Friday, February 26, 2010

I cry at movie....stars.

This morning, I read the news that Andrew Koenig's body was found in a park in Vancouver. I also read that Brittany Murphy died from a lethal combination of cold medications, which she was taking properly but her body just couldn't handle. Just two more Hollywood deaths, right? Last weekend, my husband and I watched Michael Jackson's movie "This is It", which is a documentary covering his preparations for his final tour which, as we all know, was not meant to be. I cried.

This guttural reaction to these stories surprised me. I mean, I cried about Haiti and I don't know those people either. But that's different, right? These three were Hollywood stars - people who had everything, people who the media have, and will surely continue to, crucify: for being selfish, careless, and downright "crazy" in MJ's case. in the case of Brittany Murphy, they have already accused of being everything from a drug addict to a brainwashed bride. In MJ's case, for being "weird", eccentric, owning a pet monkey, buying all the rights to all the Beatles songs, having an amusement park in his yard...we know all the "crazy" stories. And in case you haven't heard, his "child molestation" accusers have all admitted that they lied for their parents to get his money - one under force by his very abusive father.

I cried because all of their deaths were preventable, Because these were young people that I "grew up with", because they are my age and people my age aren't supposed to die in parks all alone or from trying to get over a cold at home or trying to get a decent night's sleep.

I cried because it could have been me.

Mostly I cried for their families. How do you handle something so tragic as the death of someone in the very prime of life? How do Michael Jackson's children grow up and thrive and become normal adults when they are - MICHAEL JACKSON's kids? How will they deal with the horrible stories when they start reading them when no one is around to monitor them as they get older? How do Andrew Koenig's parents and friends deal with the grief and guilt that they might have been able to save him from the inner demons of depression? How do Brittany Murphy's family and friends handle the fact that they lost their beloved because she took medications as her doctors instructed?

I pray that they were all Christians. I pray that they are all now with Jesus - singing and dancing and acting out wonderful plays for audience of Our Father. I pray that their deaths won't be brushed under the rug or quickly forgotten, because there is so much to learn from each one.

* Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

So what if Michael Jackson bought a pet monkey and had an amusement park in his back yard? Let's all admit it, if we had the kind of money that he did - after we gave to the poor and fed the hungry and sheltered the homeless - we'd probably buy some things that others think are "crazy", too. He was robbed of his childhood, he tried to recreate it and be as happy as possible in his own Neverland as an adult. Why? Because he COULD. He also gave millions to his friends and family and charities around the globe. He was also a devoted father who was raising 3 amazing kids, from all accounts, and allowing them something he never had - a beautiful childhood. He also ended nearly every sentence with “God Bless You” to whomever he was talking with, or “it’s all in L O V E - love” We never heard that in the press, huh?

* He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. - Psalm 147:3

Andrew Koenig died from depression. He gave away his belongings, sent a note to his parents, and went into his favorite park, where he felt "at home", and took his own life. Depression is very real. It kills people every day. It is a lonely, horrible disease - I know, I have battled it for 20+ years. I heard John Mayer's song "Heartbreak Warfare" this morning and thought of the tragic discovery yesterday afternoon in Vancouver: "If you want more love, why don't you say so?"....when you're depressed, you can't say "I need more love!" even though that's what you're screaming inside. You feel unworthy of love. I've been where he was, mentally. It's scary and horrible and the only things that got me through those suicidal times was my children and my faith in Jesus Christ - for He does heal the broken-hearted and binds up our wounds. Sometimes depressed people don't know Him, sometimes they do but they are too far gone to turn to Him for healing, sometimes they just need someone to shake them and say "LOOK UP! Look to Jesus!" not "Shake it off, get over it, take a walk - you'll feel better."

In Brittany Murphy's case - we need to learn to be SO careful with medications. This is the saddest example of how even mixing drugs that are considered safe on their own can be deadly. We need to be aware ourselves and teach our children to know their pharmacists as they grow up, to pick up the phone when they are sick and call them - to see if combining an inhaler with a painkiller and an antibiotic - all prescribed by a doctor - is safe.

