AudioPlay

My Latest Playlist

Let’s lighten things up around here, shall we?

Music / Dance is a good place to start. I know I find it interesting to listen to other people’s playlists, perhaps you’d like to hear what I’ve been listening to lately.

(You’ll have to sign on to Spotify to hear the full songs – you only get 30 seconds worth here).

Happy listening!

Abundant Life

Got Time on Your Hands? Make Your Relationships Stronger

Good Sunday evening, everyone.

We just got done watching this video from the Truth or Tradition YouTube channel and I thought I would share it. I think it’s a timely subject and one that a lot of us typically don’t take the time to think about or work on.

Since we have some time on our hands with our self quarantine, why not invest in building your relationship with your spouse and children? Spend some time together. Talk to each other. Make plans, play games … this is the perfect time to do the things with your family that you otherwise never have time for.

This is a stressful time for everyone but stay positive, pray often and remember – THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Stay healthy, friends.

In the News, Work Stuff

Be Alert, Not Anxious – COVID-19 Update

Hi.

How are you doing?

I think this might have been the longest week of my life. I’m sure you can relate.

The world has gone crazy, are you keeping up?

On second thought, don’t keep up. Ignore the news. Or at the very least, tune in one or twice a day – no more than that.

I strongly believe we are where we are today BECAUSE of the media. They have taken great lengths to thoroughly and completely stir people up into a panic. Well done, media. You have induced mass hysteria.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take the Coronavirus seriously, but again, when compared to the common influenza numbers, I don’t think it warrants the reaction that it has gotten.

Flu season is hitting its stride right now in the US. So far, the CDC has estimated (based on weekly influenza surveillance data) that at least 12,000 people have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000.

The CDC also estimates that up to 31 million Americans have caught the flu this season, with 210,000 to 370,000 flu sufferers hospitalized because of the virus.

So how do these numbers compare to flu deaths in previous years? So far, it looks like the 2019-2020 death toll won’t be as high as it was in the 2017-2018 season, when 61,000 deaths were linked to the virus. However, it could equal or surpass the 2018-2019 season’s 34,200 flu-related deaths.

Overall, the CDC estimates that 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually since 2010 can be blamed on the flu. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year. Source

So, why the mind-numbing fear? The unknown, I guess. It’s something new and different and since the media have done such a good job of scaring the shit out of people, and fear is one of the, if not the most, powerful emotions humans can experience and only breeds and feeds off itself, people have completely lost sight of reality.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t treat the Coronavirus seriously, but seriously, get a grip.

This too shall pass. Take precautions, be proactive without being irrational.

You can’t control what is happening but you CAN control how you react to it.

What tightens my sphincter is how everyone is reacting to this latest crisis. Wow man, get a grip. It only takes a handful of people to freak out and buy all the toilet paper before human instinct kicks in and other people follow suit.

“Wow. The selves are empty. What do other people know that I don’t? I should stock up, too. It doesn’t matter that I already have two giant rolls of toilet paper at home, I need MORE. I need to protect ME and MY FAMILY. What if we’re sequestered for weeks? Months? Years??”

This is a natural progression of thought and I would by lying if I told you that I didn’t feel the pinch of fear as Kevin and I were doing our normal weekly shopping as well. It’s tempting, very tempting, to give in to this emotion and lose touch with reality for a bit.

We’re human. It’s how we’re programmed.

But the selfish tendencies of people during times like this really shine. Stop. Breathe. Think. What about the people who have nothing?? What about the people with bare shelves and no options? Buy what you need and leave some for other people.

I realize that some people do this because they are grasping for control over a situation they have no control over. I get it, I’m the same way. But I force myself to stop, breathe and think before simply succumbing to that dark monster of fear that likes to whisper in my ear from time-to-time.

And I would get the mass hysteria when it comes to groceries if there were no other options. THERE. CONTINUE. TO. BE. OPTIONS. Restaurants are still in business, you just have to use the drive-thru or the take out option. I honestly don’t think people are remembering that option. And these poor restaurants are just trying to keep their heads above the water so that they can provide a little work for their employees, let’s help them out, shall we?

