Category Archives: Life Lessons
I believe that there is always something new to learn and you will find some of my life lessons here.
I sometimes I sit and reflect upon my life. Past successes and failures circle lazily through my mind and I replay events, often adding a different twist to them. I wonder what the outcomes might have been had I made a different choice, said something else or done things differently.
I am a strong believer in fate and feel that I am guided through life, not only by my own doings, but also through guidance by a power much greater than myself. How much of what has occurred in my life has been through my own actions and how much has been guidance, I may never know, but I do know this…I get out of life exactly what I put into it. If I strive for a positive outcome, I get it. It may not always be exactly what I had wanted, but it is something beneficial in the long run. If I look at something in a negative way, I will always find something negative within it. But mostly, I try to look at my life objectively and as an ongoing lesson.
I could choose to linger on the horrible things that have occurred within my life or choose only to see the good, but I feel that it is important to look at it all and to recognize that, good or bad, I have learned something from each experience and I, hopefully, will take that knowledge into the next chapter of my life and apply it in a constructive manner.
So no matter how much I wonder where my life might be if I had changed some small or large part of it, I am confident that I am right where I should be. I am also hopeful that I will do my best to learn from the past and continue to create a bright future.
Lilly Dog is a very important member of my family. She spends so much time by my side and has learned my daily routines so well that I rarely have to give her voice prompts. She knows when to sit, when to stay and has an inner clock that seems to know when everyone in the household is supposed to leave or come home. Lilly has been such a sense of joy and comfort to me through the years and has taught me a lot.
These are ten things that I have learned from Lilly…
1. Love unconditionally, even if it sometimes is not returned.
2. Be patient and good things will come.
3. Pay attention to detail.
4. Exercise daily.
5. Be supportive of the people you love.
6. Play often.
7. Take naps.
8. Accept praise.
9. Listen to your gut instincts.
10. Find joy in each new day.
I hope to remain mindful of these lessons and to keep them in practice throughout my life. It just goes to prove that anyone can teach, if we are willing to listen. Thank you, Lilly!
My grandmother passed away today at the age of ninety-six. She had been ill for the past six months and our family has been blessed to have the time to spend with her and to show her how much we loved her. As hard as it is to lose someone that I love so much, I feel blessed to have had her in my life for as long as I did. I also know that she has joined my grandfather, the love of her life, and they are together once more.
Saying goodbye to my grandmother has made me think a lot about life. So many of us are so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget how truly short our time on earth really is. How many of us step outside ourselves and really think about the person we are or the person we want to be? Do we strive to be present in the moment or do we spend most of our time chasing the mighty dollar? Too many days are filled by rushing from task to task without stopping to enjoy living. It makes me stop and think…our we leaving legacies that we could be proud of?
I hope that I am someone, like my grandmother, who has given more than she has taken. A person who has tried their best to help others, even when it has come with sacrifices. I want to be the type of person that people mourn the loss of and not someone who walked this earth with hate in my heart.
I’ve always said that it isn’t the objects you own or the money you have that people will remember you for when you’re gone, it is the memories and, ultimately, the love that you leave behind. That is truly what’s in a life.
Isn’t it incredible how hearing a particular song can move you back to a certain place or time. Music can rev you up for a fun evening out or sooth a broken heart. I have an eclectic taste in music and find that there is a song that I can relate to no matter what my mood may be. It has been my solace in the darkest of times and it has helped energize when times were good.
Our minds connect with musical rhythms on such a deep level. Research has found that listening to classical music while studying can stimulate brain activity due to the music’s complexity. Gentle tunes are played in nurseries to soothe the newborns. Our bodies are naturally drawn to music and want to embrace it. This is also evident when a song comes on that we don’t necessarily enjoy, but find our toe tapping to it anyways. We are connected to music on such a deep level.
Music is a legacy that I can pass on to my children. We listen to Melissa Etheridge every Sunday when we make brunch and the girls will ask why it isn’t on if I haven’t gotten around to starting the player. I know that when I am gone from this earth, my girls will hear a Melissa Etheridge song and think of me and our Sunday brunch, just as I think of my Muma when I hear Johnny Cash. Music can connect us to our loved ones long after they are gone.
Music can even be our voice when we cannot speak for ourselves. There have been times in my life when I have felt like no one knew what I was going through, but then I would find just the right song and feel that connection with the artist. I think Anna Nalick says it best in her song, Breathe. Her lyrics state, “Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud. And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to”. Isn’t that really what music is about? Using it or connecting to it however we want to?
I pass by an older couple in the grocery store and overhear them asking a little girl what she wants to be when she grows up. This got me thinking about my own childhood and what my hopes and dreams had once been.
When I was a child, I always wanted to be a dancer. I spent countless hours watching Fame on TV as I danced around my living room, but as the years went by I found that there wasn’t a huge calling for dancers in Maine, go figure. So as I went off to college, I knew that I was going to study business and economics as that is what my grandfather stated was the most sensible thing to do, but in my heart lived an artist.
I have always needed to paint and to write. There are times that my heart spills over with all the things I need to say and I must release them in the form of prose or paint. There lurks a deep longing within my soul to express what lives inside of me and there are times that I fantasize about what it would be like to work as a writer or as an artist. I picture a life of days filled with brush strokes and creativity. Sometimes the fantasy is a life filled with the written word. Cleverly written novels line shelves in my study and they feature my picture and bio on the inside cover.
I like to think of these alternate lives when my everyday life becomes to blasé and my creative side longs to break out of my professional veneer. Perhaps my alter ego lives on another plane of existence with paint on her coveralls and a happiness deep within her heart. But, that is not my reality. I am a business woman, an instructor, someone who has to work for a living and not someone who can afford to be a “starving artist”. So, when the artist inside of me demands to pour out, I sit and pour my heart’s desires onto my blog or I grab a fresh canvas and begin to apply paint. Yet, somewhere deep inside is that child who just wishes that someone would ask me what I want to be when I grow up so that I could proudly proclaim, “an artist” and have my wish come true.
We hear the phrase a lot…just one. Chip companies declare that you can’t eat just one, Heineken claims that he cannot be just one man…the list goes on and on.
Well I think that the phrase, just one, is most suitable when speaking of friends or others in your life that support you. It takes just one person who believes in you, who has your back no matter what or just one person that loves you unconditionally to bring your life to full fruition. I would give up having a dozen people who were in my life only when times were good or when they needed something from me in order to have just one good friend, that person who loves me no matter what and that supports me in life.
I was very fortunate to have that one person. She was my best friend. Her name was Angel and she loved me despite all of my imperfections. She never blinked an eye if I was in sweat clothes with my hair a mess, but was the first person to compliment me when I looked great. She celebrated with me when I had things to rejoice in and she was always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on.
Angel passed away suddenly this past September of a brain aneurism. One minute we were dropping our daughters off at cheering practice and saying goodbye with our typical I Love You’s and in the next moment she was gone. I sat by her hospital bed for days hoping that she would come back to me. I cried more tears than I could ever imagine shedding, but she never returned to me. Her passing left a huge void in my life. My confidant, my friend, my support was no longer physically with me. I was a mess for the first month after her passing until I realized this…she may not be with me in body, yet she lives on in my memories and is with me in spirit. Even now, I still hear her laughter and words weaving through my mind and in my heart.
At first, I thought that I might grow angry over having had my best friend taken from me so young, but I soon realized that I wasn’t angry, but something completely different. I was thankful, so entirely thankful that I had her in my life, if only for just a short while. Because I would gladly give up the rest of my life filled with tons of people who didn’t really love me for me, for the little time I had with just one…my best friend. I got to experience so much with her in just a span of a few years that if I never find another friend like her I will still leave this earth knowing that one person, just one, truly loved me for who I am and that is enough for me.
Because no matter where you are in your life’s journey, all you really need is just one. Just one person who makes a huge difference in your life, who loves and supports you through thick and thin…just one.
Sometimes I sit and ponder how my life would have been without the rough beginnings. How it would have been to be a child who lived in a house without a father who came home drunk or a mother who didn’t die of cancer at such a young age. I sit and think about all the times that the police came to our house, the times that I brought my mother tissues as she sobbed, hiding between the wall and the bookcase as fighting filled the air. I got good at becoming invisible because that is what I truly wanted to be. I would go to school with children who had loving, stable homes and I would wonder if they were ever scared to shut their eyes at night like I was.
Living in such a volatile environment made me grow up fast, too fast. When other children were playing without a care in the world, I was monitoring what type of mood my father and mother were in and whether or not I needed to hide. When those children were thinking about going to dances, I was preparing insulin injections for my mother as she lie dying. As my classmates were going on dates I was trying to stay alive in the foster care system.
Where did my carefree childhood days go? Why did I never get to experience that normal life? I used to think that I must have somehow deserved to be given the hand that I was dealt, but I never could figure out why. I tried to be a good child, make everything alright and yet things never changed. I graduated high school with those children that I envied so much and as they were fleshed faced and ready to begin an exciting new chapter in their lives I felt as though I had already been alive for a thousand years. They hoped to get into a great college and I just hoped that I could make a good life for myself. One that was stable and without abuse. I felt so old.
The scars of my childhood and all the abuse are still present sometimes no matter how hard I try to put them aside. It is like they are engraved on the inside of me, lurking just under the surface, waiting for a quiet night so that they can haunt my dreams. I mourn for the list child who never really got a childhood. I try to be thankful that I learned courage and a strength that can handle any troubled times, but I still long to have been one of the little girls with the light of happiness in their eyes.
When I think of family, I not only think of my relatives, but ultimately, I think of those around me that I love dearly and who are not related by blood. My family is made up of, in part, people that I have met over the years and that I have grown to love and respect no less than my traditional family. I have laughed, cried, and created memories with these friends and each of them holds a special place in my heart and in my life.
When I look back at how I met these special friends it amazes me to think of how seamlessly complete strangers found their way into my life and, eventually, into my heart. It may have started with a common interest, but then grew through shared experiences and trust until we were tightly bound together. If you think about it that’s also the way that we bond to our blood relatives.
What is wonderful about building a non traditional family, is that we never have to stop growing it. Each new phase of our life might welcome new friends and there is always the potential that you will connect to someone on that deeper level and sprout a new branch on your family tree.
The World Health Organization states that there are an estimated 285 million people with visual impairment worldwide and 39 million people with blindness. I have worked in the field of Visual Impairment and Blindness for seventeen years and have witnessed amazing feats and met some incredible people. Here is some of what they have taught me…
1. Losing your vision doesn’t mean that you have to lose your life.
Before I began working in the field I couldn’t imagine losing my vision. I felt, like so many others, that it would mean the end of my “life”. What I had forgotten was that life is what you choose to make of it. Just like with any disability, you can let it define you or you can choose to overcome it and work with what you have to offer. One of my clients has a fully functioning woodworking shop and creates beautiful furniture. He does this by creating specialized jigs for his saws so that he can cut and carve safely. He never let blindness stop him from what he wanted to do in life. You always have the option of having a successful and happy life, you just need to choose to do so!
2. Most things can be accomplished, you may just have to do them a little differently.
Imagine cooking dinner. You slice up vegetables, peel a potato, cook a hamburger, whatever the task may be. Now, imagine doing that with your eyes closed. Pretty terrifying isn’t it? Slicing and not knowing quite where you are along the vegetable or how close your fingers are to the blade. Cooking, but not being able to visually check the meat for doneness. The list could go on and on. These are the tasks that millions of people with a visual impairment or blindness are faced with every day and they successfully complete these tasks. It’s because most every task is possible, you just need to know how to adjust your mind and look at it from a new perspective or use a different technique to achieve your goal. The next time you peel a potato, close your eyes and feel the potato. Can you tell which part has been peeled and which still needs to be done? Now wet the potato and with your eyes closed, feel again. You’d be amazed at what you feel. Again, you didn’t change how you essentially peel a potato, but you used a different technique to tell what parts still needed to be done. Open your mind to new possibilities and techniques and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
3. You can tell a person’s real beauty by listening to their words and noticing their actions, not by seeing their appearance.
When you listen to your intuition and regard people according to different standards other than their physical appearance, you can truly “see” people for what they are. Some of the most beautiful people I know would be considered ugly by just gazing at their appearance and some of the ugliest hearted people are ensconced within a beautiful facade. Take the time to note a person’s words and actions if you really want to see them for what they are!
4. Self Advocacy is something everyone should implement within their lives.
Too often we swallow our needs and don’t stand up and declare what we desire in our lives. We expect people to read our minds and instinctively know what we need, when we should just communicate with each other. You avoid a lot of miscommunication if you advocate for yourself and let others know what you want and need. Self Advocate!
5. Losing your vision doesn’t make your other senses become heightened.
It is a common myth that your other senses become better with vision loss. What actually occurs is that you start focusing more on your other senses. You rely on your auditory skills or your olfactory skills much more when your ability to see is no longer present. And, like any skill, when you use those senses more, you become more in tune with them and using them becomes second nature. Just think how much more rich your experiences could be if you took the time to fully experienced them with all of your senses!
6. Losing your vision doesn’t mean that you lose your hearing or your mind.
So many clients have told stories of how people shout at them when they are blind because, somehow, to an amazingly large number of people, a person who has lost their vision must also be deaf. Now there are people who are dead/blind, but that is completely different. No one likes to be yelled at and people who have a vision loss are not inherently deaf. Nor do they lose their mind! I have been in a restaurant with my friend who happens to be blind and the waitress or waiter will ask me what she wants to eat. I always turn to her and say, “What do you want to eat?” cueing the wait staff that they can speak directly to her. Losing vision does not automatically mean that the person isn’t highly intelligent and capable of making their own decisions. I have clients who are lawyers, psychologists and many other high ranking jobs. Losing sight doesn’t mean that a person loses hearing or their mind! Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity!
Maybe I’m just getting older and am starting to feel the press of so many things to do and and so little time to do them, but I am suddenly compelled to create a bucket list. So here it is…
1. Visit Paris and see the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower at night.
2. Take a gondola tour in Venice.
3. Tour a castle in Scotland.
4. Visit the rolling green hills of Ireland.
5. Swim with the dolphins.
6. Visit a tropical island where the water is blue, Antigua maybe.
7. See the volcanos of Hawaii.
8. Tour the Grand Canyan, perhaps by mule.
9. Touch a tree in the Redwood Forest.
10. Take more art classes.
11. Attend a meditation retreat.
12. Ride in a limousine.
13. Become more fluent in French, preferably before going to Paris
14. Finish my novel.
15. Take my family to the San Diego Zoo.
16. Go on a Zip Line Canopy Tour.
17. Go to a spa retreat.
18. Take an African Safari.
19. Experience an Ice Hotel.
20. See the Northern Lights.
21. Visit London.
22. See the Statue of Liberty in New York.
23. Learn Sign Language.
24. Live in Oregon, Georgia, North Carolina or Tennesee, at least somewhere beyond Maine.
25. Live in a foreign country.
26. Start a business that involves energy/body work or something of a holistic nature.
27. Sell a painting.
28. Volunteer at an orphanage.
29. See my daughters get married to partners who treat them well.
30. Homeschool my youngest daughter for at least a year.
So, there it is. As I look over the things that I wish to achieve, I can’t help but to feel a twinge of excitement and hope that I will be able to accomplish some, if not all, of the things on my list. I am also struck by the variance of my heart’s desires. I tried to complete this list by jotting down the first of my wishes that came to mind without giving them too much thought. In doing so, I was confident that my logical mind would not take over and start editing my list before I let my whimsical side express what I really desire.
I am going to update my list as time goes on and will add dates beside the accomplished tasks. I welcome any suggestions on how to complete my goals as some seem quite unsurmountable at this time, such as living overseas, but the wonderful thing about life is that it is constantly changing and new opportunities arrive at your feet every day. So here’s to a wonderful new beginning and let’s hope that when I reflect back on this Bucket List in years to come that there are dates beside some of these goals and fantastic memories to go along with them!
My challenge to all of you is this, tell me something that would be on your bucket list and and why…