Saturday, September 29, 2018

#ShareFourSomethings -- September edition

I'm participating in my friend Heather's #ShareFourSomethings concept -- a monthly post to share Something Loved, Something Said, Something Learned, Something Read.
 
In September:
 
Something I loved was...

...getting to be with my family on my Daddy's birthday.
 
We kicked off the month with a visit to Mississippi for (and on) my dad's birthday. All the stars aligned so that everyone was off work and available to be there. Even though it was rainy, we had such a nice visit.


 
Something that was said was...
 
"...you're doing a great job."
 
Simple and to the point, no flowery language, but still so heartfelt and so very needed. I appreciate being appreciated -- and knowing that I am contributing.
 

Something I learned was...

...a little more about the Enneagram. This new-to-me personality assessment isn't rocket science by any means, but it does require some digging in, and it seems that the exploration could last forever. (I'm still not rock solid on which of the nine types I am, but I'm leaning toward nine itself.)
 
And something I read was...


...all the things Kelly Corrigan publishes.
 
I don't know why it took me a while to come across her, but her writing style is up my alley, and I love her insight on life, death and all the things in between.
 
Although I love all of her books, the first one I read is The Middle Place, and I can't get enough of it. 
 
 
If you're interested in linking up your #ShareFourSomethings post, feel free to visit Heather's blog! If you don’t have a blog, feel free to comment with your own four somethings are. We all have four somethings to share!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

HIIT me baby, one more time.

I haven't wanted to put this out there (or buy new clothes) until I thought I was fully committed, but I have an announcement.

I'm no longer just donating to the gym. We are now in a relationship.

For some reason, it took trying exercise as a reprieve for anxiety for me to really get into it, and wouldn't you know -- it works! If only someone would conduct some research or write an article on this or something. ;-)

I'm limited to a certain type of bike at the gym because of a foot impediment, so really getting a good workout was taking more time and some creativity...until I tried HIIT. High-intensity interval training is not newj -- it has been around for ages -- but I just learned about it in the past year.

Image result for hiit timer appThe idea is to alternate intense bursts of exercise with shorter periods of rest, then repeat.

The result? I definitely get a more intense workout using this method. I sweat more, my heart rate gets much higher, I'm able to burn more calories in one sitting, and I just feel the overall burn. It's like getting a better bang for your buck, without dedicating any more time to that exercise.

So how do you get started?

I'm sure there are much more structured and beneficial approaches, but I literally just searched for HIIT in the App Store and found a free timer.

The one I selected has you warm up for 10 seconds (yellow-gold timer), go at a normal rate for a certain period (green timer), then gives you a window of time to exercise at an intense rate (red timer). If you're using earbuds or want to look at something else on your phone while working out, the timer will run in the background and alert you to the next phase with a traditional kitchen timer sound. On the bike, I like to have the timer up on my screen so I can keep track of which intensity to exercise at while still focusing on audiobooks or podcasts.

Do you have experience with HIIT or other resources that might help? I'd love to hear about it!

HIIT and I have been connecting for a few months now, so I'm thinking this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Goin’ To Carolina in my Mind: How to Help After Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence, photo courtesy of CNN

It’s hard to watch disaster strike and not know how to help.

When our house flooded a couple of years ago, I swore I would use the experience for good. Unfortunately, that means offering tips because others are going through one of the worst times in their lives.

If you're like me and want to help friends and family affected by Hurricane Florence but aren't sure what to do, here are a few things that helped us in the hours and days when several feet of water sat in our house, and in the weeks and months after floodwaters receded.

For people who are still in their homes and are in danger of flooding:
  • Put valuables in a high place, like the top of a closet. If they have a second story, that's preferable.
  • If you can get out:
    - Fill your car up with gas.
    - Park one vehicle in spot that’s higher than where your house is.
    (If you’re under curfew, stay put. Please follow your local law enforcement's rules. Seriously.)
  • Put these things in a garbage bag and keep them close:
    - Important papers
    - Special pictures not on digital file
    - Jewelry
    - Electronics that would be difficult or expensive to replace, or that house your only copies of files. (I still mourn my waterlogged external hard drive with pictures from the last 15 years of life and friends and travel.)

If you know someone whose home has flooded:
  • Start a GoFundMe for them. This feels odd to even type -- even after we benefited from so many people's kindness -- but whether or not your affected friends have flood insurance, being able to access funds quickly will be invaluable as the weeks and months after this weather event go by. Some people will prefer to do something "tangible," like donating some of the items listed below, but I speak from experience when I say that every $5 donation helps with insulation, paint, contractor fees, cabinet pulls, groceries...the list goes on.

    And the sooner the GoFundMe is active, the better. People across the country will see footage on the news and will want to help. A friend did this for us, and we are forever grateful.
  • Secure a storage unit nearby that hasn't been flooded. They'll go fast once the waters recede, and if anything can be salvaged from a flooded home, it will need a place to stay during the rebuilding. Also, people who have flooded may be given furniture or may be able to purchase some, and they’ll have to put it somewhere. It's better to pay for one month and not need it than to realize you need one when none are available.

If you are nearby and can get tangible items to people whose houses have flooded, some immediate needs after the flood may be:
  • Gift cards (Home Depot, Lowe's, grocery stores, restaurants - fast food and sit-down, hotels, Visa)
  • Bath soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Hygiene products
  • Laundry basket
  • Non-perishable food
  • Clothes (underwear, pajamas, gym clothes to gut/rebuild the house in, tennis shoes, work/school clothes, work/school shoes)

Please keep in mind that until your friends and family have settled into a temporary space, they will not have any place to store even the smallest things. The most helpful thing for us was when friends offered to hold onto our items for us, and told us to let them know when we were ready for them.

Some immediate tangible needs after the water recedes as they clean and restore their homes may be:
  • Contractor-grade trash bags
  • Heavy-duty work gloves
  • Tools to gut their house (pull up flooring, tear out sheetrock, etc.)
  • Tables to put items on that they will want to save.
    These tables may be used for a long time afterwards -- we were still using one from our church when we moved back into our house 9 months later and didn't have countertops yet!
  • Ice chest(s)
  • Brooms
  • Shop vacuum
  • Rubbermaid bins to save salvaged items
  • Rake(s)
  • Hand sanitizer

Please keep in mind that until your friends and family have settled into a temporary space – and maybe even after – they will not have any place to store even the smallest things. It’s so nice of people to want to give tangible things, but it’s so hard to find a place for anything when you’re in this situation.

Things that can help anyone who is affected:
  • See the GoFundMe note above.
  • Encourage anyone affected to keep a binder or expanding file for all documentation. It will be a long process, and they may have to move into more than one temporary space during the rebuilding. Starting out the process with that organization in place will be helpful.
  • Start an Amazon wish list for them. They will have many needs over a long period of time, and it could be helpful for you to move forward with a list of basics that they can edit and populate as they have time (which could well be a month from now in between work, rebuilding a house, and other responsibilities).

#prayingforcarolina #carolinastrong

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Houston, we have some solutions: How to help Texas (and Florida) after Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma + the Houston flood

Survivor's guilt during hurricanes is not a new feeling for someone who grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and going through the Louisiana flood last year has given me an even more unique perspective on the images from Texas this weekend.

That experience has also given those of us who have gone through this an opportunity to share what helped us in the hours, days and weeks after the floodwaters receded.

If you're like me and want to help friends and family in Texas but aren't sure what to do, here are a few tips:

For friends still in their homes:
  • Put valuables in a high place, like the top of a closet. If they have a second story, that's preferable. If they are able to leave the house, put these things in a garbage bag and keep them close:
    • Important papers
    • Special pictures not on digital files
    • Jewelry
    • Electronics that would be difficult or expensive to replace

For those whose homes have flooded:
    https://www.gofundme.com/becomingmaricelli
  • Start a GoFundMe for them. This feels odd to even type -- even after we benefited from so many people's kindness -- but whether or not your affected friends have flood insurance, being able to access funds quickly will be invaluable as the weeks and months after this weather event go by. Some people will prefer to do something "tangible," like the things listed below, but I speak from experience when I say that every $5 donation helps with insulation, paint, contractor fees...the list goes on. And the sooner the GoFundMe is up, the better. People across the country are seeing this footage on the news, and they want to help. A friend did this for us, and I will forever thank her.

  • Secure a storage unit nearby that hasn't been flooded. They'll go like hotcakes, and if anything can be salvaged, they will need a place to put their belongings. Also, as they rebuild, they may be given or purchase furniture and will have to put it somewhere. It's better to pay for one month and not need it than to realize you need one and none are available.


  • If you are nearby and can get tangible items to people whose houses have flooded, some immediate needs after the flood may be:
    • Bath soap
    • Shampoo/conditioner
    • Laundry basket
    • Non-perishable food 
    • Clothes (underwear, pajamas, gym clothes to gut/rebuild the house in, tennis shoes, work/school clothes, work/school shoes)
    • Gift cards (Home Depot, Lowe's, grocery stores, restaurants - fast food and sit-down, hotels, Visa)
Please keep in mind that until your friends and family have settled into a temporary space, they will not have any place to store even the smallest things. If you can hold onto the items for them and ask when they are ready for them, that will be most helpful.
  • And some immediate needs after the water recedes as they clean and restore their homes may be:
    • Contractor-grade trash bags
    • Heavy-duty work gloves
    • Tools to gut their house (pull up flooring, tear out sheetrock, etc.)
    • Tables to put items on that they will want to save. (These tables may be used for a long time afterwards -- we were still using one from our church when we moved back into our house and didn't have countertops yet!)
    • Ice chest
    • Brooms
    • Shop vacuum
    • Rubbermaid bins to save salvaged items
    • Rake
    • Hand sanitizer
Please keep in mind that until your friends and family have settled into a temporary space, they will not have any place to store even the smallest things. If you can hold onto the items for them and ask when they are ready for them, that will be most helpful.

       
  • Encourage them to keep a binder or expanding file for all documentation. It will be a long process, and your friends may move more than once. Starting out with that organization in place will be helpful.


  • Start an Amazon wish list for them. They will have many needs over a long period of time, and going ahead and preparing a list that they can populate as they have time (which may be a month from now in between work and gutting a house and other responsibilities) will be more helpful than you know.

If you something to add to this list, please leave a comment.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Thoughts that may be running through a #FloodBrain near you

Just in case you'd like a glimpse of what's running through the mind of your coworker or friend or cousin who flooded and whose eyes look so vacant 73% of the time, here you go:

  1. Ooooh! I forgot to call {fill in the blank with very important person who must be called during business hours only, Monday through Friday only, about a time-sensitive, house-related project so that we can live in our house sooner vs. later}.
  2. I've got to get my car tag for my new car since my old one flooded. But I can't keep running errands at lunch like this. That will take hours, I know. CALGON!
  3. Did we use the last Walmart gift card the other day? People are SO nice! We don't deserve all this.
  4. I wonder if my gym shorts survived. Heck, I wonder if my GYM survived.
  5. Did we really get flooded? Surreal.
  6. I have to focus!
  7. I'm trying. I'm really trying.
  8. Can {insert piece of furniture} be salvaged? I've gotta figure that out this week!
  9. FO. CUS.
  10. Did I thank so-and-so for that nice thing? I've GOT to do that!
My coworker calls it #floodbrain. 

Best. Description. Ever.

(But we really are trying.)


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Be My Guest, Be My Guest: Jill Richardson posts about An Unexpected Party!

I feel so FANCY. I have a guest blogger! But, even fancier because she's an AUTHOR. With BOOKS. Check out her guest post today, and definitely check out her party, too. (Thanks, Jill!)

Jill says:


Three years ago, I wrote a book about hobbits. And elves. And dwarves. And some pretty kick-butt women as well. Mostly, about God. It was designed as a devotional for teens, but a lot of adults have loved it, too. Here’s the back cover copy:

“Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien's famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!”

A lot has happened in three years, and the most exciting part is that teens have been coming back to the Bible through this book. Parents have emailed me with their excitement over kids who seemed to be drifting away from faith who kindled a new interest in studying their Bibles when they discovered that some of their favorite characters could be related to it. Also, they discovered they didn’t have to leave their sense of humor or their brains behind to believe the Scriptures. Amen! I have been humbled and grateful for these messages.

I’ve had the opportunity to go into schools to teach kids about literature, heroes, faith, and their place in the big story. I have met some incredibly smart, thoughtful, kind kids. They are the best.

I love Tolkien, and I love teens/young adults, and I LOVE connecting the next generation to faith. It’s been a journey — an adventure, one might say! — that I can’t wait to continue.

Thank you for the chance to share the story of Hobbits, You, and Spiritual World of Middle-earth. Below is more of the story, for those who have asked, in an Author Q&A.

I am having a party over on Facebook, and I would love it if you could join me. Come to the party, enter contests, win prizes, have fun, see weird photos, get recipes for hobbit food. What
else could anyone want? #hobbitdevo.

For those who have asked questions about the book — here is an author Q&A.

1. Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?
Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don't think so.” Can you think of a better way to bore a fifteenish-year- old girl? Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien's skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

2. Why would teenagers want to read this book?
It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don't have much in common with real teenagers.But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien's world, it's all about tasks and unique callings; it's about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it?

3. How is this book different from all the other ones out there on this topic?
Well, I have a professor who endorsed my book who said in his reply email, “When I first received your request, I thought, "No, not another one of those books! Then I read it and loved it.” So—it/s not another one of those books? Another reviewer called it “delightfully sarcastic and irreverent while deeply spiritual.” I rather like being called that.

Jill Richardson, author of
Hobbits, You and the Spiritual World
4. What's here they won't get in the book or the movie?
What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

5. Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
Sooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn't at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she's a princess who isn't afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

6. Describe the process of writing each chapter.
Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

7. What was the best moment in working on this book?
It had to be when I got the endorsement from said professor. He's a giant in the field, and I knew sending the request it was such a reach. No way I'd even make it past the gatekeepers. But I did. It felt like I'd applied to Harvard and got a scholarship. I learned a great lesson in just going for it.

8. So, the movies. Pro, con-- are you a purist or an action-adventure junkie?
Hmm. Leaning more toward the former. But not completely. The thing for me is character development. What makes a story great is what choices the character has to make and how his or her journey is followed. The first Hobbit movie did OK in that regard, but I really think the second one failed. It lost track of its focus. I don't mind additions and changes that help move things along—I LOVED the LOTR movies, changes and all. But in this last installment the main character is all but forgotten. It seems he's just sold out to a lot of video game crap I'd expect from lesser directors.

9. Why do you think Tolkien is of such enduring interest to people?
The reasons I mention in question one. People can completely relate to his characters. They are not larger than life—they are us. (Except maybe a wizard or two. They're a bit larger than we are.) They don't start out amazing—they grow into it with hard work and love. That's who we are, or who we should be. And we know that. We feel it. It's very real. Also, everyone feels intrinsically called to something important. We are constantly seeking that. Some find it—some don't. But we're pulled toward stories that speak to that.

10. Do you really own Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and can you really beat anyone at it?
Short answer—yes. Thought I am a bit rusty. OK, my middle daughter and I are a pretty matched pair. But put the two of us together on a team—yeah, bring it on.

11. Tell me something more about you.
I used to teach high schoolers, and I loved it. Odd enough for you? I truly think they are a great age. I've spent ten years working in community theater, performing and directing. I have pictures of me doing so that will never see the light of Facebook. Pink hair, purple tights, giant false eyelashes? Yep, I've done it on stage. But—I'm a flaming introvert. Hugely so. I am also a pastor, which is a fun bit of mold breaking as well as serious stuff. I love my three daughters and one husband, manage our three cats, garden on an acre in the western suburbs of Chicago, and plan our next vacation as soon as we get home from the last one.

Learn more about Jill on social media, and don't forget to check out her Facebook party:

jillmrichardson.com
facebook.com/jillwrites
twitter.com/JillMarieRichar
https://www.instagram.com/jillmrichardson2/
pinterest.com/jimari/

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Life Lessons from Ringo: #laflood edition.

All I ever needed to know about coping with flooding, I learned from our dog.

While Michael and I struggle daily to handle Life After The Flood physically, mentally, emotionally and financially, don't worry, because Ringo is just.fine.

With that, I bring you a few observations straight from the beagle himself:
  1. Toys are not essentials. You may have loved them, they may have occupied your time, and it may make you sad to see them in yucky mud, but when it comes down to it, toys are not the end game. Love, faith, friends and family are the biggest priorities.
  2. Keep your personality. Even if others know what happened to you but they treat you kindly and normally, and you react with normalcy, guess what? NEW FRIEND!
  3. Find the bright side. According to my dad, my food bowls and Kong toy were "total losses" (whatever that means), but because of going all these new places, I've smelled all kinds of interesting scents, met great friends, and adjusted to new locations. Change can be good, y'all.
  4. Bloom where you're planted. Since the flood, I have been in three different friends' houses and I have loved every single one. My situation has not been the same in each place, and I have had to adjust, but there's something to be happy about everywhere. Also, if people don't love
    me, I just keep going. MY people love me. That's what matters. Right?
  5. Schedules are important, yo. Even if your house is uninhabitable, don't let anyone or anything keep you from eating and sleeping (even those pesky humans and their "priorities"). 

Ringo is always happy to add insight to life adventures, and you can often see him smiling on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Find him using the hashtag #heyringo. 

Much love from Baton Rouge!