Good News > Bad News

Bad news happens. That’s a fact. But good news happens too. Remember today (and every day) though it will not be headlining mainstream media, positive, happy and heartwarming moments take place, like confetti falling softly, blowing gently, the good stuff in life hasn’t halted. If only our eyes could see, then our minds and spirits would light(en) up like the heart-shaped affirmations dancing across a live Facebook broadcast. Be encouraged.
Close your eyes tonight knowing good deeds, kind acts, sweet words, friendly smiles, neighborly waves, scheming surprises, popping questions, rescued pets, favorite meals, winning teams, passing grades, faithful promises, generous tippers, studious graduates, successful potty trainers, new arrivals, met deadlines, delivered bouquets, fresh starts, needed closure, granted promotions, high fivers, good Samaritans, returning soldiers, sacrificial teachers, first kissers, disciplined finishers, acceptance letters, paid in fullers, traffic yielders and even Yahtzee game winners 😉 happen every day. And if you had a small part in any of the good stuff in life today, lie your head down in peace. You are not alone.
There are millions like you, working hard, while mindful of others and helping those within your reach. Humility (and a lack of good-news reporting) camouflages genuine folks like you making your efforts seem futile and your ‘kind’ extinct. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You and the millions before (and after) you, are the glimmer of hope, the faith in humanity, the encouraging cheer-leaders and the bright example of good newswhat makes this world go ’round. Whisper a prayer. Rise with hope. Shine, smile and carry on.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tomorrow is not Promised

You know how it feels when you pet a cat and it leans forward, into your hands, closing it’s eyes, pushing its head into your palm, purring a bit and wanting more? Or how a tired puppy or and old dog will eventually lay back and enjoy your soothing caress? I’ve learned a lot about the power of touch and the patience of silence during these last few weeks as our kind, friendly neighbor nears the end of his life. Perhaps the analogy is lighthearted but the reality for me is heart warming. Our dear neighbor Howard, lies in a Hospice bed tonight, heavily medicated but pain free and so responsive to my touch.

“Ah,” he said the other day, “that feels so good,” as I held his hand, stroked his forehead, caressed his arm. There was a time silence scared me and I felt compelled to break it somehow but Howard has taught me to wait, to be quiet, to listen closely, to touch softly and cherish each word as treasure.
Wincing eyes, deep breaths, raised arms, squeezing hands and intermittent words, between root-bear-float sips and my flood of (what I thought were silent tears), he softly utters, “Don’t cry.” While I wait through more silence, he opens his eyes and says, “Thank you (both) for being my friend,” then more silence, closed eyes, hand squeezing, more sips, deep breaths and finally, I tell him I spoke to his son the other day. “Tell my son he brought all the love in the world to me,”  without any hesitation. A half Kleenex box later and in what seemed to be a realm of ‘time standing still’, I finally whispered his name, leaned in close and made eye contact. I told him I loved him and I’d be back tomorrow. He mustered the strength to say, after more deafening silence, “any time with you is good”.
A few weeks ago he was picking up debris from Hurricane Irma, enjoying coffee brewed from our camp stove (during the 9 day power outage) and a French press he claimed “made the best, real coffee in the world.” But an ER visit, an ambulance ride, a helicopter transport, an emergency surgery and a terminal diagnosis led him to this Hospice bed. Cancer has ravaged its way through the most unsuspecting. It has cut short the relationships we thought would remain for decades. It has summoned tears we try hopelessly to conceal. It has caused hearts to reflect, souls to forgive and spirits dare to live boldly in their honor. But it has also caused regret, if-onlys and it’s-too-late-now realizations.
Those who should be closest to you, should be. Period. Chase after peace. Do everything in your power to remedy the relationships that are coming to your mind as you read this. No one ever gripped the hand of regret skipping happily into the future. Those words you said, apologize. The visit your pride keeps you from, swallow it. The unforgiveness your clinging to, release it, now, while there is time for reconciliation. Standing alongside the death bed of someone you love is difficult enough. Standing there with regret is even harder. Not standing there at all just doesn’t make sense. Read this and with a click of a button, dismiss it, call me a PollyAnna, (or worse) tell me I don’t understand, make accusations all you want or humble your hardened heart, embrace love and chase after reconciliation knowing that tomorrow is not promised, yesterday is gone and your someday is now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Make the world go away…make YOUR world a better place.

