Monthly Archives: December 2014

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis

Voyageofdawntreader

This year I will read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2014 Manifesto. So curl up with a cup of hot coffee, your fuzzy socks, and a blazing fire, and let’s get reading.

“Narnia… where anything can happen (and most often does)… and where the adventure begins. The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil Uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey take Edmund, Lucy, their cousin Eustace, and Caspian to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan’s country at the End of the World.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite book in the series so far. I won’t go into each of the stops they make or everything that happens to them because there is so much information, gorgeous descriptions, and adventure you may as well just read the book. But I will say that this book chronicles how each character is tested along their journey, and how the lesson each of them learns transforms them. Lucy is faced with self-doubt  and the temptation to improve her appearance. Eustace undergoes a transformation of body that leads to a transformation of heart. Edmund and Caspian are temporarily overcome by greed and lust for treasure.

Aslan reappears in times of need, reminiscent of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He convicts the children along their journey, encourages and sustains their faith, and leads them from the darkness into the light. The group discovers the fates of each of the seven lords along the way. Each stop they make reveals a lord or his fate. This book is interesting because it is basically a high-stakes scavenger hunt. It is the only book in the series which does not have a main villain. The adversary is each of the children in turn- usually just to themselves.

Like each of the novels, Aslan represents Jesus Christ. However, in this book he appears at the end as a lamb. He transforms into a Lion, and tells Edmund and Lucy that they won’t be coming back to Narnia again as they are too old. Then he tells them, “I am [in your world]. But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This is the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little you may know me better there.”

Advertisements

Be Thankful – Motivational Monday!

2014-11-28 17.45.31

Welcome to Motivational Monday! A safe space to lay it all out on the table- no one is perfect, and every one needs a boost now and again. What time is better than on Monday, that sunny little bright spot of the week? Pull up a chair, keep an open mind, and let’s start this week right!

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

With the hustle and bustle of the season surrounding us, it is necessary to slow down and reflect on what is really important. The true meaning of Christmas, family and friends. While the media may focus on retail sales and last minute gifts, the holidays are a wonderful season for reunions, love and selfless giving.

In our western world it seems there can be a bitter sweet aftertaste of needing, wanting and never being satisfied. What if we focus on what we do have? Christmas should be a time where we put gratitude over materialistic wishes and learn to be happy with what we have- and who we are sharing it with.

Happy Monday, and Merry Christmas!

 

“Prince Caspian” by C.S. Lewis

princecaspian

This year I will read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2014 Manifesto. So curl up with a cup of hot coffee, your fuzzy socks, and a blazing fire, and let’s get reading.

“Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan’s own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia – the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.” ‘Prince Caspian’ is a classic story of good vs evil by C.S. Lewis.

The story begins as the children are suddenly and unexpectedly summoned back to the land of Narnia. They realize it has been hundreds- perhaps thousands of years in Narnia since they last left, although it had only been a year for them in England. C.S. Lewis gives us Prince Caspian’s back story through a Dwarf the children rescue called Trumpkin. Caspian was brought up by his uncle, King Miraz and his aunt. He was told by his uncle not to believe in the ‘fairy tales’ of old Narnia- the four (the children) and Aslan. Uncle Miraz goes to great lengths to keep the truth from Caspian.

Caspian’s aunt has a baby boy, so Caspian flees after council that King Miraz would kill him to ‘fix’ the line of lineage. He meets the creatures from his nurse’s ‘fairy tales’ – the old Narnians. After getting over much suspicion, they accept him as their king. King Miraz has discovered their location in his hunt for Caspian and so there is nothing for it but to fight. In the midst of battle King Caspian blows Susan’s magic horn- which will bring aid to any who use it. He knew it might not bring the four to their exact location, so several envoys are sent out, including the Dwarf Trumpkin. He was the one to discover the children who arrived at the ruins of their old castle. Once Trumpkin has explained it all they set out on their journey to meet the army.

