Friday, November 19, 2010

Quality of life!

The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large fin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but, what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a harvard MBA and could help you.  You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats.  Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.  Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own product, processing and distribution.  You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part."  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions?" ask the fisherman, "Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine and play guitar with your amigos!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."~Aesop

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.-- St. Basil

I was driving my regular route through the city this morning and an odd event occurred.

I was driving toward the stop light with a car in front of me.

The car abruptly stopped, put the hazard lights on, and the driver got out of his car.

At first I was confused, then I noticed a disabled person sitting in a wheel chair trying to reach for the walk button.    The gentleman walked over to the lady and started talking with her with animated gestures.

He quickly stooped down, and gradually lifted her front wheels out of the mud.

She was stuck! =S

All of the sudden, the lady beamed a wide smile that glimmered in the morning sun.  I could tell that she was thanking the man profusely.

The light turned green and I went on my merry way, with tears in my eyes, thinking how this act of kindness was a special start to my day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I like nonsense -- it wakes up the brain cells.

I like nonsense -- it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope...and that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities.~Theodor S. Geisel

I met a 13 year boy the other day, we were talking about my books.  He told me he hated reading, but he loved reading picture books.  This amazed me, because I meet so many children who don't even consider a picture book.  They go right to the chapter books.   They want to grow up so fast.  I was fascinated with his comment.  

This made me think about when I was in 5th through 8th grade I really didn't like "school reading".  I remember taking such strides to make sure I would avoid all reading homework and found in 6th grade going to the lower-level reading class when we broke up for reading.  I would constantly get remarks on my report card that I talked too much in class, was disruptive in class, etc.  Before my 8th grade year, I found I was moved back up into the average reading level with the rest of my classmates.  I was not stupid, knowing I would actually have to read in reading class.  Well, I didn't.  I remember not liking any of the stories that were in the books.  They were point-blank, "boring".  So, my teacher pulled me aside and said, "Have you ever considered reading a fiction novel, like Stephen King?"So, he gave me my first novel and from then on, I was hooked.  I would read every waking time I would get.  I would ask for more paperbacks for Christmas.  My mom was stunned, you want books?  I said, yes.  I remember my friend Kristen introduced to the Thorn Birds in high school.  This was the biggest book that I ever read.  I knew that it would take me a while to read, but every minute between classes or evening hours I had, I would pick up the book and read.  It was one of my best books ever to read.

If the young boy who didn’t like to read felt pressure and would rather read picture books at age 13, then let him.  Get the comic books out or even what’s really wrong with reading a picture book at age 13 or even age 18 for that matter?  I think our schools, parents and others push us into reading at higher levels.  Let the kids explore and enjoy the Amelia Bedelia or Dr. Suess books; there’s nothing wrong with reading a picture book, as long as it inspires kids to pick up a book and read.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Visit to the ER...

"They're not going to catch us; We're on a mission from God."~The Blues Brothers

I was watching taxi on retro TV the other day and silly dude says, "America's a tough town."  Very cute, and very telling. 

How do we see things?

I was holding hands my my best friend's autistic son while we walked to the park.  He kept on saying, "It's a message from God."  That is what I associate with the quote.

I went to the Emergency room the other day, I barely go to the doctor.  I would say I've been to the doctor about 5 years ago, yikes!  But, I am healthy.

My experiences there have always been frustrating.

I went there because I had chest pains, a very unusual chest pain that I never had before. It lasted over 3 minutes and it wasn't like acid reflux, it was like it was being compressed or like something was trying to get through at it got stuck.  I was at a coffeehouse and after I almost was faint, the episode passed I figured it would be best to drive home.  So I packed everything up, called my husband at work and told him of the situation.

As I was driving home I thought to myself, “You know, this is unusual and since the hospital is on my way, it wouldn’t hurt to have them take a look at my situation.” 

So I ended up taking a detour halfway, driving to the emergency room (ER) to have them take a look at me.  I went in and told them my symptoms.  They put me in a wheelchair and had me answer questions while the ER nurse entered information in the computer.  They seemed to respond as if it were urgent.

They pushed me to my ER room and got me situated on the bed, connecting me to heart monitors and asked me more questions.  A few minutes later my husband arrived and my close friend who is a nurse that works there stopped by to check on me.

The ER doctor stopped in and asked me if I smoked.  I mentioned that I smoked over 25 years ago when I was in college. He kept elaborating on this and tried to give me a lesson on smoking, instead of asking me what I do now.  Which is run, try to eat healthy and live healthy.  Although, I like my glass of wine or two in the evenings.  He ordered some blood tests and a chest X-ray and then walked out of the room.  He also talked about how I am young and this is very unusual.  I felt as if he was reprimanding me for even coming in.  

I felt I had to justify my coming in stating that I barely meet my annual physical requirements.  I was disturbed as I always am when I go visit the doctors.

After the tests were completed I was strolled back to my ER room and read for over an hour, waiting for my results to come back.  My husband was on duty for work and had to get back to action and it was fine.  The doctor stepped in and talked a lot about how my “profile” was a “low risk profile” and this was highly unusual.  Again, I felt like he was talking to a two year old.   I thought, “Does this guy even know who I am, my background, my intelligence level or anything?”  He was basing all of his analysis on data, there was no thought to the human characteristics, which I was. 

I thought to myself, "I’m not stupid."

I know my chest was not working the same way.  I wondered, “geez, so what does it take? A fricken’ heart attack?”  What if I had to go back in because my heart was having problems.  Data doesn’t always tell all and you know what, I’m not stupid, I know my body!!! I run every day, okay I took a week off because I was having eye problems and was worried I had some high sugar issues, but… “Come On!”  I do not trust doctors.  From my experience it’s been all about the data and not about me.  I tell you, I would not and do not like going to the doctors, because I feel that I know myself more than doctors do, pretty much all of the time.  It sure was frustrating.  He gave me a prescription for ant-acid.  And little did he know, I already was taking it.  Obviously, didn’t solve the problem.

And then today, I found out Obama approved a new federal law that is going to tax us on the insurance, as income, received from the companies who partially pay for our insurance.  I feel bad for what we are doing to our kids, especially my daughter.

Sure is a frustrating world.  I am truly not happy with the way things are going right now.  Take from the middle class to try to alleviate the burden.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It is what it is, but it can change!

Houston - we have a problem!~Apollo 13

While traveling I came across this tacky hotel where, as typical, the desk clerk ask for my ID to verify my identity.  Then he sneakily entered my drivers license into the hotel computer system while I was standing right there, without asking if I cared or wanted to give this information to him. (You could tell on his face he knew he was doing something wrong).  I was very annoyed.  I have no clue why I didn't say anything, and I left feeling violated. (Days later, I think about how I should have said something, and I may just write a letter to the executive of the hotel chain and voice my concerns).

I'm not sure if we are realizing how much of our information is being put in the computer systems and how much can be linked together and hacked by people who either want to make a fast buck or will use the information against us someday.   I just watched the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and what one of the characters does is so real.  I know this because I am a Computer Geek, besides the other professional labels that I am.  I got out of Computers knowing just that, I didn't want to be a part of continuing to develop our world to the way it is going. It's truly a mess, the Banking Industry, the focus on Money, the Computer (or electronic age that many are calling it now, to include phones and all of the other devices we so heavily rely on) and manipulated Power.

At this time I have no thoughts on a solution.  The only act that I could easily do, is walk out on my Computer Science doctorate, so that I would not be a developer in the game.  And I know so much that is going on in this world, it is truly scary.  Everyone tags along and uses the technology without a thought how it affects the tide of the world.

My friend and I talked about how the banking industry would not consume, the consumer, if the banks were broken up into smaller units.  Similar to what was done with the telephone industry, the monster was tamed.  The only way to get the message out there is similar to how education is being reformed now, someone with a big show and big money can snap her finger and the president takes notice.  The banking industry must be changed so that the economy can change.  The story I heard from my friend about the process she went through after losing everything to the bank was unbearable.  I truly felt for her experience.   It's a wonder why my Grandpa saved all his money in his sock drawer.  At this time, the bank has the power and authority to do it because it is a large bank.   The banks are looking at the bottom line and how it can benefit the bank.

It is, what it is right now. =S

If we all ban together and get our ideas to solve each of these problems, a difference will start to happen.  I know I don't have the answer to it all, do you.  As the old saying goes, together we can!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flying by the Coat-tales of Life!

Most often, heartbroken people are unknowingly grieving a loss or trauma rooted in childhood or adolescence. That’s because we tend to fall in love with people who remind us of those who care for us – even badly – when we were young and totally vulnerable.~Martha Beck

I read this quote today and was fascinated with it. I found myself reading it, then reading it again, thinking wow, this  is so true; the heart-brakes that occur are sometimes deep-rooted and we loose sight because of the loss or trauma that occurred.   There is much in my childhood that I don't remember, as I grow older there is less and less I remember.

Now that I am following my passion, dreams and desires; doing new and risky things in my life, I find many people want to come along for the ride.  I know what I am doing is special.  In a small way it is making the world a better place.  Touching one person at a time.  I find the people that ride on my coat-tales eventually start using their own wings to take flight toward their dreams and desires.

I find myself looking forward.  The sky seems bigger to me now in many ways.  Just as the quote suggests "we don’t have to wait for something to happen before we choose to activate our good within".  We might as well move on with life. Those past experiences that we cannot remember are hidden for many reasons. Unless it truly affects how you function in this world. Continue forward!  All in all, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won”, right?

Don't wait for life to pass you by. Let your own desires be in the drivers seat and go!! Let's get up and go; make a difference, stand up for what you believe in, where are your passions?  Live life!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fall is coming...

I am now at this moment all that I need to be.~Unknown

The other day, I saw these beautiful maple seeds, helicopters, floating from the sky as I was driving.

It gave me a childlike sense, a soft, quiet and narcotic feeling.  Comfort!!  

This experience allowed me to open my mind and reminisce about the times when I'd walk to school.  I would stop to watch the fluttering maple seeds, floating aimlessly; as though they were orchestrated in some way.  There's a natural flitter, flutter as the seeds softly glide through the sky down to the sidewalk in front of me.

I picked one up and observed the seedling at the bottom of the web like tip that I was almost able to see-through.

I drive my convertible and each time I see a helicopter flutter through the sky I felt a sense of my childhood; knowing fall is coming.

Fall... one of my favorite seasons.  I imagine the scents of the fall leaf, the sights of their turning bright colored transitions, the sights of the dancing seedlings falling from the trees, and feelings of the cooler wind fidgeting in my face and the fresh dark-auburn acorns that we couldn't eat.
These are deep-strewn memories that are glued to my intuition, my life and my inner-self.

The winged helicopter seeds spin, falling from the high elevated branches; just as life spins on, from the higher form of elevation.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jump in, the water is really not that cold ...

Gradual, safe exposure to whatever makes us anxious is always the most powerful way of eliminating anxiety.—Martha Beck

This quote is a wild contrast to what I actually do in life.  Rather than "gradually ease into it", I just dive right in.

Last year when I was training for the Chicago marathon I decided during peak training to throw in a half ironman; because, one, I've never done a half ironman in my life, two, I wanted to see if I could do it, and three, I thought it would be a great substitute for a long peak training run.  The ironman happened to land on the weekend of our 21st wedding anniversary, traditionally we take a long Harley ride up to Door County to enjoy a few days of nature, Peninsula Players and, of course, a fish boil.

Since this was the case, we rode six hours to arrive to pick up my packet, late the evening before the race.  I didn't get much sleep that night , the race start was early and I had an hour drive to get there.  The details of the race can be saved for another time, however, I ended up finishing my first half ironman, ever!!! I even made it within the time I estimated for myself.  Nothing to brag about, but I did it!  I shaved off over an hour on my bike split, so I was happy.

Today, I approach another challenge, to complete a 90 mile bike race around Lake Winnebago.  I have never biked 90 miles in my life, the most I've done is the 60 miles in the Ironman.  I signed up anyway.  I've been working hard to get my body prepared to kick off training for my next marathon.  A marathon that I plan to run in December.  I can say I'm in shape!  However, I wonder if I am trained for this type of bike race. =S  Another early start, one hour drive to the start and a little more nervous for this one given there is a 12.5 mph cut-off at the 30 mile water stops. It's going to be an experience.

It seems I approach my life this way.  I believe if I dip my toes in the water to see if it is too cold, there's a chance I might talk myself out of getting in.  If I jump in feet first and realize, I'm already in the water, "I keep going".  It's easy enough to say; but, can you do it?  What are you going to do with all of those things that you have on the back burner.  Those things that you've seen someone else do and say "I've always wanted to do that."  It's time to take the plunge!  The water is really not that cold.  Who knows, you might just gain some new insight, experiences and have fun.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It’s not that people aim too high and miss, it’s that they aim too low and hit.

It seems obvious to me that we are most productive, persistent, creative, and flexible when we’re engaged in precisely the combination of activities that brings us maximum fun.~Martha Beck

I have never been good with directions; and then I always seem to take either the round-about or longer route. I call myself direction-dyslectic. Just come ride along with me to a place I have never been and you will have witnessed at least one of my “Kim’s U-bangy’s”.  Yes, I even labeled them!  I find myself turned around in a place I’ve never been many times.

Some people laugh at me, some have it all figured out stating that “men have a better direction sense than women” and others, sit quietly in the passenger seat and ride along on the whirlwind route of loops, swerves and valleys.   It’s amazing the places I end up seeing by taking these routes!  Like the other day, I was driving to find a bay on the Ocean-front of New Brunswick. We turned off the major highway and, since the gps didn't work in Canada, I guessed. It ended up being one of the most beautiful routes I have seen.  We stopped on roads that ended at the water and a ferry stopped, I drove on and I enjoyed the ride to the other side where I continued on the road.

Its fun traveling, however, I have to admit, I enjoy it more when I have my atlas, gps, computer with MapQuest and my notepad with scribbles of notes and destination addresses and phone numbers. I arrive at my destination eventually, it may not always be the place I expect. That’s what makes traveling such an adventure!

Traveling inspires me, opens my eyes to new thoughts and ideas!  I have done and created so much from my traveling experiences.  It's courageous to explore those unknown places to you.  It's time to go out on a limb!  Go places you've never been; make a u-turn or two and see where you end up.  The adventure is yours! Enjoy the u-bangy's because they will take you to places that you would never expect.  And finally, have fun!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

All serious daring starts from within.~Joan Baez

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are.~Bernice Johnson Reagon
I love traveling to different places, it makes me open my mind and change perspective on what I'm doing in my life.  I've been on a road trip driving cross-country these past couple of weeks and I find myself in unfamiliar territory.  This trip was a spur-of-the-moment thing.  I wasn't going to go, however, my daughter needed to head to the east coast and I will do everything in my power to support her in her lives endeavors.  So, off we went.  My daughter and I have an incredible relationship, sometimes I have to pinch myself because I cannot believe how well we get a long.  I appreciate this gift every day.  Don't get me wrong, there are times that we have our disagreements and I really need to keep an open mind, however, those are minor compared to the overarching picture.

We've had so much fun on our trip, we stopped and walked around Cleveland and had a panini sandwich, with layers of everything all in one sandwich.  It was pretty good!  Touring Hershey Park, we made our own chocolate bars and of course, we stopped to visit family in the quaint little place called Shephardstown in West Virginia and stopped in Boston to get a glimpse of Paul Revere's home.  So far we've traveled the states of IL, IN, OH, WV, PA, MD, NY, VA, RI, CT, MA, NH, ME.  Visiting a friends family in New Brunswick Canada for the first time is exciting. Canada is beautiful, with rolling hills, lakes, rivers and oceanfront all wrapped up into one.  The many shades of green capped trees layered on the landscape.  I can see why Anne of Greene Gables loved it here, there's something magical about it.

It's been a fun adventure and stories that we can talk about.  All these wonderful memories created with my daughter who is slowly spreading her wings.  Her experiences, much different than my own.  Each of us take a journey, sometimes alone, sometimes with someone or groups of people; the choice, it's our own. The most pivotal times that we stay alive, keep our minds open to the new, and allow ourselves to reach, stretch and grow.  These are the times of our lives to remember, hold close to us.  It keeps us alive!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Writing about home

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.~H. Jackson Brown

Home is where the heart is, my friend!
I was helping my friend pack up and emotionally move from the midwest to California where her husband was relocated for his job.  A fresh start, he was going to be the VP of their regional division on the west coast.  Back home, my friend dreaded the move.  In fact, it took her over two years to decide to put their house up for sale and make the final move; while her husband worked on the west coast for 2 years, living in a small apartment, flying back to the Midwest occasionally, with several phone calls to the family daily.

We sat on the only chairs left, placed in the empty living room, we pondered on all of the memories that the house held.  The laughter, crying, anger and rebellion.  All wrapped up in the arms of this quaint home.  We hugged as we said our good byes.  She felt lost for words.  I held my hand to her heart and said softly, "Home is where your heart is my friend.  Remember that!"  She smiled with glistening tears in her eyes as she hugged me long and hard.

I walked out the door, looking back waving.  Our homes are where we are, our heart and soul.  This is where our children, family and friends will come; naturally, gracefully and gratefully back.  Not being forced or pulled.   One home; one heart!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Simple Beauty

There is beauty all around you; all you have to do is see it. ~Kelly Sylte

Having traveled for years as a consultant for work to different states and countries; I'd fly out on Sunday's and then back to my home state on Thursday's. Traveling really gave me a sense of appreciation for my home state, cities, the countryside and other locations. Coming home, I would walk out of the airport and suck in the beautiful scents in the air and on my drive to my destination I saw the different greens in the landscape glow as the hues transitioned in color.  The leaves fluttered on the trees and the hay bent like soft feathers in the golden green fields. The shaped clouds in the blue sky looked as if it were painted in a watercolor.

It is a beautiful site!

It's so easy to get stuck in the thought that this place isn't the best or that it's better somewhere else, when in reality, each place has it's wondrous beauty, I just need to stand and see it, appreciate it, and take time to breath it in.

Mill Street Days Author appearance in my hometown

A Great day at the Mill Street days festival!!!

I was able to see people I haven't seen in over 25 years. Thanks to all of you for coming out...  It was great meeting new, renewed and seeing family and old friends...

Loved talking with you!!

Thank you Book Heads for hosting my appearance!!!  Wonderful to see you all again!!!

Here is the article by Sue Mrotz in the local newspaper

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Identity of Place

Man is a creature made at the end of the week's work when God was tired.-- Mark Twain
I stopped at the drive up window after ordering my lemonade ice, which was a .99 cent happy hour deal; and out of the window popped a young boy, no more than 16, his entire torso was out the window. He said, "how are you today?"  I was taken aback.  His personality and gestures bubbling as he handed me my drink.  I paid him.  He dangled out the window looking goofy-like a jack-in-the-box character and jovially stated, "Have a nice day!"

I went on my way.

A few hours later, I stopped in a little town for a quick bite.  I ordered and drove up to the window.  The glass windows popped open, instead of being greeted with a smiling attendant, I was quickly handed my drink and she shut the windows and I waited.  And waited.  As I waited, I noticed a digital clock above the counter, beeping like an alarm.  It seemed to be counting the seconds that I was at the window.  I watched and waited. Three minutes went by, 3:01, 3:02, 3:03.  Then the windows opened and she handed me my bag, with a slight smile on her face, she said, "Here you go".  And that was that.

As I drive to my destination, 12 hours later, I ponder about the differences in each fast food restaurants have assorted tact on how they care for their customer.  Whether they realize it or not, sometimes I find it invasive and others quite humorous.

Some fast food restaurants service care about how I, the customer feels, and other care about how fast the food gets to me.  Either way, I get my food and go on my marry way.  I continue to drive to my destination, which is truly what I care about anyway.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Early Conversation Between The Birds

Purpose is what gives life a meaning.~Charles H. Perkhurst

The old tree heard a beautiful conversation between the birds this morning in the backyard.

The birds were up and about, sharing conversations and songs.  The momma bird said to her friend in the other tree, "Good Morning My friend."
And her response was, "Good Morning, and how are you?"

Three other birds chirped, perched while singing from different trees, "Tweet, tweeter, twitter" with synchronizing harmony.

The songs in the trees quieted for a moment.

Then, one bird started singing loudly, "Chirp, twitter, tweet, twit, twit♫."  It was a funny tune, since the sound grew from a rattling beak of the bird sitting silently before.

I heard the flutter of wings flapping in the sky; then a solitary song came from the other side of the trees, "twitter, tweet, twit."

Another bird exclaimed a "See, Saw, See, Saw" tone, it was like a chain squeaking while a child swings on an old swing at the park.

Then a singing tune arose close by; like a man was whistling at a pretty lady from across the street, "Fse, Pshew."

What a wonderful way to eavesdrop on a conversation with a few birds in neighboring trees under the early morning sun..

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Laughter, It's Contageous

Smile, laugh, hug, snuggle, etc... it all touches the soul!~Melissa Malueg

I went to a movie with my family the other day. All of us laughed hard during that movie.  This doesn't happen often. In fact, the whole audience was laughing with us.  Yes, sometimes I laugh at things during the movies that the rest of the audience doesn't think is as funny.  I suppose, if you can imagine, this can be funny too.

I laughed so hard during some parts of this movie that I was almost on the floor, with downright hysterical laughter.

I remember when I was a little girl my family would go to church each Sunday.  I sat in those hard seats at church, we called them pews in my childhood church.  I tried to sit up-right, stiff as a board, in those old wooden seats. I can still smell the stench of old wood, the musty air and hear the echoing coughs. I would hear a squeak from another person who moved in a seat nearby, as I waited for the service to start.  Half way through the hour, my sister and I would hear some word the person up front would speak; our eyes would connect and we both would start snickering. The snickering would turn into quiet laughter, that laughter turned into tears that streamed down our cheeks. It felt like I couldn't stop. My shoulders would jiggle as I laughed in whispers.  Not planned or orchestrated; only circumstantial laughter.  The laughter felt good.  I like to have a good laugh.

My daughter tells hilarious quirks and stories; in fact, she is known to be a jokester by many of her friends.  She tries to poke fun with me; however, I don't always get the punch-line.  She asks me, "Mom, why don't you think I'm funny? Dad does."  I answer, "I don't know."  I am glad that we can have moments like we had at the movie theater; she peaked over and smiled at the antics we both could relate to from our experiences together.  It is a freeing experience.

Life has so many pressures or maybe I put a lot of pressures on life.
As I walked out of the movie theater with my family; we talked about how much we laughed. I have to admit, I felt cleansed in an odd sort of way.  I'm glad that I went to the movie with my family that day. It was a wonderful time to connect on a lighter level and just have fun!

Yes, laughter is good for the soul.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brilliant Blue Flowers

Bring yourself Present and you will find yourself in the Garden of Eden.~Leonard Jacobson
Today I noticed a small bush of brilliant blue flowers that were nestled in fluffy green foliage.  The vividness in color caught my eye.

I contemplated in awe at the splendid rich blue and noticed soft velvet flowers snuggled next to the blossoming decorations.  The color contrast was impressive. 

I'm glad I looked down at that garden which I could tell was patterned by compassionate hands.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Say "Hi" Neighbor

Because I'm technologically able to find a like-minded person on the other side of the globe, I'm also more interested in making friends with my next-door neighbor.~Jeffrey Klein
This quote made me chuckle and brings back so many memories of my childhood neighborhood friends. We use to stay out late and wait until it was dark so that we could play Star Light Moon Light with all of the neighborhood kids. I wonder what happened to all of those kids. There must have been at least ten of us playing Kick the Can during the mid-day sun in the quiet street or Fisher Price Neighborhood with the neighborhood girls. And then there were the days of dirt-biking. The guys made challenging tracks in the back fields; they would have races and bring in all kinds of kids from our small town.

Oh the memories....

My daughter grew up on organized sports, her specialty was USA gymnastics and USS sanctioned swim team. Yes, she was talented and a natural, she was good, competitive not so much; however, I loved watching her glide through the water as she competed so naturally and the gym always silenced when she performed on floor for gymnastics. I always wished I had half her physical talent. My daughter is all grown up and going to grad school now; she brought me great joy as she grew up.

I do still stay in touch with my one good neighborhood friend who has always been like a sister to me.  We have so many stories that we can tell our kids; well, maybe we shouldn't tell all. =D  
I learned a lot from my friend and she, to this day, makes me think and keeps me grounded in many ways. Even though my daughter experienced her friendships different than I, she gained valuable friendships she met through her sports.  She
 doesn't do much of either sport these days.  She continues to have strong friendships.  I imagine she, also, has stories she can tell and not tell.

When my grandma was alive, I would meet up with her a lot, either in Florida or Wisconsin.  We would have long, philosophical talks about how people have changed and how they are the same. I loved those blossoming conversations with my grandma.

It is different now; especially with technology speeding things up and changing how we exchange information with each other. It takes effort to make sure there is a good balance. I work hard at making sure the balance is there, scheduling face to face time "with" people. I have long talks with my friend over coffee, the cup which is refilled many times during our detailed conversation. I figure, as long as I keep the balance and focus on it as a priority I will be fine. I find that time in real conversation is precious, and there's an amazing thing that happens when I walk over to my neighbor working outside in the yard and I say Hi.

Special note...Fond Memories of the neighborhood kids: Peter, Patrick, Lori & Paula (I am not sure they never played with us), Alisha, Aaron, Pete (down the road), Laura, Susie, Michael, Brian, and sometimes the Alvarez kids were there, and myself.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There is no Somewhere Else. Everything is right here. ~Brad Warner

Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world.
I ran into an old working colleague after my run at the city square the other day.  He knew me instantly, even after 15 years, and he quickly introduced his friend he was with and asked, "Are you working?".  It's funny how work becomes the main focus in our lives.  It was nice to see him.  We had a short conversation, he had a pressing meeting to get to.  I can't believe time has slipped by so quickly.  I wonder if he would have asked the question, "Are you living your dream?"  I would immediately answer, "Yes".

I have wonderful moments when I meet my close friend for coffee; we are so immersed in our conversation when we meet that we find the breakfast crowd becomes the lunch crowd.  We hardly notice all of the movement and noises around us.  We keep talking, smiling, laughing, sharing and remembering, as if we have years of things to catch up on even though it's been only a few weeks since we last met.  We are friends even though we don't go to the same church or believe in the same religion, or even are the same age; however, we can spend hours, upon hours talking the morning away.  I'm not saying church or religion doesn't come up in our conversation, it does.  Spirituality is intertwined in everything I do.

I have to admit, my spiritual journey has not been the smoothest road, partly because God is right there and always has been, leading the way and I don't always look.  He doesn't always clean the path in front of me, because God knows how much I can handle.  I may not always handle things in my life well; however, it's life; as long as I believe and know that all is right and good, I'm okay.

There are times when I will stop while I'm walking, literally turn around and imagine I am looking two years back in my life.  I smile with appreciation, it's not the things or status; but the progress, transition, and happiness that I've achieved in my life!

So many days, weeks and years I've been accomplishing great things in my career; little did I know I was going against the grain of my inner-desire.  Living for the future instead of living today, this minute.  I am still accomplishing great things in my life, they are truly what is in my heart and desire; and I know that this is my calling, it just took a while for me to answer the phone.

It is nice to know that today I have so many deep-rooted friends who are with me in the moment; plus, I am with myself in the moment.  I wonder if my colleague of 15 years would have been there with me; maybe our connection would have been real.  That moment has past, my contemplation complete.  I was going to ask you, "A
re you living your dream?"

"Progress is made in the small, intentional steps, and chances are, you have more power than you think. By focusing on little steps you can take every day, the progress you make will motivate you to continue your journey, and eventually, you can go wherever you want to go."
-- Stephen Cherniski

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When people go to work, they shouldn't have to leave their hearts at home.~Betty Bender

Will you listen to your own heart, your own truth, no matter which way it leads you?
I always wondered how truthful a person should be. When people are at work they constantly are talking around the truth to get ahead. Or if you see something wrong in a business, do you actually tell them? I was talking with a friend about this a while back and she told me it depends upon the situation. Does it depend on the situation to decide to be truthful or not?

As a transformation consultant, companies actually hire me for this one thing, to come in to their business and assess what's going on and to be honest about the outcome.  Sometimes I have to be direct to those people who are not being honest with themselves or others; however, being honest doesn't have to be hurtful.  I've learned that.  But some won't listen until I am brutal.  It takes several days or even weeks, they get it eventually.

There have been so many times in my life that I noticed something and wanted to tell that person the truth about what I see; like when a person is starting a business for the first time and their prices are way out of line or even if someone has some food in their teeth, I tell them.  This is helpful it leads to no possible embarrassment later in the day or loss of clients later in the week.

I figure, I only have one life to live.  A true life. If it is true that there is an afterlife, then so be it, at least I can say I was honest in this life.  I try anyway.  It's all in how I present the truth.  Hopefully, my conscience will have learned a lesson and carry what I've learned forward.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

People who tell lies really disappoint me~Laura Wodach

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -- Anne Frank
Why do we lie?
When I was little I use to have discussions with my best friend about lies. We would debate about whether a white lie was really a lie because a white lie, she would tell me, isn't really a lie because it is so small. This conversation would come up every so often, when we were playing in our yard or walking to school. We would have some heated discussions about telling lies.  As I got older, I realized, from telling a white lie how a small cloud hangs over my head. And then all of the sudden before I knew it, stories upon stories were built on that original small little lie and now I have dug a deep hole that I knew, if I didn't just "tell the truth" I would sink deeper and deeper into it.

There is real no benefit in telling a lie, even a little white lie.  The truth may hurt someone or even you; however, the lie ends up hurting not only someone but many people, so in the end the truth will make you feel free because you said it.  I think, sometimes we try to control how people will feel, we lie because we don't want to hurt anyone.  We want everyone to be happy, content without fear and sadness; however, sadness and fear build because of all the lies.  We all have told lies and I'm sure they were dandies that never were turned into truths.  These lies are hidden deep in our psychi, hidden away,  we think, so that no one can ever hear the truths.  Maybe it's time to come out with it.  It's time to do some soul searching and remember those lies once told many moons ago or even yesterday. Contemplate the past, let the lies go and tell the truths out loud.  It's amazing how freeing this is, just like these beautiful pictures of mountains and landscapes.  Look at these pictures; how freeing it is to see the beauty.  That is what it is like to tell truths.

I try, each day, to be honest with myself and with others.  I work hard at eliminating white lies, so the white lies aren't there to make bigger lies.  I consciously say to myself, is this a white lie? If it is, I'm not going to tell it. I'm going to be honest with myself and tell the truth today.

Photos courtesy of Peggy Fitzstephens

Monday, June 21, 2010

People don't always know what they think.

It's funny how people can make assumptions, one look at you and think they know you.
I remember when I was in high school, I was a silly girl, liked having fun, being in the moment; because of this one of the mom's called me flaky
(and of course, being from a small town, told other mom's I was as well).

Periodically, I see this mom at events when I am visiting my family back home.  She still has her skewed glasses on, having no idea what I've accomplished, what my family is like, however, she still looks at me like a flake.

It's too bad really, when someone does that.  

If she would have taken time to get to know me, even now, there are very special stories that come from my life; like, 
  • My Great Grandpa was an Entrepreneur who was successful in many ventures.
  • I come from a musician background, my Grandpa Les was in a professional traveling band.
  • My Grandma was an artist, creating beautiful clothes and afghan quilts for us girls growing up.  
  • My Mom is a beautiful alto singer, played bells in the bell choir and plays the accordion during family gatherings and holidays.
  • I too, have a colorful portfolio under my belt.  
  • And the list goes on and on... (this is for another day)
It's funny; I think it was probably about 15 years ago, when I ran into this "mom" when I was listening to my friend in the band she sings in.

The mom came up to me and started talking with me, asking me what I'm doing with my life.  I started explaining to her the things I was doing, and at that time I was a network administrator; I was taken aback by her reaction once I told her this.  She said to me, "How were you able to get something like that?"  In a real snotty tone, as if she assumed I wouldn't become anyone or anything.  I didn't even realize until that meeting how she felt about me.  Strange how we think we can control someone's future if we either label them or don't think highly of them.  It's sad really.  

I've learned from this experience, it was a tough one to live; however, the thing I try really hard to do is keep an open mind and not judge the people I meet, even if it's just for one time.  I try to help those whom I may see have deficiencies.  Instead of watching and thinking they'll fail, I plant seeds and encourage them; watch them blossom to become who I know they can become.   There are so many experiences that make us who we are and knowing that each person is a special individual is wonderful knowledge to have.  
This is the key to our future.

I have to really work hard to let go of those judgments and allow people to become...  I work hard at it every day.  It's important for me to allow people to be the wonderful people God created them to be.  I believe our world would be a kinder place if others would get on this bandwagon as well.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We all choke. You're not human if you haven't~Curtis Strange

The formula for water is H2O. Is the formula for an ice cube H2O squared~Lily Tomlin
A half shy, but maybe not!
Have you ever had that one goal in your life, that has been a goal for ever.  You keep saying you have this "one" goal.  You say it, again and again in conversation; however, it just keeps sitting there, no accomplishments towards the goal (you think anyway).  The goal is there! Others do it.  Why do I keep passing by the opportunity?  Maybe the goal is too big to reach.  That could be true; why not take it one step at a time?

I had a small epiphany this weekend when running the half marathon leg in the half Ironman with my brother.  A lot of first times for me... first time running a half Ironman relay, first time running with my brother (who is a phenomenal swimmer and biker, very close to elite status), first time meeting my brothers brother in-law (who is also very close to elite status in his race) and first time my parents saw me run one of my races.  All great stuff!!! Great stuff. 
We were all chatting about our future goals, two of us want to complete an Ironman in our lifetime, we both even said in 2011; and one of us wants to reach elite status.  All doable goals, big goals, as long as we set our minds to doing it, we will.  

I ask myself, how long ago did we set these goals? Why haven't we reached them yet?

Maybe it's because we have some personal fears and barriers set in our minds that keep us from heading towards those goals; like, saying how much I don't like ab-work or sprints. Did you know that ab-work is critical to a good race? Having a strong core will alleviate stresses in your body during the race and overcompensate for areas in your body that get tired or strained during a race. Or doing sprints.  Sprint workouts, challenges all kinds of muscles, plus helps agility & speed and retrains your brain to work differently during a race. Doing sprints during training will generate that one minute difference in time. The time you've been trying to achieve forever. 

As we completed our tri relay we found that it worked out quite well and we started talking about doing an Ironman relay. Ah, ha...epiphany! Why can't we take our goal and break it up smaller, try this first and see how it goes. Each one of us have a unique skill for one of the three sports in the Ironman, my brother swim, my new friend in bike and I in the run. We also have goals to have a better time and if we work together as a team, we may reach our time goals within the Ironman relay. I think we have something here, why not work as a team?  It might encourage us each to work harder and be stronger.  Heck I learned that just yesterday, when I was waiting in the transition area for my brother to come in on the bike.  I kept saying how I want to run fast because I don't want to disappoint my brother who is anxious to get a good time.  How if I trained properly I might even get that "personal best time" I've been working toward in my half marathon.   Plus, I will have completed a partial lead toward my big goal which is to complete that Ironman in my lifetime.

That goal that you have, my advise... t
ake it slow, chip away at it; a little at a time.  Why not?  Be open and aware. See your fears and roadblocks in front of you.  Conquer each fear, one at a time.  It may take some doing and time, be patient.  Before you know it, you are closer to that one goal.  You will reach that finish line... at last!

***The thought pattern characteristic of the right brain lends itself to the formation of original ideas, insights, discoveries. We might describe it as the kind of thought prevalent in early childhood, when everything is new and everything has meaning. If you have ever walked along a beach and suddenly stopped to pick up a piece of driftwood because it looked to you like a leaping impala or a troll, you know the feeling of pleasure that comes from the sudden recognition of a form. Your Design mind (right brain) has perceived connections and had made a pattern of meaning. It takes logical, rational acts and facts of the world you know, the snippets of your experience, the bits and pieces of your language capabilities, and perceives connections, patterns, and relationships in them.~
Gabriele Lusser Rico

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Embrace your future!!!

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.~Napoleon Hill

Colorful collage full of ideas, seeds once planted by our parents and their parents, right now, blooming into colorful flowers, now held delicately in our world.
I just came home after a full day at a leadership retreat, workshop or gathering with about 100 of the most intelligent, passionate, and skillful executive leaders and educators. The meeting was hosted at one of the leader’s log cabin home, positioned on a 10 acre estate right on the lake front. It was a perfect day.  Inspired and Energized are some of the adjectives that I can use, out of many, to describe this event. I met powerful and influential people who were genuine in so many ways. Everyone had the same purpose to ensure young people succeed, with education as one of the cornerstones. The statistics I heard were mind boggling, only 1 out of 5 young people attend college in the Midwest and the high school graduate percentage is plummeting. How are we to take care of our children and grandchildren? We are so concerned about living in the now; we are forgetting about those choices affect them. As one of the leaders stated, "It's like we are shooting ourselves in the foot."  

I was inspired to hear of the amazing programs that are currently being initiated; one for example is creating a camp for high school kids who are struggling and in a high risk situation, borderline dropouts. This camp is entirely volunteer-run, focusing on teaching up to at least sophomore level algebra; because, studies have shown that this math level is enough to give the student the basic math concepts to enter college and the option to get there.

I could not believe the energy that came from this day jammed packed with strategic work group activities.  All of whom were volunteering their time, taking their time away from their daily lives to attend this day full of purpose.

We truly are in this together, and if we each do our part, encourage and support education by providing whatever resources we can give; whether it be mentoring, coaching, teaching, sharing our thoughts and ideas, giving our time, providing product, volunteering our services, or giving money; anything will help support our kids and the future they will be leading.

We cannot rely on the government, who, in my opinion, takes every resource and sucks it up into a vacuum spitting out compost in return. It is our innovative application that will only be a part in making that difference. 

Just recently, I figured out that if I follow my heart it will lead me to great things. Before I could go anywhere, I had to take time to contemplate, meditate and just be in the moment, to understand what it was that was in my heart. I realize that my passion is truly helping all ages in all areas of education (reading, math, sciences, fitness, & arts), this includes not only the taught, but the researchers, scientists, artists, teachers and coaches who do the teaching.  I know, wholeheartedly, that reading is fundamental and when a child can read it opens the world of opportunity for them. So, now that I'm getting closer to my heart, understanding who I am, I realize there is a reason why I am involved with this wonderful foundation, because it is about the young people. Those innovative teachers and students who will help make our world a better place for the future of my kids and your kids.

In addition to contributing my energies towards higher education, I most recently found out that there are two organizations where I can give back to young people and communities in needs.  There is an organization called Layla House, which is a volunteer organization where people come and help out at orphans (with aids) in Ethiopia. In addition, Ethiopia Reads, an organization that develops communities in Ethiopia, is a place where I will live for a month and help rebuild communities.  Even if it is only that I help take and distribute books from one town to the other, walking a donkey and cart with donated books; this is their traveling library.  I will help in a very small way.  It is something I feel in my heart that I need to do, to help young and old, so that I can understand and help rebuild their communities.

After an inspiring day with strong leaders, I now realize, that I have been participating in our future, today; and I am truly making a contribution, as small as it may be, to help our world.  All I can do is continue to listen to my heart and the messages that people share, hoping that what little I offer builds towards the larger contribution in educating a young mind, which I believe, will provide a future of the greater good.

Photos by Mary Minnella Lowisz 

Reinvigorate - Reimagine - Reinvent - Recharge - Renew