Sunday, July 31, 2005

There Is No Reality, Only Perception

Hi there. I hope your weekend has been going well and that you are enjoying learning Dr. Phil's 10 life laws. Today's life law is really important because I think all of us tend to believe that our personal experience is reality. We really believe everything we see, hear, and feel as gospel truth. I am here to tell you that Dr. Phil is right on in saying that there is no reality, only perception. I have learned this the hard way.

I have had to go through the school of hard knocks to know that what I think is real or true, most of the time is just a product of my very distorted thought life. This is especially true when dealing with my friends. A great example is my friend Yogi. Yogi is a fictitious name to protect the innocent. My friend Yogi has a very busy life. He is always working, working out, doing favors, or basically doing anything that doesn't involve me! That sounds harsh, but to me..true. Yogi, I believe, cares very much for our friendship but something always gets in the way of a phone call, text, or friend date between the two of us.

As this is true to me, I always sit and cry about it and feel very neglected. I feel like Yogi doesn't care, avoids me, and possibly doesn't wish to continue a friendship with me. I have learned that this is my perception and I must take steps to find truth, not just Erica's perceptions. I have to go to Yogi and explain my feelings and hear his perceptions or else I could lose Yogi over what might not be reality.

Now, I know that this was hard to follow as you picture me hanging out with a bear and his picnic basket but I assure you that if you think on it, you can attach my example to something in your life. Take the time to realize today that whatever it is that you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste...might just be your perception, not reality!

Have a great rest of the weekend and I love you all dearly!


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Life Rewards Actions

The most important part of any goal is not our intention, our strategy, or our is always our action. If I woke up one day and realized that I was severely overweight and started to think about things my intention would be to lose weight and get healthy. My strategy would be to learn how to eat healthy, exercise, and treat my body well. My focus would be on maintaining health. None of those fluffy words makes me lose weight. What makes me either lose or gain weight is my action or lack thereof.

I found this to be true many years ago when starting on my life changing journey. I made a choice to get out of bed each day and work out. I made a choice to eat 3 meals a day that were healthier. I made a choice to stop drinking sugared soda and the list continues. The choices where made and then I acted on them. I did get out of bed and walk 2 miles a day and do 45 minutes of aerobics a day. I did not drink any sugared soda. I did eat 3 healthy meals a day. These ACTIONS made my life change and I eventually lost over 100 lbs. I would not have if all I had done was make choices...I had to ACT on them.

Today I am choosing to act on another choice. I am currently working on preparing for the GRE in order to get into Grad School. I also have 7 applications to fill out for the different grad schools I would like to attend. I also have several essays to write, a resume to create, and several recommendations to ask for in this mess. I have done NONE of this. I have studied at length for 2 weeks but somehow let that go and lost my steam. Today, I am making a decision to stop procrastinating and realize how essential these steps are to my success. I am going to act on these things today by packing them into a backpack and heading to the library for a minimum of 2 hours. I am going to take my applications, my study materials, and will have many resources at my fingertips for writing essays and doing a resume. I am going to ACT on these thoughts, decisions, and choices!

Today, I encourage you to take a good look at what you want, think of a strategy, focus on it, and more than anything DO IT! It's time to act and be successful. People that dream about success continue to dream about it. People who take steps to get there, actually arrive at the scene.

Have a great Saturday everyone and ACT like you want to get things done!


Friday, July 29, 2005

You Can Not Change What You Do Not Acknowledge

Today's life law is so essential to everything I am that it's embarassing. For many years (22 to be exact) I lived my life in a complete state of ignorance. I had no idea that the behaviors and attitudes I held were horrible. I had to have things brought to my attention and truly acknowledge them in order to start changing. For the many years that I have been overweight, most of them were spent in denial. I would just go about my life at 350 lbs and act like I was happy and joyful. I had a boyfriend, friends, good grades, etc...what more did I need? Well, I needed my life back!

The day that I realized that I was in serious trouble health wise (July 27, 2001) I was shocked at the number that was displayed on my bathroom scales. I immediately blamed the number for all of my problems in life and began to lose weight. I acknowledged that day that I was severely morbidly obese and needed to do something about it. That was only a physical realization, the mental/emotional realization came later and I had to acknowledge more things and begin to change those.

In my life of change (4 years now) I have acknowledged a lot of things about myself and only when I acknowledged them, could I change them. Today, I encourage each of you to do an exercise of acknowledgement. Be truthful with yourself about who you are and don't be afraid to realize it. That is when true change begins. Today, I acknowledge that I live in a world of black and white with no room for gray. Since I acknowledge that, I have to take steps more often to try to see the middle ground in things.

I hope that today made you realize things about yourself. Have a great day and even better weekend!


Thursday, July 28, 2005

People Do What Works

Today's life law was really hard for me to accept. I really didn't think there was any payoff for some of the things I did since I so badly did not want to do them. A great example of this is overeating. It seemed that all it brought was misery coupled with more weight to lose on my walk to Italy ( Dr. Phil's point in this is that EVERYTHING that you do provides a payoff or you wouldn't be doing it. My payoff for overeating is calmed emotions and easing of boredom. These things are very powerful and have taught me that no matter what I am doing, there IS a reason.

What you do in this life law is write down the top 5 behaviors that you would really like to NOT do. Two of mine were

  • Overeating
  • Be dishonest to earn people's love

I realize that the second one is kind of deep and for that, I apologize. I will break these down so you can see what I mean by payoff.


My feelings: I hate overeating. It makes me so mad at myself after I do it. I know that I don't need that amount of food but I eat and eat anyway. I always feel sick after I eat too much and it makes me feel guilty inside. I know that when I get on the scales on Saturday I am going to pay for that entire cheesecake but it doesn't stop me. I know that I will have to work extra hard on exercise in order to burn those calories but I ate the entire box of cookies anyway. Why do I do this?

Payoffs: I do this because it makes me feel better. I feel sad at times and it takes me away from my saddness. When I am really lonely, it is a good friend to me. It watches tv with me when I really need a pal. It makes my emptiness feel full at least for a minute. I don't ever feel hungry even if I feel something else emotionally. I am bored so I will go to the kitchen and get something to eat and that will make me entertained.

Being dishonest to earn people's love:

My feelings: Why did I lie to Sally today? I mean, she can either like me or else leave me alone. Why did I tell her that I ALWAYS exercise. She obviously knows I don't or I wouldn't be 100 lbs overweight. Why can't I admit my weakness to her? I don't want to lie to my friends anymore. They should love me because they love me, not because I am flawless. I mean, who is flawless anyway? I don't want to hide anything anymore but something is keeping me from being completely truthful. Why can't I just tell the story I actually live?

Payoffs: I told Sally that I always exercise because it made her proud of me. It made her like me a little more because I am diligent. She realized how seriously I work on myself and admired me. She probably thinks better of me than if I told her that I have to force myself some days to exercise. I feel better knowing that Sally thinks good of me! Whew, it's a good thing I lied to her.

Now, as you can see, these things are disturbing. I do things in my life that I wish I didn't all the time. I never quite understand why I do them at the time but lately I have been breaking them down into payoffs and I assure you, there always is one. I encourage you to take the time to break your life down into 5 behaviors you don't like and find the payoff. Only when you find the payoff can you truly break that cycle because after all, people do what works!

I hope you all have a lovely day and please check out "Erica's Walk to Italy" and help me reach my goal and pray, support, invest, whatever! Thanks my people!


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You Create Your Own Experience

Today's life law is so profound yet exactly what I believe to be true about life. The life law is (as stated above) "You create your own experience." This life law is something I lived with far before I ever delved into Dr. Phil's book. I believe that children in abusive homes learn this far earlier than any other person. You have the choice with what to do with your life. You can run from your troubles and drown them in some addiction. You can be a hermit and completely alienate yourself from the real world. You can be bitter and completely stop being functional as a nice person. My personal favorite is that you can kick that abuse's butt and be everything that you dream to be! That is the path I have chosen.

This has not been an easy path for me to take. Somedays I really want to be the recluse, the bitter one, or the addict. I choose to be that person some days. Most days though, I create my own experience and choose to be someone who is in love with their chosen career and focuses on bettering herself every single day. I choose to allow people to speak into my life with truth and fight hard to stay alive beneath the grueling schedule of being a healing person.

I challenge all of you reading this today to really look at how you choose to create your experience. If you tend to give up and cry when things go wrong and just sit and created that. If you tend to run from your problems and drown them in a pint of Cherry are not only just like are also creating that yourself. If you choose to get up, brush yourself off and take another step knowing it could hurt you, you are creating that beautiful experience too. I have chosen to start creating my own experience knowingly and create the best one! I am totally in love with this life law!

I hope you are all doing well and have decided to read Dr. Phil's book. It's amazing. I have made some changes to the web-site if you want to check them out. Have a great day and God Bless you!


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You Either Get It, or You Don't

Well as I told you, I am going to be writing about Dr. Phil's book "Life Strategies" for a bit since it is changing a lot of my thinking and I make it a point to share everything with my blog. In this book, there are ten life laws and the first one is, "You Either Get It, or You Don't." This is just a simple fact but one people don't realize. There is nothing you can do if you don't know why you do the things you do or why other people do what they do. You always want to operate with the necessary information in your life. There are many people who don't get it, and they are the ones sitting around crying about their life and doing nothing to better themselves. Resolve today that you will be one who will get it.

There is much that I have learned about my life even in the last 4 years. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that my life changed. I chose on July 27, 2001 to be a better person because I finally got it. My life was nothing that I wanted it to be and certainly had no silver lining on the dark rain clouds overhead. I learned that day that I needed to live differently. That is the day that I chose to "Get it." My change began that day and has continued for that last 4 years. It has been a huge battle and has sometimes left me laying on the floor wishing I was relieved of the pain but other days the sheer joy of knowing I am not that same enough to push me to tomorrow.

I would encourage each of you that read the blog to really take a look and decide to "get it" today. This doesn't mean that you can see all of your flaws, change everything, and move on today. What it means is that you are open to the possiblity of taking a gander inside and learning about you and trying to do everything in your ability to create the life that you want. Dr. Phil has a quote on the beginning of his show that says "I want you to get excited about your life." That is what I want for all of my friends, family, and blog-readers. I want each of you to look at your life and get excited about the possiblities.

I want to be honest with you and say that I am not always excited about all of the things that I have to do to be the person I need to be. It's exhausting and continually discouraging to beat one small battle just to see a new platoon headed toward me in the morning. I know that it can really get you down to take a good look and "get it," but it is far more excruciating to be 10 years down the road regretting the last 520 weeks of your life. Take a moment today to really "get it" and strive to understand yourself, know yourself, and better yourself. The next 9 life laws will be a better ride if you are ready to "get it!"

Today, I get it. I know who I am, why I do what I do, and striving to become all that I need to be. I have decided that the one thing that I am working on right now is honesty/authenticity. I believe that these qualities are crucial to living a fulfilled, happy life. I don't think I will ever have true friends, good relationships, or a good walk with God unless I get honest and authentic with God, myself, and others. I encourage everyone to pick a step to start working on and begin the reformation.

Have a great day everyone and today, choose to get it!


Monday, July 25, 2005

Life Laws in Action

Today is going to start a series of posts where I will be reviewing the book by Dr. Phil called "Life Strategies" in my own way. I am currently reading this book and it's amazing and has already shaped some of my life and behaviors so I thought I would share it with my blog in the hopes that someone who would not normally pick up a Dr. Phil read...might get the lessons out of it. It's amazing how this book is good for all people. I support Dr. Phil in every possible way as I tape his show daily, read his books, and abide by his weight loss plan. Dr. Phil is my hero!

In saying that, you probably realize that this blog series could be exceptionally biased. I am currently on the latter part of the book so a lot of this I have had time to read, study, and journal about so don't assume that I read this and totally got it the first time. I took time and energy to try to apply these things to my life. In this book, there are 10 life laws. Each one is essential on your path to health and wellness in your life. I like that it reads like the commandmants so I can apply it as such.

Today I am not going to write about any of the life laws but ask you to evaluate whether you are happy in your life. Do you wish you could get out of negative patterns and behaviors? If this is you, I encourage you to stop in to the blog for the next 10-12 days as I seek to apply this book to my life and help you apply it to yours. Again, I didn't write these life laws...the beautifully bald and talented Mr. Phil McGraw did and you can purchase "Life Strategies" at any bookstore and PLEASE DO!

I would appreciate your continued prayers as my life is constantly under the microscope and trying to get better. I appreciate your hearts, friendship, and support through one of the roughest periods of my life. Thank you so much for being here!


Sunday, July 24, 2005

The newest quest

I really want to know myself! I have no other desire but to truly know myself and fix the things that I don't like. It's such a frustrating journey of trying to turn around several years of bad thought processes and bad behavior. My newest quest is getting to know me and accepting the things that I am and can't change and starting to work on the things that I can. It's like the serenity prayer (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference) That prayer is very popular in the AA program among the other programs that are for addictions. That is for a reason...there are so many people out there who confuse the two (changeable and unchangeable) and then get frustrated as they try to better themselves. I am one of those people.

I have a new project going and you might have gotten an email or call from me asking you for your help. I am gathering data from a number of people in my life so that I can see myself more realistically. Often times I either look fondly upon myself in areas I don't deserve or can not accept the things that are really great about me. I have asked several people in my life (still haven't asked everyone yet) to jot down 5 pieces of constructive criticism for me and 5 things that they admire or like about me. This is going to be an exercise of learning how to take constructive criticism as well as learning to take a compliment and realize things that are good.

I really believe that seeing myself is going to require me to be introspective, opening myself up to other people's wisdom, and really praying about seeing myself. I want to work on things that matter and that are really problems to my well-being and other's well-being. I don't want to worry about things that are an intricate part of my personality and make me Erica. I want to allow myself to be Erica and be comfortable in my own skin.

So far, I have only gotten one person's half answer back so I have several other people to contact for their answers. I appreciate everyone who is helping me or would like to contribute to me working on myself. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you are all doing well and I am sorry if I have been out of the loop, trying hard to get me together. Have a great day and God bless you all!


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Indiana Erica vs. California Erica..It's on!

Have you ever felt like you have waged war against yourself? I have for a long time now. Three years ago (almost exactly) I moved to southern California. I was moving out here for a mixture of reasons including that Adolfo was here, Vanguard was here, and a new fresh start was here. I had grown up in the southern portion of Indiana where my whole life had begun and continued until the day I got in my cavie and headed west. I never knew that the move would make such an impact on me. Almost immediately I realized that there was a difference between me and everyone else. I had a very different personality, different accent, and different morals. I find out today, that I was only 1/4 of the person I would soon become.

This blog is in no way trying to degrade Indiana or the people that choose to live there. My entire family is there plus many of my friends and loved ones. I have no problem with the actual state...I just have a problem with the person I was in that state. Today, I went back to therapy after 3 weeks out of it due to my therapist being on vacation and then myself being on vacation. It was great to see her and get to talk about my issues that have been developing or continuing since we last met. Today, my main point was about consistency. I am having a hard time making changes in my life. I have progressed so much in the last 4 years total that I can barely recognize myself ...but for some reason, I am not very consistent with advances.

Lately I have been working on a lot of really hard things in my life including personality flaws, sins, and past hurts. The main four things that are encompassing my life are preparation for Grad School, losing weight, my need for attention, and a major sin that I am not willing to share on my blog just yet. I promise I will share it when I feel comfortable though in order to help you in case you also struggle with this sin. I truly believe that when there is growth, we should share in order to help others around us get out of that place.

My therapist gave me an exercise this week to work on where I compare Indiana Erica and California Erica. This means that I make a page of things that Indiana Erica was like and then write all of the things that California Erica is like so I can see the progress I have made. An example of this would be that Indiana Erica weighed 350 lbs and California Erica weighs 220 lbs now. That is just a small example. Another exercise that she gave me to do was to write all of the things that I don't like about Indiana Erica in order to start working on destroying her. There is nothing wrong with where that Erica came from...just what she was with the tools God gave her!

In doing these exercises, I am hoping to gain some perspective on how hard this journey has been and give myself some grace to continue changing and growing. This growing experience is very frustrating and painful. I slip up quite a bit but I am trying to realize that now that I am knowledgable about where I responsibility is to continue to move. I have no problem with the fact that this part of my journey is going to be difficult..but I am scared that the other side of it isn't easier or happier but rather...more struggle. I would really appreciate your prayers as I continue to become the woman that God wants me to be. I really want so much out of my life yet I am not sure the steps to take. I am so appreciative that I have a support team and a therapist to help me grasp a lot of these changes.

If you are reading this today and you know both Ericas (Indiana and California), I would appreciate your input on this matter. Please tell me how I have changed since you have known me and what things I should be looking out for in Indiana Erica! Thank you all so much and I love you all to pieces!

