allthingstammy

Tammy Talk

Rescuing Juliet

Kim and Dad rescuing Juliet

Do you think it is any coincidence that DOG spelled backwards is GOD?  While researching, I came across the legend about Adam in the Garden of Eden. God was allowing Adam to name all the animals, trees, etc., as it says in Scripture, but (here’s the legend part) there was a small creature following God and Adam through the Garden and as they got to the end, the creature got their attention. “You have run out of names,” he pointed out. “There’s not one left for me.”

God looked down and smiled at the little animal. “I have saved the best for last,” he explained. “I’ve turned my own name back to front, and called you Dog.”  

My family LOVES dogs.  I have often made the comment, “in my next life I want to come back as one of our dogs”.  Over the years, we have gone to great lengths for our beloved, four-legged, furry friends. But, why wouldn’t we?  They are more than just animals.  If you are lonely, a dog will be happy to keep you company.  If you need someone to love, there aren’t many other beings that can love you the way a dog can.  If you seek loyalty unto death, look no further than a dog.  If you need a laugh, the dog knows just when to offer comic relief.  Dogs are your proven stress reliever, honest about how they feel towards your friends and if you give your heart to a dog, he will not break it. A dog’s love for their owner is nothing less than incredible.  They are part of your family and should be treated as such.

When my Dad’s wife, Kim, asked me to write about their “formerly” blind dog, how could I resist?  Miss “Juliet” has captured the hearts of us all and it is my gift to tell her story.  You see, this sweet little ball of white fluff was visually impaired when first rescued by my Dad and his wife. They became Juliet’s seeing-eye-people. This little lady had absolutely no idea the blessing of what life would be like being adopted into this family.

It all began shortly after the loss of “Shakespeare”, my father’s faithful buddy for 18 wonderful years. Shakespeare shared the love of my Dad with his brother “Caesar”. Two precious Bichon’s with entirely different dispositions. When Caesar passed a few years prior, a special connection emanated between Shakespeare and Dad. We knew this loss wasn’t going to be easy long before Shakespeare’s health started to fail. The two of them were like peas and carrots. They had a routine, a bond that only each other could fill. Kim and I would often take dibs on who was going to handle Dad’s misery through the grieving process. Kim would say “you’re the daughter” and my remark, “you’re the wife”, would always trump her. That’s when Kim started researching rescue sites as we were all concerned about the heartache Dad was surviving without his boy.  

On a Saturday afternoon in late February, as I was sitting in conferences in Fort Worth, Texas, I was included in a group text between my Dad in Arizona and my sister in New Jersey.  Pictures of the most adorable little girl, with the most peculiar name given, flooded my phone.  Which reminds me, why are rescue sites notorious for giving these sweet animals such ridiculous names?  Anyway, as I received more information, I learned that she was approximately 8 years of age and blind. How lovely I thought, blind dogs always see with their hearts. Eventually, I asked the magical question, “was she to become a part of our family”? There was a long pause between texts until I finally read, “We are going to rename her and we need a name that coincides with the Shakespearean theme.”  Well, that was easy, I had the perfect name! The next text from Dad read “Marie Antoinette”. I chuckled silently as I was surrounded by at least 150 people. Oh, no, not Marie Antoinette who was executed by guillotine! My sister and I chimed in simultaneously, “Juliet”.  And just like that, it happened! A 9 pound, furry white snowball, named Juliet, was joining the family.  I could not wait to get back to Phoenix to meet this little bundle of love.

Juliet before surgery

Upon first meeting, I could not get over how well she had adapted to her new home.  Humans depend on their sight far more than canines, who rely on their acute senses of smell and hearing.  What’s more, a dog can feel vibrations more efficiently than people and they use their whiskers to help figure out what’s going on.  Although it has not been scientifically documented, there is evidence to indicate dogs have a sort of sixth sense, which includes picking up on auras around them.  Visually impaired dogs are as in touch with their owners’ moods as much sighted dogs.  This little lady was no exception.  She was definitely finding her way around quite well and into the hearts of everyone she met.  

The next exciting bit of news was that Juliet accompanied her seeing- eye-people to a specialty clinic, Eye Care for Animals. A visit with Dr. Joanna Norman proved that she was an excellent candidate for reversal of her blindness. Imagine that, Ruby Ranch Pet Rescue had told my family that Juliet had been blind since birth and she would never be able to see. Dr. Norman said quite the contrary and her odds of seeing were 90%. The expense of the procedure was in the eyes of the beholder and Kim and Dad were determined to give Juliet the gift of sight.  

Juliet after surgery

On July 18th, our beloved Juliet went into surgery to reverse blindness and restore sight. We all waited on pins and needles for the thumbs up. Dr. Norman stated that everything went extremely well and said her cataracts were so hard, she had to use a jackhammer .. of course she was just kidding, but the magnitude of her comment, understood. Juliet was sent home that evening accompanied by a cone the size of her body, sleepy from the anesthesia and plenty of medication to begin the healing process. And while it was accepted that Juliet would never be catching Frisbee’s, she would be able to navigate and not bump into objects.

For the first four weeks following the surgery, Juliet wore the cone and was subjected to eye drops throughout the course of the day. She handled all of her aftercare like a trooper. She never fussed or whimpered. But the changes that have occurred in her personality are nothing short of amazing. She is even happier now and hops around like a little bunny with a cottontail. She is more picky about her food, probably because she can see it. And the best gift of all is she can look into the eyes of her seeing-eye-people with gratitude and love.

A happy little girl

Kim and Dad also believed that she didn’t have a voice box. However, my sweet Mollie has proven that theory incorrect. Juliet recently made it quite clear, when Mollie got a little too close, to back off! When we heard a growl and a few barks and realized it wasn’t Mollie, it was Juliet’s new found sight which allowed her to see Mollie for the very first time! Albeit shocking, it was a very pleasant surprise that sent my 40 pound Terrier running to me.

Let’s face it, when something is missing, broken or empty inside of you only you can heal yourself and close the voids. Juliet has done just that. She has taken away the pain, anguish and disappointment of loss. In return, she has been given a gift, a priceless gift. Rescuing Juliet was a blessing bestowed upon them all. And no, I don’t think that Dog is God spelled backwards but more than anything God created, dog defines incorruptible goodness, loyalty, and everlasting love.

Dedicated To My Beautiful Mother

My Heart

After the loss of my beloved mother and at the insistence of my sister, family and friends, everyone thought it would be a good idea for me to embark on a much needed vacation. Scouring the internet for places to visit seemed like a chore. Turks and Caicos, Italy and even a Mediterranean cruise were top contenders. However, the thought of multiple flights, transfers and schedules seemed exhausting and somewhat paralyzing. I couldn’t fathom the thought and preparation of all this immediately following the intimate burial of my “Sweetest Angel”.

Before my mom had become ill, she had always talked about going to Solvang, CA and taking a ride down PCH Highway to see the beautiful sights. My sister and I had discussed doing this for Mom’s 75th birthday and I had it all planned out. A girls trip, in a BMW convertible, just the three of us. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. Instead, her 75th was spent in a bed in a post-acute rehabilitation facility. We still weren’t certain if she would ever walk again, and if we’d make this trip together, but we were equally as happy that she had defied her odds and we could celebrate her. Almost 4 years later, I had recently discussed this trip with her again. Just before her passing, I was planning to see Solvang and come back and share my experiences with her, pictures, memorabilia and of course, their authentic Danish pastries. However, on June 21st, when hospice told my sister and I that they were moving our mom to a transitional status on the day before my scheduled trip, there was absolutely no way I was going to leave her. The trip was cancelled and we shared as much time with Mom as we could. Our final five days together were filled with much emotion, prayers, gratitude and most of all, LOVE.

So, this past week, in honor of my dear Mother and with the blessing of my sweet sister, it seemed fitting that I take “our” girl’s trip. I know Mom was with me every step of the way as some very special things occurred. I was moved to tears on many occasions and I thank God for the blessings bestowed upon me.

Newport Beach

It started in Newport, California. A fabulous dinner at my absolute favorite restaurant, Fig & Olive. The next day, shopping at Fashion Island and a wonderful ocean view lunch before beginning the trip north. Heading up Ventura Highway, top down and the smell of the salty, sea air, felt incredible.  I was in my element and so excited for the next two nights that would be spent in Solvang.

My Ride
Solvang

Upon arriving in Solvang, I particularly noticed the countryside of the Santa Ynez Valley.  It was splendid with its rolling hills, fields of grapes and majestic beauty in this relaxed and peaceful setting. The following day was all about getting to know Solvang, with the hopes of “My Angel” sharing it with me. 

Solvang

The stroll through the village was incredible.  I admired the old-world European architecture and the charming boutiques and shops.  Although I did not indulge, there are world famous bakeries on just about every corner.  There is an adorable trolley that runs through town and a wooden, horse-drawn street car which is a part of Solvang’s rich cultural heritage and offerings. Food and wine lovers will find more than 120 wineries and beautiful vineyards to explore.  There are abundant dining options, including California farm-to-table cuisine.  I absolutely fell in love and understand why my sweet Mother wished to visit this incredibly charming town.  I also had the most amazing and wonderful experience occur, which I will keep private and safeguard it for those that were with me.  Leaving Solvang was bittersweet, however, I know that I will return every year, approximately around July 8th, to celebrate the memory. 

Monterey

The trip continued north, up the coast, to Pismo Beach, Spy Glass, Monterey (Cannery Row) and Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Each town with its own uniqueness, its own charm and beauty.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

There were beautiful flowers everywhere I turned. Living in the desert, Arizona is more indigenous to cactus and wildflowers. I simply couldn’t get enough of the things we often take for granted. Flowers are the sweetest thing God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.

Big Sur

The trip down PCH 1 was magnificent. Big Sur is a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. Bordered to the east by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the west by the Pacific Ocean, it’s traversed by a narrow, 2-lane route, known for winding turns, seaside cliffs and views of the spectacular coastline. Stops in Cayucos, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo did not disappoint either. The final stop in Santa Barbara, at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, was the piece de resistance.

Ritz Carlton Bacara

One week of California bliss! One week of celebrating my Mother’s memory.  Never, have I seen such splendor and the weather was absolutely perfect.  My company, considerate, generous, caring, compassionate and thoughtful.  I had my moments.  I had my tears.  I miss my mom.  I miss her laugh, her hugs, her voice, holding her hand and even when she would roll her eyes at me because of my silly antics.  I will never move on, but each day, I will try to move forward. 

Santa Barbara

I also never dreamt that I could be a California girl, however, this trip has significantly changed my mind.  And as my life is about to change again, for my betterment, I scour the internet for the next possible home on the California Coast.  As the Beach Boys sang, “Wish they all could be California girls” .. I think the dream is soon becoming a reality.  I am so excited for this next chapter.  Mom, I hope you come for the ride again, only this time, let’s stay awhile. I love you.          

Mommy “My Angel”

  

FRAGILITY

We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are forever?

Have you heard that before? Felt that before? People, things, whatever it may be, can tear us down like brick walls.

The truth of anything is like a mosaic with many tiles, many parts.

The reality is that things bruise, tear, erode, disperse, or end – fundamentally, they’re fragile. Love and other feelings often change. Milk spills, glasses break, people mistreat you, good feelings fade. One’s sense of calm or worth is easily disturbed. Wars start and then end badly. Planets heat up and hurricanes flood cities. Earthquakes cause tidal waves and damage nuclear reactors.

A life is like a house of cards, and a single gust – a layoff at work, an injury, a misjudgment, a bit of bad luck – can knock it over. Sometimes we overestimate the fragility of things, as when we don’t recognize the deep wells of inner strength in ourselves and others. But I think we are more likely to deny or downplay the true extent of fragility: it’s scary to realize how delicate and vulnerable your body is, or the threads that bind you to others – so easily frayed by a single word – or the balance of climate and ecology on our planet. It’s scary and humbling – neither of which people like – to face the underlying frailty of the body, how easy it is for a relationship to go awry, the ways that so many of us are over-extended and running on fumes, the rickety underpinnings of the global financial system, the deep fissures within many nations, or the unpredictability and intensity of Mother Nature.

But if we don’t recognize fragility, we’ll miss chances to protect and nurture so many things that matter, and we’ll be needlessly surprised and upset when things do inevitably fall apart. We need to embrace fragility – to see it clearly and take it into our arms – to be grounded in truth, peaceful amidst life’s changes and endings, and resourceful in our protecting of the things we care about.

How?

Simply be mindful of fragility – both actual and potential. Notice how many things do break – defined broadly – and notice how many more there are that could break and eventually will: “things” such as physical objects, the earth’s crust, relationships, projects, agreements, states of mind, lives, and societies.

Notice any discomfort with recognizing fragility. Be aware of the other tiles in the mosaic – such as stability, resilience and repair – that can help you push through this discomfort. Appreciate that it is the fragility of things that often makes them most precious.

See the fragility of others, and their pains and losses related to all the things that have “broken” or could break for them. See the delicacy of their feelings, the sensitivities and vulnerabilities in their sense of worth or well-being. Let this knowing about others – both people you’re close to and those you’re not, even people who are difficult for you – open your heart to them. Knowing the fragility of others will naturally lead you away from being harsh or unkind to them.

See the brevity and flimsiness of your own life, and the fragility of your hopes and dreams. Why wait another day to do all that you reasonably can to fulfill them?

Consider where you are unnecessarily fragile – perhaps too prickly about criticism, too vulnerable to a slumping mood, too prone to illness, too indebted, too isolated at work (or in life altogether), or too under-resourced in any significant area – and make a realistic plan for building these up.

Ultimately, try to come to peace with the inevitable: all things fall apart, one way or another. Everything cracks. And yet there is something so beautiful about this part of the truth as Leonard Cohen says much more eloquently than I can:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in

A Must Read …

This is a must read for my guy friends .. but ladies, you need to read this too!

I know you love her.  Nonetheless, I hope you try to love her right.  I hope you cast every ray of awareness upon your love for her.  I hope you know that awareness is what keeps a relationship strong.

And what floored you the most was her completeness.

If you love her, keep her this way.  Keep her beautiful, keep her wild, keep her complete.  While she’s the master of her own fate, I wish you understood that you play a major role in her life.  How you treat her determines how she views herself – you can make her shine or make her feel lost.  She’s a statue in your hands and she only hopes to be held with vigilance.

If you love her, don’t destroy her.  Know that she was destroyed before and another destruction isn’t what she’s aiming for.  If she’s with you, know that she has stepped over her fear and insecurities to be with you.  She has stepped over her past and decided to give love another chance.  She has entrusted you with the health of this relationship – and with her heart.

Don’t let her down.

You destroy her the moment you think you know her.  She’s not a book you will eventually finish.  She’s something yet to be discovered – so live every day as if you’re meeting her for the first time.

Be present.  Nothing destroys her more than your emotional absence.  You can sit with her all day long and not really be there, yet you can be so far away and be completely present.  Stimulate her thoughts, her emotions, her being.  Dive into her soul like you’d dive into an ocean.

Know that you’ll wreck her if she ever felt you need her rather than want her.  You’ll destroy every inch of her if you only love her when loneliness creeps up on you.  Because she seeks your love in all moments, not just when your fears and insecurities strike.

I know that your own past sufferings may have destroyed you.  But don’t love her just so she can carry your emotional baggage with you.  Don’t love her if you only want her to fix you.  Know that she will, with time, without you even knowing.

Her love and existence will heal every part of you.  But if you are with her solely to fill the emptiness inside you, she will know – and it will destroy her.

And remember, she doesn’t want to be fixed either.  Maybe she opened up to you and told you about her painful past. Perhaps you know the exact number of pieces she was turned into.  But she didn’t tell you so you would fix her – she only told you so you can know what she endured and how it made her who she is today.

She wants you to acknowledge that your actions toward her – actions motivated by love, understanding and patience, are what matter most.

Don’t treat her like a broken woman.  She is complete with all her pieces, even though they may still be scattered everywhere.  Embrace them with her – just don’t add to them. Make her see why she went through destructive relationships in the past.  Make her realize that she went through the “worst” so she could appreciate the “better” that you are.

If you love her, love her with all her flaws and insecurities.  She is as imperfect as you are and she only hopes to share that imperfection with you.  She wants to undress her soul in front of you and be utterly herself.  She wants to be the same way with you that she is in the mirror – crazy, wild and free.  If you’re not ready to accept her as she is, you will destroy her.

If you love her, build her up because she will be doing the same for you.  Know that whatever effort you put in, she will be putting in double.

If you show her the moon, she’ll show you the entire galaxy.  If you treat her right, she’ll love you more.  If you love her well, she’ll never forget you!

My Personal Storm and Lessons Learned

It has been over 4 months since I’ve blogged.  As your life will never stand completely still, neither does time.  You see, my chronically ill mother developed pneumonia around the time of my last post.  And in her case, this can be fatal.  We weren’t certain if she was going to pull through and my sister and I were made aware that it was time to prepare for the worst.  We have been thrust into making some of the most difficult decisions that children can make.  It has all been a whirlwind since early February.  Deborah, my sister, has already made several trips and traveled over 10,000 miles to be here with us.  Fortunately,  mom is stable at the moment, but her trajectory for life is fragile.  Nothing has prepared me for what I am facing.  Nothing has prepared Deborah, either.

Since my mother became ill, her journey has been a difficult one.  In and out of the hospitals, ICU, near death experiences, we have been on a rollercoaster that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.  Despite all the highs and lows, my precious mother has always remained faithful and gracious, which is a lot more than I can say for myself.  You see, I have learned what long suffering is about, and when you witness it first hand with someone you love so deeply, you cannot help but run the gamut of emotions.  My moods and spirit have been very indicative based on how my mother’s health is.  Has it interfered with my life .. most definitely!  Would I choose to do anything differently .. absolutely not!!

I have prided myself on being able to get through anything that life throws at me.  No, I am not smug, just seasoned in dealing with trauma and drama .. LOTS of it!  I have shed many tears over the course of my 50 something years, but nothing like the last 3 1/2, as I have lived in denial that she was failing.  Denial is expensive, emotionally speaking!  But the little voice inside me say’s, “you can do this”!  And, I believe it!  Usually, it’s right!  But this time it’s different.  It is all about time.  How much time do we have left?  Do we have all our affairs in order?  Are her wishes going to be fulfilled adequately? Am I prepared?  Will I ever be prepared?  And what will life be like afterwards? 

I never thought anything like this would happen to someone in my family.  But it has, and I was blissfully unaware of the pain that would come to shape the course of my life.  Since that tragic day of December 29, 2014, when my mom was rushed into emergency surgery to save her life, it has felt like my whole world has collapsed on me.  But, this tragedy has also shaped my life.  I have come to realize that I am a completely different person than I was prior.  In fact, I will never be the same.  The lessons that this has taught me, I believe, will guide me to a better life.

First, everything is a matter of perspective.  So, you lost an important report for work, or you tweeted something that caused a bit of a storm.  So what?  Let’s think about how important it really is.  Are you going to die because it happened? No?  Ok, move on.  It’s not worth spending any of your life worrying about it.  I struggle with this every day, as I’m naturally someone that worries.  But it’s something I am working on now.  And I’m so much happier for it.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, because it really doesn’t matter.  If it helps, compare the thing that’s causing you grief with something that would cause you serious grief… perspective is a beautiful thing.

Second, find people who are a light in your life, and hold on to them.  Since my mother’s illness, it’s as if I put some tinted glasses on and saw the whole world differently.  Your priorities change; whenever there is some stupid argument or someone is gossiping about someone else, you just don’t care.  People who are self-centered or narcissistic, ditch them. People that make you feel unworthy or that berate you, lose them too!  People who make you feel good, hold on to them.  Life is too short to be around people who don’t light your fire.  Find your tribe, and let them know you appreciate them.  I constantly tell my friends and family how much I love them. Tell ‘your’ people that they light up your life, and you in turn will light up their day.

Third, do you know what’s even worse than finding yourself somewhere you don’t like?  Staying there.  We’ve all ended up in situations where we aren’t happy.  Maybe you hate your job, maybe you’re in a bad relationship.  Leave it!!  For god’s sake, you have to take control of your happiness, no one else will.  I’ve been there, I know it’s scary.  Don’t be complacent, don’t spend your time wishing away your tomorrows.  Don’t wait for a more convenient moment.  Be brave, take a leap.  It will all be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

Fourth, remember that thing you’d love to do someday?  Do it now.  Plagued by ‘what ifs’ and doubts, unable to move forward because you’re afraid.  We’ve all heard people shouting ‘YOLO’ and chastising our safety-minded heads, and we laugh it away because it isn’t practical.  But what my mother’s illness has taught me is that you aren’t guaranteed a tomorrow, or another year, much less another thirty.  What if you spend the next ten years doing something that you hate and then die?  You don’t want to have wasted your life waiting for the perfect time.  There is no perfect time.  But there is today, and you can do it now.

Fifth, don’t do things that make you unhappy.  Sound simple?  It’s not really.  It takes a lot of concentrated effort to say NO to and let go of things that aren’t helpful to you, but your life genuinely is too short not to. This has been my mantra since the day I sat in ICU watching my mother being kept alive by all kinds of machines.  I made her all sorts of promises, although she couldn’t hear me.  And it’s not been easy to follow. I left several things that were damaging my confidence and causing me so many tears.  And that was scary.  Really scary.  But you know what?  Despite what I am going through with my mom, I’m in such a better place now.  If you’re unhappy, something isn’t right.  You owe it to yourself to stop doing things that make you unhappy.

Sixth, find your thing, and do it.  How often have you been told to simply “Do what you love”?  I know, it can sound like a load of hullabaloo. But let me tell you a secret… it’s really not.  What is the thing that, like a dog chasing a tennis ball for hours on end, gets you excited?  What could you pursue for hours and hours on end?  For me, it was DIY crafts and starting my own consulting business.  Find your thing and do it!  But, if you chase that thing you love, opportunities will follow.  Make time for yourself to do what you love, one day you’ll be thanking yourself for having done so.

Seventh, create serendipity for yourself.  We all love those serendipitous moments, when you seem to be in the right place at the right time. It seems like luck, but you can create your own luck.  Surround yourself with people who push you to do more, to be better, and who you come alive with.  Put yourself out there, do something that scares you, you will be astounded by the opportunities you create for yourself.  Don’t wait for luck to come along and push you into something exciting, because it may never happen. Go out there and create some serendipity!  Do something today that pushes you out of your comfort zone.  You never know what might come of it.

Eighth, give, give, and give some more.  When I was a kid I frequently heard my parents claim they preferred giving to receiving gifts. I couldn’t believe it, what could be better than getting presents from someone else?  But there was something to their logic, and now I get it.  Nothing gives me so much pleasure as to see someone else being joyful because of something I’ve done for them.  We all have so much to give to others: time, money, knowledge, advice. It’s so easy now to share a little of yourself with those who need it, and it makes life so much fuller.  It will enrich not only your life, but the lives of those you love.

Ninth, remember to be grateful you’re alive.  We all have so much to be grateful for, no matter what has happened in our lives.  I have so much to be grateful for.  I feel the pain of my mother’s illness and her impending death so often, that at times, it’s really hard to breathe and to feel positive and keep moving forward.  But I am grateful that God spared her life 3 1/2 years ago and we have had this beautiful time together.  I am so grateful for that.  And I am grateful for my silver lining, for the lessons that I have learned through all of this,  and for the people who love me and have led me to the beautiful life I have .  We can all find something in our not-so-great times that we can be grateful for… a lesson learned, a new friend, a newfound strength. Don’t ever forget how powerful that is.

And finally, my mother, who always said to me as a child “life isn’t a dress rehearsal, live each day to the fullest”, boy, she has truly taught me what that statement means.  I have witnessed it through her beauty and her pain.  She has always been sincere and authentic with no pretensions and she is loved beyond measure!  I am blessed!

Being Alone is Good For You

We are now twenty five days into January, have made it through the busy holiday season and are settling into a new year.  Hallelujah!!  As much as I love Christmastime, it can be exhausting!  With the hustle of getting everything done, buying and wrapping gifts, making appearances to a long list of parties, and have you noticed, all the parties you WANT to attend seem to be on the same nights during the month of December? If you’re like me, when it’s over, you are just as happy to pack it neatly away until next year.

Now that things have quieted down, I was reflecting on alone time.  Do you feel that alone time is good for you?  Good for your psyche?  Good for your soul?  In general, life seems to be so hectic these days.  You work at the office, you work from home and even on your vacation.  And I am not even including the effort it takes to maintain your personal and social life.

As technology advances and the world moves faster and faster, many people find themselves overwhelmed with trying to keep pace.  You may find that you are drained mentally, physically and emotionally. You try to get the proper sleep, but you still may feel as if you didn’t get enough rest or feel refreshed for an extended period of time.

The best way to de-stress is by doing things we enjoy; retail therapy, taking a vacation, participating in sports or engaging in hobbies, all of which are beneficial.  Often times, being with friends and socializing with others, even in a “fun” environment, can pull from our energy.  Being alone and reflecting, turning our attention inward, is one of the best ways to not only recharge, but to also eliminate the unnecessary stressors in our lives.  Don’t ever be afraid to be alone at times

Actively being alone or engaging in “me time” for some, especially myself, means sleeping a day away or “Netflix and chillin’.” However, there is a difference between merely being alone and actively being alone.  One is intentional and purposeful while the other is a matter of circumstance.  When we are choosing to actively be alone, we consciously set time for reflection and to simply be with our thoughts. This means unplugging from all external stimulus.

In setting the stage for active alone time we have to remove distractions. A great way to do this is to go to a quiet spot or sit amongst nature. Go to a beach, a wooded area or a quiet park tucked away and leave your phone in the car or turn it off, to eliminate the temptation.  If you can’t take an afternoon to get away, set aside the hour before you go to bed as your active alone time. Shut off all of your electronics, yes, I know how hard it is to do, but it is important to get in touch with you.  If you have plans to go to lunch or shopping with friends during your free time, carve out time before or after to disconnect from the outside world and turn your attention inward. In time, it will be come a habit of nature.  Being alone is not synonymous with being lonely.

Actively being alone allows you to be fully present in the now.  Actively being alone helps us eliminate distractions.  It makes us conscious of what we are doing, feeling and thinking.  Worrying about the future, and being consumed with whether or not we will achieve our goals or create the life we’ve dreamed about makes us miss out on the beauty and opportunity that is in front of us, right now.  Learn how to be alone, and purposefully decide to love yourself enough to spend time with your thoughts. Once you’ve spent time processing your thoughts, you will find that your state of mind changes. Your mood improves and your outlook is better. Your loved ones will thank you for it and you will be a refreshed, better version of yourself.

There are always going to be moments where we are simply over saturated, and getting away for a week in the Bahamas to rest and recharge is not an option. This is where we learn to make do and create our own little oasis right where we are. We have to make time for ourselves. This should not be seen as a form of weakness, where being alone equates to being a lonely person. It does not mean you cut off from your social circle and keep to yourself. Instead, it is a form of mental exercise that will not only refresh our minds, but help restore our spirits to give us the type of true rest that can keep us moving towards greater heights in life.

So, on that note .. I am thinking this might just be one of those weekends for me!  Me, Myself and I, and of course, a little dog I call “Mollie”!

The Heart Wants What It Wants

In 1862, Emily Dickinson wrote, “The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care”.  Selena Gomez sang about it in her ballad and Woody Allen tried to justify it for his involvement with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter.  Do you believe the inscrutable wisdom is true?

Throughout our adult lives, we are met, over and over again, with images and evidence of what love is or might be.  Love is a central theme in humanity across time and cultures.  It is also the main topic in music, films, novels, poetry and art.  But we all approach it so differently.  How does it affect us so deeply that even sane people have gone mad?  Is it even possible to understand romance in all of its significant forms?  The long-term and the fleeting.  The disheartening and the mind-blowing.  And how do we admit that our love lives are wild, complex, unknowable things?  And once we’ve admitted it, how do we go about interpreting or explaining the mystery?

I know, in my mind, I will play the scene out, dancing, singing, silence, or staring, creating these resonant spaces to concentrate on what it means to fall in love and why we even do.  If only for a moment, it is in these spaces, that I am allowed to fully feel the mystery for a while, if not be granted any sort of lasting clarity.  I believe the meaning of the saying is that emotions, such as love, are not under conscious, cognitive control.  You cannot simply decide to fall in love with somebody, no matter how suitable.  Just as you cannot decide to stop loving somebody, no matter how hopeless.

Psychologist’s say that these occurrences are hard to explain using the two most common theories of emotions.  The first being; the cognitive appraisal theory of emotions, which says that emotions are judgements about how well a situation fits with your goals, so that happiness is an estimate of goal satisfaction and sadness is an estimate of goal dissatisfaction.  On this theory, it should be fairly easy to control your emotions, because you can reappraise the situation and figure out whether falling in love accomplishes your relationship goals.  But, your emotions are never that simple.

The alternative theory of emotions are reactions to physiological changes, such as heart rate, breathing and hormone levels.  The physiological view of emotions fits well within the idea that the heart wants just what the heart wants, putting feelings outside of cognitive control.

If you were to combine these two theories, however, our emotions could be the parallel integration of both “cognitive appraisal and psychological perception”.  In other words, yes, the heart wants what the heart wants, but sometimes the heart wants what the brain wants too.  If this is true, we could all learn to better control the thoughts and ideas that influence our physiology based wants and desires, focusing such thoughts on developing healthy and positive values, beliefs and goals.  This way, our emotions will fall in line based on our thoughts and our biochemical functionality helping us to minimize our susceptibility to making really bad decisions about relationships.

I think you can decide to do things that increase the likelihood that you will fall in love with someone, such as deep, meaningful and intimate conversations and gazing into one another’s eyes.  And, you might try to fall out of love with someone by avoiding the person, focusing on their negative attributes, and/or becoming attracted to someone else.  Honestly, I think these are all unanswerable questions and assumptions.  At the end of all the daydreaming, staring, experiments, silences and questions, no one has gotten much further articulating our desires than Emily Dickinson did all those years ago.  The heart wants what it wants, or else it doesn’t care.

 

Put Away Your “Choose Me” Stick

How does it feel to be in a holding pattern circling over the possibility of the relationship that you want, hoping air traffic control will give you the signal that you can land and take up your slot?

Waiting for someone to make you a priority, to proceed to a relationship, to not break-up, to leave a different partner, or choose you over the many they are flirting with, or whatever it is that you’re waiting to be chosen for, just deprioritizes you.  If you prioritized you, you’d never be in a situation where someone not only has the power to decide your fate, but to leave a crater sized hole in your life.  When you are not co-choosing in a mutually beneficial relationship, it all becomes about one person working harder than the other, which by default, assigns greater “value” – they’re just not that special!

Waiting to be chosen is a bit like how some people go job hunting, they put so much energy into being the right person for the job, it’s assumed that it’s the right job for them.  Interview processes do actually involve you evaluating whether it is the right job for you, which will arise from the questions you ask and any other research you might do.  And how about if you get the job offer and then start evaluating whether it’s actually the right opportunity?  Some never get the job and take it as a huge blow of rejection.  Of course, it’s not a great issue with your job hunting unless you end up miserable in a  job that you knew wasn’t right for you but felt compelled to take it because you were asked, or you felt blah about your career, or you end up floating around getting job offers but never staying in a job for any decent length of time and always have one foot out the door …

One of the things that job interviews and dating and relationships has taught me, is that anything you get “rejected” by through the process of not being “chosen”, there is normally a very good reason why you wouldn’t have chosen them either.  The overwhelming majority of the time, you are already aware of the reasons, it’s just that you get sidetracked by your ego that needs that gold star of someone choosing you.

Love isn’t a decision, it’s a feeling.  If you have to decide to love someone, then you really don’t love them.  Love isn’t a choice.  It is inevitable.  You cannot force yourself to love someone, just like you can’t force yourself to stop loving someone.  It should be automatic, and if it is not, then it just isn’t real.

How do you know when you love someone?  You just know, but obviously if you don’t, therein lies your problem.  If you think you have a choice in the matter then you don’t know what real love is If you can’t figure out whether you love someone, then you don’t.  It’s as simple as that.  You don’t catch a few fish and pick the best of the bunch.  You wait for “the one” and if someone is not it, then you just move along.  No one wants to settle for someone that thinks they’re just “good enough”.  We all deserve better than that.

What may come as a surprise to you is that your ego needs you to own your power and get on with your life.  Don’t try to figure out why you weren’t chosen to be on the rowing team of a boat you don’t even want to be on, or a boat that you’ve already worked out is a bad ride and that you need to get the hell out of.

I’m thankful that whether it has been through actions or ego, I have eventually steered myself out of dodgy situations.  I am also thankful that I wasn’t “chosen” for certain relationships.  When I have been ready to own my power, it left me free to choose and be chosen for a relationship I genuinely wanted for healthy reasons.

This is your life … you must be the driver of your choices.  Hold your own and put away your “choose me” stick and stop playing the role that says, “how can I be the right one for you”?  You have control over what you do and do not participate in.  Choose positively!  One day, you’ll wake up and realize that you’re not waiting for them or wanting them anymore … You’ll  take a deep breath of relief and realize it was never meant for you.

 

 

Reinventing and Investing in Myself

  1. It is hard to believe that it is almost 8 weeks since my last blog post.  I have been so busy and a good portion of my summer has been spent in school and studying.  I never would have thought, at this seasoned time in life, that I would be “reinventing the wheel”, or myself so to speak.  After 30+ years in the medical field, I am embarking on a new career in the world of Real Estate.

It was an interesting experience to return to a classroom setting.  There were a handful of people that were around my age or even a bit older.  For the most part, I was surrounded by Millennials and Generation Z’s, as they call themselves.  Having been blessed with good genes, many thought I was apart of Generation X.  Shhhhh .. that was my little secret that I refused to divulge!  After I got over the butterflies of my first day, it felt good walking into my class with a pair of jeans, converse and a backpack on.  I was reliving my youth, only this time around, it felt even better!

