Returning Home

Attitude of Gratitude, leaving a legacy, The Inspired Life

There is only one success~ to be able to spend your life in your own way.
~Charles Marley

We re-entered our “normal” life late last night after an amazing ten days away in California. The trip, spanning the area outside of Los Angeles for the first half of the trip in hotel luxury, changed scenery to hilly San Francisco and then up farther into the hills to a campsite of rugged beauty and log cabins for a Memorial Day weekend of volunteering for a family camp for families with children who have cancer.

There is so much to say. So much to process. My heart is full. Overflowing actually. Beautiful little faces are still smiling up at me when I close my eyes, bittersweet pain still reaches out and grabs at my heart when I remember the daily challenges these families face. The fear. The bravery. The strength. I felt small in my ability to wipe away the terror. Huge in my ability to love and give little hugs and kisses to babies and three year olds looking up to me for a sign of hope. We all did what we could. Sometimes my *could* was wiping down counters, serving food, washing dishes. One day it was helping on the zip line and cheering on tiny tots and their parents who faced this new fear just as bravely as they tackled cancer. Head on and with passion.

This was not a sad place. It was a valley of hope. A treasure chest of inspirations. It was a festival of dance parties, camp fires, marshmellow roasts, hugs and laughter. It was a waterfall of courage, washing over you, bathing you in new priorities, reminding you of the important battles, releasing you of the small unimportant ones. Sometimes we forget that all we really have to do is just let go.

So many things just don’t matter. You can really choose what is important when you are reminded of what is worth fighting for. Family, life, loved ones. Hope…

Home now to laundry and meetings with the end of the school year and a broken down ice machine and oh by the way…the dogs need a bath. And the new month is here and the bills need to be paid and the grocery list will need to be done and Michael is graduating and they still need to be signed up for swimming and ……..

yes….I’m home. And I do need to do all that, and I do need to answer my e-mails and I do need to re-enter my life. But I don’t want to forget. The lessons of this vacation and the peace of unplugging and the importance of priorities and family and hope and love.

There will be much more to say. So much more. Right now, I have only a question.

If You could live your life the way you wanted it with absolutely NO FEAR OF FAILURE, what would your life look like? What would it take for you to get there?

Unplugging for Peace

Attitude of Gratitude, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life, Writing

I have been sitting by the pool all week, warmed by the California Sun caressing my pale Chicago skin. A trickling waterfall, babbling with playful birds has been my twitter and my social network. I close my eyes and breathe in oxygen that does not have toxins of technology and To Do lists. I am alone. Unplugged and at peace. 

My Zen-filled fingers dip a loaded brush filled with ever-changing colors into swirls of paint. The muse awakens from within, my own fountain thrusting upward and out of the vessel-it doesn’t matter what happens to appear on the page-only that it is authentic to the peace…and the feelings that are sprouting there. Perfection has no place here, the only audience is the birds and the Sun. The Creator and creation are the same…if only for the moment…unplugged, serene, focused.

I open my journal next, words spilling on to the pages as fast as my pen can scratch them out. Free-forming associations create new thoughts, new ideas, projects and brainstorms, some will be discarded, some will be created, some will be brainstormed further with new partners in-put. More creativity to follow. All gifts from the Muse-gods. I am always grateful.

Totally and reverently standing in the golden light, filled with energy, filled with creativity, filled with peace…

 

I am hoping to remember this feeling when I plug back in. Hoping to put a piece of it in my pocket to hold on to. Hoping to be ABLE to close my eyes and remember the smell of ocean air, the sight of mountains in the near distance, palm trees swaying, trickling fountains that whisper to birds. Hoping to remember that I can BREATHE unplugged, that they all survive without me, that I do without them….once in awhile.

I love my community, My e-mail, my friends. I love my tranquility, my peace too. My creativity MORE. I need them both. I need to go home and find the balance. Learn to unplug for peace.

What about you? How plugged in are you? How does it affect your peace? Your productivity? How balanced are you in your plugged in-ness?

The Pebble People

Attitude of Gratitude, leaving a legacy, The Inspired Life

Get ready to meet the Pebble People.

I’m getting ready to take down The Blog Log… For a very good reason.

I’m not building a LOG here. WE are building a community. A community of people who share, get to know each other, get to communicate with each other, share ideas, inspiration and help each other.

