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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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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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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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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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Oh How Quickly We Forget!

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Oh How Quickly We Forget!

     One of my good friends is having problems with their memory and frankly, I’m concerned. Only two short years ago I overheard them telling someone that they were headed out of town for a few days. Without batting an eye, my imagination and scheming went to work. The home of this good friend is only around the corner from where I live. The home has a picturesque setting with a large deck that’s perfect for entertaining. Surrounded by huge redwood trees and tall California oaks, this home is fully equipped with a trampoline, bocce court, zip-line and much more. This is a most ideal location for a party, especially when the owners of the property are out of town. Fully equipped with party balloons, red solo cups and empty beer and wine bottles, I went to work. After creating an eight-foot banner that read “Happy Birthday Steve”, my family and I got busy dressing up this magnificent deck. None of their family is named “Steve” and none of my family has that name either. Armed with a permanent black marker we wrote names on the cups to make it appear as if an international gala took place in their absence.  We made it look as though the who’s who of Hollywood managed to swing by the birthday party too. Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Ben Aflac and many more had nothing better to do than attend this “Steve’s” birthday party. Taking care to not make a mark or make too much of a mess that couldn’t be picked up in less than five minutes, we laid the empty bottles of alcohol around the deck and in the bushes. Deflated balloons were strategically tied to the back of the patio chairs and made to look as if they were once filled with helium that went flat from a party days before. My family and I posed in front of the large birthday banner for photos to be used at a much later date. Then….we went home and waited. Scheduled to arrive home late on Saturday night, I knew they wouldn’t see the crime scent until the following morning before church. On Sunday morning as I dressed for church, I practiced maintaining my composure; I was expecting to see them at the service. Right on que, I bit my lower lip as I watched her question every teenager that crossed her path. While smiling ear to ear and busting out in laughter she said to each child, “Look me in the eyes and tell me you didn’t have a birthday party on our deck”. One by one they each child swore up and down they didn’t have a party; many of them swore they didn’t know “Steve”. Four days pass while their teenage daughter continued to search out and discover “who” had the party. Enough time had passed; I needed to save any remaining children at the high-school from further interrogation; I text my friends the photo of my family and me behind the happy birthday banner.

The reason I’m so concerned about the memory of my friend is because they are currently away on vacation. They have asked me to take care of their home and pet’s; I’m a very creative pet sitter. Oh how quickly they forget.

Happy Birthday Steve!


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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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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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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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Life Happens!

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Life Happens!

Yep…. I missed a week of writing.

When I built my website and selected the best day of the week to release my blog through social media, I opted for Tuesday. Scrunched inside a manila envelope on my desktop is an eclectic mix of topic ideas written on scraps of papers, cocktail napkins and even pieces of brown paper bags. I've maintained this folder for years in the hope to share them all with you. One by one, I review these topics and write about what inspires me. Every Tuesday I complete the blog and it’s automatically released by the site to the e-mail box of my subscribers on Wednesday morning. Last Tuesday started out like any other Tuesday but quickly went awry. Certainly you’ve had days like this and will relate to my experience. Your day is scheduled; commitments made and suddenly something happens to lead you down a most unexpected path. It’s called, “LIFE”. ..... "Life Happens". 

I started this particular morning tilted back in the dental chair. My lovely paper bib was perfectly held in place with two alligator clips and my mouth was comfortably held open wide with a sheik, black, rubber gasket. The moment I “assumed” everything was “routine”, was precisely the moment I became a victim to the reality of “Life Unexpected”. As the cotton swabs of numbing cream were placed beneath my upper lip and strategically above my front teeth, I knew this was no longer “routine”. Four hours and twenty-two squirts of Novocain later, eleven on each side of my smile, I knew for certain that my nose was no longer in the middle of my face. I discovered my upper-lip was capable of stretching far beyond anything I ever imagined. I am convinced the Dentist has a unique way to pull and stretch my upper lip over the top of my head and hold it in place with the clasp on the back of my necklace. At the age of fifty-seven, I’m pleased to learn I still have at least one body part that is extremely limber. Additionally, I’m pleased to share another discovery I made during this unexpected experience. Did you know that massive amounts of Novocain injected in your mouth will have a similar result as Botox being injected into your forehead? I want to caution you that with this technique, blinking is no longer an option. Unless the act of drooling becomes a fashion trend, I recommend you stay away from the Dentist for this procedure and stick with the Cosmetologist.

With my temporary teeth (not tooth) in place, I arrived home later than anticipated. While sipping some hot tea, imagine my surprise to have both teeth (not tooth) fall off within the first hour.  It’s now after hours for my Dentist so I was happy when another Dentist agreed to see me for an emergency visit. Upon walking into their office after a forty-five minute drive, the Office Manager insisted I was a patient of theirs who had a procedure earlier in the day. I tried to assure her it wasn’t me and I needed to fill out some paperwork and pay cash. Suddenly, she informed me there had been some misunderstanding on the phone and they couldn’t treat me. I was kindly offered a tiny package of special glue to take home and make the repair myself. Finally, I sat down to write and polish up my weekly blog but I was wearing a smile that resembled an English Hillbilly who had a long time addiction to meth that destroyed their teeth. No, it wasn't pretty. Still unable to blink, my heart was in the right place but my body and face said, “Oh Heck No!”

Like our teeth, there are days in life when our priorities need straightening too. No matter how much I “wanted” to publish my blog on schedule, I had to take care of myself first.  Instead of feeling disappointed that I missed a scheduled release, I’m encouraged I was able to listen to my needs and take care of “ME”.

Please use my experience and chew on the message I intend to share. The message is this.... “You matter”! This may be difficult to swallow, but sometimes letting deadlines go by the wayside or disappointing someone else, isn’t as important as making the priority in your life be YOU.

Glue that concept on tightly and take a good BITE DOWN ON LIFE!  

Just be careful….. On the following day, while at lunch with friends, I bit down on my sandwich and left my two teeth (not tooth) on the top of the bread. You “gotta” laugh when you pick out your teeth from the top of your lunch and put them in your wallet to be glued back in place at a later time. Yee-haw!



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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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"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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The benefits of being "Impish"

Shhhhh............

Shhhhh............

Impish - adjective     1. Inclined to do slightly naughty things for fun; mischievous. "She had an impish look about her."

I believe that it is this "Impish" quality that has allowed me to persevere through some of the challenges that life has tossed into my path.

I come from a long line of "Imp's" and I was taught that practical jokes and mischief were good things. No, I was actually taught that they were GREAT things. My parents may not have felt the same way but I felt as though I received as much applause for an A on a report card as I did for coming up with a great practical joke. Humor and laughter were always encouraged but it came with a few stipulations. These guidelines were: 1. No one can get hurt and no property can be damaged. 2. No ones pride or ego can be lessened or wounded. 

My parents would go to elaborate length to pull off a prank. On one particular prank, I recall waking up at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning to drive for 3 hours to the home of my Uncle. From the exit of the freeway to the driveway of his home, we placed bogus signs that read "Garage Sale." No..he wasn't having a garage sale. (That's what bogus means.) These signs efficiently lead people directly to his driveway from all around his town. We sat quietly and watched from a distance as my poor Uncle was greeted at 7 a.m. by a mob of strangers on his front lawn. He was mystified as to their cries of, "How much do you want for this lawn mower?" to "Open your garage door so we can see the other stuff you have for sale!"

The list of stories I have gathered as a young girl by being a participant and a witness is endless. Not one of our friends were exempt from being a recipient of a practical joke. Our Minister would enter our home with slight trepidation and sincere excitement as to what might be in-store for him. Everyone loved it....especially "us." I have carried this "Impish" prankster mentality with me through life and I give it credit for helping me to survive the rough episodes. it is when life deals me a difficult challenge that this playful "Imp" pulls me through. I regularly thank God for building this character within me and for strengthening me when the days are long and difficult. I continue to thank God for the character that continue to grow within me. Additionally, I whole heartily support Benjamin Franklin's quote, "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." 

