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Inspirational

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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Pull Over!

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Pull Over!

    It's official! Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I have been away tending to some family business and haven't been able to connect with all of you; it's good to be back; I've missed my weekly connection. Thank you for your patience. 

   It may sound as if I'm contradicting myself but please read this to the end and allow me to present my reasoning. 

     Last year I posted a blog to stress the importance of NOT looking in your rear view mirror too frequently. I shared the story of how I was driving on the freeway and focused too much in the rear view mirror that I didn't see what was in front of me and I literally sped passed the Highway Patrolman and received the ticket. The point I was hoping to make was this. "If you spend so much time looking in the rear view mirror of your life, you'll miss the opportunities coming before you. Looking at the past is great for reviewing lessons; examining successes; and evaluating the objectives that weren’t achieved. It’s also great to look at the past to review fond memories and relive the joys of happy times. Avoid focusing on the past with disappointment and try not to compare the “good old days” with our lives of today. Don't focus on the past, you're not going in that direction."

     Last week I had the pleasure of making a long drive down Hwy 101 from the town of McKinleyville, California to the Napa Valley. I traveled through huge redwood forests and enjoyed the incredible scenery of hills, rocky cliffs and rushing rivers. My fingertips lightly tapped on the sides of the steering-wheel as my favorite tunes bounced off the interior walls of my car. I was in driving nirvana. While on a single-lane stretch of the highway a sudden bright flash in the rear view mirror catches my eye; it's a large fire engine. Sirens are screaming with loud bursts from the horn to add to the awakening alarm My heart jumps and I quickly find a spot to safely pull over to the side of the road for them to pass. A few of the cars up ahead pull to the right as well but there are others that don't see the truck or can't hear the blast of the horn or shrill of the serine. I want to scream, "Pull over! Can't you see there is an emergency?"

     I'm just as guilty as some of these drivers; I didn't hear him at first. If the flash of the lights hadn't caught my eye, I would have continued driving down the road in my own oblivion. You would be right to assume I turned down my music for the remainder of my drive. My awareness of the emergency vehicles coming up behind me was heightened and far more keen. 

     In a world that is moving so fast, it's easy to turn up the music and try to drown out our troubles while attempting to escape the sadness, violence and confusion. However, if we don't take time to listen to the cries from the people who need us or the cries from our own bodies calling out for attention, catastrophe is eminent. Pull over and rest. Turn down the negative voices and tune in to the voices crying for love and attention. 

     I'm still advocating you don't look in the rear view mirror to set your sights and goals in life, but keep your vision open and listen to all the beauty that life has to offer. Remember to take time to safely pull off the road. Take the time to rest on someones shoulder or provide yours for someone else....especially in an emergency.

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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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I was a Bully.....but now I've stopped!

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I was a Bully.....but now I've stopped!

Stop being a Bully! 

We set up foundations to stop bullying; we admonish others who bully.....and yet, we are a Bullies too.

One of the first signs you are a victim of this specific form of bullying is when you feel as though you aren't good enough. Who told you this?....more than likely, it's YOU who is saying this to yourself. In your past, someone else may have told you this but it is YOU who continues the abuse. Please, apologize to yourself.

Put your foot down NOW and stop the bullying IMMEDIATELY!

I gain clarity and take control of my Bully by asking a few questions. Once I gain this clarity I'm free to stand strong and see right through the negative strike. The first question I ask myself is, "Are the expectations  you're putting on yourself real? or...should they be adjusted?"  The next question is, "Should you raise your self-esteem and stand more tall and sturdy?"  More often than not the answer to these questions is, "Yes!"

When a negative thought comes into play I'll first ask my self the question, "Annamarie, are you comparing yourself to someone else?" When it comes to comparing ourselves to others, the quote by the great Zig Ziglar comes to mind. "You do not determine your success by comparing yourself to others. rather you determine your success by comparing your accomplishments to your capabilities." 

The best way for us to improve our capabilities is not to measure our life against the life of someone else, but rather learn from others and share what we know "with" them. This process will benefit us two-fold. When we learn something new and improve on our capabilities, our self-esteem is increased; we grow strong. 

Case in point. I read the writings of published authors and say to myself, "They are so good! As a writer I'm so far out of my element. I'm a speaker; I'm not a writer." I'm bullying myself with each comparison I make between myself and someone else. Instead I'll say, "I'm a speaker; I'm learning to become a writer." I look at "my own" capabilities and acknowledge my accomplishments. "I" can learn to improve and work with my capabilities.

What works for you?.... How do you stop the Bully?

   

 "Comparison is the thief of joy."  -   Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

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Embrace Your Phone and Stop Complaining.

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Embrace Your Phone and Stop Complaining.

Please read the entire comment before you bash me.   

Tell me, have you ever had the following words come out of your mouth: "I hate the way cell phones and social media has ruined our lives."

Stop! Please just stop. Complaining about it doesn't do any good. It's not going away; the more we complain, the more we are feeding into the negative energy of our thoughts to create unhealthy stress. 

Do something about it.....embrace change. Instead of focusing on what you don't like about something, focus on what you do like.....and then control it. 

When I was in elementary school and working on my homework, I remember asking my parents a question. I was directed to the library to find the answer. One day a box of books arrived; it was the Encyclopedia Britannica. I was intrigued by the tissue paper thin pages edged in gold. Occasionally an up-date or revision came in the mail (delivered by a human and not anyone who had the last name of .com) and we would sit down together to find the page to attach the new information. Instead of having to go to the library to research the answer to my question's, I had the luxury of having research information at my fingertips. It was an antique form of Google. 

The key piece of information in the paragraph above is "sit down together." Instead of complaining about the time someone your family or friends are on their phones or computer, use it as an opportunity to connect. IT ISN'T GOING AWAY....You can't run from it, so you need to run to it. Instead of allowing technology to manage your time, try managing your time to manage technology." Through technology, the world is far more accessible and faster.

Sit with your children while they conduct research for school or ask them to do the research and bring it to you to discuss "together." Use this opportunity to talk with them on your discoveries. Go on a weekly vacation with your family or by yourself. "Google it!" Sit down and research a new place to explore.....talk....share. Embrace your dreams and stop complaining.

Rephrase the way you tell your family to put down their phones. It is so much easier to understand and respect a parent when they say, "You are really important to me, please put down your phone so we can give each other the attention we deserve," rather than "Put down your phone....Now!" Evaluate the age of your children to determine if a phone is appropriate. Turn a mirror on yourself to examine the amount of time you use your phone and social media and give the focus and attention to them that they deserve. 

Set aside times to check your email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Place a basket at the front door and certainly beside the dinner table to place phones "on silent" for the time dedicated to family. Keep your phone in your pocket or purse when you're in a restaurant or having any type of conversation. When you're in a public place, keep it on silent or vibrate. If you are expecting an important call, let the person you're with know you don't mean to be rude but you may have to answer the phone while you're together. 

Focus on the positive ways technology and social media help you to connect and not the ways it diminishes you. Control it, don't let it control you......It's an ugly monster that it's not going away. Tame it!

 

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A Wave to a Stranger!

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A Wave to a Stranger!

I totally disagree with a radio commercial I heard the other day. The announcer claimed one of the most embarrassing moments in life is when you accidental mistake someone for someone else and you "Wave to a Stranger." Oh my goodness! If someone believes this is terribly embarrassing, they aren't putting themselves out there in life and really living.

Embarrassing is when your silk wrap-around skirt falls to the floor as you're walking by the butcher counter at the grocery store. Now that's embarrassing! Take a lesson from me. Should you ever drop your skirt or pants, quickly pick them up as if nothing has happened and continue walking. Go ahead and wave to the butchers...you'll make their day; they will be talking about you all afternoon. You'll also make the day of a stranger when you wave. Notice how big they smile as they wave back. The synapses of their brains will be firing at lightening speed while they try to remember your name. This exercise is as good as a cup of coffee for recharging their spirit; and yours! 

I'm recharging my own spirit this week with a little R&R in Lake Tahoe. My fingers are channeling the energy from these mountains to pound the keys on my computer and work on my book titled "Hollowed." I am passionate about completing my part of this project and handing it off to the editor to fix all my grammar, punctuation and writing errors.  I'm excited to share my experiences and tools to stay positive, laugh and take on the tougher moments in life. Next week my writing will be influenced by the vineyards of my home and I'll follow it up with a week of ocean breezes as they saturate my soul. I'm eager to experience the influence each of these environments will have on my writing style and ability to share.  

Now.... go drop your skirt or pants (not literally); wave to a stranger; and take on the day.

 

 

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Annamarie Ibrahim, B.I.C.

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Annamarie Ibrahim, B.I.C.

Annamarie Ibrahim, B.I.C .

Annamarie Ibrahim, B.I.C.

