Feet in the Sand

family

Yesterday marked the middle of summer. How quickly the time is rushing by. If I had an hourglass of sand it would be draining down and I would be fighting the urge to turn it back over and begin again, making the sands last as long as possible before the dreaded days of Back to School are marching in with autumn winds.

We are playing and enjoying the summer beauty as much as we can. The children enjoy lazy afternoons at the pool and time with their cousins and friends. The dining room dinner table has been set aside for outdoor meals in the backyard by the grill and fire pit. The garden awards us with colorful produce for our evening meals.  John and I have had a wonderful time canoeing, biking, going for long walks, and even taking a long day at the Renaissance Faire going back into time and history to visit the Lords and Ladies of Queen Elizabeth’s day.

This last weekend, a most enjoyable evening was had cooking out with best friends and chatting over a crackling fire until wee into the night. It doesn’t get any better than this. May and June’s frightening storms have given way to blue skies and warm days and evenings. We are treasuring every day. Yet still it flies.

Yesterday, to mark the middle of summer, I scooped the children into the car and drove the 30 minutes to the State park where we can walk along the beach of Lake Michigan. The weather was a hot 90 degrees, not a cloud in the sky but the water was chilly and the waves felt like ice smacking at our feet as we walked along the rocky shore. That didn’t stop us from wading out into the frigid water and letting the white frothy waves lap at our legs. The children picked up interesting rocks and skipped them across the water’s edge. They competed to see who could skip rocks the best. They compete over everything. Even rocks. After a bit, one of them sat for a few minutes and dug around in the sand playing and I wished for all the days in my childhood that I had sand buckets and sand castles. We hadn’t brought one. Next time, I thought lazily. But then realized- It had been almost five years since the last time I had driven a whole 30 minutes to see the beach.

In five more years my son could be a sophomore in college, my daughter will be close to graduating High School. The time for sand castles and buckets will have passed us by. I had a sudden urge to dig my feet deep in the sand and not let go. Hang on to the icy lapping water of the shore line, fix my eyes on the horizon and stay there in that moment with them. I looked at both of them, completely unaware of my rushing emotions; they played with the water, the pebbles, and the sand, each other. I dug my feet farther into the wet sand and let the water rush over my cold toes. Freeze frame. Life is moving too fast. I didn’t want to let go of the moment.

I sighed.

I looked at the time. It was time to go. Deadlines and places to be and the next place on the day’s schedule were calling. But we had managed to carve out an hour or so of time in the sand that I know I will hang on to for a lifetime.

 

NOTE: Life’s Little Inspirations has moved off of this blog to our new address at http://lifeslittleinspirations.com/ There are new updated articles added there for your enjoyment. Please click on the link and come and join us there, we are waiting for you! If you are a subscriber here, please take a moment to re-subscribe at the new address so you don’t miss anything! Thank you for your support!

 

Advertisements

Loving Laughter

The Inspired Life

Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained.
~John Powell

Being a shy girl growing up, I wasn’t known for my sense of humor. For that matter, I wasn’t raised in a family that sat around and told jokes. Stories yes. Jokes…not so much. We were hard working, not so much hard playing. Playing was playing cards and then we played hard to win.

So it always amazed me later on when I would sit around a group of friends who would tease each other, poke around and then burst into a fit of laughter. It was an alien concept. OR maybe I was the alien.

The good news is that I didn’t laugh at other people and their misfortune. The bad news is that I didn’t know how to laugh at mine either. Every mishap was a huge embarrassment and I was sure that everyone else was staring at me through a giant magnifying glass examining my mistake. It was the breeding ground for my future perfectionism complex.

I needed to lighten up. Enter my childhood friend that I shall call *Karen.* Karen was one of those people that took nothing in life seriously including herself. She could laugh off the most embarrassing disaster. I would sit in complete amazement as we would whisk out of a room after a pickle she had gotten us into, me beet red, her in a fit of giggles. I won’t tell you she was the best thing that ever happened to my childhood. She wasn’t. In fact the litany of trouble she got me into could fill a book. But I learned that nothing in life was that serious, or that worth beating myself up over. I learned to have a little fun. To let go. To laugh at myself for getting it wrong. To just laugh period. She was fun to be around. Most of the time.

Over the years, I’ve landed myself in more than my share of puddles. Without anyone to blame but myself. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and more importantly with myself as I have journeyed about, learning the lessons along the way. I am afraid to think about where I might have ended up, had I not learned to just shrug it off, let it go and move on to the next one. It has been a saving grace for me.

I am still not known for my sense of humor. I know I have one, but it’s discriminatory I guess. I don’t think the Simpsons are funny. I leave the room when it comes on. I think the Friar is hilarious. My kids are funny too. I have no idea how they got that way.  My husband is also funny. He has the same sense of humor as the Friar. I guess someone in the family has to be the straight man…um-woman… so that is my place in the family line-up, but I have learned to surround myself with funny people!

Laughing is good for the soul. Summer is here and it time to relax, kick back, take yourself less seriously, take life a little less seriously and find some ways to get some humor and laughter in your life.

I probably won’t ever be the one to tell you a joke. I’m not even sure I know any. But I hang out with a lot of folks who will. Because I know the value of laughter. With myself and with others.

How about you? Done or seen anything funny lately? Have a joke to tell? Feel free to share it here!

Saving Summer

family

I thank you God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.
~E.E. Cummings

 

It’s the end of June and I don’t know where it went.

Well, yes I do actually. It went the way of 8th grade graduations and family parties, sitting outside with family and friends, barbecuing, singing karaoke, watching the kids run around and play and have the time of their life. We gardened, planted tomatoes and peppers and sat back to watch our first tomatoes turn red on the vine. Whew, it was a busy month. It also rained.  A lot. Enough that it created a built in excuse for burrowing into my office for hours and hours of writing frenzy and working on plans for a new site design. And now one entire month of the summer is gone.

For a lot of you, that may be no different than any other month, days come, days go, and one month evolves into the next with nary a blink of the eye. However we are from the Midwest. We are allotted precious few summer days, doled out like sparkling gems to be cherished. To waste one is almost a sin. Having to work during one is heartbreaking. Anguished employees struggle to keep their noses from being pressed to the glass. “It’s gorgeous out there” one will say wistfully.”

“I know, don’t remind me,” the other will reply, clutching their heart as if wounded. You think I exaggerate. No. This conversation happens all summer long.

Yet…

Come the weekend when you would expect them all to be flooding outdoors, canoeing, biking, picnicking or other recreational hobbies- they aren’t there.

They are at home. Working on their TO DO list. Getting stuff done. Meeting family obligations, cleaning out the garage. If they find TIME, then they will go play. TIME rarely comes.

Come Labor Day Weekend, all around the barbecue, will be a familiar conversation. “Where did the summer go? One day it was June 1st and the next thing we knew the kids were back in school and I can’t think of single thing we did.”

Summer has slipped through their fingers like sand on the beach. Gone. They will mourn its loss in the harsh winter snow and promise that next year will be different.

It probably won’t.

But it could be. It isn’t too late to save this summer. It takes planning and commitment and a certain proactive mindset but it can be done.

It isn’t difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Think back to our childhoods. Badminton, croquet, backyard barbecue with family and friends, lightening bugs, Kick the can games and hide and seek, picnics in the park with hot dogs and baked beans, time spent on beaches building sand castles in the sun. None of it went away. We stopped taking time to do it. But we could.

The secret is getting out the calendar. Planning family time and fun time before chores and obligations suck up the summer sun. Call a family meeting. Brainstorm several fun ideas that everyone would like to do. Write them all down. During the brainstorming, let no idea be out of bounds-but explain brainstorming, you won’t be able to do them all; you will have to pick and choose. The ones that hit the top of the list go right on the calendar. Before anything else. Make it sacred. Make it a promise. Make it a summertime date.

On a sidenote, if you are doing this with kids, I have also found that with younger ones, this is a great way to introduce the concept of budgeting to them. My kids were quick to figure out that we can pick one really expensive thing on the list OR we can pick ten or twelve other ones. THAT light bulb went on very quick!

With fun things on the agenda to look forward to, balancing the TO DO list during the week has more motivation. You might find you have a little extra get up and go to throw in that extra load of laundry and the kids might not mind taking it up to their rooms so much when you remind them, you all want an early start on the fun day on Saturday instead of spending the whole day doing chores. No kids? You might want the try that reminder on yourself. It’s very motivating!

Planning for fun is a foreign concept these days in our busy overworked world. Just like our healthy eating and our exercise programs and our eight hours of sleep, fun is on the “as soon as I can get to it’ list for too many of us far too often. But having it to look forward to just might put some extra zip in your step, improve your attitude, and make your work go by faster.

It will definitely give you something better to chat about come Labor Day at the neighborhood barbecue then wondering how summer, let alone life, is slipping through your fingers.

 What are you going to do for fun this summer?

A Spring Rain

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

It’s raining as I write. A dark, low, rumbling thunderous rain. Not frightening. The sort of rain that rolls in like a vacuum and cleans away the winter dust. It has been an ugly, long week of rain, tornado warnings and high winds, and yet, we soldier on here, not flinching in our schedules, not hesitating to make our plans for the day, for the week, for the future.

What if it rains? What if there is a tornado? What if there is a flood?

Then we’ll deal with it.

Somehow. We do. We just do. That’s spring in Chicago. It follows the blizzards and bitter, frigid temperatures of our winters, and will usher in the blistering, smoldering, humid heat of our summers. Midwesterners are tough, strong people. We have to be to deal with our weather. Some of us complain about it. I do. Loudly. Often. But it doesn’t stop us. It happens so often that it is part of the daily round. Something expected and planned for. We wear our weather like a badge of honor. It makes us rugged and brave. It shows our courage. The weak would move. The weak DO move. It isn’t easy to tolerate the barrage of ever changing attacks.

The weather here changes you if you let it. It molds you and shapes you the way water wears at the surface of stone. Over time, you build callouses to all the drama that the weather provides. You move on. You make better provisions. You learn to plan ahead. To strategize. You become unfazed to the trauma that would affect your To Do list. You simply move on to Plan B -because you have a plan B.

A recruiter once told me that in his opinion, people from the Midwest were the hardest working people in the States. They learned how to work around things. They learned how to pitch in and get things done. If you doubt it, watch and see how quickly the Midwest can mobilize and band together after a winter storm or tornado. Families and neighbors pull together and get the job done. It isn’t a question of IF. They just figure out HOW and they just DO it.

My youngest son graduated from 8th grade this weekend. We had a large family party in the backyard, complete with two Weber grills fired up with a selection of meats, salads and pasta on the buffet and choices of dessert. On the patio, my eldest son’s Karaoke company had set up the evening to be a entertaining night of Karaoke, singing and fun for all of the kids and kids at heart. Despite the fact that Severe Thunderstorm’s had rolled through in the morning, dousing everything with buckets of water and sweeping through with the fourth wind-storm of the weekend, we continued on undaunted. When it looked as if ten minutes after he set up his equipment the storms were going to return, we pulled out the giant tent from the garage, set it up in moments, and continued on with nary a break in the action. The party and the singing continued on around us.

As I looked around, singing, dancing, laughter, chatting, were the actions taking place around me. No one gave a fig about the weather, the grayness of the skies or the humidity in the air. We focused on what was good. We focused on what was fun. We were focused on family.

That’s the way it is here. The worse the weather gets, the more we pull in tighter. The more we cozy up to each other. The weather reminds us of what is important. Pitching in. Helping out. Team work. Family. The rain, the snow, the heat, they wash away the trivial and leave us with the important things to worry about.

We know how to figure it out. And we do it together.

At nine O’clock, we pulled down the tent and put the karaoke away. Just in time, as if waiting for permission, the winds picked up and the sky unleashed it’s next bucket of rain for the evening. We gathered inside, with the back door open listening to it fall. My husband and son stood in the doorway, watching as the energy lights flickered across the sky in the dark, the rumbling of thunder, rolling low and deep. Their hushed voices chatted as the rest of us listened to soft music, finishing our wine. The air was warm, washed clean from the spring rain, the mist reaching into the house, filling the air with the scent. All was peaceful, loving, content.

Yes, It changes you to live here. You become adaptable. Flexible. Strong. Appreciative of the good moments. The moments when the rain is soft and clean, bringing a man and son together in the night, a memory I will watch in my mind for a long time.

Appreciative of family, of being able to bend with the wind, still laughing, still playing….waiting hopefully… for the sun.

Gifts From Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude, self improvement, The Inspired Life

Have you ever noticed that when you are in the moment of really focusing on feeling grateful…really sucking up the life absorbing energy of being appreciative for the gifts that life has bestowed on you, that there are other emotions that you can NOT express at the SAME time?

You can’t feel truly angry and grateful at once.

You can’t be jealous of someone else’s good fortune while being bathed in the light of your own thankfulness.

You can’t focus on your own pain, suffering, fatigue, disillusionment, battle scars, insecurities and past failures while being grateful.

Thinking of those things can end your attitude of gratitude. Negativity and gratitude can’t share the same space in your brain at the same time. You have to choose.

And sometimes, the things we think are the misfortunes we should be complaining about, are the very things we should be grateful for, but the fog hasn’t cleared enough for us to know that yet.

The difficulties, hardships and trials of life, the obstacles…are positive blessings. They knit the muscles more firmly, and teach self-reliance.
~William Matthew

 

It’s the weekend again. and this weekend I am celebrating an attitude of being in the moment and feeling gratitude. Simple gratitude for the health of family, friends and loved ones everywhere. Won’t you join me in this simple quest of staying in the moment of gratitude? It isn’t as simple as you think.  🙂 but try to hang on to it AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

While you are at it, I have gotten a start at the Pebble People Page. Stop on over and take a look. It isn’t NEARLY even close to being finished so don’t skin me alive if you aren’t on there yet. PLEASE!!! Also, drop me an email at at wendik825ATaol.com if there is something else you would like to say or change for you.

Now for poetry time!

I am being a little self indulgent here this week with an original one. It is dedicated to all my little friends at cancer camp. With love.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

 

 Fighting the Beast

 

I looked into your hopeful eyes
And briefly saw my soul,
Frightened, aching, wanting so
To somehow make you whole

What kind of monster eats at
Children, nibbling bits and parts,
Thrashing families, stealing
Sunshine, slinking in the dark

I, filled with anger, grit my teeth,
Tears welled up with rage
Helplessness against the beast,
I swelled with bitterness and pain

I looked again into your eyes
Surprised to see your smile,
Courage and beauty
throughout your being
Had been there all the while

Your tiny hand I took in mine,
And soon renewed was I,
Fortified and overflowed
With willingness to try

Gratitude and blessings,
Friendships, hopes and dreams,
Hanging on to laughter,
Remembering Simpler things

No guarantees are offered
In any life or day,
We make the most of what
We can and head along the way

The beast will battle where
He may, we will battle too,
With strength and courage
Standing firm, LOVE will
See us through

~ Wendi Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.