The friends who are the closest to me in proximity fall victim to the "Imp" in me more than others. I had the opportunity to go into the home of our friends while they were at work and I took advantage of their absence. They have beautiful rooms for their guests where I slipped some notes between the sheets on the bed's. The notes read, "If you're reading this note, it means that Mary and Joe haven't changed the sheets since we last slept here. I just thought you would want to know."  On the following weekend, their home was full of guests who stayed over the night. It was when one of the guests came down for breakfast and said, "I don't know how to tell you this but....." Then the other house guest said, "We had the same thing but I didn't know how to tell you that I knew the sheets weren't clean." These poor friends of ours have also come home from their vacation to discover lawn chairs set up beside their elaborate and beautiful Koi fish pond. Beside the chairs were ice chests of beer that held up the fishing poles and large fishing lours. It made it look as if someone had a great weekend fishing for their valuable Koi fish. Another time when this couple wasn't able to catch their limit of crab while fishing in the local bay, we quickly went over and took advantage of their empty home. I printed out life size photo's of crab and cut them out to place all over their home. We placed the crab strategically all over their home to greet them unexpectedly. When they opened up their microwave, it was set up so BAMM...a crab pounced down. When they opened up their toilet...BAMM...a crab pounced down. When they opened their spice cabinet; pulled down the visor in their car; opened the dog food bin.....you got it, a crab pounced down. Written upon all ten of the crab were funny Yo-momma jokes with reference to "crabs." Other friends have come home to find huge birthday banners and what looks to be the remains of a birthday party for someone else. We placed bottles, banners and balloons all over their beautiful deck and made it appear as if a grand gala had taken place while they were on vacation.  I have to tell you that it was really difficult to stand with a straight face as they put the friends of their children through the paces to. They interrogated these children to discover if they had held a party at their home while they were away. Of course I sent them photo's of me and my family celebrating on their deck as we set up the elaborate plot. I had to get the innocent children off the hook. Remember...no one can be hurt by my prank.

To have been "pranked" by me is also a badge of honor. It's as if to say, "Hey, Annamarie's been here and she loves me too!"  If I have ever made you wonder if I was up to no good...please know that I mean it with great love. If I have yet to "get  you" or if it's been a while since your last touch by Annamarie, please beware

Love often, laugh routinely and use the joys of life to get you through the challenges that life puts before you. Let the crisis of life build you character and remember to love and laugh with yourself. 

Have any good stories you want to share? I can always use another idea. Now....Go Play!

 

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Sizzling Chicken Fajitas for "Two"

Sizzling Chicken Fajitas for "Two." 

For the last thirty-four years, whenever we go out for dinner at a Mexican Restaurant, my husband and I share a plate of Chicken Fajitas for "Two." The humongous platter of vegetables, chicken and side dishes are separated into equal portions to satisfy the visual appetite and simplify serving. I'm not writing to complain about portions or presentation. In fact, I'm not writing to complain at all. It was just over a year ago that the waitress came to take our traditional order and I boldly announce, "I don't like Fajitas and I have never liked Fajitas for Two." The look on the faces of my family is total bewilderment. I add to this befuddlement by stating, "I like Chili Rellenos." Their confusion is thoroughly justified because I don't believe they have "ever" seen me eat a Chili Rellenos. I only eat them when I'm out to lunch with my friends. All they know is that I've been eating Fajitas for "two" for over three decades and apparently I haven't liked it. The tipping of their heads and the rapid blinking of their eyes spoke to me loud and clear. They think I've lost it.

I'm a people pleaser. If there is such a thing; I'm too much of a people pleaser. It's obvious that resentment had built up in me to the point that I couldn't eat another "flipping" Fajita for Two. It's my husband who really enjoys Fajitas. Not me! When you order Fajitas for two, it's a better bargain than ordering Fajitas for One. This is the reason I ate "flipping" Fajitas. I've developed the opinion that you're not a "sincere" people pleaser if you're resentful about what you're doing. There was never any reason I couldn't order a Chili Rellenos and take the leftovers home. But oh no. Then I might have leftover Chili Rellanos. My husband doesn't care for Chili Rellanos. "What does this matter Annamarie; YOU can eat your own leftover Rellenos!" Martyrdom isn't a popular dish in this century and it certainly isn't a dish you want to eat in public.

I like to be a people pleaser. I like to "be" with people pleasers and co-exist. Pleasers are typically "giving and thoughtful" people. But a lot of us have overlooked the fact that we've got to please ourselves too. It relates directly to the directions we receive when taking off in an airplane. We are instructed to always put on our oxygen mask before assisting others. If we run out of oxygen and don't take care of ourselves, there won't be anyone to help our loved ones. I like this metaphor better than the example that was set for me as a child. While trying to teach me to be a gracious hostess of the 1960's, I was taught to always serve my guests first. I still hold hard and strong to this belief. However, I was also taught to let others win at games; take the smallest cookie on the plate so others have the big ones; and slouch a little because boys want to believe they are taller than you. If I didn't know that these teachings were coming from the most pure place in my parents hearts, I'd be concerned. It was with the best of intentions that these practices were shared.   In today's parenting, we now know that this practice can lead to low self-esteem. It's always best to teach our children to share and be an example of goodness and kindness; but not at the expense of their own needs. To be a gracious winner is equally important as being a gracious loser.....even more so. I believe that you aren't a true "giver" if you feel like a "loser." I wasn't being true to my family by pretending I was happy with the "flipping" Fajita. 

As a young girl, I always believed that my Mom liked the wings of a chicken best. I served her the wings when I was old enough to have my own home and entertained my parents for dinner. Being the perfect hostess, I wanted her to have her favorite piece. One day I finally asked, "Do you want the chicken wing?" I was stunned to hear her say, "I'd prefer a thigh."...........We had all come to falsely believe that Mom liked the wing best. She had become so practiced at serving the larger pieces of chicken to everyone else, she was labeled as "liking" the wings best.  I guess this daughter didn't fall too far from the chicken coop.

The next visit to the Mexican restaurant presented me with another "aha" moment. When the waitress asked for my order, I replied, "I'll have this chicken, tortilla and vegetable dish." My family laughs and says, "Mom, that's a Fajita!" 

I discovered that I was really craving "personal power" and not Chili Rellenos. I wanted the confidence to be able to order what "I" wanted. The fact that I eat "flipping" Fajitas for Two is now a family joke. Now and then I order my Chili Rellenos; but, I'll order it with a side dish of humble pie that's seasoned with extra-confidence and a smirk.

Please pour yourself a Margarita and share your comments with me.

Annamarie

 

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They Said Satisfaction Guaranteed - Shhhhh.....open up the package!

Yep, I thought that would get your attention.

The other night I had a bout of insomnia and decided to sneak out of the bedroom to enjoy a warm bath. Drops of lavender oil in the water helped me to relax and quiet my mind. The room was filled with the essence of the flowers and I could feel myself settle down. My thoughts shifted quickly to concern that I'll fall to sleep in the water and drown. To counterbalance this dilemma, I decided to turn on the TV. It's amazing what programs are available at two o"clock in the morning. I stumble upon an infomercial about Adult Toys for Sex. The other infomercials to "Get rich quick"; "Speed up your cooking time"; and "Melt away your wrinkles in seconds", didn't require any explanation; however, this one did. I thought I was "somewhat" knowledgeable in this arena but some of these items were quite mystifying. I found myself slightly confused and befuddled. I had to listen closely as the host clarified some of my curiosities. Ahhh, now I understand. More than anything, what I found most amazing was the fact that all the merchandise came with a money back, 100% satisfaction guarantee. Wow! How on earth can they guarantee that someone will be "satisfied?" Don't people have to take responsibility for their own "satisfaction?" Unlike the other infomercials, these toys didn't offer a "free" second toy for only the additional cost of shipping and handling. There was no offer of a free Ginsu knife. I suppose that was because of the well known "Bobbitt" situation. 

Getting back to this guarantee and the point of this blog. Just as in all of life; in order to receive full satisfaction, it's up to "ME" to participate. There are no guarantees for happiness or satisfaction. There certainly are no guarantees if I'm not willing to participate fully. I hear so many people complain about their lives but aren't willing to do anything to make improvements. I think it's easier for them to complain. I've learned that I have to put myself out there and make new discoveries;  new friendships; new memories. Keeping pleasure and joy encased in a brown paper wrapper won't allow me to fully experience living. I've learned that trusting others and letting them trust me is what "living" is all about. Yes, I've had disappointments and those are the experiences from which I learn the most. I'm certain that in the future, I will have even more disappointments.....but a lot more joys.  There is a 100% guarantee that if I allow life to sit unwrapped and undiscovered, I'll be unsatisfied. 

