Friday, December 30, 2011

Talent: All Used Up

Day 40 of 365 Tiny Changes

It’s time to add another virtual member to my Master Mind Group. 

In my posting titled “A Life of Purpose”, I chose Napoleon Hill as my first member.  He is considered the father of the modern self-help movement.  He also struggled personally and financially throughout his life time, which, in my opinion, lends credence to his writings.  He believed that in order to lead a successful life, one needed to discover or choose his purpose for being here, and then pursue it tenaciously, but morally. 

I agree with him and have become a huge fan of his writings.

To balance Mr. Hill’s disciplined, principled advise, I need someone who is able to see the lighter side of life.  Someone who understands the life and times I was raised in, and can see the fun and irony of day to day living.

I also need a woman’s point of view.  Mr. Hill did a lot of his research and writings while women were fighting for the right to vote, and men controlled almost everything in America.  I need a woman with a little more modern point of view.

The woman I have chosen for my virtual Master Mind Group is Erma Bombeck. 

Erma Bombeck was a American Humorist, who wrote a newspaper column 2 to 3 times a week.  Her column was one of the first things I learned to enjoy reading in a newspaper, after the funnies, of course.

When I was growing up, we received our newspaper in the late afternoon.  Waiting for dinner, I would often open the paper to the funnies, read them, then move on to Erma Bombeck’s column, and then, if I had time before dinner, I might read the front page.  Obviously, the lighter side of the newspaper held more interest to me then the current events.

Her column held much more allure for me, when I found out she was a home town girl, she even went to the same high school as my ex-husband, and the same college my Mother graduated from.  She got her start in the very newspaper I was reading.  She was “discovered” while living in a suburb about 20 minutes south and very similar to the one I grew up in. During my research of her life, I discovered we also share the same birthday.

She was my parent’s age, so I think her writing started to open my eyes to how my parents were viewing the world, but with a funny twist.  My parent’s rarely pointed out the irony of situations that Erma did.

During her career, she wrote books, appeared as a regular guest of radio and TV shows.  She even wrote a couple of sitcoms.

Mrs. Bombeck was also very involved with the Equal Rights Amendment.  As a female entering the work force during the 70’s I was very aware of this Amendment and the political turmoil it was causing.  There were a lot of strong voices supporting this Amendment, and in the end, when it didn’t get ratified, both Mrs. Bombeck and I were very disappointed.  To this day, with women still earning  70 cents to every dollar men earn, for the same job, I believe we need an Amendment like the ERA.  But I digress.

Erma Bombeck was a household name while I was growing up.  She died in 1996 of complications from a kidney transplant.  She was 64 years old.

While researching her life I ran across the following quote:

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

I truly believe she had a lot more humor to share when she left us, but I know she did her best to share everything she had.

It is through her sense of humor and irony that I hope to gain a lighter perspective of my life and what I am trying to accomplish during my life time.  I hope that I will be given enough time to use up every bit of talent I have.

Tiny Change 40:  Begin to build a library of Napoleon Hill and Erma Bombeck books for reference purposes.

Who do you turn to when you need to find the lighter side of a situation?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have access to good eye care, so that I can see clearly and am able to enjoy the skill of reading.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Angry Grudges

Day 39 of 365 Tiny Changes

Today’s topic, class, is anger.  Per Wikipedia:

Anger is an automatic response to ill treatment. It is the way a person indicates he or she will not tolerate certain types of behavior. It is a feedback mechanism in which an unpleasant stimulus is met with an unpleasant response.

I’m not sure I agree so much with the “automatic response” part of this definition.  I think that, sometimes, anger is a conscious choice that comes after the incident, at the encouragement of others, who may or may not have been involved in the initial incident.  Riots are a good example of this.

The anger I want to discuss is the anger that is turned inward and carried around in the form of a grudge against someone.  This anger or grudge can be carried around with us for years.  I think that sometimes these grudges become a habit.  One that is no longer based in the emotions of the initial incident, but one that is stoked to be kept alive, because we are comfortable with it, and it gives us the excuse to stay stuck in the past.

I am not one to consciously carry a grudge.  However, I have discovered that I have carried a few unconsciously.  The first one I realized I was tied up in, I mentioned in my Blog entry entitled “My Yellow Kite”.  This was anger at my ex-husband that I had been carrying around for 17 years!  Really, what was the point?  I also discovered this anger was keeping me from building relationships with tall blond men.  Silliness.

I think anger was created to protect us.  In the moment of a threat, anger can cause us to react in a way that may force the provocateur to retreat. 

About 15 years ago, I was backpacking with three children.  The trail took us past a home of someone who owned 3 rottweilers.  These rottweilers came charging at us barking and growling.  I told the kids to keep on walking, calmly and quietly.  I stood my ground, faced the dogs, yelled, “STOP, GO HOME” and wildly waved my arms around.  I was acting like a complete crazy person.  The dogs stopped their charge, probably out of surprise, long enough for me to back away from them and get me and the children out of their territory.

When the dogs charged, I was in instant anger mode.  I had children to protect.  If I had thought about what I was doing, and realized I could have been mauled by 3 rottweilers, I may have acted differently, and the outcome may have been worse.  My anger held the dogs at bay. 

Seventeen years of anger at my ex-husband wasn’t holding him at bay.  He had moved on, and had remarried.  I was in no danger from him, yet I held onto the anger.
I have also held a conscious grudge against another man.  Are you sensing a pattern, here?  I was in a relationship with this man, and became a surrogate mother to his 3 children.  Their mother had died and I was happy to fill in the gap.  After 5 years he ended our relationship.  He let me continue my relationship with the children for another year, but he ended that too, because he just couldn’t move on with me in the picture.  He ripped my heart out.  I had mothered those children for 6 years, they were a part of me.  In my heart, they were my children, too.  Talk about some serious anger!

Eleven years later, he walks into my office.  He had heard my voice while I was speaking on the phone and decided he wanted to see me. 

I knew this day would come.  I knew he would find me, some day.  I was taunting fate by working in a bank branch in his neighborhood.  I had played the scenario out in my mind.  I was ready for him.  I was really going to give him a piece of my mind when he showed his face.

Reality?  Surprise.  I was surprised to see him.  After the surprise wore off, I felt nothing, but idle curiosity.  It was as if he were any other customer whom had dropped into my office to ask a random question.

I had been harboring this anger toward him for 11 years, out of habit.  It had absolutely no affect on him, he had moved on with his life.  

When I realized my anger was only a habit, I felt this sense of freedom.  To the best of my knowledge I am not harboring any other grudges against any one else.

I truly believe any harm I have suffered through the actions of someone else was not due to any vindictiveness on their part.    Sometimes I have been in the wrong situation with the wrong person and have suffered the consequences.  I may have just gotten in their way, or been a handy scapegoat.  Whatever the reason, I have discovered it was more about them and what they felt they needed to do to survive, than it was about me and my anger.  We are all just trying to find our own way in this world,sometimes at the detriment of those around us.

I’m not, yet, in perfect control of my anger.  Sometimes I get irritated and fly off the handle, but I am finding that age and life experience have helped to quell it.  I have also discovered that physical action, such as taking a nice long, fast paced walk, helps to control the urge to anger. 

I hope to eventually only anger in cases of an emergency, such as the dog incident, when I can channel it into a call to immediate action. 

Meeting life in a calm, less intense, way seems to me a better, more fulfilling option and it makes the opportunity for me to carry around unconscious grudges much less likely.

Tiny Change 39:  Take 5 minutes while preparing for bed to review the day, and any situations that may have caused me to react in anger.  Consider a better way to handle the situation in the future.

What unfounded grudges are you still carrying around with you? 

Best regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have heat to warm my home as the days turn colder.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Living Fearlessly

Day 38 of 365 Tiny Changes

New Years Day is just a few days away.  Last New Years Day, in the normal tradition of this day I placed a question to my life partner.  “If you were given one year to live, what is the one thing you would need to do so that you would die in peace?” 

The reader may find this question a bit morbid, but I have found that with my life partner I must give way to the dramatic if I want a definitive answer.  He is fantastic at hedging.  So what does he do?   He turns the question on me, of course.

I answered his question immediately. 

I don’t know where the answer came from.  Given time to think about it, I don’t know that I would have even entertained this answer. 

I am a list person.  I list everything.  I make a list for the grocery, a list of my plans for the day, a list of all of the steps that need to be completed for any of the rehab jobs I answer has never appeared an any list I have ever made. 

So why did I say it?  Why would I want to do this thing?  Oh, and by the way, it’s not an easy thing to do, especially if only given a year to accomplish it.

Maybe that’s the secret.  If given a “drop dead” (literally) deadline, maybe we could all accomplish what would appear to be a life time of work.  Given only one year “or else”, maybe we could all push aside our so called commitments and obstacles and just get the deed done.  Maybe if we truly believed that our time was limited we would stop procrastinating and giving ourselves excuses for not accomplishing the things we know we were meant to do.

I think we all are afraid to die, so in the human tradition we ignore the things we don’t want to face.  Let’s see now, if I’m afraid of death, I just won’t think about it, so it won’t happen to me...well at least for a very long time, until I’m ready for it...

The reality?  We are all walking dead men, from the day we are conceived.  It’s nature’s law.  All living things must come and go.  All living things must make room for the next generation.  Our human capacity for putting off the uncomfortable doesn’t stop the inevitable.  Nature will always win out.

I am not immune from this human flaw.  I turned 50 this year.  I have plans to live to 102.  Yes, it’s on a list.  Unfortunately, I have reality staring me in the face.  In 2010, we buried a dear friend who died at the age of 54.  My own sister who is one year younger than me is very ill, and in all honesty, I didn’t expect her to live out this year, but she has always been a stubborn person and is hanging in there with us, to the best of her ability.

For as much as I want to live to 102, the reality is, I have no clue what my last day on this earth will be.  Very few of us do.

So what do we do about that?  Here’s my suggestion, live, Live, LIVE.  Decide what it is that you were put on this earth to accomplish, push away the obstacles, and get it done.  Hey, if your still breathing when you’re finished, pick something else, and do it, too. 

Just imagine, if every one on earth were focused on their one true purpose, where the world would be right now.  Are you ready to step forward and make the world a better place because you lived here for a while?

Oh yeah.  What was my answer to my own question?  I would write a book about living fearlessly, and do speaking engagements on this same subject.

Obviously, I’m banking on living longer than a year, because I haven’t even started writing the book, much less preparing for the speaking engagements.  Let's just say I'm in my research stage by working on actually living my life fearlessly. 

Founded or unfounded, fear is what holds me back from being the best person I can be.    I'm discovering it's the littlest fears that seem to have to most debilitating affect on my life's success.  You know, the ones that start with, "What if...".  These tiny changes that I’m committing to each day, are my way a working through my fears.

Tiny Change 38:  Write a complete list of fears I suffer from.  Work them into the daily tiny changes, as I am ready to face them.

If you could live fearlessly, and had only one year to accomplish your life’s purpose, what would you do?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have all of my siblings still alive and sharing my life with me.

Living by Cliche's

Day 37 of 365 Tiny Changes

My name is Linda, and I am a back slider.

If only there were Back Slider Anonymous meetings I could attend, to help me get back on track.  But, alas, I am on my own, to find my way back to the top of the slide.  I can’t help it, when I picture the words back slider, I see a little kid going down a long curly slide back first, with a freaked out expression on his face, because he can’t see where he’s going and doesn’t know when the slide will end and he’ll hit the ground, butt first.

That’s kind of how I feel.  I just spent the last 2 days suffering from total exhaustion.  It’s that whole possible Fibromyalgia/possible Celiac Disease thing.  I threw all caution to the wind and didn’t get the sleep I need and ate anything that looked good.  I definitely paid the price.  When will I learn?

Zig Ziglar tells this story about a Million Dollar Horse.  It goes something like this...Let’s say you had this race horse that you knew was a real winner.  I mean a real winner.  This horse was going to win purses in the millions.  How would you treat this horse? 

Would you keep the horse up late watching mindless TV?  Would you take the horse out bar hopping with you until the wee hours of the morning, drinking and partying too much, so that he had a hang over in the morning?  Would you feed your million dollar horse potato chips and Pepsi?  Would you let the horse lounge around in his stall all day, doing nothing, just hangin’ out?

The answer is a resounding NO!  If you had a horse that you knew could bring in over $1,000,000 you would pamper that horse.  You would tuck it in to it’s nice comfy stall early every night, so it could get just the right amount of rest.  You would feed it the best feed on the market.  You would make sure it had just the right balance of exercise and play.  You would hire the best horse doctors and health care managers.  You would really care for this horse.

Well, I don’t have a horse, but I sure do feel like I was rode hard and put up wet!  If you’re not familiar with horses, this is a very bad, unhealthy, way to treat a horse.

If I wouldn’t treat a horse this way, why do I treat myself this way?  Over my life time I will bring in over $1,000,000 in income.  So far, it hasn’t come in the form of a large purse, but in biweekly increments, that over the last forty years,  (I started babysitting regularly, at the wee age of 10)  has added up to a pretty impressive amount. 

I wonder how much more I would have earned if I had taken care of myself, properly.  How many more raises and promotions would I have gotten had I been operating at 100% a lot more often than I did.  It’s a question I’ll never know the answer to.  All I can do is move forward from here.

No more sitting at the top of a slide, facing backward.  I think I’ll just stay away from slides all together.  Never was a fan of the curly ones, anyway.

If I’m going to take the time and the effort to climb to the top of something, I’m going to do my best to stay there, not slide, willy, nilly, down to the bottom, so that I have to make the climb all over again.  I’m too old for that, and my joints are less appreciative of the climb.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am going to launch 2 businesses this year.  This isn’t the first time I’ve launched a business, so I am aware of the work involved.  To guarantee a successful first year I can’t back slide, even a little bit.  It takes 100% forward motion to get a business off the ground. 

I read somewhere that Bill Gates, worked every day but Christmas Day for the first 5 years he was in business.  Look where that got him.

Norman Rockwell worked 6 days a week from 8 AM to 5PM and 4 hours on Sundays and holidays, for his entire career.  Look where that got him.

I applaud the focus of these men, and am convinced that they were able to work these grueling hours because they loved what they were doing. 

The businesses I intend to launch are based in the work I love to do, too.  To be able to put forth the effort and hours needed to be successful, I must get the things that keep a household running under control, even habitual.  That is what so many of the tiny changes I have been working on are all about. 

Today, I am going to get back on track and continue to work through my daily to do list.  I’ve gotten a bit of a late start, and am obviously over a week behind, but I am confident that by following the schedule I have been developing, I will be caught up in a day or two...well, maybe three.

All those old cliche’s ring true.  When you fall off a horse, get up, brush yourself off, and get back on.  When you drop the ball, pick it up.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.  Just do it.

Today, I’m living by cliche's.

Tiny Change 37:  Never give up on myself.  Never give in to myself.  Instead, give more of myself.

What do you do when you find yourself moving backward instead of forward?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have a son who is willing to step in and help when I am feeling under the weather.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back Sliding into Christmas

Day 36 of 365 Tiny Changes

I have become what preachers, as far back as preachers have existed, have railed against.  I am the person that preachers stand in the midst of their flocks and gravely warn against.  Yes, I am a back slider. 

I have written 35 blog entries that name 35 different tiny changes that I have promised to make to my behavior in the effort to become a better, more productive, more giving person.  All written with the intention of following through with the changes for the long term.  My intentions were true and clear at the time of the entries.  Then, I fell off my wagon of change.

It wasn’t a slow slide to the edge of the wagon, all the while holding on, slowly slipping, slipping,one finger at at time, hoping to be rescued, until, alas, in the end, there was no hope, and I just let go, to be sucked back into the past and the way things used to be.  This is the kind of back sliding that is somewhat expected when attempting life style changes and is totally accepted.

It was more like, I’m riding along safe and secure, in the middle of the wagon, looking at a bright future of change ahead, and then I hit an unexpected bump, and am thrown out of the wagon right on my head, and instantaneously have amnesia and completely forgot I had made any changes at all.  That is the serious, what the hell happened, kind of back sliding.

The bump?  Christmas!

Now, I’m not saying Christmas is evil, or anything as drastic as that.  I am saying the way I choose to prepare for Christmas could do with a little tweaking.  OK, a lot of tweaking.

It started with the procrastinating.  I know, I know, I wrote a blog entitled “NO MORE PROCRASTINATING”.  I should have taken my own advise.  Not doing so, was the beginning of my great back slide.

I waited until the week before the big day to do most of my shopping.  We didn’t get the tree up until 2 days before Christmas.  I didn’t have all of my gifts wrapped until 2 days before, and on Christmas Eve, we’re scrubbing down toilets at the last minute before our children arrived.

This whole experience was in direct contrast to my intentions of creating a more organized, well planned, day and life.  In order to accomplish Christmas in a week, I threw all of my tiny changes out the window and focused solely on Christmas preparations.

I don’t believe this is what the idea of Christmas is really all about.  I think Christmas is about ushering in change.  The heart of the Christian religion is about the new way of living that Jesus preached.  A celebration of his birth is a celebration of the good changes coming in the near future.  The fact that I chose to thrust aside my good changes  to prepare for this celebration, is a fact dripping with irony.

When we arrived home the evening of Christmas, after spending  a long, long day with family, Guy and I sat down and had a chat.

We decided that there had to be a better way to “do Christmas”.

Together, we came up with a plan. 

Beginning in January, we are celebrating birthdays.  We are taking the money we would spend on a Christmas gift and combining it with the money we would have spent on a birthday gift and celebrating in a more individual way.  The birth of YOU is something worth celebrating.  We have a big family, so we are looking forward to the continuous celebrating. 

As the story goes, the original Christmas was a very intimate event, with just Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and possibly a few random barn animals.  The guests and the gifts arrived later.  Guy and I would like to attempt to capture this same intimacy. Next Christmas, we are going to hold an open house event early in December, and then we are leaving town.  Just the 2 of us, to celebrate in what ever way we feel up to on the special day.

Our hope is that by “doing Christmas” this way, we will avoid the hustle and bustle, and the headaches and backaches, to really enjoy the holiday season.

Tiny Change 36:  Celebrate birthdays of individual family and friends.

Are there changes you need to consider making to the way you prepare for your holidays?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day:  I am blessed to have my daughter home from Paraguay, save and sound for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Niagara Ice Wine Country

Day 35 of 365 Tiny Changes

We’re back from our weekend get away into Niagara Ice Wine Country.  I am not a wine expert, but I sure do like it.  We purchased 11 bottles for ourselves.

I also like Groupon Coupons.  This entire trip was created solely due to a Groupon Coupon offering.  I hadn’t even known that the Niagara Ice Wine Country existed, until I saw this offering.  Now, I am very happy I do.

I had discovered Ice Wine several years ago.  It’s also known as Dessert Wine.  It is an extremely sweet wine that is created from the nectar of the grapes that culminates from picking them when they are frozen.  One drop of nectar is squeezed from each grape, thus the high price of this type of wine.  But, baby, it’s worth it.

The month of December is a month of celebrations for our family.  More than just the holidays.  On December 10th Guy and I celebrated our 12th anniversary of our 1st date.  Yesterday, December 19th, was Guy’s 49th birthday.  These are the reason’s I decided to plan our little get away.

Guy had never been to Niagara Falls or Canada.  I haven’t been to either one since I graduated from high school.  So this discount offering seemed to be calling out to me.

It is a bit of a drive for us, about 8 1/2 hours.  Guy has a brother that lives half way between here and there, so we stayed with them Friday night.

Saturday, we woke up to good company and hot tea, and set out to complete the first leg of the trip.  We got into the American side of the falls at about 1:00 in the afternoon. 

As a travel destination, it is definitely worth the trip to see one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  The area around the falls is the first designated state park in the nation.  It is well maintained and easy to navigate.  This time of year some of the trails that take visitors close to the falls are closed due to ice, caused by the over spay.  At 5:00 the falls are lit up, by giant lights located on the Canadian side of the river.  These lights add a whole new dimension to the already awesome natural masterpiece.

Hoping to get an even better view, we made our way into Canada, across the Rainbow Bridge.  A better view, it was.  Cold though, very cold.  To visit this area of the world, at this time of year, requires bundling up, like Nanook of the North.  Believe me, we didn’t stand out looking like walking snowmen, we just blended in, with the few die hard winter walkers out and about.

I enjoy going places in the off season.  I feel I get a better understanding of what real life is in these places, versus the facade that is put on during the tourist season.

We left this beautiful place and went on to our bed and breakfast.  The package we purchased included a one night stay and a tour of local wineries.  Due to the distance we needed to travel, I added an extra night.  The real benefit was the fact that we were able to meet more B&B guests.

The first night our B&B partners were 2 couples in their early to mid 30’s.  They had been on the wine tours earlier that day, while we were at the falls.  They were friendly open people, who wanted to spend time together, get to know each other a little better, play cards, drink wine, and go to bed late.  No cell phones, no iPhones, no iPads, no electronic devises, of any kind, were in evidence, the entire evening.  The whole focus was on getting to know each other and the possibility of making new friends.

These B&B partners were up and on their way the next morning by the 11:00 check out time.  By 12:30 our new B&B partners arrived.  These 2 couples were much younger, in their early 20’s.  They too were friendly, but much more reserved. 

At first, I put this down as being the natural reserve that comes along with being in a new place, with new people.  Being old enough to be their parents, I took it upon myself to act as hostess, and initiated conversations that would, hopefully, draw them out.  That is one thing that my years in sales has given me, the ability to get others to talk about themselves. 

We continued our experience by taking the wine tour, all of us in a van.  Polite conversation ensued, but no real connections were being made outside of each couple.  In the evening, we all had reservations for separate dinners.  When we all arrived back to the B&B, we all sat down together in the living room,  as 3 separate couples.  Some inter conversation ensued, but for the most part, each of us stayed to ourselves.  Guy and I were watching the American football game on TV, one couple was playing cards, (but never invited anyone else to play), the other couple was playing Scrabble on their iPad (but never invited anyone else to play).  We were all in a room that was all of 12x15 square feet, and never connected.

The difference I saw, immediately, between the 2 sets of couples, was the electronics.  The first pair, in their early 30’s had put their electronics away for the weekend.  They had learned to turn off their connection to the distractions of the outside world and live in the moment.  They actually attempted to connect to the people living the same experience, instead of just occupying the same general place in the world at the same time.

The second pair, in their early 20’s had their electronics attached to their hands, possibly surgically, because I never saw their hands empty of their toys.  They spent most of their time looking down at the most recent twitter message, or e-mail from someone, somewhere else.  Instead of truly enjoying the experience they were living.

As I have mentioned before, in my opinion, staying in touch with others electronically, is not the same as being with someone, face to face, in the moment.

It’s not just potential real connections, and friendships, these electronically addicted people were missing.  It was the whole experience.  Living in the moment, truly experiencing what was going on around them, and sharing it with the people accompanying them, could not be done when attempting to multitask, and stay in touch with the outside world.

Guy and I spent a lot of time speaking with the sommelier’s at the wineries we visited.  We learned so much about the business of wine, not just the taste, but the whole process of what it takes to make a good wine.  It is a much deeper process than I ever imagined.  I’m not sure what the others learned, their heads were down, looking at their iPhones.  I guess they’ll have to look it up, on line.

I am deeply concerned that the age of electronics is causing people to forgo learning how to build real relationships.   Many of us have already gone inside our homes and locked our doors, in lieu of getting outside and getting to know our neighbors.  From, what I witnessed this past weekend, I’m now seeing some of us retreating even further into our self imposed bubbles, and blocking out even the people sitting in the same room with us.   I see a future of a lot of really lonely people, who will be completely lost when their Internet connection fails.

Tiny Change 35:  I will always put face to face communication over electronic communication. 

A typed message is never as important as the human being standing in front of me.

What is getting in your way of building face to face relationships?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have learned the skills of conversation.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Yellow Kite

Day 34 of 365 Tiny Changes

Yesterday, I wrote about finding my life’s purpose.  Out of all of the self-improvement books that I have read, and out of all of the self-improvement seminars I have attended, this is the one golden thread that ties them all together.

Studies have shown that when a person takes on a purpose, and is totally committed to it, they are healthier and live longer.  That, alone, is enough for me to embrace the task of determining just what my purpose on this earth is.

Maybe though, I’m trying to be too specific, too narrowing, by trying to decide just what activity I should be doing that I can call “My Purpose”.  Maybe a purpose is more esoteric, to be understood after a lifetime of living, and then only if one is paying attention.

About 9 years ago, I was a participant in a seminar.  This was an experiential seminar, and one of the exercises we did was a guided meditation.

A guided meditation is one in which a facilitator, gives you the situation and gently gives you suggestions of more situations as you move through the meditation.

This particular meditation, began with an assignment.  We began at the edge of a ravine and were told we were to end on the top of the mountain on the other side.  I have done this same guided meditation several times and each time it is a different experience.  Two of which stand out in my memory.  I will take you through my first time.

As I stand on the edge of the ravine I am filled with the sense of acceptance.  You know the kind of feeling you get when you have to change a dirty diaper. You don’t like it, you don’t want to do it, but it has to be done, you accept it.

 I look up, and notice there is a yellow paper kite floating above me.

I start down the side of the ravine and am almost immediately tangled in these moving, living, vines.  I fight hard to free my self.  Once free, I feel  a deep sense of relief.   When I look up, the yellow kite is still there.  (Upon retrospection, this entanglement and self releasing was my letting go of the pain I had experienced at the hands of a person, 17 years in my past.  I was also able to release my anger toward this person.)

I’m tellin’ you, this meditation was life changing for me.  Onward...

As I move forward, I am being bitten, almost non-stop by no see ‘ums.  Those bugs whose bite you feel, but you can never see the culprit.  These damn bugs continue to annoy me through out my entire time in the ravine.

As I advance, I am forced to climb over rocks and around trees, in a heavily wooded area.  There is no path for me to follow.  I must forge my own way with only my hands and feet as tools.  Through the trees, I glimpse the yellow kite, always over head.

Eventually, I find my way to the edge of a fast moving river.  I sit down on a rock overhang, at it’s edge, to rest and to contemplate my next step.  I  think, I could just stop here.  It’s nice, it’s cool, it’s pretty.  The bugs aren’t so bad.  I could stay here for a long, long time. The yellow kite is floating, lazily, above me.  (Can you say “Comfort Zone”?)

Finally, I decide I need to move on, so I simply swim across.  I know I’m  a strong swimmer, and the river is only an excuse to not continue my journey.

On the other side of the river, I begin my ascent up the mountain.  Those damn bugs are back, and biting harder than ever.  (These bugs turned out to be the demands others were putting on me, side tracking me from where I needed to go.  Rather appropriate for what was really happening in my life at the time.)

The climb offers no protection from the hot sun.  I am soon covered in sweat, and fast approaching exhaustion.  Surprisingly, every time I feel I can’t go on, there is someone else climbing the mountain that offers their hand in support.  I thought I was making this trip alone, yet, help is always available when I need it, most.  The yellow kite remains above me.

At last, I make it to the precipice.  Hot, tired, exhausted, but happy.  I stand up, walk forward to the edge and raise my arms to the sky in exhilaration.  The yellow kite is, literally, dancing above me.

I look around, and on each of the other mountain tops I see another person who is attending the seminar with me.  We have all reached our mountain tops, and we each have our own colorful kite dancing merrily above us.  We wave to each other, all filled with a sense of deep satisfaction.

Then I look down at the other side of my mountain.  I am shocked to see people, millions of people.  People as far as my eyes can see.  Silent people.  They are all looking up to me.  Some have kites, flying above them at differing heights.  All of them a different color. 

After the shock, I experience the intense feeling of being overwhelmed.  So much so, that I sit down and pull my knees to my forehead and hide my face.  My yellow kite, drops closer to me.  Somehow, I find the strength to rise again, and when I do a huge roar of love and appreciation goes up from the crowd below.

When I came out of the meditation, I had this deep understanding that, the yellow kite was my spirit guide.  Some might call it my representation of God.  I also knew that I needed to touch peoples lives is a way that would help them find there purpose in life.  I had to find a way to help them release their own kite and let it soar.

For a while I battled with this.  Was I having a Gandhi complex or something?  How, exactly, was I supposed to touch millions of lives?

And then one day, I got my answer.  It came in the form of a little 4’ 11” woman, dressed in a tennis outfit.  She was a client.  As we chatted we discovered our shared art backgrounds.  Two weeks later, she was back in my office thanking me.  Because of our casual conversation, she decided to pick up her paint brushes, again, and start painting.  She had enrolled herself in art classes at a local art studio, and was loving every minute of it.  She kept right on painting and began showing her work at local art shows.  Her life changed with our casual conversation.

It is that easy.  I can help people find their purpose by simply taking the time to reach out to them.  I’m not saying I can change everyone’s life, but I can sure keep on caring about each person I encounter.

Our average life span is somewhere around 78 years.  If I touch just one person each day, I have the potential of reaching 28,470 people.  Yes, even those people I touched as an infant, count.  How many babies have you seen that made you smile, or realize what a miracle life is? 

If each of these 28, 470 people touched one other person each day that would be roughly 8.1 million people, that could be reached, and on and on.

Our interactions with other count.  Each and every one of them.  We have the ability to touch the heart of someone with a smile, or a kind word.  Take the time to catch the eye of the checkout clerk and give them a heart felt thank you, for doing their job.  The next person in line is sure to get the benefit, of your caring.

Tiny Change 34:  Meditate for 15 minutes each day.

By centering my self each day, I will be better able to reach out to others in a caring, heart felt, way.

How have you touched others in your life in a positive way, today?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day:  I am blessed to have a guidance of spirit to help me through each day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ladder of Hope

Day 33 of 365 Tiny Changes

Some days, I wander for hours, trying to come up with a topic to write about.  That’s the one thing I didn’t think about when I committed to writing a blog entry every day for 365 days.  I never considered that I might have to hunt for a topic.

Sometimes I find the topic in an e-mail, or a Facebook posting.  Sometimes I find it in the grocery store, or a book.  Today, I found my topic in a text message.

I have a very dear friend who has a daughter who is battling deep depression.  He texted me about a recent incident with her.  I offered my support.  What more could I do in a text message?

Text messages don’t give me the room to elaborate, but blogs sure do.  I wanted to tell him, that man, he sure came to the right person for understanding and support.  I wanted to tell him that I had been right where his daughter is, in spades.  I wanted to tell him that there is only so much he can do, because the cure to depression is choice, her choice.

Yeah, yeah, there is clinical depression, depression caused by unbalanced hormones and on and on.  That’s where doctors and medications come in.  But, if that were the whole answer, why would people on anti-depression meds still be depressed?  I totally believe that the majority of depressed people are depressed because they haven’t decided they don’t want to be.

I know where of I speak.   I’m 50 years old.  I have been unemployed for the last 18 months.  I have a total of $500 in stock to my name, no cash.  I own a home that is unlivable, due to the state of it’s rehab.  I owe roughly $75,000 to a multitude of debtors.  I have one adult kid who can’t find a full time job, and is living with me.  I have another adult kid who lives in South America and barely speaks to me.  I have enough unfinished projects to out live me by 50 years.

If you were to just read the facts of my current life, you would offer to load the gun for me, so that I can put myself out of my own misery.

In the late 90’s I was overwhelmed and under supported.  I had, what I felt, were huge demands being made of me, and I was failing, miserably at meeting them.  This failure was being pointed out to me from every direction, by my boss, my boyfriend, and my kids, and anyone else who could get a word in edge wise.  I became depressed.  Extremely depressed.  I became so depressed, that I attempted suicide.  Not once, not twice, but 3 times.  They were pretty lame attempts, obviously, because I’m still here.

The third attempt was the turning point.  When I woke up the morning after, I remember thinking, “What the hell!  If I can’t get on with death, I might as well get on with life.”  So I did.

I began making significant changes in my attitude.  I began setting boundaries.  I began saying “Fuck you!” a lot more.  I started finding friends again.  I set positive goals for myself, that were based on what I wanted, not what any one else wanted.  In other words, I began to take my life back.

I discovered that my depression stemmed from anger.  Anger at a lot of other people for taking advantage of my weaknesses, but mostly anger at myself for not holding true to my own values and the person I wanted to be.

For me, not leading an authentic life, almost lead to the end of it.

In my opinion one of the best cures to any ailment, is to get out there.  Get out there in the world, with open eyes, and really see what your looking at.  We are surrounded by miracles. 

Just think about the building you’re sitting in.  If you really think about all of the thoughts and the processes that went into creating it, you would agree that it is a wonder.  Every part of the building, every little nut, every little nail, had to be created by someone, somewhere, some time.  The same with the car you drive, and the hand held device you use every day.  Almost everything you touch, all day, every day, is a miracle of thoughts coming to fruition.

Go outside, nature is a gift from God.  Enough said on that one.

See the people you pass each day.  Really see them.  They are here for you to interact with, to give to and to get from.  Even if it’s only a head nod that says, “Yes, I acknowledge your existence.” 

We are all here for a purpose.  Depression, drives us off our path and into a deep black hole, of our own making.  We are mistaken if we think we can’t climb our way out.  The ladder we need is built by our own outward focused thoughts and actions, one rung at a time.

Try it.  Give a $5 bill to a homeless person and watch their face light up, and then pay attention to the feeling you get.  Rung one is in place.  Buy a box of cookies, and take them to the elderly neighbor next door, and ask if she would like to share them over a cup of tea and a little chat.  Watch how excited she gets, just to have your company, and then pay attention to the feeling you get.  Rung 2 is in place.  Do what ever it takes to build as many rungs as you need to get back on your path to a purposeful existence.

If you’re depressed because the old purpose is no longer in existence, due to job loss, divorce, death, then find another one.  When one purpose is fulfilled, and yes if your purpose no longer exists it’s because you have fulfilled your part in it, choose another one. 

There are purposes galore for you to embrace.  If you’re not sure what your specific purpose in life is, pick one, any one, and try it on for a while.  It just may lead you to the exact place you are supposed to be with your custom fit purpose waiting for you.

Get over yourself!  Get up!  Get moving!  Get out there!  The world needs you and your gifts, desperately.  You just may be the rung on someone’s ladder of hope.  How can you just sit there, knowing someone else needs you?  Yes, YOU!

Tiny Change 33:  Call my shut in sister, 3-4 times a week for a chat.

How have you battled your emotionally low times? 

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to be able to share my gifts with those I love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parents and Children

Day 32 of 365 Tiny Changes

My daughter, Angie, is in the USA.  Hurray!  She’s been in Paraguay for the last 2 1/2 years, serving in the Peace Corps.  As a reward for extending her commitment to 3 years, she was given a 30 day leave of absence and sent home.  And she’s here.  Well almost here.

She lived in Atlanta for a number of years before she left for Paraguay, so she is spending the first 10 days there, with her friends.  She will be flying to Cincinnati on the 23rd, when her Dad will pick her up.  She will stay with him until the evening of  Christmas Eve, when I will FINALLY get to see her, and hug her, and let her know how much I have truly missed her.

We haven’t had the best of relationships.  It’s hard to say when it all started to go south.  I wasn’t given the opportunity to raise my children in the ways of the old TV shows, like Leave It To Beaver, or Andy Griffith. 

My relationship with their father was tumultuous, to put it lightly.  We were married for 12 years, but during that time we lived apart nearly as often as we lived together.  By the time Angie was 11 we were divorced and apart permanently.

I found being a single mother extremely difficult.  In order to make ends meet, I needed to work 2 jobs.  I had very little family support, when it came to caring for the kids, and they were left on their own a lot of the time.  I didn’t have a choice.  Their Dad lived 70 miles away and chose to visit occasionally, on a Sunday afternoon.

Somewhere between the divorce, the 2 jobs, the exhaustion, and the loneliness, a rift occurred.   Suddenly, it seemed, they had turned into really angry teenagers, and I was at a complete lose.  I was just trying to get through it.  Hoping that as they grew up, they would learn to understand how difficult trying to hold a family together as a single parent is.

A single parent has to carry the whole load.  EVERYTHING is the  responsibility of this one person.  The job, the income, the bills, the housing, the maintenance, the food, the food preparation, the relationships, the child rearing, the discipline, the rewards, the fun, the experiences, the homework, the sports... All of it, every part of life for the parent, and the children, rides on the shoulders of this one person.

If anyone falters, society blames it on the parent.   In my case, my children blamed me, too. 

My son and I have been able to let the rift between us heal.  He is local.  So local in fact, he lives in the guest room.  Being this close has let us learn to interact as adults.  Most of the time anyway.  Sometimes I forget and slip into my Mother role, and sometimes he forgets and slides into his mouthy teenager role.  But we have moved forward.  He, also, has a child of his own.  I think that helped to expand his point of view, some, too.

On the other hand, my daughter moved out at 17 and hasn’t been back.  Our rift remains.  I feel it’s because we’ve never created a relationship past the one we had when she was 17.  She is 31 now, and we’re stuck in the past.

She has done a lot of work to forgive me.  I accept her forgiveness.  For what, I haven’t quite figured out.  I wasn’t a perfect parent, but neither were mine.  Yet, I always understood they were doing the best that they knew how.  I never felt the need to forgive them for any of the child rearing choices they made.  Sure, I didn’t agree with all of their choices, so I just didn’t repeat them with my children.  It's all in the past. 

I have always felt that Angie wanted something more out of me than I was able to give her.  I’ve never been able to figure out what.

I had a boyfriend once who said, “Help me the way I want to be helped.”  My answer was, “That would be great if I knew what that was, but since I don’t, I will help you the way that I can.”  Two sides of the same coin. Both valid points. 

With my daughter it’s more like, “Be the parent I want you to be.”  My answer is, “That would be great if I knew who that is, but since I don’t, I can only be the parent that I am.”  Thus the rift continues between us.

I found out via FaceBook, this morning, that she arrived in the US late last night. 

As adult children, I think we forget that a parent worries about us, even when we’re not around.  As a child and a parent, I know that I worry about my children more than I worry about my parents.  It’s an old habit that I should probably work on changing, because my parents are getting to the age where I should be worrying about them a lot more than I do about my healthy adult children.

The relationship between a parent and a child is complicated.  It is one that, because of the fact that we are aging human beings, demands that we change and grow within the relationship.  As the parent we were once the caregiver, but are progressing to becoming the one that needs the care.  As the child, we are used to being cared for, but must grow into the care giver.  This change isn’t always easy for everyone. 

Perhaps if we took the time to step back and look at our parents and our children as others might see them, not as we have gotten into the habit of seeing them, we would see a completely different person.

We might see a person, that by virtue of our history together, deserves our love and respect.  We might see a person who has given freely of themselves for their chosen path in life.   We just might see another human being.  That, alone, should be enough to garner our honor and appreciation.

Tiny Change 32:  Honor my parents and children, by giving them a heartfelt hug, the first time I see them during the day.

If you were expecting that I might want to work on mending the rift between, myself and my daughter, I think a heartfelt hug is the perfect tiny place to start.

How are you honoring your parents and children?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day: I am blessed to have my daughter back in our country, safe and sound.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Partner in Success

Day 31 of 365 Tiny Changes

I woke up Sunday morning, alone in the bed.  Usually, I’m the first one up and going, on Sunday mornings.  I wander downstairs for my morning cup of tea and I find Guy asleep on the couch.  Sound asleep.

I make my tea and take it back upstairs, where I can enjoy the quiet, and read for a while.  Eventually, Guy finds his way upstairs.

His first comment, “I don’t want you to die.”  Huh?

During the night I scared him.  Really scared him!  I have sleep apnea.  I snore loud enough that the neighbors, two doors down, can hear me, and I go for short periods with out breathing.  My loud snoring woke him up, and my non-breathing freaked him out.  I have one of those machines, but never use it.  I find it gives me a claustrophobia and a tied down feeling.

As we were chatting about it, I told him that studies have showed that people with extra weight seem to have more issues with sleep apnea.  This statement seemed to flip the switch.

Up to this point, Guy has not been very involved with my Tiny Changes.  As long as he didn’t have to get involved, I could make any Tiny Change I wanted, on my own.  Suddenly, he sees the benefit and wants to help.

He is convinced, I’m going to die and leave him in the middle of the chaos we have going in our life.  To be honest, we haven’t taken the proper steps to protect ourselves in the case of a death of either of us.  This is on my to do list.  I figure, I’ll get to it in time.  Guy doesn’t. 

His words, “I’ll do what ever it takes, just don’t die on me.”  Fear is an excellent motivator, even when it is self inflicted, and has no basis in reality.

The unfortunate side affect, is that he has become extremely clingy, since Sunday morning.  I hate being the clingee.  The clingor always has some reason to think I’ll get away, so they want to know what I’m doing every minute.  Hell, I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing from minute to minute.  Why would I want someone else to know?  I need space and breathing room, to be able to move freely and accomplish what ever it is, I need to get done.  I don’t need some one following me around and asking how I’m doing, all day long.

I have to admit that I have always been a better one-man-show, than a team player.  Team playing takes too much time, just talking to explain myself, and listening to understand the other points of view, and then compromising on a strategy, before any work can be done.  Sometimes this step takes longer than the project, itself.  I’d rather just do it myself.  It may take just as long, or even longer, than if a team did it, but I’m a whole lot less frustrated in the end.

So now I have a partner in my year long mission. 

Guy and I have been together for 12 years, now.  During that time, we have kind of gotten into a routine for living our lives.  We’ve split the chores, based mostly on, which chore we mind doing the least. 

We have some overlapping interests, but we also have differing interests that we do on our own.  I’ve always thought it important that we stay true to who we are individually, as well as in a relationship.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.

We manage to stay in the same chapter, not necessarily on the same page.  We are fairly watchful, and when one of us feels a little too far behind, we check in with each other to get caught up.  Some days we spend hours, just talking.  Other days, we, comfortably, hardly speak at all. 

So, now that I have a partner, I have to think a little differently.  It’s no longer, just deciding what Tiny Change I need to make.  It’s also, deciding how he can be helpful with the change.  Pooh!  I can’t wing it anymore.  I have to think the change through completely.  To be truthful, some days, I write the blog first and decide what change I want to make based on the content I come up with.  No more of that.  Well, maybe more of that, I just have to think it through a lot more. 

OK, so you’ve got to see this one coming...

Tiny Change 31:  Explain each change to Guy, and discuss how he can help them come to fruition.

How have you handled a surprise helper?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day:  I am Blessed to have a partner like Guy, who is willing to help me live my life to its fullest.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Day 30 of 365 Tiny Changes

We went to a Holiday Party last Friday evening.  The host and hostess are friends of mine.  We met 5 years ago, while I was working in the bank.  I remember our first meeting.  I was under strict instructions to take really good care of them, they meant a lot to the office manager.  I felt I took really good care of all of my clients, but that’s a blog for another time.

They came in and sat down at my desk.  She was friendly and vivacious.  Easy to connect with, almost immediately.  He was a whole different story.  He sat with his arms crossed.  Watching.  He asked pointed and direct questions.  I felt like he was waiting for me to prove I was incompetent at my job.  Lucky for me, I was pretty good at what I did.  When they left I felt like I had not embarrassed myself, but I probably wouldn’t be working with them any further.

Thank goodness I was wrong.  They not only came back to me, but we worked together over the next several years, as I helped them reach one of their life dreams.  During this time, we didn’t just work together for our mutual benefit, but we became friends.

Every year they throw a holiday party.  Every year they invite their many friends, and we are still on that list, somehow.  Every year we re-meet and chat with people we met during the previous years party, say good night and don’t see or talk to them for a year.  Too bad.

This year was different.  This year I was looking forward to seeing many of the guests we met last year.  This year, I got names and phone numbers.  Woo Hoo!   It turns out I really like these people, the friends of my friends.  Why was I limiting myself to interacting with them only once a year?  No reason I can think of. 

Guy and I have chatted it over.  We both feel this way.  Why do we wait until the holidays to connect with people we really enjoy?  We have really gotten into a rut in this area of our life.  We get up every morning.  We work during the day, we come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed.  Rinse, and repeat.  Day after day.  We play catch up on the weekends on all of the chores we didn’t get done during the week.  Sometimes, we talk about getting together with someone, but neither of us ever make the call.

We are on the path to a future of sad, lonely, old age.  We absolutely will get off of this path.

I love learning what other people are doing with their lives.  I love to learn other peoples points of view on the world and what’s happening in it.  It’s just gotten a lot easier to get this information by going on Facebook and reading about it.  I can check in at any time.  In my pj’s, early in the morning, late at night.  When ever I feel like it.

So, I stay up to date, but I don’t really connect.  I don’t get to hear their voice, see their face and their expressions.  I’ve become more like a fly on the wall, then a friend.  I miss having true friendships.

Friends add so much to a life.  They add fun, silliness, support.  It’s a friends’ kind words and hugs that get me up when I’m down.  It’s a friends’ direct words that straighten me out when I’m about to make a wrong turn in my life.  Friends share my life in a way my family can’t.  We don’t share the same gene pool.  We don’t have the same history.  Friend’s come to the relationship with a different point of view of life, and because of this they expand my horizons.  Perhaps I expand theirs.

Tiny Change 30:  I will call one friend and make dinner plans monthly.

I want to enjoy my friends with as many senses as I can, see, hear, touch, and share an experience with them.

How do you stay in touch and involved with your friends?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have friends.  Many people in this world are so alone.

Friday, December 9, 2011

robyn's closet and lost treasures

Day 29 of 365 Tiny Changes

I was going through some paperwork, yesterday, and discovered a dry cleaning ticket, from July.

I was being proactive and took a winter suit into the dry cleaners in the middle of the summer, so that I would have it, all nice and clean, for when the cold weather hit, again.  I promptly forgot about it.

Yesterday, I picked it up.  As I’m pulling into the parking lot I see a shop I’ve never seen before.  It’s called robyn’s closet.  I do think of myself as sort of a seeker of thriftiness, and with a name like robyn’s closet, I thought, perhaps, I had stumbled upon a new thrift or consignment shop.  robyn’s closet is a consignment shop.  Hurray!

My sister, Joyce, turned me on to consignment and thrift shopping.  She is ever the thrifty one.  I was never one to consider shopping in these stores until about 2 years ago.  When I, finally, understood the benefits of shopping this way, it was like opening a treasure chest, full of all kinds beautiful clothes, trinkets, and furniture.  All for a steal of a deal!

When I entered Robyn’s shop, (yes, the owners name is Robyn) I was immediately greeted by a smiling, easy going, lady.  I was speaking with, none other, than Robyn.

We chatted for a while, in the shop clerk and customer type of chit chat.  Then we really started to talk.  It turns out that Robyn is a very courageous woman.  She is a bit older than me.  Earlier this year she had enough of her corporate  job and one day just quit.  Sound familiar?  I did the same thing last year.  Robyn was a bit, well a lot, more proactive than me.  She opened her new shop within a few months of quiting her old job. 

Robyn told me that when she quit, she didn’t even know she wanted to open a consignment shop.  Apparently, the stars aligned themselves for her and here she is, five months into small business ownership.

Robyn had the courage to leap without a net, and the faith to know that somehow she would find her way to a soft landing.

Robyn has the opportunity to speak with a lot of people in her shop.  She told me she is hearing a rumor, even a rumble, about a movement that is taking shape.  She tells me her gut is telling her to believe in it’s truth.  She is hearing that 2012 will be the Year of the Woman.

I feel it, too.  I’m not sure about every woman.  I am sure about this woman.  2012 will definitely be my year, and Robyn’s, too.

How does one join this movement?  I’ll put your mind at ease.  You don’t have to quit your job, if you don’t want to.  You don’t have to give up everything you hold near and dear to travel with the movement while it marches on city halls.  I truly don’t see this movement taking that path at all.

In order to join this movement, you do need to make a commitment.  You must commit to yourself that you are going to seek out that which you love, and then partake in it. 

Do you love to sew?  Then dig out the old sewing machine, dust it off and create something for yourself.  Do you love nature?  Then dig out your hiking boots from the back of your closet, put them on and visit your nearest park for an hour of communing with nature.  Do you enjoy food?  Then dig out your favorite recipe book and cook something or sign up for a cooking class.  If you love to shop, but are on a tight budget, then visit your nearest consignment shop or thrift store and discover all the wonderful treasures awaiting you, there.

2012 can be a year of renewal.  It can be a year of re-discovering those things and activities you love and used to enjoy doing.  You may ask yourself why you ever quit doing these things in the first place. 

You may discover just why you did quit.  Maybe the old activity just doesn’t fit you anymore.  In that case, take your gear and donate it, or consign it, so that someone else can discover, and enjoy it.  Then go out and find something that does fit who you are, now.  What ever it is, make sure it makes you feel good, and gives you the feeling of being renewed.

As a whole, women tend to put their needs off in order to take care of others.  I believe that a woman can not take care of others, properly, until she takes care of herself, first.  2012 can be our year to put our needs first.  We deserve it.

Tiny Change 29:  Make time to scrap book, again.

If you would like to meet Robyn and visit her shop, robyn’s closet, you can find her at 11935 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, OH  45231,  (513) 674-1800.  You can also visit her web site at:

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to be able to meet courageous people any time I walk out of my front door.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rainbows In My Kitchen and My Future

Day 28 of 365 Tiny Changes

There are rainbows in my kitchen.  Yes, they’re real.  They come to visit me every day the sun is out.  I love it when they visit.  They remind me that beauty is in the simple things, and that all is right with my world, when the sun is shining.

These rainbows have to do a little work to get into my kitchen, because my windows face south and west.  Since the sun rises in the east, it’s no easy trick for the rainbows to reach my kitchen. 

Guy has a truck.  This truck has a hard top for the bed.  90% of the time this top is sitting on wooden saw horses in our back yard, on the south side of the house. 

I have a lamp that is made of beveled glass that sits on our kitchen table, located inside a south facing window. 

The sun rises, its rays bounce off of the truck hard top, through my kitchen window, onto my beveled glass lamp, and wha-la I have rainbows in my kitchen. 

Beautiful rainbows, that move as the sun moves.  They end their visit, when the sun is too high over our house for the rays to bounce properly to reach into my kitchen.  I’m a little sad, every time they leave.

As simple as a rainbow in my kitchen sounds, once examined, it’s discovered that it is actually a series of complicated steps to become a reality.  This seems to be true with so many parts of life.

Today, I am going to see a financial planner.  Not just any financial planner, but a holistic financial planner.  (And you thought the holistic movement was limited to medical care.)  She specializes in taking care of a client’s whole financial picture, based on their values, dreams, and goals.  I’ve heard her speak, twice, and have met with her once, but I wasn’t ready to make the commitment to a holistic financial future, yet.  I am, now.

It is so easy to get into the rut of automation.  The paycheck is automatically deposited into the checking account.  The bills are automatically paid from this same checking account.  The left over money is spent using a debit card on things that are always needed, like food and gasoline.  All rote activities, where everything is accepted and nothing is examined.

The same for the investments.  The deposit into the 401K is made pre-tax from the paycheck.  The type of investment is directed solely by the contract the employer has with the investor.  Very little control is given to the employee, so most just allow the deposit and never review the results.
This whole automated thing was just not working for us. 

The industry I was working in was hit dramatically by the economic downturn.  Over a 5 year period my income dropped by more than $100,000 a year.  When I finally calculated that it was actually costing me $2.34 an hour to go to work, I quit.

Since that day 18 months ago. I have been working diligently to get our financial house in order.  I created spread sheets that track every penny we have coming in and going out. 

Doing this has helped me to discover where we are spending more than is necessary, out of habit, or lack of oversight.  I have paid off lots and lots of debt, and started really paying attention to our investments.

Investments should never be left to fend for themselves.  I have heard many a financial professional state that if you are in the market for the long haul, you shouldn’t worry about your losses or gains for the short term, it will all come out in the wash.  I call Bull Shit!

When I started tracking our investments and reviewing the activity that had transpired while we were busy doing other things, I discovered we had lost over $50,000!  You might say, so what, the market will come back, it always does.  I say, I will never get that $50,000 back. 

I had a client that thought this same thing.  She was 70 years old.  When the market tanked, she patiently waited for it to bounce back.  Unfortunately, when it did start to turn around, she couldn’t take advantage of it, because all of her money was gone.  It had disappeared into the black hole of unwatched investments, never to return again.  She was 70 years old and had nothing, absolutely nothing.  She was forced to move in with her daughter and pray that she could sell her house for something, before the bank foreclosed on it, because she could no longer afford her house payment.  This will not become my story!

If I had been paying attention, I would have moved our lost $50,000 into an investment that wasn’t loosing nearly as much, or as fast.  When the market came back, I would have been able to earn on these better invested funds, and recouped any losses we had more quickly, instead of trying to make up the loss with the little that was left after this loss. 

Since I have been paying attention, I have been able to react to market deficits and move our money around to take advantage of the small headway that happens in the market, or at least move it into much safer investments until the market comes back around.

There is more to financial health than just investing well.  There is also taxes, and income and proper future planning. 

I am planning to launch 2 business’s in 2012.  I want to make sure that I am prepared financially for them.  Not just in start up funds, and cash flow, but structuring as well.  Will I need an LLC, or an S Corp?  Will I need a Living or a Fiduciary Trust?  What else am I missing?  These are questions better left for the experts. 

Up to this point I have been relying on the experts written word, and fitting it to my personal situation.  It’s time to put out the money and get the specific, personal,  information I need to become financially strong.

It’s going to take some planning, and some work,  but I see rainbows in my financial future, too.

Tiny Change 28:  Seek help from experts.

What have you lost, by simply not paying attention?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day:  I am blessed to be able to see and enjoy the little beauties of the world, like rainbows in my kitchen.

Am I a Picasso Woman?

Day 27 of 365 Tiny Changes

If I don’t like who I am, then who will I be? 

I just finished watching Surviving Picasso.  It’s a movie written from the perspective of one of Picasso’s mistresses.  It’s a story of her relationship with a very manipulative, narcissistic, man.  It’s a story of her getting lost in him, and then fighting her way free.

I admit that I have been in relationships with men like this.  None as famous as Picasso, but all with very similar personality characteristics.  It’s easier than one might think to become lost in the relationship, even lost in the man.  Wanting, needing, to fulfill his needs, before mine.  Slowly, loosing my point of view of the world, gradually taking on his point of view as my own.  All in the name of the relationship.

The first time I was young, just graduating from high school.  It happened easily with him, because I had a romanticized view of what a relationship should be.  I believed that it was right to loose myself in him to become one.  The catch was, he never lost himself in me.  He just absorbed me, and I was lost in his chaos.  Not healthy for either of us.

The second time was 10 years later.  I was more aware this time.  This man however was the epitome of a nag.  He would find a trait or a behavior in me that he didn’t like and he would nag me until I agreed to change it.  They were little things, like using a wash cloth more than once.   

I like to use a fresh, clean wash clothe each time I bathe.  He thought this was ridiculous.  Really?  It’s a 9x9 inch piece of clothe.  He claimed it increased his laundry loads.  Interesting, since I was doing the laundry.  After enduring 18 months of his nagging, I finally, calming put my foot down.  I told him it was my personal hygiene and he had no right to ask me to do something that I felt was unclean.  One win for me, among many, many loses. 

To disentangle my self from this man, I needed to seek professional help, in the form of a therapist.  Three months into therapy, he was freaking, because he couldn’t manipulate me as easily as he once had.  Six months into therapy, he broke it off, because I had changed.  Hurray for me!

Eventually, in both of these relationships, I realized the reflection in the mirror was no longer my own, but only a distorted version of who I once was.  Similar to many of Picasso’s paintings of the women in his life.  The paintings were of how he viewed his women after he had taken them into his life, not as they were when they came to him.

However, realizing I was not the person I once was, nor the person I wanted to be, was only the first step.  If I didn’t want to be the person I had become, who did I want to be? 

I don’t think it’s possible to break the ties of relationships like this, unless one has a clear picture of who one wants to become.  Otherwise, it’s too easy, too comfortable, to stay the same, and live in the shadow of someone else.

Once a vision of who I want to become is in place, and committed to, the changes were inevitable.  Do I want to have a voice of my own, with which I’m not afraid to speak my opinion?  Do I want to discover and express my talents, what ever they may be?  Do I want to were red lipstick and hug everyone I meet?  Just who, exactly, do I want to become. 

These types of changes are particularly difficult, because those around you may become uncomfortable, maybe even threatened, as manipulator  number 2 was of the changes I was making.  They won’t know what to expect from you, next.  When others around you are uncomfortable they may try to derail you from making the changes you have decided to make. 

Family and close friends are really good at this.  Which seems odd, when you think about it.  Your family and friends should be your biggest supporters.  They have known you the longest and are your biggest fans.  They only want what is best for you.  Until, it affects them, in some way. When one person makes a change it forces others to make a change, even if it is only how they think of you, and this doesn’t always happen easily.

It was an effort to disentangle myself from these relationships.  At first the changes I made were tentative, small, changes.  But, as I got used to the changes I was making and the type of responses I was getting, I was emboldened.  I became stronger and more committed to finding who I was, again.

The most important thing I discovered while dissolving these relationships.  We can never step back into the past to become who we once were.  Life changes us.  Period.  So, though I may have liked who I was before I entered into the relationship, I had become a different person.  I had to decide what parts of the new me I wanted to keep and what parts I wanted to improve.  Improvement is the only option, because once a trait is part of me, I can’t get rid of it, I can only improve it.

I am out of those manipulative relationships now, and the better for them.  I’m stronger now, and more aware of my weaknesses.  I’m better able to protect myself from these type of relationships, because I recognize them early on, and choose to stay committed to who I want to become, not who someone else wants me to become.

I’m still far from perfect, and will always be.  Life is not about the road to perfection.  It’s about learning, and growing, and sharing, and striving, to become a better person today, than I was yesterday.  It’s about discovering what gifts I have to share with the world, and then finding a way to do it.

Tiny Change 27:  Develop a clear vision of the woman I want to become, and keep that vision in the forefront of my mind, to direct the changes I choose to make in myself to become that woman.

If you are in, or ever have been in, any type of manipulative relationship, and would like to share your experience, I would like to listen.

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to be in a strong, healthy, non-manipulative relationship with a man that I love, dearly.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Carnage and Magic

Day 26 of 365 Tiny Changes

I’m walking for 20 minutes each day, now.  I walk 10 minutes out and turn around and walk 10 minutes back.  I try to trick myself by walking as fast as I can the first 10 minutes.  That way I am forcing myself to walk back at the same quick pace, to keep within my time constraints.  Sometimes, I actually have to keep right on walking past my house on the return leg, because it took me less than 10 minutes to get back...not sure how that works.

Walking 10 minutes out gets me pretty deep into the neighborhood.  This morning, as I walked deeper and deeper in, I was shocked, even amazed in a bad kind of way.  I never heard the sirens.  There should have been sirens.  The carnage was everywhere.  Why didn’t I hear any sirens?  They were lying all over the place, in yard after yard, in all kinds of inhuman positions.  Snowmen, reindeer, Santas, even Winnie the Pooh.  Lifeless, deflated, unplugged.  Why had this happened?  Was it some sort of party that had gone horribly wrong?  Who would have done this?  Who would have killed all of these inflatable lawn decorations?

Apparently I live in a neighborhood that prides itself in “keeping up with the Jones’s” when it comes to Christmas lawn decorating.  I don’t think this was true, until someone invented the inflatable lawn decorations.  No doubt, these were purchased in last year’s after Christmas Clearance Sales, and stored carefully over the hot summer.  They made their appearance Thanksgiving weekend.  Yard after yard, filled with giant Christmas characters, connected to the long orange extension cords, that they are dependent on to power the mini air compressor that keeps them alive.

After seeing this mornings’ carnage, I’m convinced that Christmas is a night time celebration.  At night, the twinkling lights, the white reindeer, the inflatable decorations, all take on a dreamy, North Pole like, appearance.  In the cold gray light of day, I see the reality of metal wire, orange cords, deflated plastic, none of it pretty.

The beauty of Christmas comes in the night. This is the one time of year when sleep deprivation is exciting, because we are creating magic.

The zoo displays thousands of lights at night, and invites visitors in, when any other time of the year the gates are locked up tight.  Santa makes his world wide flight at night.  Children go to bed and wake up to a mountain of gifts that miraculously appear during the night.  We celebrate the night time birth of Jesus at churches filled with thousands of people in the middle of the night.  We create the magic of Christmas in our own homes during the night, after the children are sleeping, when we sneak out to go shopping, wrap gifts, and address Christmas cards late into the night, when normally we would be in bed sleeping, like our children.

I’m not much into decorating myself, or my house either.  I used to be.  I actually had a decorating schedule for the month of December.  Four weekends before Christmas, I would pull out the storage boxes of all my Christmas knick-knack's and sprinkle them through-out the house.  Three  weekends before Christmas, I would put up garland and ornaments around the living room, I would also spread the Christmas table cloth over the kitchen table.  Two weekend before Christmas I would gather the kids and pick out a live Christmas tree.  We would let the branches fall for a day, and then decorate it.  Ta Da!  Ready for Christmas.

In recent years, though, I’ve done less and less decorating.  It’s not the getting it out, it’s the putting it away that I dislike, tremendously.  It’s not even because I’m sad to see Christmas go, it’s more like I’m just lazy and it’s a lot of work, de-Christmasing the house. 

A few years back we didn’t even get a tree.  We had several indoor palm trees.  We gathered them into one corner, we laced them with strings of red lights that were shaped like hot peppers, and wha la, an international Christmas tree.  I love being creative.  We liked it so much we left the lights on one of the trees for the rest of the year.  Just keepin’ the spirit alive, that’s all.

It’s December 6th, and I haven’t done much to prepare for the upcoming holiday.  I’ve ordered a few gifts on line.  I’ve dug out the left over Christmas cards from previous years.  I’ve even purchased Christmas stamps.  I’m just not feeling the spirit, yet.  I think I’ve just gotten burned out on the entire season.  Witnessing the carnage this morning, didn’t help my lack of enthusiasm, either.

So what does one do, when one is not in the spirit for an upcoming event, any event.  Fake it ‘til you make it, baby!  That’s the truth.  I have found that when I just decide to jump in, all in, to the preparations for any event, sooner rather than later, the missing enthusiasm finds me. 

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to rush out and join the Jones’s in their yard decorating gusto.  Nor, am I going to step back in time and take 3 weeks to decorate my house.  I am saying that I am going to begin doing the little seasonal things that are enjoyable to me, like baking cookies, and addressing Christmas cards.  Perhaps, I’ll even convince Guy that he wants to take a stroll with me this evening, to enjoy the yard decorations, inflated, I hope.  

I think that is where the magic truly is.  Not in all the decorations and twinkling lights, beautiful as they are, but in the little things that are done with and  for others, that let them know I care.  All those things, that are done under cover of the cold winter night, are done to build the magic of the season for ourselves and for those we love.

Tiny Change 26:  Keep the spirit alive by focusing on the little things done for others on each and every holiday.

What do you do to build your enthusiasm and create the magic of Christmas or any special day?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to live in a neighborhood where the residents take pride in their homes.  There are many areas of our world that suffer from blight.
Let it snow, but keep that air blowin'!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Game Over

Day 25 of 365 Tiny Changes

Yesterday morning, I decided to do a little change-up in my morning schedule.  After all, it was Sunday, and everybody deserves a little break now and then.  Right?

I got up at 8:00 and made my cup of tea, and sat down to read a fiction book, until everybody else woke up.

Any other day, I have a whole list of things I do before I sit down to read.  When I do read, it’s a research book of some sort, and I’m eating breakfast while I’m reading.  This is my one success at multitasking.  Today I didn’t do this.  BIG Mistake.

I’ve only had a really organized morning system for a very short time, but amazingly, I've gotten used to it.  I'm even to the point that I’m  beginning to feel productive, each morning.

Yesterday, I read fiction for an hour, then got up to take my shower.  That was like the green light for the rest of the household to jump into action.  “Mom, when are you gonna be out, I need in there.”  We only have one bathroom.  

I go upstairs and begin my stretching routine.  “There you are!  I was wondering where you went to.  Just checking on you.”  What did Guy think, I fell into that mysterious black hole we have floating around our house?

I sit down to write my blog, and it’s game over.  They win.
“Hey, Linda!  Can you help me rearrange the garage?  Now!  There’s a big line of rain coming and I need to get more stuff in there.”
“Hey Mom, I’m making cinnamon rolls, want some?”
“Hey Mom, listen to what happened to me last night.”

“Hey Linda, do you want me to go get a newspaper this morning?”
It’s nice to be needed.

My finely planned day was called due to rain, and the adventures of every day life.  I was able to  get my blog out, eventually, with several other interruptions.  I finally gave up, totally, on what I had planned to get done, and  we went shopping, instead, without coupons. 

Yesterday’s change-up didn’t work out so well.  The needs of the relationship part of my Life Plan were making themselves known, loudly, yesterday.

I’m considering several options for handling days when the rest of the family is home.  I don’t want to completely abandon all the tiny changes I’ve made to my daily routine, to accommodate their presence.  I don’t want to push them off, for hours, until I’m finished with what I have to do, either.

If I abandon it all for a day, I either have a bigger day, the day before, or the day after.  If I stick to it, I cut into my time with my family.  Hmm.  A dilemma, for sure.

When I was working, I faced this same issue with my clients.  I worked inside a banking office, that was open to the public from 9-6.  There were things I needed to get done that were best done without the interruption of a walk-in client. 

I solved this problem by going in at 7:00 AM and staying until at least 7 PM.  That gave me 3 hours of uninterrupted time to work on those projects.  Long days, true, but I was able to accomplish what needed done and was able to meet with walk-in clients as needed.  This, also, cut down on my frustration with being interrupted.

When I was working, we had a term that we used, “train your clients”.  This meant, setting boundaries.  In the business I was in, it was very easy to allow the clients to claim every minute of my day.  And I mean every minute. 

You don’t know how many calls I got at 2 AM, from clients.  Either because they couldn’t sleep, or they worked 3rd shift, and must have thought I did, too.  The only way for me to stop this, was to communicate with  them, early in our relationship, how I did business, including how I communicated information to them, and when I was available to them.

Sounds cold, but once they understood, they were usually cool with it.  I would do my best to accommodate their schedule, too.  We would usually get into some sort of loose routine.  My 3rd shift clients were the first clients I communicated with every morning, at 7:00 AM, so I wouldn’t interrupt their sleep.  We were both much happier, being less sleep deprived, and all. 

Perhaps a combination of these 2 methods will work with my family.  I can streamline what I do on Sundays, to make myself more available to them.  I can speak to them, and claim a few hours at the front of the day as my own, and when I’m finished, I’m all theirs.  All of this will be even easier to accomplish if I do it while they’re still sleeping.

Tiny Change 25: Wake up at 5:30 AM, every day.

Sleep experts say it’s best for our health if we wake up at the same time every day.  So here’s another one for my Health Life Plan.

If you have ever experienced this sort of dilemma and have found a solution that has worked for you, I would love to hear about it.

Best  Regards,


Tiny Blessing for the Day:  I am blessed to have warm clothes to wear as the cold weather sets in.  There are so many people who don’t.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Disciplined Life

Day 24 of 365 Tiny Changes

So I’m out for my walk this morning, and I’m about a minute from home and it hits me.  I mean really hits me.

I haven’t had this much clarity of thought since I was in high school.  I  ran the mile and the half mile, on our track team.  We would practice by running for what felt like eternity.  Mile after mile, step after step.  Occasionally, I would hit a wall.  Not a real one, just an “I can’t take one step more, or I’m gonna die!”, wall.  But I would keep going, because I knew what was on the other side.  The Runners High.  Woo Who! 

There is nothing better than hitting this plateau while working out.  I wasn’t running any more, I was flying!  I wasn’t counting the drudgery of each foot fall, I was keeping beat to the music playing in my head.  Absolutely, nothing better.  The best part is the clarity of thought.  It’s like the universe was revealing secrets to me for questions I didn’t even know I had.

So anyway, I’m about a minute from home, and I’m not anywhere near a runners high, but I do get one very clear answer.  An answer to a question that I have had for as long as I can remember.

The answer:  It’s all about the discipline. 

The question:  How can I lead the most successful life possible? 

It’s not a surprise really.  Most self help gurus preach this.  Every efficiency expert, I’ve ever run across, preaches this.  Even ministers preach this. 

Here’s where the clarity comes in.  It’s not just about the discipline of getting up on time every morning and doing the things on my to do list.  It’s much bigger than that. 

It’s a way of thinking, it’s a way of doing, it’s a way of living.  It’s an entire lifestyle.  A successful life is a disciplined life, a disciplined life is a successful life.

It’s not about packing as many things as I can into any one day, either.  It’s about doing those things that matter.  It’s about doing those things that lead to a bigger goal, a bigger purpose.

In my message on Day 16, Fixin’ to Get Ready, I promised to create a Life Plan for the specific areas of my life where I wanted to be successful.  I’ve decided that the first of these areas should be health.  The way I see it?  I can accomplish little else with out my health.

I’ve already mentioned, I plan to live to 102.  Though, I realize there are no guarantees of this, I believe that if I live my life as if it were guaranteed I have a much better chance of making it.

In my Life Plan for Health and Beauty, I need to undertake a “healthy” lifestyle.  I have already started making some of those needed changes:

-10 minutes of stretching, daily ( Day 6, Stretching of a Princess)
-Eat 3 servings of fresh vegetables, daily (Day 9, Accidental Vegetarian)
-Eat 2 pieces of fresh fruit, daily (Day 12, I’ll Eat 2 Pieces of Fresh Fruit, I Promise)
-Keep facial hair at bay (Day 18, Mustaches for Women)
-Sit quietly for 5 minutes (Day 19, A Day In the Life)
-10 Minutes of walking , daily, (Day 20, Does Your Doctor Really Care?)

I have mentioned my Greek heritage in the past.  What I didn’t mention is that my family comes from the Island of Ikaria.  This island has been determined to be one of 3 geographical locations on the earth where the inhabitants live the longest. 

My parents have been there.  Their description?  It’s a rock.  That’s right.  A giant rock, sticking up out of the ocean.  The residents walk everywhere, up hill, down hill, everywhere.  The life style is quiet and stress free.  My guess is they eat a lot of fish and fresh vegetables and fruits.  They live a long, long, time.

I’ve done some research on the exercising thing.  There seems to be some argument about whether it’s the length of time one exercises, or the intensity with which one exercises, that is most beneficial.  I’m thinking it is driven by the person, their initial health, and what their ultimate purpose for exercising is.

My ultimate purpose is living, healthily, to 102.   So I’m going with the, length of time one exercises, theory.  If the island people walk everywhere, and live long, long, lives, then it follows walking must be a good exercise for my purpose.

Tiny Change 24:  Walk an additional 10 minutes each day for a total of 20 minutes of walking per day.

If you have experience or thoughts you would like to share on the exercise conflict, I would love to hear from you.

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I feel blessed to have good, solid, walking shoes, with great arch support.  So many people in our world have no shoes at all.