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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nobody Puts Dena in the Corner

For anyone who actually reads my positivity diary/blog – I am BAAAAACK!  I had to take a month off while I was recuperating from surgery – painkillers and cohesive thoughts don’t work well together. 

We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses.  I’m the first to admit that idleness is not my friend, and I can be impatient and stubborn.  On the plus side, I almost always greet every day with a smile and take on challenges with optimism.  This past month, I’ve combined my weaknesses and strengths and am happy to report I’ve come out on the winning end.

Discovering that I needed a hip arthroscopy at my age was a huge bummer and, while I was not excited about the pain I would ensue for the coming months, it was the lack of independence and immobility that shook me to my core.  I’m claustrophobic by nature.  I hate airplanes, elevators and any small space I am not allowed to quickly exit.  Being trapped in my own body is literally the thing I’m most afraid of….and knowing this would go on for up to six months is a mind torture I can’t put into words.  I knew if I was going to get through this I would have to be very strategic.

The first few post-op days were a bit of a blur (thank you, drugs) but even through my haze I knew from the get-go that if I had a chance of getting through this with sanity, I had to find a way to pull out all my positivity.  I focused on gratitude.  The support of my family was overwhelming. I was so grateful to have help, as I literally couldn’t move at all.  My family did absolutely everything for me and they did it with love and grace.  I was also grateful that I had the luxury of convalescing at home and not in a rehab facility.  I focused on the change in my physical pain.  I could finally envision a life without chronic pain. There was instant relief after surgery.  Yes, it was replaced by surgical pain, but it was such a relief! I told myself to just keep it together and push through the coming weeks.

For someone like me, who doesn't like to ask for help, it's an out-of-body experience to need help to do absolutely everything.  I'm fiercely independent and I was worried what being bed-ridden would do to my metal health.  As challenging as it sometimes was, I refused to have a pity-party.  As soon as I could move I got dressed (with help) and put on make up and left the house like a real lady. Pain be damned- take me to lunch!  Human beings are social creatures, and isolation is breeding grounds for depression.  I wasn’t even giving that a chance.

Ever the over-achiever, I have never been content to do anything half-assed.  I began physical therapy right away.  I do exercises every day in between and I ask for more and more so we can get this show on the road. I am now one month post-op and I still have a long way to go, but I have made HUGE strides.  I’m way ahead of schedule with my physical expectations; I can walk without crutches.  My goal is to attend my son’s graduation next month without a brace and no crutches and I’m feeling positive I’ll get there. 

The impatient side of me is “soooo over this” - I miss jumping in the car and going wherever I want on a whim.  It’s still a bummer to wake up with discomfort and physical limits but I’m still focusing on how much I’m moving forward.  Through this process, I’ve been forced to slow down. I’ve been forced to stay put.  Slowing down is a positive thing sometimes.  I pay more attention to the conversations I am having.  I read with more intent. I pay attention to detail.  I make conscious choices to be happy and positive and grateful.  But don’t get me wrong, I am in a HURRY to heal and be done with this!

Several weeks into my PT I met a young man, “L,”  who was learning to walk again after being paralyzed for three years.  He was literally trapped in his body for three years and here he was holding the door of the elevator for me one day, one hand stabilizing himself on his walker, and one hand holding the door for me.  We started talking and I was so impressed with his positive attitude and zest for life.  He wanted no pity for his situation, nor did he expect help.  A man after my own heart!   I also met an amazing elderly woman in PT who broke both of her kneecaps.  She must be well into her 80s but nothing is slowing her down. She, and “L” exercise with me every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and we are all determined to recover.  We always greet each other with smiles and encouragement and I say the same thing each time…..”Wanna race?”

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Month of Positivity...

I will be taking a month-long hiatus from writing this blog to recover from surgery. I will be back mid-May. This will be my ultimate test. How positive will I be while in pain and unable to get up and go as I please?  For a mover and shaker like me, it will take immense control. I will remind myself daily that living a positive life is not always an easy choice but it's the right choice and it's worth the effort. See you in a month!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I Did Not Wake Up Today To Be Mediocre...

I was doing some research the other day and came across a quote that just stuck in my head. “I did not wake up today to be mediocre.”  I just love that.  It’s so true.  The time we are given is just that – it’s a gift – so why not give it all ya’ got? What’s the point in giving the world half of you, or just a taste.  I promise you have something huge to share with the world. Show up.  Show up big.  Greatness comes with effort and we all have it in us if we just get out of our own way. Make it count.

I was talking to someone going through a tough time yesterday, and he felt like he wasn’t really sure of his purpose in the world. He wasn’t sure what he was good at, or what value he had to share with others. I think a lot of people feel that way sometimes, but if you take out all the noise (job, school, family) and sit with yourself, I think you will find there is a gem ready to sparkle, but you have to value it and you have to utilize it with boldness every day. This particular person has an infectious smile and an ability to make other people happy with his joy. What a gift to give to the world.

I do not plan to live a mediocre life. Even in my stereotypical, suburban life, I don’t need to settle for “easy” or settle for “good enough.” Every thing I do, and everything I give should be with my whole heart. I may not be working in the rat race anymore, and my kids are grown and almost flown. In years, my life is likely half over, but I am not even close to done in uncovering my potential.  I haven’t yet discovered the adventure that awaits me next, but I’m “simply positive” I am going to give it all I have.

NOTE:  This blog will be on hiatus for weeks as I recover from surgery.  I POSITIVELY look forward to writing again soon!  xox

Monday, March 20, 2017

My Attitude for Gratitude

Last week a lot of people lost power due to crazy storms and high winds.  We are still half-way through Winter here in Michigan, so being without power is a big deal. There was a story on the evening news about a little, old woman who was living with no power or heat for close to a week.  She lived alone and suffered from COPD. She was on her last tank of oxygen.  She was cold and bundled up in multiple layers of coats and scarves. She had no family to turn to for help.  She was scared, but most of all, she was grateful to have a roof over her head.  She was grateful for the snow on her porch, so she had somewhere to store her food. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been a pain in the ass.

As many of you know, I’ve dealing with what I refer to as “some physical bullshit” and have been ordered off my feet for a bit.  Being homebound is not easy for someone with a lot of energy and I'd be lying if I said I was always cheerful about it.  Since I saw this story on the news, it was a great reminder to be grateful.  What I’m going through is absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of life.  So many people have real suffering in the world. So many people don’t have others to help them or care for them.  I am in no position to complain when I have so much to be grateful for. 

I'm not sure how, or why I stopped morning meditation, but I think I'm going to try hard to get back into the groove.  Starting your day with intention is really a gift to yourself. Checking in with yourself and what your needs are is a beautiful thing; it's also important to check in with yourself to see what you are supposed to be giving back to the world around you.  What are you holding back? 

This week I’m taking special care to pay attention to each and every person that makes an impact on my life. I don't want to take it for granted that I have so many loving souls around me, working hard to make my life better or easier. I don't want to forget to tell my children that I love them, or that my friends mean the world to me. You never know when, or if, you will have a chance to tell someone they’ve made a difference to you, so what are you waiting for? The people in our lives are gifts and I do believe they are there for a reason. You might think they are little gifts, but sometimes, they turn into the biggest ones.  (So, super Shout Out to my neighbors and friends, the Pesicks - who lent me their lazy boy chair.  Yes, it was just sitting in their basement, and they probably think this is no big deal, but for someone who can't sit on the couch and can rarely sleep in a bed these days, this is a HUGE deal to me.  THANK YOU!)  (AND Second Shout Out to my Partner in Crime, Sherry, who has become my personal shopper - you are the BEST!) Okay since I'm on a roll, let me thank my incredible, amazing Mother-in-Law, who drops her world at any sign of my needs - who woke up at the crack of dawn to spend the day at the hospital with me for testing last week.  And let's not forget my handsome, partner in crime, David, who does absolutely everything for me and doesn't complain - EVER - yesterday, after doing every chore imaginable, he still managed to bring me my favorite breakfast (avocado toast! YUM!). I know this is just as hard on you as it is on me and I'm soooo appreciative. Okay, sorry, this blog is getting out of control now.....what I'm trying to say is, Pay attention to your gifts and start each day with a grateful heart – I am “simply positive” it’s a key to a happy life.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hello, My Name is People Pleaser

Like any artful masterpiece, we humans are a work in progress.  Every day is an opportunity to pay attention to the things that cause us, or others harm, and to take action in becoming the best versions of ourselves.  I spend a lot of time thinking about other people, which is one of the virtues of which I’m most proud.  It is also one of the things that cause trouble.  Putting others needs before my own is instinctive, and not drawn by a need to be liked.  It’s important to me to keep a peaceful surrounding – to keep everyone around me happy and calm.

Being a “people pleaser” is not always a wonderful trait.  It may seem selfless and generous, but it has caused me to put myself in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous situations.  When I was in middle school, a girl I barely new had her purse stolen at the library we were both studying in.  I was so angry for her that I ran after the perp into a dangerous area to get it back.  I gave no thought to my surroundings, or what would happen if, and when I actually caught up to the guy.  I missed him and we eventually called the police, but my instinct to help overtook rationality. 

Most people think being a people pleaser is a good thing.  For me, it’s been more of a curse.  It takes everything I have to put my needs first and when I do, it is a sweet victory.  This past year, I’ve been putting a lot of effort into the things I need to work on and one of those things, is putting myself first. I’ve taken time off from the rat-race to grieve the loss of my parents; I’ve said “no” to social engagements I knew would not bring joy; I’ve let go of toxic relationships.  This past week I was especially proud of myself when I put a stop to a medical test that terrified me. I was close to a panic attack when I realized the only reason I was going through with it was because I felt bad for the technicians and doctors that were prepped and ready for me.  It took everything I had to stop and listen to myself and put a stop to it.  I was morbidly embarrassed and felt terrible but in the end, I was really proud of myself for putting my needs first. 

While I’m working hard to put myself first these days, I’m still the girl who will bring you soup when you are sick or be your shoulder to cry on when you are sad.  I’m
“simply positive” that I can kick my “people pleasing” habit without losing who I am at heart.

Here are some great tips for People-Pleasers ready for a change:
1. Make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you—and actually, that’s okay.
2. Learn to say no in a way that feels okay to you. (No making excuses allowed!)
3. Accept that you will feel guilty when you say no to something the first few times.
4. Start setting some boundaries.
5. Let go of the people who use your people pleaser tendencies on purpose.

(List by Claire Hogsdon –

Monday, February 27, 2017

Good Sportsmanship is Elementary, my dear President!

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about good sportsmanship.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been super competitive.  I remember in elementary school being so excited to run a relay, that I didn’t pay any attention to our gym teacher’s instruction.  When he blew the whistle, I just took off.  Realizing I was a good length ahead of my peers, I was so proud of myself…until I realized I had no idea which way we were supposed to run.  I ended up taking us around our school a good half-mile longer than we needed to run and my classmates were not too thrilled.  I learned that day that you could lose the same race you win.  Being a good teammate and a good sport is more important than almost anything else.  Even my third-grade self was able to grasp the concept.  It’s been baffling me all week how the leader of our country missed this school playground fundamental.

It’s Elementary, my dear President…no one likes a Bully, no one likes a Cry Baby and no one likes a Bad Sport.  This past week, watching He Who Shall Not Be Named “take his ball and go home” when it comes to the media has reminded me that it’s important, at any age, to be a good sport.  We can’t always get our way.  We can’t always win. Life is not always going to be fair and sometimes we will work hard for no reward.  It’s called being an adult.  Reading about credible news sources being blocked from press conferences and rhetoric of media brain washing is the epitome of a political temper tantrum.  As adults, we should be reminded that at any age,  sportsmanship plays a role in our daily lives.  How we carry ourselves at work and at play matters.  Any opportunity we have to “play the game” of life with integrity is an opportunity for growth.

Part of growing up means sometimes doing things you don’t want to do, with people you don’t want to be with, and accepting you control your own actions and not necessarily those of others.  Our president’s decision that the media is not relevant because he feels attacked is not only embarrassing, but is putting our democracy at risk.  Refusing to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is not a strategic move of strength. It is bad sportsmanship in neon letters.  If you are still in training pants, I think it’s acceptable to throw a tantrum; if you are a world leader, I’m afraid it’s time to grow up. I’m “simply positive” his bad example for our country will serve as exactly that.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happiness is an Attitude...Do the Work

Each Sunday I sit with myself and reflect on what I’ve learned about myself that week or what is a driving theme in my journey of living positively.  This past week I just couldn’t muster the energy to write.  I’ve been struggling lately with my inner four-year old.  You know the one that has a temper tantrum when things don’t go her way?  For years, I’ve been struggling with a painful injury that finally needs addressing.  I’ve bitten the bullet and agreed to surgery….. and ever since this decision; I’ve been a cranky, whiny mess.  All week long, I have been the anti-Dena.  I’ve been focusing on the pain and focusing on what’s to come and it’s been dragging my under. 

What’s interesting, is that while I am usually the family cheerleader, my darling husband sent me a quote mid-week that was such a “Dena quote’ I promptly wrote it on my chalk board in my kitchen.  I’m staring at it right now and it is making me laugh.  While I wrote it down with the intention that I would absorb it like a mantra and live it, I let it rest on the surface and just resisted it all week.  I was too busy concentrating on my misery.  Here is the quote:  “Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.”  Let that one sink it a bit – the amount of Work is the same.  It takes such work to be in pain and to complain and to be a whiney pain in the ass.  I’ve spent so many years making such an intention to live positively and with kindness and you know what?  It is work.  I’d like to say I am an angel or a saint and it is just effortless, but sometimes it takes effort.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the bigger person.  Sometimes I don’t want to put forth the energy to do what’s beneficial for someone else…. but in the end, it’s what feeds me.  It is how I need to live my live and, selfishly, it brings me an immense amount of joy.  Being mean and cranky and in pain is just draining the life out of me.  I know I will have a long road of it ahead and I can deal with it if I remember that the work is the same.  I think we all can agree that we’d rather live happy and strong, than miserable – I’m “simply positive” I’m ready to put one foot in front of the other and start again. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spending More Time in Airplane Mode

Lately I’ve been fantasizing about a beach vacation. Far away.  With no phones. No computers.  No televisions.  No radios.  And no people.  Just me and the sand and the waves.  No influx of emails asking for more petition signatures, or donations or emergency actions.  No sound bites from crazy politicians.  No CNN alerts.  No impending doom looming.  Just sun and sand and serenity.   

In my fantasy, sole vacation, politics just don’t exist.  The only decision facing the nation I’m visiting is whether to drink my pina colada before or after dinner.  Am I anti-American for just wanting to get off the crazy train?  Just for a few days? Every day brings something more and more outrageous and I can’t help feeling we’re about to fall off our comfy couch.

I like to think I am well-informed, have strong opinions, and am ready to fight the good fight.  I watch the news, I read and until this week, truly wanted to hear and understand others’ opinions on the world we live in.  Lately, however, I feel like I’m living on a merry-go-round that I’m not allowed to get off of.  I’ve been feeling anxious and have been having a terrible time sleeping; the evening news and social media hysteria have been repeating it’s maddening loop until dawn. I’m just exhausted from it all, figuratively and literally.

A few days ago I decided to give myself a much-needed break from it all.  Three days of peace.  I wasn’t able to escape to paradise, but I did take a break from my addiction to NPR, Facebook and the news.  Just peace and quiet.  As much as I craved this break, it was harder than I thought it would be to resist.  The absence of it emphasized how much I was addicted to it.  Like many, I was controlled by the “need-to-know” coupled by the power to obtain it in almost real-time.  I also became acutely aware of how rare idle hands had become to me.  How often do we stand in line at the grocery store with idle hands?  How often do we sit and have coffee with idle hands?  How often do we wait for a movie to start with idle hands?  Here is what I learned in three days.  Never.  But I’m ready for a change.  

This weekend I went to a cooking class with my husband.  I didn't even think about bringing my phone. For two hours I cooked and learned and interacted with human beings.  I was fully engaged. I did not photograph my food.  I did not take selfies with the chef.  I did not feel the need to "check in" to my location or notify the press that I made an earth-shattering risotto. Being connected online can seem important, or can be mindless entertainment, but the opportunity cost is bigger than you think.  It takes more effort to connect on a human level than it does to disconnect and the phone just makes it that much harder. 

In three days, I enjoyed being 100% present in conversations and activities.  That is healthier for relationships and for myself.  Disconnecting a bit from the news for just a few days was cleansing and much-needed.  By not being so connected to the world around me I was ….wait for it….connected to the world around me.  I am "simply positive"
that’s a world I could get used to.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Roll With It, Baby!

I’m a super laid back chic.  I can say this with certainty.  I go with the flow, adapt easily to change, and I don’t resist drastic switches or moves.  Once a change has been made, I don’t overly mourn for what once was, nor do I obsess over the work it will take to adapt to a new situation.  It just IS what it IS, ya’ know?  Take this blog, for example.  I literally have no idea what I will write about each week until I sit down at my computer.  I check in with myself and let the words flow until a common theme sets in.  Here’s what my thought bubbles conjured up this week:  I am “simply positive” that life is hard, so don’t fight it. It’s important for me to move with, and not against, change.

It’s possible that part of my easy-going nature works hand-in-hand with being an optimist.  I don’t know too many negative people that are relaxed or open-minded.  Let’s take a look at that notorious glass of water. I recognize that the glass is half full and not half empty, but I also recognize that if the glass were half empty, it’s fine.  I’ll just get another glass.  It’s all about how you look at the world around you.  What do you make with the lemons you are given? Are they even lemons? 

Living with change isn’t easy for everyone. I know many people who adhere to strict schedules….the Type A-personality that wakes at 5am to beat their personal time at the gym;  the Pack The Same Lunch Every Day-person who won’t exceed their 1200 daily calories; the Goes To Disney Every Winter Break-family.  This works for some people, and I’m not knocking it….but I know for me, it is the definition of insanity.  Variety is the spice of life, right? I mix up my workouts – I would literally go crazy if I had to run every day, or cross train at 6am sharp every other morning.  I move, as my body needs to move, when it needs to move.  I watch what I eat, but as they say, “life is short, so eat the cake!”  Vacation is great, but once I’ve been somewhere I can check it off the list and explore another part of the world – so much to see and so little time! 

Before you make a decision to act or react, have you taken the time to ask yourself "why?" Do you care a little too much about what others are thinking? Are you making that choice based on your own thoughts and needs?  Do you have someone's opinion or judgement in mind?  Are you trying to impress someone or live up to someone's expectation?   Are you making decisions based on your own principals and your own needs and your own happiness?  When you let go, and start to roll with life a bit more, it's incredible how little you start to care about what others will think because you are living for YOU.  You are living your authentic life.

The world is always changing and sometimes it’s scary.  Nobody loves the unknown.  There’s a great quote:  “Life is like a roller coaster.  You can either scream every time there is a bump or you can throw your hands up and enjoy the ride.”  I’ve realized that I’m happiest when I ride the ride.  I don’t actually always enjoy it, but I’m all in and that’s called LIVING.  Enjoying variety, excitement and spontaneity adds richness and joy to my life.  Allowing myself the freedom to “flow” and move forward with life is a gift I give myself.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying live a selfish life, or ignore responsibility.  I’m just saying don’t fight it – face life head on and feel things deeply.  I’m saying move yourself through things and move forward.  I’m saying roll with it and have a little fun while you’re doing it.  Live your life with passion and maybe try not to think too much about it.  Plan what has to be planned, but just try to flow a little bit more….maybe you’ll find your living just a little bit more.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Like anyone with a computer or smart phone, I am overwhelmed with the amount of information flooding my brain.  The new Realm we have all been forced to enter can be overwhelming, even if you are a supporter.  It is hard to decipher what is true, what is false and what is exaggerated for benefit.  It’s easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of negativity or add volume to exploitation or outrage.  We all feel helpless so we jump on any tidbit of “fact” so we can feel part of some action or response.  We all want to feel more in control of a country that is turning into a dictatorship.  It’s totally understandable, but maybe we should think about slowing down.  Why are we so quick to respond, when we haven’t taken time to process?  I think anyone using social media needs a Time Out and space to recognize that not everything we see online is true or needs a response. 

We all know the media and/or the government hand-picks what “truths” the public is privy to.  Let’s take the audience for the Inauguration, for example.  Camera A shows giant crowds and Camera B shows a quarter of the amount.  We believe what we want to believe – what proof do we really have unless we were there?  With the new-age of smart phones, we have instant proof of life. But do we?  We live in an age of computer master-minds…elementary-aged coders and middle-school meme creators.  We live amongst high-school hackers and college-aged website masters.  Anyone, nowadays, has the ability to manipulate the truth.  So how do we stay true to our beliefs when it is almost impossible to know what is true and what is not?   I’m “simply positive” that for me, it’s instinct.  I trust my gut.  I read something and then I pause.  I take a moment before deciding whether or not to share it or respond to it.  I evaluate the source. I scour the content. I use my head first and heart second.

Most of my friends are not supporters of our new regime.  A lot of them are sharing negative memes, cartoons and sarcastic comments about He Who Shall Not Be Named.  I am just as outraged as my fellow Americans, but I just don’t see the point of the nastiness…exactly how is that going to effect change?  If the people creating those jokes could spend the same amount of time calling their Senators, that could actually move us forward.  I can’t help but go back to my preschool days.  Remember THINK?  Is it T-rue? Is it H-elpful? Is it I-nspiring?  Is it N-ecessary?  Is it K-ind? If it doesn’t fall into one of these categories – and hopefully it falls into more than one – than it doesn’t get repeated by me on social media.  Our leader doesn’t think before he acts or speaks… we need to.