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Christmas Traditions

We had a wonderful Christmas and I am excited about 2017 being the best year yet.  I say that every year and it keeps happening. Life just gets better and better. 

For the first time this Christmas we went to our daughter's in DeSoto. In thinking about it ahead of time it seemed a little sad to break tradition and not have she and John and our five grandchildren here.  I love a full house brimming with laughter and activity.

It turned out wonderfully.  On the 24th I had the privilege of helping her cook and host a sing for family and neighbors.  We ate and sang Christmas songs from A-Z while my grandson played the piano.  Christmas morning was church then we - as a family - delivered meals - 11 total - to the home bound in the Dallas  inner city.  It was wonderful. And the start of a new tradition. 

Old memories are wonderful and new ones keep adding to the joy of a growing family.  


Dreaming of a Blessed New Year

The Christmas Story is filled with angels, dreams and interpretations. That phenomenon was not just for long-ago and is still prevalent for us today.

Our awake mind takes in information and responds. Sleep allows the brain to rearranges recent memories, a process that can lead to insight and new knowledge. Researchers believe that sleep is not only good for our physical health but also for our mental well-being.

Each night we go through stages of sleep. In the process of falling asleep breathing and pulse slows and muscles relax. The brain waves are regular and the body can be easily awakened. In deep sleep the brain waves slow down with occasional spikes depending on surrounding noise or interference. In the deepest sleep, known as REM or rapid-eye-movement, the brain stem releases chemicals and fires electrical signals. The muscles are so relaxed the body is virtually paralyzed.

During REM is when dreams occur. Scientific research reveals that everyone dreams every night, whether remembered or not. During REM sleep chemicals go to all parts of the brain gathering a mix of visual images and emotional feelings and coalescing them into a dream that has elements of both the real and the bizarre.

You can train yourself to remember and benefit from your dreams but it may take time. Start by deliberately putting you to bed. Quiet your breathing and deliberately turn off your mind’s rehearsal of the day’s events or tomorrow’s worries. Tell yourself that you will remember your dream upon awakening. Learn to wake naturally, without an alarm.

Write it down. Up on awakening, continue to lie still and concentrate on remembering your dream. Keep a pad and pencil by your bedside and immediately jot down the dream exactly as you remember it. Do not embellish and do not edit.

At off moments during the day, reflect on your dream for insights. Was it meaningful or simply entertainment? Embrace success and look forward to more.

An example. I had a recurring dream of various meetings and demands made on me. Mixed up with all this was a nagging that I had lost a library book and a huge fine was awaiting. Upon awaking I was puzzled. The thing that stood out the most was the library book. It made no sense since I prefer to own the books I read.

My interpretation. I began to reflect upon the last time I had visited a library. Then I remembered having called several bookstores and the library trying to find a certain book for a client. The library had it and put it aside, in my name, to be picked up. I gave the information to my client. He never went. Consciously I dismissed it. Unconsciously my name was on the line. Once the problem came to light a solution was formulated.

Science gives validity to Mom’s advice to “sleep on it”. The function of the unconscious mind is to protect you. When you have a decision to make or a problem to solve, your mind works over-time - day and night - to honor you. Sleep allows the brain to rearranges recent memories, a process that can lead to insight and new knowledge.


Holiday Priorities and Organization

Sunrise. Sunset. Life is a continuous, on-going process. Planting, weeding, harvesting and canning. As much as we accomplish, there is always more to do. As much as we know, there is always more to learn. Here are a few thoughts on prioritizing and organizing.

Identify the most important. Write down all the needs for the day, arrange in order of priority and tackle number one. Stay with number one until completed. Continually assess, “What am I doing now?” Weigh the current activity against what you have identified as the most important.

Make it a part of your routine. Remember the hare and the turtle? It is better to consistently devote one-hour a day to planning and implementation than hours of stressful catch-up. Habits form character and determine destiny.

Practice the One to Four Ratios. Time management experts say that for every one of planning reduces execution by four to ten times. One hour of advance preparation can take up to ten hours off the finished project. One day of concentrated planning can reduce the job by four to ten days. One week of deliberate groundwork can knock off ten weeks from the completed task.

Preto’s 80/20 Law of Predictable Imbalance. This principle ascertains that 20% effort produces 80% results. Using this predictable imbalance, 20% of your outfits are worn 80% of the time, leaving 80% of the items in your closet as clutter. Busy-ness does not mean business. In a given workday, 20% of your activities produce 80% results, leaving 80% as non-productive bustle. Twenty-percent of your social interaction will produce 80% of your leads. By eliminating 10% public commitments, you will gain time to develop better customer service.

Simplify through elimination. Be realistic about what you can do, what you cannot do and what you do not intend to do. Rather than delaying and denying, let yourself know your conclusion. Schedule in and pursue the can do’s and will do’s. Obtain help where needed and discard the rest.

Be an investigative reporter. Budget your time by asking pertinent questions, such as who? what? when? where? and how? Who needs to be involved in this task? Who will benefit from my completing this chore? What resources are needed for efficiency? What results are anticipated? What benchmarks point to accomplishment? When will supplies be available? Where do we eliminate fluff? How does this element compliment that component? Keep these qualifiers and quantifiers in sight to help you stay on track.

Find balance.
Live one day-at-a-time while planning for the future. Plan around your entire life; being diligent to include family.

Much of the business of life is repeated over and over. Michael Gerber states that the “solution is in the system.” Developing a smooth running system reduces frustration, increases productivity and is easily taught to new workers.