Friday, April 21, 2006

Hydration Challenge

Keep Your Cool Hydration Challenge

A challenge is a designated period of time during which we are focusing our attention on building a particular healthy habit. The activities required are completed on your own and do not require attendance at a class or event.

Example: The physical challenge runs 6 weeks long and asks you to track your exercise outside of SMU fitness classes. You will log 1 point for every 10 minutes of activity at the moderate or strenuous level. You can hike, walk, jog, lift weights, play basketball, do yoga etc...the choice is yours!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Challenge: Staying Hydrated

Good Hydration

Susan D. Luke
Registered Dietician

For years and years, I have been recommending to people that they need 8 cups of water per day, or the famous 64 ounces per day. Like so many other health and nutrition recommendations, hang around long enough and things will change.

The National Academy of Science issued new recommendations in February 2004. Here is the new scoop! In a typical day:

Boys 14-18 yrs: 2.6 L (11 cups)
Girls 14-18 yrs: 1.8 L (8 cups)

Women: 2.2 liters (9 cups)
Men: 3.0 liters (13 cups)

We used to urge people to drink water and more water to hydrate, but the study is showing that all fluids hydrate. Water does not have to come from just water, but from all fluids... milk, juice, coffee, and tea (yes, caffeine-containing beverages).

Caffeine-containing beverages have a brief dehydrating effect, but in a 24-hour period, there was no significant dehydrating effect. So tea, coffee and caffeine-containing sodas will all add to hydration.

Studies are showing that when we look at all beverages as hydrating, most people are doing a nice job keeping themselves hydrated in an average day.

My concern comes with the physically active kids and adults, and people living in hot, humid weather. While around 12 cups of fluid per day might do for the "Average Joe," an athlete might need as much a 5 liters (20+ cups) per day.

Physically active kids and parents must stay mindful of their fluid needs.

Here are a few ways to stay hydrated:

  1. Before you go out to play, drink 2+ cups of fluid. Before play the best choices are water, a sports drink, or watered down juice. The goal is a beverage that is 0-70 calories per cup. This caloric range tends to empty through the stomach more quickly than high-calorie beverages and, therefore, are better at hydrating quickly.
  2. While you are playing, try to get in one cup of a beverage every 15- 20 minutes. This means 3-4 cups in an hour! During this time, go for water and sports drinks.
  3. After the play... drink what ever you want… Coke®, juice, tea, water, etc., until you are urinating pale urine. If you urine is a deep color, keep drinking!

A few signs of dehydration that you should be aware of:
  1. Headaches and fatigue
  2. Muscle cramping
  3. Reduced sweating and dizziness

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bottled Water Challenge

Consumers' thirst for bottled water unquenchable

Gannett News Service
Article published Apr 18, 2006

Our love affair with bottled water is no fling: It's a growing, long-term relationship. Sales of bottled water rose 9 percent in 2005, continuing a steady trend. Since 2003, the only beverages with higher sales have been carbonated soft drinks, the Beverage Marketing Corp. says.

But is this relationship healthy?

Water, of course, is good for us. Though a 2004 Institute of Medicine report said most people are getting enough fluid — from water, foods and other beverages — some people need more. It's also possible, though unproved, that drinking water aids weight loss. And water intoxication — from drinking too much — is rare, except among water-guzzling marathon athletes.

Bottled vs. tap

So if increased sales of bottled water mean we're drinking more water — especially in place of sugary sodas and other high-calorie, low-nutrient drinks — that's a fine thing. But it's not clear that's happening. People could just be replacing tap with bottled water, a possible trend that rankles environmentalists (because bottles become trash) and people who are concerned about commercialization of a basic resource. After all, most bottled waters are sold by companies like Pepsi (Aquafina) and Coca-Cola (Dasani).

Many are simply filtered tap water, and none has any special, proven health benefits. A 2005 survey from American Rivers, a clean-water advocacy group, found 59 percent of respondents nationwide drank both tap and bottled water, 16 percent drank only bottled and 25 percent drank only tap.

But “we don't have anything to indicate whether tap water consumption is going up or down,” says Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of the American Water Works Association. “We do want people to know tap water is every bit as safe as bottled water. In fact, it's tested more.” Makers of bottled water are just as quick to say that their products are safe and well regulated.

What's being added?

Assuming that both kinds of water are essentially safe (though both have had lapses), consumers choosing bottled water still need to consider how it differs.

First, the most popular brands don't contain fluoride, which is important for dental health. Most fluoridated tap water - despite reports of a few local systems with too much natural fluoride — provides a safe and effective amount, says Jack Stamm, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry and a spokesman for the American Dental Association.

Some dentists worry that an increase in early childhood tooth decay might be linked to less tap water consumption, Stamm says. But, he says, dentists are more worried about what many children are drinking instead: sugary sodas and juice drinks.

Which brings us to what some bottled “water beverages” have that tap water does not: sugar, artificial sweeteners and calories. Though traditional bottled water is free of such additives, a newer, growing category blurs the line between water and soft drinks.

Pepsi's Propel Fitness Water contains sucrose syrup (sugar), sucralose (artificial sweetener Splenda) and 10 calories per 8 ounces, along with some vitamins. And Capri Sun's Roarin' Waters Fruit Flavored Water Beverage — with a label boasting “Finally, a great-tasting water beverage kids will love to drink” — has 35 calories per 6.75-ounce pouch and a very sweet taste (to this adult), thanks to high-fructose corn syrup and sucralose. In other words, it's a reduced-calorie fruit drink, apparently made for children who expect all drinks, even water, to be sweet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Challenge: Hydration

Keep Residents Properly Hydrated to Maintain Health

Hydration is one of the most common concerns in long term care. Lack of hydration can lead to dementia and confusion, predisposition to falls and infections, pressure ulcers and even death.

F-Tag 327 states that facilities must “provide each resident with sufficient fluid intake to maintain proper hydration and health.” On average, each resident needs a minimum of 30cc per kg of body weight per day, or a minimum of 1500cc of fluid per day.

Fortunately, just a few simple products – all available from Direct Supply – can help you establish an effective hydration program for your residents.

Keep fluids within easy reach for residents at all times

Large insulated mugs are perfect for making sure that your residents always have liquids close at hand. They hold both hot and cold beverages, and the graduated markings help you easily measure residents’ fluid intake.

Bring ice and fluids to your residents regularly

Ice carts are a great way to deliver beverages and ice to your residents throughout the day. Staff can easily wheel them to each room, and carts with decorative canopies not only brighten up your hallways – they can bring some added excitement to your residents!

Offer fun alternatives to conventional hydration options

Soft serve ice cream machines are a fun alternative to water and other traditional beverages, and count towards hydration requirements. Easy enough for residents to use themselves, they’re perfect for common areas.

Keep an adequate supply of ice in your facility

Make sure you have enough ice machines to accommodate all of your residents. We recommend that you be able to supply 7 lbs. of ice per resident per day. This guideline will ensure that you’re able to meet all of your daily ice needs for beverages, water, staff use and tray lines.

To calculate the right-sized ice machine, multiply your number of residents by 7, then choose a machine with the closest matching “maximum capacity per 24 hours.”

And when choosing an ice machine, remember: flaked ice presents less of a choking hazard than cubed ice.

To learn more about these products and our complete selection of foodservice equipment, call your Direct Supply account manager – 1-800-634-7328.

Written by Shellee Roloff, foodservice market manager for Direct Supply.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Challenge takes on Bottled Water

The nationwide campaign promotes making clean water available to all, not just private companies.

By Angela Gray

Blindfolds, paper cups and guessing games — all for a global cause.

Community leaders and activists in the Twin Cities area urged students to “Think Outside the Bottle” as part of a national campaign launched by Corporate Accountability International to challenge the marketing muscles of the bottled water industry.

On Thursday the organization hosted a tap water challenge, daring University students to put on blindfolds and try to tell the difference between tap water, Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Pepsi’s Aquafina and Nestle’s Poland Springs bottled waters. Two of the cups sampled contained tap water drawn from different public taps and two contained brand-name bottled water.

Linda Wells, a spokeswoman for Corporate Accountability International, said the tap water challenges are scheduled to take place nationwide throughout the month, in the wake of the U.N.’s World Water Day on March 22.

Ultimately, Wells said, she wants students to walk away knowing they do not have to buy water from a corporation, and that those corporations need to stop misleading the public about tap water.

Jim Fassett-Carmen, a volunteer for the campaign, said this is an event to increase awareness among people in Minneapolis about how corporations seek greater control of water around the world. “More and more Americans are drinking bottled water,” he said. “Nestle and Coke are really promoting bottled water and trying to privatize it.”

There is less and less fresh water available to people in the world because of pollution, poverty, war and corporate control, Fassett-Carmen said. Instead of the world’s water being controlled by corporate interests profiting from the resource, he said there should be public laws about accountability and clean water availability for all people.

Fassett-Carmen said he went to India in 2004 to represent Corporate Accountability International. “I participated in a 10-day march from one Coke plant to another,” he said. He added that they focused not only on the Coca-Cola plants, but also on “the millions of gallons of water the company sucked out of areas where there are shortages.”

Fassett-Carmen talked with farmers in the area about water tables dropping, limited access to water, wells drying up and Coca-Cola companies dumping sludge and polluting nearby land. “We’re a wealthy nation where buying a bottle of water is nothing, but there are some who cannot afford it,” he said. “Water is a life force we all need.”

People need to do more to protect quality and access to clean water, said Lisa Ledwidge, of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. The league has begun to address global water issues because it realized how corporations are trying to profit from the resource, she said. “We believe that water should be a common good,” she said. “Water is a human need, not a commodity to make money off of.”

Jenny Chang, a global studies junior, said she has become active in the campaign because she has strong opinions about the issues. “It’s really important for the public to be aware of the consequences of (bottled water) markets in the U.S.,” she said.

Chang said there are many organizations and activists on campus, which makes it a great place to begin and become aware of the issue. “These are the people that are really welcome to new ideas and new ways of thinking,” she said.

Jeff Lopez, a history junior who was buying a bottle of Dasani water at Java City in Blegen Hall, said he likes to buy bottled water because it is efficient.

“I like to have water with me,” he said. “I can buy it and then walk away with it.”

Sunday, April 16, 2006

SunDay Challenge

Traditional car races have always insured public interest. The advent of new vehicles powered by solar and other energy sources have awaken the public.

Alternative energy vehicle races attract a broad audience.

Such races are an effective means to educate the public on the use of vehicles powered by energy sources other than gasoline or diesel. This new breed of auto rally showcases and promotes alternative energy vehicle technology for environmentally friendly transportation.

The first SunDay Challenge was held April 21, 1991, in conjunction with the annual Florida Solar Energy Center SunDay Open House to celebrate Earth Day.

Five vehicles attended the open house and participated in the rally. In 1999, over forty alternative energy vehicles participated in the two day long event that started at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa and concluded at Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando.

The first half of the event was the rally that traveled west through cities and rural areas of Florida, allowing drivers to demonstrate vehicle handling, acceleration, viability and energy-efficiency as a commuter car. The second half was a track event where Formula Lightning electric vehicles reached speeds over 100 mph on Walt Disney World Speedway concluding the seventh annual SunDay Challenge.

By definition, an alternative energy vehicle is one that utilizes a primary power source other than gasoline or diesel fuel. This event has had participants with vehicles power by sources such as electric, solar, hydrogen, methanol. ethanol, fuel cell, and bi-diesel.

To reflect the various design orientations, the rally includes the following vehicle classes:
  • Formula Lightning EV
  • Commuter EV
  • Tour de Sol
  • University Solar Cross-Continental
  • Hybrid
  • High School EV Conversion
  • Open Class
All rally vehicles must be registered "street legal" for use on U.S. roadways, be road worthy and carry appropriate insurance. All vehicles must pass the SunDay Challenge safety and class qualification inspection held prior to the event in accordance with event Regulations and Rule Book.

Some vehicle classes follow similar event rules. Drivers must have valid driver's licenses and follow local highway laws. Drivers receive a route map and driver's event manual at the time of registration.

Each year the event had a gracious host, which added to the excitement of the event. The Florida Energy Office of the Florida Department of Community Affairs has been the major sponsor of the event. Now, the event is a partnership with FSEC and the Space Coast Clean Cities Coalition.

Additional information on the SunDay Challenge:
  • History
  • Previous participants and results: 1999 and 1997
  • Next event

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saturday Challenge

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge Saturday

May 1 at National Science Bowl


From: Jeff Sherwood of U.S. Department of Energy, 202-586-4826, or 301-347-3850 (Science Bowl Press Room), Web:

News Advisory:

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge Saturday, May 1 at National Science Bowl(r)
"Students, start your engines!" Sixteen National Science Bowl(r) high school teams from 13 states will be busy during the Science Day portion of this weekend's competition, but they won't be cramming for the academic questions or attending the research seminars. Instead, they will be designing, building and testing hydrogen fuel cell model cars. This hands-on Science Bowl activity will culminate in exciting races on the afternoon of Saturday, May 1, when the teams will run their cars in a grand prix speed race or a King of the Hill competition to see which car can climb the steepest incline.

