Archive | Holidays RSS feed for this section

Moving Day and Other Big News

17 Nov

Today is a big day in my little world. Today I am launching a new blog called Where Karen Goes. I am also launching a new book called Happiest Holidays. it isn’t live yet, but I’ll be posting on Where Karen Goes as soon as it is. It’s a lot to take in, and I’ve been overwhelmed more than once, but sometimes when the only thing that keeps you from drowning is swimming, you swim. It feels different this time, though, for both the blog and the book. When I launched my first blog I was terrified because I had no idea if anyone would care to read what I wrote or would like it. Fortunately some people did. The same holds true for the books. The first two felt like a piece of my soul was put on display, and I was petrified that people would hate it, but they didn’t. This time while based on my experience and learning over the past 25 years it is much less personal. I have loved writing all three books and sharing on the blog, but someone else bought the domain name for this blog, so if I am going to be the professional I aspire to be, it’s time to move on, and today’s the day. This will be my last post on this site. All new material will be on the new site that you can follow by clicking here. The site is still under construction, but it’s live and I can post there, so here we go.  It has been my pleasure to share with you, and I hope you’ll move with me. If not, I’ve enjoyed the ride, wish you well and hope we cross paths again sometime. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Thirty Days of Thanks

1 Nov

30-days-of-thanksI was looking over my past year’s blog posts and realized I have never talked specifically about my thankful habit of November. I know there are many people who post about what they are grateful for, but I’ve long since stopped sharing about my husband, children, home and all of the standard things. My goal each November is to stretch myself and find things to be grateful for that we might take for granted or might not think about every day. I’ll keep this short because I’ll have another blog post coming on Thursday like I do most weeks, but I do want to invite you to think about gratitude, and I hope you’ll join me on either or both the Better Living Daily and the Happiest Holidays pages to share your own gratitude experience. Also since I’m posting on the blog, I’ll share my first day’s gratitude here.

On this first day of November, I am grateful for people like those at Standing Rock who are willing to stand up with dignity and grace for what they believe is right, not just for them, but for us all. I am humbled by your strength, courage and commitment. Each day will be another moment of gratitude, and again, I hope you will join me with your own list. Do this for 30 days and it just might change your life. It certainly did change mine. Welcome to November all!

Little Changes and Better Results

22 Sep

Do you remember that I challenged everyone to choose their life this month instead of living by have to, need to, ought to or whatever “should” type phrase you use? Well, I did, and I had to remind myself of that today. Up until this morning, this week has been spectacular. I had been struggling with getting my writing accomplished because it seemed like there were so many more important things to accomplish or better said, I felt like I needed more hours in the day to accomplish them. This week I made a few small tweaks, and I mean small, and the days have been ridiculously more productive and easy. Want to know what those changes were? You may be disappointed by their simplicity.

The first tweak was getting fully dressed to shoes in the morning. Now, I don’t mean looking like I’m ready to conquer the world. I mean simply throwing on some workout clothes and gym shoes. It’s amazing how much more inspired to work I am when the slippers and robe are replaced with workout clothes. I can finish my morning routine in the morning. I have accomplished more by noon the past three days than I had by the end of the day for the past three weeks. I have even managed to take walks that were elusive and missing the past few weeks. The other thing I’ve done is avoid being online until I’ve finished everything I deem important for the day. This one is a bit more difficult for me because I have several groups and mentors online that have helped me so much in my journey toward a better life. I have a group that has helped me get a handle on my home. I have two that have helped me immensely with my writing, one local and one international. I have groups that help me spiritually and I have groups that help me with my parenting. While I know there is a mass of garbage in cyberland, I have found some amazingly positive places, and I love checking in on these I have come to care for deeply. The flip side of that joy, though, is spending more time online than I do offline and sometimes neglecting the things that bring me joy offline. This week I’ve found better balance because the tweaks have made better use of my natural energy flow.