You see, I had made the investment in myself.  It felt nothing like K-12 grade, or even college, because Dad wasn’t footing the bill.  I showed up early every day, studied every night and committed to paying attention.  Sure, there were times I felt a little bored with a particular subject, however, I was dedicating myself and my time to learn the material.  It didn’t hurt either that I have always been interested in Real Estate thanks to my family.  One of the most pressing questions I often heard about returning to school after age 50 was one of practicality; is returning to school practical for someone who should be close to considering retirement?

The truth is, the security of retiring with a substantial income, worry free housing and the good life deserved, after being employed for a lifetime, is non-existent for many. Instead, you are often faced and/or forced, with job replacement, unemployment and a market requiring skills you simply don’t have.  The question of age becomes moot as age does not determine practicality, just as retirement does not guarantee financial security.  The decision has to be based on survival.  Viewing your situation on the grounds of survival clarifies direction.  A more practical question to be considered is, “How can I survive comfortably as I progress into my retirement age?” If survival involves brushing up old skills or learning new ones, returning to school is a clear-cut, confusion free, decision.

Now that I have completed school, I am currently studying for my state and national exams.  Remember, if you’re going to “reinvent the wheel” be ready for a lot of naysayers.  Success is never a straight line, it’s a horrible, mischievous, roller coaster that will test your patience, will, and even your mental well-being.  Don’t ever lose focus and just keep trying.  When Elon Musk created the first Tesla, he didn’t say, “Man, I’m going to build a better car, by doing the same thing that’s been done before and touch it up a bit it.” He literally created a new type of car from the ground up to create a disruptive product.  Now all electric cars follow the Tesla format.  I am certainly not going to build anything like a Tesla and the empire that Mr. Musk has created, but  to quote a smart creative; “The mark of greatness is when everything before you is obsolete, and everything after you bears your mark”. — Dave Chappelle

Fingers crossed, wish me luck!  I hope to sell, sell, sell as I venture into my new career!!

How to Make a Good First Impression

For the last several months, I have been thrust into the labor pool searching for the perfect job.  I sure enjoyed life much more when I was the one perusing the pool of applicants.  I would typically form my opinions based on first impressions.

There is no doubt you’ve heard the adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  What many people don’t realize is just how important a first impression can be.  Did you know that others judge you within the first 3 to 5 seconds of meeting?  In that short period of time, the other person forms an opinion based on appearance, body language, demeanor, mannerisms and how you are dressed.  It is nearly impossible to reverse or undo these encounters.  The judgement is made subliminally, so it is important to do your best to make a good impression, professionally and personally.  There are steps that anyone can take to improve the impression that they will make in these first crucial moments.

The Basics of Good Impressions:

  1. Be on time.
  2. Dress appropriately for the occasion.
  3. Address people respectfully, especially by their last name unless directed otherwise.
  4. Speak clearly and confidently.
  5. Always offer a firm handshake.
  6. Smile, smile and smile.
  7. Proper manners.
  8. Good eye contact.
  9. Be positive.
  10. Be attentive.

And the most important thing I will stress regarding a first time meeting, turn off your cell phone.  This goes for a job interview or meeting someone for the first time.  Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention.  You’ll create a less than good first impression if your phone is ringing or text messages are heard coming through.

Not that many years ago, the first time you were seen personally or professionally, was either on the new job or in a social setting.  Now it is common for someone to Google you, find you on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.  Before anyone spends any face-to-face time with you, they have already formed some sort of opinion or decision about who you are, what you do and how you think.

In my opinion,  by participating in these forms of social media, you have made the decision to put yourself out there for the world to see and read who you are.  They not only see your face, but they have the opportunity to read what you’ve done, what you have to say and what others have to say about you.  For example, let’s break this down even more.

When someone sees your profile on LinkedIn, it should be a good representation of who you are in your professional world and how you wish to be perceived for your future.  It is your personal brand and it should be up-to-date and current with your most recent employment.  When in doubt, ask others for opinions on how they discern you.  And for goodness sake, please stop using LinkedIn as a dating site.  It is great to connect with others in and outside of your industry, but let’s keep this for professional use only.

Your photos on Instagram are visuals on your lifestyle and a reflection of your personality through photos.  When taking a look at your account, what would you think of yourself if you were a new employer?  Does it add up to how you wish to be seen?  What would a close family member say?  Or, your boss?  Best to keep this account Private if you have concerns.

If you are a Tweeter, take a look at your Twitter account.  Review your photos, your followers, who you are following and most importantly, what you are tweeting or retweeting.  If there are items that don’t align with how you want to be noticed, delete them.

These very same rules apply for Facebook.  Again, when in doubt, always make your account Private.  People don’t really need to know about you through friends and family or the games you play.  It is not about hiding the truth, it is about reserving parts of your personal life and not connecting it with the business side.  And, speaking of games, please do not send me any game requests folks.  I just don’t have the time or the desire.  And those pesky chain letters that we are supposed to forward, really?  Am I seriously going to have bad luck if I don’t comply?

Doing an audit of your social media, at least once per year, is probably a good idea.  People change and perspectives also change, so it is a good plan to review and update if need be.  Taking the time to go through and see how others might observe you is valuable.  And, aren’t you worth the time and energy to give the very best impression?

 

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