Archive | December, 2015

Farewell 2015

10 Dec

To listen along click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8141659

I have struggled mightily with this blog post, which may be my last of 2015. I have a big pile on the plate for the rest of the year, and although most business coaches would say that I need to keep writing and blogging, I know where my priorities lie. I understand that some people have to work. I understand that not everyone shares my privilege of being able to stay home and create a peaceful place for their family. I understand that even having a home is a dream for some, but I’ve learned something else. It’s time for me to own my life and be unapologetically thankful for the blessing that it is. Recently, I had a disagreement with someone I care for deeply. In the past, I would have blogged about it and shared the journey but in deference to that person’s feelings, I’ve shied away from sharing. Today, I’ve decided to be brave and risk offending even more people because of what I’m about to say. I hope I don’t offend anyone. I always write from the heart and my heart is always looking to give and receive love, but sometimes I say or write things that don’t sit well with others. There was a time, when I was young and brash, that I would have spoken out in self-righteous indignation with a chip on my shoulder and more than a few hateful and cutting remarks. There was a time I would have dropped several sarcastic comments that never attacked anyone directly but were designed to let the other person know how incredibly right I was and how incredibly wrong they were. At this time in my life, I choose to keep loving. I choose to keep loving everyone, including myself, although each of those presents challenges.

You see, my ego wants to be right so badly. My ego wants to have all the answers and show everyone just how much I know. My spirit understands that we are all created so differently, and although I always try to help, sometimes my help is unwanted or perceived as something other than help. My ego believes that someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong and let’s be honest, none of us ever wants to be wrong. Reading the book Positive Personality Profiles changed how I thought about being right and living right. Because we all grow up in a family, we’ve all been conditioned to “know” what is right and what is wrong, and unless we learn to question that, we never learn to be understanding of someone who is different. I’ve shared before that I struggled with understanding a particular family member before I read the book because I love people and would stop doing whatever I was doing if someone stopped by. I am by nature a people person. My family member is by nature a task oriented person, so when I would stop by because I was in the neighborhood, she would continue with her tasks, practically ignoring me. I found it quite offensive at the time and asked my husband why she didn’t like me. As I read Positive Personality Profiles, I began to understand how important her task completion was for her. As I was standing there thinking how rude she was for not being attentive to her guest, she was continuing on with her tasks thinking how rude I was for not understanding that she had things to do, and when I shared that revelation with her, she looked at me and said, “Exactly!” Since then, I’ve learned that keeping my distance is a gift to that person, not a slight, so when I drive by her house and she is working in the yard, I honk my horn, wave and move on knowing that leaving her alone is the best gift I can give her. As a very social people person, that does not come naturally, but I’m so glad I figured it out.

Another book that has helped me on my journey is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is a set of simple tenets to live by that make so much sense but can be so difficult to live by. The four agreements are to be impeccable with your word, not to take anything personally, not to make assumptions and always do your best. See what I mean? So simple to say, but wow the struggles we sometimes have incorporating them into our lives. Being impeccable with my word and doing my best are the easiest for me. I remember a conversation with a group of women where the question was posed whether we would tell a polite lie or the impolite truth, and I was the only person there who said they would tell the impolite truth, and I have on several occasions because with my ADHD brain, I cannot keep up with lies and half-truths. Age has taught me how to speak my truth more tactfully, or at least I like to think it has, and the other thing that being truthful has taught me is how to be positive. That may seem odd, but here’s the thing. I am generally a happy person, and I want others to be happy too, so I am always looking for the good. During the aforementioned conversation about truth, I asked people if their mother looked ridiculous in a particular outfit and asked their opinion, would they lie? Every one of them said yes because they didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. I, on the other hand, felt like I could look at my mother and say, if you like it you should wear it but I think you have other outfits that make you look much better. Who is to say which is right or wrong, but it is an interesting question to pose to people.