The teams of four students will compete for a total of $7,500 in prizes. The first place team in each race will receive $1,500 for their schools' science departments. Second and third place teams for each race will receive $1,250 and $1,000, respectively.

The model cars can be no larger than one foot wide and two feet long. The model cars will use electricity to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen will be stored on the car and will run a fuel cell that generates electricity to power a motor. Since no combustion is involved, the only byproducts are heat and water.


Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge


Sixteen high school teams


Saturday, May 1, 3:30 p.m. Eastern


National 4-H Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.


The official car races are expected to start at 3:30 p.m., but there will be photo opportunities beginning at noon as students assemble their cars and test them on the courses.

The 16 teams competing in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car challenge are:
-- The Harker School, San Jose, Calif.
-- La Jolla High School, La Jolla, Calif.
-- Shasta High School, Redding, Calif.
-- Stockdale High School, Bakersfield, Calif.
-- OWCC Collegiate High School, Niceville, Fla.
-- Auburn High School, Rockford, Ill.
-- Terre Haute South Vigo High School, Terre Haute, Ind.
-- Urbandale High School, Urbandale, Iowa
-- Chaska High School, Chaska, Minn.
-- Skyview High School, Billings, Mont.
-- Shaker High School, Latham, N.Y.
-- W.G. Enloe High School, Raleigh, N.C.
-- Red River High School, N.D.
-- Edmond Home School Co-op, Oklahoma City, Okla.
-- Milby High School, Houston, Texas
-- University High School, Morgantown, W.V.

The Energy Department's Office of Science selected 16 teams for the model car challenge by lottery from the pool of Science Bowl teams applying to be in the races. On Sunday, May 2, the students will join 48 other teams from around the country for the academic competition portion of the Department of Energy National Science Bowl(r). In round robin and double elimination matches, the teams will answer increasingly difficult questions in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and earth and general sciences.

Biographical information on the teams and more information on the Department of Energy's National Science Bowl(r) is available on the web at:

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Challenge

Illustration Friday 'Nourishment' Challenge

'Autumn fruit' Oil on canvas 15cm by 10.5cm

It is autumn in Australia. In the middle of May but most days are still warm - sometimes even in the mid to high 20s. It is hard to dress for the day at six in the morning when it is dark and cool, knowing that later it will most likely be another hot, blue sky day. We watch as the clouds roll over with their promise of rain only to be disappointed as they pick up their skirts and roll off again. The drought seems to go forever.

Autumn is the time for apples and grapes. They make a luscious picture as they sit in a bowl in the middle of the table. Being a favourite in our household, these were all that were left to paint.

IF 'Alone' Challenge

'Alone' Van Gogh watercolour pencils on 150gm Mont Matre sketch paper

The Illustration Friday challenge for this week is 'Alone'. That conjures up lots of images to me, mainly of people in various setting like crowds or deserted beaches. Trouble is, I think that this is what will come to the minds of lots of people and I want mine to be different. By the way, I never look at the offerings already on the site before submitting my own as I don't want to be influence - or scared off.

So how else can alone be portrayed? It came to me while we were doing the shopping in the fruit and veg section of our local Woolies. Peas - they always come in groups in pods or crowds on plates, so what could be more alone than one pea in a pod. So here it is. Not one of my finest pieces mind you. I haven't really got the feel of my nice new watercolour pencils yet, but it will do for starters

IF 'Travel' Challenge

Wat Jet Lod Lead pencil on cartridge paper

During a trip to Thailand in January 2001 I took up drawing. I had been going to Thailand for a number of years and become interested in the teachings of the Buddhist belief system, particularly the concept of living in the moment. During this trip I realised that I had seen and done a lot in this country but had never taken the opportunity to sit and contemplate.

The Poet and I went shopping at a stationary shop and purchased some paper and pencils and set out for the temples. This time, instead of rushing around with the rest of the tourists, we stopped and sat. We breathed the hot, dry air and listened to the quiet tinkle of the temple bells. We tried to see the images around us by putting them down on our paper.

This pencil sketch, made in the grounds of Wat Jet Lod - the Temple of Seven Spires - represents the beginning of my journey as an artist. It is a record of my travels to Thailand and my journey to an inner peace, which has a very long way to go.

On the first page of the album in which I have stored photographs, journal entries and drawings from this particular trip I have the following quote. Foolishly, I have forgotten to record where I found it but it most likely from a book of buddhist teachings.

As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.

IF 'Crowded' Challenge - An Australian Autumn day

"Crowded" Olympus C750 AutoZoom manipulated using Adobe Photoshop Elements

Sydney's other name - the Emerald City - could well have been derived from the colour of the grass of the Sydney Cricket Ground rather than the waters of the harbour, both deep and glowing in the sunlight. The sky looks as though it has been flooded with the pure cyan from a digital artist's palette and smeared with the thinnest white for clouds.

From a couple of rows behind us in the crowd a man is calling out the scores from a cricket match that is being played somewhere in New Zealand which he is listening to on his little radio. In the row in front of us a mother is slathering sun screen lotion on the faces and arms and ears of her little boy and girl as her husband reads the team lists for the game that we were here to watch. Everyone is adjusting their caps against the glare of the bright sunshine.

At precisely 1:10pm, with the players in position, the central umpire takes his place in the middle of the ground. He bounces the ball and the game is underway.

The football season has begun.

IF Bloom Challenge

Protea Bloom Pastel pencil on Canson Mi-Teintes blue paper Almost everyone on the Internet is revelling in the fact that spring has arrived - stories of last snowfalls and first buds abound. Simple geography seems to have been lost in the celebration. When it is spring in the northern hemisphere, it is autumn in the southern hemisphere. Not a problem in most events. I actually enjoy autumn. After a long hot, sticky, humid Sydney summer, the relief of cooler nights finally makes sleeping easier. The idea of curling up on the couch with a good book or my sketchpad is a lot more appealing then hunting for a non-existent breeze. Australia doesn't have deciduous native trees but our European ancestors populated our parks and gardens with oaks and ashes that make a walk a joy. This bit of simple geography does become a problem when artistic challenges are issued by our northern friends which involve seasons so we southerners need to be especially creative or have lots of fore-thought. This week’s Illustration Friday challenge is “Bloom”. At the moment, most of the blooms in Sydney are laying in a crumpled mess in the mud in the gardens. So, in the words of some advertising bod, ‘here is one I prepared earlier’. Last year, The Poet and I took off to spend the weekend in Berrima, about an hour and a half south of Sydney, in the area know as the Southern Highlands. From the porch of the coffee shop in Mittagong where we had stopped for afternoon tea, I saw a fabulous protea bush (also an import), absolutely laden with flowers. The lady in the coffee shop generously allowed me to cut a couple of the flower heads to take with me. The resulting drawing has since been framed and hangs in our sunroom – hence the reflections from the glass. EM Toyland

Challenge - My Blind Bear

Old Blind Bear
Stabillo Pastel Pencils on Olive Grey Canson Mi-Teintes paper

This bear is about as old as me - the bear, not the drawing, which I did tonight at our Monday night drawing class. He took me about 2 hours to do. I used Stabillo pastel pencils on Canson Mi-Teintes olive-grey paper - A4 size - smooth side. He is my response to the Everyday Matters toyland challenge.

When I was a little girl, I went with my family to visit some relatives. I must have been asleep when we left because the bear was left behind. When we eventually retrieved him, his eyes had been pulled out and his squeaker didn't work any more. 50 years later I am still having trouble forgiving my cousins for hurting my bear.

These days he live a comfortable life with lots and lots of other bears in my collection.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday Challenge


(Stripes, Tiger, Zebra, Spots, Leopard, Tiles, Snowflakes, Textiles, Polkadots, Floral, Paisley, Quilts, Carpets, Waves,...)

Theme for Next Week ... ROUND (Oval, Sphere, Arch, Ball, Globe, Ring, Loop, Bent, Bowed, Wheel, Egg Shaped, R. Table, Ammunition,...)

[For just this week, Thursday Challenge will be offering a prize to one (1) participant. One participant will be selected to receive a hardbound copy of the book "What Shape is a Snowflake?" by Ian Stewart. The book has many interesting photographs and illustrations of patterns in Nature. If you are interested in donating a prize for a future Thursday Challenge please send me an email and perhaps we will do more of this to add to the fun.]

Welcome to Thursday Challenge.

Thursday Challenge is for fun and learning.

A theme is announced on this site each week. You may either take a new photograph related in some way to the theme or select one that you have taken previously. A list is displayed below of submitted links. Submit a single permanent link to the photo or web page containing the photo or photos you have selected after the time given below. If you have any problem submitting a link or have any questions, please email me (my address is in 'contact' above).

I would like to thank the following people for their translation assistance: Jeroen, Akos, AJ, Paulo, Constantin, Hodari, Tracey and Ziva.
Welkom bij de "Thursday Challenge" (Dutch)

Üdvözöljük a "Thursday Challenge" honlapján (Hungarian)

Selamat datang di "Thursday Challenge" (Indonesian)

Bem-vindo ao "Thursday Challenge" (Portuguese)

Bun venit la "Thursday Challange" (Romanian)

Bienvenidos a "Thursday Challenge" (Spanish)



Here are the previous Thursday Challenge submissions for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Special Thursday Challenge interview, Jim Krause.

Learn more about Thursday Challenge participants!

Thursday Challenge interviews:

Bob Kupbens (Wood-Stone) James Kirkbride (The Pea Soup Fiasco), Renée (moohoo), Linda Brisbon (msdedi), Joe and Lorien (JoLoLog) , Daniel Groß (Objective View), Junnie Arreza (Memento), Martha Catherine Ivey (LunaSol), Sibylle Schwarz, Dennis Fox, Will Burnham, Laura Akers (Long Story Short), Lori Fusaro, Tine Verheyden, Greg Tee (Gregz), Darragh Hehir (Dubliner), Stuart Shearing (Juslooken), Myla Kent, shannonfabulous (Fabulous Finds), Joel Schilling, Claudine RL Co (Simulacra), Charlie O'Shields (Always Curious), Kent Holloway { astigmatism }, Marvin Beatty (InstaMarv), Juli Eklund, Sandra Rocha (Flying Shark), Hilde Bakering (Life Through a Lens), Beth Moody (Visions of Liz), Brian the Red.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday Challenge

Drink Local, Real Local.

"This time around...there's only one rule: Drink a wine from the winery nearest to your apartment/house/shack/bungalow/flat/tent. Wine is being made in every state and just about every country so it's time that the "eat local" movement be extended to vino for WBW."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Haiku Tuesday: Challenge

February 21, 2006

This week's challenge (not a competition) was inspired by comments made from previous Haiku Tuesdays.

If you read the Haiku Challenge* I published on Saturday, February 18th you must already have your haiku ready. Leave haiku as comments.

That challenge included a little history and my rules for haiku. Remember, make up your own rules and rules were meant to be broken! I would like to hear others' opinions on haiku.

If you're not ready with your haiku today, don't fret. There is no time limit, Tuesdays often run on into Thursday. Let's say we have a deadline of next Tuesday.

*Can someone please tell me how to make those cool hyperlinks over words?

Until I learn this, here is a link to that challenge:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Perfect Portion Monday Challenge!

Host of the Hearty Portioners Board!

Hi there! I know how hard it is to watch your portioning. Sometimes though, measuring out your portions for a day or two can really help refocus your mind on what is truly a portion and what is more than a portion.

I'm putting out a challenge to everyone to measure their portions out every Monday so that at least one day a week we're absolutely perfect with our portion control.

We'll call it "Perfect Portion Monday".

Every day is a gift, thats why they call it the present.

The Challenge of Palm Sunday

Sermon Review
24 March 2002
(Matt 21:1-17)

Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem so long ago marked the final stage of his life on this earth. That it was significant is quite obvious. Using Palm and tree branches to welcome anybody indicated great honour. To lay down one's cloak for someone to either walk or ride upon was also a tremendous gesture of respect.

Furthermore, think of what the crowd was shouting out at the time. For example, in Matthew: Hosanna, to the Son of David ie. 'save us now, son of David'. Blessed is he who comes in the name of Lord ie. How blessed is he who is God's representative. Or Mark who records the shout, 'Blessed is the coming Kingdom of David' - a Messianic reference. Or John who indicates the cry, 'Blessed is the King of Israel'. There can be no doubt that Jesus entrance was a clear statement to all that he was the Messiah, the true King of Israel. This is reinforced by his acceptance of these cries, and his stage managed ride upon an ass, a fulfilment of prophecy concerning Israel's King coming into Jerusalem Zech.9:9. Up till then Jesus had withdrawn from public notice, evaded being the center of attention, and told his disciples to keep quite about who he was.

But here he was only one week from his death making a very public statement about who he was and causing quite a stir in the holy city (Mat.21:10). Why was he doing this? What was his intention? Didn't he realize what would happen to him as a result of such confrontational tactics?

The simple answer is yes he did know (Matt.16:21), but it was necessary for him to come openly so the nation of Israel would finally make up it's collective mind about him - to choose to either accept or reject him - to stop their dithering. In this act and the ones following throughout the last week of his earthly life, Jesus was allowing Israel to choose him to either be their saviour or their judge. He was providing a catalyst for a defining response - and he got it.

So, what can we learn from this defining event? Any number of things, but lets consider choice this morning.

1. Let your yes be yes and your no be no: Matt.5:37 God is looking for people to make clear decisions for Christ or against him in their lives, and not sit on the fence. Or, in Biblical language, either be hot or cold (Rev.3:16), alive or dead (Rev.3:1-3), to be for him or against him (Matt.12:30), and to lose one's life so as to gain it (Lk.9:24) etc.

There comes to all of us times in life when we need to be open and honest with those we know and love, about all manner of things. God is no different. He too looks for us to be unequivocal and clear about where we stand with Him - to stop hiding behind vagueness and indecision, or busyness and inner and outer clutter. This was just as important for those in Israel at the time, as it is for us today. Think for a moment of the fickleness and cross currents of belief in Jerusalem - we have people claiming him as the Messianic King and waving palm fronds one day, being amazed at his teaching on others (Matt.22:33; Lk.19:48), with the authorities being vexed and frustrated at the broad scale of Jesus' following - Matt.21:15, 46, 26:5; John.12:19. Yet, due to some manipulation on the authorities part included, somehow we still have a sizeable crowd backing the death sentence of Jesus a few days later (Lk.23:13-25).

What makes the best sense is that there was an ebbing and flowing of belief and disbelief throughout the populace that changing winds and gossip and applied pressure could change. What good is this? God can do no more with fickleness and changeability than we can! Jesus said, 'let your yes be yes, and your no be no'; he said, 'let your eye be single', 'put your hand to the plough and don't look back'; James says to not be double-minded; Paul says ' not to be tossed too and fro by every wind of doctrine and the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming' etc. God looks for clear cut decision-making in relation to himself, both then and now. Both in coming to him in the first place, and then each day in our following Christ as disciples.

As it was then, so it is now - Jesus entrance into Jerusalem is a challenge to consider how equivocal or unequivocal we are in our faith and commitment to Christ. It says, choose this day who you will serve, and each and every day that we live. As a catalyst to us here today, Palm Sunday is a call to all to deal with ambiguity and indecision with regard to God . Jesus throwing down the gauntlet publicly in his entrance into Jerusalem is a challenge to stand up and be counted, to be known, and to live for Christ in the midst of whatever antagonistic winds blow from the Armidale community and beyond, into your life. Be aware: God will sue for choice in your life - and hold you as responsible for your decisions as he did the ancient Jews.

2. God on his terms or ours? Isa.42:17 'But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are our gods,' will be turned back in utter shame.'

In the Triumphal entry, we have a chance to see what choice was on offer. It was the choice to accept God on his terms, or continue manufacturing versions of God that suited themselves and their own agenda. The ancient Jews wanted a supernaturally empowered military leader, or divinely equipped political revolutionary to free them from the Roman yoke and usher in a golden age for them. God brought someone divinely equipped and supernaturally empowered all right, but for dealing with sin - not the Roman yoke! This divine intent, flavoured by peoples fear, envy, power, and greed - inspired a vastly different range of responses to that desired - but in the final analysis the good will of the people and the hostility of the authorities were worth about as much as each other! The central issue, though, was that the Messiah didn't measure up - so the people rejected him.

Up through the centuries to today, we must ask ourselves, are we any different today than they were then? No. Each of us have our own expectations of what God should or should not do; be or not be like. Irrespective of what the Bible says, or what we are taught, how quick are we to reject God when he doesn't 'do' according to our expectation? How fast are we to disobey when it appears that God may be asking something of us that we don't like, or isn't seen as fair, or right, or proper, or wanted etc.?

The people of that day had the chance to know God as he is, not as they wanted him to be. In coming into Jerusalem the way he did on that fateful day, Jesus was opening the door for the nation of Israel to welcome home their Master and Lord. They chose to slam the door hard in his face because they didn't like what they saw, and so missed out on deepening their knowledge and experience of God. Oh how sad it is when we slam the door on God. Each day we have the opportunity to obey God and trust him despite what is asked of us, and what happens to us or around us - and each of those opportunities is an invitation to know God at a deeper level. The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem by Jesus should remind us that God doesn't force his way into our life, but asks us to choose to swing our doors open wide to Him even when we don't 'like' what he is doing.

Q: What is he doing in your life at this moment that you do not like? What do you think is being asked of you that you are not happy with? Open the door and let God have his way. Do what he asks and don't be like the ancient Jews. They missed their golden opportunity - don't you.


Dealing with fickleness by exercising choice and responsibility, and deepening our walk with God by letting him act and call us to obey as he sees fit, are part of the lessons of Palm Sunday - ones that all people need to take to heart, but us in particular! Take note that the first act that Jesus does, as the briefly acknowledged and proclaimed Messiah, was to cleanse the temple! The Gospel writers are not clear when he did this. Either Jesus went and cleansed the Temple that same day, or the next - irrespective, it was his first act. When God comes visiting, his people are his first concern.

Of all people, they should be the most ready to receive him. Jesus knew that if the Temple was not right, how could Jerusalem be? Equally true, if the church is not right, how can this city be? And if the temple of the Holy Spirit, that is the individual Christian, is not right, how can the church, and in turn this city be? Judgment begins with the house of God, Paul tells us. We need to take note that in order to ultimately impact Armidale in a defining way, this church is very much dependant upon the state of each of our individual hearts before God!

What will be achieved by God through us in Armidale ultimately depends upon each of us choosing to open our 'doors' and getting to know our God more deeply and well. It means letting God 'throw down' and 'cast out' as he sees fit, so he can lovingly minister to us and make us new and clean (Matt.21:14-16).

