps hanging out so you remember what is where. It does help them hold their shape. It remains to be seen if I will have trouble finding what I want when the time comes.

Kondo’s approach may seem woo-woo to some although I found it charming. For example, every day when she gets home from work she thanks her home for sheltering her. She treats the items she keeps with respect and thanks them for their service to her.

Kondo says human beings can only cherish a limited amount of things at a time. Through the process of paring down to only the items you love, you may remember things about yourself you had forgotten and have a better idea of who you truly are. You are content and your mind is free to pursue your purpose.

Magic.

 

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This is the routine I follow every day when I return from work. First, I unlock the door and announce to my house, “I’m home!” Picking up the pair of shoes I wore yesterday and left out in the entranceway, I say, “Thank you very much for your hard work,” and put them away in the shoe cupboard. Then I take off the shoes I wore today and place them neatly in the entranceway.Heading to the kitchen, I put the kettle on and go to my bedroom. There I lay my handbag gently on the softsheepskin rug and take off my outdoor clothes. I putmy jacket and dress on a hanger, say “Good job!” and hang them temporarily from the closet doorknob. I put my tights in a laundry basket that fits into the bottom right corner of my closet, open a drawer, select the clothes I feel like wearing inside, and get dressed. I greet the waist-high potted plant by the window and stroke its leaves.My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place. First I remove all the receipts. Then I put my purse in its designated box in a drawer under my bed with a word of gratitude. I place my train pass and my business card holder beside it. I put my wristwatch in a pink antique case in the same drawer and place my necklace and earrings on the accessory tray beside it. Before closing the drawer, I say, “Thanks for all you did for me today.”

 

Did I Do My Best?

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I am one of those people who make the resolution to lose weight each and every New Year’s Day. And yet I’m still carrying those unwanted pounds. Thus, I read books on motivation in the hope that one day I will find it in me to follow the suggestions.

Marshal Goldsmith is a big time executive coach. He has worked with the likes of the head of the World Bank and Ford Motor Company, and his book Triggers boasts six and a half pages of glowing blurbs from various CEOs. If he’s good enough for them, he’s good enough for me.

Goldsmith defines a trigger is any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. Our environment, he says, is the most potent triggering mechanism in our lives. I can relate to that. If I didn’t buy those cookies, they wouldn’t be in my environment calling my name. Still, knowing what to do and doing it are not the same thing. It’s a tug of war between the planner and the doer.

We need to forecast our environment by anticipating what might trip us up, avoiding those things (like those cookies,) or adjusting. When changing our behavior, we have four options. We can change positive elements, in other words create new ways of dealing with our challenges, or maintain positive elements that are already working.  We can also change negative elements by eliminating them or maintain negative elements by making peace with them.

My favorite part of the book is a technique Goldsmith uses that he calls the engaging questions. To make questions active, he prefaces them with “Did I do my best to…” Here are the six he uses for everyone:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?

Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?

Did I do my best to find meaning today?

Did I do my best to be happy today?

Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?

Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Additional questions can be added depending on what your specific issues are. The key is to ask yourself these questions every day. You are no longer monitoring results or the lack thereof. You are monitoring your own motivation and reinforcing your commitment.

This is an eye-opening way to change your mindset. Question four is particularly meaningful for me.

What questions would you add to the list?

Having It All Is Not Out of Reach

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I have had quite a number of jobs in several different fields over the years. That means I’ve participated in a lot of job interviews. At almost every one of them, the hiring person told me the company or department was busy. Very busy. Almost without exception, when I took the job I soon found that was just not true. At least for me. I was soon able to complete all the work I had to do with plenty of time left over. At one job, I surreptitiously wrote most of a romance novel. At another, I wrote a nonfiction book. At a third, I took several online classes.

Now, I am quite organized by nature, but surely I’m not the only one with that quality.  I’ve often wondered why most of the women I’ve met claim they don’t have enough time.

Laura Vanderkam’s book I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time gave me some insights. As I suspected, most people overestimate how much time they work by quite a bit.

Vanderkam collected hour-by-hour time logs from women who earned at least $100,000 a year. Presumably, these women had more flexibility in their schedules than women with a more average wage. Each of them had at least one child under 18 living at home; however, their high earnings afforded them more child care options.

The author based her conclusions on logs of one week from 143 women for a total of 1001 days. She calls the results The Mosaic Project. Each hour in a 168 hour week is a tile in that mosaic. What Vanderkam discovered is that the day to day totals don’t matter as much as the weekly totals. These women worked an average of 44 hours a week. Women at lower salaries average 35 hours a week.

That left many remaining hours where the women were able to fit in family time, leisure activities, exercise, and even quite sufficient amounts of sleep.

Vanderkam describes a number of strategies the women used and adds some advice of her own. Some delegation is helpful. Family breakfasts count just as much as family dinners. Planning ahead for contingencies is vital. Too much TV is just a waste. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

That balancing act is not as hard as people say after all.

