Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for June, 2013

The Gift of Today

Today really is a gift. This day, this moment will never come again. It cannot be returned, or traded in even with a receipt. When we choose to use it to make ourselves and others a bit happier we have had a good day. We can take pride in our accomplishments – in simply living another day. If we use it to judge, devalue or find fault we simply lose those 24 hours for the rest of our lives. Rather like throwing money out the window of a speeding car – only worse. You can’t stop and pick up the pieces because they are lost in the winds of time. There are no ‘do overs’ for this moment. When you think about it that really makes this day the most important day you have had so far. You have brought all of you – your life, love and lessons to this moment to use it to the fullest. Wow!

Living life to the fullest, regardless of our circumstance, is a choice. Everyone could say I wish I had more…. or less…. and the list goes on and on. For some it may take more effort to be grateful for today, this moment and this life opportunity but it is so worth it. Maybe you can help them see more positives in their lives. Sometimes we all need a little reminder to ‘put on a happy face.’ That’s okay. Those nudges of positive energy and inspiration come in a million different forms. All are designed to help us along our life path. As the clock ticks away over the next 24 hours we realize that this unique, one of a kind day is gone. Did we make it a good one?

The next time you get a chance to think about it try this fun experiment. Set a goal to start the day out with a smile – to yourself and everyone else you come across. It is amazing how infectious a smile can be. Smiles open the door to life and the window to our soul. Case in point, Isn’t it amazing that a smile has no language or culture barriers?

There is a tribe in Africa that when they greet each other with a smile rather than saying a simple ‘hello’ they say, ‘I see you.’ They look deep into the eyes of their fellow travelers with a sense of respect, honor and awe. Life is not looked at as something to get through but something to relish in for as long as they have the opportunity. That’s really something to wrap our minds around don’t you think?

We are all on our own unique life journey, learning our lessons one at a time. It helps when we come across someone who lightens our load with a kind word, smile or nod of acceptance and agreement.

Have a great few days!

The Art of Resiliency

Resiliency is created when we think past the primary thing we want to have, do or be and add possible options to our thinking. It is all about having a strategy – liken to playing chess – thinking ahead for possible moves in case the most obvious or desired one simply doesn’t work out. Simply put, the more options we create as possibilities in our life (plans A, B, or C) the more confident we become because we are prepared for the never ending list of changes that are inevitably thrown at us.

The author, Bill Bryson, has written many books about travel. His writing is engaging and his trips exciting – even hair raising at times. Recently, I have read two of his books, ‘Sunburned Country’ which is about the amazing continent of Australia and the other entitled, ‘A Walk in the Woods’ a story about the 2100 mile hiking trail from Georgia to Maine – the Appalachian Trail. Resiliency seems to be his first and foremost trait. Reading Bryson’s work we can live vicariously through the mental, emotional and physical challenges that continually confront him on his journey. We realize that what we know on an intuitive basis – that gut feeling of ‘this is the way to go for now’ gives us a flexibility when viewing life’s hurdles and offers us a greater sense of peace. If we are forced to take the longer road to accomplish something, we may not, at first, be happy but we know we can survive – maybe even thrive in the process. It is true, life is about the journey along the way.

I have never met anyone who hasn’t had curve balls thrown at them in their lives. In fact, some of these balls may cause serious injuries to our minds, bodies and hearts. Yet some people just seem more adept as the lyric in the song says of ‘ picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and starting over again.’ What makes these individuals different? Are they bigger, stronger or smarter than others? Probably not. But they do have a secret ingredient involved in their thinking – a survival mentality – that is the crucial difference. They have learned simply through living that rarely do things work out exactly as planned. From their life experiences they have learned the art of resiliency. They do not demand that things be different or fall apart when the ball goes far afield. They run, jump and reach higher to attain their goal. They may slip and fall along the way but they continue on – for the love of the game and themselves. They remind me of the famous saying by Winston Churchill. ‘Never, Never, Never, Never give up!’

Developing the art of resiliency is something worth considering.

Have a great few days!

Listening to Others

What makes us emotionally richer and deeper as human beings is when we try to walk in the shoes of another and search for a point of understanding rather than judgment. John Lennon wrote a song entitled, ‘Mother.’ It was not a particularly popular ballad but I would challenge you to listen to it. Simply google his name and songs to hear it in its’ entirety. It is a song of deep longing and the gut wrenching grief he felt even as an adult by not having a mother or father that was there for him during his short life. ‘You had me…I didn’t have you… I wanted you…You didn’t want me. Mama don’t go…Daddy come home.’ When we hear his name, thoughts of success, talent, even a lifestyle of the rich and famous come to mind. But how many of us realize that inside his heart he was as raw as any of us due to his early experiences.

Most of us are blessed with at least one parent if not two who offered unconditional love. So it is difficult-or nearly impossible to understand the feelings of those who have not been loved with heart and soul. Yet, there are so many walking wounded who struggle in life due to traumatic early experiences. They are waiting, hoping for a smile or even a kind word as they face the challenges of life with a hole in their heart from a deep seated loss.

When we consciously take the time to try to even marginally understand the struggle of others it just causes us to be a bit more gentle, a tad more understanding and more aware that none of us gets through life unscathed. We have all chosen our path to learn unique lessons – as painful as they may be.

Loss comes in so many different forms. Not having a parent figure or significant other in our life can cause us to experience the same stages of grief that others do when they lose a loved one through death. If you listen to the lyrics of Lennon’s song and hear the emotional pleading in his voice, you can better empathize with those who have feelings of abandonment and loss. The heart of this talented song writer and performer remained raw even after years of living what most would label a highly successful life. Some losses are just like that – forever deeply embedded in the cells of our being. Sometimes we just need someone to take the time to recognize our sorrow. It allows us to regroup and move on. At other times, we find it impossible to completely move on but we still need others to hear, to care and to offer us a hand on our life journey.

As we evolve as human beings we realize the importance of feeling gratitude for each other and gratitude for each day. We recognize the importance of judging less and caring more. We remember that everyone has a story and that through greater patience and understanding we can make a difference in our world.

Have a great few days!

A Pill for Everything!

An article was written by William Falk in the Week magazine recently that caught my interest. It seems the American Psychiatric Association has updated the DSM-5 which is a dictionary of disorders/mental illnesses. The importance of the book cannot be overstated. Simply put, to have any medication considered by an insurance company (of course, that may mean that you ONLY have to pay 60-70% of the estimated cost) the illness must first be legitimately identified by professionals in the field. You may be surprised to know that we now have according to Falk, 300 categories of ‘crazy’ as he labels them.In addition, the APA explains that about 50% of the population will fall into one of the 300An article was written by William Falk in the Week magazine recently that caught my interest. It seems the American Psychiatric Association has updated the DSM-5 which is a dictionary of disorders/mental illnesses. The importance of the book cannot be overstated. Simply put, to have any medication considered by an insurance company (of course, that may mean that you ONLY have to pay 60-70% of the estimated cost) the illness must first be legitimately identified by professionals in the field. You may be surprised to know that we now have according to Falk, 300 categories of ‘crazy’ as he labels them. In addition, the APA explains that about 50% of the population will fall into one of the 300 categories sometime in their lifetime!

Personally, there are days when I am sure that percentage is closer to 99.9% and others, when I more graciously would think it may be down to 20%. The important thing to consider is that due to a variety of factors – work, home, background or experiences anyone of us could ‘loose our grip’ for a period of time. If you think about the 50% estimate by the APA you might want to ‘tread a bit more lightly’ the next time someone upsets you or cuts you off in traffic!

We live in an age of wondrous help and support from doctors from all speciality areas- for that we can be grateful. However, the pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, are more than ready to sell us more and more prescriptions – to ease every ache and pain we have while being quick to advertise on a 24/7 basis on T.V. the latest ‘miracle pill’ with the accompanying ’87’ side effects. I recently visited another country and was absolutely shocked that there was zero advertisements of this kind on their T.V. stations. Funny thing about all of this – generally speaking, their overall population seemed downright healthy!

Life happens to all of us and from time to time we need a little help. It is just good to think about cause and effect.

Have a great day!

categories sometime in their lifetime!

Personally, there are days when I am sure that percentage is closer to 99.9% and others, when I more graciously would think it may be down to 20%. The important thing to consider is that due to a variety of factors – work, home, background or experiences anyone of us could ‘loose our grip’ for a period of time. If you think about the 50% estimate by the APA you might want to ‘tread a bit more lightly’ the next time someone upsets you or cuts you off in traffic!

We live in an age of wondrous help and support from doctors from all speciality areas- for that we can be grateful. However, the pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, are more than ready to sell us more and more prescriptions – to ease every ache and pain we have while being quick to advertise on a 24/7 basis on T.V. the latest ‘miracle pill’ with the accompanying ’87’ side effects. I recently visited another country and was absolutely shocked that there was zero advertisements of this kind on their T.V. stations. Funny thing about all of this – generally speaking, their overall population seemed downright healthy!

Life happens to all of us and from time to time we need a little help. It is just good to think about cause and effect.

Have a great day!

Voice of Hope

Every once in a while something just takes your breath away. A dear friend sent this to me and I thought that you might enjoy and appreciate it as much as I did. Often we miss the small miracles which are all around us – listen and enjoy.

Revised link:
http://www.staged.com/video?v=NtK

Have a great few days!

Synchronicity and a Fellow Traveler

Synchronicity is amazing and at work again! Yesterday I met a highly successful, accomplished and beautiful person who had a difficult – actually life threatening experience – to share and apparently I needed to hear it.

As she described the physical assault she had barely lived through it sounded not only frightening but outright horrendous. I was amazed that she was able to put one foot in front of the other. At first glance although she looked so very confident and put together I just kept getting the feeling that inside she was a delicate, wounded bird and I was puzzled at my own reaction. As she began to talk I understood my initial reaction better. You would never have guessed that she nearly lost her life in the attack. To add more stress and trauma in her life, the timing of the on going court system continues to keep the attack in her conscious thought – long past the harrowing experience. Listening to her story you could visibly see and feel both the physical and emotional pain she was still in. Yet, she was involved with a group and determined to help others who have lived through similar traumatic experiences.

I was able to offer a few personal references – guides on the side so to speak – that I believed could help her further with the next steps in the healing process. We know that experiencing loss in any form takes what may seem like an inordinate time to fully heal but regardless of our determination or station in life deep loss is like a deep physical wound in our body. There are no short cuts in the healing process – it may take years to fully heal.

You may think our meeting was not particularly unusual or synchronistic but just read the following events that needed to be aligned to get the full picture.

She had changed her appointment due to a conflict in schedule
Still struggling a bit with jet lag I had not made an appointment until a few hours before when in desperation I realized I needed to get in. I kept thinking it would be impossible and not to even try to get an appointment but then in my next breath I would feel an urge to pick up the phone. When I did call I was absolutely astounded to get an appointment immediately (this process usually takes at best a week to get in)
Our times were 15 minutes apart and lasted for 2 hours so we had time to talk
She was physically moved from her original seat and seated next to me
The owner of the shop introduced us – not the usual procedure
Her life story involved tremendous loss of people, safety and well being
I have written a book and blog twice weekly on those topics

We had the gift of time to talk deeply about patterns of human behavior, prayers of protection, life lessons and moving on after tragic events occur in our lives. Our connection was immediately apparent and to verify it the Universe gave her a sign, goose bumps on her arms continually as we talked. In fact it was so noticeable that she commented on it. The energy exchanged left us both feeling happier, more energized and ready to tackle tomorrow. When it was time to leave, after exchanging hugs, I could feel my jet lag seemed better and I noticed that she left the shop with an actual smile on her face. It feels good to be used for a purpose higher than yourself.

Driving home I kept thinking about the amazing way the Universe just seemed to remove all of the normal roadblocks to make this connection happen. I could visualize in my mind the movement of times and events – rather like moving puzzle pieces around – just to make this meeting of the hearts happen and I smiled – I was humbled, indeed! I had met a fellow traveler along the way and was able to lend a listening ear and loving heart momentarily to her life. What greater gift can there be?

Have a great few days!

Learning from the Australians

Recently I had the opportunity to visit my son in Australia. Going to a different continent, albeit one that speaks a form of English. can at first rattle your cage after 30 hours in planes and airports and crossing 15 different time zones. When arriving you realize everything is so much different than you may have expected. But, as the phrase states, ‘when in Rome do as the Romans’ and as a visitor you quickly realize that patience and understanding is not only valued but expected – it is the Australian way. The major differences in choices and accessibility … food, entertainment, shopping, transportation, and just basic living as well as the overall cost associated with each activity reminded me of how much we take for granted as Americans. We have it VERY good. We have more choices, options, and opportunities than we realize. Maybe it takes an opportunity to get out of our comfort zone to truly get it.

The Australian people are gentle, kind and accepting. Their highly efficient, immaculate and safe transit systems have signs that say, ‘please give your seat to someone who may need it more than you. If students are riding another sign directs them to give up their seat to an adult. Amazingly, these students – frequently teenagers – all do so willingly and with a gentle smile on their face. In the grocery stores people pushing their trolleys (grocery baskets) have just a few items – enough for a day or two in them. Food is costly and it appears never wasted. Also, you don’t see papers or trash on the sidewalks or streets. There are signs that instruct people to report anyone if they are littering. Consequently, people do not litter. The Aussies seem to take life in stride in a peaceful, unhurried manner. When driving people do not cut you off, honk their horns or merge quickly. They drive as they live. At work if they do not get everything accomplished they had planned, well, there is always tomorrow. Their mantra, ‘no hassle, no worry, no problem is truly their way of life. They just don’t seem to get rattled over anything. As Americans we have LITTLE patience with interruptions, delays or inconveniences. We know what we like or want and are usually able to get it. In Australia stores close at 5:00 P.M on weekdays and every Sunday. In America we are a 24/7 culture. We move fast, talk fast and usually expect – even demand that complete accessibility is available.

Our nonstop work ethic demonstrated the greatest difference between the cultures. As Americans we seem to be in a permanent state of rush, rush, rush just going faster and faster to get more things done. The good news is that as a culture we do get a tremendous amount accomplished. We are the innovators that seem to be in a seamless morphing state of constant improvement in everything we do. We work hard and can take great pride in what we contribute to the world. There is a reason why we are a world leader.

But, could it be that in our rush to accomplish more and become better and better that we have forgotten to give ourselves permission to really live and enjoy the special moments of our lives? I ask this with great humility. I lived the 24/7 lifestyle for years, now I wonder if it really was all that necessary or if I could have modified it slightly and taken a little time to smell the roses.

I remember a time …. long ago when as Americans we did enjoy a little more relaxed lifestyle – true it was years ago but I still remember. Family time was valued, holidays celebrated together, actual cards were sent in the mail telling someone how loved and important they were in our lives. Service personnel were treated by customers with appreciation and respect. Drivers were courteous. Living just felt safer and life a little more in balance.

I believe every experience we have can teach us something. My take away from this visit was to make a greater effort to take a few minutes and genuinely thank people for being in my world. To reconnect with friends and tell them how important they are to me. As Americans we are very generous when a major catastrophe happens – it is part of our DNA. We can take great pride in this and tap this part of our DNA by extending these thoughts of caring to a daily basis by remembering to be a little more gentle, patient and understanding with others and ourselves. As people of the world we have the power to change it one person at a time as we extend a hand to our fellow travelers.

Have a great few days!