A New Year and New Possibilities

January 4, 2017

The gift giving is done. The hectic days of frantically shopping for just the right gift and last minute preparations for Holiday dinners are over. What seemed so important a few days ago…the things that caused some people to be so stressed that even their teeth were tense, have come and gone. At my house, all of the hustle and bustle; the planning, the shopping, the wrapping and the opening of presents culminates in 10 1/2 minutes of chaotic package ripping, wrapping paper flinging and food gobbling. Then I find myself sitting in a house that looks like Christmas exploded, with tinsel behind my ears and a sink full of turkey and pie encrusted dishes. The house is in such disarray that it would be easier to just move, rather than to clean it.

The gifts that were exchanged were fun. We always try to give what we think our friends and loved ones would want, even if it is a fragrance with a sexy sounding name in a foreign language, which actually translates into “Scent of Healthy Hedgehogs” or an exercise video which focuses on tightening loose armpits. But there are always the unexpected and entertaining offerings that surprise and amuse, like watching 87 year old Aunt Flossie opening up a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret and wondering if that store carries bras in a size 38 long.

Next, we commenced with the New Year’s festivities. Since New Year’s Eve is my birthday (which is, of course, why everyone in the world celebrates), my grandchildren traditionally take me out to play Laser Tag and eat pizza. So this time of year is really special to me, and full of non-stop celebration. But, then comes the New Year and the partying is done. No more gifts and no more decorations. Time for real life…ouch.

I’m trying to be mature about it because I’m allegedly a grown up. But I must admit that I feel a little let down when I have to put my Holiday stuff into storage and the world is finished commemorating the day of my birth by dropping a ball in Times Square. (Yes…I know that’s not really why they do it, but don’t take my fantasy away from me.)

So, as we head into the next 365 days, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with them. It’s really metaphorical to think of a New Year as a new beginning, because really; every day can be a new beginning, but for some reason, it seems as if we are given special permission to wipe the slate clean and begin anew when we take down the old calendar and hang up a fresh new one. Every January 1, I feel like whatever happened in the past year is history, and I get “do-overs.” It’s like when I used to clean out my desk at the end of the school year; gathering up unfinished homework papers, broken pencils and chewed up erasers; throwing them into the trash can and knowing that they didn’t matter anymore and I’d have a new start next school year. Even if my life was a natural disaster, there would be a new beginning and a new opportunity to do things differently and maybe even better. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who chewed on erasers.)

We know that every moment is a choice and no matter what goes on in the world, we have the ability to decide how we’re going to deal with each situation. When we listen to the Terror Trolls and the Negative Nellies, who constantly focus on the woes of the world, we are taking time and energy away from the positive possibilities and opportunities that can provide us with joy, success and peace. As I always say, Remember that this group of letters can be read in two ways, which one will you choose?

                                                    OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

I am a speaker and coach who teaches people how to find and grow their joy and live the life they love.  www.lindahenley-smith.com, laughlady1950@gmail.com, 602-686-5180

I’m starting a new online program “How to Find Your Hallelujah!” Contact me for details and start 2017 with a bang!

 

 

JOYISNOWHERE

December 7, 2016

Ahhhh….the Holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year….or is it? For some, December brings parties, decorations, carol singing and visions of sugar plums. For others, it is a stressful and sometimes lonely time and the fa la las remind them of what is wrong in their lives; what they had and lost or never had at all.

Some people become cranky around this time of year and may walk around with an expression that makes you wonder if their pants are in a bunch. As those who know me have heard me say, you don’t want your pants in a bunch because it does no good and just makes you walk funny. Besides, there are certain places that are not meant to be flossed…and the pant area is one of them!

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.

Joy 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 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.

I wish you all a Merry and JOYFUL Holiday Season! If you open yourself up to it, joy is NOW Here!

 

Where Will You Find Your Hallelujah?

November 15, 2016

Since his death, there has been a lot of talk about Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song titled simply “Hallelujah.” There are many interpretations of this piece; and there have been several versions and even word changes but there is no altering the emotional impact of the haunting tune and the powerful and deep meaning of the word Hallelujah.

Everyone’s hallelujah comes from within and no doubt from a place unique unto every individual. The word comes from the Hebrew language and is composed of two elements; praise, and the name of God. Whether or not you are a religious person, when we are moved to say it, the very word comes from deep inside of us and can be called to mind in times of despair as well as in times of joy.

When we have been deeply wounded by a tragedy and are feeling lost and confused, eventually there will be a glimmer of light in our darkness and it is then that we are moved to cry hallelujah in gratitude and relief. Cohen’s lyrics address this in musical terms referring to a song whose melody reflects a minor fall and then rises in a major lift. That is life. There are the somber and troubling times, but if we endure with hope and belief in possibilities, there will once again be a time for joy and a reason for Hallelujah.

