Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Tenacity’

Adversity can be a Double Edge Sword!

We all know someone who just seems to experience so much more adversity in life than others. We may think to ourselves if they didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all. How do they cope with it? How do they continue to put one foot in front of the other and face another day? These individuals can teach us a great deal about compassion and resiliency.

Two studies soon to be published by Dr. David DeSteno and graduate student, Daniel Lim of Northeastern University help us understand the real effects of adversity in a person’s life. We may think that living through adversity would naturally cause a person to be more compassionate but there’s more to it than that. DeSteno says, “Living through hardship doesn’t either warm hearts or harden them; it does both. Having known suffering in life usually heightens the compassion we feel for others, except when the suffering involves specific painful events that we know all too well.”

In the later case it seems our minds can quickly move into a judgment mode. The studies indicate that when we see someone living through an event similar to one we have lived through the natural human response is to downplay the difficulty we had in dealing with our life challenge and think to ourselves, ‘Well, I made it through and they just need to buck up and move on.’ Oh, if it were only that easy.

Each of us has chosen specific life challenges for the lessons involved. We cannot equate or compare one individual’s ability to cope to our own even in similar circumstances. Another way to think about it is that no two dramas are the same because of the human factor. We may have overcome a hardship or life altering event but it doesn’t mean that someone else can heal at the same pace. That’s what the stages of grief teaches us. Everyone has a right to heal and overcome at their own rate and time. Recognizing the needs of the individual and giving them the gift of time and understanding is where compassion comes in.

When we live through the loss of a loved one or experience,moor example, emotional or physical abuse the loss, fear and anger affects each of us in our own way. Some scars are deeper than others and take longer to heal. There is no blueprint to follow for the complex task of healing. Each of us struggles to understand and accept life according to our own strength, tenacity and reserve.

The next time we hear of someone who is experiencing a difficult time coping with an event in their life maybe we could put aside our own life experience, especially our words of advice, and just be there to listen and show we care. The greatest healing energy comes from the power and honor in the human connection.

The pay off to accepting where someone is at and offering an empathetic ear and caring heart is double fold. The person has a shoulder to lean on as they attempt to right themselves after the onslaught of their latest challenge and by bonding with them during a critical time in their life we fuel greater compassion and resiliency in ourselves. Something to think about.

Have a great few days!

A Little Christmas Humor!

There’s only 14 shopping days ’till Christmas! The parking lots in the malls are packed and in some parts of the country policemen on horseback are attempting to oversee crowd control as they gingerly ride their horses between motorists coming from opposite directions who are both eyeing the same ‘soon to be vacated’ parking space. You know the one – it’s closest to the entryway to the store. You just know the policeman is hoping that this will not boil down to a game of chicken as the space is being vacated by a smug shopper who unlike many of us arrived early and with tons of bags in hand has finished their shopping. Not to be deterred we push on and once inside the department store we are confronted with 25% to 50% markdowns on many items. We think to ourselves, ‘How can I pass up that deal? And find ourselves buying two of something we had intention of purchasing! We will simply review our list and decide who still needs a present and purchase their size – voila it’s done! Never mind the ‘super sale’ was on winter jackets and the family member who is still in need of a gift lives in a climate that experiences 70-75 degree winters. We justify sending the ‘super sale’ item to them by thinking, ‘they may need it when they visit a colder climate’ and we triumphantly cross off their name on our list. Yes! Oh, the fun of the season.

Rather than fighting the crowds at the stores today I decided to try to put up my Christmas lights on the outside of my house. One of my friends bought those umbrella lights that you just stretch over the bush and it’s done. Well, I think to myself, why spend money on that convenience when I have 20 or so long string of lights from last year that could be used. As I drank my second cup of coffee I could visualize myself successfully placing the lights in the bushes and smiling at the fun of it all. My courage buoyed, I decided it was time to go outside and make it happen. How hard could it be? Success is right around the corner!

