Personal Note

My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From your thoughts, you can create greatness.

This is what I need to remind myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create. Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgemental, love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A True Christmas Spirit...A Tribute To My Sister

We can exchange many wonderful things with each other: trinkets, clothes, jewelry, sweets...but I want to gift something to someone special that I can't wrap in pretty paper and punctuate with a bow.

Sure, I bought some of those things for this person, but I need to recognize the much-too-often unrecognized kindness, generosity, and big heart of one of the most important people in my life. She has been with me for 39 years, often when no one else was. I fall in love with her more and more each day and cherish her now, more than ever.

My sissy.

That's what I grew up calling her. That's what she always called me. It's a "thing."

My Christmas wish this year is for her to be recognized as the fantastic person that she is. How can I relay to all of you (and her) what I see in her? I guess I'll just have to shine a light on what I see her doing, that no one really knows about. Just in the last few months this is what I have seen her do:

I'll start back in July when we went to Florida for our Dream Vacation.

She paid for me to go. Sure, I paid for additional expenses, but she paid for the trip; airfare, hotel, rental car, and everything. Then, when we got to JAX, we had a most wonderful young man named Jabari who helped us with our bags and rental car. Tip him? Of course. $50? That's my sister. She was so impressed with him, as was I. He was just such a kind soul. That's what she does. That's who she is. By the way, she made sure the rental car employee called for Jabari so he could help us when we got to the airport to leave for home. Yep...that meant another tip.

At the start of the new school year, she finally told me that she donated money to the school to purchase several computers for the kids who couldn't afford them. Our school moved from textbooks to laptop computers and large backpacks for them. This at a cost of almost $100 per student. I was going to go to our local paper about this but, I am ashamed to say, I got too busy. The school principal was surprised to get this donation for this purpose. She said no one had done this before. No one! When I found this out, I was in disbelief! This gave my sister a great idea. She told her daughter and me that each year we should have a fundraiser with a bake sale, craft sale, car wash and the like to raise money for this purpose. Now THAT I will be sure to go to the paper about.

The other day we were going into Hobby Lobby in Fairview Heights and there was a young male bell ringer for the Salvation Army opening the door for us. He was so nice. Not that "I have to be nice because I am representing something" kind of nice, but an authentic "Merry Christmas, you have a blessed day, Ladies" kind of nice. I reached into my purse for my wallet. He said I could just do it when I came out, if I wanted to (give a donation). I put in my $2, but my sister said she would give hers when we came out. We went into the store and she turned to me and said, "Would it be stupid to give him a $20? Just for him?" I said, Of course not!!! I love when you do things like that! It's money you would probably end up spending on something useless at one point, anyway."

So, we turned right around and went straight back to the exit. She wanted to do it right then, in case he was gone when we came back out. She approached the door, he opened it and she took his hand. He was a bit confused, until she folded that $20 into his hand and told him, "This is for you, just for you." He thanked her with a "God bless you and Merry Christmas..." but was a little taken aback. We turned and went back into the store, me doing a "clappy dance" and my sister's eyes all welled up with emotion. I acted like I didn't notice, I didn't want to embarrass her, but I did. I noticed. She touches me.

We won't know if he really kept it or put it into the bucket, but it was intended to make his own holiday a bit brighter. When we left, he was, indeed, gone. Completely gone. I don't know the circumstances behind how one becomes a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, whether it be volunteer work, community service, a paid position. But this man's soul touched our souls. And every little bit of kindness in this world helps.

It helped him and I hope that he passed it on. It helped her, as she struggles much in her life and these moments for her help chisel away at any walls she may have. As for me? My faith grows more and more each day when I witness these miracles. They are miracles. And seeing the reality of them renews me in ways that keeps me working towards my hope that this world will someday change and my goal to be a part of it.

One last thing. Last night after working her shift as a nurse, she came and got me and we went on a little late night "Santa Claus-ing." I had puled a name from the Angel Tree (the trees that stand in stores such as Wal-Mart with a colored piece of paper with an angel on it and a wish list for a child in need) with the intentions of shopping for this little 7 year old girl for Christmas. It got late, time got away from me, and the only time I had to make this wish come true was last night. She had been all in from the start, but, like I said, the holidays are busy and stressful for all of us and time just slipped away. Even though we had almost run out of time, she committed to go with me after work last night to shop for this little girl. You should have seen her. We found so many cute things--it was ALL my sister. She knows how to shop for the most perfect gifts. I found a few things, but she is the master! We would have been there all night and bought her absolutely everything on her little list if she had her way. (PS. Our Pop helped out, too, to be sure this child had a great Christmas!)

Noah and I delivered all of her toys and clothes and shoes and girly things this morning to Angel Headquarters. We felt like real-life Elves! That's the best Christmas ever!

As for Pammie...

I love you more than you can know. I am so proud of the changes you have made, and will continue to make. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful heart.

I will cherish you forever...

Your Sister,


Monday, December 22, 2014

Today Was A Big Day For Me...

I had a pretty exciting day today. Do you remember a few posts back when I wrote about going to Chicago and the Hay House "Movers and Shakers: Speak, Write, Promote" workshop? I met a lovely lady named Jaime Pfeffer , who spoke with me and invited me on to her radio show, "Uplift", and that day finally came today!

Here is the link to today's show: Uplift: Do You Have A Grief Strategy

If you have some time and would like to listen to my interview, I would greatly appreciate it! Scroll on down and leave a comment on the site, too, and let us know what you thought.

Thanks so much for being here and reading and sharing in my little bit of the blogosphere. I so appreciate you all.

Remember to stop by for links and updates to everything I'm up to!

Have a great week...


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do You Need To Change The Station In Your Head?

I was driving somewhere the other day and had the holiday/Christmas music on in the car. I am a self professed Yule-tide nerd. A softy in every way. It all happens the day after Thanksgiving, earlier if I could get away with it (like the day after Halloween) but I like to remember Thanksgiving and keep things decorated for Autumn. It's just a shame that the Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule holiday season only gets roughly one month. Almost not near enough time for all the songs, colors, decorations, smells, movies...well, you get the point.

I was raised with Christmas being a big deal in my house. Mom loved it as much as Halloween (and that was a pretty big deal, too) and always went all out for it. That's where I get it from. I'm so glad I have Noah, he understands and loves it all as much as I do, and climbs up on that roof every year to cover the house in lights, not to mention the inside decorating he does, too. We don't really get caught up on labels, we just do what feel right to us and what makes us happy!

Anyway, I was driving somewhere and was really needing to concentrate on getting there and the music was playing, something soothing and nice, probably White Christmas by Bing Crosby or The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole or even something by the Carpenters. Then, a more rambunctious song jumped from the radio's speakers and shocked me. I wasn't quite ready for that, and was very much needing to concentrate on what I was doing and couldn't with the song that was so raucously playing. I became agitated and frustrated and had to change the station to a more soothing and relaxing tune.

After I got to where I was going, I got thinking about how I needed to quiet the outside noise so that I could sooth myself and concentrate and started to think about how that compared so much to how I need to sometimes do that for the internal noise, as well.

Most of you know all about the power of positive thinking and the calming result of meditation, but how often do you actually practice it?

Me? Not nearly as much as I should. Not. Nearly. I get so busy that I forget that there are wonderful opportunities at my disposal whenever I should need them, just waiting to be utilized.

How busy do you get? Do you often have so many things on your mind that it makes it difficult for you to organize it all? Does all that "noise" in your head get in the way of your peace? I know mine does, which is why it is so important to remember that we have everything we need at our disposal.

We so often look outward for the answers we seek: peace, love, joy...we might very well search forever looking outside of ourselves. One of the hardest things I had to learn on this journey was that everything I needed was right inside me all along. I just could not wrap my head around what on earth that meant. Thank goodness I found the forums and books and "teachers" I needed, when I needed them, to help me with this. When I was ready, I was open, and the answers came. But I had to quiet myself, first. I had to calm the noise and listen. 

When I changed the station in my head to a more calm and soothing one, I was able to concentrate on finding those things I was searching for, right inside me. I learned that I could attain peace with myself, that I didn't need to rely on outside influences or happenings to make me happy. It wasn't up to anyone else but me to bring the peace I sought. My choices, my behaviors and my thoughts were what brought the peace.

Likewise with love and is really up to you. Learning to love yourself is a huge step for some. We often don't feel worthy of anyone else's love, let alone our own, but without self love, how can we ever give or receive outside love? And I also learned that I could give myself all the joy I was longing for. The biggest part of that was that I made the decision to do it. I put aside my ego, begrudgingly, I assure you, and I started making decisions to be consciously aware of my thoughts and judgments. That's a big one: being aware of your thoughts AND judgments, for when you are judging someone you become increasingly unconscious until it's a habit that becomes as second nature as breathing. You not only rob yourself of joy at this point, you rob them, too.

I quieted that noise, changed the station, and just made it a point to concentrate on where I was going in my head--in my thoughts. It helped me to find that which I thought I could only find outside, but was within me all along.

That is a true blessing.

I will share more on this later this week as well as how to find peace during this busy season full of materialistic expectations when you may not be able to fulfill them. We could all use a shift of reasoning during the holiday season; a remembrance of what it should be about and how to find more peace among the stress.

Thank you for being here today and reading, I so appreciate it.

Have a great week!


Friday, December 5, 2014

8 Great Tips To Get You Through The Holidays (With Your Sanity Intact!)

Christmas carols playing overhead in the grocery store and on the radio, tree lots popping up everywhere, holiday favorites on television...

Oh, yes, it's that time again.

Are you ready?

It came up on us quick. I mean, I was just in Florida for summer vacation, for goodness sake! How can this be?!

But it's here, and there's nothing we can do about it, except maybe enjoy it to it's fullest. Whatever your traditions are, there must be something that you do this time of year to celebrate the season. No matter what that something is, it has the sure potential to become overwhelming. As I write this, it's already the 3rd of December, and I feel I'm running behind already. We did take advantage of the unseasonably warm weekend, putting our renovations on hold to decorate the outside of the house, icicle lights and all (a promise my husband has kept for all these years). But skipped buying the tree just yet. Now, I'm nervous that we're waiting too long. We were just at the "Home Improvement Store" on the 1st and there were scarcely any trees there (we like a fir tree which are not grown around us) so we asked if there were going to be any more deliveries. The employee told us there would be...later that day.

We decided it was a bit too early to get one just yet, ours always tend to dry out in our house, but now I am rethinking that strategy a bit. I think getting one closer to the time it was cut and shipped is better. So I convinced Noah to take me back either Thursday or Friday. I don't want a dried out tree. Besides, I want to get it up and in some water to just sit for a day or two to see if the new kitty is going to leave it alone or not. Let's hope so...

Then I feel pressured to get the decorations out and try to make my house feel like a festive holiday home. But we have so much else to get done, namely the bathroom that is sans drywall and down to the insulation and bare studs in some places. The old shower has to come out, plumbing re-routed, drywall on the ceiling and walls, and replace the tub/shower. Then put in new flooring, a new vanity (that we have yet to pick out) and the new toilet (ditto with the picking out). Oh...and put up new wainscot and paint the bathroom. Good thing it's a smaller bathroom.

There's still so much to finish in the kitchen, too, how will I ever get it all done enough to enjoy the holidays? I fear I might start to feel overwhelmed in such a way that I miss out on the enjoyment of the season and the peace it is supposed to bring.

But, that's just it. What exactly do you need to do in order to feel like you can enjoy the holidays? What needs to be accomplished for you to feel like you're not going to get so overwhelmed by your "to-do" lists that you wake up one morning and the holidays are over and you seem to have missed it? How in the world are you going to even find time to make a list to figure out what should and shouldn't be on your LIST?!

Take a breath. And another. We'll get through this. It's all about simple prioritizing and getting rid of what you don't need. For instance, I absolutely must figure out how much decorating I really should do to keep things simple for me while we still intend to finish the much needed repairs in our home. I usually go all out for the season, and want nothing more than to have had the house done so that I could have everything "just so" and decorate to my little hearts desire, but it's just not gonna happen this year. But, I can do my best and still feel festive while staying in control and not getting overwhelmed. 

I came up with this list to help keep me focused and on track and remember to slow down and enjoy the holidays this year, no matter what.

1. Realize you can't do it all...

You need to learn to cut yourself some slack. You may feel you need to be (and I'm sure you are) Superman/Superwoman, but you don't need to be. No one is, no matter how they appear to everyone else. We all have our limits, and there isn't anyone more special than the next. Just focus on the meaning behind your actions and do your best, and your good intentions will shine through.

2. Learn to let go...

All those expectations we have about ourselves, the holidays, (every situation we think we need to control), are usually pretty unrealistic. And almost ALWAYS in our own heads. No one else has these expectations of us, but us. I know this for a fact. I used to put so much pressure on myself to get so much done over the holidays that I take a weeks vacation right before Christmas to get it all done: making gifts, crafts, wrapping, shipping gifts, baking, etc. It wore me out and ruined my own enjoyment of the holidays. Did everyone expect and request all that of me? No. (read that {.} as "PERIOD"). I expected it of myself. I continuously piled more and more onto myself until I was so exhausted that I couldn't wait for it all to be over. How fun. :/  So, let go of what isn't necessary, bringing me to number 3.

3. Prioritize...

Make a schedule, then narrow it down to what is an absolute must and then go over it again. To make it easy, use a "pros and cons" list format. The list can include things like cleaning, shopping, wrapping, baking, card signing/mailing, crafting, decorating, etc. Here are some examples:
                                 * who to shop for/what to buy vs what to make and for whom
                                 *  what to clean/which rooms/what days
                                 *  how to divvy up your wrapping schedule
                                 *  what to bake and what can be bought
                                 *  who to send cards to or making vs store bought and when to mail
                                 *  which crafts do you really want to make (cuz you don't have to make them all)
                                 *  just how much decorating do you need? (see # 2!)

Here is a link to my Pinterest board (don't worry, it's small) where you can find great tips for scheduling yourself throughout the holidays to get it all done, feel accomplished (and organized!) and stay relaxed so you can enjoy it for yourself, too!

4. Budget...

Minding the budgeting of your money in addition to your time is very important to keeping stress levels low. If you give yourself guidelines, and stick to them, you can easily stay on track. It's worth the "trouble" and you can get more bang for your buck, giving you more opportunity to give to everyone on your list. You can use this link provided above for these tips, too!

5. Delegate...

 Divide chores up among your family members, especially when preparing for a party or event (like a visit from in-laws). When you find a cleaning and decorating/preparing schedule you like from the Pins above, you can make your own schedules up of who-does-what around the house to help. And definitely enlist help with the wrapping, baking, shipping, etc. Make a chore chart and expect everyone to stick to it.

6. Stop with the guilt, already...

If you find yourself overwhelmed and feeling like you can't possibly do it all--stop. If you can't get all the handmade gifts done to perfection, buy something; it's the though that counts. If you can't bake up a dozen or so special made-from-scratch treats, only make one special thing to give out and buy the rest, just dress them in pretty packaging (or don't, because you may not have time!). If you can't attend all of your friend's or relative's kids' pageants or chorals, sweetly decline and move on. You are just one person, even with the delegating, stop feeling like you have to do it ALL! You don't.

7. Relax and take time for yourself...

You are supposed to be enjoying yourself. Remember, this is your holiday, too. Find time each day (what!?) to take a moment for yourself. It can be quick, like a couple sun salutations, or two hours long, like watching your favorite holiday movie. You can take a hot bath, drink some cocoa while gazing at the hard work you did on your tree or meditate upon the meaning of your 4th lit menorah candle. Browse Pinterest while sipping a hot chai tea and then actually do one of the holiday crafts you've been wanting to try. Heck, put on some Christmas music and dance in the kitchen! The idea is to give to yourself as much as you are giving to everyone else this time of year.

8. Have pure intentions...

All your goodness shines through if you act with pure intentions, so no matter what you are able to accomplish; do it well and the love behind it shines through. It doesn't matter if you are able to give a little or a lot to charity, your friends, your family, etc. this year. If you do it with loving kindness, that pure intention will shine through, and that's all that really matters.

I hope this helps you to have a more relaxing and peace filled holiday season this year. You can start with #7, you know...go on and check out some great tips and fun holiday crafts on Pinterest and get that budget going!

Have a great weekend!

As always, thanks for reading.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Does talking about race make you angry? Well, I'm gonna do it anyway...

As I sit down to write this I feel so tired. I am so tired of all of us having to have conversations like this. I'm tired of the news stories of wrong doings against each other that prompt such conversations. Not that I hate having them, I just hate the reasons why.

I went in to work Monday night not knowing what I would find or be up against during my shift. Security had been beefed up, and later in the night the National Guard was there, in the ER parking lot, a guardsman at the entrance making sure all was well.

Tuesday night there was a Humvee stationed at the entrance to the main ER parking lot, and I knew that we were still needing to be under a watchful eye. I am not upset that they were there, on the contrary, I am thrilled to feel so secure. However, I never thought I'd have to see this sight. It is certainly surreal, if nothing else, the fact that they have to be there. I mean, I work in a hospital, for crying out loud. In America. I'm not even in the "big" city. I am certainly not in a war torn land risking my life to save lost and injured souls from eminent danger (though, some days I wonder...).

The unrest in Ferguson, Mo. has raged, smoldered, rekindled and blazed anew into a situation that we may never understand how to fully extinguish. It is a representation of a cancer in this country, quite possibly the world. Even now, after the Grand Jury has made their decision and released the evidence we have all been waiting to learn for the last three months, the story of what really happened that day is still sort of in limbo, and may always be. Opinions are STILL being regurgitated, in spite of the evidence. That's just human nature, I guess. The same story can be told a hundred different ways by a hundred different people.

So how did we get here? Why did we get here?

I was browsing facebook and came across an article about the 1950's civil rights-era America "photo essay" by Gordon Parks (among being a photographer and writer, he directed the movie Shaft). I was enchanted by his photos, and it brought up a burning question in me (of course, right?). I'm posting the link for you here so you can see for yourself what I'm talking about, and I urge you to take a look at the few photos in this collection that moved me so.

The first thing I though while looking at these was, "Why didn't the rest of (white) America see these people as the same as them?"

I mean, they look just like everyone else, dress like everyone else, have homes and families and buy their children ice cream like everyone else. The children dress and play and smile just like every 50's era kid I've seen in photographs. They play "cowboys and Indians", and dream of going to the fair....

The second thing that came to mind was, "What if, at that moment in American history after the civil rights movement was won and integration was afoot, black Americans were seen and treated as equals?"

I think that this country would be a very different and much prettier picture.  If Integration was accepted and happened fully and lovingly and all people were treated equal, can you imagine how much anger and disappointment and shame and fear and hatred would have been lost from the books?

What if, at that moment in time, families were accepted as equal, men were not looked down upon as "less than" because of their skin, women were able to have jobs other than nannies, maids and cooks--if they wanted. What if there were no separate lines to walk your children up to for an ice cream treat after Sunday services or one for the water fountain or bathroom? What if these children were allowed to go to the fair they longed to run and play at, eat cotton candy and have the thrill of a once-in-a-lifetime ride like every other child in town, instead of only getting to watch longingly from the fence across the field?

What if all the children of that particular era grew up feeling equal to, instead of less than?

If they were given the opportunities to succeed that they could pass onto their children and grandchildren, and so on?

Maybe things would be a little different, perhaps? We will never know, but it sure would have been nice to see what would happen if we started treating everyone like human beings back then...

But, this is what we have now, and there's no use looking backward. We must take these lessons and go forward, learn from them and start anew. There is a lot of hurt. There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of wrong needing to be righted. Destroying each other now is not the answer.

Yesterday, I found a video that has some valid points and can be applied to EVERYONE of all races and situations. We need more examples like this young man. And another from the same page out of Milwaukee  of a passionate police chief who addressed the crime rate after being accused of acting too lackadaisical while at a crime scene. (*Note: These are very emotional, blunt and the sole opinions of the speakers. My linking to them here does not necessarily mean I agree or endorse their opinions, though I certainly may. Watch for yourself and form your own opinion).

Though I may agree with some of the thoughts in the first video, there are some who will not. According to the comments on the feed it is from, there are plenty of people who don't. Do I, as a white person, even get to agree or disagree? Is it even appropriate for me to address this issue? I think it is. Without dialect about these issues, we stay confined to our ideals, never seeing any other side to the coin; and there are always different sides. You have to be open enough to get to that point where you are willing to see them and discuss them. Only through transparency will real change come.

What I have come to realize in my career and life is that not everyone is bad. Some people are just lost.

Some refuse to be found.

It's frustrating to watch the self destruction of someone, let alone their destruction of everything around them. I'm sure there are reasons that people struggle with these behaviors that are beyond our comprehension. I can understand what it is like to grow up poor; not as poor as some, I'm sure, but, definitely less fortunate than others, to say the least. I have often argued the point that, when you grow up in the cycle of poverty, and it is all you know, it may be quite difficult to overcome.

When you are raised as a minority, in minority communities where you have been perceived and maybe even taught, that you are "less than", it is difficult to ever believe that you will ever be able to overcome your situation if there is no one to encourage you to do so. If you have no examples of success or strength, you don't learn to have faith in yourself enough to believe that you are strong enough to pull yourself out of it.

I think it takes a special person to have that inherent belief in themselves. Only 15% of women who are abused, don't return to the relationship. That means 85% of battered women return to their abuser. So, what makes that 15% so special? How about the women who sense the relationship is going bad and know to get out immediately and not look back? Is it their upbringing? Inner strength? Self respect? How do they "just KNOW" that they deserve better?

I think it often takes that special thing inside of you to just know how to stand up for yourself and know what's best for you. The rest needs to be cultivated. And some of that cultivation will just be outright ignored.

Just like in the video above, taking responsibility for yourself, while daunting at times, is really the only thing you can do to ensure your own success. This is what upset me the most about the Ferguson riots. I work near there, serving this community for over 12 years. I've seen the Ferguson, North county and Jennings police in action when they brought in detainees, or taking report from a victim. The stories go both ways. So I fancied myself understanding of both sides, and found myself frustrated when people's opinions were too one sided. There's always a way to see both sides, if you care to.

When I wrote about my mother-in-law's murder, I was in a state of peace. Over Thanksgiving (two days ago) Noah's grandmother was with us at our house and we found out that the man who took his mom from us had his sentencing moved up to February. It was supposed to happen this month. And July before that. And April before that. Every four months or so, it's moved up four months. Noah's family needs this closure. What do we do? Do we go to Florida and protest the government? We could start some sort of appeal process. Plead to the court. The Florida victim's unit rep is doing that for the family already. There are laws and processes that are in place that seem unfair and tedious.

You must choose the right voice to use in the situation at hand. Protesting peacefully to get the laws on how police conduct themselves during apprehensions and arrests is definitely going in the right direction. Signing petitions to get state and government laws changed is going in the right direction. Looting and stealing and catching a street full of businesses, most of them hard working small business owners who have poured their hearts, souls and bank accounts into their dreams is just wrong. It accomplished nothing but to prove correct those who expected that behavior from the people in that community.

If you want to be perceived differently, you have to change the perception. I put out a plea on Twitter for the people in and around Ferguson to be united. That everyone expects violent behavior. Prove them wrong. You have a choice. You have a voice. It doesn't have to take violence to let it be heard. I was so saddened to see that people gave exactly what everyone expected: looting, violence, rioting, burning. And what did it do? What did it prove? Did it change the Grand Jury's decision? Did it change the hard evidence that they based their decision on? Did it change the world's perception of the people?

Did bring Mike Brown back to his parents?

Pain is unyielding at times; unforgiving. Emotions run high. We do and say things that we don't mean, are embarrassed of and cannot later take back. I truly feel for people who feel they have no way for their voices to be heard except through extreme measure like what has been shown in Ferguson these past three months. I pray every day for healing. I care for my patients in the best way that I can to show that I see no color, only the humanity that burns behind their eyes.

That's the key, I think. Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes. See it from their side. Set your prejudices aside for a moment and be as you were meant to be--as one. Lead by example. Have pure intentions. Show someone you care about them, maybe even more than you care about yourself.

Can you imagine what the world would be like?

Will everything change tomorrow? Not likely. In a hundred years...a thousand? Who knows. But, trying for it with the intention of change is better than doing nothing. Even when it seems like a lost cause, you never know. There's nothing worth striving for harder than the uplifting of humanity.

I wish you all such peace and calm during these trying times.

Thanks so much for reading today. I appreciate each and every one of you.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Exciting New Beginnings

Hello, Friends,

I have so many exciting new things to share with you! First and foremost, how have you all been? Are you getting excited for the holiday season that is fast approaching? Or, maybe a bit too stressed out by it? It's easy enough for that to happen, but try to remember to enjoy it, ok? These are special times that only come once a year, and though we should really be carrying this type of joy with us all year long, there's something special about it all happening for everyone at the same time in a whirlwind of sights and sounds. It's supposed to make you feel good...let it.

I've had a whirlwind of activity since my last post. First, I must tell you that I'm not always going to have such large gaps in between posts. As you may know (from my other blog Our Eclectic Life ) we are in the middle of a major renovation. I haven't been keeping up on that blog like I should, either. What's wrong with me?! Why am I dragging my feet??!! Why can't I commit already and get it all done!!?

Whoa....whew. That was intense.

Do you do that? Chastise yourself for not getting everything done? (Otherwise being human?) It's true, we don't always get everything done. We have beautiful intentions, but, sometimes pile our plate too high. Managing ourselves is a growth process; a learning curve. We may never accomplish what we believe to be our "perfect" selves, but as we learn about ourselves and what we are capable of, we soon find out we're sorta perfect, just the way we are. We also learn lessons along the way that make us better.

So, what have I been doing if not keeping up with sharing with all of you? We are still in the middle of that reno, and now we're priming, sanding and painting cabinets and our tub/shower has just been delivered.'s sitting in the middle of our floor in our den because we have yet to tear out the old bathroom. So much to do, so little time. Pretty sure we're not getting it all done by Thanksgiving. But it'll be done enough for family to come over. I'm off this year (sort of, I'm off the night before, but have to go in to work Thanksgiving night at 11) and I really need my family around me. Holidays and celebrations have become increasingly more important to me these last couple of years.

Anyway, enough with that to-do list. Now, for the "good stuff." Remember in my last post how I mentioned that flier I almost threw away for that Hay House workshop in Chicago? Well, I went and I had the best time! For the first time ever I took the train, then a taxi, and arrived at my hotel. It was just a short walk from the hotel the workshop was held in. That was the second best part about the whole trip--walking around those bustling Chicago streets! I am in love! It was a fabulous weekend. I'll have memories with me forever, and I can't wait to go back with Noah. I met so many great people, who I now call my friends. Everyone was so interested in each other, and interested in sharing their knowledge and know-how and learning from each other. And our hosts, (CEO of Hay House Publishing) Reid Tracy and (Author/Speaker/Coach) Cheryl Richardson , were fabulous. Very gracious and forthcoming with every bit of detailed information I needed to start building my platform (I didn't even know what that was before that weekend) and preparing myself for my future as a writer and speaker.

We all received Michael Hyatt's book "Platform: Get noticed In A Noisy World" as a gift from Hay House, and I also received James Altucher's book "Choose Yourself", as well. Actually, a very nice young woman who sat next to me on the last day gave me hers. She thanked me for sharing my story the day before and asked me about what it is I do, what I write about, and very graciously invited me onto her radio show, "Uplift", and it looks like I will be on December 22nd! How exciting is that?! My heart is filled with so much gratitude to her for giving me this opportunity. Her name is Jaime Pfeffer and you really should visit her website, She has a lot of inspiration, knowledge and grace to offer.

I was able to get up in front of Cheryl and Reid to ask a question, for which I received some very valuable advice. I got in line and when it was my turn I introduced myself. All I could do is tell it like it is: "I'm not a coach or a therapist, I'm just an X-Ray tech from St. Louis." That got plenty of laughs, but I didn't know what else to say. Everyone else there seemed to "belong"...coaches, therapists, yoga teachers, authors. I just hadn't felt like I had a place there, but after I had lunch with new friends, and had my Q & A session with Reid and Cheryl, I realized I belonged there as much as anyone else. There is a definite lesson to be learned here: Stop doubting yourself. What have you really got to lose by going out on that limb? Afraid you'll be embarrassed? Embarrassment doesn't last forever, but regret is a little harder to overcome.

When it was my turn at the mic, I told a brief history of the losses I have endured of late. My question was "Do I have anything to offer? This is what I've been sharing in my writing, how to take a tragedy and turn it into a triumph. What can I do to be sure I don't come across like I'm exploiting my troubles?"

This has been a bit of a worry for me. I want to share the most horrible things that have ever happened to me, and to share the things that I have done, fought through, to get to the other side of despair. I would never want anyone to think that I was sharing to exploit instead of to heal.

The answers I was given were a blessing. Cheryl said that we should all be policing ourselves often to be sure our agenda is true. She said for me to focus on my intent, which is not to exploit but to transcend. Pure intention will shine through. I have to become okay with some people criticizing, it's most likely going to happen at one point or another. But, that's their issue, not mine. She stated that I was unique and in a very unique position. She told me people need to hear my voice and that I should continue giving people what I have in me. She said for me to "Let what's next find you."

I revealed that I had been writing my blog for a few years, but my writing really took off after I had decided put my fears aside and submit an article to I had received such great comments on all of my articles, I was hooked...this is what I wanted to do, felt compelled to do. I realized that I was actually touching people and helping them by letting them into my life and sharing myself with them completely.

Reid said that since I was already getting great feedback on what I was doing so far, that I was on the right track. I needed to keep giving what I had.

Cheryl backed up what I had always tried to do--help people transcend their painful experiences through sharing my own tragedies with them with transparency and honesty, and showing them that, through choice, they can overcome anything they wish--even the feeling of being destroyed by their agony.

I do not mean to imply, by any means, that all you need is to "think" yourself out of your woes. But I do believe that you can accomplish much by learning to change your thoughts. A process that takes time and patience, indeed, but worth it all in the end when you realize the peace it bestows upon your heart.

I am so excited to start this new path along my journey. All of the wonderful things that are happening right now make all of the hard times and hard work seem far away and totally worth it. I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given, and for the presence and support of my family and friends. And, most of all, for my mom, who I know is with me every breath. Without her I truly do not feel that I could have possibly accomplished all that I have.

I have no expectations of my life, except to be my best while living it. I truly have learned patience these last few years, a blessed reprieve from the hassle that my mind used to be. Though I am sure to have no delusions, I also believe in "think it, be it." It has taken me several years of work to get just to where I am, now. I know I am on my way, I know I am on the right path. If you knew me 10 years ago, and were just meeting me again, you would not recognize me. I was a totally different person; opposite of who I am now.

I am absolute proof that a person can change their stars, if you really want it. You are not bound by anything you don't want to be. I met a new friend in Chicago, Kathy, who has cerebral palsy. You won't believe what she does with it. I urge you to check out her website to find out. She is amazing. A true example of using what you are given to spread a message of joy.

That's what it's all about. Lemons and lemonade. It's not what happens to you, it's what you do with what happens. The ball is in your court, it always is. So much energy is spent on blaming others. God knows I did it. It is certainly true that things happen to us that are completely out of our control. Sometimes we don't feel as strong as the next person, or don't want to. We often want to give up; it's easier. But, I was kidding myself when I thought I had no control over what happened to me. I didn't wave a magic wand and everything suddenly became perfect, but any improvement I made was better than my current situation, and it gave me my power back.

Do you want your power back? Because it's yours for the taking. you are in control.

Thank you so much for reading today, I know this was a long post. I just wanted to catch up. For little doses of inspiration, and some of my photography, please visit my page at facebook/nanettestein723
and like and share away, I truly appreciate it.

Also, don't forget to check out my new website, it's up and running!

Thank you, again, for being here today.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

I have a lot to be Grateful for, I'd like to share it with you...

Hi, friends,

I have so much to be grateful for that I am bursting at the seams and want to share with you all what I am feeling lately.

First off, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of my readers...I've reached over 10,000 page views! I've been at it awhile, and never with popularity or high traffic numbers as a goal. I just wanted to share with all of you my life's trials and triumphs, sorrows and successes, so that you would know that you are not alone in this big world; that there is at least someone else out there who understands what it is to be human and need the connection and help we all do to feel that we are "okay."

I never realized how much it might mean to me to see that I've touched so many people. So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my journey and encouraging me to keep doing what I'm doing.

The next thing I am grateful for is my son. You may or may not know that he has been in a bit of a life struggle. I was going to submit an article to Tiny Buddha about the issues he's going through right now, but I've decided to wait and submit when we see the positive outcome; and there is a positive outcome, there always is. He's doing so well, and I am so grateful to have been able to take some time off of work to be with him everyday. We have really bonded and I'm watching him grow and change before my eyes. I started college when Tyler was just 8 months old and graduated when he was 4. Then I worked all different shifts and weekends. It was extremely stressful going through X-Ray school with a toddler. But we managed, and we had Noah, our hero. So, during my whole life with Tyler, I have been a working mom, which is why, when he was seven years old, I sought out a job where I would be working the night shift. I could be there to take him to school, be home if he was sick, go on field trips, pick him up from school. I was even his Den Mother in Cub Scouts for 5 years.

I do have that article written, with his permission, of course. Maybe soon I'll share it with you, or a "downsized" version, perhaps. If there is a possibility that it can help ease someone else's pain, we are willing to share a bit of ourselves to help with that. But, we are picking up pieces we were a little shocked to know needed picked up, and we're putting them back together, one day at a time.  I had finally reached my breaking point when I was faced with the pain that Tyler was going through. I knew we needed help; both of us and for many reasons. And we got it. The time I took those last few weeks to be with my family was much needed. I felt like I was pulling apart at the seams. I was losing myself, my family, and I could not let that happen. I felt like I was living in a nightmare even before I found out about his addiction, and it was even more difficult to manage after it became evident just how bad it was.

He is very brave, my son. Completely willing to get the help he needs, willing to do whatever it takes. He's doing so well, loving life and excited about his future. He's still in treatment, and will continue to be for a long while to come, but he's now able to get himself there and back (it's an hour drive to West County, St. Louis and back, three days a week, plus his NA meetings in the evenings) and his dad will be there on his off days to help him out when I sleep after work, so he will be able to continue along his path to recovery. I am so very proud of him. You might think I would be ashamed or even embarrassed, at the least, but I'm not. Terrified, yes. Beating myself up and wondering what I did wrong or why didn't I know...of course. But, we talk everyday, we're getting to the bottom of his reasons, if there are any, and I'm realizing that it's not always someones "fault." There are thousands of people out there with a million problems and it's not our place to judge what we do not know.

The other thing I am grateful for is my mother. She paid the ultimate sacrifice to leave us a legacy that will change our lives forever. Not only did I gain freedom from any animosity I held, learning to try to take each day as it comes and live and love fully without regrets, setting petty differences aside along with my anger (it's an everyday battle, but I am present with it and I vow everyday to try to be my best), she bestowed so many more gifts on us, as well. She always just wanted us to be happy and for some of our dreams to come true. She always wanted us to have an opportunity to succeed, and through her, we have that opportunity. But I'd trade it all back to have her here, instead. I still miss her as if this terrible thing happened just yesterday. I can not believe she's gone from me. I wasn't done with my relationship with her; we were just getting started. What has happened to my family-Noah's family-is atrocious. Impossible to comprehend, so, mostly, I don't. I've put it all away for two whole years. I still have my mother's paperwork and things in my den stacked up, too afraid to get rid of anything while things were being worked out on her behalf. I couldn't mourn her; there was "too much to do." Now that it's all over, I can move on, put her things away, mourn her, remember her, let her memories in and cherish them and be grateful everyday for the gifts she has given me.

Which is what brings me to what I am grateful for next: my therapist. Thank God I finally decided to talk to someone. I felt like I was going crazy with overflowing emotions. If I were to write down everything that has happened to us, you might be amazed that we aren't already off the deep end. I should have probably started seeing someone sooner, but, you know, there was "too much to do," and in my mind, that had to come first. I am finally learning that it's okay to put me first, at least once in a while, for now. So, we are all getting back on track and really figuring out this new life that we need to lead and doing the healthy things we should be doing to be our best.

I am also grateful for my wonderful husband. This man is truly my best friend. We are in sync like nothing I have ever seen or experienced before. It amazes me that two people can be so tightly linked and utterly compatible. I've never felt so loved and treated so well. He is a great father and husband, man and friend. I thank my lucky stars for him every day and I fall deeper in love with him as each of those days pass. I am giddy when he walks through the door after work, cherish how he treats our animals and loves our son. He truly is my hero.

I am grateful for my family. My sister, who is by me at all times, someone I can confide in and do things with that girls need to do, things I used to do with mom. She's been there from the beginning of my life, shares memories and situations that only a sister can understand. I'm also grateful for the fact that she's starting to see how much she's worth and seems to be taking the steps forward to a better life for herself, because she deserves it. And my dad, who would do anything for me, and keeps my childhood and memories of my mother alive with his stories. He loves my son unconditionally, and would never turn his back on him, no matter what. He has been there since Tyler's day one. Rocked him on his chest. He was his first father figure, until Noah came into our lives, and he loves him, too. Tyler adores his Gpa, and Gpa adores Tyler; nothing will ever change that. And my brother, who I know I can always go to for advice about anything from my stock options to "what to do about dad..."(lol). These people are my family, all I have left. We may not always see eye to eye, but they're mine, and I am theirs. You are always supposed to be able to rely on your family, and I know I can rely on mine. That's pretty priceless.

I am grateful for my friends who check on me to see how I am doing and love me no matter what. These people would do anything for me, you know who you are. We may not see each other everyday, and may only keep in touch through social media here and there, but I know you are there for me should I need it, and I hope you know I am here for you, too.

Lastly, I am grateful for the magic that is this Universe. The awesome things that can come from tragedy, heartbreak and sorrow are love, grace, and peace. You will amaze yourself with what you can accomplish if you just let the light in. Believe that it can happen for you and it will. I want to share a neat little secret with you. I've always dreamed of being a writer (big surprise, right?) way back, even when I was being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I always said "An X-Ray tech or a journalist."

No kidding. Since I was three years old I have said I was going to be an "X-Ray tech." Why? I grew up getting chest X-Rays and echo's because I was born with a heart defect. Once, when I was about three, I saw a Looney Toons cartoon showing an X-Ray screen being wheeled in front of a character showing his bones. I was sold (little did I know what I was in for, right?). But, I always had a propensity for story telling. I loved to write stories, writing my first book, cover made from heavy stock wall paper and all, in the fourth grade titled "Fonifer and Telly" about a cat and a tadpole. Always very creative, I was encouraged to follow the arts, taking art in high school, and becoming quite good at it. But, upon becoming pregnant, I needed a "quick" career that I could make money at, so off to college I went--into the Radiology program. I've tried many different 'crafts', but writing is still my passion. And Hay House Publishing is sort of my dream publisher; to get discovered somehow...maybe a pipe dream, but who knows. Anyway, I was going through the mail a few weeks ago and was going to throw a bunch of junk mail into the recycle bin, when something caught my eye. It was a flyer for a seminar hosted by Hay House Publishing complete with a chance to submit a book proposal. Now, I'm not going to get my dander up, but who knows, I'm not going to doubt myself, either. I'm grateful to just be going to the seminar to learn anything I can. How about that for synchronicity? It's amazing what the Universe will provide you when you let it in. When you learn to let go of the negative and have faith in yourself and God (or whatever that means to you) amazing things will happen.

I'll keep you posted. I just wanted to share with you how we are getting along and that I give gratitude everyday for the things that I have and what is given to me. I think it's important to spread that joy and be joyous for others, as well. Harboring resentments, ill will, dark feelings only eats at you.

"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” 
 Wayne W. Dyer

Thanks for spending time with me today, I truly, truly appreciate you.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri: Right Around The Corner To Home

What can I say?

This is right around the corner to home. I work in North County, St. Louis. Many of my Facebook (and now, true) friends work at the same place. I don't think I can mention where exactly I work, just to be conscious of the policy, but it is a hospital, and we serve the people of North County, St. Louis. This very much includes the city of Ferguson. I work over night; I have for over 12 years.

A few years ago my son and I ran our first race with other employees from my job on a team in the Ferguson Twilight Run. It was a 5K race through the historic downtown streets of Ferguson. A diverse, cute and quaint community with a Farmers market, a slew of shops and stores, restaurants, a brewery, lovely homes and a sense of community. It was an experience I was so impressed with, I planned to make it a practice as long as they held it.

These are the people we care for as medical professionals. People in this community work with me. We care for the sick, the injured and in many cases, the officers that get injured on the job, as well. I've seen many things in my time as an overnight employee. I've been treated unfairly by patients, I witnessed unfair treatment of people that have come through our doors. I've watched nurses treated terribly, as well as doctors. And I've learned to never judge a book by it's cover because I've had many more heartwarming experiences than negative ones. Most of the time it really didn't have any color; sometimes it did. That always made me sad, this discord among people.



The race is secondary. But no less a part of our make-up or our beliefs, our thoughts, our prejudices.

Our differences.

There are so many ideas, thoughts, opinions, caring words, hateful words surrounding this's all too much. There are things being said by folks who don't even know anything about the community of Ferguson. I, myself, don't know anything by comparison as some. I discuss things at work with my team mates who live there or around there, shop there, send their kids to school there. It is my understanding that the violence and discord that is tearing the streets apart are not the actions of the community of Ferguson, but people from outside the area. It is evident to see that the people of the community are saddened and even embarrassed by these actions. They are not tearing up their own community, they are trying to clean it up, rebuild it, even in the midst of the tragedy that befalls them. Families, young men and women and mom's and dad's are even bringing their kids out and are getting out there and trying to sustain some semblance of order.

Each night that goes by, with each new piece of evidence, the streets in, and now around, Ferguson, are becoming more and more violent. The National Guard has been called in to protect the peaceful protesters from the rioters.

A huge bone of contention in all of this is the disagreement between everyone about who is more wrong and who is more right. Both sides are being villainized. No matter which side you are on, there is pain. There is also a lot of misunderstanding. Misunderstandings that often stem from preconceived notions. And there may be a lot of truth to some of these notions. Listening to the people speak about their concerns and why they distrust the police, it becomes evident as to why there is discord. But you have to listen without prejudice. And don't just listen...hear. Hear them without your own opinion shadowing your thoughts. Digest what you hear. Be objective. Be smart and put your emotions aside. Do this for both sides of the story. You would want everyone to do it for you. At least your opinions will then not be tainted. It is one sure way of getting the truth.

Social media, something we are all somewhat addicted to, is becoming a catalyst for both spreading the word of truth and sharing and spreading misinformed ideals and hate. I'm as guilty as the next person for watching and sharing the opinions of others, as well as those I hold myself. I have watched several videos from the point of view of police wives, officers, and emergency personnel. I've read the comments from Mike Brown supporters suspicious of the reasons as to why a video of Mike Brown allegedly robbing the Ferguson Market was released at the same time the name of the officer who shot him was released. Was it to take the interest off of the officer and place it upon this kid by defaming his character? It's a valid question. And it is being asked. As is the question "why can we not wait until all the evidence is in before we crucify this officer? He has a family and a home and the media plastered his home address and photo of his house all over the news. Police officers get the shaft all of the time. Their job is hard and they put their lives on the line to keep us safe..."

But, then, there are a ton of videos surfacing of police overreach happening. You all know which ones I'm talking about. The lady on the side of the highway with the officer straddling her and beating her, the man outside being taken down for no apparent reason and telling the police "I can't breath" and subsequently dying after laying there face down and handcuffed, a video surfaced of two police officers grinning and waving at the camera filming from inside a house while they wanted to enter and one officer tried to slap the phone out of the mans hand but hit his mother in the face instead, police using a Tazer on dogs (as a matter of fact, I had to look up the proper use of the word "Tazer, tazed, tasering..." and the site I went to was Daily Writing Tips, and the paragraph to open the article was "It wasn’t until I wanted to write about an incident in which a policeman applied a Taser to a ten-year-old girl that I needed to know if I should write tazedtased,tazered, or tasered...." I don't believe this bodes well...

But, then there was the 8 second video of the three detectives apprehending a man and ordering him to put down his weapon, then it appears he was shot anyway. But, the officer behind him saw him pulling a handgun out of his back waist band and then he was shot, falling to the ground, gun still in his right hand. 

There are always two sides of the story. We don't help with our undue opinions, the media doesn't help when all they want to do is raise their ratings, and social media only helps half of the time because people love to latch onto sensationalism. I know everyone wants to show support to their respective sides. Peaceful protests continue for Michael Brown, who may not have been an angel, who may have pictures circulating on the web of him aiming a gun with a wad of bills in his mouth and a bottle of liquor on the table while his friend sits in the background surrounded in a cloud of smoke-or maybe that's actually a picture of 17 year old murder suspect Jodah Cain who led police on a high speed chase in Oregon (here's a hint: it is). That may be him in the video stealing and pushing the clerk, and he may have even had a scuffle with that officer prior to being shot. But he was unarmed. At least that's what we know so far. We don't know everything, but I am watching the news conference right now of the release of the preliminary autopsy results. He was shot multiple times, at least six according to the forensic results we have at this time, in the head twice. They are still working on collaborating with the other offices to put all the evidence together to clarify the trajectory of the bullets to prove if he was on his knees, facing the officer or not, arms up or not. Witness testimony is one thing, collaborated evidence is another.

I know that if it were my son, nothing else would matter to me about his behavior in that store. I'm sorry, but it wouldn't. If I knew my son was unarmed, and surrendering, if I truly as a mother believed that, my heart would be broken. In my eyes, my child would be gone, and I would want answers; justice, and peace to follow. Think about that. What if it had been your child? Leave race out of it for a second, because I know you all know that is playing a huge part in this, and your opinions. We all have them, no matter which side you are on.

What on earth made this officer do what he did? We just don't know yet, we can only speculate. And that is unnecessary and dangerous. Everyone is entitled to fair and just action. But is that happening? This is what seems to be the problem. Is the investigation going forth transparently? Is the distrust that the people of Ferguson, and much of the St. Louis region, of the police warranted? Is this officer being handled correctly, as any other non uniformed citizen would be after an incident like this? Can you at least understand the concern? Can you at least put yourself in the shoes of each side? It's necessary if we are to have peace until this is concluded.

I do believe this incident is the catalyst for the beginning of a much needed change for the problem that needs fixed in this nation, and beyond, concerning race and differences. And, now, between citizens and law enforcement. We need to finally decipher why there is such elevated distrust between citizens and law enforcement and take the proper routes to healing that. There are multiple reasons, on both sides. No one side is fully innocent, and no one side is fully guilty. This is why it is so important  to get over our judgments and prejudices and preconceived notions.

It's time to end this. It's time to come together and heal. This is not an unrealistic notion. The calm exchange of ideas and thoughts can make a wondrous difference. Getting to know and taking the time to understand one another can heal nations. Removing the chip from our shoulders and setting aside our overly prideful egos and the need to be "right" all the time can go a long way.

Open your eyes and try to view the world through someone else's heart.

If you assume someone else has watered the plants, they're going to die. You have to stick your fingers in the dirt and check yourself.

"Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future."
                                                                                     --Deepak Chopra

Thanks for reading, and my prayers go out to everyone involved and affected by this tragic case. Especially the mother who lost her son, because after everything is said and done, her boy is still dead.


Monday, June 16, 2014


That's exactly where I am right now. A crossroads. In my own life decisions, in my career decisions, decisions I need to help my son make for his sake and the sake of this family. Everyday there are more and more things that occur in our lives that we think that we can't handle; I know because I've had my share. The piling on of the 'burdens' of our situations can feel almost unbearable at times, seeming as though if a feather fell from a birds wing and floated down upon us we'd crumble under the weight of the stack of pain it fell upon.

But most of us won't. And for those of us that do, or almost do, or think we might, or know we's okay. It's okay for that to happen. I know you've heard the saying "God will never give you more than you can handle" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Do you believe that? It doesn't really matter what else you believe or what you believe in, you can always format the phrase to fit your needs if you have trouble with religion, Bible verses...whatever. Don't let that hangup keep you from finding wisdom in places that are laid out before you. Substitute where you need to, and move on. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know very well how I have struggled with and overcome this myself. Do yourself a favor and look for the blessings in all things.

We live far too encompassed in fear of our feelings, of what people will think of us, of how we will be perceived; even by ourselves. Life is way too fleeting for this. You can't let the train pass you have to run to keep up, grab that railing and hop onto the step if you don't want to be left alone in the station.

There are a lot of delicate issues to be handled under my roof, right now, and difficult decisions to be made. "Why not keep all of this private?", you may want to ask, though, deep down, we are all of us at least a little nosy and want to meet the skeletons in each others' closets.

I think I'm going to write about our newest life experience in a post for and submit it soon, with my son's blessing, of course. It does take a few weeks to get published and that is if it gets picked up. That's just one of my paths in my crossroads: do I submit this very personal article?

The next is the career decisions I've been agonizing over. This is rather delicate, because I have made no decisions yet, and I was hoping not to have to, but our current situation is requiring me to look at all of my options. I need to be with Tyler right now, while he finds his footing along his own difficult path through substance abuse. After everything we've been through thus far, my priorities have certainly shifted and my family is, hands down, the single most important thing in life right now. I won't sacrifice my son's needs for a "career".

The third confusing rung on this four-spoke wheel is whether or not I share. Do I hit 'publish' at the end of this post revealing things that most people would never tell their own family members about, let alone perfect strangers from who knows where; things they stuff  in their closets and sweep under their rugs? I'm not saying that I think I'm better than someone else if I spill all of my innermost troubles and they live a more quiet and private existence. But that is what is so confusing to me about sharing with all of you. I fear that people might think, "What's the point...what's her point, in telling everybody all of this? Aren't these private matters to be dealt with between her and her family?" But, then I remember why I started writing in the first place. I was tired of feeling so alone in my 'troubles'. I was tired of picking up self-help books only to be given half the story; a partial picture of what the author had gone through and left to decipher the rest on my own. I work in very concrete ways. Give me the whole truth and nothing but; I don't have time for innuendo, and that's what I intend to do for my audience, just in case you're that way too. That's why I share so deeply. Feeling like you are alone in your abyss, whatever that may be, is too painful. The truth is, you are not alone, you are never alone.

The fourth element I have been pondering over is how I feel about all of this, or rather, how am I supposed to feel? Am I allowed to be scared? Can I feel vulnerable and weak? How about guilty? Is it okay to need help; someone to talk to? I am just so overwhelmed at times with all of the decisions I need to make right now that I don't know which way to turn. I don't want to make the wrong one or disappoint anyone, including myself. I've not made big moves like this in my life in a very long time. These just happen to be very important and essential life decisions. And I am afraid. But only just a little, because I know all about fear, and the detrimental effects it has upon us. So I work hard on letting that go.

I'll let you know how that works out...I always do.

Thanks so much for being here and reading today. I enjoy sharing with you and it is my hope that you gain some comfort from my words.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Well, here we are...

Hello Friends,

I took a little longer than I originally planned to post here, but here I am. Life takes us on the most unexpected of journeys, sometimes, doesn't it? I know this all too well and it just seems to keep on coming. I'm not complaining, mind you. I just sit in awe of how the Universe works and constantly contemplate the reasons why. When I get sucked into this, I always think of that quote from Tennyson, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" "Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die". This quote has been paraphrased as "Ours is not to wonder why, Ours is just to do or die", but neither really has anything to do with what I wonder's about the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War, after all.

But we still will quote Alfred, Lord Tennyson when we question something, all mysterious-like:
"Why did Susan have to get sick? She's got three little kids!"
"Ours is not to wonder why..." (in mysterious sing-song voice).

I get very unsatisfied with this kind of answer because I am very...I'll say inquisitive...and truly over-analytical. Try as I might to let it be and rest in the hands of 'fate', I am compelled to know why. After all of this time I still wonder every day why mom died, why Noah's mom died, why it happened so close together and in such a traumatic way. Why did my brother then die, and now, why is my son struggling?

And that's really what this one is about. The agony of loss just continues to spread its wings across the canopy of my family. I realize that this is probably partially my fault in the way that I allowed us all to just "go about our business" and try to remain as normal as possible, but that is not always the healthiest thing to do. Ignoring something does not make it go away; I know better than that. But, I also believe in the right time for everything. And this must be ours.

Some pretty drastic things have just recently come up, again, that we have been dealing with as a family. I do not want to disclose too much personal info that will betray my son's privacy, but we are working through major issues as a family to help him through this ordeal. I've made the commitment to take several weeks off from work to help him through these issues. I transport him to where he needs to go three days a week one hour each way, I sit and wait for him for three hours and then I am available at home with him for whatever he needs. He is willing to take the steps necessary to succeed in his health and well-being, and so are his father and I. He knows we are here for him, and we love him, unconditionally, for all of time, but he knows what must be done to be successful in his life and he is ready and willing to do it. He is doing great so far.

I now recognize that it is time for me to start speaking to someone about my grief and discord. It had affected all aspects of my life. There is only so much ignoring and storing away one can do before it fills you up and threatens to run over (and it has, has). I really do have faith in the belief that everything will work out the way it is meant to, it always has, but as you are living it, it can be truly difficult to focus on that. I have to remind myself of the pros and cons list I have made about my life decisions or I forget and get overwhelmed with the decision making.

My advice to you would be to make a visible list if you can, of your plans, if you have trouble remembering what you have decided is the best course of action for you. List your pros and cons, keep it close so you can tweak it and refer to it often whenever you have doubts about your decisions. If you have a supportive spouse or best friend, discuss these decisions with them; get their feedback. Ask for their honest opinion...and then be OPEN to it. You can't get angry if they say something you don't particularly want to hear. They will stop wanting to have these types of conversations with you, and believe me, you need these people in your life.

Get the help you need. There is no shame in seeking out a professional to help you through the rough patches, no matter what your patches are. I had a real hard time asking for help, even though our family went through some pretty tragic events. I thought I could hold it all together, had to hold it all together, for the sake of my family...and myself. I thought I would be destroyed if I let down my guard and started to let the grief out. Come to find out, it was the other way around. And because I was so adamant about not talking about it because it was too hard, my family didn't talk about it either. Not really. And they may have had some of their own reasons for that, but that guilt, you know? So, now we've found ourselves in a situation that needs immediate attention.

This brings me to my final thought: What if all of this happened for a reason? Is this a part of the plan? The "Everything happens as it should" plan? Not the deaths, but the reactions to them. If I hadn't handled things the way I did, or my son handled things differently, would we be missing out on valuable lessons learned from our actions? Sure, it created more suffering, but the actions it induced and the lessons we are learning and the steps we are taking now feel invaluable to me. Every time a major event happens in my life, I feel the same way: blessed that it's all happening as it should. Even through all the crap you might just find a daisy. All I need is a quick daily reminder that I am on the right path, because everything that happens is what should be happening. We just have to learn to let go.

Bottling up everything tough that you go through is counterproductive. It will eventually eat you alive. You are not helping yourself or anyone else by doing this. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Fear is poison, and it will kill you dead if you don't seek the antidote.

Choose to support and love each other. We are all partners on this Earth; be the solution...not the problem.

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and as always, thanks for reading...


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our Eclectic Life: Veggin' Out!

Hi friends!

I'll be back very soon with some new posts. In the meantime, here is a post that kind of links up with a post I wrote a bit ago titled "On Another Note..." The link is in the body. I just wanted to share what I've been up to and give you a little gift of good food. Hope you enjoy it and feel free to browse this blog; it's a lighter side to our life. See you very soon!


Our Eclectic Life: Veggin' Out!: Hi Everybody, how has your week been? Working through life over here, one steady footstep at a time, as always... I'm glad that I have...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sundays With Buddha

It is you who must make the effort. Masters only point the way.


Week 52

Well, here we are...week 52. After everything that we have learned together over this past year of exploring these teachings of Guatama Buddha, the biggest lesson is this: it is all up to you. You will meet teachers along the way, in many capacities. A teacher is anyone you have learned a valuable lesson from, be it a small child who shows you the world through their eyes, an animal you have grown to love, or a seasoned Master that passes down centuries of teachings. You can be given questions to ponder and philosophies to meditate upon, but it is you who must decide to use it, the Master/Teacher can only point you in the right direction. You must make all of the decisions for yourself and it is you, and only you, who can do the work.

Only you will know what's right for you and when. You can listen to and take heed in the advice of others, consider the blessings in it, follow it or don't; those are still your decisions to make. And we must remember to do these things for the betterment of our well being, not just to please another, not even our loved ones. We may also grow to love our teachers, but we cannot live to please anyone but ourselves. Try to live to spread happiness and joy, yes, but solely to please everyone else...happiness surely cannot arise from this. And true happiness cannot arise from letting someone else handle our responsibilities, either. Only through our own tangible experiences, and our own strong efforts, can happiness abound.

I want to thank all of you for participating in my year long journey to find and follow the advice in the wisdom of the Buddha. I learned so many valuable lessons, and now I have a journal filled with advice to myself that I can refer to for life. My experiences may change, my views may change, but that is the beauty of life itself. Evolution. If we all continue to evolve into better means we're doing it right.

The great lesson I learned for myself this past year is that I don't know it all, and I am happy with learning. I have learned to open my eyes and see the lessons laid out before me. I notice the synchronicities that are provided to me, and I can pay attention more easily. I have learned a lot, and I have yet a lot to learn. It was difficult, at times, to stick with the program and finish on time. I made a few mistakes, was forgetful (and a little lazy), but I am ok with that. I learned that the way I am is not perfect, but I am perfect just the way I am. That is all a wonderful thing, because I am open to learning, accepting, growing, forgiving.

Thank you for being a part of that.

Until next time...



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sundays With Buddha

It is better to do nothing than to do what is wrong. For whatever you do, you do to yourself.

Week 51

This is a tricky scenario, as we don't all think of "wrong" in the same way. And when to "do nothing" would depend upon what you would perceive as wrong, and in which situation.

There are things that are definitely morally and ethically wrong per society. Then there are things that are wrong per each individuals interpretation. Either way, if you feel that something you are doing or are about to do is "wrong", you are doing yourself a disservice by way of cause and effect. Some call it karma, some call it sin. Whatever we call it, we expect the outcome to mostly be leading to the same thing: Punishment.

Whether you feel this punishment is going to come from an outside source, e.g. God, the Universe, Karmic intervention, or an inside source like headaches, stomachaches, anxiety...your belief in it still makes it you, anyway. Your belief in something, or your faith in it, is the trigger of that cause and effect. This is the backbone of the importance of knowing what is right and wrong in accordance to your life, and taking care to heed your instincts so that you do not fall victim to the burden of those "punishments" that you fear. Whether anyone else believes as you do or not, the fact that you believe sets the moral standards for your life and actions.

It is up to you to decipher what is 'wrong'--by society's standards, by your family's standards, your friends, your own...
Once you decide what is right and wrong for yourself, you have to decide if it is appropriate for you to get involved in whatever scenario you are contemplating. Do you get into the fray between co-workers? The argument on social media? That grudge amongst family members that's pitting one against the other? Or even pushing that issue at work to prove your own point while standing up for yourself.

We owe it to ourselves (and all involved) to at least pause and think about the repercussions. We often busy ourselves with other people's business so much  that we forget to maintain the garden of our own lives. Even if we are trying to decide what to do for ourselves, that may not involve another, we must decide upon the risk to our own morality. It is a choice only we can make for ourselves; what actions are worth the "punishments", and don't we always leave room for punishments? We are human, afterall.

So, perhaps it is deemed better to do nothing at all: no action, no reaction, no retaliation, than to go forth with regrettable conduct. It is better to stop, think and choose to do nothing than to do what will cause you guilt; whether it is 'wrong' for anyone else or not. Your actions not only affect those around you--but yourself, as well. We always have the choice to "choose our battles". We do it when we weigh our desire for involvement vs outcome and realize one is more tolerable than the other. We don't often think about this being an important choice in the maintenance of our well being, but anything that can enhance peaceful living is worth the extra time.

It has taken me much practice to get where I am in my own decision making, and I still get forgetful of what is best when making those decisions. But the foundation is there, and you can always build upon a foundation.

Thanks for reading. Have a blessed week.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sundays With Buddha

Look not to the faults of others, nor to their omissions and commissions. But rather look to your own acts, to what you have done and left undone.


Week 50

Even 2,500 years ago people had to be told to mind their own business. This doesn't come from a place of haughty self righteousness from the Buddha, though. He warns us of important lessons to better ourselves by not losing ourselves in someone else's affairs, lest we lose ourselves, altogether.

It is sage advice, of course, to be reminded not to waste valuable energy on faulting others for what they may not be able to help, just as you do not want to be misunderstood for the things you do that you may not be aware of. It is always best to focus on your own actions; what you have done or not done, than to focus on other people.

We all have room for improvement and it is a much better habit to form improving ourselves rather than telling others that they need improving. Maybe next time we notice something about somone that we want to criticize we should have a little introspection and compare it to something about ourselves that we know we could improve.

No one need know you are doing this.  Being honest with oneself is important, but also a private matter. In this way we can learn some much needed humility from one another.

Thanks so much for being here today.