Friday, December 30, 2011

One Word of Focus for 2012

"Words have set whole nations in motion…Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world." ~ Joseph Conrad

So I love to roam the net in search of new and creative ideas. The other day I landed on Stephanie Ackerman's page, Homegrown Hospitality, where she was talking about how she selects just one word for each year as her focus. I loved this idea. While reading about Stephanie's past words, the word CULTIVATE from her post just leapt out and grabbed hold of me.

For 2012, I'm going to cultivate my world!

Per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, cultivate means:
  • to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops; also
  • to loosen or break up the soil about
  • to foster the growth of
  • culture (the act of process of cultivating living material in prepared nutrient)
  • to improve by labor, care or study: refine further, encourage to seek the society of : make friends with
Synonyms: absorb, adopt, embrace, take in, take on, gain, get, obtain, reach, foster, nourish, nurture, promote, encourage, further, perfect, produce, tend, raise, gather, glean, harvest, reap

There are many things I hope to cultivate this year:
  • Peace: A sense of peace, inner peace, a place of peace
  • Friendships
  • Relationships: Both business and personal - family, co-workers, acquaintances
  • Creativity: Whether it be writing, drawing, crafts, etc
  • Spirituality: Need to feed my soul
  • Discipline: It takes discipline to make changes
  • Dreams: Time to reach for some of them
  • Habits: Need to refine some habits and add some new good ones
  • Compassion: Empathy for others, help through volunteering still
  • Joy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Holiday Season

As all of you prepare for the upcoming holidays, I hope that you will pause and honestly take a few moments to be grateful for those who are in or have been in your life along with all of the precious moments that go into it.

Be thankful for those who have come into your world and taught you how to love in ways you never dreamed of from the amazing unconditional love of a pet or a child to your family and friends to the stranger whose life you have touched in some way.

Be thankful for those friends whom have made you laugh so hard you cried, those who have cried along with you during times of trouble and those who knew how to support you without saying a word.

Be thankful for those who make your life difficult because they teach you about yourself, whether you wanted that lesson or not. Learn to admit your own faults and perhaps be thankful for the opportunity to apologize to anyone whom you may have offended or hurt along your own path. You never know if you'll ever get another chance.

Be grateful for the family that you have. Sure they have their faults, no one is perfect. Learn to put some of the everyday pride and bullshit aside long enough to let them know that while you may not always agree with them, you feel blessed to have a family.

Be grateful for the sun that shines down, the rains that pour, the rushing winds and piles of snow because each brings their own version of beauty into your world. Each day brings with it the opportunity to build new relationships, new friendships and memories so learn to cherish each moment. Stop rushing through your world and pause to enjoy the here and now for this moment won't ever be back again.

Take a moment to remember those whom have touched your life but are no longer with you. Perhaps light a candle, whisper a prayer, offer a flower to the ocean or find some way of commemorating the fact that they have touched your life in some way.

Stop worrying about who is going to get what for whom or if you'll be able give them the latest or greatest gadget or gizmo this holiday. Instead, please give them the gift of memories to carry with them when times are difficult. Take the time to call them, visit them, write them a letter or an email. Go have a cup of coffee or share a meal together. Interact with one another. Those moments will be the gifts they cherish the most.

Please realize that each day is such a precious gift and you are blessed with each moment so don't squander it. Reach out to one another and bring some true meaning back to Thanksgiving and Christmas this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are you a master or a victim?

“If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim.” ~ Richard Bach

Are you a master of your life or do you play the victim? Bad things happen to all of us. Some of us experience much worse things than others but what we do about it is what separates us into masters or victims.

For a victim, everything is happening to them, instead of through them. Looking in the mirror is difficult and it is easier to blame everyone and everything else. If you look in the mirror, you may have to realize that you are choosing to be or remain the victim. Yes, you have chosen to be the victim. No, I’m not saying that you have chosen to have bad or horrible things to happen to you. You do, however, continue to choose to let an act, circumstance, agency or condition to control you.

Indeed there are times when it is appropriate to feel like a victim. Something has happened that caused you to experience a loss, injury or death. You have to mourn it, grieve it. In fact, it is completely healthy to experience all of the emotions so that you can heal from it. The problem is when we become so comfortable being the victim, avoiding working through those emotions and enjoying the attention of others that we hold our lives hostage and blame others for it. How many of us know someone who blames their current life/addictions/situation on their childhood, their ex-spouse, their past abuse, etc?

Often times when you talk to those who are victims to their past, you assume that the events they are speaking of happened practically yesterday. However after you’ve gotten to know them, you realize it may have happened 10+ years ago and you have to wonder why they haven’t been able to move past it – they are stuck!

To give up your victimhood means having to take responsibility for your life - this very moment. It means you have to let go of your safety net. Let go of drugs, alcohol or any other emotional addictions that you use to numb, lessen or avoid the pain. Facing all of it is scary but you can do it!

You have to claim your pain - own it. Don’t allow it to shame or control you but rather allow yourself to recognize it for what it is. Then just like a beginning swimmer - you have let go of the edge and learn how to swim through the emotions rather than letting your life drown in them.

Reclaim the power you have given over to memories, to someone or something that keeps you a victim and takes away from your energy. Why are you letting them have that control? Get the negative self-talk out of your head! You are worthy! The only person you are penalizing is yourself.

To quote Jillian Michaels,
“Today I want you to ask yourself this one question: why not you? Why not you to do something for work that you love? Why not you to have a healthy body? Why not you to have healthy love? Why not you to be, have, or do anything you have ever dreamed?! We are so quick to think others are more deserving over ourselves. The truth is that we are all deserving so WHY NOT YOU?!”

Take back the power! My youngest daughter learned of a rape of a woman and became so terrified that she was constantly checking and locking windows and doors. I kept reassuring her that she was safe but one night she finally burst into tears and told me, “if you get raped, you die”. I tried to reassure her that rape did not always mean death. In true, pre-teen fashion she practically yelled, “How do you know!?” I calmly told her, “Because I’ve been raped and yet here I am – so no, that is not true.” She immediately began apologizing for my past. I explained to her that she didn’t harm me so she wasn’t responsible and didn’t need to apologize. A friend of mine was completely floored that I’d share such a story with my daughter. I explained that by not talking about it would be like saying I had done something to be ashamed of and would give power back to that person. I’m not willing to do that plus I didn’t want my daughter to grow up believing wrong information. I have freed myself of those victim chains by being able to talk about it and I wanted her to know that the woman had no reason to be ashamed either. Lord knows I carried that burden around for years, long enough for the both of us. You have to let it go.

