Archive for December, 2011

How Do You Measure a Year?

December 28, 2011

There is a song in the Broadway musical, Rent, which begins with the line, “525,600 minutes….525,600 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes, how do you measure…measure a year?”  On this, the 28th day of the last month in 2011;  as you look back on the minutes of your life this past year, how do you feel about how you spent them? By what standards do you measure your successes or disappointments? Do you measure them by the money you made? By the cups of coffee that you drank to get through the mornings? By the weight you gained or lost? The arguments? The struggles you endured? The mountains you climbed? The challenges? The strife? What things stand out most prominently in your memory? Are you grateful for this past year or just grateful that it’s over?

We can’t measure our lives in inches or miles, but we can measure them in the sweet victories we won; large or small. Rather than to look back and dwell on the negative “stuff” that might have happened, we can conjure up memories of the good things that we experienced…the sunsets, the rainbows, the laughter, the gatherings of friends, the times that someone surprised us with a random act of kindness, our relationships, the wind in the trees, the gentle touch of a loved one, the sweetness of a baby’s smile, the lessons we learned and the roller coaster ride that is sometimes our life!  Every disappointment probably had a softer and kinder side….if we reflect on the whole picture. Nothing is ALL bad…except possibly looking at yourself in a three way mirror, while wearing a swim suit…but, I digress.

As I am writing this, we have approximately 5220 minutes left in the year 2011. Wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment to focus on counting every one of those minutes as dear and precious opportunities to measure our lives in units of joy?  Here’s to making every minute count!

The Twelve Days of Christmas….new version

December 20, 2011

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts.  People scurry about, trying to find the perfect present for everyone on their lists, but often neglect to give anything to the person with whom they spend the most time….themselves!  For this Holiday, I offer my version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  As you read (or sing) it, consider that your true inner self is offering you the best gifts imaginable. It’s true, you know….the gifts are yours for the taking, if you will just accept them!

On the first day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the second day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the third day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Words of self –kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Freedom from fear storms,

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Lots of songs and dances,

Freedom from fear storms,

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Peaceful contentment,

Lots of songs and dances,

Freedom from fear storms,

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Guilt-free relaxation,

Peaceful contentment,

Lots of songs and dances,

Freedom from fear storms,

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

Acceptance of my value,

Guilt-free relaxation,

Peaceful contentment,

Lots of songs and dances,

Freedom from fear storms,

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me-

A fresh new sense of wonder,

Acceptance of my value,

Guilt-free relaxation,

Peaceful contentment,

Lots of songs and dances,

Freedom from fear storms,

Self-appreciation,

AFFIRMATIONS OF JOY!

A release of past failures,

Words of self-kindness,

A chance to find laughter,

And permission to be who I’m meant to be.

Lighting the Path to Greatness

December 14, 2011

Like most people, I am confused and distressed by what is going on in the world. I’m not referring to the economic situation or the political fighting or the environment, although those are real challenges. I’m more concerned about the way people seem to be treating each other. We are all under stress and strain and I suppose that is what is making people rather…well….snarky, for lack of a better word.  It seems as if a lot of us are wound up tighter than a bad perm!  People are angry behind the wheel, as well. Every time I have to drive somewhere, I feel like I’m in the middle of “carmageddon!”

 

We’re in a society that seems to put people at odds with each other, in that we are led to believe that you can’t win unless another person loses.  It’s becoming a little too important to hold onto what we have and to make sure no one else gets what we might want or think we might need in the future. We can’t afford to help other people because we are afraid we will lose something in the process.  In other words, we are ignoring the concept of working together and coming to solutions that benefit us all. Fear seems to be the “mood du jour” every day!

 

Possibly, we need a global attitude adjustment. I know I do! Sometimes, I feel like the elastic of my life is about ready to snap, sending me flinging across the room like a deflated balloon. That feeling usually has its roots in fear. When we are afraid of losing something; whether it is money, status, attention, opportunity, or perhaps just control over our own lives, we hold onto and protect everything we have…and sadly, we also cling to our fears! It’s time for a reminder that listening to, respecting, helping, and dare I say…loving other people does not weaken us; it strengthens us. We become more powerful when we step out and face our fears. The true energy zappers are our fears of failure or loss, and anger at those who believe differently than we do!

 

A while ago, to calm myself in a moment of panic, I wrote this poem. I’d like to share it with you. Hopefully, it will serve as encouragement and a reminder that hope can be more powerful than fear.

 

 

Lighting the Path to Greatness

 

There is a place in each of us where fear and hope reside

The test of who we really are is when these things collide

When we let ourselves climb higher, even knowing we might fall,

That tumble might just prove to be the greatest gift of all.

 

For it is in our failures that we find the message clear

In trying, we sing songs of joy and triumph over fear

We should seek not to be honored for our riches or our fame

Rather, greatness comes in rising from the ashes of our shame.

 

A life spent without challenge might be safe, but somehow wasted

For without the snares and obstacles, sweet victory can’t be tasted

We all were born to greatness…we have only to believe

That we were given all the tools to help us to achieve.

 

For the proof of our importance is just that we’re alive

And our purpose on this earth is to help others to survive

When we light the path for someone else, we light our own as well

And the spark of light with which we lead is where our greatness dwells.

The Invisible Person

December 5, 2011

In the past few days, I have heard two different people say that they feel “invisible.” I know that feeling…when I have an opinion that nobody seems to deem worthy of considering or even hearing, or when I am talking and someone interrupts and talks over me, as if no sound was coming out of my mouth, or when I greet someone who is passing right by me and they don’t even make eye contact with me.

There is a song in the musical “Chicago,” titled “Mr. Cellophane.” The words describe the way the character feels when people look right through him and walk right by him, as if he wasn’t even there.  It might be kind of fun to be invisible if you really wanted to be because you could go anywhere you pleased and see things you might not otherwise see.  At least, I used to think that until at eight years of age, I sneaked into my grandmother’s room to raid her hidden candy stash and caught sight of a 92-year-old woman wiggling into a girdle.  It was then that I realized that there are some things that are better left unseen. But, I digress…

The point is that we have become a society that is often insensitive about listening to other people’s concerns and needs. World chaos and economic stress has caused us to sometimes ignore our fellow humans unless they are high profile or we think they can do something for us.  I think what people mean when they say they feel invisible, is that they don’t seem to be important by society’s standards. If you aren’t a celebrity, a politician or the star of a reality TV show, does that mean you deserve less respect than those who are?  One woman recently told me that as she aged, she felt less valuable and almost like she was disappearing. She said, “When I was young and pretty and could afford to buy nice things, people seemed to care more about what I said. Now I feel like I’m turning into a vapor that nobody can see.” Yikes!

Hearing this started me thinking about how often we take our friends and family members for granted because they’re always around, and how many times we walk past someone on the street without smiling or acknowledging that they are even there. Or how we don’t thank the grocery checkout person because we are yakking on our cell phones or don’t listen when a child tries to tell us something because we are too busy talking to “important” adults.

We are all parts of the same puzzle and without each and every one of us who are on this earth, the picture would not be complete… and the pieces aren’t interchangeable!  Each one of us is unique and deserves to be seen and heard, even if we aren’t popular, or attractive, or young, or wealthy, or clever, or any of the things that the world seems to hold so dear.

I think we all should make an effort to really see and listen to each other; not just as Linda (or Joe or Sue or Uncle Albert or whomever) who always is yapping about something and nobody cares, but as a human being who is here for a reason and quite possibly is worth getting to know.

 

 

The Six Saddest Words I Know

December 2, 2011

I think the six saddest words that can be spoken are, “I have nothing to laugh about.” It seems to me that I’m hearing those words more often these days. With the world getting smaller, due to technology, we are constantly bombarded with bad news from all around the world. Every now and then, you’ll see or hear a news report about someone doing something good for another person or read about a happy event somewhere in the land, but it seems that bad news is what sells. We used to be able to hide from it, but now it’s in our faces every day. It’s good to know what’s going on, but I think a steady and constant diet of doom and despair is causing mood poisoning!

While we can’t hide our heads in the sand, neither do we need to spend every last brain cell focusing on what is wrong in the world.  There are still some righteous and humorous goings-on out there and I think we all should take a pledge to look for them…and once you program your brain to seek them out, you’ll find that they are really not that hard to find.

I heard myself uttering those toxic words just last week! The snarky side of me woke up in a complaining mood and I spent a few morning hours contributing to global whining.  Interestingly, nobody really cared to share in my mood of mass destruction, so I had to quickly call upon the happy me to snap the snark out of my psyche!  My dark side had lamented that I had nothing to laugh about, so it was up to the light side to prove otherwise. I took a notebook with me and just started jotting down funny things that I saw out in the world.

First, I saw a sign at Wendy’s which read, “Come Visit our Drive-Thru Salad Bar.” I’m assuming that Wendy’s had a drive-thru and a salad bar, but they were not one in the same and someone just goofed up the spacing. Combining the two would have been messy because you’d get lettuce on your windshield.  That made me smile and I started to lighten up a little.

The next thing I saw that was smile-worthy was on a menu at a restaurant. Someone didn’t proofread very well because instead of “Chicken grilled with savory spices,” the entrée description read “Children grilled with savory spices.”  I have always loved children…I’ve just never tried them cooked with spices; savory or otherwise. That made me chuckle and I lightened a little bit more.

I was beginning to feel less toxic and I was beginning to enjoy looking for things that were funny. My next stop was at a hardware store.  It was there that I saw a warning tag on a table saw. It read, “Caution!! Keep saw away from fingers and genital area.”  That made me laugh and I lightened up a lot! And the more I thought about it, the funnier it became. Just the thought of why the manufacturer thought it necessary to warn people of the dangers of holding body parts that were dear to them anywhere near a sharp rotating blade, seemed hilarious.

I wrote these three experiences in my notebook and reflected on them several times that day. Every time I read them, I laughed and by the end of the day, I realized that I DID have something to laugh about. The world, with all of its woes, is still a funny place. You just have to look at it with eyes that are searching for humor.