I was thinking about how to apply mindfulness when facing a challenge and I came across this list of challenges I made years ago:
Dealing with difficult people
Being assertive without being labelled a “bitch”
Keeping up a positive image while managing perceptions
Communication (communicating clearly with others)
Multi-tasking and completing projects
Self-sabotage, facing fears and following through
Continued personal growth
Letting go (of things that no longer matter)
Saying “No” – prioritizing
Continued professional development
Reaching Goals, facing my fear of success
I am still, and now realize that I always will be, dealing with these challenges to some degree. And more challenges – some worse, and sometimes less challenging but equally important things. I call that the “stuff of life.” It can be dizzying to think about. I know!
This is when mindfulness comes in. Making a list like this and thinking about all of these things at once is overwhelming. It is not a to do list. It is more of a mind dump. I like to just put those things down and walk away from them for a bit. I know I can always come back. I let my mind wander and think happy thoughts. You can train yourself to do this anytime you start feeling overwhelmed.
What is the most important thing?
I interviewed a man once who kept telling me, “The most important thing I learned was this, and the most important thing that happened was that, and the most important thing about it was….”
I asked him, “Okay. but what IS the most important thing to you? Is there one important thing that truly matters?”
“In the end, just three things matter:
How well we have lived How well we have loved How well we have learned to let go” ― Jack Kornfield
If you could boil it down to just one thing that truly matters to you, what would it be?
For me, it’s love. To feel loved, to know that I love with all my heart, that I am able to love. Love makes me smile, it makes my heart sing with joy and fills me with happiness. Every cliche, catch phrase, and song that may be coming in to your mind right now – that is what I am talking about! I love that stuff. I live for it. It makes all the other stuff seem somehow less than. I don’t want to say pointless, or unimportant. Those things on my list have meaning. However, I can go on without them. I cannot live without love.
Growing up Catholic, I have always had a faith belief that God is love. I believe that at the root of hope and faith lies the true feelings of love and one’s belief in it. In his first epistle, John the Evangelist wrote:
“God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgement day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ’s. There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.
We love because God first loved us. If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The commandment that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.” 1 John 4: 16-21
Love gives me courage.
Love is perfect for me.
There is no fear in love.
Perfect love drives out fear.
Being loving means loving all people. (Even myself.)
How does Mindfulness and Self-Care help Me?
According to Psych Central, “Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our awareness to what we are experiencing in the present, both internally and externally, without judgment (Kornfield, 2009). It is a wake-up call to become conscious of the ways we perceive and respond to life’s situations.”
You might ask yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all go around just feeling happy and loving all the time? Why can’t we? Why are we so messed up and why do we want so much out of life? Why am I afraid? Why do I work so hard?” I know I ask myself these questions!
In her Musings and Affirmations, I am Resourceful and Resilient, Martina McGowan proposes that we can learn and grow from challenging circumstances. We can resolve to use resources that reminds us of our own strengths. She says, “My focus on learning enables me to be enormously resilient. I know that I can make it through any situation that comes my way. After all, I am already a survivor of every circumstance in my life so far and I continue to learn from each of them. So today also, I trust that I am resilient.”
I want to just be who I am and be satisfied with that. But something in me is always wanting more. I have a yearning desire to go out and do more, experience more, and learn more. With that comes opportunity as well as risk. All of this brings up fears and overwhelm. Should I or Shouldn’t I? What is keeping me from following my heart?
I worry a lot. Worry causes stress. Stress manifests itself in my body as tension. Tension builds and becomes pain. I begin to worry about the cause of the pain. Then I get sick with worry… There is a pattern here. I am aware of it. I know I need to handle this as soon as, if not before I recognize the signs. I would love to live a worry-free life. I have come a loooong way! I have taught myself to take a breath, to imagine a happy place, to let go, and to live with intention. Now, I aim to learn more about mindfulness and resilience.
It is part of our genetic design, it is human nature, to constantly seek information, try new things, and grow. While we are doing that we can’t forget about self-care. That’s how I handle so much. My list of 15 challenges, honestly is a partial list. It doesn’t even touch on my physical, medical, or emotional issues. I don’t even begin to list my worries about family, friends, grieving, financial, and relationship issues. We all have those. Instead of falling deeper into a hole of self-doubt and worry, I pick myself up and think about my “one thing.” I am always striving to boost my self-confidence and resilience. I am constantly self-nurturing. And, I do not mean just taking time to do some deep breathing and lighting a candle.
“Authentic self-care is about becoming aware of what you want and need on the deepest level and then making it a priority to develop and consistently practice the rituals and habits that will nurture your well-being for the long-term, not just to get through the day.”
A self-care regimen:
Prevents disease and illness.
Shortens recovery time from illness or injury.
Enhances your sense of autonomy (control over your life).
Improves self-esteem and confidence.
Reduces stress and stress-related anxiety.
Helps you be more productive, engaged, and connected.
Makes it easier to manage your weight.
Helps to build stronger more meaningful relationships.
Improves both the length and quality of your life.
So, if self-care has the potential to make such a huge positive impact on our lives, why aren’t we doing it? -Marquita Herald, Emotionally Resilient Living
Just Be You
All I want is to just be me and feel comfortable in my own skin.I have learned that I am pretty good at that. I like who I have become. I tried a lot of different things. I am at a point of re-becoming my favorite me. I don’t want to fight it anymore. I want to go to my happy place, my one thing that I know to be true, the root of it all. Simple Joys, my theme for this year says it all – I am mindful of the thing that people like about me. I am loving.
Can it really be that Simple?
“Always fall in love with what you are asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with.” ~Robert Frost
“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change, rather than allowing it to master you.” ~Sri Ram
Yes it can! When you question everything, you are setting limits, doubting your gut instincts, going against what you believe to be true. Use mindfulness to combat limiting beliefs.
Choose to listen to the calming voice of reason. Remember to listen for your inner sweetheart! That’s the soft, nice voice telling you, “Yes, it is okay, and you are all right, and this all you need to do right now.” It is possible that the soft voice is your true self speaking at a regular constant volume. Those loud crazy thoughts and ideas could just be noise, distractions, and minutia that brings about the overwhelm.
Be the master of change. You are in charge of you. Changes are going to happen, like it or not. You can change or stay the same and go along with it. Remember what truly matters. Does this make you smile? Does it make your heart sing? Can you live with out it? Does it make you happy? You are the most important. Take care of you!
These are the lyrics to the song, “Free” by Prince from the album “1999” which I discovered and loved sometime in the mid 1980’s:
Don’t sleep, ’til sunrise, listen to the falling rain
Don’t worry, ’bout tomorrow, don’t worry ’bout your pain
Don’t cry, unless you’re happy, don’t smile unless you’re blue
Never let that lonely monster take control of you
Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind
Free to go ‘most anywhere, anytime
Glad that you are free, there’s many a man who’s not
Be glad for what you had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad for what you’ve got
I know my heart is beating, my drummer tells me so
If you take your life for granted, your beating heart will go
So don’t sleep until you’re guilty, ’cause sinners all are we
There’s others doing far worse than us, so be glad that you are free
Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind
Free to go ‘most anywhere, anytime
Be glad that you are free there’s many a man who’s not
Be glad for what you had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad for what you’ve got
Soldiers are a marching, writing brand new laws
Will we all fight together, for the most important cause
Will we all fight, for the right to be free
Be glad that you are free, free to change your mind
Free to go ‘most anywhere, anytime
Be glad that you are free there’s many a man who’s not
Be glad for what you had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad for what you’ve got
~Prince Rogers Nelson
I have been thinking about what it feels like to be free lately.
