Monday, August 4, 2014


Hello everyone,

Today's word can be looked at in a variety of ways - different perspectives...get it? :-)

The picture above is of our first-ever tomato plant that we are growing in our elevated garden on our patio. From this perspective, the green tomatoes looks quite big, don't they? Actually, the largest one on the branch is about the size of a quarter here. Sadly, even though this picture was taken about a month ago, they aren't much bigger now. 

So...yesterday, I pruned the second branch - basically just cut it right off the plant so that any nourishment that was going to the second branch (which had no tomatoes on it at all, but was still sprouting pretty little tomato blooms) would now flow to the branch with the tomatoes. I'm hopeful that this will allow us to pluck at least one ripe tomato before the birds or other critters discover our treasure!

So from our perspective, we had to "let go" of one thing to try to nourish the other.  Has that ever happened in your life? Have you had to let go of something to protect something (or someONE) else? A job? A relationship? An attitude? Financial security? Have you been able to find clarity in your new perspective?

I told you in the last post that we were going to Shands to try to get answers on Guy's continuing jaw issues. In two days, we will return to Shands to get a surgery date and the details on what they will have to do to help improve his quality of life. All we know so far is that they will cut out his right lower jawbone and replace it with a titanium bar that will help support the new bone, which will be cut from the fibula in his leg. Depending on the day, our perspective changes on how we feel - hopeful one day because something is finally being done. Scared another day (pretty much every day, actually) because this is a huge deal. However, when we step back and consider our options, our perspective always ends up on "hopeful." It has to, doesn't it? We can wish it weren't so or be angry because it is so, but in the end, our perspective needs to be hopeful.

What's going on in your life that you wish weren't so - or find yourself being angry about because it is so? As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that workin' for ya??" It probably isn't. Often, when we find ourselves in one of those pits of wishing or anger, we need to change our perspective. 

As you may have heard me say in one of my programs - or maybe I've even mentioned it here - there are only 3 things that can possibly happen in a situation: 1) you can change the situation, 2) you can leave the situation, or 3) you can change your response to that situation. In so many instances, #3 is really our only viable option.

So, will you join me in trying to remember option #3 the next time your perspective gets out of kilter? I know it won't be easy - but it's sometimes all we've got!

Do drop me a note and let me know how it's going for you.



Sunday, June 22, 2014


Hi everyone,

Well, it took some courage for me to post today, since it's been quite some time :-).

I have hesitated to post because of the many challenges I've been dealing with of late - not the least of which is my husband's continuing jaw/eating/swallowing issues as a result of the 62  radiation treatments he endured for his tongue cancer 7 years ago.

When I thought of words I could use for my post today, the word "courage" came to mind. There are so many times we need courage in life, aren't there?

Sometimes, it's the courage to speak up. Maybe someone has said something unfair, or we have an idea that we feel is valuable but we're having a hard time speaking up. It may even be that we've been mistreated and it's time to put a stop to it. That may take courage.

Sometimes, it's the courage to get up! There are days when we are fairly certain that once our feet hit the floor, the day could easily sap our energy due to the obligations or frustrations we'll have to face. And THAT may take courage!

Maybe we just need the courage to keep up - with the frantic pace of life, with changes in our jobs, with the demands of others. Do you ever feel like it would be easier to give up??

Other times, it's the courage to let up... as some of you know, I am a bit of a "control freak."  Well, I think "freak" might be a little strong, LOL, but I do indeed like to be able to control my world and my life. But, alas, life sometimes has other plans, does it not? There are some situations which laugh at our efforts to gain control. That just puts me on the other side of "the courage to get up" again and I want to remain all cozy in my bed where "life" cannot find me!

But in the end, I find the courage to "buck up" and do what needs to be done.

Tomorrow, Guy and I will be traveling to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida to see if they can help him with the most recent issues he's having, which have been going on for over five months. Truthfully? I just want to stay in bed! I pray that there will be positive answers, but I can't be sure that's what we'll hear. We need courage just to walk in there tomorrow, even though there's a good possibility we won't even get answers since it's our first visit for this issue. 

Whatever challenges you have coming your way or are in the middle of right now, this minute, I encourage you to take a deep breath and draw on that well of courage you have inside you. You do know it's there, right? We just have to tap into it...sometimes over and over again. But you know what's really incredible? The well never runs dry!

I'm wishing for you all the courage you need to face a new day...



Monday, May 12, 2014


Hi everyone,

Today's word may seem strange in a blog called "Words to Live By." But something happened last week that reminded me we all deal with fear of one sort or another.

Our rescued big dog, Brody, was abused, pretty seriously it appears (is there any other kind of abuse besides serious?? probably not!) before he came to live with us last year. He is afraid of anything waving over his head like sticks, hands, or anything just in his "air space." A fly followed me in from the garage one evening last week and while sitting at dinner, I noticed it on the kitchen counter. I ran and got the fly swatter and "bam!" He was gone. And so was Brody. I didn't realize that he was behind me when I picked up the fly swatter and the noise and motion scared him to pieces. He bolted for his chair (yes, he has his own chair) in the living room, tail between his legs and ears down. I was mortified that I had caused that fear. Of course, I went to him and talked softly while petting him gently. It took him a solid day to get over his fear yet again - and he's probably not really over it. 

Our rescued crippled kitty, Grover, in the picture above, has his own kind of fear. He can't walk, so he is afraid of loud noises or "big shapes" coming at him. His eyes get big and he starts "scampering" as best he can, making hardly any forward progress. It's hard to watch him knowing he knows he is so vulnerable.

Our furkids both have "physical"-type fears, don't they? But for many of the human species, there are a host of other fears we have to deal with. Health fears...after a visit to the dermatologist today, I was relieved to find that the spot I feared was cancer is not. A later visit to the ophthalmologist, where I was expecting a routine report, brought a different kind of fear as the doctor explained that I am getting higher in the "glaucoma risk" category and it is time to begin medication. I am NOT a medication kinda gal. But the thought of losing my eyesight creates a lot more fear than a measly old eye drop twice a day, so that will be my new normal - and all future appointments with that doctor will likely be tinged with a bit of fear over what my "pressure reading" will indicate this time. 

And I'm sure my husband has some deep-seated fears about his continual health challenges after his tongue cancer - the treatments, as some of you know, have created other hurdles that can be scary.

Other fears might have to do with finances - most of us can relate to having those fears at one time or another. And the way the media keeps telling us how we should all be afraid for our futures, it's a given that it can float to the top of our minds, even when things are somewhat quiet on that front. Being self-employed, my thoughts can turn to fear at the drop of a hat - or the drop of an email telling me a program is cancelled for one reason or another. That's my income and it's not pleasant to have someone snatch it away!

Some people fear public speaking - even me! I do that for a living and yet when I had to give a speech in my graduate class last year, I froze for a few seconds. I had not had the time to practice and prepare the way I would have liked and the fear of my entire grade for that course resting on this one 6-minute presentation simply shut me down. I recovered and did okay in the class, but the fear was real.

Others fear being alone when they get older or driving in busy places. Some of us are still afraid of the dark or of being embarrassed in public. 

The point is, as I'm sure you've figured out, that most of us deal with some sort of fear. The question is, will you control your fear or allow it to control you?

Let me know what you think at the email address shown below. I love to hear from you!


Saturday, April 19, 2014


Brody's graduation :-) 
Hi everyone,
Well, you can see by the look on Brody's face that he found the whole "graduation" thing a challenge! He has been "in school" for close to 5 months with holidays and spring break (lol), but he did pass his AKC Canine Good Citizen test last week. It was a bit of a challenge for him to stay at the end of a 20-foot leash while I walked away, but he did a great job with that and the other 9 pieces of the test. It is a bigger challenge for him to do what I ask when it's something he reallllly doesn't want to do - like get off the chair where we sit together so I can straighten his blanket! And it's a challenge for me to lift him since he now weighs nearly 75#... Our next challenge will be to see if he enjoys therapy work. Our goal is to visit a local hospice or nursing home once a week. It will be up to Brody whether or not we continue to do it after a few test runs. If it is too much of a challenge and it stresses him too much, we will discontinue the project. He's been through too much to stress him out intentionally.
Brody is facing somewhat minor challenges, of course. But we all face more major challenges from time to time, don't we? Sometimes it's health-related, as with my husband right now. For the past month, he has been unable to open his mouth far enough to eat. HUGE challenge in keeping his weight up, keeping enough nutrition in him, keeping his energy level up, keeping his temper because of the stress...and keeping my patience, I hate to admit.
I have a couple of friends who are facing significant health challenges, too, both related to that dreaded "c" word - cancer. Every day is a challenge to stay positive, to try not to get consumed with what the future might hold. 
Sometimes our challenges are relationship-based...whether that's with a significant other, a sibling, a co-worker, an elderly parent, a friend...dealing with other humans can present unique challenges to say the least. 
Sometimes the challenge is with finances. Those kinds of challenges can appear overnight with car repairs, household maintenance, helping someone else, medical bills...the list could go on and on.

And sometimes the challenge involves our work - or for some of you, lack thereof. I have friends who are searching for work at an age when they should be planning retirement. Jobs for those of us over a "certain age" can be a challenge. Learning a new job can be a challenge. Finding work that we enjoy can be a challenge. Finding a job that pays enough to allow us to eat can be a challenge. Finding enough work when we are self-employed can be a challenge. 

For me, it's apparently a challenge to keep up with my blog - even though it's something I love. I feel an obligation to stay ahead of my workshop schedule, help my husband, pay bills, shop for groceries, do the know, all that "fun stuff"!  So the blog doesn't always get the attention I would like to give it. But I can't beat myself up over it. I have to prioritize so as not to cause myself additional anxiety over what I left undone.

Obviously, what I'm getting at here is that there seems to be no shortage of challenges for most of us. But truly, how we respond often determines whether or not the challenge gets more daunting or we learn to handle it with the least amount of stress. If we focus only on the negative aspects of a challenge, we can pretty well bet that negativity will continue to hound us. If we at least TRY to find the positives, for those brief moments when we are in the "positive zone," things will be easier to handle - and those brief moments might stretch out to not-so-brief moments of being in that zone.

The ultimate challenge, of course, is how do we stay in the positive zone more??

What do you think? How do YOU stay in the positive zone when faced with significant challenges?

Let me know - I love to hear from you!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happiness is...

"Clownin' Around"

Hi everyone!

Y'all will be happy to know that today's word is "happiness" :-). The above picture is from a program I did last summer - we were talking about ways to feel refreshed and renewed about your work. A clown nose always helps, right??

I've been seeing articles recently about how happiness is a choice - something I've always told my workshop participants (and a few others, LOL!). I once saw a little notepad in a gift shop that said, "Whoever said money can't buy happiness is shopping in the wrong place!" While it made me smile, it also made me think about how many times we DO think money will buy happiness. Or maybe we think being with the right person - or having the right degree - or living in the right neighborhood - or having the right job...will bring happiness. All too often, if that's what we think, we will soon be sorely disappointed.

Happiness comes from within, of course. It must. If we depend on others for our happiness, it's really too much pressure to put on anyone. If we depend on money or things, the "shine" usually wears off pretty quickly, doesn't it?

This morning, I read an article about a couple who built their dream "cabin." It ended up being 10,929 square feet (!!!) on hundreds of acres. Nice cabin :-). But throughout the article, they kept protesting that it wasn't about the size (but the size kept coming into the conversation), it was about the quality. Hmmm, I think you can have quality in a little less than 10,929 square feet. At one point they admitted that, just like they did in their smaller home, they still "live" in basically 3 rooms - the kitchen, great room, and bedroom. Wow. Kind of says a lot about what brings happiness, doesn't it? I picked up another magazine just a few minutes later and read about a couple who lived in 128 square feet. WHOA! Talk about extremes!