Much luv,


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Actions and their consequences

Lately there has been an underlying theme in my life of learning about actions and their consequences so I thought maybe God was leading me to write about it. Today the main thing is that Christopher was kicked out of school for a day because he chose to fight with a kid. The story goes like this... This kid (we'll call him Bobby) started to push Chris early in the morning and Chris continued to tell him to stop all throughout the day. This came to a climax in the parking lot after school when Chris chose to unleash the "gun-show" on Bobby and bust his mouth. Chris notably is told everyday by Richard and myself that noone has the right to harm him and he should always defend himself. Richard and I also really push for him to take every option available before hitting someone. Chris has the option of speaking with a teacher, principal, whatever before going crazy on the kid. Chris chose to allow his anger to boil over and cause a major problem..which as now led him to be kicked out of school and will affect his grades. (I also want to note that Bobby was kicked out as justice was served)

Anyway, I felt like this was just another example of actions and their consequences in our lives. I see consequences for my actions every single day. Each of us choose our payoff when we make a decision in our life. I will use the example of overeating and exercising, a good action and a bad action. We'll start with the bad action in order to end on a good note. Overeating feels good at the time by allowing us to feel full, experience emotional satisfaction, and possibly to help us socialize. There is a distinct pay-off of overeating. There are also consequences from doing that. There is the sick feeling that you get after eating too much, the weight you might gain, and the damage you might do to organs depending on what you are eating.

Exercise works the opposite way. It gives us hard consequences at first like exhaustion, sore muscles, and might make us extremely hungry or thirsty. The consequences for this action are very different however...they are good consequences. They include a good euphoric feeling from the endorphins that are going through your body, a strong and fit body, and good health throughout your life. It is a harder decision to make first but pays off way better. My premise is that we need to begin to look at the consequences instead of the immediate gratification or punishment of a situation.

In writing this post, I have been dealing with much different aspect of consequences that are more inside and emotional by dating the wrong types of men, getting into the wrong friendships, taking improper action etc... I am learning to take a moment and really think through what these actions might bring about. I wish I was 12 again so that I had someone to explain these things to me now and how to control my impulses in order to protect myself. I am learning this at 24 and it's exciting and new and maybe I can live the rest of my life making better choices.

It's interesting to see God drive a point home through your own authority. I think God was speaking to me through Chris today and really wanted me to share this with you as well. Have a great day and God bless you all!


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Home Sweet Home

It's odd when you move away from your first home, it takes so long to really get to where somewhere else is home. It has taken me almost 3 complete years before coming back to California is coming home. Yesterday I walked off of the plane and felt a sudden breeze of cool ocean air and breathed a sigh of relief. It used to be the way I felt about seeing Indianapolis International Airport, so it's happened, I am finally...HOME! In saying that, I should note that Colorado makes me feel the same way. Maybe there are several places that you can feel at home.

I had such a great time on my vacation to Colorado to see Josh. We spent good time together and it was amazing to see him after 7 months. We did a lot of fun things and ate more food than any human really should consume. I have to get back on my plan now that I am back. I am grateful to his parents, Randy and Sheryl, for always making me feel extremely welcome and providing me a great place to vacation. I adore them and enjoy every minute that I get there. I also always feel really welcome with Josh's friends and so thanks to Dan and Hannah for your company.

I really wanted to gain some perspective upon visiting Josh and hanging out and I got that. He and I had a heart to heart and I really learned quite a bit. It was extremely fruitful to go and visit him and learn more about him every single day I was there. This is a friendship that I value so much. I think that my guy friends give me a glimpse of some of the things I would want in a husband without being all of those things. Either way, my report is that Josh and I had a great time and the vacation was marvelous.

I was also able to see Martha Fellure while I was home. (Some of you know her) She is a great mentor to me and a personal friend. She and I went to church together when we lived in a Indiana and she went on to design my wedding dress and also counsel me through an anger problem and we have been friends since. Obviously I didn't use that wedding dress but we have talked about it and one day she will redesign for the man I actually marry. It has been a great relief to know she is where I can visit and know she is out there pulling for me. I caught up with her regarding her family and career and always look forward to seeing where God takes her.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that everything was great and I'll get back on my writing schedule tomorrow! Thanks again Josh, Randy, Sheryl, Sherry, Dan, Hannah, and Martha for a great trip!


Friday, July 15, 2005

Winston and other great thinkers

Today when you logged on, you probably thought, oh Erica is going to talk about Winston Churchill. I am sorry to disappoint you but today I am going to talk briefly about Winston McCall. He is a simple being with few needs. You see, he's a beagle. Josh's dog Winston is literally my favorite dog that ever was. He is so chill and laid back. Yesterday while I spent my day soaking up relaxation, I spent the entire day with Winston. He really is a great example of how vacation should be. Everywhere in the house that I ventured, you would find him laying there just to be in my presence. Winston mostly spends his afternoons alone since everyone in the McCall household works. This week, he is enjoying my company as I am his. Its teaching me how to truly relax.

Yesterday was a lot of fun. I went in the afternoon and watched Josh play indoor soccer with Hannah which was really nice. I love to watch Josh play and Hannah is good company. We talked while he played and had a good time. Later in the evening we met up with Dan and we went to Downtown Denver. We stopped in a few places like Coyote Ugly and Lucky Strike before heading to Hard Rock Cafe for some grub. It was a good night overall and I am learning things which I plan to share with the blog when I get back to Cali. I hope you all are well and I love you tons!