Why is someone else more deserving than you? You might see people around you that you assume aren’t “damaged goods”, as you may call yourself, so they are more worthy in your mind. You don’t always know their story. Everyone has their own ghosts and demons to conquer. Your past does not define who you are. It is a component that shapes your life but you get to decide – Are you a master or a victim?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 83: Gratitude

  • Holiday Traffic: I love it when there is a holiday that only the government actually observes because it eliminates so much traffic!
  • Learning new things: Someone is absent from work so I am picking up part of those duties. For the first time in a long time, I'm learning something and feeling like I'm contributing to the overall productivity of the team.
  • Party Invitations: Gotta love it when you can design birthday party invitations that get your kid so excited! YAY!
  • Ice: When playing around with the girls at the dinner table and you shift your foot under the table, they might think you are playing, forget your foot is hurt and will stomp on it a few times while giggling madly. The look on their faces when they realized I just stopped breathing - yeah they probably will remember it next time. Yeah, ice is a good thing!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 84: Gratitude

  • Quiet dark rooms: When you get a migraine so bad that you are nauseous, a quiet dark room is your friend!
  • Voicemail: The same can be said for voicemail because it holds all of the messages from calls you miss while you take care of yourself.
  • Indoor Plumbing: When your nauseous, indoor plumbing with cool running water is an amazing gift that we all too often overlook.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 85: Gratitude


Today has been beyond awesome! My Marine official is on mailstop so he's coming home and I get a flag on my daughter's 13th bday! You have no idea how much it meant after the past couple of weeks. The doorbell rang, I opened it and a box was left. It had a customs tag which let me know it was from the Sandbox. The side of the box read American Flag and I just stood there hugging a box in tears. When I finally went to open it, it was taped shut so tight and I was shaking so much, I didn't think I'd ever get it open. Then I just hugged that flag and cried for all of us.

The flag was from one of our Combat Support Hospitals. "I want to take a couple of minutes to say thank you from all of the Soldiers at the 115th Combat Support Hospital at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan. ... Being apart from our families has been difficult for all of us, but with selfless people such as you backing us, it makes getting out of the rack a bit easier. From the bottom of my heart, and the rest of the hearts you have touched here at Camp Dwyer, Thank You!"

I went to Michael's and got a flag case and some certificate frames so I can hang it up!

Happy Birthday to my daughter!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 86: Gratitude

  • Early to bed: Sometimes you just have to lay down and sleep. This was one of those nights.
  • Military: Today marks 10 years since the start of the Afghan war. Some debts can never be repaid. Thank your service men and women.
  • Prayers: When you find out a friend has lost a family member and you can't be there to give a hug, you can always offer up a prayer of peace.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 87: Gratitudes

  • Dinner Out Alone: No one was home so I went out to CPK with a book and a notebook. I ordered a drink, some food, read, wrote and people watched until I was smiling.
  • People Watching: I love to people watch. I watched young couples with their kids. I love it when a father will pay as much attention to the kiddos as the wife. Or the grandfather who knelt down to kid level to play with his grandson until the kid was giggling so happily. I watched a mother explain to her tweens the Housewives of Orange County which cracked me up. The two gentlmen who were sitting behind me were talking about thier work and sex lives. The manager came by to check on me. People fascinate me.
  • Chatting with Friends: I love it when friends I haven't talked to in a while reach out and we chat again like it was just yesterday that we saw one another. I love their zany sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 88: Gratitudes

  • Being able to go straight home: For the first time in a long time, I didn't have to pick anyone up, go by a store, or do anything other than drive straight home from work.
  • Soup: Hot soup and breadsticks on a cold rainy day is just delicious.
  • Blankets: I have this super soft fluffy warm blanket that I probably paid too much for but it is a purchase that makes me smile when I get to curl up in it.
  • Concern of others: My sons are moving and my girls went to their dad's so technically I should have had the evening alone but one by one most of the kids had been by the house at some point. It is cute how they all get worried about me being alone and sometimes alone is exactly what I need.
  • Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, passed away today. He was such an inspiration so I'll leave you with this:
    “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 89: Gratitudes

  • Rain: I absolutely love the rain! Had to laugh at a man who I was walking past who said, "I'll give you $5 for your umbrella." I just laughed with him and said, "Will you melt?" He laugh and said, "ACK! I'm melting!" His wife was behind him opening her umbrella and laughing at him. They were cute and made me smile.
  • End of a Day: Some days, you just want your day to come to an end so that you can curl up in bed and let all the drama from your day disappear. Today was such a day.
  • Apologies: When someone does something wrong that offends another, it is nice when an apology is offered so everyone can let it go.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life Engagement & Change in Perspective

"Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." ~Hans Christian Anderson

Life Engagement
I work in the corporate world where one of the biggest topics is Employee Engagement. This got me to thinking about whether or not we are engaged in our personal lives. To be fully engaged, you are physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned.

The book, "First Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, identified 12 questions to determine employee engagement so I decided to make a few for us to use to consider if we are truly engaged in our lives. How would you answer these:
  • Do I know what is expected of me at home, school, work, as a spouse, as a friend, and as a parent?
  • Do I have what I need (skills, education) to do things I need to do?
  • Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have I received and given recognition or praise?
  • Does my spouse, family or friends truly seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone who encourages my self growth?
  • Do my opinions get recognized and seem to count? Do I recognized others opinions?
  • Does my personal mission statement/purpose make me feel important and contributing to the world, my family and friends?
  • Are my family and friends also committed to contributing to the quality of our lives?
  • Do I have a someone I can lean on - a best friend or confidant?
  • In the last six months, has someone talked to me about the progress I've made towards changing my life for the better? Have I talked about my progress? Have I recognized the improvements others are making in their lives?
  • This last year, have I had the opportunity to learn and grow? Did I take advanatage of that opportunity?
Did you answer "No" to any of those? If so, how can you make small changes to become more engaged in your life? It's yours so you should make the best of it! A more fulfilled person is a happier person.

Change in Perspective
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the mundane routine of our lives that we become creatures of habit. We go through our days on auto-pilot and end them feeling drained, unfulfilled and emotionally depleated. For example, I bet most of you take the exact same route to work/school every day. Do you always have the same thing for breakfast? Do you spend your weekends getting caught up on chores, laundry, etc. to the point where you have very little time for just you?

Stepping outside your comfort zone might help you gain some new perspective! Try some of these suggestions:
  • The Path Less Traveled: Take the scenic route instead of the same old way.
  • Mental Health: Take a guilt free "mental health day" where you focus just on things to feed your soul. I give 3 of these a school year to my kids. Sure they have vacation time but haven't you ever had a day where you woke up feeling like you just couldn't deal with the things life was going to throw at you? A day where you feel like you just need to pamper yourself? Sometimes you have to hit the snooze button on life for a day and just take care of your mental health.
  • Fall is in the Air: Take a drive out to the country and watch the leaves change! Nature is painting a masterpiece for your enjoyment - you just have to pause long enough to see it.
  • Meditate: Get up 30 mins earlier every day and meditate. Take the time to clear your mind so that you can focus on what you need to do.
  • Walk/Explore: Don't skip lunch but perhaps pack a lunch so you can go for a walk - explore your surroundings. You never know what you can find. I found a mesa out behind the many office buildings where I work. It became a goal to find a way to get out and up to it.
  • Color Your World: Buy a bright new scarf, jacket or shirt in a color that you love to add some color to an otherwise drab day. Something that makes you smile when you see it.
  • Plants & Animals, Oh My!: Have an office? Get a plant or a small fish bowl to place on your desk so that you have to pause during the course of the day to tend to something beside your day to day job. The mental break this provides will do you wonders.
  • Breakfast: Get up early one morning and go for breakfast before work. Sit and sip your coffee slowly without all the harried frantic pace of your normal morning.
  • Interests You Love: Think of something you love or would love to do then make some plans to do it. For example, I want to go horseback riding. It is something that makes me smile on the inside just thinking about. I looked up places where I can go do that.
If you find small ways to feed and nourish the true you, you will become a more fulfilled and engaged person in your personal life. This will also reflect positively on your professional one.

Day 90: Gratitude

Today's Gratitude

  • Highway Safety: It has been another crazy day here in San Diego. It seems there were two guys who thought it was a fantastic idea to randomly shoot people driving on the interstate. The police have shut down major highways. I'm just glad I got home safely and hope everyone else did to.
  • Preening of Thirteens: My youngest will be 13 on Saturday so today she actually asked to finally go spend that gift card she's had since Christmas. She wanted new clothes. My girl wants to look more like a girl! Being a teen is hard but it is fascinating watching kids transform themselves and step outside their comfort zones to reach for things.
  • Comfort & Chocolate: Unfortunately, my older girl is going through a rough emotional time right now. I'm rather worried about her but I let her curl up next to me on the couch last night and gave her chocolate just to see her smile.
  • Life Cycles & Fish: I love fish and swimmie frogs but alas my fish keep dying lately. It breaks my heart that fish do not last long but they make me smile when I have them. Swimmie frogs seems to last much longer so I'm going to get me one. I haven't had one in a few years.
  • Darling: Lately, Tim has taken to calling me Darling and something about that just makes my heart smile.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 91: Gratitude

Today's Gratitudes

  • Relaxing: My daughter says to me today, "We didn't accomplish anything today." I replied, "Oh yes, we did. We relaxed and sometimes that just as important."
  • Laughing with my kiddos: I love to hear my kids giggle.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Do You Have a Problem?

This is so true! Learn it! Live it! Love it!!

Source: From Here

Day 92: Gratitude

Today's Gratitudes:
  • Learning to Live Like a Palm Tree: Check out my post here to see what I mean.
  • Working through being upset: Sometimes I just need to back away from things, regroup, then try to express myself more clearly because communication between people is key. Tim was sweet and reached out to make sure I was ok.
  • Family: I had a long talk with my mom to get caught up on everything. It was so nice.

Learning to Live like a Palm Tree

"Alone with myself, The trees bend to caress me, The shade hugs my heart" ~ Candy Polgar

When life throw things at you, learn to live like the Palm Tree:

A palm tree can survive in intense desert conditions, in tropical climates and through hurricanes! Part of their amazing ability is due to their roots. In a drought, a palm will actually survive when all else is dying because of the long tap root system it uses to find water deep within the ground. This root system makes the tree sturdy and helps it weather the storms. We also need a support system to help us get through the rough times. When we are surrounded by family and friends, we can weather the storms life throws at us. Roots keep you grounded and strong.

In a hurricane, a palm tree will flex and bend, practically in half. If it stood rigid, resisting the winds, it most likely would break. Instead, a palm tree grows upward with a new disk added each year to the trunk that allows it to flex, kind of our the discs of our spine. We need to learn to be more flexible and adaptable to the winds of change. Life is full of change and you must learn to flex and change too.

Have you ever seen a palm tree where the bark on it has ruptured and is peeling off? That's because the bands of bark around it break. It won't be confined by the status quo. We need to not be satisfied with it either and push ourselves to grow to the point of bursting. We should not be defined by our circumstances but push through the barriers to a better life.

When a tsunami hits and the palm is trying to hold firm, it will often shed it's fronds to lesson the resistance and allow itself to survive. Our egos are like the fronds. We often times cling to them in the harsh storms life throws at us and should shed them so that we can continue to survive. Once the storms have passed, we often have gained new perspective and will grow new fronds while standing tall just as the palm tree does.

The sap in palm trees runs through the entire trunk like grasses so even if the outside gets banged up and damaged, the tree does not die like other trees. I like to think of the sap being like love. If we get banged up, cut, beat upon, the love we carry inside us will see us through the surface injuries and helps to heal the deeper wounds.

A group of palm trees form an oasis. If we gather our friends and families close to us, they can provide us with shelter and help us reinforce our vulnerable parts. Younger more fragile life learns to grow in the shade of the love we can share.

So when life throw things at you, learn to live like the Palm Tree!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 93: Gratitude

Today's Gratitudes:
  • Fridays: RED Shirt Friday! (Remember Everyone Deployed) I had my red shirt on!
  • Physical Therapy: Doc says I've regained 70% mobility and use so just another 30% to go. Told me it will be the roughest to regain. I got clearance to try a recumbent bike and/or elliptical so long as I buy support compression stockings, stretch before hand, wrap my ankle then promise to ice down afterwards. I am to start with only a few minutes and can slowly increase it so long as I don't push it. Yeah, patience is a virtue and not one I possess but I'll give it a shot!
  • Friends & Family: My Aunt Karen had told me that my grandmother's assisted living called to say that they received a large envelope of signed handprints with donations for the Alzheimers Association from some of my California friends. My friends are the best!! It is not too late. Copy your handprint on a copier. Sign the print and send it with $1 to Belmont Village 6605 N Quail Hollow Rd. Memphis, TN 38120 Attn: Deb Kornrumpf Thanks again everyone who has helped!
  • Dinner with my youngest: I had some one on one time with my youngest daughter. I love the conversations we have had lately. We are definitely getting closer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 94: Gratitude

Gratitudes for the day:
  • Long Conversations: Today I had some deep long conversations with Tim about a great number of things. Communication is import and something that I need to work on. I hate the telephone so this conversation was over the net but that's still super effective.
  • Silence: It hasn't happened that often in the past but a quiet, silent house is kind of a nice thing to behold.
  • Friends: I sent a few angel friends and other friends a few little treats via snail mail and it appears they have received them. It is cute to be able to touch their lives in tiny ways and them appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 95: Gratitude

Today's Gratitudes:
  • Morning Laughter: Sierra is SOOO not a morning person. She was practically falling asleep until I started doing the "COFFEE!!!!" dance in the car on the way to school. Nothing like a giggling child to start off your day. She kept reaching over and touching me, "Looking for the off button." Hahaha
  • Discovering Helpful Books: I found a book today called "The Grief Recovery Handbook". This book is perfect. It deals with all losses in ones life and provides a path for recovery. Favorite quote so far, "Grief is about a broken heart, not a broken brain. All efforts to heal the heart with the head fails because the head is the wrong tool for the job. It's like trying to paint with a hammer - it only makes a mess."
  • Dinner Alone: It is rare that I get such but I spent my evening reading and having dinner out alone.
  • Proud Mom Moments: I got a notice from my eldest daughter's AVID teacher naming her the Junior Student of the Month for September. How awesome for her!!
  • Amazon's New Kindle Fire: Yep it is amazing and I pre-ordered myself one as a gift to ME!!

