Tag Archives: Optimism

Undeniable – our DNA tells the story of humanity and life…

31 Jan

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the images of the grown American man crying at the airport because his brother who had finally received his LEGAL, BONA-FIDE, permanent resident green card (after years of vetting and background checks) was detained at the airport.  It was heart-breaking and moved me to tears.  Without bringing politics or partisanship into play, I feel for anyone who faces rejection for any reason.  That’s just who I am… (and I’ve personally been through the visa, green card and citizenship road – it takes years of poking, prodding, investigation, interviews, background checks, more investigation, more interviews, vetting, etc. – it is certainly not a slam dunk, passport stamp process!)

I am optimistically hopeful with the new USA administration, and I am also cautiously concerned about some of the sweeping rhetoric and views expressed by elected officials with “we, the people’s” best interests in mind.  I hope that calm heads prevail and that kindness and sanity become our moniker!  America is and was great… period.

As someone who is not a Native American Indian, I am among the 99% of Americans who immigrated to this country.  I am not ashamed to say that an IMMIGRANT and if you are American and reading this, so are YOU (most likely!)

I love the people, the ambition, the open-mindedness, and overall savoir faire attitude and freedom.

I am also learning that history repeats itself (and not always in a good way…)

Last year I visited the National Archives in Washington, DC where the historical documents dating back hundreds of years are preserved and displayed.  I took particular note of turn of the century (early 1900’s) manuscripts and documents authored by immigrants (who were now in power in the U.S.) who cast laws to prevent immigration of their own people  (at the time I think it was Italians, in particular) — just a handful of years later.

I was bewildered by the fact that these men felt justified to enter the country as foreigners through Ellis Island (and obviously, in their opinion, they were good, upstanding, worthy of entry, people) and just a few years later, judged their own countrymen as scoundrels with ill-intent.  I’m still perplexed how power and money changes people. (I still smile at lawmakers who judge the unemployed as “lazy” until they, themselves are unemployed…)

It is interesting how inclusion of ourselves is important, but exclusion of others (who are exactly us – just separated by time) prevail when it’s no longer us who are directly affected.

How easy it is to judge and make rules when they don’t affect us personally.  I agree that we need to keep the “bad people” out of our country (as should any country!) – it’s just common sense, and…

I am also disturbed and concerned that we continue to repeat our history, instead of learning from it (I am intimately familiar with this trend of “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” in software development!  But, that’s another story…)  There has to be a better way.

DNA doesn’t lie and we are all connected as humanity…

I’d like to share this video with you simply for your comments and consideration.  It brings me to tears every time I watch it, so I’m just leaving it here…

Comments?  Wishing you a peaceful, happy, optimistic and uplifting day, week, year!

Love, C

National Offline Day – August 3, 2014

27 May

I traveled back from London, UK to Toronto last Friday, May 16 after a week of working, and I was dismayed to read the headline article in the Daily Mail about a recent study linking heavy internet to negative outcomes for our youth (click on the image that follows or the link beneath it to read the article.)

Not that I hadn’t been hearing rumors about the negative effects of online and the lack of good, solid communication skills prevailing in North America and Europe (and not just in our young people) … I just didn’t expect the widespread results found in this latest research.

So, I’d like to declare Sunday August 3, 2014 as National Offline Day!  (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page I created: https://www.facebook.com/events/1492244714326734/?source=1#)

The intention is to unplug for 12 hours from social media and be a day for families, friends, and especially children to reconnect with each other and meet people the old-fashioned way – in person!

Here’s what I propose:  Sunday August 3, 2014 from 9am to 9pm (in whatever time zone you are) commit to go offline and unplug for 12 hours!  (After 9 pm, post photos of your experience and add comments to the Facebook event.)

You can use your cell phone to MAKE CALLS only – no texting, no Facebook posts, no tweeting, no email – for 12 hours.  Spend time through direct one-on-one contact with your kids, your friends, meet new people, get in contact with your fellow human beings (or connect with the good in yourself!)

