Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Friday, 29 January 2016

Dear Friday

Dear Book Club members, Thanks for bringing great reads to our attention month after month. There are several books I’d have never read if it hadn’t been for you, including this month’s, David and Goliath. I’m sure I’d also never have read Malcolm Gladwell’s other book, Blink, which I also enjoyed. I should read the rest of his books sometime; they’re always thought-provoking.

Dear Writers’ Group, Thanks for the monthly feedback on my work. While the final decision is the author’s to make, you definitely offer food for thought and bring up points I otherwise might have missed. This makes for a much better end product. Our group is supportive, encouraging and honest, and I am so grateful to be part of it.

Dear Workplace, Thanks for supplying fodder for humorous stories. Also, for providing a great bunch of people with whom to work.

Dear Puppy, You are adorable, cuddly and sweet. Your family loves you very much.

Dear PaulDavid Tripp, Thanks for the study on suffering. You’ve given our small group much to consider. Since we all must go through some form of suffering sometime in our lives, it is right that we should know how to approach it properly.

Dear God, Thank You that this world is not all that there is and that we have so much more to look forward to. Thank You for godly teachers who open our eyes to the truth and who encourage us to be in Your Word. Thank you that we have Your Word and the ability to hide it in our hearts through scripture memorization. Thank You for helping me to memorize scripture this year. And thank You that we have much to be thankful for!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Meet Darla

I thought it might be useful to conduct interviews on the subject of friendship and am going to aim for the last Thursday of each month. These will be regular people just like you and me and I hope we can learn something from one another.

My first interview is with Darla, a Facebook friend who grew up on the same street as my husband. The two of us have never met in person (her mom was at my bridal shower), but when I looked for interviewees, Dar was one of the first people to jump at the offer.

Darla is married and has one daughter.

Here’s the script of our conversation:

Thanks for agreeing to do this, Darla. I really appreciate it.

S: For the record, are you an introvert or extrovert? Introverts can have a harder time making friends.

D: I would consider myself mostly an introvert but can be outgoing amongst those I feel close or comfortable with.

S: Actually, I can totally identify with that. Once people get to know me they find out I’m not as ‘quiet’ as their initial impression may have led them to believe.

Other than your introversion, Darla, what is your biggest challenge to developing new friendships?

D: Getting out and making time for myself to see friends.

S: That can be hard, especially when you’re working outside the home. Do you have an established circle of friends that you get together with, or are you more in the market for new ones?

D: I have some established friends, have lost touch with a lot, but am always looking to meet new ones.

S: What is your approach to finding new friends and has your approach been successful? You may have heard I’m looking for new friends too and am open to suggestions on how to meet them.

D: I generally chat with people when I'm out (use to be at dance a lot) and starting up a conversation has been somewhat successful depending on where I met them (again dance was a very social place). Or make friends with people I meet through friends.

S: I’ve heard of people making friends through other friends. I’d be curious to know if other blog readers find this a good way. I guess I’m always worried about the possibility of jealousy or competition, like you might be seen as ‘stealing’ your friends’ friends, instead of both of you expanding your circle. Of course, good friends shouldn’t really think that way. What’s your definition of a good friend?

D: A good friend is someone who you can go for long periods of time without seeing but still feel like you just saw them and is a good listener/good sharer.  One who would help you if you needed help.

S: I definitely have friends like that; I just wish we could see each other more often.

D: Ideally I would love to see my friends once a week, even just for a short chat at Tim Hortons.  But, for me once a month for a longer period would also be satisfying and the most doable.

S: By your own definition, do you think you are a good friend to others?

D: Sometimes yes I'm a good friend but I tend to let hubby/daughter activities take up too much of my time and don't take the "me time" I need in order to see my friends.  I can go months without seeing a friend but would go out of my way to help if they called me up.  I keep in touch with friends via FB and email if I don't physically see them.

S: I think women are like that, and while it’s understandable that we should put our families’ needs at the top of our list, we shouldn’t put ourselves at the very bottom.

D: I’ve learned that over the years and know that I HAVE to have my “me time.”

S: Wise indeed!

You mentioned earlier that a good friend is someone who would help you if you needed help. Can you think of any friends you could call at 2 a.m. and know that they would be there for you?

D: I don't think I would ever call a friend at 2am but I'd probably call my sister.  I would feel that I would inconvenience them.

S: I feel the same way. Unfortunately, I don’t have any siblings to call on and no other family in town.

Do you have any favourite activities to do with friends?

D: I enjoy a lunch date and having a comfortable place to sit and chat.  One of my favourite friends doesn't drive so relies on public transportation.  I pick her up and we go for lunch then either back to her house or my hotel (if I'm staying in town). We usually spend a few hours catching up.

Other times, I'll have my husband take the kids (hers and mine) and my friend and I just hang out and chat at home.
Someone mentioned a book club recently and since I love reading I'm thinking that might be an enjoyable activity, too!

S: I love my book club – that was an instance of bringing neighbours together and then adding some friends into the mix. We have room for more members; it’s too bad you don’t live close enough – it would be great to have you join us.

D: One of these days, I’d love to meet you at a Tim Hortons, at least!

S: Absolutely!

Just a few last questions. Hopefully readers are hanging in there with us!
What does your ideal friendship look like and do you feel you’re pretty intentional about making and keeping friends?

D: An ideal friendship would be comfortable and joyful, no matter what activities are involved.  One that could be maintained with little effort just because it would be so simple.  And, by simple I mean - pick up the phone, send an email or text and bang you have plans to meet up.
As for intentions, my intentions may be good but, as I said, I let other things take over my life.  My intention this year is to be more proactive in keeping in touch.

S: I’ve found that you need to attach your intentions to action. One of my intentions for this year is to do a better job of remembering friends’ special occasions – birthdays, etc. So I have it on my calendar at the beginning of each month to write out the cards and then to put them in the mail at the appropriate time.

On another track, can a friendship run its course? How do you know when it's time to move on?

D: I believe that friendships can run their course. Sometimes there are just changes in life that push friends apart.  I think when you don't get a response to a call or email or if you see that person in passing and they brush you off, it's time to move on.

S: What's the worst thing a friend could do to you?  

D: Probably lie or avoid you because they owe you money.

S: Loaning money is definitely tricky. I’ve loaned money in the past, but I’ve learned it’s not a great idea. And of course, honesty is a key in friendship!
So how do you deal with conflict when it arises?  

D: Usually argue or have a disagreement then not talk for awhile then after cooling off, apologize if needed and talk and hope that that friend reciprocates.

S: Apologies are so important in any relationship and I know some people who have a really hard time with that.

I don’t want to take up any more of your time, so let’s wrap this up with a final question.
What is your best advice on the subject of friendship?

D: Be willing to be flexible and understanding.

S: That is great advice! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on friendship. It also helped me to get to know you a little bit better. If you ever move out this way...

And now, dear readers, if you’d care to chime in (and I hope you do!), please leave a comment below. Darla and I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

One-Off Wednesday: Help

When I started this blog back in January, I thought ‘Webbed Wednesday’ would make for a good theme – introducing readers to a new website, blog or techy thing each week. Readers, it’s not working for me. I can’t imagine coming up with 52 new websites, blog posts or techy things over the course of this next year.


Wednesdays will now be for one-offs, i.e. random topics and thoughts.

Today’s topic is work-related. Some of you know that I work in a public library. Yesterday, toward the end of my shift, one of our more needy computer users approached the desk with this invitation: “If you have the time, inclination, and patience, I have a few questions. You’ll need to come to the computer I’m using.”

Hmmm. Time, check. Patience, check. Inclination? Not so much.

Yes, I walked over and helped him with his tech issues. It’s my job; it’s what they pay me for. And let's not forget my verse for the year.

But really, people should be careful how they phrase their requests for help :)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Book Review: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants

Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company, 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, Psychology

First Lines:
At the heart of ancient Palestine is the region known as the Shephelah, a series of ridges and valleys connecting the Judean Mountains to the east with the wide, flat expanse of the Mediterranean plain. It is an area of breathtaking beauty, home to vineyards and wheat fields and forests of sycamore and terebinth. It is also of great strategic importance.
Goodreads Description:

In his #1 bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the ways we understand and change our world. Now he looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally determined) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success. Drawing upon examples from the world of business, sports, culture, cutting-edge psychology, and an array of unforgettable characters around the world, David and Goliath is in many ways the most practical and provocative book Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.

My Review:

Malcolm Gladwell has a magnificent way of making readers think differently about things we would otherwise take for granted. Of course smaller class sizes are better, of course we should be crack down on crime, of course we want a medical doctor who is sympathetic and has a good bedside manner. Really? Hmmm... Think again.

This book was our January book club selection and provoked a good discussion. For some of us it was very timely – particularly the concept of the small fish in a big pond vs. the big fish in a small pond. One member has a granddaughter who was applying to the International Baccalaureate program, competing with over 900 students for one of 112 spots. My son is looking at applying to universities. When my friend’s granddaughter didn’t get into the IB program, she was able to encourage her – you do well in your small pond; in the big pond you would be competing with all of these other students for top marks and your future might be more difficult and discouraging. With my son, I’ve been able to say, “I know you’re looking at this prestigious university for your studies, but don’t feel down-hearted if you get accepted by your second choice. You may actually better flourish in that environment.” 

Another concept that resonated with our group was that of remote and near misses. When one member’s husband suffered a mild heart attack, he developed a feeling of invincibility, having missed the big one. He became almost fearless in the choices he made.

Throughout the book Gladwell presents compelling examples and research to turn traditional thinking on its ear. As he tells the reader (p. 62), “We all assume that being bigger and stronger and richer is always in our best interest. isn’t.” 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, 25 January 2016

Intentionally Speaking

On Saturday I attended the funeral of an 83-year-old man. Widowed just over five years ago, at the age of 78 he wrote in his journal: I want to find ways to make an impact on the lives of others in whatever time remains to me. I want to make a difference, and I want to go deeper into God’s Word.

And then, he didn’t just close his book and nod off by the fire; he actually set out to accomplish his goals. He wrote eloquent cards and letters to his children and grandchildren, notes that built them up, pointed out their good qualities and encouraged them. He actively participated in several prayer meetings and Bible studies and studied scripture on his own, asking thought-provoking questions and making copious notes on everything he discovered. His last few years were rich, all because he was intentional about how he lived them. And so his funeral service was a kind of celebration as he was admired by those he left behind.

That’s how I want to live. Hopefully I have more than five years left to me; I’m a lot younger than he was. But you never know, and so you must make the most of each day that is given.

Off the rails
Three of January’s weeks have already passed. The first week of my intentionality calendar worked very well, the last two less so. With the success of week one, I think I got lazy at consulting the calendar, but I also permitted contraventions I should not have. While I’d scheduled Saturday evenings as veg-out movie nights, I ended up spending more evenings than I now care to count binge-watching Hawaii Five-0 and Person of Interest. As a result, I did very little decluttering, which would have been more profitable.

Time to get back on track.

I had a conversation with my husband last night and suggested that we take this week to identify three or four areas to work on over the next 12 weeks—home, health, work, for example—and come up with some goals, objectives and strategies so that we accomplish some things. Next Sunday we’ll share and discuss our plans (communication!) so we’re on board with and can help each other. I think this will be more beneficial than going it alone.

No person is an island and intentionality doesn’t just happen. I want to leave a legacy of personal achievement. How about you?

A little worse for the wear, but back on track