In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis uses an underlying Christian theme to drive the storyline. The main theme of Prince Caspian is good vs evil, seen with the side of the old Narnians (good) and the Telmarines and some of the Dwarfs (evil). One of the themes is the continuing need for Chirstians to count the cost of following Christ, even to the point of death if necessary. Lewis draws parallels to lives of Christians who will be ridiculed for their beliefs. Lucy’s struggle portrays the struggle of all Christians who must follow the path of faith and obedience against all opposition. Another theme is the universality of questioning God’s timing and purposes. There are several times at which main characters wonder why Aslan doesn’t just intervene to make everything better. They also wonder why he has been gone from Narnia for so long. In the end King Peter proclaims, “We don’t know when He will act. In His time, no doubt, not ours. In the meantime He would like us to do what we can on our own.” As Christians, that is to live by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

It was a very entertaining book, if not my favorite in the series. It’s definitely worth a read!

Start Doing – Motivational Monday!

3E75B89C4

Welcome to Motivational Monday! A safe space to lay it all out on the table- no one is perfect, and every one needs a boost now and again. What time is better than on Monday, that sunny little bright spot of the week? Pull up a chair, keep an open mind, and let’s start this week right!

What will you start today?

You’ve dreamed about it, imagined the outcome, maybe even thought about what it would take to make it come true. What’s stopping you?

If not today, why not make it your New Year’s Resolution? Stop wishing and start doing.

Happy Monday!

 

Willpower – Motivational Monday!

willpower

Welcome to Motivational Monday! A safe space to lay it all out on the table- no one is perfect, and every one needs a boost now and again. What time is better than on Monday, that sunny little bright spot of the week? Pull up a chair, keep an open mind, and let’s start this week right!

This week’s theme for Motivational Monday is willpower. With Christmas coming up fast and with it parties and lots of sugary and fatty foods, willpower is important to be sure to not over indulge. Recently I read about willpower in my book ‘The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business’ by Charles Duhigg and I would like to share a few points.

Duhigg writes of an experiment that Mark Muraven conducted as a psychology PhD candidate at Case Western. The premise of the experiment was to test taste perceptions, but in reality it was to force students- but only some students- to exert willpower. Each person was presented with a plate of cookies and a plate of radishes on a table. Half was instructed to eat the cookies and not the radishes, the other half was to eat radishes and not the cookies. Muraven’s theory was that ignoring the cookies would take willpower and ignoring the radishes would require hardly any effort at all. This went as planned. Then the researcher reentered the room and told the participants that they needed 15 minutes for the sensory memory to fade, and in the meantime they could complete a puzzle while they waited.

This puzzle was actually the the most important part of the experiment. It was impossible to solve, and so the researcher watched to see how long the participants would attempt to work on it. ” The cookie eaters, with their unused reservoirs of self-discipline, started working on the puzzle. In general they looked relaxed. One of them tried a straightforward approach, hit a roadblock, and then started again. And again. And again. Some worked for over half an hour before the researcher told them to stop. On average, the cookie eaters spent almost nineteen minutes apiece trying to solve the puzzle before they rang the bell. The radish eaters, with their depleted willpower, acted completely different. They muttered as they worked. they got frustrated. On average, the radish eaters worked for only about eight minutes, 60 percent less time than the cookie eaters, before quitting.” The point of this is that willpower is like a muscle, like the muscle in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.

Duhigg asks how far this analogy extends. Another experiment by two Australian researchers , Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng tried to answer that question by creating a willpower workout. They enrolled people in a physical excercise program that lasted two months. They were put through an increasing amount of weight lifting, resistance training and aerobic routines. After two months they were not only in better physical condition, but were healthier in other parts of their lives as well. Before the experiment most of the subjects were self-professed couch potatoes. However when the test was over they smoked fewer cigarettes, consumed less alcohol, caffeine and junk food. They were spending more hours on homework, fewer on watching TV and were less depressed.

They wondered if exercise just made people happier and less hungry for fast food so they designed another experiment. This time they signed up twenty nine people for a four month money management program. “They set savings goals and asked participants to deny themselves luxuries, such as meals at restaurants or movies. Participants were asked to keep detailed logs of everything they bought, which was annoying at first, but eventually people worked up the self-discipline to jot down every purchase. People’s finances improved as they progressed through the program. More surprising, they also smoked fewer cigarettes and drank less alcohol and caffeine- on average, two fewer cups of coffee, two fewer beers, and, among smokers, fifteen fewer cigarettes each day. They ate less junk food and were more productive at work and school. It was like the exercise study: As people strengthened their willpower muscles in one part of their lives- in the gym, or a money management program- that strength spilled over into what they ate or how hard they worked. Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.”

