Sunday, February 24, 2013

R-Evolution

Well, you know... we all wanna change the world.  Right?

Wrong. A lot of people don't.  A lot of people are content with things the way they are -- just plodding along, eat, sleep, work, repeat -- without ever challenging the way things are.

I'm challenging the way things are.

Aren't you in the market for more? Things need to evolve.  *Gasp* EVOLUTION!? Heh, yeah.  It's not a bad thing, you know. It's not taboo.  It just means gradual change. I'm talking about small changes that you and I can make, one at a time, in our lives.  They'll have a tiny effect but, on the whole, if we can have a tiny effect all together, that makes a pretty big effect.

One more smile each day.  One extra dollar for a tip at lunch. One extra minute to compliment someone. One re-usable coffee cup instead of a disposable one. One aluminum can into recycling instead of the landfill.  One half-hour conversation face-to-face instead of on Facebook. One hour of your time spent serving someone who needs your service.

Add it up.  If you do it, a life might be changed because of the difference you're making.  If you have a tiny effect on someone else's life, they might begin having an effect on someone else's. People are happier. People are richer. People have more self-confidence. The planet stays around a little longer. People's needs are met. And the lives you're changing? Yours is one of them.


For instance: if one person goes into one coffee shop once a day for the work week, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, and gets one coffee in a disposable cup, they've used and thrown away 260 disposable cups. One re-usable cup can replace all of those.  Use, rinse, repeat.  Nothing goes into the landfill. If two people did it, that's 520 cups. If four people did it, that's 1040 cups. If eight people did it, that's 2080 cups. You see where I'm going here? It takes ONE person to start a revolution. But if one person doesn't start it, nothing will change. (Alternately, you can see some more math in the little picture up there on the right...)

What's your revolution? How will you evolve? How will you shape the world around you? How will you touch lives? What difference will you make in someone's life that will help them make a difference in someone else's life?

Let's start a revolution, you and I.

Right now.

-Stephanie Jean

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Brain is Full...

I'd like to profoundly apologize for my lack of posting in the past week or so.  It's not for insufficient time (although that's always one of my issues); rather, it's due to an inability to organize my thoughts onto paper.  Er, onto... whatever you call this medium.

See, the Journey is different for each of us, but since we're all on it together, we're integrated into this whole bigger-picture sort of thing.  Some of you are getting inspiration here. Some of your are gaining spiritual insight. Some of you are trying to change your patterns and attitudes. Some of you just like it when I post funny stuff.  And some of you, like me, are bound and determined to figure out what the next step is supposed to be in your life -- then to go ahead and take it.  To be fully honest with you, I don't know what the next step is. I'm gaining a better, more detailed 'bigger picture' but I'm waiting to know what comes next in the succession.

A lot of our lives are like that.  Waiting.  There's something awesome in store, we know that.  He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, we know that -- the bible says it right there in Jeremiah.  But, as Tom Petty so wisely stated/sang, "The Waiting is the Hardest Part".  It's frustrating, agonizingly painful sometimes.  It's annoying, irritating.  It's pointless, we think.  But, if we pay close attention, we're not really waiting -- we're being honed.  Things are changing inside of us during this period of time.  It's foolish to rush into something only to find out you were meant for something very close to that, but not exactly that.  It's like ordering the screamin' hot wings instead of just the regular hot wings.  Close, but... well, not right (for most people).

There's a time for everything.  That's in that book, too: "To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven... He has made everything beautiful in His time." (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 -- emphasis mine). Right now, for me, it's a time to wait.  I've found that, as frustrating as the waiting is, good things have always come of it.  When I forge ahead on my own, when I try to make things happen without the waiting period, what winds up coming of it eventually falls apart and I have to start all over again, anyhow.

In the meantime, my brain is full of ideas, of wonder, of happiness, of things to do.  I have a couple of Journey partners; we provide different things for one another and glean encouragement and camaraderie from our time together.  I encourage you to find a partner or two as well -- see where you're at in your own Journeys, compare notes, share experiences, communicate. Since we're all in this together, though our Journeys won't be identical, they all have a common purpose in the end:

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-Control
(Galatians 5:22-23)

Loving God and Loving Others
(Matthew 22:37-40)

I invite you to wait with me -- great things are going to come to fruition!

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Smiling's My Favorite

Actual scientific research has been done on smiling, in case you've been hiding under a rock and don't know. When you're down and you smile anyway, your mood actually improves.  According to a study done in Sweden, reported on Positive Psychology News, "...when people activate muscle groups that link to specific emotions, their body will react as though they are really experiencing that emotion. If you wrinkle your nose and narrow your eyes, your body will release some adrenaline and your heart rate may speed up as though you are angry. If you mimic a smile by lifting the creases of your lips and squinting your eyes, your body will release serotonin, dopamine and other “feel-good” indicators." The real world take-away? Smile. It will make you happier.  Make smiling your favorite.

Your emotions are valid, don't get me wrong. I like a good cry just as much as the next girl when my feelings get hurt, when I hear bad news, when I'm so frustrated I can't see straight.  But when people are jerks (which they often are), smiling and puttering about your day with a 'fake it 'til you make it' attitude goes a long way toward making a change; not just in your own life, but in the lives of those around you.  It's hard to be in a bad mood around someone when they're really happy.  So, be the happy.  It's hard to be negative around someone when they're extremely positive.  So, be the positive.  It's hard to be a jerk to someone when they're smiling at you.  So, be the smiler.


 I'm not naive enough to think that this small change will revolutionize the world but, honestly, wouldn't it be a little better? And doesn't a-little-better often lead to a-lot-better? If we waste our lives complaining about all the things that are wrong, we might miss all the things that are right.
Granted, this little yellow happy face might be you in a sea of sadness, but... wouldn't you rather be a positive influence over the rest of the crowd than be a part of them? You know from personal experience that, when you're seeing that genuinely happy person in front of you, it makes you want to smile, too.  It lightens your load a little.  It makes you feel like things aren't so bad.



Eventually, if you attempt to be the positive influence, the picture might look a little something like this:


(No, that's not you... that's that one person who is always unhappy, no matter what you try to do.)

Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." It doesn't matter what the day holds -- God's got this.  If it's a trying day, He's got your back. If it's a day full of heartbreak, He's got the shoulders to carry it for you. If it's a day full of joy, it's that much easier to smile. What a relief to know that we don't have to go it alone. What a relief to know that we can do something as simple as smiling and it can help to brighten our own mood, and the moods of everyone else around us.

Pretty powerful stuff for just a few facial muscles, huh?

Stephanie Jean