17 May 2017

My Whereabouts, New Website, Etc.

The Favourite Poet - Lawrence Alma-Tadema - Public Domain
Dear Ladies,

I pray this day finds you feeling well, doing good, and sharing your joie de vivre with those in your sphere of influence.  I thank everyone who has written or posted a comment asking about my well-being.  I hit another snag health-wise, but I am now enjoying more good days than not.  I was able to teach my class yesterday afternoon and to mentor a student, so those were good activities.

Another good activity:  Last weekend, I spent some time putting together a temporary website, which I hope that you will visit and like.  The process was surprisingly easy.  Eventually, I will figure out how to put the domain I already know on the new website, but that will have to wait.  Here is the the link:  https://fwclass.wixsite.com/cynthiaberenger

Other than homeschooling and the bit of online activity, I have been resting and taking good care of myself.  To those I owe correspondence, please know that I will write as soon as I can.

Please pray for me and know that I pray for you.

Have a fascinating day!

Agape always,

04 May 2017

Wondering Wednesday: "How Can I Keep from Being Distracted from My Home Duties?"

Clip art is courtesy of Microsoft.
Dear Ladies,

I received today's question from a student who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and thought that other women might struggle with the same issue.  This response is based on my own very subjective experience with Attention Deficit Disorder (my diagnosis does not include the hyperactivity component) and should not be taken as medical or psychological or any other type of professional advice.

I have found distraction to be unavoidable in my life.  For instance, on Tuesday, I should have concentrated on homeschooling, a few important homemaking tasks, and preparing to give my class at 5:00 p.m.  I received some new information, however, and ended up becoming distracted from the three categories of work I needed to do as I sought more insight about the new information.

The first strategy I use to avoid distraction is 
pre-planning as much as possible.

The homeschooling proceeded well because I was pre-prepared,  having written the schedule for 175 days of lesson plans earlier in the year.  Homeschooling--which I have been doing for three decades now--tends to function almost on auto-pilot.  

The homemaking tasks are more-or-less organized as I use an effective, but simple, plan, the tickler file method promoted by Pam Young and Peggy Jones in their book, Sidetracked Home Executives.

The class, too, has an organization because I have been teaching it for many years now, so except for individualizing the class to students' specific needs, the class structure essentially remains the same.  However, even with the strong organization and pre-planning of the class, technical problems, Internet outages, and other problems outside my control can occur, which result in my becoming distracted.

The second strategy I use to deal with distraction is "The Must List."

When the ADD symptoms are twinging and/or when life is swinging, I make a list of not more than five tasks that I must complete that day.  That way, when I become distracted, I can catch myself and return to the five.  

The third strategy I use to deal with distraction is a timer.

I learned about this strategy from Marla Cilley, also known as The Flylady, and probably other people have taught this strategy, too.  I started by setting a timer for five minutes, telling myself, "You can stay on task for five minutes."  After several months, I raised the time to ten minutes and, eventually, to fifteen minutes.  Even today, however, after many  years of using this technique, when I am experiencing particularly pronounced ADD symptoms, remaining on task for fifteen minutes is all I can do.

I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,

26 April 2017

Wondering Wednesday: "Only Three Outfits for a Single Woman???"

Portrait of a Young Woman - Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun - Public Domain
Dear Ladies,

Reader Nena asked today's question, based on last week's Wondering Wednesday.

For any woman, the key to forming a versatile wardrobe is the clever combining of separates, so even though one has few pieces, one may combine them in a large number of ways.  

Single women, because most of them work away from home, do need a separate work wardrobe, but the rule of three can apply to keep the clothing expense to a minimum.  Three jackets or cardigans, three tops, and three skirts go a long way toward meeting a working woman’s wardrobe needs. These nine pieces combine to form twenty-seven outfits, if the colors and textures work together.  

What about clothes for dates?  The etiquette of dating/courtship varies greatly based on location and culture, so I can only write from the customs here in the United States.  Here, most dates are  casual: picnics, sporting events, activities with each other’s families, outdoor activities, and other similar functions.  Today, hardly anyone under the age of sixty does the “dinner and a movie” date that was popular when I was in my teens and twenties, so a great number of dressy clothes are not necessary for dating.  Three tops and three skirts make nine outfits, which would seem to cover quite a few dates before becoming repetitive.  I don’t believe that most men care about the clothing that women wear, as long as the outfits are attractive, modest, and appropriate to the activity.

I believe that many men fear marrying someone who wastes money on expensive clothes and marrying someone who only sees them as meal tickets or means to an end. Showing men that we value the womanly art of thrift can help to alleviate those fears. 

