Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘life challenges’

The Miracle of the Season

Christmas is five days away! What happened to the time…to the year? We have all lived through blessings, challenges and opportunities this year. Some have caused us to grow beyond our wildest imaginings while others have caused us to make mid course corrections and adapt to new life changes. What we do know is that all were intended…all were for the purpose of self growth. As we run around feverishly picking up the last present at the store (or the mailbox for our online shoppers) let’s remember the unconditional love of the season – and keep it foremost in our hearts. Christmas brings out the best in all of us as we reflect on a few simple truths such as…

Friends and family without them our lights would not shine quite as brightly. If someone is struggling now is the time to go the extra mile to show them we care. Random acts of kindness can be a lifeline to another especially at this time of year.

Health – although we may be doing well it’s important to remember that for some fellow travelers health issues may be a challenge. They need our understanding. Regardless of our condition each of us wants to be treated with dignity and respect and seen as a capable human being. Everyone has the capacity to make a positive difference until our last breath – and beyond.

Opportunities – when we review what we have faced this year some things might not have gone as planned. We may have run into some difficulty with others. As Desmond Tutu tells us that ‘forgiveness is nothing less than the way to heal the world’ one person at a time. Let’s heal it together.

Joy – we can see it everywhere. The smiles, the hugs, the laughter of others helps us to remember – all is good with the world – and we see it clearly when we stop long enough to breathe deeply and live in the present.

Gratitude – it brings light into our lives and makes our life lessons easier when we appreciate what we have and maintain a mindset of ‘YES.’ It gives us strength and enthusiasm to face our tomorrows.

Our loved ones who have passed on left us with an incredible gift – unconditional love. Let’s pass it on to others and change the world.

For today, next week and next year – we can choose to remember the feelings we have at this time of year and decide – right here right now – to continue this unconditional love and appreciation for our life and those who are in it. Life really is good, our cups really are full and everything will work out just as it’s suppose to … it just takes a little faith in the miracle of life here on planet Earth.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Message of Hope

“You can make a difference in the world. What better day to start than today? I encourage you to always know your purpose, follow it, work hard at it, choose to have a positive perspective on how to view the world around you, choose to overcome your own hard times and choose hope within them. Life, in fact, is all about choice and the choice is yours alone to make. Choose hope.” Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis the first grade teacher from Sandy Hook elementary that hid her 15 first graders in the tiny bathroom within her classroom ends every speech, as she did Friday night in Tempe, Arizona with this powerful message.

In her recently published book entitled, ‘Choosing Hope,’ she gives us a glimpse of the tragedy she lived through when 20 children and 6 staff members were viciously gunned down on December 14, 2012. We all heard the facts continuously repeated in the media. Yet, when you put a name with a face and hear the events reiterated by the person who was literally a wall away it impacts your senses. She explains what it was like to hear the gunfire and people pleading for their lives as she attempted to keep her loving charges quiet and hidden from ‘the bad man.’ It simply stops you in your tracks and you reflect on the importance of living bravely, loving fully and seeing gratitude in absolutely everything in life.

As Kaitlin said, ‘you don’t move on but can choose to move forward’ with your life. That is a powerful thought that needs to roll around in our brains to be fully appreciated. We don’t move on from death or violence but we can move forward.

She confidently explained the steps she had taken to help heal. Therapy and the ongoing support from a loving father, mother and fiancĂ© were all an integral part of her healing process. At first glance you might think she has been magically ‘fixed’ until an unusual sound in the room causes her eyes to flash as she seeks out like a laser beam the origin. Ahh yes, you think to yourself, you can recognize the sign of a fellow traveler whose life has been forever changed through a tragedy. We are just a bit more aware and cautious as we take in our surroundings. We are on alert as the deeply hidden wound in our psyche momentarily surfaces.

You can’t help but be amazed at her story. A feeling of hope cascades over you as you hear her talk about her ‘tomorrow’s.’ Here is a 31 year old woman who has been forever changed, marked if you will, through violence, fear and loss that most of us can’t even conceptualize yet she chooses to push us to focus on recognizing our own life purpose and live each day in a grateful, positive state of mind. Amazing.

You leave thinking about the immensity of her experience and naturally reflect on any issue that may have recently surfaced in your life that seemed to momentarily disrupt our flow. We feel humbled maybe even embarrassed at the comparison. Kaitlin’s journey can help us keep things in perspective and give us confidence to know that as human beings we are capable of incredible feats of bravery, understanding and healing when we keep our eyes forward on our tomorrow’s.

The next time we have a personal life challenge and become frightened that we may lose it, we will stop and remember … we really are capable of tremendous resiliency. We can make it though unbelievable life challenges when we choose to overcome rather than succumb.

May we live long enough to see less violence and more love in our world.

Have a great few days!

You Can Do It!

We all experience some days that are just easier than others. Those days when everything goes as planned energizes us. When we take a couple of minutes as we are falling asleep to reflect on the things that we were able to accomplish we say, ‘Yes!’ ‘Today was a good day!’ But when things seem to go awry and our Plan A has had to be changed to Plan B, C or even D how do we respond? Do we allow ourselves to be overcome with fear or thoughts that life just isn’t fair? Do we allow ourselves to get into a negative mindset of expecting more and more problems to surface? We all know how effective that mindset is – right? It can stop us in our tracks! What can we do to shake us out of a negative mindset? After all, we know deep down that what we think about most often will be delivered right back to us from the Universe with bells on. When the going gets tough it’s time to evaluate our thinking and remember the power we have had in the past to overcome.

We would all like to live a life of peace, comfort and joy but the reality is that we are, in fact, a work in progress. The challenges we have in life allow us to grow in confidence and appreciation of our own strength. We learn that we can face whatever comes along and learn from it once we decide to keep our grip on the present issues and not generalize them to encompass our entire being. In other words keeping perspective and not allowing ourselves to perseverate on the issues is so important. Just make a plan – an approach – on how to get through the latest issue and do it! Mulling over and over in our minds what seems to be going wrong is not healthy or productive. Let’s look at a more productive approach.

The first step is to take a moment to reflect on what we have to be grateful for – there are many things we have been able to do with our lives to date. We have had many more moments of success and happiness than challenges. If it doesn’t seem so at the moment, just check your own track record. It stands for itself. Remember the times when you didn’t think you could take any more and almost magically things seemed to turn around? You demonstrated the strength to persevere against all odds and won! Remember those times. They will give you the strength to carry on. The latest challenges at hand are something you will get through – one step at a time – when you keep your eyes straight ahead on your goals.

Clarity about what you do want (NOT about what you DON’T WANT) is the critical next step. What do you really want to accomplish? What do you want to become? Where do you want to be in the next year or in the next five years? Write 3 to 5 goals down and read them daily. By doing so you are actually attracting the positive energy to make your dreams happen. When you discipline yourself to take the time to write these goals down it gives you the energy, the fuel, to overcome even the most difficult situations that occur along the way because you will remember your vision or purpose for your life. Many people have heard about writing their goals down but sadly very few actually do so. Less than 10% of people take the time to write their goals out -they are the winners in life because they have discovered the secret of manifesting what they want. They use the fuel of the Universe to help them get there. You can join this group – all it takes is a piece of paper and 15 minutes of your time.

You are capable of overcoming any obstacle in life. Just remember any obstacle is a temporary condition. Don’t let it define you or stop you from achieving your goals. You are living proof that you have the strength and tenacity to get through even the most difficult situation. The adage, ‘If it’s going to be it’s up to me,’ is true. Remember your heritage. You have examples of loved ones or friends in your life who persevered against all odds and won. They would expect nothing less of you.

The beauty of our lives is that no one – absolutely no one – can rob us of a belief in ourselves and our ability to create the life we truly want to have – we are too powerful! Regardless of how many challenges we face we will make it through – of that I am certain.

Have a great few days!

Are You a ‘Fixer in Charge?’

Lending a hand, occasionally, to help others in time of need is important. After all, we find joy and reward in knowing that we have been instrumental in helping someone through a crisis. As with everything in life the ultimate issue is one of balance. At some point we might have to evaluate our efforts and decide how much time or emotional and financial support we are offering. Is it still enabling them to grow and become all they can be or has our involvement become so frequent that they now rely on us to solve their next problem or guide their next step. It’s so hard for givers to accept the reality that it may be time to back off and let someone that they care for experience the stress and challenge of their own circumstance. But when we are strong enough to stop ‘fixing’ we’ll see them experience the ultimate pride and self confidence that comes from wrestling with and overcoming their latest issue.

Life is tough and each of us has had to face a boat load of challenges and uncertainties. Some may have temporarily stopped us in our tracks. What caused us to persevere and learn resiliency in the process? Could it have been that help was no longer available or we chose to work it out ourselves by thinking ‘if it’s going to be it’s up to me?’

As givers we feel good inside when we see relief spread over the face of an individual we care about. Yet, we really do know intuitively when we are contributing to a person’s growth and when we have morphed into the role of an emotional or financial crutch. When we are brutally honest with ourselves we can admit when our ‘hand up’ has become a pattern or been reduced to simply a ‘hand out.’ It may be easier to say ‘Yes’ yet much more powerful to accept it when it is time to say ‘Enough.’

Maybe the lesson in all of this is actually ours. After all you can’t blame someone for continuing to ask or rely on you if you have established the pattern of being the ‘fixer in charge.’ We may even try to trick ourselves into believing that ‘they didn’t actually ask but we simply offered.’ Really? There are a multitude of ways to ask without verbalizing it. Taken to an extreme we may even justify our help by saying we have more or we can work harder to help ‘this time.’ But maybe – just maybe – we are unwittingly eroding their belief in themselves and causing them to become dependent on us.

Could it be that true love and caring for another is shown when we recognize if a defeating behavioral habit has been established and are strong enough to stop being complicit? It’s hard to break this habit of being there, continual giving or even rescuing someone we care about yet don’t we owe it to them?

Ultimate caring results when we are presented with an issue by someone we care about and rather than jumping in to fix it we ask them, simply and gently, ‘What is your plan?’ We show them that we have confidence in their ability to overcome. That’s heady stuff! Don’t expect to be able to do this the first time without feeling guilty. Breaking the habit of being the ‘fixer in charge’ is difficult. We may even wonder if they will ultimately hold it against us. That’s always a risk but if you love them – truly love them – set them free to experience their own trials and tribulations in life. If they come back to you it will be with a new found pride of accomplishment and resiliency in themselves that will last a lifetime.

Letting go of the fixing habit is hard but holding on past an expiration date is not healthy for anyone concerned.

Have a great few days!

Choose Greater Happiness!

Is happiness a learned behavior? What makes some people more resilient, more energetic and just happier be to around? The good news is that we are all capable of becoming happier individuals by following what Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist, educator and author, calls learned optimism. He has found that the talent for joy in our lives can actually be something we can teach and cultivate ourselves. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Although Seligman started out studying learned helplessness he discovered that examining why some people were happier in life would be an even greater contribution to the field. Through rigorous research he came up with a simple yet powerful approach that we can utilize to improve our lives. Seligman instructs us to be brutally honest and examine how we view the events or challenges in our life from the perspective of the 3 P’s (permanent – pervasive – personal).

For example, we have all been cut off while driving in traffic. The optimist views the situation as an isolated event and may even think that the driver of the other car may have had an emergency or simply made a mistake. They view the minor hassle as something that will pass and don’t allow it to ill effect their overall attitude or day. Their attitude could best be summarized by, ‘this too shall pass.’

The pessimist, on the other hand starts a diatribe of self talk and views the traffic incident as yet another example that ALWAYS happens to him (personal). He goes on to further generalize that most other people are just basically bad or inconsiderate drivers (pervasive). Soon, the mere act of driving for the pessimist can become a permanent, negative experience which elicits more aggressive tendencies. The pessimist thinks to himself, ‘this always happens to me’ (permanent).

When you think about viewing events in our lives as temporary, isolated and due to causes frequently beyond our control it becomes easier to view the bumps in the road of life as minor ones which will pass. However, when we look at the same event as permanent, pervasive and personal we can easily fall into the trap of overall pessimist thinking. When this happens our negative energy begins to envelop our entire attitude in life and we begin to actually expect more negative experiences. As we know from the law of attraction what we think about most often comes back to us double fold. We become an energy drain on others and soon become too exhausting to be around.

The good news is that research from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton and elsewhere is clear – we can become more positive, productive and energetic people by practicing learned optimism. We all have our share of life challenges. We may think others have an easier life but we have never walked a mile in their shoes. When we begin to view our own life challenges as temporary and not a pervasive indicator of life yet to come we gain more confidence and energy to face our tomorrows.

When we practice learned optimism it helps us keep life in perspective as we refuse to allow ourselves to make mountains out of mole hills. The research is clear, we can significantly reduce depression and anxiety by practicing optimism. It staves off feelings of helplessness and actually gives us a reason to look forward to tomorrow.

Once we choose to examine our own thinking patterns and begin over time to practice learned optimism it becomes an ingrained way of thinking. The temporary challenges we all face in life are kept in perspective and we find ourselves more confident in our own ability to weather the storms in life. As a result, other people want to be around us because they feel energized in our presence. That’s a good feeling!

With everything in life we have a choice. Is it time to reevaluate our thinking and decide to become more optimistic individuals? Life really can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Have a great few days!

Being Grateful For Our Challenges

As the busy holiday season approaches let’s remember the magic of gratitude. It has been linked directly to increased levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction. The author, Denis Waitley, has said, ‘Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.’ When we take time to count our blessings we are sending out to the Universe a wink, or a nod of appreciation which attracts more blessings into our life. A simple but very effective habit to start is to take just 30 seconds after waking each morning to give thanks for something in your life. By doing so you set into motion a spiritual law which says, the more you are grateful for, the more you will be given. It’s such a simple practice yet one that is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life.

Being grateful for all that you have can be easy – it simply becomes a matter of habit. If you are ready for it the ultimate challenge is to train yourself to be grateful for the things that have been difficult in your life. That may sound like a stretch but when we look at the idea through the eyes of this unknown author it makes sense.

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you are tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easier to be thankful for the good things
but a life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Have a great few days!

How is Your Flight Control?

An article recently about the rescue of a young peregrine falcon can teach us a great deal about rescue and survival. It seems there were 4 chicks that hatched last month in a nesting box high atop a bank building in a local city. One of these chicks apparently, in his first attempt at flying, hit a window of a local police station. (I can’t imagine the headache he had for awhile). According to local veterinarian the bird was “naive … physically his tail was not real long so his flight control was not the best” basically his flight feathers were not grown out enough to sustain flight. Typically, the flight lessons continue by the parents as they teach the young chicks how to survive and hunt for food.

Many of us were blessed with parents or a supportive individual who taught us how to fly. A person who was with us to help build up our self confidence as we matured into adulthood. Just as the parent falcons, available to guide us and help us learn to fly on our own.

Now as adults we may no longer have the guiding influence of this person. We may find ourselves flailing rather than flying, at times, with false starts, reboots or challenges that seem to wear us down and require the positive support of another. When our flight control just doesn’t seem to be working what can we do? Our friends or family can serve as our ‘veterinarian’ in these times and be nearby to offer comfort until we regain our balance. Sometimes we need to ask them directly and at other times they seem to sense that we need a temporary helping hand and just jump in because they care.

What forces of ‘gravity’ are holding you back on your life flight? What is your plan to deal with them? What goals have you set to help you learn to soar through the strong winds of resistance and turbulent air space we call living to achieve your life goals?

Everyday life presents us with examples after examples that demonstrates that no one has it easy and that life amounts to developing the ability and tenacity to withstanding the challenges or injuries we may incur but to keep on attempting to fly until we have mastered our life lessons. It is easy to become disenchanted or overwhelmed with issues. No one said life was going to be easy, or was for the faint of heart. But regardless of any challenge you face it is worth the effort to keep trying to fly.

Just like the once endangered peregrine species we can find help through a support group or listening ear and use time to heal our own broken wings when we accept the fact that our life flight was not supposed to be easy, calm and without event but planned to be a series of experiences that stretch us, make us downright uncomfortable or unhappy at times yet throughout it all offers more joy than sorrow, more rewards than regrets.

It is important to remember there is always a ‘veterinarian’ in essence ready to give any of us their time by offering physical or mental ‘first aid’ from their kit of human
kindness. All we have to do is to be strong enough to ask.

Have a great few days!

Personal Reflection is Powerful!

Personal reflection is a good thing to do once in a while. Often we are so busy doing we forget to stop, inhale deeply and think about what we have lived through and accomplished. Give yourself a few minutes to think about your life over the past five years. What are the major things, the good, the bad and the ugly that you experienced? We usually don’t see events coming and when the great ones happen we are surprised, relieved and grateful. When the really tough ones hit us they can bring us to our knees. Yet through it all consider this, you are still alive to tell the tale! That’s an indicator of just how strong you really are inside.

We all have moments of self doubt and worry – it’s what makes us human. But you might want to consider the approach of a quick review of what you have lived through and learned from the next time you are feeling stressed, worried or unsure if you can handle another challenge in your life. Your track record serves as a powerful reminder. It is the concrete evidence that proves you are capable of anything because you have made it to this point in your life and learned from the events. You have shown balance in your purpose and determination in you achievements. You are a strong person and no one can ever take that away from you.

You might be thinking… but what about tomorrow or next week… I have this thing coming up and I’m unsure if I can do it. Actually, a little nervousness is usually a good thing. It causes us to bring our ‘A’ game into play. When we are concerned we often over plan or over prepare and in so doing we go the extra mile and discover that there is very little traffic there to contend with at that point. Susan Taylor said, “our greatest problems in life come not so much from the situations we confront as from our doubts about our ability to handle them.”

By taking a moment to reflect upon the life challenges you have lived through up to this point in your life it will give you the courage and belief to know that you will be able to handle whatever surfaces next because you have demonstrated strength and tenacity in the past. You don’t always have to like a challenging event that surfaces but you needn’t be cowered by it either. By taking stock of what you have lived through you now know deep down that you can overcome anything once you set your mind to it. That’s a powerful feeling that you have justly earned.

Above all, look at the people who love you, respect you and need you from time to time. They are messengers from the Universe sent to tell you that you are important to them and perfect just the way you are … A beautiful spirit of the Universe who is on a mission to make the world a little better place.

Have a great few days!

Gratitude, Courage and Love

Everyone’s life involves opportunities, challenges and times that may cause them to wonder if they can make it through another day. In our own insular world we often forget that everyone we see is working on their own unique life script exactly as they had written it. For some, their lives seem to appear so difficult that it can take the breath away from a casual observer. You wonder how it the world they can do it. Yet I notice something in common from folks that have had to work hard for what they have in life or deal with exceptional challenges. They seem to have developed a higher sense of appreciation for even the smallest things. They can teach us much about gratitude, courage and love.

Recently, I have had the chance to hear from two different families that have experienced immense challenges. Yet both families look at the events and challenges they have experienced with gratitude. They have trained themselves to see the gift not the burden. If you listen to them talk they reflect not on the challenges but more on the funny, loving memories that they have acquired along the way.

Walking in another person’s shoes is impossible. But taking the time to remember that everyone is doing the best they can as they live through their own unique story is possible. It enables us to remember to be a little more patient, a little quicker to offer a smile, a helping hand or a thank you for even the smallest gesture. Who knows, we might give them just the recognition or help they need to face tomorrow. Now that is powerful!

When it is said, the greatest things in life are free, it’s true. It doesn’t cost a thing to recognize the efforts of someone or to help them along the way but it can make a huge difference in their lives. It’s a quick, sure fire way to send out to the Universe a ‘ happy gram’ of positive energy. The amazing thing is that without intending it to happen more positive energy comes back to you. It’s truly a win-win in life, a ‘pay it forward’ type of experience. That is what love is all about.

Have a great few days!

Changing Places?

How often have you looked at someone else’s life and thought to yourself, ” It must be nice…”. It may seem that their life is easier, happier or more fulfilling than yours. But is it really? Would you seriously change positions with them? Would you want to have what they have, do what they do and think what they think if it meant that you had to give up what you presently have to do so? I’ll bet not, if you really think about it.

Each of us is on the exact path we are supposed to be on. We are learning the exact lessons we have chosen to learn and, most importantly, we will each finish this life in perfect time – our own. Like an actor on a stage, we are each living out the unique, pre-birth plans that we designed. Jokingly, I said to my sister a few months before her death, ” Next time we need to hire a ghost writer (no pun intended) to write our life scripts because we throw in everything but the kitchen sink and then wonder why our life is so hard!”

The truth is our life is the perfect fit for us. Like that favorite pair of shoes you put on and immediately just realize that everything feels more comfortable. Those shoes feel like they were made just for you. Everything just settles in. Is it difficult, sometimes, to find the right pair – absolutely! Do we have to wait at times to be able to afford them – absolutely! Do we appreciate them and all of life a little more by having to work through the lessons we have chosen to work on to get them – absolutely! But, we can look back after experiencing a really tough challenge in life and realize that we made it, we accomplished something. We feel a renewed sense of pride in our personal strength and tenacity. No one can ever take that feeling of accomplishment away from you. You worked for it, you earned it. That is, indeed, impressive. Even better news – you will be a little bit stronger the next time a life lesson, a challenge, presents itself because you made it through this time of difficulty that you may now be facing.

So next time when you think that others seem to have life so much easier just remember that we haven’t walked in their shoes and we don’t know the lessons they have yet to encounter on their journey. When we accept our own challenges without feeling like a victim, and pat ourselves on the back for our own accomplishments, we achieve a greater sense of self worth. Life becomes a little less daunting through each challenge and accomplishment.

There is a quote in my book from my son that is so fitting on this topic. Ronnie said, “Mom, all is as it should be.” To truly internalize that message is both reassuring and liberating. The lyrics from a song by Frank Sinatra sums it up:

I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exceptions
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.

Have a great few days!