This is about that feeling of freedom.
My Jeep has been acting up and it has been pretty much out of commission since the beginning of August. It chugs and lurches and doesn’t drive well in second gear. My hubby has been working on it and has fixed the problem a few times. But it seemed to be getting worse and worse. One day the problem was so bad I barely made it home from work which is just a few miles away. I was fed up. I said, “That’s it! I am not driving it anymore.”
So, there It sat – in the drive way – for a few weeks until we took it to the shop. Then it was at the shop for a few weeks. All the while, I got rides from my husband and sons and friends to and from work and anywhere else I wanted to go. I “borrowed” my son’s car if I needed to drive somewhere. I liked getting driven places. In fact, I said that, “My chariot awaits” on a few occasions. I liked being taken care of. That is, until I lost my sense of freedom.
I started to feel dependent on my husband and sons and friends. That was a little bothersome. I knew it was temporary and it would be resolved so I didn’t pay too much attention to those feelings. I began asking my husband if he knew when the Jeep would be fixed and when I could get it back. I really didn’t need it since I had so many other transportation options and I couldn’t really afford to have a lot of work done on it. It’s old and requires a lot of maintenance, but I love it. I love having a Jeep for so many reasons. After cursing it for weeks because of it not running well, I forgot how much I loved it. Until Wednesday,
On Wednesday (three days ago) my husband picked up the Jeep from the shop. I did not know this until he pulled up in front of my office to pick me up. There it was! Oh my gosh! I was so excited. Seeing it through the window at work, I jumped up and said, “Hey, that’s my Jeep!”
The next morning I drove to the office myself. I couldn’t believe how good it felt to be behind the wheel of my own car again! My Jeep felt great and I wished, for a moment, I had a longer commute so I had more time to enjoy it. It is still running rough and needs more tuning, but I was back in my ride! (After a month!) I felt free again. I forgot how good that felt. I remembered what it was like to have that freedom for the first time as a teenager. I could identify with my sons and their feeling of freedom having their own rides. I felt a little guilty for infringing on that recently. But then again, they depended on me for a long time to provide transportation to all of their activities, and this was just a month. That is how I got to thinking about how much we take freedom for granted.
There certainly are many types of freedom.
My friend and client, Ana Lydia had a freeing realization about constraint and risking her own personal values in her business this week. She said, “I pressed my colleagues to “be brave” and value their skills, while I have been scared to call on late payments or call-out injustices. . . coming to terms with that realization felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.”
A friend of mine posted this statement on her Facebook page yesterday and shared it with me:
“There is nothing you have thought…have done…that needs to be kept a secret. You were born to be free and we are not free when we carry the burden of secrets.” ~Ali Kossack
In an effort to protect freedom in our country, this morning President Obama said “We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.”
I spent some time this afternoon visiting a very close friend of mine. She is laid up in bed, immobile for at least three weeks under doctor’s orders. She broke her leg recently and because she is paralyzed she didn’t know it was broken at first. She is unable to sit in her chair, or drive her car until the broken bone heals. She is one of the most independent women I know. She has never let her situation stop her from doing all the things she wants to do. Now she has temporarily lost the freedom that she enjoys. I sat in her bed with her and I cried.
My tears are not for sadness, although I am often saddened. My tears are not for grief, although I am often stricken with grief. My tears are not for fear, although I am often hopelessly fearful. These were not tears of joy, although I often cry tears of joy. I believe these were the waterworks of tears of those who cannot or will not cry for injustice. I cried the tears of pain for those who cannot feel pain. I cried for the many wrongs that I carry deep in my heart. I cried for the hope of freedom for those who have died for it unknowingly, unwillingly. I cried for the simple feelings of freedom that I take for granted.
I am done crying for today.
My tears cleansed me. Now I am free to carry on.
In most cases, the feeling of freedom comes from knowing you are doing the right things. Freedom comes when we exercise our core values.
Freedom comes when we are glad for what we’ve got.
I have been thinking about kindness and compassion lately. I can remember some very specific examples of times in my life where someone was kind to me when I really needed it and how it made an impact on my life.
Accepting the Kindness of Others
I can’t remember now who said it, or even the circumstances, but I was in a heated discussion once and someone told me, “Perhaps the reason you are so upset is because you aren’t used to people being nice to you.” I was appalled at the thought. Of course people are nice to me. My family and friends, everyone I knew at the time was nice. I was accustomed to nice. But looking back I now realize that what he meant was – – I wasn’t used to accepting the kindness of another person. I didn’t understand that someone would be kind to me for the mere act of being kind. I wasn’t expecting that someone could do something in kind, with no ulterior motives, from the heart, just because they cared. I wasn’t ready to accept that for some reason at that point in my life.
No, I was into proving myself capable and worthy of respect. I was building myself up and trying to be responsible and trustworthy. I wanted others to accept me for me, with all of my faults and idiosyncrasies, and I wanted others to see me as capable. I thought to myself, “Why would someone do something nice for me, just because? They must want something in return. They must think I need their assistance.” I did not need their help. I knew I could do things on my own. I rejected their help. I even thought, “They must think I am weak and incapable. They are sure I will fail without their help.”
My friend was right. I wasn’t open to accept the kindness of others. I was so self-centered and so sure that I did not need anyone’s help that I couldn’t see why anyone would do something nice for me. Why would anyone offer to help me? I often mistook the kindness of others as an attack on me personally, as if they were pointing out my faults or that I was somehow needy. I did not want to depend on another person to show me my downfalls and mistakes. I wanted to be respected. I wanted others to trust my judgment. If I wanted help, I would ask for it. I was in control. I now see that I was trying to control everything. Not just my own actions, but also the actions of others.
There came a time when I did need help and help was there. It was a humbling and life changing experience. With time and experience comes wisdom and understanding. There is significance in everything. I learned that there are times when help arrives however unknowingly, unrequested and sometimes in remarkable, unbelievable ways. Sometimes help comes as an answer to my prayers, even when I am not sure what exactly it is that I need.
You might have heard of the “Northridge Earthquake.” On January 17, 1994 at 4:19 a.m. I was awakened by a strange rumbling feeling as if the floor was about to give way and the walls were about to fall down and the sound of extremely loud screaming. My husband was screaming in my ear holding on to me for dear life, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s an EARTHQUAKE!” Writing this now, after all these years sends chills down the center of my being, through my bones and I can feel the fear rising up in me. It was by far the scariest most traumatic moment in my life. I wrote about it once in a handwritten journal. I poured out every detail onto the pages and I wrote it all down without stopping so that I would never have to recount it again. I suffered severe post traumatic syndrome disorder from the experience and I have moved past it and recovered, but since I couldn’t find the journal today, knowing I wanted to share a bit about it I needed to write it out again. It still haunts me. It is the fear of not knowing if you will survive that is chilling.
Obviously, I did survive. In fact, my husband, the screamer, and I were able to get dressed in the dark, get out of the apartment, and go over to my aunt’s place nearby. My husband was a hero to her as he went into a burning building to retrieve her hearing aid, glasses and medications. We came back to our apartment and by the light of day started to pick up all the broken pieces and survey the extensive damage. We had no idea what to do, where to go, or what would happen next. Freaked out and shattered by each big aftershock and not being able to call my family (no cell phones back then and phone lines were down, power was out, my apartment was in ruins. . . )
I was sitting on my sofa literally racking my brain on what the heck we were going to do and there was a knock at the door. On the door frame actually, because someone had to break our door down to rescue us from our apartment when it was evacuated and the lock broke and we were trapped inside. The door had to be removed completely. I looked up and it was my brother and sister-in-law. I thought I had died because there was no way they could be there at that moment. It was unfathomable. They lived over an hour’s drive away and I knew the roads have been closed, the freeways were broken between his house and mine and it was just impossible that he could be standing there saying something silly. I think he said, “Is this where the party is?” or something like that. They came to help. They came to save me. It’s been almost twenty years since this happened, and I still sob when I think about how I felt at that moment and how it changed me forever. What my brother did was completely selfless, compassionate and beyond measure. He and his wife left their small children at home in the care of their neighbors so they could come and make sure that my husband and I were okay. They helped us pack up some things and we took our aunt and our cats to his house, where it was safe, calm and unbroken. He sheltered and cared for us when we had nowhere else to turn.
A few years later, my husband and I experienced that kind of selfless giving again when my mother-in-law helped us with living arrangements and basic needs when I was pregnant and we couldn’t make ends meet. When I realized how much of a sacrifice that was for her at the time, I am blown away by the thought of it. Her generosity and love is unconditional. She is the most kind and thoughtful person I know.
Another example of thoughtfulness came in the form of a big basket of food from my friends in my Ladies Bunko Group after my mom died. It was a gesture that went beyond the usual condolences. It was heartfelt and unlike anything I had ever experienced. I wasn’t used to being the recipient of a food basket. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the resources to buy food or even make it. But at that time in my life, my world was shattered. I once again found myself in a state very much like after the earthquake when I was not sure what to do next. And there was a knock at the door. My friends had heard what happened. They had prepared this meal for my family. I did not have to worry about cooking. I wouldn’t have been able to ever repay them for their kindness.
Paying it Forward
There are too many times to recount when I have asked for help and help was there. I have been the recipient of help in so many situations, I vowed that I would pay it forward as much as possible and in every way I can. I am honored when I am asked to help out for this reason. It gives me a chance to do something nice for someone in the way others have done nice things for me. I have become one of those people who like to help others, even when they may not be accepting of help or feel they need it. I am honestly just being nice. There is no ulterior motive.
Being willing to help others is just as important as being open to accepting help. Give others the chance to be nice to you, out of the goodness of their heart. You never know when they are paying it forward themselves. Always accept the kindness of others. There does not need to be a reason.
“Beauty is a word, kindness is an act that makes you beautiful” ~Melissa Foster
Treat Everyone with Kindness
I feel it is important to treat others kindly, even if the person isn’t a very nice person. I never know when someone might be suffering inside and their demeanor is unfavorable as a result. Maybe they are in pain. Maybe they are in a state of worry. Maybe they have been hurt. Perhaps they are having a hard day or are in a bad mood. So, I err on the positive and treat them with the same dignity and care that I would give to the outwardly nice people. I try to be nice to everyone all the time. It always warms my heart when I get a smile in return from anyone when I am nice to them, most especially when it is a grumpy person!
When you are trying to explain something, teach a new concept, or share information with others and they challenge you, take it as an opportunity to practice kindness. Be considerate in your beliefs. This means accepting that others may not always agree with you. They might not be ready to understand. They might not be open to your way of thinking. They may simply disagree. You don’t have to be right. If you can’t get everyone to see things your way, it’s not a loss. If you rise up and meet them half way, be open to their point of view, explain yourself from a different perspective, take the time, the extra energy, the care to let things happen in a natural progression and not force an issue, that is the kind approach. Softening your heart and allowing things to unfold is not giving in. It is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of strength because it shows that you are willing to wait and that you stand by your way. Others will honor and respect you for your convictions. You will own it. It is always a win when you practice being kind.
“You can either practice being right, or practice being kind.” – Anne Lamott
Be Kind to Yourself
When you begin to practice being kind, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break! Don’t be so hard on yourself. It is okay to make mistakes and lose control. It is okay to have an off day. You do not always have to be on. If you feel like no one is being nice to you or everyone is being hard on you and you wish that someone would come along and cheer you up – cheer yourself up! Access your inner sweetheart and listen to her tell you it’s going to be okay. Listen when she says you are beautiful, smart and loving.
Random Acts of Kindness
Some people believe the best way to get started in the practice of being kind is to participate in random acts of kindness. You can start by making a list of nice things you can do – just because. This is really fun to do with kids (of any age) as a project.
It might help to think about your day. Start with your routine, getting up in the morning, having breakfast, getting to work. Is there anyone that you see in the morning that would benefit from an act of kindness? You can get ideas here: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
What Does it Take to be Kindhearted?
Just think of other people with kindness. Put yourself in their place. How would it feel to be them? Is there anything you can do or say to make them happy? How about just telling them that you are thinking of them? How about smiling and saying, “Hello.”?
It is more than being nice and thinking kind thoughts, kindness takes action. Being kind all the time to all people requires practice. Developing this as a way of life becomes a practice. Kindness is a philosophy. Kindness is a way of being that requires feeling for and caring about other people and thinking outside of my own needs. Caring for the needs of others is an act of compassion.
When I practice kindness I am connecting with the world around me. It helps me to realize that most people are just like me. We all have moments when we are suffering inside. We never know what problems exist for the person beside us. What daemons are they fighting? What ails them? Do they let it show all the time? No. They put on a happy face. They keep it in their head. They hold their suffering in their heart. Being kind because you can, not for any other reason, becomes caring, compassionate and worthwhile. We depend on other people to make us whole. If I am kind to you, it makes us both feel better.
Making Mistakes in Kindness
Our society sends us mixed signals about being kind and helping others. In fact, I was told by a friend and colleague that some people look on being kind as a sign of weakness. When I asked why, she said it was because they know they wouldn’t do the same. So, if my friends aren’t into being kind to others, by this theory, they think I am weak or less of a person because I would be kind? That makes me sick to my stomach. I am not a doormat because I am willing to go out of my way to be nice. Luckily, I am kind to myself and I will recover from the nausea. Knowing that some people feel this way won’t stop me from being kind and I know in my kindness I don’t have to try to sway their thought process or win their approval.
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” ~ Mother Teresa
Many of my friends and fellow businesswomen who are actively gaining power, influence, confidence, and strength in their business and in their life are starting to take on the attitude that caring about others is not important and are even shunning others who are being nice to them. They don’t want to be bothered. Do you hear that? How cold. How harsh. You won’t get far, trust me. It might feel good to be empowered and feel in control for a while. But you will harden your heart in the process and it will cost you. It will hurt when you see it in the actions of your kids. It will hurt when you are alone and need help and you reject it. You are not proving anything to anyone if you are trying to emulate this philosophy. Don’t build up walls around you. Who will be there for you when your world is shattered? Who will knock on your door and ask “Is this where the party is?” If you kick every good doer who is in your way to the curb, it won’t be long before you find yourself there. I’ll tell you what. If that happens, you can count on me. I will be the one knocking. I will be there to lift you up.
