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7 Aug

maybe you had to hear these as much as me?

4 reasons not to strive for perfection

23 Jul
striving for perfection has always been seen as an admirable goal.  whether it’s getting into the right schools, cleaning your house just right or toning your body, perfection is what we want.  or is it?
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here are four reasons not to strive for perfection:

1. when we are hyper-focused on perfection, there is a chance we may miss the things that would truly make us happy.

In her 2012 article in Harvard Magazine titled “Effortless Perfection”, Isabel Ruane wrote:
“Last winter, I had wondered how I could ever reconcile my guilt at having relaxed my work ethic with my certainty that doing so had allowed me to grow in other ways. I had worried about where my duty lay: to Harvard, for offering me an education and paying a great share of its cost; to my parents, for raising me, guiding me, and making sacrifices for me; or to myself, maybe more in need of reflection and friendship than a spotless transcript. Now I realize I was worrying about the wrong “duty.” My duty to the world isn’t to be perfect. It is to take care of myself as best I can so I can give back to the world the love and care it has given to me. If slacking off was what I needed to make myself happy and available to help others, then this decision reflected no disrespect for my parents, for Harvard, or for my own work ethic.”
 

2. perfection is subjective and abstract.

there is nothing wrong with having personal goals and wanting to achieve them.  i try to achieve my personal best every day.  with my career, with my personal life – everything.  having goals is what guides my day-to-day living.  on sunday, i write out goals for the week and if i achieve them- to me that is perfection!  But this is MY personal best with which i connect with perfection, not yours.

it becomes judgement when we start projecting our “strife for perfection” on others.

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perfection is subjective because with social media and just media in general, everyone can photograph and video their best foot forward – always.  some blogs that i follow, you’d think they only live a life of crisply curated +  snapped recipes and coiffed living rooms.  they can build the perfect career and host the perfect dinner party – NO! – not a boring dinner party but a bollywood-themed movie night complete with belly dancers. to me, the takeaway is  that they are PERFECT.  and that un-truth can bring someone down.  ok, sometimes i’ve been brought down by it.  ok, sometimes i contribute to it.  <sigh>

so good for danielle guenther  who photographed brilliantly the not-so-glamourous life of parents.  she says “capture the moment, because in the end, all we have are the memories.”

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 and lastly…

2. perfection is unattainable.

you’ll never get there – ever.  as a Christian, we believe that only Christ is perfect.  why oh why can’t i remember that?
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.
Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” 

4. if you strive for only perfection, you may fly by the lessons that failure teaches us. 

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
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inspiration for today

15 Apr

today i’m in naples, florida with people I love. ROF arrives today and i can’t wait to see him!

i’m thinking about my wonderful aunt jeanie.  she passed away on wednesday. i loved her.  I used to stay at her house in columbus ohio when i handled the buick account at JTC Advertising.  she was always so excited to see me and hear about what i was doing.  she and I shared a love of books and movies.  she had so much life and interest in people and places!

she also could play the piano so well.  i snuck a video of her playing the last time I saw her.



i’m thinking of her sisters- my mom and aunt sally- and her kids, my cousins and her many grandkids.

oh! here are some things i’ve been meaning to tell you.  pass it on + be inspired!


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

heart attacks + fries

22 Feb

happy new year!

yes, i realize that it’s almost march but i haven’t posted since december.  i got a new job and started it in january and have been running ever since. (new job is awesome, by the way)

right now, i’m on an early morning delta flight out of dfw headed first to minneapolis and then to duluth. the cabin in this small plane smells like freshly brewed coffee and morning breath from the several men around me sleeping with their mouth wide open and head back.  from duluth i will rent a SUV and drive an hour and half to ashland, wisconsin.  otherwise known as God’s country.  look it up on a map.  it may be only 6 degrees up there but i consider it to be a huge perk of my job to experience the beauty which is northern wisconsin. then i turn around and drive back, stay by the airport and am on an early morning flight out of duluth to minneapolis and land back at dfw tomorrow at noon.

living healthy.

so at my age (46) i just realized i could die someday.  as a gen x’er (i’m stereotyping) the thought of dying or coming up on serious health issues could not have been further from my mind.  i was invincible and could smoke as much as i wanted (after all, the kids from my favorite movies did like st. elmos fire and singles.)

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drink wine as much as i wanted like carrie bradshaw in sex and the city and not care about how it affected me and my body.

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now i know.  and it’s a sobering fact of life.  you get old and your body and organs go along for the ride.

my brother who is four years younger than me had a couple massive heart attacks around thanksgiving. they had to shock him 19 times and his heart stopped beating for over 15 minutes.  my brother and i have a very strained and challenging relationship but it has made me sad for him.  it has made me think of me too.  that maybe it isn’t enough for me to just drink my trader joe’s super green powder drink every morning and “try” to walk 30 minutes before slumping back in front of my computer for the rest of the day.  maybe i have to do more and maybe it’s urgent.  maybe i better stop thinking that all there is what makes me happy now and think about the fact that what i do now will make me very happy in the future.

so i’m not a complainer or a whiner, i’m a doer and so i got a physical.  i’m on a plan to lose weight and eat right.  it is not going to be easy.  in fact, i forgot about eating right when i ordered a BLT sandwich and fries at st. pete’s dancing marlin this weekend. i only ate half.

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baby steps.

i also have a cardiologist who is going to run all the tests and wants to see me every 6 months.  she’s awesome.  my mom had her first heart attack at only 49.  and i’m 46.

it’s a journey,right?  that’s what they say.  i hope that i can do this and have encouragement along the way.

happy new year!

it’s great to be alive!

18 Nov

read this if you believe it’s great to be alive.  or if you don’t.

my favorite radio station in the whole world is 93.1 or 93XRT in chicago, as everyone calls it.  i’ve been listening since i was in high school living the burbs of chicago.  i continued listening all the way through my 20s and 30s living the single life in downtown chicago to streaming it for the past twelve years (INTO MY FREAKING 40’s!) down here in dallas.

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i’m not going to go into how eclectic the music selections they play are – just trust that i have good taste.  anyway, i grew up with lin brehmer.  he’s on the morning show and ROF won’t be mad by me saying…. i love him.  he’s genius, wonderful, funny and insightful.  and i LOVE his signature “IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE” phrase he got from frank zappa.  i wonder if lin knows someone in dallas thinks this about him.  ha!  hearing that reminds me to tell you that i truly – and maybe cheesily – think that IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE every single day.  if you know me, you know that is true.

can you even comprehend for one single minute, sitting in a cafe enjoying a nice dinner – maybe it was impromptu – maybe it was planned for weeks – who cares.  but you’re sitting there and a gunman enters and starts shooting off an automatic gun.  like you, i’m sure, hearing about the events in paris rocked our world this weekend.   you don’t have time to say goodbye.  you don’t have time to “work on those things that you want to change.”  that’s it.  was it good?   did you make every single day count?

sometimes i have to remind myself and my close friends that we have #firstworldproblems.  that sometimes the things that SUCK really don’t SUCK at all.  this is what having this mentality is all about.  for example…. having a hard time at work?  you’re not appreciated or maybe not being used to your capability?  well, you’re getting a paycheck, you have a roof over your head and an opportunity to change your situation.   so guess what – IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE!  you’re upset that you’ve gained weight and clothes don’t fit and you’re depressed?  well,  if your legs work and you can walk – then IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE.  so change it, dear.

i spent a lot of time with my dad when he was dying.  every single day as a matter of fact.  so, yes, many times your situation really does SUCK.  dying of cancer SUCKs.  but my dad for the nine months he lived after finding out he had cancer in his esophagus, then brain, then finally his spine is that he truly had the attitude of how knowing IT’S TO BE ALIVE.  he used his last days on earth to hug life.  to make wrongs right, to make us laugh, to squeeze my mom tight and tell her he loved her always, to encourage my sister, brother and i and to really embrace life.

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he had the opportunity to do this where so many do not.  he knew this.

if you ever need a reminder how great it is to be alive go here and do something about it.  one of the best websites i’ve ever seen.  ever.  thanks JG for sending.

 

101 ways to get your house ready for guests – friends weigh in!

15 Nov

i love having house guests.  because it is just ROF and me (and ruby!) having our house abuzz with family and friends really gives me the feeling of home.  i love making our company comfortable whether it’s a home cooked meal, special conveniences or little surprises.

so i reached out to my friends to find out what they do to make the visit special.  i love these ideas!

have some of the guest’s favorite things on-hand; e.g., snack, coffee, liquor/beer. Female: fresh flowers, magazines, candle, comfy bedding, beautiful glass for bottled water, something silver in room Male: good breakfast food, James Patterson-type books, late night snacks, bottled water – marinell roe

i had my sister and her boyfriends initials monogrammed on hand towels. – megen decker

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get a collapsible suitcase holder at bed bath and beyond to get their suitcase to a place they can easily use it. put a small surprise on the bed. if kids are visiting get a little something about the city or candy treat.  if they are coming to see your city print an agenda like u and britt did when we came to chicago.aunt sally nilsen

for me, the thing that makes having house guests easy is organization in advance.  whether it is room prep, meals or activities, if you plan ahead, make an itinerary, buy and prep in advance, you can enjoy your guests and feel less stressed.  – susan prendeville

i like to put a goodie bath basket on their bed or in the bathroom. something luxurious, soap/body wash, loofa, plush washcloth and candle maybe to help them feel at home and little gifts they can take home with them.- katie ballard

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since the guest room also doubles as storage when there are no guests, i typically organize the guest room closet and find extra non-wire hangers to put in there.  – meredith conte

i frame my wireless network and wifi password and put it on the bedside table.  Like what they would see in a boutique hotel.

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i always buy fruit, juice, banana bread or croissants and set up coffee and tea so they have a little continental breakfast waiting for them in the kitchen. people wake up at different times so even if I go back to bed, it’s there waiting for them and they don’t have to feel weird searching through the pantry.  I like doing this even if we have brunch plans because like I said…sometimes people wake up really early and i’m always hungry as soon as I wake up.

i always buy chocolate and set it out in candy dishes.  People like to munch and snack and it’s nice being able to grab a few pretzel M&M’s on your way to bed!

i let them sleep with riley, if they are really good friends… he’s a snuggle bug. – jackie grubb

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i love to cook for guests and a few special items I will pull out like chicken enchiladas or a lasagna that’s made with pepperoni (yum!) we also love to make a brunch for the first morning complete with mimosas. my go-to brunch casserole is pioneer woman’s sleepin’ in breakfast casserole.

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when we go out, we try to look for unique spots that the guests might not have at home. i love to try new restaurants and want to share that experience with others. – jennifer anderson

i love to leave a small vase of fresh flowers, nothing fancy (I can usually run outside and find something pretty in bloom) by the bedside.  ordering out from a local pizza place that first night makes things casual and easy and gives people time to relax. – lindy stagnaro

have a box of matches or a nice room spray in the bathroom and other accoutrements like nice simple soap in the shower and q-tips on the counter. set up a power outlet by the bed for phones and ipads to charge – sarah beth prendeville

i also asked my friends what games they like to play with guests and i heard about these several times:

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dani crowder’s friends and guests have a blast playing this game and we have had great success learning from jamie hare’s family playing this game

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but the most creative, interesting and fun suggestion came from christine warren.  her husband likes to whip up molecular gastronomy creations (invitation, please!) and she suggested purchasing this fun thing to do with guests!

