Archive for category Life Management

Episode #71 Money That Buys Better Haves

Are you ready to kick your buts?

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We’re going to eliminate excuses, challenge ourselves to change some stuff, and manage our time, energy, and priorities well.

Let’s do this!

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The entire month of April, I’m coaching you on finances (from a single mom’s perspective!). This episode challenges you to focus on the “must haves,” and things that can bring more time, energy, and resources to your life.

And, don’t forget!

You can participate with me in the online community room each week and get access to your exclusive Monthly Think Drink Maintenance Video where I tackle your Questions about each episode and coach you further. If you’re not registered for your Think Drink Maintenance, sign up today!

 


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The Gift of Gab! Episode #17: Poor Doesn’t Equal Dumb

More money makes you smarter and wiser, right?

Poor people or those with less aren’t as educated and smart, right?

Listen to this episode now and read the rest of the post below…

https://player.cinchcast.com/?show_id=5641215&platformId=1&assetType=single

Have you ever met someone who knows what you should do to make your life more like theirs? They were the person who had all the answers…or at least thought they did, and they sure weren’t shy about giving all their opinions to you as if you needed them to not be as poor and dumb as they saw you to be. Or, have you been this person who sometimes treats other people this way?

My question is…why do we label and judge what we don’t know? You’ve probably heard the judgements, too…

Poor people should…

  • work or get a better job
  • have more reliable transportation
  • not have cell phones or pets
  • go to colleges they can’t afford

Poor people aren’t capable of making good choices or they don’t choose to.

Poor people can’t raise children who stay out of trouble and succeed.

Poor people can’t keep jobs.

Poor people don’t understand everything.

The labeling goes on and on  and on.

Now, while some may argue that the poor are poor by their lifestyle choices and spending habits, I will say that while it may be true in a few cases, it is not the majority of them. In my book, the poor are the truest and toughest form of survivor that exists in the world.

How?

Poor can survive on very little.

The poor can create things out of nothing, because opportunity is all they need to succeed. Most don’t want a handout, they simply want a chance and for someone to believe they can. Most statistics deflate that chance even before they start.

As a single mother, the labeling continues based on those statistics: it’s unlikely that you can raise well behaved children, who can stay out of trouble, not use drugs, not become teenage parents, and climb out of poverty if only one income is the source of provision in such a family. While it may be true for some, it is not true for all. While one person may seem poor to someone with more, the poor might be right where they want to be with their priorities, yet we (as a culture) don’t usually see our priorities as successful unless they are attached to making money.

So when you’re poor, you get people telling you what you should do. And they will also continually tell you what you shouldn’t do. And they’ll even go as far as to tell you who, what, how, and why you need their advice to succeed, so you can look and act just like them.

This. gets. old.

And it’s not needed. Success is not looking just like you. Or me. It’s individualistic. And there are some REALLY successful poor people that have lived in our world: Mother Theresa is just one who made a difference without riches. But take a minute to Google this search phrase: “Successful poor people” and tell me what you see in the results. Yep, successful poor people were only successful because they became rich, famous, celebrities, or millionaires. But I’ve met people by serving in community who I’ll tell you are genuinely smart, and they are successful, but they don’t have two dimes to their names. Money does not make you smart. And the lack of money does not make you dumb.

The point of this episode is to challenge all of us to stop and think about the words and advice and opinions we dole out to those less fortunate than the self. Does someone struggling need your advice or opinion about their situation? Probably not.

Do they need your encouragement and belief that they can succeed and that everything will be ok? Absolutely.

Again, as we approach the holidays, I challenge everyone in the wide and vast internet land out there to stop giving opinions and advice to people and simply give them belief. If they need help, by all means help them. But don’t help them with your advice and opinions attached to it. What you say and how you say it even if meant for good, can become very hurtful and in a world where everyone is issuing their “how I did” or “you should do what I did to succeed stories”.  Many times what you are truly insinuating by what you say (no matter how positive you believe it is) is that they should be more like you, and if they’re not, in terms of financial stability, is that they are too stupid to make the right choices to live a life of success. Yet that success is truly only unique to you and your priorities. It does not define success to another living in an entirely different lifestyle or situation.

I throw a caution flag to remind us that being poor does not equal being dumb. If you hang out with the poor people, you’ll be surprised to learn that many of them have a high school diploma, grew up in middle class families, work, raise their children, and do what they can with what they have to get by. And some of them have none of that, but are still successful and are definitely not dumb. They just have different priorities and are wildly successful in living them out…even penniless.

Do they need your advice on what you think is a successful life for them? No.

Do they need your opinions on what you feel they are doing or have done wrong? No.

