Friday, January 29, 2010

Living Out Loud

"One cannot have wisdom without living life." ~ Dorothy McCall

Life is complicated. It's not easy to live without messing up once in a while. Some of us are way too hard on ourselves.

You don't learn unless you are experiencing things. You don't experience things without making mistakes and taking wrong turns.

We can be so cautious that we never fully live. Trying not to make mistakes or playing it safe holds us at arms length from life.

I believe that we are alive on this planet to learn lessons and to grow personally and spiritually.

Children make lots of mistakes as they learn the lessons of growing up. If adults are living life to the fullest, they will take wrong roads, make mistakes and fail sometimes too. It's all part of the process of living life out loud!

It's definitely worth it! Failure and mistakes are not the end of us! They can become the fodder for our growth and development!

Live out loud!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Slow Down

"There is more to life than simply increasing it's speed." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This quote speaks to me on a deep level! I'm very focused on efficiency and productivity. I really like to get lots and lots done. It feels frustrating to me when I am not as productive as I think I should be.

As I get older, however, I'm really trying to learn to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the ride a bit more. I'm learning about 'down time' and am trying to achieve balance.

Ideally, I have all of the following components in each day:

family/friends - socializing/connection
exercise/physical activity
quiet time
household chores
doing something to help others

I don't always achieve all of these things each day, but it's my goal. The most often neglected are quiet time and fun. I'm committed to changing this!

I think we need quiet time and fun on a regular basis. It's important for our health and well being.

How balanced are you? Are you going at the speed of light all the time? Do you get enough sleep and rest?

Take a look at how balanced or imbalanced you are... and make some corrections!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Will it Transform You or Break You?

In one of my daily journals, I recently came across the following quote:

"Misfortune had made Lily supple instead of hardening her, and a pliable substance is less easy to break than a stiff one." ~ Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)

This quote spoke to me. I have been thinking a great deal lately, about how we react to, and are changed, by the misfortunes that befall us in life.

I've seen many people become hard and bitter by the unfair things that have happened to them. I've seen other people accept and adapt to what comes their way.

Life has thrown me some curve balls I never would have expected. Some of them have been exceedingly unpleasant. As I have done my best to navigate these waters, I've had to face my options. I would have just cause to become cynical and bitter. I know I could go that route. But what good would that do me? Would it help me face today or tomorrow with any more skill or alacrity? I don't think so.

I've decided that these pitfalls and setbacks are just part of the normal road called LIFE. We all have them. They can either propel us forward, or we can allow them to drag us down.

I choose to use them to learn, grow and face today and tomorrow with a bit more wisdom and resilience.

THIS IS LIFE. I'm no different. I'm not going to have an easier time of it than other people get. I'm going to have my share of hardship and misfortune. It doesn't mean I'm being picked on. It means... I'm human, and I'm having my share of the normal "stuff" that comes with living this thing called human life!

Don't take it so personally. Everyone loses someone or something through the course of life. Everyone gets cheated and lied to at some point in their journey. Everyone experiences deep disappointment. Eventually, everybody gets shocked by the actions of those they trusted. Everyone gets treated unfairly at some point. It's not personal. It's life.

So what are you gonna do with it when it comes your way?

I say, you live, you learn, you chalk it up to experience... and you go forward with new knowledge. That's what I try to do!

Live, learn, grow, accept. It's what life is all about!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nola is Speaking January 31, 2010!

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be speaking at Celebration Church, in Wilsonville Oregon, January 31, 2010!

My talk title is:

"Facing Fear... Finding Freedom"

Fear is something that all of us deal with in one way or another. It's part of the human experience. We don't have choice about whether fear will show up in our lives, it's a given that we will feel fear. How we choose to view and react to fear, however, is entirely up to us.

In this talk I'll explore this thing called fear and how we can transform our relationship to it and find true freedom!

Click here for more information

Worth the Wait

For several months before Christmas, I was working on a special gift for my two brothers. I was scanning all the photographs of our childhood - which were housed in an unbelievably large number of photo albums! I also scanned photos from my mother's old albums, albums of both of my grandmothers and a few other relatives.

This was a herculean task that took me a couple hundred hours! Not only did I need to scan the photos (at high resolution, which took tons of time and a huge amount of hard disk storage space), I needed to do various cropping and file conversion processes. It was an absolutely consuming and complex process.

Keeping everything organized was a challenge all it's own. Taking good care of the pictures and repairing damage to the albums added another element of challenge.

All the while, I had to keep the secret from my brothers. Even when one of my brothers was visiting my home before Christmas, I worked on the project with him in the room with me, unbeknownst to him, so that I might finish on time. I was working on the photo project up through Christmas eve! I barely finished in time.

I've never been good at keeping secrets. I'm a very open person, and especially if something is exciting - I have a hard time keeping it to myself. I knew that my brothers were going to be very excited about the project and each time I saw or spoke to them it was all I could do to keep the secret. I wanted to tell them so badly it hurt!

The difficulty of keeping the secret, however, all faded away on Christmas day when they opened their joint gift. They were, indeed, pleased with the gift, and later that day we enjoyed a long slide show to view the 3,500 pictures I had scanned.

I had digitized our history. We laughed and reminisced and remembered. It was everything I'd hoped for... and well worth the wait!

Patience can indeed be a virtue.

Some things are definitely worth waiting for! Remember that the next time you feel temped to short circuit some process you're involved in.

Patience... Patience... Patience!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Universal Reminders

Several years ago, my mom, uncle and I took a 2 week tour of Texas, to visit relatives and go to all of the small towns where my grandfather was a minister about 70 years ago. We visited several of the churches where he served as the minister, but most of those visits occurred during the week. In one small West Texas town, we decided to attend the Sunday service. This was a very special church for us, as the same building where my grandpa preached stands to this day.

Here is a picture of me standing at the pulpit!

We arrived for the service a little on the early side. I had called the current minister a day in advance, told him who we were, and that we would be attending the service. We met with him early to make swap a few stories. Then, we took a seat in the small church. We were 2 or 3 pews back. The church was pretty empty. I'd say there weren't more than 20 people total in attendance.

At the conclusion of the service we stuck around to chat with some of the congregants. One man even remembered my grandfather!

One man, who was obviously a wealthy rancher and a big wig in the community spoke to my uncle, and let him know in no uncertain terms that we had 'taken' someone else's pew that morning. The man seemed very displeased with where we had chosen to sit.

I was flabbergasted! Here we were, returning to a place my grandfather had served many years ago, and someone was bent out of shape because we sat in the wrong pew? What kind of sense does that make?? It seemed so petty... and downright silly. Could it really be such a big deal to have to sit a few seats over ONE Sunday in your life? Geez.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

On Saturday, I went to one of my favorite restaurants for lunch. I have a little routine that I like to go through each time I go there. I'm comforted by repetition and routine. I have 'my parking spot' that is right in front of the restaurant. It's very close to the front door of the restaurant, but that's not why I like it. It is the only spot that guarantees no door dings!

Once inside the restaurant, I have my favorite table. Everyone who works there knows its 'my' table. They will even hold it open for me at lunch time during the week, for several minutes after opening, just in case I should come in! Very sweet!

I usually try to be there right at opening time - so that I can get 'my' parking spot and 'my' table.

Saturday, I arrived 4 minutes after the opening time. Just as I came into the parking lot, I noticed a big vehicle parking in MY spot! They arrived almost at the exact same moment that I had. I felt annoyed and a little victimized! I was only 4 minutes late! Why was MY SPOT taken already!

I found myself feeling a bit resentful of these people, whoever they were.

As I walked into the restaurant, I saw a woman get out of the car. I'm really hoping I didn't give her a cross look... like "HOW DARE YOU!"

I got seated at "my" table, and I glanced out the window. "My parking spot" is just outside the window. I watched the woman I'd seen, open the passenger door and help a very elderly woman out of the vehicle. The woman had a lot of trouble moving.

Instantly I felt very very silly, and more than a little embarrassed at my inner (and outer) behavior.

These people NEEDED that parking spot. As I said, it was close to the front door.

I actually felt a little ashamed of myself, if the truth be told.

I was feeling towards these people, EXACTLY the same as the wealthy rancher was feeling about my family and I taking someone else's pew at church!

It isn't "my parking spot" anymore than that pew belonged to any particular person or group of people.

We aren't 'entitled' to reserved seating in this life. Often times someone else needs the spot worse than we do! When we don't get what we want, and someone else does, we should be happy for them, and not feel sorry for ourselves.

We need to learn to share! I include myself in that statement!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Kick in the Butt

A few years ago, a friend gave me a little pillow for the couch where my counseling/coaching clients sit during their sessions. The pillow says,

"We all need a little push now and then."

Well, sometimes I require a swift kick in the backside to get me where I need to go!

I was feeling in a bit of a funk a few days ago. I was getting things done, but it was a bit of a struggle. I had lots on my plate, and it seemed daunting.

Then, with one request made of me, I switched gears entirely! The request caused me to kick it in to high gear and get busy! I had no choice. The request was something I really wanted to do, but it had a short time line attached to it. I sprung into action.

The most interesting thing, however, is that... not only did I get moving on the thing itself, but I suddenly was infused with energy to tackle and resolve a bunch of other 'open items' on my to do list. I scheduled several trips and work items, sent out some invoices, and basically whipped through some things that normally would have taken me a lot longer to handle. I have been ON FIRE - all because of one simple request that required me to hustle and spring into action. This energy was contagious to the rest of my life!!

When you feel stuck - look for ONE area where you can take a leap forward. Often this alone will help you build some momentum and make progress in other areas!

Invite the swift kick! It can be a little scary, but it can make all the difference in where we are heading and what we will accomplish!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sifting Through the Sand

I came across this quote in a journal that a friend gave me for Christmas:

"Like an old gold-panning prospector, you must resign yourself to digging up a lot of sand from which you will later patiently wash out a few minute particles of gold ore." ~ Dorothy Bryant

I have one thing to say about that... "Ain't it the truth?"

OK, I lied. I never have just one thing to say about anything! I can start with that, however.

It is so true that, in the course of our lives, we have to dig up and sort through a LOT of useless sand in order to find a few, precious gems worth holding on to.

I think we often times get caught up in an expectation that most of what we dig up should be gold ore, and we feel like somethings wrong when that isn't what happens.

Who told us that it's all supposed to be easy? Where did we get the idea that everything WE THINK should happen will just fall into our laps? We have some strange ideas about what life is about!!

Gold is valuable, because it is rare.

There are a lot of ordinary experiences and happenings in life. Those are valuable in their own right, but not every single moment is going to be filled with ecstasy and fireworks. That isn't how life is!

Sometimes we have to work very hard at something, for a very long time, before we see any tangible result. If we give up at the first hill we have to climb, what are we missing out on?

I like the analogy of panning for gold. Lots and lots has to be 'sifted through' in order to find a few precious nuggets of gold. If every pan was filled with gold, it would be worthless!

Our high, peak experiences are rare, and that's what makes them so amazing.

I believe we can learn to value and enjoy the process of sifting through the sand and appreciate it for the opportunity it affords us! It has it's own beauty, if we simply let it be what it is.

there's a lot of

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday....

to life! That is... sifting through the sand.

If we spend it all wishing we were doing something more exciting, with someone more interesting, were able to travel, retire, get married, have children, have our children out of the house, make more money... we are missing our life.

Enjoy the gold nuggets that come along and learn to appreciate sifting through the sand! It's what we spend most of our lifetimes doing... and we wouldn't have any gold without that piece of our process!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Surfing the Wind

Last week I spent several days on the magnificent Washington coast. I love being at the ocean in the winter time. I always wish for good storms. I love to experience the power of nature (while safely inside a warm room, of course).

As the rain and wind pounded the coast for several straight days, I couldn't help making a comparison between the fury of this outer storm, and the emotional storms that can rage inside us.

Sometimes those inner emotional states seem relentless and without end. That's how I was feeling about the multi day storm at the beach. It wasn't bad when it started, but it got stronger and stronger, and I eventually did grow a bit weary of it. Then, it started to freak me out a bit. That sometimes happen when we are in the midst of strong emotions. Wave after wave comes over us, and the intensity grows.

Watching the wind whip the trees was a bit scary - even for me, the storm lover.

The last morning of my trip, I was treated to an amazing treat. For about an hour, right outside my windows, two bald eagles were surfing the wind currents! They were "playing" in the winds of this crazy violent storm!!

They didn't run away or hide from the storm. They went out into it... to see what use they could make of it. They had the courage, willingness, strength and conditioning to 'enjoy' the storm!

What a concept!

It made me think about how we often feel it's impossible to be happy, or enjoy our lives when 'bad' things are going on... or we are in the midst of a difficult experience or emotional reaction.

I believe the eagles demonstrate a different possibility for us all! The eagles were not afraid of the storm. They found a way to make use of the wind, and have a little fun at the same time!

I believe that we can do that as well!

Even when we are in the midst of difficult life circumstances, or painful emotions, we can realize that the difficulty and the pain are not ALL that is available to us. We can find something in the present moment that allows us a measure of joy and contentment? I believe the answer is... of course we can. Always!

Next time a storm is raging in your life... or your emotions... realize that this too will pass - even if it feels endless. Then, look for SOMETHING that you can enjoy or do in the moment that either makes use of the storm, or at least allows you to experience the storm differently.

Surf that wind!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sharing the Pain

I love the TV show, "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman." It is a great family show about a woman doctor, Michaela Quinn, who moves from Boston to the 'wilds' of Colorado in the 1860s. She starts her medical practice, becomes a mother to 3 orphaned children, champions many good causes, and meets and falls in love with Byron Sully ("Sully").

Dr. Mike, as she is called, and Sully eventually get married.

One of the funniest 'woman giving birth' scenes I've ever watched is in this show. There is a scene where Dr. Mike, with only Sully attending her, gives birth to their daughter "Katie" in the woods. The couple is a bit frightened at the unexpected prospect of delivering their daughter alone in the wilderness, but 'buck up' under the pressure and rise to the occasion.

At one moment, during a break between contractions, Michaela is gently touching Sully's face, encouraging him through his fears about delivering their baby. Suddenly she is gripped in the pain of another contraction, and her gentle stroking turns into a death grip on Sully's cheeks! She is screaming as she pulls his cheeks outward. The resulting image is hilarious, but obviously painful! He tries to 'take it' in solidarity with his wife, but he's obviously wishing it would stop!

As amusing as this scene is (and it IS funny) it made me think about a not-so-amusing tendency in human nature. That being, that when someone is in pain, especially if they perceive that they have been hurt by another person, there is often an impulse to hurt back. "You hurt me... I'll hurt you." It's also known as revenge. Most people might deny that they believe in revenge, but if their actions are really looked at, they do their best to make the other person feel some pain.

It's not an easy path to take the high road and not stoop to that level. It takes a lot of self discipline and maturity to walk away from someone who has hurt you, with dignity and your head held high. There is no better feeling in the world than doing so! Yet, so many people don't take that road. It's easier to give in to the emotions... to the impulses and lash out. Often, we regret these actions after the fact, but then it is too late.

Lots of spiritual traditions teach about not seeking revenge, and taking a higher path, even when you've been wronged by another person. There is a reason for that. It is both a spiritual practice (to seek to take this path) AND it is a sign of spiritual maturity when we can do it. It is not an easy undertaking. A lot of time the feelings can rage on the inside, but the key is to learn to hold the internal reaction, and still make a good outward choice. Eventually those feelings dissipate, but an action, taken in anger and haste, cannot be retracted. It can leave us feeling embarrassed, humiliated, and more often than not, it makes us look worse than the person who did the original act that provoked us.

We shouldn't be doormats for other people, but there are dignified and assertive ways to deal with people who have hurt us. Seeking to walk that path is like taking a super hard class. It's difficult to do... but as we 'master' this practice we feel a sense of accomplishment that simply can't come from anywhere else!

Take the high road!

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Never too Late to Discover the Good!

I'm 45 years old. Until this past week, I had never eaten a fish taco. Ever. They never appealed to me before. If just didn't seem like 'my thing.'

For some reason, this past Friday night, I was having dinner with my mom to commemorate what would have been my father's 80th birthday. I was at a restaurant I've visited many times. I know their menu well, and I definitely have my favorite items. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a creature of habit. I am comforted by the routine and the familiar.

Many of my friends eat fish tacos all the time. In fact, I had lunch with a friend on Tuesday last week, and that is what she ordered. I've seen them many times, and while they looked somewhat appealing... I was simply never interested.

This past Friday evening, for some inexplicable reason, I had an intense desire to try fish tacos! It was kind of strange, actually. I ordered the fish tacos... and I was almost overwhelmed by how much I LOVED them! They were fabulous!

I had dinner with my brother on Sunday, at a Mexican restaurant, and guess what I ordered again??? I'm hooked!

I find it interesting that I've gone so many years and never had the slightest interest in trying this particular food item and now it is a new favorite. Just like that!

It teaches me two things. First, tastes and interests can change at any time! This is great news for anyone who thinks they can't change their eating habits!

The second thing I learned is that it's never too late to discover good things. No matter how old we get, there is always more to discover in this world of ours.

So much life awaits our discovery! We just need a spirit of willingness to try new things and a belief that it is always possible to find the good!

Friday, January 15, 2010

80 Years Ago Today...

80 Years ago today, my dad was born. Although he passed away over a decade ago, I still like to remember his birthdays and honor him each year.

Me with a cake for my dad on a birthday many years ago...,

This year feels special, because it is big milestone birthday. I try to imagine hat it would be like to still be able to talk to him, hear him tell stories and laugh together. I miss him.

My dad had a rough end of life experience. He was sick and his health was deterioriating for 20 years before he died. It was a hard process for him to go through, and it was a painful experience to witness, for those of us who loved him. He suffered a lot. We all felt helpless and sad to watch his process.

Yet, even with those last many years being difficult, he had lived a life that mattered. He made a difference in my life - not only by being my biological father, but by all he taught me during the years I was lucky enough to have him with me.

I have friends in their 60s who still have both of their parents. I also know people who never knew one or both of their parents, or who lost a parent at a young age. Who knows why some of us get to keep our parents with us long into our mature years, and other don't. It's a mystery. There is no right or wrong about it. It simply... is.

Today I remember my father, Michael Drazdoff. I am greatful to have been his daughter, and to have benefited from the man that he was. With his good qualities, and his weaknesses, he taught me a lot about how to live.

I love you daddy! Happy 80th birthday!

I love this picture. Dad had built this picnic table the day before, and had
just put in a bunch of time working in our garden. He and our dog are taking
'er easy after all the work!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Honesty and Asking for Help... What a Revelation!

I'm writing from the stormy, awesome Pacific coast. I'm on a trip with a friend visiting one of my favorite beaches. A rain storm is raging, as I sit in front of the huge window looking out, through the evergreen trees at the wild and powerful surf. There is a foggy mist in the air... it is January on the Pacific coast. I love it!

They have special deals at resorts and hotels at this time of the year, because not many people seek to come to the ocean when it is cold and stormy. It is ideal for me! No people, lots of wild life and an experience of the powerful forces of nature. It reminds me that I am not in control, and that there is much more to this existence of ours - than my particular experience of this life.

My friend drove up from Oregon, and I drove south from Seattle. We met 1/2 way between her house and mine. We had lunch on the water in a pretty major city, and then began a quest to leave one of our cars parked safely there so that we could ride together the last 2 hours to our destination.

We tried a 'park and ride' but were shocked to find a gravel parking lot in the middle of the woods. Not exactly a safe place to leave a car for a few days!

We decided to go into a small town and look for a place near a truck stop or gas station. We even considered parking a car at the tiny hospital in the town. Somehow I felt like we were doing something wrong!

My friend saw the tiny little police station and suggested that maybe we should just go in, tell them what we wanted to do and ask for a suggestion about where to leave the car. What a concept! Be honest, make a request, and let it be that straightforward.

That's what we did, and the small town cop was delightfully helpful. He suggested that we leave the car parked across the street from the police station so that he and his fellow officers could keep an eye on it. He took our contact information, just in case anything happened to the car.


We had spent 1/2 hour considering different options before we just went in and asked for help directly. Then, our dilemma was instantly resolved and we were able to relax, knowing that the car was just about as safe as it could be.

We plan on taking the officers a small gift to say Thank You when we return to pick up the car.

What was it in me that felt we were doing something wrong by simply wanting a place to park a car? Interesting. Why did I feel like we needed to be sneaky about it? My friend had a refreshing approach - be honest about what we needed, and ask for help. What was the worst that could have happened? I was impressed with the simplicity of the solution - and the directness. It illustrates something I would like to experience more and more of in my life.

Be honest and ask for what you need. What a concept!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Everyone Else is Getting Bailed Out...

I've seen a commercial on television a couple times recently that provokes a sense of irritation inside me.

It's an advertisement by a lawyer, who is trying to sell her services - I believe she helps people settle problems with the IRS. That, in and of itself, is a fine and virtuous undertaking. I have no quarrel with that part of her presentation.

There comes a moment, however, when she uses this line:

"Everyone else is getting bailed out.... why not you?"

Each time I hear it, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I find it such an obvious symptom of so many things that are wrong in our world today.

There was a time when getting 'bailed out' had a very negative connotation. It implied getting yourself into some sort of trouble, usually not an innocent accident, and requiring someone else to 'make it right' and 'clean up your mess.' For many of us, it still has that meaning.

There is certainly nothing wrong with needing or accepting assistance from others. That is part of the human experience. To feel entitled, however, to having someone else clean up a mess that you yourself created, is troublesome to me.

Personal responsibility for one's decisions, actions and life is part of being a healthy and well adjusted adult. Expecting someone else to take care of the problems you create is a cop out.

We all make mistakes and we all get into messes. That too is part of the human experience. We have the opportunity to learn lessons and do things differently in the future. The best chance of this happening is when we face our self created circumstances, accept responsibility, clean up the mess and move on to a different and brighter future!

Let's not be looking for someone else to 'bail us out' no matter how many other people are taking that route! Just because other people (or organizations) are taking that path, doesn't mean it is healthy or constructive!

Awareness and self responsibility are the path to freedom. When we clean up our own mistakes, we are much less likely to make the same mistake in the future. Any parent knows this is a valuable way to learn.

Here's to Self Awareness and Self Responsibility!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Milestones & the Joy of Discipline

Today is my 600th Blog! I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

I undertook the discipline of writing each day back in 2007. A good friend of mine in NYC, who has published a couple books, suggested that I should write every day. When I was visiting him in November, he shared with me that he'd told a lot of 'would be' writers that they should write every day, but I was the only one who'd ever done it! I felt good hearing that.

Milestones are important. Some days I wonder why I'm writing this blog. There are plenty of times when I don't feel like it, or I'm tired and would rather just go to bed. Most days, however, I write anyway. It isn't always profound (I know), but I get some thought out on 'paper' as a commitment to myself.

It's a discipline... like working out. I believe something is happening in the process of writing that simply can't happen any other way.

Sometimes the things we do on an ongoing basis don't seem to have an immediate payoff. If something in us calls us to do them, however, we should persevere. I believe the 'payoff' can come at any time, and in many ways. We might not ever know exactly what our persistence has cultivated. I am, however, certain that it serves a purpose and advances us in the course of our endeavors!

To persist in something, with discipline, is an admirable undertaking. It is worthy of respect.

Today I am celebrating the milestone of 600 posts. When we pass through milestones, it feels good to pause, reflect and appreciate our efforts.

Got any big milestones that you are experiencing? Acknowledge... celebrate... Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Past Performance is No Guarantee

If you've done any investing at all, you've seen this warning,

"Past performance is no guarantee of future results."

It's so true. It's true in investing, and it's true in life.

In investing, they are warning the investor that if something has done well in the past, it is not wise to assume it will do well in the future - based on that fact alone.

In life, we all too often, expect that things will never change. When it does, we are sometimes offended!

In my work, I have heard the same stories over and over again. (As a person, I've lived many of them myself!)

He said he would always love me... but now he doesn't.

She said she would never, ever divorce, but now she wants to divorce me.

We've been friends for years, but now he is not interested in hanging out.

She 'used to' enjoy spending time with my family... but now she hates it.

He said he didn't want kids, we agreed not to, but now he is threatening to leave if we don't.

He used to be willing to stay home with me every night, but now he wants to go out all the time and is mad that I won't go.

We used to work out together... but now he is a couch potato.

It seemed like they'd be together forever, but they broke up. How could this be?

The fact that we humans get so 'surprised' when people and circumstances change... is sort of amusing to me. In a dynamic universe, where growth and change are the laws of the land... why should we believe that anything will remain constant? It violates the laws of the universe.

People break promises.
People change their minds.
People grow and change and alter their directions in life.

We seem to have a mindset that this is somehow wrong. Is it? Or is it just that we want to count on people and things never changing to give us a sense of security?

Obviously when people make commitments, they should take them seriously, at least in my humble opinion. Yet, sometimes people make mistakes, or they change in ways that we might not appreciate. We can be devastated by this, or we can accept that it is part of the human experience.

We should never accept being treated poorly or with disrespect. We have a right to voice our objections and walk away from such treatment.

To expect people to stay the same forever and to feel the same way about things forever, is unrealistic.

Allow people to change and grow. Embrace your own change and growth. Find a way to accommodate and adjust. Leave things behind when you have to, but don't be shocked by evolution.

If we stop being 'shocked' at people's behavior changes (both good and bad) we get ourselves on more even footing to deal with what confronts us.


Friday, January 08, 2010

Don't Bother Going In

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine yesterday, about wasting time.

He has a good friend who is a realtor. The realtor once told him that when you are looking at houses, if you pull up in front of a candidate and you don't like it, you shouldn't waste your time by going in. Why spend the time looking at a house you already know you aren't impressed with?

I recounted a discussion I'd had with a good friend who was reentering the dating scene after his long marriage ended. He was asking for some advice on how to deal with women he wasn't really interested in.

I suggested that he not lead anyone on, and that he should 'cut loose' any woman he knows he doesn't want to continue dating. I impressed upon him how much we women don't like mixed messages or to be encouraged when there is no hope.

He was worried that he might hurt someone's feelings, or that they might 'freak out' if he told them he wasn't interested. I suggested that it's better to let someone down easily before they get too emotionally involved... and that if any woman 'freaked out' at the news he wasn't interested after a date or two... he would be better off without her!

Both of these situations teach us something important: When you know something isn't right for you... don't try to make it work! If you know this person isn't someone you are interested in being with... set them free. If you know the house isn't for you... drive on by. If you know the job would kill you... let it go.

Whatever the decision, if you know, in your heart and gut, that something is wrong for you... don't waste your time. Don't waste anyone else's either.

Listen to your heart... and your gut. Tell the truth as soon as possible... and that includes telling the truth to yourself!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Acknowledging the Parts

I had a great talk with a client tonight on the telephone. We were working on a project to get out his next newsletter. He was arguing with me a lot about things that he hired me to be the expert on. As we went back and forth, I was getting a little frustrated.

Suddenly he acknowledged that 'a part of him' was resistant to the entire process within which we were engaged. As soon as he did that, our conversation began to shift.

He did an amazing thing. He acknowledged that there was part of him that was being a pain in the rear because that part didn't like or enjoy this type of work. Once he did that - giving voice to that part of him - the other parts of him that see and understand the value of our work - stepped in and took over. We got our work done, and moved forward on his project.

We all have different parts of ourselves. Some parts are constructive and others are wounded and destructive. ALL of this is part of us. The key is in acknowledging the various parts and CHOOSING which part(s) get to be in control at any given point in time.

All of us have many facets to our personalities. ALL OF US. The trouble makers can be vocal and persistent! It is up to us to decide who gets to 'run our show.' If we give in to the loud, destructive parts, our lives will be a mess. If we listen to those parts, and then have the healthier parts of ourselves run the show... we will be much better off.

Denying that those unhealthy or destructive parts are in us... does us no good. They exist for a reason. They are responses to old wounds. Healing them takes compassion and time. In the mean time, we need to listen to and learn from them, and then let the adult, mature and healthier parts of us make our decisions and run the show.

Take inventory on the various parts of yourself and see who's hanging out in there. You might make some amazing and useful discoveries!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sharing Our Realities

Each person has a unique reality in which they live. No one's reality is just like ours. That would be impossible. We see things differently. We experience things based on a unique inner constellation that no one else can ever completely understand. That is part of the human condition.

When realities collide, and we expect the other person to see things exactly as we do, that is a recipe for trouble... if not outright disaster. We humans don't seem to be very good at accommodating each other's realities.

We judge people who think, feel, believe and act differently. We get angry when we are not validated in our views and choices. We want to see ourselves and our realities reflected in those around us, especially those we love and care about. When they look at things differently and don't agree with us, we often get upset.

A key to happy and healthy relationships, is being able to share one's reality without fear of judgement or ridicule. If we can't tell each other the truth about how we see things and how we feel, we cannot have authentic relationships. Hiding who we are, how we really feel, what we think, and the struggles that we have creates a thick barrier in relationship. Expecting people to do things our way and agree with us all the time is a relationship killer.

Needing people to live according to our rules, views and doing what 'keeps us fixed' (to quote Rev. Joyce Meyer) is unfair and will never lead to true intimacy and connection. Control and compliance is not what relationships are all about... or at least it shouldn't be.

I've watched a lot of relationships fall apart because people cannot allow the other person to be themselves. In order to feel 'loved' and 'secure' they require the other party to agree with them and live according to their plan for them. Some of these relationships 'survive' but the people are certainly not happy and fulfilled.

It is not easy to share your reality with another human being without attachment to them agreeing with and living according to it. It's even harder to allow someone to share their reality with you without judging, condemning, and requiring the person to change to your view in order to keep the peace.

Skillful relating is about allowing another person to have their reality and share it with you, and being able to share your reality with them. If there is enough in common, the relationship can work. If there isn't, no amount of trying to force the other person is going to make the relationship healthy and satisfying. It will simply drive a wedge more deeply between the parties involved. It's better to agree not to continue the relationship than to kill the spirit of the other person trying to make them 'do it your way.'

Learn about boundaries, and about allowing people to be themselves. Learn to take responsibility for yourself, and let others take responsibility for themselves. Making someone change for you is not what love is about. Trying to change them to be who you want and need them to be is controlling, not loving.

Whenever you find yourself trying to change someone in any way, take a good look in the mirror and do a little investigating. You are most likely avoiding something in yourself that needs attention, by focusing on the other person's issues.

Freedom is a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Eat Your Mac-n-Cheese!

Last month, I was grabbing a quick lunch at a local eatery. A group was seated at the table next to me. It appeared to be grandparents with their 2 grandchildren. There was an infant in a high chair, and a 4 year old boy.

Grandma ordered for the kids. Each child was to have macaroni and cheese with, gulp, french fries. My personal trainer's face flashed in front of my eyes. I felt the same pain she would had she been present. I thought about the problems we Americans have with high cholesterol, childhood (not to mention adult) obesity and a variety of other diet related ailments.

I comforted myself by thinking that maybe this was a once in a blue moon 'fun' meal out with grandma and grandpa. Maybe they ate healthier on an every day basis. Grandparents are supposed to spoil and indulge their grand kids, right? Maybe that's what I was seeing.

The waiter brought the food and set the plate of mac-n-cheese and french fries in front of the 4 year old. On the plate next to the oozing fat and carbohydrates was a small, shiny, red apple. The kid gleefully reached for the apple and exclaimed, "Oooooooh! An apple!" He lifted it to his mouth to take a bite, and his grandpa slapped his hand and said, "NO! That's for after. You eat your Mac and Cheese!"

I was stunned. I am a bit fearful that I was sitting there with my jaw on the ground, staring in disbelief at what I was seeing.

The kid, instinctively went for the healthiest thing on the plate, and he got in trouble for it. He was discouraged from eating the one healthy thing in front of him, and encouraged to eat the mound of fat laden, pretty much empty calories!


Many of us grew up in an era when good nutrition wasn't really a focus. There have been revisions since we were kids, as to what comprises a healthy, life sustaining diet. Some of us, it seems, haven't caught up with the new knowledge.

As someone who has struggled with my weight and with food issues, I am super sensitive to the programming of children with regards to eating and body image. It breaks my heart to see kids get messed up so early on their eating habits!

In my opinion, we all come in to this life with healthy impulses. They have to be trained out of us. Sometimes through ignorance, sometimes through misguided attempts to control and manipulate.

The good news is that it is never too late to revamp and overhaul our 'programing' and our 'training.'

As master Yoda says, we must 'unlearn what we have learned.' Indeed. All of us have some 'unlearning' to do.

Some of our training has been unhealthy. It is our responsibility to 'unlearn' this destructive training and 'reprogram' ourselves. It is not only possible, it is necessary.

Don't eat your mac and cheese. Go for the APPLE!

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Healing Power of Friends & Nature

I spent several fabulous days ringing in the new year with my dear friend Kim in Palm Springs California. We spent our time hiking, seeing movies, and setting goals for the new year.

We really enjoyed each other's companionship and support as we conquered mountains and dreamed of the coming year and all the mystery that it holds for us.

On one of our hikes we encountered an incredible dragonfly who put on a show unlike anything we'd ever seen before. We sat with him for half an hour snapping around 100 photos of the little fellow. He seemed to really dig having his picture taken! We envisioned him saying to us, "I'm ready for my close up..." and "The ladies... they love me!"

I, of course, believe that dragonflies are incredible spiritual symbols. They represent transformation and the ability to live in multiple realms (they start in water and transform into winged creatures of the air). I also believe that dragonflies are messengers from beyond. They can bring us messages from beings who have passed on. I talked with our dragonfly yesterday and asked who he/she might be, and what they had to offer us. Was it my dad? My uncle? Rev. Jack Boland? Dr. Bruni? Maybe one of Kim's parents??

We spent each moment of our time well, and reveled in the renewal and magic of our friendship. What a gift. The appearance of our dragonfly added a sacred and mystical aspect to our time in the mountains. All of it was restorative and healing.

Friendship and nature are two incredibly powerful forces that are available to us at all times. They make life worth living!

I wish for you to have close friendships that lift your spirits and delight your soul... and may you have encounters with nature that amaze and inspire you.

I'll share some photos of my wonderful Palm Springs hiking experiences with Kim and the dragonfly. Happy New Year!

Kim and I at the Murray Hill Summit @ 2200 feet!

What a way to start the New Year!!

Making it to the top - what a feeling!

Kim suggests I might enjoy the shorter route to the bottom of
Murray Hill... and offers me a hand!

Ahhhh..... kickin' back at the top.

And now for the mystical, magical Mr. Dragonfly...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year 2010

First of all.... I'm back. Secondly HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It's the first day of a new month, a new year and a new decade. What an opportunity for a fresh beginning.

I love the start of a brand new year. This one feels big to me because it also the start of a new decade.

I am writing to you from sunny Palm Springs California. Bright sunshine also inspires optimism in my heart. It is definitely a boost to my hopes and anticipation of this new year. I'm using this sunshine to fuel my desire to embrace this new year to the fullest.

Over the holidays I had a conversation with a young family member. She will turn 15 in 2010. She was saying how 'strange' it will be to have to start writing dates on her school papers that begin with 201. She only remembers writing dates (in her short life) that begin with 200.

It made me remember the 'turning of the decades' when I was in school, and the adjustment I went through each time I had to change the 3rd digit in the year. Then, of course, there was the 'biggie' when we changed from writing 199x to 200x. That took me a while to get the hang of!

Somehow these milestones of dates changing this way feels like a major transition to me. It helps me realize that something big is at hand when the years and decades 'roll over' from one to the next.

We have a major opportunity here. We can start anew. We can wipe the slate clean. We can let go of what has come before. We can forgive. We can allow ourselves to release what needs to be left behind. We can embrace the next happening. It's a new year... and a new decade.

365 new days stretch before each of us. What will they hold? How will we use them?

Each of us has the same opportunity to make use of each moment and live it to the fullest.

I wish you a powerful, productive and wondrous new year filled with opportunity and adventure. Seize the day... the month... the year... and this new decade!

HAPPY 2010!!