Strive to be a Fuddy Duddy

Sometimes I feel like an old fuddy duddy. I shake my head at the excessive violence, gore, and sex in movies and on TV shows, and the sensationalism of the evening news. I wonder about the moral compass of our youth. Goodness, when did I turn into my grandparents? Am I becoming out of date, out of fashion and obsolete? That can’t be! I’m too young.

Yet, my concern about the content of TV and movies has me re-watching films from my younger days, and retreating into re-runs of the Carol Burnett Show. Were times really simpler then? Perhaps.

But I think the real truth is that times haven’t changed as much as I have.

I’m different now. I no longer want to have a bunch of sex, violence, and bloody gore thrust in my face. Trust me, my imagination’s good enough!

I try to pay attention to what I fill my head with, from the books I read, to the music I listen to, and yes, all the way, to TV and movies. Okay, okay, I’m far from perfect. I still have my guilty pleasure movies and “trashy” TV shows that I like to watch.

But all of this does give me pause. What are we filling our heads with?

Are we so embroiled in the negativity of the news, militant websites, or angry social media posts that only continue to enflame our anger and negative attitudes. Yes, there’s a time to be angry on occasion, but are we so consumed that we’ve lost our joy? Have we forgotten all of the positive things in this world? Have we forgotten how to be kind?

We’re so busy finding the dividing line, looking for a way to tear each other down, instead of building each other up.

To me, it really does make a difference what you fill your head with. You may not even notice your own negativity or anger. It almost becomes habit.

So, call me a fuddy duddy and call me old-fashioned because I don’t want to jump on the latest binge-watching trend.

Again, I’m far from perfect, and have my media weaknesses in spades. But I certainly strive to be aware when my viewing or listening choices cause more anger, depression or negative thoughts.

At this time more than ever, we need to be filled with compassion and kindness for one another. To find ways to agree to disagree and build each other up.

How about you? Do you have tips for kindness and positivity? Do you think the media influences you more than you realize?

 

 

Linking Arms: Stronger Together

Last summer was difficult in many ways, with the pandemic and a nation divided. Closer to home, the issue was a major health crisis with my parents; one had the health issue, and the other had to helplessly watch their spouse decline, then fight back. It was a challenging, life-changing time, especially for Mom and Dad. Thankfully, they’re both doing pretty well today, although things changed permanently for them.

A few of my cousins at a recent reunion (nope, this isn’t all of us!).

During the midst of this crisis, my cousins were dealing with the passing of their father, my dad’s brother, my uncle. His passing wasn’t completely unexpected, but I’m not sure that made it any easier.

The pandemic made my uncle’s funeral service smaller than what we normally would’ve done. And my parents most assuredly would’ve been among the few that would have attended. My husband and I were with my parents during this time, and I didn’t feel like I could leave them then either. It was a grim time all the way around, to say the least.

I’m part of a very large family, that thankfully, is a pretty tight bunch. Every other year, we have a “cousin reunion” that is filled with more laughter and love than we deserve. So, for all of us to be separated and not able to be together in person was heartbreaking.

However, when I was speaking to my cousin as he was making funeral arrangements with his siblings, we spoke about how difficult it was to be apart while we each were dealing with our individual trials. He then said something that has stayed with me all these months later. He said that we’re all linking arms and getting through this together. The visual image of my cousins all linking arms was an amazing one, and has resonated with me ever since. We couldn’t all be together when we wanted to be, but we could symbolically hold each other up.

I’m personally not always good at reaching out to others, but when I think about “linking arms,” it makes it easier to ask for help when needed.

How about you? Have you linked arms with someone recently, or is there someone you can reach out to and support?

We need to remember that we’re stronger together.

Are You on the Hamster Wheel?

Why is it I struggle so much at the beginning of the new year? The new year is supposed to bring a promise of great things, a new beginning, a fresh start. I’m excited and awakened to new possibilities. Yet, it’s not too long into January, where I find myself floundering….already. It’s so discouraging!

You’ve heard it said that most new year’s resolutions fail before January is over. Another study says by the second week of February. In other words, resolutions are difficult to keep. I don’t necessarily make resolutions, however, I do set goals and try to go after them with a renewed vigor. But like last year, when I felt like I was being batted around like a ball in a pinball machine, this year, I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, spinning faster and faster, and never getting anywhere. It is frustrating. I can see how easily the “new” from the new year wears off, and the gray days of winter overtake us again. Then like I said, I’m back to floundering, and frustrated…. And any other f-words you can think of, like freefalling. (And shame on you if you went “there” with the f-word – grin).

In looking at my January flounderings, I wonder if I get too overwhelmed at the prospect of all I want to accomplish in a year. You’ve heard the joke about eating an elephant? You can only eat it one bite at a time. Like many of us I believe I look at the entire elephant, and think there’s no way! Not even in bite-sized pieces. Once you’re overwhelmed by looking at the entire elephant, or the entire year before you, it stops you in your tracks. You give up, say there’s no point, and chuck your planner in the trash.

There’s one the key thing to remember when you reach this point: STOP! Stop beating up on yourself. Stop looking at the entire elephant, and focus only on what you need to do next.

