Archive for January, 2013

It’s OK to Say “No”

No.”  It’s a small word made up of two consecutive letters that are squeezed into the middle of the alphabet.  Alone, neither letter has much meaning, but put together with no anchors on either side, they pack a pretty big punch.  Such a big punch that many of us would rather avoid using it.

The use of “no” doesn’t start off as taboo, however.  It’s among the first words that toddlers speak, because let’s face it, caretakers use it often.

As the minds of toddlers grow, an increased understanding of the power of such a word makes them feel in control when they wield it.   “No, it’s not bedtime yet.”  “No, I don’t want to eat that.”  “No, Mommy.  No!”

When interacting with teens, that two-letter word later evolves into a something that resembles a short-range missile, because of its propensity to launch parent/child wars when one party feels the need to exercise authority, and the other feels the need to express outrage for the injustices being forced upon them.  Sound familiar?

Parent-child relationships aren’t the only ones that become strained when “no” is tossed into the air.  Business, casual, and personal relationships can also suffer when one person fixes their mouth and emits a sound that represents the shortest form of verbal rejection.  For that reason, “no” makes us feel guilty, so we limit use of it.  When we know that our schedules can’t handle another commitment, we still subconsciously erase “no” from our vocabulary and become “yes men”.

“That promotion is so close, I can feel it.   Better to be thought a ‘kiss-up’ than someone who’s not a team player.”

“If I don’t volunteer to run that program at my child’s school, it will cease to exist.”

“I know that I should enforce house rules, but I’m afraid my child will resent me.”

“If I don’t serve on that committee, people might think I’m lazy or don’t care about important causes.”

“No” becomes a bad word.  “Yes” boosts our ego and our reputation.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was addicted to “yes”; I’ll blame it on the control freak in me.

When our sons’ Scout unit needed a leader, I took the reins.  When our youngest daughter’s school needed a PTA Vice President, I was the gal for the job.  When other volunteers weren’t able to carry out their responsibilities, I stepped in and donned as many additional hats as were needed.

All of that volunteering led me straight down a road to mental and physical burnout.  That’s when I found my “no” voice.  I often joke that I was born with a “help” gene, but I now recognize that gene dormancy can be a good thing.

Hanging up most of my volunteer hats has allowed me to spend more time with my family, live with less stress, develop hobbies, and participate in women’s Bible study sessions at church.

I am no longer a “yes girl”, because my limits have been tested and boundaries drawn as a result.

If it’s a struggle for you to decline invitations to assist in everything from chairing a committee that collects pennies for a new school playground to keeping the earth from spinning out of orbit, I urge you to simply say “no”.  Your emotional, mental, physical, and relational health depend on it.

CC

Low BMI? No Need to Apply.

Models.  Some of us love to hate them and hate to love them.  Teenagers want to be them and parents expend immeasurable energy trying to convince teens that modeling is not all it’s cracked up to be.  It’s a hard sell, because on the surface, the life of a model appears the thing of which dreams are made.

Models get to wear great clothes, travel the world, have their pictures splashed across the covers of magazines across the globe, and gain entry into some of the most exclusive events known to man. They appear confident and successful.  They exude perfection.

You can’t escape them – they’re everywhere and they peddle everything.  They’re ambassadors for fashion houses, fresh faces of the latest glamorous cosmetics, and sometimes, they are spokespersons for charitable causes.   However, what many of them clearly shouldn’t be are body image role models for young girls and women.

It’s no secret that the modeling world encourages unhealthy eating habits and is a breeding ground for eating disorders.  Many of the industry’s stars and wannabes have body mass indexes (BMI) in dangerously low territory.  This is why some governments have gotten into the business of modeling.  Not literally, but figuratively…no pun intended.

In 2006, twenty-two-year-old Uruguayan Luisel Ramos collapsed and died shortly after exiting a runway.  Her death is believed to have been caused by heart failure brought on by her severe anorexic condition.  That same year, governments in India and Italy subsequently enacted laws banning underweight models.  Two years later, in 2008, popular fashion week production companies in Madrid and Milan banned models who failed to meet minimum BMI standards, 18.0 and 18.5, respectively.

The industry still has a lot of work to do as it works to reform its image, but Israel’s government isn’t willing to wait any longer.

On January 1, 2012, a new Israeli law banned advertisers from using models whose BMI’s are too low.  The minimum BMI for models in Israel is now 18.5.  To put that into relatable terms, a 5’10” model must weigh at least 129 pounds to be considered healthy enough to get work as a model in Israel.  Models must produce a medical report showing they have maintained a healthy BMI for three months prior to a photo shoot or runway show.  The law also bans companies from using airbrushing techniques to alter the appearance of their models to make them look thinner than they really are.  Finally, advertisers who use software to digitally alter images must clearly mark them as such.

Critics argue that BMI laws do not take into account the genetic disposition of some models who just can’t seem to gain weight despite their best efforts.

While I’m not a fan of big government, I applaud lawmakers in India, Israel, and Italy for having the courage to legislate healthy body images in advertisements.   The United States and other countries could take a page out of their books.

What do you think?  Are governments trampling upon the rights of ultra-thin models who seek work?  Are they limiting the creative authority of advertisers?  Is more legislation needed?  Share your thoughts here or on my Facebook page.

CC

Israeli model Bar Refaeli - BMI 18.8

Do You Believe in Angels?

Today was a pretty typical one in my humble abode.   I worked, made dinner, did a bit of housework, watched the news, answered to callings of “Mom?”, and ran a couple of errands.  Nothing remarkable for the most part –  until late this evening.

