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Motivational

Time Out for a Tune-Up!

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Time Out for a Tune-Up!

Every mode of transportation works best when it's properly maintained; our bodies, minds and spirits are no exception to this statement.

Hi there!

Thank you all for the support and encouragement you give me to continue writing my blog; you truly inspire me in so many ways. All of your subscriptions, comments and private emails enrich my life and help me to grow. I'm posting this message to let you know I'll be taking a break from posting but I will return in a few months. My unique physical body is in need of some R & R that includes some testing and fine-tuning procedures; such is the life of a "bionic/Hollowed" woman. 

I'm not sure if it's a warning or a promise but.....I'll be back.

Thanks for your understanding, love, and prayers.

Annamarie

 

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Poison Oak Sucks!

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Poison Oak Sucks!

     I didn't see it coming; I didn't even witness the battle.....but seventy-two hours after waging war on the weeds in my garden I discovered poison oak had been laying in wait to attack my skin. Apparently this plant was angry that I pulled it from the earth. It waged a secret attack that left me tearing crazily at my skin. It wasn't anything personal. I didn't mean to destroy this plant. I didn't know it was mixed in my weeds. If I'm going to be completely honest, I'll confess that had I known the plant was there, I WOULD have INTENTIONALLY and PURPOSEFULLY destroyed that sucker. 

     If we're going to give points to a battle I'll give this one to the plant- it got me good, head to toe. I don't think there is a body part this sucker didn't manage to touch. I was severely infected from my eyes to my toes. It was so bad that I was required to go to the doctor, take steroids, and soak frequently in the tub to get clean. Including the co-pay for the doctor, this was one pricey weed.  I'll have to say touche' to the poison oak, one point for you.  I hope we never meet again!

     Unfortunately, when walking through the garden today, a vine whips across the shin of my right leg and I grasp it with my left hand.....Oh No! Yep, you guessed it....Poison Oak!  But unlike my encounter with this weed lat week, today I'm armed with knowledge. I know what the poison oak looks like at this time of the year, and I know specifically where it touched my body. Additionally, I know how to combat this invisible intruder and the poisonous oil this dangerous oak dishes out.

     After carefully dropping the vine, I walk to the house and STRIP! Armed with an antidote called Tec-Nu I walk into the shower and continue my battle. If I had washed with Tec-Nu three weeks ago I wouldn't have suffered the wrath of this poisonous plant to start with. Better late than never... Sure, I have a new little rash but it's no where as severe as it could have been; I was prepared. 

     Life is full of surprises and frequently we are attacked by disease, disappointment and discouragement. Knowing how you react to each assault, and most importantly how to prevent future assaults, will prepare us to better handle the unforeseen circumstances in our lives. Take the time to strengthen your attitude by surrounding yourself with positive and supportive friends and loved ones. Strengthen your emotional heart with laughter, love and forgiveness. Forgive yourself for NOT knowing where the negativity may be hiding and arm yourself with a plan to treat yourself kindness. Charge into your endeavors without fear, yet if/when problems arise, have confidence in your ability to learn from your mistakes and you'll kick ass when confronted by similar circumstances again!

     Share your thoughts....thank you!

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You don't have to walk a mile...Just mentally try them on for a moment.

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You don't have to walk a mile...Just mentally try them on for a moment.

     The old Cherokee proverb to "Walk a mile in another persons shoes," is designed to have us experience the life of someone else and hopefully gain insight to become empathetic and more understanding of others. Too often the mere thought of wearing someone else's sweaty shoe stops us from thinking beyond the message that comes through the experience of seeing life through the eyes of another person.

     The bulk of my career was dedicated to the Escrow and Title Industry where time constraints surrounding the processing of documents can become arduous and daunting; it's easy to lose sight of a true human connection. No matter what industry I reference, all too frequently a purchase order, invoice number, file or case number becomes the reference point and not the person who is attached to this number. Humans are not the number 5; they are not 27705 or any other combination comprised of 1,2,3,...etc...etc. I know I am not a number and I greatly appreciate and value people who don't treat me as if I am.

     I take pride in the fact that when I was in Escrow I connected with my clients and co-workers by their name and not as "the seller or buyer of 123 Any Street, Your Town, USA or The Manager of the Customer Service or Sales Department."  Currently, my unique physical condition makes me appreciate the nurse who doesn't reference me by the title of the illness for which I'm being treated. I want to be referred to as Annamarie and not "the woman who managed to beat pancreatic cancer or the woman with hardly any body parts."......I'm Annamarie. 

     You don't have to walk in the shoes of someone else to think about where they have walked. The correct word to use here is "empathy" but the word empathy is being over-used and it's losing it's impact. The ability to empathize is relative to a person's capacity to identify, feel and understand their own feelings. When someone can identify their own feelings, empathy is their ability to project one's feelings onto others.  

     Today I'm asking you to only think about how you would feel if you were them; forget about walking in their shoes. In the Escrow Industry for example; when you ask a buyer for additional funds, think about how they scrimped and saved to obtain the funds they have already given you. I'm not suggesting you wave any possible fees that need to be collected; just pause and consider their circumstance. What about the seller in a transaction who has to bring in funds to close the escrow because they are so underwater they can only see their life dream go down the drain. When you're in line at the grocery store and see someone digging in the bottom of their purse to find change to pay for their food, recall yourself trying to balance your budget at the end of the month. To someone searching for the one single dollar can be as difficult to them as it is for you to search for an additional thousand dollars. Think about the Grocery Clerk on the other side of the counter who has been standing on their feet pushing buttons and scanning food for hours at a time. Perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to put down your cell phone and look at this clerk and ask, "How is your day going so far?" So few people look them in the eye; they often feel as if they are being viewed as nothing more than a tool to scan their food. Take a moment to think about how you would enjoy a human connection; an acknowledgement; a simple smile. 

     You don't really have to walk a mile in their shoes to pause; you don't even have to stop if you don't want to....just pause; consider how you would like to be treated. Then give some consideration to every one you meet and open yourself up to feel, connect and relate. 

     If you're willing to go one step farther.......Today, when you put shoes on your feet, be grateful that you even own a pair of shoes; be grateful you have feet. 

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Becoming an American Ninja Warrior

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Becoming an American Ninja Warrior

No, that's not me in the photo. "I wish!".....I'm tough but not this tough.

No, that's not me in the photo. "I wish!".....I'm tough but not this tough.

Do you watch American Ninja Warrior? If you haven't watched it yet, please do so; it's awesome. It's no secret that it's one of my favorite television programs. 

Sitting on my couch I'll often feel as though I get a slight work-out. Watching these incredible athletes compete on an obstacle course comprised of rigorous physical challenges can be exhausting. I will actually feel my body pull and stiffen while they stretch and struggle to grasp onto a rope or fight to maintain balance on a rotating log. I tighten my muscles as though I was reaching for the swing; I'll even gasp with slight exhaustion. "Ohhhh!"

Technically these athletes compete against each other to see who will advance farther and faster to achieve the title of "the" American Ninja Warrior; but it doesn't feel like it. Without exception, each competitor cheers the other contestants on while encouraging them to ultimately beat the course. The disappointment is shared by everyone if one of them falls off the obstacle and lands in the water. It's such a great example of empathy. 

I wish all of society was more like American Ninja Warrior; more supportive; more encouraging and more empathetic. Yes, we "compete" in the business world but wouldn't it be nice if we could also be more supportive. 

It would be such a kick to stand in front of a large office building and shout out to people as they walked in to work. "You can do it! You got this! I believe in you!"

Just for a day.....let's try it. 

Life presents each one of us with a series of obstacles; some are easy to overcome and some feel as though they are too difficult. Let's encourage each other to take it on!

Become a true American Ninja Warrior .....YOU got this; I believe in YOU.

 

 

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Please Press the "Pause" Button

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Please Press the "Pause" Button

Part of my success in Sales and Marketing is directly attributed to a day when I stopped doing what I was doing. It was precisely when I took a moment to "pause" and analyze my practices that I was able to move forward more easily. I asked myself, "What did you do with one prospective client that allowed you to gain their trust and earn their business as compared to another prospect who you weren't able to capture"? It was clear to me that I had done specific things with the people who became a loyal client that I didn't do for the prospects who never gave me an order or made a commitment. With the prospects who I obtained as clients, I could track how I made a formal presentation; introduced them to my team; provided them with tools to increase their business and support their personal life; connected with empathy and sincerity; demonstrated my loyalty as well as a few additional key relationship activities. Upon review of the prospects I couldn't close or convert to my company, I could see the actions and steps I had overlooked and more quickly make course corrections to earn their business. 

I am no longer in Sales or Marketing but the importance of stopping and taking "pause" is crucial to my success and joy in life. Occasionally I'll catch myself feeling negative or discouraged; pressing the "pause" button on my life is more important than ever. Moments of discouragement are natural; staying in these moments to wallow is something I find to be unacceptable for my well-being. When I'm pessimistic I'll negatively impact the lives of those around me. I enjoy asking, "Annamarie, what haven't you done in your life lately that you did when you were the most joy filled, optimistic and satisfied"? I like to up-date the list of things that give me joy. Some of the things I enjoyed in the past aren't relevant to me at this stage in my life (or my body is no longer willing to move like my mind says it should). I'll ask myself, "What do enjoy Annamarie? When was the last time you did these things"? It's pretty easy for me to see the holes and voids in my life that once made me feel so much joy. The next question I ask myself is usually the most difficult. "So, Annamarie... what are you going to do about it"? 

No one else is responsible for making "me" happy or feeling joyous.....conversely, they can't make me unhappy....."Unless I let them." Their behavior or actions may have left me "with a situation" that leaves me feeling unhappy but I have the power and responsibility to counter this situation with activities that give me joy. I have heard it said that there is a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is an emotion and it can be temporary; joy is an attitude of the heart. Happiness is temporary while joy is a sustained feeling of pleasure about your life as a whole.

Now, I encourage you to ask yourself this: What makes YOU happy and what fills YOU with joy?.....What are YOU going to do about it? Hit pause and then PLAY!

 

Making people laugh & learn * Going to church * Walking * Writing * Siting on the beach * Hiking in the woods * Working with children * Singing * Drawing * Painting * Dancing * Volunteering * Cooking * Gardening * Entertaining * Sharing a cup of coffee * LOVING

 

 

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Unlock the Treasures of Life

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Unlock the Treasures of Life

     Hello there and welcome back. Oh wait, it wasn’t you who was away; it was me. I’m sorry for my absence but life threw me a little wrench and put me in the hospital for several weeks. I’m home, feeling great and happy to connect again with you. Thank you all for your subscriptions and referrals; your support and encouragement for this blog is one of the keys to the successful publishing relationship I'm developing for my book. 

     Speaking of keys… when I was young I believed keys were symbols of importance. To me, the more important you were the more keys you had hanging on your key-chain. Goodness, I believed the janitor at my elementary school was super important; he had a key to every classroom. I could hardly wait for the day my parents trusted me to have my own key to our home. Carefully stringing my first key onto a piece of emerald green yarn I stretched it over my head and proudly wore it around my neck. It was the trust and responsibility I valued more than the key itself. With age came more and more keys. I had a key to the lock on my bicycle; a key for the locker in gym class; a key for the tiny lock that held the secrets written in my private diary. Making them easier to identify as "mine," I creatively braided lanyards to organize all my keys. 

As childhood slipped away from me my view of keys changed from powerful to burdensome. My once joyful association with keys was swiftly replaced with demanding and oppressive feelings. Keys were a symbol of obligation and constraint. I recognized the need to change my perspective back to one that is positive and playful. Whenever I need to change my thought processes I reminisce and rekindle the positive emotions I have for an event or a person. I'm filled with wonder and excitement as I think back to the feeling I had as the green yarn secured the key to my body. I’m reminded how keys unlock treasure chests to reveal wonderful surprises and opportunities. Keys unlock doors to private rooms where we can meditate and seek solitude or open large places to gather with friends and family. With age and maturity I’ve discovered not all keys are visible.  For example, the key to someone’s heart comes in the form of our actions, words and deeds.

     I stumbled upon a single key in my junk drawer the other day and I have no idea what it opens. I can’t imagine why I saved it or why I didn’t attach a tag to remind me what it opened. I walked around the house pushing this key into various locks. No matter how I twisted the key, it wouldn’t work. This makes me wonder about some of the abandoned actions, words and deeds I have sitting unused within me. This neglected key reminds me to reach out with my actions; use my words to kindly touch and open the hearts of others. I'm reminded to try my key in all the locks and hearts I discover throughout each day.

    What keys have you abandoned? Pick up the actions and activities that brought you joy in the past and try them again; new treasures and opportunities are waiting to be unlocked. 

     Please continue to subscribe and share. It's anonymous and I won't know if you do or don't but thank you for your help. - Annamarie

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In Need of a Superhero!

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In Need of a Superhero!

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     I’m not surprised with the increasing craze in America to watch Superheroes at the movies. Superheroes provide a sense of security, comfort and hope. This security is especially desired in times of turmoil. They give us a role-model and someone we want to aspire to become and emulate. The solo acts of Batman, Superman and Spider-Man have been joined by teams like The Justice League, Avengers and X-men….and don’t forget the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The frustrations of politics, war and global disrespect have us hungry for someone to swoop in and rescue us. We crave a hero to pounce on the scene and come to our defense. In the 1950’s we were fascinated by someone who could push back meteors headed on a collision course toward earth; someone to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Today we seek a team of hero’s to remove the corruption in politics while igniting the fires of empathy and morality. We crave someone to instill a compassion and benevolence to all living souls; a respect for the earth and the future generations who will live here. Where is this hero? Who are the partners that will join forces with this ordinary person who wears a costume and uses a cape? Is it you?....Are YOU the Lone Superhero? Is it me? Am I the Lone Superhero? ....Nope, it’s “US”……"We" are all capable of super acts and accomplishments when we are united. 

     Let’s make 2016 the year to find the passion and the compassion to make this world a little bit better for the future. Fuel your inner Superhero! What is your inner hero capable of accomplishing?

 

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A Blank Slate for the New Year

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A Blank Slate for the New Year

Happy New Year!

     Don’t you just love the crisp air that rolls in with the month of January? I find the light sting on my skin and brief burn in my lungs to be energizing. I purse my lips to exhale my breath and push out imaginary smoke rings that disappear into the cold air; it makes me giggle.  It is this childlike energy that fuels my perspective and optimism for the New Year; a vibrant, spirited attitude emerges when I anticipate the year ahead. I enjoy the blank slate I see when I sit down to write my goals or openly discuss them with others. Periodically the mature reality of responsibilities and deadlines of life push away my spirited demeanor; I’m weighed down with the thought of tasks and necessary sacrifices. To achieve some of my goals, the new disciples that I'll require will appear daunting. Occasionally my list of objectives will expand faster than my hand can write; I’m overwhelmed. No matter how positively I write each goal my plate of tasks and responsibilities feels more and more heavy. My scales of exhaustion can be tipped with simple comments like, “I’m going to eat healthier; walk two miles a day; write five pages each day in my book”. I don’t want to feel as though I’m adding more to my “to-do” list without first making room on my plate to grow. Instead I want to focus on what “I can do” and not place a spotlight on what “I can’t”; but again, I need the room.

      To make room in my life I find it necessary to first expand my attitude and make emotional space to get relief. What am I going to stop doing? For starters I’m going to stop judging myself and start appreciating who I am at this very moment. I’m going to stop parking my car so close to the front door of the store and I’m going to walk farther from where I park; this will add to my desired two miles a day. I’m going to stop worrying about what I’m going to serve my guests for dinner; this way I’ll be less stressed and able to focus more on the conversation; the pleasure of their company. With each objective or goal that’s added to my plate, one negative thought comes off.

     Traditionally the song “Auld Lang Syne” brings with it, a review of our past; a look back at the last year. It’s not easy to reminisce without recalling the goals I “didn’t" achieve. It’s also a challenge to acknowledge the mistakes I “did” make.  However, I’m not disappointed when I reminisce. I can only learn from my mistakes or underachieved goals by first admitting I want to make some changes. I’m not the same person as I was a year ago; in fact, I’m not the same person I was yesterday. Just  like the month of January I’m a blank slate too.

Happy New Year! – Annamarie

 

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I am grateful for elastic waistbands...among other things!

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I am grateful for elastic waistbands...among other things!

I’m grateful for elastic waistbands.

When asking people about their plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve heard some amusing responses. Some of the comments include: “I have to cook for twenty people; it’s going to be a madhouse”. “We’re going to our daughter’s home but I miss having left-overs when someone else cooks”. “I’ll probably eat too much and totally screw up my diet”. Thankfully I’m someone who seeks the positive in a situation; Instead of feeling disheartened with these responses, I feel grateful for the outlook “I” have on life. 

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings and celebrate with gratitude. It’s also time to share with those less fortunate. It’s a time to be grateful to have the ability to “cook for twenty people and have a madhouse”….not the burden of it.  It’s a time to be grateful to “leave the leftovers with your daughter” and cook your own turkey on Friday. It’s even a time to “eat too much and appreciate elastic waistbands”. More than anything, it’s a time to appreciate what we have; especially the people with who we are able to share time and journey through this life together.

Our world is experiencing a lot of stress and sadness with the terrorist attacks; global warming and numerous uncertainties of our very existence; still there are plenty of reasons to be grateful. I am grateful for a simple breath; it gives me life. A smile; it give me joy and comfort. A gentle touch; floods me with warmth. If you’re finding it difficult to find something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, think about what you can share with someone else. Share the smile; share the touch or the positive comment and compliment. Then stop for a moment and feel the gratitude you have for having a smile to give away; a hand to extend a touch; a brain with which you can use to think of a positive comment to pass along. When you’re feeling disheartened, gratitude has the power to energize. Gratitude will bring you hope when you’re feeling gloom and desperation. I know that for me personally, gratitude has helped me to cope in the midst of hard times. In the midst of crisis, gratitude doesn’t suddenly appear automatically. I don’t “automatically” feel grateful when a tragedy strikes or when a difficulty arises in my life. But it is gratitude that makes me think more gratefully. There is a big difference between feeling grateful and being grateful….and acting grateful.

I am grateful for the life I have; my gratitude list is never-ending. Thank you all for your support, encouragement and concern; your guiding council is most appreciated and valued.

Gratefully yours,

Annamarie

Thanksgiving is best epitomized to me with the following parable about heaven and hell.

