This Year Will Be Different

January 1st the beginning of a new year is when people make resolutions, and for a time have hope for the coming year, that this year it will be different. You will lose the weight, eat better, save more money, get a better job, go to Italy, or whatever is your dream.

The truth of the matter is, research has shown that by March most people give up and fall back to old habits and abandon their goals.

Why do you think that is so? Well, I think it may be that people try to change too much at once. That the changes are so overwhelming people give up and go back to their old habits.

How can you avoid this pitfall? Here are some tips I believe can help you have more success. First, you need to write it down. A goal (resolution) not written down is a wish. So get a journal and write it down. Next, you use the 5% rule. The idea is to take your goal and just do 5% more. You could do that can’t you? If you want to drink more water, just drink 5% more in your day. If you want to eat more veggies, just eat 5% more.

The 5% rule is doable. You can do just 5% more can’t you? This rule breaks down what may seem to be an unreachable goal and brings you closer each week, each day to your goal.

You can also tell your family and friends your goals so they can cheer you on and hold you accountable. Make sure you tell those who will be supportive and not negative. You can also join a group that will help support you. This could be a writers group if you want to write a book or a weight watchers group etc. Checkout http://www.meetup.com/ for groups that might interest you.

Read. Get books that inspire you toward your goals. Make a vision board. This is a poster that has pictures or word phrases about your goal. You need to put it where you can see it often. And, last but not least, “Act as if “ you have already achieved your goals. How does it feel to be healthier? To have published your book or to have that vacation you wanted. It will feel good and keep you motivated.

To review my tips –

  • Write your goals in a journal
  • Use the 5% rule
  • Share your goals with supportive family and friends
  • Join a group (club) of like minded people
  • Read books that inspire you about your goals
  • Make a vision board
  • “Act as if”- think about your goals as if you have already achieved them

Many people will not take action and change their lives, But not YOU.

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My wish for you this new year is that you take action, wonderfully imperfect action that gets you closer to your dreams and goals.

As always, I am here cheering you on.

Let It Go

I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. It is just something that causes me stress. So this year, I let it go. I also let go of putting bows on my gifts. Wrapping gifts is not one of my gifts. Wrapping gifts, and putting ribbons and bows on them is just not something I’m good at. I look at how people wrap and feel bad about myself. I struggle with the ribbon, what color, and how big the bow should be. It takes me 30 minutes to wrap just one present. Then I am not happy with the outcome.

So, this year I decided not to do bows and ribbons, just paper with a name tag. What fun I had. I took a chore that I always put off and hated, and turned it into fun. I put on Christmas music or a Christmas movie, grabbed a glass or wine, and went at it.

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The next thing I let go of was sending Christmas cards. It’s not something I enjoy. For some reason, sending Christmas cards feels cumbersome and not fun. And, it takes me a long time. It adds stress, so as the song says, I “let it go.” The people I love know I love them and will not feel less loved because I didn’t send a card.

By giving myself permission not to do these things, something great happened. It freed up space for me to get more things done. I had all my gifts in the mail by Dec. 10th. Had all my shopping done by Dec. 14th. This has never happened before.

So, in keeping with letting things go, for my Christmas party I had it catered. I just had to pick up the food by 4:00 and I was done. On the day of the party, I relaxed, took a walk, read a book. Now, if you enjoy cooking, writing cards, and wrapping presents with ribbon and bows, then do it. I am saying that perhaps sometimes we do things a certain way because we measure ourselves by what others do. When maybe we should do it our way.

No one will like their present less because there is no bow. No one will care that I had the party catered. We gather to be with each other not to comment on the food. If you don’t receive a card from me you are not loved less, in fact, you know you are loved because I call you all year. You don’t just hear from me with a Christmas card update about my life. You already know what is going on with me because you are IN my life.

Life is too short to worry and stress. Don’t set a measure by what others do. Do things your way.

Live, laugh, and love.

Merry, Merry Christmas My Friends.

Thankful

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Life is a mix of joy and sorrow, of happy and sad. It has taken me awhile to realize that it is okay to feel both emotions at the same time. It is okay to feel joy with the people around my Thanksgiving table AND to feel sorrow for the ones I have lost who will not be. It is okay to feel so full of joy that it seems my heart cannot hold any more, and to remember with sadness those who are not here.

Life is the fine art of holding on and letting go. I find that words can bring me comfort. They are something I can hold on to and revisit when I need them.

Here is a poem I found years ago that still serves me well today. I believe the author is Darcie Sims, I am going to share my favorite lines from it. I hope it brings you a bit of comfort this Holiday season.

THANKFUL

“There are no more pictures to be taken, but there are memories to be cherished.

For that, I am thankful.

There is a missing chair at the table, but the circle of family gathers close.

For that, I am thankful.

The turkey is smaller, but there is still stuffing.

For that, I am thankful.

The days are shorter, but the nights are softer.

For that, I am thankful.

The pain is still there, but it lasts only moments.

For that, I am thankful.

The calendar still turns, the holidays still appear and they still cost too much. And I am still here.

For that, I am thankful.

The room is still empty, the soul still aches, but the heart remembers.

For that, I am thankful.

The guests still come, the dishes pile up, but the dishwasher works.

For that, I am thankful.

The name is still missing, the words still unspoken, but the silence is shared.

For that, I am thankful.

The snow still falls, the sled still waits and the spirit still wants to.

For that I am thankful

The stillness remains, but the sadness is smaller.

For that I am thankful.

The moment is gone, but love is forever.

For that, I am blessed: for that I am grateful.

Love was once and still is a part of my being, for that I am living.

I am living and for that I am thankful.

May you have many reasons to be thankful. I am wishing for you much love and laughter (it’s okay to have a bit of tears) this holiday season.

What are you Missing?

Everyday, we have moments that are perfect. Most of the time, we miss them because we are too busy or we are in a situation that we think can’t have a “perfect” moment. When the unexpected joy happens do we enjoy it? Sometimes, unexpected joy can be small things, small moments that may be easy to miss. It could be a sunset or perhaps even a smile from a stranger. Joyful gifts don’t have to be big, grandiose things. I think the best ones are small, the unexpected ones.

I recently took a trip with my husband. He surprised me with an upgrade to first class. What a treat! I gave myself to it. I savor each minute of my travel. I am in the moment. The enjoyment of a glass of wine , the comfort of more leg room. When I am “in the moment” I’m not thinking about what I might need to do tomorrow or any problem I might have. I am in the now. For me, I don’t worry about my special needs daughter, or the things on my to do list. I am in the present.

I look out the window of the plane and see the sunset. It is beautiful. Tomorrow may be filled with things I have to do. Perhaps things I don’t want to do. But here, right now, it is perfect. And I am enjoying it, I am enveloped in the feeling of it.

It makes me stop and think about how may other joyful moments I am missing. It reminds me to look for the joy in everyday. Oft times, we allow the mundane things in life to drown out the joy.

Did you have a perfect moment with your child that you missed? Did that perfect joyful moment with your spouse get lost in your day?

Life might not be perfect or joyous in big ways many times. It is the joy in the quiet times that we miss, A kiss on the lips, a hand that reaches toward you, a smile and a kind word. Are you missing your perfect moment?

 

 

Decide

I am thinking about the future lately, a lot. Not in a “I’m going to die soon” kind of way but in a “how am I going to live these Golden Years” way.

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I am a person who likes to stay connected with people. Because of this, I talk with someone everyday. I have friends across age and gender groups but as you might guess, most are around my age. I am a talker, ask anyone who knows me. I tend to ask a lot of questions. As I ask my contemporaries questions, I listen to the answers and sometimes the answers or even non-answers make me sad.

We talk about children, empty nests, spouses, retirement plans, and our health and wellness. We talk about change and how oft times it is difficult. I hear from them that they may not be happy with where they live or what they do for a living. How they need to lose weight or exercise more. How they need to spend less and save more. How they can’t retire anytime soon because they don’t (didn’t) have a plan.

Some are not even looking forward to the future. Most are worried about something. That makes me sad. I guess for me it is magnified because I AM looking forward to what’s up ahead.

I have noticed through the years that people can be afraid. They won’t leave jobs, towns or a marriage if they are unhappy. It seems the known unhappiness is better than the unknown change. I don’t know the answer and, of course, each person’s situation is different. But what I do know is finding a way to peace and happiness is a job. It takes hard work and sometimes a step into unknown water. When I was at my deepest despair I wanted someone to make me happy, to do something for me. It took a long time for me to realize that I had to do the work, I had to do something.

If you know me you have heard me quote Albert Einstein, “The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Everyday you hear people you know complain about the same things over and over. Perhaps you have given suggestions, options or resources to someone and all you get in response are excuses. It is hard to help those who won’t help themselves. They have settled for less then they want, all because of what?

People hide behind excuses (me too). What’s yours? Wait, I know you are too busy. I bet if I took a poll that would be the number one reason (money is not far behind). How many times a day do you say that, or hear that from someone?

If you don’t like what is happening in your life, change it. No one will do it for you. If you aren’t happy, for goodness sake, do something! Stop making excuses and take action. Anything worth having takes work, including happiness. I know this to be personally true. Someone once said “doing isn’t difficult deciding is.” Don’t let fear stop you from making the decision to change ! Decide to have a joyful life!

“I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

~Nelson Mandela~

Well said Nelson, well said.

 

Truth

I believe that there are certain truths in life. You may not agree with my observations, or you may see your thoughts echoed in mine. They are in no particular order.

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  1. Life is not fair – This is a big one. People by nature want things to be fair. We carry on and use this truth as an excuse to, well, excuse our behavior. Someone will always be richer, prettier and smarter than you. So stop worrying about it. And as far as I know, no one ever said life would be fair.
  2. Happiness takes work – We are never taught in life that to be happy we need to work at it. It was never in any textbook or class I took in school, and it was not something my parents ever taught me. We assume that we will just be happy. Being happy just maybe some of the hardest work you ever do.
  3. You are NOT too busy – Sure, some days are more filled than others. But I have found that the people who use this as an excuse more often than not are the victims of poor organization and planning. The great philosopher Seneca said “So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”
  4. You need to tend to your relationship – If you never water you garden it will not grow. If you have a spouse or friends, they need you. Your relationships should be your top priority. NEVER be too busy for them.
  5. Sometimes you are wrong – We all are. So admit it, apologize if need be.
  6. Sometime you will be wronged – Give grace and move on. This doesn’t mean you will forget, but you can forgive.
  7. Stay in your own business – As tempting as it is, don’t mess in other peoples lives. You should be hard at work in your own.
  8. Focus on what’s important in life – Don’t worry that you missed the sale at Macy’s or that your neighbor has a new car and you don’t. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and people to love, you hit the jackpot.
  9. Stop making excuses- For why you don’t do stuff. Just do it. Enough said.
  10. Change is good – Don’t be afraid, even if at first it is scary or even sad. Good things can come out of the darkest moments of change.
  11. You get to choose – This may be the greatest truth. YOU get a choice in this life. You can choose how you respond to all the stuff, good and bad that happens to you. You can choose to live a life full of joy and love or pick the path of discontentment and play the victim. Bad stuff will happen and we can’t always control that, but we can choose how we react to it. Choose wisely.

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I think about my truths often. I am a constant work in progress when it comes to them. I have to remind myself of them, and they take work. I don’t believe I will ever have it down perfectly, but that doesn’t mean I will quit working on them. My truths help to anchor me to what is really important. If I may be so bold to ask,what anchors you?

Lost

I have lost a child, but not in the way you might think. From the moment of her birth it seems that Emma was up against it. The month she came into this world, her dad left it. There would be no Daddy daughter dances, no one to call her Daddy’s little girl, and no strong arms to pick her up when she would fall. And so I cried.

It would become apparent in the coming years that I would lose her to a thing called Autism. Learning anything was difficult. Friends were non-existent. Simple things were herculean tasks.

As time went by, she would make slow but steady progress. I pushed, pulled, and dragged her into our world and out of hers. She would never be able to live on her own, never get married or have children but in her own way she was successful. So, for a while, I found her. She was no longer totally lost in her Autism.

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Then on her 16th birthday I lost her again. At first I didn’t know where to look for her. She stood right in front of me and yet I could not see her, I could not reach her. She was lost to mental illness. I had no personal experience with mental illness so I did not recognize it when it came. I did not know the signs; she slipped away from me suddenly. Would I ever find her? I wasn’t sure. I search and searched, and finally, I did find her, but it took work. I had to be vigilant. I had to hold on tight and for a while, it seemed that we beat back the darkness. And all was good.

Several months ago it returned. This time so severe, so all encompassing it took my breath away. This time Emma is truly lost. Not just for hours or days or even weeks. It is months that this harbinger of evil has stayed. The sweet girl who loves music and running is someone I do not know. Someone I do not like. I can find nary a trace of my girl. I look for her everyday. I have spent countless hours looking, hoping, and praying to no avail. She is lost and this time I fear the worst that I will not find her. Ever.

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It seems hopeless. Not only have I lost Emma but now, it seems, I too am lost. Perhaps, one day soon I will spy my girl on the distant horizon and shine a light so she can find her way home. Till then, each day I will search and call her name in the hope that she will find me.