Vunerability

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to face our own vulnerabilities   Yet it is the only way to free our authentic self so we can be our absolute best.

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I’ve spent the past several years committed to mindfulness so that I could free myself from making the same mistakes over and over while wishing for a much different outcome.   Becoming aware of my self-imposed ineffective behavior patterns for dealing with conflict, resentments and disappointments was an eye opener — and often heartbreaking.  I had to face and own my life story.

It is exactly the place where Brene Brown encourages each of us to go.

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Before we can truly make strong positive human connections, Brene says we have to understand our own pain first.  It’s about getting up close and personal with our own vulnerabilities — and that takes blunt honesty and a boatload of courage.

It is our personal stories that shape us and keep our authentic selves at bay.   We develop coping mechanisms to deal with fear, shame and not being good enough.  We avoid conflicts, we stuff our hurts and disappointments, we get angry easily, we blame others.  And all the while, it just doesn’t feel good because we are not in alignment with our true selves.

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During a recent Facebook live feed from her current book tour, Brene acknowledged that “anger is a catalyst for change.  It is also a terrible life companion.  Anger is too big a price to pay for our lives,”  she said.

I feel the same way about shame and fear.  All three of these emotions are often found in our life stories and in fact sometimes they are best friends to each other.

Once we can own our own stories and recognize where anger, fear or shame was the birthplace for our ineffective behavior patterns, we need to be kind and compassionate to ourselves.  Stuffing our emotions and letting our hurts marinate robs us of our joy.  Lashing out in anger isolates us from others and blocks problem resolution.  Avoiding conflict results in resentment, misunderstandings and low self-esteem.  Most importantly, we become disengaged from each other.  We lose our human connection.

QUOTES ON CONNECTION

 

I’ve been looking for the bridge between personal mindfulness and expanded connection  with others.  How do I take what I have learned from my mindfulness practices and build stronger, healthier, authentic relationships with people?

It starts with each of us gaining a deeper understanding of our own stories and taking responsibility for unproductive or destructive behaviors that we adopted because of our story.   We cannot let our stories deprive us of being the best version of ourselves each and every day.

And then we need to create that bridge to reach out to others — to listen to their stories, to show compassion and empathy,  to find some common ground and gain better understanding, to make amends, to seek compromise and solutions.

Not only is this relevant in our families and workplaces, it is increasingly important for our communities and country.

Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness, is chock full of relatable, tangible ideas for shifting us back to a much-needed human connection.   I encourage you to read her book and check out her live streams on Facebook.  She’s refreshing, inspiring and she’s providing leadership tools for anyone who wants to make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking the Cycle

Perhaps one of the most valuable insights we can have about ourselves is the impact that our habitual behavioral patterns have on others.   Sometimes we unnecessarily set off an unwanted emotional chain reaction that changes the mood and energy of a situation in a negative way.

When we get triggered and fall back on conditioned reactive responses, we lose sight of the bigger picture and other’s reactions to our patterns.  Unknowingly, we have invited another to participate in our pattern.   If that person gets triggered and fires back in their own automatic response mode, suddenly we have a whirlwind of mixed emotions, conflict and a big energy drain.  Everyone ends up emotionally distanced from the immediate problem and its resolution.  We get caught in the cycle of poor behavioral habits.

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If we tend to shut down in a conflict situation, we just bury our truest feelings and desires.  We deny our loved ones the chance to really understand what is important to us.

If we blow up and blame, we disregard taking personal responsibility.  We deny others the opportunity to learn about our deepest vulnerabilities.

Invariably we end up wasting a lot of precious time and energy that we can never get back.

Years of patterns like this can erode marriages, sibling relationships and friendships.  It is also something that children learn by example and why so many dysfunctional behavioral traits get “inherited” within families.

The best gift we can give to ourselves and our families is to recognize old patterns that are not serving us well and break the cycle.

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It takes serious work to get “mindful” about yourself and why you get triggered by certain things — and how you routinely (and mindlessly) respond to those triggers.  Be compassionate to yourself as you delve into your issues with unabashed honesty.

The real test for making positive changes in conditioned responses is when you find yourself in one of your familiar “triggered” moments.  You’ll have to hit the pause button on the old automatic reaction and take some calming breaths.   Reframe the situation so that you can respond in a better way than you usually do.  I’ll let you in on a little secret — just being calmer in your reaction will go a very long way towards a more positive approach.

It is especially beneficial to talk with your loved ones about the changes you are striving to make and why you are motivated to do so.  It creates an opportunity to break down barriers that you’ve put up in the past.  It’s an active demonstration that you are taking personal responsibility for ineffective behaviors.   Ask for their help and support.

Treat your personal energy as the valuable resource it is.   Use it wisely for things that matter.   Someday you will need to draw on your energy reservoir for something serious — and you will be glad that you didn’t waste it on something trivial.

The same is true for time — we don’t really know how much time we are each allotted in this life.   Hindsight really is 20/20 and looking back, you are sure to find moments where  a shift in your attitude or behavior could have totally turned an experience around.  The time you squandered on a silly argument or pouting could have been better spent appreciating the moment.

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Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some of these transformations occurring in families who recognized a change was in order.   What has become so noticeable is the shift in energy.  There is more positivity and a lightness in the home environment.  Couples are feeling like a team, working together toward a common goal rather than feeling like opponents in a boxing match.   There’s a lot more positive reinforcement given to each other when new attitudes and better approaches are taken.  Apologies and forgiveness are offered more readily when the inevitable slip up occurs.

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Most noteworthy is how the young children in these families are benefiting from the improvements and positive energy.   Children pick up on the emotional energy and will often act out to deflect something that feels uncomfortable to them.  These children are also learning good emotional coping skills, along with trust and mutual respect.

 

I’ve mentioned this in prior blogs, and it is worth noting again.  Pema Chodrun reminds us that when just one of us makes mindful changes, we make it easier for others to do the same.    When we make the commitment to do the work to better ourselves and change bad habits, we become good role models for our children and others.  That is some pretty powerful motivation for positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get a grip on what triggers you, get a deeper understanding of who you are and how you want to be treated, and

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Eye to Eye

Take a moment to think about how much face time and eye contact we give our phones and devices every day.   Then take another moment to think about how often we really look into the eyes of our partner, our children, or the clerk at the store.

Scanning the local favorite breakfast spot recently, I saw 14 tables of people with their faces in their phones and only 1 table where the friends were actually looking at each other.  That table was full of energy, lively conversation and real honest to goodness eye contact.   The other tables were expressionless and quiet.  People were sitting next to each other gazing at iPads and although each person may have had a different reaction to what they were watching, there was no interaction.  Body language gave a good indication of how they were feeling, but no one in their group saw it.

I’d had a similar experience at a children’s park with my grandchildren.  Parents were staring at their phones while their children were swinging from the monkey bars, jumping off the swings and experimenting with new ways to traverse the winding sliding boards.  Had one of these children fallen or wandered off,  their parents would have never noticed.  Even when the kids were joyfully yelling to mom or dad to “watch this”, few looked up from their devices.

There was a young man in the ocean yesterday with his phone in hand, staring at it while waist deep in water, without a clue that a large wave was headed his way!

We stare at the card reader at the grocery checkout, waiting for the prompts to insert a credit card or enter a PIN number, chatting with the clerk but never really looking at her.  The experience becomes more like self-checkout and we miss an opportunity to engage with another person.

For several months, I have been noticing how little we make eye contact with others.   I’m as guilty as the next of being preoccupied and multi-tasking as I go through my day, so I decided to challenge myself to be more present, make eye contact and pay greater attention to the body language of others.

At first it was hard.  I realized that mindlessness habits I’d developed were stealing precious moments from me.   Turning my full attention to my small granddaughter rather than washing dishes, I watched her entire face light up with pure joy as she clapped her hands in delight over a small personal accomplishment of her own.  Looking into each other’s eyes at that moment was like adding fireworks!

Putting down my phone and facing my daughter when she was asking for my help revealed so much more than just her request.  What I noticed in her body language let me know that she needed a hug and some reassurance as much as she needed help with a clogged sink and a crying baby after another sleepless night.   Face to face, eye to eye attention has the power to change a situation in a very positive way.   We actually ended up laughing about the juggling acts of motherhood.   Its pretty remarkable how eye contact and human connection shifts feeling overwhelmed to feeling supported.

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A lot of misunderstandings in our relationships could be minimized or even avoided if we took the time to look into another’s eyes.  It’s a fact that we make a strong neurological connection with each other when we give eye contact.

 

Observe someone’s facial expressions, posture, or other body language — that’s where the real story lies.  Often what we see tells us so much more than the words we are hearing.

I follow The Pact Institute Blog to learn more about neurobiology and relationships.

One invaluable tool that is used by PACT therapists to resolve issues in relationships is changing your physical position when a conflict arises.  Go sit next to your partner or child.  Face them directly and look into their eyes.

I’ve witnessed an angered spouse relax a bit when their partner put the phone down and gave them undivided attention.   It had a calming effect even before the conflict discussion began.  Why?  Because the angered spouse felt valued and seen.

I’ll let you in on a little secret — when we stop what we are doing (like putting the phone down) and turn our attention to the other person, we also avoid feeling annoyed that we are now distracted from whatever we were doing.  We’ve made a conscious decision to make our partner or our child a priority over that text, email or podcast.  Again, that is another positive neurological reaction firing in our brain.   It makes us feel good.

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In recent discussions with family and friends, it seems that social media and our devices are keeping us plugged in yet not really feeling connected.   Giving our full attention to our loved ones and friends will strengthen our relationships and enrich our lives as we rediscover that human connection.

And who knows, you just might make a new friend if you actually look at and interact with another person at the coffee shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time out

Watching a small child’s response and shift in attitude when given a “time out” brought home a valuable lesson about sitting quietly and reflecting on our actions.  Something as simple as “taking a break” from an argument or a strong emotional reaction can have powerful benefits for ourselves and our relationships.

When we give a child a time out, we want them to think about their action or behavior and the resulting consequence.  We want to increase their awareness so that the next time they contemplate running with scissors, they remember it’s a bad idea with some pretty painful consequences like getting injured.

So we give the child some time alone to calm down, to reflect all by himself.   Then when the time out is over, we scoop him up, look him in the eyes, have a conversation about what we’ve learned and send him on his way with a reassuring hug.

A self-imposed adult time out is just the ticket when we feel our emotions getting out of control.  Its a far better use of our personal energy than overreacting and making matters worse.

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On occasion, I’m caught off guard by another’s anger, accusation or adult melt down.  I’m working on not getting sucked into another’s emotional vortex and to remain grounded.  In my search to become better at navigating these situations, I read The Art of Communication by Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist Zen Master and peace activist).

Thich Nhat Hahn offers clear examples of how we judge others and situations, how we focus on our own needs at the expense of others, and how we habitually respond when triggered by events without a thought to long lasting, hurtful consequences.

He stresses the importance of becoming mindful of our habit energies.

Admittedly this takes discipline and requires personal courage.    Give yourself a  time out —  become aware of your emotions, reactions and patterns of behavior especially when you are in a confrontation.

  • The first step is calming yourself down. Mindful breathing is so beneficial for this. Three deep cleansing breaths will lower your heart rate and clear your mind.
  • The second step is reflecting. Treat yourself like a compassionate friend and explore your emotions without judgement.
  • The third step is assessing if you are conducting yourself in a respectful, productive manner

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Taking your own feelings out of the equation and focusing on the other person’s perspective, you may discover that they have a misperception or have kept something bottled up for far too long. Rather than adding fuel to the fire by blindly reacting on our own emotions, we can listen with empathy and learn.  Thich That Hahn offers a refreshing concept to employ — Beginning Anew:

 

When a difficulty arises in our relationships and one of us feels resentment or hurt, a good practice to try is called beginning anew.  To begin anew is to look deeply and honestly at ourselves — our past actions, speech and thoughts — and to create a fresh beginning within ourselves and in our relationship with others.

Beginning anew helps us develop our kind speech and compassionate listening because it is a practice of recognition and appreciation of the positive elements of another person.  Recognizing others’ positive traits allows us to see our own good qualities.  Along with these good traits, we each have areas of weakness, such as talking out of anger or being caught in our misperceptions.  As in a garden when we “water the flowers” of loving kindness and compassion in each other, we also take energy away from the weeds of anger, jealousy and misperception.

We can practice beginning anew every day by expressing our appreciation to the people we care about and apologizing right away when we do or say something that hurts them.  We can also politely let others know when we have been hurt. 

                                                   —     An excerpt from The Art of Communication (Chapter 9)

 

Here’s what I have noticed since I’ve become more of an observer and less of an active participant in some stressful situations.  I’m a better listener and I have more empathy for what another is feeling.  Because I’m more thoughtful and composed in my responses and reactions, the tension often eases more quickly.   I’m following the advice cited in the Art of Communication and being patient, waiting for several days, before revisiting a situation and providing clarity to change a misperception.

Undoubtedly the most noticeable difference for me personally is that I am no longer jumping in to rescue or resolve. As a result, others face the consequences of their own negative behaviors and may even reach out for support to change unproductive habits.

Giving ourselves a “time out” just might be the best gift we give ourselves.

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Best of Intentions

Having good intentions is a great place to start if you want to improve your life and your relationships. Keeping your intention at the forefront of your daily actions and behaviors becomes the game changer.

 

The latest special edition of Time Magazine is devoted to Mindfulness.  Its a great introduction to the new science of improved health and increased happiness by incorporating mindfulness.

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Mallika Chopra’s article entitled “Yes, You Can Live with Intent”  really grabbed my attention.  This one sentence practically jumped off the page:

 Intention is about living each moment with integrity and in keeping with what matters most to you.

I’ve been practicing mindfulness for almost two years and very recently noticed that as I peel off the layers of my “onion”, I’m getting more clarity about what truly matters most to me.    Trust, respect, peace and compassion are at the top of my list.   How do I ensure that these qualities are more present in my everyday life?

 

To be committed to positive changes in our lives,  Mallika urges us to be clear about our heartfelt desires and create the best environment to cultivate them.  She encourages us to look closely at the areas of our life that aren’t working and embrace small personal changes that will move us in the right direction.

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It dawned on me that I’ve been thwarting my own heartfelt desires by tolerating and even accepting other’s negative behaviors and their resulting messy situations when I swoop in to “help”.

Helping others is one of my greatest personal satisfactions.  Truthfully,  I haven’t always made the best decisions about those to whom  I’ve committed my help, support and energy.  So here I am, with good intentions towards others — and its backfiring!

My “aha” moment was recognizing that when I’m sacrificing my own happiness to help another, I’m not even close to what matters most to me.

After all, how can I be my best self when another’s behaviors and resulting consequences are in conflict with my core values?  Will I be truly present or will my mind be racing?

An important secondary goal is to give others the knowledge, tools and encouragement they need to flourish.  In the past I often jumped in, did all the work, solved the problem and then was frustrated to see the same patterns or mistakes repeated.  It left me tired and disappointed and was not of any lasting value to the individual I wanted to help.

I need to find ways to get others involved and invested in positive changes.

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I’m inspired by my children and grandchildren to become a strong, positive influence and role model.  Together we are incorporating mindfulness and healthy life decisions into our day to day activities.  It’s fun and rewarding.

That’s the big takeaway from Mallika Chopra’s inspiration:    Align your core values with your good intentions, nurture and encourage.  It feels good and it makes a meaningful difference.

Namaste

 

 

 

Put some Gratitude in your Attitude

Did you count your blessings as you gathered around your Thanksgiving feast recently?Wouldn’t it be great to have that appreciation for family and friends stick around for longer than one holiday?   Try putting some daily gratitude in your everyday attitude!

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Good attitude is contagious….

A few days before Thanksgiving, I was wheeling a bulky shopping cart around a very congested grocery store.  My list was long and I was unfamiliar with the layout of this new store.   Since I was shopping for my pregnant daughter who is an awesome cook, there were a few items on that list that were also new to me.  It’s been quite a while since this single woman did a major family grocery shop just a few days before a big holiday.   In the midst of the produce section I took a few minutes to soak it all in — the colorful abundance of fresh food choices, the spicy scents of autumn treats, the hustle and bustle of customers filling their carts.    Taking the time to be grateful had a positive effect on my overall attitude about the daunting task ahead of me.

What impressed me the most was the calm, cheerful, helpful demeanor of the grocery store employees.  They were not acting like they were overwhelmed or exasperated by the many customers who approached them asking for help.  I witnessed the impact that this had on the customers.  Smiles were returned, people were more patient with each other in crowded aisles.   A young man in the cheese department articulated how grateful he was for his job and for the customers who made that possible.    He told me that this is how they distinguish themselves from other grocery stores — great service and gratitude.  His positive, appreciative attitude was infectious.

So I came home not only with the groceries — I came home with a generous and grateful attitude.

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When the wheels fall off…..

We’ve had a lot of crazy things happening in our life over the past week that can put a strain on family — I tripped over the dog and injured my shoulder, my daughter lost her wallet, the baby bumped her head badly on the sidewalk, the house alarm went off in the middle of the night due to dead batteries, a flat tire on the car, the dog got an eye infection.  Well, you get it — Life!

There have been a few times recently where we all felt worn out, overwhelmed and cranky.  Admittedly it takes a little extra effort to stop and catch our breath, assess the situation and then find something to be thankful for — but it is so worth it.  Occasionally we can even laugh about the latest bump in the road.

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What we learn from children…..

I’ve been trying to help my little 14-month old granddaughter cope with frustration as she is learning a new skill, is overly tired or not getting her way.   Distractions such as a favorite song or counting toes usually brings a smile to her face.  I can see the frustrations wash away as that smile breaks out and we make eye contact. When she is older, I will teach her about using gratitude and mindfulness when emotions bubble up.

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Helping young children learn coping skills comes naturally to us.  As adults, we could benefit from a refresher course for ourselves.

Adopting a similar distraction technique when we are flooded with emotions can make a huge, positive difference in our lives. Instead of counting toes, we can count our blessings.

So pause to put a little gratitude in your attitude next time you find yourself frustrated, stressed out or angry.   You just might begin to smile and find a softer way to deal with problems.

 

 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure…

 

When my sons were pre-teens, there was a series of books entitled “Choose your Own Adventure.”  The basic story line was laid down and then the reader would get to choose one of several options that finished the story.  Each option provided a remarkably different ending to the basic story.

It’s dawned on me lately that life is very much like those books — and it is our choices that determine how our life story evolves.

 

Celebrities give us dramatic examples of life choices and the resulting impacts on their careers and the lives of others.  Tiger Woods comes to mind.   Most recently, Ryan Lochte’s fabricated story that unnecessarily tainted the Rio Olympics in many ways. It’s not just about Tiger and Ryan — how many innocent others were affected by their poor choices?

 

 

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Very recently I’ve had some thought-provoking conversations with friends about matters that tug at our heartstrings — Strained family relationships, estrangements, coping with destructive behaviors of others, and serious health issues.   A lot of choices were made over the years and the results were not so positive. How might these lives be different had better choices been made?

 

Consider the divorced dad that doesn’t make his young child a priority.  He is a no show on his visitation days, misses soccer games, birthdays and graduations.  Then later in his life, when his child is grown, starting a career, getting married and having babies, dad has a “wake up” call and decides he wants to insert himself back into his child’s life.  It’s pretty likely that his child doesn’t want any part of it.  What drove dad’s decision to be absent in his child’s life?  Resentment against mom?  Too busy with work or social life?

Can he contrast what his relationship with his child might look and feel like if he had made other decisions — and made his child a priority?   Would they be sharing funny stories about their adventurous good times together with that sweet little toddler nestled in his now grown child’s lap?

 

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There is often the regret that we realize too late — we fail to make the time to stay in touch with a beloved family member or friend and then are crushed when we learn that they have suddenly passed away.  Were we really “so busy” that we couldn’t make the time for a quick phone call on a regular basis?  What about a surprise visit for a birthday or holiday…or better yet, no occasion at all!  How might our lives actually been enriched by the time spent with that family member or friend?

 

 

Take some time to reflect on your own life history and look at the choices you’ve made that may have gone sideways.  How were you feeling when you made those decisions?  Did you get the result you wanted?  Were you letting your emotions be in charge?

Ask yourself this one BIG question — how would that event in my life story be written had I made a better choice?

We can all fall prey to our conditioned responses when conflicts arise.   This is where mindfulness can make a significant difference and it take serious commitment on your part.  You have to stop in your tracks and take inventory about what is really going on.

Are you getting defensive because you feel attacked?  Is it really something you did…or is the other person having a really bad time and deflecting it to you?  If you did screw up, was it intentional and purposefully mean?  If it was a mistake, did you own it and apologize?  What is your “go to” response — slam the door and walk out, yell louder, or blame someone else?

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For over a year, I have been practicing mindfulness in my daily life and even after a year of committed effort, I find myself really struggling sometimes to not give in to old non-productive responses.  It takes every ounce of my willpower to breathe deeply and acknowledge my feelings and at the same time, strip them of the power to control my actions.

Trust me when I tell you that gathering up the willpower to stop that steaming locomotive of emotions is no easy feat.  Deep breathing really helps — its the best gift you can give your body when pressure is mounting.  Why do you think they teach it as a basic skill for getting through labor and delivery?

Did you ever notice how things escalate in the midst of conflict?  Voices get louder, body language becomes more pronounced and words fly faster than the speed of light.  Very often, we jump into our conditioned patterns without a moment’s hesitation.

Simply slowing down when I’m face to face with confrontation gives me a sense of control.   It’s a new practice for me and it becomes a strong reminder to be mindful.

I’ve recently discovered that if I turn my typical reactions away from thinking about me, and my feelings, I’m gaining valuable insight into what the other person is feeling and needing, how they process and what their values are.

Most importantly, it gives me a lot of clarity about my choices in resolving the situation. Admittedly it doesn’t mean that the solutions are easy or fast.   But I am convinced that I’m beginning to make better choices and wiser decisions.

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We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it.

We can make amends.

We can make different choices and get better results.

We can be role models for others, especially our children and grandchildren.

Life is short….make the most of your personal adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magical Maui

January 2016 – Wailea, Maui

My friend, Diane was visiting me in not-so-sunny Florida in late January.  We’d hoped her escape from snowy Pennsylvania would be a lot balmier and involve more rounds of golf but Mother Nature had other plans.  Daydreaming of sun-drenched days, we donned our rain gear and headed to Winter Park for some shopping.

Diane was busy trying on some fun clothes when my phone rang.  I knew that ring tone by heart — it was my daughter.  Imagine my surprise when she asked me if I’d like to go to Maui.  “Of course I would,” I replied immediately.  She laughed and said you better pack quick — because we are leaving in 2 days!

It just so happened that Diane was flying out of Orlando two days later – just a few hours before my Maui flight was scheduled to depart, so the timing was perfect!   We shared some good laughs about the benefits of enthusiastically saying “YES” when opportunity calls.

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Lucky me!  In two days, after two flights, I would be transported from a damp, dreary January on the East Coast to a warm tropical paradise in Maui.  Best of all, my sweet 4 month old granddaughter would be there too.

My daughter, Brelana and her husband, Ted picked me up at the airport and I exchanged  my luggage for cuddly baby Charlotte.  It was late and both Charlotte and I were ready for a sound night of sleep.  It was much too dark for me to appreciate the view that was awaiting me at sunrise.

 

Nestled in a snowy white bed of soft sheets and fluffy pillows, I was awakened by a new dawn rising over the ocean in Maui.  The waves were crashing on the beach, chattering birds welcomed a new day, and the rich aroma of fresh brewed Kona coffee drifted into my room.  If this was a dream, please don’t wake me!

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Don’t you just love that brief moment of confusion when you wake up and you are not sure where you are?    Don’t you love it even more when you realize you are somewhere amazing?

Any time I can be near an ocean is a slice of heaven.  Sharing that with my family and a granddaughter is icing on the cake.

Early morning walks on the beach, splashing in the pool with Charlotte, chatting with other vacationers, and exploring the island together makes for some priceless moments.

Always up for a new challenge, I agreed to try stand up paddle board after some playful cajoling from Brelana.  I was laughing to myself as I thought, here’s Ted, a professional football player, teaching his 64 year old mother-in-law how to do stand up paddle board.  Trust me, I was anything but graceful in my first few attempt and fell off multiple times.

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A few more tips from Ted plus a healthy dose of determination and I finally got it!    What a thrilling experience to be out on that board alone, soaking in the sights of Lanai on the horizon along with other paddle boarders and sailboats.  The highlight for me was watching mother whales and their babies skimming the ocean’s surface.  It was so peaceful to be floating along, unobtrusively watching their interactions with each other.

When I turned the board around to head back to shore, what I saw took my breath away! Rising before was the stunning vista of lush green mountains, bright colorful flowers, puffy white clouds mingled with deep dark rain-laden ones and a rich blue sky.

Stand up paddle board is now added to my growing list of activities I love!  For a brief moment I even thought about giving up golf for paddle board.

 

It was such a treat to watch baby Charlotte being introduced to the ocean, to sand and new tiny friends.    She also enjoyed the pool and especially the big water fountain in the center.

 

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Charlotte was a big fan of my room overlooking the ocean with the rhythmic sounds of waves crashing on the beach lulling her to sleep.  Her parents thought I was making a sacrifice while they went to dinner.  Little did they know, I was basking in the joy of watching my granddaughter peacefully sleeping — one of life’s treasures.

 

Exploring the island was a big highlight —  breakfast at a popular local spot by the ocean, Ho’okipa Beach to watch the board and wind surfers, then onto the Lavender farm and the Surfing Goat Dairy.  We enjoyed sampling the fresh goat cheeses while the newborn billy goats frolicked nearby.   One little guy stole Brelana’s heart — he was still wet from birth and working on stabilizing his wobbly legs.

We shared a few dinners together at MonkeyPod – a fun restaurant featuring delectable fresh catches. Makes my mouth water just to recall the fantastic fresh fish and savory sides we devoured. Did I mention that I had my first mai tai there? Trust me, it wasn’t my last:)

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It’s always a special treat for me to play golf with my son-in-law and we enjoyed another fun round at the Wailea Blue Golf Course.  Anyone who knows me, is well aware that I am passionate about golf.  Just say the word, I will be out of my bathing suit and into golf attire in less than 5 minutes!  Any time you can enjoy a round of golf while gazing at an ocean, is an especially incredible experience.  Ted and I saw beautiful cardinals, lots of flora, some crazy squirrels and we both had some birdies on that scorecard!

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Thanks for the Memories…

Unknown   A box of old photos, some faded letters and a sterling silver teapot swaddled in bubblewrap arrived on the doorstep.  There was a handwritten note with little pink hearts nestled in the tissue paper.

That personal note recalled memories brought to life by this box of treasures.  Reading the note conjured the images of a little blonde-haired girl laughing as she tore the wrapping paper off a Christmas present, of a smiling couple cutting a tiered cake while music, laugher and conversation drifted in the background.  Poignantly, the heartfelt note conveyed some lasting, loving experiences shared with a husband who passed away much too soon.

Fourteen years had slipped by since he died.  Teenagers were now married adults with children of their own.  Family and friends were now retired, had moved, dealt with health issues, or also passed away.   In the blink of an eye, 14 years of life happened.

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Recently, my daughter and I had been sifting through moving boxes in a hot, humid garage sorting out what to keep, what to donate and what to discard.  Suddenly we both broke into tears and laughter as we gazed at old photos and touched treasured keepsakes.  Memories of vacations, holidays, adventures and milestones came to life as we both warmly shared our fondest experiences.

It was as if the entire garage had been turned into a live stage and dozens of life’s vignettes were being acted out right before our eyes.  We laughed till tears ran down our cheeks.  We rolled our eyes at bad hairdo’s and our fashion faux pas.  We grew silent in personal reflection as we read his postcards and letters to us.

Our memories were more alive than ever.  Suddenly it was like the 14 years had vanished and we were reliving the highlight clips of our lives.

A fascinating observation about memories is how each of us has a different perspective, poignant moment or touchpoint that resonates with us.  The memory is enhanced by each of us adding our personal details.

It becomes richer in color, more alive and subsequently, a more vivid memory.

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We carefully boxed up some  photos, letters, and the silver and shipped them to his sister.   I could envision her surprise and rush of memories as she unpacked the treasures.

What I had not anticipated was the gift I would receive in return — a lengthy note back to me chock full of her own beautiful memories of her brother and her grandmother.  Some of these stories were new to me and others I’d forgotten.  Now I could watch a movie in my head of another young girl with bouncing curls on a New York shopping spree with her doting grandmother many decades ago.

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I’ve learned a few noteworthy things from my recent trip down memory lane.

  • Memories are best when shared.
  • Memories are inspirational and often serve as reminders of what is most important in our busy lives.  Make time for your loved ones.
  • Each of us has a filter through which we process an experience.  Be mindful of other’s filters and appreciative of their perspective.
  • Most importantly, memories can remind us just how much we were and are loved.

 

 

Inspired by BreatheShelleyGirl and her post ” I love you. Have a cookie.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready, Set, Go — I’m a Blogger!

I’m just getting started in building my blog about all the changes I’m currently making in my life.  The past year has been full of self awareness, mindfulness and redefining my purpose and my dreams.  It’s my hope to share insights, some hearty laughs, and a little wisdom along the way.

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Mindfulness will be the cornerstone of my foundation as I reshape my life and I’ll be sharing ideas of how to incorporate mindfulness into our busy, every day lives.  It will come as no surprise that often means getting our faces out of our phones:)

 

Finding meaning and purpose in retirement will be another aspect to my blog.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’m doing each day that makes me feel like I’m contributing in a positive way to my family, my friends and the world in general.  Conversations with friends and folks I meet while traveling have really sparked my interest in exploring this topic more deeply.

Creative writing is something I have enjoyed all my life and I am working to accomplish two goals with this hobby  The first goal is to write children’s stories that incorporate mindfulness into the message. My hope is that we can teach children to deal with their emotions in a healthy way, to be kind and respectful to others, and to be resourceful in problem solving.  I’ve wanted to write children’s stories since my boys were little and I have had a few false starts along the way.  It is my adorable granddaughters that have really inspired me to get make this happen!  This goal also ties into finding meaning and purpose in retirement so that gets me even more motivated.

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My second goal is to write whimsical stories about funny everyday experiences that often happen to us when we least expect it.  Erma Bombeck was always my inspiration for my amusing anecdotes, so I am hoping to do her some justice and spread a little humor along the way.

 

 

When I originally decided to launch a blog, it was intended as a way for my friends and family to keep track of all my adventures as I am about to relocate once again.  Now I have a much more definitive purpose to my life and my blog.   I want to extend a hearty thank you to my daughter and son-in-law and to my many friends who listened to my ideas, who encouraged me and gave me food for thought and inspired me to keep going…and growing.