Smile and See What Reflects Back

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I was literally out all day long yesterday with appointments, meetings, and an awesome concert at SPAC with Brad Paisley, once we got through the torrential rain and lightning storm!

During the day, I smiled at everyone I saw and was rewarded with a smile back. I held doors open for others, which I normally would do anyway, but I made eye contact and gave a bright smile. I felt very light and decided to have a great day.

That day was reflected back to me in how others responded. Smiling and being relaxed made my day that much better.

I took the day as it came, and it helped me balance parts of the day that were more stressful.

So smile today, see how it changes your attitude and take not of what is reflected back at you.

What Grounds You

baby feet in grass

For the last fews days the topic of forming my physical foundation and grounding myself has come into play. Much of what I physically do requires a solid foundation. In yoga, whatever is touching the floor is my foundation and connection to the earth.  Even today in class, when we were on our back, Jess expressed the needs to press every part of my body into the mat to feel connection and draw strength from it.

In martial arts, my feet are my guide as I smoothly and unobtrusively step across the floor to not give away my next move or have a strong foothold before I kick.

Even in boxing, I am repeatedly told, establish my footing before I hit my target.

My feet, my hands, whatever connects to the earth is my foundation, my center. But what grounds me? What keeps me on my feet and centered when life is off kilter? My breathing has become a huge part of what keeps me grounded. It’s a calming tool that I can use anywhere and provides the space for me to think before I react.

My family grounds me by keeping my head out of the clouds. They connect me to what is important and remind me of where my priorities are.

My spirituality and beliefs are a huge part of my inner foundation. I know I am forever connected my son, Nick, and that is a surety that gets me through the hardest days.

Having a strong foundation that you can root down into when a storm is brewing helps you weather even the most devastating ones. So it’s vital to have it established. It’s like living in a hurricane prone area in a tent. Your foundation is never going to hold.

What is your emotional, physical, spiritual foundation? What do you connect with and how do you root down when life is trying to tear you up?

When You Hit the Wall, Change Directions

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

Have you ever hit the wall and try every which way to get through it, even when it causes physical and emotional harm? Maybe this wall is an emotional block or a problem you are having at work or home. It could be a physical ailment that has you stuck in your quest to stay healthy.

Very often the only way is through, but sometimes it may not be the best or only option. What if you changed directions and brought ease into your situation? Could you lean against that wall for a moment and take a look around? Perhaps see the world from the wall’s perspective?

What if you changed your perspective or your angle? Could you find the ease in the situation and go around the wall for now? Then perhaps there’s an opening and you can find your way on the other side with less stress and pain.

Our paths aren’t always a straight line. Sometimes they take a turn we may not have wanted, but we can change our attitude and how we view it. The wall could be a block saying that our way isn’t the only one and possibly not the best one either. When we are wiling to go in a different direction that may take longer, but still routes us back to our path, overall we can learn something along the way. If only we are open to it.

What wall have you hit? Write about it and what would happen if you changed directions? Could you get back on your path and bring some ease into your life?

 

Special Places

Libraries have always held a special place in my heart. I remember visiting my hometown library in Greenville, taking out all the Nancy Drew books, and sitting for hours solving the mysteries. 

In college, I spent most of my time in the library studying, working on group projects, and researching for the many papers I had to write. I had this khaki duffle bag that was my Uncle Steve’s. When I had a paper due, I’d go to the library, take every book out on the topic, and print any articles on microfiche. I’d carry that filled duffle back to my dorm just as excited as Nancy Drew wondering what clues I would find to support my thesis. 


When I moved to Clifton Park, one of my first tasks was to get a library card. When my boys were born, they came with me to the library multiple times a week. Then just like in college, we brought tons of books home and discovered magical worlds between the pages. 

When I started to work at the library, it became even more sacred. I love helping the patrons, greeting them with a smile, and talking about books. Teaching writing classes here is an important and precious part of my connection. 


If you haven’t been to the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library make a point to visit this special place in town. And don’t forget to take out a book!

What is your special place or favorite book?

Who You Think You Are, Everyone Else Sees

worried insecure face

When I was a child, I was extremely shy and basically a loner. I saw myself as a goofy, insecure kid with glasses that did nothing for me, except attract attention I didn’t want. I didn’t have confidence in myself, and it showed. This was reflected back because not many had confidence in me either. And that may have been my perception, but it affected what I did and how I behaved.

As I got older I broke out of that shell–contacts helped. But I still reverted back to that shy girl who felt like she had nothing to offer. After college I had this temp job answering phones. I worked for this guy who wanted me to make coffee. Strike one. They couldn’t bear to drink it (that still hasn’t changed). But I also did a terrible job answering the phones. I couldn’t hear anyone, even though they said the phones worked fine. People couldn’t hear me, because I spoke in this quiet, mousy voice. I had no confidence in my ability to do this, and I screwed it up.

Eventually when I started speaking in public, I would be sick to my stomach for days and again my voice was low and shaky. I read from my notes with my head down. All I saw was that nerdy, quiet girl who would never get anywhere.

I think writing helped, because I wrote out the script of who I wanted to be. I was a character in my own novel. I visualized myself standing in front of the crowd in a rocking outfit, speaking loud and clear, making eye contact, standing tall and addressing questions with confidence. I practiced out loud and was prepared.

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But when that inner insecure child showed up, I accepted her and sat her in a seat in the audience. I was in charge now, and I had something important to say.

Everyone has value. Everyone is important and has something to offer. It’s whether or not you believe it.

If we change our perspective and our perception of ourselves, we change our attitude. Then others see us in our true power.

How do you truly see yourself?

Is there something you want to do, but your inner child stops you? Do you doubt yourself?

Can you write it out or visualize yourself doing it and being the person you want to be?

Don’t stuff down that shy, insecure, hurt (put in your adjective) child away. Give her a seat in the front row. After all, she was a part of your journey.

Feeling Thankful

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It’s just one of those days where I set our early to get a great workout in at G-Box with Brenna, and I feel the difference in my body as I prepare for my next karate belt. I came home to start my work day preparing for my writing class tonight, setting up registration for Nick’s Fight to be Healed’s upcoming fundraisers, finishing the manuscript for my client, and updating my hubby on my workout.

I felt thankful that despite some crankiness in my body, it has sustained me for 50 years, and I am able to be active and competitive in what I physically want to do. I’m grateful that I was able to stay at home with my children, work flexible hours and continue to do that even when we are empty nesters, thus allowing me to get these workouts in. My husband’s hard work has given me the space to be creative in my career and also fulfill my mission of helping children fight cancer. This gift is priceless.

I wanted to let him know how thankful I am.

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I am incredibly grateful and thankful that my boy will be coming home for the summer. He has a local internship, and I am mentally preparing for the constant vibrations of music that will resonate through the first floor. Having Stephen around changes the dynamics of the household, and I can’t wait to have his buds over and feed them! So boys come over hungry for goodness sake! I’m Italian and Greek–never eat before you come to my house!

I’m thankful it’s not snowing! (have to find something good with this weather!) And soon I will be reunited with Harley, and we will ride off into the sunset. Oh yes, my husband will be sure to come along!

Sometimes it’s wonderful to stop and soak in all that is good in your world, all that is sacred and precious. It’s not guaranteed to always be there, so as I pause and reflect, I am very thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

What Does it Mean to Live a Life of Value?

family photo 2008
Most important was teaching my boys to value themselves.

What does it mean to live a life of value, to be valued, to have a valued life? The last two feel external–like others decide if I am of value.

To live a life of value feels personal. But what does it mean to me? What do I deem importance enough to act upon?

–Creating a family and raising strong, compassionate, and kind children.

–Standing up for others.

–Putting myself in someone else’s shoes to empathize with what they are going through or at least appreciate their path, whether or not I agree with it.

–Providing hope through my stories. Sharing lessons of healing.

–Giving back despite or because of my pain.

–Letting those I love know.

–Helping someone/showing kindness–holding a door, picking up an item they dropped when their hands are full, helping a friend in need, smiling at someone I don’t know.

–Giving myself space to create and just be, so I know what my values are.

–Practicing yoga. Taking care of myself.

By writing my values down, I can honestly look at each and see if I am true to them. If not, then I can take appropriate action.

What does living a life of value mean to you? What’s important enough to push you to action?

Not Knowing

3D Question Mark Guy

It can be stressful not knowing what the day will bring or what will happen to us tomorrow, next week or 10 years from now. We get so caught up in the worry, we end up in this limbo of what if or I need to know now.

Nothing is worse than getting a call from the doctor and them telling you they want to see you sooner after a test. They don’t give you any idea of what is going on, but if they want to see you sooner, then that can’t be good, can it?

Instead of letting the unknown overwhelm me, I focus on what I know. I know I am loved, cared for, and doing what fulfills me. I know that everything else will flow, because I am on my path. I let be what I cannot control. I can’t control that appointment if it’s in another week, but I can control how I respond to the fact that it’s there. That’s it. It’s there, and I let it go so I can live each moment with intentionally.

Living in the now, with intention and intensity takes practice and starting over every time the unknowing pulls us out of where we are. That is perfectly fine to do! But at least if I knowingly accept that it’s alright to not know everything all the time, that frees space in my heart and mind to be where I am and enjoy my family and my life.

My intention for today is to go with the flow of my day in a positive light, not knowing what may cross my path.

What would happen if you truly lived in this exact moment? What is so pressing that you need to know about? Can you let it sit even for a few minutes?

What is your intention for today? Live it now and have a wonderful day!

 

Sometimes We Need a Guide

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My Dad and my sons, Nick (age 2) and Stephen (just born)

I dreamt of my immediate and extended family last night. We were all together under one massive roof, playing cards, going through boxes, swimming outside, and preparing food. My cousin, Christine, popped in all dressed and ready to go shopping with her hair piled high on her head, her eyes sparkling with green eyeshadow. She told me that everything will be OK and smiled her radiant grin.

Many times my dreams are my guide, but sometimes our guides are those right around us in waking life. They are a mirror that truly reflects what we have in us, but are afraid to reveal.

When a person is going through an illness, loss, or some type of adversity, we notice how strong they are or are amazed by their positive attitude. We see in them what we wish we had in ourselves.

Their bravery peels away a layer of self-doubt in us, and we wonder what would happen if we were that brave and removed all the layers. It’s as if that person is giving us permission to be our true self.

Often if we have never been in this kind of situation, we look around us for examples to emulate. When my son, Nick, became ill at 12 years old, he didn’t have a guide. He was innately brave, strong, and compassionate. He behaved very much like his Poppa who battled cancer two times, then passed away after his third battle, when Nick was two.

Nick became my guide on how I wanted to live my life, although living without him is extremely hard. He did teach me, however, that I don’t have to be strong all the time, and it’s important to let others know that and allow help. But he also taught me how to give back, to have compassion, to lead the way through devastation to a road where anything is possible.

Nick’s most powerful lesson was to be myself no matter what the world thought of me. He already knew what I have been trying to learn my entire life.

Live authentically and you are your own guide.

Be enthusiastic about what or who you love, and you will receive love back. 

Never give up, but live on your own terms, your own path. 

Know that as much as you learn from other’s guidance, you know the way. It’s already in you, and eventually you will be true to yourself.

Who are your guides and what are they showing you about yourself and about your path? How can you turn your awareness inward to find what you need to live authentically through your own guidance?

Step Back Saturday

When I looked back at my week, I noticed I wrote many different phrases in my journal:

Bless this Hot Mess

Carry stillness and peace with me.

As long as there is the tiniest wildest chance, I can’t give up.

Speak my truth.

Stay out of it.

Mind my own business.

Luke was away, so I made a huge list of items I wanted to get done for my writing projects and the foundation. Add in working out for my next belt promotion, and my week was packed. The first message of Bless this Hot Mess came after I made my list for the week and realized how much I actually wanted and needed to get accomplished. Some items were on it to help me get caught up and some were to get ahead. I felt this message was positively blessing what I set out to do. Yea, I had a mess of work, but I can do it.

Carry stillness and peace with me was my goal to be at home in order to get the work done. I have a tendency to bounce around with my projects and in my car and maybe am not as efficient as I could be! My dogs and I established a routine and they benefited from my breaks as we went on more walks!

As long as there is the tiniest chance, I can’t give up. One of our young adult warriors has been struggling in the ICU and this week was very precarious for her. She is slowly getting better, but I worry about her and her family as I know what they are going through. Cancer is such a big pain in the ass in my life, because so many close to me are currently battling. But as long as there is hope, I don’t give up, and my wish is that those battling soak up that energy and belief.

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Speaking my truth is a practice for me. I feel that sometimes when I do speak how I truly feel, I’m misunderstood. So I’m working on clarifying my thoughts before I speak them. This connects to Stay out of it and Mind my own business. Speaking my truth has to be for me and my purpose. I tend to get involved where maybe I should not, but I’m a fixer, so it’s hard to walk away. I want to help others, but sometimes people may not want or need my help. I’m learning, but speaking my truth for me will not be overshadowed by fear, guilt, or insecurity.

What a week of productivity, extreme emotions, outspokenness, and chaotic peace! Next week I plan to maintain balance between my work and personal life and spread sunshine so whoever needs it will feel the love!

What was your week like? Reflect, appreciate, and move forward.