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DECISIONS DECISIONS! DECIDE ALREADY!

Decisions. What are they? How do they affect us?

I attended a marketing meeting when my husband, our partners, and I started our company years ago. The marketer restored more business power to us than we’d realized available simply by defining the word decide.

Let’s break it down.decisions-signage

DECISIONS DEFINITION

According to online Dictionary.com, the origins of decide show a typical blend from varied parts of old Europe. Figure around 1350-1400. When you decide anything, you literally “cut off” or “kill” all other options. How empowering! How simplifying, too! http://www.dictionary.com/browse/decide?s=t

de-“off” (see de-) + caedere “to cut” (see -cide) word-forming element meaning “killer,” from French -cide, from Latin -cida “cutter, killer, slayer.”

Mild fascination with the “kill” part of the definition had recently been rekindled, since I face a decision about which fictional characters are killed in the romantic suspense trilogy I’m writing. In fact, the marketer had then stated, once I decide on something, I’ve essentially “cut off” all other options, killed them, gone, vanished! That’s both intimidating and inspiring simultaneously.

W H O A !!!

Take a moment to consider that fact, and how crazy impactful this is! It suddenly makes wavering look wimpy. It forced me to consider choices I’d claimed to make. Had I, in reality, cut off, even completely dismissed, all other options and made a singular decision? Or had I vacillated about a character’s departure from my series or some commitment, much like Brett Favre’s retirement decisions from football? We usually aren’t aware of how our indecisiveness affects those around us.

G.A.S.P. books

 EXAMPLES

For example, in my first novel, G.A.S.P., what appeared to be a small decision by the two main characters, Julie and Dane, changed, even threatened, lives in an unpredicted ripple effect. How different might the story have been with different choices?

Sometimes decisions can be easy (to eat worms vs. spaghetti); others, miserably challenging or even made in haste (i.e. stay in a relationship or leave it; diets and food choices; exercise or couch potato; iPhone or Samsung — okay maybe this one isn’t difficult right now — but you get what I mean).

decisions-quote

As American voters, we’re now faced with voting on community propositions, local and state oppositions, not to mention one of the wackiest and most contentious Presidential elections in our country’s history. I’m not getting political on you, just observant. As I poll friends and strangers alike in my daily local and national travels, a curious consensus has thus far been struck: we’re concerned no matter how we vote.

There are always those on the other side of the fence; they’ve made decisions. American theologian and Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, Harvey Cox, clarified: “Not to decide is to decide.” In The Alchemist, author Paolo Coelho described when someone makes a decision, unexpected adventures may happen. http://standardwisdom.com/guydownthestreet/2010/12/alchemist-selected-quotes/

IN CONCLUSION

Do your best to assess facts and meaningful ramifications, and then make as logical a decision as possible… even through a process of elimination.  But DECIDE!

To understand its power, reestablishes your own significance — remarkable, right?

P.S. Go ahead! Get it over with! Make a decision and vote!

LIFE’S TRANSTIONS: GOTTA COMMUNICATE!

Let’s cover husband/wife life transitions, since I’ve been on a roll about relationships lately. Hold on! Before you get your panties in a wad, allow me full disclosure: I communicate only what I know. I’m neither discriminating nor judging, and I guarantee transitions don’t either.

Every human being experiences change, such as birth, death, hiring, firing, marriage, and divorce to name a few. Such events are life altering. That’s a given, though we’re typically clueless while in the midst of them.

The transitions to which I’m referring, however, occur with and without warnings. Their impacts almost always catch us off guard, leaving us feeling as if we’ve been locked in a dark closet. Why? We’ve forgotten to communicate. Communication is the key.

EXAMPLES

A. When we had our kids, my husband and I knew they’d grow up, move out, and be off of the “family payroll.” (I don’t know too many adults who have children genuinely hoping they “never leave home.”) Know what’s caught us unprepared for their departures? Ourselves.

B. My husband and I started a business with two other couples as partners years ago. We all worked. As years passed, of the six of us, just two still work together. (Now for the tricky part) I’m not one of those two, our kids are growing and going, and I started my own business. (OK, here’s the other shoe drop) Neither my husband nor I expected me to be so unavailable while … working at home! Know what’s caught us unprepared? Ourselves.

TRANSITION BASIC: COMMUNICATE

Success magazine publisher/editor Darren Hardy once shared, “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” http://addicted2success.com/quotes/40-of-darren-hardys-most-popular-success-quotes/  Our lack of communication and connection locks us into a dark place. (Kind of basic, I know!)

When “roles” are defined as relationships start, an adjustment period exists. Two lives and households combining, etc. are causes for confusion as well as joy. We already know this. That’s why we talk about it (after lots of sex, likely).

What happens when “we” becomes “three” or more? Kids bring MORE adjustments, requirements, and transitions to their adults. There’s usually less talk and more bustling activity (usually less sex, too).

How about after kids are raised and gone? There’s “us” time now, right? If you’re still talking and have anything in common (let alone having any sex), maybe; otherwise, you’re unexpectedly thrown back to (almost) the beginning of your relationship, learning to talk with each other all over again, i.e. back to a basic.

Now, let’s get back to the core of this issue (it’s not about sex for this blog; that’ll be in a different one).

door-key

“DOOR” KEY

Instead of fumbling around in the dark, embrace various types and degrees of communication (yes, sex included). The key is to:

a. grasp expectations versus needs;
b. understand cycles of change and the opportunities they present;
c. accept change as inevitable and not necessarily bad.

(Good news: if done successfully, this can lead to more sex! Hey! Counts as communication AND connection, remember?)

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT

In G.A.S.P., the first book of my fictional trilogy, the story revolves around two ordinary people searching for more in life. When they get entangled in an international gold smuggling operation, it’s clear they’re not alone in life’s changes.

To sum it up: the key to unlock that dark closet of transition surprise is simply “real” conversations. Ask to understand, accept to cope, and evolve to ease life’s many transitions.

FATE? YES! COINCIDENCE? NO!

Coincidence or fate? Ever hear the phrase “everything happens for a reason”? Personally? I’m a passionate believer. Too many things have happened in my life for this to be anything but the truth. This concept appears in my book G.A.S.P. too.

Indulge me a moment.

SCENARIO 1

One of my daughters loved high school so much; she couldn’t even stomach talking about graduating, let alone college hunting. As she tearfully departed for that first day of her senior year, I prayed for an eye-opener.

Aware of a newly hired principal, I never expected relief on this front. Since Management 101 dictates learning about one’s new environment prior to making changes, I knew my daughter was about to enjoy “running” the school – as all seniors do. Thankfully, the new principal never took that class. FATE.

More on this in a moment.

SCENARIO 2

For weeks, life’s hectic timetable had controlled my novel writing schedule. I’d grumbled more than a few times, much to the chagrin of my family, about my frustrations. On one overloaded day, it was no different.

Headed westbound to drive the afternoon school carpool, I sat patiently at a major intersection’s red light. The freeway overpass hustled into action as the light turned green; traffic proceeded as usual. What wasn’t usual was the sedan making a left turn on red off the exit ramp, into three-lanes of oncoming traffic with the green light. I was in the far right lane when she hit me head-on. FATE.

I’ll circle back to this, too.

alaska-gold-nuggets-in-a-gold-panning-pan-bgk6fy

SCENARIO 3

My husband and I attended a wrap-up dinner the last night of a national catering conference. Informative sessions were over, and it was time to socialize and network. All attendees looked forward to this final event, as it reflected the flavors and fun of the hosting city. Quirky Portland, Oregon was ready to share why IFC show Portlandia, “Put a Bird On It.”  http://www.ifc.com/shows/portlandia

“My Semester-at-Sea experience led me to lifetime contacts around the country,” a young caterer shared, as we continued our bus ride conversation on the coat check line.

“So, who lives farthest from Atlanta (where he’s based) that you’re still in touch with?” I asked.

“One of my closest friends from that semester is a gold miner in Alaska—”

“Sorry to interrupt, but did you say a gold miner? In Alaska?”

“Yes! Crazy, right? Why?” He noticed the very shocked look on my face.

“The opening scene in my first novel happens in Alaska. Gold mining plays a big role in it as well.” FATE.

BRING IT FULL CIRCLE

Fate versus coincidence isn’t a new concept in books either. In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, fictional Professor Robert Langdon shared with one of his classes that “connections may be invisible … but they are always there.” Time to come full circle with my above-mentioned scenarios and exemplify destiny’s evident existence.

The new high school principal had so ignored the basic 101 class that my daughter’s tearful morning departure made an about-face by day’s end. She was on a mission after that to graduate and move on! At first saddened by the way this four-year experience would end, I saw Fate’s gift answering my prayers.

That head-on collision was Fate heeding my desire to finish my book. I needed a cleared calendar to recover from the accident (I’m healthy again) and find another car (mine was totaled). Her “gift” provided enough time to also finish G.A.S.P.

Regarding the catering conference: I needed to leave Arizona to attend it in Portland, Oregon to meet a young professional from Atlanta, Georgia to find a genuine Alaskan gold miner to authenticate storylines in G.A.S.P. as well as for books 2 and 3.

That’s FATE people!

P.S. G.A.S.P. main characters, Julie and Dane, are two ordinary people who cross paths after decades apart. They embark on an adventure that changes their lives forever. Fate or coincidence? Read G.A.S.P. and you decide. Let me know your thoughts, and I may use them in book #2 AND include you in my acknowledgements.

TRANSITIONS INEVITABLE DAILY

They forgot to tell us about transitions. In fact, there are actually three things in life that are inevitable: death, taxes and change (a.k.a. transitions), not two. As our kids return to school, those inevitable’s are really clear. Disagree? Now you’re only kidding yourself. I know. I’m making you think. Ponder a few thoughts with me.

DEATH

Usually, (illness aside) death isn’t pinned to a specific date — unless you’re a parent of a first-year preschooler or a high school/college freshman. Then, the date is, exact. However, unexpected are the feelings that arise.

Here’s an example. When my three-year-old first went to preschool, I was so excited to have even a small window of time to myself (2.5 hours!) regularly (twice weekly). While my husband and I stood proudly by Mrs. Ranier’s classroom door, our daughter gleefully swept in ready for the morning’s activities. She didn’t even turn to wave! Meanwhile, two other sets of parents were attempting to pry their little darlings’ hands off them. Those poor babies clung desperately to life as they’d known it for three “whole” years.

Bet you’re trying to figure out if I’m referring to the parents or the toddlers? Well, according to child psychologists, either and/or both! https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/separation-anxiety  That’s for a different blog. Meanwhile, here’s my point: I wasn’t certain if my daughter was just very confident and ready to take on the world, or if I was the worst mother from whom she couldn’t escape fast enough! With wistful smiles, Mrs. Ranier bid us adios, and we opted to keep our adult coffee date.

I walked to my car (we drove separately so my husband could leave our date for work), closed the door, turned it on, blasted the a/c, and sobbed. Yep. That first day, she’d barely attended an introductory hour, and I sobbed as if this was forever.

The truth? I was right … and wrong. Of COURSE she hadn’t disappeared. However, the untainted and uncorrupted soul I’d known for three years was. She was, actually, entering an environment she’d be in for the next 19 years: school. You do realize those places are filled with other kids, experiences, and information outside of you, right?! We’ll cover going to college in a moment.

change arrows

TAXES

We pay emotional ones every time our bundles of joy walk out the door for a first anything. Sports tryouts, musical auditions, final exams, new schools. Get the idea? We aren’t experiencing them ourselves; we’ve had our turn. Our compassion meters run high — quite taxing.

TRANSITIONS

Now this is important to attempt to grasp, folks: CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. It’s the one constant you can count on every single day of your life. When we headed to college with our firstborn, I was woefully unprepared for the impending parental evolution. (Remind me to take this one up with my mom!) The tsunami of feelings when we left her there was off the charts!

So, my youngest leaves our nest in just two years. Am I finally prepared? I’ll get back to you on this; I’m not there yet. The “empty nest” is regularly touted as awesome (i.e. sex in every room of the house, faraway travel, and laundry cut by at least a third).

School transitions are a challenge for all of us. Desperate to have my despair validated, I’ve looked them up. http://patch.com/new-jersey/springfield/bp–permission-to-grieve-when-your-children-go-away-to-college.  My intense despondency has been mocked. “Maybe you need help through modern medicine or wine!” I’d felt more prepared for the joys than the sorrows of less responsibility; remaining teens getting their driver’s licenses (= freedom to not drive them around); and mind space to think about new things for myself. But I seemed to need permission to grieve — even just from myself! Legitimately, I was transitioning from the mom of three to two and now just one. How I’ve shepherded all these years was over!

MOVING ON

Sure, I’m moving on, and, in the future, I may share the day we dropped each of them off at college. (I do still have one to go.) My analogy is horrifying, hilarious, and accurate. If you want me to share sooner rather than later, feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See? Transitions are certain. The good news though? We’re not alone pondering them.

LESSON: DOG IS GOD SPELLED BACKWARDS

I love my dogs. Truth be told, I love animals. Dogs of all sizes and breeds, crazy and sane cats, skittish deer, quirky quail, freaky fish, lions and tigers and bears! OH MY! Remember my blog last week talking about relationships and how life is all about them? Besides love for our fellow human, name another relationship that teaches humans more lessons about themselves and each other?

Lemme explain.

398 MINUTES

So, it’ll come as little surprise that I was actually off kilter today upon my return home. After dropping off my two fuzzy kids at the vet’s for a dental procedure, I felt weird and lost entering my silent house. No tails wagged. No whiskers twitched. No furry lips turned up in smiles. I hadn’t anticipated feeling this way. After all, they were only going to be gone for a few hours.

Hours? HA! I counted the minutes. I counted all 398 of them, until they were back in my car heading home with me. I had such trouble focusing on writing, editing, whatever tasks required more than 76 seconds of concentration. Seriously! You’d think they were gone forever. Understand, I’ve been through that, too. The loss of a pet furry family member is brutal when there’s been an attachment. Anyone who’s cared for, fed, tended to, and, of course, loved a critter gets this. Am I wrong?

pets pic

GUARDIANS

My pooches through the years have always been my guardian angels. They’re my constant writing companions, doorbell alert signalers, and faithful protectors of my family and me. They are loyal … most of the time (except when my mom and sister visit. “I’m here to spoil my four-legged niece/nephew/grandchild,” they quip — we don’t see those two fleabags until they’re pouting that those favorite humans left); lick my cried tears; and put each of our kids to bed nightly. The lessons of kindness, faithfulness, and love are unconditional, generous, and consistent. Easily their unsurpassed adoration alone is cause to weep at their absence. Who loves you like that in your life?

LESSON

An invaluable, though painful, lesson for all of us to learn is one of loss. Sadly, because our time on earth is limited, we all experience it. Dogs teach us how to grieve and cope with loss. In the famous words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”   http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/02/05/tennyson-wrote-tis-better-to-have-loved-and-lost-about-a-man/

I grew up with three hunting dogs, two stray cats, and a salt-water tank of tropical fish. Birth and death happened often. Mom always held our hands and allowed us to grieve and eulogize; Dad helped with the burials. Still, the joy of healing broken hearts by rescuing another fluff-ball in need never eliminated the beloved memory of a lost friend. It merely softened the hurt.

Finally, as my own children grow up, move out, and care for their own fuzzy confidantes, I bask in their bonds and know they witness God in their own fashion daily. How else would we know how to raise us mere mortals? Ain’t it grand that lessons come in so many forms! Remember: dog spelled backwards is God after all.

P.S. Thanks to unisci24.com for pic.

LIFE IS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

Life is all about relationships. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about babes or boys; beasts or broccoli; Broadway or baseball. How we relate or connect with our world as a whole is up to us. The real trick, sometimes, is to follow our kids’ leads.

“Malarkey! Sometimes things, kids, LIFE happens, and we simply have to react.”  Sure, it’s still up to each of us every day to choose how we react. Then determine if that reaction yields a positive or negative relationship. Let me show you what I mean.

KATIE, MICHAEL & USAIN

Recently Katie Ledecky, teenager and highly decorated U.S. swimmer, spoke of her Rio Olympic experience after a race. “I’ve just had a lot of fun this week not only in the pool but … with my teammates. The memories mean more than the medals to me here. I’m just so proud of my teammates and what we all have accomplished…” She embraced the entire exhilarating relationship (with her teammates as well as the competition) the same way she’s dominated her events since she was six years old: with youthful enthusiasm. It’s infectious, wouldn’t you agree?

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete ever, said in interviews that Coach Bob Bowman is “a father figure to me … He’s helped me through some of the worst times in my life, and he’s been there every step of the way and I’m forever thankful.” Their relationship, while often called complicated, has worked. What “parent/child” relationship hasn’t been complicated?

Then there’s the relationship between Usain Bolt and his mom. For all his showmanship, he’s still human, still gets nervous. His mom’s shared the best way to calm her son is for her to be calm initially and to use humor. How’s THAT for relating to the fastest human ever recorded on earth?

 

ASPARAGUS, BROCCOLI & BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Allergies, bad childhood experiences and peer pressure all influence relationships. Using food as an example, though people can be substituted, too, we make choices to eat our veggies based on so many factors. Certain choices connect us, while others segregate us. Just like children, we may initially not care for one flavor, try it again weeks, even years down the road, and find we’ve changed our minds. Funny how relationships may evolve, isn’t it?

broccoli brussel sprouts asparagus

 

 

 

BASEBALL, OPERA & TECHNOLOGY

Whether you watch sports, prefer the arts or play video games, your relationship with any activities exemplifies how you connect or escape, relax or process, love or reject in your life. Kids’ (and adults’) games show us, again, all about relationships.

Relationships-Matter-blog-logo

 

Follow the leads of our children of all ages; choose to embrace (instead of blame) relationships on all levels; and something shocking happens. We focus more on using our energies for the betterment of all, because, even if selfish, we know we benefit.

So logically, since we’re all in relationship with each other, why not consider what we expect from our children at school? More peace than war and more love than hate for our shared planet. Imagine how we can affect our global relationships! Aren’t relationships fascinating when you’re open to learning from them. https://www.creativereview.co.uk/the-story-behind-make-love-not-war/

Exercise + Life = Sexy (& Valued)

Q: How do you make time for regular exercise? Spill any physical fitness, wellness, and health secrets!

A: You want the truth, or can I lie, so this is a better read?

I laugh. This is how conversations almost always start when struck up with fellow parents, whether they’re into fitness consistently or not. Notice the word consistently. This is a keyword!

FREQUENCY

If you’re able to do something every day, that’s optimal. Do you need to? Depends on who you are, and why you do it. For many folks, 4 times a week is sufficient. For me, that’s not nearly enough. Here’s why (and I own this!): I’m not the best me without it; I’m a grump (dreadfully unattractive, shall we say).

Now, to be really down-and-dirty honest? Let me define what “doing something every day” means for me: getting out of bed to move my body FOR me. Period. Wait, what? That’s it? Yep. That’s it. The range of activities is HUGE! Check these out

– 60-minute Orange Theory Fitness class
– 20-minute elliptical + stretch quickie
– 30-minute walk with both medium-size dogs
– 45-minute hike with my husband
– 20-minute run with one pooch (the other one isn’t programmed for distance)
– sex with your spouse (however long)
– 90-minute yoga class

The list goes on and on, right?exercise sign

Full disclosure: I’ve needed regular exercise since I was little.  I danced classical ballet through half of high school and got into tennis and downhill skiing.  Also, I messed around with racquetball, flag football, and running in college. Since having my three children, running, weight training and yoga keep me sane. I’ve even completed two marathons (completed … not won or placed)!

I don’t share this to make you feel lazy. I share this to be thought provoking. I’m hardly perfect (terribly human actually). I’ve dealt with injuries that have slowed me waaay down and made me flat out cranky.

LESSONS

Wanna know what I figured out along the way? I needed:

– the stress relief.
– a physical outlet as a mental break.
– fitness to be a part of my regular daily routine.
– the reminder that I’m still a live and valuable person worth investing in.

Most of all, in order to bring my “A” game to each day for work, career, and family, I needed to do something regularly for me and about me. Negating yourself “for the sake of” ANY thing (marriage, family, career, challenges, vacations, whatever) means you don’t value yourself. When YOU don’t value you, how on earth do you expect anyone else to? You won’t feel good either. If you don’t feel good, how are you going to look good? (Not feeling good is not sexy.)

CONCLUSION

Here’s my FINAL ANSWER on REGULAR FITNESS: Take care of yourself. VALUE yourself. We’re each worth investing our time, money and energy in daily in some way. To be MY best TO me and FOR me (and for ALL those around me), no matter how busy I get, my daily exercise in some form, is vitally important. Trust me! We’re all worth it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/2016-fitness-trends-hiit_us_56f04617e4b084c672210ff4

Street sign graphic from amazon.com

 

WANTED ALIVE: WOMAN, WIFE & MOM

As a woman, wife and mom I know I’m a wee bit … well, “off.” All moms are, if we’re honest with ourselves. Go ahead. Laugh! You know what I’m saying is true. Ever see a mom with her young children at the grocery store? Even when well behaved, kids bombard with questions and touch everything within reach … especially when least opportune. Like dogs and cats who get sick on hard-to-clean carpeting, lousy timing seems to be part of the “kid code,” an unwritten rule.

With that said, marriage and children have taught me tons about myself. I 100% believe I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) have learned otherwise. Here are just three:

1. Kids are underrated.
2. Be courageous in decisions.
3. Love multiplies.

KIDS ARE UNDERRATED

Nothing truly worthwhile in life is (always) easy. This goes for kids, spouses, marriage, AND one’s self-discovery journey (personally, professionally, etc.). Whoever told you to just put your head down, work hard and the rest will come lied to you! You’ve GOT to come up for air, get your bearings, make necessary adjustments, and THEN get back to it! Doesn’t this sound less frustrating?

To clarify, the under-21 set learns, tests, pushes, repeats. If we moms are honest, don’t we do the same?

* raising our children (try one method; doesn’t work; try again; or, if paying attention, adjust, retry)?
* evolving our careers (learn something new, repeat it; screw up; adjust; repeat)?
* nurturing ourselves (fight/accept weight or figure out what doesn’t work; adjust accordingly; retry)?
* growing our marriages (found “button” to push; is it good or bad; adjust; retry)?

Kids make mom learn ALL of that (and more) when we choose to highly rate them.

DECISIONS

Speaking of choices, we face plenty of those constantly. The myriad leads to decision-making, albeit some frightening (and unavoidably instantaneous); others ordinary (even dull).

I’m referring, however, to the decisions that take thought and long-term commitment, a.k.a. the really scary ones. They take courage. That:

heartbeat graph

* change in career you’ve been thinking about;
* getting married/divorced;
* having (or not having) children;
* going after something on your bucket list;
* even writing a book!

Do you know what happens when you make a genuine decision? You’ve actually been courageous. Why? Because you’ve cut off, eliminated even, all other options.

Here’s an example: by deciding to have children, you accept that another life will depend on you for years; you can’t go out every night partying like you used to; and that your money/time is no longer solely your own, etc.

Real life, love, and family decisions take courage … period. Guess what you’ll discover about yourself: you’re stronger, tougher, smarter, and more capable than you’d ever known. Pretty cool, eh?

LOVE

Then there’s this super cool component about becoming a wife/mom: learning that love multiplies!!! If you thought you only had x amount of one kind of love within you, you thought wrong! There are tons of different types of love, and they’re all capable of growing exponentially.  Click here.

 

There’s parental love, sibling love, spousal love, friend love … you get the idea. Are you considering having another baby? Have you asked yourself if you’re capable of loving another one? I promise you are! See? You’re multiplying your love and didn’t even know it! In fact, there’s always more than enough.

REWARD: I ain’t seen nothin’ yet!