Which brings me to the biggest part of this crisis that worries the most: the financial fallout.

Businesses are being shut down and people are losing their jobs. Jobs they depend on for money so they can pay bills and buy food. I think part of the hysteria is the fact that people are scared of that either happening, or happening, to them. It’s already  happened to my nephew. He works at a restaurant and he’s been laid off. I have no idea if they are giving him an option of coming in to help with take out orders, but I sure hope there is some option available to him until this virus burns off and we can get back to normal.

Some businesses may never recover – what happens to the poor people that worked there?

I predict it takes MONTHS for our economy to recover. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I also predict we’re heading toward another recession. Think of the travel industry, they have shut down entirely. Disney has shut down and announced they are going to continue paying their 750,000 employees. Though admirable, where does THAT money come from? Employers are trying to do the right thing for their employees, and that’s certainly admirable, but at some point, the money will dry up if they’re not allowed to open back up for business. And even then, it will take them some time to play catch up.

People like to snarl and point out, “but it’s not about the bottom line, Karen, it’s about the people.”

Precisely my point. Who does the bottom line ultimately affect? THE PEOPLE.

And if we’re reacting this way to something that is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, (remember the influenza numbers? And that happens EVERY YEAR), how are we going to react if something like the black plague happens?

It will truly be a Mad Max scenario, I fear. I pray I’m wrong but judging by what is happening now? I think it’s a distinct possibility.

So, how is this affecting me personally? I work at the hospital, remember?

This past Tuesday, our hospital went into lock-down mode. Meaning, only employees and patients can pass the doors. And any other people who want in have to be screened and have their temperatures taken. And most entrances to the hospital are closed, you can only enter/leave by certain entrances.

It’s spooky, but I totally understand the precautions and I appreciate them. We had the added advantage of being on Spring Break at work, meaning most of the doctors were out any way to spend time with their families but what about next week? Are we going to cancel clinics? And if the clinic closes down, what about the rest of us? What does that mean for our jobs?

I’ll be honest, and a bit selfish, but that is my biggest concern.

The nurses will be reallocated to other areas of the hospital, that’s a given. But what about the rest of us non-licensed saps? The hospital has done a great job of communicating with us and letting us know how they will respond if that happens. And it’s already happened to quite a few departments – those people have been reallocated to other areas. Human resources is keeping a running tally of places that people can go to help out. But what happens when there are no more places to put people? Because we’re talking about A LOT of departments have been affected by this outbreak.

We can use our ETO (Earned time off), but what if we don’t want to use ETO? Then unpaid leave it is. But what about our bills? Money to live off of? Because let’s be real, most people live from paycheck to paycheck – I’m saying that’s wise, but it is real.

Kevin and I have talked, at length, about what we will do if I’m laid off. Because if there aren’t very many jobs and it comes to me or someone I work with who is not as financially secure as we are, I’m going home, hands down. That other person needs the work more than I do. And Kevin is self-employed and still working, so at least we have one income. And we have savings, etc.

But I really hope it doesn’t come to that. Some of our doctors have canceled clinics for next week but not all of them. Some doctors have proposed a telemedicine sort of compromise and we might end up doing that for my team, but at this point, we’re just taking it day by day. All elective surgeries have been canceled, probably for the next month, but our doctors need something to do, I guess.

In the meantime, one of the ways I cope with stressful situations like this is to gather information – facts. I don’t give a shit about a pundit’s opinion or prediction, give me the facts then shut up.

I stumbled across this Ted Talk on YouTube and thought I would share it. It’s worth a watch:

I found myself rolling my eyes at the part where she talks about climate change because I’m coming to this conversation with a pre-conceived notion, thoughts and opinions about climate change – i.e. I don’t believe it’s man made but I can’t dispute that our climate is changing – it’s circular in nature so of course it changes – where do you think we get our average temperatures from? However, I’m forcing myself to be fair and to listen, really listen, to what she’s saying because I think it’s important that we ALL start to retrain our brains to listen and stop jumping to conclusions, because when we do that, we stop listening.

