Saturday, September 2, 2017

21 Rules to Living Positively #makeyourlist #lastblog

I haven’t slowed down enough this summer to sit and write much, which is both good and bad.  I’ve been enjoying my family, traveling a bit, drowning in back-to-school preparations and some other huge chaos that is starting to feel like a tornado, but I think that when the )*#&$%)( is hitting the fan --- THAT is the perfect time to stop and take a moment to reflect on the positive.

When I started this blog over a year ago, it was an exercise for myself to spend more time reflecting on the person I really was, who I was sharing with the world, and what impact I wanted to make on those around me.  I think it was super helpful and even eye-opening at times.  At times I felt really proud of the mark I made on others and at times I was disappointed in myself for not living up to the standards I wrote about.  I think the intention is there, and that is very important not to lose sight of….and that goes for everyone, not just me.  Set your intention for positivity every day..let it unfold…just do your best.

When my father passed away he wrote an Ethical Will, which was a beautiful document outlining his morality, the guiding principals important in the life he led, his spirituality and the love and aspirations for his children.  It is one of my most prized possessions.  I am not nearly ready to write my Ethical Will, but I do think this blog has helped me carve out my own life rules. As fall approaches and I'm in Organization Mode, I've been writing lots of lists.  To Do Lists, Packing Lists, Cleaning Lists...but the List I want to share today is one everyone should sit down and write. 
Through the year I have carved out a list of my top 21 Life Rules to Living Positively.  Keep in mind this is MY list. I am not telling anyone how to live or what to do.  These rules just work for me. They help me live a happy and productive life.  Here is my list in no particular order:

11.  Care about others more than you care about yourself
2.    Build each other up; compliment strangers; be a cheerleader
3.     It is almost always better to be nice, than to be right
4.     Take a moment before responding…to anything. Did you hear the question? Words are powerful so use them with care
5.     If someone breaks your trust and breaks your heart, love yourself enough to learn the lessons and move on
6.     Do the right thing when nobody is looking
7.     Live the daily practice of giving and helping and sharing
8.     Smile more.  You look nicer, more approachable, and it’s often contagious.
9.     Nurture someone or something
10. Get out of your own way – stop taking yourself so seriously and stop caring so much about what others think
11. Unclutter your life. Organize, Reduce, Purge, Clean. Get rid of things that don’t serve a purpose or don’t give you pleasure
12. Move it. Even if you hate the gym, find a way to move your body every single day.
13. Say thank you…often…and mean it
14. Patience is a practice that serves not just others, but yourself
15. Procrastination is a race you will never win so stop doing it
16.  Don’t stop being amazed at the world around us
17. Curiosity leads to intelligence and an interesting life
18. Keep your word
19. Learn that it is okay to say “no”
20. Laugh as much as humanly possible
21. Love as deeply as you can

Now that I’ve outlined my cheat sheet on living positively, and I’ve spent about a year blogging about my inner-most thoughts on the matter, I feel it is organically the right time to wrap up this blog.  I’ve loved sharing my ideas and feelings and it’s been a meaningful exercise.  Thank you for reading and responding.  I wish you all a live of positivity and love.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Surprise Me!

Who doesn’t love a good surprise?  I know I do, and being one of those super spontaneous people, I think it’s in my blood.  Having the event-planning gene, and having the giving gene, I am also always the one giving the surprise.  There is nothing more gratifying than catching someone off guard, when they least expect it, and showing them how much they are loved, or surprising them with news or information that changes their life in a meaningful way.  

Did you know that the art of surprise is actually a key to living a positive life?  It is scientifically proven that giving a surprise or receiving a surprise has health benefits on many levels!

There are a lot of bad surprise in life -- we read the news every day and it's hard to ignore.  Those aren't the kind I'm talking about -- I'm talking about the things that knock you off your axis in a GOOD way....the things that change your path and open your eyes...the things that make you say WOW!

As a mother, I’ve spent the last twenty years planning everyone’s life down to the minute.  Nothing was left to chance.  I planned family and holiday gathering;  matching school outfits; at least ten million meals; driving routes to endless activities; and play dates and doctors’ appointments. I have planned every vacation we have ever taken down to the minute.  I am fearful that I’m losing my spontaneity.  I used to be the fun girl drove all night to go to a concert; or lied to her parents so she could rent a house at the beach for a weekend with her friends. I’m ready for that girl to come back.  So I’m taking baby steps. 

I was thinking long and hard about the last time I was truly surprised.  It was 1997 when the Ultrasound Technician told me I was having a boy.  The time before that – 1980, when my best friend, Denise Bosworth, threw me a surprise party when I moved to Texas.  My biggest surprise these days is what color polish Casey paints my nails with each week, and that is just plain pathetic!  Life is so much sweeter when you just let go of the control. I'm ready to open myself up to whatever --okay not bungee jumping--but almost anything else.

The question I get each weekend that grates on my every last nerve is “Where do you want to go for dinner?”….It’s an honest question that is asked with innocence and love.  I now realize why it bothers me so much….and I now know the answer…. “Surprise me!”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Appreciation - The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A little goes a long way.  This is true for most things in life, but today I’m talking about appreciation.  As a “giver” I am used to exhausting myself in order to make someone else’s day brighter or easier, and it usually doesn’t dawn on me to accept a “thank you” for it.  That could be because I live in a house with three busy boys – all of whom are overly cared for and rarely take the time to appreciate all that is done for them in order for them to live their daily lives.  I do all of this with love in my heart so most of the time I don’t even notice that it’s taken for granted. It also helps that one day a week, someone appreciates me.

Every Thursday I volunteer at a local hospital.  Every Thursday I am welcomed with open arms, giant smiles and a hug.  Yes, they are THAT excited to see me and THAT appreciative for my four-hours of help.  Throughout my four hours, I can see how grateful they are that I have chosen to spend my time with them and it truly warms my heart. 

Life is a series of checks and balances and I “don’t sweat the small stuff.”  My Thursdays, counteract the Monday that I rearranged my social calendar to help out my son; or the Friday I spent cleaning and doing laundry which goes unnoticed.  It wipes out the Saturday that I spent four hours cooking and prepping for a dinner party, only to wake up on Sunday to find a dirty kitchen again from a teenager needing a midnight snack.  The things I do for my family are all done with love and usually with a smile on my face.  Every once in awhile, my people stop to think about the machine that keeps this family running and that’s always nice – but I don’t expect it.  I’m “simply positive” that appreciating “being appreciated” when it comes is good enough.   Expecting to be appreciated is awaiting misery.

With this said, I don’t always “thank” my husband for providing for my family or “thank” my children for doing well in school or helping around the house.  Sometimes the day in and day out of life becomes so routine that you just forget to notice.  I think because my contribution to my family has more of a care-giving/task-orientation/errand-running/favor-granting tone, it’s an easier target for sensitivity.  Having this role has made me much more empathetic to others and I pay attention when someone does something nice or offers great service.  Saying “thank you” and meaning it are important.  Looking a waiter in the eye to thank him for his service means as much as leaving a tip; taking the time to write a note to a teacher who took special notice in your child could reignite their passion for their craft; thanking your child for helping around the house may spark an interest in helping more often – okay, maybe that one was wishful thinking. 

I admire those who keep a gratitude journal; it’s not something I’ve ever been good at keeping up….but I guarantee if I had one I would fill it up.  Having an attitude for gratitude is one way I’m living my most positive life.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Do You Need a Shot of Vitamin P?

I’m been having a little trouble mustering the appropriate enthusiasm for Fourth of July this year.  I miss the good, clean, innocent fun of my youth.  I miss packing a picnic with my family and watching the fireworks from our boat.  I miss the excitement when my father would pull out our flare gun and join in during the explosion of the colorful finale over the San Francisco Bay.  Today this would have gotten him arrested. A lot has changed in thirty years.

Yesterday, while watching the news to decide which “fireworks” celebration to attend in town, I was  aghast by all the rules attached to what used to be a family-friendly event.  No glass, no lawn chairs, no umbrellas, all guests to succumb to a bag search and walk through a metal detector, etc. etc.  Is the Fourth of July festival where fun goes to die? I’ve seen so much bad behavior over the years at these fireworks displays and it has taken what was such a happy childhood memory into a somewhat dreaded ritual….so what’s a gal to do?

I need to give myself a shot of Vitamin P.  I think we all do.  Somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten what this holiday is all about.  Patriotism.  My husband and I saw a man in the grocery store the other day proudly wearing his “Make America Great Again” hat and we were both disgusted by his bold support of our fearless and careless leader…but the more I thought about it the more I agree.  This time of year especially, we should be proud to be Americans.  America is Great, but we have seen better times, purer and cleaner times.  Times where we cared more for each other and supported one another.  I think I can get behind that meaning of that hat.  Tonight I’m going to rummage through my closet and find some red, white and blue.  I’m making my husband and son go out with me to a Fourth of July festival where we will enjoy music and food trucks and FUN!......and fireworks.  And I am sure I will see some bad behavior….but I will also see the most important thing of all…the whole reason I loved this holiday in the first place.  The smiling faces of children amazed by fireworks, each one a delicious surprise, exploding with color and sound, reminding us to loudly and emphatically boast our pride for this country and for what we believe in

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Life is Cooler When You Chill the $(#% Out

Two steps forward, one step I am not enjoying 80s Paula Abdul tunes, but reminding myself that recovering from this surgery is going to take longer than I want it to...and I need to chill the $%)*#$ out.    Last week I just wasn't feeling in the mood to write about anything as my hip recovery took a little setback, but here I am again...the weeble wobble that won't fall down!  I promised myself in the beginning of all of this that I would start each day with gratitude and positivity and not be so impatient physically.  The important lesson about last week was I was forced to slow down and rest and reflect on the importance of that.  It's important to relax and even more important to learn how to  "roll with it" because things don't always go as planned. Lucky for me, "roll with it" is my middle name.  This wasn't always the case.

You know how theoretically you are sometimes asked "what advice would you give your younger self?"  My advice would be to chill the #%*(&%) out.  As a teen and young adult I was so tightly wound, so easily annoyed, so impatient and overly ambitious.  Maybe we all are?!  Now in my 40s I have the luxury of knowing exactly who I am, what the world does NOT owe me, and the real reason I'm here on this earth.  It's given me an unimaginable sense of peace.  It allows me to slow down and just be.  It allows me to be nicer, to be gracious, to forgive and to just know what battles to pick and what issues to allow under my skin (which are few).

I do not take for granted that I live in America, the land of plenty. I live the suburban life, which I will admit, makes this "roll with it" attitude a little bit easier to adopt.  I appreciate that every single day.  On the flip side of this positivity and happiness, it may shock you that I sometimes feel deep sadness and guilt that I live this life.  I sometimes wonder why I was chosen to receive this life while so many people in the world are hurting and suffering.  I'm not saying I've never had pain or heartbreak or hardship, but overall, I sometimes feel like my life is too easy - that I don't work hard enough at it.  It is something I think about every day, but I think that is a good thing.  Appreciate what you have.  I cannot change what is happening in the world, or save every person I meet suffering in the streets, but what I can do, is use my "roll with it" attitude to keep me sane and happy and to spread love and happiness.  You can do it, too.

When I walked into a restaurant last month on crutches and in a brace and a man in front of me didn't hold the door for me, I laughed.  I thought he must be deep in thought or perhaps just self-centered, but it didn't make me angry at all.  When the inconsiderate driver next to me opened his car door into mine, putting a dent into my mid-life crisis sports car, I sighed.  I laughed as I left a note for him asking him to be a gentleman and do the right thing, knowing full well I would never hear from him.  I let it go as soon as it happened because it's "just a car" -- just not that big a deal.  Empathy, humor, kindness and patience will trump your matching nastiness for nastiness. Every single time you interact with another human being, make that interaction memorable or meaningful or sweet.  People are in such a rush - they are so self-centered - what can you do for someone else today?    So the next time someone is in a rush at the grocery store, let them cut the line.  The rude driver that wants to cut you off in traffic? Let him pass you - who cares?   Your friend is profusely apologizing for being late to dinner? Remind them that you love them and there are MUCH bigger problems in the world.  Just relaxxxxxxxx.  I am simply positive it will make your life so much sweeter!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Today I'm Proud of Me...and That's OK!

I'm posting a day early this week because on Sunday I will be busy attending my baby boy's high school graduation.  I am beyond proud of all that he has accomplished in his almost eighteen years of life.  Yes, he is a smart kid.  Yes, he has worked hard, but really what I'm most proud of is that he is leaving the nest with an incredibly strong morale compass, an intense and fierce loyalty for those he cares for and a curiosity and passion for the things that spark his interest.  He's a nice person - willing to give people the benefit of the doubt; willing to lend a helping hand; and in most cases willing to give the shirt off his back.  That, to me, is more important than any of his academic accomplishments.

As mothers we struggle to find a balance between pushing and pulling.  We want our children to grow and succeed, yet we hover to protect and shield from the hardships of life.  I realize that today I am not done being a mother, nor do I want to be, but somehow I feel an immense pride in realizing that I've come out on the winning side.  Sure there were bumps in the road, and it was sometimes messy and scary and frustrating, but it was also overwhelmingly rewarding and full of a love it is literally impossible to put into words.  Today I am not just proud of my son.  I am proud of myself.  Why is that such a hard thing for people to say?  Can you think of ten things about yourself that you are proud of?  Can you even write them down?  I tried it and it was actually uncomfortable.  Why is that? I am positive that this is something we should be more cognizant of. It's okay - no - it is healthy to be proud of your accomplishments. It is healthy to be proud of who you are!

As I was leaving an appointment today, someone congratulated me on the upcoming weekend, and I realized he meant the "collective we" and not just my son.  It was the first time I stopped to think about the accomplishment as a whole.  It made me laugh for a second but then it hit me on a deeper level. Raising children has been the hardest thing I've ever done.  And I did it.  And I did it well.  And I'm proud of that.  And I am proud that I'm proud of that.

Monday, May 29, 2017

New Beginnings...

Pre-School Graduation 2003

I always knew this day would come.  I’ve been preparing for it for eighteen years, so I’m not sure why it feels surprising right now. Every day for the last few weeks, as I’ve watched my newly independent, slightly mouthy high-school senior leave my house, I’ve shed more than a few tears.  It’s not like he’s leaving the planet.  He’s just graduating and going to college…..just 45 minutes away.
            Transitions and new beginnings are like Hallmark commercials; doesn’t matter what they are, but they bring me to tears.  Saying good-bye to a special time, knowing it will never be repeated, is heartbreaking.  I’ve done it so many times in my life that I’ve learned to do it quickly and move on to the next step and find the positivity in it.  This one is a little harder.  The gut-puncher here is I’ve just completed the most important thing I’ll ever do.  For the last twenty years, I’ve meticulously and lovingly prepared and planned and cooked and cleaned.  I’ve co-parented two challenging, intelligent, curious boys who have brought their share of hard decisions. I’ve been the heart of my family; the problem-fixer; the boo-boo kisser; the broken-heart mender.  All these years, my job as Mom has been to create little people who can grow up to be big people who can take care of themselves.  Now that they can, it’s left me a little broken hearted.

            I’ve been reminded that our job as a parent is to raise our children to leave us. This is the first time in my life I’m devastated by a job well done. However, as I wipe my tears, I remind myself that while my little one goes off to become the person he is meant to be, he is not the only one graduating next week.  I am also off to take the next step in my journey here.  While my main Mom duties will change, it’s an opportunity to reinvent Me.  What makes Me happy? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Maybe I’ll find a new hobby?  Travel somewhere off the beaten path. Take up cooking classes with my Honey. I’ve started and stopped many careers while being a wife and mother but in the end I always chose to put my family first.  It’s exciting to figure out what my new life will look like. I have no idea what that looks like today, but I’m excited to figure it out.  I guess we’re all growing up.