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i have also gone to the local unique chocolatier and bought a sample box of chocolate and had guests guess what is in the chocolate (whiskey, bacon etc…)

lastly, here are some of my tips:

  • give people “jobs” to do.  everyone asks what they can do to help and typically they really do want to help – so delegate roles such as setting the table, writing out place cards, helping keep people’s drinks filled and clearing the table make people feel helpful and play a part
  • have the coffee pot ready to go – just press a button and hot coffee is on the way so your guests don’t have to wait if they wake up early
  •  plan for some down time.  time for people to do their own thing – take a walk (have an extra house key made), read or just hang out and not feel like they have to be “on” the whole time
  • plunger in the bathroom.  no one wants to ask for one and if you have a finicky toilet like we do – just keep one under the sink
  • give guests permission to help themselves to snacks at any time.  drinks in the garage fridge and chips and nuts in the pantry  – help yourself!  i love trader joes salt and pepper pistachios

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  • in the winter, keep comfy socks in guest room drawer and extra blankets by the bed.  sleep in your guest room so you can experience what they will

thank you to all my fun friends who contributed to this!  i can’t wait to have a house full of family this thanksgiving and they are sure to be the recipients of your great ideas.

encouragement for today

30 Oct

my encouragement for today is for you, girl.

yes, you.

the woman who does it all.

chin up.  don’t get discouraged.  don’t get down.

if you don’t get encouraged by me, at least listen to one of my heros at the end.

have a great day!

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now, if you’ve made it this far, listen to maya.  miss you.

 

encouragement for today

17 Sep

ok, so i went a little crazy on pinterest

this weekend and pulled some goodies.

it’s thursday, so read and be encouraged – or at least laugh!

make today a great day.  xoxo

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what keeps me motivated.

15 Jul

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my weight loss journey has been a long one.  as is it with most people.  but the one constant that keeps me focused and on track is God.

right now i’m into running and yoga.  running is extremely hard for me.  it’s boring and the minute it starts to get hard i want to quit.  now, if ROF is reading this (and he probably is) he might think that i motivate myself by the way i scream at the top of my lungs while i do my couch to 5K running app on the treadmill.  it cracks him up to hear me bellow out rap lyrics and mix in random spurts of  YOU CAN DO IT and ONE MORE MINUTE!  and KEEP RUNNING to myself.  

it’s fun, but not my real motivator.  my real motivator is saying this over and over to myself:  “you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  that is what keeps me going.  i am fearfully and wonderfully made.  really?  you mean i just don’t willy nilly exist from an evolved ape?

it’s from psalm 139 and it is one of the most comforting passages in the bible to me.  here, read the NIV version for yourself:

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

how does that knowledge motivate me?  because they are words ordained by God and spoken by one bad-ass dude – David.  and it isn’t about just me and what i want for me but what God wants for me.  he put a lot of thought into me and i was fearfully and wonderfully made.  so push on because i was made for it!

 not that it matters, but bono is moved too by the psalms…

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i have this book right on my nightstand.  it’s just the psalms alone with an intro by bono.  i’ve had this book for a long time and it’s dog-earred and highlighted and torn.  i didn’t even know that U2 based their song “40” on a psalm!  here i was in my 20’s, screaming “how long” in soldier field in chicago and waving my hands in the air (probably sloshing my beer all over everyone) not knowing how much this book of the bible would influence me in my future.
“So then we had this slightly unusual piece of music and we said, ‘OK, what are we going to do with it?’ Bono said, ‘Let’s do a psalm.’ Opened up the bible and found Psalm 40. ‘This is it. Let’s do it.’ And within forty minutes we had worked out the last few elements for the tune, Bono had sung it, and we mixed it. And literally, after finishing the mix, we walked out through the door and the next band walked in.”
– The Edge, U2 By U2 2006
this is a snippet of how bono tells his story in the introduction of this book:
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anyway, in addition to running, i have been loving yoga.  probably because i’m just able to move now better than i used to.  but it is a great way to connect with my body in a loving way, not a hurtful way like in the past…”you can’t wear clothes like that….you can’t do this….you can’t do that…i hate my body…” but it is a way to meditate on this psalm.  even though yoga stems from a different belief system than Christianity, I totally can respect it’s origin and people but continue to silently meditate – while i sweep my hands in the air and take a long stretch – on the fact that i was “fearfully and wonderfully made…”

have a great day!

women + babies + judgement

6 Jul

GIRL TALK

a couple of weeks ago i found myself having a group lunch in dallas with a couple of acquaintances.  the three of us were positioned at the end of the table and having that good but somewhat awkward conversation given we’d just met each other.  one of us was in her 50’s ,one in her 40’s and the third in her 30’s.

KIDS, NO MAN

the woman in her 50’s told us about her children and how she was a single mom with two kids.  having divorced their abusive father when the kids were young, she said “i got two great kids out of the situation!”

MAN, NO KIDS

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then i said – I did the opposite!  no one can be certain that divorce isn’t in the cards, but i waited through my 20’s and my 30’s to discover who i am and grow my career and find a husband that was most compatible to me.  by the time that happened, i was older than i wanted to be to start a family.

MAN, NO KIDS, WANT KIDS

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the third woman – the one in her thirties – said that she had been married for over 10 years but couldn’t get pregnant.  and she shared that her cousin called her that week to say that she was pregnant and “they weren’t even trying.”  she said this as she choked back tears and pushed her hair out of her eyes.

it was such an honest conversation between women that had just met.  we were simply stating our situation – not making any claims or judging each other for their decisions or feeling any regrets.  just stating what is. we talked about how rude people can be when talking about kids and asking about kids and pushing their thoughts on to your lifestyle.

made me think how many times people quickly jump to conclusions about someone else’s life.

CHOICES

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it’s all about the choices that you make.   you are where you are because of the choices you made and because it is where God thought you could handle it.  yes, there are things that happen to you that you couldn’t control – things that you wouldn’t choose.  but you control how you react to them and you choose where to go from there.

what this conversation also taught me was to dig deeper.  you don’t know the whole story on people so don’t be so harsh on them.

one of my biggest pet peeves is PEOPLE magazine and magazines like that.  giving the “people” the scoop on celebrities.  you probably don’t know them and you’re going to judge them on the small snippet of true or not true information you’re given. oh wait.  people do that now with everything. not just gossip mags but news articles, facebook – everything!  give their quick reaction or judgement call on just a snippet of information.

michael hyatt, one of my favorite author and speakers says this about being slow to judge.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 6.49.50 AM have a great day!!

appreciating this: be good to yourself, for once

8 Jun

anyone else need this reminder today?

the appreciator

we all need to hear some kind words.

and sometimes you need to be the one who needs to say them

to yourself.

see if you can pick up what i’m putting down here. happy almost friday!

hope that felt good! rinse, rewind and repeat as necessary.

all these great images and where they came from are on my “words” board on pinterest here

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pay it forward with social media

30 Jan

THE BACKGROUND.

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my mail lady – monica  – did something exceptional last week.  i was anticipating a very important package that was being delivered via USPS and it was very late.  not to the fault of USPS, but the company shipping it.  it was something i needed very badly – medicine – if you must know.  i saw last week that while the parcel had been delivered to our local post office, morgan typically didn’t get to our neighborhood until after 6pm.  i was thinking that i would drive and pick it up myself.  the thought of orchestrating this was daunting to me.  but i called the post office and here are all the extraordinary things they did right:

  • a real person answered the phone (and the office wasn’t even open yet.)
  • they listened to my request and thought about it.
  • they told me that i should talk to my mail lady – and – oh, here she is!
  • they put monica on the phone and she too listened to me and said she’d call me back once the mail was sorted, in an hour.
  • she called me back in an hour.
  • i could come by and pick it up, she’d set it aside for me.
  • but wait, she could drive by now before she starts her route and drop it off for me.

ummm.  wow.  really?

SOCIAL MEDIA THANK YOU.

 

so that isn’t even the point to my blog.  riveting story to this point, i know.  but here it is.  i was blown away.  wouldn’t you be?  i mean, it’s not like monica and i knew each other – we didn’t.  but what a nice, kind gesture.  so i did what any good social media user did and i tweeted about it to @USPS.  and that’s my point!  while many of you may think social media is just a tool those young kids use – this is actually a very pay-it-forward sort of deal.  via twitter, i can get straight to who counts at USPS because this is what happened.  i tweeted:

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then i got back this:

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granted, it could have been responded to MUCH QUICKER, but maybe they’re learning.  And that day, i got a frantic doorbell ring and knocking combo at my door.  it was monica.  she was beaming from ear to ear.

“thank you so much for the nice complement via twitter!  i’ve been recognized at work, they took my picture and i’m going to be written up in the company newsletter!”

then she handed me a card, which was unnecessary but super nice.

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THE LESSON.

tweet good stuff.  as more and more companies work with social media folks like myself, they are getting smarter by keeping their ear to the ground of their customers.  they can turn monica’s good nature and willingness to go out of her way for me into a “raving fan” story for USPS.  now they know about monica and a new fan!

 

losing 75 pounds + what i’ve learned

10 Aug

so far,  i’ve lost a little over 75 pounds.

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that’s a shitload of weight, if i do say so myself.  i’m far from done too and have at least 50 more pounds to go.  i felt like sharing some of the things i’ve learned about myself during this process.

1. boy, do old habits run deep.

i kind of pride myself on remaining relevant.  whatever the hell that means… i guess i never wanted to be one of those people that gets stuck in their way and goes through life on auto-pilot.  and, i’m not.  but this process i’ve been through has taught me how important it is to recognize a negative pattern and revise it.  revising it means evolving your thinking and replacing that habit with something else.

let’s think about that negative habit.  it may not be something your spouse or family think is negative – it may not be “bad” in the world’s eyes – but for YOU and your new vision of yourself, it’s not good.  i’ve needed to lay down the law to myself.  here are some of my bad habits:

* mindless snacking.  i now share an office with my team in a big room because i’ll be commuting from dallas to detroit each week except for two days.  so i gave up my office.  so my team-mates are probably snickering right now because they have witnessed this first hand.  mindless snacking to me is having my hand in a popcorn bag 24/7 because i’m typing and thinking and writing and talking and my hands/brain always have to be doing something.  damnit to hell.  hate that!  because i recognize that, my solution is to drink more water instead and walk more.  i also track all the mindless shoving of snacks in my mouth in myfitnesspal app and punish myself with watching the calories add up.

* exercising. losing over 75 pounds makes exercising a lot easier.  and this is what i’ve learned.  my body WANTS to move.  all the time.  my energy level is so high now that exercise is almost a given.  but my negative habit is deeply, deeply engrained into my head.  and that is “i just don’t exercise”.  never have, never will.  boooorrring.  it was not stressed growing up and i do not stress it to myself.  when i played tennis in high school i used to do everything possible to get out of the sprints and the running.  i used to HIDE IN THE TENNIS CURTAIN!  <confession> so turning around this thinking is really hard.  when you tell yourself something that “you’re just not this or you just don’t do that” it is really debilitating.  so i just do it now.  i tell myself “i am a walker”  and that I love to move.  and i’m starting to believe it!

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2.  all the things they tell you to do on a diet really do work.  

the simple things like drink a lot of water, eat protein, chew small bites, eat slowly, get daily exercise and avoiding processed food.  all that works and works really well.  it took a lot for me to learn that – a lot.  but one way i’ve lost the weight is focusing on these things.

3. forget vanity, life is much better minus the weight. 

life really is that much better now that i’m lighter.  i’m just being honest.  this has nothing to do with trying to fit in because  fitting in, to me, is so easy and extremely boring and un-creative.  <had to get that in>.

but something i’ve learned is that the mean-girl voice in my head has gone away.  you know, that inside voice that said things that kept me down + held me back.  all that conflict is gone.  poof-bam-blitz!  and on top of that, getting dressed for work in the morning is a lot more fun.