Maybe what I'm saying is that often, a "happy medium" (get it? "happy" medium??) is all we need. My home is not 128 sq. ft. tiny and it's nowhere near huge. That makes me happy. It's big enough to operate my business from and still hold a husband, a BIG dog, and a little cat - and we're all happy. But I know I would feel absolutely claustrophobic in 128 square feet (not to mention having to go to the gym to shower - yikes). And I would be strained to the limit trying to care for 10,929 square feet - of course, I'd probably be paying someone to do all that "care"...but just thinking about trying to manage all the logistics makes me tired!

And what I've slowly come to understand is making me happier these days is my decision to simplify. I say "slowly" because dropping everything to "clean house" would not make me happy. I need to do something so significant at my own pace. I like the idea of de-cluttering, but throwing away just to lighten the load isn't the answer for me. I need to give it some thought. What brings me pleasure? What do I need to do my work well? How much storage do we really need - and why?? How much is too much of anything?

The question becomes then...what makes you happy? REALLY happy? Isn't it great to know there are no right or wrong answers to that question? It's all about you. The secret is that you need to know yourself well enough to come up with an answer. Do you?

Let me know what makes you happy!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Disappointment - yikes!

Hi everyone,

Well, I've held off posting for a week or so because the word that kept coming to mind was...disappointment! I'm not sure why that is stuck on replay in my mind, but since it is, I thought maybe someone reading this needs a little encouragement.

The thing is, we all go through disappointments - yearly, monthly, weekly, daily...sometimes hourly!! It's how we handle those disappointments that will affect how we feel physically and emotionally.

For example, the cool fence you see in the picture is the one I mentioned last spring. I love how it looks, but was totally disappointed about the lack of customer service from the landscaper. One of the $10 plants (luckily not a camellia!) died shortly after planting. I suggested a small credit to my credit card so that the landscaper wouldn't have to drive all the way here to replace one small plant, which was on the end anyway. He assured me twice, in writing, that he would come and replace it. Alas, that never happened and I had to get rather stern about at least getting a copy of the lifetime warranty for the fence. The result? I simply won't use that landscaper anymore, nor would I refer him if asked about the fence.

That's a pretty simple disappointment, isn't it? It took several hours of my time to finally get it out of the way, but overall, nothing to get too uptight about. Just a disappointing experience with a service provider. Those kinds of things happen often enough that I knew to just dismiss it when it was over.

But what about when it's a disappointment about your health? Some of you know that my husband had tongue cancer 7 years ago (key word...HAD!) and he has suffered ramifications of the radiation several times since then. The most recent incident involves his jaw totally locking for some odd reason. A month into this stressful situation, he is finally able to get his mouth open about 3/8", but still can't eat his beloved scrambled eggs in the morning. He is, once again, on a totally liquid diet. Huge disappointment. Most days he has a good attitude about it, but some days, it's just too much, ya know?? Yeah, I bet some of you DO know because maybe you've gone through something health-wise that is just as disappointing - or worse. 

And speaking of health issues, my blog posts apparently caught the eye of an attorney's office a few weeks ago. I got what appeared to be a heartfelt email from a woman about how it would be so kind of me to post about raising awareness for mesothelioma. Indeed, I have no doubt that awareness is something that would help those affected. Something just didn't feel right, though. When I researched the information from her signature line, it appeared as if it was a thinly veiled way of soliciting clients for an attorney she must work for. ARGH. I am sometimes so disappointed by the human race. When I tried to get a straight answer, I got a very obvious one - she quit responding to my emails, which told me all I needed to know. Again, not a big deal...just... disappointing.

Last week, I was reading evaluations for one of my workshops and one person's comment was quite negative. Even though the overwhelming majority (all other participants, as a matter of fact!) were very complimentary about how helpful the program was for them, that one comment left me feeling...guess what ...disappointed in myself! I wondered what I could have done to reach that one person, when in reality, I should have looked at what I did right to reach all the others so that I could repeat whatever that was ;-). Although I always take evaluations to heart, I got over that one pretty quickly. There wasn't any constructive feedback to help me improve, and since others thought it was great, I had to let it go.

And having just worked on the paperwork to take to the accountant for tax season, I'm reminded that disappointment can certainly come in the form of monetary issues, can't it? I had a good year last year, as did my husband...but neither of us had quite as good a year as the year before. Disappointing? Yes. But oh, we are so blessed. We have our home, our cars, our general health, our four-legged critters to keep us company, food in the pantry, heat or air at the touch of a thermostat, and work we both love. How can disappointment linger when there is so much to be grateful for?? We know the peaks and valleys of being self-employed and we recognize when things are going very well along those lines, as they are for both of us.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, we will all face disappointments coming from a myriad of directions. How do we handle them? How should we handle them? That's different for each of us, isn't it? But one thing I'm fairly certain of is that we each need to make sure those disappointments aren't dragging us down and stealing our joy day after day after day. 

Recognize them? Yes. Deal with them? Sure, the best we can. Then take a deep breath and move on, because life is going to move on anyway, whether you are moving forward with purpose or mired down in the muck of disappointments. 

Find things to focus on that bring you pleasure and nurture your soul - and that take your mind off the disappointment, at least for a time. Flowers, animals, your kids, friends, a beautiful breeze, a good book, a sweet-scented candle, a warm blanket, a piece of rich chocolate ...whatever it is that brings you sure you find a little of that every single day. And be in the moment when you find it, so that - if you need to - you can recall that pleasure to help you deal with whatever life throws your way.

And if I can help chase your disappointment away, just drop me a line. Or if you've found a way that really works for you and might work for others, let me know that, too!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Resolutions? Bah humbug!

Mortimer (the squirrel) just chillin'
I recently prepared a short webinar program that I'll be presenting this month entitled, "New Year, New You!" But contrary to what most people will think when they see that title, I'm not talking about making yet another irritating, annoying, hard-to-accomplish resolution :-).

What I'm talking about is deciding now, in January, how you are going to have a better year than last year. Again - some will have to rethink the words, "better year" since I'm not talking about money or even physical health...although I will be thrilled for you if both of those areas of your life are better in 2014 than 2013!

What I'm really talking about, though, is something deep within all of us - a need to feel good about how we're moving through life. After all, life is moving pretty fast, isn't it? Wouldn't it be a good idea to reflect on how you are moving along with it?

So what does that mean to you..."feeling good about how you're moving through life?" Well, here are a few things for you to ponder as we begin this brand new opportunity to move through life in a way that makes us feel good.
  • What makes you grateful? 
  • What makes you sigh with contentment? 
  • What makes you laugh out loud? 
  • What makes you feel fulfilled? 
  • What makes you feel like you GREW as a person?
  • What might you do that will make you feel proud that you tried it?
  • How can you make others feel good about how they're moving through YOUR life?
  • What might you try to make sure your routines aren't becoming ruts? 
  • How can you help your community?
  • What do you enjoy learning - and how can you do more of it?
I've been surprised to see several articles in magazines and in ezines in the past couple of weeks that have alluded to the same idea...forget the, "I'm gonna lose an unrealistic percentage of my body weight" or "THIS year, I'll make a million dollars!" or even more ridiculous..."This is the year I'll become a neurosurgeon" [just kidding ;-) - I don't think you'd want me as your neurosurgeon!] You get the idea - apparently, many of us are re-thinking the wisdom of putting ourselves on a guilt trip for resolutions unmet at the end of the year - or the end of January. 

Let's make sure this year we're focusing on making life better - not putting pressure on ourselves to make drastic changes that may very well never come to pass and will only leaving us feeling like we've failed.

A disclaimer here, though...if you really DO want to lose weight (or make a million dollars!), just go easy - don't decide you'll lose 10 pounds a week by eating only 4-leaf clovers, or that you'll spend each paycheck playing the lottery to make that million. Take small, DOABLE baby steps that will move you forward. Even if you don't reach your ultimate goal, you will be closer to that goal - and that's a great way to move through life, wouldn't you agree?

Drop me a note and let me know how it's going - I love to hear from my readers!