It was interesting what she said about the structure of the Coronavirus and how it originates from animals and that we will continue to see outbreaks in the years ahead simply because we will continue to meet and encounter animals in various ways through societal ways. I don’t know why I’m surprised by this, I guess I was hoping that once the Coronavirus expends itself we would never see something like this again but I guess I’m being too optimistic. I do hope, though, that it’s several years before it happens again.

And it WILL happen again, on some level. I just pray we learn something from this experience and take proactive steps in the future so that we are better prepared and emotionally equipped to handle the stress of it all.

I also really liked what she said about better and honest communication so that we can talk about these sorts of things WHEN they happen to avoid misinformation, panic and agendas that do nothing but destroy and further alienate people from one another. I wish people would critically think before they react – the news media IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. They could give a rats ass about you, or about society: they are all about getting clicks, selling ads and generating enough buzz that you will choose them instead of their competitor the next time you need “news.” Fear is a powerful, POWERFUL emotion and it doesn’t take much to ignite that match. Fear muddies the water toward a rational, workable solution and I don’t know about you, but the faster we can educate ourselves and make wise choices, the faster we can move on to happier times.

Be CONSCIOUS of your surroundings. Be CONSCIOUS of things you touch throughout the day. Avoid opening doors with your hands, carry a tissue, or a rag, or something to use instead. Don’t push elevator buttons with your finger, use your elbow, or the back of your hand. Don’t touch  your face. Wash your hands after leaving someplace public.  Sneeze and cough into your elbow -NOT YOUR HANDS!!!!!! These precautions should be part of your every day life, not just when there’s an outbreak.

I’ll stop talking now, I just wanted to document what is going on right now and to hopefully give you, dear reader, some hope moving forward. Be alert, not anxious.

If you take nothing away from this post, then take this: The precautions in place now should ALWAYS be implemented. Every day. No matter the season. Watch this video of how germs spread if you don’t believe me.

Stay healthy, friends.

Work Stuff

An Update on the Coronavirus

Here is Dr. Mike again with an update on the Coronavirus:

Again, take what you hear with a grain of salt. It behooves the government to keep people in fear. I would even take what the CDC and the WHO organization say with a grain of salt

Again, WASH YOUR HANDS. Cover your mouth when you sneeze/cough with your arm, not your hands. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE throughout the day. Avoid touching high traffic areas: door handles, elevator buttons, handrails, counter tops – do not touch them with your fingers. Use your elbows, or use the paper towels you use after you wash your hands in public restrooms.

These are precautions that should be followed year round, but especially now.

We get routine updates from our Infectious Disease doctors at work. So far, there has only been education and awareness, we haven’t gone into lock-down mode and the world is not ending. We have prevalent diseases that occur every year, some years are more aggressive (and get more coverage because it’s an election year and they’re trying to make the economy tank so our current administration looks bad and less people vote for him – this is my own personal theory, of course). All you can do is be pro-active in keeping yourself healthy.

TBR

March To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

I thought it might be interesting to you to see what I have on my bookshelf to read every month. I periodically post book reviews, (when I’m feeling energetic, not always) and if I do, then you will have an opportunity to read the book so you know what the heck I’m talking about.

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

Here is my March 2020 TBR stack:

  1. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
  2. When I was You by Minka Kent
  3. The Guy on the Left by Kate Stewart
  4. The Names of the Dead by Kevin Wignall
  5. The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy

Happy Reading!

 

Bullet Journal

March 2020 Bullet Journal Spreads

Well, hello March!

Spring is around the corner. Are you ready for the bugs to come back? (That’s always where my brain goes – screw the pretty flowers – IT’S BUG SEASON! GAH!).

I thought I would share my March spreads – I warn you, they’re ugly. Remember, I’m not an artist so any “artsy-fartsy” component you see is from a stamp, stencil or a sticker.

My three S’s.

