Kindness Times Two

In my last post I mentioned I would have the opportunity to share with Nimo again. This evening was very special to me, it was an evening of inspiration at HopeWell Cancer Support Center. It was a wonderful evening of sharing, hugs, kindness, love, smiles, tears, music, and a few bubbles.

This facility is in an amazing location, surrounded by nature. I was sitting on the front porch watching a doe grazing in the grass not more than 50 feet from me. She didn’t have a care in the world, neither did I.

I’m not sure I can highlight just one thing about the evening so I will give you a few.

Ellie, from the Empty Hands Music crew was filming guests as they arrived, asking what was one thing they were grateful for. Do you have any idea how tough it is to pick just one thing you are grateful for? She later did her best to piece them all together as part of the Gratitude video. It was a wonderful surprise.

Survivors, caregivers, and family members shared their stories and inspiration. There were so many beautiful people in attendance.

I gave a little background into my journey and shared the story of the handmade kindness cards I leave in random places. Everyone was so excited to be taking home their own they asked if they could just start passing the box around while I was sharing. Before I could finish a wonderful woman stood up and started sharing. She thanked me for helping her know why she was there. She had been scheduled for surgery in the morning and they sent her home, she didn’t understand why and what the message was until I spoke of the cards. The joy I felt at that moment was absolutely overwhelming.

The entire evening was filled with these “kind” moments. Wherever you are, if you have the opportunity to be a guest for an evening of inspiration with Nimo and Empty Hands Music, don’t pass it up. You will be forever grateful and blessed.

A very fitting photo to cap off the night-Heartfelt!

Gone too long!

Hello everyone! Wow, I really have been gone too long. Life as a health coach, caregiver, yogini, and the many other hats I wear, can get a bit crazy. Just know that you are always in my thoughts even when life doesn’t allow me the time to write on the blog.

I hope you have been out spreading kindness and love everywhere you go. I would love to hear some of your stories.

For today, I would like to share one of the best nights I’ve had in quite some time. Last Wednesday I had the honor and privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people who all share a desire to spread love and kindness in their own special ways.

To my left was the guest of honor and a very special musician, Nimo. Empty Hands Music is a labor of love created by Nimo as his gift to the world. I invite you to go to his website where you can download his 10 track album absolutely free. I guarantee you will love it!

Although the name is Empty Hands, Nimo’s music will fill your heart with joy. I handed out Kindness Cards and simply had a wonderful night. I now have the opportunity to do it again this week at a cancer support center. I’m so excited!

A bonus to the evening, I now have new friends and someone to guide me in accomplishing a life-long dream of volunteering in India. Thanks Nimo!

Grateful Living

How many times have you heard, “Be grateful for what you have.”? What happens when life seems to be going all wrong and gratitude isn’t what we are feeling? Can we find the reason to be grateful in what we perceive as negative?

Life can be challenging and I’m grateful for that. It is in those challenges that I learn who I truly am and gain strength.

Sadness comes into our lives and gives us reason to be grateful for the happier times. Without sadness we could not know happiness.

A feeling of powerlessness over our situation is cause for gratitude in the knowledge that in these times we can turn to others for a helping hand. It deepens our connection to those we love.

Fear is always something to be grateful for. Fear at a primal level will keep us out of harms way. Fear that doesn’t come from a place of survival will lead us to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and live life to the fullest.

Most of us would say it is easy to be grateful for family, food, and fun times. My challenge to you is to find something to be grateful for in every situation throughout your day and your life.

Enjoy the following video on Gratitude. I’m sure that in no time you will be singing along. Each day is filled with gifts waiting for you to untie the ribbons!

Live Your Life in Peace Not Pieces

Peace is a way of life, not a place you strive to reach. Peace is found through love, love of self, love of others. Peace is found in equality, in the knowledge that we are all part of a greater intelligence, a higher source of power. It does not matter what name you choose to use for the Divine intelligence..God, Buddha, Spirit..the list goes on. The only thing that matters is that we cross all religious lines and love each other as if those lines didn’t exist.

It never ceases to amaze me when I see a news story that refers to bringing peace through military action. This may be controversial to some, maybe even those of you reading this. I just don’t believe that war brings peace. I do believe that war brings pieces.

