Friday, December 23, 2011

Counting My Blessings

What a whirlwind of a month for all of us. Not sure where it went, or how it passed us by so quickly, but here we are knocking at the back door of Christmas 2011. But, despite all of the craziness around me, there is one thing I have not lost sight of and that is that I will always count my blessings

Tonight as I take time to write this blog post, we are preparing and packing to head off to Ireland for the Christmas holiday to see Brian.  As I sit here and think about my week,  I choose to focus on the highlights, because the insanity of some of it, or the people that created it, do not deserve any billing here. So, my "bright spot" of the week, was sharing my Christmas wish with everyone in my family, either over the phone, or via e-mail or social media, if I was not able to reach them. It was important to me that each of them knew their importance in my life and that I give thanks to God for all the goodness, life lessons and gifts of their love this year.

I have had a great deal of time to reflect on my life this month, the people in my life and those that affect my life in a wide variety of ways. My family, old and new, have really blessed my life this year. Whether it was them in person, or touching base with their memory. 2011 will undoubtedly be the most memorable and incredible year of my life. What better time of year to be able to reflect on the new and wonderful discovery of my father and my new family this year, as well as the growth and reflection on the past. Probably very important to reflect on the past and let it go now. For it is the present and future and all the good times that await our family that are now my focus for the new year. Nevertheless, I feel blessed that I was given this beautiful gift.

So, please be sure to count your blessings. I know that once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.

As the very famous Playwrite, Charles Dickens, once said, be sure to reflect on your present blessings of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

A very Merry Christmas to all and a very Happy New Year too!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pursuit of Passion

As I am writing this evening, I asked myself, I wonder how many people actually do what they truly love? I would venture to guess that more people do what is convenient for them to do. 

So often times it happens that we find ourselves living our lives in chains and we never even know, or chose to ignore that we have the key to escape.  This is something I have thought about and even struggles a bit over the past few weeks. Regardless, I woke up yesterday, not sure what time, but I will be giving this a great deal more of my attention in the coming year.

From the outside, I believe that most people see our accomplishments and while they may or may not be  proud of what we have accomplished, or even remembered by the time the year comes to an end, they truly believe that we are doing what we should be doing.  But, for some of us, I would venture to say that what they don’t see is just how much you have to give up in order to achieve something.

I've often found myself mesmerized by some of the things the people in my immediate and reachable world are able to accomplish on any given day.  In fact, you can often find me cheering them on and being truly happy for them when they achieve their success. Clearly, in those moments, while not vocalized, I believe that is where the person is meant to be and doing what they are doing.  I know for a fact that many of my family, friends and colleagues feel that same way about the things I accomplish.  In all honesty, it is true that I enjoy what I do and have done in my life, but I am now able to freely admit that I have not been pursuing my passion.

That old saying "you only live once" has been playing in my head over and over again this week and guess what? I know that I am not getting any younger.  We should really pay attention to those four words, because we all know that there are no guarantees from day to day.  And I will be the first to admit that I have far too much experience under my belt to be listening to the ongoing and repetitive negativity and supposed "wisdom" of some of those who 1) do not even know me and 2) have not even walked a day in my shoes.

I am by no means saying that I know it all or that I have "wasted: any part of my life.  I am merely speaking from my experience and I am very proud of all I have been able to do over the past 50+ years.   However, even during those accomplished years, I have also believed that it’s ok to think about what you want to do…until it’s time to start doing what you were meant to do. What better time for a new year and another new beginning.  I know I have not shared that "passion" with you now, but I believe the time will come for me to share that very soon.

So, take a moment and ask yourself when you are outside and look up at the stars, are you able to see beyond them -- realize that there is so much more out there that you may be capable of and should be doing? Or do you look up, see them for their beauty and go back to your life, believing that you are happy in doing what you’re doing?

Life, while it is wonderful, our universe can also have its down sides for us from time to time.  I try to think of them as life being one big risk that we have to allow ourselves to believe in and take a chance, in order to assume that risk.  I know that I feel blessed to have and be able to assume that risk. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Keeping the Spirit of the Season

The holiday season can be a time full of joy, cheer, parties and family gatherings. There is no doubt about it, this is a beautiful time of year.  For the most part I try to make this my focus and reality the best I am able.

However, this time of year can be tough on all of us too.  We are all so much on our plates at work and at home.  I know for me in the world of law firms, this is the "busiest time of year."  We have year-end, reviews, compensation planning, and the list can go on an on.  It has seemed as if finding the time to squeeze in a visit or even a phone call with a friend or family member seems impossible for me these days with all of the demands that we are faced with.  I make the time, but I still feel the squeeze I know that feeling is shared by many of my family, friends and colleagues too. 

Somehow this time of year can bring our the scrooge in people too. My recent blog, I discussed them as "toxic people." They are running rampant in my world these days and I see them all around and hear that they are finding their way into other's lives too.  We have enough on our plates, are feeling the pressure and exhaustion enough.  So, do your best to revolt and ignore them at all cost.

Exhaustion and the "holiday blues" seem to find its way into the season too.  We are all feeling it and the signs are all around. I certainly know that I am feeling exhaustion.  I was at a holiday party in Chicago one night this week (not sure how I found the energy) and I took a look around and I could see the feeling of "exhaustion" on the faces of my friends and colleagues in the room.  I didn't even have to make a comment about and a dear friend I had been catching up with noticed it at the same moment I did..  At that moment, we laughed out loud.  It really helped relieve the stress and we actually felt normal again.  It sure made the rest of the evening a total blast.

Regardless, we all know that there are many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension.  Try to keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.

Another idea it to spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.

Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities and above all don't forget to make time for your friends and family. 
In the big scheme of things, they are what matters and the rest of it is not as important.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Maintaining Inpsiration with Toxic People and Behaviors

Another insane week has come and gone and unfortunately with the hectic week my blog posting has taken the hit.  I appropriately titled my Blog posting today to fit with what seems to be the ongoing theme for the month.  Honestly, inspiration is a powerful thing to possess and I am grateful that I have been able to  maintain it as I keep life real.

The week was all over the map for me regarding emotions, some good and some challenging.  There were moments that being "inspirational" was the last thing on my mind, as I found that I was the one needing inspiration. So, I found myself looking at many resources and other places for my own motivation and inspiration.

It certainly is the time of year when we can find ourselves and our emotions on over drive.  I am no exception to the rule this year. In addition to coping with my emotions, it seems that I have been inundated with coming into direct contact and having to deal with toxic people and/or the toxic behaviors that seem to be directly impacting my life. 

You know the old saying, "When it rains it pours?" Well, that is where I found myself over the past couple of weeks.  While I have been working over time maintaining my inspiration along with the reality of life's real presence.  This real presence included dealing with toxic people and behaviors.  No matter where I turned, I could find them in my path.  Can we say, stop the world and let me off?  I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, "is everybody crazy?" But, I held back.  In retrospect, holding back was not the best for me, as the toxins only seem to saturate me even more.

I had to dig into my bag of tricks and learned skills from some of my legal training over the years.  I ran across a book from Marsha Peitrie Sue from a few years back, "Dealing with Toxic People." I had to get a quick refresher course to 1) identify my triggers in these situations and 2) maintain a neutral space for myself.  Regardless, through some quick evening speed reading, I was able to get a grip of most of what I was confronted with and it has helped me out tremendously.

I was able to identify my triggers that set off my negative reactions with these individuals and the relevant behaviors. Identifying the triggers for me was the easy part.  It ended up being the behavior I felt and would find myself a part of as a result of the toxic person or behavior. I did not like what it did to me. The tough part for me was trying to figure out to release the triggers in a positive and productive manner.  Because of my attachment or frequency of contact with some of these individuals, that was the tough piece of the puzzle for me to complete.  I am still working on it, but so far, so good.

I am able to maintain my neutral space (my safe haven) away from these individuals or behavior triggers.  This space provided me with an avenue to release the triggers and the willingness to trust that I possess the inner strength to isolate the problem. In my neutral space, I have even found a way to work on mirroring a positive reaction to the challenging personality and/or person, so that I can do my best to shut down the negativity that is getting in my way. So, I encourage any of you dealing with similar situations to make sure you have a safe haven.

I know that I am not able to control the toxic behavior or personalities of others, but as you know, the affect that this can have on a human being can be tremendous. Regardless, through this process, I have learned that challenging people can be a gift in disguise, for they have alerted me to areas within myself that need more neutrality. I continue to learn how to deal with and how not to deal with people and behavior who try to invade my peaceful world. 

While still a work in process, I feel myself coming back and I continue to do my best to keep it all in perspective and real too.