Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tips: Break out of the holidays and back into business

The holidays have kicked my creative tush.

I don’t know about you, but, as wonderful as the holidays are, they totally derail my daily business activities, not to mention creativity. And, let’s face it; I am in business – artist, writer, professional blogger and non-profit strategist.

But, gosh, isn’t it fun to escape from work and focus on the gifts, food and other people. So why does this make us dread returning to work responsibilities? In a word…”Guilt.” We know exactly what we haven’t been doing. Oh, yeah. We know. And we just don't want to face it.  It really is that simple. 

I admit it. The holidays blow my self-employed business momentum. If this happens to you as well, you might find the tips I have put together useful to get back into the creative zone…and the business of it.

Take stock and make a conscious decision about which day you will again “Hit the ground running.” Then, get up that day at a specific time and – hit it.  The key here is to decide on a date and time in advance...and honor it. Take your coffee into your studio/office – it helps.

Avoid being reactive – this means focusing on your immediate responsibilities/tasks instead of reading and answering your backlog of emails and social media. If you go there, you will be doing it all day. Or, better yet, set a time period during the later part of the morning that you will respond.

Make a list and stick to it. This time-honored, time management tool works. It doesn’t allow for distractions and your mind can’t wander if your “To Do” list is right in front of you.  To help you refocus and get back into a business rhythm -- try making a list of the most critical tasks you need to accomplish. Kinda ease into it.

Devote energy to “Looking ahead”. This is easy – make plans and schedule stuff for the future. Flip through your calendar for the new year and start filling in important dates. Pencil in meetings you want to schedule; relationships you want to build; deadlines you want to meet. Dream, plan a little, write it down. It can be inspiring…and before you even realize it, you are “back into the business of business.”

Happy New Year,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Christmas. No Stress. No Pressure. Ask Oren...

Here we go, or here we have gone...the holidays are upon us.  Many of us are running around feeling super stressed, getting angry easily, feeling pushed into a corner and find ourselves growling through the holidays.  Why is that?  For some reason the holiday season ramps up the pressure.  What is that about?  Let's ask ourselves this question and listen to the answer -- "What is this pressure I feel?"  Really, what is it?  It is a good thing to know the answer -- it can change attitudes and relieve that sense of being out of balance. 

Maybe you can identify with one or two thoughts on this list. I tried to cover most of the feelings I have heard expressed and some I've experienced myself: 

Forms of holiday pressure:
  • I have too much to do and I can't get everything done in time.
  • It is Christmas and if I don't give them the right gifts, I look bad.
  • It is Christmas and if they don't get the right gifts, they will be unhappy.
  • It is Christmas and I know I should be celebrating, but, please -- stop talking and ring up my purchases -- I can't wait forever.
  • It is Christmas and even though I can't stand my (name any family member), I have to be nice and put up with him/her.
  • It is Christmas and I don't have anyone special to share it with.
  • Why do I always have to do everything?
  • I don't have enough money to buy expensive gifts...but if I don't, people will think I am cheap or don't know the difference.
  • It's Christmas and everything has to be perfect.
OK, by now, you are probably seeing the "I" word in every single stressed out thought listed above.  My question...why do we do this to ourselves?  It certainly isn't in the spirit of Christmas -- you remember that, don't you, good will, generosity, peace, love, faith, generosity?

You know what, this year, the holiday season is all about the real things for me.  What do I want to give?  Good will.  Alrighty then... that's a big goal.  So what does that look like?  I posted a quote on my personal facebook page that sort of describes it and want to share it here, too. Take a look.  Of course, I will be giving tangible gifts, but I am putting the qualities on this list at the top of my list for the whole season...and beyond: 

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. -- Oren Arnold

These gifts don't come wrapped in pretty paper.  They come wrapped in the love of your heart; the ability to genuinely love others and... "appreciate yourself". 

How to do that?  Breathe; take your time; don't spend over your budget; take some time off -- away from work (even a few hours and go to your favorite relaxing place and sit for awhile with a good book...or Kindle :); decide, (yes, decide), that you won't react negatively.

Here's more...plan a simple holiday meal and ask for help -- don't martyr yourself, ask; realize the gifts you give to others are thoughtfully chosen by you and it is the thought that counts; realize in today's economy, the giant, perfect, gifts are rare -- and that is really okay -- probably even better; realize that for your family and friends, having you relaxed and happy, rather that stressed out and mad, is a gift in itself.

The best one I know?  Have faith, know it is going to be okay and if someone is disappointed, it isn't about you. Love and love and love some more.

Additionally, there are all kinds of articles with tips to manage stress and here is a link to one of them -- seems like a straightforward article and common sense 

My wish for happy and have a peaceful, satisfying, comfortable holiday season.
With respect,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude's the Attitude

Today's Truth

With the holiday, Thanksgiving Day, coming up, my thoughts naturally turn to gratitude.  This time of year a great deal of thought is given to thankfulness, appreciation, respect, generosity.

Serenity, Thad L. Rice, 2009, Rice Agency

What struck me to write about is how gratitude can take many forms.  For it to be a spoken affirmation, is always nice...and a gift is certainly welcome.  Although, what I am most interested in today, is how gratitude is unspoken...that shiny little coin we take out of our pockets and share everyday.

 Gratitude is action.  So, what does that look like?  It is found in caring for an elderly parent or friend.  We share its grace when we keep nagging thoughts to ourselves.  When we consciously do not complain about a co-worker to anyone who will listen -- it is after all a choice -- is, actually, a form of gratitude. 

Once I jumped on this train of thought, I had to smile.  Thankfulness isn't always the supplicated form on bended knee.  (Although, that certainly can't hurt).  Thankfulness can be recognized in our everyday selves -- our kindness, generosity, our ability to put some one's needs before our own.  Even when we can quiet a fear or worry.  I saw a quote once and I hope I am remembering correctly..."Ingratitude is worry in advance."   Hmmm.