A neighborhood. A place where people come to hang out.

When I first arrived at Life’s Little Inspirations, and took the dust covers off of all the old antique furniture and started trying to spruce the place up, I used to think that maybe this was a house. But the longer I’ve been hanging out here the last few months, now I think it’s maybe more like a community arts center. Lively conversations with good friends Karen and Ellen, sitting around the table, chatting about balancing our balloons,something we all struggle with I found out! All of the the art and people that come in and hang around the big old giant kitchen table, with their creativity and creations, Daz with all of his brilliant paintings, and Amy with her art, and Brett with his crazy shoes and Tei with her Band of Rogues, Melissa with poetry readings, hanging out by the huge old stone fireplace on the weekends, everyone sitting cross-legged on the rug telling stories and sharing ideas and things that matter to them…the vision is getting clearer. It is all becoming a community of like-minded writers, artists, and inspiring, warm-hearted friends all making a difference in our own journeys though the world we travel in.

 

Sometimes we tease each other, some times we share stories, some of us share projects and cross each others blogs with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. ALWAYS we support each other and always we cheer each other on. Holding each other accountable and helping each other dream, laugh, win. We help each get through the day. We help each other grow.

So instead of a blog-roll, I am growing a community page for those who are frequent members of the Life’s Little Inspirations Community. The ones who comment often, contribute and make the journey together. The ones making a commitment to be there for each other, to reach out and be a part of this with each other.

The Pebble People Page.

The ones who are willing to Pick up their Pebble and throw it in the water and watch how it makes a wave. Realize that their Pebble DOES make a difference. The ones who understand that yes, they may have JUST a pebble, but even a pebble makes a wave and every wave is connected. Every comment counts, every member of our community counts and is celebrated and important. Every opinion matters and forms us.

I have been working on the page and it’s growing. It will be a page-not a post- and it will always be there-as a link to the major contributor’s of this community. You can help me write whatever you like about your site and yourself as we work it out. If you are one of the frequent contributors here, you can be assured you will be on it, if you want to be. If you don’t have a blog, no worries, you will be on it anyway.This isn’t an advertisement for blogging. It’s a way for each of you in the community to get to know each other better and tell each other something about yourself.

Thanks you for being part of this community. We are all pebbles in the water, making waves.

How do you see this community growing and what are you enjoying the most about it?

NOTE:
Starting this Monday this week, I will be in California. Partially on a mind retreat, writing and painting and then at the end of the week, John and I will be doing some volunteer work at a camp. I will be writing, I don’t know how much posting and commenting I will do. I am planning on unplugging as much as possible and letting the Muses do their thing. Please come on in and keep the community going…I filled the fridge, there is plenty of coffee and lots of logs for the fireplace. I’ll check in as much as I can. You guys are awesome.

 

Inspiring Things that Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Attitude of Gratitude, The Inspired Life

Around and round and round it goes where it stops nobody knows….

This tagging thing has got to stop. I’m getting dizzy. I can’t keep track of who in the circle has been tagged or hasn’t and some have been twice so…oooh my…I’m getting off the ride before I swoon.

And for those of you who have no earthly idea what I am talking about, ( and I barely do either) I’ll try to explain because I know that a lot of my readers don’t actually live in blogsville ( Meaning you don’t write your own blogs ( yet– be careful-it’s contagious-ask Jenny!)

In blogsville, the kids go around playing a game called Tag Meme ( Or something like that) where they have to tag each other and then they write a post with 8 things about themselves in it and then tag 8 other people, who then keep the game of tag going even longer. So my wonderful friend Brett tagged me. Thanks Brett. But because I run slow, I have waited and waited and all of our friends have ran around and tagged each other all over and over again and are so tired now that I think they have all fallen over in the grass. Or maybe they have just given up and headed over to Tei’s place at the Lusty Weevil (Adults only Warning- don’t bring your kids or innocent eyes).