Todd Heatherton, a researcher at Dartmouth who has worked on willpower studies said that this is why signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is so important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a five-year-old soccer star. “When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strength. A five-year-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time.” Also, “When you learn to force yourself to go to the gym or start your homework or eat a salad instead of a hamburger, part of what’s happening is that you’re changing how you think. People get better at regulating their impulses. They learn how to distract themselves from temptations. And once you’ve gotten into that willpower grove, your brain is practiced at helping you focus on a goal.”

So this season make healthy productive choices and see the results reverberate into other areas of your life!

“The Horse and His Boy” by C.S. Lewis

horse and his boy

This year I will read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2014 Manifesto. So curl up with a cup of hot coffee, your fuzzy socks, and a blazing fire, and let’s get reading.

‘During the Golden Age of Narnia, when Peter is High King, a boy named Shasta discovers he is not the son of Arsheesh, the Calormene Fisherman, and decides to run far away to the North – to Narnia.’ The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis is the tale of how Shasta sets out on a journey to what he supposes is his homeland, and on the way discovers himself. He learns of friendship, loyalty, and humility.

The story begins with Shasta escaping from his father Arsheesh who he discovers isn’t really his father. He learns that his ‘dad’ is about to sell him to someone far worse, and so Shasta leaves with Bree- the stranger’s talking horse who is really from Narnia. Along they journey they run into Aravis and her talking horse Hwin who are also running away to Narnia. they team up and through many perils discover plots of battle and kidnap. They must race to save many lilves, and Shasta must risk life and limb to fufill his destiny and discover his true family.

This story is incredible, tying together different storylines seamlessly. Shasta meets Aslan and discovers he was there for him, interceding at moments throughout the story- and even before- to help him. The main theme of this book is the folly of pride and the wisdom of humility. Several characters exhibit pride in its different forms, and by story’s end are taught a lesson, or turned into a lesson for others.

In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis uses an underlying Christian theme to drive the storyline. the previous theme of pride vs. humility is in accordance with James 4:6, ‘The Lord Jesus (in the form of the character Aslan) is presented as the all-powerful Sovereign who directs both the fate of nations and the hearts of individuals with equal precision.’ It also brings to mind parallel verses Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11, ‘For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

I very much enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it!

Make One Change – Motivational Monday!

positive-attitude

Welcome to Motivational Monday! A safe space to lay it all out on the table- no one is perfect, and every one needs a boost now and again. What time is better than on Monday, that sunny little bright spot of the week? Pull up a chair, keep an open mind, and let’s start this week right!

This week’s Motivational Monday is from the Natural Health Magazine, November/December edition, written by Emily C. Johnson.

‘You’ve been told to count your blessings more times than you can, yes, count. But who has 20 minutes to meditate on all the good in life when there are more pressing things to stress over, like blizzard-related flight delays? “There is an evolutionary advantage to focusing on the negative- your body and brain want you to pay attention to potential threats so you stay safe. But research shows that our mood improves when we dwell on gratitude,” says Erin Olivo, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of the new book Wise Mind Living. Better yet: Taking just a second to be thankful when good comes your way can turn you into a full-time optimist, Olivo calls these time-outs “micro-gratitude moments.” They can keep your mood elevated all day, even trouncing anxiety and depression, research shows. Here’s how to rewire your brain to a life-is-beautiful setting.

Picking up on the positive in your life doesn’t mean waiting for something amazing to happen. “It’s about the small things- whenever you find yourself smiling, really take in why,” Olivo says. “When you push the button for the elevator and it opens right away, notice that ‘Yessss!’ that goes through your head.” Give those mini high points the same attention that you give a missed train home and you’ll be grinning instead of wincing in annoyance. You can even jot them down to refer back to and reflect on. After a few weeks of adding to your good-stuff list, the practice of noticing serendipity will become second nature. It’s like building a positivity muscle!

“Program a reminder on your phone to go off three times a day, prompting you to make note of little things that have made you happy,” Olivo says. Or pick a daily trigger, like heating up your lunch, and take stock then. If you haven’t yet tallied any tickled-pink moments, pause to remember your smoother-than-usual commute- or treat yourself (e.g., with a Youtube video like “Pughuahua Eats Watermelon”) so you have something to smile about. “Bank these positive minutes, and you’re more likely to think to yourself at night, Today was a good day, and mean it,” Olivo says.’

Happy Monday!