New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them?

January’s topic for our Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is: “New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them?”

At the beginning of every year, there seems to be some sort of unwritten rule that people decide they are going to make resolutions to be better about something…..exercising, writing that great novel, creating art on a daily basis,  meditating, reading a book a month, taking up yoga….you name it, they are going to ‘try‘ to do it.  I think that is great, BUT it seems like that type of resolution behavior sets a person up for failure.

Let me give you an example.  My husband and I belong to the YMCA and we dread January.  Why?  All the ‘resolutioners’ show up, bombard the pool, the tread mills, take up all the equipment, making it almost impossible for us regulars to do what we do week in, week out, for the entire year.  Do some keep up and hang in there?  Sure.  But for the most part, they go at it too hard, get frustrated and just give up.

That is my lead in to the answer for this question, “New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them?”  My answer is I could take them or leave them when you use the term resolution.

I think the more important thing here is to make a commitment to yourself!  That’s right.  Look at your self, lovingly, in the mirror and say either in your mind or out loud, “I am making a commitment to you to do this ________________”.  Your opportunity to fill in the blank.  That is so important.

Here’s why.  Words matter.   They can motivate.  They can demoralize.  When we are talking to ourselves, we need to be as encouraging and loving as possible to affect the change we want in our lives.   Commitment means more to me that the word resolution.  I don’t want to let myself down or anyone else; it is not in my personality.

commitvsres

In this case, when I make a commitment, that is one of those positive, supporting, reinforcing words that I promise I will do everything in my power to make it happen.

For me, the word resolution has a negative connotation, no follow through.  I kinda, sorta mean to do what I’m saying, but not really.  If it doesn’t pan out after a couple of days, that’s ok….it just wasn’t meant to be.

But when I make a commitment, especially one to myself that means something to me, well that takes on a whole new meaning.  It has importance.  It has value.  It is something I want to do.

2014 has just begun.  How many people have already given up on their resolutions for this year?  I have to say it again, it is my feeling, my belief that people set themselves up for failure by thinking in terms of a New Year Resolution.

There’s still plenty of time to make that commitment for positive change in your life.  It’s not an annual thing I do, it is a daily thing for me.  My commitment to myself is to work on positive changes in my life.  I work on it every single day.  The way I look at it, we’re all works in progress and in my mind that requires daily work to become the person you were meant to be.

Now let’s see what my fellow writers had to say on this topic.

Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
Catherine Witherell: http://happydayart.typepad.com
Shelagh Blatz: http://designsbyshelagh.com/blog
pencilfox www.pencilfox.com
diana bell www.bellsprings.blogspot.com

Namaste.

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Give Me 5 Minutes

What?  Give me 5 minutes and I can get an amazing amount of things done.  Really, I can, and so can you!

I’d like to let you in on a bit of a secret treasure I’ve discovered in the past couple of weeks about time management.  I’ve been amazed by the productivity and results.  I think you will be too.

Time is one of those precious commodities in life.  If you are like me, you feel like you never have enough of it.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.  We never know how much time we really have, so I don’t want to waste any of it, yet sadly I have.

One of the things I have come to recognize about myself is that I like to work in big chunks of time.  Yet, for the most part, the ability for me to carve out a couple of hours where I can work undisturbed…..well, that happens on a less frequent basis these days.

Instead of waiting for those large segments of time where I can work ‘heads down’ on any given task, why not make the most of any period of time?

Initially I thought I would set a timer on my iPhone for 30 minutes, even and hour, to see how much I could accomplish.  Cleaning and clearing.  Laundry.  Organizing a closet.  Working on a project.  It was great, but, once again, finding 30 – 60 minutes of uninterrupted time was difficult.

Then it occurred to me, what can I do with just 5 minutes?  It seems way too short to do much of anything, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t!  What I discovered was that I could actually do something in those 5 precious minutes of time.  Wonderful!  It’s quite freeing, because I no longer feel like I’m wasting time.  And we all know how easy it is to squander away 5 or 10 minutes when we feel like there’s nothing better to do.  The TV, the internet, playing a game or just vegging….they all ‘eat‘ time.

I’m here to tell you that you can accomplish more than you know in 5 precious little minutes of time.  Don’t waste it on email, surfing the web, Facebook, Twitter or whatever.  Invest yourself in those small increments of time and soon you will have achieved some real clarity in your surroundings…even your life.

What’s great is when those larger chunks of time do come along, you can really savor them because you’ve learned to appreciate the value of time…1 minute….5 minutes….30 minutes or more at a time.  Give it a try, I think you will be surprised by all you can do with those 5 little intervals of 60 seconds.

Namaste.

Disappointments

Disappointments. We all experience them. They hurt. They can be a blow to our self-esteem. Yet, we can manage how we react and respond to them. That is key to lessening their impact and moving forward in a positive, healthier direction.  As this image so eloquently states, “Disappointments are just God’s way of saying I have got Something Better”.  I believe and know this is true from first hand experience.

I would like to share a couple of examples of recent disappointments, small and large, I have encountered.

Just this morning I was getting ready to put on one of my necklaces when I had a case of the fumbles and it hit the floor.  We have concrete floors and often say, they are not forgiving.  I heard that high pitched ‘tink’ sound, indicating the demise of the item.  That’s right, a rather long slender oval shaped stone in its setting cracked.  It was a piece I had made, worn and enjoyed.  Fortunately, the crack isn’t readily apparent to the naked eye.  However, it is noticeable to the touch, but since it is mine, no one will notice it.

At first I was disappointed that one of the pieces I made is now flawed.  Visions of my childhood years rush past my mind’s eye of all the many items glued back together at my parent’s home.  It seemed like each of us was always breaking something!  Fiesta-ware, crystal wine glasses, gravy boats, china figurines…..that was the norm.  My Dad would sit at the kitchen table and painstakingly glue the broken bits and pieces back together.  Now a beautiful Sonoran Sunrise stone I have in my art jewelry collection is cracked.  Could I brood about it for the rest of the day, week, or longer?  Sure.  In this case, I thought, oh well.  It happens.  I can’t go back in time and prevent it from happening.  Can I still wear the piece? Yes.  Will anyone know when they look at it?  No.  In the grand scheme of things, it is no big deal.  I have chosen to not let this ruin my day and I have accepted it.

Sure the example of a broken stone in a piece of jewelry is really minor compared to the situations we encounter every day.  At least that is my take on it.  The proverbial “Why cry over spilt milk?”

This next example of a recent disappointment is a bit harder for me.

People.  Friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, even strangers can disappoint us.  Actually I find it is their behavior that disappoints.  These situations are where I find managing my expectations of others to be key to shrugging things off and not letting my perception of their bad behavior have an adverse affect on me, my outlook, even my day.

Someone entered my life a few years ago and we became friends.  Almost from the start, I noticed this person had a tendency misrepresent truths about their activities and their life.  Their spin on these misrepresentations, “just a little white lie, they don’t hurt anyone”.  Really?  Not in my book.  Noting the behavior, I became cautious in my encounters with them and eventually had to distance myself.  The last straw, if you will, was the most blatant of deceptions about their personal life and current job.

As a very elaborate story was being woven and told to me and others (including people I know), something just didn’t ring completely true and factual.  Having been a former investigator, when the puzzle pieces don’t fit together correctly, something is up.  I was wondering what was really happening.  This person had spun some fanciful tales in the past, what are they doing now?  It has been my experience that the truth does eventually surface and it did the beginning of this week.  The real story is out there for all of us to see.   Public knowledge.  I think because my mom always told me to tell the truth, when someone intentionally deceives me (let alone some of my friends), well, I am done.  I no longer want to be involved with anyone who I cannot trust.  I think I knew the day was coming when all ties would be broken, yet I think it’s part of our spirit to hope people will change.

Initially I was disappointed by this person’s behavior.  Yes, it hurt to think that someone thought so little of me or others that they intentionally deceived all of us.  Then it hit me.  There are toxic people.  It’s ok to walk away from them.  In fact, it is imperative for your own health and well being to remove anything toxic from your life.

In the true spirit of synchrodestiny (the ebb and flow of the Universe giving guidance) this blog post came to me 2 days after the incident.   There’s a lot to Appreciate in the Very Moment by Marc and Angel Hack Life  .  This post spoke to me about this very situation.  I’d like to share some important points from their post:

  • You don’t have control over the things people say about you, but you do have control over how you decide to internalize it.
  • When you come across a challenge, it means you have reached an opportunity for growth.
  • Give your best to life, and life will return the favor many times over.
  • Your journey will be much lighter and easier if you don’t try to carry your entire past and future around with you.

The bottom line, life will have its moments of disappointments.  We can choose to go down a dark path of despair, woe is me and throw a huge pity party…..OR….we can choose to let it go.  Move forward.  Learn from the experience and view it as an opportunity for personal growth.  I work at this every day.  I can tell you that I am happier and more content when I let go of the negatives and give gratitude for all the wonderful people and experiences in my life.  It’s not easy, but it is worth it.  I think you will find this to be the case too.

Namaste.

An Evacuee

Day1SmokePlume

Day 1 – Black Forest Fire

This is the picture I took of the view from our backyard with my iPhone on Tuesday afternoon, June 11, 2013. Day 1 of the Black Forest Fire.  I never thought, in all the places I have lived, that I would ever find myself an evacuee. Never underestimate the power of destruction that will quickly remove any control you may have in your life.

A little after 3:00 PM on that Tuesday, word started to circulate in our office that there was a fire in the area of Shoup Road and Highway 83.  We knew that area all too well, large homes mixed with the quirky, eccentric ones of the Black Forest and it was heavily treed with large Ponderosa Pines. An extremely appetizing mix for a Colorado wildfire on a dry, windy and hot June day.

I looked out the south-facing windows of our office to see if I could get any glimpse of what might be happening and saw nothing.  My husband and I live quite a ways north of this location, but when a wildfire starts, any distance becomes fairly meaningless with its all consuming speed.

The buzz in the office about the fire heightened my anxiety, even though we live in what is known as the prairie section of the Black Forest.  The only trees we have are those we planted.  We felt fairly safe.  Yet, we decided to leave work a bit early just in case…..

As we left the office we saw a massive wall of churning smoke.  Shades of grey and I don’t mean the novel.  The looming, menacing smoke monster signaled this was no ordinary wildfire…if there is such a thing …. and we were heading right for it for a short period.  We took the back roads to get to our home.  One route was already closed and my heart started to sink.  We have three basset hounds at home and I just wanted to get to them and we did.

My friend, Cara, sent me the first text, “Are you ok?”  I sent back a text saying yes, with this picture.  The next thing I knew, she sent a text she had room for all five of us…yes that’s right, Dan, me and our three basset hounds!  Now that’s friendship and then some.  I told her I thought we would be ok and thanked her.  We went about our normal routine, had supper, all the while watching what looked like dragon’s breath to the south of us.  The scene unfolding on the television showed massive homes consumed in 20 minutes or less by the flames.  Later we heard temperatures reached 2500 degrees.   Too eerie, too much a reminder of the destruction caused by the Waldo Canyon fire from a year ago.  I kept wondering if I should start packing some things and Dan said we would be fine that night as long as we didn’t lose power.  You guessed it, we lost power around 7:30 PM.

It was still daylight when the power went off so we managed to see ok aided by the use of an occasional flash light to gather some things.  The pressure we felt was that the sun was setting and light was fading.  In spite of all of that, we did a remarkable job of gathering what we would need for us and the dogs.   Off to Cara’s we went with our two cars packed, loaded with a mix of supplies, personal belongings and the bassets, of course.  Within 24 hours we discovered this trip was a dry run for what would happen the next day.

The mandatory evacuation line was 1.7 miles south of our house.  Wednesday morning, we thanked Cara and Ham for their hospitality, piled everything back in the cars and headed home.  We still had no power at the house, but we wanted to keep the dogs at the house because we thought once power was restored, we would still be staying home.  We went into our office as that was the easiest location to get information, since we had no power and no cell phone service at the house.  Our boss and co-workers told us we really needed to be at our house because of its proximity to the mandatory evacuation area.  We were a bit perplexed, but decided that was a good plan in case we were evacuated.  Note:  in these situations, you may not be thinking clearly….I don’t think we were and it was a true blessing others had already started to look out for us.  Power was restored that morning and we went home.  We were able to work remotely and kept an eye on the news.

Thank goodness I didn’t unpack.  Shortly after 2:00 PM on Wednesday afternoon, the winds shifted.  We knew that was bad, very bad.  The reporter on the television said that those areas north of the mandatory evacuation line should be prepared to be listed in the next pre-evacuation area.  Just as he uttered those words, we were in mandatory evacuation, not pre-evac.  Dan & I flew around the house.  We gathered everything that was packed from the night before…added a few things we had forgotten and this time grabbed our fire safe with important documents.  The reverse 911 call came…time to get out and we did.

After last year’s Waldo Canyon fire, we had the discussion of what would we take if we were ever evacuated.  Time and time again, the answer was the same.  As long as we were together and had our basset hounds, nothing else mattered.  It was just stuff.  And that’s how it was when we were evacuated.  We had each other and our dogs, plus enough clothes to get by for a given number of days.  Not much else really mattered. As I walked through the house for what could have been the last time, I looked at some things in various rooms and shrugged my shoulders.  Sure we would miss some items if they were gone.  What really was important to us was our safety, being with each other and our bassets.

Cara and Ham once again opened their home and their hearts to us.  For the next 5 days we were evacuees.  I cannot tell you how overwhelmed we were by the kindness, concern and generosity we experienced from friends and strangers alike.  Calls, emails, Facebook inquiries about how we were doing.  Offers of help….was there anything we needed.   One day we had lunch at Appelbee’s and the table next to us heard we had been evacuated….they bought our lunch.  Our lives were turned completely upside down.  It was all outside of our control.  We have been forever changed by this experience.  The fire fighters, first responders, county officials and law enforcement did an outstanding job.  What a wonderful community we live in.

The human spirit at its finest was exhibited in stellar fashion.

Word came late on Sunday evening, June 16, that we could return to our home.  It was still standing, untouched by any of this.  Yet at the end of this saga, 509 homes had been destroyed and 2 people had lost their lives.  As a testament to those 2 who perished, they were not trying to gather material possessions as they stayed behind a bit too long….no….they were gathering munitions that would have exploded and harmed first responders and fire fighters.  They gave their lives so others would not be harmed.  They left behind a son, who is serving in Afghanistan.  Theirs is just one of the many heart warming and heart breaking stories that took place over the life of this fire.

We came back to our home on Monday morning, June 17th and were greeted by these beautiful yellow Irises, blooming, beaming, welcoming us back to the safety of our home.  It was at that point, after I took this picture, that it all started to sink in and I began to cry.  Tears of relief, thanks and heartache for those who lost so much.

YellowIrises

Many times we do not know how we will react to a situation.  I certainly did not know.  As a result of this, I have grown and I know I am a better person, with more to offer friends, family and strangers.  There has been a real recovery period for me too.  I’m not sure what I was experiencing, but I just felt shut down, not like me, raw.  This morning, 6 days after we returned home, I feel like myself again.  My energy levels feel restored.

My wish for all of you is that you never have to experience anything like this or worse.  If tragedy does strike, know that you are stronger than you may realize and your friends, family and community will be there for you.

If you would like to see some video Dan took that Tuesday afternoon, click here.

Namaste.

An Unexpected Gift

ErroneousCover

Yesterday, my dear friend Cara gave me an unexpected gift.  The hard cover, first edition of Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  Oh man.  She knows how much I admire Dr. Dyer and his work.  I have had the good fortune to hear him speak on two separate occasions in the past six months.  Now this….his first book.  Years ago I had a paperback copy of it that I lost through my many moves, but this, well, this is very special.  I feel it has come into my life for a reason….I just know it.

VersionErroneous

I am so touched and so very grateful to Cara for her thoughtfulness and act of kindness.  This wonderful gesture is more than just the gift of a book, more than Cara probably realized when she found the treasure at a local Goodwill store and thought “Kathleen would like this“, because the book symbolizes many things for me and has generated a positive storm of ideas.

Last November, I first heard Dr. Dyer’s story about this book.  How he came to write it.  How it became a best seller….. mainly through his very creative efforts to get it out there and noticed.  For me, the book symbolizes one person’s sheer determination and willprior to the advent of social media, to make its existence known because he knew the information in this book would help people.

As an aspiring writer, this book is something I can look at as a source of motivation to work on my first book and do whatever it takes to make it happen.  If it’s to be it’s up to me….with what I believe is a bit of divine intervention too.  Read Dr. Dyer’s books, hear him speak and you will come to understand that too.

Here’s the really magical thing that this gift, this wonderful gift, is doing for me.  It relates to Dr. Dyer telling his story about the first 3000 copies of the book, of which this is one.  When the book was first published, he would call the publisher asking about how well it was selling.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, he became a bit of a pest with his publisher, asking about those book sales on a weekly basis…maybe even twice a week or more!  Well, it got to the point where he actually bought all the copies of the first publication, stored them in his garage and would take some of them to various book stores in New York state to sell on a commission basis.  10 books here, 15 books there.  The next time he called his publisher, to the publisher’s surprise, all of the first edition books had sold out (thanks to Dr. Dyer’s efforts) and they would print the next edition of the book.

Now here’s the magical part.  Because of Cara’s thoughtfulness, I have one of those first 3000 books!  Think about how amazingly great that is!!!  As Dr. Dyer told his story, I envisioned where these books traveled, where they are now.  AND I have one thanks to Cara!  I can’t help but wonder and believe that this book is one he had in his garage and distributed in his rather non-conventional way, just to get his message out to the public.  How freaking awesome is that!  I like to imagine this wonderful little book’s journey from New York to Colorado to find its way to me, someone who truly, truly appreciates and values its worth more than any monetary value.

You may think, “It’s just a book”.  Ah no, it’s more than that.  I believe the Universe is giving me more than a gentle nudge here.  This was more than a coincidence.  It is synchrodestiny at work, at its finest work.  The ebb and flow of the Universe giving guidance.  This is the push for me.  Sit and write.  The words will come.  I know it.  The Universe knows it.  Just do it.

Sometimes we just don’t know what impact a gesture will have on another’s life.  Powerful stuff.  May the Universe speak to you through a friend or even a stranger to guide you on the journey you are meant to take.  I must add yet another heartfelt “Thank you” to my friend Cara, you have done more for me than you will ever know.  Priceless.

Namaste.

Acceptance

Acceptance.  There are several formal definitions from Merriam-Webster‘s online dictionary, none of which really cover the meaning I want to convey here.

How do you define the word?

From my perspective, acceptance means that I’m just going to take things at face value and do nothing to try to change a person or situation.  Most of the time acceptance enters into my thought process after a particularly negative event.  I find myself struggling with how I feel about a situation or a person.  The thoughts all lead to the same conclusion.  If I can just accept things/the person for what/who they are and realize that I have no control over it/them, I’m much better off.

However, there is something about the concept of accepting things that just makes me put up my ‘deflector shields’. I just seem to rail against that word because it feels like I’m giving up.   I think there is something I should be able to do to right the situation   Make a correction.

In reality, that is not the case because developing the ability to accept people, things, situations can give one a sense of relief and calm.  In stead of fighting my way upstream like a salmon, accepting those things I have have no control over provides a sense of tranquility, eliminating needless frustration.

On those occasions, my very wise and insightful husband reminds me to reflect on The Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Acceptance.  It’s not all that bad.  In fact, it is extremely good because it frees us from negativity.  The simple act of accepting, those things/people we cannot control or change,  lifts a HUGE weight from our shoulders, heart and soul.  It allows us to feel better and to be happy.  That is a wonderful thing.

Namaste.

Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank ~ Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

How I Visualize The Comfort Zone

The topic for the May Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank writers is: ” How often do you step outside of your comfort zone?  If yes, how, when?  If not, are you considering it?”

I think instinctively, we know what The Comfort Zone is.  It’s that place where we are content.  Let’s not mix things up with a bunch of change.  Why would I want to leave something where I’m not feeling any stress or pressure?  Well, there are plenty of good reasons to leave that space because the action of doing so will help you to grow.  I know.

The revelation to Step Outside of My Comfort Zone came to me sometime in the ’80s.  Discussions centered around being stuck in a rut.

Who Wants to be Stuck?

The part about being stuck didn’t sound very pleasant to me. I recognized that I was ‘stuck’ and needed to do something about it. The answer came in the form of stepping outside of my comfort zone.  It’s not easy because we like what we know.  It’s familiar.  I hesitated, but I knew it was something I had to do.

One of my biggest steps outside of my comfort zone was going back to college to get my degree in Computer Science.  Working full time, going to school at night after working all day, making time to study and knowing it was going to take longer because I was a part-time rather than a full-time student.  The desired result was I would change careers. The unknown was being able to find a job in a new field. My parents thought I was crazy to leave the security of an established career. I suspect some of my co-workers thought I was nuts too. But you know what?  I did it. I got the degree. I found the job.  All of that reinforced so many positive things; the most important was that I was doing something about my current situation, investing in myself and my future. If I hadn’t taken that step, I would have remained in a job I didn’t enjoy, frustrated and miserable. By taking that step, a whole new world opened up for me and I felt alive again. The reward was well worth the initial trepidation I felt.

I continue to look for ways to step outside of my comfort zone. Yes, it’s still met with that initial fear/hesitation but I am equipped with the knowledge of all the great things that happen when I push through that fear. The end result, the rewards far outweigh the perceived risks.

My current venture is to write a book. I’ve wanted to do this for years. One of my first steps toward this was taking a Writing Workshop last month. There I was in a room of 499 other writers, listening to Dr Wayne Dyer share aspects of his journey. I’m thinking, wow, this is a big goal and step outside of that oh so comfortable comfort zone. I’ve written blogs and made my first attempt to write a book last November with a Novel Writing Challenge, but this workshop, this is the reality of what needs to happen. I started to think all of this is scary stuff. Then that little tap on my shoulder that tells me, remember how much fun it is to step outside the zone? Ah, yes, it is! Time to plunge, really plunge into this with everything I have. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. So I’m working on my book proposal and it feels like I’m off to a bit of a slow start, but that’s ok because I know my momentum will come.

Yes I’m a huge proponent of stepping oustide of your comfort zone. I do it a lot. I highly recommend it because I have found it has helped me to grow as a person. My life has been so much richer as a result.

Now let’s see what my fellow bloggers shared on this topic:
Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
pencilfox: http://www.pencilfox.com
Christine: http://christineesovoloff.tumblr.com/
Robyn Hawk: http://flyviewsandreviews.blogspot.com

Namaste