But most of all, we need to learn to accept people. We need to love them, no matter who they are or what they do for a living – everyone is valuable in the eyes of God, everyone is created and loved by Him, and everyone deserves to know Him and SEE him in us. I have been guilty of joining in the Mob Mentality regarding celebrity stories, and sharing in the gossip and debates about their lives. But these three stories have touched me somehow. They have made me realize that they deserve to be loved as Christ loves us – because no matter what – He loves them too. So while I’m praying for my friends and family, and my leaders and children and the prayer requests from church – I will add the famous in our society to that list. I’ll pray that they ALL come to know Christ, because nothing else in their lives – or ours – is seeing that all people know Jesus.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,

in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:7

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Moms & Social Networking

Seems a lot of us are struggling with this lately.  I've got several blogging friends who have expressed the same, and I just blogged about spending too much time procrastinating on some very important things this week myself.  It's so easy to just get lost in the world of the Internet - you sit down to check your email, and before you know it 2 hours have passed...or 3...or 4.  All those nifty blogs! All those contests and giveaways to enter and post on your own blog! All those friends to catch up with on Facebook/Twitter/MySpace!  All those LINKS!!!  No, it's not hard to get lost at all.

I've often said that I wish the Internet was what it is now when my children were very small. You all have SO many more resources and - quite literally - the whole world at your fingertips to get advice, support, ideas and virtual fellowship.  (and coupons!!! Oh, what I wouldn't have done for $5 off formula coupons back in the day!) 

However, I also know that if it had been so plentiful then, I'd have been neglecting things at home while I was online... talking with strangers... about things at home!  We got our first computer in 1997 - and I remember too vividly spending way too much time on it then - on dial-up, no less - and making terrible mistakes in my child-rearing & marriage as a result (they seemed justifiable at the time). I thank God and my children for forgiving me every single day.

High-speed internet back then, with all the information out there now??  I'd have been even more plugged in online and plugged out of life - just a fact I'm willing to admit as a hopeless geek.

As an older mother, I want to say to all women reading this - never, ever, EVER let this box we all love so much to take anything from your children.  These moments with them are precious and one day you *will* wish you'd just been sitting in the floor playing with them more than celebrating any other accomplishments you've achieved over the years.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I love seeing God *everywhere*!

Even in random links on the Internet.  :)

One of my Twitter friends linked to this article yesterday morning. I love the image that was used. The name of this photo is "noisy".  The moment I saw it, I thought - that's a perfect visual interpretation of what I feel my brain looks like lately - before I even read the piece.

I saved the link to read later since I was trying to get to work earlier (one of my new goals). So this morning, I got around to reading it and this was just awesome... like God giving me one more little nudge in the right direction through this total stranger I'd never even heard of 24 hours ago:

How NOT to Get Sucked Into Buzz/Twitter/Facebook

Ask yourself this question CONSTANTLY: where can I add the most value to what matters most to me and the people who care about me?

I love spending time on Twitter and getting to know people. I do a few hours a day inside Twitter, but for every bit of time I spend just talking back and forth with people to prove I’m human and that I care, I’m also collecting information for work, for clients, for story ideas, and more. When I feel like I’m just chatting for chatting sake, I ask myself, “where can I add the most value to what matters most to me and the people who care about me?” The answer is rarely, “by chatting about plane delays.” 

If that doesn’t work, use a timer. I have a very simple egg timer software application for my Mac. I set it often. Want the real one? Go to a kitchen store (do they have those any more?) and buy a green pepper egg timer or a cat-shaped one. Whatever. Simple, and yet it works. Allot yourself time. 

Budget. Set an attention budget.

I've actually thought about the egg timer idea before, but haven't gotten around to implementing it.  I think I'll try that, along with asking the question "Where can I add the most value to what matters most to me and the people who care about me?" (or something to that effect.)

What do you think? Do you have an attention budget? Or are you like I have been, just randomly flitting from one mindless thing to the next without realizing how much time it's consuming? (hello, Facebook, I'm looking at you!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Paul said...(or "My Fall From Alacrity")

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

I hate to procrastinate - or rather I hate what results from my procrastination.  But I keep doing it!  I sit and think "I need to do this, that, and the other..." and yet - I sit and do none of them.  I've gone from someone who used to be the one always a little early - just in case - to someone who's hubby tells her daily that she "really need[s] to work on time management".

Last night I seriously prayed about this and asked God to show me how to be more productive and overcome this issue in me.  Here's what I was led to:

* Set the Blackberry to "phone only" during work hours.  No more checking every text message, email, Facebook reply, or Tweet as they occur.  If it's important (my kids, hubby, mom, etc) - they can call me.

* To Do Lists aren't just for enjoying the pretty, colored Post-Its dotting my desk.  I need to actually start DOING the things on them.  Knocked out at least 1 item this morning so far.  Actually 2, if you count the one that says "Blog!" on one of them.

* Possibly, maybe, perhaps....give up the Blackberry altogether. 
I'm still struggling with this last one - however, it would certainly help my first goal, and be cheaper! Since Lent starts tomorrow (thanks for the reminder, Joan!) I may just use that as my "excuse".  More updates on this matter as they arise...

So, those are my three short-term goals.  Oh, one more - get to work before 10am from now on - which means I gotta go!

Happy "gravitationally challenged" Tuesday, everyone!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Do you ever...?

Does anyone else get into these ruts where you just procrastinate about *everything*?? Seriously, I can not get my mind to focus at. all. lately.

This is my desk. 

* That big pile of white papers on the right is work I've brought home the last umpteen Thursdays and not gotten done yet.

* The packages stacked up need to be mailed (that I *will* do today) - been putting that off since last week. I mean, how hard is it to put some books in envelopes & print addresses??

* The post-its are covered with items that need to be done - and the lists just keep growing.  They are small in the pic, but just so you know - there's 3 pads of Post-it's there...all with To-Do Lists.

* There's a bunch of items to list on eBay that you can't see - both on the desk & under the desk in boxes.

Plus - all the clutter makes me CRAZY - so I need to DO all these things to clean my desk off.  

* And this is just the stuff on my desk that needs to be done!  I have 2 appointments today, a house to clean, mounds of laundry to do, floors to mop...Ugh.

And yet, I just wanna sit here and read blogs and surf and drink coffee. Or maybe curl up on the couch with my pups and watch a chick-flick. Or read a book. ~shrug~

I'll be SO glad when Spring gets here! I think it's all this crazy weather that's making me so lazy. Anyone else??

On a positive note: WOW, my monitor looks HUGE in this pic doesn't it?? Thanks to my sweet hubby for the much-needed Christmas gift. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Awesome coupons reset!!

The 75¢ off Dole Salad, $1.00 off Weight Watchers snack cakes, $2.00 off Excedrine, and more awesome coupons have been reset! Get yours before they are all gone by clicking below - use zip code 77477 for the Dole coupon:

Free Grocery Coupons

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

If you don't read anything else today...

This Friday and Saturday - February 12/13 - you might see more young people than usual with writing on their arms. (Moms of teens, you know what I'm talkin' about!) But this week it's different - because this week there's an actual reason for it - and it's pretty awesome

These two days are To Write Love on Her Arms Days 

What's that, you ask?

Here's some quick numbers to give you a hint:

-121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (The World Health Organization)
-18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
-Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General's Survey, 1999)
 -Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30 percent of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem.   (NIMH)
 -2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. (NIMH)
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

To Write Love On Her Arms Day is a day where we can all write the word LOVE on our arms - to show support for those who are fighting against depression and those who are trying to recover.

On this day, just write love on your arms - make it funky, crazy, cool, plain, plaid...(hey, some of you are creative!) - just show it off!

Other people will ask why, and you have the opportunity to tell them you are supporting those with struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

You speak up, for those who sometimes can't find their voice.

You don't remain silent.

Because in some cases, silence kills.

♥ Make love the movement ♥

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Feed the kids. Get a raise. Lose the weight. Clean the house!!

Please note when you read this, "self-love" doesn't mean being conceited or selfish! It means making ourselves the best we can be as women! My personal belief is that this begins with a solid relationship with Jesus Christ, but I also think he gives us tools on this earth to help us along the path. Some of these tools are in Christine's book and the Madly in Love with ME day celebrations! ~Melinda

Guest post by Christine Arylo:

Feed the kids.  Get a raise.  Lose the weight.  Clean the house.  Wear the lingerie!  
Whew!  It is tiring being a woman these days.  We have more opportunities, self-confidence and independence than any generation of women before, yet something isn’t working.  Why is it so exhausting?   How is it that the last 30 years of unparalleled equality has also had the unintended impact of liberating women into a new jail cell?

The answer is pretty straightforward according to Christine Arylo, recovering achievement junkie and doing addict turned inspirational catalyst, author, coach and speaker…we are currently experiencing a “crisis of self-love.” 
“Women today face challenges and pressures like no other generation,” she says.  “The 21st century woman has more opportunities, self-confidence and independence than any generation of women before, yet something isn’t working. While this woman knows she can do anything, she feels a tremendous pressure to do, be and have everything.”  
A recent study by Time Magazine states that 40% of women are the major breadwinners in their families, and 55% report that they still take care of most of the responsibilities at home. Add to that fact that 68% of women see a conflict between working and raising a family, and you can understand why so many women are exhausted, overwhelmed and no happier than their mothers and grandmothers were in the 1970s.
 "Get clear about the areas that you do love about yourself and the areas that you don’t. Put energy into both and make it a practice.” 

Wouldn't you love to do this?  I know I would! 
Arylo encourages women to start with a 40-day self-love practice in any area of her life needing more self-love – having better relationships, taking care of yourself first, treating your body like a temple, expressing yourself fully. “The yogis, metaphysicians and brain scientists agree,” explains Arylo, “that if you can do anything for 40 days you can alter patterns and beliefs that have the power to change your life.”
Arylo gives an example of a 40-day self–love practice focused on relationships.

“Ask yourself, ‘Does every relationship in my life honor and respect me?’  

If the answer is no, you owe it to yourself to straighten out those relationships, or let go of the ones you can’t improve. There is no reason to have a relationship in your life that doesn’t support you to be the best you or create the life you want to live. The only reason to have a relationship is because it helps you be a better person, or it helps you live your dreams.”

“Be honest with yourself.  So many of us say our lives are ‘fine’ but when you truly look at our relationships – friendships, romantic relationships, relatives – that really isn’t the case. We often refuse to face the truth because we are afraid of what the truth will require us to do. For example, we aren’t really afraid to end a relationship, we are more afraid of what people will think.  We are deathly afraid of being alone. And many people can’t handle feeling like a failure. But, self-love requires self honesty,” she says. “It’s not an option.”

“When it comes to self-love and relationships, I believe that every woman, no matter how successful or beautiful she is, desires to be deeply loved. And that love has to start with herself,” she says. “Learning how to both give and receive love, to both have strong boundaries and be vulnerable enough to freely love, is a practice, one that all women can benefit from. And one that you may need some help with.”

“One of the reasons I wrote Choosing ME before WE and started the Madly in Love with ME movement, is to give women a place to connect with other women and learn from each other. We all face the same struggles and challenges, the details just look different. But when we reach out for inspiration, support and wisdom we have the power to change our lives. It is said that it will be women that change this world. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t change anything.”

“Begin by asking yourself what you really want in life,” she says. 
“Then start taking the action steps to fall more and more madly in love…with you.”  
About Madly in Love with ME
Madly in Love with ME launches every year on the day before Valentine’s Day. On February 13th Arylo asks every woman and girl to make a promise of self-love to herself for the year, and to recommit to a life-long self-love promise to know and honor what her heart and soul desire, never settling for less. Arylo encourages every woman and girl to participate in this day. 

“Without self-love, we end up in relationships and lives that don’t support or respect us, that take more than they give and that reflect our own lack of deep unconditional love for the woman we are right now, today.” she says.

To inspire and support women to take this challenge, in 2010, Madly in Love with ME events will take place on February 13th in 4 major cities – San Francisco, Chicago, Orlando and San Diego These ‘Self-Luvapalooza’s’ make self-love a tangible reality for women through experiences, talks, performances, and interactive exercises led by amazing women who have struggled with and overcome the same challenges. Women who attend the flagship San Francisco event at the Claremont Resort and Spa, will spend the day with some of the top transformational teachers and performers of our time!

If the Madly in Love with Me event is not hosted in your town, Arylo encourages every woman to throw your own self-love soiree’. She’s developed an entire kit full of daring yet practical ways to bring more self-love into your life. Download the kit for free at

About Christine Arylo
Christine Arylo is an inspirational catalyst, m.b.a, coach, teacher and speaker. Author of Choosing ME before WE, Arylo’s opinions and techniques have appeared on E! Entertainment, WGN, FOX, CBS and ABC TV as well as in radio stations, spas and business schools across the country.

Contact Christine:
Get the book!
Get the Kit!
Read her blog!
Tweet her!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

My Yummy Lunch Leftovers - Recipe

A couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand (again) at Once a Month Cooking - inspired by OnceAMonthMom (who, ok I'll admit it, I thought meant she was a Mom once a month - maybe stepkids?  Yes, I'm occasionally very slow!).
Anyway... one of the dishes I made was her Mexican Stuffed Shells (courtesy of RecipeZaar).  I never would have thought to combine Mexican with pasta shells, but it was/is Fabulous! ("is" because I'm having leftovers for lunch as I type this).  Hubby gave it two-thumbs up, as well, in between bites. 
Thought I'd pass it on to my readers, in case you're looking for a different dinner idea!  It's super easy and very tasty!  Next time, I think I'll try it with some chopped/cubed chicken instead of ground beef, since we're trying to limit our red meats.



 Brown ground beef and drain.
Add seasoning, water, onion, and 1/2 cup of salsa and 1/4 cup cheese.
Mix together remaining salsa, tomato sauce,and chili powder.
Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking pan.
Fill each shell with the ground beef mixture and place in pan.
Pour remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese on top and garnish with green onion.
Cover and freeze at this point, if you'd like. (see baking instructions below for frozen dish)
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
Defrost overnight and cook from frozen for 2 hours at 300°F.
If desired sprinkle additional cheese on top after baking and return to oven for 5 minutes longer or until cheese melts.