GEMS I STUMBLED UPON – O YOU!

Since none of my high school girlfriends, nor I, had the opportunity to fly to Chicago to see Oprah’s show before it ended, today my friends (that I’ve known for almost 25 years!) and I attended the next best thing!  Oprah’s O You 2012 in Los Angeles!  I learned many gems and will share them in weeks to come!

O what a great group of women!

There were so many activities throughout the day, but our largest challenge was “You … in six words”
Mine life story in 6 words is: Make lasting impression, love all equally!

What’s yours?

Can you write your history in 6 words or less?
Click on photo for some great ones – Including Oprah’s!
Artwork (C) Harpo

All the experts (including Oprah) got on stage:  Her best friend, Gail, Suze, Dr. Phil, Peter, Dr. Laura B., Martha, Adam, Iyanla!  You too can win a set of Oprah’s amazing Swag Bag (Click on this link!).

I know they’re tiny, but they’re all there!
Lingering idea: It’s ok for women to put themselves 1st!

What a great way to celebrate women!   What a great way to celebrate my 1/2 way point with my first grad school class!

Where the magic happened! WTF: We’re thrilled, fantastic!

#OYou2012

THUNDEROUS FLASHBACK

Dark and doomy!
Photo by Jason A. Samfield

Last week, I thought it odd that my body got strangely calm when I gouged a chunk out of my pinky. I seemingly slowed down bodily functions, keeping my finger from bleeding until after I retrieved the ball from the rooftop, returned the broom to its owner, then raced to the bathroom to wash it. I consider myself someone who can stay calm when faced with tense situations or individuals. As a Mom, I have to be the confident rock as we navigate life and its challenges.

Yesterday morning, I thought it odd that I froze and lost track of what task I held when I heard the thunder rumbling through town. I didn’t get tense, but the pounding scrambled my focus and functionality. I rationalized that because it was daytime, I couldn’t see the lightening first to warn me, so I was caught off guard.

Yesterday afternoon, I thought it odd that I seriously wanted my mom, well not really, but enough to tell her that I thought I did, when the crashing clouds gathered directly above my head! Being on the third floor, highest on the hill, one is closer to God and the elements. These thunderous outbursts crashed louder and longer than any others I’ve heard in my life. I was escaping to the second floor when one blast set off such an ongoing racket that I was convinced the third floor had caved in. Later, I watched through the window, following the sound passing through the clouds like Pendleton tanks practicing explosive drills.

As a child, I thought it amazing that my mom controlled the uncontrollable when we sat by the window watching the lightning and counting the seconds until the thunder spoke, and the gaps drew smaller as the storm approached, as she said it would. I still remember the smell of the rain and the swirling humidity breezing through my chiffon babydoll nightgown, not knowing if the chill on my skin was the breeze or fear.

Last night, I thought it heart warming that I had a new comfort level and fondness of one of the scariest most impactful childhood occasions in memory, when I gained a new perspective.

Sunnier Sights!
Photo by mediafury

I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU!

Earlier, I redirected my focus towards personal growth rather than being quick to dismiss challenges. I am making myself accountable to wordpress to challenge myself for 30 days then report back. After 30 days, it forms a habit (although, I didn’t start falling behind with blogging until 90+ days). As with any change in habits, it’s always more fun with friends. If you want to support each other, post which of the 30 you’ll do and we’ll all check in with each other along the way!

I already do these regularly:

7. Treat everyone nicely, even those that are rude to me. I’m a huge believer in treating people how you want to be treated. Simple and golden!

Simple!

9. Acknowledge the lesson in awkward situations. Ever since reading childhood fairy tales, I learned stories have morals. In my family, with every awkward situation, we identify the lesson we learned because of our mistakes.

Understanding that blogging takes a large daily chunk of time, I dove into these areas:

11. Get rid of one thing a day for 30 days. By the end, more breathing room will feel huge! Aligning with my long-term goals, I won’t toss my kids’ toys but may challenge them to join in.

18. Read one chapter of a good book a day. I am determined to read through my bookshelf so committing to 1 chapter a day will get me through 1 and maybe into my 2nd book in 30 days.

25. Spend 10 min. a day reflecting on what went well. Last night my daughter expressed that it was her best day ever. She listed the great things that happened and we all smiled! Not only was she appreciating the day’s gifts, but she ended the day on a high note.

27. Pay down debt and don’t create any new debt for 30 days. I have a small credit card that I didn’t carry a balance on until working temporary jobs. I have two summer camps I’m paying in installments. It’d be a healthy habit to take my lunch more and enjoy coffee free at work.

What are your challenges going to be? I can’t wait to celebrate our highights!

So many people have shared this - finally sinking in!

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Thanks all!

WHO IS THE FIRST PERSON YOU CHECK IN WITH EVERY DAY?

I’m behind. For 2 weeks I’ve written posts after they’re due. Technically, I have not missed a day; but will catch up with one day and two posts. Nightly I’ve surfed for inspiration or handled family stuff only to be too exhausted when ideas sparked. Last night I went to bed resigned to wake up and write about the first thing to come to mind. It would be unfiltered and hopefully be something worth discussing. Then, it hit me…

Book after book, Julia Cameron gets me!

Before this blog, I did Morning Pages. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, heralds the practice of simply writing 3 pages, first thing in the morning, on whatever floats through your mind.

Wake up your creative self. It’s backwards from meditation I’ve tried in that rather than emptying your mind to remain centered, you follow anything wandering by. Isn’t the blog free-flowing? In editing and trying to make a “blogworthy” point, creative flow gets funneled and detoured. Pages open the dam so ideas flood through the gaps in one’s week! The book is only the introduction to living with your creative self.

Check in with the person who matters the most – You! The first thing I do in the morning is roll into my kids’ room relaying our daily plans by adapting that annoying chorus from Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. As the family leader, I need to check in with myself first. Pages allow me to purge my mind onto paper so I focus on what needs to be done that day without losing ideas.

Rewards off the beaten path After surviving crazy last week, that rolled right into this one, followed by another non-stop weekend, I couldn’t see past our plans. When I rerouted while searching for my Artist’s Way books, I found my long-lost Writer’s Idea Book! It wasn’t really lost, more buried in my bookshelf! Evenings trolling for blog topics will no longer be such a futile search!

What a treasure to find when I didn't have my blinders on!

In one brief morning, Morning Pages brought me out of the brambles and back to the path. I’m relieved by the realization that I can’t ignore that part of me. I can’t blog and do Pages but commit to starting my day with morning bullet points!

IT’S YOUR DAY!

Did you know that March 26th was Make Up Your Own Holiday Day?! Hallmark didn’t warn me! What a spectacular opportunity to name and define a best day ever!

My daughter immediately wanted to do “Free Day!” Perhaps this is her way of saying that she really needs an allowance. The first thing she’d stock up on are free Pokemon cards. She also wanted to celebrate with the wind blowing through her hair, riding her bike – for free!

My son wants 24 hours of Girl Scout cookies! He’d fuel his morning with a wholesome burst of peanut butter Tagalongs, add roughage with coconut-filled Samoas and finish with simply minty Thin Mints. For dairy, a serving of ice cream sprinkled with fresh cookies on top! I’d implement March 27th as Vegetable Day to counteract the sugar.

My holiday focuses on all children –a day to pay close attention to what they say, their challenges, what they want – not just from the toy section. One interaction might change a child’s life. Take them to college sporting events to build larger dreams! Take kids to Disneyland to show what’s possible with imagination! Introduce them to the arts in local museums, even coffee shops. Make them feel like they matter thereby administering large boosts to self-esteem. Don’t have a kid, get one – your family or friends would love your offer to babysit and you get an excuse to recapture childhood excitement!

My informal survey yielded inspiring responses to follow our fancy! Relish our mochas! Eat rainbow sherbet slowly focusing on the joy it brings us, not just the sweet-tooth satisfaction! Celebrate individual victories – especially milestones! There’s only one “First time” before it threatens to become ordinary. Celebrate each morning you wake up to make a difference in the world! Most important – celebrate YOU! It’s not selfish to treat yourself or spend the day alone getting in touch with your wants and needs and figuring out how to get back on track if you’ve strayed.

We say we’ll do this regularly, but the grind gets in the way. At least once a month pencil in Make Up Your Own Holiday and celebrate! It’s a fun excuse for some unadulterated fun!

Make a wish and share it with the world! Love it!
I'm considering equally as romantic options to balloons though...

BLOGGING: THE MOST WELCOME TIMESUCK

Blogging rides up on my butt every night threatening to run me over and derail me. Recently back working again, I haven’t retained the mental space to prepare a prominent idea cultivated while wandered during the day – and I don’t want to blog about my work as I’d love for it to transform into a permanent opportunity. Not to mention that I’m not truly wandering if I already mapped out my route beforehand. Blogging steals large chunks of my day, but leave me feeling more fulfilled, productive, and centered, despite the chaos it creates in the rest of my universe.

HERE ARE THINGS REMOVED FROM MY DAY NOW THAT I BLOG:

If only I had a dog to lick plates clean...

1) DISHES – Oh stop, I do them, just not at night like I used to. I admit to using paper plates and plastic utensils occasionally for a special dish-free treat!

The pile used to be flat and wrinkle-free.

2) LAUNDRY – I wash it, dry it, lay it out so it won’t wrinkle, (because if I ain’t a-folding, I’m definitely not ironing). I used to fold while watching DVD’s guilt-free but…

I refused to send it back unwatched...

3) DVDs – I’ve  gone from a super efficient Netflix user watching 2 discs a week to holding onto my motivational DVD for the last 6 weeks so far only half-watched.

Except this one that makes a great coaster.

4) READING – My books haven’t moved from the spot where I brought them home.

5) SLEEP – Because I start my blog so late, I don’t get done til the wee hours – fortunately I do well with small sleep and venti coffees!

6) SURFING – This former title-winnning Timesuck of social media and pinning pretty pictures now falls into a new category titled “research.”

HERE ARE THINGS TO RESTORE TO MY DAY NOW THAT I BLOG:

1) BREAKS – Using stop light breaks, or coffee breaks to sit still with myself leaves my office behind and myself more open to noticing things that could be potential topics.

More fun than rubberbands everywhere you turn. Where are my googley eyes?

2) CREATIVITY – Finding fun new ways to do something help keep that side of my brain open and active.

3) MOVEMENT – Creative juices just flow faster when the blood pumps as you breathe deeply.

4) MUSIC – Certain groups do it for me where I listen to their stuff and ideas pour from my head.

I WELCOME SUGGESTIONS!

BEST DAY EVER – IT’S ALL IN MY MIND!

The Gift that keeps on giving... Love it!

Today’s continuation of 24 hours of doing anything I want, wound up being just what I needed although not from my original list.

Slept in: I finally slept in! Songs blared from my iPhone for minutes, but I snored on. I slept so late that I did not get any coffee until 3pm. I didn’t get caffeine=withdrawal headaches either!

Laundry: Really?! OK, not a purposeful addition to my list. The spin I put on it centers around my “rule” that when I fold the 4 loads of laundry, that gives me full freedom to watch reality TV!

Wayne Dyer, PhD DVD: In yesterday’s cleaning, a DVD emerged that I held captive at home for a month! I couldn’t send it back unwatched, plus on a slow, sunny, spiritual Sunday, watching Wayne Dyer would be more inspiring than Hoarders. This introduction to him felt comfortable and straightforward. Part of it a result of the fact that he expanded on a sentiment I’d brought up on my blog before – If I’m Not Worried, Don’t Worry!

He went one step farther suggesting our “problems” aren’t with the world around us, they are based on our perception, in other words – all in our heads! If you look at a situation, it’s simply a moment in time whether big, small, short or tall. When we mix in our ego, defining ourselves by what we have, what others think about us, what work we do, and feel we’re not measuring up to others, then our problems start and take over.

He presented many great things to reflect upon. It all hit such a big chord with me that I need to simmer on the ideas!

Daughter’s Softball: Sheer joy for and from her!

Sa-wing Battah!

Dinner and Wine with friends: A few school fundraising moms and I gathered and continued down our path towards our goal. We discussed and discredited a few “problems” we detected. Disengaging and absorbing the power that something has on us felt energizing

It also sent a strong message that my best days ever could be any day – with or without the mundane or big adventures, since it’s all in my mind and how I choose to see and feel things!

FORK IN THE ROAD – WHAT NOW?

I’m sitting here trying to come up with the appropriate way to express my wandering thoughts. Two ideas keep ping-ponging in my mind but they’re not developing and it’s frustrating me.

Firstly, I recognize my different tone and topics in my blog since I’ve been working again. Every night I blog from 9:30pm – midnight trying to write by day end and to rest for work. The last two nights, my new habit was I didn’t start writing until midnight – this must end immediately. I know why – I’m prolonging the inevitably crazy week. Two weeks ago I reintroduced a job into my life, last week, baseball started – and we didn’t make every event. This week we’ll practice, have scouts AND play first ball games this weekend.

When a friend asked for my Tuesday plans, while I’d love to do a single sistah’s Valentine’s Day, all I want is to sit still. I took breaks this weekend and had an impromptu visit with friends after wandering the park – perfect! I also sorted a box of junk and tossed stuff. If I take breaks during the week, I lose momentum. I know we’ll survive, it’s just another transition.

I got still watching the daisies sunbathe!

The second issue is yet another celebrity death. It’s tragic to keep losing talented people this way. I try not to use other people as examples, yet when my kids hear the cause of death on the radio, they ask questions. I can’t help but answer in a “Let that be a lesson” way. My son always wants to know why the person did it and why aren’t they in jail.