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4. just get through it. 

it’s been a long journey, i’m still on it and always will be.  it’s amazing what you can do just by telling yourself to get through it. tomorrow is a new day and i want to be in a new place.  it’s not as simple as it sounds.  but no matter what you’re going through, you’ve got to hope that tomorrow will be different.  so push through, endure + persevere.

thanks for reading!

encouragement for today

15 Apr

there’s something i want to remember every single morning.  

but i don’t.  i wake up and go through my programmed routine and i forget.  in the beginning i didn’t forget. and i made myself promise that i wouldn’t.

i don’t want to forget to remember to live this day as if i had 4 months left to live.  

like so many people out there, i learned this lesson the hard way.  it happened to someone close to me.  in fact, now that i think about it, it has been a similar situation for several people close to me.   why should you listen?  because i promise that if this news hasn’t crossed your path yet, it will someday.  

do you know what my dad did when he found out he had 4 months to live?  he moved, within weeks, two doors down from me in an OK apartment complex in dallas, texas.  do you know where he was living?  in a million dollar or so house on a golf course on hilton head island – away from his children – away from his family.

when he got the word that he was dying, his very first thought was me, my sister and my brother.   and my mom.  he didn’t give a shit that he was going to a rented one bedroom apartment – all that mattered was he was close to his family.  he didn’t care about feeling uncomfortable about asking our forgiveness, he did it.  and quick.

i could go on more about this but this encouragement for today isn’t about my dad.  it’s about you + me.  how can we live each day with this mindset?  here is what i thought about:

1. close your eyes.  you just got this horrible news.  what is very most important to you?  make it that important every single day and act as such.  pick up and move to dallas, so to speak.

2.  make it right.  if there is anything off kilter, make it right, now.  don’t wait for this day to come.  make it right RIGHT NOW.

3. make other people important.  taking a lesson from dad, i absolutely became the center of his life.  and i wasn’t before.  he was genuinely interested in what i was doing, saying, learning.  my favorite memories ever were in the morning before work, i would see his bald head bouncing down the outside walk to my house for coffee.  i loved it.  he couldn’t wait to wake up and talk to me about my day and what i was going to do.  i need to be like that every day with everyone i encounter.

4. get over yourself.  and your fears, insecurities and inhibitions.  it’s not about you.  it’s about your time with people important to you.  big difference.  so say i’m sorry, say i’m scared, say let’s pray, say i love you – stop with the inside voice telling you stupid things.  you only have a limited time.

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3 ways to become instantly confident

3 Apr

ever need a shot of confidence?

maybe you’re getting ready for a big presentation, interviewing for a new job or just down and out and need a little boost?  here are 3 ways to be instantly confident:

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1. fake it until you make it

the first thing is to stand tall.  straighten out your back, extend your neck + round out your shoulders.  do it now.  don’t you feel more confident?  take up more room in the room – it’s what animals do when they want to show who is in control.  doing this also refocuses your brain and says “i’m ready, let’s go”.

it is not a surprise that when i was looking for supporting articles like this one, that it is from a website called “ask men”.  with no scientific evidence supporting this next statement, i’ll say that men display this more than women.  watch them walk into a room full of people.  eyes focused, shoulders back – it’s someone that gives off the impression they know what they are talking about.  so it’s a good first step – good first impression.

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2. prayer

if you’re a Christian, then pray.  i’ve been in a corporate environment for 22 years and have given hundreds and hundreds of presentations.  before every single one (haven’t missed ONE) i’ve prayed.  my dad used to do this too.  he wasn’t a particularly religious man growing up but he knew something that i know too.  it’s not all about us.  <sigh>  i’m given everything i have from God.  so it only makes sense for me to ask Him for the words, the clarity, the passion to come out when i give presentations, have to have a hard talk or do something that i don’t want to do.  it’s not like it is a secret weapon…wait…maybe it is!  all i know is that when i pray for confidence, it is given to me and i trust that i can handle whatever is about to come my way.  here is a good prayer to read.

3. remember who you are.

this is a favorite one of mine.  my mom used to tell me this all the time growing up and i used to think it was stupid <sorry mom.>  i guess my grandpa used to say it to her too.  i never knew what it meant when i was in high school because NEWSFLASH i didn’t know who i was.  but just by her saying this to me, it was top of mind.

when i got into college and into my 20’s – i started to know who i was a little better.  i am passionate about certain things, genuinely love people,  want to make a difference, have a point of view on things and want to be heard.  this is who i am.  now, that i’m 44 years old, when i want instant confidence – i remember who i am.  and i’m glad for who i am thanks to my mom, dad, husband, sister, friends and God.  and that gives me instant confidence.

why don’t you remember who you are?  who are you?  write those things down and i’m sure they will give you a boost too.

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what younger women need to know – part three

23 Mar

continuing the blog post series on me talking with some older women, i introduce kay johnson!

kay was gracious to answer all my questions and i’m all the more enriched by getting to know her a little more!

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Kay Johnson, age 70
I stayed home with my kids until they were old enough to be involved in activities that kept them for after- school practice.  When I did return to the workforce I was an administrative assistant and human resources person.

The best thing about growing older is you finally realize you can be your own person and not be concerned with being who your friends want you to be or saying what you think they want to hear.  You finally realize you are fine just the way you are.  We all have different childhood experiences and different personalities but now we embrace those differences.  (A far different attitude from my 20 year old self.)  <amen, kay!>

The decade I like most was the 50s. I loved the music and the innocence of the times.  My grandchildren will never be able to attend a Halloween carnival at their elementary school and trick-or-treat all the way home after dark with just the other neighborhood kids.

One of the best decisions I ever made was never to act shocked at anything my teen-aged daughters ever told me.  I figured they would feel free to talk to me about anything and never be afraid to come to me with whatever might be bothering them.  It worked just as I had hoped but with one little glitch.  I heard way more than I wanted to hear.

One of the worst decisions I ever made….  oh, how could I forget!  Once I let a door-to-door salesman into my house when my husband was gone.  Just two little girls, a dumb Cocker Spaniel, and me huddled together listening to his spiel about a water softener.  It was fine but believe me I knew it could have worked out differently.  (Looking back I think it was his first call and he was more terrified than I was.)  It taught me a lesson though.  I don’t have any problem turning people away or hanging up on the solicitors.

Advice to a younger woman would be don’t fail to recognize your worth.  Wake up every morning and look in the mirror and tell yourself one thing you like about yourself.  Educate yourself so you will never HAVE to depend on a husband or significant other to support you.  Position yourself so that you have choices.

