Thursday, August 30, 2012

Once in a blue moon

Friday (8/31) will have a full moon - a BLUE moon!  This is defined in this case as two full moons in the same month.  Why not take this opportunity to do something you would only do once in a blue moon?  Step outside your comfort zone or your routine.

If you've been putting off starting a task - take that first small step toward it.  You don't have to drop everything and complete it, just take that first small step.  You may be surprised by how easy it is!

If you're feeling overwhelmed by stress or people making demands on your time, take time out to fill yourself up.  Do something just for you!  Get a massage.  Take an hour or more to pamper yourself with a bubble bath.  Read something for fun.  Take a walk and think about all the things you're grateful for.  You'll have more energy to deal with those situations and maybe you won't feel as much stress.

What will you do once in this blue moon?


Get a life you really, really, really want!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Have you seen them?

Early in June, I was working in the garden at dusk. As I kneeled to pull some weeds, I noticed a bug hovering at my eye level. Very curious. Suddenly the bug lit up. Then I knew it - the lightning bugs (a.k.a. fire flies) are back!!! Have you seen them? They are about a month early - due to warmer than normal weather I'm told. Anyway - they are amazing!

As I went for a walk after dark that night, I could see them blinking and flying around everywhere. It was like nature's version of twinkle lights. Enchanting!

One summer when I was about 8 years old, my uncle, aunt and 2 cousins came to visit from Oregon. My sister and I were outside playing with our cousins when the lightning bugs came out. One of them landed on my cousin and she was scared. As soon as she saw that they were harmless, we were all running around squealing with joy as we tried to catch them.

But I was confused. Why she didn't recognize the lightning bugs? Aren't they allowed to play outside in Oregon??! My uncle (or aunt) later explained that there are no lightning bugs in Oregon. I was stunned! Oregon isn't the same as Ohio? My 8-year-old brain had just learned a lesson in assumptions.

Have you ever realized, after the fact, that you made an assumption that caused you to put someone down, be angry, feel bad about yourself, or caused miscommunication? Of course you have! We make assumptions all the time! Some of those assumptions, like the one about lightning bugs, are caused by a lack of knowledge. Others are caused by beliefs about yourself, someone else, or a situation.

Have you ever been dragged, kicking and screaming, to a party or event - only to have a wonderful time after you got there? Yep, you made an assumption about what would happen at that party and you were WRONG! You assumed these people would be boring, or that you wouldn't have anything in common with them, or the food would be awful, or...

Then your mind took that assumption and built a whole one-act play on it! The bad conversations will make you feel awkward. You'll struggle to think of something to say. Then you'll say something wrong or eat too much. You'll be embarrassed, there will be a scene, no one will ever talk to you again, and on and on....

But you went to the event and none of that happened! You had a great time. The food and conversations were superb! Your assumptions were unfounded. How could you have been so wrong?

An assumption is just a story that you tell yourself when you don't know the truth. There are lots of stories you can make up when you don't know for sure. Look at the story I was concocting about why my cousins didn't recognize lightning bugs. But the bottom line is that when you assume, especially when you assume something negative - something that makes you feel bad, angry or fearful, you are more than likely WRONG.

If you walk by a couple of acquaintances and they ignore you, do you assume you have done something to offend them? Or do you realize that they just didn't see you?

How many times have you had to apologize about actions you took based on an assumption - "I'm sorry, I assumed that you saw me, I assumed the party would be boring ......"? If you recognize that you're making an assumption, you could stop yourself before you did something that needs an apology!

Try keeping track of how many assumptions you make for 24 hours. I bet you'll be surprised! If you write down those assumptions, you can question them by asking "Do I absolutely know for sure that this is true?"

If the answer is "No", ask yourself if you could let go of that thought/assumption. After all, you would be believing a lie.

If the answer is "Yes", ask yourself if there has ever been a time when this wasn't true. Maybe you need to ask questions to better understand the issue. That's what I should have done to understand why my cousins didn't recognize the lightning bugs!

With practice you'll become aware, in the moment, that you are making assumptions. Then you can short circuit the assumption, especially those negative assumptions, before you attach any thoughts to it!!

Take some advice from Joe Friday, in the 1950's TV program Dragnet, "The facts.... just the facts, ma'am."

"Get a life you really, really, REALLY want!"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Her American Dream

I've been mentoring a woman for over 2 years named Liz. This past weekend I witnessed Liz fulfill one of her life-long dreams. It is a common American Dream. She bought her first home and moved in!

But this was a dream that many told her would never happen. She is the first person in her extended family to ever own a home. She had to overcome a lot of obstacles to accomplish this. Some of the obstacles had emotional roots in her childhood. Other obstacles were simply not knowing what she needed to do - like how to get a loan. Liz embraced the changes she needed to make in her life with determination and even zest!! She was driven!!! There were so many unexpected blessings along the way that we both knew that God was guiding this process and she was on the right track.

How appropriate that her dream was finalized on a weekend when we Americans celebrate our freedom - freedom to be what we want to be. I feel so blessed to live in America!!

My wish for you is that you too can live the life of your dreams!

"Get the life you really, really, REALLY want!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is your life cluttered?

The first week of Spring was beautiful in Cincinnati! Temperatures in the 70s and lovely sunshine every day. Then we were jarred back to normal March and April weather. Oh well, it was great to get that preview of coming attractions! It was just long enough to inspire me to do a little Spring cleaning.

Just as we sometimes get busy and allow clutter to accumulate in our homes, we also can find ourselves with clutter in our lives. I’m talking about those bad habits and things you’re trying to forget. It might be physical weight that you’ve gained or emotional weight. Whether it’s feeling guilty, anger at a friend, relative or boss, things you do only because you think you should, a mess in your house, extra weight you can’t lose or a project you just can’t seem to finish or start - it’s cluttering your mind and draining your energy.

Here are some suggestions for clearing out the clutter in your life:

Acknowledge your life clutter
Until you acknowledge these issues, you’ll spend a lot of energy trying to avoid them. This can be draining and overwhelming – like trying to hold a beach ball under the water. And like that beach ball, it will slip out in other ways. It can exhaust you, frustrate you and cause stress in your relationships, your job or your life.

Create a goal
Decide what you want to do about the clutter. If you’re holding on to anger, can you decide to forgive and let go? It takes a lot of energy to keep than anger alive and it’s only hurting you. If you’re spending time doing things only because you think you should, can you find the strength to stop doing them? You could probably spend the time on something else on your list that you would rather do.

Take the first small step toward that goal
We’ve all heard that riddle asking how you eat an elephant – one bite at a time. The same goes for that goal.
  • You don’t have to clear all the clutter at once. Just take half an hour and see what you can get done.
  • The same goes for those projects you can’t seem to finish (or start). Try to find the smallest thing you can do to begin your momentum.
  • If you want to get off the merry-go-round of activities you’re doing just because you think you should, try saying “Let me think about it” the next time someone asks you to volunteer or help with something you don’t really want to do.
  • To start losing weight, ask yourself what is one small thing that I can change?
  • If you’re angry with someone, take a break from being angry just for one day and see how it feels. You can go back to being angry tomorrow if you really feel you’re not ready to let go.

Then take the next small step
Once you’ve taken that first small step, ask yourself “when can I take the next small step?” This keeps the goal from appearing to be so overwhelming that it’s paralyzing and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Remember – just one bite at a time!

Just as Spring cleaning can make your house look and feel fresh again, letting go of that sense of overwhelm can give you energy and joy. You will feel better and who knows – you may look a few years younger too!

Let me help you with your life clutter!

"Get a life you really, really, REALLY want!"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Every day we have opportunities to give to others. Sometimes we give possessions, sometimes we give our time. A compliment or a smile costs nothing and takes little time. I really enjoy the moment when you catch someone’s eye and as you smile, you see the smile spread across their face. I feel especially blessed if I also see a momentary twinkle in their eyes! What a gift!

One of my favorite ways of giving is to volunteer. I began mentoring a woman while she was in a correctional facility. On my first visit she told me that no one had come to visit her in the last 6 months. I offered to visit her every week, even though my commitment was for twice a month. She was due to be released in 2 months and I thought it would give us a chance to get to know each other. We would sit in the library and talk about her past, mistakes she made and what she’s learned from them, and her dreams for the future. We laughed and cried. On our last visit before her release she thanked me for taking the time to visit her every week. She explained that it meant so much to her because when we were talking, she could pretend she wasn’t incarcerated. She didn’t have to keep up her guard, she could just relax and be.

The funny thing is, I didn’t think I would be able to make a difference in her life until she was released. But I was giving her a gift just by visiting her and her gratitude was a HUGE and unexpected gift to me.

I also volunteer at my church’s Healing Center. I meet with new guests, who are mainly the working poor, and offer them caring support, food, clothing and referrals to agencies that may be able to help with programs or a job. I recently spoke with a woman who had come to take advantage of our free income tax service. She was hoping that she was getting a big refund so she could pay some bills. But to her dismay, they told her that she actually had to pay a few dollars. She had a knee replacement a few months ago and her disability claim had been refused. She was unable to work until her doctor released her, so she was in a real bind; no income and no savings to pay her monthly bills. She had always been the one that her daughters and friends came to for help. She lived by the scripture “It is better to give than receive”.

Despite the fact that she was in danger of being evicted and had no money for food, she could not take the food we offered. Having always worked and supported herself, she only knew how to give; she had no idea how to receive. I asked her to remember how wonderful she feels when she gives to others. Then I suggested that by not allowing others to give to her when she needed help, she was denying them that same good feeling.

I believe that we are here to help each other. That means that sometimes you are the giver and sometimes you are the receiver. But no matter which role you play, everybody wins.

"Get a life you really, really, REALLY want!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's SPRING!!!!

I'm so thrilled that Spring is here! It's my FAVORITE season! The promise of new life and renewed lives is everywhere. Everything is new again and ''hope springs eternal''. It seems to be the perfect time to try something new or let go of old habits. "Out with the old, in with the new!" New opportunites, extra energy, new motiviation to change seem effortless.

I love the smell of the fresh crisp air in the morning and the sound of the birds that seem to suddenly be everywhere now. The grass is starting to turn that beautiful, deep, velvety green. The sun seems brighter and the sky seems bluer than ever before. The white of the clouds is a stark contrast to the blue, blue sky.

It's so awesome to open the windows if the afternoon gets warm enough and let that warmer, lovely breeze clear the yucky air out of the house. My crocuses started blooming a few weeks ago. That was the first sign that Spring was on the way!

We had a perfect February and March this year in Cincinnati. It stayed cool. In previous years the temperatures would get too warm temporarily causing the bulbs to start blooming and the trees (especially the beautiful magnolias) to start blooming too early. Then the cold winter winds return and freeze them, turning them brown. Not this year!! My daffodils are just starting to bloom. Their beautiful, bright yellow blooms are so cheerful. They really pop against the dark green of the grass and dark brown of the soil. Lovely!

I lived in Southern California for a few years and Spring wasn't nearly so exciting for me. I think I need the cold and barren Cincinnati winters as a contrast to truly appreciate the beauty of Spring. And so it is with life. If everything went well all the time, the miracles of joy and prosperity wouldn't seem nearly so wondrous.

I'm so very grateful for the eyes that can see the beauty that God has given us on this sunny spring day and the ability to appreciate it!

"Get a life you really, really, REALLY want!"