Archive for February, 2011

Your Prescription for Saturday-Slow Yourself Down and Dance…

February 26th, 2011 | no comments

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.—Lily Tomlin

I feel rushed. Too many things happening, trying to do all of it. And what happens? Everything I do is sort of half… know what I mean. I know I am not alone. It seems the world is accelerating.

So, join me on this sunny Saturday, slow yourself down, even if it is just for 6 minutes and 11 seconds, and sing with me. Take some time to dig down deep and find the good stuff that is sometimes pushed to the side as we deal with the to do list.

Have a good one,


Esquire Magazine-The Hard Luck and Beautiful Life of Liam Neeson

February 21st, 2011 | no comments

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. Helen Keller

I wanted to share this beautiful article about Liam Neeson and his life since losing his wonderful wife. His honesty, and the writer’s ability to capture the mood of the interview brought me to tears. As he reflected back to the emergency room, I could relate, and immediately was transported back to my own vivid pictures of memories that will haunt me for a lifetime.

No one is spared from the journey of loss and grief. And it is never a straight path. But, we can learn from each other. I am learning every day.

Take some time today to ready this wonderful piece.

The Hard Luck and Beautiful Life of Liam Neeson

Raising Accountable and Resilient Children

February 17th, 2011 | no comments

The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch.- Michael Armstrong

I remember my father, after I screwed up royally, having a long talk with me about being an accountable human being. At the time, I kept my eyes to the floor, and prayed it would be a short chat, so I could retreat back to my adolescent angst. But it was not a short conversation. It was a long conversation, as were many with my father. Dad just seemed to take the long way around when he made a point, and I miss those deep as the ocean chats with my father. He was wise beyond his years, and he continues to teach me every day, even though he has long since passed.

One of the things that he told me that day was I needed to take responsibility for the life I was creating for myself. People could help, people could hinder, but the bottom line was your life was what YOU made it. So, if times were tough, it was you who could choose to bounce or stay down. I tried to listen, but to be honest, that lesson took a long time to stick for me. I’ve blamed more people and circumstances for some of my life experiences than I care to admit. It is only in the last two years that I feel I finally understand what it means to take accountability for your life, the good and bad.

Years after that conversation with my father, I was reading Jack Canfield’s book Success Principles, and that long ago lesson was confirmed. The first success principle for life? Take 100% responsibility for your life. Period. No excuses. Whatever is happening is your responsibility, to either build on or change. It is up to you. Why do I bring this up? Because I feel we need to refocus our efforts on building accountable and resilient children.

Helicopter parents, it is time for you to land. It is time for us to take a long hard look at how we are raising our children and ask ourselves one important question.

Are we really helping them?

I understand that life is complex these days. But with all of our advancements in society, do you think we are doing right by our children? Don’t you think some old fashioned parenting is what is missing in this world? You do the school project because she gets frustrated. You make an immediate appointment for a meeting with the teacher at the first sign of anything less than perfection to address this issue ( with the teacher, not your kid), you are all smiles and nods when signing the beginning of season information about your child’s team, and in complete agreement on how the team will be worked, and how issues will be addressed. But when it is your kid who is being disciplined, what happens? Do you guide your child to an understanding of how to deal with it, and prevent issues in the future, or do you confront the coach and get all “up in his business?”

People, life is simple. Focus on the love and not the fear. Teach your kids the same. Be accountable for what you do and say. Give back and share the best parts of yourself with others. Smile. Leave the world in a better state than when you arrived.

We need to guide our children to find their own respectful voice, and learn how to deal with difficulty, accepting their part in it, and bouncing back from it wiser and stronger. In the big picture, how are we raising resilient and accountable human beings if we send the message that the rules apply to everyone else, but them?

I’m not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. But here’s some tips I’ve found to work in raising a resilient and accountable child to be a resilient and accountable adult:

  • Be accountable yourself. Stand up and take responsibility. Your children are watching you and how you conduct yourself. Stop the blame and shame game and present a shining example. Show your children that with accountability for your circumstances, you can have the life of your dreams.
  • Don’t be a helicopter parent. For God’s sake, stop hovering, land the aircraft, and see what your child can do for themselves when you aren’t in their airspace. Let them spread their wings a little because that is the only way they will learn to fly.
  • Talk to them about what they will learn and take from the hard times. Yes, I know that the gut instinct is to fix things when they go wrong for your baby. After all, you love them right? I know you want to march up to that teacher, coach, bully and make this go away. In some cases, it is necessary. In some cases, it is easier to do it yourself. But what about an alternative? What about taking the time to teach them how to navigate those situations independently? What about guiding them, and then standing back to watch them deal with difficulty successfully? Think of your child’s smiling face as he or she tells you how “they took care of it” themselves.

I want you to ponder something. When we do and do and do for our children, what is our motivation? Are we trying to protect them from the difficulties happening in their lives, or are we working to prevent them from experiencing things like we endured in our own lives? Are we trying to take away the pain we felt all those years ago?

Here’s the hard fact. With every experience that we shield from our children, there is a chance we are preventing them from gaining knowledge and perspective that will allow them to build resilience, to become accountable for their own happiness? By taking away the exposure to real life issues, are we not also taking away their chance to learn?

I know. I get it. You want to protect your child. But maybe we can all exhale a little and realize that we can still be supportive, protective and loving parents without raising children that feel they are the exception to the rules of the world. Maybe we can gently guide them to take responsibility for their individual successes, failures and happiness. Because one day, they will be.

We all need the chance to figure some of this stuff out on our own. It’s what makes us who we are. Give our children the chance to rise to the occasion. Because when they are grown, and you are not within hovering distance, they will thank you for giving them the tools to live a successful and happy life.

Stepping away from the soapbox,


I am God’s Valentine…

February 14th, 2011 | 1 comment

Love is a consistent passion to give, not a meek persistent hope to receive. The only demand of life is the privilege to love all.  

~ Swami Chinmayananda ~
What if this arrived in the mail today?
My Dearest (Insert Your Name Here),
Happy Valentine’s. I have to say, I adore this day. It is all about love, hugs, kisses, and chocolate . The history books will tell you the story of the Saint, and it is a remarkable tale. But I like how this has evolved to be a day with the sole purpose of expressing love for one another. I do wish it was more universal sometimes. I don’t like to see anyone get left out of the love fest. Remember Valentine’s Day back in the third grade? When your Mom would make you fill out those Valentines for every single person in your class, to deliver to their decorated paper bag taped to the side of their desk? And you asked her why you had to give Billy one because he picked his nose and flicked it at you in math class and then laughed with the other boys as you struggled to get “it” out of your hair? And she told you that everyone deserved a valentine, and it did not matter how he behaved, it was all about how you shared the best part of yourself, regardless. Yeah, your mother had it figured out. She and I are on the same page. Everyone is deserving of love, even if their current behaviour does not align with what you know to be the truth.
So this year, I thought I would get into the act. I feel sometimes that no matter how hard I try, some don’t notice the love I place before them every day. I create the most beautiful sunshine, or flowers. I bring you together with people who have the potential to change the course of your life, to inspire you, to comfort you. I send you messages in your dreams, or on the wings of a butterfly. But still, you sometimes don’t see or feel My love. So, perhaps a more overt approach would work. I’ve been cutting out paper hearts for days now. And for you, I think I’ve crafted the right words.
On this Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that you are loved. Like no other. The love is unconditional. It does not matter that you screwed up ten years ago or ten minutes ago. I still love you. It does not matter that you don’t look like the airbrushed image within the pages of that magazine you read while waiting in the airport. I still love you and see perfection in you each time I look into your eyes. It does not matter if you feel like a failure, or feel like life just did not pan out like you thought it would. I still love you, and I know that life is taking you to the exact place you need to be. It does not matter if you have cursed me for years now, if you are angry with me and blame me for the struggles and pain in your life. I still love you, and understand why you might be confused or think that I imposed this suffering on you. I did not, but I am here to help you through it. It doesn’t matter what other people say to you about Me, and tell you that you are not made of the right stuff to be accepted by Me. I made you, and them, in My image, and I accept every single individual part of you. Your color, your belief system, your sexual orientation, your zits, the darkest parts of you and your biggest mistakes. I accept all of it. And I love you just the same. When you look in the mirror, you see all those things that make you imperfect. I see the opposite. I see beyond the fear and the assumptions, I see the love. Even if you don’t. I even accept you when you are close minded, or sometimes make others feel they will not be loved by Me because they are different from you. I still love you, just as I love them. There is room for everyone, and I see that place within your heart that knows this to be true.
I want you to know I happen to think you are perfection and one of My greatest masterpieces. And because I am the artist, I can see that you have only begun to discover just how great you are. You’re just getting started. Don’t let the minutia of life weigh you down, there is much more on your to do list. There are a lot of people waiting to be loved. Be happy.
You can be happy.
I want you to know that I love you more than all the leaves on all the trees, all the sand on all the beaches, every individual cell in your body and the bodies of every other person on the planet. Start with that love, and build on it. Pass it on, cultivate it in your daily actions and thoughts, and all your other concerns will take care of themselves. It’s just that simple.
So, stand a little taller. Strut with confidence. Wear your heart on your sleeve, and tell the world, “I am God’s valentine.”
One last thing, for any good relationship to work, you need open and honest communication. So drop me a line sometime. I’m listening, honest. In the meantime, get out there and start spreading some love.
Love ya mean it,

A Valentine For the Broken Hearted…

February 9th, 2011 | no comments
bigstock-Valentine-hanging-labels-Vect-15813629Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown
I was reading recently about a woman who, married to her husband for fifty nine years, wondered how she would ever go on and celebrate days like Valentine’s in the same way as she did in her youth. Reading her story reminded me of my father after my mother died and the deep sadness he wore like a cloak as he tried to figure out how to live without the love of his life.
It also reminded me of my own thoughts about the needed cancellation of every celebratory day on the calendar following the loss of Stephen.
It got me to thinking, about how the pains of loss are directly related to the depth of the love we feel. If we did not allow ourselves to be in the vulnerable space of love, would we spare ourselves of the hurt when that love changes? How many of us have had our hearts broken? Not only by death, but by life? How many of us have looked around us and asked ourselves, “Where is the love?”
I know I have. I have had many a conversation with The Big Guy about the location of said love. Why do bad things happen? Why do those we love die, or leave, or hurt us?
And there is no easy answer, and no Super Glue that can put a broken heart back together.
But there is love. Sometimes we don’t see it, or it is overpowered by negative emotions, but nonetheless, it is always there. It endures. Love is eternal, and has no beginning and no end. The love I feel for Stephen still continues to grow, even if he is no longer with me in a physical sense.
When our hearts break, when the world is bad, we often refuse to see the love, to believe that is can still be there as we hurt. This hurt/love intersection is a fork in the road of life. At the moment of great pain, we have a choice. We can choose to work through loss and pain believing in the existence of love. Or we can believe that when our hearts are breaking, love is nowhere to be found.
The choice is important. Because one produces healing and more love, and one produces bitterness.
So, I have a suggestion that has helped me, and will remind you that love starts within, and is still all around you.
This Valentine’s, take some time to craft a love letter, to you and your broken heart. Real love begins with a love of self, deep within, that enables us to then give love to others.
Celebrate how strong you are, sing the praises of your unbreakable spirit. Take the time to recognize the importance of your tears, the tenacity it took to wake up and live each day, even when the pain was excruciating. Recognize the fact that you still allow love in your heart, even when it is not easy to do so. Remind yourself that even though you are not in a Cupid/Red Heart kind of mood, that does not mean that you are not surrounded by love. Acknowledge the hurt, for what it is teaching you, and the fact that it means you took the risk and loved in life. Some people don’t let themselves love, for fear of what you are feeling right now. Look in the mirror and see that you are perfect, made in God’s image, and worthy of love, and deserving of future happiness. Give yourself a round of applause for the fact that you are still standing.
This Valentine’s day, take some time to show your appreciation….for you and that broken heart of yours.
Have a glittery red heart kind of day,