In these troubled times, we are seeing a vast span of emotions being expressed by people all around us and those emotions are making themselves known in a variety of ways. It is up to each one of us whether we raise our arms in rage or lift them in a personal hallelujah. Hallelujah is a symbol of hope and gratitude and a cause for joy.

No matter how troubled we may feel in any situation; there is always the hope of a Hallelujah moment if we will focus on the possibilities. Sometimes when we feel as if we are in a dark pit, it’s good to remember that when we are down, we are in a good position to look up and see the light. If we feel broken and cracked, it’s helpful to remember that there is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in. I didn’t make that up; it’s another Leonard Cohen lyric, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I used it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who can be reached at:

linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Light Another’s Path and Defy Gravity

November 7, 2016

After what seems like an eternity of listening to politicians, pundits and our families and friends give their opinions of what should happen in this election, we are finally near the end. Hallelujah and Yippee!

Our world has become an angry place and I fear that no matter who wins and becomes our new president, there will still be heated discussions about the outcome. We are also constantly bombarded with news of hatred and terror happening all around us and listening to all of the vitriolic rhetoric and just plain scary stuff can weigh us down. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was a way to occasionally defy gravity and float above all of the worldly woes?

It is for this reason, that I offer some tips on giving yourself a lift and maintaining an attitude of altitude. If each one of us would focus just a bit less on anger, fear, or frustration and make an attempt to rise above these things, there could just be a way to make our world a little bit better. Here’s how to give yourself a lift:

  • Live with kindness, gratitude, and laughter…a LOT of laughter!
  • Inspire with your attitude and illuminate the paths of others *
  • Focus on the positive possibilities
  • Treat others kindly and with respect (even if you don’t think they don’t deserve it!)

 

                                *   Lighting the Path to Greatness  

                                              by Linda Henley-Smith

 

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 may 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 may 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.

 

I would love to come and share some fun and laughter with your organization; large or small! E-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Also contact me about taking advantage of my online, self-paced series  “How to Find Joy in an Angry World.”

Haven’t Got Room for the Pain!

August 30, 2016

It doesn’t take much for me to get clogged up and it can be painful! Don’t jump to conclusions….I’m not talking about digestive woes, I am referring to Brain Clog.

From what I am hearing from other people, this is a common condition and it seems to be worsening with all of the things that are currently going on in the world. So many seem to be living with brain clutter and they are finding it difficult to turn down the noise in their heads. I can relate! When my head is stuffed full of worries, anger, fear, and negativity, it almost seems as if my brain can’t breathe! I know that sounds odd, but that’s the way it feels sometimes.

Brain Clog can be dangerous and can lead to suffering overload. Maybe you remember the Carly Simon song, “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain.” Of course she is singing to someone who has ended the pain of her loneliness and bad relationships, but I see the words being applicable to what happens when we are spinning into a cycle of hopelessness and negativity….when we begin to believe that suffering is all we can expect in this world. That is what happens when we constantly anticipate trouble and don’t allow ourselves to look for the good things like possibilities and hope and kindness. It’s what caused an acquaintance of mine to say that if it weren’t for stress, she would have no feelings at all. Yikes! Take a look at these lyrics:

Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive…thought that’s just how much it costs to survive in this world, ’til you showed me how to fill my heart with love; how to open up and drink in all that white light pouring down from the heavens. Now I haven’t got room for the pain……. 

Now apply those words to what happens when you allow yourself to step away from the madness of the news reports and the unkindness that seems to rear its ugly head every now and then. If you take a mental broom and sweep out the stuff that is not serving you well, you make room for the good things to come in! When you “drink in all that white light pouring down” you fill your brain with more productive thoughts and you no longer have room for the pain! Does it mean that your life will be carefree? Probably not….but it will be a heck of a lot better when you learn how to process the bad times and don’t store them up. If you keep them too long, they soon will be like garbage and stink up your whole mind!

Joy, laughter, friendship, kindness, and hope are some of the best brain de-cloggers I know! They are the main ingredients in Braino! I made that up, but I like it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and life planning coach. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

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:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible 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.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But 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 vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

Don’t Try to Put Pants on a Snake!

April 12, 2016

I was recently facilitating a workshop on building healthy relationships and several people mentioned how frustrated they were that others didn’t always listen to their advice. This seemed to apply to personal and professional relationships. It made me chuckle because of course we all want to be heard and most of us feel as if our wisdom and advice are golden. We just can’t understand why people don’t consider it as valuable as we do. I’ve learned that while I can offer an opinion, based on my experiences; people aren’t always going to think of it as a gift from heaven.