The person I admire most has to be my mother.  She was always so wise.  She is 92 now and still has her moments.  She has very high morals and a strong work ethic that she passed on to my sister and me not by preaching but by the way she lived her life.  I love some of her sayings . . . She was widowed at age 58 and never remarried.  She always said, “I’d rather be single than wish I was.” You gotta love that!

The most famous person I ever met was Fats Domino.  We were on the same flight to Oklahoma City in 1965 and was I ever impressed!  Seriously, Blueberry Hill, I’m Walkin’, Blue Monday, Walking To New Orleans!!!  I loved rock and roll and Fats Domino was one of the best.

thanks kay!  that was wonderful!

to read others click here or here!

what younger women need to know – part deux

5 Mar

as my avid readers know, i’ve launched a new series called:

what younger women need to know

It stems from a need to connect with older, confident women.  i want all those tidbits, advice and most of all the perspective.  a couple of weeks ago, i profiled shirley and you can check it out here.  and today, i’m talking to kay baker.

Occupation:  Retired Educator from Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, and for the past 13 years I have served as a consultant and Texas Field Director for the Horatio Alger Association.   www.horatioalger.org      My first involvement with Horatio Alger was 30+ years ago.   

Photo of Kay 

  1. What’s the best thing about growing older  I am 73, and I like my age very much!  At 73, I have a better understanding and tolerance of the world around me…although often growing older brings failing health which is a heart-break.
  2. What decade did you like the most and why – 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s  I loved the 50’s.  Great strides were made in the medical field during that time…It was the year of the first organ transplant, and DNA was discovered. This was significant due to some family illnesses.  Color TV was also introduced and later in the 50’s the TV remote control was developed.  In addition, NASA was founded in the 50’s which led to vast space exploration yet not until the early 60’s was the first woman involved in space.
  3. The one meal you cooked the most in your life: Our family loved spaghetti and meat balls, and that meal found its way on our table once a week.  Meat loaf was another all-time favorite.
  4. One of the best decisions you ever made: One of the best decisions I ever made was to get an education—both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree.  I am from a family of educators, and I was always told that an education did not particularly “make a person better, but it would be an agent in opening doors for you.”  I found that very true.  I have always had a special love for children.  Without an education I could not have spent 40 years teaching and in High School Administration. Even after my retirement, I work for the Horatio Alger Association, a Scholarship group, that assists high school graduates further their education with needed funding. 
  5. One of the worst:  I have always regretted that I did not complete a Doctoral Program.
  6. Advice you would give a younger woman: The world belongs to the young!  They should explore every avenue and seek every opportunity.  In deciding on a career—find a job you love and look forward to and it will never seem like ‘work’.”   My Grandmother shared this philosophy with me when I was very young…and she was correct!  I have always looked forward, enjoyed and had a great commitment for the jobs that I have had.
  7. Who did you admire most in your life and why: I had a Grandmother and Mother that I dearly loved and admired.  They were very thoughtful, very loving, caring, and considerate.  They had a wealth of friends that surrounded them.  They had a deep Christian belief.  I have always tried to emulate them.
  1. Who was the most important or famous person you ever met and were you impressed?  I have several people with whom I have been greatly impressed.  E. Don Brown, the Principal at L. D. Bell High School that I worked with for many years has always shown great wisdom and exceptional guidance in working with youngsters.  And there are many members of the Horatio Alger Association that I have had the honor and opportunity to meet and work with that I greatly admire for their commitment to young people and their contributions in making possible the funding for many scholarships.  Each year the Horatio Alger Association gives more than 8 million in scholarships to need-based young people throughout the United States and Canada.  What a group!

Thank you, Kay!

encouragement for today

28 Feb

it’s friday!  i don’t know about you, but i’m dreaming of flowers.  i need fresh flowers around me at home as much as possible.  it’s something that i rationalize:  i don’t have children, so i can afford fresh flowers.  stupid, i know.  i like the alive-ness of them.  <sigh>  wish it were spring.

these words + flowers cheered me up.  maybe you too?

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what younger women need to know.

21 Feb

I love older women!  

older than me, that is.  i think about all i’ve been through in my 44 years – the things i’ve done, seen, loved + cried over and, well, it’s a long list.  that’s why i appreciate hearing from other women that are even older than me.  they are in their 60’s or above and willing to mentor + share with me their wisdom.  

so today, i will share with you my notes from shirley.  Shirley is my dad’s cousin and one of the neatest people that i know!  she and her husband jerry, surprised my mom for her 70th birthday party along with my aunt annette.  ROF and i got to know shirley and jerry even more and i love this lady!  thanks shirley for the great insight!

name:  Shirley Gasvoda

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occupation before and after marriage:  Assistant Counselor at Indiana University

1.  The best thing about growing older:  The peace and contentment of a life well lived, the joy of helping to create a happy family, the time to do what you want and not what you have to do and, most of all, not having to look like a raving beauty to impress people knowing you’ve earned every wrinkle and grey hair!

2.   My favorite (age) decade was the 50’s because our children were raised and mostly on their own, we had enough money to do things we enjoyed and we were still healthy and energetic enough to kick up our heels and look forward to grandchildren!

3.   The meal I cooked the most was pot roast which was the favorite of my three men and I must have baked pies a hundred times over.  I was and am the designated pie maker for all the Gasvoda holidays and that usually calls for five or six each time.

(i think we need both recipes, right?  will you share, shirley?)

4.    The best decision I ever made was to marry young to my wonderful husband.  We had our two boys at an early age which may not be as easy today but we were lucky to be surrounded by family to help and a strong love to depend on.  One advantage for us was that we were still young and healthy enough to be active after the kids were grown and we can enjoy our retirement years together.

5.    The worst decision I made was not pursuing a college education after being awarded a scholarship to Indiana University.  I was in love with my husband and decided to work at I.U. at home to be close to him while he attended Purdue University. Fortunately it worked out well but I would have benefited from not only the knowledge but the social advantages college would have offered.

