Giving Thanks for the Unpleasantness

I am grateful to Life for allowing me to experience exactly what my heart needs to grow and prosper and heal. ― Cheryl Richardson   When was the last time you made a conscious effort to express gratitude for the not-so-pleasant things in your life? Wait! Don’t turn away just yet. My idea isn’t as crazy as it may first appear. It’s ever so much easier to say thanks for the “good” things in life: that new job, a special vacation, the birth of a grandchild, wonderful friends and family.  I’m sure you could add another 10 items easily. Right? But what about those not-so-great things? That fall you took causing a torn muscle? Or the fender bender you caused? Maybe it was being passed over for a raise or the death of your beloved pet? Or budget belt tightening? Or a seriously ill relative? Or your own health concerns? How have you expressed your gratitude for those events? Seriously. How did you give thanks for the unpleasantness in your life? The fabric of our lives is woven together by evens “good” and “bad” (our definition), by challenges and victories, by laughter and tears. By a wonderful variety of ups and downs, and status quo. Each of these variations in the rhythm of our lives occurs for a purpose. Often the lesson will be apparent. Sometimes the mystery of the “why” cannot be solved, at least not yet. I believe these variations provide contrasts to deepen our experience as humans. How … Continue reading

Create Your Holiday Manifesto — Now!

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.  ~ Yogi Berra   Have you noticed the quick changeover from Halloween to Christmas in stores? Sure, there’s lip service being paid to Thanksgiving, but suddenly we’re being urged to get ready for The Big Holiday Season. I’ve already seen Facebook posts and newspaper ads that let me know the number of weekends until That Day. Cue the quickening heartbeat and rising anxiety level. Yikes! This year I’m not buying into the frenzy. Or the overspending. I plan to ignore the marketing hype. And not overextend myself. This year’s holiday season will be on my terms. And will be meaningful to my friends, loved ones and me. This year I will seek joy and camaraderie. I will be present and mindfully take sanity pauses. I will monitor my stress level and when I feel chaos and overwhelm creeping in, I will respond by slowing down, not by pushing even harder. I will confer with my loved ones now so we can decide what our plans will be during the holiday season. This will help minimize getting swept up into the swirl of partying and rushing around. I will not compromise my commitment to exercise and meditation. My sanity breaks will be non-negotiable times just for myself. And when old behavior patterns around relatives re-surface, I will remove myself from the situation temporarily and do something just for me. This year I plan to enjoy the holidays and … Continue reading

Are you pitiful or powerful?

You can be pitiful or powerful…you cannot be both. ~ Joyce Meyer   Ever run into people who just seem stuck? Who continually have bad things happen to them—and want to bend your ear about it? There doesn’t seem to be a ray of sunshine in their lives. And being around them feels very uncomfortable. And I find that so sad. And avoidable. I’ve noticed these sad people have a lot in common. They let other people and circumstances define who they are and what they feel. Things happen to them. They have unhealthy relationships and just complain about them. They may have chronic health problems or overwhelming financial concerns. And they truly believe they have no control over their lives. So, why would someone want to remain stuck in victim mode? They get sympathy and attention from others, at least for a while. Victims don’t have to take any risks and they don’t have to rock the boat or make any difficult decisions. They just let life happens to them. And perversely, they get to feel superior because of what people do to them. In all of these cases, they’re giving up their power to someone or something outside of themselves. And they’re doing it because there’s a benefit to that. And there’s also fear. Can you see what’s missing for them? Courage, personal responsibility, and action. We have a personal responsibility to determine who and what we allow into our lives. If we’re in a bad relationship, or … Continue reading

What are YOU doing with what you’ve got?

I recently read this question, and it got me thinking. My go-to mode is usually, “What do I want more of?” I’m pretty good at taming the materialistic answer to that question, so I often think, “more joy, more fun, more just being time.” But, “What am I doing with what I’ve got?” This question gave me pause. First I had to assess what I’ve got: a lovely house in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth; a life where I control the pace; a business that is just the right size for me; loving friends, family and 2 cats; an adventurous spirit; a huge curiosity about life; happiness coupled with resiliency; and much, much more. OK, so I’ve got a lot. (Note to self: find ways to be more grateful.) And then I got something I wasn’t expecting: a fender bender that was totally my fault. And the world turned dark, and I berated myself for my lack of focus, and all I could see was the negative. And woe is me became my mantra. And, yet…Was anyone hurt? No. Was the other person going to file a claim? No. Was this a major life event? No. Still, my self-talk was on a downward spiral. Then a friend suggested that I put lipstick on my car’s dented fender. And immediately the impish gleam re-appeared in my eye. Oooooh, this has possibilities… So, what did I do with what I’ve got? I took brilliantly bright turquoise duct tape and made … Continue reading

What’s YOUR Lollipop Moment?

Leadership: “the everyday act of improving each other’s lives.” ~ Drew Dudley, TEDxToronto   I attended TEDxABQ over the weekend here in Albuquerque. The various presenters offered thought-provoking, poignant, exciting ad challenging stories. But one really caught my attention and made me realize a new definition for leadership. We were shown a TED presentation by Drew Dudley, Everyday Leadership, in which he challenges the commonly accepted definition of leadership. Too often we only associate “leadership“ with famous people: Steve Jobs, President Obama, Stephen Hawking, and so on. Something most of us will never attain. And then Drew posed a question, “What about everyday leadership?” relating it to his story about a lollipop. Watch the very humorous and insightful video if you’re curious. The main point from his talk is that something as simple as offering a lollipop—a simple, authentic connecting gesture—can have a major impact on one or more people. And this got me thinking about lollipop moments in my life. Those moments that really connected me to another human being, intentionally or not. Long ago when I had waist-length brown hair and very short skirts, I taught 5th grade. And I unknowingly made a deep connection with one of my students. She and I continued to connect off and on by mail after I left the area. Now, almost 35 years later, we still keep in touch. How cool is that?! She became a teacher, because of me. I unknowingly had a great impact on her life. And that moment … Continue reading