What Are You Waiting For?

clipartclockSeveral years ago I had the wonderful adventure of sorting through 60 years’ worth of my parent’s stuff for the purpose of organizing, sorting, and preparing for an ultimate sale. Once I got past the cabinets full of every coffee can, glass jar, Styrofoam container, and magazine that ever entered the house I moved on to the land of appliances that don’t work, recipes saved but never used, buttons in jars, and shelves of fabric saved to make things that never got made. Needless to say, this has made me examine what we save and why.

Something that really stood out were the items carefully wrapped up and tucked away or stored on high shelves that I had never seen before in my life. They were nice items; a never used lace tablecloth, crystal stemware and sets of dishes, enough bath and body products to open a store and much more. These were the things my mother was saving to use for a special occasion, a special dinner or special company. I have to tell you, that revelation changed my life.

Besides the fact that I immediately started letting my daughter use the good glasses instead of plastic ones obtained from restaurant chains, I am slowly changing the way I handle my life. I had to ask myself, “What am I waiting for?’ and I came up with lots of answers.

I was waiting until I was:

-thin enough

-old enough

-tall enough

-successful enough

-happy enough

-loved enough

-bright enough

-rich enough

and just plain ENOUGH!

As a recovering perfectionist, I realized I am never going to be ENOUGH of whatever it was so I’d better just do it, use it, try it, get on with it now! If I fall on my face or get laughed at, who cares? I’ve always learned to live, learn from it and move on, so what’s stopping me now?

How about you? I believe we all have a mental list of things we are waiting for, and like my list and my mother’s treasures, instead of being true and precious, it is only keeping us from achieving, enjoying and becoming what we were meant to be.

So make your list, challenge it, tear it up, throw it away and stop saving yourself and your talents for some ‘out there’ magical time that will never come. NOW is the time and you make your own magic.
“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Attitude Matters

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Do you have a special coffee cup? You know what I mean; it’s the one you reach for even though your cabinet is full of clean coffee cups. If might have a chip, it probably has a few stains, but to you it spells COMFORT. It fits your hand just right, or it has a particular message or design that rings true for you, or it was a gift from someone you care for deeply. As I write this newsletter I’m sipping my morning coffee from my special cup. A cup I bought for someone twenty six years ago, but never gave away.

I met Melinda when we were both students at the University of Missouri.  She was wacky, energetic and a definite risk taker. We hit it off immediately. For the next three years we shared frustrations, dreams, and all the other bizarre things that happen to you in college. We very much had our separate lives and worlds, but we would regularly check in and update to make sure we were on the right course. Melinda was a total original. If I heard rocks hitting my dorm window I knew it was Melinda and she needed to talk. When she was chosen to represent her sorority in a formal beauty contest competition, she whisked me off to The Wardrobe used clothing store to buy a hand-me-down formal so she could make a political statement about priorities.

Over the next twelve years we would graduate. She would marry and move twice.  I would marry and move once. She would divorce. I would separate. She would find herself alone in Minneapolis with breast cancer and move back to Missouri. I would divorce. The fall of 1986 found us sitting together in her hospital room at Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital in Columbia, Missouri having our own group therapy. She would listen for hours to my woes and regrets. I tried to make her comfortable and smuggle in foods she wasn’t supposed to have. I brought drawing paper, color swatches, and other art supplies so we could brainstorm and create. We were both a mess but we were still having fun.

Thanksgiving of that year my mom and I made our usual marathon-shopping trip to Kansas City. I found a Christmas gift for Melinda, a coffee mug. The entire outside circumference was filled with graphic renderings of artist’s brushes, a paint palette, tubes of paint and colorful paint pots done in primary colors; the perfect gift. Two days later her mother called to tell me she had died.

I don’t share this story to bring you down, but rather as a reminder. It’s not what happens to us that’s important, it’s how we handle what is happening. Melinda was fun and hopeful through tragedy and pain. In my ‘Attitude Matters’ presentation I share my top ways to improve your attitude with #7 being ‘Encouraging Others’. Melinda and I each had a lot on our plate, but by encouraging each other we not only got through it all, we were able to enjoy life. Our attitudes made the difference and it was a choice.

I left the mug wrapped up for a long time, but finally decided Melinda would have wanted me to use it, and that’s what I do. I have other mementos of Melinda in my home, but this one reminds me everyday to get outside of myself, encourage others, make the choice. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad attitude days, we all do. But having the tools to deal with them makes all the difference.

As an experiment, try encouraging family members, co-workers, siblings, friends, the mailman, neighbors and basically anyone you encounter for one week. Make it a point to notice the positives about someone’s work, appearance or behavior and tell them about it; you will be amazed that something so simple can make a difference.

 

 

 

Blame Game

I see a terrible trend developing, the lack of personal responsibility and how it impacts those around us. Whether it is a national crisis or a fingernail breaks, we are quick to blame someone else. And it’s not limited to adults or politicians, if you have the opportunity to spend some time around children, especially in a group, you will frequently hear the excuse, “It’s not my fault.” While admittedly there are times when something truly isn’t our fault, more often than not there was an element of choice involved in the incident and we made it.

Blame doesn’t solve the problem or offer valuable insight; it just gets the spotlight off of us for a while and shines it on someone else. Passing along the blame to someone else doesn’t even make you feel good; it just makes more people feel bad.

Maybe our problem is comprehending the difference between blame and responsibility. Being responsible is being accountable, reliable, distinguishing right from wrong. Blame on the other hand involves putting the responsibility on someone else, accusing and (I love this part), failing to find sympathy or understand.

Here is a perfect example. At one time I needed to move my mother’s phone service from one room to another within a nursing home facility. Because my mother has severe dementia and I wanted to be able to check in with her without interruption of service, I called several days ahead to schedule the change and was assured there would be no problem.  My mother was moved down the hall and no phone service. OK, I can be reasonable, so I check the next day, no service. After three days of no service, meaning I cannot check on my mother and she cannot call me, I called the phone company. I was told there was a problem with the initial order, and it would be another week before the phone was connected.

At this point I was still calm so I asked what the problem was and was told they really couldn’t say, but it was internal, nothing I did. I asked to talk to a supervisor, they gave me the same story, no one could tell me why but it would be, at the earliest, a week. I explained I was anxious about it taking so long because of my mothers dementia.  I also pointed out that the move is down the hall in the same facility in a town of 2,000 people.  How hard can this be? (Perhaps by now I am getting testy.) She can’t tell me anymore than that, would I like to talk to her district manager?  Of course I would! After going relating my story and getting the same response I began to plead, “Can you understand why I am upset and concerned? This is a safety issue, my mother has severe dementia.” The very curt reply was, “Well my mother is dead.”

At that point I realized I was getting nothing from this exchange. Did I want to find out why it happened? Maybe a little, but more important to me was I wanted someone to understand, I wanted someone to say, ” I don’t know why this happened but I am so sorry and I will do what I can to fix it as soon as possible.” It wasn’t just that it was taking longer than expected; it was that with every call to the phone company all I heard was blame passing with no hint of empathy and understanding, no personal responsibility. I knew I couldn’t change the outcome, but I would have been satisfied to have someone treat me like a human being.

We all want the human touch. We all want to feel the incidents of life, big or small, matter. Every encounter with another human being gives us a chance to practice personal responsibility instead of passing blame. Sometimes it just requires being quiet and not adding to the whininess of the world.

 

Integrity Matters

thewoodenshoes / Foter

There was a time I considered integrity a given; a man’s word was his bond and most people had personal integrity.  Similar to thinking everyone in the world has the same value system, same code by which they live and make decisions for their lives. Unfortunately that is not the case.

In the past year several public figures and entities have fallen from grace due to their lack of integrity: John Edwards, Bernard Madoff and Claremont McKenna College officials who lied about its students’ SAT scores to boost its position in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of colleges to name a few. Our economic situation has brought to light questions of integrity as it pertains to large financial institutions, big business, and politicians.  Have we become a nation that lacks integrity or are our expectations simply out of touch with reality?

A common theory is that people want to fit in, be seen as successful or become famous and will sacrifice their integrity to do so. Corporate Attitude Strategist Kevin Burns sees it this way, “Anyone who gives up their personal integrity in the workplace in order to fit in really doesn’t seem to stand for anything. I mean, how could you? If you are prepared to give up your personal integrity in order to be liked and in order to fit in then you really don’t have anything that you stand for do you?”

In the workplace, home and relationships, integrity works. Why does it work? Because integrity is tied into everything that makes people feel valued, safe and good about themselves. And when people feel good about themselves in a grounded, non-superficial way they are more productive, more creative, more responsive, and in turn want to do their best to make others feel good also.  When integrity exists you can say goodbye to the mob mentality that tells you in order to fit in you must take on the attitudes, opinions and beliefs of everyone else. That sort of thinking reminds me of high school, not adult America.

So where are you on the integrity scale? Take the following quiz I found on www.cheatingculture.com and see how you score.

1. You’re a young lawyer who could lose your job if you don’t bill enough hours. All your colleagues are padding their hours. Do you pad yours?

2. Your next-door neighbor offers to hook you up with free cable television. Do you take the offer?

3. You’re an accountant who discovers that a company you’re auditing is inflating its earnings. Your boss says to go along or you’ll be fired. Do you comply?

4. You move to a state where auto insurance is sky-high. Do you keep your car registered at your old address?

5. You’re a CEO with a chance to make $100 million by cooking the books. The worst penalty you could face is two years in a country club prison – and you could keep the $100 million. Do you cook the books?

6. A friend offers you a dirt-cheap illegal sublet in a prime apartment building with a waiting list. Do you take the offer?

7. You don’t have enough money to pay your taxes at the end of the year. Your accountant recommends some made-up deductions, saying the IRS doesn’t audit anyone these days. Do you go along?

8. You’re a minor league baseball player trying to make the majors. Most of your teammates are taking steroids to hit better. Do you also dope?

9. An HMO denies a certain treatment to a patient under your care. Do you lie to the HMO to make the patient’s condition seem worse so they will get the treatment they need?

10. You’re a car salesman paid on commission. All the other salesmen are saying that the next shipment of the hot new model everyone wants is due in three weeks – when it’s really six weeks. Do you also say three weeks?

Score

You are:

Ethically Challenged – if you answered yes to all questions.

An Ordinary American – if you answered yes to half the questions.

A Saint – if you answered no to all questions.

Why not make integrity matter in 2012!

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone

The 365 Challenge: What are you thankful for?

Yes tomorrow is the official day that we set aside for being ‘Thankful’ but in reality Thanksgiving Day should be a reminder/wakeup call to be thankful, grateful or mindful every day of the year! My challenge to you is to help me do a 365!  I am starting a thankful list on this blog and am challenging all my followers and friends to add to it in the comments section. The goal? To reach a grand total of at least 365 items to be thankful for before Thanksgiving Day is over.

Can we do it? Yes we can!!

I am thankful for: good health, home, my daughter, my husband, my little mama, my son and daughter-in-law, brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews and their families, my great-nephew, our dogs Sparkle and Dexter, all my aunts, uncles and cousins, my faith, freedom, my eyesight, my hearing, my strange mind, creativity, my legs for exercising, sense of touch, sunshine, sunrise, sunset, the smell of rain, fingers to type with, my friends of all ages, backgrounds, and interests who make my life so much fun, good memories that sustain me, bad memories to learn from, silence, giggling babies, hot chocolate, my voice, singing, rhythm, pumpkins, squash, chocolate, pecans, old photographs, books, shoes, clothes, reading glasses, fingernails, fuzzy socks, popcorn, warm soup on a cold day, hot apple cider, sticky notes, my car, feet for walking, soft, warm blankets, puppies, clients who hire me to speak, Facebook friends, the Mogul Mom Community, the ability to be a friend to others, learning that never ends, listening skills, compassion, grandmothers, inventors, my imagination that fuels my soul, artwork that appeals to the heart and eye, teachers of all kinds, disciplines, and temperaments, volunteers that make our world better for no other reason but to make it better, journals with blank pages waiting to be filled, the smell of cinnamon, the musicality of my mother’s wind chimes from the farm that sounds like God talking to me, artist talent, electricity, LinkedIn connections, people who understand computers, and much, much MORE!

Now it’s your turn; comment on this blog by listing what you are thankful for and help me meet the 365 challenge!

 

 

Fall Bounty

Fall is my favorite season. The cooler temperature, especially after this summer’s record high 100 degree and above days is more than a welcome relief.

Thomas Hawk / Foter

And I love apples! The vibrant colors, the sweet but not too sweet smell the crunchy sound that’s made when you bite into one. We live in mid-Missouri apple orchard country and a September ritual is to visit an orchard or two and collect the bounty of fall. Yesterday afternoon the whole family, including Dexter the Dog went to a local orchard in Waverly, Missouri. We spent an hour carefully picking out our purchases of Jonathon, Fuji, and Jonagold apples.  Did I mention that I love apples? But there was more!

We gathered pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, ornamental gourds, apple cider and red potatoes.  The final thing we do is get a glass of homemade apple cider slush for the road! And watch those beautiful puffy clouds on our way home!

For an easy to make yummy apple treat that requires no baking and little time,  try my Apple Dippity Doos.

Apple Dippity Doos

Both kids and adults will love this easy to mix up treat!

Crunchy Dip

Mix: 1 cup chunky peanut butter, 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal, 1/4 cup raisins

Cut up apple wedges and dip away. Feel free to customize to your taste by substituting chocolate chips or other small fruit bits for the raisins. Try it warm by zapping the dip a few seconds in the microwave before dipping.

Creamy Dip

Mix: 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 8 ounces of vanilla yogurt, dash of cinnamon,  and 1/2 cup whipped topping.

Slice apples, dip, and repeat!

Welcome!

Do you have too much to do but not enough YOU to handle it all?             

You are not alone. I feel like I’m living with a full plate of ‘to dos’ and no fork to move them off the plate. In fact I believe most of us are. One day my daughter came into my office and forever changed my life by saying to me, “Wow, you have a full plate with no fork.” (See About FPNF for more of that story.) And the rest is history. Or it will be when I’m rich and famous and sharing this story with Barbara Walters. Okay that might be pushing it but a girl can dream.

I grew up on a farm as an only daughter with two older brothers. In fact, there wasn’t another girl for miles around so I played boy games or I couldn’t play at all. I vividly remember being exiled to the outfield with a left handed glove and told to stay there but don’t tell my brothers I said that; they have a different story. They are wrong. Really, trust me on this.

I live in small town Missouri with a semi-retired husband, a teenage daughter, a Yorkie, a Terrier mix we saved from the pound, and my mother who lives in the local nursing home. I am a speaker, author and artist (in a past life I was an art teacher) who regularly uses stories about my family in my work, which is why I NEVER want them to travel with me when I speak. We tried it once in Baltimore and it wasn’t pretty.

I spend most of my days trying to cram all the living I can into the time I have! I hope you enjoy my blog. You can count on me sharing day to day revelations, lots of stories, recipes, and how tos and pictures of my art and DIY creations.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”