6.     The advice I would give to a young woman is be yourself and not be influenced by social media if it contradicts what you want in life.  Think before you make a decision and if it’s the life you want badly give it all you can and go pursue your dreams.  If a husband is one of your goals, make sure he treats you with respect and love and wants your happiness as well as his own and you both have the same desires in life.

7.     I had two very strong women in my life and I admired them greatly.  My Grandmother came to the USA alone via Ellis Island when she was sixteen years old.  She spoke only German and didn’t know a word of English.  She was sponsored by a Dr. in Chicago and found work as a Nanny and supported herself until she married my Grandfather at twenty one years of age.  She had eight children and lived a happy life until age 76.

My Mother was also very strong and raised two children on a tenth grade education with little financial assistance.  She was a very hard worker and was always ready to take more than one job to supply our needs.  She had no help from the government which would probably be unheard of today! I like to hope that both these ladies shared some of their strength with me.

8.    Who is the most famous person you’ve met?  I’ve met some wonderful people along the way and impressed by their love of country and humanity but to categorize them as movie stars, politicians etc. would not top my list though I’ve met several.  I’ve had the pleasure of being guided by two Christian ministers who mentored and blessed me with their deep and abiding faith and have the love of fantastic friends and family that have provided unending inspiration.   Friends and Family make my world go around and a God that supports my every move….What more is there???

thanks, shirley.  i appreciate you.

and people – look for more of these to come in the future!

encouragement for today

4 Feb

this week has been filled with encouragement.

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and it’s only tuesday!

sunday’s sermon was excellent about God giving you courage and encouragement when you need it and pray for it.  ROF and i did a bible study last night based on the sermon and it asked us to name some times when God gave you a small responsibility to test you before He gave you a big one.  it’s just encouraging to me to know that He is so very intimately involved in our lives and not just a thing you do on sundays.  if you want to read more on this, click here.

next, my sister reminded me of something i found and sent to her last month.  I love this stuff.   this is by dan waldschmidt.  it gave her encouragement at the exact time she needed it.  maybe it will do the same for you.  thanks dan!  looks like he has a new book coming out.

YOU HAVE TO DO THE HARD THINGS.

You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
You have to give more than you get in return right away.
You have to care more about others than they care about you.
You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts”.
You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
You have try and fail and try again.
You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.
You have to do the hard things.
The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.
Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.
The hard things are the easiest things to avoid.  To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.
The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.
Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

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top photo credit to: henry stern

intentions vs. actions

2 Feb

ROF + i are all into watching breaking bad (we’re slow to catch on) and although i think the show jumped the shark a little recently, it’s excellent.

it’s one of several shows out there that gives you a multi-layered look inside people.  a character that has pretty good + decent intentions but has made a decision to take bad actions.  for a tv show – meaning purely for entertainment purposes –  i’ve discovered i like this.  watching these kind of shows, to me, with their multi-dimensional lead was way better than any of the stupid :30 minute sitcoms out there <insert laugh track here.>

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 6.52.05 AMtake mr. walter white from breaking bad.  if you haven’t seen the show, i’m not going to ruin anything for you here.  but let’s do a little character assessment, shall we ?

intention:  dying of cancer with little time to live, he has crappy insurance and little savings his intention is to leave his family with plenty of money to for college + living for long after he’s gone

action: he becomes the best crystal meth cook around and a drug dealer in the process

we’re only on season 3, so we don’t know if his actions ever catch up with his intentions.  and don’t ruin it for us.  at first, i thought GO FOR IT, WALT.  he’s dying, he wants to provide for his disabled son, his newborn daughter and his wife, right?  honorable?  yes.  however, the lies he tells and the person he becomes start to overpower his intentions.  i was all GO FOR IT at the start,  but am now thinking that his actions have been way more hurtful than his intentions were decent.

do you have good intentions with something but take bad action?  

let’s look at another character, i was personally obsessed with for at least the first 4 seasons:

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dexter, from dexter.  holy moly was this an outstanding show.  i absolutely hated myself for loving him so much.  

i know that he has a bit of a troubled past.  ok, a real messed up past but:

intention:  rid the miami streets of terrible criminals who perform horrific crimes yet get away when the legal system fails.

action:  yo, he kills them!  eye for an eye.  oh, and he works for the police.

this was a doozy of a dichotomy between good + evil.

was intention winning over action?  who cares what you do as long as…. you meant well.

we’ll check more into that soon.  one more example.

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possibly my first experience with this intention vs. action deal on tv:  tony soprano.

intention:  to get better.  the mob boss that saw a shrink.

action: did bad mob stuff that hurt his family and his health constantly

while tony’s intention isn’t as clear cut as walter or dex’s – but it was enough to add wonderful depth to the character.  and make you pull for him even though he was a bad guy.

so what is the conflict in your life?  real life, i’m talking about now.  

i’ll go first.  remember, we’re not aiming for an emmy here like the above shows.

intention:  to build close, meaningful friendships that are maintained…forever.

action:  i don’t make it a priority to stay in touch.

honesty hurts!  i hated writing that down.  stinks. but step 1 is taking ownership of our actions, right?   at least isn’t that what tony soprano learned?

what about you?

women rock.

22 Sep

hands down.  this is coming from someone who works primarily with men – being in the car business.  nothing against boys.  they rock too.  but there is something special about the breadth of responsibility and the depth of compassion that makes me in awe of my gender.

meet ramona and dr. ami doshi.  

