Archive for May, 2009

19th May
written by Michelle

I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking more about money then I’d like to. Sifting through investment papers, researching home loans and meeting with my financial advisor has left me a little overwhelmed with the whole process. I normally don’t worry a lot about money. I mean I have more than enough to get by and I tend to operate with the equation- save some, give some and spend some (yea, yea I know some financially savvy person would advise me to have some percent breakdown to give my so-called equation some validity, but just go with me)

Somewhere in the process of looking at interest rates and investment opportunities, I realized how easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of the American dream; believing if I only had this much more than I could afford_______ (insert any desired item or upgrade here). It always amazes (slash disgusts) me how quickly I feel entitled to the luxuries and conveniences that I have in my country, and yet I so quickly forget those whose entire livelihood is defined by extreme poverty and injustice. Today I sat in an office and tried to deicide Hmm, should I go with portfolio I or portfolio II? and yet in the same world at that very moment, a refugee in Pakistan has to wonder if he will find clean drinking water. The inequality just doesn’t sit well.

And then I started thinking, what can’t money buy?

Money can’t buy…

laughter and late night talks with girlfriends.

simple flowers cut from your own garden.

an afternoon nap. or a good joke. or inner beauty.

the peace that God up there is so much more powerful than little me down here.

a run along the beach.

thoughtful words that bring hope to a hurting soul.

hand holding. or hugs.

or time.

Money cannot buy time.

I know this is not a brand new realization- it’s pretty clear that we all get an equal allotment- 24 hours each and every day, no more, no less. And yet so often I feel like we view the concept time through an investment metaphor. We view time as money. We use language like “I’ll invest my time here” or “How did you spend your time today?” or “Don’t waste your time on that” We make decisions and justify things as if time is ours to spend, “I have plenty of time” or “If I only had more time.”

Growing up I learned how to make the most of my time or to “use it well” so to speak. And there is nothing wrong with this per se- it leads to practical, efficient, multi-taskers like myself who somehow manage to get a lot done in short amounts of time : ) But sometimes I wonder what would happen if I went throughout my day and instead of viewing time as something to invest or control or utilize well, I viewed time as a gift to be received.

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14th May
written by Michelle

I get really excited when I can find new uses for old things! I don’t know exactly why- some thrifty and resourceful part of my dad must have worn off on me. But I seriously feel like I accomplished some fantastic feat or at least beat the capitalistic consumer market for a day when I discover some new use for something that could have been thrown out.

I am partially inspired by Real Simple, (probably one of the only magazines that I faithfully read cover-to-cover) because my favorite section is their New Uses for Old Things. I am convinced they should hire me, but they have yet to come knocking on my door to seek any great ideas. So, in the mean time I will share them with you.

New Uses for Old Things-a few of my favorites:

#1 Patron Bottle or Flower Vase
Confession, I do not even like Tequila, but I have walked up to my fair share of bartenders to ask for empty patron bottles. After the initial awkwardness of the bartender’s confusion,“what did she just ask for?- it is not really a big deal. Most bars just recycle these bottles anyway so they are happy to give them away for FREE. Just soak it in hot water and take off the label and behold— a perfect vase!

#2) Old Contact Case or Perfect Travel Size Advil Case

If you’re like me and you have 5 or 6 contact cases lying around the house from the eye doctor, don’t throw them away. They’re the perfect size to hold advil, vitamins or any kind of small pill. You can keep it in your purse and they don’t get lost or crushed in plastic baggies.
#3) Tea Strainer or Powered Sugar Sifter
A few weeks ago I was making a chocolate bundt cake and the final recipe direction said “dust lightly with powered sugar.” How do you “dust lightly” when you don’t have a sifter? I thought about taking a spoon and shaking it but I have memories of trying that when I was kid making Christmas cookies and basically you end up with piles of powered sugar instead of evenly dusted sugar cookies. So, I decided to take an old tea strainer and fill it with powered sugar. And I was quite impressed that it dusted the bundt cake quite evenly, thankyouverymuch.

#4) Old Sheet or Perfect Beach Blanket
Everyone has an old sheet that either doesn’t fit your current size bed or has been washed too many times that you can’t remember what it’s original color was. Well, don’t throw it away. Old sheets make the perfect beach blanket. For one they’re big—lets be honest towels that are 24 inches wide and 5 feet long are just not adequate—and two, sheets are thinner and easier to fold up and carry with you instead of some thick beach blanket. And you thought you would never have a use for your old college sheets, hah!

More to come….

Do you have any good uses for old things? please share.

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11th May
written by Michelle

My mom amazes me because she knows how to love people well. She taught me that love is sacrificial and sincere and that sometimes the best way to love someone is to listen.

And my mom knows how to listen.

Growing up as 1 of 4 kids, it sometimes felt like everyone was vying for mom’s time and attention. My mom helped us with daily homework and drove us to practices; she cooked dinner and came to our school plays and watched our games and stayed up late sewing those god-awful Halloween costumes. And for as important as all those things are, I am convinced that it was her patience to listen to us that made all the difference.

I remember being a confused and awkward 13-years old, with tears streaming down my face and my mom just sat in the car with me and listened as I poured out all of my junior high emotions. I remember calling her from Taiwan, scared and overwhelmed, wanting more than anything to come home, and my mom graciously knew I just needed someone to listen. And I remember after I broke up with my first boyfriend, my mom drove up to Westmont just to take me out to dinner. I told her she didn’t have to come up, and that I was “ok.” But she wanted to…And it meant the world to me. She wanted just to be there with me and listen. Even as I get older some of my favorite memories with my mom are when we grab coffee and sit for hours in oversized chairs next to a small round table, sipping our lattes, talking and sharing about life-and it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about necessarily-faith and church, or work and my students, or dating and relationships- my mom listens to me.

There is something so beautiful about listening. It is this timeless gift that stretches across people groups and ages and cultures and religious. I believe everyone wants to be listened to. And when you sincerely listen to someone you learn how to love a little bit better. I get sad that sometimes in our noisy culture where our minds and hearts are saturated with sounds and distractions, I don’t always make the time and space to listen to others.

The art of listening involves being patience and attentive. By definition it involves caring about someone else and their thoughts and feelings more than yourself. I think it is one of the best gifts mothers can give their kids. I want to learn to be a better listener. And one day I hope to be a mom who will not focus on doing the hundreds of tasks that moms have to do and instead spend time listening to my kids like my mom did.

Mom, thank you for taking time to listen to me.

Happy Mother’s Day! I love you.

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