For a long time, in my relationships, I made things more complicated than they needed to be. I would try to push a square peg into a round hole and then allow the frustration to make me nuts. I finally realized that I wanted to feel important and also, I guess it was a control thing. I was always a stubborn and bossy child. I once spent two solid weeks trying to train a pet turtle to roll over at my command.

Fortunately, I began to realize that although it is a virtue to try to help people, there is also a benefit to realizing that when someone ignores your advice, it is often futile to keep trying to change his or her mind. And unless it is a life or death situation, you may have to accept that other people are as capable of making their own decisions as you are!

I have adopted the motto “Never try to put pants on a snake….it frustrates you and annoys the snake!” On the surface, it seems goofy and meaningless, but if you really think about it, it’s very wise. So many times in life, we try to make other people do what we want them to do and then get angry when they don’t live up to our expectations. I’m not suggesting that these people are snakes; I’m just using that phrase to make a point. You might have the answer or the solution or the experience that you just KNOW would benefit someone if only they would come over to your way of thinking, but if that person isn’t receptive to your ideas…well, you know the rest.

In order to live a happy and well balanced life, I think each of us needs to find our own barometer by which we can measure and monitor our frustration level. It’s all about choosing our battles and prioritizing and deciding what’s worth the effort and what’s not. If something’s not working, we should rethink the way we’re doing it because if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we’ve always gotten!

If we insist on writing the script for everyone else’s life and will not be flexible when things don’t go our way, we will always be in turmoil. There are just some things that will keep frustrating us…like trying to teach a turtle to roll over, trying to make someone else agree with everything we say, or expecting people to always do the right thing, as we see it. Is it really worth it? It’s like trying to put pants on a snake. It’s not really necessary, it never really works out and it just frustrates you and ticks off the snake!

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life coach who sometimes still tries to put pants on snakes.  www.lindahenley-smith.comsnakepants

Step Away From the Hamster Wheel!

April 3, 2016

hamter-wheelI just heard someone say that she is just too exhausted to continue to compete in the rat race. I get that! Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed, I feel like dropping out of not only the rat race, but also the human race! And I think there are very few people who are past puberty and have never felt that way at some point in their lives. The world is full of people who are running as fast as they can like little hamsters on their exercise wheels; running faster and faster and never getting anywhere. It works for pet hamsters…not so much for people!

So many of us get up every morning, put on our Super Hero capes, and set out to do the nearly impossible! We juggle work, social and family lives and then take on extra responsibilities which pretty much assure that we will not have even a minute of relaxation time. This often ends badly. Our super-hero capes end up being our shrouds! OK, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.

So why do we do it? Some feel that their value is measured by how busy they are. If a person is running in all different directions and constantly taking on more responsibilities, he or she certainly must be very important, right? It seems as if people participate in stress competitions, because they think the more stressed you are, the more official and professional you appear. I have even heard people arguing with each other about who is the more stressed…kind of an “America’s Got Stress” show.

Of course, there are some situations in which it is difficult to lighten your load; it’s not easy to tell your boss thanks but no thanks to a new assignment. But when it comes to other people, it is possible that some of us take on more than we can handle because we just can’t say no. Maybe we’re afraid that people will be offended or even dislike us if we turn down their requests. The reasons are many and different for each one of us, but the bottom line is that after we wear ourselves out trying to be everything to everybody, what then?  Here are some of my personal rules for you adapt to your specific situation, the next time someone asks you step onto that hamster wheel:

  • Whether you are living in my house or a guest therein, please understand that sometimes I choose to put my sanity above having a living room out of a decorating magazine. If you see dust on my table and cannot restrain yourself from writing your name in it, feel free to do so but please do not date it. If the “protective coating” of dust really offends you, you are welcome to fetch a can of Pledge and a cloth and go for it. And if you should see a really large dust ball roll by, please humor me and play along if I call it by name and try to pass it off as a pet.
  • If you are absolutely swamped and just can’t fit one more thing into your busy schedule, please do not automatically assume that I have more time on my hands than you do.  If I can help you, I will. But, if I can’t sew, shop, host, volunteer, or bake, please do not groan, whine, roll your eyes or sign heavily and hold your back in pain.
  • To my family: acknowledge and accept the concept that although it may not be your favorite thing to do, you ARE perfectly capable of picking up your belongings from the floor, tossing your dirty laundry into the hamper rather than flinging it across the room, rinsing off your dirty dishes, escorting the trash out to be collected, and flushing the toilet. These are basic skills that can be taught to a chimpanzee. Do not take this to mean that you are off the hook if you find a chimp to fill in for you.

I hope you find these useful and once again, if you begin to feel tense, I’d like to remind you to hang up your Super Hero cape, move away from the hamster wheel, rediscover the joy and peace of living simply, and resign as understudy for one of the Guardians of the Universe!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life-mapping coach who encourages people to get off their hamster wheels!   http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Does Being Kind Make You a Doormat?