Just as you were curious to read what I wrote and wanted to know more....unwrap the gifts that life has presented you.....Enjoy!

Annamarie

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Please share your comments and thoughts with me....you're my fuel.

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WARNING: She Bites!

My headstone will read, “She’s a biter” (although I’m being cremated). In all honesty though, I have bitten hundreds of people. My friends and family will testify this is true.

I often meet new people, and we can be having a casual conversation, when I interject and begin my shtick:

“Have you ever had a deja vu moment? Like when you think you’ve been someplace before? Me too! In fact, I just had the feeling that I’ve already had this conversation with you! Have you ever been to a psychic? Just recently I saw a psychic. I was at one of those fairs where the psychic tells people things about their past and future... This psychic was really good! She told me things about my past that no one could have known about. She even told me that I’d be meeting someone like you! She also told me something strange; she said that in a past life I was a dog, but not just any dog, she said I was a guard dog for a really rich mansion. Apparently, late one night a burglar broke into my masters’ home and they had a gun. The burglar aimed the gun to shoot my master, but I jumped in the way and took the bullet to save my masters life (Right about now, the person I’m telling the story to is mesmerized by what I’m saying.) You see, the strangest thing is that you can still feel right here on my neck where the bullet went in and killed me... Even now you can feel it… Yeah, you can touch it… right here…”

Just as they begin to reach out to feel where the bullet went in, I growl and act as if I’m going to bite them! Without exception, they scream and recoil their hand. Everyone gets a laugh!

Nowadays, I’ll be out at a party and someone will pull me to the side and ask, “Hey, will you go pull off your dog biting joke on my friend over there?” Biting people, practical jokes, and pulling pranks on unsuspecting strangers (and close friends) is a reputation I’m proud to have earned. It is fun to be telling story and have people say, “I don’t know whether or not to believe you.” Fun; I love to have fun! Be fun, be clever, be happy!

Have I bitten you yet?

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There is a "Right" way and a "Wrong" way...but don't forget about the Fun Way!

There is a "Right" way and a "Wrong" way.....but don't forget about the Fun Way!

Warmer weather is right around the corner and if you're like me, I bet you're looking forward to eating ice cream. It's when I eat ice cream that  I'm reminded of who gave me a little rebel spirit. I can blame it directly on my Mom.

When it's a really hot day and the ice cream begins to melt faster than you can eat it; why wrap the bottom of the cone with napkins? It's so much fun to bite off the bottom of the cone and suck the ice cream down from the top. Enjoy it from the bottom up! My Grandmother prohibited my Mom from sucking the drips or biting off the end of the cone. This "rule" prompted my Mom to make herself a promise. "When I have my own children, they can eat ice cream any way they want. " In fact, she taught me that the best way to eat a cone was from the bottom up. While the other kids ate their Drumstix Ice Cream cone with the chopped nuts on top by licking the vanilla ice cream from the top down; I bit off the bottom. I pushed the cream down the hole.....like a funnel. It makes good sense.  Sure, I noticed the other kids eating it "up-side-down," but I liked my way too. It wasn't "Right" or "Wrong:" It was just fun.Yes, yes, yes...I understood that in public, there was a "proper" way; but it's fun to live dangerously and do it the fun way.

I had to laugh at a story I heard the other day from a friend who went to the Frozen Yogurt Shop for dessert. The store weighed the bowl of Frozen Yogurt before they paid. The server said, "This will be $2.65." My friend picked up the bowl and while eating bites of the yogurt he said, "Oh no, that's just too much." He put the bowl back on the scale and it came down to $2.25. Picking up the bowl again and taking a few more bites, he put the bowl back on the scale and the price went down to $2.00.  He said, "Now that is better. I'll pay $2.00." Now that's just "Wrong." Funny as heck and I wish I could have seen the look on the face of the server at the Yogurt Store....but it's just funny. Yes, yes, yes....he paid the $2.65 and was just playing with the server. 

Please....when you catch yourself making judgments about what is "Right" or "Wrong," take a moment to see if it's really that "serious" of an issue or maybe it's time to loosen up and have  some fun.

 

 

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