I would love to share with you what I did to make my recent road trip with my family fun for myself and how our family survived driving over 2500 miles through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and back to our ‘home sweet home’ in Southern California.
“Life incidents can have a significant effect on your states of mind. If something powerful happens then your belief in yourself is increased.” ~Ken Ward, from Mind Mastery
Let’s recap: We traveled through Six States in Seven Days and I experienced Nine States of Mind in the Process.
I set out to share my experience going on a road trip with my husband and three teen-aged boys and explain why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life. I ended up learning a lot about myself, my abilities, the unique family dynamics that I have taken for granted and how much it all means to me.
I wanted to parallel the “Six States” we visited with different “States of Mind” that one goes through when a) going on a road trip and b) making big life decisions like choosing a college and experiencing empty nest syndrome. I did some research on the differences of feelings versus states of mind. I had the idea when I realized that I had to be in a certain mindset to even tackle the concept of going on a road trip at this point in my life. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows what I mean.
There is a level of adventurism that is different when transporting oneself over long roads to get to a destination with many points in between over taking other modes of transportation.
There is a spirit of freedom that is involved. A sense of anything being possible ensues. I was in a special state of mind, going through cycles of many thoughts and feelings on my road trip. I have held off completing the “saga” and writing the “end” of the trip for many reasons.
Now it’s time to look at the effect the many states of mind had on me and my family:
The States of Mind
I felt like I was in a State of Dilemma when I was making the plans to go on a family vacation with little funds and very little interest from the family in terms of what to do, where to go, and how and if we should take this trip at all. Was it the right decision? After all, our son would most likely choose a California school, but he had been accepted to three out-of-state schools. Shouldn’t he at least visit them before he decided? What to do? What to do?
Even though making the trek and going on the long trip was a challenge it had many benefits. We mostly looked forward to getting to visit our beloved relatives. It is the one thing that we all wanted to do. We all enjoy visiting New Mexico and had wanted to go there for a while. We love everything about it, the hospitality of our relatives, the fun places to go, things to see, and especially the food we love to eat.
That is what made the trip worthwhile for the kids. I wish we could have spent more time there. The dilemma was in the work it took to make it all happen and the state of mind was a tough one because I added the stress of trying so hard to make everyone happy in the process.
Along the way, I observed some animals and birds that I considered to be omens. You might think that is strange, but it is just what came to mind when I saw these things and it added to the drama of the experience for me. When we were getting on the freeway for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post on the corner at the on-ramp. I thought it might be a bad omen and I prayed that we would have a good trip. Later on after we had our first night in Nevada staying overnight with my mother in law, I felt better after seeing a doe running along the side of the road and that brought me a sense of peace. On the way to New Mexico driving through Colorado Springs, I saw a band of wild horses running through a range. It was quite a site to see and it was exhilarating. It was another omen, it was a good feeling that something was happening.
I felt like the true journey was just beginning and that I was on special mission. Through it all I felt like there was more I could be doing. Until we got to New Mexico and we were on the third college tour. Knowing that after this we could relax and just hang out with our family and then head home, we went to the gift shop.
Quote seen on a book in the New Mexico gift shop – after trying so hard to make everyone happy. . .
“If you want to be happy, just be.” ~Tolstoy
Is it really that easy? Can I just be? Be happy? Be content? Be satisfied.
Road Blocks and Obstacles
When things didn’t go well at the very start of the trip I felt like I was in a State of Despair. I was trying so hard to get things to work out as planned and I had to push myself hard in many directions. I needed to be assertive and calming at the same time. I was under an incredible amount of pressure. We had to be in Colorado at a certain time. All the college tours were scheduled appointments. We didn’t have any flexibility other than missing the tours and just seeing the colleges on our own.
It was interesting that the problems I had with Hertz were a matter of customer service and the failure of the company to meet my expectations. I had set high expectations for myself in planning and executing this trip. Hertz has a goal of providing a quality customer experience. My goal became to provide the best experience possible for my family. One thing I learned in this process was to expect the un-expected. I also learned that even when there is no flexibility, I am still capable of bending.
My Measure of Being a Good Mom Depends on the Level of Joy Experienced by My Least Happy Child
Being in a state of despair led me to being in a State of Confusion since I was having to make so many decisions that affected everyone and I was dealing with different attitudes and hormones while trying to make everyone comfortable and happy. I learned a lot about being prepared and having faith, in myself, in my family in our own abilities, as well in that which we cannot control.
When things went according to plan, I was in the State of Relief. This came about after being helped and receiving tender loving care and nurture from my mother in law on that first night.
I Can Always Depend on a Little Help From My Family
I relished in the comfort of knowing what to expect from our extended family. I loved being able to rely on certain things. I depended on it. I knew this trip was about visiting colleges – B-o-r-i-n-g!! We didn’t have the money or time to go to an amusement park, zip lining, fishing or river rafting while on the trip. I needed to make the connections with family be the attraction. They did not disappoint. I was relieved and enjoyed being in that state for a while. I think I am still there. Our family is awesome on both sides! The kids feel love and support from everyone. We are truly blessed. It’s never perfect, nothing ever is going to be perfect. But we appreciate who we are and where we came from.
This is How I Made the Trip FUN for Me!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting my nails done by my cousin, Shauni. She made a special appointment for me and while I was getting my nails done, her husband cut my son’s hair. They have a great shop, it is a nail salon and barber shop called Cool Claws and Hot Heads. Shauni has always made me feel welcomed and special when I am in town and it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without a trip to see her. What I love most about getting my nails done by Shauni, is the chance to have one on one time to talk and catch up girl to girl on what is happening with the family. She is a busy working mom like me and we are doing many of the same things. We love to dish!
While we were there the whole family came over to my cousin’s house for dinner. That was about 30 people! I told the boys everyone would come to see them. It is an amazing show of support and solidarity when four generations of family show up to see you whenever you are in town. I used to think this kind of thing happened when my parents were visiting to show respect for them. They were very hospitable and when people came to California to visit they would stay at our home. I thought they planned these big dinners for special occasions. I expected maybe a handful of the close relatives to come, but I was overjoyed that everyone who lived in town and could make it came over to greet us. It is a big, affectionate, loving and supportive family. The love is deep and strong. We have been through a lot, we have lost a lot, and we celebrate with intention and gratitude when we are together.
Family support came in handy especially for our son in making his decision on what college to choose. Everyone in New Mexico wanted him to choose UNM. My cousin in Colorado, was encouraging about CUB. But they all gave him such positive and nurturing advice. They had his back and are proud of him no matter what he chose. It has to be his decision. Having family support is invaluable. I needed to be with them. I needed a big dose of that strength and fortitude. I think it will last for a while.
What Did I Learn From All of This?
The best take-away? I wasn’t in this alone – I had lots of help, mother-in-law, husband, kids, cousins, friends. I had the positive reinforcement that I needed. The purpose of the trip was to visit colleges and decide on which one our son would attend. I tried to be positive and guide him in making an informed decision without making the decision for him. It was completely successful on that front. I give the other boys credit for hanging in there purely for the ride. I think they got a lot out of it that will come into play later in their lives. For now, they showed their support for their brother. They showed respect to me and their Dad. The enjoyed the time spent with family. I still have the feeling that I owe them one. . . but I can always fall back on the guilt trip of labor pains and dirty diapers!
One of my regular states of being is the State of Awe and Wonderment. I am blessed every day that I can see the beauty in things. This was particularly evident the day we drove through the many different terrains and mountains. It was an amazing day. The sky was so clear and I will never forget how perfectly beautiful everything was and how impressed I was with the way the scenery changed so rapidly. It was like fast forwarding through my life. I felt like I was fast forwarding through life the past few years. Everything has changed so much since my parents passed on and my children have grown. I just needed to catch up. I was finally able to catch up on this trip.
Seeing the beauty in everything, I learned to appreciate nature and the feeling of being a small yet integral part of something so big. This became evident in my role in my family as well.
Some parts of the trip were heart-stopping and crazy and I found myself in a State of Excitement and Anticipation! This was the case during our Wild Rocky Mountain drive on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a quick ride much like the roller coaster of life with its ups and downs twists and turns, exhilaration, excitement, and even its let downs and disappointments. Through it all we discovered the thrill of adventure and teachable moments. I practiced patience and trust. My husband was my hero and I was reminded why I love him so much.
At the pinnacle of the ride, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was immersed in a State of Fear. We were driving through a snowstorm in Vail, Colorado and even though I was terrified on the inside, I remained calm on the outside. Our traverse through a difficult situation gave me the feeling of being able to conquer anything. I gained self-confidence and regained composure and respect for my partner in life and our kids. Our family as a unit stuck through it with grace. Getting over the mountain, seeing what is on the other side, the roller coaster ride, the snowstorm, are all metaphors for what is about to happen with our oldest son graduating from high school and going away to college, as well as our families adjustment to growing up and moving on in life.
Along the way I discovered a new mantra,
“I will wake to a new day.” I will. It is a new day.
After going through all of this I found myself in the perfect State of Enchantment and Bliss. I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, being able to spend the time with the family and eating our favorite foods, and for making the most of the situation. The good feelings started when we were in Boulder, Colorado. After settling in to a wonderful hotel and relaxing a bit, my hubby and I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings plant. It was the perfect place to unwind and re-energize!
Kicking back and hanging out in Boulder on Easter Sunday with the boys was another highlight of the trip. I enjoyed walking around town looking at shops, and taking in the ambiance of the little college town. The best part was going into the LUSH store and getting hand and wrist massages and learning about natural skin care products. Luckily the pretty college student was more than happy to help me and the three boys! I never get such great service when I go shopping alone. Hmmm, wonder why?
I think I managed to share with my family the best part of road trips. It’s the fun spontaneous side trips that are meant to be enjoyed just for the sake of having fun. Driving into New Mexico, I took some awesome pictures of the beautiful evening sky and sunset. For me, I had reached my destination at that point. That was a sight that I had on my list. There is nothing quite like it.
This leads me to where I ended up as a result of this undertaking, I am happy to finally reach this destination in the State of Contentment and Accomplishment. It wasn’t enough that our son was accepted at a college and was making the decision to accept an offer with support from loved ones, but it was in appreciating each other in the process and learning how much we love our home and its stable environment. We realized that appreciating the best qualities of each member of the family, recognizing that we take each other for granted at times, blessing the fact that we need each other and complement each other, loving the little things that makes us each unique and valuable is what we gained by taking this journey together. It took going away to realize that. To emphasize and instill that in the minds and hearts of my children meant the world to me.
It was worth every dime it took and every mile we drove to achieve that level of knowing and to settle in to that state of being.
I have always said if you can dream it, you can be it. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. If you can see yourself in a place, you can go there. This trip was difficult because we went to different places to “try them on for size.” We went for the purpose of trying things out to see how it feels to be there, to see if our son could make a go of it there. Trying new things was the name of the game. We were breaking out of our comfort zone. We were all imagining ourselves in a new place. We were trying on a new learning environment and living space for our son and imagining a new family dynamic at home. It became a new rung on the ladder of development for me as a mother and a wife, for us as a family. I learned through this entire process that it is time to change my state of mind. Now I know how to do it. And I know what state of mind I have transitioned to. I am not afraid anymore. I am confident. I know I am not alone in this. I am compelled and excited about what is ahead. I can do it. I am open to new experiences. I have grown up a bit. It might not happen without bouts of dilemma and despair, fears and woe, wonder and awe, excitement and anticipation. It will be with a sense of relief, love, nurture, accomplishment, confidence, grace and contentment.
This is who I am. This is how I operate. It is all part of the journey. It is all part of a process.
It is my time to shine.
More on the States of Mind
If you want to learn more about ‘The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind,” Here’s a great excerpt from a blog called Positive Juice:
“Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference. Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:
* Joy versus contentment. * Anger versus resentment. * Sadness versus depression. * Love versus being in love. * Envy versus jealousy. * Delight versus appreciation. * Embarrassment versus shame. * Sureness versus faith. * Annoyance versus exasperation. * Urgency versus desperation. * Acceptance versus resignation. * Disgust versus hatred. * Relaxation versus peace of mind. * Hope versus optimism. * Desire versus longing. * Fear versus paranoia.
Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren’t] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.
The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.
A lot of the time, you can see when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.
Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.
Change is in the air that I breathe. It is in every single breath I take. It is just like the scent of orange blossoms and night-blooming jasmine. Change engulfs me as I breathe it in. There is no escaping it. It is in the air I breathe. Change is now within.
~Melissa Reyes 3-14-13
This is about healing.
This is about healing and moving on after experiencing the loss of a loved one. It is about love and joy and forgiveness. It is about letting go and moving forward. This is about taking care of myself. Healing myself. Forgiving myself for the sadness I feel.
“As far as taking care of myself, I try to do it through love and kindness. I now take time to forgive myself for mistakes, for not getting everything done, for taking a walk instead of finishing up client work if I need to and all the other little things I used to feel guilty for on a daily basis. I remind myself that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone or myself. But, I can still promise to do my best and that’s enough.” ~Naomi Niles
A shift in the balance of my world is happening.
My sister (who passed away in July 2011, 18 months ago) was married to a great man for 25 years. In fact she died on their anniversary. They were a very romantic couple and they have an amazing story. I am still very close to my brother-in-law. He is a dear friend, confidant, and brother in every sense. I trust him and care deeply for him. That is why I was happy when he told me he is getting remarried. Deep inside I am sad because I am still grieving the untimely death of my sister and sad over how things turned out and what could have been. That is the first shift that my heart bleeds over.
They call it a major life change.
Another bitter-sweet thing happening in my life is that my oldest son is graduating from high school and will be going away to college. Our home and family dynamics will be changing. One of my babies is about to fly off on his own and leave the nest. He is my most independent child. He has always been my little helper. I have every confidence that he will be fine on his own. He has become a fine young man and I am quite proud of him. But what will become of us? How will the two younger brothers get along? What will it be like with just the four of us. And in a few years, three? And then one day, just the two of us? Empty Nest Syndrome is hitting me hard. My heart is shaken. My mind is mush. My emotions are running high.
I am experiencing a new set of feelings. It’s not like anything I have been through before. It is excitement and joy mixed with equal parts sorrow and fear. All of the emotions are wrestling together and it is impossible to see who is winning. Which emotion is getting pinned, which one will come out on top. Should I cry? If I do cry will it be tears of happiness or sorrow? Or, both?
I am coping with the loss I feel. I miss my sister, my parents, the way things used to be when the kids were small. My biggest worries then were if I was spoiling my kids and if I was spending enough time with my family. No, it’s not possible to spoil a child. And no, I could never have spent enough time with my family. I wish I had some of those days back. Just one more Christmas or Easter. One more birthday. It’s so hard to move on and be happy. It is necessary. I know it is. I need to keep moving forward. I need to be happy about these changes. Because the people who are experiencing the change are doing the right things and they are moving on and they deserve to be happy.
“Challenges will continue to come. It is my choice to look for the joy or to let my spirit sink back into grief. I choose joy.” ~Donna Thomas, Author
I choose to be happy, too! I know it is a choice. I can get through it holding on to the past, gripping on tightly to the memories, dragging my feet trying desperately to not let go of the past because it was good and I loved it so much. Or, I can keep those memories safely in my heart where they can thrive inside of me, where I can embrace them joyfully as needed, and share the stories with my children and theirs someday of the remarkable and lovable family I have. I can skip happily forward, onward, and upward to better and more triumphant times.
“For everything there is a season. . . a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep; and a time to laugh; a time to mourn; and a time to dance. . . ” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
I want my family to look at me and see a gracious, graceful, peaceful woman who has been touched by love and who shines joyfully. I do not want pity nor do I want a cloud of sorrow over me because I have lost my loved ones. I live a blessed life. I was blessed to have amazing parents who loved me and a sister who inspired me. I am blessed to have a wonderful marriage and that my husband is my best friend. I am blessed to have great kids who make me proud.
These things will never ever change.
Love never dies. People live forever in our heart. Change is inevitable. Nothing is insurmountable. I can do this!
It’s time to shine!
If you are suffering from the loss of a loved one, a major break up, or you live with someone whose parent or sibling has passed away, you might benefit from reading more about the Stages of Grief. See my post: When Grief Revisits Me and Good Grief: 8 Stages of Grief.
Evan Sanders’ book, The Better Man Project like his blog, successfully enlightens the reader and shares the scope of a brilliant ‘man in progress’ as he discovers himself and learns the valuable lessons of life. What better way to document one’s process of becoming a man than through journal writing and blogging? Devote yourself to becoming a better one! Sanders unlocks the door of each aspect of a man’s world as he breaks through the boundaries of life’s disappointments, anguish, pain, and hostility. He uncovers the mysteries of love, honesty, integrity and respect. His acute sense of understanding the world around him and his ability to relate to all people enables him to share his philosophies and he gifts his inspiration to us in this book. It is not his story. It is not the answer. It is the beginning and the now of a great man and his unique insights to how we can all become better every day.
I learned so much about what it takes for one to proclaim himself a “better man” when I had the opportunity to meet Evan Sandersin person and interview him. He is a delightful young man, wise beyond his years, and I am grateful to have had the chance to get to know him in real life after over a year of “reading into it” on his blog and on Facebook.
Evan is a quote hound. He quotes Churchill and Gandhi with the same admiration as he quotes Will Smith and JayZ! He not only uses quotes, as many of us bloggers do on our posts, he speaks and lives the quotes he knows. He knows them by heart and he breathes their meaning from his soul.
Reading Evan’s book is like getting a series of pep talks for the soul. His purpose is to inspire others to live a bold and powerful life. He believes in protecting women and living a life of passion and purpose. He stands for honesty, loyalty, integrity and respect. He strikes me as a social butterfly on fire, like a sweet fire breathing dragon whose heart shines, ready to conquer the world and help mankind. He is a prophetic poet and writer. He practices acceptance and perseverance.
Will Evan Sanders be the next Tony Robbins? We shall see as he develops himself as a motivational speaker and life coach. Evan is a wonderful and engaging speaker. He is an amazing story teller. When he started answering questions everyone in the room listened intently to the stories and quotes. Sometimes it seemed like he would never get to the point! I was waiting to hear evidence, details of his experience, proof of his understanding and how he came to own his beliefs. I felt this way as I was reading his book. But soon I realized that it doesn’t matter what the details are that brought him to the conclusion, but the fact remains he does understand and has a brilliant gift that brings the reader (or the listener) to a point of confidence.
Evan is careful not to name people and go in to personal descriptions about his life when writing about his experiences in his blog, as most bloggers do. He told me that when he writes about the way he feels about a situation he is going through he believes it might actually change the way things are in his life. If he names the instances and gives details, it most likely won’t change for him. Not having the details makes it more relatable to everyone who reads it. One can use their own life’s experiences or their imagination to fill in the details. Once I opened my mind to the fact that this book wasn’t telling a single story, it was not going to have a beginning, middle and end; I realized how enlightening it is.
This book is a beginning of a journey. It is what is happening right now in a man’s life. You can pick it up and read it from any point and be uplifted and inspired. It will never end because our journey never ends. I have already started re-reading it and enjoying it even more!
It was so enjoyable talking to Evan that I wanted to hear what he had to say on any topic. As he elaborated eloquently on each subject I imagined myself to be a follower of a modern day prophet. He has barely lived yet he has a very deep understanding of life, love, relationships, and hope. As in the book The Prophet by Khalil Gibran when the man who’s ship had come in was about to embark on his great journey he turned to speak to the people and gift them with his lasting impressions. Rather than asking specific questions, I found myself entranced asking Evan to “speak to us about never quitting, speak to us about love, speak to us about passion.” I loved listening to his stories as I do many of the men I admire in my own life. He is bright and energetic, smart and hopeful, deep in his understanding of life and the importance of love. He cares about other people and wants to make a difference in the world.
I believe a man isn’t a man unless he has a good fish story. Evan puts life into perspective through all of his tales but his tale of his deep sea fishing experience is what made me believe he has become a better man. He had me in tears as I was reminiscing about my father, my brother, husband and sons telling their tales as I read his. I remember being with my dad when I saw him catch a rainbow trout with his bare hands over the side of a boat in Chama, New Mexico. A man can relate so much about the achievements and anguish of his life through a fish story. All the men I admire in my life have the ability to relate that message at the very base of who they are. If you value life and appreciate love as much as you do with all the effort it takes to catch a big fish then you have learned what it takes to be a real man. Especially if you can appreciate the value of the lesson learned when one gets away. Evan is such a man. He uses fishing as an example of never quitting.
“Keep fishing for the big one and don’t mind if it hurts or takes a long time. Take risks and keep on fishing.”
It’s not a book about fishing, body building, working out or baseball – but Sanders translates what he has learned about perseverance in the gym and on the field into relevant terms to motivate you in all areas of life’s struggles. I encourage you to read The Better Man Project. Get to know Evan Sanders and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend like Evan. We should all strive to be a friend like him.
“I will keep my focus on turning darkness into light and then encouraging others to do the same. Love. Passion. Never quit.” – Evan Sanders
In order to express myself, I must first accept myself.
One of my biggest fears about expressing myself and sharing my creativity and talents has always been the fear of being laughed at or dismissed. I have so many defense mechanisms in place to avoid being laughed at and ridiculed. I don’t want to place blame. That doesn’t change things now. Heck, I don’t even want to explore the reasons why I am the way I am. It won’t really matter. I already know. I am the way I am. I accept myself the way I am. I have fears and I handle them.
I am at a point in my life that I have accepted myself and now I am ready to express myself. I began doing that when I began blogging. Sharing my thoughts, my feelings, and my experiences with the “world” – with you – has been the key that unlocked my true self and set me free! That freedom has fueled the flame that keeps my desire for love, joy and happiness burning in my heart.
It’s my time to shine!
This week I had the opportunity to share one of my poems at a performance of spoken word alongside some very talented musicians, poets, and artists. When I was asked if I wanted to read a poem I said, “Yes!” without hesitation. When I was asked if I was nervous, I said, “Yes!” but it was the excitement kind of nerves, not the sick or stage fright kind. The fears that came to mind were brief fleeting moments of panic. What if I mess up? What if they laugh at me? What if no one likes my poem. What if I get sick to my stomach? What if I have an anxiety attack? What if I get a migraine or vertigo and can’t go on? These things have happened before.
The thoughts of my biggest fears did not remain in my consciousness for very long. I have always wanted to get to a point in my life where the things I enjoy doing are not a challenge. They are just a part of me. I want to show the world that I can do these things well. I have always wanted to be able to share my talents without concern for what others think, without fear of judgement. This was significant in my life’s journey because I have now become more confident in myself and my abilities than ever before. It was because of that confidence that I did not get nervous or sick. And you know what? I rocked it! It was great! Not just because I did not get ill. Not just because my friends said I was good. Not just because I didn’t mess it up. I enjoyed the experience. I shared my talent with my friends and family. And – no one laughed! I did great because I believed in myself.
The Urban Desert Cabaret
Thursday night’s performance of The Urban Desert Cabaret was a show that my cousin, Joe City Garcia arranged. The show takes place about once a month and if you like folk music, art, and poetry – you should definitely see it. Most of the performers have a few things in common, they either know Joe City and/or have some connection to Joshua Tree – a community of artists who live or work in the desert. These men and women all have a soulful camaraderie and connection to the earth, to light and to love. Even if you just appreciate great music and song – this show is for you! You can read more about UDC in my previous posts: Hollywood Nights and Urban Desert Cabaret.
I don’t want to forget anyone, so here is the line up from the January 31st show: Guest artists: Billy Gill (songs), Paul McCarty (songs) Monique Caruso (songs), Cari Banke (art/spoken word), Lalo Kikiriki (song/spoken word), Laura Anne Lacy (songs), Miz Meliz (Melissa Reyes) (spoken word) and more TBA! Plus songs and jams with the UDC combo: Jeremy Gilien, Tonya Lee Jaynes, Robert Matsuda & host Joe City Garcia. First, Joe City and the Urban Desert Cabaret combo band started off the show with a few songs. Their music is transfixing. It brings me to a place of soulful reflection. Have you ever driven through the desert and listened to the album by U2, Joshua Tree? It opens up your horizons. That is how Joe’s music is to me! He is a rock star that I have admired my whole life.
Joe thanked everyone for coming and explained a bit about UDC. Then, he said something like “who wants to go first?” and at that moment, I had just stood up. He looked at me and said, “Miz Meliz – are you ready?” I had told myself ahead of time that whenever he asked me I would say, “I am ready!” and I did. And I was! I didn’t expect to go first, but I was happy to because then I could relax and enjoy the rest of the show. It was a bit of a bummer because some of my friends missed it, but it was good for me.
Next up was a great performer who played accordion and sang, her name is Lalo. . . her songs were light and fun and she told her stories in a way that made me smile. She was a bit of a crack up and brought some humor to the scene. After Lalo, Billy Gill came up and performed a few songs. His guitar playing is remarkable and his singing is impressive! I enjoyed the guitarist Monique Caruso and was impressed that one of the pieces she performed had just been written the night before! (I wrote the poem that I read over a decade before!! Some people cant help but share their talent, it precedes them.) Then we had the pleasure of a performance by the Wicked Saints with Paul McCarty and Retro Rob Thomas. They were awesome!
Cari Banke spoke about her art that donned the walls all evening and shared some introspective poetry that she wrote to accompany her pieces. When she took the stage, she said, “Are you all in a good mood? Having a good time? Well, I am about to bring you down.” Her art and poetry was about genocide and survival. She was very insightful and did manage to leave everyone on an upbeat note! There was more singing and guitar playing, more poems were shared and the UDC combo wrapped up the evening with more tunes. It’s surprising that all of this is put together and performed without rehearsals or much else in the way of planning. It always comes off flawlessly, because of the spirit and expertise of Joe City – all the performers make a commitment to be there and they bring their best to share for that moment. It was an honor to be a part of it!
Saturday I had the chance to spend some time with some very creative friends that shared their unique talents with others too! I have recently shared some of my humor with Fazel Huts and I always say that laughter is the best medicine but a true comedienne is a hot commodity! It is not easy to be a woman and be funny. That’s why I love the Two Funny Brains!
I had the unique opportunity to visit Jessica Bern and attend a “girly clothes party” at her home. Debbie Anderson was there, too. I couldn’t believe how lucky I am! I asked Jessica, “You know who I am, right?” when she invited me to this intimate setting. She was surprised by my question. I know we are friendly on Facebook and have “talked” late into the night via instant message on many occasions. But to me, she is a total rock star and I am a total groupie! (I met Jessica for the first time when I had the rare opportunity to be an extra on an episode of Blog This.)
To me being “a total rock star” is being able to show off your talents in a big way. I admire everyone who does that and makes it look so easy. I know it is not easy.
The Poetry Salon
After hanging out with the ladies at Jessica’s house, I headed over to The Fat Dog Fairfax, a fun eatery in Hollywood. I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a special event hosted by Jennifer Styperk, poet and CEO of Poetry Salon. It was their annual Valentine’s Day event to kick off this season of love. What better way to celebrate your love for someone than by getting them a bespoke poem for the occasion. (A bespoke poem is a custom crafted work of art based on stories you provide, inspired by an individual muse whom you want to honor.) I was thrilled to meet this amazing entrepreneur rock star poet! I was impressed that Jennifer took her talent as a poet and made it into a business that is thriving and employs and engages other poets to use their craft to help others. (See this great blog post with an interview of Jennifer Styperk for more about Poetry Salon and Bespoke Poems: http://mngirlinla.com/2013/02/04/looking-for-a-personalized-gift-try-out-poetry-salon/#comment-22702)
Creativity and rocking a special talent comes naturally to some people and it is a difficult journey for most. No matter what, keep at it! Don’t ever give up hope! Face your fears. Find ways of making it work. It’s your time to shine!
Behind the scenes busy at work at all the above events are the bloggers that I know that help to promote and in doing so are encouraging and supporting one another constantly. Please check out their blogs, Like them on Facebook, and Follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Carolyn,Jamie,AJ, and Deanna. I had a blast sharing these experiences with them and I am glad to have their friendship!
