Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

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

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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

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

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

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!

 

 

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.”

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