Thursday, January 29, 2009

Take the action, let go of the result

"You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."
– Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ben Franklin strikes again!

"While we may not be able to control all that happens outside of us, we can control what happens inside of us."
- attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Support for doing the difficult things in life

Sunday, I talked to a woman who has worked 30 years for New Jersey's Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS pronounced Dye-fuss). It's the place that monitors child welfare and helps kids who are being abused. I wondered how she kept going, since it is a place that could kill one's soul through all the terrible things you must see. She acknowledged that you do see the worst of people but also the best. And above all, she said the people who last there have a) a calling to do this work; and b) spiritual support. She said they belong to a church, synagogue, ashram, mosque - some community organized around spiritual lines that offers consolation, comfort, and love.

It made so much sense to me, because I have survived devastating circumstances only because of the communities to which I belong. I have grown physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in communities. They may have been communities of two - me and my therapist - or communities of millions - on-line groups like - or communities of shifting numbers - 12-step meetings or my Executive Directors' Roundtable. The number doesn't matter; what matters is that I was not alone. I was accompanied on my path, and accompanied others. I still am part of many communities, because I can't, don't want to, and don't have to travel this life alone. As John Donne said, "no man is an island" and this gal ain't one, either.

Then I thought about the term "self-help." What an unfortunate term, so profoundly unhelpful. It implies that the best way to achieve one's personal, professional, and emotional goals is to do it by yourself. That's what "self-help" means, right? Helping myself?

Don't get me wrong: I love self-help books. I own thousands, and have given away hundreds more. They - and the countless self-help CDs, DVDs, videos, pamphlets, workbooks, films, websites, and articles - contribute to my growth and development. They are useful tools. But that's what they are, tools. They do not constitute community. When was the last time a book returned your late-night phone call? Has a CD ever put its arm around your shoulder? Or a DVD answered your question? What article has asked you questions and then listened intently to your answer, showing excitement at your development or dawning awareness?

Without a community, I would stagnate and die. Self-help tools are not enough. I don't know what else to call them, but would love to figure out how to talk about them as the stepping-off point toward a community of people who also use these tools. There are many communities arising on the Internet now, the Web 2.0 phenomenon. People do gravitate together around common needs and interests. We humans are social creatures who crave community, but don't always know how to build it or participate in it, and often are afraid to risk exposing ourselves. It's so much easier to buy a book and into the illusion that "I can heal myself with these self-help materials." I wish that "self-help" didn't imply that we don't need community in order to grow.

Networking works

“Three-quarters of people find jobs through being out there, engaged and meeting people,” said John A. Challenger, C.E.O. of Challenger Gray & Christmas, the outplacement firm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I celebrate small stuff

Over the weekend, I cleaned up my tools and screws, putting similar things together and in one place. This is step by step organizing with no deadlines. It's been my intention to organize things, gathering from many locations into one central place - & it is happening!

So I celebrate, and file away the experience as an example of having patience with myself and confidence that I will fulfill my intentions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Great values to live by

Judith and Jim ( sent an e-mail with these wonderful guidelines from Anna Weber:

I open my heart daily to a life of prosperity and happiness by...

1. Creating quiet time for reflection, gratitude, prayer...

2. Exercising so I experience my best physical self.

3. Organizing my environment to keep my life flowing and uncluttered.

4. Nourishing myself for vital health with appropriate food, water and rest--and removing toxins from my life.

5. Interacting with people I love and enjoy that are uplifting, inspiring and supportive.

6. Mentally stimulating myself with reading, writing and other creative activities.

7. Being deeply connected to and through The Universe.

8. Affirming, with great clarity and passion, those things which I desire.

9. Honoring my commitments--to myself and others.

10.Being open to all possibilities as I nourish myself, empower my mind, and uplift my spirit.

They suggest applying these principles over the next 7 days and see what happens. I say strive to incorporate them into life every day, in little ways, and see how much happier, content and serene you become and remain.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vinegar solves problems - low-cost, ecologically sane

I love these tips from This Old House (Jan/Feb 2009)and Woman's Day (Nov. 11, 2008) magazines regarding uses of vinegar.

Yesterday, my sister and I tried one out - using vinegar and warm water to remove 1970's wallpaper from her kitchen - and it worked extremely well. When we used a scraper, it seemed the paper just melted away from the wall - big, long, satisfying strips of paper peeling off. The trick was to thoroughly saturate the paper. Also, we had to use it on two layers of paper - the pretty outside stuff and the bottom gluey stuff. Her 6 year old joined in, it was so easy. And with my physical limitations, I had to sit - but that didn't stop me from contributing huge swathes of paper removal, with this technique.

Before I list the tips, I have a comment on apple cider vs. white vinegar. Apple cider is in most households, so you probably won't have to go out to buy it but it stinks - literally. You may have to go out to buy white vinegar; however, it is equally inexpensive as apple cider vinegar (you don't need the organic kind for cleaning!) and it doesn't smell very much at all. It's up to you as to which you use, except when one is recommended.

These are the tips:

1. Peel off wallpaper. This Old House recommends equal parts of vinegar and water. We used mostly water and about two tablespoons of vinegar per spray bottle. And we used white vinegar to avoid a smell.

2. Clean dirty windows. This is my own tip based on personal experience. Years ago, I cleaned New York City kitchen windows with apple cider vinegar and warm water and used newspaper. The solution cut through decades of city soot and grime and left the windows sparkling clean. It took two or three applications and wipings. The newspaper eliminated streaks and lint residue - plus cost nothing (and we recycled it later). Sure, it smelled, but no worse than a glass cleaner and it was a LOT less expensive.

3. Revive old paint brushes. This Old House recommends that we soak gunked up nylon brushes in hot vinegar for up to 30 minutes, wash with soap and water, rinse and dry. I have to try this with some old brushes I have. I take it that this method may not work with natural bristles. And I'll bet it will work only with latex water-based paint, not oil-based.

4. Woman's Day reminds us that we can clean coffee makers by brewing up 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water. They recommend doing this every three weeks.

5. Kill grass and weeds. Obviously, this means unwanted grass and weeds, specifically those between bricks and flagstones. I have experience with this Woman's Day tip, finding it to work pretty well. It only works with weeds that already are apparent, and I had to repeat many times that summer. I love organic solutions and am willing to do the ongoing maintenance required by such an approach.

6. Remove decals and stickers. By daubing vinegar onto the sticker, it loosens the adhesive. You still have to scrape with an appropriate scraper (single edge razor blades works well, IF you keep them out of reach of kids). Like This Old House, I have gotten stubborn adhesive residue off with all kinds of vinegar.

7. Avoid moldy cheese. I am eager to try this Woman's Day suggestion, because I love cheese and hate when it gets moldy. Now that I'm on my weight-release program, I eat less cheese and it goes bad way too quickly. For this, I'll use white vinegar.

8. Whiten grout. If you have white grout that now is yellow or stained, This Old House suggests dipping a stiff toothbrush in vinegar and then scrubbing. This tip helps me use those old toothbrushes that are completely unsuitable for brushing teeth because they rip at my gums!

9. Keep paint from peeling. Leave it to This Old House to have two paint-related tips for vinegar! In this one, they refer specifically to painting galvanized metal or concrete. If you are one of those who might do so, use a lint-free applicator to wipe the surface down with vinegar and apparently the paint will last longer. How much longer, they don't say. It can't hurt to try adding this extra step to what must be an unusual paint project.

10. Prevent colors from running. In the "extra step" department that might pay off big, Woman's Day suggests soaking new clothes or towels for 15 minutes before washing in equal parts vinegar and cold water. I'm going to try this, because I have had too many colors run onto things I don't want them to run onto. I wash in cold water, so I assume wrongly that colors won't run. But they do!! Dark colors somehow get a dark shadow from the darker article of clothing. My bright pink shirt got a very slight red pattern from its red laundry mate. It's very annoying. Vinegar to the rescue! It's a good use for my bucket, too.

11. Dissolve rust. If any of you are like me in forgetting garden tools outside in the rain, this tip is for us. This Old House suggests soaking old tools and corroded nuts and bolts in vinegar for a few days, then rinsing with water and watching the rust disappear. I will try it come spring time when I can limit the smell and mess to the outdoors or garage.

12. Test soil pH. Finally, an inexpensive way to tell whether my garden will produce pink or blue hydrangeas! This Old House tells me to put a handful of dirt in a small container and sprinkle vinegar on top. Alkaline soil will fizz. I guess acid soil does nothing. Now I just have to find out what color hydrangea is produced by what kind of soil and decide what I want.

13. Freshen wilted vegetables. I eat at home all the time and still have wilted vegetables. I buy a lot of produce when I shop and simply can't/shouldn't eat all of it in the short time frame before wilt sets in. Woman's Day says I can at least salvage the leafy vegetables by soaking them in 2 cups of cold water mixed with one tablespoon of vinegar for 10 minutes. Leafy vegetables to me means lettuce and greens. Personally, I've extended the life of my lettuce by wrapping it in a damp paper towel and storing in a plastic bag. I don't know how necessary the vinegar is.

14. Remove mineral deposits from showerheads. I've read this tip before, but This Old House improves on it by suggesting using warm vinegar in a resealable plastic bag. Completely submerge the showerhead holes in the vinegar and then seal the bag for an hour. After rinsing and wiping clean, the showerhead should run clear once it is reattached. I don't know if my showerhead is clogged by mineral deposits, but if it is, I'll try this.

15. Remove wax or polish build up. This Old House says you can remove build up on wood or leather. For wood, use equal parts water and vinegar and wipe with the wood's grain. Leather requires 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar and a circular rubbing motion. I'd want to make sure I have build up on my wood before I try this, as my sense is that water and vinegar can be very drying to wood. I plan to try it on my leather car seats.

16. The last tip is counterintuitive to me, for This Old House says I can protect my hands from irritation when I'm using concrete, drywall and other building materials. Rinsing with a mix of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water before washing up will neutralize the caustic alkaline content of such materials and reduce the possibility of skin irritation. Hmm...I'll suggest that my brother the handyman try this one.

There are so many other uses for vinegar - low cost, ecologically safe, easily obtained. Perfect for this time in our world!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Website Magazine says:

Google has found the most effective formats are the 336x280 Large Rectangle, the 300x250 Medium Rectangle, and the 160x600 Wide Skyscraper. Keep in mind that while these ad formats typically perform well, you should use the format that best complements your pages.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Action every day

Zig Ziglar said...

"People often tell me that motivation doesn't last, and I tell them that bathing doesn't either. That's why I recommend it daily."