Have a picnic, a beach day, a craft brew bottle share, a bbq – anything you normally would do – but without any online exchange.  Will you support this – what do you think?

Share the idea around, and let’s just do it!  Can we make National Offline Day August 3, 2014 happen?

Background

Here’s the article in the Daily Mail May 15, 2014 you can read for yourself, the Headline speaks volumes!

daily mail web usehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2629866/Heavy-web-use-harms-childs-mental-health-Every-hour-raises-risk-warns-watchdog.html

While I don’t agree that the Internet CAUSES mental illness (in the same way that the internet cannot cause weak ankles, poor vision or the like) – I do agree that we have nurtured unconscious alienation from each other through “the advancements in communication” technology.

Kids are the first to suffer from a lack of physical love and words of affection – exacerbated with technology. Kids need connection, hugs, kind words of affirmation – in other words direct human contact!

That’s the reason behind National Offline Day August 3, 2014.

(Sidenote, I do agree that the internet has many positive results such as creating community among those who feel alienated in offline life, but bear with me for a moment.)

Online technology has become an excuse for poor one-on-one communication – regardless of age!

Communication experts note that messages received rely on body language and tone, with only 7% of the message getting through based on the chosen words.  With today’s instant messaging and other online forms, 100% of the message relies on words (or stupid acronyms like Laugh Out Loud – LOL.)

Let’s make a point of getting in touch with each other this one day a year (to start) and maybe create it more often too!

Have a great week (as you read this post online!  And probably were alerted to it by Facebook or Twitter… LOL!)

– Carol

Everyone can use a little “pruning”…

13 Jan

By the title above and the fact that I live in Florida, you might be led to think this post is about regularity… thankfully (at least from my viewpoint) it’s not!  It’s about making room in your life for new growth, new experiences, new insights – no matter how old you are!  In fact, today is the youngest you’ll ever be again in your life, and if you’re reading this post, it is so much better than the alternative…

It’s probably obvious to you that we’re all born into the world completely pure, unadulterated, fresh, … we are like an oak seedling just sprouted. We are ready for nourishment, sunlight and warmth (love), and ready to take on the world. For most of us at this point, life is good.

By mid-life, we’ve weathered seasons and storms and our branches bear witness to years of events.  Our heads are filled to the brim with memories of experiences, hurts, biases, judgments, opinions of right and wrong, conditions, critiques and rules — so much so that there is barely room for anything or anyone new.

oakWe find that we are now solid oak trees, each of us bearing a customized pattern of branches forged through a unique set of events, circumstances and relationships. These branches bear witness to our life experience and often form a mismatch of uneven projections shooting out in myriad directions. During warm summers (the good times in our life), these imperfections stay hidden, obscured by bountiful leaves and we can fully bask in our beauty.  When winter sets in (the less than perfect times of our life), as it invariably does, our branches and scars are exposed bare leaving us feeling vulnerable and bare.  Over the years, our “branches” build up layers of  moss and hide skeletons of dead wood – emotional baggage – that can impede our natural growth. Sometimes this buildup happens overnight (such as a lightning strike or other stressful event), but more typically it accrues over time, seemingly unnoticeable as we go about our daily routines.  That is, until something jolts us to observe that dead wood and moss impedes our  future growth.

A colleague once told me (after a tumultuous time in my life):  “You really need to prune your life – get rid of the dead branches (the toxic relationships and ways of thinking that no longer serve you) to make room for new growth.”

The analogy was “bang on” (as we say in Canada) and her advice came flooding back to me today as I read the following:

1003924_560500844040225_309166825_nIt hit me – to accomplish ANY of these things means getting rid of dead wood in our heads… taking out the rote programmed reactions and ways of thinking.  Replacing the emotional baggage and dead end thinking with considerate, thoughtful, intentional responses to life.  One at a time…

“Learn to love without condition.”  Wow, this means I need to be conscious of and lower the biases (and judgments) that lead me to love others with conditions.  (The conditions are like a wall intended to protect me from future hurt – but ultimately it limits potentially great relationships!)  I need to consciously CHOOSE to accept and simply love people as they are, without conditions, (just as I would like to have happen to me.)  This sounds like a good habit to adopt.

“Talk without bad intention.”  Sometimes I reassure myself that I already do this, but if I am brutally honest, sometimes the good intentions are skewed when I am talking to someone with whom I have an imperfect past.  If there has been some mal-intention on the part of the other (even perceived) some mal-intention back could occur.  To talk without bad intention requires me to clear my head of judgment, before I speak, so that the words come out pure and the tone is positive.  This gives the other party the chance to simply be and respond without their defenses being up.  Sounds like another good habit to practice.

“Give without any reason.”  If you’ve grown up with a scarcity mentality like I did (there’s never enough money, food, jobs, time, energy to go around), giving can end up being biased and giving ends up with some sort of expectation.  Giving without reason means letting go of the need to get anything back in return (today or any day!)  Giving without any reason, just because I can – this is another habit that will enrich my life!

And “Care for people without any expectation.”  For me, this one hinges on my childhood learning of the “Golden Rule (do unto others as you’d like them <expect them> to do unto you.)”  This learning always set me up for failure because it implied that there would be reciprocity – that kindness begets kindness, generosity begets generosity, and so on.  The reality is that when I expect (not hope) something of others, I am imposing on them MY rules/code of behavior, my background, my need to  control – and that is simply not fair.  Letting go of the dead wood that expectations bring allows me to care for others as I can, while first taking care of my own needs (first.)

Pruning the dead wood in my  life takes concentration and work to properly trim (not chop) so that I remain whole and healthy.  Too much pruning at once or in the wrong season can be worse than not.  Figuring out new habits, such as those above, is a journey to remove the old (negative) habits of judgment, bias, reaction, and reliving old hurts, and replace them with new (positive) habits of acceptance, love, response and openness.

While old habits die-hard – I realize that this old dog can learn new tricks and the added bonus is that my new life is enriched, full, and thriving!

Wishing you a great week!

Carol

 

Positive people are good for you

14 Aug

If you took an inventory of the people in your life, how many of them would you classify as having a positive influence?  Do you feel loved, accepted, and optimistic because of them or do you feel downtrodden, defensive, and inferior?  It is your choice about who to allow in your life as friends, loves, acquaintances – so why not choose those who bring out the best in you?

some peopleWhile it is true that no one can make you feel anything (positive or negative) without your permission – the influence of those who support and love you cannot be underestimated.  When you love yourself and understand that you truly deserve to be surrounded by like-minded positive people, life becomes wonderful.

Below is a slide show of some of the best quotes about positive people and their impact.  Sometimes it’s better to be alone that to settle for people in  your life who don’t appreciate you…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Put out your intentions to the universe that you want positive, uplifting, optimistic and supportive people in your life – and watch (over time) as the universe delivers!  And remove relationships that are toxic to make room for these new ones.

Wishing you a positive week!

Carol

 

Why Do I Care What YOU Think?

4 Apr

Why do we care so much about what other people think (about us?)  Every day I meet people who bemoan about how someone in their life diminished their achievements, pooh-poohed their plans, or expressed a lack of support for their ideas.  Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that people who purport to love us (and tell us that they only want the best for us) have opinions worth more than our own!  And this is such a fallacy!  Yet we do the same thing to other people without even intending to.  (Which begs the question:  If you knew that your opinion caused someone to feel badly about themselves… even to the point of giving up – would you think a bit more before YOU spoke?)

Realistically, it is only YOUR own opinion of yourself that should matter. And yet we falter…

I grew up with the adage “How can you do/say/think that?  What would the neighbors/friends/strangers think (of you?)  It was almost as if people on the street without any regard to you or your life should have a level of control over who you are! It was as hogwash then as it is now, but so many are still caught up in the trap of “what would so-and-so think?” – the truth is that it just doesn’t matter.

The opinions of others have nothing to do with me (or you!)  I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences over the years and I am always amazed at the diversity of evaluations that come back from attendees.  They range from the polar opposites of “Couldn’t stand the presenter, didn’t learn a thing…” to “Best presenter I’ve ever seen – make sure you invite her back. Excellent!” – all from the same presentation! The rest of the audience lies somewhere in the middle, with the majority of people offering no comments at all.  What should I believe about my presentation – the best, the worst, or somewhere in the middle?

None of them!  All of the opinions from the audience are from THEIR perspective – based on what they like and how they perceived me. No one knows me except for me!  When I speak, I give it my best and that is all I can do.  When I leave the stage and feel good about what I’ve done, that is all that should matter – I’ve done my best.  Yet, of course I do read the evaluations (and they are the basis on which I am asked back!) – and they do still affect me.  BUT I am learning to ignore the outliers (both positive and negative) because they are so much less a reflection of me than of the audience members and their own frame of mind!

The only approval we should ever strive to meet is our own.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past two years on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of author and motivational guru don Miguel Ruiz and his landmark book The Four Agreements. When my daughter first gifted me a copy almost 10 years ago, I read it but the concepts just didn’t sink in at first.

Now, 10 years later, I fully embrace the concepts even though I still get tripped up by life’s little circumstances that suck me in and zap my energy!

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

The Four Agreements just for introduction purposes (see my other posts on the subject for more insights) are:

1. Always live with integrity: I used to think this meant to live honestly (with high ethics and morals), but it really means: become your own best friend!  Love yourself unconditionally and never, ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend!  (i.e., Banish your inner critic and rid yourself of the negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough – any of these!  Replace them with positive and realistic self-love endorsements such as “You are kind. You deserve love. You are a great person! (Which goes beyond appearances!))

When you’ve had a lifetime to build up your defenses with a damaging inner critic (mine was so strong it almost led me to suicide!) – often put in place to protect you from the (inevitable) onslaught of unsupportive but well-meaning people in your life – this can be a major life change!  But it is necessary – if you are not your own best friend who loves you for all you are – you’ll never find happiness. Happiness starts and ends within – so start today by loving yourself!

2. Don’t take anything personally: This one was also tough for me, but it makes so much sense.  Think about it – if you wear something new out to a party and three people come up to you saying variously:

  • “What a great color on you – great outfit!”
  • “Oh, from the looks of that outfit, you’ve gained a few pounds.”
  • “You look tired, maybe it’s the outfit, you really shouldn’t wear those colors.”

Who is right?  As I’ve stated above – none of them are “right” – they are all opinions.  If you feel good about yourself and how you look – that is all that matters.

When we stop taking the responses of others personally (they are not personal – they are only a viewpoint from another,) life gets so much better!

3. Never make assumptions: Agreement #3 also takes getting used to. When we realize that not everyone thinks like we do, it makes sense to stop and ask questions to clarify what others tell us.  A couple of years ago I was dating a guy who I really cared about and he told me after a few weeks that “I have no feelings for you.”  I was devastated because I took it to mean that he didn’t care at all about me, and I immediately started crying when he said this. He couldn’t figure out why I’d be upset because he meant that he wasn’t in love with me, he cared about me but wasn’t in love (he was going through a divorce at the time… I should have seen the red flags there!)  My interpretation was that no feelings = no caring.  I’ve since learned to try not to react and instead ask questions first to make sure that what I hear and interpret is the same thing as what is meant.

In life, we make so many assumptions about WHY others say, think, do, or act based on OUR opinions.  When we ask questions to find out WHY – the answers may pleasantly surprise you!

4. Always do your best: This one can be the easiest to embrace because it is tied to #1. If you are always doing your best, it is harder to tell yourself you could have, should have… anything.  When you do you best (at the time, given the information and resources at hand) – you can never could have, should have done anything differently!

All in all, it really shouldn’t matter to me what YOU think about what I write, what I say, what I post – yet it still does.  We are at the core, social creatures who are domesticated to care about others and respect the opinions and thoughts of others.

In this journey of life, I’m finally learning to put MY OPINION of myself first… and everyone else’s second to tenth.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if I don’t accept and love myself – how can I expect anything of anyone else?

p.s., Comments?  I’d love to hear YOUR opinion – it doesn’t change the fact that I did my best in writing this post, but I’d still like SOME feedback.

p.p.s. Remember to register for the upcoming True You Discovery retreat May 3-5, 2013 in beautiful St Petersburg Beach, FL. Visit www.spiritualconnections1-trueyoudiscovery.com for full details.  I also wrote about this in my last blog post.

Have a good week!

Carol

 

Living up to Expectations

10 Oct

I’ve been really disappointed lately, but I realize that the disappointment stems from my unrealistic expectation of others.

“Expectation” is an innocuous word according to dictionary.com:

1.the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
2.the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
3.an expectant  mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
4.something expected;  a thing looked forward to.
5.Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.
It’s all very subjective, yet cleanly defined.
In reality, expectations are far more elusive and laden with emotional impact.  When others “expect” something of us, it is based solely on their perspective, their longing, their wish for what or who they want you to be.  Yet, seldom are these expectations stated or expressed and the person who projects his/her expectations on others is often disappointed.  When you consider that it is utterly impossible to read another’s mind (where expectations reside) – it is no wonder that expectations go unmet!

I know someone…

who often is deeply disappointed in others because they expect a “basic level of behavior” (their words) based solely on their judgment of such.  This person is a thoughtful, considerate, put others first type of person for whom I have a great deal of respect.  It is difficult to watch this person continually lament over how others behave – all because the expectation of behavior is seldom met.  She just doesn’t realize that others work from a different set of basic rules of life.
Realizing just how impossible it is for others to live up to this person’s expectations (“common, basic respect” in her words) made me realize just how utterly failure prone we make ourselves when we project our expectations on others – and how disappointed we continue to be.
In the words of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, “Agreement #2 – Never take anything personally…”  When we project OUR expectations on others, we normally do not tell them what these expectations include, nor do we give them a chance to defend whatever actions offend/disappoint us.
As a result, we end up thinking “How could that person be so rude to me? (They probably never realized that they were rude) or “How could they not ask me how I AM doing? All we talked about was them…” (The others probably didn’t notice their apparent self-centeredness.)
The key to feeling happy around others is to have few expectations (if any!) of others, and let life flow!  Instead of being disappointed that someone you were hoping would call didn’t – take matters into your own hands and call them when they don’t “deliver” to your expectations.  Often there is a good explanation for their “lapse” – most notably that they didn’t have any idea that you expected them to act a particular way.
Keep expectations for yourself – and then try to live up to those, instead of imposing them on others.

I used to expect a lot from other people…

– courtesy, respect, love, reciprocity, – all of the valors I grew up to think were part of the adult world.
Today, I’ve relaxed and redefined most of my former expectations – my new definition of respect is one where people don’t DISrespect me.  Love, I’ve learned is primarily conditional and never ever can be expected.  I used to expect unconditional love from loved ones (especially family) which is simply non-existent.  One cannot conjure up love from others – only for and  by oneself.
Reciprocity, I now know is a bonus – you can be nice and giving for your part, but that doesn’t mean that others will necessarily react in kind.  Others  follow their own path, not yours – which may not even consider reciprocity as an action.
Courtesy (especially “common courtesy” such as opening doors for people, giving up one’s metro seat for elderly, etc.) has been redefined for the 21st Century (at least based on behaviors in Florida!)  One person’s courtesy is another person’s great surprise – it is always a matter of subjectivity.

Expectations— only of yourself…

Today, I expect respect, courtesy, unconditional love, and reciprocity ONLY from myself.  Anticipating that anyone else would bestow these same behaviors on me is no longer part of my outlook.  Relying on my own resources to meet (and often exceed) my expectations has been wonderfully successful.

Maybe this would work for you too?

Have a great week!

Carol

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

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