The Magic of Margin

Are you constantly on the run? Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and don’t have time to do the things that truly matter to you? Do you find yourself spending less and less time with friends and family and more time at the job or doing other activities? Breaking commitments and feeling bad afterwords? If so, you’re not alone. A recent experience with a long-time high school friend demonstrated the need for a solution to this dilemma.

Some weeks can be particularly stressful and this had been one of them. I was so looking forward to getting together with a girlfriend. We had made plans about a month ago to get together to hear one of our favorite country bands at a nearby shopping mall. The week before I had an idea.

“Hey, girlfriend. Would you like to get together for dinner on Friday before the concert?”

“Hmmmm. Not sure if I will be able to make dinner. I’m driving some friends to Pennsylvania that day and it could be a long day. Ok if I let you know by 2 or 2:30 when I see how things are going?”

“Sure,” I said, knowing full well there was no way she was going to make dinner if she was going on an all day trip to PA. I felt a twinge of disappointment as we both enjoy this pizza place and we hadn’t been for quite a while, but I brushed it off and decided to look forward to the concert.

Long story short, my friend never made it to the concert. She was, understandably so, too exhausted from the day’s trip.

Now please understand, I am writing from experience. I, too, have tried to do too much in the past until I learned about this one concept that fixed the problem once and for all. It’s called Margin.

If you invest in the stock market or remember writing essays back in school, you know what I’m talking about, but in case you don’t here’s a basic explanation. Margin means ‘leaving space’. It’s a simple concept but it has huge implications.

Just as it is important to leave space on the written page, and space for the price of a stock to fall before you decide to buy it, it is even more important to leave space in our schedules between activities.  Things always take more time and more energy than we usually anticipate, especially since none of us is getting any younger. But how exactly does one build margin into one’s life?

Two keys I’ve learned: 

1) practice saying that two-letter word “NO”
2) prioritize your activities, friendships, and commitments

We cannot say “Yes” to everything and everybody. Time is a gift to be treasured, not squandered. Scripture exhorts us to “let your yes be yes and your no be no”, (Matthew 5:37). When we are clear on what we want to say “yes” to, it will be easier to say “no” to things that matter less. Stephen Covey has a whole series on this topic entitled “First Things First” if you want to read more about it.

Until next time, practice building margin into your days. Then write and share with me how it has helped you feel more relaxed, more at peace, and more fulfilled than ever before and remember – keep looking up!

3 Steps to a Deeper Relationship with God

Do you sometimes feel disconnected from others? Unloved? Alone? If so, you’re not alone. We all struggle with these same feelings and doubts. We go through periods of time when we feel like everyone has deserted us and we are left paddling the streams of life all by ourselves. It is in these times that it is even more important to turn inward and to turn to God. Sometimes God allows these dry periods so we can come into a more intimate relationship with Him. We may not know exactly how to go about it so today I am going to share three steps to developing a closer relationship with God. An interesting question over the weekend precipitated this post.

I was at a good friend’s wedding having dinner, when a gentleman shared that he had read my book, “The Power of Faith”. He said he wished he had the same type of faith to get through the trials in his life and asked me if I thought if it was possible for anyone to develop a strong faith.

“Absolutely”, I replied without a moment’s hesitation.

In fact, God promises us this: “You will seek and find me when you search for me with all your heart,” (Jer. 29:13). Just as healthy earthly parents want a good relationship with their kids, so our heavenly Father wants a close relationship with us. In the same way, if we want an intimate close relationship with another person we must be intentional about it.

“Well, how do you do that?” my typically shy and reserved friend inquired.

Now I know, many of us are stuck in this sensory world we live in. If we can’t see, feel, hear, touch, or smell it, we don’t believe it exists. God does exist only in another reality – the spiritual realm and we just have to get comfortable operating in this realm as well. The good news is the same steps we take when we are serious about getting to know someone are the same steps we can use in developing a relationship with God.

1. Have an open heart and an open mind.

In other words, we have to believe in our heart that it is possible to have a deeper relationship with God, that He does love you, and wants to have a relationship with you. God wants to connect with us, just as much as the spiritual part of us wants to connect with Him. Once we let this truth permeate our minds, we open the doors for an amazing adventure.

2. Spend more time together.

Getting to know God is much the same as getting to know another person. When we make it a priority to spend time with someone, we get to know them at a deeper level. We come to know who they are, their likes and dislikes, their values, how they think. We each have our own way of spending time with God. Some of us like to take a walk, a hike, or a bike ride in nature. Others
prefer to listen to comforting music or work in the garden. Still others find God in a communal approach such as a church setting or a meditation group. Whatever puts you in a calm and receptive state of mind is conducive to meeting with God.

3. Learn how God feels and thinks about things.

God is not some secretive, illusive being. He wants to make himself known to us, to speak to us, and to guide us – personally. These days, when we want to find out information about someone, we do a Google search and look them up on the Internet. We can do the same thing with God, believe it or not. We go to a reliable source and seek information. In fact, God has put much information about himself, his ways, his thoughts, and his ways of operating in in one collection of books known as the Bible. Now I know many people have a problem with the Bible, saying it’s old and antiquated but not much has changed in the way of relationships since it was written. Did you know that the way experts determine the validity of a manuscript is by how many copies there are of it? Did you know that the Bible is one of, if the not the most copied manuscript in history?

When we make time to read Scripture, we learn who God is, what He thinks, and what is important to him. We also open up the channel of communication for Him to speak to us. You will be amazed when you start reading the Word, how some passage will jump right out at you and you will know that it is meant for you. Try it and see!

“One more thing,” I said to my friend. “Just ask God to reveal Himself to you, and He will.” My friend smiled and nodded.

So there you have it, friends: three steps to developing a deeper relationship with God. Do post a comment, and click the +1 Google icon to let me know you liked this post. If you’d like to receive my free guide entitled “7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path”, enter your email address in the box above. Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

4 Stages of Attraction: What Makes a Man Attractive to a Woman

Frustrated with the dating scene? Tired of not being able to connect with someone? The problem is the same for both sexes so a bit of education might be helpful. Last week, we talked about the four stages of attraction for men. This week I’m going to share the four stages of attraction that women go through when they meet a man. They are indeed very different from the order in which men are attracted to women so let’s go ahead and find out what they are.

Level #1:Romantic and Emotional Level

Whereas men are first attracted visually to a woman, women are usually attracted to some aspect of who a man is or something about his demeanor. It could be his smile, the way he says her name, the level of success he has achieved. Just as physical chemistry is the first and lowest level of attraction for men, romantic/emotional chemistry is the first and lowest level for a woman. This is why men often go the cards and flowers route early on in the relationship. They know women are emotional beings, but speaking from personal experience, these gestures however lovely and romantic they may be, often disguise a less than desirable character and low-self-esteem. Many times women mistake romance for true chemistry when in fact, this is only the first level.

Level #2: Mental Attraction

Yes, women are attracted to a man’s mind, his intelligence and his intellect. The more intelligent and intellectual a woman is, if a man is not on the same level as she, this will not be a good match in the long run. What kinds of subjects does he like to talk about? Education comes into play here. A highly-educated woman will not be happy with a man with a high school education. They will be unable to communicate on the same level and it will be frustrating for both. They will also not be able to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings easily.

Level #3: Physical Attraction

Some women are attracted at the physical level first. These are usually the younger women, those on the rebound, and those who have not matured emotionally. Strong physical attraction is actually a red flag. This can blind a woman to a man’s real character and she can wind up being very hurt. The wise woman will enjoy the romantic gestures and the physical attraction but will not be swept up by it. She will guard her heart until she gets to know a man’s personality and character. A woman who keeps herself in shape usually is attracted to men who are in good physical shape as well, but there are exceptions sometimes.

Level #4:Soul Attraction

When a woman feels attraction and chemistry at the three previous levels, she is then ready to fall in love and move into soul attraction. When she likes who a man is, can interact with him at the same level, and finds him physically attractive, she is then open to falling in love with this man. If she accepts him as he is and can love him unconditionally, she will feel that this is the man she is meant to be with. There will be a deep connection at the soul level.

Everyone I’ve asked agrees there must be chemistry for a relationship to work. It’s either there or it’s not. Don’t try to make it happen. What about the concept of a soul mate? Do you believe there is such a thing and if so, do you believe there is only one person right for you? If so, how do you know? Love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please post a comment and click the Google icon. Also, if you’d like to receive these posts, please enter your email in the box to the right.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

The 4 Stages of Attraction: How a Man is Attracted to a Woman

Single? Divorced? Widowed? Searching for your soulmate? You’re not alone. According to recent reports, there are more than 100 million single Americans. Yet, it’s not so easy to find someone you’re attracted to, much less compatible with. The dating scene can be intimidating but the good news is we can educate ourselves on how we are attracted to the opposite sex so we make more informed choices as to whom we decide to date. Did you know that men are attracted at different levels than women? This week’s post is dedicated to helping singles understand the four levels of attraction for men and next week we’ll take a look at the four stages for women.

Stage #1: Physical Attraction

We all know that men are visual creatures so it comes as no surprise to learn that guys are attracted at the physical level. This is the first and lowest level of attraction. Young men and even a more mature man on the rebound are attracted at this level. This is stage 1 for a man.

Stage 2: Emotional Attraction

This has to do with a woman’s personality; how she relates to the world and others. Some men like a woman with a bubbly personality, others prefer the more quiet type. Some experts say opposites attract when it comes to personality, and from my experience, this could be true in many cases. The question a man asks himself is “Can I be friends with this woman?”

Stage 3: Mental Attraction

When a man takes the time to learn how a woman thinks, feels, and conducts her life, he has reached the third stage of attraction. He is attracted by her character and not just by her body. He will be attracted to the way she thinks, and how she handles the situations of life.

Stage 4: Soul Attraction

You realize this person has what you need to grow. After all, growth is what relationships are ultimately about – the growth of the two individuals and the pair as a unit. The man feels this person is the “One” he is meant to be with for his soul to grow. At this level, a man’s heart must be open and he must be willing to fall in love.

Has this post resonated with you? What are your thoughts about these four stages? Are they true for you? It is important for both sexes to understand how men come to fall in love. Next week, we’ll talk about the four stages women go through to fall in love which is very different from the order for men. Stay tuned. Do leave a comment, and click the Google icon if you enjoyed this post. Also, sign up for my weekly posts using the email box on the side.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Six Signs You May Need a Spiritual Path

Everyone is on a spiritual path, whether they know it or not. What’s more, everyone needs a spiritual path, not just those who have been abused, addicted, or abandoned. We all have been wounded in some way. How can I say this? Because after years of thinking dysfunction happens only in “broken” or “alcoholic” homes, I’ve seen enough people from seemingly “normal” families have the same kinds of issues. I’d scratch my head and ask “How did that happen? Her parents weren’t divorced/alcoholic/addicts or whatever.” Until one day, it dawned on me – we are all wounded. Each of us is in need of healing of some sort. It could be physical, emotional, spiritual or all three. Author Wayne Dyer says that “there is a spiritual solution to every problem,” and if we look deep enough, we will find it.

The problem is that many of us are not aware that we are on a spiritual journey, so we fail to look for spiritual solutions. We look to medications, drinking, food, activities, and relationships to console us but sooner or later we realize, we have to go deeper. Hence, the popularity of such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation groups, and yoga classes. Participants realize there is a spiritual struggle going on underneath the covers of the suffering they are experiencing. We are three part entity: body, mind, and spirit. An injury to any one part affects the other parts. The Chinese have known this for centuries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long correlated physical ailments with emotions. For example, a few years ago, I went to an acupuncturist for treatment of an asthma condition I suddenly developed. I had never had asthma in my life so I knew something was going on. “Asthma affects the lungs,” the specialist explained. Then he asked this probing question: “Have you experienced any grief lately?” At that, I burst into tears. Grief! I wanted to scream. Yes, I have experienced grief in several very close relationships all in the same year. The light bulb went on. Once I gained the awareness of the grief I was experiencing, the asthma symptoms completely went away. When we bring light to the darkness of the pain in our spirits, we can process the emotions, which then allow us to heal at the physical level as well. So how does one know if one is in need of healing?

There are probably many more signs, but the ones I am aware of I am listing below. See if any of these resonate with you.

1) physical symptoms and pain – such diseases as fibromyalgia, arthritis, high blood pressure, back pain may all have emotional and spiritual roots

2) incessant chatter – are your conversations self-absorbed (all about you)? do you focus on the negative circumstances in your life?

3) fear of the future – does anxiety about what may happen steal your joy? do you feel a need to keep up with every negative news story, gossip, or Hollywood drama?

4) overdependence on company of others – do you always have to be around people? Are you uncomfortable being by yourself?

5) preoccupation with any one area of life – are you a workaholic? exercise fanatic? Is there any area others would say you put too much time into?

6) inability to overcome addictions – such as overeating, alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, or codependency?

If any of these hit home, I am offering a free mini e-book entitled “7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path“. I’m not talking about religion here, so please don’t confuse the two. Spirituality is very different from “organized religion” although we may find our path in church for a time and that is quite alright. When you enter your email in the box to the right of this post, I’ll get it right out to you.

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual advice on how you, too, can find healing, wholeness, and harmony and live the life of your dreams.
Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel