anxiety, discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation

Sometimes The Lesson Isn’t Yours

One of my friends is anticipating the publication of her book, “The Poor Man’s Feast”.  I don’t have an advance copy, but I have advanced knowledge of the author – I’ve known her since she was one of my campers (the fact that we are now peers seems generationally impossible – and yet…).  If you ever need additional delight in your day, check out her blog of the same name.

Lissie’s book is an autobiographical account of her life with family, friends and food.  They are inextricably connected and her stories both amuse and intrigue; her recipes (some of which I have tried) are drool-worthy.  You would think that she would be reveling in the excitement of this achievement.  Certainly those of us who love her are celebrating her success with choruses of encouragement and congratulations.  And yet, Lissie has worries that are not hers to own.

Yesterday she wrote me about some recent familial experiences which have prompted anxiety about the anticipated reaction of some of her relatives to her book.  Although names have been changed and she has the talent to allow her voice to ring with sincerity and love, she is fretting about some of the less-than-kind comments that have come her way lately from some members of her tribe.  I think my response to her was incomplete, despite my efforts to be supportive.

Another friend of mine is trying to find her sea legs after being upended by the tragic impact of Hurricane Sandy.  The family business was seriously damaged, requiring too much negotiation through the bureaucratic nightmare that governmental agencies and insurance companies seem to require.  Perhaps perseverance is a an unwritten rule prior to receiving relief – they winnow out the weak who give up with resignation and despair.  Not Jo – give her a cause and she will rally passionately.  Which is all well and good unless your heart feels like it’s being cracked in the process.  And though the plant is officially up and running, the residual emotional exhaustion is a toll no one should have to pay.  You’d think high premiums and ridiculous deductibles would be enough, wouldn’t you?

And another friend who is self-employed, ponders daily about what she should be doing or could be doing to bring in more business.  How to effect a paradigm shift in companies who are holding onto stasis as a dog might covet a bone.  As she expends hour upon hour considering alternative and creative ways of changing mind-sets, she ends up questioning herself and works hard to avoid the temptation of an abyss of self-doubt.

What do these situations all have in common (other than my incredible love and respect for these women)?  The search for meaning.  The gnawing, relentless question of how to contort one’s self to fit into a current reality.  But what if these aren’t questions for us?  Perhaps these aren’t our lessons to learn, rather the lessons for those around us.  What if this is a lesson for Lissie’s family – to learn (or not) the ways we love and accept and delight in another’s gifts?  For others to learn the adverse impact that a non-stop revolving door has on customers who have placed their trust in your promised services?  And a company to learn that nothing from nothing really does leave nothing, and in order to thrive you have to change that which is obsolete and ineffective?

Sounds simple, but on a very fundamental level, I think it’s hard to grasp.  We choose to think that every lesson is for our edification.  And though I believe that we do ourselves a great injustice when we miss those instructive moments, I think we do ourselves an equally profound disservice by thinking that each life lesson is somehow karmically presented for us.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; sometimes an ‘a ha’ moment is designed for someone else and we are just bit players in their story.

Perhaps I write this because I so want my friends to be happy.  Because I think each of these women is so phenomenal and loving and talented and smart that nothing but joy should govern their days.  Maybe though it is a message for us all – the sacrilege of stating that not all of the universe’s intent is for our benefit.  And in those moments, when we accept with humility that it is about others, we can offer the greatest example of what we have already learned – to love.


anxiety, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, mindfulness, motivation

Have I Said Thank You Lately?

I want to thank David @ (Lead.Learn.Live), Renee @ and Ivon @ (Teacher As Transformer) for according me the Blog of 2012 award.

Blog of the Year Award 6 star jpeg

David wrote me this morning and suggested I read the rules, because I wanted to nominate him.  Apparently I can’t do that.  This is yet another clue to my personality – I live within the spirit and intent of the law, though I can’t confirm that I always follow it to the letter.  Call it petulance, a throwback to my pseudo-hippie years, or just a desire to expand the lovely opportunities in the day as widely as possible.

This is my way of telling you that I am bending the rules slightly, and I hope you’re all cool with that.  In January, I will write a post about how I have been impacted by a year’s worth of experience in this community.  For now though I’d like to just quickly mention that it has given far more to me than I have arguably given.  Were it not for David and Lori (, I would probably have not continued.  I’m not in their league –  I know it and  I’m ok with it too.  I’m not a writer, I will never publish…I’m just a woman trying to figure stuff out.  David and Lori, in their personal and unique ways have somehow managed to keep me going each time I wanted to stop.  I’m not kidding you – each time.  Call it karmic connection, intuitiveness, generosity of spirit – it nonetheless continues to amaze and humble me.  Perhaps we truly are connected by some thin red thread that quivers every time one feels like falling.

To me, this award is for those who have such talent, perspective, humor, aesthetic sensitivity, etc that I return to their blogs with eagerness and curiosity.  What is Anake going to show me today, what pearls will Susan string together while forming her poetic necklace,  has Bonnie been prompted by some life experience that resulted in a posting both thoughtful and intuitive?  How will Misifusa lift me up today?  Will I feel the need to opine about John’s perspective on leadership?  You catch my drift.  There is so much talent out there, I’m still a neophyte.  At best I am a wondering soul with a decent vocabulary.

So without further comment, I nominate the following people for this award.  They inspire, amuse, delight, challenge and do so with such consistency that they truly are the bloggers of 2012.  The bad news, which I am fretting over, is that I’m sure I’m going to miss someone who I admire equally.  I am hopeful you know that this is an error of oversight, not intention.

Cathy @

John @

Paula @

Kristin @

Bonnie @

Anake @

Laurie @

Deanna @ (Redemption’s Heart)

Susan @

Elizabeth @

Russ @ (A Grateful Man)

Bill @

There are more…and this is where I am feeling the most anxiety – for I have been more enriched by this august cyber community than I ever could have imagined.  I promise you this, I will have the opportunity to acknowledge all of you before the karma truck finally parks.



anxiety, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation

It’s All So Simple – When It Isn’t So Complicated

Yesterday was my first experience volunteering with the non-profit Lift Me Up.  I got to the barn over an hour before my official ‘start’ time.  In part my timing was off because I mis-read the instructions;  my subconscious though was clearly insistent on spending some time in the quiet of the morning communing with the horses.

Frenchie knickered when I arrived and was rewarded with a couple of carrots (this is me – of course I had brought carrots along). We nuzzled over the fence for a little while and I was overcome with emotion.  Horses are inextricably tied to memories of time spent with my dad – riding with him and/or my sister, lesson after lesson with Mr. Gardner as he scolded me when I missed the lead found in the horse’s hooves (I would be looking at my father – always seeking that goofy smile of his), Gold Nugget (the most beautiful Palomino in the universe).  I sat on a fence, feeling the sun greet the morning and watching the horses in their pastures anticipate the arrival of their morning hay.  As each bale was dropped I watched them argue and tussle over who had dibs, bucking with the feistiness born of indignation and bluster.


I don’t think there is anything more glorious than an early morning sun, the smell of fresh hay and eavesdropping on conversations between old equine friends.  I could have stayed like that all day and felt like I had been given the gift of golden memories and magical mornings combined in a perfect olio.

Ironically, I ended up bringing the largest horse in for the morning’s work.  Nyles is a beautiful, mouthy guy, who likes to nibble on your sweatshirt, hair and anything else within touching distance.  He’s a big guy and I couldn’t even see the top of the head of the other volunteer who helped me with grooming.  So, I sang quietly to Nyles as I tended to him with the requisite different types of combs  and brushes.  And not to put too fine a point on it – but yes, we kissed.  I kissed quite a lot yesterday (and I think I already have a favorite in Elmo, who truly does return the kiss).  And all would have been well if I could have just spent the day like this.

“Who are you?”

“No one of consequence.”

“I must know.”

“Get used to disappointment” — William Goldman

The volunteers couldn’t have been more indifferent to me and more importantly to the riders scheduled for therapy.  With great discomfort, I introduced myself to everyone, tried to make the requisite small talk and failed miserably.  Ok, this experience isn’t about me.  I struggled physically with the need to keep my body twisted towards Nyles while consciously maintaining weight on the rider’s leg.  A lovely, profoundly challenged man, he shouted with delight while on Nyles’ back, though he was unable to sustain holding the reins or fully balancing himself (it was clear that he was learning more about balance, and with some assistance to dismount, was damn graceful once I was able to move his leg back and over the saddle).  He laughed most of the hour and when he would make eye contact with me,  he’d also try and lean forward to touch my head.

As we walked, I would talk to the rider and sing to Nyles.  Or perhaps it was vice versa.  It is no exaggeration when I write that I was the only one who spoke to this lovely man.  Or the horse.  The volunteers spoke to each other about various aches, pains, marital issues and competed to see who had the most comprehensive knowledge of the barn’s tenants.

When Nyles was done working, we brought him back to pasture.  The next hour I spent with another gentleman and Valentine (a horse with a fair amount of gravitas and a limited supply of grace).   He was able to hold the reins and balance well, which was a selfish relief, for at this point I was struggling with my own body’s resistance to the efforts from the first session.  And my heart was hurt from feeling dismissed by the other volunteers.  Believe me, I know this is a function of being new and having tenured people watch as well-intended folks come and go without commitment or comment.  It is as reflective of my insecurity as it is their indifference.  But I was disappointed for a bit.  And worried as I walked into the house looking like a bent, pained old woman.  Can I hold up my end of the bargain even with some limitations?

The answer remains unclear.  I know I will go back next week and look forward to seeing my equine friends and riders, if not my colleagues.  I don’t cave that easily and I have yet to wave the white flag when my body wimps out.  So the odds are good it isn’t going to happen this time either.  I know the challenges of working in the non-profit world, I just need to find the rhythm so I move with its gait and not against it.

I gave Frenchie a good-bye carrot and nuzzle and headed home, my senses heightened by such a powerful exposure to the morning and my heart a muddle.  I’m not buying a new pair of paddock boots just yet, but I’ve already made a note to buy some apples for next week.

White horse in field
White horse in field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
discretion, friendship, inspiration, leadership, life lessons, love, motivation

An Oldie But A Goodie

“1.  Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2.  Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3.  Name the last five winners of Miss America.

4.  Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5.  Name the last half-dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6.  Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners,

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.  These are no second-rate achievers.  They are the best in their fields.  But the applause dies.  Awards tarnish.  Achievements are forgotten.  Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz.  See how you do on this one:

1.  List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2.  Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3.  Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4.  Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5.  Think of five people  you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards.  They are the ones who care.” — Charles Shultz


Enough said.


discretion, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation

It’s All About Perspective

“How many slams in an old screen door?

Depends how loud you shut it.

How many slices in a bread?

Depends how thin you cut it.

How much good inside a day?

Depends how good you live ’em.

How much love inside a friend?

Depends how much you give ’em.” — Shel Silverstein


We can make life so complicated, can’t we?  Sometimes it just helps to bring it back to the basics – like breathing.  Are our breaths long and full, interrupted with a giggle or even a belly laugh?  Or do we tend to breathe in short inhalations and exhalations, anticipating our next moves before completing the steps right in front of us?  We know which is better for us, I guess it just depends on how important it is to us.

Today I’m off for my ‘barn’ tour.  I am hoping to volunteer with an organization called “Lift Me Up” – their mission involves the use of animal therapy (primarily horses) when working with developmentally challenged children and young adults.  It feels like a good fit for me on many levels – having experience with people who have unique needs (I’m not talking about attorneys here) and horses.  It’s time to pay a little rent for the gift of being here in the first place – and this is also a way to up my happy quotient.

How hard can it be to embrace your day?

Depends how hard you hug it.

How fully can you live your life?

Depends what you put in it

How much joy can you find in a day

Depends on how you see it.

Have a good day all – find delight.