What they DO need is for you just to be an encouragement, believe in them as a human, and give them credit for being such an incredible survivor. Because many times, those who have nothing, never quit. They never give up. They will find a way where there doesn’t seem to be one. And that, my friends, cannot be done by idiots or weak people.

The poor may need food. Shelter. Clothes. And a hot meal. The poor may be simply enduring medical conditions that have taxed them beyond belief. They may be single parents surviving on one income. They may be highly educated people feeling the burdens of hefty student loan payments in a shaky and jobless economy. The poor may be some of the most intelligent and trustworthy people you’ll ever meet. They just don’t have money or material possessions to make them valuable to this society. Sure, they may need help from time to time. But it doesn’t mean they are lazy, unemployed, stupid, or fools making stupid choices on purpose.

Unless you know what it’s like to survive on nothing but mere opportunity and hope, you may not get it. But whether or not anyone gets it, we can all do one thing to make this world a better place. Share and help people without giving your opinions and unsolicited advice, and focus more on simply loving people and being an encouragement to them.

More lives can be changed because of your belief in them than your opinion of them.

Just sayin…we ALL need to be aware and embrace what we give.

Just give love. The words are just not necessary.

As for me, I propose we stop using the word “help” when helping others and replace it with love, so we simply begin to “love” others. If we replace the word help with love, we can’t take credit for giving to someone in need, and we hopefully will stop adding strings to it in the form of advice or our prideful opinions which tend to make us look better than them.

The next time you see someone while you’re out and about: Remember…poor doesn’t equal dumb, and love conquers and covers more than smarts ever will. Be generous. But, let’s leave our opinions and advice at home.

Give love. That’s all we need to do.

 

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EXCESSorizing (From A Life Management Perspective)

Black and white head shot of Christine PechsteinI love Thanksgiving. I really do.

I love looking at life to see how God’s blessings have provided for my family and I on a daily basis and thanking him for it. He is our Creator. Provider. Our Sustainer.

I love thanking Him and offering praise for His handiwork and presence in my days, getting me through life, and providing all the necessities I will need to stay on course. His blessings and provisions are plentiful, always on time, and provide exactly what we need.

As we gathered today, something struck me as the family corralled around the dinner table. In one word, it was EXCESS.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The food and company was such a blessing for my kids and I, and it was an incredible sharing of food and celebration with many. But holy-moley, it wasn’t just a dinner table we gathered around. It was a 6 foot long table brought in to hold all of the food, because there was that much food! Come hungry! There was no way it would fit on a table with us as we gathered to feast.

Bounty? Yes. Abundance. Absolutely. Excess? Quite possibly. Did we truly need that much? Probably not. Delicious? And how! It was an incredible meal!

I began to ponder how we live life and how the ways of this world entice us to live that life.

And then I pondered other areas of the world where there is little excess. Why do we have so much? Do we take it for granted? Do we share our blessings and provision and take care of those in need? Or do we quickly box it up, store it away, and keep it for ourselves to have in our attempts to “EXCESSorize” our already abundant lives? I just kept pondering. And as you know, as a coach, I ask a lot of questions.

We are provided for abundantly. But yet we yearn, desire, and seek more. And more. And more. And we store it. Box it. Find it hard to part with.

The things we chase. Those things. The stuff. The food. The supplies. All our wants, desires, and hopes of more. More. More.

So I decided to look up the two words Abundance and Excess.

Abundance: an ample quantity.

Excess: an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.

The Lord provides for us in abundance. His provision is plenty to sustain us even when we long for more.  Yet, we seek more than what is good for us. Pondering this, I began to think about how excess kills and destroys us. Abundance provides for us and sustains us. But excess?

Matthew 6:25-34 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Cure for Anxiety

25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height[a] by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters[b] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God[c] and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I love the pericope in that passage of Matthew. It says “The Cure for Anxiety.” From a life management perspective, this is so right on!

Is our anxiety and life management issue of too much baggage in our lives and world due to our desire for more and an over-abundance that we now refer to as excess? We believe we must have more: food, clothing, cars, houses…look at the nine life areas and soon we have more than what is necessary and it starts causing problems. But why? The lack of these things causes anxiety, because we worry and fret about where they will come from and how we will get them. In time. And have enough. And be taken care of. As if we could do it for ourselves better than the Lord in His wisdom and provision. That makes me laugh. I’ve been there, too, in this state of idolatry, thinking that I am my own provider and sustainer.

But what good is excess when by having too much (or more than what is healthy for us), we also have the consequences of anxiety, worry, fretting, and a whole plethora of life management issues?

Think about it:

Our portions today are enough to feed an entire family in some places of the world, but we still believe that more and more food is what we need in our already unhealthy diets. And because of that excess of food, people have weight management issues, diabetes and circulatory/heart issues, and rising costs of health insurance and prescriptions needed to combat what the excess causes. And this is self induced. If we eat too much, we have consequences to face. We’ve got to make wise choices and stand against what the “norm” of today has become. It is unhealthy and we know it. In these cases it is our responsibility to take our diet choices into our hands and become healthier on purpose.

Look at our excess when we go to a restaurant. We want a take home bag or box filled with the food we couldn’t even finish after filling ourselves beyond what was healthy in a single sitting. That, again, is excess. I just did this the other evening. Mexican food is sure test of willpower. But, I ate what I wanted and made it home with that box of leftovers without busting the button off my jeans, so I wasn’t too hard on myself. I say this because I am not here to pick people apart. All of us have life management and excess issues. I am no exception. And to teach effectively, I realize my own short-comings and even use them in training scenarios.

Our excess is not just with food either. We have homes STUFFED with so much stuff, that we have to have a storage unit to hold what we can’t fit in them yet still cannot seem to part with, because we *might* need it someday. How many garage sales do you have each year? Our house has about three annually, and I am always amazed at the JUNK we collect in between them. WHERE does it come from? Our culture is a magnet for stuff and much of our stress is caused by the excess of it which is self induced. The good news is…we can turn from it, do something about it, and become givers instead of hoarders of this stuff. Got baggage? It’s time to get rid of it. Empty closets. Empty drawers. No more junk.

We have stuff in drawers. Closets. The trunks of our cars. Garages. Attics. Sheds. Storage units. Boxes. Bins. Bags. Under our beds. And sometimes we store it in other people’s homes. WE HAVE TOO MUCH EXCESS. And we live like it’s a badge of success, or a badge of honor.

We EXCESSorize our lives and think we’re healthy, wealthy, and doing well. But are we truly well? Is excess healthy? And where does life management come into play for creating Happier & Healthier People? (That training is here.)

Our EXCESSorizing mindset keeps us chained to many unhealthy consequences. The truth is that more and more stuff (better cars, bigger houses, more stuff to go IN those houses, more clothing, more shoes, constant technology upgrades, the list goes on and on) really means that we have more junk to store, more to maintain, more to move around, and more personal debt than we can handle, pay off, and manage effectively causing stress and anxiety, adding to our health problems because of those things, and yes, you know…the list goes on and on.

It’s that SNOWBALL I teach about in the Happier & Healthier People Videos that wrecks havoc in our lives reaching all nine life areas. Excess is the start of it all regardless of where it starts in your life. If you expend more time, energy, and resources than you have, you’re going to have consequences that will affect your other life areas. Stress affects your health, your health affects your career, your career affects your ability to earn money, your finances affects your relationships…and on goes that snowball.

Excess in our lives is a hazard we must watch for and work to eliminate and control. Constantly.

Whether excess comes in the form of physical demands placed on your life (time, talents, energy, resources) or the things you acquire in life (junk, stuff, weight gain, material possessions creating baggage and clutter, or an attitude of having to have and needing to have more and more beyond what is an abundance to simply sustain yourself), it will create issues with consequences.

Standing around the 6 foot long food holding table, seeing the stacks of Black Friday advertisements in the newspaper, being bombarded with the sales ads on the television, and listening to the barrage of buy, buy, buy, was such an opportunity to realize that the way we are encouraged to live today is not just with an abundance. But with an abundant excess so far beyond what we really need.

Do we really need it?

We live in a time when we accessorize our lives with abundant “excessorries”. We want accessories that allow us to feel we really  have it all. After all, isn’t THAT the American dream? Excess = Success? The more we have the more successful we’ve been? The more God has blessed us specifically? I believe for our sanity’s sake and for our health: mentally, physically, and spiritually, that we need to rethink this and take a stand to start living with the simple, yet abundant provision that the Lord provides daily while sharing what we have. There is plenty to go around. And contentment is a form of praise for our daily provisions.

Living in excess is really costing us despite of what it looks like. Excess is deceiving, because carrying around too much of anything is never good. We know that. We feel the effects of the stress that occurs while carrying around too much baggage, stuff, weight, and anxiety regardless of the source. We know that this EXCESSorizing takes a definite toll on our relationships as well. All the way around it has consequences that are rarely good over the long-term.

But, when it looks like a good deal, we want it all and don’t look past the short-term effects. It’s a SALE. I need it. Everyone else has one. If I get it now. If I store it and save it for later. If I take a double portion. And in the midst of our greed and self-satisfaction, we simply forget that stuff rots. Our treasures are not things we can store up on this earth. So, what good is excess? And what good is it causing me? Us? You? More questions to ponder as we go about our days.

When we rely upon our Provider and Sustainer of Life we automatically eliminate the effects of that baggage.

We get rid of what will waste away and rot. We eliminate ourselves of the stench of the self and our selfishness. We live in a way where the abundance of His provision will provide and sustain not just ourselves, but our neighbors, too. We deepen our faith in Him, because our trust is not in ourselves, government, or anyone/anything else in THIS world, but in He who created the world and everyone in it.

We can stop the worship and idolatry of EXCESSorizing ourselves with so much excess and greed. And we can live in the simple and gracious and plentiful abundance of the everyday necessities that God provides.

As I stood before that table of plenty today, I reflected upon my own life: Provision in plenty. God’s abundance. Blessed and thankful.I have enough. I am full and healthy without excess. And there is no happiness like that of contentedness.

Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you, Lord, for your blessings of abundance.

My prayer is that we live in the Lord’s abundance and not in this world’s excess. May this season be one where we do less “EXCESS”orizing and more prioritizing to use what we have and become thankful and good stewards of our already blessed state of abundance.

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Looking Back: It’s Not Always A Bad Thing

Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror (Photo credit: no-vicente)

So many times I hear people say how important it is to look forward. Keep your eyes on the focus ahead. Never look back.

Why? Because if you do (look backward), it’s possible to become stuck on what is already behind that can’t be changed instead of focusing on what’s head that we can change.

I agree with that to a point. But I also disagree. At times looking back can be a healthy pit stop to make because it can help propel people forward by serving as a reminder to the obstacles and challenges they have successfully overcome. This act on it’s own can be a useful tool for motivation if used properly.

Dwelling on the past indefinitely and constantly can keep you stuck there. It sometimes happens because people are more comfortable with what’s already happened, because it is familiar. They would rather stay in familiar territory, because they dread what’s ahead, because it is an unknown. So, they prefer to stay where the surroundings, experiences, and feelings are familiar even though there may be pain, heartache, discomfort, or fear. They know those things well, and though they don’t like them, they do choose to stay there instead of venturing out. That is not an easy place to be. But that’s not the type of looking back that I’m speaking of today.

When is looking back ever helpful?

When you’re stuck in the present or need reassurance, looking back can be just the thing you need to help propel you forward. You don’t look back to stay there. You look back to sometimes look at where you were in your life history. Sometimes it is helpful to look back to see how far you’ve come, so you can get a good grasp on the progress you’ve made. It’s also a good reminder when you can look back on the things you’ve learned from those places you’ve been.

Looking back quickly gives you a glimpse of:

  • Where you’ve been.
  • What you encountered.
  • The obstacles you’ve overcome.
  • The lessons you’ve learned.
  • And how you persevered.

When you look back in these instances, you are certain to find the motivation you need to move forward and continue on your journey. You can use your past experiences and influences as a tool to help propel yourself forward, get you back on track, and motivate yourself. Especially when you should consider that it can be a brief pit stop that is to your benefit. And then you can continue on in your journey.

 

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When ‘Not Much’ Becomes Everything

Image of two pennies.Many, many years ago, (when I could hire my kids on the cheap, LOL) my son was helping me clean out my car. He had to have been only seven or eight years old at the time. And under the car seat he found a bunch of change that had fallen. One of the benefits of helping me clean out my car was that my kids got to keep the change they found as their earnings for their help. It was just a simple way for them to start learning what it was like to work and earn a little by doing some extra things. As he started collecting his treasure, I noticed he only wanted to keep all the quarters, dimes, and nickels, but he didn’t want the pennies. When asked why, he said, “Well, they are not much. They’re just pennies! I don’t need pennies.”

A few days later, he gathered his change and we headed to the convenience store to buy candy and a few drinks. When we chose his treat, he took it to the counter, set his money down, and began to count the .78 cents he needed for his purchase. When he finished counting, he only had .75 cents. He needed three more pennies, and without them, he didn’t have enough money.

I gave him the three pennies he needed, but when we got in the car, I made him look under the car seat. As he picked up the three pennies that still remained there and gave them to me to replace the three I had given him, I had a chance to explain to him that that while three pennies may not be much, at times it will be all we need. And when something is all we need, it becomes everything.

Without it, we can’t get what we need. If we’d only counted it as valuable and held on to it, we would have had enough and not been lacking. Sometimes we are guilty of thinking that because something is of lesser value that it has no value. Until it’s all we need and everything is riding on it.

It is then that three cents becomes everything, and the value in it is actually priceless at that moment.

Amazing how something that seemed so insignificant and not worth much became everything we may need just a few moments later.

When in our own lives have we done this?

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