Here is a great picture of Winston by the way! Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Kingpin Strikes Again

Good morning everyone from the lovely McCall household in Denver. I am on vacation this week in Denver, Colorado seeing my Josh. Yesterday I left California at about 9:45 in the morning and I had a small layover in Phoenix, AZ. I got to Denver at 4:00 in the afternoon where the handsome Mr. Randy McCall picked me up. I came back to Josh's house and saw him and I was so happy. There is nothing like a Josh hug. It was so good just to be in one of my best guy-friend's presence again. Josh is still Josh and even better than I recall. Randy made his signature steaks and dinner was awesome. Josh and I went and met up with one of his friends, Hannah, and played 3 games of bowling. My bowling name was Kingpin so therefore the title of today's blog. Many of you know that I love bowling. This was my first time meeting Hannah and she is really great! We had a great time and we all bowled decent. I am very out of practice right now. I think I am going to get back in the game though and get good so I can beat Josh!

I am not sure what's on tap for this evening but I am sure if I am spending time with my favorite boy, it's a good thing. Josh is at work right now and I am going to work out, eat lunch, shower, and read/journal while he is working. I am trying to soak up my vacation. Last night I realized that only a true friend can enjoy laughing with you over NOTHING and totally get why you are laughing! Josh is such a treasure and it's amazing how God has blessed me through him. Thanks are priceless!

Here are some random pictures of Josh and I wearing some Aviators...enjoy!

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Well, I should get off here but hoping to take pictures through the trip so that you all can view the fun that Josh and I have. Have a great day everyone as I know I will!!!!!


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The right questions...and the answer key

I have been thinking a lot lately of important questions. Part of this is due to me getting to know new people and wanting to get the information that is important at the beginning. Another part of this is realizing that you will never know someone unless you ask the right questions. The third part to this is that it is almost my birthday and that means that questions are coming on my annual birthday quiz! So, today, I decided to write about questions and answers. My life is full of questions in a lot of ways. I have a lot of questions for God, my family, my friends, and new love interests. I have questions coming at me from all angles from these people because I tend to be the advice girl. I read thousands of questions a day as I prepare for my GRE. Questions are just invading my life at every turn and I thought it deserved its own post. Another reason I chose questions as a topic today is that tomorrow I get on a plane early in the morning and head to see my friend Josh in Colorado! Now, you may be asking..what does that have to do with questions...EVERYTHING!

Josh, if you know him, can look complex. He seems like he's hard to figure out or perhaps even doesn't really care about much. I am here to tell you's all about questions. He is one of those people that you have to pull things out of. Actually now that I think about it..all of my guy friends are. This isn't case specific to Josh but I notice that in my life I am always the person who asks just the right question to be allowed into someones holy of to speak. I should note that it probably has something to do with my calling to psychology. I should also take this time to note that I am human and I have messed up at times when being allowed into someones secrets and I fall's one of the perks of humanity I guess. Back to questions...

So, questions are such an intricate part of any friendship. You have to know how to really listen and ask the right questions at the right moment. I am not the best listener and I am not the best friend. I simply try to take the time to ask questions. I ask things that matter in life even if they don't seem to matter. An example of a great conversation of questions goes like this.. (abbreviated for blog obviously)

Erica: Hey Jay, what's going on?

Jay: Not much Erica, kinda tired lately

Erica: Oh yeah, what's making you so tired?

Jay: I don't know...I mean I work a lot

Erica: Really, how much are you working lately?

Jay: Probably around 15 hour days and it seems like I never stop.

Erica: Well maybe you need a day off?

Jay: I can't really take a day off...I need the money

Erica: Oh, well you know what,...let me take you out to lunch and we can talk some more about life.

At this point, I have just stepped in and asked some basic questions that led me to realize that Jay was struggling with money. This opens up my ability to pray for Jay, help him out with some ways to relax, and perhaps even help him financially (first by providing him some lunch.) This may seem simple and obvious but I have been in situations lately where someone really did stop asking questions and just simply loved my part in their life and never got to know ME! Now, because of that, the friendship really isn't strong and it's almost like I am not someone in it..but rather a therapist. I also have friendships where I feel like I am always talking and never listening and I am trying to stop doing that. I apologize if I have ever made you feel like I don't want to know you.

My point today is that we will never truly know anyone without the right questions. That really requires listening with our whole selves. I learned something in my training in psychology that has served me well..when I use it. I admit that I don't always use it and when I don't...I end up hurting people with my bad listening skills. We are not good listeners as a society simply because we are so centered on ourselves and how we feel that we forget that we have an audience to think about and they need to talk too. Ok, so today I am going to try to help you to understand how important questions and answers are...and how to properly listen. Now, as they say..those who can't...teach! Today, I am telling you..I am not perfect at this but very aware of my weakness!

I am going to set up a mock conversation and two seperate ways to handle it. Again, the characters are myself and Jay. (Jay is a ficitious person and I thought I would use Jay because all of my guy friend's names start with J)

Ok, here is the normal conversation that happens between two friends...

Erica: Hey Jay, it's good to see you buddy. How are you?

Jay: Good to see you too Erica, I am good are you?

Erica: I am alright. I am staying busy. I have to work all the stinkin time. Did I tell you what happened the other day? (Erica proceeds to tell an hour long story) *I know..I know..I am Erica for a reason*

Jay: Sits and thinks about dinner and other such things while realizing that Erica NEVER listens to him speak. It's a good thing she's hot! :) (cracking up)

Ok, here is a more ideal way for ERICA to handle herself (Yes, I represent myself here)

Erica: Hey Jay, it's good to see you buddy. How are you?

Jay: Good to see you too Erica, I am are you?

Erica: Can't complain. How's work going?

Jay: Oh it's pretty good, busy, but good. And you?

Erica: Pretty busy as well. Things are always a little stressful but what do you do?

Jay: Yeah, want to get some dinner and just catch up?

Erica: Sure.

Erica and Jay continue to talk equally answering proper questions where they come up and never monopolizing the conversation. They are truly good friends to each other.

Ok, well now that I have not only helped you to see good questions and answers but also made myself feel like a horrible friend...I am done! To my most special boy..I am so sorry..I am such a jerk! Jay that is! :) He knows who he is! I love you all today and I am going to be working on my listening skills. I can't know you without them and that's not your fault. Have a great day ya'll and God bless you!


Sunday, July 10, 2005

What's on the menu?

My friend, his name is going to be kept secret, is working on a menu currently for a new situation he is getting into. He has asked me about this menu quite a bit and asked my advice on what items to put on, what prices to assign to different items, and the format types of things. This got me to thinking about what kind of menu we put out as people. We all have heard the premise that first impressions are always very important and I think that might be true in some cases but today, I am choosing to talk about the whole impression that we give out. Everyone talks about the importance of a first impression.

I can talk today about my first impression of my friend that I am talking about. My first impression is that he is a good friend to the people in his life, driven toward getting things done, a good host, and very attune to a woman's needs. In saying that, I don't know everything about him and have yet to read the whole "menu." I started to think about the entire menu that I am putting out. I chose to break up this "personality menu" into three parts. They are:

  • What items do I put on the menu?
  • How much do my items cost?
  • What format do I want my menu to be in?

I hope you are all following this logic because it's going to get deep. I am going to go through each of these questions and help you see how we can build an attractive menu where people WILL order and pay appropriately for our items. This isn't some attempt at selling myself but I wanted you to see the parallel between the two.

1. What Items do I put on the menu?

First of all we have to decide what we are really wanting to present to the world. In a restaurant, the chef would have to decide what kinds of foods he would want to be known for. It could be that he is an Italian Chef and only makes Italian food or maybe he is know for his cajun cooking or let's go my style and say this hot chef is known for his soul food. My logic says that in life we have to decide what kind of person we want to be known as. Are we a person who is known for our hearts, our minds, our bodies, a mixture, etc? Today, I decided I really want to be known to the world in two different "cooking styles." I want to be known for my heart and my mind. I want the world to see that I am a lover of people and although I make mistakes, I generally love others. I also want to be known for my wisdom and knowledge. I crave knowing more about everything in life and seek wisdom in all situations. I am hoping that I am known for those two things.

2. How much do my items cost?

Ok, when you are building a menu, you have to be realistic about how much you are going to ask for each item. For example, let's say you have an order or french fries on your menu. You have to take into consideration quite a few things before you decide on a price. You have to decide how much food you are willing to give the customer, how much it costs you to produce the french fries to completion, and what your customer base looks like. I am reasoning to say that this is the same with your personality traits and how much you give to others. Let's go with honesty as a personality trait. First we have to decide how much honesty we are willing to give those in our lives. I am not suggesting that you should lie in any situation in life but sometimes too much honesty can get you into trouble. (Ask the queen of honesty) You have to decide what you are willing to gamble to be completely honest with people and give them a heaping helping of honesty or a small order of honesty. Next you have to ask yourself how much this honesty is costing you and is it evening out in profit. I will be more clear about this one. Let's go back to the french fries first. The french fries cost you some money to buy the actual potatoes, the oil, the salt, and the container to put them into. In my example of honesty, we are going to talk in terms of confiding in another. Just recently I have been trusted with information in which I completely hurt another person by disclosing. I apologized and admitted my fault but unfortunately, I lost the friendship either way. My question to you much is the truth going to cost you? Is it going to cost you a friendship, a relationship, the chance of being uncovered etc? You have to decide how much you are going to charge another person for your honesty. It could be that you only trust certain things with certain people and from there noone can buy them outside of that. Or maybe you can trust people after time, and then be honest. I don't decide on the cost analysis of this highly misjudged quality. Honesty is a hard thing to monitor.

3. What format is my menu going to be in?

This is one of the less important yet valid concerns. We are back to the restuarant biz for a minute. Let's say you put your menu out in neon green and the color hurts the eyes of your customer so they don't want to hold it long and don't order. Or perhaps you make it in such a dull color that they don't even pick it up. The best idea is make it noticable yet pleasing to the eye and pictures are always a plus where the items look delicious. Well, here I go into the world of personality again. I think that how we put ourselves out is very important as to who will be in our lives and what they will buy. I recently made a very big mistake, like I said. I chose to put myself out in honesty. I chose to admit my weakness, my fault, and my mistake. This didn't help the situation but I know that I put my menu out in a godly and humbled manner and I don't wish to put it out any other way. The people that will be attracted to my menu are those that can forgive, understand, and who can claim their own mistakes in life. Anyone else is subject to not purchase my goods!

I am sorry that today's post was hard to follow. I also wanted to thank the man who inspired this post. I will not mention his name because he is sweatin' it and not wanting to be in my blog. Well, you know what, you just were and it was for a good purpose. Good luck getting your menu ready and thanks for teaching me a lesson through it! Much love to you all and have a great day!


Saturday, July 09, 2005

To Dance With my Father

Today I sit in saddness as I read the article about Luther Vandross' funeral service. I am a huge fan of Mr. Vandross and was practically moved to tears watching his funeral coverage on television yesterday. I really viewed it as a time of rejoicing and a great look at what his life was about. Many great stars were in the pews watching the ceremony and it took my breath away to think of how short Luther's life was and how amazing his career was. If you are a Luther fan at all, you know that his most recent hit was a song called "Dance with my Father" which was about his own father who passed away when he was young. I truly believe that Luther was given the opportunity to Dance with his Father again! Today, I decided that would be a good segway into a topic for the blog.

I was thinking about what it will be like to finally be done with this world. Often times, I get so frustrated because I can't follow God as wonderfully as I would like to. I fall on my face daily doing stupid things that aren't good for me. I know them when the light of day comes but in the moment I forget whose daughter I am. I forget the enormous impact I have on people and their walks. I forget that I am bought with a price and that I should be living for HIM!