First, I diligently checked each string of lights to be sure they still worked. Next, I remember with trepidation that I will eventually have to figure out how to set the automatic timer – you know the one with 9 settings or variations on it. Not to be overwhelmed so early in the process I continued to string the lights. Then a strange thing happened… After all the lights were connected to each other I discovered I didn’t end up with the proper end that has the plug on it to connect to the extension cord. How can this be? I could call the manufacturer and tell them that they made a grievous mistake but what if some loving Chinese woman with hands the size of a five year old ended up getting in trouble over my complaint. No, I better go to plan B. Maybe I should take all the lights down and start again but wait – I realized the beginning of the first string did not have a plug either! Seriously! This can’t be happening! After trying at least five different ways of connecting the various strings of lights and noticing that some of the lights that previously worked were now refusing to light up when independently connected to the extension cord I feel myself getting terribly uptight. At one point I swear that one strand which wasn’t connected to a power source appeared to be on. OK – now I am really freaked out! Are the lights smarter than me I wondered?

I must go to Plan B and call in the Calvary. I remembered my friends close by that just seem to know how how things work – as opposed to me who still gets confused about which key unlocks my door unless I put fingernail polish on the ‘special one.’ Or I could go to Plan C – my local hardware store. Maybe they would have some sort of gizmo that attaches to this or that thing to make it all work. Then I remembered how challenging it is to communicate my needs to these strange men who know 50 names for something yet become apoplectic at the use of my words such as ‘thingy’ or ‘whatchamacallit.’ Maybe that should be my last resort I think to myself. So I tried calling my friends and they weren’t home. They are probably keeping the headless horsemen on the police force entertained as they circle the parking lot looking for someplace – anyplace to park. I realized that when we are frustrated it’s hard to think clearly so I took a break and decided to walk away from my project. I remembered the phrase, ‘walk away and no one gets hurt!’ and I did. As soon as I calmed down I remembered that I’m not the straw man from the Wizard of Oz who just wanted a brain. I already have one – somewhere – and decided that given enough time I will figure something out- just not today. Sometimes avoidance is the only worthwhile salve for a bruised ego!

Since wasting time is not an option at this time of year I decided to tackle the Christmas tree instead. Realizing the tree has lights already on it I felt I was halfway home but here is the caveat for those glorious faux trees. You need to be able to manage to hold all three parts of the tree (which together are quite heavy) to get them out of the box. You must be very careful because although the three parts are independent of each other they are mysteriously connected with delicate wires that one must be careful not to damage for the pre-lit effect to work (think of an umbilical cord here to get the picture). Well, the tree is up now and I look at my carpet…how can an artificial tree shed its needles? They are making fake trees too real for my liking! I’m not kidding – is this a conspiracy I wonder as my vacuum goes into overdrive to sweep up that mound of green.

By now, I’m exhausted and think to myself, ‘Maybe tomorrow I’ll attack the outside lights again or just take them down – after all Christmas will be over in 14 days. But who knows, if Santa is watching, he knows I have been good this year and maybe he’ll send one of his elves to my house tonight as an early Christmas gift and make those *+#* lights work! Hey… once an optimist always as optimist!

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of what we put ourselves through and yet the memories can make us laugh for years to come.

Have a great few days!

Everyone’s a Teacher!

The author William Arthur Ward wrote, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The traditional view of a teacher is one who has taken the content and methodology courses, earned the degree and is in charge of a classroom of eager learners. However, there is an expanded view of the role of teacher that effects us all.

We are all teachers in our own way every day of our life. Our thoughts, attitude and behavior speaks volumes and serves as a model to those around us in this classroom called life. As a life teacher we can see that sometimes what people need may differ from what they want – yet we help them learn to appreciate what they need because we believe in them and want them to be happy and successful.

Take a moment and think about a challenge that has been presented to you recently. How did you handle it? Did you demonstrate the strength and tenacity to overcome and work through it with grace? Did you look past the issue at hand and demonstrate with confidence the belief that ‘this too shall pass?’ Hopefully, you did because without even realizing it someone – a student – is watching…When you think about the role of life teacher to those you love the ultimate question is – are you satisfied with your teaching? Is it the best it can be? Are you helping to instill in them a belief that ‘All is as it should be’ and that life is a never ending quest of personal development?