You see, I am a morning person, or at least I’ve become one. When I was younger I would have definitely said I was a night owl. I loved the late night when all was quiet. I felt like I could accomplish more at that time because everyone was out of my way, and on the very rare occasion that I have trouble sleeping, I still love the quiet of the middle of the night and the peace of hearing the rhythmic breathing of those I love most as they sleep. I have found, though, that I have that same energy in the morning when I’m well rested. Imagine that. In a few hours I can write, exercise and keep up with my home and shower and re-dress, but then the afternoon slump comes, and I feel almost powerless to get anything accomplished. Part of the tweaking this week has included making peace with that slump and reframing it as downtime to go through paperwork, run errands, go through emails and/or play online without guilt. The results have been glorious, and I’ve been so happy with the results, until this morning.

This morning I woke up with a feeling of dread because the next three days are extremely busy. I began feeling like I couldn’t do the things I should do because I have to be out of the house earlier than usual, and I began to feel the panic and self-judgment that usually comes along with that stress for me, but I remembered the challenge I had issued, and began to think about what I wanted to accomplish. I realize that tomorrow will depend on what I accomplish today, so I tabled the stress about the next two days for now. I realize that the house is good enough and a shortened morning routine is more than good enough. I know my morning walks have helped me clear my head and get focused on writing, so I chose to take one, although that was shortened too, and I also am choosing to write this blog post because I promised myself to do at least one per week, and I failed to do that last week. I let the overwhelm get to me, and I failed to post. Guess what? We all fail, but this week I chose to approach things differently. This week I chose to act rather than let the overwhelm win. It’s currently 9am in my part of the world, and I am nearly finished with everything I wanted to accomplish before I leave. The only thing left to do is shower, and I will do that as soon as I finish typing. I’m actually going to make it, and that feels so good.

What I’m doing may not change the world, but it does change my part of it for the better. It helps me be a better wife, mom, writer and human being. I helps me focus on how I can change and grow and become a better version of me, and really, isn’t that the best thing any of us can do? Yesterday, I stopped at the grocery store around 6:30pm. A woman still dressed in her business attire was pushing her screaming toddler through the store. The little man desperately wanted to walk, and you could tell the mom was trying to get through the store as quickly as she could. She had her son strapped into the seat of the cart, and he was angry. He screamed at the top of his lungs that he wanted to walk, and she patiently sat him down every time he tried to stand up, but you could see the stress on her face. You could also see the stress on other shoppers’ faces as they looked at her, some in recognition, some in judgment and some in pity, but no one spoke to her. One older man tried to talk with her son, but it didn’t help so he walked away, and at first, so did I. But the longer I listened, the more I remembered what it felt like to be that mom. I remember feeling so isolated and alone when you have a screaming child in a store and everyone is looking at you. I remember feeling like I was hanging on by a thread to my sanity and my patience, and I was trying to be a good parent and still get the damned shopping done, and perhaps I was just failing at all of it. So, I stopped, turned around and looked for that mom. I walked up to her with tears in my eyes and said to her that just in case no one told her today, she was doing a great job, and we both walked away feeling better.

Now I don’t know if anything I have done to improve my life gave me the opportunity to do that, but I do know this: Because I did those things, my home was in order and I had crossed off most of my list which gave me the opportunity to go to the grocery store to buy items, not that I needed, but that I chose to buy to make my mother in law a special treat for her 85th birthday today. Had this been last week or the few before, I probably wouldn’t have attempted it, but because of what I have done, I was there. Because of those changes, the holiday book is closer to being finished. Because of those things, I am sitting her typing and choosing to be at peace rather than worrying about the fact that I “should” be in the shower if I want to leave on time to get to where I choose to be going next. I’ve chosen better. My life is better and for those of you who are not in dire situations where you really and truly have no control over your, I double dog dare you to choose better for yourselves too. It may not change the world, but I bet it changes you for the better in more ways than you can imagine. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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.

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.

Searching for Holiday Happiness

5 Nov

To listen along click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8051113

I know talking about the holidays makes some people’s skin crawl. So many are dreading what’s to come, but they are coming whether we want them to or not. Thanksgiving in the US is a mere three weeks away. There will be challenges. We will all have them. Some easily rise to the challenge. Some whine through the challenge and some run from it. The irony is that if we whine or run from the challenge, nothing changes. We will be faced with the same type of challenge over and over until we figure it out. Have you ever noticed that? I think that is especially true during the holidays. We have this idea of the perfect holiday season, and then we look at our finances, our home or our relationships and realize the perfection we imagine might be beyond our reach, and that sends us spiraling downward. None of us is without challenge, but how we approach the challenge can be the difference between a holiday season of peace and joy and one of stress and angst.

Let me start by saying that I am a failure; at least I could look at it that way. Last month, I joined a creativity bootcamp with the idea of finishing and publishing a book about getting through the holidays. It was going to be a step by step guide to help those who need it. This is the second time I attempted to write this book, and I failed to finish it. Am I a failure? I’m sure some would say yes, but in truth, the vision for the book got bigger, so it has been postponed again. I actually have several ideas for books rolling around in my head and on several pieces of paper. I also have ideas for webinars, speaking engagements and future radio shows. Very often it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day because “real life” gets in the way, but real life is what I’ve chosen for now. I made a commitment to being a mom and with ADHD to deal with in my son and myself, some days it’s all I can handle, so for now, the book is on hold; perhaps next year.

If we’re willing to look, the greatest gifts, though, from the challenges we face show up as compassion and gratitude later on. We can look at what we’ve faced and then look at others in moments of challenge with grace. That doesn’t mean you have to dive down in the suffering and be at one with it. I would even suggest that commiserating with someone’s challenge only helps to keep them there. It provides no solution. Unfortunately, many would rather wallow in the challenge than look for the solution. They don’t want help. They want to justify their suffering. They aren’t ready to move on from their suffering to be joyful, and I think that’s sad, because when you focus on the suffering, you keep away the joy. That is the personification of misery loving company. I have felt the blues during the holidays. I have looked into the abyss, but I have learned from it. I have learned that I never want to pull anyone into that abyss with me but retreating can often make the spiral go deeper and longer than ever. We continue to ask what’s wrong with me. We tell ourselves that we should be grateful, but we focus on the problem when the most important question to ask is what you can do to get out of the dark place. The holiday blues are not inevitable or maybe they are, but they can be a short stop on the journey instead of somewhere you unpack and roll around in the muck. You can rise above them to have an incredible holiday season. In hopes of helping those who would like it, I have created a list of ten things to improve your mood before you slide into the abyss this holiday season. There are many more, but this is definitely a start:

1. Take care of yourself. Take a shower. Dress in nice clothes even if you have nowhere to go. Paint your nails or put on makeup if that helps you feel better. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. These are simple things that can start to bring you out of a funk.

2. Meditate. It has been said that when you pray, you speak to the Divine. When you meditate, the Divine speaks to you. If you’re new to meditation, I would suggest finding a guided meditation on YouTube. Meditation changed my life and it can change yours too.

3. Breathe and become aware of your body. As you breathe, consciously relax your forehead, your shoulders, your spine and your stomach. Releasing tension like this is incredibly calming and can help you slide right into the meditation experience mentioned above.

4. Listen to music that brings you joy. If you’re not sure what that music is, think of movies you like and look for the soundtrack. It can be especially fun if the movies are from your childhood.

5. Do something for someone else. Rake your neighbor’s leaves when they’re at work. Bake cupcakes for the neighborhood kids. Put $20 in an envelope and anonymously drop it into a needy family’s mailbox. Make soup for a sick friend. Don’t have a sick friend? Make soup and freeze if for when you have a sick friend. Send a gift card to someone who needs a pick me up. Write a thank you note to someone who positively affected your life. I could do an entire blog post just on random acts of kindness, and I assure you, when you do a kindness for someone who cannot pay you back, you receive as much as you give.

6. Open yourself to receiving. In our culture, we have this idea that we must give more than we receive, and it is wearing us out and killing us. We have this saying that it is better to give than to receive, but if we aren’t willing to receive, how can anyone give? Think of it this way, why are you the only person that should be allowed into Heaven? If you don’t give others the opportunity to give, you keep them from becoming their best selves. Nothing is sadder to me than a person who says they don’t want to burden their friends with their problems. What the heck are friends for? They are there to lift you out of the muck and to deny them that hurts both of you. Stop it! Be willing to be vulnerable and sad and frustrated so others know they are not alone and so both of you can find out that people care. They really, really care. This concept changed so much for me. Start with a compliment. The next time someone compliments you resist the urge to negate the compliment. If someone compliments you on how you look, thank them and tell them how nice it is of them to say. Leave it at that or repay the compliment with one of your own. If someone compliments your talent, say thank you and tell them you’re glad they enjoyed it. Don’t talk about all of the flaws or mistakes you see. Let that person help you be joyful and inspire you to be grateful for the compliment. People like to make others feel good. Let them!

7. Indulge in a healthy guilty pleasure. Love popcorn? Pop some. Love sappy, chick flicks? Watch one. Love being creative? Paint, write, create. Give yourself a short time out to do something that brings you joy. Some days you may have to do several little things. Some days it may be one big thing, but find joy in every day. If you are a parent of young children, watch them sleep for two minutes. Listen to them breathe. When my boys were little, nothing brought me more joy than rocking my children to sleep at night because I was given the gift of watching them drift off to wherever boys go to dream, of listening to their peaceful breathing and of just holding that moment of peace. If you’re children are away at college like mine, you can go sit in their room and remember the best of times with them. If you don’t have children, pull out an old photo album and look through your own wonderful memories. The possibilities of finding precious moments in your past are endless.

8. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This quote by Gandhi has been running through my mind for the past several months, and I think it is magical. If you want the world to be a kinder place, be a kinder person and guess what? The world is a kinder place because of you. If you want the world to be filled with love, be a more loving person, and you have made your own wish come true. I think this goes hand in hand with treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated, and the best part is that you don’t need anyone else to change to make you happy because you are being the change instead. Right now, I want more love, peace and kindness in the world, which is plenty to keep me busy for now.

9. Stop being offended and stop taking things personally. This is one I am still working on. Yesterday someone wrote something on Facebook that offended me. Imagine that. It was a response to something I said, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a veiled insult to the kind of person I am. You see, I am generally a happy, go lucky person. I believe that there is more good in this world than bad. I believe in the intrinsic goodness of human beings. I believe we are born filled with love and must be taught and conditioned to be fearful and filled with hate. When you believe that and let people know it, they have some interesting responses. The first and most insulting is that I am stupid and uninformed. The other thing people seem to think about me because I am positive and happy is that I have no problems. Honestly, this is where I started today’s post/ radio show idea, and why I decided to write this list.

10. Live differently. If you don’t like your life, change it or change you. What if you or a family member had a very real chance of not making it through the day? Would you continue to act the way you do or think the way you do? If not, be the person you would be if you knew your time was limited because guess what? It is. Put the petty crap aside and get to living and loving better. You will still have issues but your molehills of cluttered garages, toast crumbs in the butter and piles of laundry stay molehills instead of blowing up into huge, stupid mountains. It’s interesting to think that your mountains might be someone else’s molehills. Are your mountains really mountains? I remember holiday seasons when I barely had enough money to buy gifts for my children. They may have been the most creative times I ever had finding gifts that would bring them joy and keep our family afloat financially. Perhaps the greatest thing I ever heard was that Jesus only got three gifts, why do your children need any more than that? A sobering thought indeed. Take the focus off of what you think you need to do and put the focus on who you want to be and the way you want the season to feel. You will approach everything differently. You will clean up your home to have a peaceful space. You will buy gifts to bless others instead of just checking names off of a list. I hope it will help you find peace, joy, love and grace every day of this season. Will there still be issues? Of course. Will people still get under your skin? Probably, but it isn’t about them. It’s about you having your best season ever. That’s what I wish for you not only for the next eight weeks, but for the rest of your life.
Thanks for being you and have a great day.

All Paths Lead Through the Kitchen Table

29 Oct

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8034231

There is nothing quite like the joy of a spiritual breakthrough for me, and I got a great one this morning. I have been in a slump creatively for a few days now. I know that may not sound like a big deal to most people; what are a few days? Well, in my case, the book I’m working on is about holiday prep and includes Thanksgiving, so if It isn’t published in the next week or so, I’ll be editing the Thanksgiving part out or waiting another year to publish, neither of which appeals to me, especially since I attempted this last year and didn’t make it. Who wants to fail to publish the same book two years in a row? Ick! As my mood began to sink, my kitchen table began to pile up as it seems to do, so this morning I decided to dive into the mess on the table to see what happened, and it only took about 15 minutes for the epiphany to come. Once again the mess on my kitchen table seemed to be part of the problem when it was actually the gateway to the solution. I once heard a story from life coach Cheryl Richardson about someone who had a terrible time getting rid of some paper clutter. Her advice to this person was to sit and quietly ask, “Why are you still here?” Of course, the person felt like an idiot at first and all of the mind-chatter of because you’re lazy, disorganized and incompetent started cropping up, just as she said it would, but she instructed the student to take a deep breath, let that go and keep asking until a different answer popped up. Eventually, the answer was that a book was waiting to be written from the many notes scattered among the piles. The person had never written a book, but as they began to sit with the idea, they knew that to be the truth, so they began to sift through the piles, keeping only the information that would be pertinent to the book and the piles disappeared. I think that’s how my kitchen table works. It’s almost like it’s some kind of vortex, and I just need to remember that those piles that pop up are ultimately for my own good.

Some days I forget how good my life is, usually when I get caught up in someone else’s life. I forget the incredible blessings I have upon my life because I get mired down in the struggles of others’ lives and it can hold me back from living. That also happened this week. On Monday, two of my youngest son’s classmates went missing. These girls are 15 and 16 and they walked out of school and got into a car with a supposed 20 year old they met online. I got derailed emotionally even after the girls were found since the story going around is that they just wanted to have fun and never come home. When I first found that out I was angry and felt really stupid for even sharing the post that they were missing. But you know what? Even if one of my kids did something like this, I would appreciate every parent who tried to help find them, no matter what the outcome. I guess blessings come in all kinds of packages if you look hard enough.

So after a couple of emotional days and a few piles on the table, I found my mojo again this morning. I began writing and the words began to flow. I even turned my computer on early to get my radio show notes written up so I could cruise the rest of the morning, and I was moving along. Then I got a phone call. A friend who watches her nephew with extraordinary medical needs called and needed help with a fussy toddler who needed his dressing changed and wasn’t cooperating. As I was going to get my jacket, I started to chuckle and looked up as I often do and said, “I guess you’re showing me where my commitments really are,” and I confirmed, yet again, something I’ve known for a very long time. People matter to me and they will always come first. I drove over to my friend’s house and distracted the little man while my friend attended to his medical needs. I probably could have told my friend I had a radio show to do, a school pickup to do, plans for the evening, and she would have understood. She’s a busy mom like me, but I would have known that I violated my priorities, and that would have only served to send me down a path I don’t like going down. I would have ended up angry about something totally unrelated and possibly said something unkind or insensitive to someone who didn’t deserve it. I think that’s where most angry outbursts come from anyway. It seldom has anything to do with the incident at hand. It has to do with feelings of violation that have bubbled under the surface for a long time and for some reason, we think it is noble to stuff that all down and that our negative feelings should not be expressed. I think that’s where the crazy in our society comes from. We’re taught to suppress anything negative and that the façade of perfect is what we need to project. We don’t let ourselves get too close to anyone for fear that they may find out who we are or that we struggle or that we need help. We are taught to be self-reliant and independent, and as Leo Buscalia says, “that’s why we’re all dying of loneliness.”