To dance with my father would mean the world to me. I think that often times we forget that there will come a day where we will get to spend time in our father's company. I look forward to that day because then and only then, I will never hurt him again. Every single day I make HUGE mistakes. I hurt people, hurt myself, sin, and do numerous other random acts of idiocy and in the end,...he still loves me and wants the next dance with me!

I look over my short life and realize that like could end soon. I need to take time to realize that the destination is the dance with my father. I hope you are all doing well today and recovering from your week with a great weekend. Much love to you all!


Friday, July 08, 2005

Get your # 2 pencil, it's multiple choice

Remember in school when you had to have a scantron form to do a test? If you don't remember that,'re much older than myself. Anyway, today I was thinking about choices. We have entirely too many choices in this world to be honest. I came to my topic today when I decided to venture out this morning to get breakfast. I really wanted some breakfast and I didn't want to cook so I decided to drive into Costa Mesa and get some. I got onto the 55 south and planned to take Fair drive. When I exited to the 55 south (If you are in Indiana..don't worry this isn't a math problem) I noticed that the traffic was backed up throughout the entire ramp. I sat on the off ramp for literally 25 minutes and finally made it to the Fair Drive exit and probably listened to way too many sappy love songs on Coast 103.5!

I was thinking about choices. I had the choice to either go 55 south or 405 north to get to my destination and I chose the 55. This ended up being a bad choice. I had the choice to listen to a ton of different radio stations and I kept flicking back between 95.9 the Fish, Coast 103.5, and 100.3 the beat. The people around me had a choice to pick any color Mercedes Benz that their heart desired. Most of them looked to choose black. I chose silver for my Mercedes ...or cavalier..whichever you prefer to call it. :) I had the choice to get a bacon/egg/cheese biscuit or a sausage/egg/cheese biscuit. The choices are endless. McDonalds even lets you choose apple dippers now! What will those crazy people think of next?!

Anyway, as I sat in bumper to bumper O.C traffic, I thought to myself about the many choices I have made in my life and how they affected where I ended up. This morning, my decision to choose the 55 freeway, led me to sit forever on an on-ramp and kept me from doing stuff I needed to get done. What have some of my choices kept me from in the past? I don't know but..who cares? I have come to the conclusion today that choices are just that..choices..they can't be undone. I chose to get on that freeway and I lost 30 what???!!!!! I mean, should I lose another hour of time griping about how I was stuck in traffic ..NO! I chose to do what any woman trying to seize the moment would do, I listened to music, sang at the top of my lungs and used the time to fantasize. I admit it, I fantasize!

I thought about my future man and what he will look like. I then got off on a rabbit trail as I thought about Freddie Prinze Jr for a bit. Yeah, I know..I am dreaming for sure! I thought about things so long that I didn't even realize how long it was taking to get to my destination. Today, this brings me to the point. I am having a hard time right now not wanting everything in my life to happen NOW. I have the choice of sitting in the "traffic" and finding something to do with it or griping about it and just viewing it as another bad choice!

Have a great day everyone and make good choices today!


Thursday, July 07, 2005

My own little labor dispute.

I first of all wanted to remind you all to pray today for the people in London who are fearing for their lives or who have lost loved ones in the tragic terrorist attack this morning. My friends, Heather and Josh were in London last semester and I was very grateful today that they were in the United States where I could reach them to know they are ok. I am really sad for the people that were affected by this, this morning. Onto the post...

Do any of you watch Hockey? I should note Hockey is my favorite sport to watch in person. I am a huge fan of the Los Angeles Kings and my second team is the Colorado Avalanche. I am not sure how many of you actually keep up with the NHL but they didn't have a season due to a labor dispute. Basically it's a deal in the works for getting the players to agree to salaries and the League to agree to benefits and you know..politics.

Today I read a report that they were really getting close to a deal and first of all, I was so excited because that means I can get back to Staples and see my Kings beat the ducks! I next thought of how stupid this all is and how we should just stop fighting and realize what the public is missing by this stupid labor dispute. I then began to try to find the lesson here. The lesson is, that I am basically always in some sort of labor dispute. I am always arguing with myself about something instead of just getting productive and putting out a stinkin game. There are lots of people in my life who would really like me to stop whining about the benefits and pay and just live so they can watch the game. Are you catching on to this?

Today I am going to say it loud and clear. It's stupid to complain about that which you can't control and noone is budging on. How about we all realize that there are things that we can't control and times we will not get our way. It should never keep us from playing the game (fulfilling God's purpose) that we are good at. There is a lot to say for just doing your job/purpose and letting the details work themselves out. I have been in a labor dispute for too long and it's making me lose entire seasons of my life. I am ready for two stop fighting God and just allow my life to happen while I wait on what he wants and...two..for the Kings to get back on the ice! I miss making those stupid ducks cry! :)

Today, I also wanted to just write a little note to my friend Brooke and let her know I am loving and thinking about her. Her grandfather passed away on Tuesday and today she let me know and I am really very sad for her family. I hope that you all will agree with me to pray for Brooke and her family as well as those injured or affected by today's news. Have a great day everyone and I love you all dearly and I am praying!


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Nothing but a baby!

Today I realized I am nothing but a baby! I am not insulting myself with this matter but rather realizing a few things. This morning Richard and I were discussing some things that have been happening in my life and how I am feeling about it. Richard asked me a simple question. "Erica, what do babies need?" My answer was multifaceted first picking apart a baby's physical needs like food, water, shelter, warmth etc.. This obviously wasn't the answer he was hoping for. I also added in things like attachment and physical touch since I learned that from Developmental Psychology. We began to discuss that really I am just a 24 year old baby and I am not having my needs met. He really feels I need to start being specific about my needs to safe people. I have taken much time to realize what safe people look like and how hard it is to get to where you can ask for what you need.

I gave much thought to what Richard brought to my attention. I went back downstairs to my room and turned on my taped episode of Dr. Phil from Monday. It was about Adoption. That is kind of weird seeing that Richard and I had just talked about babies and their needs so I watched in hopes of learning some sort of lesson. The main premise of the show was that people were in search of children that they could give a great life to, in search of a couple to take their baby that they could not care for, or in search of help from Dr. Phil in how to love and provide for their adopted child's needs.

I watched in discomfort at the agony that people felt in searching for their match in this grueling process and thought about why some people give their children up for adoption. I think giving a child up for adoption is a very selfless thing to do. I think it takes much courage to admit your weakness and your inablity to provide for that child. I began to think back on my conversation with Richard immediately about my "needs." I think it's going to take much maturity for me to realize that I can't meet my own needs all of the time. I need someone to adopt me and help me meet those needs or to be honest, this baby is going to die or be very unhealthy. Gosh, it's funny how Dr. Phil and Richard have meetings about me or something! :) Just playing...I know this is something I need to think about.

I thought I would share this with you today and see if you think you are getting properly cared for and if not, reach out and get adopted. Have a beautiful Wednesday and God bless you all!


Sunday, July 03, 2005

It's about the Destination, not the Journey

The first thing I would like to do today is to ask you all to pray for some people. I read an article about a current event in the news involving a kidnapping and homicide case. This case, after reading it, is very close to my heart. This little girl, Shasta Groene(8 years old) was kidnapped and held with a registered sex offender for 6 weeks. Her brother, Dylan (9 years old) is still missing and the rest of the family was found murdered in their home which included her mother and another brother as well as an unrelated man in the house. This is close to my heart for 2 reasons. First of all, because this little girl is breaking my heart. Shasta has been through literal hell and she is going to live a life of torment knowing that she is alive and her family is dead and/or missing. She has had (most likely) unspeakable things done to her and my heart hurts for this littl girl. The other reason that this is so close to my heart is that the man who is alleged to have done all of these horrible things, is mentally ill. He is sick and a poison to society. I have a very strong feeling about sexual predators and I would like for all of us to agree in prayer to have this man put behind bars again where children are not in harms way. This man's name is Joseph Edward Duncan III and although it is only alleged, he is proven to be a sex offender. I am terrified for the children that are in his general vicinity. Please pray for little Shasta, Dylan and for justice to be served. Now, onto my post....

This morning in church we talked about Revelation and about what Heaven holds and I got to thinking about the journey versus the destination. I really don't like being couped up in the car for several days however that is what I had to do to move to California. I have a car and I didn't have enough money to have it shipped with my belongings so I had to take the road trip to move out here. Granted, I had good company on the way and saw many beautiful sights but there is no pain like the pain in your rear after sitting in a cavalier for hours travelling through nowheresville, New Mexico. Although I generally speak of the road trip as an excellent experience, it was annoying also.

If I had focused entirely on the journey of 9 states in 4 days, I might have not seen all of the great things in between and certainly would not have been able to call it enjoyable today. That really does completely parallel our life on Earth in regards to our life in Heaven. The destination in my case was Costa Mesa, California to Vanguard to experience 2 of the best years of my life and meeting some of the greatest friends I would ever have and then onto Newport Beach where I live now in my excellent job and have so much more to look forward to. In our lives, the destination is Heaven. Complete and total communion with God and continual living in His presence as well as the numerous other blessings that Heaven will hold. (A perfected body is my favorite)

Now the journey for me was a grueling 4 day car ride, 3 nights of staying in cheap, nasty hotels and bad fast food all the way. My rear was so sore from sitting that every stop felt like a breath of fresh air. The food was horrible for me and I probably gained 5 lbs just doing the trip. Gas was expensive and we had to fill up a million times obviously. At one point in Missouri, there was a hail storm that did damage to my cute little cavie and I was so mad. At another point, we were driving through Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma which basically look like the same state but in different degress of hell's temperature. In other words, the journey wasn't quite as great as pulling into a sit down restaurant with palm trees all around it in Barstow, California knowing that I had arrived.

That is what I am going to attempt to compare Heaven and Earth to. Earth is not a fun journey. It holds anger, bitterness, hurt, shame, pain, grief, exhaustion, financial hardship, broken relationships, divorce, abuse, molestation, murder, (see above) and my personal favorite discrimination. There are a number of different road blocks, hail storms, and hot temperatures to make us very uncomfortable on our way home. It can be grueling and at times, it looks like we will never get there. My hope for today is that we will stop trying to make this journey more bearable and just rest knowing our destination. There is bound to be hurt in a world that is living literally for the enemy. When we start to look at our destination and view it as an opportunity to grow each day in that direction, we will get there much faster and with more peace and joy on the way.

As I drove over the California state line, the drive was worth it. I saw the "Welcome to California" sign and the state flag. I saw palm trees and smelled the awesome smell of sea air. I got into Los Angeles and viewed the beauty of grafitti and not corn stalks. I saw the many different colors of people all around me and smiled at the beauty of God's creation. I felt amazed as I could not see a tractor anywhere and I realized, that journey was all for a purpose. It was to get me to the great state of California where I would grow into the woman I am today. Thank God for the journey and keep your eyes on the destination. Much love to you and please pray for Shasta and her family.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Grieving...a great loss for R&B

Today I don't have a whole lot of time to write but I wanted to just say how sad I am that Luther Vandross passed away today. He is one of my favorite R&B artists and I am truly sad. The world has lost a great voice. "Here and Now" is my favorite Luther Song and you can find the lyrics on my other blog called Life in Lyrics at

I also wanted to say Happy Anniversary to Richard and Chris today as I have been the nanny for a whole year! It's been awesome and I have been blessed beyond measure. I am so lucky to have a safe, happy, and comfortable home to live in. Thank God for this gig!

Have a great day!