Sunday, November 28, 2021

ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY

 ORDINARY TO EXTRAORDINARY



The one thing that I think we all as humans believe is that there are only certain kinds of people who are extraordinary. They may be movie stars, rock stars,  authors who have New York Times #1 books, etc. I think you get the picture. What I want to put out there on a shelf for others to mull over in their heads is that the word ordinary is actually in the word
extraordinary. 

There are times in all of our lives that we face struggles and challenges when we must overcome our own self-doubts. The person who will be the one to help us out of self-doubts is actually our own selves. We don't do it alone. It will be someone who came along at the right time and place to actually listen to our story which in turn helped us to see the light. 

It helps when others share their own personal stories because we see where they were and how far they have come. Therefore the inspiration is out there for us to see. Simply because they were willing to listen and did not judge us helped to wipe away self-doubt. We all need to share the journey of our own struggles to get to where we want to go. It works every day. All it takes is to pay attention to others, as well as ourselves.

Small steps make the little things grow into big events. It is a part of being kind to one another. There is a way to help stay connected to others. Some people along the way you may know and others you may never have met before. The only major rule is to say hello and ask how someone is doing, then really listen. No judging. Just listening. If you find yourself at a get together where most people seem to already know each other then have the courtesy to go up to someone to introduce yourself. Use the words please and thank you. You may be surprised at how this simple act of etiquette opens doors.

The important thing is to remember that you are not doing this for the impact you may have. It is based on the humanity for others. We are all unique and we all have our own stories. These stories can change someone's life at that time or in years to come.


Sharing our stories with one another can help to inspire each other. We may not even know how much hope we may have given to someone, just by listening and sharing.


Just remember the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little "extra."


Sunday, November 21, 2021

KINDNESS COUNTS ON SO MANY LEVELS

 KINDNESS COUNTS ON SO MANY LEVELS


There are so many times that I just want to go to the rooftops and scream out, "Can't we all just be kind to one another?" Apparently, it is not that easy for some people probably because of the misbelief that being kind means never getting angry. This is so wrong. It does not make anyone a pushover, simply the fact that it is treating others with the same respect and dignity that we deserve to be treated. Yes, even when we disagree. Everyone is allowed their own beliefs. Kindness actually takes some serious courage. In order to get along, we have to learn to let it go.

Kindness is good for our brains and body. Having empathy for others by taking a moment to realize where another person is coming from instead of jumping to judgments helps us all to be a kinder human being. Kindness is actually not a personality trait. It is a skill that needs continual practice. I have to ask myself if I reacted to others' views too quickly or if I raised my voice? Usually, this is a no for me. It is a little harder when I need to try to wrap my head around another person's point of view when it is so different from my own. By taking a moment to think about it instead of rushing in with my point of view usually works for me. And yes, sometimes it may mean, TIME OUT!  Sometimes it is best to not get into a debate about a subject. Make being kind a habit. It is a way of building your kindness superpower. This blog was based on some research done by Dr. Jamil Zaki, an associate professor at Stanford University. 




There is a link between kindness and empathy. They are two separate entities, just closely related. Kindness is doing something to help someone else without expecting anything in return whereas empathy is feeling what someone else is feeling. They don't always go together. Dr. Zaki's research revealed that people tend to feel happier and less stressed after doing something kind for someone.

Is there such a thing as being too kind? It is if you show kindness without some self-care. We must be kind to ourselves too. Two examples:
  • Yesterday I did something really, really dumb. I was not thinking and had too much on my mind. When I discovered my mistake I started calling myself out on what a stupid thing to do. Never would I have treated a friend this way so why did I do it to myself. Instead, I had to go and sit myself down, take deep breaths, go through my thoughts of how it happened and what I can do to correct the problem. It is a matter of being kind to myself. 
  • Another example are our front line workers. They must take time for themselves, just like we do. Take breaks, even if it is a moment's walk outside or go outside for a picnic lunch on a bench or a jog around the building. 
Each daily choice we make, no matter how big or how small will either nurture our well being or aggravate stress. We all face huge challenges and kinder communities - ones that allow for all to have equal opportunities work best for all. We do have far to go on this note. We must continue to do better. During the pandemic we were able to witness that disadvantaged communities have faced much higher forces in fighting the pandemic. Our bodies are made for working better when our lives are filled with more empathy and kindness. Dr. Kelli Harding stated that "kindness helps us with whatever illness or other adversity shows up." 




When we are kind to others, it not only benefits that person but we all benefit from it as well. Studies have shown that being kind can and does actually lower blood pressure and anxiety. It can lesson depression. Feel good hormones get released. 