After sitting down at my desk to browse the news and check in on Facebook, I saw the word “angel” three times in the span of a minute or two.  As I sit here typing, I recall seeing Clarence, an angel from It’s a Wonderful Life, in a clip from the documentary Freakonomics that I just finished watching before sitting down at my desk tonight.  (That brings the count of angel references up from three to four.)

Why is this significant?  I’m not really sure.  I don’t know what God is revealing to me at the moment, but knowing what kind of God it is that I serve, these angelic references were put before me for a magnificent reason!  (Can I get an amen?!)

A recent sermon at church was all about the presence of angels, and shortly thereafter, my Sunday school class engaged in a discussion on the same topic.  I guess this brings the angel reference count up to six now.

Angels.  They’re all around us.  They are the reason why we survive near-misses.  Some of those misses are readily apparent – escaping an accident before your eyes – while others occur unbeknownst to us immediately – misplacing car keys and showing up late someplace or missing appointments altogether.  Make no mistake about it, angels are real and they are sent to serve a purpose.

As a Christian, I don’t believe in luck.  I believe in God’s intervention.  The angels in the midst have undoubtedly intervened on my behalf more times than I can even imagine.

The incident that I remember most occurred when I was a young mother.  My then-husband and I had packed everything but the kitchen sink into our infant son’s diaper bag for a trip around the highway loop to see my mom.  (There’s no such thing as packing lightly when babies are involved.)  The walk from our condo to the car was short and the surfaces upon which we walked were hard.

What do hard surfaces have to do with anything?  Well, when we reached the car, we settled our son into the middle of the back seat and before we could drive away, somehow, managed to lose the car key!  We frantically retraced our steps, tore the interior of the car upside down (or so it seemed), illuminated the area with a flashlight, and looked in places where they keys couldn’t possibly have been.  All to no avail.

The trip to mom’s house would not be made that evening.  They key had been lost, but neither of us even heard the familiar clanking of a set of keys hitting the ground.  How was that even possible?  The car key was on a ring with at least two other keys (the key to our condo and the mailbox key).  Surely we would have heard them hit the ground!

There was something about the mysterious nature of how we seemingly lost the key, but I never doubted for one second that He was intervening on our behalf.  Getting the spare key from the house wasn’t even a consideration, because I could feel that a higher being had a hand in this.  He was protecting us from some sort of danger.  I’ve always been convinced of that.  I don’t know what lurking danger was kept at bay, but I firmly believe that angels were in the midst that evening.

Several weeks later, the set of keys turned up in a manner that only He could script!  (Teary-eyed just typing this.)  The keys were on a chain that had a “drop in the nearest mailbox if found” dog tag of sorts that my bank had given me when I opened my account years earlier.  Apparently, someone found the set of keys and dropped it into a mailbox as the dog tag instructed.   Tears again!  The keys made their way to the local post office where none other than MY MOM had them fall into her hands while working her shift one evening.  A coworker of hers found the keys while sorting a pile of odd things that sometimes ended up in mailboxes.  The coworker recognized my name, which was engraved one of those cutesy vanity license plate thingies that you put onto your key-ring.  Since my name is rather unique (finally, it counted for something), the coworker immediately took they keys to my mom and the rest is a mysterious, God-breathed history.

I’ll be honest with you, my faith had been shaken and weak for a number of years prior to the angel/key thing, but my outlook began to change after that incredible series of events.  If I didn’t believe in angels before the evening that I lost my keys, I became a firm believer that night, and my belief was reaffirmed once they keys were found and returned weeks later!

Do you believe in angels?

P.S. – I do believe in angels, but have never kept my house and car keys on the same ring after that mysterious night.  I call it “using the good sense that God gave me. :)

NOTE TO SELF: Tell oldest son this story.

I ran across the following picture and message on my Facebook page tonight and know it’s worth sharing.  May you find comfort that His army of angels is out there protecting us – even when we aren’t aware.

Stay blessed!

CC

Me: God, can I ask You a question?

God: Sure

Me: Promise You won’t get mad

God: I promise

Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?

God: What do you mean?

Me: Well, I woke up late

God: Yes

Me: My car took forever to start

God: Okay

Me: At lunch they made my sandwich wrong & I had to wait

God: Hmm

Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call

God: All right

Me: And on top of it all off, when I got home ~I just wanted to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax, BUT it wouldn’t work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did You do that?

God: Let me see, the death angel was at your bed this morning & I had to send one of My Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that

Me (humbled): OH

GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.

Me: (ashamed)

God: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick & I didn’t want you to catch what they had, I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.

Me (embarrassed): Okay

God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly): I see God

God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I’m Sorry God

God: Don’t be sorry, just learn to Trust Me…. in All things , the Good & the bad.

Me: I will trust You.

God: And don’t doubt that My plan for your day is Always Better than your plan.

Me: I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, Thank You for Everything today.

God: You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I love looking after My children…

A Year without Resolutions

 

Blog more often.

Drink more water.

Eat healthier.

Get a meaningful hobby.

Learn a new craft.

Study the Bible more.

Work out more regularly.

Those are all things that this mom is not making a commitment to do.  Not today anyway.

I don’t like failure, and from where I sit, committing to certain lifestyle changes just because the calendar flipped over to a new year is the first step to ensuring failure. Don’t get me wrong, we all have to pick effective dates when we choose to make changes, but settling upon a date merely because it’s what people do this time of year isn’t going to work for me.  What will work is taking the first step when I’m psychologically ready for a change.

The date that I’ll take the first step of whatever change I’ll seek to make is unknown to me, so for now, I’ll relish in the success of not being a failure at some arbitrarily dated resolution this new year.

Best wishes in all that you choose to do in 2013.

Regards,

CC

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)