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i had to get my old silver fillings replaced saturday morning at 9am.  who the hell picks saturday morning at 9am to get drilled on?  i guess i do.  i was dreading it.  i had only met ramona, the dental assistant and dr. doshi the dentist the week prior.   this was dr. doshi’s office and instantly, you can tell it was going to be a different experience.

first of all, they take appointments 2 saturdays a month for those of us (all of us?) that work during the week.  next, when you check in on facebook to her practice, you get a full size tube of extra whitening toothpaste (value $6!).  next, you sit down on a gentle massaging chair and just about the time you notice that the chair is moving, you hear the sounds of lindsey stirling coming from the computer in the office playing pandora.  unlike other experiences i’ve had, this isn’t one of those dentist offices that is run by hygienists and the dentist just makes an appearance, more like vice versa.  ramona, a young, vibrant, full of life hygienist, born in romania and lived there until she was 15 now is married with 2 small boys.  she makes sure you’re extra comfortable .  dr. doshi is young as well and also has 2 small boys.  she is originally from india. she takes digital pictures of your entire mouth and then shows you on a hd tv what your mouth looks like and what she is observing.  you don’t have to just believe her like in the old days of dentistry.

now that you have the layout, here’s my point:

while i’m getting massaged in the chair, head back, pandora playing, laughing gas on high (morning!) dr. doshi and ramona go to work as a team on my teeth.  everything’s normal at this point.

but then they start talking about their kids, recipes and questions ramona has for dr. doshi on her son playing football because her boys are just a couple years older.  ramona respects the dr and is attentive to her needs as she drills endlessly and  a steady stream of mist is spurting  from my mouth.  but you can tell that they are friends.  ramona tells me that dr. doshi brings in the best samosas she’s ever had and then we launch into a full conversation about india.  ramona wheels her chair around and punches some bollywood music.  dr. doshi talks about the rich culture and many types of music of india.  i’m smiling behind my glasses and pink pig snout laughing gas mask at the fun repertoire

this is when it hit me i wanted to write about these two.  because this is business run and managed by a woman.  attention to detail, attention to care and confident enough to bring her whole self into the office.  you don’t have to be a woman to appreciate it either.

as i leave and ROF comes in, wondering what is going on because we’re all giggling.  as she checks me out, ramona gives me a free whitening pen for referring ROF.  she also gives me a piece of paper where she wrote down all the music i was asking about.  nice difference.  and nice pen considering on my end it wasn’t so much as a referral but killing 2 birds with 1 stone by making his appointment along with mine.   sigh.  i love it.

lessons from E.T.

1 Jul

last night ROF and i watched movie # 25 on our quest to watch the A.F.I (american film institute) top 100 movies.  we have been working our way to #1 and it has taken us about 3 years now.  you can read about our journey here.

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the #25 movie was E.T.  i haven’t seen E.T. since i was 12 years old in the movie theatre in grand blanc, michigan.  i remember crying my eyes out.   this movie is a great movie on so many different levels.  watching it as a 43 year old, i notice the similarities of life and especially how it paralleled my own just this past week.  E.T. was a stranger. someone that didn’t fit it.  someone that wasn’t wearing yoga pants and carrying a louis vuitton bag.   E.T. was odd at first and sweet just after a few moments of getting to know him.  he was scary and odd to adults, but to kids he was a friend and someone they wanted to help.

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a week ago today, we put our beloved english bulldog, max, to rest.  he was suffering, in pain and not happy.  boy, did we love that dog.  at first you may be thinking that i’m going to make a deep correlation between loving a pet and what happened in E.T.  and you’d be right.  but actually, max was just like E.T. physically.   grunting, whining, waddling to get a scrap and he ate like a pig.  best dog in the world.

at 12 i  bawled my eyes out because i didn’t know how to deal with death.  

i didn’t understand good-bye forever.  at 43, i know how that feels now.  not just because of max, but because of wrigley, my lab that my brother had to put down just a few weeks before max, because of losing my dad too early and losing some friends.  watching E.T. puts that feeling into a short, well-written movie.  it’s about being open enough to welcome someone new and, maybe, different into your life, loving them, teaching them, learning from them and then letting them go.  they are not ours to keep.  nothing is ours.  be thankful for every minute of every day you have them.  then give them back to God.  

appreciating others: reggie watts & jane fonda

5 Jun

more than anything i want to get out of my comfort zone.  but i don’t try too hard to do so.  a while ago i mentioned liking airplane turbulence because it jolts me out of that zone and there is a bit of unknowing, uncertainty and immediacy about it.  notice i said that airplane turbulence gets me out of my comfort zone.  not bungee jumping or sky diving but air pockets.  that’s what i mean by “i don’t try too hard to do so”.

sometimes – you can be transported outside your mental comfort zone by just watching a video or reading a book and that is where reggie watts comes in. right now, i’m on a flight from dallas to minneapolis – a small regional jet.  i put in my headphones and started in on catching up on some TED videos.  most if not all – can be transporting.  but these in particular i want to share with you.

reggie watts 

is a brooklyn based artist – comedian and musician.  i’d love to see him live.  he improvises much of his act.  i love him because he is completely OUT THERE.  but in a good way!  what went through my head while watching the TED video was this:

what the hell is he talking about?
people are laughing and i don’t get it
i may be stupid
rewind
watch again
really pay attention (note: we’ll talk about that later…)
laugh
watch some more
bob my head and jive
laugh
come to realize he is poking fun at the pseudo intellelectualism
i feared i didn’t have
at the beginning of me watching this
i love it

check his video out and google him.  way to make me thing differently, reggie.

jane fonda

was next.  blown away at how she is giving the “third act” (or aging) a whole new outlook.  she talks about breaking down this curve – you know the curve – you are born, you peak at mid-age then deteriorate as you age – the third act.  jane is challenging “that’s the way we’ve always thought” and i would say winning, if you ask me.  she has a lot to say and some wonderfully deep thoughts like:

when you get older, you review and re-evaluate  what you’ve been told throughout your life by loved ones – or not- and now being of age to challenge those truths or at least come to the realization that those words or actions probably weren’t directed at you but at themselves.  aging lets you heal and see who you really are, maybe.
she also talks about being a girl and then a woman.  how we’re born all authentically true to ourselves and then we grow up and get hit with wanting to be popular and fitting in and being loved and it beats out of us who we really are.  jane says that in the third act, that authentic spirit can come back full force if it is recognized and cherished.
i’ll tell you one thing, jane and reggie are two thinkers that knocked me out of my mind’s comfort zone on my little plane to minneapolis today.
and there wasn’t even any turbulence.

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