Sunday, November 14, 2021

SIMPLE TRUTHS

 SIMPLE TRUTHS




The other day a good friend of mine shared an article called "Six Little Stories." After reading it, I really felt the need to find out if I could source where it came from. It was quite easy to do this research. A sign came up immediately:  

CREATOR VILLA

SHARING INNOVATIVE IDEAS FOR LIFE


It seems that they accept blogs from writers on various subjects that help others. A blog writer named Ben Peters shared the Six Little Stories that he found circulating on social media. He tried to find the author and when he came up for now, empty handed he declared that he was chalking it up to the "Wisdom of the Internet." I agree with him. Definitely something that I needed (and I believe most of us can) to move forward with the simple truths that are all ready accessible to us. Right in front of our faces!

  • Once all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer, all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That is FAITH!

When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them. That is TRUST!


Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but we still set the alarms to wake up. That is HOPE!


We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future. That is CONFIDENCE!




We see the world suffering, but still, we get married and have children. That is LOVE!




On an old man's shirt was written a sentence, "I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience." That is ATTITUDE!

If nothing else can show me how precious good friends are and how difficult they are to find and impossible to replace, then I shall read over and over these six little stories.



Sunday, November 7, 2021

DECLUTTERING

 DECLUTTERING


Please let me be the first in line to say that I already know that I need to consistently work on keeping my life decluttered. Things pile up. I know. There is a way to help me work on this issue. It is really a never ending job. I have to be able to do things my own way. Looking at it as a type of housework chore and taking it one step at a time is what helps me attack the clutter. 

Some things are just a no brainer for me. There are a few things that really help if my husband and I take care of daily. It is, at least for us, our secret to a neat home.  One thing is making the bed when we get up. The last one up takes care of that. When it is time to go to bed, it sets the tone for a wonderful night's sleep. That goes with the nightstands beside us. He has a valet that keeps his things organized and I have a basket. No cluttered mess. Really you must admit that one is inviting and the other is a disaster. (At least in our minds!)





The next daily 'to do' is making sure that dishes are not piled up in the sink. The dishwasher goes on at night unless there is space for morning breakfast dishes. 

The last thing that either one of us want to see is this picture. The least we could do is hand wash them if there is no more space in the dishwasher. 

Sort of on the same thinking is leaving clothes on the floor. When we are showering, throw the dirty clothes in a pile and take them to the laundry room once dressed. That is what the laundry hamper is for. Actually, I was truly wishing that we had a larger laundry room plus or added in the laundry room would be a mud room. Our home did not have these amenities. So the deal is to make every space count. We have a space for jackets, hats, gloves, laundry hamper and dog supplies. Plus closed off cabinets to store laundry essentials and items like batteries, insect spray, sunscreen - all those items that need a home without cluttering.




This would be the best of both worlds. Unless we had walls knocked out and added a mud room on then we will make our laundry room work for us. It is a matter of optimizing available space.



There is something to say about a cluttered entry hall to our home. That is an area that we can keep decluttered, mainly because we do not have a lot of entry hall space. The important thing is knowing that this is the first impression of those coming to our home. Our staircase is not at the front door. In a previous home we were lucky enough to have a winding staircase and a place for a large pillowed bench to sit (and it opened for great storage). Every home has what we have to make do with. A friend noticed that the next lead in from our current entry hall was a living room. We never use a formal living room so his suggestion was to make it a formal banquet room and it turns the entry hall into a glamorous entry into our home. All that was required was to move the chandelier from the dining room into the banquet room. Having an open mind and being creative... a fun thing to do and helped tremendously in decluttering.



Next in my mind was to create a home command center. This has the calendar that we live by, files (yes, I do still keep paper files in a wooden file cabinet, as well as on the computer).



And the command center is my study that I do my writing from. My husband has his study upstairs that is for his writing, as well as exercise equipment. One command center is what works best for us. 

The next three items are always "work in progress" for me. First, I do try to take care of getting rid of things in the kitchen cabinets that we do not use and have found storage space in a rather large pantry for kitchen equipment in order to keep countertops clear. The coffee maker and tea kettle must stay. There is no way that the air fryer, crock pot and large mixing bowl (as lovely as it is) need to take up space in our kitchen. Only things that are used on a regular basis should be out. Even then, there are times I put things away. I am working on a few items in my mind already. 

The last two items continue to be a source of monthly clean outs. I would love to say that our closets look like these.



There are times that the upstairs and the downstairs linen closets come close. I have been working on having space for extra meds, band-aids, as well as towels and sheets. (including large folded beach towels for our pool weather)

However, once upon a time, my precious daughter, who is a definite Queen of organization, worked on my closet. She made me look and touch each item of clothing to decide if it made me happy or not. My closet was totally organized when she finished. I must say that the basics that she did are still there. Skirts, dresses, pants, longer tops, and then folded tanks, etc. She put all of my shoes out across the bathroom suite which is very large. When she finished she had my granddaughter come out to get me and her words were, "Lola, you have your own shoe store!" She was correct. It was absolutely crazy how many shoes were in that closet. Any shoe that no longer made me happy (and yes, there were some) or if they hurt when I wore them - they were tossed to go to a charity. Actually, I probably need to do that again. Soon. As far as clothes go...I also am weeding through them, step by step. 

Once, maybe twice, I managed to get Steve to go through some of his clothing to put in a bag to take over to a charity center that accepts clothing. Yes, we need to do that again soon also. I did clean out my drawers of clothing not worn. Soon, my mission is to go in to Steve's, with his permission. He knows there are things that he no longer is in need of and they are taking up precious space. 

It is a matter of demanding that our space work for us and not against us. We have been talking of downsizing and this is just the start. We are making a list of what we want and what we do not need as far as space and rooms.  



Sunday, October 31, 2021

LIFE BALANCE

 LIFE BALANCE



The words "work-life balance" are used frequently. It is my belief that there is no such thing. If one thinks this way it probably is stressing them out tremendously. If you work on the weekends, then you may feel like you are not being true to yourself, family and friends. If you are taking time away from work during the day to something personal then you feel that you are not being a good employee. That is enough to drive anyone over the edge. 




My advice is to allow yourself to believe that there is no such thing as a work-life balance. The reason is this creates two enemies fighting each other for time and so the tension comes in to play.



Work is a part of life. Just as taking care of our personal time of being with family, friends and doing what we enjoy for ourselves (self-care). So in reality we are simply trying to express our whole being. This can't be done on a balance beam. 


So what do we do? First, get it out of our heads that accomplishing a life balance can't be done in one day or even a week. There are ways that we must try to express the different parts of who we are throughout each day. 

Working on strategies to plug into our life balance is the answer and it is doable. Making your job your friend. It does not define you. Setting priorities realistically on what you want them to be, not what you think they should be. Identify the top 3 - 5 priorities in your life. Managing your time the smart way. Learning how to say no with a smile on your face. When you stop doing things out of guilt, you will be surprised to find more time to focus on the activities that bring you true joy.



Sticking to your priorities and setting up your schedule will help to ensure that your work does not interfere with your personal life. It is important to find your life balance because after all, working is getting you enough money in order to enjoy your life. There really is an answer:




IT IS CALLED LIFE BALANCE!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

POSITIVE THINKING SHOULD BE SECOND NATURE

 POSITIVE THINKING SHOULD BE SECOND NATURE



That is a very powerful statement! If I think about it though, it all comes together. I don't know about you but I choose to have power over my circumstances instead of them having power over me. Already, I can hear the naysayers out there. So, please give me a chance to explain how we can do this. 

Stuff happens. Yes, it does. Stuff that is out of our control. I could not agree more. However, the manner in which I choose to react is the way I can turn my circumstances around. It is a matter of turning positive thinking into a habit. Like any habit, it will take time and persistence to build. 

The way that I work on it is to find a time to repeat an affirmation. It can be while brushing my teeth, washing my hair, taking a walk...just keep repeating that affirmation and soon you will believe those words. Start with a simple affirmation. For me, I am working on my sleeping pattern currently. So my affirmation is that I will get to bed by a certain time so that I will be able to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep and wake up early enough to feel I have put in my definition of a productive day. 

Retired, for me, does not mean staying up so late that I then must sleep the morning away and waking up to  knowing in my mind, I have no energy to get myself dressed and to start my day at 11 AM. I actually become jealous of those who have already had breakfast, completed what they wanted to do in order to feel fulfilled (and everyone is different). If this is ok with you, then it works for you. Let me repeat - Everyone is different!

Gratitudes are what I like to focus on. It helps to make me in control of my circumstances. Setting an intentional theme such as letting something go, whatever it may be and instead focus on reaping the positives. Thinking of what brought me joy in the past week or even yesterday and then what is ONE thing that I would like to change about my life. 


Moving with intention toward being kind, not only to others, but to myself as well. After all, we are in this world together. Continue to work in small steps. I work on myself, then bring in family and friends and those that I may not even know personally. That is where my journal writing comes in handy. Just to stop and listen and focus on kindness.



It is true that every act of kindness creates a ripple with no end. Maybe one that you are not aware of at first. Just trust that it is there. And at some point you will be able to harvest that for yourself and others. 

An author named Robin Kimmerer said that we owe it to the world to at least give them some of our attention. He came up with a loose code that can govern our relationships into positive relationships.

  • know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them
  • Introduce yourself and be accountable
  • Ask permission before taking
  • Never take first or last
  • Take only what you need and only which is given
  • Never take more than half
  • Harvest respectfully
  • Give thanks for what you have been given
  • Always give a gift in reciprocity for what you have taken
  • Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last a lot longer
A question that I stop and ask myself is what was I just thinking about? Was my mind wandering? There is real value in pausing to redirect my thoughts into positive affirmations. I have learned that what I focus on will expand. This can be in a good way or a not so good way. When I focus on the goodness in life (and there is plenty of that) I am able to create more goodness, positivity and kindness. 

Do I need reminders to help me achieve this? Of course! I am only human! Just remember that:


This quote from Oprah helps to sum up my blog. 



Saturday, October 16, 2021

GENERAL THINGS IN OUR LIVES

 GENERAL THINGS IN OUR LIVES


For some reason my mind kept coming up with random general thoughts, sort of like an old timey General Store. I am using the word random because general thoughts could be mistaken that all of the thoughts are on the same subject; such as cooking, dancing, fashion. My thoughts were truly random just as items are in most General Stores. 

Something must have sparked a topic and my mind just ran with it. It started with watching a woman open a door to go into a doctor's office and without a blink of an eye, she just walked on it and the person close behind her had to grab the door for herself. To me, that was just not polite. Perhaps if the first person had no clue that someone was behind her? I suppose that could happen but then I thought of manners in general. 

Manners definitely are a true reflection of our character. It cost nothing to be kind. Saying yes ma'am or no sir, being punctual, writing thank you notes, expressing and sharing gratitudes. Paying it forward is just a nice gesture. I had it happen to me at a drive-thru coffee shop and was so taken aback that I did the same for the person behind me. Kindergarten teachers were so right in trying to have their students live by the Golden Rule. It seems quite a few adults need a refresher course in this. 

Table manners ran through my mind when I witnessed a family of 4 at a restaurant waiting for their meal and there was no conversation. All were too busy on their cell phones. 😒 Not exactly good manners being demonstrated. While I was thinking about the use of cell phones and shrinking into your own little world, I started to think about the use of texting vs phoning vs e mail. I guess any of these methods will get your point across and there may be a right time to use one over the other. For a quick little note, a text might be in order over disturbing someone with a phone call. And then an e mail may be better when giving out specific information that needs to be reread and digested to understand it. To me a phone call eliminates innuendos that can be read into a text or e mail. A good rule that I try to always employ is when I call, I ask if this is a good time to talk? Just a polite question in case your call is interrupting something important.

In the same restaurant was a single person eating as if no one had ever taught him how to use a napkin or silverware correctly. This picture is an exaggeration. But I thought it made a point as to why we should always try to show good manners.






Common sense does not grow in everyone's garden. You never know who is watching you. We don't all need to be the sharpest pencils in the drawer however it would work in our own favor if we at least exhibited some common sense. 

With autumn here now, it is coming upon the time for plants to be pruned, brought inside, or actually start a garden from seeds inside the house to enjoy through the winter.             


Do you ever feel like you need to check in on your Mood Elevator to get the most of your day? I know that I do. It helps me visualize how I may be feeling and to acknowledge it and then do something about it.


If I am feeling frustrated and impatient then it will be hard for me to be creative. For me, being creative helps to spark myself up to a higher level. I treat myself better and it is a good form of self-care. I feel happier when I am doing something creative. 


I find it challenging when I have many creative ideas and am grateful enough to know that I have the opportunity to choose whichever one that I want to focus on. Whether it is some art work, writing, gardening, cooking or working on another language. There is not a lack of creative projects to help keep my mood elevator up on the creative floor.


Before retirement, my handwriting had become atrocious. Mainly, because I signed reports, work orders, report cards, etc. all day long. Now, I like to work on proper cursive and even some fancy-smancy cursive, with special pens. 

Speaking of writing, does anyone use recipe cards anymore?     

I have some in a book that I keep. They are family and close friends' special recipes. Now, that may be the only time that I need a card to fill out. Otherwise, I have learned how to store recipes that I find on the Internet in a special folder. I was running out of room when I printed them. Then once printed, I never could find them when I needed them. If in the proper folder on my computer it became easier to keep the ones we liked and to delete those we did not care for.

Have you ever wondered about why companies send out so many catalogs?
                                    

Why? With Smart phones, tablets and computers, any company that you want is at our fingertips. Maybe there are people out there who think recipe cards and catalogs are quaint. I for one think we need to save our forests. 

When I was out driving yesterday, I was noticing that some people do not see street signs the same as I do. How did I miss these: "Speed up. You got this."
          "Signals are for cowards."
          "Lanes are suggestions."
          "No fishing in potholes."


Two days ago Facebook went down. Oh my goodness. People were losing it. Someone wrote that it was down so long that they FedEx'd their information to the person who needed it. (Yes, that was a FedEx joke!)

The secret is out. My head is full of random generalizations. I don't know if it is a good sign or something that I should be concerned about. I just know that is how my mind works and I am sticking with it. Sometimes it takes me all day to get nothing done. Just hold on while I overthink this. The men in the white suits have not come yet to take me away. 


I have my Retirement 'to do' list:
1. Wake up!
GOT THIS NAILED!