Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Actor's Legacy

Here in Wilmington we have a thriving movie and television studio that brings lots of work to the area. We're known as "Wilmywood." Hollywood of the East.

EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmywood

My father-in-law, who passed away a few years ago, was a working actor here. With an out-going personality, a heart for the Lord, and a flair for both the dramatic and the funny, he worked on films with stars like Gregory Peck, Reese Witherspoon, Beau Bridges, Diane Keaton, Sissy Spacek, Matthew Broderick, Anthony Hopkins, Andie McDowell, Robert Duvall, Diane Ladd, Katie Holmes Cruise, Laura Dern, Teri Hatcher, and more.

I loved talking with him in the kitchen over a slice of cinnamon crumb cake when he'd return home from the set ... hearing about the stars and their off camera antics. Or lack thereof. I remember asking him what Andie McDowell was "really" like. Dick said, "She's quiet and she likes to knit."  What? "When the director yells 'cut' she heads for the corner with her knitting needles." Who knew?

Dick was also involved in our strong local theater community. Plus, hosted a long running Christian radio show. So he was well known. For years it seemed everywhere Rick and I went we'd hear the same thing, "I know your Dad. He's a great guy! I really like him. How's he doing? Please give him my love."


It seems everyone had a story of how Dick showed them kindness, or cheered them up, treated them fairly, or inspired them with his use of the talents God had given him. Because their gratitude for him often paved the way for us, my experience with my father-in-law taught me the truth of Proverbs 22:21:

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."

Just today a more recent friend of ours who works on movie sets asked me, "Hey, was Rick's dad Dick Olsen the Actor?"  Rick chimed in and said, "Yes he was. It was weird the first time I saw him on the big screen. I thought, 'I make scrambled eggs with that guy?!'"

Our friend replied, "I worked with Dick numerous times. He was one of my favorite local actors and a friend. That's so cool." 

That is so cool. A good name is more desirable than great riches. Dick's legacy lives on. Not on film, but in hearts.

What will your legacy be?

You and I are creating our legacies every day with each small choice we make. When we choose to be kind, to be cheerful, to be forgiving, to be humble, and to do our work to the glory of God, we build a legacy that becomes an inheritance for our family behind us.

I learned that from an actor, who made a real impact. Is there someone in your life whose name or legacy you've benefitted from?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Take a Shot at It

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."  ~ Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky was taking about hockey.  A Hall of Famer, he's been called the greatest hockey player ever. But I also think he was talking about life. To accomplish anything, we first have to try.

That means there is a risk of failure. But to not try is pretty much an assurance of failure.

     - You'll keep 100% of the pounds you don't try to lose.

     - You'll live with 100% of the clutter you don't pick up and put away.

     - You'll learn nothing from 100% of the books you never read.

     - You'll miss responses to 100% of the prayers you never pray.

     - You won't remember 100% of the verses you never memorize.

     - You won't complete 100% of the classes you never sign up for.

One hundred percent of the products you don't make will not sell. Not a single person will read a single blog post you don't write. And no one will come to a party you never throw. Because you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Gretzky also said, "Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and it's toll on success and happiness is heavy." So when I feel I'm lacking in success happiness I have to pause and ask myself ...
 Is that because I'm not getting around to taking any shots at it?

Take a shot at it today. Take another shot tomorrow. And another next week.

Sure, we might miss. We might even miss a lot. But odds are, if we keep shooting, we'll also make a few.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Do I Really Have to Write it Out?

After my last post, "Why You Want to Write Down Your Goals," one savvy commenter asked:

"Does this mean I have to actually 'write it down' or does typing it into a to-do list do the same thing?"

Great question. Especially since we live in the age of the laptop, the smart phone and the app.

I told her I suspected writing it was more effective than typing it if for no other reason than it would take longer, requiring more effort and making a stronger impression on the RAS in the brain. I also said that I'd research it and get her an "official" answer. 

Because I'm nothing if not helpful. At least where research is concerned - where laundry is concerned, notsomuch. (I had to admit that just in case my husband or kids are reading this. Perhaps the problem is I rarely put "fold and put away clothes" on my to-do list.)  

So here is the official answer: Write it down.  With pen, pencil, marker or crayon. Eye-liner would do in a pinch.  But use your fingers to grip the instrument and form the letters. 

Those of you who glaze over at scientific explanation, university studies or in-depth reasoning can tune out ... just remember that you really should get a pad of paper or journal and write out your goals to maximize your ability to achieve them. 

The rest of you - and you nerds know who you are - can check out these articles if you want further info on this. (PS. I'm not insulting you, I'd probably click through and read myself. Especially if it delayed laundry folding.)

  • While typing is a more efficient, discarding handwriting might not be such a great idea. Picking up a pencil and a pad of paper to write out your ideas or goals could aid your thought process and learning ability according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • For kids, even those raised in the computer age, the pen is mightier than the keyboard according to this research from the University of Washington.

And here's a great example of this priniple in action by my uber smart and productive friend Marybeth Whalen, who made a to-list for the entire summer.

BOTTON LINE: You really want to learn something, remember something, or accomplish something?  Try manually writing it down.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why You Want to Write Down Your Goals

I never cease to be surprised by how much I get done when I write down what I need or want to do.

This is true of an errands or shopping list, or a daily to-do list.

It's also true of five-year plans and life goals.

Writing something down seems to convince my brain I'm serious about doing this so get on-board with it. It also has a way of moving things from the back-burner of my subconscious mind to the forefront of my active mind.  So not only do I not forget about it, but I move toward accomplishing it.

At times all it takes is writing it down.

For those (3) of you interested in science and the brain, here's how that works:

The bottom of the brain stem contains a group of cells called the Reticular Activating System.  Their job is sorting through the data incoming to your brain. It's main task is to send the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain, and send the non-urgent stuff to the subconscious. (This is what allows us moms to sleep through every little noise in the night except the whimper of our child down the hall.)  Essentially, when you write something down - succinctly and with intention - you plug it into your Reticular Activating System. Then your brain starts to pay attention to that thing, labeling it "active status" and increasing the odds that you'll accomplish it.

If you skipped the slightly scientific section above, just know that writing is a way of directing your brain to pay attention to something until it is accomplished. All it takes is a couple of minutes, a piece of paper and a pen.

So, what is it you are wanting or needing to do?  Go write it down!

Monday, June 11, 2012

What I learned from eating a large muffin

I never buy muffins.  My husband always does.

It's not that I have anything against muffins. I like muffins. Especially their tops (not to be confused with the ubiquitous "muffin top" caused by waist spillage over too tight, low cut jeans - I don't like those at all.)

I avoid muffins because they are essentially a 400 calorie carbohydrate bomb that will explode once I ingest it - causing the aforementioned ubiquitous muffin top problem I dislike.

Isn't there a proverb about this? Something like, "He who eats muffins the size of her face will soon come to regret the size of her waist." I know I got the pronouns off but I think the rest of that is right. Maybe from Proverbs 32.

But today my husband brought home muffins again. These are extra large banana-chocolate chip muffins. And I can smell them from across the room. Through the plastic wrapping.

And I could tell that this one - the one with the most chocolate chips on top - really wanted to be eaten.

So what's a girl to do? 

I approached this sensibly. I ate the top of the muffin - the very best part. Then I picked through the rest of it, pulling out the sizable chocolate chips, eating them one by one. Next I dumped the rest of it into the sink.

Now it can clog my sink disposal rather than my arteries and my jeans.

All that was needed was a little strategy, and a cold glass of milk.

What task or problem are you facing today? I bet it too could be solved with a little strategy, and perhaps some milk. Ask yourself:

  • How can I break this thing down into parts? And which piece should I start with? 

  • What's the most essential part to get done  - what's the muffin top of it? 

  • Are there parts I can delegate, schedule for later, or dump entirely in the sink?

  • And, how can I tackle this in a way that provides pleasure in the process or reward at the end, with the least amount of cost?

Sometimes when we aren't getting something done, it's because we've failed to take a few minutes to break it down into doable sections, figure out the essentials, and dump what we don't really need to do.

That's what I learned today from eating a muffin.

It will probably be another six months before I eat (or rather half-eat) another muffin. And I'll probably do it the same way. At least now I've got my strategy down.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your Life, Coached

I would so love to work with each one of you that commented! My heartbeat is to empower you to live well in Christ- whatever that might look like for you right now. I want to help you prayerfully and carefully asses where you are at, craft a vision for how things could be different, and then walk toward that vision - overcoming obstacles - to create the changes you desire to see.

Does that excite you? It does me!

photo by

But so many of you entered, there's no way I can get on the phone once a week with all of you during the month of June.  Who would feed my kids? Or do my laundry? Or watch episodes of Downton Abbey with Rick? (OK, so he could really care less about that show, but I am hooked and he endures it for my sake.)

And how would I pay for all those cell phone minutes? I'd definitely blow out my cell phone plan.

But just know that I want to work with each of you. And I'm thinking about offering a coaching package in July at a highly reduced rate that will only be available to those of you who entered this contest. So go put your email address in the "Follow Me By Email" box in my side bar so you'll hear about it when I announce that.

Because I really want to work with you.

Now on to the winner and how I chose him or her.

With so many entries both here and on Facebook, I quickly abandoned any notion of trying to pick the ideal, "best," or most worthy candidate. Instead, I decided to trust God to do that. I put all the names on a list. (Some comments were anonymous with no way for me to contact them, so sadly those did not go on the list.) Then I used the Random Integer website to choose a number.

The name at that number on the list was deemed the winner. That numner is 34. That name is...

If I were to take my cue from all the reality competition shows, I would have a huge pause here. And lots of drums rolling. And someone like Ryan Seacrest saying, "Dim the lights; it's time to find out now who America has chosen."

Then I'd keep pausing, and keep pausing, while tension filled the air. And all the contestants struggled to breathe with all that tension in the air.

They would hug or hold hands. Some would struggle to think straight with all the adrenalin flowing through their veins. Others would try to just not think about it at all - feeling like they're about to burst. You ever felt that way?

But I won't do that because as a viewer, that always annoys me. Alright already, I'll exclaim out loud to Rick. Which of course is exactly what they want me to think right before they blurt out the winner's name.

So I'll skip the drama and just tell you that the winner is Sherrie. Congrats, Sherrie - I'm about to contact you and set up our first call.

If you really wanted to win but didn't - perhaps you and I can talk next month. Be praying about that. Oh, and I prayed for each of you after you left your entry comment, so you're ultimate Life Coach is already working your case.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2012-06-05 20:12:42 UTC

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ideal Working Conditions, A "Creativity Elixir"

I just read this post by productivity/lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss: The Creativity Elixir: Is Genius on Demand Possible?

Tim says yes, it's possible ... if you discover the right conditions for you.

Y'all know my one word this year is CREATE. So I'm about to embark on an experiment to find out what my own creativity elixir elements are. 

Will it contain South American tea, Argentinian red wine and writing from 1:00 to 5:00 am each day, like Tim's personal plan? Oh Lord - I hope not. Then again I do tend to be a night owl.

And I just might try that yerba mate tea. I do know this, I can't drink fully caffeinated coffee and write. It jacks me up too much. I can't sit still and focus. Some days I can do one cup of decaf ice coffee, but I'm really better on decaf tea.

My personal creativity elixir will most likely contain musical white noise, another of Tim's elements. The one thing I've already discovered is that part of my elixir is classical baroque music. I think best with no lyrics, and prefer instruments like the violin and oboe. I discovered that while writing It's No Secret - I probably should've thanked Pandora on the acknowledgements page.

When I really have to buckle down and concentrate or get writing done, I head straight for Pandora's Classical Baroque channel. It works for me.

Do you have any go-to tricks for when you really need to concentrate or create?  I'll report back as I discover more of mine.

I view understanding how I work best - including my personal creativity/productivity enhancers - a vital element to stewarding well the gifts God has given me. Think about that, read the parable of the talents, and maybe you'll decide to join me on this quest to determine your ideal working conditions, and then to create them consistently.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Let Me Help You (for Free)

Earlier this year, God began drawing me into a new area of ministry, work and service. An area I never expected to be in, although much of what I already do touches on it: LIFE COACHING.

Life coaching is a partnership process designed to move you from where you are now to where you want to be.

I suspect this new venture flows from my one word for 2012 which is CREATE. My 2012 mission: To create a life that is pleasing to both God and self, and create work that helps others effect life change.

My big project for the first quarter of this year was finishing a book on the life change topic with my pastor. It's called My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word. It releases this December - look for it, and tuck it under your Christmas tree.

The second quarter of 2012, my big project has been training for certification as a Life Coach. I'm about 60% of the way through the intensive training, and loving it. Feels very much in my element.

Here is where you come in. As part of my certification, I'm required to coach a couple of people on my own for the last four weeks.

While I've already had some women ask me to coach for them, I thought I'd do a unique giveaway here: 4 weeks of life coaching for the month of June - at no charge. That about a $280 value.  Coaching will take place via weekly phone calls throughout June, plus some emails exchanged during the month as well.

Are you interested?

We could work on any number of things. You will choose the focus. Some possible examples include:

  • Finding your calling, or moving out into it.
  • Reaching or maintaining organization in your home.
  • Jump-starting your walk with God. 
  • Improving a specific relationship. 
  • Completing a work project or creative endeavor.
  • Navigating through a life transition.

Lots of options. Again, the coaching process helps you identify and achieve personal goals so you can move from where you are now to where you desire to be.

When is the last time you had someone devoted, for an entire month, to helping you do that?

If you'd like to enter, leave me a comment here or on Facebook telling me why you are interested in winning, or what you'd like to be coached on. *Include your email or a way to reach you.

I'll announce the winner at 4 PM EST Tuesday, June 5th. I'm excited about the prospect of working with you!