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Ode to Maudy

Ode to Maudy
Flowers

When we first met, I brought you flowers.  I was trying to make a good impression.  Who knew that it was the first and last time I would see you laughing and talking normally before a dreaded stroke would hit on Valentine’s Day 2007?  Looking back, I wish that I had spent a little more time and had asked you more things, but my relationship with Eddy was brand new.  I met him face-to-face the first time I met you.  I was so caught up in meeting Eddy and making a good impression on him (it worked by the way) that I didn’t realize our time was so short.
In a way, you truly brought us together.  After your stroke I came out much more often, fixing meals for your family, being there for Eddy, even making you bread pudding when you were still recovering in the rehab facility.  
When Carl died, Eddy moved in with you and in a lot of ways simply picked up where Carl left off.  He took on the responsibilities of changing the timer on the sprinklers, being home for dinner or picking something up to eat, putting gas in your car, emptying the dishwasher.  I know you must have been so grateful to have him with you to help you grieve through your loss.
And then I came into the picture and mucked it all up.  Eddy took me to Cambria for a weekend get-away and proposed.  I think that completely cemented your dislike for me at the time.  You had already lost Carl, you had suffered a stroke, and now I was taking your Eddy away.  It was like losing Carl all over again.  
For a long time I felt a certain resentment from you, but over time it magically melted away.  We started to enjoy each other’s company.  I loved to make you laugh and I loved to laugh when you brought up particularly embarrassing stories of Eddy or you simply cursed out loud because you could.
The last couple of years before you passed away I enjoyed our monthly day visits.  We would pick a day that I would come and do whatever you wanted to do.  Sometimes it involved doctor’s visits and sometimes just errands to this store or that, but it always included lunch.  I enjoyed using the handicapped placard – what a bonus for parking!
I am a doer and the hardest thing to do was come visit you in the hospital and be completely helpless.  Helpless to help you, helpless to console your family.  It was awful!  Just give me a task, a chore, anything!  I will make it happen!  How hard it was to fluctuate between hope of you getting well and the bad news of imminent death.
It’s been almost two years since you passed and I realize that I need to thank you personally for a few things.  First and foremost, thank you for raising such a great man in your son.  I love him with all my heart and am so blessed to have him in my life.  Much more materialistic – thank you for introducing me to Brighton!  Well, technically I suppose you introduced Eddy who introduced me, but you still get the credit.  Thank you for instilling in your little family the importance of family.  They were and still are completely dedicated to you.  You done did good.
As I sit here and write this, I am looking at a small bouquet of dried flowers from your funeral.  It’s today that I realized that the first and last moments of you for me started and ended with flowers.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “the earth laughs in flowers”.  I will continue to see you laughing (with all of your own teeth as you so proudly declared) in all the flowers I see.



Anticipation

Anticipation
The Gift IS The Anticipation
     As I have mentioned numerous times before, I am a complete movie nerd.  I’m not good at movie trivia or remembering actors or actresses names or what year this or that movie came out, but I can watch them until the cows come home (and secretly I hope they don’t!).  The movie industry has me hooked with anticipation

     In my phone is a list called “Movie Fun”.  At the top of the list are movies coming out that I want to see.  I’ve seen the trailer, loved it, and it goes on my list along with the day it hits theaters.  Next comes the movies on my wishlist for my home library.  If the movie isn’t out on DVD quite yet, the day it does come out is listed right next to it with eager anticipation!

     What is it about anticipation that gets us hooked?  The excitement leading up to our birthdays.  The eve of holidays, especially Christmas.  The sequel to your favorite book or movie.  The sequel to your favorite television series (even if it’s Lost and the ending really didn’t tie up all the loose ends that they had promised).

     The more I thought about anticipation, the more I realized that it is almost more exciting then the actual event.  Anticipation is powerful.  Inevitably, the actual event is much shorter than any waiting I did leading up to it.  I literally have a movie on my list right now that doesn’t come out until Summer 2016 and it’s already been on there a couple of months!  That is a HUGE anticipation period considering the movie will be less than two hours.


I’m spending weeks preparing for Christmas.  Even if I counted the full 24 hours of that day instead of the 16 or so hours I will actually be awake, it’s a lot of prep time in comparison to the actual celebration.

If all of what I said holds true, then the excitement of anticipation is our journey.  
Let me explain.  What are you working towards right now?  Big or small?  My current journey is of being a rockstar podcaster.  I can see it as if it were a trailer to my own podcasting movie.  
I picture myself talking with the people who have already agreed to be on my podcast.  
I picture my office all set up how I have planned                                                                                     and sponsors knocking down the door to have                                                                                         their message on my show.

     What is your current journey that fills you with anticipation?  Are you embracing your journey towards your ultimate goal?  What is your ultimate goal?  How far away is it?  Can you see it as a trailer in your mind of your own movie?  

     The journey can require hard work.  Learn to love this work.  It is our anticipation journey to be embraced, loved, smiled at.  I believe anticipation is the motivating factor for me trying so many things in my life.  I have been and done so many awesome things.  It has been an incredible journey and I can hardly wait to see what’s around the corner for me.  I can hardly wait to see where your journey takes you.


     May your journey be filled with the anticipation of a future rockstar.  Enjoy the anticipation, set a goal to achieve, start your anticipation journey now.  May it be a healthy, happy road less travelled.

Letter Therapy

Letter Therapy
Writing for Sanity
     With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas right around the corner, I’ve been seeing lots of family.  There have been good visits and bad visits, good food and bad food, smiles and frowns, good movies and bad movies.  I really like to focus on the positive, good moments as this is the purpose of this blog, after all.

     Inevitably, there will be bad moments mixed in.  While this blog is focusing on the positive it doesn’t mean that we don’t experience rough times.  It is finding the positivity in those times that is essential to our sanity and well-being.



     Which brings me to my topic of “Letter Therapy”.  While I was cooking my pumpkin bread pudding I burned my forefinger on the rack in the oven.  It left a line that ran knuckle to knuckle across the top of my finger and hurt when I got water on it while doing dishes or washing my hands.  It was painful, but I knew that it would heal.  In fact, as I write this it is almost completely healed.

     Our Thanksgiving dinner was perfect, but that evening our family had a huge blow-out stemmed from miscommunication that had everyone up in arms.  Feelings got hurt, words tossed around, and arguments ensued.  It was painful, and even now I’m not sure if this particular wound will heal anywhere as fast as my poor finger.  But it hurts in the moment.  It hurts even days later.

     Sometimes it just isn’t possible to talk to get things resolved right away.  Enter “Letter Therapy”.  As per usual, there is a lot of hashing and re-hashing of the moment it went wrong and dissecting every word, every movement, every action.  At some point, if it can’t be immediately resolved, there needs to be a purging of it from your system.



     I decided to write a letter that I would never send.  I started by clarifying what I felt had happened.  I admitted any fault that was mine and apologized for my part in the situation.  I then ranted and raved a bit about how much I hated the situation and that I couldn’t believe it had been so misconstrued and had gone so wrong.  I may have even thrown in a couple of curse words just for good measure.

     I wrote the letter in an evening.  Re-read it in the morning and then let my hubby read it.  It reminded me of the 4th step in a 12-Step Program.  The 4th steps requires you to make a fearless moral inventory while the 5th step is to share it with someone and then burn the list.  I wrote everything down, shared it, and now have let it go.

     I will be the first to admit that it’s not as if it doesn’t hurt anymore or that the problem is gone, but it does give me the freedom to get it out of my system so that the re-living of the moment can stop.  It hasn’t resolved the issue as yet, but it let’s me move on with my life with a cleansing that is ever so helpful.  I believe it is better to try some “Letter Therapy” than point fingers and play the blame game in your head until it is debilitating and is affecting other areas in your life.

     I wish you only the best this holiday season!  If you happen to run into some trouble that cannot be immediately resolved, try some “Letter Therapy” and move on.  Things will work out in the end, but if the end is nowhere in sight, this is a great alternative until your path leads you to a better solution.

The Jewel Within

I was asked to speak at a small women’s event tomorrow and thought I would share my thoughts on this most important subject.  Start by watching this amazing YouTube video by clicking on this link:
My birthday is right close to Valentine’s Day.  What that means is as I was growing up my seven brothers and one sister would be taken to the store to buy gifts for me and that the selection at Thrifty’s was mostly wrapped around the holiday.  I would receive an extra large Hershey Kiss, teddy bears with hearts on them, heart-shaped pillows, you get the idea.  Some brothers would go in and buy something together, but one particular year, my older brother bought me something just from him.  He then proceeded to wrap that gift in a brown paper grocery bag.  No wrapping paper, no ribbon or bows, no card, a brown paper bag.

At first I was disappointed at the lack of time taken for my special day and was even a bit taken aback by this notion of not having my present wrapped properly.  This thought quickly left as I opened the gift to see what was inside.  The moment I removed the “wrapping paper”, I was blessed with a beautiful gift and promptly forgot about the ugly brown paper bag it had come in.

Why are we so critical of the gift wrap when we know that something beautiful is inside?

I have seen even little girls be critical of each other.  As teenagers it’s worse.  You might have a great sense of self and high self-esteem and then someone says something critical to you and the doubt can set in.  We then move into our 20’s and 30’s and for some of us that means child-bearing years.  Bearing a child is a beautiful endeavor, but it can leaves rips and tears in our gift wrap that we forget to see as beautiful battle scars of the least selfish act in the universe.  If we are lucky enough to live through our 40’s and longer, gravity becomes your enemy and your metabolism goes in the toilet.  A bitter pill to swallow.

My gift wrap has changed over the years.  I came into this world with the biggest chubby cheeks you can imagine.  I didn’t like the dirt and when I crawled would literally stop and brush my hand off each “step”, which is ironic considering I mountain bike in the dirt all the time now.  I’ve broken bones, had a million different haircuts and lots of crazy clothes as I was a product of the 80’s.  I have given birth to three kids, been overweight and underweight, been in shape and out of shape, have worn make-up and haven’t worn make-up, got a tattoo, and have finally embraced my gray as I’m now a full-fledged Gram with 2 beautiful grandkids.  My gift wrap has seen some serious travels.

I recently have been studying and pondering women and positivity.  I’m so dedicated to this cause that I quit my full time position in a business my husband and I own to pursue a way to help women be more positive by taking practical steps in their lives.  I created a weekly blog called Lauri’s Lemonade Stand to inject positivity in women.  I look for ways to uplift, inspire and bring hope.  I sometimes just look for things to laugh about because a good belly laugh is always a good thing.  In this pursuit I have learned a few things about myself.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:
  1. My soul is young and eternal.  My inside doesn’t feel old.  I feel young as a puppy playing with a new toy.
  2. I am the only one who can do my job here on earth.  There is no one else like me.  I am as unique as a snowflake and the world needs me.
  3. My experiences have refined who I am.  I have laughed, cried, been vexed in love, worried, fretted, been cheerful and full of happiness.  Not all of my choices have been good ones, but even the poor choices have helped mold me into who I am today.
  4. I can change my attitude and outlook on life.  I can gain new perspectives, learn new tricks, and change the things I want to change to create a better me.
  5. If I am ever in doubt of my divine nature, I simply need to say a prayer and my Heavenly Father assures me of my infinite worth with his sweet spirit.  He knows my fears, he knows my dreams, he knows who I am and who I am becoming.  He has been forced to be a patient teacher with me as his student.
We are all in a different stage of life and have diverse types and colors and patterns of gift wrap.  It would be rather dull and boring if all of our gift wrap was the same, wouldn’t it?  Let me propose that whatever gift wrap you are currently wearing that it is perfect and unique to you.  Wherever you are is exactly where we are supposed to be.  What if you don’t like the situation you are currently in?  I give you the words of Jeffrey R Holland:

Don’t give up, don’t you quit.
You keep walking, you keep trying.
There is help and happiness ahead.
It will all be all right in the end.
Trust God and believe in good things to come.

There is a jewel in each of you. Jewels are only made through some sort of adversity.  Did you know that diamonds are formed at a crazy high temperature and pressure 87 to 118 miles down in the earth’s mantle?  The growth occurs over periods from 1 billion to 3 billion years!  Amethyst is formed in gas cavities of lava!  Lava!  Rubies are formed only when there is a small impurity of chemicals in just the right atmosphere.  Emeralds are created when exposed to extreme hot water, cooled down and then pass through hot water again.  Lava hot water from what my studies found.  Pearls are formed only when a grain of sand is embedded into a mollusk.  Then in self defense, the mollusk creates layer after layer of mother-of-pearl until the iridescent gem is formed.

Now I am not suggesting that we need to seek out tough times to cultivate our jewel within.  What I am saying is that nobody’s life or gift wrap is perfect, but that our jewel within is being created for the eternities.  We are not earthly beings have a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience.  Be proud of your gift wrap, be patient with your adversities and challenges, be happy knowing that our kind Father in Heaven knows you personally and has always seen the jewel within.  Cultivate your jewel be seeing the good in yourself.  Try to be more cheerful and positive.  Have hope that things will be all right in the end because they will.  Trust in God and in the good things to come.  Be happy and then share your happiness with others so that their jewels can also be cultivated.

5 Analogies I Learned While Riding My Bike

5 Analogies I Learned While Riding My Bike This Morning
Fancy’s Neptune’s Net Ride
          1)  Enjoy the Moments  My ride this morning took me through neighborhoods, long stretches of farmland where they were growing artichokes, bell peppers in yellow and red, celery, and acres of sod.  It went past a naval station, a shooting range, hiking and camping areas, and miles of beach along the Pacific Ocean where people were walking their pets or out in the water surfing it up.  Don’t forget to look up every once in awhile and enjoy your surroundings.  We get so busy with life that we forget to look up and enjoy these little moments of beauty that surround us daily.

 

          2)  Share the Road  This morning found me on a lonely 30-mile ride and while it was beautiful, it’s much more fun to bring a buddy.  I enjoy riding with my husband or friends or my daughter.  Due to different levels of fitness, I highly recommend a tandem.  It evens up the odds in a hurry and it’s easier to visit.  While tandems are certainly fun, you have to work “in tandem” or it’s literally a train wreck.  Which foot to have on the pedal when you start, which foot you will put down first when you stop, shifting your weight carefully so you don’t weeble-wobble and fall right over.  Share your life.  It is much more fun when you have a buddy to share the road or to simply go “in tandem”.
          3)  Think Happy Thoughts  Let’s face it, this life can be a cess pool of negativity.  Here’s an example of that on my ride this morning…it was 46 degrees and I hate the cold.  My Garmin wouldn’t work so I wasn’t able to see how far I went, how many calories I had burned, what time it was, and how my heart rate was doing.  There was a horrible head-wind that made me work much harder on the way home.  It took ten minutes longer than my ride out.  My fingers were freezing and at one point I couldn’t feel my toes.  Some of the drivers definitely are NOT observing the 3-foot rule and made me nervous coming so close.  And some parts of the beach ride just smell plain fishy…and I don’t like fish!  Why did I do this by myself?  I should have just stayed home.  Here’s what actually happened…I was cold for awhile, but reminded myself of how blazing hot it had been this summer and was glad for the change in season that finally appeared.  My Garmin didn’t work so I decided to just enjoy the ride and not worry about my heart rate or how long it would take me to finish.  I was cold during spots, but enjoyed the morning sunshine as it warmed me up to get through the next cold spell.  The headwinds are a blessing in disguise as while I’m slower, they make me stronger.  I was grateful for good health that allowed me the opportunity to ride my bike and for the quiet time it provided me to think of all these analogies!
          4)  Embrace Your Own Journey  While there were not a lot of other cyclists out as early as I was this morning, I passed a few.  And then one passed me!  My initial reaction is always, “Man, I’m slow” or “Speed up!  Quick!  Don’t let this guy pass you!”  Why?  Why do we compare ourselves to others so often?  I’m enjoying my Garmin-Free ride over here moving like molasses through this headwind…I don’t need to compare myself to the rest of the world.  Embrace your own journey in this life.  There is no one else like you, period.  So why would you want to take someone else’s journey?  This is yours…own it.

 

          5)  Always Another Hill  My tooshie is sore after all the hills.  I admit it.  But there is always another hill.  Those hills build character, strength, resolve, and tighten my rear end.  That’s a huge benefit!  I ride with a group of guys on Thursday afternoons and one hill in particular is called “Power Line”.  It is insanely steep and it takes just plain power and grit to climb.  A few weeks ago, one of the guys told me he’d never made it up so I climbed with him and became the best little cheerleader you could imagine (without pompoms of course).  He made it!  And you know what?  Last week we went to that same hill and he did it again and it wasn’t as hard as the first time.  Those hills make you stronger and give you the confidence to tackle it again.  In life there is always another hill.  I enjoy the downhill and the coasting, but I know that hills are just a part of my life.  Just as in my bike riding (whether mountain or road), they are building muscles, creating experiences, and giving me confidence to tackle even bigger hills in the future.

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!
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