Wanting to Belong

The Inspired Life

Popularity. Acceptance. Fitting in. Wanting to be liked and part of the gang. The IN crowd. We all want it in varying degrees. We want it from different people. For some, it begins with the popular kids on the playground and never ends. Or it’s the parent that didn’t have time, or never knew how to say the words, “I’m proud of you, I love you, you are so special to me.”

Acceptance and approval are strong motivators. The desire for approval and the nod of pride from someone you respect can keep you at work longer than a high paying check. Job satisfaction and company moral is much higher based on how a person feels about how they are doing and how they are being perceived more than how much they are getting paid.

In social situations as well, the need for belonging and feeling needed are strong enough motivators to inspire mediocre attitudes to rise to the occasion. Shine the light on them, make them feel included and part of the group and you will inspire loyalty, kindness and bonds of friendship. In our day and age of the E-world, people who can span the distance by virtue of the net are not spending quality time in the real world with friends, family and the people who are important to them. They crave companionship. They crave fun, social bonding. They want to play.

The world is in a financial stuggle. The cost of gasoline has us scrambling to find new ways to budget our cash yet we buy Iphones, video games, the latest “WE” -toys for grown ups. What ever one of “us” have, the rest must head out to purchase and the dominoes fall until the rest catch up.  Hey, the *Jones* of our parents day wouldn’t stand a chance trying to keep up with us now.

Bigger and better and funner and finer. Until we hit the wall. Then we yearn for simpler and easier and quieter and cheaper. But we still want to belong. We don’t want to be simple and quiet all alone.

What’s a Sneech to do?

We will chat more about this complex problem in part two.  In the mean time…

How do you find the balance? Do you find yourself more on the simplicity side or the keeping up with the crowd side? Do you experience the feeling of being left out in the cold, of wanting to belong but watching from the sidelines? Do you feel like you need to buy your way in? Or have you just walked away from it all?

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The Perils of Perfectionism

self improvement

 

On the blank canvas I saw a majestic, proud Eagle, wings outspread in magnificence glory. Perched on his chosen spot, his view spanned the countryside, searching high and low, king of the skies. In my mind he was perfect. He inspired awe to look at, and made me feel excited as I gathered my brushes and paint. I could see the colors that I would choose. Just the right blues, the cool toned and the warm toned browns, the Payne’s Gray for blending. I mixed and I worked, the large sweeping strokes, the tiny painstaking touches.

I worked for hours. I came back day after day. I put him aside. I worked on trouble spots that didn’t match the image in my mind.

I brought him to California on vacation hoping the ocean air would inspire the majesty I needed to flow through my fingers and out of the brush. I finished it sitting in the warm California sun.

I brought him home and sat him on my art desk. And left him there. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since.

He isn’t the Eagle of my mind. When I look at him, I see the flaws, the imperfections. The way the blues and the browns don’t flow together properly. The way the wings on one side are much sharper than the other. The list of flaws is long. You don’t need to hear them all. I abandoned him. Worse then that, I abandoned myself. The disappointment ran deep and I just lost the momentum to paint. I wasn’t in the mood. I ran out of time. Something else- writing- was giving me more positive feedback so I drifted over there. It was nicer there.

I hadn’t realized I had done it. Sometimes we do these things to ourselves and it isn’t a conscious gesture. We don’t have an outward temper tantrum and throw the painting down and say, “That’s it, I hate my Eagle, and I’m never painting again!”  We just drift. Just suffer a little disappointment in something and drift slowly, like a gentle current in the opposite direction. Then one day we look around and notice we are far away. Sometimes it’s a hobby. One day we are a painter or dancer or runner, and then it has been months or years since we picked up a brush, or danced or ran. Sometimes it’s a relationship or job. We just begin to move away. We don’t even remember why.

The other day a friend e-mailed me a picture of a cat. I needed it for a story line I was writing on Escaping Reality. The expression on the cat’s face caught my interest and I started drawing his face. Then a pen and Ink. Then the idea of doing a pen and ink watercolor popped into my mind and I suddenly realized I hadn’t picked up a paint brush in over a month. I couldn’t think of a single reason why not. I love to paint! I have plenty of time to paint. It’s summer! The perfect time to relax with brush in hand!  Only then did I think of the Eagle. Only then did I realize I had been a victim of the perfectionism drift.

I had high expectations of that Eagle. I had a perfect vision of how he was going to look in my mind. When my ability didn’t match up to that vision, I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or just didn’t at that time, cut myself any slack. I decided on some level that I’m just not a very good painter anyway so what’s the point. I’m obviously not very good at painting Eagles.

All because my Eagle wasn’t perfect.

Well…you all can tell it’s an eagle right? It’s not like I’m expecting someone to buy it. I just paint for the fun of it, for relaxation, for a hobby, so why was I acting like I suddenly was UNWORTHY of a hobby if I couldn’t do it PERFECTLY???

Hello, my name is Wendi and I am a recovering perfectionist.

This is an issue I have battled with over the years my entire life. Getting perfect grades in school, being the *perfect* friend, the *perfect* daughter, the *perfect* wife, then the pendulum would swing to the other side of “forget it; If I can’t do it perfectly, I’m not doing it AT ALL. I QUIT.” You would know that if you looked at my desk. It is either perfectly spotless or it is a mess. When it is spotless, I won’t let someone move even a PAPERCLIP on it. Because once it’s messy again, I just give up, until the next time I clean it. Then it starts all over again.

It doesn’t make me proud to tell you that. In my defense, I will share that I have come a long way up this hill. The journey has been paved with many scars and battle wounds. Many of you have heard me say that I am a two time high school drop out. What I might not have mentioned is that I was on the Honor Roll. Both times. YEP…I’ve had a long hard climb learning how NOT to quit, how not to have to live the perfect life. How there is no such thing. I’ll say this, making a million mistakes and failing a lot does help you to get over yourself. It’s one cure for being a perfectionist. Not the easiest way. But it is a cure!

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly
~Robert Kennedy

So when I catch myself still doing things like quitting on my painting for not having a perfect Eagle, or quit running because I’m getting discouraged for being so slow, or get frustrated because it’s summer and I can’t seem to keep the house as clean with all these kids around and my schedule isn’t working out quite the way I thought it would or the vision I had of how this summer was going to be the very best one ever or that there wasn’t going to be A SINGLE WEED IN THE GARDEN OVER MY DEAD BODY OR ELSE…

I just have to sit back and take a deep breath.

I’m not perfect and I can’t quit. I can’t let the pendulum swing to either side. I have to take each day as it comes and know that it’s good enough. The house isn’t perfect. The kids aren’t perfect. My art isn’t perfect and my life isn’t perfect. But it’s good enough. As long as I keep on going, one step at a time, being realistic and doing my best and never give up, I have a perfectly good chance of being very successful at whatever I do. Here is the secret it has taken me most of my life to learn. I am more than happy to share it with you here.

Persistence is better then Perfection.

It’s that simple…and that hard.

 

Taking Time for Time Out.

self improvement

Some days you just can’t ride the pony.

No matter how many goals, road-maps, or shots of sunshine you slide down your throat, you are just not getting on. Not today.

But….you should right? So…you make yourself move forward, you push through it, you put on your riding gear and you tell yourself you CAN, YOU WILL… and you…are…hating…every…stinking…rotten…minute…and dang…you also hate that entire group of friends that cheers you on.

Maybe you need to change you stinkin’ thinkin?  Maybe you need to try a little harder and put your mind to the grindstone? Maybe you aren’t believing hard enough? Maybe you haven’t drank enough sunshine cocktails and aren’t drunk enough on the good life dream?

The answer is probably none of those things. In fact, the answer is most likely farther away from all of them.