Buying expensive clothes isn’t sinful or anything like that, if the clothing can be easily afforded, but how we spend our money shows what we value.  Answering the question “Why do I dress the way I do?” helps to clarify values and priorities.  

I hope that my little “woman-to-woman” ideas have helped.

Agape always,

20 April 2017

Wondering Wednesday: "What Do You Consider a Minimum Wardrobe?"

Clip Art is Courtesy of Microsoft.
Dear Ladies,

Are you feeling well, doing good, and sharing your joie de vivre with others?  I hope so!  

The question for today reflects a new anti-materialistic spirit that is permeating the younger people in the world, or so it seems to me, anyway.  Younger people are rejecting the "gotta have more stuff" spirit that has led many cultures in our world for the past several decades.  

I say, good for them!  There's much more to life than the accumulation of unneeded material goods.

What I consider to be a minimal wardrobe follows "The Rule of Three" for clothing:  one to wear, one in the closet, one in the laundry.  Thus, a woman needs three aprons, three housedresses, and three "going out" outfits.  To stretch the wardrobe even farther, the "going out" outfits could be three tops and three skirts, making nine outfits, plenty of clothing for nearly any woman.  

A minimal wardrobe would be problematic for a woman who did not have her own laundry facilities; at the same time, if a woman knew that she had fewer clothing options without spending two hours going to the laundromat, she might be even more careful than usual to avoid soiling her clothes.  

As always, I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped you.

Agape always,

15 April 2017

Another Reason for Mom to be Serene

Young Mother Sewing - Mary Cassatt - Public Domain
Because I am widowed now, my number one earthly concern is not my husband but my children.  But even for mothers who are fortunate enough to be married (which seems an odd thing to write but there it is), children remain a very high priority.  I truly believe that raising our children to be healthy, society-building adults is the most important contribution that women make to the wider world.

Therefore, I read with interest an article from the May 2015 issue of Obesity Review by Eleanor Tate and company: "Do Stressed Mothers Have Heavier Children?".  Ms. Tate and her fellow researchers analyzed the results of seventeen different studies on childhood obesity and its prevention, and they found a relationship between mothers' stress levels and children's unhealthy eating:  when mothers are more stressed, children are less likely to consume fruits, vegetables, and other health-promoting foods (from the article's abstract). 

Perhaps the effect of mothers' stress levels on their children is more pronounced because mothers generally spend more time with their children than fathers do or because mothers who are stressed model unhealthy eating behaviors for their children.  Whatever the reason behind the effect, the effect is undeniable at this point.

What's a mother to do?

I can only speak for myself, of course, but I find the following activities helpful to increase my feeling of serenity and to decrease my feeling of stress:

  1. Pray.  Prayer is reaching out to God in a verbal way, whether through the spoken word or through thought.  If you don't believe in God, I suppose that meditation would be a substitute, but I don't know that much about the practice, hence the supposition.
  2. Learning to be Content. This one is difficult.  The world's consumer-based economy rests on women being discontented with their lives.  "I'm ugly, so I need this cosmetic." "My clothes are out of style, so I need new."  "Our car isn't as nice as the neighbors'.  Let's purchase a new model."  To help me to be content, I have learned to focus on what is right in my life without ignoring the problems I face.
  3. Practicing Positive Problem-Solving.  Rather than stomping around the house or repeatedly "venting," I try to think of actual, practicable solutions to problems.   I start by brainstorming possibilities: listing anything that comes to mind without judgement.  I then remove or modify the ideas that are a bit on the outrageous side and narrow until I have a few workable solutions. Do all my solutions work?  No, but coming up with possibilities keeps me moving forward in a healthy way.
  4. Find Something Beautiful in Nature Each Day.  When life is particularly stressful, seeing the world as an ugly place comes easy.  I have found it helpful to look for something beautiful in nature each day: insects (some insects are quite beautiful in their own way); leaves; birdsong; cloud patterns; stars; moonlight; warm sunlight or the breeze on my skin.
  5. Take Some Physical Exercise.  A few minutes' walk or turning on some music and dancing for a while helps my feeling of serenity almost immediately.
  6. Take Some Mental Exercise.  I have discussed my compulsive reading before, so I won't bore you with that.  In addition to reading, I have found crossword puzzles and Su Do Ku to be helpful ways to boost my serenity level.  
Your results may vary on all of these suggestions, of course, but as always, I hope that my little woman-to-woman ideas have helped.

Agape always,

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