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Practice Smiling

Practice Smiling
     When I was interviewing Jo Ellen Soesbee for my podcast, she said something towards the end that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  She was driving along and happened to notice that she could see the driver in front of her in his side-view mirror and she thought, “Does that mean that others can see me in my side-view mirror?”
     Apparently, the gentleman in front of her did not look very happy.  In fact, he looked downright grumpy by all accounts.  That’s when Jo Ellen decided to practice smiling.  She didn’t want people to think that she was grumpy!
     This practice served her well when a client called and said, “I hired you because when I saw you in your truck, you were smiling.”  Wow!  Landing a job because you smiled while you were driving!
Jo Ellen has practiced smiling so much that on a recent girl’s weekend her friends accused her of even smiling in her sleep!  Now that’s some serious smile practicing if you ask me.  🙂
     I decided I would try it out and over this last week I’ve simply tried to smile while I was driving.  Honestly, I felt pretty silly at first and if I knew someone was close enough to see me I acted as if I was listening to some funny comedian on the radio and laughed out loud!
     While I am not perfect at this smiling while I’m driving thing, it has changed my attitude while I drive to be a little more polite and a little more understanding of others while they drive.
Smiling matters!!
Smile
     I will keep practicing, Jo Ellen!  To hear more on Jo Ellen Soesbee come on over to the podcast, Lauri’s Lemonade Stand on Apple Podcasts by following this link:  Lauri’s Lemonade Stand Positivity Podcast  I bet you won’t be disappointed!

The “To Don’t Do” List

Doing vs. Being

Inspired by this beautiful video from the UK, #letgo, I contemplated the wisdom of a “To Don’t Do List”.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to race mountain bikes.  I’m over 40 and I ran in the beginner class, but I felt on top of the world (not to mention the podium) while I did it.  It was an 8-race series that ran in the summer where most racers wore a bandana over their mouths to keep out the dust while racing in 100-degree plus heat.

Nothing feels quite like racing.  It is tough, exhilarating, and I don’t ever see my heart rate that high.  And then last summer, the race series was cancelled.  I was so sad as I thought I would try the next level up to see how I could do.  Bummer!

Then three days ago I got the email.  My race series was back!  It starts next month on May 19th.  I was super excited until I started to contemplate where my life was right now.  The family business was in trouble and has barely come back to life and it’s needed my help.  Lauri’s Lemonade Stand is finally moving forward and the interviews are happening to launch my podcast (which has me flying on top of the world!).

This morning, I was thinking about it so much that I talked with my hubby as he’s the wise one in this family…grounded and more calm than my thinking.  He supported me in my endeavor to pursue this race…he’s awesome!

Then I watched the video.  I thought about “Doing vs Being”.  I thought about how good I am at making to-do lists, but have never ever created a “to-don’t-do” list.

I looked at my to-do list carefully and thoughtfully.  I then created my “to-don’t-do list” and here is what it looks like:

    • Don’t make plans during weekday evenings outside of my family if at all possible.
    • Don’t over-commit my time so much that I don’t have time for me or my family.
    • Don’t focus on things that don’t matter in the big picture of my life.
    • Don’t let negativity or negative people take up too much of my headspace.
    • Don’t worry so much.
  • Then I asked my 16-yr old daughter and here is what she said:
    • Don’t eat as much junk food, criticize others, or bite her nails.
  • Then I asked my husband and here is what he said:
    • Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s mostly all small stuff).
    • Don’t worry.
    • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
    • Don’t judge myself so harshly.
    • Don’t compare myself to others.
  • Then I went to family dinner and here is what a few of them said:
    • Don’t procrastinate.
    • Don’t make excuses…They are like ****holes, everyone has one and they stink!
    • And my personal favorite from my PT Assistant niece:  Don’t get poop on your lab coat while working ever again!

In the end, I decided that I would not race, but only for this year.  Our businesses are in critical condition and the timing is off.  So it may be on my “To-Don’t-Do” list right now, but I plan on it being a break and coming back next year to race my little heart out as it will end up on my “To-Do” list once more.  It felt good to give myself permission to say NO.

What can you put on your “To-Don’t-Do” List?
I would love to hear from you!

The Power of Negative Energy VS Positive Energy

Negative Energy VS Positive Energy

Trip to Boise 3/3/16

It was the best of positive times and the worst of negative times…
After being in airports for over 14 hours I have come to the conclusion that they bring out the best and the worst in people. Negative Energy VS Positive Energy.  This story is one about my journey from Southern California to Boise, Idaho for a Women’s Conference I was booked to speak at.
My husband and I own our own business and it was already going to be tight having me gone for a couple of days and my hubby started to not feel well.  The morning I’m flying out he woke up with 102 temp and flat on his back in bed.  Just touching my hand to him made me draw back sharply because of the intense heat.  He was my ride to the airport.  I drove my daughter to early morning seminary calling a shuttle on the way.  Luckily they could come and get me, but it was an hour earlier than I had anticipated so I rushed home, finished packing, made breakfast, walked and fed the dogs and smiled when my chauffeur came to the front door.  I was sweating as I (very unladylike) got into the van.
On my way to the airport I am frantically texting to take care of things for the day.  Texting our employees (who handled it magnificently by the way) to hold down the shop that day and what would continue to the next day as well, text a friend and neighbor to walk the dogs again after lunch, and call yet another friend to pick up my teenage daughter after school.  I then go through my bag only to realize that I have my very cool Freska mango knife with me.  The driver is grateful to acquire such a lovely trinket.  At least it didn’t get thrown in the trash when trying to go through security.
I get to the airport an hour and a half before my flight and after about 30 minutes of waiting my flight gets delayed and then delayed again.  I end up leaving almost three hours after the original time.  This is where you start to see the true characters of those around you.  While I am concerned and it’s a bummer, I decide to use this block of time to answer emails and polish my speech intro that I wasn’t totally happy with.  Trying to be productive in what for me is this rare opportunity of nothing else tugging at me for my time.  Unfortunate, yes, but not life-threatening.  The flight attendant assures me that my connector flight has also been delayed due to the weather in San Francisco.
One lady is deciding if she should get a rental car and drive to Vegas which is her ultimate destination.  I chat with her a minute about the price and time cost and she decides to wait it out.  One gentleman with his wife is making a joke at every turn and I dub him the “unfunny” comedian.  I listen to a young man on the phone with his mother in San Francisco and he is complaining loudly that he just wanted to watch a movie while on the flight but due to the crappy airport wifi that it will never happen as his computer tells him it will take 7 hours.  He is irritated and has nothing positive to say.
As I wait at the “electronic” plug-in bar so I can charge my laptop and phone I experience positive, caring, even trusting people.  Half a dozen people are trying to charge their devices.  Each of them make room for the others and exchange kind words.  One lady older than me asks if she can plug her phone in beside me.  I tell her I would be happy to watch it while it charges and she trusts me!  Her phone cover is leather and has a pocket on the outside holding cash and her driver’s license and she sits it by me and goes to read her novel two rows away.  I renew my faith in humanity as people care about other people and she is so trusting of a perfect stranger.
And then there is the angry redheaded dude.  He was the one in line speaking to the attendant at the counter, visibly upset.  Everything about his demeanor suggested irritation, irritability and a terribly poor attitude.  His actions were jerky and full of negative energy.  I’m not sure what his rush is to San Francisco, but in his mind it must be urgent.
And then we board the plane and who is my aisle partner?  Yep…the red-headed angry dude.  He exuded the most powerful negative energy that I’ve had the opportunity to be so close to in a long time.  Every time the captain came on with an update he would jerk the headphones off his head to eagerly listen.  When the captain would then say there was another 15 minute delay or anything at all he would be slapping his hand on his leg or just into the air and uttering curse words under his breath.  I almost said something to him, but felt that it might make him even more angry.  It was an incredible reminder how negative energy can physically be felt when it is pouring out of someone in such abundance.
I get off the plane in San Francisco and literally run past everyone trying to go down the ramp off the plane and then up the ramp into the terminal only to find out that I had missed my connector flight and would then be in San Francisco for another 6 and a half hours.  Yes, I’m sweating again.
After a couple of hours and finding vegan food to eat in the airport I glance up at the screen at my gate and it shows the next two flights out…neither of which was mine.  I calmly ask the gate attendant if my gate had changed and she said it had changed to gate 70 in another wing from gate 79 where I was currently standing.  I finish charging my phone and head across the airport.  I get there and it it doesn’t have my flight on that screen either!  That’s when I ate an entire bar of chocolate.
All of the big screens showing all the flights still say my original gate so I gather up my things and head back.  That screen still doesn’t show my flight, but I feel like I’m in the right place.  Now I start thinking about Boise and how I’m going to get to my dad’s house in Caldwell.  My dad was originally going to pick me up, but that was earlier in the day and now I wouldn’t be arriving until 10:30 at night and after a nasty fall and hip surgery he just isn’t feeling up to it.  I call a shuttle, turns out it’s just a charter, but they are friendly and give me the local taxi service.  Called them, but WOW!  Huge price tag.  I considered getting a hotel for the night when my husband suggests Uber.  I download the app, arrive in Boise, grab my bag and the driver arrives in 4 minutes.  I reach my dad at 11:30pm. 7 1/2 hours after I should have arrived.
Traveling by plane, shuttle, taxi, Uber…ok, all traveling modes can bring out the worst negative energy in you or the best positive energy in you.  I hadn’t traveled by plane in over 2 years and this was a gentle reminder that people are always watching.

My conclusion?

There is simply no way to avoid bumps in the road.  They are a part of life.  Delays, setbacks, moments where you will be forced to wait when you really just want to take action, moments people send you on a wild goose chase that accomplishes nothing.  How you REACT to those bumps is a test of your true character.  What will people of observe of you when the next bump comes along?

Breaking the Rules

Bright Lines

     I have friends from many different faiths.  Some of my friends and even strangers have asked me how I can be in what they deem such a “rigid” faith.  So many rules…so many restrictions.  But I believe that rules bring freedom.  Enter in:  Bright Lines.

Line in the Sand

     The proof is in the pudding…or jail.  Yes, jail.  Very simply put, there are rules set in place that if you break, you go to jail.  In jail all of your freedoms are taken from you.  Now, someone else is in charge of what used to be your decisions.  They decide what you get to eat, to wear, and where you can and cannot go. You no longer have control over your life because you broke the rules.
     Just recently I was introduced to the concept of Bright Lines.  I looked it up on Google and here is what they had to say:  “A bright-line rule is a clearly defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation. The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application.”
     Let me give you a few examples of Bright Lines in my life so you can see that you have Bright Lines already established in your life as well.  I have a Bright Line that I have drawn about never consuming alcohol or doing drugs.  I will not eat any animal products or watch R-rated movies.  I even have one for never driving over 37 mph in our neighborhood because the cops are always perched somewhere and I don’t want a ticket!  These particular Bright Lines keep my body happy and cheerful physically, my brain happy and cheerful mentally, and my bank account happy and cheerful for not getting that speeding ticket!
     There have been times in my life that even though those Bright Lines were established in what I thought to be in stone, I broke.  I’m not talking about coming up and putting my toe right against the line.  I’m talking about wiping the line away, jumping completely on the other side, feeling a moment of exhilaration for having broken the rules, and then eventually feeling guilt over my decision and the inevitable consequences.

Consequences Ahead

     You have every freedom in making your decisions, but you are not in charge of the consequences.  Good or bad, you do not have control over the consequences of your decisions.
     The reason I am introducing this Bright Line concept to you today is that no matter what your past has been and the rules that we have all broken, we can begin today to set up new Bright Lines for ourselves.  Maybe it is something as simple as developing a habit to brush your teeth in the evening and not just in the morning.  (My dad is a dentist and I’m still working on this one!)  Maybe it is to not say something critical to anyone today, especially your loved ones.  Maybe it is not to have critical thoughts towards yourself.  Maybe it’s a bigger goal that you have in mind.
     Whatever your goal is, draw a Bright Line and as my friend and mentor, Susan Pierce Thompson says, “Simply Resume”.  Don’t beat yourself up over having crossed the line.  Just draw another one and resume.  I wish you good luck with your Bright Lines!  Sending love to you wherever you are in your journey.

Be Cheerful!

Be Cheerful!
Time Traveling, Smiling, Connecting
     My purpose in writing today is to help you establish some guidelines in your life that will bring you peace, enjoyment and cheerfulness.  I love the phrase, “Be Cheerful!”.  When I picture being cheerful, I picture myself smiling and enjoying the moment I’m in right there.  No time traveling to the day or months or even years before or focusing on the days, months, or years ahead.  Just being cheerful in the moment.  Right now.
     I’d like to make three simple suggestions that if you commit to today will bring you happiness and cheerfulness into your life.
     1)  No more time traveling.  Unless you get a crazy, awesome DeLorean like in Back to the Future, time traveling is not a good idea.  I’m not even sure it’s a good idea in Back to the Future, but definitely not good for your thoughts and feelings of today.  Yesterday is gone.  The mistakes are gone.  Tomorrow will never get here so all you can focus on is today.  The old adage of One Day at a Time is truly relevant for everyone, not just for those in 12-step programs.

Back to the Future

     2)  Smile.  Make a conscience effort to smile, even if no one can see you.  About a million and a half years ago I had a job as a telemarketer that lasted for about half a second.  Part of the training was to smile during your call.  Why?  No one could see me!  That was just silly and ridiculous to me.  But it worked!  If you don’t believe me, try talking on the phone without smiling and then smiling.  Your countenance just changes…for the better.  Don’t take my word for it…try it.

Smile Increases your Face Value

     3)  Commit to human connection.  And no, sitting in front of your television watching other humans does not count.  Interacting with other human beings simply boosts your spirits, even if the connection is you having to call and whine to your best friend, or cry on the shoulder of that friend during a visit, make the connection.  When I have been truly down in the dumps my gut reaction is to hole up and disappear like a hermit crab in it’s shell.  I block out everyone and everything until I feel better.  Not healthy to say the least.  I still have that tendency, but have beautiful friends who can break my shell and have me standing upright soon enough.

Girlfriends

     I want to write more suggestions, but don’t want to overwhelm you either.  If you have a problem with negativity, sadness, feelings of being a failure, take a minute to acknowledge that moment and ask yourself how you can be cheerful about something else.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done if you focus on these three things.  Commit to yourself today.  Be in the moment, smile, link arms with your best friend and have a beautiful day!

A Letter to My Gram

A Letter to My Gram
Being Sad and Mad
     Our name for her was “Gram”.  She was my mother’s mother who was born September 3rd, 1926 and adopted from an orphanage in Los Angeles when she was 5 years old.  Her adoption records are sealed and so we might never know who her birth parents were, but the couple that adopted her were ever so kind and she grew up with loving parents in a beautiful home with lots of opportunities.
Gram with Cute Dog
     She married, had four children, two girls and then two boys with a big gap between the girls and boys.  For example, my uncle was in kindergarten when I was born and he had to bring something to class that started with the letter ‘B’.  He brought me because I was a baby!   She had a love for horses, dogs, and cats and made the best snickerdoodles you ever tasted.  She always had cars that were fast and usually red even though she didn’t drive them fast.   She didn’t have a lot to say, but I loved it when she laughed.
Gram Dog Lover
     Her house was always neat as a pin.  We visited her more often as children and she always came to our house for Christmas bringing McDonald’s gift certificates for all of us.  I have pictures of her at a few special occasions such as my 8th grade graduation and when I was first married.  I remember meeting her for lunch at the Smorgy or The Depot in Oroville, CA for lunch.
     She was not what I would call a playful grandma like my mother is now for her grandchildren.  In truth, it is because my Gram was not very involved that I believe my mother has been so determined to be in her grandchildren’s lives and is doing an incredible job…she makes me exhausted!  Being a new Gram myself, I appreciate her efforts even more.
     This last Sunday morning I received news that my Gram had passed away.  I was surprised that I was sad.  I was more surprised that I was mad.  Over the last 15 or so years, my Gram had alienated every single one of her family members and any friends she may have had.
     I am mostly sad over the years that were already lost.  I am mad that she let this happen.  I am confused because I simply don’t understand it all.  I’ve sent birthday cards every year, emailing her on her birthday as well.  I sent Christmas cards, all with no response.
     There will not be a funeral, no one would come.  She pre-paid to be cremated and have her ashes spread over the fields where some wild horses roam around the place she last lived.
     In the wake of her passing the last few days, I have thought much about the circumstances that brought her to such a sad place.  How awful it must have been to lead such a small and selfish life.  It also got me thinking about all the good she brought into this world.
     She was an excellent mother to her children.  She sewed beautiful dresses for my mom and aunt.  She took them on camping trips and supported them in all they did.  My aunt had excellent advice to remember her how she was and not who she became.  On that note, I add a story she wrote to her granddaughters when I was 12 years old.  It shows how much she cared in those days to be a wonderful Gram.
Gram, Mom, Lauri, Kids
     She was my last living grandparent.  I am her first grandchild and oldest granddaughter.  I am here because she lived.  I am grateful for her love of life in her younger years.  I am grateful for her quiet moments.  I am grateful for the afghan she crocheted for me.  I am grateful for a couple pieces of jewelry she thought to give me about 20 years ago.  I am grateful for her talent in the kitchen and what I hope I have inherited of her talent for storytelling.
     Thank you for being patient as I write this on my blog this week.  I promise to have some more uplifting thoughts next week, but such as in life, there are ups and downs.  Please take a moment after reading my Gram’s little story, The Day My Dolls Danced, and get in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in much too long.  You know who it is…please do it.  Leave a mark…no, leave a legacy.
May 13, 1983
To my sweet granddaughters:  Lauri, Holly, Heather & Sarah.
In this, the Springtime of your lives, may you still enjoy a fairytale.
Much love from your “Gram”

THE DAY MY DOLLS DANCED

It had been a long and busy day but the house sparkled and the clothes were washed and put away.  There was an apple pie fresh from the oven, warm and spicy, for special dessert that evening.  There was some time left before I needed to start dinner so I decided to take a little rest.  I went into my bedroom, took off my shoes, closed the drapes and lay down on the bed.
As I always do before closing my eyes, I looked at each of my little dolls, 14 in all, that stood on the shelf above my vanity.  There was another larger doll that stood on the vanity.  They were all dressed elegantly in long gowns of pink, blue, green, yellow, and lavender and I had given each of them a name;  Jasmine from Japan, Heidi from Holland, my Irish girl Colleen, Cherie from France, Ann from Israel.  Joining them were Leah, Honey, April, Sarah, Shirley, Lauri, Heather, Sunshine, Holly and my tall Southern Belle – Elaine.  They were my little girls, dainty and sweet and beautiful.
My eyelids grew heavy and just as I was drifting off to sleep I heard faint tapping sounds coming from where my dolls stood on the shelf.  To my astonishment, the tiny ladies had come to life and are taking off their shoes!  I wondered if perhaps I were dreaming but I lay very still and waited to see what would happen next.
After each girl had removed her shoes she placed them side-by-side in the exact place that she stood on the shelf.  Then one-by-one they tiptoed to the ends of the shelf and let themselves down the turned posts on either side of the mirror to the vanity below.  Each girl in turn went to a small cart of silk flowers that stood on the table, selected a flower that matched the color of her gown, and laid it at the feet of Elaine, as though she were their queen.  Elaine smiled and nodded to each lady in acceptance of their tributes.
After their acknowledgement to their queen, the girls became carefree and playful, darting among the bottles of perfume and playing hide-and-seek with one another.  While they were occupied with their games, I very quietly turned on my radio to music that seemed to match their bright spirits.  They were startled and seemed almost fearful at the sound.  Then, quite suddenly, my vanity became their stage and I was about to become an audience of one at a Ballet of the Dolls!
Their tiny bodies moved with charm and grace and their joy at dancing was reflected in the sweetness of their faces.  I was completely absorbed in the performance when suddenly, outside, a dog barked rudely.  The dancing ended abruptly and the little ladies glanced my way, but I stayed very still.  I was hoping they would decide it was safe to continue to dance, but the spell was broken.  They scurried to put everything back into proper order.  One-by-one, they returned to their Queen Elaine, curtsied and picked up the flowers and put them back in the cart, then made their way up the turned posts to the shelf.  Each girl returned to her own pair of shoes, slipped them on, smoothed her gown and hair, smiled sweetly at their queen, then became motionless once again.
Quietly I turned off the radio and marveled at the sight I had just been privileged to see, and hope that sometime I will see them come to life and play and dance on my vanity once again.  Perhaps I had just dreamed the whole interlude.  It would be quite fantastic to see dolls come to life and dance on the vanity.  It must have been my imagination working overtime.
Several days passed and one evening as I prepared for bed, I noticed a tiny object lying on my vanity.  I picked it up and discovered that it was a shoe!  I was very excited because I realized that I hadn’t been dreaming and it wasn’t my imagination and that my little ladies did really come to life after all!  I laid the tiny shoe carefully on the shelf above, turned off the light and went to bed.  I wondered if, perhaps, they would dance this night.
The next day was house-cleaning time and as I reached up to dust the shelf where my girls stood, the little shoe was not there!  I carefully picked up each doll and to my amazement, their shoes were all on their feet!  They had indeed come to life and danced again while I slept.  I felt a little sad that I hadn’t seem them.  However, my ladies had known that once I had watched them dance and play, for as I turned to dust my radio, there, lying on the top was a lovely silk flower, a gift from my little girls!
The Gift
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