Posts Tagged ‘life balance’

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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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

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.

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

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 You’re Falling Apart and You’re Out of Glue!

December 10, 2015

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that even my hair is tense! When this happens, I can almost see myself as a cartoon with my body parts dropping off one by one. I feel like I am coming apart and I’m out of glue!

I can always tell when I am approaching my limit of overwhelm, because I begin to resemble a deranged squirrel. I must mention that even on my good days, I am not one of those women who roll out of bed with sexy tousled hair and sultry eyes. I arise with my hair looking like monkeys danced in it during the night and my eyes are more squinty than sultry. But usually, after taming my crazy hair with a comb the size of a farm tool and wearing tea bags on my eye bags….I can pull it together.

However, when I am overwhelmed, it has been pointed out that I have the look of a terrified rodent! I’m pretty sure that other people experience these times as well and they react in a variety of ways when they feel this way. Some folks get angry and lash out at others, some withdraw and pull into themselves and others become unable to function and eventually fall apart.

There are lots of techniques to help reduce that panicky feeling of being pulled in a hundred different directions, but none of them work if you don’t take the time to implement them. Coming apart at the seams is a helpless feeling, so here are some tips which will help you glue yourself back together:

Draw a line in the sand. Most of the time, we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed without even realizing it. By refusing to draw boundaries, we are inviting others to take advantage of our willingness to help. There is no need to feel guilty if you are feeling like you need to lighten your load. Taking care of yourself does not make you a bad person!  There are nice ways to say “no.”

Put yourself on your “To Do” list. While you are busy taking care of everyone and everything, make sure you don’t forget to pay attention to yourself. If you consistently put yourself at the bottom of the list, you will soon run out of steam and if you fall apart, you won’t be able to help anyone!

Prioritize and purge: If you are wondering why you are feeling squeezed out of your own life, try making the ever-popular pie chart. Estimate how much time you spend on various tasks every week and give them the appropriate slice of the pie. If you find you have less time dedicated to your health and well-being than to everything else, you will know that you have a “pie chart of death.” Ask yourself, “Does this really need to get done now? What will happen if I don’t do it? ”Choose the things that critical and cannot be delegated to anyone else and dump the rest.

Take time to recharge. Although it seems counter-intuitive to take a break when you are really busy, it is essential for you to carve out some “time outs” each day.  If you don’t take brain breaks, you might short out! Utilize stress management techniques, meditate or just sit and vegetate!’ When you return to your work, you will have a fresh perspective.

Remember what you like to do and then do it! In my stress management workshops, I often ask people to make a list of activities that make them feel happy and fulfilled. Then I ask them to write next to each one, the last time they participated in that activity. Almost always, they are shocked when they realize how long it has been since they have done the things they most like to do. When we ignore the things that give us joy, we are cheating ourselves out of the best “glue” to keep us from stressing out and falling apart.

We are never going to be able to eliminate all stress from our lives, but if we keep that glue bottle handy, at least we won’t fall apart!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who often looks like a deranged squirrel, but has finally learned how to pull herself together! Visit her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

WHEN IS LIFE GOOD?

September 28, 2015

I often hear people talk about the wonderful things that are happening in their lives and while they’re describing the vacations, job promotions, financial gains, good checkups, etc. they often add the words, “Life is good.” I have said the same thing…because when things are going well, life IS good!

The last time I heard myself say those words, I began to wonder why I only say them when things are going my way. Life is a gift and it is good no matter what happens! The problem is that sometimes we can’t see the beauty of our existence through eyes that are focused on everything that’s wrong. It is difficult to feel joyful when we are hurting, for ourselves or for others who are suffering. It’s not always easy to see any beauty in some of the events of the world. The important thing to remember is that lousy situations don’t make a lousy life. It’s the situation that is lousy!

So I set about trying to figure out how to appreciate my life and feel joy in times of difficulty. I made an effort to look for ways to change the way I was thinking. I started to make lists of things for which I was grateful. I tried to recall how often I had gone through tough times that I thought would devastate me…but they didn’t. I wrote down how many times I had been able to turn negatives into positives and learn from the experience. I made a point to laugh every chance I got and to create an environment which would remind me of how good my life is no matter what’s going on at the time, because the problems, negative situations and hurt that is a part of living does NOT define who I am. I can be a person with a challenge, but I don’t have to be a challenge with a person attached!