March 16, 2016

Hi-Im-Mat

I recently was part of a conversation with a group of people and I left feeling bewildered and a little worried. After discussing a variety of topics, including the one about dealing with people who are snarky; one of the participants made a declarative statement with which most of the others agreed. Here it is: “I see no point in being kind anymore because nobody else is kind and I don’t want to be a doormat!”

Yikes! This is sad on so many levels! First of all, the words “being kind” and “doormat” should never be spoken in the same sentence! I wish I had been able to continue the conversation with the Doormat Lady, because I would have asked her to talk more about her definition of kindness and also about why she feels like something on which people wipe their feet. Here is what I think:

  • It could be that someone has taken advantage of her kindness in some way. We all know that happens, but really…nobody can make you feel like a doormat. If your kindness is not appreciated and someone is overstepping their boundaries, just move on. Someone else’s anger does not negate your kindness or make you less of a person, and it certainly does not make you a doormat!
  • Another possibility is that she has encountered a bully or two. There seems to be a lot of that going around! When someone is mean, even in the face of kindness, it helps to look past the snarling troll exterior of the person and see what is behind the mean spirit. Chances are you will find a tiny, shivering, insecure and frightened person who doesn’t want you to know who he or she really is all about! It’s like the little man hiding behind the curtain and pretending to be the Wizard of Oz!
  • What I wish I could share with Doormat Lady is this: the most constructive response to meanness is to think of the snarky person with compassion. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but there is no benefit to striking back or as she put it, becoming a doormat. You never need to apologize for being kind and respectful, but you also never need to accept abuse of any kind. It is sometimes difficult to muster up any positive thoughts about a troll, but the meaner they are, the more they need them!

Kindness isn’t about pleasing others or winning accolades. It should come from a genuine desire to help someone. When you are kind to another person, it is a gift that you are offering. It is up to the recipient of your gift to either accept it or remain snarky. Think of it this way; being kind to another person elevates you to a place where it is impossible to be anyone’s doormat!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach who helps people and organizations deal with trolls. www.lindahenley-smith.com

 

 

You Might as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to Approval

February 18, 2016

seal-of-approval Do you remember the Robert Palmer song “Addicted to Love” which was popular in the 80s? If you don’t, then you are probably younger than most of my shoes. But I think of those words when I see people trying so desperately to please everyone in their lives. Just as with every addiction, the first step toward recovery is recognizing and acknowledging that you have a problem. You may be an approval addict if:

  • You have cultivated a hectic and unsustainable routine of pushing yourself to the limit in order to satisfy the demands of everyone in your life. You often fall into bed while still wearing your Super Hero cape.
  • You continually acquiesce to the desires of other people, for fear of rocking the boat. You haven’t yet understood that sometimes it is necessary to rock the boat a little, lest it hit an iceberg and sink!
  • You are not willing to draw boundaries for fear of making someone angry or causing them to dislike you. People often push you until you lose yourself, but you keep trying, justifying your willingness to sacrifice your health and well-being in the name of love or friendship.
  • You require the compliments and assurances of other people in order to feel attractive, smart, talented, etc. You need these assurances daily. You constantly check to see how many “likes” you are receiving.

Approval addiction is not rare; it is really quite common in today’s world. The truth is that many people have lost the ability to feel OK just being who they are and are constantly seeking validation from outside sources. Here are some tips for approval addiction recovery:

    • Try being a friend to yourself! If you don’t like yourself and are always looking to others for love, acceptance and validation, you will find it hard to feel confident and comfortable with who you are. Don’t always look for a “fix” to make you feel worthwhile. When you are addicted to approval, you find yourself constantly needing someone else to validate your worth; how you look, how smart you are, etc. It’s an endless cycle.
    • Remember that your opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Stop second guessing yourself and being shy about what you believe to be true. Open your mind to other ideas and opinions, but don’t always assume that yours are wrong or inferior. And by the way, your opinion of you counts!
  • Accept that everyone is not always going to like you. For most people, that just doesn’t happen. There are a lot of people in the world and there are plenty who like you and some who won’t. Big deal! Other people’s opinion of you is their perception. If you are kind, authentic, and true to yourself, don’t depend on other people to define who you are. If people will only like you if you always agree with them and do what they tell you, guess what? They are not worth your time and energy!

 

  • Don’t outsource your self-worth. We all want to be liked and held in high regard, but the feelings of validation that come from outside sources can be short lived. Don’t hand over control of your confidence and self-esteem to anyone else. Do the best you can to be the best person you can be, but YOU decide who that person really is! Remember these wise words: You may as well like yourself, because wherever you go…there you are!

 

Please feel free to share this with anyone who may benefit from it, and comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and author who believes that we all have unique gifts to share.

www.lindahenley-smith.com