Get off the hamster wheel, and tackle what needs to be done today and only for today. How do you do this?

For me, time management is usually my problem. Knowing this, I’m going to try to schedule my days better. Go back to the basics: Make a list. Then do the next thing. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow’s list, or beat myself up for what didn’t get done on yesterday’s list. I’m only going to focus on the next thing. If I get interrupted, then I adjust my schedule. Sounds simple, right? What if you don’t know what should even be ON the list? Well, I’m not sure I can help you there. But here’s a thought. If you can’t get specific with itemizing a list, what about blocking off chunks of time to work on a certain project? Then another block of time will be devoted to the next project?

If you get interrupted within that block of time, then shift it to another day (making sure you have some flex in your schedule to shift to).

This concept is from one of my writing groups, where the author blocks off her writing time, then blocks off family time, then has exercise time, etc. She leaves one day free in her week in case something does need to shift. This all makes sense to me, and that’s how I’m scheduling my days.

I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out, but I have to try something. I want to get off this hamster wheel, and work toward my goals. Whether I succeed or fail, at least I can take the next step.

What about you? Are you floundering this year? Going in circles on a hamster wheel? What advice do you have for getting off the spinning wheel and making progress?

ACFW New Releases: January 2021

January 2021 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary:


A Future for His Twins
by Susanne Dietze — Will these children get their greatest wish? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


For the Love of Joy
by Janet W. Ferguson — When she’s suddenly injured with not a soul to help her or her son, Joy is forced to rely on the man who has the most reasons to hate her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Unexpected Arrangement by Heidi McCahan — He needed a fresh start, but twin babies weren’t part of the plan… (Contemporary Romance, Love Inspired [Harlequin])


An Unlikely Proposal
by Toni Shiloh — For these two best friends, marriage could be their greatest test yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical:


All Through the Night
by Tara Johnson — When Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)


Books Afloat
by Delores Topliff — Blaming herself for her childhood role in the Oklahoma farm truck accident that cost her grandfather’s life, Anne Mettles is determined to make her life count. Will she go it alone? Or will she team with the unlikely but (mostly) lovable characters? One is a saboteur, one an unlikely hero, and one, she discovers, is the man of her dreams. (Historical from Mantle Rock Publishing)


Night Bird Calling
by Cathy Gohlke — With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Mystery:


One for the Road
by Mary Ellis — Staying at an estranged relative’s B&B, Jill’s plan to uncover what makes the state’s bourbon tours so popular goes awry when she discovers a body at one of the distilleries and quickly becomes a suspect in a brutal murder. Can she navigate high-stakes bourbon rivalries, centuries-old family feuds and ill-fated romance to catch a killer?
(Cozy Mystery from Severn House)

Romantic Suspense:

Texas Witness Threat by Cate Nolan — What do you do when you know you witnessed a crime and no one believes you, but the killers are still coming for you? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Thriller/Suspense:


Every Good Plan
by Urcelia Teixeira — Good fortune was always his best friend. Until it became his enemy! Adam Cross is back in another gripping Christian Suspense that will have you strapped to your favorite reading chair until you turn the very last page! (Thriller/Suspense, Independently published)

Young Adult:


Heart of the Crown
by Hannah Currie — The last place Lady Wenderley Davis ever expected to find herself after swearing off princes forever was living in a palace with two of them. Even if it is only temporary. And she did agree to it. Kind of. Against her better judgement. (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

 
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Penelope Pumpernickel: Precocious Problem-Solver by MaryAnn Diorio – In this first of the delightful Penelope Pumpernickel Series of chapters books for six-to-ten-year-old children, Penelope Pympernickel learns that no matter how big a problem you face, there is always a way to solve it with God’s help. (Children’s)

The Inn at Cranberry Cove by June Foster – Can two people allow the majestic northwest and fragrant coastal air heal their wounded hearts? Will they discover the secret of The Inn at Cranberry Cove? (Contemporary Romance)

The Rancher’s Family Secret by Myra Johnson – Despite their family feud, Spencer Navarro is determined to help his neighbor, Lindsey McClement, when she comes home to save her family ranch. And Lindsey returns the favor by allowing him to house his foster rescue horses in her empty barn stalls. But when the generations-long strife threatens their forbidden friendship, Spencer must choose between a new love and his family. (Contemporary Romance)

William’s Cry, An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia Anne Nash – When genealogist Enid Gilchrist is asked to unravel the family mystery surrounding a seventy-year-old baby blanket, she is intrigued. She expects the project to be a short one that will in no wise interfere with her long-awaited marriage to Chief of Police Patrick Mulhaney. When her short project unravels more threads than expected, both project and wedding plans run amuck as someone makes every effort to stop her investigation. (Cozy Mystery)

A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer – When Ashlyn arrives at White Falls Lodge armed with cosmetic bags and designer shoes, little is she prepared to be stranded by a snow storm, irritated by the handsome resort owner who seems determined to peel away her facade, and redirected by a God Ashlyn wants to forget, through Mamie Lou’s real gift … the secret story of her grandmother’s past. (Contemporary Romance)