When we are willing to be open to God both casting down and healing us 'up' in our heart of hearts, then your Christian life will flourish; this church will flourish; and this city will be impacted by God through us as a church. Palm Sunday was about choosing; it was a challenge for a defining response from the ancient Jews.

It is equally as much a challenge for defining responses from us as individuals and as a church - to let him be our God in fact, and not just in fiction. To drop pretence and ambiguity, and welcome him as our Lord and Master, no matter what. The ride might not be what you would expect, but you wouldn't miss it for the world!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Challenge The Master

Friday, April 07, 2006

Venture Challenge

SDSU team wins 17th Annual Venture Challenge

Wed Apr 5, 9:18 PM ET

San Diego State University's student team won the $15,000 first prize in the 17th Annual Venture Challenge this March, the third time an SDSU team has won the contest and the first time since 1999.

SDSU's team, Envirobinz, is an advertising company that aims to help communities and cities divert waste from landfills by providing aesthetic recycling receptacles installed at high pedestrian traffic locations. In addition to the $15,000 prize, the MBA student team won the $1,000 Golden Phone Award and the $500 prize as runner-up for the Social Innovation Award.Team coach Harvey Goodfriend said these students have the entrepreneurial spirit to lead them to real-world success. "I've been coaching teams for seven years now and this is the most outstanding one," he said. "Envirobinz is not a concept; they already have several important acquisitions. In fact, they already have several other businesses underway."

Currently, the team has a contract with National City, where their receptacles have helped increase recycling in the city by 30 percent, and the company is in negotiations with the city of San Diego. The team will participate in additional business plan competitions, including the Global Moot Corp 2006 Competition, the first and largest such event in the country, hosted by the University of Texas at Austin May 3-6.

"Winning is a great thing," said Prabakar Mahalingam, president and chief executive officer of Envirobinz and a student in SDSU's MBA program. "However, the bigger prize in the competition is finding investors, as well as receiving feedback from judges."

This year's Venture Challenge, organized by SDSU's Entrepreneurial Management Center, took place March 23-24 in the Mission Valley Hilton. Nineteen teams from all over the country and one from Sweden competed in this year's event. Students from University of California, San Diego's Rady School of Management placed second in their first attempt at the competition.

The Venture Challenge has launched several successful companies in the past, including Novadaq Technologies, a finalist in 2000 from the University of Manitoba. It raised more than $25 million in an initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange in June 2005 and currently trades under the symbol NDQ.

Envirobinz has a long-term contract with National City to provide its attractive, functional recycling bins to areas of high pedestrian traffic. The bins, which contain a waste container as well, are designed to accept plastic, aluminum and glass bottles along with newspapers. They feature four advertising panels, which offset the cost of the bins and provide revenue that is split between Envirobinz and the city. "It's a win-win situation for the city, the company and the environment," Mahalingam told the Transcript last month. "We try to improve recycling so the city can meet the Integrated Waste Management Act."

The federal law mandates that cities divert at least 50 percent of their waste away from landfills or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. Mahalingam and his partners, San Diego State MBA candidate Cari Enayati and Shahin Enayati, have qualified for three other competitions this spring, including the exclusive Rice University Business Plan Competition in Houston later this month and the Moot Corp competition in Austin, Texas, in May. "We've been building a very exceptional business advisory board, composed of ex-founders and CEOs of companies," Mahalingam said. "We've had the opportunity to present to a number of advisers and experts in the industry."

The San Diego group came up with its idea two years ago and signed a contract with National City last September. The company has 23 bins placed around National City and plan on expanding to 200. "One (goal this week) is to win," Mahalingam said, "and No. 2 is to get funding. We're looking for funding to grow this company nationwide. As soon as we get the first check written, we're off and rolling."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tap Water Challenge

Students Take Tap Water Challenge

By Alice Easton
Princetonian Staff Writer

Cola wars, step aside.

The new beverage battle is between bottled water and old-fashioned tap water.

Passersby were able to put their palates to the test in Frist yesterday, as student volunteers and members of Corporate Accountability International (CAI) performed the Tap Water Challenge. People think bottled water is healthier and safer than tap, but in fact, bottled water is much less regulated," said Dan Favre of CAI, as he prepared cups of water for blindfolded students and complained that the bottled water industry has too much marketing muscle and political influence.

"Twenty-five percent of bottled water is just tap water; it comes from the same sources. It's just repackaged," Favre said. "Overwhelmingly, people can't tell the difference, often because there is no difference, except for the price."

CAI contacted environmental groups at Princeton for volunteers to help with their "thinking outside the bottle" campaign, which focuses on the water industry and its "[aim] to turn bottled water into a profit-driven commodity, like oil," CAI press officer Bryan Hirsch said.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

War Powers Challenge

Supreme Court Rejects War Powers Challenge

By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer

A divided Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from Jose Padilla, held as an enemy combatant without traditional legal rights for more than three years, sidestepping a challenge to Bush administration wartime detention powers. Padilla was moved in January to Miami to face criminal charges, and the government argued that the appeal over his indefinite detention was now pointless.

Three justices said the court should have agreed to take up the case anyway: Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. And three other court members, including Chief Justice John Roberts, said that they would be watching to ensure Padilla receives the protections "guaranteed to all federal criminal defendants."

An appeals court panel had all but called for the high court to deal with the case, saying it was troubled by the Bush administration's change in legal strategy — it brought criminal charges only after it looked like the Supreme Court was going to step in. Justices first considered in 2004 whether Padilla's constitutional rights were violated when he was detained as an "enemy combatant" without charges and access to a lawyer, traditional legal rights. Justices dodged a decision on technical grounds. In a dissent Justice John Paul Stevens said then that "at stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society."

Justices are reviewing a second case arising from the government pursuit of terrorists, an appeal by a foreign terrorist suspect facing a military commission on war crimes charges at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Arguments were last week. Padilla's case was different. It asked the court to clarify how far the government can go when its hunt for terrorists leads to Americans in this country.

Based on the vote breakdown, it appears the court would have agreed to hear the appeal had Padilla not been charged. "In light of the previous changes in his custody status and the fact that nearly four years have passed since he first was detained, Padilla, it must be acknowledged, has a continuing concern that his status might be altered again," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for himself, Stevens and Roberts. "That concern, however, can be addressed if the necessity arises."

Padilla, a former Chicago gang member and a convert to Islam, was arrested in 2002 after a trip to Pakistan. The government alleged at the time that he was part of a plot to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb" in the United States. The Bush administration has maintained since 2002 that it had the power to detain him without charges. However, in an abrupt change in strategy, the government late last year brought criminal charges against Padilla. His appeal was pending at the Supreme Court at the time.

The charges do not match the long-standing allegations that Padilla sought to blow up apartment buildings. Instead, he was charged with being part of a North American terrorism cell that raised funds and recruited fighters to wage violent jihad outside the United States.
The strategy shift angered a panel of 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., which had ruled last September that Padilla's constitutional rights had not been violated by his detention.

Judge J. Michael Luttig, a conservative who was named to the bench by President Bush's father, wrote in a decision late last year that the administration's actions left the impression that Padilla had been held in military custody "by mistake."

Ginsburg said Monday that although Padilla is charged in civilian court "nothing prevents the executive (branch) from returning to the road it earlier constructed and defended. This case, here for the second time, raises a question 'of profound importance to the nation,'" she wrote.
Padilla pleaded innocent in Florida to the criminal charges and is scheduled to be put on trial this fall. A federal judge refused to set bail for Padilla after a prosecutor said he had a history of arrests and convictions for violent crimes — including murder as a juvenile.

The case is Padilla v. Hanft, 05-533.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Conquering Her Challenges

Weight Loss Challenge Success Story:
Stay at Home Mom

Amy overcomes medical adversity to lose 33 pounds* on NutriSystem!

Amy went from a size 12 to a size 2 in only 11 weeks!*

Hi, I'm Amy, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom living in Georgia, and this is my weight-loss story.

We were totally unprepared for the birth of our daughter Courtney. Her room was not set up, we had no crib - we really had nothing for her. Talk about stress! Worse, starting with her birth in January, my family had to deal with a multitude of medical problems. Shortly after giving birth, I was experiencing pain in my leg-which the doctors discovered was a blood clot. It was traveling fast, and settled behind my knee. Later, the doctors found that I'd had another blood clot in the placenta, which had caused an abruption and resulted in my emergency C-section. Because of all this, I was unable to even stand up straight for the next 5 weeks and was told by my doctors to not do anything for 8 to 10 weeks. Plus, since she was a preemie and was born with a small hole in her heart, my daughter remained in the hospital for a month. So we were very stressed out worrying about her, and I was forced into inactivity because of my medical problems-which resulted in eating. And more eating.

But then things continued to get worse. About six weeks after my C-section, I hurt my back lifting a small box. That kept me down even longer: it was so hard for me to walk or do much of anything (the one thing I did manage to do was continue eat and eat), and I was in pain for the next 3 months. It was only about a week after this latest setback that we faced another challenge: my husband had throat surgery. After Brad's surgery, he was unable to speak for a week and during the second week he was able to talk 5 minutes per hour. The third week was better: he could talk about 15 minutes per hour.

So here we were, caring for a premature baby, while I could barely walk and Brad could barely talk! What a great team we made! To top it off, at around the same time, the doctors informed me I had a blood disorder, which had caused the blood clots. Everything had happened very close together. It was all too much. I had already been suffering from post-partum depression. Deeper depression followed.

I again turned to food. After these chaotic 12 weeks, I weighed 15 pounds more than when I was pregnant and my maternity clothes were too small! Being so heavy for my frame (I'm only 5'4"), I was in such great pain all of the time. In fact, I had gained so much weight that I developed stress fractures in both feet! (Just another excuse to not leave the house.)

So I was overweight and in constant pain, and I never left the house except for never-ending trips to doctors' appointments. I was in such a deep depression. The only thing that would comfort me was FOOD.

After dropping 33 pounds* on NutriSystem, Amy finds it much easier to play with her daughter Courtney.

I was so angry with myself, but did not know what to do (she was probably malnourished and magnesium deficient from all the empty calories). Because of all that had happened, I was unable to do much. My anger and frustration just grew as my weight went up. I tried to eat well and walk 2 times a week. I could walk, but it would take me 3 days to recover. Plus, I had to buy inserts and bigger tennis shoes to deal with the fractures. I was determined to do something to exercise. I did this for about 6 weeks and lost only 3 pounds! That just wasn't worth it.

Finally in June, Brad (who was beyond supportive) and I were watching television when a commercial came on for NutriSystem. Brad asked me what I thought. He then said to think about it and if I wanted to try NutriSystem, he would pay for it. We ordered it right away.

My biggest challenge was in the beginning. I am a sugar addict! The first day was so hard. But by the fifth day, I had no cravings. And after the first week on NutriSystem, I was walking every day with no pain! I finally felt good! I then began to walk with Courtney two times a day, 2_ miles each time. Because I felt so much better, I could get up, get dressed (sort of) and get out of the house (even if it was just to push the stroller).

By the end of my first month on NutriSystem, I had lost over 14 lbs.*! Having that kind of success kept me on track. I had EVERY excuse to not eat right or to not be active-I was (and still am) always pushed for time. But with NutriSystem, everything was just too easy: it was easy to prepare the meals, easy to store them (I traveled and packed them to go), and easy to eat them (they're very tasty). I had no more excuses.

Because of NutriSystem, my life has turned around. My friends and family watched me go from size 12 to a size 2 in 11 weeks, and I feel like me again! I am much more comfortable in life. My clothes don't cut into me, and I can move easier. I can breathe! I also feel good; therefore, I am able to enjoy life and my new family! I can play with Courtney, who is now almost 11 months. I can be the person I knew was under there somewhere. I still get a few "WOW"s!

It really helped that my friends and family were so supportive during my weight loss. Brad would leave me cut fruit in containers, and when I visited my in-laws, they had cottage cheese, salads and yogurt for me! Everyone seemed to understand that losing weight was one of the most difficult things people face. So although there were so many temptations, I stayed on track. And they were in awe when they saw me losing 33 lbs.* In fact, four of my friends started NutriSystem after the first month I was on it.

My regimen now is simple. I walk. I eat right. That's it. Before NutriSystem, I did not know what that REALLY meant. I had no idea what a true portion was. This was my very first diet - ever!

Losing weight can be hard. But being heavy is hard, too. It is painful, uncomfortable and frustrating. When you don't feel good, nothing is good. But once you set your mind to this program and you start seeing the results, it is so encouraging.

I am healthy and happy. The depression and frustration are gone and that helps so much. I have learned control, portion size, will power, and the power of water. It is a lifestyle and a choice. I want to be the best person I can possibly be for those around me and for myself. You can, too, on NutriSystem.

- Amy

Monday, April 03, 2006

Seeking The Next Great Challenge

Students Seeking Greater Challenge

Bright students and their parents are frequently faced with educational questions as they progress through school.

For example, some parents have asked:
  • Is my sixth grade son’s school providing enough challenge for him? He seems really bored in school. How can we better meet his needs?
  • My daughter is entering ninth grade, and we’d like to make an educational plan for her high school years. What should she be doing to plan for college? Should we be thinking about early college entrance?
  • My second grade son scored very highly on the SCAT and is very bored in school. Should we be thinking about having him skip a grade?
  • I’d really like to learn more about my fourth grader’s academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as her learning style. She’s talented in so many areas! How can I best support and encourage her development as a student?
Three of the DCC’s services may appeal to parents who have concerns about ensuring that their gifted children are sufficiently challenged:
  • Educational consultations
  • Above-level Ability and Achievement testing
  • Psycho-educational Evaluations

Sometimes, a parent just wants to talk to an expert in gifted education about devising strategies to meet their child’s needs. Consultations are most effective when accompanied by the results of previous assessments of the student’s intellectual capability and academic development. Such assessments may have been conducted at school or through another agency.
A consultation can:
  • Answer questions about test results: the results of previous testing are interpreted, and assistance in evaluating the educational implications of test findings is provided.
  • Help develop educational plans: students’ performance on standardized tests, achievement in school, and interests and motivation, as well as available resources in the community, are evaluated to develop educational plans that meet their needs.
  • Assist with school advocacy: guidance is provided to families seeking to work with their child’s school in developing and implementing an appropriate educational program.
All educational consultations include a review of records and a one-hour counseling session, and cost between $175 and $350, depending on the complexity of the case. A written report is available for an additional fee.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Technology is Key Industry Challenge

Technology is a key challenge facing global exchanges, the head of the Montreal Exchange said as he explained why the privately-owned Canadian derivatives market recently developed its own trading platform. President Luc Bertrand said the group was in a "technology battle to survive" and had created a new trading system called SOLA to cope with soaring volumes.

Nearly 29 million derivative contracts were traded last year on Canada's oldest exchange, a 32 percent increase from 2004. "In the next five years we wouldn't be surprised if it doubled again," he said at a lunch with reporters on Wednesday.

The Montreal Exchange had used Euronext's ATOS structure but moved away from it and other available platforms, partly because it felt they could not be easily upgraded to deal with the high growth, Bertrand said. "Our existing infrastructure was not going to be capable of handling this growth," he said, adding that many exchanges were now faced with technology constraints.

Bertrand also said the possibility existed for Montreal to sell its new system to other exchanges. SOLA is currently used by the Boston Options Exchange, which is part-owned by the Montreal Exchange.

System capacity issues for exchanges were thrown into the spotlight in January, when Japan's Tokyo Stock Exchange was forced to close early after a barrage of sell orders threatened to overload the system.

The bourse has continued to shorten afternoon trading to avoid computer system problems and said last week it would spend 62 billion yen in capital investment under a new three-year plan.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Challenge

Date: Thursday, April 07, 2005
By: Valorie Burton

What’s holding you back from your biggest dreams? Most will tell you, “I don’t have enough time … or money.” But the truth is that most people never reach their potential because of one persistent emotion: Fear. It isn’t a lack of skill or desire for most people. When it comes to improving your career or relationships or even losing weight, the majority of people know what to do, but they still don’t do it.

In 2003, a friend challenged me with a thought-provoking question as I pondered my vision for the future: What's Really Holding You Back?

The question left me stumped and intensely curious. I had a bigger vision for my future, and yet, I felt afraid to move to the next level and I was unsure of why. By practicing some “self-curiosity,” I figured out that it was a fear of rejection that I needed to overcome in order to move to the next level. By being honest about my fear, I was able to break through it.

I felt led to use my experience to pen my third book, What's Really Holding You Back? which was just released. I realized that there are so many others that are stuck – perhaps it’s not a fear of rejection for you. It may be fear of failure or commitment, or feeling you aren’t good enough to fully realize your vision. Everyday fears create a serious gap in most people’s lives.

Here are a few of the most common ways that these fears manifest:

* Staying in a job you don’t like even when you really want to make a change
* Settling for a relationship that is less than you deserve
* Earning less than you are worth and not doing anything about it
* Making excuses or blaming others for why you cannot live your best life
* Trying to change others
* Not being yourself
* Downsizing your dreams
* Continually creating more debt without a plan for eliminating it

Through the effective use of four key elements of your life – your thoughts, words, actions and energy – I have created biblically-based solutions in my latest book for breaking free from what really holds you back.

Let me share a few with you here:


Everything in life begins with a thought –from the job you have to the relationships in your life. You cannot necessarily control the thoughts that enter your mind, but you can choose which ones to focus on. Refuse to allow distractions, self-doubt or negative people to keep you from the things that matter most to you.


Negative thoughts often become words. This can be detrimental to your vision. Life and death is in the power of the tongue. Be careful about what you say about yourself to others – and to yourself. There are simple, powerful ways to use your words to bring your vision to life.


You are not stuck unless you choose to be stuck. Being stuck is often a result of a vicious cycle of fear that keeps you from taking action. When you don’t take action, you often don’t see results – and thus, your negative thoughts about your potential for success are confirmed. Take steps forward – even if they are small steps. Consistent action creates momentum.


Remember that your journey is a spiritual one. Nourish your spirit consistently by connecting with God, taking time for yourself, and setting boundaries that protect you from allowing your energy to be drained by clutter, negative circumstances, and negative people. You can think the right things, say the right things and take the right actions, but if your spirit is weary, you will not be able to persevere long enough to bring your vision to fruition.

If it’s time to uncover and overcome any obstacles that have held you back from something more in your relationships, career, finances, health or spiritual life, make a decision this week to move forward. You can do it. As I discovered when I uncovered that a fear of rejection was holding me back, you always have a choice to change.

Order or pick up a copy of What's Really Holding You Back? this week. It is available in bookstores nationwide and through online retailers. Signed copies are available at and will be shipped Priority Mail within 24 hours. You may find that working through the book with friends or loved ones provides you with valuable support on your journey!

My challenge to you this week:

Face your fear. Be willing to take a step forward in an area that you have previously felt stuck.

Journaling question:
Ask yourself, “What’s really holding me back?” Honestly explore your answer.

Until next time …Warm wishes,Valorie