This week I have struggled. I am attending an online creativity bootcamp that I’m supposed to submit daily some creative thing I’ve done. This week, getting through each day without a meltdown has seemed like a triumph. I have fallen into bed exhausted from nothing but emotion running wild and I’ve submitted nothing. The guilt of that was adding to the spiral of negativity, but again, the table clearing saved me. I don’t owe these people anything. I don’t even know most of them, although I’m coming to love many of them as I learn their stories and the kindred spirits I have all over the globe. I owe me. I owe it to myself to live my best life and be gentle when the valleys come. I owe it to myself to keep releasing the old crap that bubbles up when I feel these spiritual epiphanies so that I can live a more authentic and unique life. I owe it to myself to focus as much as I can on my own life, knowing that my priorities will always include those I care about. I am and always will be people oriented, but I’ve also learned a great secret. For a little while at a time, I can be task oriented. For bits and pieces of my day, I can focus long enough to take care of my home without making it my life’s work. I can get laundry accomplished because it really doesn’t take more than about 15 minutes of my day for each load. Don’t believe me? Time it and see how much time you spend sorting, switching, folding and hanging. A full load for me takes between 10 and 15 minutes. I can even focus on writing a book for 15 minutes at a time and make great progress, and although I can talk forever about nothing, I can even write down notes for a radio show and blog post so that my words have some sense of flow instead of just a bunch or rambling, and those who would rather read the words than listen to them can do just that because remember, it’s all about the people.

Speaking of people, one of the ways I’ve inspired myself is to focus on who I could help with the upcoming book. I know of a few and one in particular who asked me to write this book to help her. I am happy to do that but I wanted to do more, and I have found it. I don’t know who it will be yet, but a portion of the profits of this book will go to help a family in need. I know there are so many who need, and it’s difficult to choose sometimes who you would like to help, but I’ve reached out to someone and if they give permission, I will be donating to them. If not, I have a few others lined up to ask as well, and I know there are several worthy causes out there, so someone will benefit, and I’ll let you know who when the final decision is made.

The march of the holidays has in some ways already begun. Halloween is only two days away. Thanksgiving in the US is five weeks from today, and Christmas is a mere 8 weeks and one day away. For those who celebrate all of them, it is an exciting and sometimes stressful time, but what if we all decided to make them more significant than stressful? What if we keep our eyes and our hearts on the things that bring us joy in every moment? Yes, some of us have extraordinary obstacles, but many of us have mountains made of molehills. We stress over things that we agree to that violate our priorities and subject us to people, places and things that take our joy rather than give it. I have a niece that did that a few years ago. She was recently married and trying to please everyone on both sides of her family. My husband’s family gathers together two times per year, Christmas Eve at my sister in law’s house and Easter at my house. Her new husband’s family gathers much more often, but they had a tradition of staying out of town on Christmas Eve at a relative’s home. She opted to go with her husband and was miserable, but unlike many others, after being miserable, she decided she wouldn’t be doing it again. She decided that she wanted her children to share in the joy of being around the pandemonium that is Christmas Eve with our family. We have four generations and anywhere from 40-80 people, depending on everyone’s plans. It is the only time we see some of the family, but it is a huge bonding experience for us all. Our niece opted for that, and she is so much happier because of it. Believe me, I know what it means to compromise for the holidays. We altered everything about our holidays when I married my husband because it was so much easier to alter the plans of four people than the 35 that were in my husband’s family at the time. We found ways we could both be happy, and when our children came along, we altered things even more. Being flexible is a gift you give, not only to those around you but also to yourself.
So what am I saying? I’m saying that stuff happens. We have ups and downs. We forget our priorities, but that’s part of the journey, and when we remember that and realize the bend in the road and the mountains and molehills are all part of the process, we can get back to the smooth, higher ground faster. Hopefully you have a real life and/or online community that help you remember that, and if you don’t, find one. They exist. I promise, because I’ve found two, and I’m doing my best to create another. Until next time, thanks for being you and have a great day.

%d bloggers like this: