Sunday, January 24, 2010


Hi everyone,

No, I'm not mumbling what passes for a curse word in some parts of the country :-)

Toleration came to my mind three times this week and I take that as an indication that I'm supposed to write about it...

One of the things I tell participants in my "Returning Balance" workshops is that they should get rid of tolerations - whether that means a committee you're on that you don't enjoy, a squeaky screen door, an acquaintance who just annoys you to pieces, a stack of papers that have been staring you in the face, magazines that are gathering dust, or any other thing you've been "tolerating" for way too long.

My tolerations this week have been about clothes and the vacuum cleaner of all things! You know how it goes: you get something out of the closet to wear and you notice there's a split seam or maybe the elastic is stretched out. But hey, we can get a couple more uses out of these things, right? WRONG! Tolerating this type of thing can cause a nagging irritability that you simply don't need in your life - or at least I don't. So...I threw out the black slacks with the seam I would have to repair and permanent wrinkles that I would have to spend too much time on to even get them presentable, much less looking decent. Then I threw out the knee socks whose elastic apparently melts in Florida heat!

No biggies, those 2. But today, my toleration was a little more costly. I have been fighting my vacuum cleaner for over a year (and it's probably less than 3 years old!). The brush may or may not doesn't clean all that well when it is working...the filter is a real pain to deal with...well, you know how that kind of thing goes. So today, Mr. Vacuum Cleaner went bye-bye. Actually he's not actually gone yet, but his replacement is already on the way! Not to worry, Mr. V. C. is going to a new home and not to the trash heap, which is where I really think he should spend his remaining days, LOL.

Well, you get the picture. Tolerations can cause stress that we don't need - and that we can control. I HATE to throw things away, but I'm getting better at it. It's just not worth that little niggling irritation to keep things that are causing more grief than they are worth.

I have a sneaking suspicion I will find at least a couple more "tolerations" to bid adieu this week. As a matter of fact, that will be my mission and my commitment to you - at least 2 more tolerations are going to disappear from my life by this time next week.

How about you? What are you tolerating? Is it time to let go? You'll be amazed at how good it feels to be rid of them once and for all...


Sunday, January 17, 2010


Happy mid-January to you all!

This week's word may have you wondering why I chose it for a "Words to Live By" post. I was thinking about control the other day when I was adjusting the firmness of my side of the bed. Yes, we bought a "sleep number" bed several weeks ago and it gives me the luxury of adjusting the firmness of the mattress I sleep on.

As I adjusted the sleep number to make my side "softer," I thought how nice it would be to be able to adjust the firmness of our lives the same way. After a week of 2 sick animals, a husband with dental and vision issues, my back pain setting up camp, a couple of jobs cancelled and a couple of new ones added - complete with new preparations - I am yearning to "soften" my life for a bit. It's amazing how much "hardness" can come into our lives in such a short period - and let's face it, most of what happened this week is relatively trivial compared to the tragedy in Haiti, those who got devastating news about their health this week, others who are on the verge of losing their homes, etc.

Believe me, I realize that my week was a "walk in the park" compared to others'. And yet...even though we know with our minds that things aren't nearly as difficult as they could be (and maybe have been in the past), still it can all pile up on us at once and life feels hard.

Here's the deal, though - even though we can't control the hardness of our lives (although we do bring some of it on ourselves sometimes), there are things we can control ~

We can control our thoughts, for instance. Yes, I know, sometimes those negative thoughts attack us like a hungry lion and we may not be able to control the initial "attack." We can control how long we decide to hang out with the lion, though - and we can also control what actions we take as a result of the attack. Will we ferociously fight back (and kick those negative thoughts out)? Or will we let the lion hang around and gnaw on us for awhile?

We can control what we you really have to bite back at someone who took a potshot at you? I find it particularly hard to control a response when someone snipes at me in the name of humor - and others laugh. I'm getting better at it now though and I realize it says something about them that they feel the need to say it - and something about me, if I can't resist biting back.

We can control the people we associate with...sometimes we need to distance ourselves from people who don't make us feel very good about ourselves - or even about the world we live in.

We have some control over our physical well-being. Even if we are facing some challenges, we know what we should be eating and doing to at least keep those challenges in check.

We can control what we put into our minds...I do miss some news once in awhile, but I have found that shutting out much of what the media screams about the loudest (which, you gotta admit is usually the negative stuff and something I can do nothing about) helps me to stay on a positive course.

So, what do you need to gain control over? Your thoughts? Your tongue? The people you spend time with? Your physical well-being? What you are putting into your mind?

Whatever it is, you can do it...but it does take awareness and...focus.

So go ahead - be a control freak! And I mean that in the nicest way :-)


Monday, January 11, 2010

A time for GIVING - wait, isn't Christmas over??

Hi everyone,

I hope you all are keeping warm wherever you are!

The word this week is GIVING - and I am intentionally bringing it to you after Christmas. We all think about giving at Christmas, usually connected with something that costs money.

I want you to think about giving from a different just brighten someone's day.

Maybe you can give a smile to someone who sorely needs one. Years ago, my husband went to the "Big Chicken" in Marietta, GA, near where we lived at the time (the Big Chicken was a historic landmark - really just a fried-chicken joint, but with a huge chicken mounted on the roof; hence, the "Big Chicken" name!). As he was waiting for his order, the counter person said, "I'm not gonna give ya these fries until you smile." He did, she did, and he's never forgotten that - she took the time to "give" him something that day -and it was just a few seconds of human connection.

I was helping Guy in the music store before Christmas. The mother of one of the guitar students came in on a Friday evening and we visited while her daughter was in her 30-minute lesson. I found out that she is originally from Paris, worked for the US Embassy there, and is now widowed - at a relatively young age. I also found out her grandmother used to make "chocolat pastries" (pronounce this shoc-o-lot as she does and it sounds oh, so elegant!) that required hours of preparation but were to die for. The following week, I stopped at Panera and picked up a chocolate pastry (just plain chocolate, not all that elegant, but tasty) and when she came in, I gave it to her. You would have thought I had given her the moon. She ran over to me and gave me a big hug. It was the best $2.00 I've spent in a long time!

So what else can you give? I can't go around handing out $2.00 pastries on a regular basis, but I can often give some of my time. I can give the gift of listening - really listening - to someone. I can give the valuable gift of withholding the negative comment that is on the tip of my tongue (a gift that is sometimes very hard to control!). I can give the gift of understanding... empathy... advice (only if you know it's welcome!), a sincere smile or something that will help them find their own smile that may be in hiding.

What "gifts" are you going to give this year? I'd love to hear from you! And that would be a gift to me :-)


Monday, January 4, 2010

What are you FOCUSING on?

Hi all,

My apologies for a late post this week. Between a pulled muscle in my back and one of the longest colds in recent memory, my FOCUS was not where it needed to be. Although the muscle is still a pain (literally!), the cold is winding down and it's time to get my focus back to where I want it - a positive look at the new year ahead.

It's so easy to get sidetracked from what we should focus on, isn't it? I try to be a very positive person, so I refuse to focus on the news, violence on TV, etc. Yet everyday happenings such as colds, pulled muscles, car repairs, sick loved ones, cranky co-workers, etc., can take our focus off the joy I mentioned in the last couple of blogs. That's natural and we certainly don't need to beat ourselves up over it. I've never known anyone who added joy by beating themselves up for not focusing on it! What we should do, though, is be aware of how long our focus is distracted or distorted.

For fun (and because I love words!), I looked up "focus" - "a center of activity, attraction, or attention." I'm not a big believer in "attracting whatever I think about" when it comes to tangibles like cash (I wish!), a new car, etc. I am convinced, though, that making the negatives in our lives "a center of activity, attraction, or attention" produces more negatives. If I'm in a bad mood and choose to share that with others, guess what happens? All of a sudden, they are in a bad mood too and now I've multiplied the negativity and REALLY made it hard to get my focus (and theirs) back on a positive note.

I even go so far as to suggest to participants in my "Returning Balance" classes that they should hang around with "YouBet" people instead of "YeahBut" people (can't remember where I heard that years ago, but isn't it a jewel??). You know what I mean - you say, "Isn't the weather beautiful?" and they say, "Yeah, but we need rain." You say, "We really need this rain." and they say, "Yeah, but it's been raining too much." Pretty soon, every thought is followed by "yeah, but" instead of "you bet!"

I don't want to discount the fact that some of us have BIG issues that cause us to lose focus - I have certainly been there/done that, especially over the past 5 years, and have the tee shirts to prove it. I just want to encourage you to take a moment and "reset" your focus now and then. Have a great cup of coffee (Keurig coffeemakers are the greatest!). Watch the snow softly fall (and try not to think about the cold that goes with it!). Read a few pages in a book that brings you pleasure. Have one exquisitely delicious piece of chocolate - and enjoy every moment. Pet the cat (if you can!) or hug the dog (or your significant other - or your child - or a friend - or someone who just needs a hug!).

So here's my question for you this week: What do you find yourself focusing on? Do you focus on what brings you joy or do you focus on all the little things that can so easily keep us in a negative mindset? Are you a "yeah, but" person or a "you bet!" person??

In other words, take time today and every single day to focus on what brings you joy...