WYCWYC book review

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When I spotted Carla Birnberg and Roni Noone’s small book on the shelf, the first thing I noticed was the endorsement on the cover by Venus Williams, ”Simple, powerful, real.” Who doesn’t want that in a book, right? What You Can, When You Can: Healthy Living on Your Terms puts forth an encouraging philosophy. Do your best but compromise if necessary.

The two women started blogging and have built up a community through social media. People can tap into this community to offer support and suggestions.

The authors start out urging readers to adopt a new mindset, that being perfect is an illusion. You start out with the best intentions; than life happens. What do you do next? You take baby steps, of course. Have persistence, but be flexible.

And, by the way, doing things for yourself is not selfish. Set boundaries and learn to say no. Reframe negatives into positives. Change “must do” to “choose to do.” If something really doesn’t work for you, quit doing it. Ask for help if you need it.

I’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. We are the sum of the people we spend the most time with. Choose your friends wisely.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Be more active even if it’s inconvenient. In fact, embrace inconvenience. Take the stairs; park far from the store. Play!

There are many more common sense ideas packed within the covers, but you get the idea. Life is for living, and little things add up. Venus Williams spoke the truth.

Everyday Life in Utopia

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Anyone who has trouble making changes in life should read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I subscribe to her newsletter, so I already knew that I am what she calls an Obliger.

She describes four types of people: Obligers, Upholders, Questioners, and Rebels. Obligers like me keep promises they make to others but not necessarily promises they make to themselves. No wonder I’ve had the same New Year’s resolution to lose weight for every year I can recall and now have even more weight to lose.

Rubin says she is an Upholder, someone who can keep those promises to both others and herself. Questioners, as the name implies, question habits. They’ll make a change if it seems reasonable and logical to do so. Rebels are those recalcitrants who, if told to do one thing, will immediately do the opposite.

Understanding these four personality types is really useful to me. Rubin says Obligers need to set up external accountability in order to follow through. I can see that is so.

Rubin also compares Larks and Owls based on when they are most likely to accomplish tasks. Other dichotomies are underbuyers versus overbuyers, starters versus finishers, abstainers versus moderators, marathoners versus sprinters, and starters versus finishers. Determining ones categories is very enlightening.

Rubin has done an enormous amount of research into the topic of how and why people are motivated to change.  She identifies 21 strategies to try. She also identifies ten common loopholes people hide behind. You’ll see yourself.

This book is packed with information on how to achieve what Rubin’s daughter calls everyday life in Utopia. Sounds good.

Move Your Bus Review

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I wasn’t familiar with Ron Clark’s earlier books or the Ron Clark Academy in inner city Atlanta before reading a review copy of Move Your Bus. His descriptions of the school are so inspiring I’d love to pay it a visit.

Clark’s uses the metaphor of a Flintstone-style bus propelled by the feet of those aboard to present his ideas about managing employees. He categorizes employees as runners, joggers, walkers, or riders depending on how much forward momentum they provide to the business or institution. The boss is the driver of the bus.

Some of Clark’s ideas really resonated with me. For example, he believes in rewarding the “runners,” the highly productive, instead of dividing resources equally among all staff. At his school, the high performers seem to be those teachers who infuse the most creativity into their classrooms.

It seems to me, however, that in other settings, it’s not that easy for employees to do this sort of thing. Clark embraces this enthusiasm and makes a conscious effort not to criticize when these employees go too far or make mistakes so as not to break their spirits.

I venture to say not many managers hold this philosophy. That’s a sad commentary on leadership. There are way too many brilliant books written about effective management that not enough managers put into practice. Bravo to Ron Clark for driving his own bus with such skill and gusto.

 

 

 

 

 

No Sweat? Really? Really.

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I am a devoted reader of weight loss books. One might say addicted even. Sigh.  I found Dr. Michelle Segar’s book No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness a welcome change from the norm.

Dr. Segar is a motivation and sustainability scientist. Who knew there was such a thing? She also directs the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan.

Deep down, anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that a short-term fix is never the answer. Dr. Segar shares the research to verify this. Her ideas are then geared to lifelong changes.

You do have to get some movement into your life. The good news is that small changes add up. It’s not necessary to exercise to the point of exhaustion for long periods at a time. But it is necessary to find activities that you actually like to do or can reframe in a positive light.

For example, Segar herself makes a habit of parking off campus and walking the rest of the way to work. It’s not only cheaper but the walk gives her a chance to clear her head. She advocates walking as the most accessible form of movement.

Segar calls her system MAPS: meaning, awareness, permission, and strategy. She leads her clients and the reader through looking at the meaning they attach to exercise, the awareness of how motivation works, the permission for self-care, and strategies for success.

For me, the negotiation strategies were most helpful. Segar recognizes that life happens and offers practical and compassionate advice.