The Cup of Kindness – Part One


Robert Burns wrote a song we all know well. It’s the one we sing when stepping across the border from an old year into a new – Auld Lang Syne.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne ?

In case you ever wondered, “auld lang syne” basically means “days gone by.” We sing it to signify the passing of one way of things into another, like on New Year’s Eve. But this year, ideas in a New Year’s devotional have inspired me to sing it on January 1st.

Remembering is not just about looking at the past. It is about facing the future with confidence…
Consider writing down a highlight of your year before you even begin thinking about goals for next year.

I had every intention of doing a New Year’s highlight post (a video, actually), but I let it slide till later and went ahead with goal planning instead, right after the stroke of midnight. Goals are good…but it’s a mistake to move on to something new without first recognizing the benefits of the old.

Some stuff should never be forgot

What were your goals last year? Is it safe to say you wanted to do your best, be your best, make a difference in someone’s life? Well, how’d you do on those?

Asking myself that question, all I remember are the things I didn’t accomplish. The target dates I missed; projects I didn’t complete. All the time I diverted to other commitments, rather than my Official Goals. Problem is, I’m not objective—I see what I wanted to do, not what was actually done.

In other words, I forgot just how much I achieved.

Thankfully, other people remembered. I have e-mails, Twitter @s, instant messages, texts, handwritten cards, printed letters, blog posts, videos, even book dedications, from people I had the privilege of knowing or working with last year. “Thank you for the work you did…” “This wouldn’t have been possible without…” “You inspired me to…” “You are awesome!” “You make me happy…” and so many more. They’re amazing, because they remind me, again and again, that even if I didn’t measure up to my own expectations, I was part of something wonderful last year: another person’s life.

Now that I remember that, I’ve got a new goal: To compile all the supportive, encouraging messages I received last year, and make them available at my fingertips for reading throughout the months to come. To remind me what’s important; how far I’ve traveled in life; how much I’ve already done. Because without that perspective, working toward the rest of my goals is nothing more than “wandering many a weary foot.”

How about you? What’s in the cup of kindness from your auld lang syne?

More to do…
Keep that cup o’ kindness available for a right gude-willy waught! Or, in other words, tune in tomorrow, and I’ll show you some ideas for saving, organizing, and accessing those beautiful memories, so you can draw inspiration from them all the year to come! ~ Christine

© 2010 mousewords

Don’t Lose Your Marbles

Jar of Marbles by DazT

I’ve always loved Saturdays. As a kid, it meant Pop was home all day, and he’d make waffles, pancakes, or muffins for breakfast. It meant cartoons, visiting my grandparents’ house, no school work.

As a teen, Saturdays took on the meaning of movie night, time with friends, no school work.

As an adult, I reverted to some of my favorite childhood activities: cartoons in the morning and painting shows in the afternoon. Saturdays meant no “real work,” a day when I could paint and be creative.

Now, Saturdays once again mean no “real work.” I’ve set them aside as a day of relaxation and renewal, leaving myself free to draw, write, or play to my heart’s content.

But not too long ago, I lost sight of Saturday. While editing our new novel, writing became work. The freelance graphic design I couldn’t complete during the week spilled over to my weekend, and art became work. Days blended together. I got stuff done, but I didn’t take time to enjoy Saturday…to enjoy life.

A precious jewel of a day

Something else I’ve always loved are marbles. When I was a kid, I thought those swirling, multicolored glass orbs were every bit as beautiful as precious stones. Unfortunately, most of mine came from the same set, all similar shades of drab green and yellow. Very boring. But every so often, I’d come into possession of one that was larger or smaller or more colorful than the ordinary marble. To me, that was a real treasure.

In the book Charging the Human Battery, there’s a story in which the author likens Saturdays to marbles:

I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about 75 years…I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime…

It took me until I was 55 years old to think about all this in any detail, and by that time I had lived through over 2,800 Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be 75, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1,000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container…

Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.

There’s nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. ~ From Charging the Human Battery by Mac Anderson

When I let “real work” take over my life, the days become like those old green marbles: all the same size, shape, and color. If I really wanted rainbows of glass when I was a kid, I could have made the extra effort to go out and buy them. But it was easier to just complain a little about my lot in life and enjoy the few bits of beauty that I got my hands on. Much the same way, it’s easier to let work take over the weekends, rather than go out of my way to plan, schedule, and enjoy re-creation time.

Our days of life are precious and brief. Letting a Saturday pass by unnoticed is like dropping a jewel into the trash.

I can’t salvage the ones I’ve missed, but I can surely treasure what’s left. I won’t put a finite number on them—as far as I’m concerned, the only limit on human life is 120 years. But I intend to fill a vase with gorgeous, unique marbles, and keep it close by…to remind me.

So. What are you doing next Saturday?

“Jar of Marbles” photo by DazT

A Good Fit



I recently created a new home office area. I had exactly six feet by five feet of space to work with. It has to function for both the writing and the artistic sides of my work—and everything has to fit.

Some of the items I had on hand; others, I’ve been collecting for this purpose. I have a new desk, file cabinet, and book case. I’d really like to add more storage containers—maybe even a small craft table, or a folding chair for reading business material. Or a floor lamp.

Truthfully, I can buy as many items as I want. Each may have value. But only a certain number of them are going to fit into that space.

It’s a lot like life.

I have 24 hours in my day. 365.25 days in my year. Maybe a few decades, maybe a few minutes left in my life. I don’t know.

I can make the choice to do whatever I want with my time…but only a certain number of things will fit into my day. There will be many things I wish to do, and many things that are important. But I can not do all of them.

When I take on too many tasks or agree to too many responsibilities, I’m filling my days to the brim. Like my cramped home office space, my days get tight and cluttered. I don’t have creative freedom, I can’t give my best, and I don’t enjoy my activities as much as I could. So…what’s the solution?

Deciding what’s important

For instance, in my home office, there is a monstrously large art table. It needs a lot of my space. I’ve had it for years; it was there when I started my project. But as I began filling the room with all my new acquisitions, this art table seemed to be getting more ungainly. It takes up so much space that I couldn’t fit all the other things I wanted—not unless I made the table inaccessible. As I arranged and rearranged that room, I began to get frustrated and annoyed with the table. I started thinking, “Why does it have to be so difficult? The new cabinet would fit perfectly in this area, if only I didn’t have to work around that table.”

But at one point, I stood back, took a deep breath, and looked at what I had. I realized—I love that table. It belongs to me, has meaning for me. It was one of the first business purchases I made with my own money. I’ve created characters and worlds on that surface. We’ve been through different states and a lot of life experiences together. Yet here I was, ready to push it away just to make room for something else that needed the space.

How many things in my life do I treat the same way?

Perhaps it’s when I cut back on family activities to do extra work, because family “understands and won’t mind.” Maybe it’s that old friend that I don’t call nearly enough, because new occupations take up so much of my time. Maybe it’s my personal renewal that suffers, because I think it’s more important to answer a few extra emails than to shut down my computer and read a book before bed.

What I realized with the office project is that the important things will all fit together, somehow. It may take a while, and require some trial-and-error; I may have to say “no” to other things I don’t really need. But I’ll find a space for each necessity. It will work.

There are set numbers to our days. The numbers aren’t infinite. When you step back and take a look at your life, what’s most important to you?

Are you giving it enough space?


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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Are You Hot?



I had a moment of enlightenment this evening. And I choked on it.

I was standing at a window, pondering a decision I had to make. As too often happens with me, I was waffling between one option and another—and the less risky option was winning.

With the thought still fresh in my mind, I turned to get a drink from the water cooler. As I poured a glass of room-temperature water, I glanced up at the calendar that hung on the wall. The Bible verse said, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)

The verse was especially meaningful to me at that moment, with my insecure thoughts. But I let the words roll off my consciousness, returning to the thought of my “safe” decision, as I raised the glass of water to my lips.

One swallow was all it took—instant choke. For some unknown reason, I can not drink tepid liquids—my throat seizes up, and I’m left coughing and gasping for breath.

In mid-wheeze, another Bible verse suddenly appeared in my mind: “Because you are lukewarm—–neither hot nor cold—–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)


I had been studying my decision from a decidedly lukewarm point of view. I knew exactly what I wanted, but didn’t think it was possible, so was resigning myself to settling for less. I was being lukewarm—and if I admitted the truth to myself, I approached far too many other daily decisions in the same way.

I caught my breath and looked out the window again. What would happen if, just this once, I cast aside the tepid option and went all-out, full-tilt for the choice that required all my fire, enthusiasm, and confidence? The potential for failure was huge. But like the quote says:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt


I know what I’m going to do.

So how about you?

Are you hot or not?


mousewords is moving to its own site soon–Subscribe here!
© 2008 Christine Taylor

God Answered



I was writing at Starbucks for the day. The internet wasn’t free, so I decided not to go online—I thought I would probably get more work done that way. I planned to write blog posts; but I soon found that neither my flash drive nor my laptop contained the drafts I intended to finish. My drafts are backed up in email, but I didn’t think it was worth the time or effort to log on. So, instead, I organized some story files, then decided to go through the blog drafts I did have.

I opened the first file in a series of three that I had jotted down, but never developed—a “Goal Quest” series. I didn’t feel particularly qualified to guide others on their goal quests today, but I opened it anyway.

I was facing a short paragraph that confronted me with an unexpected challenge:

“Get away by yourself to a quiet place, and take a good look at your life. What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish? Write down everything that comes to mind, and study the list. What is important to you? What do you want to do?”

I had written the words weeks ago, but I never expected myself to be the audience. Shocked, I took in my surroundings. Cool and sunny, peaceful if not silent. Quiet. I had nothing else to work on, so I started writing down the answers to my questions. I finished with this:

~~I want to live independently and freely

~~I want to drive my own transportation; go where I want whenever I want

~~I want to write and create freely in a peaceful, relaxing environment

~~I want to live the most I can live, without limitations of worry, health, or fear

~~I want to be free to be myself

I saved the document, looked out the window for a minute, and wondered—How? I felt the vague notion that I needed action steps for my goals. I thought perhaps taking action steps would prepare me for the time when the goals become reality. So I opened a new note and began typing the first goal that came to mind:

Goal: Buy/Lease a mini SUV

Action steps: Practice driving

I stopped there. It felt aimless. Preparing is good, but how do I achieve what I’m preparing for? Feeling a sense of the ludicrousness of the situation, I opened up the second document in my Goal Quest series. Maybe I had some pointers for myself, I thought.

The first thing on the page was James 1:6-7:

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.”

A beautiful tune began playing in Starbucks then–I could only half-hear it. I caught the words, “Got in her car…”

I looked out window again, watching all the mini SUVs fly past. Two young women, one pushing a stroller, appeared to my right, walking along the sidewalk in front of me. I thought of the future, of having a family. Facing all these goals I had just written, the goals I wanted so much, I reflected that my lack of faith is what’s crippling me. I can’t see how to achieve what I desire most. I feel like I’ll be stuck here forever. I panicked at the helplessness.

I turned to the Lord on a cry of my heart: “How??”

My eyes fell on the young woman who was now at my left. She was pulling her sweatshirt jacket over her shoulders, and suddenly I saw the words printed across the back in big, bold letters:


“Oh, God,” I whispered as tears stung into my eyes. “Oh, God.” I’ve been hearing the word “work” for months, in answer to my pleas. I know the work I need to do, and I’ve been trying to do it. But I still feel frozen by fear and doubt…doubt that it will accomplish anything. Doubt that I can accomplish anything.

I let the feeling soak in–the feeling of hearing God speak. And then my ears caught a few more words from the quiet song in the background:

“You’ll never be alone, no matter what. You’re going to be okay.”

I cried all the more. It’s the answer to all my prayers. The key I need to unlock the future I desire so much. I will work, and God will make magic out of it. Somehow, for the first time, the realization sank in. I believed it.

The future is now.

I left Starbucks, and walked back into my busy life with a new, soul-stirring sense of peace and security. God will make it work.

Pop picked me up, and as he turned the ignition, the car radio came to life in the middle of an advertisement for the new “Chronicles of Narnia” movie, which debuts this weekend. I heard Liam Neeson’s rich voice–as the character of Aslan the Lion, who represents Christ–ask:

“Are you prepared for the wonder that awaits you?”

Yes, Lord. Yes.


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Dreams in a Bucket


“The Bucket List.”

It’s a movie about two men who are given one year to live–one rich, alone, and soured on life; one poor, surrounded by family, but in possession of unfulfilled dreams. This man makes a list of things he wants to do before he “kicks the bucket” (hence the title); and to his surprise, the rich man offers to fund the adventure. So the two set out across the world to fulfill the dreams on the Bucket List.

I haven’t seen the movie (neither have many people across the world yet, so I won’t give away any spoilers!)–I hadn’t even heard of it. So when Jeff O’ Hara tagged me to write a Bucket List for 2008, the mental image I got was of all the dreams I’ve been carrying around in a bucket. Much like carrying water in a bucket, it’s truly a valuable commodity; but unless you pour it out where it’s needed, it does no good. After too long it will even turn stale or stagnant, useless for any beneficial purpose.

So what am I carrying around in a bucket? What dreams or goals do I want to achieve in 2008? Awesome thought–when you write something down, you commit to it. You can no longer avoid it, in any good conscience.

So–deep breath–here we go; mousewords’ Bucket List for 2008:

–Finish writing my mystery novel.

–Publish my mystery novel. (Those are two separate things.)

–Get many articles published.

–Move to a new location.

–Meet lots of online friends in person.

–Reach Power Seller status with my art sales on eBay

–Read the CSS books I have and actually learn it well

–Travel, for book promotion and for fun

…At least.

And I’d like to ask the same question of Melinda, Warren S., Bettina, Teeg, Akela, Belinda, Aaron, and Della. What dreams are you carrying around in a bucket?

Just after I wrote my list, I received an email from a new friend, who has just returned from the trip of a lifetime. I’m more inspired than ever now. I welcome you to visit Julie Anna’s blog and see if you feel the same.

Thinking of it as a Bucket List gives me a sense of urgency; I do want to achieve these things, so I had better hurry.

The last thing I want to do is kick the bucket when it’s full.