Sometimes what you need is a break. A change of pace. Now I know a few of you just thought “Yippee!” and were half way to the fridge for a beer with visions of late night TV stuck in your head, but it isn’t what I’m talking about here. I am speaking about re-filling the tank. You know you are going to pay for those beers come morning. I’m talking about choosing activities that will pay you instead.

The price of not taking time to re-fuel is very high. Constantly running our bodies on HIGH and being ON day in and day out, even if we are following a goal is costly and needs to be balanced out with healthy sleep, healthy food, and relaxing, rejuvinating mind time.

Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for a very insidious case of burn out. Nothing will derail your goals quicker then that. Knock your feet right out from under you leaving you on your backside looking up at the stars wondering what in the world went wrong. I actually know a few people who have made a pattern out of this. Get a goal, work on it hard and fast like a rocket for a few years, be a shining success, then the next thing you know, they aren’t doing that any more. Why? They ran out of steam. They couldn’t sustain it. They fell off the pony. Never got back up. They had to go find something else to do. They never seem to figure out what is tripping them up.

Burn out is a very serious condition that can land on you before you ever knew it was knocking on your door. If you catch it while it is still brewing, and is still technically just a bad case of stress, it can be easily treated with lifestyle changes. However, if left untreated, this nasty condition can destroy temperaments, friendships, relationships, and life paths that once you thought were your life’s dream. Late stage burn out symptoms include feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, detachmentment, reduced productivity, loss of motivation, feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands, resentful, physical illness and the most telling sign, that there is no hope that there will be any positive change. (Sounds a lot like depression and some sources will tell you that burn out is a type of clinical depression, that is controversial and not part of our discussion.) When it is still in the *Stress* category, there is still *hope*, when stress has swung all the way over to full-fledged burn out, the light has gone out, it seems hopeless and all you want to do is quit, give up, walk away and never look back.

Besides studying the effects of burn out, I speak from some very personal experience. I have the charred remains to back it up. I went from a very successful career to feeling overwhelmed, out of balance, not spending enough time with my family and physically unhealthy. Suddenly my dream job was a nightmare. I couldn’t understand how I ever liked it in the first place. It took a long time to see that burn out had reared its ugly head. I don’t ever want to do that again. A body isn’t meant to run on high speed non stop, taking on more and more for long periods of time with no breaks, being all things to all people. It Can’t. It Won’t, It Doesn’t Believe. It expects you to take care of it for the performance you are getting out of it. Spiritually, Mentally and Physically.

RENEW THE SPIRIT

It starts here. I won’t mince words or sugar coat this. What happens in the Spiritual realm for you will carry through in the rest of your life as well. I’m not telling you what Higher power to believe in, who to worship, or what to do. I’m just telling you that it does make a difference when you take the time to get quiet with yourself, focus and spend some time here. It can be reading spiritual books,  a walk in a park, time in your kayak, prayer, church, again, I won’t say how, but that quiet time of listening and focus and being one with yourself- and anyone else you will share that with- is very powerful. Keeping a written journal is also a powerful way to get some enlightenment on what is going on inside of you.

RENEW THE MIND

There are too many things we have to do. Surviving on handing out what we already know day in and day out makes us weary. Learning stuff for work that we only half care about is step one into bored and resentful. Make a list of fun for you things. Topics you would read and learn about just because it interests you. Go on a weekend excursion. To the museum or a lake or wherever your heart desires. Go to your calendar and PUT IN ON THERE. Make a date. The problem with chores & work stuff is that it will fill every nook and cranny of your life. So fill those nooks first. Your work can wait. You can’t. That’s the bottom line. You come first.

RENEW THE PHYSICAL

 Yes, we have to exercise. That almost goes without saying in this age of can’t turn around without a new exercise program being *The One* to make us a perfect 10. ( And no, we don’t NEED to be a perfect 10, thank goodness)  A combo of cardio, strength training and something to maintain our flexibility so we can still bend down, tie our own shoes and play with the grandkids is a nice balanced approach. There is something out there for everyone’s fitness level.