I must admit I struggle with taking things personally and making assumptions, although I’m getting better, and the better I get at those two agreements, the better I feel about life. It helps me to realize that when I take things personally and make assumptions, I can only look through my own lens. Through my own lens, I look at a homeless person and think, get a job. Through my own lens, I look at a mentally ill person and think, take your meds. Through my own lens, I look at someone who struggles financially and think, stop spending stupidly. Through my own lens, when I have a good life, I cannot clearly see the struggles of other human beings unless I’ve struggled in the same way. When I don’t take things personally and stop making assumptions, I can be understanding of the homeless or poor person who was raised without the resources I was to learn how to take care of themselves or who was, perhaps, doing well and one bad decision (even one that might have been beyond their control) changed everything. I can see that the mentally ill person feels so awful on the wrong medication that they stop taking it just to feel something rather than walk around in a haze. I can feel the terror of refugees that fled their homeland with nothing and are being sent to a country that may be receiving them with hatred and mistrust. I can see the rest of the world looking at our fear and with different laws, perhaps executing yet another genocide. It allows me to be a person who says that I would rather die living in Faith than merely exist living in fear. Faith extends love. Fear extends anger and mistrust, and I believe in the power of love and Faith to heal our world much more than I believe in anger. Yes, I know people want me dead solely because of where I was born or the color of my skin or the religion I was born into, but retaliation has gotten us where we are. Perhaps it’s time to try something different. Do I have all the answers? No. Do I still have respect for those in uniform who are dedicated to keeping us safe? Yes. There are no easy answers but I think the best answers will come from both sides meeting in the middle to create something the world has never seen before.

Yesterday a meme came across my Facebook feed that struck a deep chord with me, and I must confess that I giggle at the fact that I just typed that sentence. Ten years ago I didn’t even know what Facebook was and mimetics was a field of academic study; how far we’ve come. Anyway, the meme showed a sandwich board that looked similar to a USA voting sheet with a box you can check next to the words Republican and Democrat and a third option that was checked that said rational human being. I hardly ever share anything political because we don’t even have enough time to discuss my political leanings, but suffice it to say I’m fed up enough with the rhetoric and polarization of both side to have found that meme to be the best political post I have seen.

So, as the sun begins to set on the year 2015, here’s my view of it all. It started beautifully for me because I spent it with my family watching one of our favorite teams do something no other college team has done before, win a national championship through the new playoff system. We had many other ups and downs, including my husband being gone for more than half of the year for business. We’ve all grown and changed and evolved in beautiful ways and some more difficult ways. It hasn’t been perfect, nor should it be because what would we have to talk about if it was perfect? But it has been pretty darned good. For me, I’ll count my blessings, continue to send and gladly receive any love sent to me and I will wish you all a wonderful end to this year and an even better start to the next. I’ll see you in 2016 and until then, thanks for being you and have many great days.

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Not What I Intended

4 Dec

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8116615
Tis the season to feel overwhelm and as much as I love this season, I am not immune to the overwhelm myself. It used to be just the gift buying and keeping up with the activity that challenged me. Now that I have grown to a place of financial comfort, I have a new challenge. I find myself questioning what is appropriate to give to my family and what is my obligation to my community and the world at large? We live in an incredibly affluent area where the median income is over $100,000. Living in an area like that can tend to give you a skewed view of the world, especially when your children have friends who are making three and four times what you make. They can see themselves as deprived when you know differently. Life can become a constant reminder of what you lack instead of the amazing privileges you have. Adding to that is having many wealthy friends of color, so understanding the nature of the world can be a challenge. We do know others, however, that have much more challenging lives, which keeps things in perspective most of the time.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I got a huge wake-up call earlier this year when I read an article about a local school in which every child lived under the poverty line. Most shared a toothbrush and only owned one pair of underwear. Some had never had a bed and others lived without even a single pair of socks. This is only ten miles from my home and I was completely unaware. In that same article, I found out that my city has the second highest percentage of children living in poverty next to Detroit Michigan. That article changed me. That article made me understand for the first time in my life that poverty for children has nothing to do with choice. It made me understand that sometimes school is the safest place for a child and the only place they feel love. It made me also realize that I live in an unbelievably giving city that overwhelmed the school with its generosity. They had hoped that people would reach out to their school and help the families. They were unprepared for the 19 beds, the mountains of underwear and socks and the incredible amount of money that was donated. They were unprepared for the meal and treat donations and the pledges from civic groups to make sure that when school started this year that every child would have all the supplies they needed. The city responded and life is better for those children, but there is so much more to do. Other children live in poverty. People are homeless. As much as I want my children to have an amazing holiday season, this tugs at my soul, so I’ve decided to compromise.

I still want to provide my family with a Christmas to remember, and I will. We will have presents and meals and family time galore, but when I make a treat tray for the schools, like I do every year, I’ll make extras to share with the homeless I see on our travels through the city. I know it isn’t enough, but I also know it makes a difference to look them in the eye and see them and let them know someone is thinking about them. I’ll still make my Christmas Prep list, which I’ll share on the Better Living Daily Facebook page, but when you look at that file, you’ll see that every week includes the list item to make time for peace. Isn’t it interesting that the season of peace is sometimes the season we seem to lose our ability to find that peaceful place? Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years. Everything we do is a choice. We may not always like the choices, but in every situation, we choose to react or respond. Understanding that changed my life because I no longer feel obligated to do anything. I do it because I choose to. I send Christmas cards because I love getting them. I sometimes send them after Christmas because life gets too hectic, and I would rather take my time or add holiday pictures. I’ve been known to send a Happy New Year card instead just because it’s easier. I have figured out that the holidays are much happier when I pay for them in advance rather than after the fact. Learning to put aside a little money each month makes the holidays much less stressful. Here’s a hint. Start now for next year. If you get a year-end bonus, put at least part of it in a savings account that you don’t touch until November of next year. Adding even ten dollars a month will give you over $100 additional in the account. Do you get a tax refund? Put at least 10% of it into the holiday account. As the account grows, so will your excitement for the season. This is truly one of the greatest gifts we have given ourselves these past few years. Think carefully about what you want this season to be. Do you want it to be fun and social? Do you want it to be quiet and peaceful? Choose your actions accordingly. I happen to be someone who loves a fun and festive holiday season. My philosophy is the more the merrier and there’s always room for one more. I know others who are looking for a more quiet, peaceful season and are choosing differently. Each choice is valid and will be what brings each of us joy, and isn’t that the point?

You know, when I think about what to write and talk about each week, I rarely have a definitive subject in mind until I sit down at the keyboard. Most of the time, I don’t even feel like the author of what I write which may be why I have such an aversion to editing. The words come from getting out of my own way and letting the muse, the Divine or whatever you want to call it take over. Sometimes I get humor. Sometimes I get serious subjects, but I always end up getting some perspective I never really thought about before. Life can be that way when you are open to the Divine leading your life rather than trying to wrestle it to the ground yourself. I feel like I actually have a much better life because instead of wanting things to happen in a certain way, I focus more on how I want to feel and be in this world. I ask myself what I want, not in terms of how everything should play out, but in how I want to feel. At night, I always want to feel peaceful and loving as I drift off to sleep. I bless all those I love and all those who need and want love and ask for protection for all. When I wake, I am grateful for another day and ask to fulfill my Divine purpose in the best way possible. It doesn’t always mean a perfect day. In fact, it rarely means a perfect day, but it puts my mind and spirit on a path to make it an extraordinary day regardless of what happens because I am focused on doing my best and doing my best will be the focus for the next few weeks as we head into Christmas and the new year.

Speaking of Christmas, I want to let you in on a little secret. I live in a part of the world that is politically correct in their speech and diverse in their religion and ethnic background. Never once has anyone ever been offended by my wishing them a Merry Christmas or even by my giving them a Christmas present, and I have done both. I am not offended that all of my children learned to play the dreidel game and sing the dreidel song. I am not offended that my children have witnessed their Muslim friends sit through lunch or even play soccer during Ramadan and refuse even a sip of water or morsel of food. I am not offended that my children know what Diwali is and when it is celebrated. I’m not even offended that some of my children’s friends not only don’t believe in my God or my traditions, but are critical of them. From our Jewish friends, our children have learned about persecution, practical faith and giving. From our Muslim friends, our children have learned about commitment, perseverance and devotion. From our Hindu friends, our children have learned dedication, hard work and always doing your best. From out atheist friends, our children have learned critical thinking and to question why we believe as we do. Hopefully, the friends of my children have learned acceptance and love from my children. I have often said that the world could learn a few lessons from the children of our school district, and it is my hope and prayer that as my children go into this world as adults that they share their understanding and promote peace wherever they go.

So here we are again, somewhere I did not intend to go, but went anyway. I hope you got a nugget of perspective and perhaps a nugget of hope. I believe in perspective. I believe in love, and I believe when we stop being angry with each other and blaming each other, we will finally be able to walk in peace. I love you all more than you know, and I wish you the best holiday season you’ve ever had. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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