Archive | December, 2014

Do Better December 31st 2014 Well Here We Are

31 Dec

Do Better December 31st 2014 Well Here We Are.

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Do Better December 31st 2014 Well Here We Are

31 Dec

No recording of this installment. I’ll be back next week for the regularly scheduled radio broadcast on Thursday at 11am eastern time.

Thirty one days ago I set out to live December better than I had before. At first, I thought this month would be about pushing forward and accomplishing all of the things I had been unable to accomplish in previous years. I thought that working with others who had struggled would help me be the person who accomplished it all like so many others seem to do. That was not what happened.

As I went through the month, I began to think more about how I wanted the season to feel than I wanted it to look. I began to focus on being instead of doing. I began to slow down instead of speeding up, and the results were fascinating. I lost so much of the stress of the season and just rolled with how life went. There is much that usually gets baked and cooked that didn’t. There are gifts that weren’t given. There are cards that didn’t get sent, and the best part is that I feel no guilt over any of it. As far as I know, no one hates me for any of that. If they do, they haven’t told me. I had one of my most stress free holiday seasons ever, and it felt so good.

To those who struggled with the season, I extend my love to you. I have been there. I pray that your next holiday season is better than any you’ve ever experienced. Maybe because I’m at an age where I know that I have fewer holiday seasons to experience than I have already experienced, I look at them differently. I feel that way about the end and beginning of each year as well. My father was 54 years and 23 days old when he passed from this world. I’m 51, and although I intend to be here much longer than my father, it gives one pause. For me, it helps me decide who I truly want to be. I want to be kind. I want to be loving. I want to live authentically and truthfully, and I get better at that every year. I don’t say that to brag. I say that to encourage everyone to follow their truth and authenticity. I know my life isn’t for anyone. It’s my life, and I love it, and I want everyone to love their life as much as I love mine.

I love being a mother, and I know that isn’t the case with others. Some choose not to have children, and some choose to love children birthed by others. I love and adore the man I am married to and cannot think of anyone I would rather spend time with than him. I know most women would go mad spending the amount of time with their husbands that I spend with mine. I love writing and blogging and broadcasting my radio show, even though I’m not where I want to be in that career yet. My life is not free of worry or challenge, but in the grand scheme of life, it’s pretty frickin’ awesome. I don’t know if anyone else would think so if they lived my life, but I do and that’s what’s most important.

The upcoming year is full of promise to make something good even better for me. Maybe your life is great like mine and needs a bit of tweaking. Maybe your life needs a complete overhaul. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. Whatever your situation, I hope you end 2014 well and live 2015 even better.

Many years ago, I made a decision. I decided that because I have two family members who have medical conditions that could take their lives any day, I would live each day as if it were my last one with each of my family members. I do my best every day to send them off with loving words even if the morning has been a struggle. With school shootings and possible car accidents, I hope every family does the same. It is one of the ways I have learned to live without regret. I get up every morning and make my children breakfast. I tell them I love them when they leave the house. I tell my husband the same thing without the breakfast since he doesn’t eat that meal most days. If anyone in my family doesn’t see me again, I want the last words they ever hear from me to be that I love them. It may seem stupid to some, but I’ve seen what regret about the last words someone has spoken to a loved one can do. I’ve seen people agonize for years over an argument or resentment. I don’t want that, so I do what I can to keep it from happening.

Another thing that informs the way I live is to begin with the end in mind. I heard that when my children were small and it made so much sense to me. I would like to think that I’ve raised them from the beginning to become men of character. I do my best to live that way for myself too. I have realized that I do not have to make a huge societal splash to make a difference in this world. By raising young men of character and being a woman of character, I positively affect the planet every day. Am I successful at that every day? That’s for someone else to decide, but it is how I live and how I want to live. So perhaps that is my challenge to you if you choose to accept it. Ask yourself if this was your last year upon this earth, how would you like to live it? Would you hold grudges? Would you be unkind? Would you spend your time trying to live up to anyone else’s expectations or would you live the life you thought the Divine intended you to live? Would you have a different job? Would you heal an emotional wound? Would you dare to be authentic and beautifully yourself? Go ahead. I dare you. I even double dog dare you to have the best year of being you, beautiful, messy, crazy you, and if you do, let me know how it goes. I love you all. As always, thanks for being you and have a great 2015. Happy New Year everyone!!

Do Better December 29th 2014 How I Intend to Live

29 Dec

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/7226369

The holidays are winding down for most. Hanukkah, Christmas and the Winter Solstice have all passed. Kwanzaa is half over and the New Year is only a few days away. Some people are hanging on to the last moments of 2014 and savoring them. Some are eagerly anticipating the New Year for the fresh start it promises, and some are praying next year will be better than this one because if it gets worse, they’re not sure they can handle it. I’ve been in all of these situations at one time or another, but I have come to understand that no matter how bad the year might seem, when I look at the reality of it, my life has always been more good than bad. Even the year both my father and my father in law passed within months of each other and someone dear to me had a nervous breakdown was filled with more joyful moments than sadness because one of my sons was born and brought joy to everyone with his sweet and loving demeanor. Even the year I spent eight weeks in the hospital before my youngest son was born with a lifelong medical condition is filled with memories of birthday and Fat Tuesday parties in the nurses’ lunchroom at the hospital that they so graciously let us use. It’s filled with memories of the fierce love and bond we developed with our son, despite his five week stay in the hospital after he was born and the countless doctor visits after he came home. We’ve weathered financial loss, personal loss and even the loss of our healthy bodies, but one thing stays the same. We choose to focus on the blessings rather than the loss. We choose to live consciously, authentically and in gratitude as much as we can.

I understand that many people are suffering, but what I’ve noticed is that most suffering, not all, is self-induced. We worry about what might happen. We complain about what has happened. We justify our negativity and victimhood and wallow in the emotional muck of it all. Think about it. When we feel bad, we want everyone to jump on our pity train. We want people to say how justified we are in our negativity and maybe we are, but why stay there? It makes me cringe every time I hear or read that someone refuses to “get over” a tragedy. One of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard on that subject was on Dr. Phil’s show. I hardly ever watch the show, but for some reason I was drawn to it one day. The story was about a woman whose daughter was murdered. Her daughter’s brutalized body was found naked on a trash heap in a landfill. The mother only had a single earring that her daughter was wearing to hang onto. The mother was in a deep depression and refused to move forward because she was so sad about how her daughter had died. She could not get passed the idea that her daughter was murdered and was thrown away like a piece of trash. As she said, no one deserved to be treated like that, and worse yet, there were no suspects, so it was likely that her daughter’s murderers would be free while she was tortured by their actions. Who wouldn’t feel compassion for this woman? The loss of a child is every parent’s nightmare and the way her daughter died could not have been much worse. If anyone was justified in her grief, it was this mother.

As I said, I rarely watch Dr. Phil, but I know his reputation for being straightforward to the point of brutality on occasion. I wondered how he would handle this lady and what I saw was amazing. Dr. Phil was kind and understanding. He validated that no parent should have to suffer what she suffered. He looked at her and told her that he understood her sadness and grief, and then he asked about the woman’s daughter. He asked what she was like, and like every parent she began to talk about the best qualities of her daughter. She talked about her daughter’s laugh and love of life. You could see and hear the love she had for her daughter, and then Dr. Phil said something that rocked her world. He asked her if her daughter would be proud of the way she was handling her death. She said she knew that her daughter would want her to be happy and not mourn and would be angry with her for being sad and depressed. Dr. Phil then asked her why she was focusing on the worst moment in both of their lives instead of all of the beautiful moments they had while she was alive. You could actually see the shift in the woman’s face and the realization that she had a choice in how to handle her daughter’s life and death. You could almost feel the weight being lifted from her, and when she returned to the show six months later, she barely looked like the same woman. On the original show, she was dressed plainly, wore no makeup and looked like a woman in pain and grief. On the follow up show, she was dressed nicely, had her hair done, wore a small amount of makeup and actually smiled. She had lost 20 pounds that she had put on after her daughter’s death and best of all, her other daughter, who was still living at home, said she had gotten her mother back. Before, the living daughter said she felt like she lost both her mother and her sister that day. Now she had hope that they could both live a better life. You could see the changes and the mother looked years younger than she had before. It was a moment of great clarity for me and a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Because of that woman and her family, I whine less and focus differently. I know that when people come looking for sympathy I can appear uncaring, but I’ve chosen to adopt a way of being that looks for the good in everything, and I can almost always find it. Am I always happy? No, but I am always looking for a brighter moment after I have my moment of anger, doubt or sadness. In our father’s cancers, we found the gift of being able to talk, to heal and to let go with grace and love. Through my son’s diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I have become an advocate, not just for him, but for anyone who needs my help. I ask the difficult questions, not with malice and accusation, but with a genuine concern for all involved and to find the best solution for all. When I am living this way, I feel connected to the best of the Universe, and I feel a deep connection to my Divine path. I see that there are horrors in this world, and I know that they are opportunities for people to follow their own Divine paths. I see suffering in this world and know that I can dive into it or encourage others to rise through it. I read about others’ trials and tribulations and send them as much love as I can because I know that diving into the abyss with them does no one any good unless I bring a ladder and a rope for us to climb out together.

I used to try to hide my negative feelings. I used to think that people should change. I used to struggle against what is and what was, and I suffered, a lot. I still fall into those patterns now and then, but I’ve spent years teaching myself to think differently. Now I mostly realize that my negative feelings mean I am resisting the way life is or the way someone is, and I can choose to release that or do something to change the world. I can speak up or keep quiet. I can be at peace with whatever choice I make, and it is up to others whether they are at peace at the same time. When you choose to live this way, there comes a moment when you realize that every negative reaction to anything you do or say has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person. You can choose to remain calm and loving when your child melts down, you tell your boss something unpleasant, or you broach a difficult topic with your spouse. You can train yourself to be calm and centered and think rather than to react and spew emotion all over the place. You may not be successful all of the time, but the more you practice, the better you’ll be at it, and the more authentic you’ll feel as a human being. I’m not talking about stuffing your emotions because that isn’t healthy for anyone. I’m talking about examining your emotions, especially those that make you feel bad, and seeing them in a different light. I’m suggesting that you stop putting people down or living like a martyr and instead choose to elevate yourself. The results are life altering. For me, learning to focus on living and acting intentionally made me feel like a grown up for the first time in my life. It was like finding the answer I had been looking for to every question I have ever had. It was bliss, and in those moments I live those intentions fully, my life is the best it’s ever been. I live better. I love better, and I am better.

That’s what I want for all of you as you wind down 2014 and set your sights on 2015. Figure out what your intentions are. Figure out who you would like to be in 2015 and how you would like to feel. If you are feeling negative emotion, ask yourself what you can do to feel better. If the answer is that something needs to happen that you can’t control, ask a different question. Ask yourself what you could do in this moment to feel just a little better. You don’t jump from the bottom of a mountain to the top. You take it one step at a time. The same is true with creating a life you love to live. Decide what is at the top of your mountain and begin to take the steps to get there. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself there quicker than you think and then you can take the big leap to the next mountain or maybe even the stars. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live? It does to me. It feels authentic and Divine and empowering and I wish that for all of you. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Do Better December 26th 2014 Post-Holiday Recovery

26 Dec

Do Better December 26th 2014 Post-Holiday Recovery.

Do Better December 26th 2014 Post-Holiday Recovery

26 Dec

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/7219941

I woke up this morning to the aftermath of the holiday parties. My body hurts. My joints ache. I can feel the tension I have obviously been carrying in my neck and shoulders. This happens to me sometimes after a long stretch of commitments. When they are finally over, my body registers the bad eating choices, the physical stress and maybe even some of the emotional stress I have built up over the past few weeks. It is not life threatening, although it can be life altering. It slows me down, but I have the choice of how to handle it and whether it stops me entirely.

I want to curl up on the couch and watch movies all day. I want to have the house magically clean itself, and I want my body to release the aches and pain I am feeling. I want someone other than me to cook incredibly healthy food that tastes better than any of the junk I’ve eaten over the past few weeks. I want my family to pitch in without being asked and voluntarily turn off their screens. Basically, I want a post-Christmas miracle, and in all of the years I have been celebrating the holidays, I have yet to see that happen. What can happen, though, is something better than a miracle. I know that sounds strange, but when you create your own magic, miracles become icing on the cake.

Creating magic usually begins with asking for help. For me it is asking my family to spend just 15 minutes helping me. It may be simply picking up and putting gifts away. It may be running the vacuum, quick mopping the floors or gathering the trash. It may be dusting or working on organizing school binders. Whatever it is, I’ve learned that there is magic in fifteen minutes, especially when it is multiplied by five which is the number of people in my family. I am continually amazed at the progress we can make when we work together. Before we work together, though, we need a plan. When I can give my family clear direction, the amount of success multiplies. A suggestion to clean up a room may show no progress at all, but a direction to fold and put away all clean clothes and pick up ten or more items to throw or give away yields visual results that my children can see and feel proud about. Working in the yard becomes weeding the front garden, trimming branches, and cutting the grass all at the same time. We can accomplish more in one hour than I can do alone in several days. It is astounding and thrilling to see. They may not love having to help, but they do love living in a home that is well taken care of, almost as much as I do.

Today, though, I choose to start with me. As soon as I have finished with today’s writing and recording, I will be heading for the gym, not for a workout, but for a pamper session. I know that spending time in the hot tub will help with my aching joints. I also know that most people would work out first and then lounge in the hot tub. If I do that, my body will hurt so much that I won’t feel the benefit of the hot tub. For me, a trip to the hot tub first will loosen everything up and release the pain. It will allow me to walk and enjoy the exercise rather than grit my teeth through it and be in pain for days. It is not the way most people would do things, but it works better for me. Then I can return home with a body that has been well taken care of and hopefully can flow through the rest of the day with ease. I know there are pain relievers I can take that will temporarily do the job, but this will do the job better and will make me feel better for the long haul, as will eating healthier.

The past few weeks have been filled with many more carbs and wheat than I usually eat. I’ve avoided the scale because no one needs that kind of stress during the holidays. I’ve done my best to eat well at home and allow myself small detours at parties. I’ve learned to eat one or two cookies instead of munching away all evening. I’ve learned to take a plate and load it up with the veggie tray items and a few other delicacies I only eat during the holidays. I’ve learned to drink water and stand as much as possible to get in a few extra steps. I have a long way to go to be fit and trim, but I know what helps and for me, no pain does not mean no gain; in my case, pain means I will not be exercising until the pain is gone and that can mean a significant gain. Again, I know it may be different from what most people do, but it works for me as long as I do what I know works.

So, on this Friday after Christmas, I am focused on just a couple of things. Today I will take extraordinary care of my body. I will treat it well, exercise it gently and feed it nourishing and energizing food. I will do some basic clean up around my home that will make it look and feel better for me. I will not do it all, nor will I try to, because I want to feel better so I can do better tomorrow. Today is truly about gentle progress, not driving myself to exhaustion. It’s about regaining my footing without pushing myself over the wall. It is about finding the tracks and getting back on them without having to make the cross country run. Today is about recovery and being kind to myself, and that feels like one of the best Christmas gifts of the season. I hope that today you can have a day that makes you smile. If you have to work today, I hope you get that day soon. A day of kindness to yourself is a gift to you and everyone you know because it recharges and renews your attitude and allows you to move on with your life in a better humor. Try it and let me know how it goes, either on the Better Living Daily Facebook page or by commenting on the blog page. You deserve a day that makes you feel better, whatever that means for you. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have

24 Dec

Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have.

Do Better December 24th 2014 The Christmas I Choose to Have

24 Dec

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/7216845
For those of us who celebrate Christmas, today is Christmas Eve. For us, it’s the day when my husband’s family gathers at my sister in law’s house, all 70 to 80 of us. We have four generations with one mom, nine children, most of whom have significant others, twenty eight grandchildren, some of whom have significant others, and over 30 great grandchildren, with a few significant others. There is pandemonium and chaos and tons of fun. Gifts, hugs and teasing are the order of the day, and I always leave there smiling, not because of any gift I get, but because of the love that is shared. On Christmas morning, I celebrate with my immediate family. I spend time with my all of my boys together, which is a rare treat with jobs, girlfriends and school. We have a quiet morning filled with the same love, laughter and teasing, and I feel the blessing of the season. Then it’s time to host the grandmas for a quiet and relaxing afternoon. It may not sound like much, but I love it. It’s not about the gifts. It’s not about the parties. It’s about spending time with the ones I love, especially the ones I don’t see as much as I would like. It’s about re-connecting and just being. Some years I do it with more grace than others, and this year has been one of the more graceful.

I don’t know why this year is different. Maybe it’s because I’m acutely aware of others’ suffering this year. I know so many who are struggling with strained relationships, loss of a loved one or serious illness. It makes my problems of figuring out gifts and logistics seem small and nothing to get worked up about. It makes me look at my home and realize it doesn’t have to be immaculate to host a loving and fun gathering. It just has to be presentable. It makes me look in the mirror and understand that my body doesn’t have to be model thin or even thin at all to be worthy because love isn’t measured in pounds. It used to be that I compared my life to others’ and wondered what I might be missing. I would look at the things they had that I thought I wanted and my life never seemed to measure up. It was sad and defeating to do that, so I stopped. I changed my focus and changed my life.

Now instead of looking at what I lack, I move toward what I want. It may seem like the same thing, but I assure you it isn’t. There is a difference in looking at your bank account in misery because you wish it was bigger and looking at that same number as a starting point of building wealth. There is a difference between looking in the mirror and criticizing your body and choosing to eat healthier and move more. There is a huge difference in looking at what others have in terms of what you lack and looking at your own life and deciding what you would like to add. This holiday season has been about being peaceful and kind rather than drivingly focused and controlling. It’s been a season of doing what I can and letting go of the rest. It’s been about releasing resistance to those things I can do nothing about and just going with the flow, and most of the time, it has actually worked this season.

I don’t share any of this to brag or even say that anyone should aspire to be like me. I share it because I’m guessing there are at least a few people out there who would like to have a more peaceful holiday season next year or even now. I want them to know it is possible to do that. I want everyone to know that although there may be moments of stress, the tone of the season can be peaceful. It has nothing to do with anyone else. It has to do with you and sometimes the most amazing thing you can do is learn to say no. You do not have to attend every party you are invited to. You do not have to give everyone, including the mail carrier and the garbage workers, a gift. You do not have to cook a twelve course meal, from scratch, and serve it on twelve different styles of china. You do not have to live up to anyone else’s expectations of you but your own. What will help you immensely is to choose which activities and actions will bring you joy and pursue them with all your heart.

I love getting Christmas cards and I love sending them out. Guess what? They don’t always go out before Christmas, including this year. Does that make me a bad person? No, it makes me a person who sails through the holidays with a little less stress. I love hosting my family on Christmas Day. I cook a simple meal with ham, lima beans, corn and sometimes homemade bread. My mom brings au gratin potatoes and we have Christmas cookies for dessert. These are foods that we enjoy, and they are easy to prepare. This year, we are even eating on disposable plates so clean up is easier. Our gifts are simple and practical and mostly within our budget. Peace reigns throughout the house, most of the time. We are better rested than we’ve ever been and life is good. I’ve stopped trying to top the best Christmas we have ever had because when you give each day your best effort, your best life is every day and doesn’t depend on one or two days per year. Yes, I want people to enjoy the gifts I buy, the food I cook and the time they spend with me; and the best way to make that happen is to live from the heart every day of my life. When I do that, I buy gifts that bring joy instead of grabbing whatever is available. I cook with love and everyone who has a passion for cooking will tell you that’s how you make your food taste best. I can truly enjoy those I spend time with because I focus on what’s in front of me rather than the giant to do list in the other room. It keeps me sane, grounded and peaceful and during this time of year, that is a priceless commodity.

As those of you who celebrate go through today and tomorrow, think of what will bring you peace and then do it. It isn’t about pleasing your parents, spouse or children. It’s about feeling the peace of the season in your own spirit. Until you do that, you won’t please anyone. Find your peace and you will change your brain chemistry and your bodily functions for the better. You will change your outlook on every activity, and you will uplift your spirit and the spirits of everyone you encounter. Take a deep breath. Forgive yourself for whatever you think you may be lacking and focus on what you want and can accomplish without losing your balance. Just thinking about that helps me some days, and I hope it helps you too. Tomorrow, I will be taking a day off of Do Better December to spend it with my family. If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with love and joy. If Christmas is not part of your life, I wish you a terrific Thursday still filled with love and joy. I will think of you and pray for you, and I’ll be back on Friday for some post-Christmas thoughts. Until then, choose well and be well. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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