An old woman is nearing the end of her life. As she closes her eyes one night, she sees a bright light and is transported to another realm. She doesn’t pass away just then, instead, she returns to the living world to find her family gathered at her bedside. She smiles and whispers to her children, “I have seen the great hereafter.”

“The great whereafter?” Her son asks.

“Heaven and hell. I have seen them both.”

The old woman goes on to explain, “I came upon a door, and behind it was hell. What I saw there confounded me. There was a dining hall filled with rows of tables, each table teaming with a magnificent feast. It looked and smelled delicious, yet the people seated around the tables were emaciated and sickly, moaning with hunger.

“As I came closer, I realized that each person held a very long spoon. With it they could reach the feast, but the spoon was too long. Though they tried and tried again, they couldn’t bring nourishment to their mouth. In spite of the abundance before them, they were starving.”

She continued, “I left this horrid place and opened a new door, one that led to heaven. Inside, I was surprised to see that very same scene before my eyes, a dining hall filled with row upon row of tables, and on those tables, a marvelous feast. But instead of moaning with hunger, the people around the tables were sitting contentedly, talking with one another, sated from the abundance before them.

“Like those in hell, these people were holding very long spoons. As I watched, a woman dipped her spoon into a bowl of stew before her, but rather than struggling to feed herself, she extended her spoon out and fed the man seated across from her. This person, now satisfied and no longer hungry, gave thanks and returned the favor, leaning across the table to feed the woman.”

“I suddenly understood the difference between heaven and hell,” the old woman said to her family. “It is neither the qualities of the place, nor of the abundance of resources, but the way people treat each other.

“In hell, we are selfish. We would rather go hungry than give the people we don’t care for the pleasure of eating.”

“But in heaven, we feed each other. We put trust in those around us, and never go hungry.”

 

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Life is short....Don't Wait!

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Life is short....Don't Wait!

I have wanted a scooter for over thirty years. I have “ridden” on the back of motorcycles but I have never driven one of my own. Anytime someone has mentioned a scooter, I have always said, “I want a scooter”. The fact I’ve stated my desire for so many years and never acted on it became a family joke. Everyone knew that I was afraid of getting a motorcycle license and I was afraid of tipping over. This fear kept me obligated to always be a passenger and never be in control of my destiny. If I wanted to take off and enjoy the freedom I felt while riding a scooter or motorcycle, I’d have to wait for someone else to take me.

In my last blog, I shared the story surrounding turning fifty-eight years old and the importance of a positive attitude with a vision of success. Last week, on my actual birthday, I had a good kick in the rump. I had just finished eating a large blueberry pancake at a local restaurant when I said, “I really, really want a scooter”. I asked my husband if we could test drive a scooter or one of those three-wheel motorcycles; so off we went to the motorcycle dealership. The salesman was a friendly gentleman who was a tad older than me. He had a personality that instantly makes everyone he meets, smile. However, I wasn’t smiling when he told me that a scooter wouldn’t be able to make it up the hills in my neighborhood. He went on further to tell me that a motorcycle that had enough power to make it up my hills would require a motorcycle license. He was however, able to peek my interest when he confirmed I could ride a three-wheel Spyder and didn’t need a motorcycle license. Without hesitation, I climbed on the back of the three-wheeler and scooted off with him on a test-drive. The funny part came when it was his turn to let me drive with him on the back. Nope, I’ve never driven a motorcycle. Not knowing where to put his hands, he accidentally grabbed my chest when I took off a little fast and tossed him back. That's when he made a surprising discovery. Yep, I keep my insulin pump tucked in the right side of my bra; my breast feels as hard as a rock. It has provided me with many moments of humor when it's vibrates to warn me of a low or beeps loudly for a high. The smile on my face when I returned from the test drive wasn't because of the accidental squeeze; it was because of my joy and confidence. My husband and son said they knew instantly that I was going to buy the bike.

Long story short….don’t wait. I bought the Spyder and I have had so much fun. The conversations I’ve had in parking lots with women who have always wanted to ride a motorcycle have been wonderful. The fresh air that fills my helmet is awesome; the freedom is exhilarating. Thirty years have gone by and I now ride my Spyder with only one regret; the regret of not doing it sooner. Don't wait to say, "I love you" or act on your dreams; life is short.

Ride-on!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

If you had asked me eight years ago if I thought I’d be alive to see today, I’d have told you, No!             

On Thursday of this week, I turn fifty-eight years old and this age has a special significance to me. You see, my Mom was diagnosed with her pancreatic cancer when she was fifth-eight. What’s the specific connection I have to eight years ago? Well, it was eight years ago when the pre-malignant cyst in my pancreas was discovered.  I made the mental “leap” that I wasn’t going to make it to the age of fifty-eight. It didn’t matter that I only had a 50/50 chance of surviving the thirteen hour surgery to remove my pancreas and the surrounding organs; psychologically, I had set myself up for a short life.  Obviously, something was amiss with my thinking. I asked myself, “What is the difference between the importance of proper vision in business goals and a proper vision in life?” My answer was, “There was no difference”.

Visualization is a necessary tool for preparing for anything, and everything. Without a proper vision we will aimlessly move through life or cause ourselves to die. Even when I want to meditate, I focus on my breath; heart-rate, and a sense of calm. When I plan on eating my next meal, I visualize and think about what I want to eat. When I plan a vacation, I need to identify where I want to go and plan out how I want to get there. I will also visualize the experiences I want to have along the way. One of the great quotes of Napoleon Hill says it all. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I believed I wouldn’t live long enough to see my fifty-eighth birthday; therefore, I wouldn’t.

It was when I changed the vision I had for my life expectancy that my health followed suit. I’ve learned how to conquer numerous health obstacles by adjusting my vision. I have found great power from the words I tell myself. Occasionally my attitude and vision veer off course and I end up in a rut. (RUT = Repetitive Unproductive Thought) It is only when I make adjustments in my thinking that I’ll get back on track. Today I see myself celebrating many more birthdays. To achieve these birthdays, I visualize the road before me to be filled with healthier eating and good management of my insulin and blood sugars. Because of my vision, I am confident that my journey is filled with more rest stops of joy, discovery, celebration and peace.

So, Thursday is a big day for me; it’s more than a birthday. Celebrating this fifty-eighth year is evidence to me that having a positive vision and outlook works. If you ask me today if I plan on celebrating my 100th birthday, I’ll say, “Yes, let’s plan the party!”

I’m especially thankful to people like my Mom; people who allowed the research gained from their experience with cancer, to be used to discover a cure for you and me. It is my birthday wish that you will also develop a positive vision for a long, healthy and happy life. Visualize your goals; see yourself achieving each goal you design and clearly see yourself enjoying life.

Happy Birthday to me! 


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Learning To Ride!

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Learning To Ride!

"You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar." This is a book title from the Sandler Sales Institute. I like the title because it's a great analogy for life. You can only learn so much from books, classes and other people; there comes a time when you just have to get on and ride.

 A similar point can be made when we are trying to obtain our Learner’s Permit to drive a car. First we have the formal classroom to learn about the traffic codes, laws and vehicle operation. The fun part comes when we actually sit behind the wheel and apply what we’ve learned from the books and instructor. When we actually drive, we are in control of where we want to go and what we want to see and experience. “Truly” living isn’t much different than learning to drive a car or riding a bike. We learn from others as they share their personal experiences; this is similar to the instructor and it’s educational but not experiential.  “Truly” enjoying life and learning from it comes from getting out there and just doing it.

One of the beautiful things about “living” is that we continue to learn and grow. Life is full of lessons and most of them come at the most unexpected and inopportune times. I use the word “inopportune” because we frequently say, “Now? Why did this have to happen now?”

I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful young woman last week who is in the middle of a rough patch in life. While being only in her early teens, her father passed away last year and she is having some challenging days with his absence. We had a great conversation about whether or not “everything” happens for a reason. We also questioned whether or not “everything” has a lesson to it. It’s my opinion that lessons and learnings don’t always come in the way of enlightenment and joy; some come in the way of struggles and sorrow. Some of them have been clear and obvious while others have been obscure and hidden. For me, the most challenging lessons are the ones that don't come with answers the moment I seek them....I "want" an immediate understanding. One day I realized that the delay I was experiencing in learning a lesson was also a lesson in and of itself. While waiting years to gain understanding on "why" certain things were happening, I realized that this “was” my lesson. I was learning patience. I had to come to terms with the fact that not everything happens for a reason. At least it didn't happen for a reason that I was supposed to understand. I simply had to have "faith" that it was part of a bigger plan for me; it was all part of my journey. I had to have "faith" that God knows what was better for me than what I think is best for myself. But...but...but this is "MY" life!  Shouldn't I have a say so in what happens in "MY" life? Then I realized that I DO. I have 100% control on my attitude and how "I" was going to respond to the experiences that occur in "MY" life. Similar to the saying, “You can’t help the cards you’ve been dealt; only the cards you play.”

We can choose our attitude as easily as we can choose to get on the bike or behind the wheel. We can choose to play it safe and only read about travel; finding a new career; moving on to a new location or moving outside of our typical comfort zone. We can play it safe and not reach out to feel love again after we have been hurt, or we can get on the bike and ride. We can choose to live in fear and anticipate every negative card and experience in life that will probably be dealt to us; or we can learn from the lessons and continue on our journey with optimism and appreciation.

Me… I’m opting to get on the bike and ride. Life can’t be lived in a seminar or through an instruction manual, but it most certainly can be enjoyed through the ride. Care to join me?


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Changing of Seasons

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Changing of Seasons

Slumber parties rekindled!

          I usually write to you from my home in the Napa hills of California, but this week is much different; I’m in the beautiful state of Oklahoma. I am surrounded by tall, mature trees that are revealing their brilliant colors of autumn; it’s breathtaking. It’s time for the trees to change their appearance and move through the seasons of their life. It’s a joy to witness their transition from summer to fall. My usual scenery of the vineyards below has been exchanged for an incredible view of a pristine lake; my typical view of hummingbirds has been replaced with swarms of pelicans and cormorants. More important than the view which surrounds me is the company I am blessed to have on this visit. I am staying in the home of my childhood friend Nina and her husband Ted. Nina and I have been friends from the budding age of five where we shared graham crackers and milk in kindergarten. I haven’t had milk on this visit but the wine has been wonderful.  

          Friendships develop from so many different circles and cycles in our lives. I have friendships that developed from my work and friends that are couple connections for me and my husband. I have independent social friendships and connections made through social media. Each of these relationships stands alone and impacts me on different levels. However, it is the friends from my childhood that have a unique connection to my soul; this conduit can never be replaced. We know each other’s family; we know the struggles and joys we had as children; we slept over each other’s homes where we often returned back to our own home in the middle of the night because we became frightened. We know the names of each other’s pets and recall the tears of their passing. We have been shaped by these details and sharing these memories is done on an intimate level. It doesn’t matter if we became disconnected or lost contact for more than a decade or two, we are brought back together the moment we reconnect. It is as if the time apart never existed and we are again warmed by the affection.

          Remembering how hungry we were to turn sixteen and get our driver’s license makes me laugh. It seemed as if we couldn’t age fast enough; now we are ageing too fast. We didn’t know back then that becoming an adult would bring with it, the strains of commitment, debt and responsibility. Reuniting with these friends of my childhood unites the sweet childlike innocence with the mature responsible adult. Why must life be such a tug of war? The child in us wants to age faster and the aging adult wants to hold tightly to our youth. This tug of war makes me realize that it is much easier to simply enjoy where I am at this very moment. The conflict of young and old makes me more appreciative of my current age. Regardless, reuniting with old friends who have been with us through the awkward and growing years is beautiful. Appreciating the memories we shared while we each developed the core that holds us strong today with the added weight of responsibility is priceless.

          It is only appropriate that I sit among these changing colors and witness the changing of the seasons. Like me, as the seasons of life change, the colors become more vibrant with age.

 

Thank you Nina & Ted for a wonderful visit.


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You are the "Bomb!"

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You are the "Bomb!"

It couldn’t have been easy having a Mom who was a Motivational Speaker…..and was sometimes seen as being “kind of out there”.

I tried my best to exercise self-restraint while attending the sporting events of our son Austin. For almost two decades, I tried everything within my power to sit still. I even tried sitting on my hands to see if that would help. Gathered around me on the bleachers were other Moms who were poised, in control and non-emotional. On my part, this lack of exuberance only lasted about ten minutes. It burst out of control when “our” Little League Coach used foul language toward “our” boys. “Catch the damn ball”, he cried out to one boy. Next he shouted to another boy, “What the hell is wrong with you?”…… I was never a cheerleader and unless I was on stage speaking at a convention or conducting a training workshop, I quietly participated in activities. However, in this case, I didn’t care. I’ll always respect the call of an Umpire and the leadership style of a Coach, but there was no excuse for bad or negative language toward anyone; especially not eight year old boys. As I leaped off the bleachers and ran onto the field to address the Coach, I knew I was never going to be a “bench warming Mom”. The Coach tried to tell me that he didn’t use the word, “Damn” and he insisted he used the word, “Tham”. Really? He expected us to believe that “Tham” is a word. I knew I had the attention of the parents when I told the coach, “If you want us to believe this, then you’re really YUCKED-UP.” That was the day I revealed my deeper “Mom” spirit.

Regardless of being the only mother who applauded with exuberance; complimented the other team when they were exceptional; and always inspired our team, I knew it had to make our son uncomfortable. He never said a word to me about wishing I’d hold back or wanting me to be more reserved like the robot Moms who sat beside me. I tried with all my might to bite my tongue and not regularly offer words of encouragement. Then one day, our team was way behind in the score. It was the eighth inning and I heard shouts coming from the dugout of our team. The boys were yelling, “Go get Austin’s Mom….she can help us win”.

As Austin grew older and much larger, baseball turned into football and the crowds on the bleachers grew larger too. The parents and cheerleaders were supportive when the team was winning; not when they were behind. It was a major playoff game and our team was behind. The parents were quiet and I stood up and shouted out to the crowd, “This is when our team needs us the most. Stand up!” No one did.  This is the moment when MY power shifted. I spotted Austin on the field and I yelled out to him. “Austin! Austin!” Quite a few seconds pass and he didn’t move. I wasn’t sure if he was purposefully trying to ignore me or if he truly didn’t hear me. Suddenly, he turned around and looked up at me in the stands. Among all the other parents who had slumped into a sea of disappointment on the bleachers, I was the only one standing up. Again I shouted, “Austin, you know you have what it takes to turn these guys around. Get in there and do what you know you can do. They believe in you…like we do.” As he turned away from me, he pulled off his helmet and dropped it on the field. My heart sunk as I thought I had embarrassed him beyond repair. Slowly he turned around to face his team-mates. He turned his palms up toward the sky and reached out to his sides. He ran out to the rest of the players and clapped his hand up and down over his head. He motivated them to get the applause going and shift the energy up. He shouted words of encouragement and a few of the parents stood up and joined me in the bleachers. The energy and excitement was infectious and exhilarating. I’d love to tell you that they went on to win that game; but they didn’t. What they did win was a lot more than a game; they won their pride and discovered a unified spirit through their personal power.

Austin is twenty-nine years old and is a successful businessman. Last night he was home for dinner and I had a beautiful conversation with him. It was his response to my apology that melted my heart.  I said, “Austin, it must have been difficult for you as a young boy, to have a Mom who was so out-there and shouting words of encouragement to everyone, regardless of the team they were on. I know I certainly felt the stares and looks from some of the other parents who sat properly on the benches. Some of them were careful to not sit too close. I guess they feared I was contagious. I am sorry if I ever embarrassed you; will you forgive me?” He reached across the table and extended me a fist pump and said, “I know exactly what you gave up for me Mom; I even knew back then. You need to know that according to me and all the other kids, you are always the bomb.”

Standing out in the crowd isn’t always easy. Being the positive voice in an office of negative comments or in a family that is full of doubt, can be a challenge. Sometimes you have to be the powerful yet polite voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Please stick with it…..believe in your heart that what you’re doing is coming from a place of optimism, encouragement and love.

And always, always trust that “You are the bomb”.

Annamarie

 




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                         Spilled Milk!                  "Worry, Regret's & Guilt"

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Spilled Milk! "Worry, Regret's & Guilt"

Please don’t tell me how to “feel”.

Have you ever shared your feelings of guilt with someone else? Have you ever been told, "Don't feel that way"? How about when you tell someone that you’re "worried", and again they say, “Don’t worry”.  My feelings are my feelings. Telling me “not” to have them or "don't feel them", isn’t going to work. Now, it’s a completely different story if we discuss “how” these negative feelings aren’t doing me any good. An even better idea is for us to talk about the different ways I can move forward and eliminate these feelings. I’m willing to listen; but telling me “not to feel” isn’t going to work.

Today’s blog topic has been created at the request of a few of you readers. Your requests inspire and fuel me to research, ponder on,….. and write. I enjoy it when you request a blog topic; it’s a great compliment. Your request tells me you’re interested in my thoughts and they help me to learn. You have given me a great gift. Thank you.

Let me begin by saying that I worry; I have regrets; and I have feelings of guilt for some of the pain I have caused others by my actions. However, I do my best not to allow these feelings take away my enjoyment of life today or my dreams for tomorrow. I say that “I do my best” because it’s a constant work in progress. I am forever learning, growing and evolving. To tell myself or someone else, “Don’t feel that way”, isn’t going to help. Please note that I refer to worry, regret and guilt as “feelings” and not “emotions”. A newborn baby isn't capable of experiencing the feelings of worry, regret or guilt. Through my research, I’ve enjoyed the references of emotions differently than feelings. I can take ownership of my feelings; I’m responsible. When I’m responsible, I can change and evolve.

When left unattended, worry, regret and guilt are absolutely useless feelings; yet, we allow them to bind us up in psychological and emotional knots. These knots block joy, love and laughter from entering our life while they increase stress and “dis-ease”. From “dis-ease” come diseases. Blood pressure will rise, digestion will cease to work property and a host of ailments will develop. When we take worry and do something about it….ahhhhh, that’s another story. With a clearer understanding of its negative impact, worry can be reduced to a feeling of “concern”. Worry is an endless loop of negative thoughts; a hamster wheel of “dis-ease”. When you have a worry, write it down on a piece of paper. When you write it down, it can’t grow or keep spinning out of control. Looking at what you’ve written down, ask yourself this question. “Can I, and am I willing to do what it takes to change this situation?” If not, then agree that it is of no use to you and throw the paper away. If you can do something, then take the steps to do it. Write down what some of these steps are and you'll have a plan. Suddenly, your worry will be appropriately reduced to a “concern”. Concerns are manageable; worry is useless.

I utilize many props in my seminars and a tall glass of water comes in handy for my next demonstration. I replicate a story from another lecturer on the subject of stress management; it perfectly applies to the subject of worry, regret and guilt. Holding up a glass of milk that is half-full, I ask a question. Being an inspirational speaker, my audience suspects I’m going to ask if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Instead I surprise them by asking, “How heavy is this glass of milk?” Some people call out to me and say, “Half a pound to a pound.” They are surprised when I say, “The absolute weight of the glass doesn’t matter. The truth is, it depends on how long you try to hold it.” My audience listens attentively as I continue on to say, “If I hold the glass for about a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for thirty minutes to an hour, my arm will begin to ache and my muscles will burn from the discomfort.” It is when everyone is most attentive that I continue on to say, “This is the same way with stress, worry, regret and guilt. The longer we hold on to them, the heavier they become. Put them down.” 

Wallowing in feelings of guilt and regret weigh us down and prevent us from making changes to move forward. Guilt, like jealousy, will eat you from the inside out. Its purpose is to get our attention to make a change. Not all guilt is rational but the negative feelings we give it are always destructive. Make amends for your behaviors and the actions that caused you to feel guilty in the first place; then put it down.

I have this story to share about regret. The day I made the “elective” decision to remove my entire pancreas; spleen; duodenum; section of intestine; ½ stomach; gallbladder and too many other organs to mention in my digestive and endocrine system, was the day I vowed to never live with regrets of any kind. The pre-malignant tumor hadn’t turned malignant “yet”. I knew there was a possibility that it wouldn’t spread and yet, maybe it would. I had already lost eight family members to cancer of the pancreas and digestive systems. Knowing full well the life before me, that was laid out by the doctors, would be filled with complications and challenges, I focused on the word “life”. Regrets have no place in my life. Initially I was burdened by the statements of "What if". Most of these "what if" statements were presented to me by others. "But what if it never spreads?; What if you have the surgery and didn't need to be so radical?; What if you get in there and discover you're too late?" When making a change in my life, I've learned to do as much due diligence as I possibly can. Search my intellect and most importantly, search my heart. Make decisions and always live without regret.  

 Life, like time, can only go forwards. Join me and live with purpose, love and laughter! Wasting the precious days of life by worrying over and regretting the days of the past while you feel guilty, is like "Crying over spilled milk". Wipe it up and move forward.

 





 

 

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"Live Like Someone Left the Gate Open"

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"Live Like Someone Left the Gate Open"

     The fact you landed on this page is a great sign YOU WANT MORE OUT OF YOUR LIFE. CONGRATULATIONS!

     The poster telling us to “Live Like Someone Left Gate Open” is something that makes me smile. Each of our interpretations of this saying is unique and personal. For me, the translation of this statement means to live life freely, openly, and without fear. I hear this statement to say, “Be open to exploration but not with reckless abandon or without consideration of the consequences.”  Living life with an inquisitive mind and spirit provides me with a journey that is rich with both excitement AND joy. I don’t believe this saying contradicts the other saying that, “There is No Place Like Home.” Living life with an adventuresome spirit and bold attitude doesn’t mean you’re dissatisfied with your home. It doesn’t mean that you want to run away. Living with the “gate left open,” means to have an open heart and to live life free of fear.

     I’ve just returned from a special vacation where we cruised to Belize, Honduras and Cozumel. It was fun to discover and experience new cultures, environments and cuisines. I was fascinated with conversations I had with other "cruisers" from around the United States. I was surprised to meet a couple who were on their sixty-second cruise with nine more scheduled by the end of the year. It wasn’t the number of cruises they had been on that I found so intriguing; it was the fact that they NEVER get off the ship at the ports to see the country. It is the fear of the unknown and the comfort of their cabin that keeps them from venturing outside of the ship.  To this couple, the port is like the front-door on a home. They aren’t comfortable in stepping outside the front-door; let alone living like the gate is left open.

     Gates not only keep us locked inside; they keep others locked out. Our mental gates and closed-minded thoughts keep us confined. Opening our hearts and minds to discover new points of view, is also living life more fully. Open your mind to new adventures, experiences AND points of view.

     Take a moment to look at the gates that have you trapped. Ask yourself, “What would I do differently if I had the freedom to do anything at all?” "Where would I go?" "What would I experience?" "Who would I talk to?" Now, it’s important to stop and “Feel” the excitement in your body as you dream about living outside of the gate. Stop and “Feel” the lighthearted joy that fills you. This thinking promotes healing. Let your thoughts travel freely and heal.

     Live with excitement and enthusiasm….. “Live Like Someone Left the Gate Open”

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Bumps, Ruts and Lush Patches.....

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Bumps, Ruts and Lush Patches.....

Do you remember playing with Silly Putty? Similar to clay, you can roll it in your hand and press it on a comic strip to copy the print. You can do this over and over again and reshape the putty to all sorts of shapes and designs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Silly Putty; it can be any type of soft clay. When you roll a soft ball of clay down a path, it’s marked by everything it crosses. It may not be visible to the naked eye but every rock, thistle or blade of grass makes an impression on the ball. The path itself and the angle it provides will influence the shape as it travels along. Some of the impacts mar the clay and leave undesirable scars or designs you may not prefer. None the less, as the ball progresses, the clay will continue to take on new forms. In many respects, we are no different than the clay. Experiences and contacts with each other will influence our shape as we travel down our path in life.

I attended my fortieth high school reunion this past weekend and visited with people I hadn't seen for decades. Thank goodness the old yearbooks were available for us to open up and look at the photos. I was having a great conversation with one guy who said, "I don't remember you." When we opened the yearbook to look at my old photo he said, "I remember her." I busted out laughing and said, “That is ME!.... I'm HER!" He replied with, “You’re really fun and interesting; I wish I had known you back then.” I replied, “I wasn’t anything like this back then, I was still very soft clay.”

For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t terribly excited about going to the reunion. Through my website and blog, I have openly shared many of the private “gouges and mars” I’ve received in my journey in life. Although I am proud of the way I have reshaped these negative and painful experiences, I was still “feeling” fragile. Disclosing and openly discussing my experience of rape in the military made me “feel” vulnerable to old acquaintances. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no cliques and it made no difference if you were a jock, cheerleader, scholar, or clown. We acknowledged and admired each other for the forms we have taken to this point. We only knew that at one point in our lives we had traveled down the same path. Even if we didn’t have specific memories of time spent together, somehow we had made a mark on each other’s lives…..visible or not. We had walked the same corridors and awkwardly participated in the same proms, pranks and pomp and circumstance.  It was a good opportunity to review the road we’ve traveled in the last forty years and acknowledge our trials and triumphs. It is the ability to look at our past without regrets that we can look to our future with excitement and hope. Regrets of the past and worry about the future serve no purpose. We’re not finished being shaped or molded. Regardless of how well we plan out our future adventure in life, it will contain bumps, ruts and lush patches. Each mark that is made on our life is what makes us unique, special and beautiful.

Leave a good impression on the clay and lives of others….stay soft and open to enjoy the journey ahead.

Thank you for your support, encouragement and sharing of my blog.

Annamarie

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Cutting the Ropes Around YOUR Ankles

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Cutting the Ropes Around YOUR Ankles

It starts with a small elephant and a big rope. You know the story, it's how humans control an animal that is greater than us in both size and strength. When a young elephant is being trained, a thick and heavy rope binds it to a spike in the ground. It may struggle for a while but eventually it gives up the fight. The baby elephant learns to live within the limits and confines of the rope. It can only reach out as far as the length of the rope will allow. Obviously, humans can't overpower a large elephant; but when the baby elephant has been trained in this manner, physical strength has no bearing. The elephant is controlled by his own limiting thoughts. It has convinced himself that the pulling of the rope and the resistance is stronger than his own strength. It gives up in defeat. Now, as a mature and large elephant, a simple string around his leg will provide all the control necessary to keep it restrained, restricted and mentally imprisoned. 

I'm sitting here looking at my ankles and I don't see any strings, yet I know I'm bound by some limiting thoughts. There aren't a lot of them but still, I know they exist. Many of these thoughts have been self-imposed and others have been unintentionally placed by influential people who have crossed my path in life. These limiting thoughts are more apparent when I look at my dreams and desires. When I take one of these dreams and go through the steps to turn them into a goal, SNAP-- there goes the jerk and  pull from the rope of doubt and insecurity. Now, as a case in point, let's look at this very blog. I continued to tell myself that "I'm not a writer, I'm a speaker." For over five years I wanted to write a book but the tug of the limiting thought kept me from achieving my dream. I discovered the weakness in the rope that bound me by asking, "Who told you that you aren't a writer Annamarie? What was the motive for telling you this?" Imagine my surprise to discover that It was actually me who told myself that I wasn't a writer. I discovered that it was my own personal motivation to inspire myself as a speaker and not to limit myself as a writer. I didn't intend to bind myself up; and yet I did. Little unobtrusive thoughts constantly cross our minds. Consciously we give them little regard but our sub-conscious is listening loud and clear. 

Take a look at your dreams and listen closely to hear the sound from old ropes that tug, bind and limit you. Some of the limiting thoughts may sound like, "You're too old for that." "You tried that once and it didn't work out then." "It's not worth it." "Why bother." "You'll never be able to....." Cut those ties and replace them with positive and constructive comments that free you to reach out past the length of your ropes. Take a look at "why" the rope was put there in the first place and free yourself. Be aware of the comments you tell yourself and what you recklessly say to others; especially children. You are an influential person in the lives of others and what you say can bind them or set them free to reach incredible heights. Your positive words are the fuel to strengthen and encourage a young personality. Speak with intention and thoughtfulness.

I am a writer; a storyteller; and a speaker of words. I may not be on the stage right now but I'm having fun between performances. When on stage, one of my greatest rewards is to see the look on someones face when we connect and share "a moment" of oneness. Your comments and questions are now my connection. 

Look at your dreams and cut anything that binds and prevents you from flying. Free yourself up to move toward your dreams; establish a goal; and achieve success. The thoughts that limit you...they aren't real.  Fly!




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Coming Full Circle

Coming Full Circle

It’s a good thing that the camera doesn’t show all the patches of hair I’ve pulled out of my head while building this web-page and blog. No, web-design is not currently one of my strengths; but…I’m not giving up. When I opened up the template to design this site, it was fear that stopped me dead in my tracks. The letters URL, CSS and IPS made as much sense to me as my Danish father when he wanted to convert my math homework into metrics before he could help me. Do I up-load this or down-load that?  Do I want to capture, render or reduce? Should I post, populate or ……frankly, I just want to procrastinate. It was all so unfamiliar and certainly uncomfortable. Immediately I think to call upon my son. I have relied upon him and his friend Jeff for years. I’ll just grab Austin and have him sit down with me to help. To be perfectly clear; I really want him to sit down and “just do it” for me. I wish you could have seen the look on his face when he said, “You can do this Mom. If I do it for you, how will you ever learn?”  Twenty years….Oh my Goodness, I suddenly felt as though I was tossed back in time at least 20 years. I distinctly remember sitting in the car with him as he held a broken toy in his lap. He purchased this toy with his own money and it broke before he ever had the chance to use it once. Parked in front of the variety story where he purchased the toy I said, “Go on in, I’ll wait out here in the car for you.” He was so frustrated and angry with me. We discussed “at length,” the reasons why it was important for him to return the toy himself. “You can do this Austin. If I do it for you, how will you ever learn?”

These words have now come full circle. It wasn’t easy for him to walk into the variety store at the age of eight and explain why he thought he should have a refund. I’ll tell you what…the transformation on the look on his face as he walked into the store was quite different than the look he had when he walked out. As he sat beside me in the car and counted his refund; he looked up at me with a big confident smile and said, “Thanks Mom.”

Although I could do without a few of the patches of missing hair on my head and the late night moments of pure “fascination/frustration,” I’ll continue to work on the development of this site. Yes, I know it will require a lot more tweaking; but I want to say….Thanks Austin.  

 

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