But that doesn’t finish the deal. The majority of adult Americans are sleep deprived. I can’t speak for our Canadian friends and the rest of the world, but I know that we Americans are either not getting enough or we aren’t getting quality sleep. Lack of enough or quality sleep leads to poor health, weight gain and stress. All significant precursors to burn out. Making good sleep a priority is an absolute must for anyone looking to reach-and keep their goals.

Good nutrition. You wouldn’t expect your car to run on bad fuel. You wouldn’t expect to grow your vegetables in poor soil. But you expect your body to run on sugar, alcohol fumes, simple carbs, greasy fats and low protein. And you expect it to produce high speed production!  We forget that we are machines and that we can only produce based on what we are given. Start thinking about food as nutrition and fuel instead of rewards and entertainment. See if that helps to make a difference in your approach to food.

 

Everyone has a down day now and then. Everyone has a day where physical health gets in the way. But if day after day something inside is rebelling and bucking you off the pony and you can’t figure out why, take a look at all three of these areas. Has one of them been neglected for way too long? More than one? Take a time out. Time for a retreat and a new plan of action. Regroup. Get back to basics.

You aren’t going to reach the stars if you can’t get off the ground first.

The Addiction of Conforming

The creative urge, The Inspired Life

 

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.
~Abraham Maslow

 

During my hairdresser days, I had a continuing conversation with some clients that went something like this.

CLIENT: I want something new and different. Something really exciting. I’m bored with my hair. It always looks the same.

ME: OK, let’s see, you always wear your hair straight and brown and shoulder length, how about we bring it up around chin level, right at the base of the neck, put in some long layers to give it some bounce and add in some highlights to brighten it up. That will be very different and will frame your face and the highlights will bring out the color of your eyes.

CLIENT: Oh no, I couldn’t cut my hair short. It has to stay long. And…I don’t know about layers, none of my friends have layers, I wouldn’t know how to take care of them. Highlights…that’s too radical. I’m too scared. How about a trim instead.

Uhuh…no change for her…

Change is difficult for a lot of people. Daring to be different than everyone else is difficult. Standing up for your beliefs in a crowd of people who believe differently than you is very difficult. And not so politically correct depending on who you are, where you are and what the circumstances are in today’s society. We are getting used to quietly slinking away. Taking our thoughts and ideas and beliefs and going home. We get on the computer and share with strangers behind screens instead. It feels safer. We aren’t as exposed. We can control our exposure. Say what we want them to hear.

Except its boring. We live in a lukewarm world with everyone conforming to the sameness of corporate structure. We create matching neighborhoods, strip-malls and towns and duplicate them all over the country, and follow society’s rules, passing the time with idle chatter. We say nothing of value at all for fear that we will offend. It is a mindless, weary, aging way to waste an existence.

Conformity is dangerous. It’s addictive. It sneaks up on you.

One day you were young and full of dreams and plans and hopes and ideals and then little by little someone whispered in your ear “Psst…that’s not what we DO here. WE don’t wear purple boots, we wear brown shoes” So off you went to the brown shoe store. Then another day it was “Psst…We don’t believe in that anymore…” and away went the dreams, the hopes and the plans until you forgot that you had been dreaming…The next thing you know you are all decked out in your beiges and browns with your safe hair cut and all purpose shoes. One day blended in to the next and before you know it there is a school reunion notice showing up at the door.

Where did it go? Where did YOU go? Well, take a deep look. You are in there. Sandwiched somewhere between the serving others and making sure they are OK and working to make ends meet. If you made it a point to let go of all the unconscious conforming for others and really woke up and paid attention to your OWN needs, hopes, and desires, what would they be?  Do you know? Has it been a long time since you have dug down deep and asked yourself-do I want this for ME or do I want this because I THINK its what I OUGHT to do.

Our true selves never really go away. They lie in wait for the day when they get a turn. A turn to be set free and live the life that THEY were created for. Each one of us has a special gift, a destiny to unfold, a dream to bring to life if we will take the time to discover it and then pull it out and make it happen.

Shine a light on it. Be unique, take a chance, dare to be different, authentic, one of a kind. Be interesting. Bring a little color into an otherwise gray world.

Crystal at BigBrightBulb has sent out a mission for all of us to share our dreams and goals. I have many. Lots of family ones, one I joke about with my best friend Jackie K. where we talk about ending up as two old ladies living on a beach somewhere warm selling artwork to the beachcombers as they go by.  Of course, now that I am happily married, that dream is evolving. That’s OK too. Dreams do that sometimes. But when the dream is more than just a friendly daydream, when the dream is a vision of how you want your life to be, when the dream grabs you by the heart and won’t let you go, then that has become more than a dream. That dream requires ACTION. That dream now has built in the required ingredient of PASSION.

Passion is what turns dreams into action. Passion is what happens when people DON’T conform, but seek their OWN unique vision and follow their own authenticity. You will never find passion if you have a dream brought on by a should.

Ok Crystal here is mine:

My Passionate dream: To grow Life’s Little Inspirations into a website that offers books, motivational speaking, workshops, coaching, and training classes on how to work and live an inspired, profitable and happy  life.

I took my first step today. I registered my domain name. And I wrote out a huge list of everything I wanted. It was very long. I’m on my way.

What are you doing to make your passionate dreams happen?

 

 

 

CAN and WILL…and BELIEVE

leaving a legacy, self improvement, The Inspired Life

As a very small child, whenever I would get discouraged, I would plop myself down on the floor like a doll made of rags and let out a hopeless wail. “I Can’t…..” would be my pitiful cry. “I don’t know how, it’s too hard, I’m too tired.”

My mother would turn on a dime, narrow her dark Italian eyes, laser beam them into me and say in a voice as commanding as any Military General ever born, ” You CAN and you WILL. HOW does not matter. THAT  we can figure out. Now GET UP!”

Ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you, that  was the end of my temper tantrum.

Quitting has never been an option in our family of scrappy little fighters. Raised by my Mother, a woman who raised three children on her own after waking up one day to find her husband had made other plans for his life, she had learned to take surprises and situations and  wrestle them into the life that SHE wanted for us. SHE expected to rise to challenges and goals and she expected no less from us. There were no acceptable excuses. She had an answer for everything. Being tired? Everyone gets tired. So what, learn to rest, balance and push through. Being scared doesn’t cut it. Only fools are stupid enough to not be scared. Not having all the answers is not a reason not to start.  Only the truly stupid think they are wise, the wise know there is always more yet to learn. In my mother’s world, If you want something you have to go for it. If it is right for you and the people you love, then there is no excuse for not doing it. You CAN and you WILL. And she does.

Then why is it not that simple for the rest of us? Not so black and white? The simple determination to march into battle for your noble cause day after day…why does it again and again reduce us to whining, sniveling, crying children?

It took me a long time to learn the third part of my mother’s power.  She had had it all along. It was a mysterious strength that gave her indomitable spirit. That kept her strong and unflinching when she left her secure job, the only thing that put food on the table for her and her three small children and took her measly $3000 and invested every dime she had to start her own business. She could have FAILED. We could have lost everything. She had one thing in her back pocket that was so powerful that it propelled her forward and would not let her down. She had something that most people didn’t have.

She knew that the only way to get from a life that had a steady-but a measly paycheck where she had to work double shifts in a factory and leave her small children home alone was to take a chance. She knew that although the risk was great, that we wouldn’t have insurance at first, that we would have less money to begin with, that we would have no reliable income AT ALL to begin with, that she could make it on her own elbow grease. That something to look forward to with hope was better than a lifetime of looking at what she would have if she changed nothing.

I didn’t understand what that something was at such an early age. She was just my Mom. Maybe I thought that all moms were fierce warriors who went out each day to take on the world.

Later in life, I went into sales. Real Estate sales specifically, although I dabbled my way up to that in other types of sales jobs before that. Sales is HARD. Being rejected is hard. Initiating contacts, talking to strangers, making cold calls, learning contract negotiations, managing files, hand holding nervous and temperamental clients is all hard and very stressful. The overwhelming majority of Real Estate agents quit within 3-6 months of getting their license. They say anyone can become a Realtor. It takes a good one to stay one. I decided to stack my odds. I hired the industry’s best Real Estate coach in the business to coach me and teach me the tools I needed to succeed. All that I learned in the six years of being one of the top agents in our company is more than a blog could hold.  But one of the major things that I paid good money to learn had been right there at home all my life.

CAN & WILL.

Beverly Buffini is the wife of Brian Buffini, Brian being the head of Buffini & Company, the coaching company I was just referring to. Beverly Buffini worked with him and toured with him and spoke at the seminars because frankly she was so inspiring that everywhere she went the crowd went nuts. Beverly grew up to be an All-American volleyball player at the University of Tennessee where she was inducted into the Tennessee Hall of Fame in the first class of women ever to achieve that honor. She went on to become a member of the US National Volleyball Team that participated in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. She now uses her skills of discipline, determination, and focus to juggle raising six kids, and writing, and touring as a motivational speaker. Listening to her speak was one of my greatest inspired moments.

Beverly brought home for me the third part of the ingredients for success in her book, I CAN, I WILL, I BELIEVE. For each of the areas that she wrote about, and spoke about, Beverly outlined her viewpoints on the power behind each of those words. Summarizing, she wrote about:

CAN: to be able mentally or spiritually. She attributes the childhood story The Little Engine That Could with the basis for CAN. Perhaps not too coincidently, that story was one that my mom read to us almost every night. The basis of pushing away negative fears and focusing on the positive is the foundation for any dream to come true. In Beverly’s words, ” Particuarly in my athletic endeavors, I learned to be patient, that success only comes when and if the I CAN attitude endures over time. Giving up was not an option when things got tough. I had to persist if I wanted to make my hopes and dreams a reality. With that mindset, I could achieve my specific goals.”

WILL: is the reinforcement of purpose, drive and discipline necessary to spring CAN into life. WILL is the Action word that makes it happen. Webster’s defines WILL as a concious choice and a strong, fixed purpose. She spoke about the choices and priority shifting that it takes to keep the WILL going. She talks about sacrifice and risk. She states, “What was the principle lesson I learned from this? That in order to achieve and find fullfillment and enjoyment in achieving, I had to step beyond the familiar and accept personal risk. I learned that even condemnation or ridicule were possibilities if my choices did not coincide with someone else’s expectations.

BELIEVE: to take as true or real, to have confidence in something or someone; to have faith, especially religious faith (Webster). For some of us, myself included, Faith of a higher power would be moved up to the front of that defination, and for Beverly she says, “For me, I believe has a significance far beyond simply believing that I can and will do what I set out to do. I believe that we are inspired and helped by God and that we have a responsibilty to do our best to live up to that inspiration. I also get a sense of being assisted and directed by a Force beyond myself, and I desire that feeling.”

I Can, I Will, I Believe. I came out of that motivational seminar on fire. I bought the book. Heck. I bought the T-shirt. Honest, I really did. It’s royal blue with big bold white letters going right across my chest and anytime I need a little extra power pumped in to my self esteem I put it on and strut around.  All because she made my mother’s CAN & WILL tangible.

They say you can’t be a prophet in your own backyard. I guess I had to go far away and pay good money to hear what Mom had been saying all along.  I had to hear it from someone else to understand that the secret ingredient that made my mother stand so hard and fast is her faith. Belief in a higher power (God), Belief that she is doing what is right for her family, belief that if you believe in it, work hard for it, visualize it then you CAN make it happen.

By the way, that’s a far cry from stick it on a poster board, stare at it every day and sit back and wait for it to arrive. That would never be my mother’s style. While those that wait-are busy waiting, my mother and her clan are busy doing the WILL part and BELIEVING that with those two together…..why yes…yes you CAN.

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.

Focusing on First Things First

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

There is the saying: I got out of the wrong side of the bed today.

A rather silly saying, but used to mean, “I didn’t get the day started off properly” and once things started off in the wrong direction, well…down the hill it went, like Jack and Jill, and no one could quite get it back the rest of the day. Sometimes, a bad start to the day is a spill of milk or running out of coffee. ( That one will set me off FOR SURE) or the children will bicker.

Sometimes, though, the alarm goes off and you don’t get up. You roll over, skip the work out, talk yourself out of your morning routine and then it’s a rush to get into traffic, a rush to sit in it and a rush to get out. Life is no fun. We KNOW this isn’t good for us. We KNOW we feel better when we stick to our routines, do our work out, eat healthy, clean up a little and throw in that laundry before we are sniffing the undies in hope that they are clean, so WHY oh WHY do we let ourselves get into the muddle of last minute muck up?

It’s because we are living a reactive life rather than a proactive one. It’s a matter of making sure the garden is full of beautiful flowers that has no room for weeds to grow, or letting things slide so far that all you have now is a big weed garden and all you do is pull weeds and have no fun.

I want my home to be a pretty place with a cheery welcoming front door, with an organized life behind that door, pretty flowers and a peaceful, fun atmosphere. I want my body to be healthy and trim, exercised and well nourished, my family fed and in shape as well. I want to explore my creativity, challenge my comfort zones and expand my horizons as a person, while maintaining my identities as a mother, a wife, a daughter and a friend.

I also want to be a full time writer- who actually begins to earn a living from her craft. I want to paint more. I am inspired by my friend Amy Palko to do more with my photography. ( see photo above, a picture I took on our honeymoon in Ireland). My creative playground is a place where I could hang out for hours, writing and painting, playing my guitar, my drums, hanging out in my garden, or….I could get lost in the world of reading books….and never come out to play at all….

Of course there is the wonderland rabbit hole of the bloggers Intenet. Read just one blog and leave a comment. Then notice an interesting title in Commentluv. Click on it. Follow down the rabbit-hole to somewhere interesting…read…leave a comment…notice one of your favorite bloggers put up a new post…click…follow..read..comment..repeat…funny-how-the-day-went way.

Any one of these things done first…and nothing else at all could get done.

No exercise, no laundry, no dinner for the family, no grocery shopping, no return phone calls to whoever was on the TO DO list. Then the next day piles up, and the next and life turns in to a big catch up game. The house isn’t clean. I don’t know what is for dinner. I feel more sluggish because the exercise didn’t happen. And oh, by the way, now the muse has left me, because the MUSE thinks I should go get my dang house work done too!

First things first.

In order for MY life to work right, things have to be done in a certain order. I need to get up in the morning and have my quiet time. The very first and MOST important first for me. The time of the day to get centered and focus on gratitude and love and priorities. Miss that one, and I HAVE gotten out on the wrong side of the bed. Then I have to check that list of things to do. Then the kitchen, the daily chores, and laundry. Then kids and husband all settled and then exercise. EVERY DAY. Then and only then can I turn on the Creative Juice. If I do it backwards and let the juices flow first, they spill all over and get things soggy.  Now, the added advantage is the Muse will most often come and visit while I am in the routine of the ordinary. When I am doing the little ordinary things where the brain can switch off, then my mind can wander off to play with the muse and go visiting off to *wonderland* that beautiful little world of “I wonder this and I wonder that”, which is a very creative place for a writer’s brain to be.

This isn’t to say that I always get this right. This is to say in fact…that I start to get it right..stumble…fall…get back up and start again. But I do know HOW to do it right. When I’m not distracted. When I FOCUS on putting first things first. When I start my day right side up. Sunny side up.

How about you? What is your routine? How do you manage being a creative person and keep it all together? Do you do the same things every day in the same way? Do you have a first things first? An order to your madness? Please share!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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!