I don’t even want it…

First, I’m not asking people to challenge me. I don’t particularly want to pour ice water on my head. This isn’t about that. It’s about my own little insecurity that I’m not a “part” of something bigger. I know it’s crazy, but my feelings are hurt that it seems like everybody in the world has been challenged to do the ALS ice bucket challenge and I haven’t. I’m not top three. I realize that the people who would probably challenge me haven’t been challenged themselves, but that doesn’t help. In fact, it might make it worse. Like suddenly not only am I not part of the in-crowd, but my crowd isn’t part of the in-crowd.

I have a friend who is close friends with a celebrity, and she wouldn’t introduce me because she didn’t think I’d be able to keep it together. Ugh – stab. I hate Twitter because I tweet people and get nothing back. Ugh – stab. I wanted to be promoted to a senior trainer position and I wasn’t selected. Ugh – stab. I thought for sure I’d be selected to join one of the pseudo-sororities we had in college and I wasn’t even though I stayed up all night waiting for the knock on my door. Ugh – stab.

My group...

My group…


The thing is, my group – the people I choose to surround myself with are so much cooler than anybody else I can think of. They are smart, funny, caring, kind, generous, loving, humble, catty (when I need them to be), thoughtful…they challenge and inspire me every day. I’m so happy to be a part of this group – and I know that any of them would choose me in a heartbeat to be a part of anything. It just can’t help but hurt that somehow – all those friends whom I adore, didn’t pick me.

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Ten things I do more now that I’m older…

 

  1. I dance in the aisles more.  When the music plays, so do I.  It doesn’t matter if I’m in the grocery store or Lowe’s, I will always dance down the aisle.
  2. I pay for better seats.  If I’m going to a concert, it’s worth it to pay the extra money to see what I came to see.  Otherwise I can stay at home and listen to the CD (told you I was getting older).
  3. I make my bed every morning.  It’s so much nicer to crawl into a made bed at night.  It seems to tie up your day into a neat little package.
  4. I wait by the stage door.  After the show, I like the thrill of the possibility of meeting performers I admire.
  5. I enjoy the opening act.  Some great music comes out of acts with a whole lot to prove, but are enjoying it just the same.
  6. I let my kids stay up late.  When there are special events I try to let my kids be a part of it.  If that means staying up till 2 AM to see the lunar eclipse, then so be it.
  7. I tell people I love them…and mean it.  If you mean something to me, you should know it.
  8. I let people in when in traffic.  It doesn’t cost me anything to be nice, and I hope it makes your day to have someone let you in with no trouble.
  9. I say “thank you.”  I truly appreciate all that is given to me, including the simple kindness of someone holding a door or filling my order at Starbucks.
  10. I let myself be aware of my feelings and thoughts.  Even when life is complicated, I take time to contemplate what things mean to me and others.

 

 

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Having a contemplative moment.

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Werkend…

I recently finished a weekend working as a public speaker for the National Guard.  It was a challenging and rewarding weekend in one.  Historically, I have always been a “humorous” speaker.  I rely on my personality and effervescence to carry whatever my message is.  Admittedly, this was a presentation that I was not as prepared for as I normally am.  It was on topics that I don’t normally engage – with a group I don’t know.  I wasn’t excited to dig into the serious topics that were ahead of me.  I’ve been terrified of speaking on a serious subject – I just didn’t know if I could do it.  I remember when I first started my training as a counselor, the professors were eager to point out the magic of silence.  It’s in those moments when no one is talking that reflection happens and if you just hold tight, the client will start talking.  It took me a little while to get used to having silence sit between me and another person.  My kids will tell you I still have problems with that.  But, could I have silence in a classroom?  Could I have a class that didn’t involve laughter and fun?  What if everyone just stared at me?  That’s my equivalent of the “naked dream.”  It was a rough start, but after we got a rhythm, I felt like I could tell the story that needed to be told.

Wrestling with my insecurity

Wrestling with my insecurity

I wonder about the limits we set for ourselves.  Whether it be conscious or not, we all have certain limitations that are completely self-imposed.  It’s like that old question, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”  So many times I have ideas of what I’d like to do, but don’t ever give it a chance for fear of failure.  If I’m honest I wrap up my insecurity in a blanket of ignorance.  My favorite excuse is, “I don’t know how to do it, and I don’t know who to ask.”  Finding the answers is not a hard task, but it’s a good way to keep from having to actually do what I say I want to do.  I had a great idea for a television show.  I worked hard and did what I thought I had to do.  I was given feedback and then…I dropped it.  It got to be too much of an effort for something that would feed every insecurity I have.  What if people don’t like me?  What if people laugh at me (and not in a good way)?  What if I do this and figure out that I didn’t really want to do it?

Now I’m building a business with my dear friends.  We’re starting a corporate training company with a focus on Leadership, Communication and Customer Service.  We’ve been doing this very thing for more than ten years for other people and organizations.  It’s time to do it for ourselves.  I wonder what limits I will put on myself.  I’ve taken on the financial aspect of the business – definitely not my strong suit – and I wonder if I’ll face the task or if I’ll drop it.  Will I run with my insecurity, or use it to make me stronger?  I hope that I’ve chosen partners who want the vision as much as I do.  I hope that now that I’ve recognized this personality trait in myself I will work to overcome it.

Or maybe the Trident Training Solutions, LLC t-shirt will go in the closet with my television script.

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The magic conch…

There’s a Spongebob episode where Spongebob, Squidward and Patrick are stranded in the middle of nowhere.  The only thing they have with them is a magic conch shell that’s a lot like a talking magic 8-ball.  Spongebob and Patrick ask the magic conch what they should do and it tells them, “Nothing.”  Squidward goes cuckoo bananas that they are listening to this “stupid toy” and doing nothing.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my life and how I’ve gotten where I am now.  It seems strange to say that things have, with rare exception, just come to me.  Nearly everything I’ve tried to make happen hasn’t come to fruition.  But when I sit back and do nothing – going with the flow – I have great things happen.  It seems counter intuitive to just let the world happen around you when everyone tells you the way to be successful is to go out and grab what you want.  If you want something bad enough you’ll find a way to get it.  Set goals and make them happen!  What if the secret to my success is to be appreciative of what I get?  What if I just be the best “me” I can be instead of trying to mold myself into some idealistic vision of what I think I should be?

That’s not to say I don’t want more in life.  It’s going to sound shallow, but I have always dreamed of living a wealthy life.  And I’m not counting the riches of friends and family – that I have in spades!  I’ve wanted to be “rich” my whole life.  My family has always been middle of the road.  We are about as middle class as you get.  My parents were hard workers.  Dad was an enlisted sailor and Mom a nurse.  We’ve had the average house and car; never the newest or the one with the most buttons.  We drank Dixie cola from Winn Dixie instead of Coke or Pepsi to save money, but then my mom saved the pennies for a trip to Disney World.  

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Disney World

My mom and dad set goals and worked towards them.  We’ve had amazing adventures and opportunities because we’ve always valued experience over material goods.  We’ve tried to pass that same value to our kids.  I’d love to be able to afford to expose my kids to as much culture and rich experiences as possible.  I’d also like to have a Porsche 911.  

I guess the question is, do I work hard in pursuit of a dream that will (if history is correct) most likely not come true; or do I go along with life and be happy with what I get?  I don’t think I’m being self-defeating.  I have experience that says, “you don’t know what your destiny is…let me take over here.”  If I’m meant to have the Porsche, it will happen, right?

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A single light…

Nelson Mandela died this week.  I won’t say that I know a whole lot about the man.  He’s one of those twinkling stars that occupies my background.  Much like Mother Teresa and Red Skelton I know they existed and they each in their own way changed the world, but I don’t know much about them personally.  I’m hearing bits and pieces of what Nelson Mandela was like as a person.  Not only was he a beacon of hope for millions of people, but according to many, he noticed people.  He interacted with people on a very personal level.

This is what intrigues me.  I like to watch people.  Not in a crazy stalker way, although a subscription to People magazine might suggest otherwise.  I’m interested in what people do and why they do it.  I try to imagine what people’s stories are when I see them sitting in a restaurant or an airport.  We call it, “making the movie.”  If I were making the movie of this person’s life, what do I imagine would be beyond this scene?  Is it immensely exciting or rather banal?

I tend to think my life is pretty boring.  I’m just a wife, mom, daughter, friend…  But when I think back I realize that my life is comprised of normal mixed with crazy.  I think about my childhood and I realize that some aspects were much different from those of my peers because of who we were as a family.  One year my dad and I drove up and down the east coast doing antique shows in convention centers and malls.  I’ve spent more than one night in a shopping mall.  My dad and I used to run road rallies.  The kind where you’re given a set of directions, and if you do it right you end up at the right destination.  My mom worked at a geriatric hospital that put on a Christmas show each year.  I was often a player in that show as a young child.  As I got older I was a candy-striper, where I learned how to make hospital corners.

Me as a lamb in the Nativity presented by Lake Taylor City Hospital.

Me as a lamb in the Nativity presented by Lake Taylor City Hospital.

I’ve lived on three continents and visited some amazing places.  As an adult I’ve lived in an Embassy community and been to balls.  It sounds exciting, but when that is how you define normal, it doesn’t seem all that exciting.  I think most people would think that their life is pretty boring (except maybe Oprah) but from the outside it looks interesting.  I think all people have a story to tell and offer a very entertaining movie to us spectators.  The trick is to appreciate your movie.  In the moments when you are feeling stuck in a rut, or down because your life isn’t as exciting as your neighbor, understand that you have a uniqueness that makes your life just as valuable and just as interesting.  You are you and that changes the world.  You may not feel like a Nelson Mandela, but I’m sure Nelson Mandela didn’t feel like a Babe Ruth.

The point is, you are the champion of your own revolution.  You are the single light of your change.  Get out there and sing your vision!

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Christmas revolution…

Tomorrow my family will kick off the Christmas season by putting up the tree and decorating the house.  I love Christmas and all that goes with it.  Loads of good food, presents and fun, upbeat music playing everywhere I go; but mostly I love that people are nicer to each other.  It’s the only time of year that we make an effort to give to others – whether that be time, money or goods.  I don’t know if it’s a throw-back to when we were kids and we were coerced into good behavior in the hopes of getting presents from Santa, but people just act better this time of year.  Unlike the videos I’ve seen of Walmart, even my Black Friday experiences were pretty pleasant.  What is it that makes nice easy this time of year, but so difficult the rest of the year?  I’m not saying we all turn in to asses January 2nd, but we seem to be more patient on December 15th than July 15th.

My mom is the one who taught me to pay rent on the space I occupy.  My goal is to leave the world better than when I came into it.  I’m learning that one person can make a difference, but it takes more to give a revolution wheels.  How do you inspire others to follow your revolution?  How do you get others to buy in to what you are selling?  How do you convince the world that your way is better?

I want a return to niceness.  I want a return to a time when people used etiquette and respect was given, not demanded.  Over and over I see people with an exaggerated sense of entitlement.  I think that deep down most people have the same basic ideology, we have just gotten lost in this idea that we are somehow owed something.  Or alternatively, we’re upset that someone else is getting something we don’t have.  When I was working for a community center on a military base in Germany, we’d have events and I’d give a kid a balloon (or some other doo-dad).  There was always that one kid who would instead of saying “thank you” would say, “can I have a blue one?”  Why are we no longer thankful for what we get?

I’m certainly not pointing fingers here.  Believe me, I can be plenty not nice.  But I’d love to see us as a society remember that sometimes it’s better to be kind than right.  Politically, we’ve become so polarized we’ve forgotten the community we want to be and focus on being the one in power.  We want the blue balloon that the other kid has.  We’ve gotten away from working together and started to work to ensure the failure of someone we don’t agree with.  Who wins there?

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday.  I want to give her the gift of a revolution.  I want her to know that I’m not only paying rent, but I’m upgrading the fixtures as well!  So, be nice to each other!  Give someone a hand…open a door (literally and figuratively)…smile…and be thankful for what you get!

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Christmas when I was about 4th grade. I loved that fiber optic lamp. One of my favorite gifts ever.

 

 

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Grumpy old man…

I don’t know if it’s because I was doped up on pain killers due to sciatica, or if it was because I was tired – but the conversation I had last night with my dear husband sent me into a fit of the giggles…Keep in mind, I might have edited a bit – refer back to the “doped up…” part of this paragraph.

Q: I know you know how I feel about rolling suitcases, but what really gets me are the rolling briefcases.

Me: What?

Q: Rolling briefcases.  I mean, if you’re at an airport or whatever I can see where maybe…but I see people walking around Crystal City pulling these cases and it just…I mean just pick the damn thing up.  Steve McQueen would never pull a rolling briefcase.  Don Draper would never pull a rolling briefcase.

Me: Heehee – well of course, that’s just dumb.  I think rolling bags should be completely confined to airport or transportation of some sort.

Then there was some back and forth with our daughter which lead to…

Me: It sounds like “And don’t even get me started on…”

Q: But here I go.  People walking around looking at their cell phones.  I saw one guy looking at a Kindle while he walked through the mall.  I’ve already told you about the guys with their ties draped around their necks.  I saw one guy who was walking along tying his tie.  “Hey, buddy, where are you going to or coming from that you couldn’t do that at one or the other?”  He was like Superman in reverse.

That’s where I lost it and had to go to bed.  The thing is, my dear sweet husband is far too young to be a grumpy old man, but I see the tendencies in him…a lot.  It was funny to watch him on Halloween with the trick-or-treaters.  Nobody got candy if they didn’t ask for it the right way, and if you were a teenager in a pseudo-costume not only did you get the crappy candy, but you also got the stink-eye.  The kids get in trouble most often for speaking loudly during “Jeopardy.”  He’s been known to say, “That lawn isn’t going to mow itself.”

But, I love this part of my husband.  I love that he’s not afraid to parent someone else’s kids and that he has high expectations for not only our own kids, but for society as a whole.  Sadly, he’s often disappointed on that front, but he still has them.  He expects people around him to be informed…even if you aren’t very smart.  He makes me want to be a better person.  He makes me want to know more about what’s going on around me (even during the weeks I get my news from People magazine).  He makes me glad to co-parent with him because I know we are raising exceptional citizens…who will pick up their briefcases.

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