Thief of Hearts

20150213_205509 When Matthew was born and for a couple years subsequently we wrote a lot about his struggle through 3 heart surgeries. Here’s a snapshot of Matthew now, after he came to stay with me last night. We took him to a Mardi Gras parade in Orange Beach, AL – which is as tame as parades get and so perfect for kids (and snow birds, apparently!).

This little guy is so awesome. He walked around waving, smiling and announcing “Happy Mardi Gras!” to everyone he passed. To the ladies he’d announce: “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Then at one point he looked me right in the eyes and said: “You are special!” After a positive reaction from me he added this to his repertoire for others.

It was fascinating to watch as people just melted before him, in the presence of his big smile and endless exuberance. It was a bit like watching a crowd do “the wave” as we walked down the street. People standing, staring, lost in thought, concern and worries about whatever, waiting for a parade to pass before them and throw some trinkets. Then out of nowhere comes this sweet little voice, drifting into their ears spreading well-wishes and you could watch it move, like it was a tangible thing – recognition of something different, heads turning as they seek to identify the source, involuntary smiles lighting up their faces as they are pulled unwittingly into “the now” by this gregarious 4 year old. Without time to think about it, they do their best to engage him, not realizing what they want is to hold on to this feeling, this moment, when this little guy reached into their heart and effortlessly squeezed a little love from it, and then replaced it with pure joy, the joy that is simply – being human, and seeing in that sweet face, all the goodness that is in you reflected right back for you to clearly see.

For a kid born with half a heart, he certainly has mastered the art of stealing them from others everywhere he goes. On this day of love, it’s worth noting the half of his heart that functions is bigger and more full than most of ours with both sides functioning. We are so blessed to have this child in our lives. Matthew – YOU, my little buddy, are SPECIAL! Happy Valentine’s Day!

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Ron Paul 2012

Though media is ignoring Ron Paul to the greatest extent possible, this message cannot be silenced in a society where communication and information is available at our fingertips. In a world where Twitter can make the difference in the Iranian elections and social media can unite people from all backgrounds and beliefs, an “idea whose time has come cannot be stopped by any army or any government.” This is that time.

(BTW – it was announced today that Ron Paul won the California straw poll. Are people waking up across America? They are indeed.)

State Decides Mom Can’t Babysit

Is it just me, or does this story scare the hell out of you too? Would someone join with me in telling the government to mind the business of running the country and get out of our personal lives?? We’re way past walking a fine line here.

IRVING TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood’s children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.

Regulators who oversee child care, however, don’t see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she’d be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers.

Snyder’s predicament has led to a debate in Michigan about whether a law that says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers needs to be changed. It also has irked parents who say they depend on such friendly offers to help them balance work and family.

Read the whole story here.

Why Blog?

I’m not terribly regular at posting updates to my blog, although that really depends on the month and what’s happening in my life. I’m frequently reminded this is not “best practices” for blogging, so sometimes I feel a little guilty for not providing more regular updates via my posts.

This morning I’m reminding myself why I do this, and it turns out that it isn’t to satisfy anyone else’s need for regularity. Since this isn’t a business blog, and I don’t really have any topic to which I adhere as a theme, I just write about things that are on my mind. My blog topics trend around my life like Twitter trending topics do around pop culture and late breaking news. My life is just lots less interesting to the average person. The good news is that the average person isn’t following me.

I started this blog just under a year ago to satisfy my own need to start writing again, to remind myself how to take a thought, flesh it out, consider lots of angles to it and then put it down in print in some way that is interesting, if only to me.

That’s why you can find posts about my travels, my recent wedding, silly things that make me laugh, early morning thought posts (like the one you’re reading now), reviews of books I read and liked, motivational and life improvement posts, rants on things in America that frustrate me, things that are sad but still offer meaning in life, and hopefully a funny and positive perspective on it all.

For me, writing (good or bad) is cathartic. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and events with friends and family and since none of my family live nearby, the blog is a great way to do that. But like anything, putting the thought or idea down on paper (or screen) is a wonderful way to force myself to think through it and find deeper meaning than I might have, had the thought remained in the back of my head somewhere. Plus, it’s great when folks comment and offer insight and perspective on my thoughts that I would not have otherwise had!

So it turns out the purpose of this blog is really just for me and to satisfy my basic need to share. My life isn’t on any kind of schedule, so it seems appropriate that neither is my blog. But I like to think that the reader can always find an underlying current of hope, of belief, of faith in humankind. I hope people leave my blog feeling somehow happier, thought-provoked, or inspired. That would be great. But if not, that’s ok – I’m just writing it for me anyway.

Bon Voyage…

Wedding planning is exhausting! Okay, it’s not really, but wedding dress shopping is. So, we’ve decided not to do it anymore… at least for a while. Saturday we’re heading to British Virgin Islands for a week of sailing.

This is the same trip I did last year (same week too, in fact), when I traveled alone to meet a group on a ladies-only, learn-to-sail trip. Communication with Ryan was in the very early stages of dating and getting to better know each other.

This year I’m ecstatic to be taking the same awesome trip with my friend Carol Morley, sailing instructor extraordinaire. And as awesome as all that is, I’m thrilled beyond words to be taking fun trips like these with my best friend and fiancee, Ryan.

While being single all these years never held me back from doing exactly what I wanted (when I wanted to do it ;-), I know that in the future my adventures will have a new depth and richness of experience that they never could have as I wandered the planet flying solo.

We were initially going to elope on this trip (and still wonder if we shouldn’t do that!). But we are really looking forward to sharing the experience and celebrating with all of you (so we won’t ;-). I could pre-write some posts to go out while we are gone but… well, I’m not going to so nothing further until March.

Have a great weekend all, and don’t party too hard, you Mobile Mardi Gras revelers!! Joe Cain Day was always my favorite day of the season – run hard and drink one for me. Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!!

What was great about ’08

As in all prior years, I learned a LOT in 2008. Unlike 2007, when I completed my MBA, this past year involved a lot of self-teaching and discovery.  Fresh from graduate school, having turned down all the job offers presented to me, I started the year trying to figure out how the next chapter of my life should look.  

During my contemplation, I bought a foreclosure house and decided to renovate it.  That experience brought its own set of lessons! Finishing up renovations around April I decided to do some traveling.  
I’d already splurged in February and taken my dream learn-to-sail trip around the British Virgin Islands.  I met the coolest 72 year old sailing instructor ever.  That lady handled the boat and 3 unskilled female sailing students with unbelievable grace, ease and efficiency.  God I hope I’m that spry when I reach that decade of my life.
January brought me a present of a different variety.  I turned 34 that month, and I also met Ryan, with whom I now have the greatest romantic relationship I’ve ever had.  To effectively make this point, Ryan just became the first man I have ever lived with, as we moved in together over Christmas.
In May I traveled to Nassau, on a freebie trip thanks to my pilot boyfriend.  In July I was lucky enough to be along on another of those trips, this time to Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas.  Both wonderful trips. June took me to San Francisco for a financial seminar, where I learned strategies that paid off nicely when the stock market took a dive later in the year.  In that seminar I also learned about blogging (which is why you can read this now) and Twitter – one of the coolest things I learned.  Twitter brought me a realtor and a PR guy (both of whom are playing much greater roles in my life than first anticipated), lots of awesome new friends in Knoxville, a fabulous group of hip ladies with whom I enjoy Tweet-her socials, and so much more.
November I spent 9 days in Hilton Head with Ryan’s family from Alaska and Oregon, meeting most of them for the first time.  December I went to Orlando for a week-long seminar on life change, and got plenty of that in the process.
I am now involved in about 4 different businesses, all of which I am very excited about for 2009.  I am living a life of my own design, working from home, on my own schedule, largely as my own boss.
I’d say all of 2008 was one long personal and spiritual journey for me.  It brought people, events and places into my life to help me learn and grow and become a better person.  The year that just ended was a beautiful year in every way.  I grew a year older, on this very day in fact.  Reaching the mid-point of my thirties I’ve begun to reach that place we all strive for – a place of peace, harmony and comfort in my own skin.   Every day my life is just a little better than the day before, and for that, I am truly grateful.  
What was great about ’08?  I woke up each morning and I got to choose the meaning I gave to each new moment – I can’t think of anything better than that!
Looking forward to many wonderful new adventures and moments with all of you in 2009!
Happy new year!

Becoming Aware of Your Self Talk (Part 1)

Asking Quality Questions

I’ve long been a fan of self-improvement guru Tony Robbins because his approach not only makes sense, it has worked for me for several years. One of my take-aways from his programs comes up repeatedly when I’m working with a client or just talking to a friend or family member.

How much time do you spend frustrated at your “inability” to change an undesirable behavior or achieve a particular outcome in your own life? Think right now, and get in your mind one thing that you would like to change about yourself or your life and keep it in mind for the rest of this post.

Our minds have a brilliant way of solving our problems *when we give them the opportunity to do so*. What often hinders us is that in trying to solve something we ask ourselves bad questions and our minds in turn, give us bad answers. If you ask yourself why you can not remember where you left your keys… your mind hears “I cannot remember where I left my keys,” thereby ensuring you do not (or ensuring copious amounts of frustration before you do). If instead you said “how could I save myself some time and effort and find my keys right away?” Aha, now your mind says… well let’s see, we could start by re-tracing our steps when we last came in from the car (and so on).

Consider this one: “why can I never lose weight?” or “why I am so fat?” or any variation of that horrible question. How is your mind to answer that… because you eat too much/don’t exercise, etc.? Poor question. Try instead: “how can I lose 10 pounds by the end of the year?” Ah! Now there’s a quality question which is far more likely to yield a quality answer.

Now – consider the one thing I asked you to keep in mind earlier. Think about the quiet questions that frame that thing in your mind. Are they enabling your mind to find the answers or are they ensuring you do not come up with a solution? If you’re asking negative questions, try to re-frame the wording and tone so that they are capable of producing a quality answer.

And now, practice changing your questions as you notice them. Become more aware throughout the day and focus on asking yourself (and others!) quality questions. It’s another that I promise will dramatically improve the quality of your life.

In Part 2 – measuring the quality of our self-statements.