Take a moment and think about the best teacher you had in life. I’ll bet that person inspired you to achieve, to reach a higher level of understanding, acceptance and achievement. They refused to allow you to use others or circumstances as an excuse but encouraged and pushed you to be better because they believed in you. Wouldn’t it be incredible if each of us became that ‘best teacher’ to at least one other person sometime in our life?

As a model for others the greatest gift we can give them is the understanding that although they can’t always control the cards they are dealt, they can control the way they play them. We can help them discover that they have the capacity to overcome against all odds and will actually develop more self-confidence from these life challenges along the way.

Life is difficult, not for the faint of heart, but above all it is fair. It is exactly what we chose for this incarnation even with all the challenging lessons we may be presently encountering. Each has a purpose, a reason for being.

There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher comes along. Be ready to be that teacher to someone in your life by modeling the behavior that you want to see in them. Your contribution will be immeasurable in helping someone further discover their strengths and change the world!

Have a great few days!

Developing Serenity

We have all read the Serenity Prayer at some point in our lives. ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change. And the wisdom to know the difference.’ If you are like me it seems I have read this a million times and yet actually applying its deeper meaning seems to work better when issues are less critical or important in life. When the ‘big dogs’ of problems surface oftentimes, the real meaning of this prayer is lost and we find ourselves simply reacting as we have done in the past and feeling more and more frustrated with the results. We typically take the path we have chosen so often in our lives because it has become a conditioned response.

As with so many significant sayings in life we can mouth the words, even memorize them and yet never completely internalize them which will cause a change in our attitude, beliefs and behavior. I have chosen to use the Serenity Prayer over the next few blogs to delve more deeply into what it can do for us. The few words contained in the prayer have tremendous potential to help us arrive at a greater sense of confidence, peace and wisdom in our lives. It is worth taking the time to think about in greater depth over the next week. It can help us harness the power of these words and then apply them when we face the next truly big challenge in our lives.

The Serenity Prayer basically boils down to two issues: learning how to accept with grace and humility the things in life that cannot be changed or learning how to dig deep to surface the needed courage to change the things that are possible for us to change. Seems straight forward enough doesn’t it? Ah, but as with everything else in life simplicity is an art that only results after wrestling with the true complexity of the elements behind it. Determining which path to take is, of course, the ultimate challenge but it is not a mere choice arrived at easily but rather the result of understanding and examining the complex web of emotions and beliefs established from our early conditioning, cultural mores and personal life experiences.

To begin our more in depth look at the deeper meaning of the prayer I would ask you to consider the following questions.

Which approach is usually HARDER for you … accepting the things you truly cannot change (without anger or resentment) or finding the courage to actually change the things (with grace and tenacity) that you can change?

Your answer to the above question is important. As individuals we have a preference for one approach over the other. It doesn’t mean that we can’t use the other approach but it is not something we typically do or prefer to do especially when dealing with the ‘biggies’ in life.

Your answer is very important as we continue to dive deeper into the well of understanding about human emotions in our goal to develop greater wisdom and Serenity. In essence, in one response we are dealing with learning to trust more fully and with the other response learning how to better control our fears. Both are difficult but achievable behavioral changes. One answer is not better than the other it is simply different and will help us decide on the next pathway to follow. In the meantime after you decide which approach is harder for you the logical step is to ask yourself the question – why? Really think about why that particular approach is harder for you – just a hint – it is usually the result of early conditioning.

Stay tuned and we will follow up on the possible ‘why’ in the next blog.

Have a great few days!

A Different Place

Emily Perl Kingsley a prolific writer for Sesame Street as well as author of over 20 children’s books is both an accomplished professional of her trade – winning 12 Emmys for her creative work – but more importantly a loving mother of a Down’s syndrome child. A special child that The Universe entrusted to her. She wrote this piece to help us understand how to accept differences. To me, it is a moving example of dealing with loss of our own expectations, acceptance of life changes and the strength to carry on. Her writing is a metaphor for life in general – accepting what we cannot change and having the tenacity to look for the silver lining in everything that is presented to us. Regardless of the life altering experiences we have the lessons are the same…

Welcome to Holland

“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this …

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland!?” You say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m suppose to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. You’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills…and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that hurt will never, ever, ever, ever, go away…because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things …about Holland.”

Have a great few days!

The Importance of Tenacity

Roger Ebert, THE film critic, author and first journalist (of three) to win a Pulitzer Prize passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer. When he lost his voice to the disease he found a way to ‘keep on keeping on’ his work and became an avid social media user on both Facebook and Twitter. He refused to give up simply because his voice was gone along with part of his jaw. Although he could not eat or drink as we do, he found sustenance in other ways. Communicating to his nearly 600,000 followers was too important a task to walk away from – tenacity – he had it in spades. He created the now familiar thumbs up sign which became a trademark used by he and his fellow critic Gene Siskel who died in 1999. Demonstrating his passion for connecting with others, he posted his last blog on Wednesday, two days before his death.

What an impact he had on this world! Michael Moore credited him with his own success when he enthusiastically endorsed Moore’s first movie, ‘Roger and Me.’ The integrity of Ebert’s message was felt by both the large film industry as well as the small independent film producers. Movies should stand for something, make an impact and deliver a message along the way.

The tremendous success he experienced came from his honesty, hard work and passion for his field. He believed that the significance of films was in how they could sensitize us to go where we had never been in our minds. He encouraged us to stretch our sensibilities and walk in another person’s shoes during the 90 minutes of a well made movie. His reviews were never ‘bought or sold’ to the highest bidder. If he gave the thumbs up sign, you knew the price of the theatre ticket would be money well spent. He was a person who lived his truth in service to others and just happened to love his job along the way!

During his battle with cancer some people told him he was a brave inspiration. Shunning the accolade he replied that “courage and bravery have little to do with it. You play the cards you are dealt.” He did not want praise or pity but to simply be allowed to keep on going and apply his steely determination to contribute to our views for tomorrow.

Reflecting on death he wrote in 2010 that he did not fear it because he “didn’t believe there was anything on the other side to fear. I was perfectly content before I was born and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.”

He lived life to the fullest and made an impact along the way. I wish him well on his journey. Tonight when we gaze up at the sky we might see a star flickering a little more brightly than the rest. It may be Roger Ebert telling us he has arrived and to keep on going regardless of our challenges and to remember to enjoy the ride as we give it everything we’ve got to make the world a little better place. ‘Roger on that…’

Have a great few days!

Abundance or Limitation

The law of attraction is exact, precise. What ever you have in your life you have attracted it through continued thought. Have you ever watch a particular person and thought, they have the Midas touch. It seems like everything they do just turns out right, or in the case of Midas, it turns to gold. Actually, if you dig deeper you will find that this person works, plans, and refuses to accept anything that is not in their best interest. They believe in themselves and put the effort in to make their dreams a reality. If they have a set back they view it as simply a small hurdle that they will get over.

I have had the opportunity to watch a few people in my life that fit this category. What a ride they have had – against all odds they have succeeded. When you talk to them you discover that they have had their trials and tribulations like the rest of us. And yet, they refused to give in.They just made things happen it seems, at times, through sheer will.

What I have learned is that success truly does breed success. Small doses of reality, small events that enlarge one’s comfort zone, does make for a happier, more secure person. The world can be as small (limiting) or as large (ever expanding) as you so choose. The Universe will deliver what is foremost in your thoughts.

No one achieves peace, love or success without paying their dues. There are simply no ‘free passes.’ Life, love and loss is about lessons. Simply put, we chose the lessons and we, consequently, have to live out the experiences until we ‘get it.’

If you feel a change is necessary in your life, look first to what you are saying to yourself. Is it a message of fear, lack of … or any other limiting thought. If so. You might think about the energy you are giving out to the Universe. Remember, you will get back more of what you give out. I choose to give out the thought of ABUNDANCE.

What thoughts are occupying your mind – lack, fear or abundance?