Archive for the ‘life balance’ 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

When is it OK to Laugh?

August 30, 2017

Sometimes, when a crisis occurs; even if it doesn’t touch us personally, we lose our desire and even our ability to laugh. With the horror of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and unkindness rolling out before our eyes via broadcasts and social media outlets, it seems unthinkable and disrespectful to find anything funny. That’s the way we sometimes feel but in reality, laughter is a valuable survival tool.

Obviously, our psychological recovery from a disaster depends on how close we are to it …physically and emotionally and of course, time is also a factor. After every disastrous event, we see heroes appear on the scene, in the form of first responders and also regular people coming to the aid of victims; working together to help put the world back together again. We feel helpless and shaken as we watch the events unfold and eventually, as there begins to be some distance from the horror, the stress lessens and we begin to laugh again. Then we can begin to heal.

Laughter is a release of emotions that we need to express but aren’t sure how to do it. We sometimes feel guilty for laughing in times of trouble, but it’s important to realize that we aren’t laughing at the event; we are detaching from the fear and anger we have been feeling. Laughter is an emotional catharsis and is necessary for keeping us from falling into the pit of negativity; it is our link to sanity.

We should never feel guilty for finding a thread of relief through laughter, as a matter of fact, we should embrace it. People who have been in the most terrifying and unimaginable situations will often share stories of how they tried to find a little humor in their dismal experiences in order to keep themselves from breaking down completely.

Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor wrote, “What helps people survive awful circumstances is their ability to detach and get beyond themselves. This is seen in heroism and humor.”

During the Vietnam War, Gerald Coffee was shot down and imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton” for over seven years. He explained that “Laughter sets the spirit free to move through even the most tragic circumstances. It helps us shake our heads clear, get our feet back under us and restore our sense of balance and purpose. Humor is integral to our peace of mind and ability to go beyond survival.”

Laughter and tears are closely related; they are two sides of the same coin. It is much like a snake eating its own tail…we cry until we laugh and we laugh until we cry.

Some of the most famous comedy teams emerged from the time of the Great Depression and WWII. Why? Because the nation needed some relief; we needed to laugh. Many of the stories portrayed on M*A*S*H were based on stories told by actual surgeons who used humor to escape the horror of their experiences in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War.

Laughter is a gift. In times of stress, it is a pressure valve which allows us to maintain an even keel. It saves lives and it allows us to step back for a moment and perhaps even find a little peace and hope. And speaking of hope, here is a quote from Bob Hope on the subject:

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform the most unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

What the Heck Can I Do?

August 17, 2017

My heart hurts for what is happening in the world as hatred continues to rear its ugly head. I talk a lot about kindness; I teach it in my workshops. But sometimes, I find myself wondering how being kind can make a difference when terrorists and people with hate in their hearts are causing such horror in all parts of the world. Then I remember that there are many more people on the earth who are kind and compassionate than there are those who want to spread ugliness and hatred. But because of their despicable deeds, the bad guys are the ones who seem to garner the most attention.

We receive daily reports about manifestations of violence and anger which cause us to sometimes be on edge, and perhaps a little snarkier than normal. I have decided that the best thing I can do is to try to make things better in my little corner of the world by spreading kindness and refusing to honor hatred.

Here is what I know about hatred: it stems from fear. Those who hate are hesitant to let go of it because they are afraid of dealing with the pain that is the root of their hatred.

I believe that hateful acts say everything about the hater and nothing about the targets of their hatred. People who deal in unkindness are projecting feelings they have about themselves.

Here is what I know about kindness: it doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you a doormat. It doesn’t mean that you don’t stand up for what you believe is right. Kindness gives you strength and treating others with compassion pays big dividends…it gives joy to both the receiver and the giver.

We all know that being kind is a choice, but it is also something innate; we are born with it. When we perform acts of kindness, we are being true to our nature. Not so with hatred and prejudice. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know what happens in someone’s life to cause hatred to take root and grow. Maybe it is abuse or trauma. Perhaps they have been taught to fear those who are different. Possibly they feel that something will be taken from them. All I know is that they are somehow broken.

We cannot fix hatred in other people…that is up to them to fix. But we can rise above it and refuse to let the flames of hatred consume us. We can stand up against cruelty, bullying, and vitriolic rhetoric. And we can model kindness because it is one of the best tools in our fight against the dark side. Even if your kind act seems like a small thing, remember that one candle can light the darkness.

 

 

I’d love to work with you and your organization. Check out my website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com and then e-mail me at laughlady1950@gmail.com

Perfection is a Moving Target

August 9, 2017

One of my recent books is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear” with the subtitle “Sometimes Imperfections Can Be Perfect.” The idea popped into my head on the day I was shopping and came upon a display of underwear just piled up on a table under a sign that read SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR. Intrigued by the possibilities of irregular underwear, I shuffled through the pile, wondering if I would find bras with three cups or panties with sleeves. I was surprised to find seemingly normal underwear with no distinguishing characteristics.

I asked the sales person to explain to me the meaning of the description and she said that this was underwear that had hidden flaws, but no one was really sure just what they were. All she knew was that the factory had labeled them slightly irregular, so the store marked them at half price and set them out on a table. I inquired as to whether one had to be slightly irregular to fit into them, and she said she didn’t think so, therefore, I purchased five pair of slightly irregulars, wondering if the irregularity was that they would self destruct after being worn for three hours.

Happily, I have worn my slightly irregulars and all is well. Whatever imperfections they possess have not been noticeable to me. The point of this is that we sometimes plan for ourselves, a life that is perfect. There is certainly nothing wrong with shooting for perfection, as long as we understand that perfection very rarely happens. In reality, our lives are usually slightly irregular and when they are, we tend to discount the value of the imperfections. We focus on what’s wrong and mistakenly assume that everyone else is focusing on the imperfections, as well. We label ourselves as a failure or lock in on what we did wrong, rather than what we did that was right. We discount our not-so-perfect experiences and cast them off as useless.

Am I extracting a life lesson from my underwear? Well, yes I am! When things don’t go as planned, how often we throw up our hands and proclaim our failures as worthless. We discount our not so perfect experiences…our slightly irregulars…and think of them as inferior or useless.

What I have learned over the years is that perfection is a moving target! Also, sometimes in hindsight, it is difficult to distinguish between the good days and the bad days. I guess it’s because I actually have derived more benefit from my imperfect experiences. My slightly irregular days have been the ones that have caused me to reevaluate my goals, put things into proper perspective, and reaffirm that I will live through failures and disappointments.

We need to learn that one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to set goals and strive for success, but one of the most harmful things we can do is to feel a sense of failure if we fall short of those goals. In striving for perfections, we learn to accept and even embrace our imperfections.

So ends my “life is like slightly irregular underwear” story. I hope it makes sense to you. I leave this topic with one final thought…while it’s always nice to have lingerie from Victoria’s Secret, we can also benefit from slightly irregulars. And besides, it just may be that Victoria’s secret is that she is slightly irregular.

I would love to work with you or your organization.

Contact me at linda@lindahenley-smith.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.

The “BUT”-Kickin’ Diva’s Rules of Life

July 21, 2017
  • Always take your work seriously and yourself lightly.
  • You need to be responsible for your own happiness. It does not come from an outside source.
  • Do not deny or suppress negative feelings…identify them, deal with them, and then let them go.
  • Make laughter a priority! It is a wonderful communicator, motivator, and healer! It is the spark that ignites balance, health, confidence, and hope.
  • Realize that there is really no such thing as a “bad day.” A day is just a day. Unpleasant things may happen, but it is up to you to decide how to deal with each situation. When you have been given the precious gift of another day of life, how can it be bad? We may not be able to choose the way we die, but we can choose the way we live.
  • Consider all of your options. If something isn’t working, try a different approach. You wouldn’t stand in a darkened room and continue to flip the light switch if nothing happened when you did it. You would find another way to fill the room with light. If your life isn’t working, try another path. Learn to create alternatives.
  • Kick your “BUTS” and don’t live your life in the “IF ONLY” syndrome! Avoid thinking “IF ONLY I was richer, thinner, taller, smarter, younger, more popular, etc…then I would be happy.” Also do not ever allow your excuses to take over your life!
  • Do not throw yourself pity parties. Very few guests will attend and nobody will bring gifts!
  • Maintain an attitude of altitude. Things aren’t always going to go your way, but you do have control about how you approach every situation. Your attitude reflects who you are, what you value, and how you choose to live. Look for opportunities to appreciate life and don’t worry about being “happy” all of the time. Happiness can be fleeting and may depend on outside stimuli, whereas joy is deeper and more abiding.
  • Forgive. Forgiveness isn’t giving someone a pass for hurting you, nor is it giving anyone permission to do it again. Forgiveness is about refusing to allow someone else’s hurtful actions to dictate how you live your life or define who you are.
  • Appreciate each day and celebrate the small victories. Live with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Be a merchant of kindness. Don’t jump on the snarky bandwagon! Kindness is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

e-mail me at laughlady1950@gmail.com for more information about my “But-Kickin’ programs, classes, and coaching.

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