Thank you and me, for all of our daily efforts. 
Thanks for the laundry done; asking which show the other person wants to watch; listening when we are too busy; going to all the football games; smiling when we want to snarl; patience at the grocery or bank or cleaners; the ability to hear what is being said and accept it; not rolling our eyes at whatever is said; noticing the mundane daily chores that get done; being brave; facing fear; not always thinking about ourselves; driving with kindness; understanding it is okay to not always be right; saying the kind word; bringing an extra coffee to work; smiling at loud children; understanding it isn't the waiter's fault.  I am sure you get the drift here.  

Once started, this list can go on and on.  I appreciate, deeply, the efforts we all make to be good humans.  Let's give ourselves a little pat on the back, and keep at it.  Happy IS the attitude of gratitude.

With respect,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekends are forever...oh, really, I thought they were.

Play a little bit all week long

Today's Truth
Ah, the weekend is virtually here.  It is Friday and the countdown to freedom has begun.
Yep, we all feel that way...bosses, owners, managers, employees, volunteers...we all think "TGIF".  Why is that?

As a self-employed worker wearing all the hats mentioned above, I do have some flexibility in my work week.  I don't cram my work schedule into 60-70 hour weeks anymore.  Thank you, oh, thank you!  if I want to juggle my schedule and go to a golf game, I can, and answer only to myself about it.  Wouldn't you think that would make the weekend less important to me?  As we speak I am sitting at my computer drinking coffee and eating my sweats, mind you.  So why, really... why, is the weekend still as important to me as it was when I was working all those long hours? 

I have thought about this for awhile. Here is a question (and it's not a bad one)...could it be because we give ourselves permission to be happy, relaxed and focused on our real lives on the weekend?  Do we just let our hair down and and think, "Boy-oh-boy, I can sleep in; wear no make-up; live in comfy clothes; spend more time with the kids; cook; read; veg; watch television - movies; get outside; nap; stay inside; paint; write; decorate; repair; you see where I am going with this?

Hey, I am right there with ya, buddy!  I am peddling that work wheel all week too! (say that three times very quickly-- sounds like... would a woodchuck chuck...).  Yeah, we do chuck wood. All week.  It doesn't matter if we love our job or not.  We are still, each and every one of us, not starting our day with our own agenda.  Man, who gets to do that?  The very, very wealthy?  

We are not alone.  A recent study of more than 50,000 employees from a variety of manufacturing and service organizations found that two out of every five are dissatisfied with the balance between their work and their personal lives. 

How do you get a more balanced work and personal life so the weekend isn't the only freedom you have? Here are some tips that might work for you...
  • Negotiate and change your hours at work -- can you flex or go part-time?
  • Get a new job -- some jobs are more stressful than others and suck the life right out of you.
  • Take a good hard look at consulting or free-lancing.  Can you make it work financially?
  • Schedule fewer meetings...really, and schedule more time in between them.  Talk to your team and see how you can eliminate some meetings.  They will cheer!
  • Slow down and do not plan stuff every evening and weekend.  You are in charge of that, aren't you?
  • Take time out for you.  No one will faint if the dishes aren't done or the lawn doesn't get mowed.  Hire a baby sitter, dog sitter, housekeeper, gardener, if you can afford one or all.  Or, ask your friends or family for a favor -- it's allowed.  Escape for a few hours during the week.  You will be amazed!
  • Just say no.  Really,  politely, say no.  No, I can't go shopping, or take on the project or host the holiday feast or plan the company picnic or chair that special fundraiser for the school.
  • Take a "mental health" day away from work. We used to call that playing hooky.  It's OK, I give you permission.
  • Oh, I hate to say it...Make a list, set priorities and accomplish them.  Putting off tasks adds to stress.  Getting it done at work and at home, will simplify your life and take some of the guilt off your mind.
  • Live in the moment and not in the future or past.  You can't get it all done and make your whole world right, at this minute, can you?  Probably not, so take a deep breath, don't beat yourself up and do what you can with each day -- just make sure you include in it some of the things YOU want.  And, reach for the happy.  I promise you will lose some frustration...a little resentment and feel recharged throughout the week and weekend.
With respect,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is It Complicated?

Today's Truth
You know, I really, really wanted to blog every single week.  I wanted to blog with meaning and sincerity, talking about noble and truthful things.  A good thought, for sure, but what I have found is that I am not moved to write lofty ideals every week.  No, it isn't that I get all down and gloomy, it is just that things happen, schedules change and stuff gets in the way.  Could be called life, what do you think?  So, today, I am moved and I want to share some thoughts...

Is It Complicated?
Is life all that complicated, or do we make it that way.  Some simple concepts have been around forever and still seem to work.
1. Be the best person you can be.  Yep, try to take the high road.
2. Be kind.
3. Take time to be grateful. This is so important.  Gratitude wipes out a lot of junky thoughts..thoughts that really don't improve your life, but lead right back to other downward spiraling thoughts that just perpetuate a feeling of dissatisfaction.
4. Give it your all -- don't hold back your best efforts - in anything.
5. Think about other people -- oh yeah, and put them first sometimes.  Make the phone call; write the caring card; do something nice and don't expect anything back.  Connect face-to-face; take time to build relationships.
6.  If you get angry, take a breath and look at both perspectives -- your own and the other person's.
7. If you don't like something, try to change it.
8. Make life about more than your job -- realize it does not define you, but incorporates your values, talents and passion.
9.  Take time to do things you enjoy -- nature, art shows, theatre, walking on the beach, shopping (within reason), movies, golf, conversations, dinner parties, redecorating... and the list goes on.
10.  Talk to the people you enjoy -- have real conversations.  Let go of the relationships that make you feel bad about yourself -- those negative people that sap your energy.
11.  Don't put off the difficult conversations -- hurt or angry feelings build up.
12.  Don't keep emotional score; don't be an emotional vampire.  Sorry, but it isn't always about you.
13.  Do something creative -- it is fun, offers an immediate sense of accomplishment and lasts.
14.  Figure out your own thoughts on spirituality.
15.  Love yourself and loving others will be a natural consequence.
16.  Help others, through donations, charity work or service.

Not so much...
Well, there you have it.  Not so complicated is it?  We are meant to live a life we enjoy.  I think we make it hard on ourselves sometimes.  I hope these ideas are helpful to you.

Wishing you joy,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What we tell ourselves...

Today's Truth
Summer is really over, isn't it?  I have taken quite the break, for a variety of reasons, but now it is time to get back into the swing of things.  Might I add it takes a bit of discipline to stick with blogging, even with the best of intentions.  I found all sorts of reasons not to post that I happily validated. Well, that isn't true, I wasn't so happy about it, but the excuses worked and were well-rationalized.  I swear to you, that as I am writing this, I am eating Triscuit crackers and those little round cheese things that you have to peel.  Ask me and I will tell you, "No, I wasn't postponing writing, I was hungry."  Uh huh.  It tastes pretty good, by the way. Here's some info about Triscuits -- they are pretty tasty and not a bad snack: and here is the site for the cheese. 

Okay, okay.  All of this is a lead into what I want to blog about...that almost terrorizing topic of...what we tell ourselves.  I think I will tackle the negative side first.  Some of you may recognize these...

I will get to that (whatever it is) tomorrow.  First thing in the morning, I will call so and so.  After this project is finished, I will eat better or start walking or spend more time with my family or start a sports program or take a class.  Want to go deeper?  When I lose this weight, I will be happier; when the boss sees what I can really do, I can ask for a raise; if I weren't so busy, I could ask Sally to go out to lunch and see what is bothering her; there will be other games, I have the whole season to watch Johnny; it doesn't matter what I think, so why even try to explain.

Now for the positive ...

Do you recognize any of this?  I do.  This is exactly how I arrived at it being okay for me not to post my blog all summer. We are talking three months here.  Is it the end of the world?  Well, no, but, I don't feel good about it.  I feel guilty.  There's the rub.  We tell ourselves...or give ourselves permission... to put off activities, personal relationships, our own growth and general feeling of well-being for what? I don't know, every situation is different.  But the question to ask it worth it?  Or even better, how do I recognize that is what I am doing.

No, I don't think it is the best idea to plan out our every move, but some lists aren't such a bad idea.  When we were discussing my lack of blogging, my brilliant son told me, (the self-admitted queen of organization), "Mom, make a list of topics you want to talk about -- start with just four for the first month."  Did I mention that he is brilliant?  He told me this months ago.  Finally,  I just did it this past Tuesday.  And look, here I am blogging again.  Smart little guy isn't he?  He is a grown man, but he is still my smart little guy, especially when he gives me excellent advice that works.  Thank you, son.

So, my point.  Listen to your own self-talk.  What are you telling yourself?  Does it hang on a mental hook in the back of your mind?  Take it off the hook and put it down on paper.  Take time to write it down and then figure out what part of it you really want to throw out and what part needs some action. We do this all the time for our work, why not for ourselves?  It is kind of cool to have that conversation with yourself and actualize it on paper.  You could even put some goals and dates next to things.  How do we get things done?  We take action.  How do we take action?  We know what we want to do.  How do we know what we want to do?  We think about it and spend some time with each idea and then make decisions and then, formulate a plan.  You keep some stuff and throw out some stuff.  And, the really great thing about a plan?  You can change it.  It is adaptable, a good plan isn't written in stone -- it is flexible.  I think that is what scares us sometimes about writing down goals and even desires -- we feel it a certain commitment.  Guess what?  You can change your mind.  The main thing is to recognize (be aware of) what you are telling yourself about anything...anything at all.

And, did you know, that you can pick up the Triscuit crumbs in the bottom of the bowl with the cheese?  I am laughing so hard.

Let me know what you think.  I know checking in with my self-talk is a very good thing and, hopefully, it will benefit you to recognize yours and take some action.

My greatest intention is to help you.

Warm regards,

Friday, July 9, 2010

Blahs? Where is the inspiration?

Today's Truth

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah...Man oh man...have I had a case of the Summer blahs.  Don't mistake me, I have been busy, really, doing something, all the time.  When I came to the realization that I was feeling like I wasn't doing everything "I was supposed to be doing," I knew it was time for reassessment and inspiration.  Great.  My self-questioning led to the bigger question of "where is the inspiration?"  But then, another question popped up, "for what?"  So now I had two questions...where is the inspiration and what would I do with it anyway.  Does any of this sound familiar to you?  Jeez! Or, as my good friend would say, "Cheesits."  I don't why, but that is so hilarious to me.

I haven't written my blog in a few weeks and it is something I really like to do.  It is important to me to write it and share it and consistency is one of my strengths.  Hmmm.

I haven't really taken the time for friends and family that I usually do (sorry, Mom; sorry, Sis; sorry friends).  I love spending time and sharing ideas with friends and family and they usually end up enjoying the experience, too.  So, Hmmm.

I haven't been reading either -- and if there is one thing I enjoy most and put at the top of my list -- it's reading.  Hmmm.

So, "DCR," I ask myself, "what the heck have you been doing?  Do you see how assessment can lead to a downward spiral? Yeah.

I talked to my ambitious, ever-successful and amazingly resilient and beautiful sister, and as usual, she had the voice of reason and shared it with me.  She is really good like that -- we all need that kind of buddy -- you know, someone who sees it how it is, but somehow takes your side and makes you feel really good about yourself.  What would we do without the people who love us enough to do that?  Thanks, sweetie.

In our conversation she pointed out all the things I had been doing as positive, reasonable and worthwhile and put the best spin on it.  OMG, thank you.  I came to the realization when you have the deep-bend blahs (not so good) and are just wondering and wandering, you don't need a swift kick, you need positive re-enforcement.  She helped me see there was a reason I felt the way I did, (a valid reason, by the way) and I could putter around it or address it, settle it and get back in stride.  I needed to embrace a new course (of thought) and let the old one go and most importantly -- allow life to unfold on this new course.  Goodbye, old pattern.  Goodbye.

I am in that funny place, you know the place, when you are in transition and just waiting?   She helped me realize that it is an OK place to be -- just drive through it slowly and don't park.  We all have times when we look wherever we are looking and just don't see anything.  That is a big clue that it is time to catch your breath; revel in the down time and relax. Take it as it comes and embrace it, find the good in each day and know this stretch of time is temporary.  What you don't want to do is let the transition period get you in a twist. Please take my word for it -- stay positive and talk to people who love and support you.  It helps, it inspires and actually, it gets you out of the blahs and into the next step.  

So, what have I been doing?  I now realize I have had quality time with my grandchildren for the first summer, ever!  I reconnected with old friends I hadn't seen in quite awhile and made several new ones.  New art has been developed and I participated in a new business venture.  I have been swimming everyday and the exercise is great.  I completed several outdoor projects that have been hanging around too long.  I entertained -- it was a fabulous dinner and great conversation -- will be doing it again soon.  All of these are positive and very worthwhile.  

The other night, my husband and I were sitting outside looking at the stars.  I looked at him, and said, "You know, I love our life."   That one sentence, sums it up.  Days come and go, things, jobs and people come and go.  We have seasons to our lives and each one is valuable -- a little jewel. 

When the bad blahs hit and you begin to question yourself -- take it from me, talk to someone who inspires you -- not someone who will tell you what you need to do.  Talk to someone who loves you enough to be honest with you but still champions your viewpoint.  I hope you have someone like that in your life.

With respect and affection,


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Purpose and a Personal Mission connects

First of all, let me apologize for all the spelling errors in my last post -- IDK, I must have been in a big hurry.  I have corrected them, so now it should be far easier to read and I feel better! :)

Purpose -- Why does it matter?
I have touched on this topic before, but it keeps coming up in my conversations, so I want to revisit it.  Specifically, many people have shared that they don't feel they have discovered their own purpose.  Let's talk about it again. 

I suppose purpose could be defined in many ways, but most of us think of it as job or career related.  Forget about that.  Let's discuss the bigger idea of why you are here at all.  Forget about setting goals and your daily work -- that is all pretty well set in motion, isn't it?  Most of us operate in the area of survival -- which means we are constantly working on meeting our own needs.  Purpose has a larger context.  Discovering your own purpose has a MUCH larger context. Huh, how about that?

According to the dictionary, purpose is defined as intention, determination or resolution.  OK, let's take a look at intention.  If your purpose isn't driven by career or responsibilities, what does intention have to do with it?  Take this sentence and substitute the word intention for the word purpose:  My purpose in life is to be as kind as I can be. The word intention moves purpose into the action arena, as in, "I intend to be as kind as I can be in my lifetime." There is a big difference -- the word purpose is quite foggy, while intend is direct and distinctly declares, "I will do this".   Substitute the words determination and resolution in the same sentence:  I am determined to be as kind as I can be in my lifetime.  I resolve to be as kind as I can be in my lifetime.  Do you see how this works? 

Purpose can be a much larger concept than job or career -- "My purpose/intention/resolution in life is to build/sell/create/develop/ as many widgets as I can -- doesn't quite resonate the same does it?  It doesn't speak to individual passion, strength, capability or hope. 

“I don't want to live. I want to love first, and live incidentally.”  -- Zelda Fitzgerald

If your purpose isn't driven by career or personal responsibilities, what is there to drive it?  Do you operate at the level of need, or are you looking at a bigger picture? Are you living consciously?  Living consciously is living at a different level of self-awareness.  I think we get to a new level of awareness (where you really know who you are, what you stand for and what you want) when we are willing to ask ourselves difficult questions and have the courage to find the answers. Why the heck are we here, anyway?  I can safely say, "It ain't for the widgets, people." Smiling.  I kinda like what Zelda had to say. 

Our jobs come and they go, so do houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, Manolo Blahniks and other tangible things.  Discovering our purpose very often moves us from the goals of meeting our needs (survival) to the idea of how we want to be as a person, as in be-ing.  And, the funny thing is, once you really find your purpose and live according to it -- most things fall into place -- the rhythm of your life changes and the beat of it is in accord with your own heart.  Finding your purpose involves learning, stepping out a comfort zone or habit and looking at a larger picture than the mirror in front of you.  You can discover your purpose, but it takes some effort.  For me, I spent hours in thought, boiling it down, writing and writing. I developed my own mission statement.  The whole process gave me a clear path for action (everyday) and helped me determine my purpose. Want to hear it?

Here goes, DCR Mission Statement:
To live in the now with courage; fill my own life and the lives of others with love, compassion and strength; leave this world a better place for having lived in it.

One other thing before I sign off...our whole lives people have been telling us our purpose or supplying us with their idea of our purpose.  We see it and hear it continually in everything from advertising to the unwanted opinions of others.  Think for yourself; decide for yourself.  Love yourself and have great courage.  You are capable.

With respect,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grace or indignation...your response makes a difference

Encounters happen everyday, with loved ones, colleagues, friends and strangers -- I think it is called, life. We have all had incidents that caused us to question ourselves on how we responded at the time.  You know what I mean...those encounters that provoked a strong response...either positive or negative...grace or indignation. 

Definition:  a kindly feeling of approval and support; benevolent interest or concern; cheerful consent; willing effort.  (M.Webster Dictionary)

Goodwill...what a very powerful word. I think it is so beneficial to question ourselves about the environment our actions or reactions generate. You may ask, "Why"?  Because within our responses, lies the power to create an environment of support and encouragement (grace) or generate tension and escalate anger or feelings of hurt and discouragement (indignation). 

Around our house, we put a pretty big emphasis on tolerance and trying to understand where the other person is coming from.  For example:  The really grumpy store clerk might be caring for an aging parent and three small children and working two part-time jobs. (your smile in the face of his or her indifference or rudeness, could generate some hope or just help that person feel better).  Or, your significant other had a horrible, tension-filled day at work and isn't in the best of moods.  Your decision not to jump on him/her about something he/she did or didn't do for you, could generate a peaceful atmosphere -- and your partner actually has time to recover from the indignity's of the day. 

We don't know everything about the trials or difficulties someone experiences -- even in our own families.  We don't go to work with our husbands, wives or partners.  We don't go into the classrooms with our kids.  Stuff goes on everyday.  What do we know?  We know that we govern how we treat other people.  Each one of us determines whether we dispense grace or indignation in our daily encounters.  

Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of times when my reactions were more concerned with pride and holding on to my right to be right.  Funny how hanging on to your own so-called "rights" (hmm, I think that is actually called self-righteousness) can end up becoming a lesson in humility. And, how does the lesson happen?  It takes place when we question ourselves about our actions or reactions or in actions, rather than going, "la, la, la...merrily on our way."   It might be referred to as a "teachable moment," that is, if we are willing.  It happens when we make a conscious effort (care enough) to question our behavior toward other people. 

Oh, man, I can see red when someone is a thoughtless or aggressive driver.  I have learned to let that go...I govern my own response to the actions of others.  I can react with anger and frustration, or not.  In that situation I can actually think this thought, "You, stupid, jerk...I hope blah, blah, blah."  Or, I can think this thought, "Take care of yourself, buddy -- you are better than this."  Big difference, huh?  And, you know what?  I have discovered an added benefit, I am not angry or frustrated.  Hoorah

Do we realize the power we have to defuse a situation that has turned ugly?  Do we have an attitude of tolerance and kindness ready and waiting to be used?  Do we need...or rather, must we always be right?  You remember that quote from the bible about treating other people how you would like to be treated?  Yeah, the power to generate goodwill in the lives of all the people you encounter -- friends, family, strangers, colleagues -- has a lot to do with thinking along those lines.  My gosh, we all have enough of our own burdens to carry without adding a load to the other guy's.

Give out daily doses of's really good medicine.  It heals the hurts of others, and strangely enough, our own, too.

With respect,
Thank you to Rice Agency for the use of the beautiful photo!
It is rare to see this many blooms at one time on a domestic cactus.  This particular cactus is from a cutting that belonged to my great, great, grandmother in Georgia.  My grandmother brought a cutting with her when she came to California and our family has enjoyed the quiet beauty of it for years.  This year, the blooms joyfully exploded.


Monday, May 31, 2010

The Many Avenues of Truth: Motives -- check in often

Hello! Sorry again that I haven't posted in two weeks -- crazy schedule -- fabulous and inspiring, but the kind that required my entire focus.

I have been thinking recently about the importance of motive, i.e. that little factor that shapes our thought and leads to action. Actually, motive is much larger than what we think, when you bring it into mind as a question, you can begin to define your response to the words and actions of others. Not only can you question your own motives -- you are free to investigate and determine the motivation of other people -- friends, family, colleagues, brief acquaintances, etc. Sometimes these questions are effortless to recognize, as in, "What on earth was he/she thinking?" We all easily recognize that thought! Sometimes, not so much.

Today's discussion is about quietly assessing why we or someone else has said or done something. It is a valuable tool, for ourselves (why are we thinking, saying or doing whatever it is we are thinking, saying or doing) or...why is someone else saying or doing something.

I have heard it said that our motives are the same thing as our desires. Hmmm, ok...what do people want – way deep down? We all want to be happy...I think it is that simple.
How do motives play into the happiness plan? Motives lead to intentions.

Now, having said that mouthful, let me begin to explain:  There are lots and lots of ways to approach anything. We each choose on an infinitesimal scale daily what we are going to say and do. All interactions involve what? Yay, you guessed it -- people. So, we have our own motives...and make no mistake about am I going to respond today so I can express my own idea of happiness... love, patience, mercy and peace or am I going to get what I want regardless of the pain/discomfort/humiliation/loss of confidence/sadness/hurt/ it might cause another person? That itty-bitty definition is motive boiled down to its core.

You don't suck it up like your favorite strawberry milkshake. -- DCR

What about the motivations of other people? I love my mama -- she boils stuff down to the core in every interaction she has -- she knows where her feet are and can pretty much tell you why the other guy is saying or doing whatever it is he/she saying or doing. Gosh, I appreciate that skill. There is no fooling her. She has lived long enough to know the wisdom of asking that question...why? She taught her girls to ask that question...did we always listen? Well, that is another story.

For ourselves, we can ask the question... how is this going to effect someone else-- is this thought/conversation/action constructive or destructive? And, hey, no matter what you are telling yourself, you know the answer. You may want to start practicing a little self-awareness -- we may be just a little rusty on that one -- but it is how we take responsibility for our thoughts/words and actions. And please, don't be vague here. Gosh, don't you just love vague -- you can hide all sorts of things there. Smiling.

Let's talk about why it might be wise to question other folks' motives? Because you are not a complete ninny, that is why. You are intelligent -- you realize people say or do stuff for all kinds of reasons that are not always in your best interest. Do you hate them for it? NO, you recognize what they are doing and why, then deflect it. You don't suck it up like your favorite strawberry milkshake. We live and learn. If we care at all, we learn to recognize motivations and behaviors.

You want an example? OK. You have a friend that always, always shares his/her drama with you...seeking your input (which by the way you give with your whole heart and good intentions)...but stuff never changes, the drama continues in one form or another. Does the relationship drama in his/her life ever get fixed? Does he/she ever actually solve the problem? In this situation his or her motivation for telling you these private problems isn't really for you to fix it, this person is just using you for a dumping ground -- your input goes in one ear and out the other. This isn't is destructive if you are feeling sad, drained, frustrated or tired after a conversation with this person. OK, so... you now recognize what this person is doing and stop your emotional investment. Sure, you can still listen if you want (I wouldn't, but that is my take), but know that you cannot invest yourself in helping this person solve anything. You are not being are recognizing motivation and choosing how you are going to respond to it.

Either recognizing what motivates ourselves or other is valuable. It is a tool you will want to use often. It will make a difference in your own happiness and for others, too.

Constructive...destructive? It is up to you.

With respect and affection,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So Sorry - more to come

Hi there,
My apologies for the lapse in posting.  Our family is in the process of a new business start-up and it has taken more of my time than I thought.  I will have a new post either this weekend or early next week.  Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Live in the changes worry and stress

We all sure worry, don't we? We worry about what is going to happen tomorrow (future). We worry about what happened yesterday (past).  I've have been talking to people lately  about anxiety and fear and and most of them seem to be conditioned into the art of worry, too.  We are certainly not alone in that leaking boat.   

Recently I have been thinking about the importance of "living in the moment"; what that concept really means and how it could impact the worry habit.  Here is the deal about living in the don't get to drag anything from the past or imagine any future bad stuff into the present moment -- it simply is impossible.  To live in THIS moment is to have only what you are experiencing NOW in it.  What is that?  Right now.  Can you really pay off those student loans right now?  Can you save that important relationship right now?  Can you lose that extra 10 lbs. right now?  Can you pay off your mortage right now?  Can you make up for all the crappy stuff you might have done, right now?  I am here to tell you the answer to that is No, nope, uh uh.  The "I should have..." and "what ifs" don't fit into the present reality of right now.  

So, you might ask, what can I do right now, in THIS moment.  You can be still and focus on the good in your life.  This is the "feeling the sunshine on your face" moment, or the "wow, that poppy is a fabulous color of orange" moment, or the "he/she has the most beautiful smile " moment.  If we don't focus on the right now, we might miss the fullness and depth of beauty, grace, friendship, prosperity, love, generosity, and yes, dare I say held in this one moment.  And, the joy of THIS moment isn't always about other people or things.  It can be about you.  It can be as simple as "I love my hair today" or as moving as the thought, "I am totally in a great place and I know everything will be fine" to "I am so loved and that makes me happy."  

Flip the script, folks...Recognize as you are folding the clothes -- "I am taking care of my family".  Recognize as you are paying bills (ouch) -- "I paid for my phone this month".  Recognize as you are driving to work -- "I have a car".  Recognize as you are preparing your project for presentation -- "I have been given this to do and I can do it well".  Recognize as you are sitting on the patio enjoying the breeze and beverage and beautiful evening -- "this is nice".  Do you see how past events or things that might happen tomorrow don't really fit into this present moment?

So much of the "stuff" we stress about isn't even events or people in our lives... it is about how we think about it that creates the worry.   

Definitions of worry from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
(I kinda relate all of these definitions to what we do to ourselves when we worry...)

1 dialect British : choke, strangle (we are strangling our happiness)
2 a : to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat b : to shake or pull at with the teeth c : to touch or disturb something repeatedly d : to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling (we are biting and snapping at ourselves; constantly revisiting the problem or hauling that mental rock up the hill at every opportunity)
3 a : to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment : torment b : to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort (we are beating ourselves up)
4 : to afflict with mental distress or agitation : make anxious
How can you live in the moment?  Insist on changing the worrying moments into now moments.  Let the past go (what can really you do about it anyway?) and the future unfold, as it inevitably will. 
Here are some ideas that may be blocking you from living in and enjoying the moment:
assumptions (thinking you know how something will turn out or why someone said or did something); continually creating drama (take a breath and give the other person(s) a break); taking it all personally (me, me, me, mine, mine, mine -- reminds me of the seagulls and the little NEMO fish); living (rolling around in and wallowing -- oooh, but the mud feels so cool) in the negative; ruminating on the should have, could have, would have, scenarios (two months or one year from now, you won't even remember most of the things that are currently looming so large in your life); pity party -- poor, poor me (aren't you sick of your own misery, yet?  Everyone else is...).  Interesting list, eh?
Let's go back to the positive.  Be alert to focus on the good, the happy, the sweet, the things that touch you deeply, the beauty and order of the leaves on the trees.  Good surrounds us and we often run right by it in our rushing thoughts to solve the problem. Oh, and one more thing I have found to be so useful...ask yourself this question..."What am I thankful for?"
Oh gosh, wishing you happy, peaceful, satisfying NOW moments.  This is one of them.
With respect,

Thank you to Rice Agency for the photo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Regrets...How much time do you give to them?

My apologies for missing a new post last week.  I was otherwise occupied.  Smile. 

Okay, Okay.  We all have regrets -- y'know those actions, words or thoughts we wish we could undo or take back with a big, screaming, "Do Over!"  Remember, when you were a kid and it was as easy as that -- yelling, "Do Over"!  Unfortunately, adult life really doesn't work like an etch-a-sketch and "poof" the regret is erased.  I guess the big question is how to move on from thinking about them, or thinking about how to correct them, or how to ease the pain we experience every single time we revisit them.

"You absolute bonehead, how could you have said/done that?" -- DCR

Another it really the actual words or actions we regret, or the feelings we experience when we recall them, like one of my particular favorites when having a discussion with myself on the topic..."You absolute bonehead, how could you have said/done that?"  I'm thinking it is a bit of both.  We are sorry we did/said whatever it was and we really don't like the feeling that comes when we think about it -- the memory makes us feel even more miserable.

Sidetrack...Do you know people who make regret into a victimization art?  They are so good at it, they make you feel badly for them and kaboomski you are suddenly part of their whole regret scenario and you continually try to help them feel better.  How goofy is that?  It is like a heroin addiction..."Ooooh, but it feels so good to feel bad." Eeeeeuuu.  I know people like that and I am finally smart enough (TYG) to run as far and as fast as I can.

Okay, okay, back to my original point.  How much time and thought do we need to give to our regrets before we learn from them and move on?  Aha! Did you notice how I was sneaky there and threw in the "we learn from them" part?  A regret can play on and on like a loop on a tape, until it looms so large, that it morphs into something that becomes a part of us.  You need to recognize it if that is what you are doing.  

There are things we do or say that we really do need to face, admit and fix if we can.  It happens.  There is my point in a happens.  At one time or another, we all do and say stuff that is incredibly stupid or selfish or mean or any variety of the icky sorts of things our mommas told us not to do (if you are lucky enough that your momma passed along some wisdom).  Here comes the part I like...

Number one, if you are still doing something similar, stop doing it and number two, if you have the opportunity to say to the other person(s) involved that you are sorry... be big enough to say it and mean it. If you aren't still doing something similar but the thought of what you did keeps coming back like bad marinara sauce, tell yourself you are sorry you were so stupid and move on.  You have the power to do that.  You have the power and permission to have those conversations with yourself.  You can recognize your own poor behavior and feel sorry for it and fix it.  If you can't give yourself permission...I will.  Smile.  

I am getting to a juncture here.  Don't spend your energy or your life in the regret zone.  My God, people, can you give yourselves a break?  Stand up and take responsibility and then...wait for it...move on.  Think about it this way...Life is a big ol' school ground. We don't know everything at the beginning...we live it and learn as we go.  If you make a mistake on a math problem, do you wring your hands and cry for the rest of your life (unless you are me, the whole school quarter), or do you erase it and figure out how to correct it and move on?  Let's vote for the correct it and move on part. What is it you need to do that?  No, really, I am asking you a question.  You have to put some effort into this whole deal -- as in -- think it through.  The most amazing and wonderful thing happens when you face the regret head-on and take responsibility for it and fix it (if you can) and let it are free.  No more sadness, no more feeling like you are a bad person, no more snugglin' up to the bad feeling like it's a warm blankie.  You are free.  Imagine the relief, heck, imagine all the time and energy you will have to put into happiness or joy or new people or inspiration or creativity or...are you getting the idea?

You can wrap yourself in the stranglehold and twisted comfort of regrets or you can make the choice to open yourself up to living the life you really want., difficult, not really.  Look your little self in the eye (mirror is best) and give yourself permission to be whole.  It is not that scary.  You can do this...

With respect,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Contentment...comforted and that you?

Definition: comfort, happiness

Antonyms: discomfort, discontent, displeasure, dissatisfaction, misery, sadness, unhappiness

Do you ever feel contented -- just the wrap your arms around yourself and smile kind of contentment or satisfaction with your life?  I am talking about the "I love my life," kind of joy that comes when you feel your version of safe and happy?

The reason I am asking is that I have run into lots of people lately who seem to have no idea about that kind of feeling.  I was floored with astonishment.  Call me naive, or maybe even a little dense, but I really thought that most people had a handle on happy -- perhaps not both hands around it securely, but a least a now version of it clutched in their fingertips.

If I can share some insight or be helpful, I am always so happy to do it, so that attitude has often led to conversation safety in which people can share stuff with me. In discussing various topics in this blog site, some people have opened up to me and talked about some pretty intimate issues.    You know what I have noticed?  For many, many people, the art of feeling or recognizing contentment with their own lives is missing.  Satisfaction with their lives seems to be illusive and skipping over the next horizon of achievement, love, lover, house, car, honor, title, job, room makeover, self makeover, makeover makeover. Well, I exaggerated that last part a bit, but not much.  This quote by Murray Bookchin sums it up... 

"People are never free of trying to be content." - Murray Bookchin

What is going on?  Do we really not understand what defines us?  Is it a severe case of the if only, as in if only I had chosen that other job or bought that other house or lost that 20 lbs., or (sigh) fallen in love with or married someone else?  Or, do we not have a flippin' clue what we want?

I am running screaming straight into the jungle...waving my arms... see them?  Darlings, each and everyone one...don't you know that you are loved just because you are you? And, please don't miss the fact that YOU can love you, just because you are you.  My God you don't have to work so hard at this.  I want to pat people on the back and say, "it's gonna be okay," then I want to give them a swift kick and whisper through clenched teeth, "work at it."

If we had all the answers all the time, we could all lie around and eat peaches...oooh, with cream.  Discontent is the casual (or not) feeling that something is always not quite right and needs something else to fix it or complete it.  Contentment is knowing that life is flexible and has curves and winding turns and requires our participation...and that we are good for it.  That is the part...the intuition or gut instinct that seems to be missing...that thing that helps us to understand and know that IT IS going to be alright and we can do it, take it, change it, accept it, live with it and move forward.  We are not paralyzed or inadequate or incapable or silly or stupid or afraid to think and act.  We absolutely have the power to make decisions that make us happy.  

That stupid saying so popular right now...No offered up on a plate like cold gravy.  It is an insult.  It might as well be a bat. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what the intent of it is supposed to be.  However, it is the intellectual equivalent of telling someone he or she is half-witted and has miss-stepped."  Ok, I feel better having gotten that off my chest.

Are you really unhappy?  What is it you want?  Please realize that new car probably isn't going to do it for you.  Neither is that new job title or moving to Vermont.  These are symbols of some version of a success script you have written.  Now, I am not saying I don't love a new car like a hug around the neck, but c'mon, if you are just grazing through life's high points to get yourself by until the next one, at some point, you just gotta sit down and turn the gaze inward and ask the difficult questions. Or, how about this, stop all of that and just look up, say, Thanks to the universe and Know.  Know that you have the where-with-all, the guts, the heart, the innate ability for appreciation and gratitude for your life...and that... that carries with it the grace to feel peace. 

Yep, here is my take on it...we have to work at peace and contentment, if only through the thoughts and actions of gratitude.  Gratitude and appreciation will move you from self-pity to the recognition of all that you have in your possession.  When we get a real understanding of that big picture, the steps we need to take, come.  When we take the steps, we feel empowered, our self-esteem rises and we feel even better. It really is very simple, so let's stop beating ourselves up...okay?  Step by step, know.  Step by step, appreciate.  Step by step, love.  Step by step, think.  Step by step, feel the love and strength and goodness that surrounds you.  Step by step, you will know what to do.

Love you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

When the high, low and self-righteous roads connect...ouch!

Truth Today
Oh well, ok...we all know we are supposed to take the high road in any given situation. Yep -- easy.  Basics:  The high road is when you make the choice that seems to be the most ethical and/or moral.  The low road is when you make the choice that 1) will benefit you, 2) put the other person at some disadvantage or 3) makes it easiest (seemingly) for yourself. The self-righteous road is when you convince yourself you are taking the high road, when really, you are manipulating the facts to make it easier to do what you want to do anyway. 

Easy example:  There is only one serving of chocolate creme brulee left and your decision is to eat it, share it with your mate or wrap it up and take it to your co-worker with the sweet tooth who is going through such a difficult time.  Solutions:  Low road, you eat it.  High road, you share it or at least attempt to share it.  Self-righteous road, you eat it and tell yourself that your mate has already had several servings and/or the lady at work needs to lose weight and the creme brulee wouldn't help her in the long run.

Pretty self-explantory, right?  Let's step it up a bit...right into the ethics of relationships and human interaction categories.

The high, low and self-righeous roads connect when we make choices with the wrong (eeeuuu) motives.  Example:  You and your mate have a long discussion/argument about spending habits.  High road, "Honey, I see your point, so let's work on this together and check in with each other before spending more than $50 on something."  Low road, "Honey, I see your point, so let's work on this together and check in with each other before spending more than $50 bucks on something."  Then, when those cute, cute shoes calling your name, appear, you put it on the credit card and don't mention it.  Self-righteous road, "Honey, I see your point, so let's work on this together and check in with each other before spending more than $50 bucks on something."  Then, when those cute, cute shoes appear, you spend your stashed cash and not only don't mention it, but justify it with, "He/She (your mate) is always buying a Starbucks coffee, so it won't hurt if I buy these for me.  He/She never needs to know."

Here is another one:  You have a colleague at work that drives you bonkers.  You are smart enough to know that it is in your best interest to try to get along and not make waves in the office, so you are always nice to her face.  You run into her on your morning coffee break and briefly chat about nothing, maybe she says she is having a tough time on a project -- break is over and you smile and tell her to have a good day.  Later, over lunch with your buds you tell them about running into her.  High road, "I ran into Ruth this morning and she is really working hard on the xyz project."  Low road, "I ran into that beeatch Ruth this morning and she was whining about how hard she has it."  Self-righteous road, "I saw Ruth this morning and she is way over her head on the xyz project and she is going to make it hard on all of us."  In other hack her up into little pieces for the love of gossip and/or to make yourself seem a little more important.

Cutting to the chase -- these might sting a little...

You have an argument with your mate or best friend that doesn't really get resolved.  Self-righteous road, you take the argument to all your buds and present only your side of it (in a very nice and well-meaning way) to get them to trash the other person, so you feel "right", "justified", or "superior".

You manage a group of people and a problem comes up about someone in the group -- Joe. Self-righteous road, "I can get Joe in line if I share just a part of this with him and put my own spin on it. That will solve the whole problem and be good for everyone involved."

Are you getting my drift here?  Never fear, there is a litmus test of questions you can ask yourself to find out which road is looming before you.

First, of course...The Golden Rule...Ask yourself, "Would I want someone to do this to me(think about me) this way?

Second, Media Rule...Ask yourself, "Would I make this same decision if it were announced on local tv and everyone would know I made it?

Third, Moral Rule...Ask yourself, "If I make this decision will I like the person I see in the mirror everyday?  Will he/she be the reflection of the person I want/strive to be?"

Fourth, Mentor Rule...Ask yourself, "If I make this decision, will my mom or dad or (someone you admire) be proud of me?"

There you go, food for thought.  That high road isn't such a high road if it isn't taken honestly and with good intention.  All the familiar words pop up here...ethics, morals, honesty, integrity, kindness, principles, etc.  It never hurts to ask ourselves a few questions and get back honest answers.  Living life and interacting with others (especially those you love) in a transparent way, gives us lots of room to grow in our relationships and strengthen our own characters.  Not a bad thing.

Hey, always with respect,