Full Accounting - Contingency Planning

Do you feel like your life is spinning out of control? Have you been part of one of the many recent lay-offs? Are you struggling to make ends meet? Are you looking for ways to cut back on costs?

We need to evaluate our personal situation just like companies are doing during these times:

1. Make a contingency plan.
What would I do if I was subject to a salary cut? Or lost my job? Or had a medical emergency expense? You need a contingency plan and an emergency fund.

2. Protect the core - Food, clothing, shelter, utilities and transportation.
Think of this as similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. You have to build walls of safety around you and your family so that you can focus on the other things you need to take care of. I saw someone describe this as "Fortifying Your Fortress".

3. Identify the people who matter most and keep that group strong.
Family and friends are extremely important especially when times are tough. Get to know others in your field of work so that if you are subject to a lay-off, you have a network to fall back on to help you find something new. Sites such as Linked In are great.

4. Shape up your finances.
Do you know what your monthly expenses are? Do you know where you can cut back? Do you know how much you owe on your credit cards and what the interest rates are? When was the last time you balanced your check book?

5. Involve the entire family.
Get your kids involved. They have amazing ideas. Besides, if you get buy-in from them, they'll learn and will help out more. Try low-cost, no-cost ideas. Present a united front: "We are all in this together."

6. Keep the lines of communication open.
Let friends and family know what is happening. It is so much easier for you to decline going out to restaurants with friends if they know your situation and/or goals. Stay in touch with your family. Email and social networks make this easier to accomplish than ever before.

Reprogramming the Robots - Auto Pilot Spending

Have you ever been driving down the road then realize suddenly that you don't remember driving past a certain point then realize your brain was on autopilot? Have you ever gotten on the freeway to go some place and find yourself automatically heading in the direction of your job because you do that several days a week?

I think our spending habits are sometimes like that as well. We always shop at the same stores, eat the same foods, get gas at the same place, pick up take out since it is convenient, and money just pours out the door through these habits.

We need to reprogram our robot, in other words, our brains. I can hear part of us already screaming, "Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!"

For one month, track each and every penny you spend so that you can see where you money goes on a normal basis. This is to help you become more aware of how you are spending your money and change the autopilot habits. When you determine where you want to change your spending habits, you control your money instead of it controlling you.

Our robots aren't the only one that needs reprogramming. Kids and spouses will need to be reprogrammed as well. My kids will say, "Hey mom, how about a soda run?", or "Want me to pick you up a cup of coffee while I'm out?", or "You know what sounds good? Jack In The Box."

I've discovered that we kind of trained our kids to spend our cash. Time to reprogram their robots as well because now, only *we* get to determine where our money goes. For me, I say it goes towards becoming more financially stable.

By reprogramming our responses to "No thanks, unless you are buying", it should help reprogram theirs. Isn't it funny how our kids are willing to have someone else spend their money but when you suggest that they buy, they change their minds in a hurry?

Time to Reboot!

Embrace Change and Your Choices

"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make." ~ Benjamin Franklin

The one constant in life is change. The world is forever in perpetual motion. By being able to adapt, it ensures survival. I have become very good at survival. I have learned not to always fight change so much but at times rather flow with it. We at times try to fight the currents of our lives when we should merely enjoy the ride.

However, I do not believe that we are all victims of circumstances. We are not at the mercy of "the hand nature has dealt to us," nor are we forced to live a life that we do not find fulfilling.

Our lives are shaped not by the way things are but by the way we think things are. Through how we speak, think and our attitudes, we can impact anything in our life that is not in service to our path.

You can either adapt and adjust or move on. I have seen many people who cannot adapt to change very well but instead cling to old ideas even when someone can point out to them why something is a better way of doing it. Life is all about choices. Embrace them.

For these last 100 days of 2011, I have choosen change - drastic change. I'm no longer content with mere survival! I want to push toward goals that will improve my life so that I enjoy it more.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 96: Giving Back and Gratitude

"Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another." ~ Erma Bombeck

Are you involved in giving back to your community? There's huge rewards when you give a little part of yourself to make this world a better place. When things are going wrong in your world, volunteer and get involved. You will find that there are people who are much worse off than you. Giving a little part of your time, money and energy leave you feeling better and happier.

How can you get involved and make a difference?

  • Volunteers of San Diego: I've helped paint elementary schools, cleaned up beaches, worked food banks and volunteered for the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge 5k (ROC) through VSD. Volunteer San Diego, a nonprofit organization, is the premier provider of volunteer programs and services in San Diego County. Annually, Volunteer San Diego helps 62,000 individuals, families, corporate and community groups fill volunteer needs at 500 community organizations. Volunteers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are mobilized to feed the homeless, serve seniors, protect the environment, read to youth and change San Diego for the better in many other ways. Learn more here!

  • Soldiers' Angels: I love my angel friends. I'm extremely passionate about supporting our troops. I often say, "If you don't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them." I help support a small group of Marines, support numerous medic units as well have my own adopted hero. You will often find me at a local festival or event working a booth to spread the word about Soldiers' Angels, what we do and to help raise money for First Response backpacks. Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, veterans and their families. Learn more here!

  • Patriot Guard Riders: The PGR is an organization supporting those who risk their lives for America’s freedom and security. Our main mission is to attend funerals of fallen as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives: (1)Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities. (2)Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors. We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means. To those of you who are currently serving and fighting for the freedoms of others, at home and abroad, please know that we are backing you. We honor and support you with every mission we carry out, and we are praying for a safe return home for all. Learn more here!

  • Operation Just Cause: I am also a member of OJC. I have adopted Lieutenant Commander Marvin Benjamin Christopher Wiles who is a missing POW since May 6, 1972 in North Vietnam. Ask me about him some time. I'm happy to share his story. Until he has returned home and his family has gotten some closer, I will honor him so that he knows, he is not forgotten.

  • Cogs - Continued

    Continued from Here

    "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." ~ Herman Melville

    Remember my analogy about our lives intersecting with other people's lives - kind of like the legs on a cog? It is a good thing because we all can help one another with the various sections of our lives.

    No one is autonomous. We are connected to other people through our interests, desires, needs, education, friendships, lovers, technology, etc. When we have an area of deficiency, we tend to attract and gravitate toward those who can help.

    Like cogs or gears, we help propel one another along our paths. Sure there are some that cause the gears to grind, overwork, break or come to a halt. Our goal in life is to limit those interactions or correct them as soon as we are able. Notice I said, able? Just because we realize that we have those kinds of people in our lives, doesn't mean that we always let go of them immediately - merely because we aren't yet able to do so.

    Like tends to find like, so we attract those who share our interests, etc in those areas in our lives where things seem to be running well, flowing smoothly without a glitch - unless we start to ignore them. That's what happens sometime to our relationships. People put all this work into them at the beginning then once it is established and running smoothly, we get complacent and forget to do the maintenance needed to keep that balance. We can't ignore the areas of our lives where things are working. We have to pause and do a pulse check on those to make sure we avoid any issues that could cause our lives to just come to a screetching halt.

    Are the areas of your life balanced? Do you need to pause and check on the areas of your life that are currently working well so that you can focus on the others to get your life back into balance?

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Day 97: Grief and Gratitude

    "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal." ~ From a headstone in Ireland

    Grief is your response to loss and is such a diverse and profound thing. No two people grieve the same way or about the same things. There's no right way or wrong way to grieve. You have to learn to do what is best for you.

    We all experience grief in some form, whether it be from the loss of a pet, loss at a ballgame, loss of a friend who no longer speaks to you, loss of a job, divorce, loss of your sense of self due to a violent crime or the death of a loved one. There are innumerable types of loss.

    What happens when the loss is so profound that it affects you not only on an emotional level but on a physical, behavioral, social and philosophical level?

    When Rich died, the loss was so great I simply could not function. It felt as if all of that pain became sandpaper on my skin, rubbing and rubbing and rubbing until I was nothing but a raw and bloody soul. Memories felt like alcohol being poured on the wounds from which there was no escape. At times, I physically could not breathe. To make matters worse, I was left with a ton of questions for which I'd never get the answers regarding him. I also would never understand what would possess Dean, at the age of 22, to take his own life a mere two weeks later and in such a violent way when he had so much to live for. Here was a kid, who called me "Madre", who had decided he simply could not live with the pain of his life any more while telling everyone he was coming over to my house. It left the rest of us reeling and I found out just how staggering the level of anguish your heart can endure.

    Until you have experienced such a loss and pain, you can never understand what someone else is going through. I used to think I knew - I was wrong. Until the deaths of Dean and Rich, I truly did not even come close to comprehending. You struggle with your pain and are astonished that the world continues on around you. You feel like shouting for everyone to stop! How could they continue on with their days when your life has been so utterly destroyed?

    Part of me just felt like I was hollow - the need to just be numb, to escape from it for just a bit was almost welcomed relief. However, the only way to truly get past the pain and grief is to go through it. There are no detours on this journey. If you cry, you might begin to wonder if there will ever come a day where you don't shed those tears. If you don't cry, you wonder if you'll ever start to cry.

    If you are grieving, please remember to forgive people for the things they say to you during this time. They will say some of the most amazing things to you and are usually not something you want or need to hear. They truly mean well - it is just they are so uncomfortable with the emotions of grief they don't know how to help. I remember telling a friend how such events had profoundly changed me to my core - on what I believed and what I expected from life. So much so that I would be forever changed. That person thought saying "No, you are still you. You just lost someone in your life, that's all, not yourself. You are still you," would be the right thing to say and even went on to argue the point. Soooooo not what I needed to hear at the time. I realize now they were saying things out of their own fear because they had no idea of how to deal with the emotions I was showing.

    Others will do everything they can to truly help. My friend Darren, bless his heart, just listened to me wail and cry my heart out on the phone while downing a bottle Gentlemen Jack until I passed out. My sons scraped me off the living room floor and tucked me safely onto the sofa, wrapping me up in soft blankets without leaving my side. I let everyone see me at my absolute worst. Others will do what Tim did: let you talk when you need it and let you stay silent when you need it while offering the reassurance to take what comfort you need and leave the rest.

    This process of grief takes a while to get through and the length of time is different for everyone. The challenge is to let the memories of things that hurt so very much become moments that make you smile. Learn to cherish the fact that you had shared such things with someone else and strive not get too comfortable with the pain of it all. If you don't learn to let go of the pain and embrace the fact that you have some wonderful memories, you become a victim instead of a survivor.

    Which will you be?

    • Monday Night Football: I absolutely LOVE sports and football season is no different! This year I joined a Fantasy Football League without letting the guys at work know it is me. I want to see how I do and I don't know how they'd take it if a girl, who happens to work in their Human Resources department, did well. LOL! Tonight's game solidified my 4th place in the league so far. Not to0 shabby! This week I picked 12 winning teams out of 16 games! :)
    • Dinners with all of my kids: TJ moved out last year and now Toast is talking about moving in with him. These dinners may become rarer and rarer so for now I'll soak it all up when the chance arrives.
    • Friends: I love my friends. They are wonderful and my life would not be the same without them.
    • Music: It soothes my heart and soul.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Day 98: Life Balance, Cogs and Gratitude

    "I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can't truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles." ~ Zig Ziglar

    I believe that to be truly happy, you have to have balance. I view our lives as being divided up into different aspects:

    To have a fulfilling life, you have to have balance in: Community, Financial, Spiritual, Health, Friends & Family, Romance/Partner, Recreation, Personal Growth and Career.

    Think of your life like the wheels of an automobile. You need even pressure, tread, and number of miles for you to get the best use from them. Often times a bump in the road, perhaps one you keep hitting over and over like a speed bump, causes the tires to shift just a bit so they begin to wear differently on each one. Perhaps the miles on the road have begun to make certain spots in the tread thin out. The temperature and pressure changes cause it to begin to deflate or bubble on one side. If you leave all of these items unattended, sure you'll still get by for a while but eventually you will end up with a flat and/or have an accident and not have gotten any where near as far as you could have.

    If we take all of our efforts and focus on setting goals and improving only certain sections of our lives while basically ignoring the others, then your life gets thrown off balance and those neglected sections will indeed remind you that you need to tend to them as well.

    Our lives intersect with other people's lives - kind of like the legs on a cog.

    This is a good thing because it means that we all can help one another with the various sections of our lives.

    More to come on this...Continued Here

    • Facing Fears:My daughter felt safe enough to face a fear. Her fear has been of the pain getting her ears pierced would cause. We've been trying to get her do that for years but this weekend, she decided it was time. I was so very proud of her. Even better, she was proud of herself.
    • Nails:I spent time with my girls today. We went and had mani/pedis plus got our caterpillars, aka eyebrows, done. It was so nice to be able to finally treat myself to such after having had my foot in a boot or cast for the past few months. While there I remembered the first time I took Sierra to get her nails done, she was 7 years old. It floored me that we've been going there for 6 years. WOW!
    • Laughter: My life seems to be constantly filled with the sounds of laughter. I happen to love that about my family and home.
    • My Mom and My Aunt Karen:I'm so grateful for my mother and my Aunt Karen. They have been dedicating their time and lives to help my grandmother who is suffering from dementia. I'm eternally grateful that she has them to help her when I'm so far way.

    Day 99: Gratitude & Self-Knowledge

    • Baby Shower: I had a great time at Jayden's baby shower. It was so nice to get to visit with everyone. I was surprised by how much everyone loved the diaper cake I made for gift.
    • Coffee: Mikaela, my 16 yr old daughter, wanted to go game with her friends so she made me coffee this morning. Yes, I can truly be bribed by Coffee.
    • Facing Fears: Today while shopping, Sierra, my 12 yr old daughter, asked to go get her ears pierced. She said it was time for her to face her fears and she was glowing with pride once it was done. They look fabulous!
    I bought markers and colored 3x5 cards to help with my new vision board. I'm looking forward to this project.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Day 100: Two Shoes, Open Communications and Connections

    Began Here

    “Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

    Did you begin working on your goals for the last 100 days of the year? Here are my items based on the categories selected yesterday. I'm sure we will discuss other items as well along the way. I want this to become a learning path.

    • Two Shoes!
    • After my physical therapy appointment this morning, I actually got to wear TWO shoes for my day. This is the first time since the end of June! It sounds crazy but that one tiny accomplishment meant the world to me. Of course my ankle is super swollen now and I won't be running any marathons in the near future but the joy of simply being able to walk out without a boot or cast on my leg is amazing!
    • Lunch with Old Co-Workers:
    • Met Trevor Renfield and Shawn Swaney for a quick lunch in Sorrento Valley Food Court. It was great to see my old "bosses" and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed working with them.
    • Opening Lines of communication:
    • I mentioned today was the beginning of the last 100 days of 2011 to my PT. We talked about year end goals and we shared how we had each lost someone very important to us in the past year. She had lost her mother (turns out she has lost her father and her brother over the years as well) and was dreading the holidays this year. I told her about Rich and turns out she had been at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf the day Dean took his life outside of World Market near there. She had witnessed the chaos. Our conversation was the first time I've spoken aloud about Rich and Dean and didn't cry. That felt like a great accomplishment. Perhaps our meeting was fate. She talked about how she had gotten invited to Tahiti for Thanksgiving this year and how the holidays would be so different without the gluing force of her mom's presence. I told her to be kind to herself. If she wanted to go to Tahiti, then she should do it. She should allow herself some heal time and time to make some new happy memories for the holidays. I also discussed the Blog with Tim. We agreed that while some of the topics and the work I'm doing for these 100 days may be difficult, it is a necessary process for my own healing. I just need to be aware of the fact that when I work through such things, I tend to shut out people. I'm going to strive to not do that during this process but that means I am not going to censor my writings so that I can actually work through all of this.
    Physical Health:
    My ankle tendons are ridiculously tight and do not want to stretch at all! I got a couple of new exercises. My PT said something that just sort of resonated with where I am in life at the moment. She said, "Just remember that you are in control of your pain. Stretch until you can feel it but if it becomes too much, back off some." I definitely need to apply that to many facets of my life.

    Emergency Preparedness:
    I am researching the various items I am going to need for these two kits. So far my list is as follows:
    • Battery Back-up for Cell Phone (my phone died within the first 10 minutes of the outage)
    • Snacks
    • Water
    • Candles
    • Lighter/Matches ( I couldn't find a lighter because I quit smoking 19 months ago. Funny how I could find those everywhere until now)
    • Hand crank radio/flashlight - Really need to research these since they now have the ability to charge a cell phone too - but at how many rotations?
    • Glow Sticks - Perfect for leaving in bathrooms during the night so you aren't leaving a candle burning to be able to find your way
    • Cell phone car charger (Need to check my fuses because my outlet in my car wasn't working)
    • Phone Numbers List (if cell phone dies, you can't see the numbers in your phone to call anyone on a land line)
    • Extra sneakers for car (If the power is out and you run out of gas because stations can't pump - you might need sneakers to make the long walk)
    • Batteries
    • Cash (If all of the power is out, your bank card is useless)
    I paid all of my monthly bills. I need to call my apartment office and make an appointment to renew my lease.

    It was nice to quiet my mind for 15 minutes this morning. I let myself simply be in the moment - to drink in the stillness and simply be.

    All in all, I'd say not a bad start! :)

    So what was on your lists for today?

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    100 Days of Little Ways

    “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” ~ Chinese Proverb

    It has been awhile since I started this blog. Often times we take two steps forward, then suffer three steps back. So long as we continue to strive for forward movement, even baby steps count so I've decided to dust this blog off and begin again.

    The Beginning of the End
    At 12:01 am, the last 100 days of the year begin. Many of us begin each year with a list of resolutions or goals. How many of those have you accomplished? Now is the time to take some steps to finish the year strong! Focus and utilize this time to close out 2011 with forward movement in little ways to accomplish some of the things you started out this year doing. Use this an opportunity to learn more about yourself so that you can begin 2012 with a whole new grounded perspective. What did you begin and stop? What stopped you from reaching for those accomplishments?

    For the next 100 days, I will work on:
    * Gratitude
    * Physical Health
    * Emergency Preparedness
    * Finances
    * Self-Knowledge

    These sound like lofty goals but I'm not trying to accomplish everything to do with each subject. Instead, I'm breaking them down into a few focused smaller steps that I can complete in 100 days. Here's how:

    As many of you know, last year ended very roughly for me: the man I dated for almost 10 years died suddenly Thanksgiving weekend; a young man who called me "Madre" decided life was just too much to bear and took his own life in December while leaving a 7 page letter in which he asked me to take care of his mom, the very next day my great aunt lost her battle with cancer. To top it all off, the company I work for was acquired by another company and it was announced 2 days before Christmas that the company that bought us was also being purchased - so none of us knew if we'd continue to have jobs. Needless to say, it was an incredibly stressful time. I realize that the anniversaries of these events is rapidly approaching so for the next 100 days, without fail, I will post things I'm grateful for every single day. This is to remind me of the good things I have in my life as I continue to work through the pain that still comes from those losses.

    Physical Health
    One of my goals for 2011 was to get into better shape. I did a ton of walking (it was my therapy) then I began to hit the gym 3 days a week. This was something I was feeling great about actually doing!! Unfortunately, that all stopped when I tore a tendon in my right ankle. I've spent months trying to avoid surgery and recover from the injury. From what I'm hearing from the medical community, I might not complete this recovery in 2011. This means I need to find an alternative. Who would have ever guess that I'd miss the bane of my existence, that damned elliptical machine? For the next 100 days, I will continue to do the necessary exercises to regain the range of motion, etc in my foot as well as begin some isometric and dumbbell exercises. This won't allow me to be in great physical condition but it is definitely better than nothing. It's still forward movement towards the goal. Baby steps, right?

    Emergency Preparedness
    This year my life has been filled with unique utility issues. LOL! A gas main broke at my apartment complex. It took a month and a half before the gas was restored at my apartments. Even then, it is just a temporary fix. This meant no hot water and no ability to cook in my own home. That sure made things interesting! Then just a few weeks ago, we experienced a huge blackout here in California. From Southern Orange County, through all of San Diego County, into Yuma, Arizona and all the way down into Rosarito, Mexico. This all brought to light (no pun intended) that we needed to prepare better for such emergencies. For the next 100 days, I will compile an emergency kit for my home as well as my car. I will work with my family to devise a plan should a natural disaster hit or should we experience another outage.

    Another goal for 2011 has been to get my finances in better order. I'm proud to say that I have managed to put aside my emergency fund and pay off five student loans. What an amazing feeling!! Now I need to continue my snowball payments to get completely debt free! I recently ran a credit report and there are a few things I truly need to clean up. So for the next 100 days, I will strive to accomplish that. Since there are three credit reporting agencies and they have up to 30 days to make any corrections once notified, then 100 days will be the perfect amount of time to do this.

    I want to finish this year by learning more about myself. I will begin every morning with 15-20 minutes of meditation. I'm also going to strive to answer some very deep, insightful and probably uncomfortable questions about myself as well as make a vision board/journal. I have a list of 101 questions from The Personal Excellence Blog (I love her site) as well as the 62 from the Life Literacy Lab. These should help me to learn more about myself and help me to focus on the things I truly want in my life.

    Won't you join me in this journey? What will you strive to do for the next 100 days?

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Feed A Soul - Starve a Demon (Part 3)

    Part 1 can be read here and Part 2 can be read here

    “Love shouldn’t hurt, drag you through an emotional roller coaster or leave you feeling like less of a person.” ~ Michelle Hall

    Toxic relationships come in all forms. Let's see if you recognize any of these in your lfe: the controlling spouse, the parent or parent-in-law that "means well", the emotional train-wreck boyfriend/girlfriend, the friend who has become Negative Nancy or uses you as their verbal and sometimes literal punching bag to make themselves feel better, or the co-worker that gripes about every single little thing in their world.

    You have to ask yourself if these relationships are adding quality to your life or have they become emotional vampires that are sucking the happiness, the contentment and the love from your life.

    Ask yourself these questions:

    * How do you feel around the person?
    * When you are together or when you talk on the phone, do you walk away feeling better or worse?
    * When the phone rings do you secretly dread answering it or do you smile when you think about talking to them?
    * Are you afraid to show your emotions or tell them how you feel for fear of retaliation or upsetting them to the point that you just don't say anything to "keep the peace"?
    * Do you feel solely responsible for that person's happiness?
    * Do they blame you for their unhappiness?
    * When you are with that person, do you feel content, relaxed, inspired, and confident in who you are? Or do you feel sad, depressed, lonely, angry, nervous and worried?
    * Does the person put you down either in private or in front of others?
    * Do they say they love you but their every action speaks the opposite?
    * Do they do you "favors" and expect you to feel obligated to them?
    * Do your friends and/or family like them or are they telling you that the person is harmful?
    * Do you change so much about yourself because "he likes it" that you have forgotten what it is that you like?
    * Do you feel you have to report your every movement to your partner or can only go where they want to go?

    How many of those did you nod your head to or looked embarrassed about because you know it is true?

    Do yourself a favor - choose yourself and leave that relationship behind. Choose to surround yourself with positive role models, people who are moving their life forward rather than settling for the status quo, people who inspire you to become the person you want to be rather than point out your every fault or complain about everything in life.

    Yes, it will be difficult to do - especially if such a relationship is all that you have ever known. Stepping outside your comfort zone is always difficult but aren't you worth it?

    Take steps today. Work to free yourself from those who use intimidation, guilt, shame, seduction and playing the victim to get you to do things their way or for them. Take back the power! Don't let them take away the joy of your days. Be prepared - they will be very unhappy about it. It's ok for them to be unhappy - after all, haven't you been unhappy for awhile? Let the shoe fall on the other foot for a bit and step out into the sun, leaving your emotional vampires behind.

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Feed A Soul - Starve a Demon (Part 2)

    Part 1 can be read here

    Negative Internal Self-Talk

    "If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up." ~ Deepak Chopra

    We all have several conversations and thoughts with ourselves throughout our days. "Will he like me?" "I'm too fat." "I don't have time for this. I'm going to be late!" "I should've known better!" We tend to fill our heads with tons of negative thoughts and images then wonder why such things come into fruition. As Mike Dooley says, "thoughts become things".

    Negative self talk feeds into the fears we have. It prevents us from stepping outside of our comfort zones. Most negative self talk stems from us allowing other's thoughts become our own internal messages. Were you criticized by a parent, a teacher or bullied by other kids? Did someone belittle you in an attempt to raise their own self-esteem leaving you to doubt yourself? Many times our well meaning parents point out our faults in an attempt to get us to address them but without their help to get through such things, we ended up just blaming ourselves. We begin to internally focus on all the wrong things. We often can't control the things that happen to us in our lives but we can change how we react to them and how we allow them to determine how we talk to ourselves.

    To start to change some of these messages to ourselves, begin practicing in small steps. How many times have you responded "Fine" when asked "how are you?". I tell my daughter that fine means Feeling, Internally, Negative Everyday. Instead, when someone asks how you are, respond with "Fantastic!" or "Life is good!" with a smile. It will begin to change how you view things and perhaps your smile will give you the added bonus of brightening their day as well.

    You can manifest change in your life by merely changing your perspective. If all you see is the negative in the world, that's all the universe is going to show you. Instead begin to think about what you want in life then begin to verbalize those things. When you offer positive thoughts and comments, the world will hand you those same gifts back.

    Find ways to put a spin on your negative self talk to turn them into more positive affirmations. Instead of telling yourself "Ugh it is another Monday" tell yourself "It's the beginning of a great week." Eliminate the words "could've, would've and should've" from your self talk. These just begin to add resentment over time and cause you to regret. Eliminate the words "I'll try" because that implies the potential for failure and your goal is to succeed.

    For the next three weeks, when you are having negative conversations with yourself, take conscious steps to change it. You need to understand that you are worthy of love, attention and a great life. You will begin to see the beauty in the world and be amazed at how much better you begin to feel.

    What ways have you found to replace negative self talk with positive ones?

    Part 3 of this series can be found HERE

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Feed a Soul - Starve A Demon (Part 1)

    What are your personal demons? They are those things that eat at your quality of life. They live off your shame, fear, guilt, worry, self-esteem and cause you to view yourself as a victim. We need to learn how to quit feeding them - starve them into submission so that you can move forward. We need to understand the price we are paying for keeping them alive and keeping ourselves stagnant.

    The three demons I am going to focus on are:

    * Fear
    * Negative Internal Self-Talk
    * Toxic Relationships

    "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." ~ Mark Twain

    Fear immobilizes you and prevents you from enjoying and living life in the moment. It prevents you from moving forward toward your goals. The first step is to define what your fears are. Do you fear failure? Success? Criticism? Rejection? What are you afraid of?

    Failures are moments where you have risked something and it hasn't worked out how intended. It doesn't make YOU a failure. You should strive to learn from the decisions you have made and perhaps make some adjustments on your approaches in the future.

    Success comes with new responsibilities. It means having to accept the accomplishment rather than using the lack of success as an excuse. It can be very scary to step outside your comfort zone. You know what they say about the lesser of two evils and the comfort of the evil you already know rather than accept the potential for more difficulties.

    We place so much importance on what others think that we fear that they'll find fault within us and criticize us for them. Truthfully, the only person you need to truly appease is yourself. You need to realize that no one is perfect. Constructive criticism can be a great learning lesson for self-improvement. Someone criticizing your decisions and choices to be hurtful don't have your best interest in mind to begin with. Those who feel compelled to knock someone down in order to lift themselves up are usually just showing their own insecurities. Take what they have to say with a grain of salt.

    Rejection comes in a lot of different forms. For example, it might be the rejection of a business idea or a rejection of a potential mate. Rejection by one does not mean rejection by all. Think of how many authors, singers and actors who get rejected on a daily basis. Persistence is the key! They take the insights and feedback provided and learn from them to increase their chances of success in the future.

    I like to think that fear is the world's way of saying I'm truly living because I'm taking a risk. By facing our fears, we take those chances that propel us from one place to the next.

    Learn to face fear like an adrenaline junkie! Recognize the sweaty palms, the gasp and holding of your breath but take that leap of faith, that first step off the cliff because it causes your blood to race, your heart to pump and lets you feel how alive you are! Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, says “every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.” The trick is to learn how to nurture that seed so that the fear dissipates and blooms into opportunities.

    Educate yourself about the risks, the alternatives, and the possible outcomes. This helps take some of the wind out of fear's sails. Don't let fear paralyze you into inaction.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Red Light / Green Light or Freeze Tag

    Have you ever noticed how life is like the childhood games Red Light/Green Light or Freeze Tag?

    For those of you who don't remember, someone was chosen to become It. If you were playing freeze tag, they would chase everyone and if you got tagged you had to freeze exactly how you were at that moment. If you moved, you were out. You had to wait until everyone was frozen before you could move again.

    Life is kind of like that. Events happen that cause us to freeze or stop where we are and either deal with an event or pause to consider the consequences of a decision or action. You can't move forward until you have dealt with those issues because life kind of has a way of bringing them back up and slamming you with them until you do. Sometimes we are fortunate enough that everyone around us is pausing with us. The more difficult times are when we are completely frozen by our decisions that we can't seem to find our way to move on.

    If playing red light/green light, the person who was It would say Green Light and everyone would try to run to them to touch them but when they said Red Light, you had to stop exactly where you were. If you moved, you were out. The first person to touch the person who was It, won.

    Sometimes we are chugging along toward a goal when all of a sudden something happens that causes us to have to stop. The trick is to not let such a set back prevent us from ever moving forward again. We need to get over our perfectionist attitudes and realize that it is just a momentary pause where life had to retouch us to get us to move forward. Perhaps it is that we just needed a moment to regroup before we could move on.

    In either case, you need to get to the point where you are moving again. Being frozen in time and/or not dealing with all the curve balls that life is throwing at you just prevents you from playing in the game. Everyone has to become It at some point, so make the most of the game while you can.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Finding Joy - A Challenge

    "Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day." ~ Henri Nouwen

    There are times in our lives where we feel like our lives are spiraling down into a black hole from which there is no escape.

    Have you ever noticed that when seemingly bad things being to appear in your life it just seems like life keeps throwing more and more of them at you? I think that is because we become so overwhelmed and get stuck into such a rut that we forget what joy feels like and begin to focus all of our attention on the negatives.

    I am always telling everyone that if all you see/notice is the negative in the world, that's all the universe is going to show you.

    We need to learn to rediscover the little moments of joy in our day-to-day lives so that we can slowly pull ourselves back up out of the darkness and into a more positive light. I know that it is difficult when you are in such sorrow or so stressed out about the bills piling up, the kids being sick, the car not running right or one of a million other things.

    For the next 30 days, I challenge you to look for the random everyday moments of joy that we all take for granted. For example, on my way to work Monday morning, there was a HUGE rainbow in the sky. It brought a huge smile to my face.

    Even on our worst days, we can find something to be joyful about.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Chapter 1: New Year's Day

    “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

    So my New Year Resolution is to "Improve Myself: Physically, Spiritually, Mentally and Financially" and hopefully this blog is going to help me do that by tracking my own healing journey. If you happen upon this site, take any comfort or wisdom you may find that speaks to you and leave the rest. There is no judgment here.

    One of my down falls is that I'm a perfectionist at heart. They say admitting your faults is half the battle! LOL! My perfectionism turns into stumbling blocks for me. I tend to set these lofty goals for myself and when anything deviates from what I think should happen, I stop. My goal is to take each day as a baby step to a much larger picture.

    My Traditional New Year Toast

    Tis a Scottish tradition:

    Four gifts are offered to those who drop by to visit:
    * Coal, to symbolize warmth;
    * a black bun for healthy food;
    * a bottle of Scotch whiskey for prosperity;
    * and then some salt, to remind us that all the good things of life don't come without sadness.

    Pouring each of my family & friends a shot of whiskey, raising my glass in toast:

    At the sound of the tolling midnight bell
    A brand new year will begin.
    Let's raise our hopes in a confidant toast,
    To the promise it ushers in.

    May your battles be few, your pleasures many,
    Your wishes and dreams fulfilled.
    May your confidence stand in the face of loss
    And give you the strength to rebuild.

    May peace of heart fill all your days
    May serenity grace your soul.
    May tranquil moments bless your life
    and keep your spirit whole.

    Here's to the bright New Year
    And a fond farewell to the old;
    Here's to the things that are yet to come
    And to the memories that we hold