I was going for a “girly” theme this month. Actually, what prompted this theme was the beautiful dress stamp I bought from Hobby Lobby. You’ll see the stamp on the monthly spread below.

Ready to bleach your eyeballs? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

See the pretty dress stamp? I freaking LOVE this stamp. It’s so girly and decorative. Which is a little confusing to me because I wouldn’t classify my style as girly but I can appreciate pretending to be girly.

I tried the vertical calendar spread this time as opposed to the vertical numbering spread from last month. I have decided that I like the full calendar spread better – it gives me more room to play around with my three S’s.

The next spread is my weekly spread:

I’m digging the format of this weekly spread. I notate the weather in the small boxes on either side and then it gives me room to write my thoughts from the day in the bigger boxes. So far, I’ve kept up. I keep the book by my computer so it takes just a moment to jot my thoughts down each night.

Again, not the most aesthetically pleasing, but I’m having fun and it’s working for me so … meh.

Here’s my brain dump and step tracker. The step tracker is my only habit tracker I do, though I do have a pixel mood tracker at the beginning of my journal (and obviously not as nice as this picture). It’s more important to me to track my moods and steps than anything else. I sort of like how these pages turned out. And I’m really digging the brain dump pages. I find that writing out the thoughts, the things that are troubling me, really does help purge it from my brain. I’m not crazy about the stencil lettering, but again, just trying different things here. I’ll get better at it. (I hope!)

I think these pages are cute, too. I love the huge ball gown stencil, that was fun. However, I bought Crayola’s super tip markers and though I like them, the colors, at least this one, its almost too brash. I prefer the Tombow colors more, but the Crayola super tips are cheaper so I’ll force myself to like them more. lol

I’m also doing well with my questions. I’m using these pages to type out private messages to our boys and putting them in small stamp envelopes and then gluing them to the page. The boys have no idea I’m doing this and will have a bit of a surprise when I’m dead and gone and they look through my journals.

The blog page is where I jot down ideas for my blog because I’m super bad about seeing/reading an idea for my blog and then promptly forgetting about it so when the mood strikes to update my blog, I have zero ideas.

Lastly, I created a quotes page. Again, just experimenting here. I love quotes and they really do inspire me. If this looks like gobbedly-gook to you, (because it is), it reads:

“I”m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have.” by Thomas Jefferson.

Moral: There is really no-such thing as luck. The things that happen to you are a result of hard work, or believing it to happen.

Again, I’m having SO MUCH FUN with this bullet journal. I WISH I had known about this method of journaling years ago. I like how it’s a mixture of a planner with a journal. I think it’s interesting to read about the mundane tasks and day-to-day happenings in people’s lives so I’m hoping whoever reads this when I’m gone is also interested in my mundane.

I have finished my April spreads and am now working on my May spreads. I want to try and work ahead as much as possible, stay ahead of the game, so to speak, to free myself up to focus on outlining my novel and teaching myself calligraphy. Which I’ve started, by the way. I haven’t gotten very far and it’s a bit of a challenge since I’m left handed, but I WILL master it because it’s something I’ve wanted to learn for years and I think it will be fun to incorporate that into my journal. (Ever since I wrote down my yearly goals, I’ve felt pressure to COMPLETE THEM).

Here are a few March videos that have inspired me. As I’ve mentioned, I watch A LOT of bullet journal videos. Not only for ideas, but it’s relaxing to watch someone else create. I WISH I was half as talented as these people. But you know what? It’s okay. This journal is ME.

I also really enjoy watching true artists decorate their journals. I’m so jealous of their talents!

And this one gets the prize for the most creative spread:

Oh, I’m DEFINITELY doing a version of this board game theme at some point. I LOVE board games.

And if you’re not artistic, like me, and/or you’re not interested in spending a lot of time on the artsy-fartsy aspect of the bullet journal, here is a good video to watch to help you get started without all of the fancy art aspects of this:

That’s it for this month. I’ll share my April spreads at the end of March.

Happy journaling!

Relationships

The Love Dare – Eleven Years Later

So let’s wrap this Love Dare thing up, shall we?

What did you think? Did you learn anything about yourself? Have you made a commitment to try some of these things in your relationship? If you want things to get better, SOMEONE has to make the first move, why not you?

Kevin and I are approaching our 30th wedding anniversary.

THIRTY YEARS TOGETHER.

Wow. We must be doing something right. But again, we’re not perfect, then or now, and we have spider crawled through mud and barbwire to get to this place, but we’re here and still together.

Our marriage has reached the empty nester / twilight years, now. The boys are long gone, they moved out five/six years ago, and Kevin and I have reconnected once again. We have grown comfortable with each other and work on spending time together, but we also understand that we each need time away from each other.

It’s normal and healthy.

We see very little of each other during the week. I often work late and by the time I get home, Kevin is at LeRoy’s house across the street in his “workshop” and working on all sorts of projects. I’m usually so exhausted by the time I get home from work the last thing I want to do is go somewhere, do something, TALK. He knows this and respects this. He knows I need space to “recharge” and he gives it to me. He’s not always happy with my request to be left alone, but he respects it.

And because he’s so patient with me during the week, we have a standing date on Friday and Saturday nights where we have dinner together, go grocery shopping and/or any other thing we need or want to do.

We find ways to reconnect and it works for us.

He is very patient with me and I try not to abuse that patience. I’m not the easiest person to get along with in the best of circumstances, let alone when things go down the shitter at work and I’m stressed and in high demand. Everyone wants something from me at work, and I’m happy to give as much as I”m capable of, but it does take a toll on me, so by the time I get home, I’m mentally TAPPED OUT.

But. That’s no excuse NOT to give time to Kevin. He deserves my time as well and that’s the point where we talk about it and make “deals.” That way, the problem has been taken out, aired, acknowledged, examined and dealt with so we are both in agreement moving forward.

I don’t expect him to know what I’m thinking and feeling, and the same goes for him. Our communication has gotten LOADS better and now we peacefully co-exist. I make sure and ask for time off at work and we use that pocket of time to plan trips together or simply DO something together.

We respect each other’s need for space and we make a conscious effort to spend time together. – it works.

I honestly, in my bones, feel like the “Fireproof” movie and the Love Dare were two things that really changed who I am, how I perceive myself and my marriage. I’m very grateful that I stumbled across the Love Dare when I did. Who knows where our marriage would have ended up if I hadn’t?

I truly hope learning about the Love Dare has blessed you and that it strengthens your marriage and brings peace to your lives.

Thanks for sticking around and sifting through my dirty laundry with me. It’s never easy publicly displaying your flaws.

Peace.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Ten – My Experience

(This post was originally published 5-26-09).

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com

Day Ten: Love vs. Lust. End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed — today — and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with his perfect love. What did you identify as an area of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be? Write about your new commitment to seek Him — and to seek your spouse — rather than seeking after foolish desires.

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the garden of Eden. They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another. But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

That’s the progression. From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life. ‘We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).

God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing. Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more. So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure. We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person. We look ,stare, and fantasize. We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away. And once our eyes are captured by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition. We see what others have and we want it. Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.” then we make the decision to go after it.

Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer, it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust — whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car — represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

Lust always breeds more lust. Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is — a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you. When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

Are you tired of being lied to by lust? Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content? Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God. Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart. Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to you through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.

And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

 

There are still so many lessons that I could have shared with you from The Love Dare book. And I would have loved to continue sharing those lessons with you, but I don’t think the authors would have appreciated me virtually presenting their entire book to you, free of charge. So honestly, I urge you to go out and buy this book so you can practice the rest of the dares and read so much more on what I’ve written here.

(And for the record, I was not asked to promote this book. I did not accept any sort of monetary or materialistic incentive to talk about The Love Dare. I did all of this, I bared my soul to the Internet, I shared my marital life with you, in the hopes that through my experiences and the excerpts I’ve shared from The Love Dare book, it would touch and bless your life.)

But out of all of the remaining lessons in this book (forgiveness, intimacy, the importance of prayer, faithfulness, accountability, unity, etc), I chose to share the love vs. lust lesson with you because to me, it’s one of the single most important contributors to a failing marriage.

I should know – it nearly ruined my marriage.

When you hear the word lust, you automatically think of sex. And yes, of course, lusting after another man or woman is wrong and the fuse that could ultimately destroy your life (if lit), but I opted to talk about the lust part of this dare to also point out to you that it doesn’t always mean the sexual kind of lust —

It can also apply to anything that takes your focus, dedication and desire away from your marriage.

And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more dangerous because it’s subtle, it disguises itself in good intentions, it’s manageable, and it’s everywhere.

It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of what’s important. Temptations are everywhere and they are attractive, fun, dangerous, delicious and decadent – hence the reason they are temptations. If they weren’t all these things, people wouldn’t be tempted to go down that road to begin with.

Here are some examples of things that can cause friction in the marriage if you’re not careful and if you don’t maintain self-control:

Friends
Online activities
Work
Children
Hobbies / Entertainment
Commitments

And the list goes on and on – it can be anything, really, if you stop to think about it. If something is taking your focus, your attention, your time away from your marriage and you’re allowing it to poison your thinking about your marriage and/or your spouse, then it can technically be called lust.

Let me explain:

Friends – Having friends is great. It can also ruin your marriage if you’re not careful. Let’s say your girlfriend is having trouble in her own marriage. And she spends most of her time bitching about her husband, or about men in general, and how she would love to just get out and start over. Even though you’re being a good friend by offering her your attention and your advice, be careful. That discontent has a way of penetrating your own life and if left unchecked, can start coloring your own opinions about your life and spouse. Before long, you’re also spending most of your time bitching about the little things and convincing yourself that your own marriage is less than perfect (which it will be – no marriage is perfect) and without even realizing it, you’re treating your spouse differently and making mountains out of molehills.

I should know, I’ve been there. I worked with a group of women who did exactly that and it started affecting me. I started acting differently. I was dissatisfied. I lost focus on what was important and when I realized what was happening, I quit the job. I walked away from the poison and I immediately felt better. It was like stepping out of a smoke-filled room and breathing fresh air for the first time in seven years.

Online Activities – This. Is. A. Biggie. We all spend so much time online that it’s so easy, so very, very easy, to step into an online persona, to BE a different person online.

It starts with the IMs. Then graduates into chat rooms. And before long, you start behaving like a different person because it’s all just harmless fun, right? What’s a little flirtatious activity? You’re not hurting anyone. You’ll never meet that person in real life.

But being that other person becomes more fun than being your real-life person. Stepping into that fantasy world starts becoming more fun than living reality and before long, you’re spending more and more time online and BEING that person so that you start doing uncharacteristic things like staying online later and later, or sneaking a chat when your spouse is not around.

You start becoming close to another online “person” and before long, you’re making tentative plans to meet, in real life.

*raises hand* Yep. Happened to me. And again, I had the strength to step back, take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing?!”

I cut out all the chatting. I put a stop to the temptation and re-focused my energies on my marriage.

I honestly don’t know how Kevin has put up with me all these years. I like to pride myself on being this strong person, but honestly folks, I’m not. I’ve dipped a toe in nearly every temptation that is out there.

This also applies to online games. And that’s THE biggest reason I never allowed myself to join the online Sims game. Because I KNOW me. I KNOW I would get sucked into the game and though I would have loads of fun, it’s not worth neglecting, or hurting, my family in the process.

It also applies to naughty websites or websites that “encourage” you to have an affair because you “deserve” it. *snort* You DESERVE heartache and unhappiness? Because that’s exactly what will happen if you succumb to their empty promises. Stay strong and simply don’t click.

There has to be (or there will be) a time you HAVE to just shut it down and walk away.

Work – being too focused on getting that promotion so that you’re opting to spend more and more late nights at the office instead of making it home. (And then there’s the whole office romance thing. Another biggie).