Pieces that eventually need to be put back together, at best, still only lead to a puzzle that is never really a whole picture. Pieces that are realized as families that have lost people they love. Pieces that are realized as communities that have been destroyed. Pieces that are realized as hardened hearts. More pieces than I care to list here. I’m sure you can add many of your own.

Just as war cannot bring peace to the world, internal conflicts cannot bring peace within. Internal conflicts leave the soul in pieces. I’m not talking about the internal conflicts that have you craving the brownie you know you shouldn’t eat because you are striving for a healthier diet. I’m talking about the more serious internal conflict.

Conflict that leaves you questioning your worth. You are perfect, just as you are. You are a unique fingerprint of the Divine.

Conflict that keeps you from the love you were meant to share with the world. Conflict that causes you to judge others and not see that we are all one. You are Love, love doesn’t judge. Conflict of this kind will leave your heart and soul in pieces.

You will find love in a smile. If you are searching for love, start by finding a mirror and smiling. Loving your “Self” at a truly spiritual level is the foundation for loving all others.

This Weeks Reader Word: Stress

This weeks reader word comes courtesy of Bev. She requested a post written about stress. It took me some time to decide how I would approach this subject. So many times when we hear the word stress it brings up a host of negativity. How do you give stress a positive spin? I’m going to give it my best shot. You can let me know how I do.

If you were to ask people what the one thing is they could do without in their lives, many would respond–stress. Maybe we should first define stress and it’s effects on the body. Did you know there are two very different types of stress? Eustress is the type of stress that brings positive change in life. Distress is the type of stress that brings negative results.

How do you know the difference between the two? There are some simple characteristics that are easily recognizable.

The most common characteristics for eustress:

  • motivates you toward a positive result
  • energizing
  • short-term
  • a feeling of an adrenaline rush

The most common characteristics for distress:

  • constant worry and anxiety
  • painful and unpleasant
  • causes physical symptoms
  • sucks the energy and life out of you

Now that we have more clarity about stress lets talk about what I do when I feel stressed. Stress can be something that sneaks up on you and before you know it you are exhausted. It has happened to me, it happens to the best of us!

One thing I do to keep stress at bay is daily meditation. The simple practice of focusing on my breath provides a wealth of health benefits. I enjoy a sense of calm and relaxation. You can find many useful online resources if you don’t understand the process for meditation. I enjoy the seasonal free meditation series that Deepak Chopra conducts online. The Spring session just started recently.

If I find myself stressed about something, I stop what I’m doing and bring my thoughts back to the moment. I ask myself, what is the worst possible outcome in this stressful situation. It is very rare that the worst possible thing that can happen, will.

Everyone has heard that laughter is the best medicine. This is so true. The next time you are feeling stressed: find the funniest movie you can and watch it, watch some stand-up comedy, laugh with a friend, set up a Skype Laughter session with me, find anything that makes you laugh. It will help to melt away the stress. Studies have shown that laughter floods our body with feel good hormones. Check out what Mayo Clinic has to say about Laughter and Stress.

There are so many effective ways to deal with the stress in your life. Many more that I use in my own life. I would be here all day trying to list them all. The most important thing to remember is that stress doesn’t have to take over your life, you can use stress to improve your life.

What do you do to handle the stress in your life? Smile through adversity.

Proud Mama: A Smile in My Heart

This post goes out to all you proud Moms. This is for those of you who have ever doubted whether you got it right, did you get anything right. Yes, each time your child smiles, just know you got it right. There may never be an award, they may never say thank you. They may never realize that the goodness in them is the goodness in you. They won’t admit to a stubborn streak, after all you won’t either.

Children are a gift that unfortunately don’t come with a manual. There are no instructions and we just have to pray we get it right. We put our heart and soul into raising this part of us that to us is our heart walking around outside our body. At times we know we did something right and at other times we aren’t so sure. We try to be a living example and hope that they get it and sometimes they do.

Raising children isn’t easy and as a Mom we find ourselves playing many roles: nurse, teacher, protector, taxi, personal chef, housekeeper and more. Never complaining, okay, maybe occasionally. We find ourselves wearing last year’s fashions, no time for ourselves, the kids come first.

Down to the last brownie in the pan and we really are craving some chocolate, we will never turn down the look on the face of our child that says–but Mom, I really wanted that last brownie. You and I know who is getting the last brownie and who will still be craving chocolate.

As our babies grow through all the stages of life we smile at the moments when they shine. Those moments when they show us that somewhere along the way we got it right. Those moments when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, we got something right. Sometimes it is found in a simple smile and the words “I love you.” Sometimes it is found in the big win at the soccer game. Many times our children shine in ways that only we can see. When our kids shine, we shine. We smile.

Today I had one of those moments. This was a text I received from my youngest daughter.

Just had a lady at CVS come up to me. She said I would probably think she’s crazy but she found this in the parking lot and she saw I have two children so she wanted to give it to me. She handed me 11 cents. I said thank you and yes I have two more kids at school. 🙂 So Sweet!

She could have sent me a message with a totally different tone. She could have said, wow, 11 cents. She could have said, “What does she think I can buy with that?” This text was a shining moment for my daughter, I love you Amanda. It was also a shining moment for me as her mother. With any number of things she could have said and felt, my daughter chose gratitude. That is a moment to shine. I will be smiling about this each time I think about it.

Unlimited Smileage is about all those little moments when we are able to give from the heart. It is also about all those moments when we just sit back and give thanks. Live, love, smile, and be grateful!

I would love to hear about your shining moments as a Mom or a Dad. Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing your great stories.

 

Challenge!

What’s in a word? For those of you who don’t know, I put out a challenge on the Facebook page for Unlimited Smileage. I asked all the followers and readers to think of one word that they would like me to write about in a blog post.

The first word came from Kristin, a wonderful storyteller and friend. Kristin asked me to write about “challenge.” Amusing, that I challenge the readers and what I get back is challenge. Knowing Kristin that was her intent, fun.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of the word; something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort. When first looking at the dictionary definition, I must admit, this didn’t seem like a very positive word. I mean really, I don’t know about you but I don’t want to battle and I’m not extremely competitive. Special effort could be given a positive spin or a negative one depending on your perspective.

I’ve never really looked at a challenge in quite the way the dictionary defines it. With that definition it would seem you are competing against someone or something and that ultimately there will be a loser. I’ve always looked at a challenge as the precursor to a joyous celebration. The rainbow after the storm. The oasis in the desert. I’m sure you get the picture. Does that mean that every challenge is a fun experience? No way! Does it mean that every challenge has the outcome I would think it should have or desire it to have? No way! There is no real challenge in always knowing the outcome. So what does it mean?

Simply put, it means that a challenge is only an obstacle if you give in to it. It means that what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. Life challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional. When life challenges me in a way that seems out of alignment with what I desire I know that Spirit is telling me, there is a better way. There are no negative outcomes in a challenge, only lessons to learn. Learn the lesson and although the outcome may not be what we wanted, the outcome is a powerful form of positive personal growth.

Nothing in life is insurmountable unless you give it permission to be so.

“When you do what you love, the seemingly impossible becomes simply challenging, the laborious becomes purposeful resistance, the difficult loses its edge and is trampled by your progress.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

4 Words

Have you ever thought about what the 4 saddest words might be at the end of your life? Four seems like such a small number, I’m sure you are thinking, “How much sadness can 4 words contain?” Try these 4 words, “I wish I had” and then fill in the blank.

We all have things we dream of doing, some may seem to be crazy, some just seem to be out of reach. What makes them crazy? What keeps them out of reach?

Are your dreams crazy because no one else would understand? We have all heard the saying, “Dance like no one is watching”, follow your dreams the same way. Smile while you journey toward happiness, remembering that happiness is the journey. No one wants to get to the end of life and say “I wish I had, but no one would have understood.” You understand, and when you smile, so do those around you.

What keeps your dreams just beyond your reach? Is it money, time, lack of resources? These are excuses. There are people living their dreams with little to no money. Just try Googling the Moneyless Man. I’m not suggesting you go to the extreme and try what these people have done. I am saying money is not a valid excuse for not following your dreams. Take it in baby steps, simplify your life, save the money you would have used to dine out and eat at home instead. Sell things that really don’t serve a purpose in your life anymore, I did and it is a very emotionally liberating experience. There are a whole host of ways to find the money to follow your passion.

Time, the most important thing to note about time is that we make time for the things that are important to us. If you are truly passionate about something you will find the time to pursue it.

Lack of resources is nothing more than us not being resourceful. I’m guilty of this. You hit a road block and instead of finding an alternate route you give up and go home. The latest greatest in GPS technology has live traffic updates that give us alternatives. Treat the obstacles you face the same way. If one route doesn’t work, look for the alternative.

Here is an example from my own life. I recently discovered an online educational opportunity that I wanted to participate in and when I looked at the cost involved I knew it was not in my budget. I could have given up and said it just wasn’t meant to be. I chose to contact the business and offer a trade, their coursework and certification for my services as a writer. Guess what, they replied with a two thumbs up. I’m smiling, they are smiling. They have a need, I have a dream. We both get what we want. This is just one simple example of how to be resourceful.

In reality, the only thing keeping us from our dreams is us and our fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. So what are your excuses for not following your dreams? What steps can you take today to make those dreams come true? Each step you take gets you one step closer to realizing your dreams and even closer to the biggest smile you will ever wear. If you still think you just can’t follow your dreams than maybe you need new dreams or maybe you just need to change your perspective on what really is possible. You are born with unlimited potential! You cannot fail, you can only learn!

I would love to hear what it is you dream of doing, or maybe you have already accomplished something that was a dream…leave a comment..share your dreams..

Gratitude…Abundance

Being grateful opens the channels through which abundance flows into our lives. That is worth repeating..Being “Grateful” opens the channels through which “Abundance” flows into our lives. The simplest way to fill your life with more of what you love, need, or want is to be grateful for what you already have in your life. We can’t expect to bring abundance into our lives if we aren’t grateful for what we already have. No matter where we are in life, there is always something to be grateful for. Each day that you are alive is a day for a new beginning. Not sure where to begin, clarity comes with action–not in thought, so whatever it is you have been thinking about doing, just do it! What does gratitude do for us? Here is a short list of what happens when you live each day from an attitude of gratitude.

  • An attitude of gratitude reminds us what is really important in life. Those little hand-prints your child just left on the window you just cleaned will soon be nothing but a distant memory.
  • An attitude of gratitude reminds us of all the wonderful things we have, all the special people that are part of our lives, and can turn a bad day into a good day. Put it to the test, the next time things don’t seem to be going the way you want stop and think about everything you have to be grateful for. I bet you can’t do it without smiling!
  • An attitude of gratitude helps to heal. When we spend time each day counting our blessings, we are less stressed and when we are less stressed our bodies are better able to heal.
  • An attitude of gratitude reminds us to say thank you to everyone throughout the day and throughout our lives. Saying thank you is a simple act of gratitude and isn’t always about the words, sometimes thank you comes in the form of a smile.

Start each morning with just a few minutes looking at your life and everything you have to be grateful for, begin by being grateful that you are able to take the time to be grateful. You are alive, be alive. End each day with a few minutes of gratitude and see the abundance in your dreams.

 

And the Emmy goes to..

This post is dedicated to the team at PBS and WITF Facing Cancer Together. Congratulations on the honor of being chosen for the Mid-Atlantic Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Service.  Facing Cancer Together embodies the spirit of survivorship and my current mission.  I am honored to have been a part of your tremendous community efforts.

There is an important lesson here for all of us.  Working together toward a common goal is much more effective than each of us struggling on our own to  reach the same goal.  We have a much greater impact on the world around us if we connect our energies and focus on the big picture.  We all play a part, we are all a piece of the bigger puzzle.  No matter how big or how small your contribution to community, the puzzle is not complete without all the pieces.  No matter what cause is close to your heart, you play a valuable role.

Think of yourself as an ongoing supply of energy, everything is energy, energy creates, the more you use, the more quickly you create.  Imagine the outlet on your wall, use it the way it is and you can plug in two appliances for charging.  Take that same outlet and put in an adapter to expand it’s use and you can double or even triple the amount of energy and electricity coming out of that same outlet. By focusing on yourself you limit the amount of energy that you output because there is only one of you.  By focusing on others you multiply the amount of energy you output by the number of others on who you focus.

There are so many wonderful organizations all working toward the same goal, quality of life for survivors and a cure for this disease that claims so many lives.  It is obvious that much thought and care went into making this campaign happen and getting it right.  If you are a cancer survivor, know someone who is, have been touched in any way by this disease, I’m sure that this campaign has something that will inspire you and I would encourage you to  check out all the wonderful online resources.

Begin each day by asking “What can I give to another?” and then “What can I give to myself?”  It is important to never reverse the order of these questions.  When you keep them in this order the 1st question always answers the second one.  What you give to someone else, you give to yourself.  Give a smile and serve with kindness each day!