I am filled with love today and my eyes are still stinging from the tears I shed last night. I went to see Les Misérables with my husband and sons on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful! I cried throughout the movie because I found the music and acting to be so powerful with emotion, it moved me. The story of Jean Valjean is one of hope and unconditional love and forgiveness. I was looking forward to this reminder which was perfectly timed to arrive on Christmas Eve. No matter how bad things get (and they got very very bad for Jean Valjean!) we can always get through it if we don’t give up faith. That can be faith in God, in love, in friendship, or simply in the belief that things can get better tomorrow. Just live one more day. The best message of Christmas time (the season of love and hope that you honor) that I can think of is to believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in your heart and your capacity for love. As Victor Hugo wrote, “To love another is to see the face of God.” To truly love someone is the most graceful thing we can do. If we give love to another our heart is filled with joy and compassion.
I love you!
I love the magic of Christmas and the joy it brings to all people. Young and old, people of all faiths wish each other good tidings at this time. The spirit of a giving heart is personified in Santa Claus. I love that spirit of giving. I am filled with love today, not because of what I have or what I want, but because of what I am able to give. Jean Valjean didn’t have a wife, or children of his own. He didn’t have anything for much of his life, and what he did have was borrowed, stolen, or given to him when he denied his own self. When he had the chance to love another person is when he was given the true gift of hope.
I am blessed to be in a lasting relationship with my best friend of 28 years (I have been married to him for 20 years!) I know what it takes to be in a devoted relationship that withstands the tests of time while traversing the hills and valleys of life’s journey. I was recently asked to write a featurette on such a couple. I am feeling both proud and lucky to have been given this opportunity!
Married for 37 years, living in the public eye in the entertainment business and having faced numerous hardships throughout their lives, I found the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jr. to be both fascinating and quite inspiring. Having loved their music for decades, I never really considered myself a big fan. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to learn about their many accomplishments and the gifts that this wonderful pair are sharing with the world through their love, their music, and their philanthropy. . .
The Queen of Latin Pop and Latin King Midas
An inspiring story of Miami’s ‘Royal Couple,’ Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jr. By Melissa Reyes
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this article or the featurette, photo credit or links. I am not a paid contributor or sub contractor and my opinions are my own. Information regarding the subject of the article was obtained through my own research findings, are not based on first-hand knowledge and sources have been listed accordingly.
My husband and I have been married for twenty years now. We are totally in love and we are a “happily married couple” in every sense of the phrase. When people ask me how we stay happily married I usually give them the spiel about communication and being friends first, it takes an equal partnership, yadda, yada, yada. All of those things are true of any healthy relationship. With close friends, family and even at work things run smoothly if you follow one rule – If you don’t understand something, ask. I believe what makes a happily married couple is two people who are happy to begin with that are willing to stay together.
There have been plenty of times when either one have us have been unhappy for one reason or another. So far, we have been lucky to never be unhappy at the same time. Sad at the same time, yes. Distressed, worried, yes. We have always been able to support each other through difficult times. Generally, my husband is a pretty happy guy! When he has been unhappy about our marriage or about me, he was willing to work through it and he has always been very devoted to me. Even at the worst of times, I have supported him and been able to stick with it.
I am an optimistic person for the most part. I have suffered through clinical depression. When I feel like the world is closing in on me, I begin to count my blessings and being married to this man is always at the top of the list! Gratitude goes a long way on the path to happiness. When I am truly happy with myself and my situation, my love flows freely. When I am able to truly love, and be loving, the feeling spreads to those around me. My beloved responds and showers me with his love. The root of my happiness starts with what is in my own heart.
My husband is my “true love.” But, I have been in love before. I had a crush on an upper classmen in high school and after he graduated, he came back to volunteer! I was determined to get a date with him. We became friends and did start dating. I was trying to play things cool and was open to dating other people. I thought I was doing the mature thing and that would keep him interested. I had already begun dating the person I eventually married. My big crush took the “high road” and stepped back to let me decide what (or who) I really wanted and he joined the Air Force. When he left he said, “You’ll always be my girl.”
We wrote to each other for awhile and as would be expected, my relationship with the boy who stayed around got stronger. After awhile, I lost touch with my crush. But, in my heart, I was waiting for him to come home to me and sweep me off my feet. Instead, I got a call from him to tell me he was getting married. I was heartbroken!! I asked him, “If we had kept writing to each other would I be the one making the wedding plans?” He said simply, “You will always be my girl!” That didn’t help!
Every few years, he would come home to visit family and friends. No matter where I was living or working, he would find me. Many times I would get a call out of the blue and it would be his deep distinctive voice saying, “Hey girl.” My heart would sink. I would get that tingly nervous feeling. We would get caught up on each other’s lives. When I saw him, I always had a feeling that I lost him when I had the chance and that he came around to see me because he wanted me to make a move. I never had the nerve. Besides, I was married to a wonderful guy! Then, as both of our families grew, we lost touch again. I hadn’t heard from him for a very long time. We were friends on Facebook, but I really didn’t even follow or keep up on him anymore. He had stayed in the Air Force as a career and had travelled the world. It had been about six years since I heard from him. Then I got a call at work.
He had retired, was divorced, and was planning to move back to the area. What was that middle part? And he wanted to know if we could get together when he was in town. Was he back to sweep me off my feet? It’s been twenty-five years since we had a romance and I was still thinking he could be coming back for me. Well, not really. The teenage girl trapped inside me who was still pining for him heard that he was coming back. The sensible me did the right things and asked questions. But that sneaky little girl was still curious!
He came to my office and took me out to lunch. He was still handsome and interesting and was everything I had remembered him to be. He told me all about how he and his wife split up. He told me he needed to take care of his ailing parents. He asked me about my life, family and work. We talked for hours. I decided to ask him what made him think of me and if he still had any feelings for me after all this time. To be honest, I have no idea what he said. He spoke. It sounded positive. He said the right things, tactfully, sweetly, honestly. I am sure of it. But all I could think about was, “What the heck do I think I am doing?”
The adult me answered, “You are flattering yourself.” True that! I needed it and deserved it, everyone does! After all, it was flattering. He was coming for a visit down memory lane and he thought of me. But it definitely wasn’t at all because he wanted to see if I was willing to take him back after all these years. Don’t think it’s because he is that much of a stand up guy that he wouldn’t break up my marriage. Of course he wouldn’t. But I’ll never know for sure. No, it is because he was already seeing someone!! It turns out that he was networking for job connections so that he could move here to be closer to his girlfriend!
I just want you to know that all of this nonsense taught me some lessons. First, love never dies. First love, school girl crushes, puppy love, it lasts as long as you remember how it felt to love someone. Like a flower, you can tend to it and it can take root and grow and grow and eventually branch into new directions and last forever. Or, you can pluck it and put it in water. It may last awhile that way and be beautiful. You can preserve the memory of its beauty and press it in a book. It will remind you of your youth and how you were once someone’s girl. But if you take it out and touch it and try and make it grow after all that time, it will crumble and fall apart. Some things are just not meant to be.
That doesn’t mean it was a waste of time! The other thing I learned is that an idea trapped in one’s mind fades away quite easily. All you have to do is let go. It took seeing him again to make that happen. It took thinking about it and planning and evaluating all the what if’s and could I evers. Could I have seduced him and begged him to come back to me? Would he have? Could I have a chance to start over? I guess not or I would be writing a heated love connection story right now rather than giving advice on what to do about unrequited love! The point is, I let go of the pipe dream. I was the stand up girl. I was in love with my husband. I did not go looking for this guy! I helped him get an interview at my work and put in a good word. I was relieved when he didn’t get the job. I’ll bet my husband was relieved, too!