Life is like a roller coaster. During the down times, we have to hang on so we don’t fling off and go spinning out of control. The upswing always comes, sooner or later. At this time, things in my life are somewhat in a state of upheaval. Some important decisions need to be made and there are some stressful situations with which I am dealing. Things aren’t exactly the way I would like them to be, but I am still here and you know what? Life is good!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, trainer and coach who encourages people to embrace joy. visit her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

Lighten Up With These Five Steps of Enlightenment

June 7, 2015

It sometimes seems as if the world is heavy. Most everything we read or hear about focuses on something unpleasant or even scary! Headline after headline screams violence or anger.

Sometimes, I feel saturated with negativity. I know I need to be aware of what’s going on in the world and I can’t hide my head in the sand, but it’s not healthy to allow negativity to set up camp in my mind!  That is why I believe in the power of positive thoughts. So I offer to you, these five steps of enlightenment that help me move away from the darkness of negative thoughts and into the light of positive attitude:

Lighten your load. Unclutter your life. Evaluate what you need to keep and what you can delegate.

Light up your life with a smile. Add more days to your life by adding more life to your days!

Light up someone else’s life. Move away from your own troubles and focus on how you can help others.

Find your delight! Make time for things that you like to do. Follow your passions!

Seek enlightenment.  Stay in touch with your Higher Power. Make time for prayer, meditation or spiritual renewal.

What’s In It For Me?

September 29, 2014

This is a question that drives almost every decision that 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 want to do the right thing, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at such a 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?

For instance, here are some possible scenarios: 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 someone else, 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?

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 what’s in it for me:

• 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.

The world has a way of balancing things out. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, reward yourself with chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

LET YOUR HOPE BE GREATER THAN YOUR FEAR

October 22, 2013

     

Many of us are walking through fear-storms. When the world seems to turn upside down, some of the anchors on which we have relied seem to disappear and fear seems to rule the day. These days, it seems as if fear is at epidemic proportions. You might say that we are living in a polluted “atmosfear.”

People are afraid of any number of things….the dark, being alone, snakes, spiders, heights, water, flying, politicians, giant meatballs. I am afraid of wearing a swimsuit, but that’s just me.  Many people are afraid of dying, but sadder still…many are afraid of living.

Fear can be confusing. Sometimes we tend to feel that if we hold on to our fears, we are protecting ourselves by being vigilant. Ding dong, that’s wrong. It is wrong on many levels.  For one thing, there is a difference between being cautious and being scared stiff! Being zapped by the “fangs of fear” is like being stung by a scorpion. It can fill you with poison and immobilize you.

So what are we to do when things seem to be spinning out of control? Fear begins with a thought. It starts as a worry or a doubt and grows into a full-blown fear….of losing something that we love or of not getting what we want or think we need.  Fear is a bully and it thrives on our belief in it.  When we look at it for what it really is, a trickster who wants to cloud the truth and dominate us, we can begin to recognize that we have options.  There is really no reason to live in the grip of fear because to do so, strangles hope and prevents us from living in peace.   But it is difficult to toss fear out on its ear because it is sneaky! It appears in the form of worry, anger, jealousy, doubt and confusion. But it does have a powerful enemy and that is HOPE!  Just as it only takes one little candle to light the darkness, so it is that one little spark of hope can begin to loosen the grip of fear.  

Here are some steps that I have found helpful when I begin to feel the cold fingers of fear closing around my throat. (Whoa…Stephen King just took over my brain!)

                                      

  1. Determine whether you are facing a real threat or an imagined one.  Sometimes our minds run in all directions at once and a perceived threat becomes a huge monster in our heads. We blow it up to outrageous proportions and panic sets in.  Don’t catastrophize…calm down and look at things realistically.

 2.  If you assess the situation and feel that you are facing something real, put it into perspective and realize that you have the capability to deal with it without pushing the panic button.  You have options.  Make a plan of action.

 3.  Breathe.

 4.   Don’t feed your fear because it will devour you. Instead, feed your hope…. Hold Onto Positive Expectations. A fear driven life is a life not fully lived.

 

Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson