I am often inspired not only by people but by animals as well. This week I want to share with you a human who uses her dog to inspire people.
I’d like you to meet Julie. She and I met about ten years ago when we worked together. She was someone with whom I felt an instant connection. Even after we no longer worked together, we kept in touch.
What inspires me most about Julie is her spirit. She has a certain kind of joy and energy that lights up any room she walks into.
Although Julie has suffered her share of trials and tribulations, you would never know it to meet her. She always has a smile and a word of encouragement for anyone she meets.
One thing that strengthened our bond was our mutual love for animals. We’re always sharing funny stories about our pets.
Julie talked about writing a blog that tells of the adventures she has with her dog, Cocoa. She told me about the blogs that she followed and that she would really like to be able to inspire others. She also talked about the good she could do by spotlighting animal rescues and just bringing animal lovers together.
Good news! Julie recently pulled the trigger and started sharing her stories. Take a look at Julie and Cocoa’s fun here at CocoaBeanAdventures.com.
I can’t imagine my life without animals. I have told my kids that if they ever have to put me in a home, to please find one that has a resident dog or cat or one that allows them to bring their dogs or cats to visit.
The two animals who currently let us live with them are our daughter’s cats, our grand kitties, Olivia and Cocoa (yes, another Cocoa).
Olivia and Cocoa came out of an abusive situation. Olivia dealt with the abuse by lashing out and fighting. When she first came to live with us, she was so angry, I was sure she might try to kill us in our sleep!
Cocoa was the opposite. She was extremely timid and found safety hiding behind the dryer. It took months for her to let us near her and even longer before we could touch her.
We allowed both of them to be who they were and did not push ourselves on them. There were many days that I would just look at them and tell them they were good kitties and that I loved them so much.
Slowly they began to mellow until one day, Olivia allowed us to pet her without fear of losing a hand. And we were ecstatic on the day that Cocoa jumped into my husband’s lap. What a sweet sound to hear this little kitty purr for the first time!
Olivia still has an attitude but she has turned into a loving, gentle cat.
And now Cocoa spends most evenings purring in my lap.
(Cocoa loves being a lap cat even without a lap!)
These two kitties have taught me that patience plus love heals even the deepest wounds.
Who are the people and the animals who inspire you? What have they taught you?
I’ve decided that I want this space to be a place of inspiration and inspiration can come from many different places and look like many different things.
So I will not only be posting some of my thoughts via blog posts but I will also be posting whatever/whoever inspires me.
Keep an eye open for what inspires you and feel free to share it in the comments below.
And speaking of eyes, how do you like these cupcakes?! I found them at my cousin’s baby shower and thought they were so cute and clever!
What creative things have you seen recently that inspired you?
How many times have you said, I’ll take care of myself after I make sure everyone else is taken care of? Sounds familiar, right?
Problem is, there usually isn’t anything left and we end up worn out and stressed out.
If you’ve done any flying, you know that the flight attendants tell those who are traveling with children, that in case of loss of pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask first, then help the children (and others) with theirs.
They know that we will likely run out of oxygen before we can help too many if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
It is selfish NOT to put on our mask first. We aren’t any good to anyone if we are lying passed out on the floor.
This brings up a point I hear a lot from women. They feel “selfish” if they spend any time or money on themselves.
The word selfish means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”
I assert that it is selfish for us to NOT take care of ourselves.
But what does being selfish look like? We have to trust that we will not go off the rails, say the heck with everyone else and end up “lacking consideration for others.”
I am not saying that you should put ALL of your needs in front of others. I am saying that there needs to be a mix.
For example, I knew a woman who could not afford to hire a sitter so she could go for a run or out to lunch with friends. So she scheduled time for herself when her husband could watch the kids. She also found another woman who was in the same boat and they took turns watching each others kids so they could each have some time to themselves.
We need to take the stigma out of taking care of ourselves not only for us but for our daughters. If they see us harried and exhausted then they will likely follow in our footsteps or feel guilty if they decide to take care of themselves.
The message they are getting is that in order to be a good worker, mother or wife they must sacrifice themselves and their well being.
I don’t know about you but that scares me! I want my daughter to do and be better than me but the main thing is I want her to be happy, not exhausted!
If we all took a few minutes to be “selfish” each day, we could lower our stress and increase our health and well being.
Take a look at how you are feeling. Are you refreshed and engaged and looking forward to the day? Or are you exhausted and just getting by?
What needs aren’t being met? Do you need more sleep? To eat better food? More exercise? Time in nature or to read?