I was recently asked if I believed the letters following your name on your business card were too boastful. I'm talking about those little abbreviations that follow your name to list your credentials, certifications or memberships in professional organizations. It was when I "Googled" these letters that I discovered the proper name for these initials is "Post-nominal letters". I've even heard these letters referred to as "Professional Alphabet Soup or Designation Scrabble." Listing too many post-nominals may look as if you're trying to arrange a triple-word score while trying to use the letter Q that is worth a solid 10 points. Back to my thoughts on the use of post-nominals....Provided they are used correctly, No... I don't feel they are too boastful when they are always in line with the letters B.I.C.

B.I.C. is the abbreviation for "Because I Care". Theodore Roosevelt said it best in his statement, "People will never care how much you know until they know how much you care." Your education, experience or affiliations is of no value if people don't feel your heart.

Take pride in your designations and post-nominals because they signify your commitment and dedication. Post and present them proudly BUT use them wisely. Use these initials to create an opportunity to have a conversation and discuss your responsibility, advanced education and allegiance. In addition to your dedication, these post-nominals speak to the supplemental attributes you'll bring to the relationship.

M.O.M., D.A.D., F.R.I.E.N.D., S.O.N., D.A.U.G.H.T.E.R.,.....These may not be considered post-nominals but they still require B.I.C. Holding the designation or the title will have no impact if we first don't show how much we care.

The professional sales trainer and speaker in me are itching to take off on a twenty page blog or jump into your office to present a workshop on the powerful ways to use these post-nominals to your advantage but I'll save it for another day or different forum.

The bottom line to the message of this week is........Without exception, "People will never care how much you know until they know how much you care."  

Annamarie Ibrahim, B.I.C. 

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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 Africa, they have a saying. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”        

  
     
    
       
        
           
                
           
        

        

       
    
     
  


          This saying has crossed my path many times but I was inspired to write about it when I heard it again last week. Researching this quote brought me to many incredible articles and blogs that spun directly off the message. Most of the articles went deep into team building; political analogies regarding government allies; and a myriad of other interesting and thought provoking topics. I am more interested in the quote and how it impacts us as individuals on a daily basis and regular activities. I have often caught myself saying, “It’s so much easier if I just do it myself.” I have witnessed young parents attempting to get their child dressed and suddenly grab the laces of the child’s shoes and say, “Here, let me help you with this, we need to hurry.” I have frequently overheard one employee say to another co-worker, “I don’t have time to teach you how to do this right now; it’s easier if I do this myself.” The more time we “waste” doing things ourselves the more quickly frustration and stress builds up in our bodies. Suddenly, thinking we have to do things on our own becomes a feeling of resentment; we feel as if we’re “always” left to do things on our own. We will travel farther on this incredible journey of life when we invest the time to do things "with" others who are traveling with us.       I remember working in this one office where I was the first person who was called upon to fix the copier when it jammed. I didn’t have the time to teach anyone else how to repair the machine; “it was easier to do it myself.” More and more jams in the copier left me feeling resentful; they were left feeling inadequate. Finally investing the time to share my knowledge on "copier jams" was a win-win for everyone. Watching the confidence grow in a child as they accept more and more responsibility leaves a parent feeling more at peace with the knowledge their child is equipped to “survive” in the real world.    Turning a simple task that you may be able to get done more quickly can turn into a wonderful memory and treasured experience if you take the time to do it together.  “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  Thank you for going the distance with me. I look forward to your comments. 

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In Africa, they have a saying. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

     This saying has crossed my path many times but I was inspired to write about it when I heard it again last week. Researching this quote brought me to many incredible articles and blogs that spun directly off the message. Most of the articles went deep into team building; political analogies regarding government allies; and a myriad of other interesting and thought provoking topics. I am more interested in the quote and how it impacts us as individuals on a daily basis and regular activities. I have often caught myself saying, “It’s so much easier if I just do it myself.” I have witnessed young parents attempting to get their child dressed and suddenly grab the laces of the child’s shoes and say, “Here, let me help you with this, we need to hurry.” I have frequently overheard one employee say to another co-worker, “I don’t have time to teach you how to do this right now; it’s easier if I do this myself.” The more time we “waste” doing things ourselves the more quickly frustration and stress builds up in our bodies. Suddenly, thinking we have to do things on our own becomes a feeling of resentment; we feel as if we’re “always” left to do things on our own. We will travel farther on this incredible journey of life when we invest the time to do things "with" others who are traveling with us.

     I remember working in this one office where I was the first person who was called upon to fix the copier when it jammed. I didn’t have the time to teach anyone else how to repair the machine; “it was easier to do it myself.” More and more jams in the copier left me feeling resentful; they were left feeling inadequate. Finally investing the time to share my knowledge on "copier jams" was a win-win for everyone. Watching the confidence grow in a child as they accept more and more responsibility leaves a parent feeling more at peace with the knowledge their child is equipped to “survive” in the real world.

  Turning a simple task that you may be able to get done more quickly can turn into a wonderful memory and treasured experience if you take the time to do it together.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Thank you for going the distance with me. I look forward to your comments. 

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Allow Me to Introduce Myself

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Allow Me to Introduce Myself

     I was full of nervous excitement when I pulled up to the group of Can-Am Spyder Ryders who regularly meets to ride together. Their website posting said they welcomed new riders who wanted to join them on an adventure. I was relishing in the emotion of feeling like a blank slate; free of baggage. Not a single person knew my name or anything about my past; nothing about my life experiences would taint them from getting to know the woman I am today. Adrenalin rushed through my body as I pulled up the face-mask on my helmet and revealed my smile to my new friends. Wanting to unfolding myself in little doses, I first extended my hand to say, “Hi, I am Annamarie”. My long hair slowly fell out and onto my shoulders as I pulled my helmet completely off to expose “just” a little more about "me".

     My body is always tethered to one medical device or another and when I’m flying on my Spyder, I’m free. I’m free of any preconceived notion of physical weakness or frailty of spirit; I am simply enjoying life. For the last three months I have been riding alone but I've wanted to travel along with others who shared this playful spirit and joy of living. After performing a safety check to head out on a beautiful ride I was reassured by my fellow travelers they would be there for me if anything happened to me or my Spyder; I already knew I’d be there for them. Meshing alongside these strangers with this special common bond was incredible. I couldn’t remember any of their names but it didn’t matter; I only needed to know when I was with them, we were one. After two hours of riding we stopped for lunch and they casually yet warmly folded me into their group. While driving back to our starting location, one by one, drivers broke off to take the exits that brought them back to their homes. When the time came for me to take my leave, I raised my left hand to wave good-by and thank them for taking me in; allowing me to leave my tethers, preconceptions and limitations behind.

     This is how all of life should be. It doesn’t matter the baggage of your past; if you’re a good person, I want to ride through this life with you. We ride as one. Each and every day, greet the people in your life with a fresh perspective; a blank slate.

Let go!

      If you know me based on who I was a year ago, you don’t know me at all. My Growth Game is Strong. Allow me to reintroduce myself. 


  

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Viewer Discretion Advised...I'm a little naked in this blog

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Viewer Discretion Advised...I'm a little naked in this blog

     Following my rape and wrongful discharge from the Air Force in 1977, the “One Size Fits All” counseling I received never addressed the specific needs of a rape victim. Although they served me well at the age of nineteen, the skills I developed on my own turned out to be more damaging than I could have ever predicted. Anger and resentment were becoming familiar tastes in my mouth yet I masked them in a variety of artificial behaviors. Despite living a life that follows Jesus Christ and believing in absolution for the true believer, I had a silent wish for my rapist that was also harming me. Holding on to the desire for quiet revenge was etching a groove on my soul as it played over and over again.  I didn’t want my rapist to wait until the day he died to seek forgiveness; I silently hoped pain would befall him while he is here and alive on earth. I wanted him to know what it feels like to see someone in his family hurt. It’s this specific belief that turned into a coping skill that gave me peace until the day I was confronted head-on with love and compassion.

     I was traveling so frequently to speak and give seminars that close friendships near my home were very rare. Thankfully, I was at a neighborhood woman’s club meeting when I met a special woman and our personalities immediately clicked. Lunch was scheduled and we were both excited to get to know each other better and become friends. Sitting in the middle of the restaurant and anxious to discover all about the other, we started to laugh when we simultaneously began to ask the same questions. I said, “You go first and tell me all about yourself”. While she began to share and I asked questions, I felt the emotional earthquake begin in my soul. Her son is in prison for rape. I can hear her voice; I see her lips move; but, it’s the loud crumbling noise coming from the tumbling and collapse of my coping skills that is most distracting. In an earthquake I would have run to stand under a door frame but in my psyche there is no place to run; no table where I can crawl and hide. My physical senses were heightened and I became fixated with the texture of the white napkin draped across my lap. I thought I was going to rub a hole in the fabric as I rolled it between my thumb and finger tips. Suddenly the sound made by the droplets of water trickling down the outside of my water glass caught my attention. I watched her tears pour from her eyes and I felt the blood from my face as it drained down into my chest; leaving me pasty and pale. The cold groves etched by years of misdirected coping were softened while she shared her pain and heartache; I could never wish harm upon her. It was clear to me she was also a victim and like me, she was suffering. It is this exact moment where our two worlds collide with incredible force. 

     I sat motionless and contemplated how far I was willing to open myself up to her. It doesn’t matter if someone is in physical or emotional pain; I am overwhelmingly driven to give them comfort. My way of comforting usually starts with a touch; I wanted to touch her; I needed to touch her and wipe away her tears. I was prepared to use this opportunity to share my experience of rape and reach out to touch her hand but then she says, “It really bothers me when a women claims rape and they actually haven’t been.” It was all I could do to resist falling back upon my outdated coping skill and closing myself off to a new friendship. Thankfully I used this opportunity to heal two hearts at one time. With one deep breath I was filled with the courage to reach across the table and take her hand. To this day, I am amazed by how quickly the tear drops streaming down my face turned into rivers and poured out my heart to my new friend. It was such a joy to finally shatter and adjust a misaligned coping skill.

     I have a great compassion and true understanding for the nineteen year old girl who lives inside me. I accept that my private bitterness “was” a coping skill I needed “at that time” to survive; I was doing the best I could to make it through a day. I have been very good friends with this woman for over a decade; we smile and reminisce about the specific moment we looked at each other across the table and found such a common bond.

     Take a moment to review the defenses and walls you’ve built up due to a bad experience. Open yourself up to discover who you are “today” and see if your old beliefs still benefit you. Be willing to explore and change who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow…….you are likely to make a new friend.

I really look forward to your comments.


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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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No one told me to stop!

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No one told me to stop!

    I am amazed by how easy it is to get lost in the twinkle of Christmas lights. The glow from the bulbs on the tree will almost hypnotize and mesmerize me as the memories of my past swirl around in my thoughts. I catch myself smiling and feeling warm inside as I reflect on Christmases of long ago. Many of the traditions of my life can be seen around my home today; handmade and precious ornaments hang on the tree or decorate my walls. New traditions have been folded into the mix while too many of my favorite rituals have disappeared as if ticked away like the seconds of time. Why did I stop? Why did I stop making Ginger-bread cookies? Why did I stop setting up the Christmas Village and making dozens of Danish cookies or bourbon balls? Did I just get lazy? Did I stop doing all of these things because I thought no one would care? But what about me?....I cared! I remember when the mess of baking flour made the floor so slippery I had to hang on to the counter when I walked through the kitchen. I remember when the strong smell of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves was in competition with the scent of fresh pine. I remember how the beautiful feeling of exhaustion that filled my spirit, also lifted my soul.

    I WILL MAKE COOKIES TOMORROW! When our son comes home this weekend, he will make cookies with me. We WILL give cookies to our neighbors; our friends; and the hungry. I’m going to surprise strangers with cookies. I will be responsible for my own joy and remember that…..no one told me to stop.

Merry Christmas

Love,

Annamarie

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It's called "Giving" not "Trading"!

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It's called "Giving" not "Trading"!

I’m going to go out on a limb….

     Today’s blog is prompted by the beautiful Christmas tree standing in the corner of my family room. In comparison to most trees, mine is small but the trunk is solid and dozens of limbs stretch out from this core. Even more branches expand from this point with needles shooting out like little bursts; bursts of hope. “Hope” is the perfect word to use when thinking about the limbs of a tree. Hope is similarly expressed when someone says, “I’m going to go out on a limb”.  There are two different interpretations for the phrase; both involve risk and hope. The first is when I go out on a limb for someone; when I'm willing to put myself in a precarious situation to help them out. It means I’m going to risk my reputation and I hope they do me proud; make me look good while they achieve their dream. The other meaning is to "take a wild guess or express an opinion that might not be shared by others".  It means I’m going take the risk and liberty to express a thought; hoping I don’t cross a line and offend someone. Risk and hope! Just like the tree, when you reach out from your core and give with heart, honesty and sincerity, it will shoot out and spread to others.

"Lighten Up and taste all that life offers."

"Lighten Up and taste all that life offers."

     Imagine all the good that will be created this holiday season if we all went out on a limb for someone else. Take a chance and help a co-worker or family member who would benefit from your support and kindness. Do this without expectation of anything in return. Do you remember when someone took a chance on you? It’s time to give back.

The meaning of “True Giving” means to give without expectation; it’s called “giving” not “trading”. Give without expectation.

 

Open up your arms; we are far more beautiful when we are reaching out!

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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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