Hallelujah is Our Song

Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people
and hallelujah is our song.

~Blessed Pope John Paul II

Thanksgiving is next week. I have been blessed to be around a bunch of folks who are taking this time of the year to intentionally reflect and name those things for which they are thankful. It is a glorious season.

Interestingly, this time of year also magnifies difficulties. Financial struggles become more pronounced. Estrangements and distance between family and friends becomes more noticeable. Fears about tomorrow and angst over yesterday occupy more of our minds.

There has been quite a bit of suffering, illness, tragedy, and death lately. I don’t know if it the hurts are increasing, if they are hitting closer to home, or I am just noticing them more.

I don’t have many words today (you are shocked I know). But even the chick who turns around Tuesdays finds some Tuesdays more heavy than others. In fact, I almost skipped today. If I myself have no words, then what is there to put out?

I can embody those things I always try to instill in others.

Today I encourage you remember the Easter, participate in the Thanksgiving, and be glad in the Advent, the new beginning that we are each afforded with every single breath. We cannot help others heal the ills that hurt our hearts if we wallow in our own. We cannot offer comfort to those afflicted if we constantly require comforting ourselves. We cannot carry on the mission of those who have gone before us if we are plagued by grief. We are human and we hurt. We are blessed and we sing the hallelujah song. Sometimes we just have to do them at the same time.

Thanks for the coffee,

Attempting Impossible

Start by doing what’s necessary;
then do what’s possible;
and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

~Saint Francis of Assisi

One of my favorite contemplations on All Saints Day is the remembrance that all the Saints honored were human. Most all were flawed, wronged, broken-hearted, misguided, misunderstood or generally, well, normal and just like me.

What they accomplished (and I so often forget) is remembering that it is in the journey, the putting of one foot in front of the other, that real accomplishment lives. It is in the belief that steadfast dedication to the progression of a mission is just as, if not more, important than ones ability. There is also a case there for the idea that a little prayer is always helpful, but that’s a different column.

Regardless of higher power belief system, the lesson of the Saints holds true. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. And while skill, intelligence, natural-born talent may assist or propel, one must find the determination to do and the perseverance to continue.

We are not discussing those moments where the journey is easy, although those times are much enjoyable. We are discussing those times when it is easier to stay in bed, pull the covers over our heads to block out the needs of those around us, and throw up our hands in defeat at the bigness of it all.

Today I encourage you forget the fear encompassed in the idea of failure. Instead consider the harm if nothing is done at all. Consider those in need, the project that brings good, the idea that helps. Then consider the old idea, “If not you, who? And if not now, when?” Then pick one thing. Just one. Commit to that, the necessary, the needed, the must be done. Then just keep going. Most folks I know are so much more talented than they believe and so much more capable than they dare to admit. Yeah, I am talking about you. Let me be the one to remind you (and me) – Most things we think are impossible have already been accomplished by someone, somewhere, so it isn’t. And those things that haven’t are just waiting on someone like you to be first.

Thanks for the coffee.

What Would Jimmy Buffett Do?

It takes no more time
to see the good side of life
than to see the bad.
~Jimmy Buffett
Tales from Margaritaville

I am a glass half full kinda girl. In fact, I am a “Woohoo! I gotta a glass with stuff in it and room for more stuff this is awesome!” kinda girl. Optimism, in my view, is an understatement for the possibilities in which to view life.

I am also, interestingly enough, prone to paralyzing fear and doubt. There are moments of “holy crap there is no way any thing I do will make sense, turn out, or save me from ruining the entire world as we know it.” Dramatic? Maybe. But completely accurate in describing the ninja in my head that tries to steal my half full glass.

When these two forces collide in my brain space, there is really only one thing to do – mix a margarita and consider the age old question, “What would Jimmy Buffett do?”

Okay, so I jest (a little). But the truth is perception, while not everything, is a monumental part of that thing. In each situation, there are always multiple views, angles and possibilities. We can choose to focus on the dire and the paralyzing. Or, we can choose to focus on the possible and the enriching. Now understand, while I am an optimist, I understand reality. I am not saying ignore the negative. I am saying that unproductive side shows are best kept in their proper perspective.

Today I encourage you exercise your influence over your perspective. Ask the questions, “Where is the good?” Understand that while it seems easier to see the bad, it actually takes more energy. Negativity is the biggest momentum killer I know. So, while it may take a bit more initial effort to find the positive opportunity, it will pay off in increased energy, creativity, and production. Plus, rumor has it that decreased stress will make you skinny. Who knows? I am just saying. At any rate, happy sure feels better than ticked off.

Thanks for the coffee (or the margarita),

Photo credit to snicky7884

“Prudence is the proficiency of grasping reality correctly”


Prudence is the proficiency
of grasping reality correctly
and of deciding and acting accordingly:
both aspects are part of prudence
(the first is easily overlooked).

~ Christoph Schonborn

My 4 year old has a flair for the dramatic (understatement). She has picked up the habit of using clarifying statements to create apocalyptic outcomes. Take this actual, recent conversation for instance.

“Momma, can we have macaroni and cheese with dinner?” I reply, “No honey, I am making mashed potatoes.”
Her clarifying statement is, “You mean you are never going to feed me ever again!?”

Um, not what I said. At all.

Interestingly enough, we adults do this all the time, with the humor factor usually left wanting. A situation occurs and we immediately assume the worst in the intention, meaning and position of the involved party. Challenges arise and we find the failures, pitfalls and deal breakers that must obviously accompany the unforeseen hiccup.

The truth is that all situations depend heavily on perception and accurate assessment. And when I say “heavily”, I mean nearly exclusively. Think about road accidents in areas you were supposed to have been had it not been for a flat tire, busted shoe or sick child. Think of the chance encounter with an old friend that only happened because you had to divert off schedule because of a mistake, omission or plan change. I remember being able to stand with those around me and applaud a group of tired soldiers coming home from defending my freedom. I was only there because of a delayed flight.

Today, I encourage you to love them mashed potatoes – at least at first. Those moments in our lives deserve the benefit of the doubt. They deserve the opportunity to blossom into unforeseen blessing. Many times our missteps are not products of tough situations or mistakes. Instead they are the result of our inability to correctly judge the journey to begin with. Whether you curse the rain because your suit is getting ruined or you dance in the puddles, flowers are still going to bloom – it is up to us on if we enjoy the moment or overlook the beauty.

Thanks for the coffee,

Invincible Summer Within

In the depth of winter,
I finally learned that
within me there lay
an invincible summer.

~Albert Camus

I almost hesitate to mention again what you already know. Times, they are a’changing – and these are some bumpy roads. You know it, I know it. It goes on all around us and regardless of what the ominous “they” try to tell us, we don’t know what is really going to happen next.

I hesitate because honestly, who needs world wide circumstances to make for a difficult situation? Even in the best of times, we each experience challenges and heart break. There is little to be gained by blaming a circumstance or cycle. It takes nothing more than being human to guarantee the occurrence of strife and difficulty. We are not challenged because we live in these times. We are challenged because we live at all.

And we love to look at these challenges and tout, “Now we will see what we are made of!” And that is wonderful. A formed blade spends a great bit of time in the fire. And we take these obstacles and declare triumph at their conquering. The flag in the mountain peak. Thumb our nose at the valley. And our pride swells because we have been tested and found capable.

But in the throes of fear and anxiety, we forget the adrenaline of the start and the satisfaction of the finish. When the battle has waged longer than planned and the difficulties more than anticipated, the excitement of the sport wanes and our fragility becomes more apparent. It is in that exposure of our frailty that we experience doubt of success.

Today I encourage you know that regardless of the sensitivity of the fragility, the warrior within you is still invincible. Invincible. It cannot be broken – only sacrificed or abandoned. We have within each of us the perseverance to maintain, thrive even, in the most destitute of circumstances. Easy? Probably not. But possible. The way is often shrouded in overgrown brush and is hard to find and navigate. But it is there. The summer, the fire, that passion, is indeed invincible. Get your dancing shoes ready. We are going to need them.

Thanks for the coffee,

Photo Credit to Dar’ya Sipyeykina

Warrior, Hero, Challenge Crusher

In fact, I am nothing more
than a loud mouth
with a fighting spirit and
a desire to drive attention to a cause
that has tried to strike me down.

~ @TheRealClint

It is always interesting to watch how a person responds to being called a hero. Those who expect it typically don’t deserve it. Those who are humbled and appreciative typically do.

Observing how some respond to challenges often creates an array of emotion. Watching my friend Clint battle cancer, wrestle with the labels, attention, and new role have brought to mind battles within my own family, challenges of different kinds and responses that occur when we suddenly feel the wall at our back.

It is during these moments when it is the most possible to determine exactly what it is we are made of. In these times, impossible becomes possible. Weakness becomes strength. Fear becomes secondary. Love becomes everything.

It is in this discovery that challenges become important. Of course given the choice, there are some challenges that I would let you keep and I will deal with some things going unlearned. However, we don’t get that choice. Life is what life does.

And when life does, the only thing left to do is for us to respond accordingly. If that means getting real vocal, mustering up that fighting spirit and latching on to a desire, then I say that challenge just became defeatable.
Today I encourage you to spend some time with your inner warrior. Too often we allow our responses to be reactionary and led by choices not of our own making. Instead, acknowledge that you are a powerful being in your own right. While a great many of our circumstances are not within our control, our voice and our fighting spirit are. While we may long for a different path, the truth is we have to walk the path we are on. When there is no option but to display a hero’s will and a fighter’s strength, it is good to know our inner warrior is more than capable of taking on the battle.

Thanks for the coffee,


**Photo Credit to S├ębastien Bertrand

Reclaiming Strength

Don’t judge your insides
by someone else’s outsides

~ Author Unknown
~ Laurie Davis gets the credit

I have no idea where today’s quote originated. Evidently, from my web search, no one else really does either. So, my girlfriend who reminded me of it gets the credit. Why? Because really, there isn’t anything new to be said – just awesome people who take the time out of their day to say it. I appreciate her and its my column.

I am feeling fantastic. I have made some serious schedule adjustments and (nearly) daily exercise is my new best friend. I have traded cigarettes for healthier eating. And (gasp!) I have even gotten my kids to agree to try whole food mac and cheese and apple sandwiches. And so far, it has been pretty easy. Know why? The folks I am surrounding myself with make it easy.

So often I allow myself to get thrown off track by the “gurus.” You know those folks. Whatever habit you are trying to kick or start, they are the expert. They never get it wrong and, quite frankly, us mortal beings are kinda useless if we don’t “get it.” The Internet is full of these folks – usually trying to get your money into their wallet. They berate, belittle, judge and condescend. It is a beautifully encouraging thing…really…hmmm sarcasm.

Luckily for me, I have finally learned how to steer clear of those information sources. The neat byproduct of that is I found some new really good ones. They are real folks with real lives and real flaws and real challenges and real success. Yes! You heard me right! We are not the only ones! And they take time out of their day to educate and encourage. I am the excited beneficiary of that encouragement.

I took that encouragement and applied them to “my things.” I had a desire to change some of my health habits. Is this everybody’s “thing.” Nope. And that is okay. This is not a “hey I am getting healthy now everybody needs to go get healthy” charge. The truth is I am still at the really early stages of this journey. I could crash and burn any moment. This is simply me sharing with you that support is good, encouragement is good and mean people do not have the corner market on great information.

Today I encourage you to embrace the idea that we are all not so different. While your thing is not always my thing, we all have them. I am over being told that I am somehow defective because my challenges are different from the ones someone else has. There are too many people in the world to sit at the feet of those who make you feel like crap. Let me be the one to tell you today that you are wonderful. I am wonderful. We are amazing! Cheesy much? Yeah maybe. But hey, if other folks can get away with tearing down, I can take a minute to build up. It is the least I can do after all the support I have gotten and continue to get. I am looking for ways to return the favor.

Thanks for the coffee,**Photo credit to Bobbi Miller-Moro

Creating Rich Places to Grow

In my skin, I am not a checklist.
I am a holistic being with more facets than I even know about.
And light from one may create a shadow on the other.
And just because our shadows are different doesn’t make us less than the other.
~ Me

Alrighty Jack. There you go. He has been looking for one of these to start with a quote from yours truly and he’s got it – although I am of the opinion the large majority of it is nothing but my quotes. But, hey, I can compromise.

I have been writing this column for a pretty long time. I was asked yesterday if I had written this week’s yet. Nope, I hardly ever write it until it is time. I was asked where the ideas come from. Honestly, who knows. It kinda depends on what is going on at the time. The topics range all over the place often led by whatever wind is blowing through my own hair.

Sometimes it gets preachy. Other times it is a bit snarky. Some days I feel like a cheerleader – others, a warden. There are days when I am afraid to hit send. Wildly, more often than not, positive responses often show up tagged with, “It was like you were talking to me.”

I appreciate all of that, even when we don’t agree, I am thankful. But I want you know, I never intend to condescend – I am almost always talking to me. I feel, at the core, that most people are wonderful people with a few less than stellar challenges. I most certainly consider myself a part of that group – yes, both wonderful and challenged.

In truth, we are fairly eclectic beings. We all have our histories, influences, biases, desires, disgusts, causes, beliefs, priorities, vices, challenges. As we change and grow, we each seek to know and be known. The vulnerability in that is astounding and can intimidate the thickest of skins. Let that vulnerability be met with harsh judgement or condescension once or twice and a problem bigger than differences will start to arise.

Today, I encourage you to applaud all the different aspects of you, even those things that could use some work. Appreciate your different facets. Enjoy the eclectic nature of your likes and dislikes. Once we begin to appreciate these things in ourselves, we will be better capable of appreciating them in others. That type of support and genuine affection for others and from others is a powerful tool. Grow it. Wield it. Protect the goodness it is created from. It’s easy to stand aside, puff your chest and point accusing fingers. It is something else entirely to watch the goodness of a person unfurl because you created a rich place to grow.
Featured Image Courtesy of Georgia Brooke North

Accomplishing Goals with a Blow Horn

I wish I had a blow horn.

-Morgie Porgie

Coming to the end of our wagon walk yesterday, the kids saw what they had been looking for. Grandma and Papa sitting on the front porch.

“Don’t go inside! We are almost there!” yells Morgan. But we were still too far from them to hear or notice us.

“I wish I had a blow horn.”

Yesterday, this little exchange made for a funny story that made my folks feel special at the excitement of their grandchildren. As I think about it today, I too want to wish for a blow horn.

The need to have goals is often discussed for its importance. The difficulty of this task can vary from person to person. But eventually, we usually figure out what it is we want. Many of us stop there, afraid to actually write it down. Writing it down means we have committed. Instead of seeing the opportunity for success – we see the looming failure.

If I am not talking about you – trust me, I am talking about someone you know, namely me.

Naming a goal, committing it to paper, telling an accountability partner about that goal and then making that goal known to those who can help you achieve it is about one of the most frightening processes I know of. I won’t go into all the reasons that is true for me. If you can relate, then you already know. If you can’t, I am not gonna put the bogeyman in your head. But frightening as it may be, it is one of the most important activities we undertake in moving forward in our best life.

Today, I encourage me (and you too) to want to wish for a blow horn. I want to harness that excitement and desire that a four-year old had yesterday. I want to see my goals as she saw hers – wonderful and important enough to do whatever it took to accomplish it – even if it involved the use of a blow horn. Fearless to make a noise like that. Determined to employ tactics to succeed. Undeterred by the attention she would have to the attract. Never considering that there was a possibility of failure.

I wish I had a blow horn.

Thanks for the coffee,

Stress Management – Waking up from a 12 Hour Slumber

 

Being in control of your life
and having realistic expectations about
your day-to-day challenges
are the keys to stress management,
which is perhaps the most important ingredient
to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.

~Marilu Henner

I just accomplished the rarely achieved and the utterly unexpected – I slept for nearly 12 hours. I walked in the door last night, kissed the family and laid down on the bed. That was it until coffee time. I felt pretty good and profusely thanked my dear husband who, with four children, had to have worked very hard to leave me uninterrupted. His response, “No worries baby, you must have really needed it.”

Needed it maybe, but probably not deserved. I have been really slack lately on listening to my body and managing my health. Stress is a natural occurrence in life. I do not find it evil or good. As far as I am concerned, stress is amoral. It just is. My ability to name it, handle it and work with it is where the opportunity lives.

It has been overly easy with the hustle and bustle of summer, the desire to perform professionally, the interest in moving my writing forward and the ever ball of excitement that is my home to throw up my hands and say, “well, it’s just not going to happen.” It is exceptionally simple to say, time, money, opportunity, resources are limited, therefore, I get a pass in paying attention to the habits and techniques that not only balance my stress but allow me to be an overall healthier person.

I hear an abundance of excuses, how about you? Now admittedly, some of our excuses are legitimate. The last thing I want is for you to think that I am coming from a standpoint that says you fail if you can’t figure it all out. I certainly am not. I could not, at this time, spend hours a day in the gym, hire a personal trainer or spring on my children a whole new dinner menu. I don’t expect most folks could.

But, I can stop talking about what I can’t do in this area and start focusing on what I can. Seems to me to be a far more positive, if not productive, means of confronting the challenge and communicating with myself.

Today, I encourage you to name that thing that you know would benefit you in some way – health, stress, finances – whatever. If you are anything like me, you have already considered all the “can’t” reasons. Try for a moment to find the baby steps. Redefine the win. Where are the small, doable “cans”? This morning, it has become clearly obvious to me that this is one thing I must do. I can’t think of many days where a 12 hour sleep cycle will support my schedule. And the husband, as gracious as he was, shouldn’t have to either. Racking the body and the mind until it collapses into a coma is not the smartest way to handle life – and we all know how much we love the smarter way!

Thanks for the coffee,

*Photo Credit to Denise Cross