Children – Yes, children are important. Yes, they need looking after. No, they shouldn’t be allowed to take your focus away from your mate. Children are smart buggers. And if they see they can take advantage of you, they will – every time. Children need to be taught that mom and dad need some alone time. They need date nights. And even though it SEEMS selfish to put your marital needs ahead of your children, it’s not. Children need to see the unity and the commitment. They feel more secure when their parents are happy and in order for the parents to be happy, they need to spend time with one another.

Children are tougher than we think they are. They’ll survive without mommy or daddy for a few hours or even for a night. They’ll be fine if you don’t spend every waking moment, or every last ounce of your energy on them.

Hobbies / Entertainment – same concept as the online activities. Just watch your time and devotion and make sure it’s not becoming a substitute for what’s real.

Commitments – Taking care of people is admirable. Volunteering your time is wonderful. But don’t allow your commitments to encroach on your time with your spouse. Cut back on your responsibilities outside the home. You can’t do it all. Manage your time wisely. Don’t make commitments to other people more important than your marriage. And even though you may not see it that way, I’m betting the neglected spouse does.

Again, I’m telling you all this because I’ve lived it. I KNOW how easy it is to be too tired, to be stretched thin, to be distracted or wooed from what’s important to me and my family as a unit.

And I’m STILL working on controlling this whole online/computer thing.

And I’m done.

Thank you for reading these past ten days. It’s been a long, mentally exhausting journey for me and though I’m tired, I’m glad I wrote all of this out. It feels good to purge and hopefully by reading about my experiences, it might help you with yours.

Hang in there. Marriage is a lot of work, but in the end, it truly is worth it. Hopefully, you can convince your spouse to make that journey with you.

Good luck and God Bless.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Nine – My Experience

(This post was originally published 5-25-09).

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com

Day Nine: Love takes delight. Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he/she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just be together. What did you decide to give up? What did you do together? How did it go? What new thing did you learn (or relearn) about your spouse?

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ One of the most important things you should learn on your Love Dare journey is that you should not just follow your heart. You should lead it. You don’t let your feelings and emotions do the driving. You put them on the back seat and tell them where you’re going.

In your marriage relationship, you won’t always feel like loving. It is unrealistic for your heart to constantly thrill at the thought of spending every moment with your spouse. Nobody can maintain a burning desire for togetherness just on feelings alone. But it’s also difficult to love someone only out of obligation.

A newlywed takes delight in the one they now call their spouse. Their love is fresh and young, and the hopes for a romantic future linger in their hearts. However, there is something just as powerful as that fresh, new love. It comes from the decision to delight in your spouse and to love him or her no matter how long you’ve been married. In other words, love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love that feels like loving. In many ways, it’s a truer love because it has its eyes wide open.

Left to ourselves, we’ll always lean toward being disapproving of one another. She’ll get on your nerves. He’ll aggravate you. But our days are too short to waste in bickering over petty things. Life is too fleeting for that.

Instead, it’s time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate. Enjoy your spouse. Take her hand and seek her companionship. Desire his conversation. Remember why you fell in love with her personality. Accept this person — quirks and all — and welcome him or her back into your heart.

Again, you get to choose what you treasure. It’s not like you’re born with certain pre-sets and preferences you’re destined to operate from. If you’re irritable, it’s because you choose to be. If you can’t function without a clean house, it’s because you’ve decided no other way will do. If you pick at your mate more than you praise them, it’s because you’ve allowed your heart to be selfish. You’ve led yourself into criticism.

So now it’s time to lead your heart back out. It’s time to learn to delight in your spouse again, then to watch your heart actually start enjoying who they are.

Today’s dare may be directing you to a real and radical change of heart. For some, the move toward delight may be only a small step away. For others, it may require a giant leap from ongoing disgust.

But if you’ve been delighted before — which you were when you got married — you can be delighted again. Even if it’s been a long time. Even if it a whole lot has happened to change your perspective.

The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you’ve promised yourself forever. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

 

Kevin is my best friend. He always has been. So we’ve always done everything together from the very first date. We LIKE each other’s company. We LIKE hanging around with each other.

Granted, there are times he drives me insane because after all, he’s a guy. And because he’s male, his listening skills aren’t the best. And because he’s male, he tends to want to fix everything as opposed to just passively sitting by and allowing me to vent or sound off. And because he’s male, he simply doesn’t understand WHY I get so upset over things (quite frankly, neither do I, at times).

So, having him as my best friend isn’t always that satisfying – I crave a female friendship at times. The problem is, I don’t have a female friendship I can turn to. (Totally my fault and totally my choice).

There are times I need more from him than he’s capable of giving me. I realize this. I accept this. And I make adjustments. It’s certainly not his fault – he’s simply being who he is.

We are constantly doing things for each other that we don’t want to. I make trips to Lowe’s with him (I hate Lowe’s – such a snoozer for me). He is constantly doing things for me (I call it my “honey-do” list) and he doesn’t always feel like doing them.

He CONSTANTLY wants to go play tennis – I can’t stand tennis, you’re chasing a ball around and I feel stupid doing it – but I go because I know he enjoys it.

I talked him into tanning with me even though he felt completely uncomfortable with the idea and now, he is actually enjoying himself and wonders why he hadn’t been doing this in year’s past (sure beats sweating in the sun for hours at a time and hey! No tans lines! SEXY).

My point is, we do things with each other even when we don’t necessarily like it, or want to, but in the end, we end up enjoying the activity and we have solidified our relationship as a result.

Bonus.

So I would suggest make the effort. Spend time together. DO things together. INVEST your time in each other.

The same can be said about sex, too. I’ve purposefully kept the intimate aspect of this dare out because well, it’s a personal and intimate thing and I’m certainly not going to talk about my sex life with the world. However, I will say this, ladies, lighten up on the whole sex issue.

Seriously.

This goes right along with the whole “I really don’t want to, or feel like it” thing, but the funny thing is, once you get started, one can actually get into it and enjoy it.

And trust me when I say, your man? Will be putty in your hands if he’s satisfied. Enough said.

Does this make it sound like you’re using sex as a tool? Well yes, you are, to an extent. But you’re also respecting the FACT that he’s male and he HAS NEEDS that simply must be met. When they’re met, he’s more relaxed, he’s happier and he is more willing to be the type of husband you want him to be.

And gentlemen, please respect the fact that sex for a woman? Is all about the emotional aspect. Tease her. Make her laugh. Challenge her intellectually. Make her FEEL sexy and you’re in.

*wink*

The Love Dare book has a section about intimacy. And for many, this is a SERIOUS issue – one that must be addressed and worked through because like it or not, sex is absolutely a big part of marriage.

I’m trying to talk Kevin into making a video with me today. We’ll have been married for 19 years tomorrow and I thought it would be cute to talk about when we first met and silly stuff like that. I have no idea if he’ll actually agree to it, but if he does, he will because he loves me and he wants to make me happy.

And I will likely tag along with him to the music store today so he can buy more guitar strings – not because I want to, but because he wants me to. To him, that’s a sign that I love him when I’m willing to put my desires aside and go with him.

Give, give and take. It’s a pattern that takes some getting used to, but it’s also a pattern that works in a marriage.

Now go, take delight in each other today.

Podcast

Podcast: My Fasting Journey

Guess what I’m trying ….?

I thought about doing something with my YouTube channel but that means I would have to make sure I’m presentable and … nah … I would rather talk to you in my PJ’s – who’s the wiser??

Not sure how much I will upload a podcast, but if you’re interested, here is my podcast page: https://anchor.fm/writefromkaren

This episode I update you guys on my fasting journey. And it’s been a journey, so far. Take a listen! I’m rather long winded so if you don’t have time to listen at your desk, take me on the go! It’s on Spotify as well.

One last thing, the YouTuber I mention in my podcast, Autumn Bates – she has A LOT of really good information on fasting, if you’re interested.

*TALK” to you soon!