A couple of weeks ago my mother had a major heart attack.  I got that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night that they were taking her to the hospital.  Once I got there, the doctor pulled me aside and said, “I think that she thinks, that she isn’t going to make it and I don’t have any evidence that she is wrong.”  Off to the heart center we went.  I made more calls to family members and I was so scared.  My other siblings dropped what they were doing to get here.  One got in the car and started a seven hour drive and one got the first flight out of DC.  The medical staff was able to go into the main right artery, opened the artery up and removed a fresh blood clot.  By the time she was awake and aware all four of her children and husband were by her bedside.  What a relief to have her alive.  A few days later she was having a hard time understanding that she had a heart attack.  I told her, “If you have any question to ask me.  That your feet were dark blue and the Dr. told me that he didn’t know if you were going to make it.”  She thought for a second and looked at me saying with a smile, “But I did!”

How often is life like this.  We have an emergency in our life and start to freak out.  We gather together those to support us and work a plan.  After going through the crisis, we take a deep breath and come through the crisis even better than we were.  The crisis has made us stronger. 

I am wondering who supports you in those times of crisis.  Who do you let in to help?
 
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, even if it is full of changes.  The weather starts to get crisp, almost as if you can grab it and break it in half.  Just thinking of fall, I can smell the many scents.  The dried leaves that as a child you would pile up and then jump in them.  Or sometimes we raked them into a maze.  Then I smell the fall fire.  A fire that you warm up to in the new cooler fall air.  Standing next to the flames, roosting hot dogs until they crackle and S ‘mores with the melted marshmallows. Nothing tastes so good.

With fall, also come the changes in the wardrobe.  I love cleaning out the closet, putting away the short sleeve tops and sundresses and getting out the cozy sweatshirts.  By the time fall comes I am tired of the summer wear and looking forward to getting out old clothes as if they are new again.  Getting out those fuzzy slippers to slip your cold feet into.  There is something about getting rid of the clothes that I don’t use or need any more.  Or maybe there is a discovery of something that I forgot about. 

The last change is the most beautiful.  It is the changes in the colors.  The yellows, oranges, and bright reds, almost as if the trees were on fire.  It fascinates me how they can do that.  I love to take a ride this time of year and look at the trees and the colors. I am not sure what it is about, other than the wonder of nature at its peak of beauty.

Life is constantly changing around us.  There are new sites and old memories that make each of us react differently to change.  Sometimes our life is like that closet where we are sorting though the old and new, deciding what to keep and what to let go of.  At times life is beautiful and we marvel at the greatness.

What in your life is in need for a change?  What are you going to do to make it happen?

 

I have recently worked with a young man who between his junior and senior year of high school he was is an accident.  As a result he is permanently in a wheel chair.  He is amazing.  He is about to graduate from college and will be going on to law school.  It isn’t that he is going to law school that is amazing, it is his attitude.  He is a quiet young man and never skipped a beat in life.  Once he learned about the damage that was done to his body, he, along with his parents help, he figured out how to make the adjustments in his life and live life to the fullest.  He has never appeared to feel sorry for himself, and continued to reach for his goals and made them happen.  I wonder how many of us would react the same way.  In a society where playing the victim seems to be the norm, he has stepped out into the world grabbed it by the horns and took control.  Where in your life do you play the victim?  What would you like to take control of in your life?

 
I was out walking the other day and when my husband asked how far I walked, my response was, “I just walked a mile and a half.”  Just a mile and a half!  What is wrong with that?  Nothing.  A mile and a half a day is great!!  Adding the word ”just”, diminishes what you have done or who you are.  Another example of how I used “just” is when I use to call a friend at work and when her office mate would answer I would say, “This is just Valerie and let K.C. know I called.”  Again diminishing who I am and how important I am to this relationship.  When do you use the word “just”, or maybe there is a different word you use that makes you smaller than you really are.  Stop it!  Be all of who you are.  You are important and can accomplish great things when you become everything that you are meant to be.  You and all those around deserve you to be totally you. 

