Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day #36 & #37: This is my mantra

I have decided that it is time for me to adopt a mantra. Mantra comes from the Vedic tradition of India, and is a word that is considered capable of "creating transformation." Hindus and Buddhists repeats certain mantras over and over again until they become second nature, and cause a transformation within. It's time for my mantra, and I will repeat it as many times as necessary, until I am transformed. It is time to learn to accept, feel, and let go of all that has wounded me in the past, and to effectively handle present, and future wounds. It goes something like this:

1. I must acknowledge that someone or something has hurt me.
2. I must accept that someone or something has hurt me.
3. I must allow myself to feel (I mean really feel) whatever emotion that hurtful person or thing has caused me to feel.
4. I will forgive.
4. Finally, I will drop it and let it go.

My prior coping mechanisms, to say the least, have been down right bad. I belonged to two camps: hold on to the wound, that gaping bleeding wound, for as long as possible, or disguise it with some delectable and beautiful facade. I used to have this tremendous capacity within me to store every bothersome word, every heart wrenching word or action, never once considering that maybe, just maybe it was time to let it go. Instead, I adopted a masochistic tendency to keep adding salt to the wound, never allowing it to heal. On the other side of the spectrum, I would take that gaping wound and cover it with the fluffiest whipped cream I could find, sprinkle it with delicious rainbow sprinkles, and finally top it off with what else, a cherry. Here is the problem with this doesn't allow the wound to heal either. Forgive the medical analogy, but if you don't see the wound and treat the wound with the appropriate therapy, it will never ever heal.

So why now? Well, it's amazing what happens when a completely objective third party looks into your eyes, and tells you, "it's time to feel everything. It's time to feel the pain, the anger, the hurt, because you will never be able to move past it if you do not allow that feeling to surface." Of course, I was completely taken aback. What do you mean my victim mentality or shove it under the rug mantra isn't working? After I exhaled, sat for a moment, and processed everything that was said, I came to this realization; this person is right.

To feel, to really feel. Not happy, bubbly, Pollyanna feelings. No, black, dark, ugly, putrid feelings. I remember sitting in my car frozen, thinking, how do I feel this? I didn't know if I could. Then, something remarkable happened. I acknowledged the feeling, accepted the feeling, and then simply allowed the feeling to come through. I got pissed. I was angry, I wanted to scream, and throw things. I had never felt this anger before. Most importantly, I felt it, I really felt it. Every bit of rage and pain precipitated out of my body.

I kept asking myself, "is it ok for me to feel this anger?" Isn't some blissfully happy life coach going to tell me that anger just isn't good for you. "It's going to give you wrinkles!" The fact of the matter is anger is a human emotion, and sometimes, we just have to feel it. I read somewhere that the words anger, wrath, and fury appear over 600 times in the bible. Even God gets angry, and he releases His anger, and depending on what you believe, boy, does He ever release His anger! Simply put, anger must be felt or we turn into some ticking nuclear time bomb just waiting for someone to push our little red button.

I finally said to myself, "ok, I'm feeling it, now what to I do?" I remember listening to Liz Gilbert's book, and I remember her retelling the story of her time in an ashram in India. While there, she met a man who would become one of her dearest friends, Richard. I remember one scene in particular where Liz goes on and on about her ex-boyfriend, and how much she loved him and missed him, and if only they could give it one more go. Richard then said to her, and I will never forget this, "Groceries, so love him, so miss him, and then drop it." Drop it. Let it go. Feel it, forgive, and then release it into the universe. Release all of that negative energy back into the universe, and make room for all of the good energy that can now enter.

Hinduism preaches the idea of karma, meaning that every good or bad thing we do somehow comes back to us. They believe if you focus on thoughts of happiness and positive energy, you will also receive positive energy in return. However, if you perpetuate feelings of anger and negativity, then of course, this is what the universe will give back to you. Positive thinking is continually reinforced, and it is believed that the optimist is the one who will remain happy until the very end. So, in summary: acknowledge it, accept, feel it, forgive it, and then drop it. Ganhdi once wrote, “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” Allow the sum of your thoughts to ooze optimism and scream with positivity, and then sit back and enjoy the happiness.

"I am a little deaf, a little blind, a little impotent, and on top of this are two or three abominable infirmities, but nothing destroys my hope." ~Voltaire

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day #34 & #35: you have my heart, you are my heart

I have been listening to Liz Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" lately. In fact, I listened to it in its entirety on my trip to South Carolina. It's amazing how reflective you can become when you are alone for 8 hours with nothing but your thoughts. In many ways, Ms. Gilbert's story speaks volumes to me. I can really relate to this woman...searching for spirituality, heartbreak after heartbreak, and stumbling upon true love (I'm still waiting for that part :) ). She talks a great deal about God and love, and loving yourself and loving those around you. After my weekend with one of my dearest and best friends, having a chance to see my brother and sister in law, and deep personal reflection, courtesy of a road trip, accompanied by the wise words of Liz Gilbert, I have come to the conclusion that it is my family and my friends who have my heart, and are my heart.

I wish I was better about telling people how I really feel about them. It seems so much easier to compliment a perfect stranger than to tell your sibling or closest friend that you love them. Isn't it also strange that we seem to hurt the ones we love the most, and reserve our sweet tendencies for those that are certainly not deserving. I've decided I want to stop this less than stellar trend, and let all of the people in my life know how special you are to me, and how complete my life is because of your love and friendship.

First of all, I have the most remarkable family. I have a mother and father who left behind the only lives that they knew in distant lands, and came to this country searching for a better life for themselves and for their children. They instilled in me a sense of duty, honor, respect, and most importantly a deep and profound love of family. I have two of the best siblings a girl could ever imagine. A brother with a sweet and gentle demeanor, who has taken on and accepted the role of protector and male role model after the loss of our father. He has done so with grace and dignity, and I know for certain he is making our father proud. To my sister who is strong and able, yet kind and gentle in her own way. She is my role model because of her endless devotion to causes she is passionate about and because she lives life with such conviction. I am so thankful for my dear cousin Karen, who I have finally had the chance to get close to over these many years. She is one of the loveliest human beings I know. And to my brother in law and sister in law...I couldn't have asked for or picked better people to be my siblings' partners. You are the other brother and sister I have always wanted.

To my friends, you are my chosen family, and I love you. My dearest and best friend Heather, you are my sister, and I cherish our friendship. You are a friend, a guide, and always there for me. To my other dear friend Amy...I feel like in many ways we are kindred spirits and most importantly travel have held me up during some of the lowest points in my life, and are always there for me when I need someone to talk me out of doing something stupid. To my dearest friend Missy, who is such an inspiration to me. I see what you have accomplished, and what a wonderful mother and human being you are. You leave me in awe. To Margo, I am so honored to call you a friend and travel companion. You have taught me to be strong and independent, and follow your heart. To Kristen Z for being my friend since childhood, and despite difficulty, for standing by my side when I needed you. To Kristen A, we have bonded over an event so painful, that somehow, I feel like you are one of the few people on the planet that understands my pain, because you have also experienced it. To Ilana, for your sweetness and kindness. You are the kindest person I know. To Nick M. for being my big brother, and for being my foundation when I felt like I was going to fall. To Kate, one of the most amazing people I know. I'm so glad that not only can my sister call you a friend, but so can I. To Sara, you are remarkable, and are one of the purest and most sincere people I know. I feel lucky to call you a friend. To Chad and Oscar for just being fabulous. I love you guys! To my work friends, you make it a pleasure to go to work everyday. And to anyone I may not have are all so special to me. And of course, my sweet furry children Kate and Casey. You are my babies :)

So, thank you all for being a a part of my life. You are my happiness and my joy. Aristotle wrote that “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” My existence is that much fuller and that much full of purpose because I know each and everyone of you. I want you each to know how much you mean to me and how much I love you. I am indeed, the luckiest girl in the world.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day #32 & #33: Life is like a box of chocolates...

In the words of Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." Well Forrest, I'm not so sure about that. Sure, things may happen in life that surprises the hell out of us, but I have this theory, that life brings you exactly what you are meant to have at the exact moment you are meant to have it. I think we just need to learn to open our eyes and become more aware of all of the happenings around us.

Ok, so I will admit it, I am completely oblivious when it comes to certain things. I'm the last person to notice if a celebrity is leisurely strolling across my path, if the rain has just began to fall and soaking my hair, or if God forbid a guy is checking me out...I am just plain oblivious. And I wonder, has this been part of my problem? I think many of us go through life with blinders on, and when the unexpected happens, or should I say the expected that we just don't notice happens, our world is shaken to its core and we just don't know how to come up for air without drowning. How many of us have moaned and groaned that we just can't meet someone, nobody ever notices us, etc.... Well, in my experience, and as many of my dearest and closest friends have lovingly said to me..."Michelle, get your head out of the sand, and see...they do notice you. You just don't notice them!!"

Oprah Winfrey wrote, "I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we're not wise enough to see it." Buddhism preaches the power of karma, and Christianity reinforces the idea that God only gives you what you are capable of handling. It seems as if remaining oblivious has become the easy way to go through life, almost like adopting the concept of ignorance. Truthfully, going through life with eyes wide open and a heart wide open, is a little scary. There's always a risk of getting hurt, but have we ever noticed that it is the ones that go through life with a heart full and open to accepting love that have found what true happiness really is?

Alright, so I have come to the point in my life where I am taking off my blinders, opening my eyes, and well, just putting it out there. I have learned that an open heart and an open mind is so much more rewarding. So, I think we all need to put down the defenses, and go up to that stranger we find attractive and strike up a conversation, or approach that classmate that has captured our fancy for some time. Sure, there's a chance that that individual may not reciprocate, but then again, there's a chance that the universe is finally bringing you what you've been asking for. It just that we need to be willing to notice it and accept it. It was once written by William Jennings Bryan that "Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." Imagine all of the beauty, and the scenery for that matter, if we all just opened our eyes wide in order to see all of the's just lovely.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day #30 & #31: his sign is finally and ready for business.

In an episode of Sex in the City, Miranda declared that "men are like taxis." A man comes to a point in his life when heis ready, open, and willing to enter into a long-term committed relationship. Of course, the ready and willing lady has to be ready to hail her available cab. The trick is knowing when that light is on, and when he is finally ready to let you enter the cab.

I find this concept very interesting. I keep wondering if there's some predestined, predetermined point at which a man comes to the great revelation that "whoa, dude, I'm ready...let's turn that magical life-altering light." The problem is, unlike New York city cabs that seem to available in a great abundance requiring one to take one's life into your hands to dodge them, there does not seem to be a surplus of men with their "lights on." So, what is a gal to do?

In some sense, there is a real beauty to this process. Yes, patience is a virtue, but it's not so much about waiting around for him, but more about finding out who we are, and discovering what spectacular beings we are. How about's not that we are waiting for them, it's that's our kindred spirit has not yet found us. I would like to say no, rather, I would like to declare that maybe, just maybe, it's time that we stop play the waiting game, and just start living life. Life should not be about waiting around for him, waiting for him to flip on the switch...hell, what about our switch?

It was once written that, "Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before finding the right one, so that when we finally find the right one, we will know how to be grateful." I do not believe in the concept of the knight in shining armor, but I most certainly believe in the idea of a kindred spirit. A kindred spirit is a noun defined as "a person who shares beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or features with another." Wow, do you think we could have him attach a resume to his lit taxi light...I know that would certainly help me narrow down my prospects. The point is, it's not as simple as a illuminated light...there's much more to it than that. It really is about finding that kindred spirit, about finding the person that shares your beliefs and ideas, and that you just seem to, pardon the expression, jive with. So, really, it's not so much about is he ready, rather it's more about two people, both declaring I'm ready and willing, and allowing all the energy in the universe to bring both of you together. That's what I call open and ready for business.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day #28 & #29: I have the right to take care of me.

I have been talking to quite a few people about the idea of self care. Call it occupational hazard, but burn out and martyrdom is a reality for most care providers. The desire to take care of and coddle everyone else overpowers the innate need to care of self first. I'm not sure when taking care of oneself become synonymous with selfishness, but it's a phenomenon that needs to be put to an end, and as quickly as possible.

According to the Webster's dictionary, a martyr is defined as the following: 1)a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion; 2) a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle; 3) victim. The part of the definition that strikes a core with me is the idea of sacrifice. It remarks about the sacrifice of something for the sake of principle. I'd like to dispute is it of any value to sacrifice the care of oneself at the expense of everyone else? How can this make anyone a good care provider? Caring for others begins by caring for oneself first.

We are made to feel that self care is narcissistic, selfish, even arrogant. This only creates guilt and self-doubt, and destroys can esteem or spirit that we have. The fact of the matter is, there is nothing wrong with taking 15 minutes in the day to read, to write, to polish our nails, to do whatever it is that brings us happiness and takes care of our spirit. We must nurture ourselves first, because the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship we will ever have. We've all been in that horrid relationship that is destructive and creates self-loathing. Imagine having a destructive relationship with yourself...not a good basis for anything in life.

Buddhists believe that meditation brings self-awareness, and that from self-awareness comes inner strength and the ability to help others who are in need. Chuang Tzu wrote "The perfect man of old looked after himself first before looking to help others." There it is...taking care of yourself is NOT selfish, and allows you to care for others more effectively and with more heart and compassion. So, everyone, take time to care for yourself. Do what it is that you love, whether it's reading a book, cooking a meal, or perusing the Internet; it doesn't matter, as long as the activity is good for you and for your spirit. I'd like to leave you with an article by Cindy Ricardo, LMHC from In it, she provides 5 exercises to improve self-care with assertiveness:
1. Engage in a personal growth activity such as attending therapy sessions geared towards exploring your inner thoughts and connecting with your needs.

2. Learn to say no when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

3. Pay attention to your body and make sure that you are meeting your own needs for sleep, nutrition and exercise.

4. Learn to incorporate time for play, fun and laughter into your life.

5. Pursue your interest and the things you have put off doing as a result of placing other’s needs before your own.

Let's all practice these principles, and see how important and fulfilling it is to love self, and then enjoy sharing that love and joy with everyone around you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day #27: The rebuttle.

A couple of days ago, I posted a message on Facebook asking for suggestions for my blog. What was so wonderful was that not only did I get a response, but I got the male counter-argument to my female argument. I've been wondering for some time about what my male counterpart would have to say. Am I completely off mark? Is there something we have to learn from each other? Maybe, we need to open our eyes and ears and start listening to each other.

As it was explained to me, a boy goes through a journey in life to ultimately become a man. There are many trials and tribulations. Games are played, lessons are learned, and eventually that man learns that stories of drunken nights and loose women pail in comparison to sharing real intimacy with another human being. Eventually, that man reaches a point when all of the boyhood folly just isn't fun any longer, and he comes to realize that it's time to shed that armor and be vulnerable.

Why don't we listen to each other? Why is it more of a he said she said, rather than slowing down and hearing each others' point of view. We are taught in school to be objective and to listen to both sides of the story. Yet, when it comes to relationships, we become narrow minded. It's all about what "I" think, what "I" far as I know, "I" does not equal a relationship. This isn't to say that we should lose who we are and adapt the "my other half attitude." If you have read my blog, you absolutely know my take on that. Rather, it's more about just being understanding and working together.

It all boils down to this...communication is key. Men need to learn to open up and share their feelings, while women need to learn to listen and accept what is being said. Women do not want another father, and men do not want another mother. We have both of each already. What we want is a partner. Leo F. Buscaglia wrote "A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself - to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day #25 & #26: To purge or not to purge...that is the question.

I've had an insanely productive day. I have single-handedly cleaned out every closet, drawer, shelf, nook, cranny, my wee condo. It feels as if 10 pounds have been lifted off my shoulders, and now I can sit back on my comfy sofa, and enjoy my clean, organized, and clutter-free abode. While I was cleaning and discarding old and useless items, I began to think about the concept of purging all of that left over junk from previous, cards, letters, gifts, etc... I wonder why many of us find it so easy to get rid of that $100 pair of jeans we don't wear anymore, but yet we hold on to old memories of relationships gone bad.

Admit it, we all have that box somewhere, either at our house, our parents' house, or a storage unit, filled with memorabilia of our past relationships. We occasionally open them to take a visit down memory lane. In reality, I'd liken it more to Scrooge's journey with the ghost of Christmas past, except this is a journey through the ghosts of relationship pasts. I have to wonder after my marathon cleaning session, why in the world would we want to keep anything that reminds us of relationships that have ended in heartache?

Think about it...why should we keep cards and letters and gifts from someone who has shaken us and hurt us to our very core? It seems silly to want to have any memory of the despicable behavior of someone we trusted with our hearts, only to have it shattered into a thousand little pieces in the end. I'm guilty of opening Pandora's box of relationship pasts, only to find that it did not conjure up warm fuzzy memories of days gone by. In fact, it pissed me off and made me remember all of the pain and crap that individual had put me through.

On my hard drive, I had a relic of a relationship past. A collection of photos of a certain someone, neatly arranged in a folder named "Do not look at this right now." The other night, I sat there and with a heavy heart scrolled through the photos yet again. Then it occurred to me...why am I saving something that I really need not look at again? It was NOT something to look at later, it was something to get rid of as soon as possible. This person will never be part of my life again, nor is he my beloved. So why hold on to it. Sure, I can remember a few happy moments we spent together, but the sum of the whole equaled complete and utter disaster. So, without a wince, I moved my mouse over the ubiquitous folder, and deleted it. And, you know what, it felt surprisingly good!

To me, that symbolized my readiness to move on, and put the ghosts of my relationship past behind me. I've come to the conclusion that I cannot move forward, and look forward to a future with a wonderful man, if I don't let go of the demons that once haunted me. So I have exorcised the demons. I think we should all take a moment, reflect on our relationship days gone by, and then simply let them go. Imagine how wonderful it will be to release that which has ended in misery, only to make room for a a positive and happy relationship that leaves us floating on air and with butterflies in our stomach. That's what I have finally made room for :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day #24: Control....I surrender.

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all want control. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, there is within each and every one of us a little control freak biting and scratching to get out. Now, some of us have allowed the control freak to escape, while others of us keep it hang-cuffed to our inner being, reserving the key to unlock the cuffs when necessary. This isn't to say control is bad. What is bad is when we try to control everything, particularly the things that are completely and utterly uncontrollable. This is when the need for precision, perfection, and restraint consumes us, and prohibits us from enjoying the spontaneity of life.

I am, or should I say, WAS the one who let her inner freak dominate. "Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a control-a-holic.....hi, Michelle!" Everything I did and aspired to do came down to one thing, having complete control over the situation. Part of me can understand why I developed this inexplicable desire to keep everything tightly under my numb. You see, there has been so many surprises, the tragic ones in particular, in my life that have driven me to seek control so that I can prevent anymore disappointment and heartache. The problem is in trying to control things that just simply cannot be controlled. It's like playing a game you will never win, or searching for a secret that does not exist. The real power comes in learning how to let go, and relinquishing and expelling the inner control freak.

Some things, of course, require control...bills, assignments, your own actions...these are all within our control. However, we cannot control other people, particularly the actions of other people, the happenings of the universe, and above all...the weather! Ha ha!! In all seriousness, I am not saying that everything should be laissez faire, what am I saying is that in order to live a happy life, we have to accept that there are just things that must happen despite all the intervention in the world. Whether you believe things are predestined, or that everything happens by coincidence, regardless, there is no control when it comes to many of life's milestones....birth, love, tragedy, miracles, and death.

Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, an internist, researcher, and author wrote that you cannot know the outcome of events in your life, only that we can base choices on our own projection, and hope for the best. He paraphrased an old Chinese story in a recent posting, retold by Eckhard Tolle. "A man wins a new car in a lottery. All his friends tell him how lucky he is. His only response is "maybe". A few weeks later, he has an accident in the new car and ends up in the hospital. His friends tell him that it is a tragedy. His response is "maybe". While he is in the hospital there is a nighttime electrical fire in his house. If he were there, he surely would have died. His friends tell him how lucky he is. His response is "maybe". The point of the story is that things can continue to go on and on, and despite our best attempts at control,we really don't know what will happen.

Dr. Lipsenthal recommends that we live our lives guided by what socially, and morally works for each of us, knowing that we did all that we could do..."tried well, loved well, and served well." He conjectures that acceptance along with gratitude on a daily basis allows us to make everyday a good day, making the journey of life less predictable, but with more fun and more spontaneity then we could every imagine. So live with purpose, but more importantly learn to bend and twist with the change of the winds of life. You never know, what you thought should be, but what ends up being may turn out one hundred times better than you could have ever imagined.

"As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong, Julia, or you, too, will break."
-- Julia Butterfly Hill

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day #23: There's no telling what tomorrow will bring.

What a day this has been. It started at just another work day; shower, coffee, commute, patients, and paperwork. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea what I was in store for. My day started off as usual. I was in clinic at 8am, seeing patients, diligently dictating notes, checking labs, and periodically checking my work email between patients. What I did not expect to receive was a message at 11:30 informing the campus that a shooting had occurred. I did a double take for a second, and almost didn't believe what I was reading. After I saw my last patient, I had to go investigate, and found out from co-workers the extent of the situation. I discovered the situation was more severe than I had thought. The media had descended upon our great institution, we were all on lock down, and all of us were glued to our computer screen. Fortunately, I was in another building when the incident occurred. However, my thoughts were always with the helpless people entrenched in the thick of the situation.

The day reminded me that the unexpected can occur at the blink of an eye, and that none of us are promised tomorrow. I remember this all too vividly after losing my father. I will never forget that day...a dreary humid June morning. I was home from college on break and spending my days working as a barista and my nights spent with my then boyfriend. The day progressed as usual, with a light drizzle that came and went. I even remember the flaired, button up jeans I was wearing (forgive my fashion choice, that was the style!). And then it happened, my whole world as I knew it came abruptly crashing down all around me. I knew from that day forward that my life would never be the same.

This is the effect of tragic human events. A loss, a tragedy, will change our inner being forever. At that point, the choice must be made to allow the tragedy to consume and destroy us, or to grow and learn, and forge ahead with even more determination and more appreciation of life. I have learned not only from my father, but from family, friends, and patients, that life must be lived to the fullest each and every day. Harper Lee wrote in "To Kill a Mockingbird," "There are some kind of men who are so busy worrying about the next life, they've never learned to live in this one."

My attitude about life has become one that allows me to smile when I feel like crying, to exhale when I want to scream, and to reflect when I want to react. A Turkish proverb proclaims, “Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” I'm reminded on a daily basis how fragile life is, and because of this, I want to live each day I am granted to the absolute fullest.

I know we all learned something from today, and I hope it involves more understanding, love, and appreciation of the beauty of life. We have this one life, and why would we not want to make it one of joy, happiness, and accomplishment. Love your family and friends. Even love your enemies; you never know when you will need them. Hug people instead of shaking their hands. Smile at a complete stranger. Hold your baby, kitty cat, or puppy as much as possible. Above all, love yourself, and live the best life you possibly can. I'd like to leave you with a poem by Charlotte Bronte. She so eloquently described in verse the peaks and valleys of life. Life has its moments of light, and its moments of darkness, but in the end it is hope that sustains us.

by Charlotte Bronte

LIFE, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall ?

Rapidly, merrily,
Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily,
Enjoy them as they fly !

What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away ?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O'er hope, a heavy sway ?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair !

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day #21 & #22: 1/2 a person + 1/2 a person=a whole? Really?!

I was driving home after a dinner out with a fantastic group of nurse practitioners, when I started listening to one of those "love/dedication" programs on some light radio station. I was listening to a caller, a woman with three young children, divorced for over a year, who called in to proclaim after bitterness and heartache, that she had found her "other half" and that her life was complete. Of course, I first sat in my seat stunned, and then like a knee-jerk reaction, shouted out loud, "No, No, No!!! You are not half a person looking for your other half! You are already a whole person!"

After my blood pressure and pulse returned to normal, I began to think more about this idea of "the other half," "your better half," or "a soulmate." How many of us have been told or have read the elegantly constructed love story about a man and a woman who after years of longing, found each other haphazardly, finally to discover that they had found the one that completes them. Apparently, for $223, you can purchase The Soulmate Kit (I kid you not,, and will receive "everything you need to find, attract, and manifest the love of your life." If it's really that easy, then sign me up!

To me the real danger is in believing that life will only be complete until you find that ONE person. In the mean time, you go through life in a constant state of disappointment, always waiting for something or someone to finish the puzzle. Now, please do not misconstrue what I'm saying as bleak or pessimistic. Believe me, I so want to find a man to share my life with, and have a spiritual bond. However, I do not believe that I am a "half" wondering this Earth hopelessly until I meet the piece that fits and suddenly awakens me. I am whole and complete just as I am, and that's what makes me a beautiful and unique individual.

Ade Almeida, a relationship author, wrote that if you are not "whole" by yourself, then you will not have much to offer someone when it comes time to be in a relationship. You must do whatever it takes to develop and nurture our entire self, discover your spiritual prowess, your essence in life, before you devote yourself to another human being. Self devotion is number one above all. Jo Courdert wrote, "You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never lose."

So, no, I am not a half, I'm a whole, and I am looking for another whole to share my life with. I am looking for a whole to love me, respect me, and share his life with me. In return, I want to love him, respect him, and share my life with him. I do not need to be completed, because I've already found what completes me, and it's encompassed in this one little body. I need someone to complement me, and be my partner in this fascinating journey called life.

“I don't like myself, I'm crazy about myself” -Mae West

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day #20: Gentlemen, I am not a song and dance woman.

I have been thinking quite a bit about my past relationships, more so about their demises than anything else. I think I've found a common theme in most of them...the emotionally unavailable man, and the woman who did everything but do back flips to get his attention. OK, so, unfortunately, my choices of men in the past have been less than stellar. I wish they would come with some type of visible barometer to gauge their levels of relationship readiness...a) ready and willing, let's jump in; b) getting warmer, but not quite there yet; c) ewww, I'm a little too icy right now; and d) back away and run if you know what is good for you!!

Sadly, most of the men I have dated have fallen into category c and d, and believe you me, it was hard work dating them. Any man that requires you to stand on your head, juggle with one hand, recite the alphabet backwards, and don a lady gaga inspired flame throwing bra, well, is frankly not worth your time. I've been there, I've done it, and you know what, I'm done with it! Women do not deserve to date men that require you to constantly work at getting his attention so he realizes and acknowledges how wonderful you are. Here's a notion, it should already have gotten through his thick noggin the moment you met him that you are wonderful, and beautiful, and absolutely deserving of a happy and fulfilling relationship.

Let me tell you a bit about my dating past, in the hopes that you won't make the same mistakes that I've made. If a man gives you crap for putting eyeliner on to go to a party, or belittles you for having a closet full of shoes, or comments that you probably should wear at bra at night when home to prevent, ahem, the girls from heading south, well, he's just a shithead and should be swiftly kicked to the curb. In addition, if he suddenly neglects to call you for two days and begins acting obtuse and distant after he's professed how wonderful you are (feeling the bipolar vibe here) move on! If his friends treat you terribly, and he defends them, move away, move far, far away. Finally, if he puts a caveat on your exclusivity, such as "I guess we'll see what happens" run, do not look back!

My point is that relationships should not be this difficult, and they should not be laced with destructive criticism, or hurtful ambivalence. Yes, relationship require work, and work from both people for that matter, but the overall ratio of joy should far exceed that of sadness. I've seen people struggle in relationships that were bottomless pits, only to find themselves scratching and pawing to get out at the end. Thus, if he's not making you happy, if you are doing all the work and he's lounging around without a care in the world, it is time to drop him, and find a real man who is ready and willing to be with the wonderful woman that is you.

This is what we all deserve, and what we should all strive for. In a post by Lynette Schafer, she remarks that a good relationship is built on the following six characteristics: 1)humility, 2)attentiveness, 3)generosity, 4)inspiration, 5) courage, and 6) perspective. I'd like to add to this and include respect, communication, and admiration. An unknown author so poignantly gave the following advice when looking for the right man, “Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep... wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you're just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky his is to have you.... The one who turns to his friends and says, 'that's her.”

In conclusion, I think Oscar Wilde had it right when he said, "How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being." Even when your eyebrows are in desperate need of waxing, you just don't feel like shaving your legs, and you'd much rather wear your flannel jammies than that lacy nightgown, it shouldn't and doesn't matter, because the person he loves is you, not an illusion or an act. Genuine you...what could be better :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day #19: I have confidence in phenomenal me.

"I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!"

"I have confidence" from the Sound of Music

I love this song, and I love it even more since I've turned 30. Not only does it provoke wonderful childhood memories of watching this movie with the family over and over again, but it jars something within me that makes me realize I am a confident 30 year old woman, and my plan is to stay that way. Hervey Allen wrote about turning thirty: "The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits."

Turning 30 looks good on me, and frankly, it looks good on most 30 somethings. I think the most wonderful thing about turning 30 is finding the inner confidence and sense of self we so desperately tried to find in our teens and twenties. I'm starting to realize that those that balk at turning 30, and those that are still flitting about in the youthful daze of the twenties, have no idea how wonderful 30 really is. It's like opening the door to a fantastical new world, where all is right, and nothing is impossible. It's about standing on two strong legs with a head held high. It is one of the most significant chapters in one's life story.

In some proverbial and mystical way, I have always had this sense that my life would reach fruition at a much later time than most. I think in my twenties I was still too stalled by the loss of my father, drowning in a pool of self-doubt and grief, to know who I was and what I wanted. Sure, I made it through the normal flow of daily life without much difficult, but as for my spirit and sense of self, that had yet to be developed. Now, at 30, I am finally aware of who I am and what I want in life. The most remarkable thing is that I've come to realize that I really am my father's child, and that like my father, we have done things on our own time, to the beat of our own drum.

So, here I am, 30 and ready to take on the world. I feel more beautiful and alive at 30 than I ever did at 20 or 25 or 28 for that matter. To me, the world is full of endless possibilities, and the confidence that I have finally cultivated will allow me to weave my path with strength and purpose and to achieve my dreams in all of their splendor. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." With believing comes confidence, and with confidence comes action and delivery. I'd like to leave you with a poem by Maya Angelou that speaks volumes. Be phenomenal, whether you are a woman or a man. Be confident and dream big, and realize that 30 is truly wondrous.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them, They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms The span of my hips,
The stride of my step, The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
I walk into a room Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Men themselves have wondered What they see in me.
They try so much But they can't touch My inner mystery.
When I try to show them They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's the arch of my back, The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts, The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand, The need of my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

By Soror Maya Angelou

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day #17 & #18: Put it out there, ladies!

So this evening, I went out on a date with a very wonderful!! Sitting home on a Saturday night, I finally came to the conclusion that why in the world should I sit at home just because I'm single. Yes, yes, in the words of Charlotte from Sex and the City, Saturday is date night, but does that mean that all those wonderful single ladies out there should be deprived of quality time just because we don't have a date for the evening? I think not! I picked myself up, put on my lip gloss, mascara, and my glasses, and took myself to a movie. And...I sat in the movie with a huge popcorn and coke and enjoyed every second of it. It's one of the best times I've had in a long time. No distractions, no trying to make myself look attractive or act a certain way to win over a, it was all about me.

There seems to be this sense of security when we are out with someone else. Yet, when we are alone, somehow we can become so incredibly fragile and insecure. It's not to say that I've never felt this way. In fact, I was probably the poster child for, "Oh no, can't go out by myself...what will people think!" Why is it that we feel so helpless and even embarrassed to go out by ourselves on a Friday or Saturday night. Who cares what anybody thinks! The only person that matters, is you!

Here's the other argument. If you don't put yourself out there (i.e. go to the movies, a bar, a restaurant) alone, how in the world is it possible to meet someone. I'm sorry to break it to some people, but prince charming is not going to miraculously appear on the doorstep, while the damsel in distress sits at home waiting for her prince to come. Seriously, get real! We have to put ourselves out there, and if that means by ourselves, slightly vulnerable, than so be it. There is something so incredibly powerful about a woman who can pick herself up, take herself out, and say screw everyone else, this is for me!

The other beautiful thing about doing what you love, and enjoying time to yourself, is that there develops this indelible confidence that transcends, and actually makes you a more attractive partner. No partner wants to feel as if the other person's happiness depends entirely on them. We need to be able to find joy and happiness in ourselves, even if that means spending a Saturday night out alone. This allows us to be able to give more of ourselves to another human being, because we have a firm sense of self.

So, to everyone out there, I challenge you to take yourself out on date night at least once in your lifetime. See how it makes you feel, and enjoy the time with the wonderful human being that is you. Learn about yourself, discover your likes and dislikes, and heck, strike up a conversation with a total stranger if you can. You never know, that solo outing may just lead you to your beloved. Most importantly, it will teach you how strong and able you are, with or without someone beside you.

“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” - Lao Tzu

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day #16: The Harvest is upon us!

Gathering Leaves
by Robert Frost

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?

My favorite season is finally making its grand entrance! Autumn has arrived! I was out for a walk today, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to take a deep breath without inhaling toxic moisture filled fumes, coupled with 90 degree temperatures. It was absolutely lovely! It got me thinking about the symbolism of Autumn, and the importance of this passage of time.

Ironically, in much of literature, Autumn often represents melancholy. It's generally a time of deep reflection, prior to winter, or the end all if you will. I find this so perplexing, because for me, Autumn is a time of new beginnings. There is something about the cool crisp air and vibrant colors that awakens me. Autumn is often associated with the adult period of life, as opposed to summer or spring, which is the beginning or youth of life. For me, this takes on great symbolism because I feel as if I have finally transitioned into the adult period of my life, and what is so gratifying and so ironic is that just as I love Autumn, I too love the transition into adulthood.

What is also ironic is that in Keats' poem, To Autumn, many conjecture that Autumn is a woman, as the seasons were typically personified as beautiful women in European art.
I think that women in general become more beautiful as they mature into adulthood. As Andy Rooney once put it, a woman over 30 may have a few wrinkles, but it is the way she carries herself with confidence that makes her much more beautiful than her younger counterparts.

Autumn is also of course, the time of the harvest, or, symbolically, when things finally come to fruition. It is a culmination of a year's worth of hard work. Whether we speak physically or metaphysically, the struggle and determination finally finds its reward at the harvest. For me, Autumn is truly my symbolic harvest, especially this year. This is the time where I feel I can take all that I have learned and discovered, harvest it, and finally be able to utilize it in the years to come. Samuel Butler wrote, "Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."

I would encourage everyone to stop and really enjoy this season and all of its beauty. Take time to enjoy the colors, the smells, and the sounds. Use every one of your senses to enjoy this incredible time. Also, look at it as a new beginning, a harvesting of all that you have accomplished. Take that with you wherever you go. I think Albert Camus had it right when he said, "Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day #15: Keep breathing.

I have been listening to a song by Ingrid Michaelson, Keep Breathing, on an almost daily basis lately. It's kind of become my "anthem" for the year. Here are the lyrics:

The storm is coming but I don't mind
People are dying, I close my blinds

All that i know is I'm breathing now

I want to change the world...instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me

But all that I know is I'm breathing
All i can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

All that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing

All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing

All we can do is keep breathing,

Why does this song resonate with me so much? I guess for one, it reminds that despite all of the curve balls life throws at us, we are still breathing, we need to keep breathing, and everything has a miraculous way of working itself out. There are particular phrases in this song that really speak to me. One is the concept that we all want to change the world, but instead we keep sleeping. Howe many of us have thought at a ripe young age that we would change the world. I still like to think that I'm making a difference in this world, and perhaps, invoking some change, but the one thing I have realized is that I cannot save everyone, nor is it my job to do so. People are people, and they have free will. As long as we impact one life, then our mission is accomplished.

She also touches on the idea that we have to believe in something other than just "you and me." My goodness, how many of us have become consumed by a relationship or lover, our whole existence revolving around the whim of one individual, only to find that the illusion we have built is abruptly shattered. I guess my point is we have to believe in ourselves, and not always depend on another to be our world. Your world is your world, individually. A partner, a friend, is simply a gift that needs to be cherished, fed, and watered so that it will continue to grow. However, like any strong foundation, our core belief in self and individuality, is what keeps the rest of the structure safely supported.

If you also notice, she repeats over and over the same line "all we can do is keep breathing." I'm convinced that we need that constant reassurance and reinforcement, that despite all of the chaos that life brings, we must keep breathing and moving forward. Not breathing is, well, not an option. I tell myself quite frequently, when things are tough, and I am starting to feel discouraged, to just keep breathing.

Buddha was once asked if there was one particular quality one should cultivate that would best bring one to full awakening. Buddha's reply: Being mindful of breathing. I'd like to leave you with a passage adapted from The Samyutta Nikaya. Always be mindful that we need to keep breathing, we need to keep moving forward, even through difficulty. We are strong and able, and we must never forget that.

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out. Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes. He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind. He trains himself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind. He trains himself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind. He trains himself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on dispassion, and to breathe out focusing on dispassion. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on cessation, and to breathe out focusing on cessation. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day #14: I've finally found my mojo!

I am a big believer that the universe brings you exactly what you need at exactly the right moment. There are no coincidences in life; everything happens for a reason and with purpose. This is certainly true with love and relationships. After years of bad dating experiences, I've finally come to the conclusion that love will find me because I am willing and ready to accept it.

So how does love find you? Well, for one, we must break down the force fields many of us create around ourselves in order to keep out yet another heartbreak. Of course, this does not occur overnight, and after many years of painful relationship after painful relationship, it is only natural that we would want to protect those last few unscathed areas of our hearts. The problem is that it prevents us from finding that one true love or, as I like to call it, our beloved. Love can be harrowing and challenging, but we will never find it if we do not put ourselves out there, ready and willing to accept it.

This is what we all need to you. Declare to the universe, "yes, I am ready for love. I come willing with an open heart and open mind, ready to accept what I deserve." Have you ever noticed that a closed heart attracts the wrong kind of attention. Sure, we may find a partner for a reasonable amount of time, but nine times out of ten, this individual is broken and bruised, loaded down with too much baggage that they are simply not able to give and receive love as it should be given and received. It is only when we walk into this world with a heart full of love that we will find our beloved.

So, yes, universe, I am finally ready to accept and embrace my beloved. I have in essence, found my mojo! Buddha wrote that “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” I will go through life with a smile on my face, willing and ready for the love and affection I deserve. I will not let negativity, and any more broken individuals bring me down. My heart is ready for something real, something inspired, and something pure. I wish for everyone to feel this way. The universe will bring you love when you release your positive mojo out there, and declare, "yes, I am ready!!"

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day #13: Just call me Betty Crocker :-)

It has been an absolutely lovely labor day. I had a wonderful walk with my sister earlier in the morning, followed by grocery shopping at the mecca of grocery stores, Wegman's. I finished off the day by making a lovely apple harvest soup and home-made apple bars...yummy!!!

This got me thinking about the power of food. Have we ever noticed that gatherings seem to revolve around that one special dish, with multiple accompaniments, followed by a cake with a lovely-butter cream. OK, well maybe that's my idea of the perfect gathering, but the fact of the matter is that food is the great uniter. It brings together people who may otherwise not gather in the same room, let alone converse with each other. Food is a display of love, a display of affection, and a display of gratitude.

Why don't we gather together anymore for meals that last hours, with great wine and great conversation? The Poles and the French do this on a daily basis. Life revolves around food, and as a result, life revolves around family and friends. Eating has become more of a race rather than a pleasurable experience. I think we would all be more content and more fulfilled if we just stopped for a moment, savored the aromas and tastes, and enjoyed the company for a change.

As a final thought, I'd like to leave you with the recipe I made today. It makes me think of home and life :)

Apple-Cinnamon Fruit Bars

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day #11 & #12: The Simple Things in Life.

Forgive my absence yesterday. It's been a very busy but fun weekend, and I did not have access to my computer yesterday! So here we go!

I've been thinking quite a bit about simplicity. There is a part of me that longs for a time when the simple act of sipping tea, or gathering around to listen to someone read from Shakespeare's sonnets was the stuff that life was made of. It also seems that, at least what I've read, that the act of courtship and falling in love were also so much simpler.

Forgive me, I am a Jane Austen groupie, and perhaps she has skewed my sense of what romance is and should be. I was watching one of my favorite films this evening, Sense and Sensibility, also one of my favorite books by the way, and I always watch in awe of how the courtship of Edward and Elinor unfolds. There is such an innocence and a simplicity to the love that develops between them. There is no passionate love scene; it's all about communication and understanding. My goodness, they hardly even touch each other through the story, yet the develop this deep and ever-lasting love.

We are really missing so much of this in today's world. It's all about how quickly can things progress, how many dates I can go on in a 7 day period, updating my dating profile on a daily basis, instead of the beauty of allowing things to unravel organically. There is something to be said for developing a friendship with someone first. I truly believe that the best relationships are built on friendship and communication. If you can't enjoy talking to the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with, then, by God, who can you talk to.

So maybe there is something to the late-Georgian era. Maybe we shouldn't allow romance to die, and perhaps we need redefine what romance is, and how it should be conducted. I don't think Austen was off mark when she described the process of falling in love as of one of gentility and innocence. Why not say, as Elinor said so dearly, "I think very highly of him--that I greatly esteem him." So, maybe we all need to turn the blackberries off, unplug the laptop, and allow the universe to find us and bring us the love we deserve. And then when we have it, slow down, talk to each other, light some candles, sip tea, and read to each other a little Jane Austen while you're at it.

“Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparations.” -Jane Austen

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day #10: Please don't rain on my parade.

I was out to dinner tonight with two dear friends of mine, and the conversation turned to the subject of negativity and happiness. In particular, we began discussing how it is that some people seem to go through life with such negativity, always complaining about something, and having the "woe is me" attitude. We all have that friend on Facebook that seems to have nothing good to post, and we eventually decide to hide them because the string of negative thoughts is just too damn depressing. Are we all coded differently; some of us with the happy gene and others of us with the not-so-happy gene? I'm not entirely convinced. We all came to the conclusion this evening that happiness really is a choice.

A pessimistic attitude has more of an impact then we may think. Negative thinking has a profound physical impact on our bodies. It can cause chemical changes within the body that can decrease the flow of endorphins, cause poor judgment and racing thoughts, and diminishes our bodies natural immune defenses, making us more prone to illness. Negativity also causes stress, anxiety, and depression, which can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, ulcers, and respiratory problems. On the other side of spectrum is the wondrous impact of positive thinking. The Mayo Clinic published an article on the health benefits of positive thinking. They found that positive thinking can increase lifespan, lower rates of depression, provide greater resistance against colds, and reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Wow...if that's not convincing enough to change your attitude, I'm not sure what is. The point is that we can make a conscious decision to lead a happy life. This means not allowing each and every slip and disappointment or hurt in life to bring us down. We must face it, life is full of tragedy and heartache, but it is how we choose to handle these situations that speaks volume about our desire for happiness.

I can speak from personal experience and my own tragedies. Losing your father at 19 is not exactly easy, and it has a tremendously profound effect on the rest of your life. You can choose to grieve and see the world as this hostile place, where nothing will go right. Or, you can accept what life has handed you, turn that tragedy into something good, and find joy in all of life's gifts, rather then dwell on each tragedy. This isn't to say that I don't miss my father. On the contrary, I miss him everyday, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish for one more moment with him. However, I know that he is always with me, and I remind myself of how lucky I was to have 19 wonderful years with him. I choose not to dwell on the grief, but rather, honor my father in the best possible way, by leading a happy and joyous life. Life can be taken away from us in the blink of the eye, and I don't know about you, but I want to enjoy and savor each and every moment of this wondrous existence while I am still able to do so.

So, I implore each and everyone of you to find happiness in all things, and discover the good in something that seems horribly bad. Buddhism teaches that through awareness of our mental activities, we can rid ourselves of every harmful thought and bring forth every possible positive thought. My favorite interpretation of happiness comes from Groucho Marx, who said "Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it." Each day is a new start, and with it brings endless possibilities. Never forget that, and never forget that you have the power and the ability to be as happy as you choose to be.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day #9: The Bucket List.

I've been hearing many people talk about their bucket lists (maybe part of this is occupational hazard). I've said to myself over and over again, self, you really need to write one. I have so many things I want to do, and keeping with my type A personality, a list seems like the perfect solution. I'd like to share it with all of you, and hope that maybe I can encourage everyone to create one for themselves. I know my list will evolve and things will be added, and maybe some deleted, but my hope is that I will be able to put a check next to each item. So here it is, my bucket list (or at least the beginnings of it...)

1. Have a baby.
2. Actually get to wear a wedding dress :)
3. Climb the top of the Eiffel tower.
4. Swim in the blue waters of Bali in a string bikini.
5. Eat at Gordon Ramsey's London in NYC, and enjoy every morsel.
6. Sip wine overlooking a vineyard in Napa.
7. Become fluent in Polish.
8. Write a personal memoir.
9. Write a book.
10.See my name in print (with my published work).
11.Visit each continent, maybe even Antarctica.
12.Cook in the Italian country-side with some beautiful Italian man.
13. Conquer my fear of horses.
14. Snorkel again in the barrier reef.
15. Visit Perth, Australia.
16. Visit my parents home towns again.
17. Explore my family's history.
18. Shamelessly and without guilt, pose for fantastic professional photos of myself.
19. Attend the symphony more often.
20. Visit art museums by myself, and savor each beautiful piece of art.
21. Forgive all those who have hurt me in the past...I'm sure they have also been hurt before.
22. Make sure my family and friends always know how much I love them.
23. Adopt another kitty cat, and spoil and cuddle with the one I have already as much as possible.
24. Run through a field of lavender.
25. Plant a garden.
26. Enjoy the smell of fresh snow right after a storm, and maybe even learn to ski.
27. Always make hot chocolate with divine organic cocoa.
28. Let my hair grow out and be its crazy curly self.
29. Visit my grandmother with my mother, brother, and sister. The whole family together.
30. Practice meditation.

Ok, I think this is a good start. I better get moving! I hope you will all consider doing this. Let's your imagination go wild! Anything is possible!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day #8: The Art of Saying No.

Have you ever noticed how for some of us, the simple of act of saying no seems almost impossible to do. I find women in particular, myself included, have the most difficulty with this. Maybe it's because we feel the need to please everyone, that the thought of turning someone down makes us fear the unthinkable...we may disappoint someone. Unfortunately, many of us go through life putting the needs of everyone else before our very own.

We must face it, it's inevitable, in life we will disappoint someone, and someone will disappoint us, and it's very likely it will happen more than once. This is just human nature. The problem lies when we become riddled with guilt and begin ignoring our own needs. This is when we begin losing our own spirit and sense of identity.

Realistically, how can we care for anyone if we don't care for ourselves first. We've all heard it before, in order to love someone else you have to love yourself first, and you know what, it's true! Care-giver burden and burn-out is an all too real occurrence, and when it occurs, it's generally damaging to everyone involved. The fact of the matter is, we need to stop being people pleasers, and start taking care of ourselves for a change. So, my challenge to all of you is to do something just for a book, bake bread, get a manicure, whatever it is that makes you happy. And then, take a moment, and see how doing this one little act makes you feel. Feel your physical response on your body as well as your emotional response. Remember it, because I know it's going to feel good! Now, whenever you are in a situation where you want to say no, but feel too riddled with guilt to do so, think about how good it felt to do something for your self, remember that you cannot please the world, and accept that it is ok to do what is good for you for a change.