Commit right now to giving yourself something that you have not been allowing yourself and see how you show up afterward. I bet you are happier.
Imagine the impact that will have not only on you but on your relationships with our co-workers, families and friends. Don’t you deserve that?
Ready to take charge of your life? Join me for a retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life.
Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.
Enjoy this all-day retreat on August 23rd, 2015 at the beautiful and serene Chapin Mills Retreat Center. Located in Batavia, NY on 135-acres, this country retreat center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination.
For more information and to register go to www.PeaceAndPear.com.
I hear people saying that in order to be happy, we just need to do positive affirmations and let go of negativity. I say the exact opposite.
In order to be happy, be sad. Let me explain.
The new movie Inside Out is geared towards children but I think it’s a movie everyone should see, adults included.
Without giving too much away, the movie focuses on a little girl named Reilly and how she deals with her emotions. There are characters that represent the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.
In the beginning of the movie, each time Sadness tries to take over, Joy is there to push her away.
I did this for years.
I tried everything to make sadness go away because I thought something was wrong with me if I wasn’t happy all the time. I tried pushing it down, denying it, resisting it. I tried talking myself out of it by doing positive affirmations.
You’ve heard the saying “What we resist, persists?” That is exactly what happened.
Before I knew it, I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed.
There were times when I felt like a deep dark hole was opening up and swallowing me. All I wanted to do was check out of life and sleep.
Then, after a while, I would begin to feel better and come out of it. (Those who have that hole swallow them up and don’t come out, need to seek professional help)
When we resist feeling any emotion, it causes a reaction.
Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, compiled data that showed we cannot numb one emotion without numbing all of our emotions.
Basically, by not allowing ourselves to feel and process our sadness, we are not able to experience true joy.
In our society, it often seems unacceptable to express sadness. We can feel we need to put on a happy face and act like we’ve got it all together.
When we do that, our sadness festers and ends up coming out in other ways. It can manifest itself as depression, illness or destructive behavior such as addiction.
Or we could have an outburst and explode when we have reached our limit.
However, by acknowledging and experiencing our emotions and talking to an empathetic person, we will find that sadness or any emotion leaves as fast as it came.
This is what happened to little Reilly. Once she allowed herself to talk to her parents about her sadness, it opened the door to true connection as well as letting Joy once again be a part of her life.
The real lesson here is that emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. We all have them and all they simply want is to be expressed.
What about those positive affirmations? It is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect ourselves to be happy all the time. If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, then we can use positive affirmations or gratitude to reconnect with hope and faith. That way we won’t end up wallowing in negativity.
What emotion are you currently not allowing yourself to experience? Who is your go-to person when you need empathy?
If you are open to it, practice allowing difficult feelings, share with an empathy buddy and see what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at how much happier you will be when you allow your emotions to just be.
How many times have you let yourself be taken advantage of or sucked into someone else’s drama just because you didn’t want to come off as cold or worse, the “b” word?
This was the case with a client who was wondering how to deal with someone in their life who was being self-destructive. She stated that her friend was not only hurting themselves but those around them. Many of their family and friends had gotten so irritated or resentful with how her friend was behaving they stopped having contact with them.
My client didn’t want that to happen to her but she could feel the irritation and resentment beginning to creep in. She did not want to lose the friendship they had built over the years but she also knew she needed to honor herself.
There are two things we can do so that we don’t feel taken advantage of and get sucked into other people’s drama.
- Put a “hedge of protection” around you. In order to not take on the other person’s emotions or negativity, putting up this barrier protects us. But we also have to make it so that our love and compassion can pass through the hedge to them. This is not a physical barrier of any kind it is simply a mental awareness that if we are down in the muck and mire with them then we are no good to anyone.
- Surrender. This does not mean to give up. It means hand them over to their higher power. They are on their path and we are not responsible for the choices they make. Don’t try to change them. If someone is a danger to themselves or others, then by all means, contact the authorities, get them professional help. However, it is not your job to “fix” someone else’s life. You are there to love and support them if they want it but be sure they are driving their life, not you.
A few years ago, I had a friend who often wouldn’t show up when we had made plans. I loved her and I knew this was not her but this was her pattern. Connection was something she struggled with.
This pattern led other people in her life to get angry and stop contacting her. I could feel that beginning with me as well. I realized I could not change her so I knew I had to be the one to change.
I told her that I was not going to show up for any meeting with her unless she confirmed with me the day before. A few times we had a date planned and when I didn’t hear from her, I simply sent her a text telling her that I would not be there and that when she wanted to try again, just let me know.
Because of this, I was able to let go of my resentment and not feel taken advantage of. I chose to honor myself as well as my friend. We now have a great relationship and she lets me know when she can’t make our coffee dates.
What relationships have left you feeling resentful, taken advantage of or gotten sucked into the drama? Right now, how can you practice surrendering and putting up your hedge of protection with those people?
(Cousin Gini & me)
Last week I attended a memorial service for a distant relative. Gertrude was a cousin of my father’s. She and her husband had 6 children and one of them, Gini, was my age.
Growing up, I remember they would come to our house or we would go to their house occasionally. Because they lived an hour away, we didn’t see them often.
I decided I would take my mom to the memorial service so I could see my cousins, all of whom I hadn’t seen since I was a little girl.
We arrived at the small Baptist church, went in and found a seat.
My mom knew some of the people but I remembered very few.
I saw a woman with the same dress that I had bought a few weeks ago and had almost worn that day. I was glad I didn’t wear it.
I looked at the crowd of people gathering and wondered which of these women was Gini. I tried to remember the times she and I spent together but not many memories popped up.
I have a terrible memory when it comes to my childhood. My husband, on the other hand, remembers every detail practically from the day he was born. It’s a bit maddening!
I couldn’t remember the details of us playing together but I could remember the fun we had. And I did remember I loved Gini.
Growing up with 3 brothers, I always wanted a sister. I remember thinking that I had finally found my sister!
I also remember how sad I was when we had to leave each other. Although we lived an hour apart, we might as well have been on opposite ends of the earth. I remember the heartbreak not knowing when I would see her again.
Toward the end of the service, Gertrude’s six children got up to sing. That’s when I realized who Gini was. I could see the beautiful bright-eyed girl that I used to play with.
After the service, Gini was standing in the vestibule of the church. I wasn’t sure if she would remember me but I walked up and told her who I was.
She grabbed me and hugged me and said that she had thought about me as well.
I told her that I didn’t remember the details of us being together but I did remember how much I loved her.
To my surprise, she said that’s what she remembered and we stood there crying.
Then I told her that she was wearing the same dress that I had bought just a few weeks earlier.
Yes, Gini was the woman! And at that moment, I wished I had worn it!
Even though we still live about an hour away from each other, we have vowed to get reacquainted.
I am looking forward to rekindling our friendship. A love like that never dies, it just waits for us to fan the flame.
Who do you love that you have lost touch with? Look them up and reconnect.
I bet they would love to hear from you!
Recently I was sitting at my kitchen table working on my computer when I suddenly realized it was 3:30 in the afternoon and I was still in my pajamas.
It reminded of the days when my kids were little. There were times I didn’t get a shower until after my husband got home, the house was a mess and I had no clue what we were going to have for dinner.
Starting and growing a business is a lot like raising children.
They both consist of long hours and low pay, only at the beginning of your business, hopefully, or no pay, in the case of motherhood.
You really have no idea whether you are doing the right thing or even if what you’re doing is effective. You want to believe you’re doing a good job raising your kids but you really have no idea until they get to be adults. Same thing with a business, there’s a lot of trial, error and adjustment.
I remember standing over my sleeping child praying that I wouldn’t do something to mess them up too much. As a business owner, I sometimes wake up at night wondering why in the world I decided to put myself out there for all the world to see if I should fail.
When my kids were in school, we were friends with their friend’s parents. There were always tennis matches, swim meets and school events where parents congregated and communed. The support of other parents was invaluable as we commiserated about the struggles of parenting.
Now I go to networking events and commune with other business women. The support of like-minded successful women has kept me in business.
Being a mom and a business owner has taught me a few things along the way:
- Beware of people who offer advice, and there will be many. Listen but don’t be quick to take it if it doesn’t feel right for you. As with your children, your business is your responsibility. Follow what feels right for you not what the so-called experts say is right.
- Learn from other people’s mistakes and emulate their success. My parental role models were women who had successfully raised happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. Who are the successful business women you admire? Surround yourself with them and listen for their advice.
- Most of all, enjoy the journey. So many people told me to enjoy my kids because they grow up so fast. That was the best piece of advice I ever received and tried to savor every moment. Now I am trying to do the same when it comes to my business.
Even with all of our struggles and mistakes, we always seem to remember the “good old days.” Someday, these will be the good old days. Why not enjoy them now?