 
As human beings we are happier when we make connections.  We too often go through our days, thinking about what needs to be done next.  What is on our to do list that we haven’t gotten done.  We are so into the process of life we forget to make those connections with the people in our life and with those that we meet.  I did an experiment today to see how many connections I could make in my everyday living.  At work, I spent a couple minutes to connect to a couple co-workers.  I stopped to buy some flowers to plant in my garden.  I looked the sales person in the eyes smiled and said thank you.  A few other people that I met through work I stopped and really talked with them.  One of the women needed to vent about issues in her life and I let her.  I was feeling pretty good and felt that I was living in the moment and making those connections.  I was feeling positive and had a smile on my face.  Then it happened.  I then went to the grocery store, where I was tested.  As I was going up to the self check out area, I saw an old classmate.  The last time I saw her was at our class reunion, where she was… let's say "rude" to me.  She didn't see me this time and I could have just turned and acted as if I didn't see her.  I thought about my commitment to connecting and called out her name.  She turned was polite and said hi and smiled. We continued to talk as we were checking out.  She said that she never did the self check out and wasn’t sure what to do.  I talked her through it and we walked out together and continued our conversation.  Wow.  If I hadn't said something to her, I would have left there remembering how she was rude and thinking that that was who she was.  Instead I made a connection and felt good about our conversation.  There really is something about living in the present and connecting to others.  I challenge each of you to take one day and make as many connections that you can and then share what you learned with me.  

 
I have a wonderful dog, Spud, that has been with us for over 12 years.  He has become part of the family.  In the mornings he waits to hear my husband in the shower and he knows that it is time to jump in the bed and cuddle with me.  He is getting old and I think about what I have learned from him.  The following is my list:

1.       One loved ones come home meet them at the door excited to see them.

2.       Play every chance you get.

3.       Make Exercise a joy.

4.       Eat what is put in front of you.

5.       Take naps in the middle of the day.

6.       Forgive quickly.

7.       Let others take care of you when you need help.

Sounds like a good way to live life.

 
  Being Happy

I was watching Oprah the other day and she was doing a show on happiness.  They talked about who are the happiest people in the US and what you can do to make your life happier.  One of the things they talked about is spending 10 minutes a day being quiet.  This is an exercise that I often have my clients do.  Even if they can’t be quiet for 10 minutes I ask them to start with 1 minute and work their way up. Taking the time to really be quiet.  Closing your eyes and just concentrating on your breathing.  Blocking out all the noise of the world.   I suggest that you do this lying down, but you can do it anywhere.  (Oprah stated that she will do this in the bathroom.)  As you do this you will start to get in touch of your thoughts, feelings and desires.  In taking this time for you, you get in touch with who you are in the inside.  Much like spending time with a friend and listening to them, we need to spend time with ourselves and truly listen to what we need.  It also has health benefits such as: increase blood flow and slows the heart rate, it reduces muscle tension, and it reduces anxiety.  Try this for 20 days.  See what you think and let me know.  Here is a story I wrote about a special place I go to.

     We all have that special place, where as a child we would go to and think.  Where no one else would bother you and no one else went.  It was ours to experience.  Maybe it was in the house or in the great outdoors.  Wherever it was, it was yours.

   Mine was outside and you had to walk to it.  When I wanted to be along and think, I would walk out of my home and down the dusty country road a block or so.  From there, I could see it off in the distance.   It was a big old oak tree, as tall as the sky.  It stood alone in the middle of the cow pasture, with no other trees around it.  One branch hung down about three feet off the ground.  It was as if it made its own bench, inviting me to come, sit and talk.

   To get there was a lengthy task.  I climbed over the barbwire fence and I always made sure the cows were not out before I entered their space.  Once over the fence, I would walk carefully down the long hill.  In the winter, this hill was great for sledding because it was steep and curved and sleds would fly down the side of the hill creating delightful laughter.  In the summer, One needed to be careful not to fall over the dark colored prickly shrubs that lined the hillside and get hurt.  

     At the bottom of the hill were bumps left by the cows.  As the cows walked on the marshy land, they would sink down a foot or two and they stepped.  The cows would pull up their mud covered feet leaving behind funny looking bumps in the ground.  You have the choice of walking through the indents that the cows made in the mud, or you carefully balanced on the top of the bumps.  This was like an obstacle course.  Of course, you had the option of walking all the way around this area, but it took longer and what fun was that?

     Finally, you were at the tree.  It was full of green leaves that rustled every time the light summer breeze announced the arrival of evening.  The branch of the tree extended like the hand of an old friend to welcome me.  I climbed on to it and thought about life and problems I was having.  Soon I noticed the sparking lake in front of me.  It is clam, clear and looks like a smooth piece of glass call out to me to walk on it.  Around the lake is tall brown grass providing a sense of calm as the blades swayed back and forth offering a slow harmonious movement that hypnotized me.

     No one is around and only the sounds you hear are the movement of the tress and occasionally a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter.  Soon I am aware of my own breathing and can hear the breaths going in and out.  I feel one with my surrounding and I am at peace.  The problems that I can with slip from my thoughts and are no longer issues, and all is right.

     That spot is now surrounded by new houses as life moves forward, but in my mind I go to this special place and find peace.  I hope in my journeys, I can be like that old oak tree, standing tall, welcoming, giving someone a place just to be who they are, so they can be at peace.  

 

     

    

 
Birthdays’

I just had my 55th birthday. I know that some people don’t celebrate their birthday.  In fact they would rather that people forget about it. My husband and I had this conversation about my birthday.  After much discussion I said okay to an open house.  We went through the who should be invited and what are we going to do for food and drinks.  The morning of the party came and I was all of a sudden uncomfortable about being the center of attention.  Most of us have a tendency to want to keep the attention on others.  I decided to take in all the attention and what people had to say to me.  My sister offered to make sure that the food was taken care of and I knew that my husband and brother would take care of the rest.  I felt the love of old and new friends and laughed with old high school friends about the past.  By the end of the day I was exhausted, but felt the warm of so many wonderful people in my life.  I recommend that each of you take a day to throw yourself a party and let others take care of you.  It is not only a gift for you to take in, but a gift to those that love you and want to show you on a special day.

 
Whose Voice is in Your Head?

I was working with a young person who has some self esteem issues. She was at the point of looking at going back to school. She was excited and looking forward to the future. For her, this was a big step. She decided which college she wanted to go to and her assignment was to call that school for a tour. The next time I met with her she had taken a couple steps backwards. She wasn’t sure she really wanted to go to college and it was so expensive. After a couple of minutes she finally stated, “Well my mother’s boyfriend told me that I wasn’t going to be successful so why even try?” I wanted to scream.  Who has the right to tell another person that they can’t be successful? Why would someone be so
mean as to say such a thing? Why are you even listening to this person? Then I settled down. So often we have someone else’s voice telling us what we can and can’t do. No you can’t lose weight. Why do you need that degree? What makes you think that you can get that job? We listen to others that don’t believe in us or don’t want us to move forward with our lives. Whose voice is in your head and saying “you can’t?” What are you going to tell that voice? Are you going to tell it that it’s right or are you going to scream at it and get it out of your head? This young lady decided not to listen to that voice and listened to her voice that said “YES YOU CAN!”  What is your true voice telling you?

 

I just had a nice quiet lunch by myself.  I do this from time to time to gather my thoughts and relax.  I started to think about New Years and why we make such a big deal out of it.  Most people that are out and about on New Year’s Eve,  are out for a big party.  Then New Years Day is full of football and making New Year’s resolutions, which are usually, broke by the middle of January.  As you might be able to tell I have never been a big fan of this holiday.  I spent most of my younger years waitressing.  The tips may be good that night, but that was about it.  There were a few years I truly enjoyed New Years Eve.  I was with a group of friends who played games and laughed.  We then sat around and had a meaningful conversation.  We asked two questions.  The first was, “What happened this last year that changed your life?”  The second question was, “What do you want to see changed in the year to come?”  These questions often brought tears of joy and sorrow.  They also brought hope.  Take time to ask yourself these two questions.  For me the life changing event was becoming a grandmother.  This brought on emotions and a love that I never experienced.  Holding this new born baby and knowing that all I have to do is love him.  It brings a peace to my heart.  The second question is harder for me.  But If I was going to change one thing, it would be to write more blogs.  I have a tendency to think that I don’t have brilliant idea to write I should be quiet.  I am going to try and write at least once a month if not twice a new blog.  So what has made a change in your life and what do you want to see change this next year.