I don’t pretend to know why they started or what their “people” thought, I simply look at the point of view that when given the choice, they chose wrong. It messed up their careers and ultimately cost their lives. I stress the importance of communicating with others and learning to manage feelings because that means we’re human. Finally they learn to respect their bodies for maximum longevity.

I am saddened by the recent losses of such amazing artists. I feel for them and their internal struggles – magnified by the spotlight. I hope now they’ve found peace and stillness.

Only a few of nature's stained glass leaves left, barely hanging on.

THE INSANITY OF RELAXING VACATIONS

I count down the days until my much-anticipated vacation, practically kill myself to get out of town for a few, but know the amazing escape will be worth it if I live long enough to get there!

I looked forward to the serenity and reflection nature offers.

Last week, we were set! My son got a jumpstart on his school project due tomorrow – while keeping up with homework. My daughter proactively did 3 pages of homework a night! I looked for work, fundraised for kids’ science camp and blogged. We’d hit a new rhythm and this bonus trip was fun-tastic!

This week, starting my new job, we had the learning curve of a new routine. Couple that with my daughter’s lost security blankets (Buddys)

My daughter communicating the pain of her lost "Buddys"

and the week got crazy until Friday night. I planned to pour a glass of red, do laundry, and pack. I didn’t go as planned (does it ever?!), but we packed, I blogged the extra post for Saturday and were surprisingly on time Saturday morning.

We drove up to the wilderness, the kids looked forward to shooting and running while I hoped to wander and shoot scenic photos. Once I got there, the lack of snow revealed that the reserve was devastated by fire almost 9 years ago and left in ruins. Usually the snow paints a prettier picture. While the kids did team building exercises, I looked for gems hidden in the forest floor along the way:

A forest throne to crawl in, sit for a while, and hear amazing tales.

During archery, this natural bulls eye hypnotized me. The fire attacked, but didn’t destroy it.

I shot this to share with my kids as I know they ran right by it. Woodpeckers shove acorns in logs to attract bugs to eat.

I loved how much fun my kids’ had with their friends from all years of their lives. I loved exploring the town, accommodating my son’s insistence of our malt shop tradition. I felt restored heading home early enough to relax for the week.

I didn’t love that we couldn’t shut the front door fast enough to keep reality from barreling in after us.

After reintroduction back into the wild (your life) it's hunting season and you're open game!

My daughter wept since I wouldn’t be at school for writing showcase, my son pressed on to meet his report deadline, and my relaxing moments crashed like the oversize Jenga game from the camp. We all needed a nap but couldn’t sacrifice the time. I look forward to the week starting again but feel like I was never gone. At least I have the pictures or I’d never believe it.

A Jackelope - believe it or not!

THANKFUL THURSDAY – THE GRASS IS GREENER

I’ve driven through town, rushing through lunch hour, wondering about people running behind strollers or heading to yoga. I assumed they married, divorced, or invested well, lied to their bosses, had a trust fund or worked from home. I wished out loud to switch places. My wish came true – I have loads of free time! I never included unemployed job-hunters in this shiny, happy bunch.

This week, job hunting annoyed me for the time span it has consumed and the drive span I’m limited to. I enjoyed being off in December, but am ready for what’s next. When I went to buy a winning lottery ticket, I grabbed a newspaper that held a great horoscope written to me. It acknowledged my wrestling with challenges and foretold that my week would include veils lifted, planets aligning, and serendipitous timing to change everything!

Since Friday was approaching, and nothing crazy revealed itself yet, I guessed the universe wouldn’t find me holed up with my laptop. I left, in search of answers and to test if the grass IS greener. After chatting with friends at school drop-off, the sun pulled me towards the beach Farmer’s Market. To be fully present, I sent two texts first.

Fresh perspective with a side of veggies

The crashing waves invaded my thoughts, while the blend of blue sky, brown crystals and salty air recalibrated me. I stared at the horizon’s curve, amused that behind me Americans rushed through their day while ahead lay endless possibilities! The endless waves hypnotized me while sun on my cheeks added a joyous glow!

I ran into more people there, and later at toy testing – another luxury when not working. Nobody whispered mystic words of “I have the perfect job and it’s yours to take.” What I found on “the other side” was changed perspective. I get stuck in routines, in my house, because of should-do lists. I fill the day job-searching or completing projects trying to prove something by finishing the list. Today’s lesson pushed me outside to feel the world’s vibrations and survey the horizon. I realized the list will always exist, it doesn’t matter how someone gets free time, just that it is relished! What lesson are you thankful for?

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