This “blue carrot” flower was always one of my mom’s favorites, and I never really understood why. I mean, it’s pretty, but… Every time I see one, I think of her. This summer, as I was walking, I spotted one and decided to stop take a picture of it. As I was thinking of my mom today, on the anniversary of her passing, I was compelled to look at that picture. It was as if she was here with me…I get it now. Although all of the little white flowers within the flower are equally beautiful, there is the one tiny blue/purple flower in the middle that dares to stand out and be different from all the rest, and that’s the one we see first. It doesn’t try to be like the others and “blend in”, and by being individual, displaying its own color proudly, it makes the entire flower more beautiful. My mom was like that.

As I sat looking at the picture, I recalled an “event” that occurred when I was in elementary school. I was in a play and the audience was filled with the parents and family members of my classmates. Moments before the show was ending, I noticed my mom running in one of the side doors. When she saw me notice her she seemed to stand taller, smile, and wave with excitement; as if she didn’t realize that she was still in her surgical scrubs, looking disheveled and arriving late…again.

After the show, as I was approaching my mom, I remember noticing another mom talking to her. This mom was tall, thin, looked picture perfect as always, and had been sitting in the front row when the curtains opened. I remember seeing her with her arm on my mom’s shoulder as if consoling her, it made me slow down and listen with trepidation. I heard her say something to the effect of, “oh poor Betty, you must feel so badly about arriving so late and missing the whole show.  It must be so hard on you and your kids with you working so much and missing out…they’re growing so fast…etc…”  I remember not knowing whether to jump on her band wagon or kick her in the shins. Before I could do either, my mom was already responding; again with one of her whole face smiles and twinkling eyes shining up from her petite 5’2” frame.  She looked the other mom directly in the eyes, took her hand from her shoulder, held it in her own and said something that I remember as, “Yes, it is hard not being able to be everywhere for everyone all the time, but I continue to do the best I can every day and then try again tomorrow.”  She went on to add something like, “I am so fortunate that my husband was able to video the program tonight so that we can all go home and watch it together, and the baby I was operating on, she is recovering with her parents now too, but thank you for your concern, I do appreciate it.”  (She definitely had a little spice with her sugar.)

Without another breath my mom turned, saw me, and came in for the hug. Wow! I distinctly remember that feeling of not knowing what to think or say. Now, when I think back, I realize that my mom was the perfect example of someone who got her self-worth from within.  She knew her purpose was to discover her own unique gifts and do her best to share them with as many as possible to the best of her ability every day, and that’s what she did.  Of course she wished she could do more, but she didn’t get down on herself for not being able to, she simply used it as her motivation to get up and try again the next day.

As a teenager, I recall times when this same quality of my mom’s drove me nuts. I couldn’t stand that she seemed to not care how mad or upset I or anyone else was at her.  How she would show up with cat hair all over her, in surgical scrubs, or smell of the horse barn, and not seem the least bit embarrassed. It wasn’t that she didn’t ever take the time to get dressed up and go out etc… it was just never about trying to impress anyone else (except maybe my dad from time to time). As I have gotten older and had the opportunity meet more individuals that seem to possess this same “something”, a quality that makes all shape and sizes so attractive that they seem to almost glow, it occurred to me that “it” is their self-confidence; the unshakeable appreciation of their own self-worth. The common denominator is their awareness, total acceptance and love of who they are and all that they can be/do.

My mom always told me that, for as long as she could remember, she knew she was going to be a surgeon, even though there were no women surgeons when she was growing up in the 1930’s. My mom never seemed to believe that anyone outside of her had the ability to know what she could or couldn’t do, only opinions that she could choose to take into consideration or not.  She was the only one who lived in her body with her mind and her soul, she seemed to know  that her job was to try her best at whatever she was doing and that, as long as she did, the rest was not in her control.  I would ask her how she wasn’t afraid of this or that and she would respond, “It’s not that I’m not afraid, I just don’t let that stop me.” It was as if the fear made it exciting for her. I would ask how she could not be bothered by things other people said or did, and she would respond with something like, “Honey, you can’t let what others say and do dictate how you feel or act.  You never know where they are coming from, what kind of day they are having, who they may be mad at, etc…”  She helped me understand: that people do and say different things for a million different reasons and our job is simply to listen to what we feel, inside, and do what is right for us.  And even though we can’t control others, and we have no idea what’s motivating their words or actions, we can control how we react, and that’s all we have to do. Such an amazing, and yet such a simple, concept.

My mom played hard, worked hard, loved hard, and had a smile that lit up a room. She was constantly squeezing all that she could out of life. I don’t remember ever hearing about anyone that ever met her that didn’t love her, or at least respect her. Days before her funeral I heard a story that still makes me smile and really sums up her essence. The gist of it was, when she was told that a patient was referred to her and told that she was “the best pediatric surgeon on the East coast”, her immediate response was, “I wonder who my competition is on the West Coast?” That’s pure confidence.

I miss my mom, but I feel as though I continue to learn from her every day. I like to think that a part of her lives on in me as I pursue my passion as a life coach. She is my role model as I strive to help others achieve a greater sense of self-worth and/or confidence; to realize their innate abilities to generate happiness by knowing who they are, doing their best to be their best, and not letting that fulfillment be dependent on or swayed by the opinions or judgement of others.  Each time I am able to do this I feel as though I have fulfilled my purpose and honored my mom at the same time. Through me, she can continue to help others live a fuller life.
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Lately it seems so acceptable, even normal, to talk or joke about “needing” our daily glass of wine to take the “edge off”, or just to relax, yet so “strange” or almost “taboo” when someone says, “I am having a rough time keeping my shit together these days and could really use some support?” Isn’t it really the same thing? Or is sticking with the wine more like saying, “I’m struggling to keep my shit together but I’m going to numb that with my wine so that I can wake up and do all the same things tomorrow and hope it ends different.”?

I don’t drink, not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, or because I “have my shit together” but, in a nutshell, my Dr. told me not to. I now have almost no tolerance for any alcohol. Does that mean I never enjoy a glass of wine, no, but it is rare, and I’m still surprised at how uncomfortable I seem to make people by not drinking. Why is that? Is it that people think I’m judging them negatively for drinking? Do they think it’s bad that their drinking? If not, why would I? Do they think I’m saying, “I don’t need it”? Would that mean I think they do? Why would I think that?

I actually used to wish I could have that wine, sometimes to “take the edge off”, but more often just to blend in. But what would that mean, that making others feel comfortable is more important than my health? Actually, if I didn’t have three sons counting on me to be their mom, I probably would have chosen to blend in more often, but not anymore. And that makes me wonder…how many others are in a similar situation? How many of us are just trying to blend in, and Why?

I see Facebook posts, hear jokes in exercise classes, and even see diets that make sure to include that glass of wine. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help wondering why so many women, many moms, caretakers and professionals, find it more acceptable to talk about their wine habits then about why they “need” it? I fully understand and appreciate that, for some, it’s truly the enjoyment of the beverage, and for others it serves as a sort of meditation because they make a point to sit, relax, and breathe while enjoying their wine. But what about those of us who drink our wine, or take our anti-depressants/anxiety/etc. pills, because we need them? Do we really “need” them…or is it just a habit?

Recently I was at a cocktail party and I felt as though I was witnessing a competition over who has that first glass sooner after getting home; it was received as normal, even admirable. As if the more we needed the glass the more overworked and underappreciated we were and, somehow, that was being worn like a badge..? What is up with that? I get it, it’s what our society has become…blah blah blah, but really? Are we REALLY ok with that? Are we happy? Who cares how much you work, how many things you have, etc. if it doesn’t make you happy? Who are you doing it for? Do you think that anyone who loves you wants to see you NOT happy?

What if we, as women, just decided to be honest with each other instead of trying to impress each other? What if we just started talking to each other?  What if we just started being true to ourselves? What if we worried less about what our social medial followers thought of us and more about what the people who truly loved us thought? Would it change anything?

I decided to be “brave” at the cocktail party and I asked some of these questions… Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve learned not to value myself based on others opinions…it pretty much went over like a lead balloon. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish I had spent more of my life cultivating mutual, supporting relationships than I did numbing, blending and pretending not to need anyone, that everything was “fine”, or even “great”.

How many of you judge others the way you perceive them to be judging you? I’m guessing not many, and that’s why I’ve decided to give others the benefit of the doubt that their not judging me either. What’s the point, it’s not like we are going to change anyone’s mind anyway. What people think about you has much more to do with what’s going on with them then anything that’s actually going on with you.  Think about it, if you’re having a great hair day, do you even notice anyone elses hair? But what happens when you go out feeling self conscious about your hair?

After a while, you’re bound to reap what you sew, so be careful; this is your one life, spend it being YOU, not who you think others want you to be. You are unique and special, you were not born to Blend In, you were born to Stand Out, to be the one and only YOU!

Your entire life is made up of tiny little moments, starting now. Who do you want to be and what are you willing to do, be, or not do or be, to achieve that?

           

 

Listen to them, give them a chance

They may have a point you’d never thought of

An angle you never would have looked from

A new way of phrasing the same material

Or most importantly

An opinion you don’t agree with

 

Listen to learn what they think, not to find the weak point

Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it is wrong

Think of a reply after you take in what they said

A conversation is not made up of opportunities to fire

Stop looking for them and wait

Wait until you understand

 

Listen like an open door not a filter

Take it all in

Selectively listening is just as bad as not listening at all

Middleground is the best ground

Respond with intent to teach, suggest or understand

Not to prove one wrong and one right

 

Listen to what you don’t know

No one knows it all, although some know more than others

Everyone can learn from the simple act of conversing

Division is the one common enemy of conversation

We see it everywhere

Pressured to pick one side or the other

 

Listen

Talk with each other not at each other

There are more than two sides to everything

Opinion is a spectrum not a division line

Respect and be respected

Compromise

Listen

 

by Will Ross

Our youth is starving for some HOPE, we owe it to them to deliver.

We are all energy; we are all connected…

When we cast our negative energy into the world, it causes a ripple that effects everyone who sees/reads it, they absorb it; if they are in a relatively good space from an energy or mental well-being standpoint, it may not have any immediate effect. However, BE AWARE that the negative energy in your “tiny rant” of opposition, hate, racism, blaming, bashing, accusing, etc… may be the one bit of energy that tips the scales for one individual. It may cause them to go into a downward spiral that they can’t stop, they may hurt themselves or others because of it, if nothing else, they will most likely continue to spread more negative energy into the world. And so it goes…

Of course we all want to find a particular person or thing to blame for things we don’t like, but that’s because we want to believe we can control it. The truth is, we can only control what we take responsibility for, once you give responsibility away, you have given away your control.

So the good news is…we are all responsible for the state of our nation today. Every single one of us. We are either trying to solve the problem or we’re making it worse, but everyone has an effect, there is no neutral.  See, THERE IS NO US AND THEM, there is only US, and we effect each other, intentionally and unintentionally.  The unintentional effect is collateral damage, but guess what? It hurts the same regardless of the intent. Pain doesn’t care if you meant it or not.

Every time we post, snap, protest or whatever it is we do to communicate these days, we have a choice. We can add to the swirling sea of hate, opposition, division, fighting, accusing, blaming, etc.. the negative energy that is obviously swallowing up our youth, or we can JUST STOP.

We can stop and think before we “post”. How do I feel about what I am posting? Does it make me smile inside (positive energy) or does it cause me that burning, shoulder raising feeling (negative energy)? If it doesn’t make you smile, think again…do you really need to post it? Are you solving any problems by doing so or are you just adding your sticks to the fire of negativity that is already incinerating all hope? What is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? And then ask yourself, what are you actually achieving? Is your post really going to do anything besides maybe make you feel better about yourself in some way? And at what cost?  Any chance your words may upset someone? Was that the goal? Did that help the actual problem you claim to be trying to solve?

When is the last time you got someone to listen to you by “yelling” at them or telling them why or how they were wrong? When is the last time that worked on you? Can you get your point across in a way that isn’t negative? Can we realize that we are all trying our best to do what we believe is right and just talk to each other?

What if, at a minimum, we all pledged to put out at least as much positive energy into the internet as we do negative? What if for every post that spews hate, racism, division, fighting, accusing, blame, gloom etc… we posted one that spreads love, connection, peace, helping, congratulating, responsibility, gratitude and/or joy? And if that seems like too much of a challenge, WHY?  

We are without a doubt living in the greatest nation in the world, yet no other nation finds more to complain about…You find what you’re looking for. Focus on the positive and you will help change the world. Ultimately, we ARE what we DO on a regular basis…

What if we pledge to start seeking out and spreading the positive for our youth? What if we go out of our way to give them hope? What if we start now…what have we got to lose?

TIP: If you can’t post it with a heartfelt smile, reconsider. 🙂

 

                                     

 

                                     

 

                                     

 

                                    

 

                                   

 

                                     

 

                                     

 

 

                                    

It’s wonderful if others believe in you, but it’s only necessary that you believe in yourself.

There is only one YOU, be the U in Unique- the most successful people in the world got that way by being completely themselves…think about it 😉

Life is merely a collection of moments, strung together in chronological order. Imagine if you could find a tool that allowed you to get just a little more out of each moment…how much more that could mean for your life?

Recently, I was on a retreat.  One morning we had the opportunity to attend a guided meditation in a beautiful Sanctuary. After the session, I strolled down to an area called “Serenity”, where a bench overlooks a beautiful little pond filled with lotus blossoms preparing to bloom for the day. As I sat quietly, an older woman came by and asked if I minded if she shared the space with me. I happily moved over and we both sat, in silence, staring out over the pond.

Suddenly she exclaimed, “I just don’t really get meditation”. I asked if she had just been in the sanctuary to which she replied, “yes, I keep hearing all about meditation and I’m trying really hard…but I don’t think I really get what it’s supposed to do for me or my life”. I smiled and said that it was probably one of those things that she would realize as soon as she stopped “trying”. The two of us remained sitting in silence, looking over the pond and enjoying the warm morning sun on our faces.

After several minutes, a turtle came right to the edge of the pond and peeked his head out, as if to ask what we were doing at his pond. The woman laughed and said, “I didn’t know there was anything in this pond but the lotus”.  As we sat quietly a large catfish began to swim out from under the floating flowers, followed by several large coy fish in varying colors. Before we could finish admiring them a school of smaller fish hurried by, as if to see what was going on. It wasn’t long before a large frog began to sing his song from the far bank as three stunning little hummingbirds seemed to float right in front of us. It was absolutely beautiful, almost like being in a fairy tale. The butterflies flew from one blooming Lotus to another and the dragonflies seemed to be playing tag along the top of the water. A brightly colored mallard duck came waddling down from behind the yellow blooming cactus plants and casually plopped himself into the water as his mate remained behind in the shade. The lone turtle was soon joined by two friends and they began to sun themselves on the rocks protruding out of the water. None of the wildlife seemed to either notice or have any concern for our presence.

As we sat there admiring each new arrival, the woman looked out over the pond, let out a big exhale and exclaimed, “It’s really amazing…the longer you just sit here quietly, the more you become aware of.”  I took in her words and smiled. As I turned to her, I put my hand on her knee and said, “What a beautiful metaphor for how meditation enables you to live a more fulfilling life”. She sat silent for a bit, turned toward the pond, admired all of our friends, and suddenly began to laugh. “I get it” she said, “I have sat at this pond so many times this week but each time I have either been chatting with my husband, looking at my emails or figuring out which class to go to next. I have never actually taken the time to just be here.”  She said she was “grateful to the universe” for putting me at the bench to help her stop, be there, and notice all that she had been missing. With that, I thanked her for her beautiful metaphor and for helping reinforce my feeling of connection, the thing we all strive for most.

As I stood up to leave, she explained that she was going to stay at the bench a while and enjoy all that she had been missing. She marveled as to how all of the wildlife seemed to be appearing out of nowhere yet it had been there, right in front of her, the whole time. She realized that it was the first time all week that she had sat on that bench for the purpose of being on that bench. Before now, it was just a place to sit while she did something else. Being there this time, with no other focus, she was able to make space in her mind to allow for new awareness’s to be received. Instead of cluttering her mind with thoughts about the past or the future (what she just did or needed to do), she allowed herself to truly experience the moment, the “now”. She was emotionally present and we both felt a greater sense of fulfillment as we parted.

“Meditation is the process whereby we gain control over the mind and guide it in a more virtuous direction. Meditation may be thought of as a technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones”. –Dalai Lama

Meditation is the tool that empowers you to stay emotionally present in the moment. Doing so helps you get off auto-pilot and become an active participant in your life. Ultimately, this is the easiest and most assured way to live your Best Life.

There are as many different ways to meditate as there are people, there is no “right way”, just a way that is right for you. If you are brand new to the concept, guided meditations are available all over the internet, start with one, see what you like, what you don’t, and keep trying until you find what works for you. There is sitting meditation, standing, walking, laying down, etc.…, this is your one life and once you discover the benefits of taking 5 minutes a day, you’ll wish you hadn’t waited another second. Start where you are, start now, and don’t stop until you find what works for you. Enjoy your search, it is the journey that provides us with what we need to succeed when we reach our destination.   –Namaste

I was watching my son play golf when it dawned on me; golf is like life.  I also realized that I often treat it more like bowling.

As I watched, I found myself studying the golfers every move. Suddenly, I began to recognize important life skills being revealed.

As they stand on the T box, the first thing they all do is locate the flag, their ultimate goal.  The next step seems to be clarifying that goal.  They use various ways to determine how far away it is, if it is straight ahead, to the left or right, what’s between here and there. All of this information ultimately helps them decide how best to start.  Sometimes, it’s simply how far can I hit which club the most accurately? If the answer was 200 yards but there was a water hazard about 200 yards between the golfer and the flag, then an alternate route would need to be determined.  If the choice became hitting to the left for the best alternate lie, then the appropriate club for that shot was chosen.  At that point, the golfer has a new intermediate goal; their ultimate goal has not been abandoned, but it has been broken down into smaller more achievable steps.  Those smaller steps, or shots, are carefully considered, calculated and executed, independent of the ultimate goal.  Regardless of how close or far from the desired location the golf ball lands, the golfer goes to where it actually is, which is not always where they wish it was, and begins the process again.  The ultimate goal of the hole by the flag is still there, but, again, getting there is broken up into smaller, more achievable steps or shots.  This continues over and over again for each hole and each round.  The golfer tries not to lose their temper or get upset if the ball doesn’t land where they wanted it to or thought it should have, but if they do, it doesn’t change the location of the ball.  The location of the ball never gets closer to the desired goal until the golfer stops, considers where it actually landed, where they need it go, how best to get it there, what tools to use, etc…just like life. And just like life, if they can’t let go of their thoughts and emotions about the past shot, it tends to negatively affect their future shots until they do. It’s a conscious choice they have to make.

As I thought more about golf it occurred to me how much of a process or journey the game is, like life. At the end of a round I hear golfers talking about, not only the ultimate score, but specific holes or shots, the way we talk about milestones in life. I’m not a golfer, but I have to say I have certainly developed a whole new respect and admiration for the game.

Recently, I noticed I was in one of those “auto-pilot” modes; where you just sort of go through the motions and hope that the bulk of your To-Do list gets done before you go to bed in preparation to start all over again. As I was watching this golf match I realized, this is how I should be living my life, but instead I was treating it more like bowling. I’m not a regular bowler and I’m sure, like most sports, there’s a lot more to it when you know more about it.  However, from my beginner’s perspective, in bowling you have a goal, you pick up the heaviest or most powerful tool you can handle, take aim and give it all you’ve got.  You roll the ball down the alley as straight and hard as you can, aiming for that one pin that you hope will somehow have a domino effect and knock down all the other pins.  If all 10 pins don’t fall down the first time, you try the same thing again. If that doesn’t work, wait a little until things reset themselves and then try the exact same thing all over again. The bowler and his/her goal continuously return to the same spot, the way I was beginning to feel when I woke up each morning. The golfers, on the other hand, continue to move forward to a brand new goal. I’m not saying bowling isn’t fun, my family loves a night of bowling, I’m just noticing that the game of golf may be a better metaphor for a how to live a fulfilling life.

What games would you compare your life to these days?