So. Being the rebel that I am, I’m not going to follow the rules. This is-after all- Life’s Little Inspirations– not show and tell. But I will play along in my own little fashion and give to you:

 

Eight Things That Inspire Wendi

  1. Waking up to an amazing sunrise that is spreading out in brilliant colors across the sky and realizing that every day begins with art makes me want to stand on a mountain top and sing like Julie Andrews. Sometimes I do, but I don’t think I sound as good.
  2. Standing with my toes touching a wave in the ocean and thinking that wave is going to go back out into the world and touch everything everywhere because we are all connected.
  3. Holding on to my bible and wondering about the people who took the time to record the stories and the folk-lore and traditions and the laws and how much they understood the importance of words and history and time. did they?
  4. Writing in my journals, asking God for clarification and help to understand a problem, and coming back later and re-reading it, realizing that I DO get it and feeling SO GRATEFUL, like a light-bulb has gone off and I feel like I can fly.
  5. Listening to the wisdom of my elders, who are traveling the road before me, who have learned the lessons I am working through, who inspire me with their dignity, their strength, their laughter, their creativity,their wisdom: My mother, My Mother-in Law, Ms O, so many others…
  6. Talking with, playing with, cuddling with my children and my grandchildren. Children are God’s teachers.They have taught me everything. They fill me up. (Thanks Chillies.)
  7. Looking into the eyes of Maggie, my dog. She inspires me with the way she wants to give me everything and love me with her whole heart with pure and simple intent. She is beautiful.
  8. John. My Husband. Our love and partnership gives me power and strength,vision and confidence. Facing each day girded with the strengh of unconditional love, teamwork, like-minded goals and a best friend who believes in me inspires me to make the most of each day. Thank you honey for being you. I love you.

As far as tagging anyone else, you will have to tag yourself. I can’t remember anyone who hasn’t been tagged yet. Except maybe Jenny. Jenny, tag yourself IF you want to. I’m not tagging anyone.

But I would love to hear your comments here about what inspires you. Please share…What fills you with wonder and inspiration?

Balancing Balloons

Healthy Lifestyles, self improvement, The Inspired Life

It isn’t easy balancing all the different areas of our lives. Sometimes it feels as if we are hanging on to a giant bunch of colorful balloons and if we aren’t holding on tightly to every single string then …POOF! There goes all of our balloons up in the air drifting away, heading for the clouds or trees, getting caught up in the branches of life.

Ever felt like a wailing child who’s balloon just went POP? Whaaaaaa, There went my red balloooon……

But Honey…you still have a green one.

But I neeeed my red one tooooo……

Of course you do. We need all of our Balloons. Every single one of them. But somehow, just as you get the air back in the Physical Fitness Balloon the Spend Time with Family Balloon starts sinking slowly to the ground. Then Bob at work signs you up as the team leader for an important project and the Business Balloon gets puffed full of air while the Fitness Balloon takes a nosedive. And that Spiritual Balloon? Comes up only on Sunday. The Finance Balloon? Well, You kick it along on the ground with your toe, just to help it keep up.

Sure, you have goals. But every time you start on a goal, something else seems to suffer. It’s almost frightening to start something new. It’s like planning to fail, you can just feel one of those balloons start to lose air. The question is…which one?

It doesn’t have to be so frightening. ( says the Queen of focus) ( yes, I know, it’s terrifying) There is a way that can help those of us that struggle to keep our balloons in the air. I write this as one who struggles. I write as one who is learning as I go along. Not as an expert. I once said you would never hear about how I am an expert in balance at Life’s Little Inspirations. And you won’t. But I will share what helps a cobbler, cobbling along. Balance is my handicap. I get a new gig and I run full force with two feet forward until I fall down. However, as I learn and grow, I fall faster and get up quicker. I grab my balloon string just as it starts to slip now instead of after the red balloon is gliding off to heaven. I’m learning some tips to help me hang on to my balloons.

I thought I’d share my tips with you, maybe you can share some of yours with me, maybe together we can keep our balloons a little longer!

Wendi’s Tips For Balancing Balloons

  • Label your balloons clearly. It’s not enough to know that they are the RED Balloon and the GREEN Balloon. Get in touch with your main balloons. What are they? What are the main five to six areas of your life that need your daily focus? What balloons are you trying to keep in the air?
  • Look at your goals. Name the number 1.2.& 3 goals for each balloon. Now take a good look. Are these connected? Or do they have you running in circles? Try looking for a long term goal, then breaking it down into a ninety day goal. Now what can you do this week to affect that goal? How about today? See the difference? You might want to put the other two goals aside for a bit if they weren’t connected to the long term vision. The point of the exercise is to end up with a short term, a mid-term (90 day) and your long term goal.
  • Put it in Writing. Now that you have a goal for each balloon, put it in writing. IF YOUR PLAN IS NOT IN WRITING, IT ISN’T A PLAN, ITS A DREAM. Get out your planning calendar and start filling in dates that you will take action on your plan. Seeing an actual appointment on your calendar will hold you more accountable. Write in the TIME that you will do the action. Make the actual appointment. IF it’s not on your calendar, it’s not a plan…if it’s not a plan…it’s a dream. ( Starting to sink in?)
  • Ask yourself WHY? Why have you made these goals? Staying motivated to keep balanced in all of these goals is difficult. It takes discipline and focus. Staying Motivated is linked to your inner purpose, your inner drive and your passion. No passion = no fuel in the tank to make it happen. Write down the WHY of your goals. “I am doing this because….. ” Make sure you know what your passion is for each one of your balloons. Sometimes we only feel passion for one of our balloons at a time. This is the single largest reason our other balloons start sinking to the ground. Start a sentence for each balloon that says “I am passionate about this because…” and review it daily.
  • Record and compare & Journal. Track your results in a daily planner or on your calendar. Be accountable to the progress you made in each area. Remember, this isn’t a long list. With only one goal of focus in each area, you are only looking at a few minutes a day. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by making your expectations too high. The goal is one bite of the elephant at a time in each area. We aren’t out to eat the entire herd! Journal about your progress and expectations. No matter how it FEELS like it’s going, stay the course! The discipline of sticking it out when the going gets rough brings opportunity and personal growth, whether you meet the original goal or not!.
  • Create an visual reminder. Draw a chart with the five circles in it, or make a poster board with different color balloons if that helps you. Keep it present, in front of you. Out of sight is out of mind. If you want to make a dry erase board that you can write on every day-go for it! What ever makes it easy for you to envision the balloons that you are trying to keep up.
  • Keep it fun! You are more likely to stick with something if you are having fun with it. Balloons are fun for me to imagine, But you can turn balloons into whatever is fun for you. Have a good time with it.  Running shoes, or Stars or Olympic Circles. One point of the theme that is significant to me is that they are all connected. It reminds me that no part of my life survives untouched without the rest. When my health suffers, my family suffers, when my family suffers, my work suffers. When my work suffers our budget suffers. And around and around it goes.

Balance is important. That doesn’t mean that it will ever be easy for me. I think I’m genetically predisposed to be creative and energetic and run through life like a shooting star. Not so much like a Zen Master. But by finding creative and fun ways to work on balance, I can keep my balloons from floating away.

How about you? How do you keep your balloons from flying off to heaven or running out of air? Please share! We all need the help!

A Mother’s Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude, family, leaving a legacy, The Inspired Life

 

Mother’s Day Weekend is here. It is a special day for me, special because I have been in active duty now for 31 years. Plus 11 years as a grandmother. I wouldn’t trade a single day. Not even the stormy ones.

Yes, it’s true…I had an early start. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you hit a home run.

Although, I didn’t wake one day and say, “Gee…I think I’ll try being a sixteen year old mom, won’t that be a smart idea!”  I did learn more from that rocky road than all of the other hard knock classes I took put together.

I learned about unconditional love. I learned about commitment. I learned about priorities. (You learn about that sort of thing in the middle of the night with an asthmatic child who can’t breathe and you haven’t slept in three days.) I learned about money. I learned about not having any.

Yep…kids teach you everything. All of mine have taught me new things. My oldest, being the pioneer daughter, blazing the trail for the others, had it the hardest. She had to dig her way through the hardest clay, my skills as a parent, untried and alone for the most part. We experimented together. Frick and frack, figuring it out as we went along. We learned a lot together. The rest of them should send her Mother’s day cards.

When she was 16, she wrote a poem and gave it to me for Mother’s Day.

I appeared like lightning piercing the sky;
Greatly unexpected, a hindrance was I.
Washing away goals, changing dreams like the tide,
I crushed her youth the moment I arrived.

But her love flourished with each passing day,
As she accepted her life, the gift that I gave.
Our life was not charted, predicted, or planned;
We faced our troubles hand in hand.

They flooded our lives, right from the start,
But made us two people; stronger of heart.
She welcomed my presence for she did know,
That when a storm goes by, it leaves a rainbow.

 

 I CRIED……

But it was true. All of my children are exquisite rainbows with the most glorious colors in the universe.

I know that all of the mothers out there feel the same way about their rainbows too. So for mothers everywhere this weekend, I am sharing my gratitude for all of our children and for everything they have taught us, shown us and shared with us.

 For the gift of being a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day Moms.

I have been blessed.

Listening With Ears Wide Open

Attitude of Gratitude, family, self improvement, The Inspired Life

Tap.Tap. Tap…Tap.Tap.Tap…Is this on?

Can you all hear me? OK good. I would like to thank everyone for coming to Life’s Little Inspirations today. It’s wonderful to see so many familiar faces here and welcome to everyone who is here for the first time! Let’s get started then. Quiet, now. Shhhh, we are getting started a little late so I want to get going. If you can all pull your chairs up nice and close and make room for those who are standing in the back of the room that would be great. Wonderful. Thanks.

Today we will be discussing the Art of Listening with Ears Wide Open.  However, before we begin, I would like to present you with an example of what passes for listening a great deal of time in our very busy, over stimulated culture and one very creative man’s solution for handling the situation.

Sir… could  get the lights in the back of the room? …Thanks.

 

Now, I think we can safely say that this man was listening with his mouth open and his ears closed. In fact, to be more precise, he used an ancient stealth tactic that has been secretly passed down from one generation to the next to get OUT of listening. So, the next time someone suddenly plants a big wet one on you after your long and winding dissertation, do NOT make the leaping assumption that you have just spoken the most inspiring words since Martin Luther King. That person wants you to SHUT UP. They do not care what you have to say.

Kinda hurts your feelings a little bit doesn’t it?

We all want to be heard. There is something inside each and every one of us, a little voice crying out to be heard, thinking it isn’t all that interesting, all that important. So it sits there. Waiting for it’s turn. OR it jumps in, interrupting at odd times and then runs out of steam, never quite gathering up the full power of confidence without the other half of the equation. Someone who takes the time to listen.

The highest compliment you will ever pay another human being is to take the time to actively listen, actively observe, actively care about what is important to that other person. Focus on them. Listen to them. Care about them.

 

There are many different levels of listening and we go in and out of them several times a day.

Perhaps most frequently in our instant pudding society, we do what I call our:

Scan Listening: We use our ears these days the same way we use our eyes to read. We are too busy to read every word so we scan through what we are reading for relevant details while we are multi-tasking. We do it with our ears too. We do it while our children are talking, while the wife/husband is filling us in on the day and we are cooking/changing/ getting ready for the next transition in our over packed schedule. You can be sure you did it when you hear the words, “Honey, I just told you that.”  ” You did?…I don’t think so…I would have remembered.”

No you wouldn’t have. You were reading the paper/computer. You only would have remembered if she just told you she won two tickets to your favorite team’s game. You were scanning.

If I ask you how many of you here now think you are all great listeners, a good many of you will be happy to raise your hands.

Go ahead and put them up if you want to. While you have them up, let me ask you a question. During that last example of scanning, how many of you with your hands up, just thought back to an example of the last time you were in a situation of scanning behavior?

OK. Good.  Now..for all of you that did, how many of you thought, “That reminds me of the time when so and so said….and then…she said..and then….OH! I wish Wendi would quit talking so that I could have a chance to tell my story. I wonder if I’ll get a chance to raise my hand..will there be comments after????”

Well..yes, there will be comments after, and don’t worry, you are normal. You can put your hands down. That was an example of Reactive Listening, where you are just listening long enough to trigger a response from yourself so that you can share your thought, idea, or in the case of sales people ( and really annoying bad car salesmen) get them to see things your way so that you can get that sale.

What we want to look at today is a form of deeper, more focused listening that has the other person as the center of attention, not us. It isn’t as hard as you might think, you don’t have to be born with it, and with a little practice, you will have moments that will give you very deep inspired connections with others and leave you wondering what you have been listening to all this time.

Got your pens and paper ready?

 

Keys Points to Listening with Ears Wide Open.


Intuitive Listening

Remember Two ears/ One mouth: It should go without saying that we start here, but somehow it doesn’t seem to be obvious. Sometimes people get hung up on that “Life’s Supposed to be Fair” rule here. Listen close. That rule DOES NOT APPLY HERE. This is not a give and take. They get to talk twice as much as you do. That’s the math equation. If you can get them to talk three times as much, with you just popping in a comment or a question now and them, you are already a pro.

Use Interested Body language  Keep your body language calm and relaxed. DO NOT look at your watch or cell phone. (which by the way should be turned off) Lean slightly forward in toward them, showing interest, eyes looking at them, focused on what they are saying. Nothing says “I can’t hear you” more than eyes wandering around a room taking in the environment.  

Respect Personal Boundaries Different cultures and different people have personal preferences about their personal boundaries. Get too close or get too far away and you have lost them. Look for the subtle signs of them backing away or moving in to you that will let you know their border preferences.

Be Observant Notice the little things. Watch for the flickers in their eyes when they speak of certain things. Was that painful to them? She just started rubbing her fingers back and forth very quickly and chewing her gum faster..hmmm. But she seems calm. Mixed signals? What ISN’T he saying?

Listen for meaning Listen for what they meant to say, not what they said. Don’t assume. If you aren’t absolutely sure, ASK. In this growing multi-cultural world, different places may have slightly different meanings. Heck, maybe even in your own backyard pub. Here is an example a few of you may recall:

Coach: Can I draw you a beer Norm?

Norm: No, I know what they look like, just pour me one.

Poor Norm. He thought he was listening. Oh well. At least he got his beer.

Ask Open-ended questions Asking open-ended questions and questions that clarify what it was they meant let’s them know you are interested and gives them permission to continue. It draws them out and helps them to think through their own thoughts on the subject. They may not have even known how they felt until you helped them to think it all through. You don’t even need to give your opinion, just letting them sort through their own opinion with a good pair of ears is a huge help!

Empathize not Sympathize, and DO NOT JUDGE! They don’t want or need your pity, and they don’t want to be judged. Accept what they tell you unconditionally. Offer your understanding. If you have had a similar experience, share a short, abbreviated version so they can see you really do understand but don’t let it slip into an opportunity to become all about you and don’t give advice unless asked. Be very careful about giving any advice that could be seen as professional advice unless you are a professional. You are here to listen, not give medial opinion. It’s a slippery slope. Don’t get caught going down that hill.

They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

It is argued who was the first to say that quote, but it isn’t argued how true it is. If people feel that you don’t or won’t take the time to listen to them, then what you in effect have said is-I don’t love you, you don’t matter to me, you aren’t important enough to me to give up my time, my energy or my attention. I’d rather look at strangers on Twitter, Facebook, You Tube or the Boob Tube than to pay attention to you.

Kinda hurts your feelings a little bit doesn’t it?

 

Please….go out and pay someone the compliment of listening with ears wide open. It is one of the most loving, kindest, caring things you can do for another human being.

Time for comments.

 I’m listening.

 

 

The Attitude of Staying Put

Attitude of Gratitude, leaving a legacy, self improvement, The Inspired Life

If you have missed the story of Jason McElwain, take a minute to watch this short video about this amazing young man. Warning…Kleenex alert ahead…..

 

I could just stop right there. Say THE END. There is plenty of inspiration to the story without adding a single word. It is really very remarkable and heart-warming. But something really struck me about this story that didn’t stand out right away with all the *Rockyness* and miracle of it.

The fact that J-Mac as they called him, was even there is an amazing thing. How many of us, how many kids, after being turned away, after failing to make the team, year after year,  only being 5’6, let alone being autistic, would have stuck that out in this instant pudding world of give me my glory right now?

My friend Brett, Over at Six Weeks says “Fail Early, Fail Often”- but hey, come on now, at some point, the majority of us would have said,”Um, I really wanted to play ball here…so if you’re not gonna let me have a turn…Um…I think I’ll just mosey on over and try somethin’ else.”

Nope. J-Mac had Sticking Power.  J-Mac understood the magic of Staying Put. He didn’t have an agenda. He loved the sport and he wanted to be a part of it. Every SINGLE year he gave it his best shot and then played the card he was given with a winning attitude.

” At 5’6 he didn’t make the Junior Varsity Basketball team. Instead he became the team manager. The role he has now played for the varsity as a Senior. In the last three years, in his white shirt and his black tie, he’s missed only one game.”

He approached his job not as someone who had no options left, not as someone sulking or bitter because his dream of playing ball could never come true. Not as someone with limited options in life.

He approached his work with pride and privilege. Proud to be doing his part to make the team the best it could be.

In his own words:

What I tried to do is set up the clocks, get the water for the games and be enthusiastic.

It was his job to be enthusiastic. And he was proud and happy to do it.

I’m just normal like other people. That’s the way I am

Well……..actually??? Jason…what I’m thinking is….maybe not. Maybe you are a whole lot of something more.

While we “normal” people are out here whining and griping about what we didn’t get and how our *luck* ran out, and how It isn’t fair, and how “One of these days our ship is going to come in” , and “You’ll see, I’ll show that SOB…I’ll make him/her PAY for not giving me that Promotion/job/pay raise/(fill-in-the blank-with-what ever you might be feeling sorry for yourself for…)”  You, JASON,  were out there day in and day out giving it your best shot with an enthusiastic, wonderful attitude, GRATEFUL to be around the game that you love, expecting nothing in return except the privilege of showing up the next day too.

The Attitude of Staying Put. Of Giving it all You’ve Got. With Love. With Gratitude.

That…Makes…Magic.

Look what it did for Jason McElwain.

False Loves

self improvement, The Inspired Life

Did somebody speed up my clock? I swear I just wrote the last weekend post a minute ago. And here it is May already. How are your 2008 goals coming along? We are almost half way into the second quarter. Time to start working on our first half of the year review to see if the year is moving along as nicely as we would like. There’s still time to get that train on the right track!

As May comes into focus, Life’s Little Inspirations is chugging right along. Welcome to everyone who has just started visiting, and thank you for being here. I am SO happy that you have found us and I hope you will feel comfortable pulling up a chair, posting your thoughts and comments and being a part of the community.

My deep desire is for everyone to feel like they can participate, chat amongst yourselves and share your tips and ideas with each other. By learning how we all deal with some of life’s challenges together, we can all help each other grow.  I love getting your feedback and ideas! To my faithful readers who have been posting all along from the beginning, thank you for your loyalty and encouragement. I couldn’t be doing this without you!

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Thanks for visiting.

 And now…

Poetry time!

This week, I chose a poem from Sir Walter Raleigh. There are all types of false loves in our lives. Not only the false people in our lives that are the obvious villains of distraction and pain, but what about the time wasters? What about those seemingly important activities and situations, those hobbies and habits that are keeping us away from living the lives of our dreams? Can you bid farewell? I know that I am going to resolve to do better this next week. Want to join me?

A Farewell to False Love
   
Farewell, false love, the oracle of lies,
A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise,
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.

A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.

A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.

A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure’s lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.

Sith then thy trains my younger years betrayed,
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs betrayed,
Whose course was ever contrary to kind:
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.

Sir Walter Raleigh 

Slow Cooking Frogs

Healthy Lifestyles, self improvement, The Inspired Life

You can do anything you want in life, you just can’t do everything all at once.
~ Bobbi LaBelle

Hanging above my desk on a bright red ribbon, is a large heavy square bronze medal. It is one of my most treasured possessions. Engraved on it are the words:

24th Columbus Marathon
 October 19th 2003
FLAT FAST FUN

It was fun. It was one of the funnest days of my life. 

Note the date: 2003.

I ask myself, “Self? If that was one of the funnest days of your life, why exactly is it that the marathon medal is hanging up there all by itself without a gaggle of others to keep it company?”

Self answers, “Well, you see Wendi, Life keeps getting in the way. There was this thing and that thing and you already know about that major one thing and then after that…”

Uh huh…

So I still run…sorta…now and then…well…I can run…I mean I could…I mean…I’m gonna start again…probably tomorrow……..

My son has his Black belt in karate. For four years, four days a week, I took him to class and sat on a bench. I always joke that I have my black belt in karate sitting. One day I got tired of sitting there so I joined myself. By the time he graduated with his black belt, I was an orange belt. I loved Karate. It made me feel strong, invincible. It played to my strength of being singularly focused and in the zone. As a past attack victim, it made me feel empowered and It was a perfect sport for me. Yet, somehow, though I was motivated to take him every single day for four years, after he didn’t go anymore, life got in the way for me. I missed one class then two. Then the kids had to go somewhere so I took them to that. When it was time to sign up again in the summer I told myself I would come back in the fall, that summers were too busy. I have been an orange belt for six years. The belt hangs in the closet staring at me every day wondering what the heck I am waiting for. I tell it to shut up– I’m too busy.

Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you have to let it. Sometimes life moves on and what you wanted to be a priority has to go by the wayside for awhile. As much as we would like to have life be exactly what we want, exactly the moment that we want it, the timing isn’t right and we have to stop flailing our arms and legs in the water and just catch the drift. Sit back and see where it is we are SUPPOSED to be. Stop fighting the current.

Other times, it is exactly the OPPOSITE. We know exactly what our dreams and goals are, the timing IS perfect, serendipity is upon us and the only one we have to blame for not getting where we want to be is us. We start out all pumped up, excited full of the dream, eyes on the target, plan in hand and set out to go. Like a runner you start running toward the goal. It feels great. The next day too. The third day- a little sore. The fourth day, you press on… The fifth day your brain has several excuses and is arguing with you all the way out the door. A little voice sits on your shoulder, explaning the value of a rest day. You tell it to shut up and press on again. If you make it through days seven, eight and nine, you’ve warmed up the water nice and slow and you start to feel pretty good. You are in the groove and the habit starts to form. If you can make it to the thirtieth day, you are golden.

But one day, you just don’t do it. Maybe you get a cold. A week stretches out in front of you. The week after that is vacation. So that week is gone too. When you come home the week after, you promised to paint the siding all week long. You promise yourself you will get up first thing Monday morning…but when the time comes…you smack the snooze button. Maybe tomorrow…

Habits are like slow cooking frogs. They say that if you put a frog in pot of boiling water it will jump right out. But if you warm up the water slowly, it will just stay there until it dies. The frog won’t even notice that the water is heating up. It is almost painless. It happens just a little at a time, slowly but surely.

You can grow a habit the same way. It doesn’t happen in a day or the next. But day by day if you stick with it, a little at a time, you can slowly grow your habit almost painlessly. By the time you have reached 30 days, your subconscious mind will believe you have been doing it forever and propel you to continue. It will seem strange to you NOT to do your habit. The trick is to do just a little bit. Just a tiny little bit, slowly so you hardly notice, and build from there. Like cooking frogs.

The bad news is you can kill a habit the same way. So you have to be careful with your habits. You have to focus on them. You have to keep them in review and pay attention to them. You have to stay committed to them.

I didn’t stop running over night after my marathon. I loved running. It was a joy. I never stopped on purpose. I never even NOTICED that I wasn’t running any more.  Just like the frogs who didn’t notice their water warming up, I didn’t notice my water getting cold. But it did. Slowly over time, my frog water got cold because I stopped paying attention to it. It wasn’t boiling anymore. If I want to get back to being a marathon runner, I have to heat it up again. I have to focus on it. It needs to be a priority and I need to be willing to commit to it and put it at the top of the list. I have to be able to say, “Self, we are going to become a runner again. In order to do that, we have to heat up the water a little each day. Are you with me?”

And Self has to agree. If Self can’t make a commitment…there is no point in boiling up those frogs. There are too many other things on the list that have to get done.

This is an important point. You can do anything you want in life, you just can’t do everything all at once.

The person that taught me that is my mother, Bobbi LaBelle, one of the smartest women I ever met. She raised three young kids as a single mother while working double shifts in a glass jar factory. She saved up enough money, and had enough guts to get out of there and open her own Beauty Shop. The place was tiny but so successful that people were waiting outside to get in. She bought a new place four times the size and has been there for 30 years. She is one of the most creative, resourceful, talented and amazing people I have ever met. But one of the first things she ever taught me was to focus. Be committed to what you are doing. Give it 110 percent of your energy and you will have an excellent chance of success. Keep at it and don’t give up.

So, somewhere along the line I lost my focus on both my running and my karate. The water got cold and I got no cooked frogs. I can honestly say that the timing still isn’t right for me to go back to karate. I know the focus that it would take for that and I am not willing to heat up that pot of water right now. I will someday, so that belt can just keep on hanging there to remind me.

As I examine my priorities, I see that I have several pots on the stove going at the same time.

The Mom Pot
The Wife Pot
The Writer Pot
The Wendi Pot
The Director Pot

I open the lid of the Wendi pot and I take a peek inside. Hmmm. It looks like the area of *maintain personal health and exercise* is cooling down a bit and those frogs are getting a bit jumpy. I ask Self if it’s with me and Self says YES.

It looks like running just got moved back up the priority list again.

What’s cooking in your frog pots?