  1.  Turn off the TV – it’s likely the loudest, most invasive voice of negativity in your home.
  2. Go outdoors. Look up, around, far and wide. Look as far as your eyes can see. Take a mental picture of the beauty around you and know you are a part of it… another beautiful part of it. Remember this picture when feeling stressed or unable to sleep.
  3. Get to know your neighbor on a first name basis. Exchange phone numbers. Check in on them, no matter how awkward that may feel. It could be the beginning of a meaningful relationship.
  4. Help someone – a stranger, a co-worker, your hairdresser, a client, your busy, drive-through bank teller, the grocery bagger  –whoever is an ‘outside’ part of your life. One little gesture of kindness by you may be a life-long heartfelt memory for them.
  5. Sweep off your porch, sit a while, notice the view. Enjoy the silence. Sip a little something. Hang some wind chimes, a bird feeder or a wind sock. Plant a pin-wheel flower in the ground and watch it whirl away. Make your space alive in some way.
  6. Light a scented candle in your living room. Watch it dance. Enjoy the aroma. Let the flame energize your space and enhance your senses.
  7. Listen to relaxing music, even if you’re not relaxing. Let it be the background mood- maker while your taking care of domestic duties. Allow it’s rhythm to guide you with peace and light-heartedness.
  8. Exercise. Put yourself out there, wherever it is and move. In motion there is life, and euphoria from endorphins, and health for the body, mind and spirit.
  9. Call “home” –wherever that might be, and say, “I love you, I thank you and I miss you.” Never withhold your sentiment. You may think they know you love them, but oh, what sweet affirmation it is to hear it just one more time from your lips.
  10. Do something creative. Paint, garden, write, cook, decorate, take photos or re-arrange the furniture. Change is good, beauty inspires and creativity energizes.
  11. Relax in a bubble bath, by candle light or linger longer in the shower singing your favorite tunes. Condition your hair with coconut oil. Massage your scalp. Buy a loofah and exfoliate your skin. Rejuvenate your body. You’ll feel better.
  12. Breathe slowly. Inhale for 4 seconds. Hold for 7 seconds. Exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat. This is especially helpful when you cannot sleep.
  13. Use the good china. No good china? Well, light a candle, dim the lights, choose ‘dinner’ music on Pandora and savor the moment as well as your meal – even if you are the only one at the dinner table. Allow your body to relax as your nourish it. Do not stress it out by watching nightly news while you eat.
  14. Wear the polka dot dress, or the tie dye shirt, or the dangly earrings or the crazy neck tie or those cowboy boots collecting dust in the back of your closet. Let your outfit spark some happiness.
  15. Pull out the yoga mat, lie down, stretch, breathe, relax and release worry, tension and fear in absolute quiet. Acknowledge the Divine with gratefulness and trust the direction you sense.
  16. Remember your happiest moments. Give thanks. Create more. Dare to create more.
  17. Got photos? Reminisce a while. Let the tears flow. Let the smiles surface. Let the heart direct your next move, your plan B, your ‘what if’ and your future memory.
  18. Look up at the stars, the clouds, the moon, even the rain. Feel it, acknowledge yourself in the midst of it, imagine life without it, give thanks for it.
  19. Sprinkle cinnamon, pumpkin-spice or nutmeg on your coffee grounds before brewing and sip with simple pleasure. Enjoy your morning Joe on the back porch, not in front of the day’s talk shows.
  20. Tie shiny ribbons on an oscillating fan and see how they dance for you. Let fans, music, flickering candles, aroma diffusers, houseplants, opened windows, breezy curtains and simmering pots, make your house alive.
  21. Eliminate excess stuff from your home and enjoy simplicity.
  22. Sleep naked. That’s all. Just sleep naked.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gaining Perspective Through the Eye of a Storm

Everyone enduring the last two weeks here in central FL with Hurricane Irma have stories, situations and scenarios. Though specifics may differ most of us are simply fatigued with decisions, disruptions and distress. We are spent, so to speak. That is, our budgets, our sleeplessness, our patience. Though we understand ‘it could be worse’, there is no denying we our uncomfortable and exhausted. Thousands are still without power (including Michael and I) Some are temporarily relocating and others have found themselves unemployed. Last night after working late, I stopped at the store for our elderly neighbors. The bread and water aisles are bare (still) again. Store clerks look tired. Freezer cases have thawed and ‘slippery when wet’ cones border their aisles.
Young parents are scrambling to find sitters since day-cares and schools are flooded or without power. Some are searching for lost pets. Today, a woman roamed our generator-deafening neighborhood calling for “Mocha”, her half blind, lost kitty. Yesterday, two of our neighbors crashed their cars short-cutting through a nearby development since our street was impassable. Mobile homes are unlivable. Cars have been crushed by fallen trees. Bodies are hot, sore and tired from raking, hauling and clearing debris. Simply sitting here typing, I feel the sweat beading up on my skin and the thought of our cold (only) shower is somewhat appealing.
Inconveniences challenge our ‘normal’. It’s one thing to be uncomfortable and quite another to endure greater suffering. Those facing life-threatening illness, hospital stays, incurable disease wish their only struggle was tree clean-up and power outages. I read daily reports of a friend battling serious post-surgery infections. I watch our neighbor endure pain knowing his cancer has returned. I’ve seen the tears in my co-worker’s eyes grieving the loss of her newborn. Perspective gives us the ability to gracefully endure the uncomfortable. It gives us the motivation to come alongside those hurting – to share supplies, cook a meal, watch their children or simply listen with compassion. I’ve heard some say how guilty they feel for not having suffered loss. Those who have need you. They need relief. They need to know they haven’t been forgotten. They need to know someone cares. Simple acts of kindness especially in troubled times makes a wilting heart bloom again, for both the giver and the receiver. Gain perspective whatever your situation so that your life and the lives of others in your sphere of influence can be blessed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I’m Not Emotional. It’s Not Hormonal. It’s …Hurricane-al!

It’s simply out of my control …the hurricane, the empty shelves, the gas shortage. I can’t control frantic drivers, rude shoppers or panicky procrastinators. I can’t prevent fallen trees, power outages or damaged property. And when the storm has finally passed, I am at the mercy of the power company, the roadway crews and clean-up management.

 
I can’t force neighbors to be neighborly, landlords to care or employers to understand. I can’t predict the safest place to park my car, the best room to hunker down or whether my sleeplessness will exaggerate irrational fears. I don’t know which trees will remain rooted, which might topple on the house or which might dive into the above ground pool creating a tidal wave our sliding glass doors could never contain. I can’t predict what might happen to ‘our’ feral cat or the elderly and sickly couple next door or those we dearly love in more dangerous and flood-prone areas.

 
The forecast is obvious, the scenario is typical, the possibilities are predictable but the exact outcome is unknown. The individual damage is still a mystery. The recovery time questionable. So much is out of my control, (and your control) and perhaps that is part of our stress (at least my stress) — the extent of unknown damage and the lack of ability to control it.
When uncertainty lingers; when warnings alarm; when darkness surrounds, I shall try to control the one and only thing I have control over – and that is the atmosphere of my mind.

Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Michael

I haven’t lived through it all with him but I know enough about him. He is a collection of risky and rebellious, coupled with sincerity and gratitude. He’s had ups and downs, highs and lows, success and uncertainty. He’s enjoyed riches and survived penniless. He’s seen rock-bottom, made some mistakes, took the hard road for a while but climbed out of life’s valley on the steps of mercy and lessons learned. He’s been positive and protective, generous and thoughtful, patient and determined.
He has wandered, returned, loved and lost. There were beginnings, endings, closed chapters and fresh starts. There was sorrow, uncertainty, grief and desperation, yet through it all, the years were punctuated with glorious hope, renewed strength, family blessings and a teachable heart. He is a result of everything that has transpired over the years and without regret gives thanks for it all for it has led him to become the man he is today.
Michael celebrates his 60th birthday August 23rd and many things about him make up the reasons why I love him . . . There is never any hesitation when it comes to his selfless giving. Rarely, do I hear a negative word from his lips about any thing or any one. He finds strength in solitude, beauty in nature and energy on barefooted trails. He has taught me by his own example to take care of myself and challenge my limits in order to survive and thrive each day.
He will endure just about anything for the sake of others except drama and negativity. The intolerance of such things reveals one way he protects, respects and cares for himself, for us, and the healthy, happy atmosphere he is determined to maintain. He welcomes fresh starts and clean slates without accusation, judgement or blame because he is all about celebrating today not wallowing in the past or casting shadows on the future.
He continues to learn new things, make new plans and go new places. His calm, no-worries outlook continues to challenge my fears and tame my wild imaginations. He reads, watches webinars, tries new recipes and seeks better habits, continually, leaving no time for TV in over ten years.
He cooks, bakes, washes dishes and laundry, mows, cleans the pool, gardens, fixes just about everything, shops for groceries and irons (yes, he irons).
He feeds the backyard birds and squirrels, keeps the neighborhood kitty coming back for breakfast and talks to reptiles like most people speak to adorable puppies. He gathers pine cones from his trail running for the pre-schooler’s arts and crafts. He keeps the favorite foods and drinks of others in the pantry just in case they come to visit. He’s territorial about ‘his’ kitchen and wishes there were two ovens for those ultra-eve baking marathons. (Then volunteers for those races, cheering others on for hours).
He wakes much earlier than I and though I’ve never seen it with my own eyes, I think he’s doing Yoga on that mat in his office. He drinks green tea and smoothies but brings me coffee, in bed, every single morning. He happens to be a pretty good listener, too, though I don’t talk much (HA HA).
Michael is a kid at heart, which is the reason why little ones love to be around him. He’s found his passion and purpose working with the families and children society calls the poorest of the poor. He serves on a local board to advance early childhood reading and supports another community endeavor helping the homeless get back on their feet. He boasts about nothing, absolutely nothing. He knows a great deal more than he speaks and when he does he articulates well and communicates with sincerity.
He is not a perfect man (and will admit it). Just like everyone of us, he has degrees of tolerance, days of tiredness and occasional forgetfulness. But the man he is today, though imperfect, is genuine. What you see is who he is and who he is is a result of life’s experiences, lessons and choices. The man he is today is welcoming, fun, thoughtful and kind. He loves life and wakes each morning thankful for another sunrise and grateful to be alive.
For those of you who truly know him, you understand why he is so easy to love. Happy “60th” Birthday Michael. The world is a better place (and I am a better person) because of you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An Ultra Marathon, A Paint Ball Tournament & A Lesson Remembered

As teenagers, my two sons and their friend entered a paintball tournament hosted by a local business. Their only experience consisted of backyard woods-ball with their friends, a few paintball party events and some random targeting just for fun. They named their ‘team’, paid a fee, wore matching camo and packed their gear in beat up duffle bags and worn out backpacks.

 
Tournament day arrived and so did we. We walked from the car to the field through an intimidating midway of canopy tents filled with teams dressed in professional, colorful, matching jerseys. They were unloading some of the most expensive air-ball guns the kids had ever seen. Under their canopies were numerous parts, accessories and tools mostly housed in multi-drawer tool carts you’d find in a well-organized garage. Many had coolers and a few had table-top grills. As we walked, we overheard conversations of their past experiences and victories as well as their boastful confidence for the day’s competition.

 
There were a few realizations that occurred as we observed everything and everyone. For one, the boys had woods-ball not air-ball guns -which have the advantage of firing faster. They were dressed in camo because that’s what you wear where to hide behind trees and bushes. But this field had no trees. Most of the obstacles were inflated and bright colored. The boys had no canopy tent and their tool kit was a simple assortment of Allen wrenches. We hadn’t thought to bring a cooler but they had some granola bars, Gatorade and money for hotdogs at the snack bar.

 
Though this tournament took place more than 15 years ago, the memory and the feelings associated with it rolled through my mind last weekend as I challenged myself to participate in a 12 hour ultra-marathon event. My boyfriend, Michael and I tent camped at the event the night before. When daylight broke, I walked from our campsite toward the start/finish area. Runners and their family and friends were already arriving and I found myself walking through another midway of intimidating canopies. I overheard conversations and reminiscing of previous, popular and hard-to-qualify-for races among runners. They spoke of ultra’s of one-hundred miles or more, ultra’s with 7000 feet of elevation, ultra’s in other countries, in deserts, up mountains, through flooded trails, in the dark and among wild night-creatures. I had run a few local 50k’s (rather slowly) but experienced nothing like what I had overheard.

 
My J.C. Penny running shorts happen to match a hand-me-down shirt from a friend and I felt pretty comfortable though I admit I was a little envious of some of the other runner’s clothing. I carried my Publix shopping bag with extra socks, my older trail shoes I planned to rotate with the newer ones I had on, a bag of pretzels, some Swedish fish and a pair of flip- flops for post race. I had rehearsed a few mantras to help me persevere through the day but the only thing I could think of now was “what the %#@! are you doing here, Polly?” And an overwhelming sense of insignificance and inferiority momentarily stole my hope along with whatever confidence I thought I had.

 

I made it to the aid-station where Michael was volunteering and an enthusiastic friend asked me how I was feeling. I couldn’t stop my bottom lip from quivering but I managed to stifle the tears and making close eye contact with her I admitted my overwhelming sense of insignificance. I don’t think she was expecting that answer. She admitted her own anxiousness and reassured my heart with some kind words I obviously needed at the time and wish I could remember now.

 
The paintball tournament lasted most of the day. The boys were actually holding their own for much of the competition but eventually the process of elimination caught up with them. They had fun, made some great memories and most importantly, persevered without allowing the trap of comparison hinder their confidence.

 

It’s interesting how certain experiences, memories and lessons will surface when confronted with similar situations. When the air horn was fired and the race began I deliberately made a choice. Instead of allowing insignificant feelings dominate my thoughts, I decided to be thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to be a participant, thankful for a healthy body, for my best friend, Michael, being there with me, for the beauty of the trail, for the friends I’ve made in the running community and how privileged I was to actually mingle with runners who’ve experienced amazing races all over the world. Twelve hours later I finished what I had started with 43.2 miles behind me.

 

 

The boys had dreams of winning the tournament. I had a dream of 50 miles. Neither came true. Though the lesson is simple, it bears repeating. That is, success is not necessarily measured in dreams fulfilled, rather in the journey attempting to reach them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized