Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Keep Going Even When Your Hat is on Fire!

November 14, 2017

One of the most cited Shakespearean quotes is “All the world’s a stageand all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

I have spent a great part of my life on the stage, in theatrical and operatic performances. Performing in front of a live audience sure prepares you for a lot that will happen to you in life! Anyone who has ever performed knows that there will be times when the unexpected happens. I have forgotten lines, popped out of costumes, lost hairpieces into the orchestra pit, sung the wrong lyrics and much much more! I’ve even caught myself on fire, which I will explain later. I have stared embarrassment in the face, and I have survived! This is why I feel that Shakespeare got it right when he said that we are all players on the stage of life. Real life experiences often parallel stage experiences. Here are some of the things I have learned:

Sometimes you have to have to jump through hoops to get where you want to go. I have been through lots of “cattle calls.” That’s when you stand in line with hundreds of other hopefuls; carrying your head shot and resume, practicing your vocal scales and keeping limber with knee bends, while waiting your turn to stand in front of a panel of people who often look at you like you are just another prize cow. Think ‘A Chorus Line.” I once did an entire audition for a director who was eating a sandwich and talking on the phone. When you are an actor, this is kind of a rite of passage. Most of us have to put in our time to get where we want to be. In real life, there are steps we have to take in order to achieve our goals and although it takes time and effort, perseverance is the key.

You don’t always get the part you want. There have been times when I was perfect for a role…at least in my head! Instead, I was cast in another part that actually turned out to be a better one for me and one for which I was clearly suited. Had I turned down that role, I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity. I have experienced the same thing in real-time. Disappointments are a part of life, but we can’t always see the big picture. We tend to dwell on what we didn’t get, rather than to appreciate and make the best out of what we have.

Sometimes, you will mess up. Oh boy, have I messed up…on stage and off! After a mistake, I felt self-conscious and inept and I assumed that everybody was judging me. The thing is…most of the time, it was a huge deal to me, but nobody else really even noticed because they were focused on other things besides my mistakes. When goofs happen on stage, the audience rarely even notices the errors that the actors think are glaring, because they are having fun just enjoying the production. The truth is that when I messed up on stage, I finally realized that I was making it all about me! When I finally “got it” that I wasn’t always the center of attention, I felt rather liberated. The same thing applies to our mistakes in real life.

Expect the unexpected. In theater or in life, don’t ever think that you are in absolute control of everything! This was permanently etched into my brain the time I was performing in an opera, in which I wore a glorious costume complete with a much-feathered hat. There happened to be a candelabrum on stage, which was to be moved by my “lady-in-waiting.” As I reached for the high notes, I began to smell a strange odor which could only be described as burning feathers. I kept singing, but my mind flashed to bar-b-qued chicken, before someone threw a bucket of water on my flaming head piece. You can’t always be prepared for everything, because you don’t know what everything is! But life is never boring when you’re open to opportunities!

Keep going! Everyone is familiar with the line, “The show must go on!” No matter what happens, on stage or off, you have to keep going! There will be failures and disappointments and confusion and chaos…but that’s what makes a good show and a great life!

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Let Your Joy Fly!

October 18, 2017

Recently, when I told someone I was going to present a program about joy, she asked how I could possibly think of being joyful when so much is wrong in the world. At first I was taken aback and wondered if I was being insensitive, but then I remembered that joy is something that can lift us out of a pit of despair and in these times of trouble, it is sorely needed!

It’s important not to judge people who seem to have lost their sense of joy, because they are probably in a sad and scary place in their lives. Joy has left the building and left a big empty spot that has been filled by misery or fear or anger or another emotional troll. Hopefully these people will soon once again reclaim their joy.

This is what I know about joy: It is not as elusive as some might think and it’s not the same as happiness.   Happiness often depends on an outside source to make it happen, whereas joy comes from within.  Joy abides with us even in times of trouble because it thrives on hope and if we keep hope alive, joy will remain even when other things fall away.

Joy is like a helium balloon in that when we try to push it down, it wants to push back up and fly and if we let it go, it will soar. The human spirit is an amazing thing and even when we are reeling from a disappointment, crisis, or any kind of trauma, joy wants to break forth and heal us.

Joy is rather indescribable; it is a peace that passes all understanding. It doesn’t depend on a perfect life, wealth, success, or any of the things we have been led to believe are necessary in order to be a joyful person. Joy can be nurtured by choosing to have an attitude of gratitude and by moving away from your own disappointments, grief, and fears in order to extend kindness and help to others who may be in need.

Joy can be found in the beauty of nature, in hope for a better tomorrow, and in the face of a child. It grows stronger with each small victory over fear and when shared with someone else, it is the gift that keeps on giving! Joy is a spark inside of you that can light up the world!

The thing about joy is that you have to be on the lookout for it and invite it in. Some will choose to read JOYISNOWHERE as joy is nowhere. Hopefully, many will read it as joy is now here! If you meet someone who seems to have lost track of their joy, I hope you will give them some of yours.

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

September 25, 2017

“Hope springs eternal.” Does it really? Or is this just a nice quote that sounds good until you’re going through tough times at which point it doesn’t offer much comfort? I guess it is for each person to decide.

Here’s what I think hope is NOT: It is not about being a Pollyanna. It is not thinking that everything you wish for will come true. It is not about unrealistic expectations.

Hope is the belief in possibilities. It is an understanding that things can change for the better; where you are today doesn’t have to be where you will be in the future. Hope is what keeps us afloat when we feel like we’re drowning in fear, disappointment, or sadness. It is a beacon of light in a dark and stormy sea. I like to think of hope as Holding Onto Positive Expectations.

Sometimes it is difficult to find hope in desperate situations. When we are feeling overwhelmed, it seems easier to give in to despair…but there is nothing positive at the end of that path!

If you are feeling as if hoping is pointless, consider this: Hope is a cognitive system that can propel us into action. Whereas optimism suggests a feeling that everything will turn out alright, hope involves working toward making that happen. When we have hope, we tend to set goals and come up with creative ideas to help us reach them.

In hoping, we acknowledge that there is something worthwhile ahead of us, even though we may have come up against some powerful barriers. Hope allows us to go on. Emily Dickinson expressed it beautifully this way…

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.”

 

I would love to work with you and your organization. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com   laughlady1950@gmail.com

Don’t Let Your Fountain of Youth Get Clogged With the Sands of Time

July 29, 2017

All of us have one thing in common. Like it or not, we are all aging. As a matter of fact, from the moment we are born, we are constantly getting older. Right now, you are older than you have ever been and younger than you will ever be again.

Before you run out and buy a bucket of “Oil of Delay,” remember that although your body is aging, your mind, your attitude, and your sense of humor don’t have to.

I realize that my body is changing and that the sands in my hourglass figure are shifting! I still have everything I used to have; it is just a little lower now. Sometimes I have to lie flat on my back in order to zip up my jeans and when I stand up, the jeans are zipped, but my nose looks bigger. I guess the fat had to go somewhere. Things are changing, but I also know that I don’t have to let the sands of time clog up my fountain of youth!

If you want to have smooth sailing on the age wave, the trick is to nurture and maintain your sense of humor. I have decided to look at things a bit differently now. For instance, I prefer to think of old age spots as “highlights.” Cellulite has become “texturing” and I once had a small child tell me I have “sunbeams” around my eyes. I like that. It sounds much nicer than crow’s feet.

I have decided that I am not afraid of aging. It is true that age is just a number; at this point, I am somewhere between birth and death and my age will not define who I am. I refuse to look at life through a rear view mirror and moan because I am not as young as I used to be. If I was….I would be dead.

I once had a friend who was 99 years young. She told me that she never worried about her age because her spirit would never get wrinkles, her heart would never get old age spots and her funny bone would never get brittle.

Nobody knows how long they will live but personally, I intend to live life to the fullest and for as long as I can, do everything…except wear a bikini in public and eat liver.

Remember that you don’t stop laughing because you grow older; you grow older because you stop laughing.

 

Visit my website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com or e-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com to learn more about my presentations and coaching programs.

Finding the Prize Inside

July 12, 2017

If you have ever opened a box of Cracker Jack, you may remember how fun it is to dig through the layers of whatever Cracker Jack is made of to find that little prize hidden somewhere inside!

We all have prizes hidden inside of us, too; talents we have not discovered, dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, and joy that is has been buried by layers of disappointments, fears, regrets, and lots of other negative stuff.

Obviously, the longer we live, the more experiences we have and unless we live in a fantasy bubble, there will be some unpleasant ones. But there will also be plenty of joyful times and it’s up to each one of us to decide which experiences we honor and keep in our hearts.

At some point, someone is going to hurt your feelings, say something unkind, or undermine your self-confidence. You will try something and fail. Your efforts may fall short. You can expect that you may meet someone along the way who doesn’t think you are wonderful. You may lose hope. That’s life and each disappointment gets you one step closer to the true abiding joy that can only come from deep within you!

It makes me sad to hear people say that they have given up on their dreams or that they can no longer find joy in life. Someone has convinced them that they have missed their window of opportunity for happiness and encouraged them to be more “realistic.” Too often, we fall victim to messages from advertisers, magazines, social media, and even people in our circle of friends and families. We believe the naysayers more than we believe in ourselves and we bury our hope and joy under layers of negativity and fear; they just stay hidden like the prizes in the Cracker Jack box….until we dig them out!

My style of Cracker Jack eating was always to dump everything out of the box and go directly to the little toy hidden in there. I think that may be a good strategy for getting to the prize inside of every one of us so we can enjoy our gifts and share them with the world.

Is Nastiness the New Normal?

June 15, 2017

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the trend of “Global Snarking.” It seems as if mean spirited rhetoric and behavior are becoming more and more acceptable in many settings. While it is certainly true that there are plenty of reasons to be upset and troubled by what is going on in the world, I fear that vitriolic words and negative attitudes shared freely by angry and frustrated people are exacerbating the problem.

We are all being affected by things over which we have no control and that is scary and frustrating. But to allow those emotions to define us and to use them as weapons is not the answer. We all have heard of the “ripples in a pond” theory. One unkind word or act can affect more than just the intended target of the negativity. It can spread like a disease.

I understand crankiness. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. This week it is going to be 121 degrees. It is so hot that even roadrunners are taking the bus rather than to be outside for more than 3 minutes. That kind of heat makes people cranky. But what we are experiencing in social media, newsfeeds, etc. is more than hot crankiness. People are writing and saying things that can hurt and inspire hatred and it seems as if society is becoming more tolerant of it. We are finding ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones. Nastiness is becoming the new normal.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Resist the temptation to participate in vitriolic conversation. You can feel passion for a cause without spewing negative word vomit! Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes horrific events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

 

Reject the notion that it is OK to blame, shame, or bully.

Don’t forget joy! It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing pain. Joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness.

Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more mean spirited talk and actions. It causes us to become blinded to possibilities. Being kind is not the same as being weak. We have seen what hatred can do and it’s not working very well for us.

 

Linda Henley-Smith  http://www.lindahenley-smith.com  laughlady1950@gmail.com

What’s In It For Me?

February 20, 2017

This is a question that drives almost every decision we make. Those words are subconscious messages from the naughty little voices that we sometimes hear chattering in the back of our minds. Sadly, they sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing because our egos stand in the way.

Most of us probably want to take the moral high ground, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at an incredibly fast pace. It sometimes feels as if we can barely hang on and handle our own challenges without taking on someone else’s issues. And there are those situations which involve someone hurting our feelings or competing with us for something we want or need. Are we really supposed to step out of our own ego bubbles and defy our “I have to look out for number one” inclinations? And what if it seems that other people benefit from our work even more than we do and we don’t get credit for it?

Here are some possible thought processes that we might experience: If someone hurts me, why should I forgive him? Sure…he may be off the hook for what he did, but what’s in it for me? Someone needs help; I really don’t have the time and it will be an inconvenience. Lending a hand would make life much easier for that person, but what’s in it for me? After all, we all need to look out for ourselves, don’t we? Someone is being mistreated or bullied. I could intervene and stand up for him, but then I would have to get involved and if I do that…what’s in it for me? Why should I work hard to make life easier for someone else…what’s in it for me?

Yikes! What a dilemma! Or is it? Speaking for myself and my own experiences, here is what I have found to be the answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question:

  • The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” is true most of the time. What we send out usually returns to us. Negativity and mean spiritedness usually come back to bite you in the booty; kindness returns to you tenfold. We reap what we sow.
  • There is more peace in stepping out of yourself than there is in building walls around yourself. When you practice kindness for kindness’ sake, you find that the question of what you’re going to get out of it appears less frequently in your thoughts. There is a kind of contentment that comes with giving and forgiving without expecting acknowledgement or credit.
  • There is a lot to be said for paying it forward. Attitude is like ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in. When you are kind to someone, you are increasing the likelihood of that person passing it on to others. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And it works in reverse; as well…snarkiness breeds snarkiness. Don’t be the one who starts the snarky cycle.
  • This is an important one: We are all part of a continuum. Everything that we accomplish; inventions, medical advances, even our philosophies are possible because of those who came before us. We build upon their knowledge, discoveries, and work. Nobody creates anything totally alone….it is a cumulative process involving generations of people. Our ancestors worked and possibly sacrificed to pass onto us, a better life. We are all stewards of the accomplishments and knowledge that have been passed down and it is our responsibility to use them to make the world a better place with everything we do…without asking “what’s in it for me?”

The universe has a way of balancing things out. What’s in it for us is that we get to be part of a magnificent continuous thread that is this life. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, offer yourself an incentive…something nice, like chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Your Amazing Brain & What You Can Do With It

February 16, 2017

Several years ago, I experienced a traumatic shock, and while it isn’t important to elaborate on the details, it’s enough to say that it turned my world upside down. People talk about PTSS as it relates to people who have returned from war but it is very possible for anyone to be a victim of the “after shocks” of a traumatic event.

In light of my experience, I did a lot of research and became fascinated by the workings of our brains and how we can change or alter our thought patterns. I learned about the science of neuroplasticity. The term is derived from the words Neuron and Plastic. Obviously, neuron refers to the neural cells in your brain and plasticity means to mold or modify. So neuroplasticity is the science that explains the potential that your brain has to create new neural pathways; basically changing the way you think. Cool, huh?

The more I learned, the more I realized that I had the capability of reorganizing my thoughts and I really needed to do something to get out of the negative spiral I was in. And I realized that it was going to take some action on my part.

Think of it this way, when you memorize a song, you do so by constantly repeating the lyrics and singing it over and over again until it’s locked in. You have created a neuropath which allows you to remember that song. Suppose you decide to put new words to that song, like a parody. How do you do it? The same way…you sing it over and over and over again until you have created a new neuropath.

If you play an instrument or if you are a dancer, you know the concept of muscle memory. Your brain remembers the steps of a dance or where you put your fingers on your instrument. The science is fascinating and complex, but the concept is simple. As it relates to getting past a fearful mindset, you have the ability to change a negative thought pattern into a more positive one. But just as in singing a song, playing the piano, or dancing, you have to practice. If you are going to change a thought, you have to apply action!

That means that you have to begin to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You can’t just leave an empty spot, or those troll thoughts will jump right back in! When I was teaching, I used to ask my students to answer a riddle. Here it is: Five frogs sat on a log and one decided to jump into the water. How many frogs were left on the log?

The answer is…..FIVE frogs were left on the log because one only DECIDED to jump into the water, but took no action!

I am not a doctor….but I am a DIVA and that stands for Delighting In Victorious Attitude and I think we all deserve to have an attitude of altitude!

 

I would love to work with you! I offer one-on-one and group coaching classes as well as keynotes, seminars, and trainings.

www.lindahenley-smith.com Contact me at laughlady1950@gmail.com

Is Kindness Being Kicked to the Curb?

February 3, 2017

Okay….so the world seems to be in an uproar. People are getting nastier. Conversations about life’s joys have given away to social and political arguments. You don’t like what you see going on. You are afraid. You are coming into contact with more and more people who are hostile toward anyone who does not share their opinion. You have three ways to deal with the situation:

  1. You can lose all hope, ring your hands while crying “Oh woe is me!” and join the prestigious yet highly overrated Victim Club. (Not a good idea.)
  2. You can let your anger grow to a fever pitch and allow it to define who you are. If you lose all of your rational thinking abilities and scream at people who make you angry, you can feel justified in your rage while accomplishing nothing. You can also let your life be dictated by the actions of others, and develop anger-induced vein bulges…those are attractive. (Nope…not this one either.)
  3. You can take a stand for a cause in which you believe… without being a troll. When people are nasty, don’t jump right into the bubbling cauldron of snarkiness with them because all that will accomplish is an overcrowded snark pot! Try to let your voice be heard on a higher level, speak up for your beliefs, and lighten up your corner of the world by spreading kindness; even to those who don’t really seem to deserve it. (Choose this one!)

Here is the deal: there are some things over which we have control and others about which we can do nothing. We CAN’T always make others think the way we do. We CAN take a stand against bullying, injustice, abuse, discrimination, and unkindness. We CAN control our attitudes and actions and we can do more to create positive change by staying focused on it rather than just spewing angry rhetoric. In a war of angry words, nobody hears each other.

Does this mean that if there is a mean spirited action or injustice being perpetrated, we should just smile and sing Kumbaya? No, it is about being smart with our thoughts and actions and it’s about being focused and taking positive action with a plan. Of course we should stand for what is right, but while we are fighting against what is wrong, we can’t lose sight of the importance of expressing kindness and respect in our everyday lives, lest we become so embroiled in negativity that we lose sight of the goodness in the world. Along with fighting what is harmful, dangerous, and unjust, we must, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

There are those who will say that this is no time to laugh, express joy, or be kind. I have been told that I am being childish and/or ineffective by refusing to be drawn into negative screaming matches or angry social media posts. I’ve also been told that by showing respect and kindness to people with whom I disagree, I appear weak and risk becoming a doormat. Hmmm. I have looked at myself in the mirror and can’t find the word WELCOME stamped anywhere on my body. I believe that there is strength in standing up for what is right without becoming rabid! And I will always believe that kindness is a part of humanity that must be preserved. Showing compassion to someone does not mean that you necessarily agree with their views or lifestyle. It simply means that you respect another person’s right to exist on this planet.

Being kind does not make you weak, finding joy in life does not mean that you don’t care about what’s going on in the world, and focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that you are sticking your head in the sand. We are stronger when we are balanced in mind, body, and spirit. Let your anger at inequities and injustices impel you to work toward making things better. Let your compassion, hope, joy, and kindness be your weapons in the battle.

I offer one-on-one and group coaching. Check out http://www.lindahenley-smith.com or e-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Bamboo, Bonsai and Lotus Flowers

January 10, 2017

There are so many lessons to be learned from nature yet some of us zoom through life and take many things for granted. I am in awe of things that grow up from the ground. Sadly, I do not have a green thumb. I love plants and would be thrilled if they didn’t cower in fear when I pass by. I am doing better, though…at least the local nursery has taken down the “warning!” posters with my face on them.

I have discovered something about myself and that is that apparently I lack the patience necessary to be a successful gardener. I have been working on that because the growth and flourishment of flowers, trees and plants is a metaphor for life. I’m learning that many of my frustrations and questions about my own life can be better understood by taking note of how things grow in nature. They don’t care about other plants’ time schedules; they don’t take shortcuts nor do they worry about what other plants think of them. Their goal seems to be to put forth the beauty and wonder for which they were created.

Most of us have heard these things, yet in our “busyness” we need to be reminded. So as a refresher course in finding peace and calmness, consider these three natural “teachers.”

Bamboo: Talk about patience! After being planted, bamboo may not grow or even show itself for years and then one day, it will shoot up at an astronomical rate of speed. I have been told that certain species of bamboo can grow three feet in twenty-four hours! I have a silly mental picture of a bamboo farmer peering down at the ground wondering where the plant is and having it shoot up and hit him on the nose. Of course that wouldn’t really happen. Bamboo is incredibly flexible because it has a strong root system which allows it to sway and bend without breaking. I can draw a parallel to my life when I have worked hard to build something…perhaps a relationship or a business, and I’ve become frustrated when things didn’t move as quickly as I wanted. I have had to depend on the groundwork…the support system I have nurtured and remain flexible and confident as I wait for the results.

Bonsai: If you ever watched the movie The Karate Kid, you’ll remember how the Bonsai master told his student to see, in his mind’s eye, how the tree should look. If he couldn’t visualize it, there needed to be some clutter removed from his thoughts. In a sense, he needed to prune the tree in his mind before he ever started touching it. He certainly didn’t want to start chopping and trimming without a vision. That is how we need to move forward in our plans for life. We often cannot see where we need to go or what we ought to do through all of the doubts, fears, regrets and other negative thoughts that take up residence in our heads. Sometimes we need to prune away the useless branches in order to shape and define our goals and clear the path to reach them.

Lotus Flowers: It is strange to think that such beautiful blossoms could thrive and grow in dirt and mud. They are beautiful reminders that at times, we all find ourselves feeling as if we are sinking into murky mire. During those times, it helps to remember that we will eventually rise from the muck and once again grow and thrive in the sunlight. Sometimes, the mud is necessary for us to center our thoughts, put things into proper perspective and find balance.

This year, I am promising myself to slow down and smell the roses, so to speak. I don’t want to go through life and leave it never having paid attention and embraced the lessons that nature offers us. I hope you will take a walk in a garden, forest or meadow as well and see what you learn!

 

I would love to talk with you about how I might work with you.

www.lindahenley-smith.com, laughlady1950@gmail.com