Category Archives: Positive Attitude

Women Breaking Through Barriers

Lesly Federici suddenly lost her mother at the age of 40 while coping with the news that she had a genetic disorder that would result in blindness. Suzie Cheel was given three choices: life, death, or dialysis. Beverley Golden, only 89 pounds and suffering from a mysterious health problem, listened as a doctor told her there was little hope for recovery.

hurdlesThese are just three of 14 inspirational stories in the book, Women Breaking through Barriers, by Marquita A. Herald. The women describe how they conquered tremendous hurdles to move forward and live fulfilling and successful lives.

The book shares what helped them find the courage and inner strength to create a life they love with tips on how you can do so as well.

I was touched that the author of the book asked me to share my own story about how I pushed through my fears and self-limiting beliefs.

My own story is not as dramatic as some of the others in the book. I write about how I overcame my fears and doubts to pursue my dreams of becoming an author and writer. Oh, I put a lot of self-imposed barriers on myself. I was afraid that people would laugh at me because I didn’t have a college degree. That my submissions would sit in a huge pile and be ignored by literary agents and editors since I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. That friends and family would roll their eyeballs if I dared to express my dreams of becoming a writer out loud. That I would become so discouraged by the countless rejections sure to come my way, I would give up and watch my precious dreams slowly fade away. Doesn’t everyone want to be a writer, but how many actually make it?

dreaming-of-being-a-writerInstead of taking action, I was comfortable just dreaming about becoming an author one day. It was fun envisioning my novel on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and my first book signing. It was so easy to tell myself that I needed to learn more about the craft of writing before submitting my work.

Until a woman at a writer’s conference asked me a simple but profound question. What are you waiting for?

Oh, I had a million excuses why I wasn’t pursing my passion. But she forced me to ask myself some important questions. Did I want to go to my grave with regrets that I never followed my dreams? That I never even tried? Would I wonder what I could have accomplished if only I had mustered up enough courage to break through my self-imposed barriers?

With the woman’s words echoing in my head, I took the first step and began submitting my short story to magazines. Of course, I received the standard rejection letter which stung, but I continued on my journey, taking writing classes and submitting my work. The road wasn’t easy. Many of my fears came true during that time. I gathered enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room. Plenty of people gave me cynical looks when I dared to share my dreams of becoming a published writer. Many times, I became discouraged and swore off writing. But I tenaciously pressed forward. Six long years passed before my first short story was published. Am I happy that I persevered and finally faced down all those nagging self-doubts and fears?

You bet!

Yup, that’s me, looking happy I broke through my barriers to live out my dreams of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble along with a book signing!

I’ve been writing professionally for over 25 years now. Over the years, I’ve been published in national magazines, authored three books (one of which was published by big time publisher McGraw Hill), landed an agent, won three journalism awards, and even had a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

What helped me accomplish my goals? How did the other 13 courageous women overcome their fears, persevere, and find the power to become the driver of their own lives and personal journeys?  You’ll have to check out the book to find out! Each tale will give you hope and encourage you to reflect on who you are and what matters most to you in life.

For a limited time, I’m offering a free copy of the book, Women Breaking Barriers, to all new subscribers of my blog. As a subscriber, every Thursday you’ll be the first to receive my latest blog on how to find your bliss. Please use the subscribe button on the upper right corner of this page. Rest assured, your privacy is important to me. Your email address will not be given away or sold at any time. If you decide you no longer wish to subscribe, you need only scroll to the bottom of any blog sent to you and click on the “unsubscribe” link.

When you are finished, click on the link below to receive your free copy of the book. If you are already one of my 5,000 subscribers, feel free to click on the link below and receive a copy of this inspiring book compliments of Baby Boomer Bliss.

Women Breaking Barriers eBook

Enjoy the book and in the meantime, remember that there is nothing magical that happens to people who choose to take responsibility for their own life. They choose to commit to taking a risk, doing the necessary work, and taking action. And most importantly, they choose to be true to themselves.

As John Quincy Adams eloquently said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Images courtesy of Sira Anamwong and iconmac at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Surefire Ways to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

How can you make 2017 your best year yet?

Dump the silly tradition of making a bunch of New Year’s resolutions that make you feel like a failure at the end of the year when things don’t go according to plan. Instead of making an endless list of lofty ambitions, why not take some simple, realistic steps to improve your life in significant ways in 2017?

Are your ready? I certainly am! I’m ready to move forward and make the most of the next 361 days, 8,664 hours of precious time that I can never get back. quote-oprah-year-endI’m ready to continue on my spiritual path. I’m ready to set new goals and create attainable steps to achieve them. I’m ready for new adventures. I’m ready to make my body healthier and stronger.

Want to join me? Here are five simple but effective ways we can all make 2017 an incredible year:

Reflect and Learn

Before jumping into the New Year, take a moment to think about what worked and didn’t work for you last year. What were the highlights? The low points? What were your successes and failures? What made you feel happy and joyful? What made you downright miserable? What life lessons did you learn that you can take into 2017? What changes do you need to make this year even better?

Focus on the Present

Okay, now that you’ve looked over the past year, it’s time to move forward. Forgive and let go of any anger or resentment you’re still carrying over from last year. Resolve to learn from your mistakes and move on. Make the necessary changes to eliminate whatever was making you miserable. Take time to be grateful for all the good things that 2016 granted you. Then, focus on the present. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, what would bring me joy and make my day great? Then do your best to make sure it happens. At the end of the day, ask yourself, what could have made my day better? Then make the necessary adjustments. This daily practice will help you create the life you want to live. Another way to live in the present is to savor, appreciate, and revel in seemingly small, ordinary moments that make the day special. Did you feel the warmth of sunshine on your face or enjoy the refreshing smell after a rainstorm today?  Did you hear a bird singing its heart out or enjoy the sound of a child’s laughter? Did you receive a compliment at work or did a stranger say or do something kind? Did your loved one give you a big hug? Take notice and cherish each moment.

write-goalsWrite Down Attainable Goals

According to studies, about half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions but less than 10 percent of people achieve them. I’m not a believer in New Year resolutions which tend to be overwhelming and unrealistic. However, I do think it helps to periodically write down a few specific and realistic goals throughout the year and review them regularly. Doing so will help you remember what you want out of life and set priorities. You can include spiritual goals, health goals, career goals, or personal goals. So you won’t feel overwhelmed, list no more than three at a time in order of importance. Make sure the objectives are attainable. Then write small steps you need to take to achieve those goals. Focus on one goal at a time and give yourself deadlines – as a writer I know this works. Celebrate milestones along the way. Don’t give up too easily and believe in yourself. Start right now. Think of one specific goal you would like to accomplish this year. Okay, now what’s one thing you can do today, right now, to work towards your goal? No excuses – just do it!

Make Your Body Stronger One Month at a Time

Weight loss and going to the gym are popular New Years resolutions that often fail by time February hits and the excitement wears off. So why not take a different tack? Instead of vowing to lose 20 pounds at the beginning of the year, make it a goal to do one simple thing each month of 2017 to make your body healthier. Need some ideas?  In January, find a workout buddy. In February, walk 100 more steps each day. In March, drink less alcohol and more water. In April, get more sleep. In May, eliminate sugar from your diet. In June, sit less and stand more.  In June, explore a new hiking trail. In July, touch your toes every day. In August, try out one new sport or workout. In September, download a free fitness app. In October, eat less meat and more vegetables. In November, try a new healthy recipe each week. In December, take a daily time out and practice deep breathing. You can use these goals or make up your own list. The idea is to practice each goal for one month to make lifestyle changes that will hopefully stick and become good habits.

try-something-newTry Something New 

While it’s good to break free of your comfortable but boring routine, New Year’s resolutions often include intimidating goals like learning a new language, running a marathon, or skydiving. Why not use the method above and promise yourself to try something new each month. You don’t have to choose something difficult, arduous, or life-threatening. Sign up for a class, visit a new city, try a new cuisine or restaurant, change your hairstyle, make a new friend, learn ten phrases in a different language, listen to a different type of music, write a poem or start a journal. Even the smallest change can inspire more adventure and joy.

There you go – five simple steps to make 2017 your best year yet. In addition to the suggestions above, resolve to take time to nurture your spiritual side, to spend time with your loved ones, to laugh and smile, to be generous and help others, and be kind to yourself. Do so and you’ll feel happier throughout the year.

Images in order of appearance courtesy of nuttakit and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

My Year End Thoughts

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Oprah Winfrey.

new-year-2017I like that thought.

This time of year, who can resist looking back to see what we learned along the way?

I deemed 2016 my year of healing. As you can see from the blogs I wrote at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, I was still trying to process the loss of my mother, who died from Lewy Body dementia (a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), the death of my mother-in-law who lost her battle to ovarian cancer a few months later, and my son’s awful divorce and custody battle.

As I related before, transferring dates into my new date book was a bit traumatic last year. These trials inspired articles like How to Find Yourself Again , Focusing on Myself,  and Three Simple Things You Should Do Everyday. If you’ve had a rough year, feel free to check these articles out to find out what helped me move forward and rediscover myself.

In the end, I am grateful for the past 12 months that allowed me to heal, nourish myself spiritually, appreciate all my blessings, and move forward. I enjoyed precious time with my husband, children, grandchildren, family and friends, new experiences that included a romantic trip to Chicago and an exhilarating concert extravaganza Desert Trip with Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, along with some quiet, peaceful moments of introspection.

As I learned, adversity can be a catalyst for making changes. Setbacks and painful experiences can provide motivation to examine your life and ask yourself what will make you feel happy and fulfilled going forward. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn,” Helen Keller famously said.

So, I’ve made the turn and move into 2017 with a hopeful spirit, fresh goals, and curiosity as to what lies ahead.

sailing-scott-and-julie

Me and hubby “sailing” into 2017.

A big thank you to the 20,000 people who have visited my blog and taken this journey with me. I am extremely grateful to all of you who have left comments, which always makes my day, and the 5,000 subscribers who follow me on a regular basis. THANK YOU.

As I did last year, I will be taking the next couple of weeks off to spend time with my family and will see you all in 2017. In the meantime, i wish you all the very, very best.

See you next year!

Image courtesy of krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

 

 

 

 

Showing Gratitude Every Single Day

Today, in the U.S. and Canada, many people are celebrating Thanksgiving. Although it is considered a day designated for “giving thanks,” the focus seems to have shifted to eating copious amounts of turkey and stuffing, watching football games, Black Friday shopping, and enjoying time off work at large family gatherings.

What if we treated every day as an opportunity to give thanks?

What if we treated every day as an opportunity to give thanks?

Some are more serious about expressing thanks on this holiday, but, here’s the real question. Why is there only one day out of the year elected as time to be grateful and give thanks? What if we treated every day as an opportunity to give thanks?

I know a lot of us try to take time each day to be grateful. Nonetheless, it’s all too easy to get lost in our busy lives as the other 364 days of the year zip by in a blur. If we’re not careful, we’ll collapse into bed at the end of the day without a single utterance of thanks.

Why not strive to feel appreciative for at least one thing, one person, or one experience each and every day?

As I asked in a previous blog, Savor the Day, how many days do you only notice the negative, stressful events in your life? Why not start taking note of what went right during the day. Did your husband give you a loving kiss before he left for work? Did a friend give you a sincere compliment? Did you experience a small victory at work or a small gesture of support? Savor those moments, appreciate each one, and express your gratitude – yes, each and every day.

Be like Piglet in Winnie the Pooh, who A.A. Milne noted: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

Make it a goal to take a moment every single day to tell your spouse, children, and grandchildren how thankful you are to have them in your life. Mentally make a list of your blessings before praying and thank God each and every day. Call a friend and tell them how fortunate you are to have their support and love. Thank strangers for an act of kindness – not the automatic way we often do without thought, feeling, or real meaning – but with genuineness and sincerity.

For the next 364 days of the year, stop and notice the beauty in simple, ordinary moments that make a day special. Use all your senses to enjoy the beauty of a sunset, the laugh of a child, a hug from a friend, the sound of a bird singing, the smells after a rainstorm, or that first sip of coffee in the morning. Write down three things you are grateful for every day in a gratitude journal.

Imagine if we made every day a day of giving thanks. We will shift our perspective, draw closer to God, deepen our relationships, improve our lives, and make the world a better place to live.

As Zig Ziglar said, “Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Five Uplifting Things You Should Tell Yourself Every Day

There is this quote I saw on Pinterest: “What you tell yourself every day will either lift you up or tear you down.”

Depressed ManLike that song, “You Had a Bad Day,” Monday was a terrible day for me. I’ll spare you the details, but no matter what I tried, I felt rattled, my feelings were hurt, and I felt sad and depressed. I cried a bucket of tears and blew my diet by eating tons of Doritos.

Oh, I’m sure you’ve been there and know what I’m talking about.

So I woke up the next morning asking myself what I needed to tell myself to turn things around. The following is a list I came up with after some thought. Not that these words were a cure-all, but they did help me to have a better day.

My hope is that you can tell yourself these words when you’re having a bad day – or on any day preferably first thing in the morning – and have a happier day as well.

Here’s my list:

#1 Today is a New Day

New DayWhen you’re feeling down, this is actually a great thought. I woke up the next morning and got a do-over. I resolved to lean on God for strength and gave him thanks for another day of life.

I enjoyed savoring some quiet time with my first cup of coffee, and reminded myself that each day is brimming with opportunities and possibilities. Every new day offers a chance to make necessary changes that will make us happier, nourish ourselves spiritually, be whoever we want to be, improve ourselves, learn something new, eat healthier, take steps to promote healing in our lives, or make someone else’s life better.

If you are looking for ways to start your day on a positive note, check out my blog, Ten Ways To Start Your Morning Right, for some inspiration.

As a famous quote wisely says: “It’s never too late. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today.”

#2 This Too Shall Pass

My Mom used this phrase a lot with us kids and I use it like a chant sometimes. Coincidentally, a friend who knew I was having a bad day, texted me this great reminder. As I wrote in a previous blog, when we’re in the middle of a crisis, loss, or setback, we may feel like the situation and the emotions that come with it will last forever, yet it inevitably passes.

Life goes on and takes us with it. With God’s help, our ability and infinite capacity to endure and bounce back is far greater than we think.

#3 Let It Go

ForgiveLike driving a car, we may glance behind us every once in a while, but we can’t move forward if we’re concentrating on the road behind us. Let go of the past and let go of all those angry feelings, bitterness, and resentment.

Don’t allow someone else’s actions to dominate your life. Choose to embrace forgiveness and move forward. It is only through forgiveness that we find peace, freedom, empowerment, and happiness.

#4 Do Not Allow Anxious Thoughts to Steal Away Joy

This is a hard one of me. I have a tendency to get stressed out, worry excessively, feel overwhelmed, and overthink problems. I’ve written quite a few blogs on this subject, and I’m still working on it.

Being anxious is more than just a waste of time. It makes us suffer, zaps our energy, damages our health, and accomplishes nothing.

So, I got up the next morning and told myself to stop. To use the power of prayer for the peace of God that excels all thought. To notice the small and ordinary things that can make my day special and savor moments with my loved ones. To exercise and breathe deeply whenever I needed to calm myself. To do something that brings me joy. And to replace negative thoughts with more productive ones.

I know all this stuff, but I needed reminders. What can I say? It’s a work in progress.

#5 I Can Create Any Feeling I Want

That’s such an empowering thought. While it’s true, we can’t control everything that happens to us and what other people do or say, we are not powerless over our emotions. Other people and situations do not determine our feelings. We do.

Feeling sad, frustrated, stressed, or angry are not our only choices. We can choose to feel peaceful, grateful, and content. Not always an easy process, but doable. (See my previous blog, Happiness is Easy as 1-2-3, for steps on how to do so).

The fact is that only we, and we alone, have the power to create any feeling we desire.

So that was my self-inflicted pep talk today. Please share what phrases you feel are “musts” for a happier day in the comments below!

Images courtesy of graur codrin, FrameAngel, and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Life Is Good

When Bert and John Jacobs were kids, their mother would look around the dinner table and say, “Tell me something good that happened today.”

Life Is GoodSo simple, but that became the inspiration behind the $100 million apparel company, Life is Good.

“We didn’t realize until long after starting Life Is Good, but she was really the inspiration for the whole thing,” Bert says in an interview for People. “She taught us that in the most difficult times, that’s when optimism is needed the most.”

When they were first starting out, the brothers needed a bit of that optimism.

After college, they wanted to start a business that would enable them to sell their artwork. Rather than trying to break into the intimidating world of fine art, they decided to sell T-shirts. In 1990, they traveled the east coast visiting colleges with duffle bags full of shirts with little success, sleeping in their van and living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Until they designed their first “Life Is Good” T-shirt with the now famous smiling beret-wearing stick figure named Jake. “We wanted to come up with a rallying cry for optimists,” Bert says of the concept.

It was a good one. On the streets of Boston, they sold 48 of the original “Life Is Good” shirts in 45 minutes. Soon after, companies were contacting the duo. As the brand’s popularity began to snowball, Bert and John connected with more and more people who wrote to them with their stories of optimism.

That led to their book, Life is Good: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, published by National Geographic last year. The brothers share tales of against-all-odds scrappiness that illustrate the superpowers that make up the book’s 10 chapters: courage, openness, simplicity, humor, gratitude, compassion, fun, creativity, authenticity, and love. The book is about overcoming obstacles and embracing opportunities. It’s about simplifying your life to focus on what’s most important and letting your imagination run free.

Children, the Jacobs point out, are the ultimate optimists: they possess the superpowers in abundance until experience and maturity take their toll. The challenge, then, is not learning to live well but rather re-learning it.

River SunflowerSo true, right? As I look at my grandchildren, this becomes abundantly clear. As I’ve shared in this blog, my son is going through a terrible divorce. But what impresses me most about the grandchildren is their resilience. Children have a wonderful ability to adjust and stay optimistic.

This weekend they camped with their father and then Sunday night we had a family barbecue. Despite a turbulent year, it struck me that they were so carefree and happy.

Forget the divorce. What were they thinking about? Cutting a big sunflower for me and their Daddy and putting it on the dinner table along with a big pine cone they found in the mountains. Playing with their new puppy. Jumping on the trampoline. Learning to play chess.

One of the customer letters the Jacob brothers include in their book is from a 10-year-old boy who had a leg amputated at birth and whose twin brother is blind. “Me and Nicky have all of your shirts with the things we like doing best…. You’re lucky to have a brother too. I hope you do fun things together!”

Yes, we need to re-learn that bright optimism, cheerfulness, and hopefulness as adults.

“Optimism is a lot more than a philosophical viewpoint,” John says. “We see it as a pragmatic strategy for accomplishing goals and living a happy and fulfilling life.”

How to Find Yourself Again

Do you feel like you need to find yourself again?

Last week, I got a letter from the hospice bereavement coordinator that helped my family care for my mother in her final days. They acknowledged that family members who have spent most of their time caring for their loved ones for months or perhaps years often ask themselves after their death, “Where do I go?” or “What do I do?” 

Finding Yourself

That’s exactly how I felt after my Mom died.

I was the primary caregiver for my Mom who had Lewy Body dementia, a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s that rendered her helpless both physically and mentally. Being a caregiver was the hardest job I’ve ever had – by far. When she passed away last June, I assumed that while I would grieve for my Mom, I would also feel a sense of relief that my job was finished and my life could get back to normal.

Instead, I felt lethargic, depressed, and yes, lost after she died. My life, my thoughts, and my feelings had revolved around the care of my mother. I discovered that when your roles change drastically, you lose a sense of who you are. Your self-image is shattered.

This uncomfortable feeling can happen whenever you go through a major change in your life such as a divorce or losing your job. Or perhaps you’ve recently retired or became an empty nester. After dreaming of all the things you’d do when you had more time after child rearing and working 9 to 5, you feel lost instead.

Remember, although you may no longer be a caregiver, part of a couple, an employee, or full-time parent, you are still 100 percent you. You just need to find that person again. 

How?

Allow Yourself Time to Mourn

GrievingIf you have suffered a loss, be kind and patient with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings instead of sweeping them under a rug. Everyone is different. Emotions can range from anger, loss, guilt, sadness, lethargy, regret, confusion, and depression.

Whether you lost a loved one, a spouse in divorce, or a job, you may have lost your lifestyle and identity as well. It’s okay to mourn that loss.

However, be careful not to isolate yourself during this process. You’ll need a network of support. Healing may mean lots of heartfelt prayer, talking out your feelings with a supportive loved one, and/or focusing your energy in a healthy activity you enjoy.

Let it Go

As I wrote in my blog, Moving Forward After Adversity, avoid getting stuck in all the “I should have…” or “I wish…” feelings that often comes with grieving but can interfere with your recovery. Don’t allow sorrow, stress, resentment, or bitterness to become a way of life.  Take all that negative self talk out of your head like, “I’ve lost everything” or “My life is over.” The fact of the matter is that your life isn’t over; it’s just a new beginning for you.

The goal is not to wallow forever in negative feelings but to move on, be there for the people who need you, have a meaningful and productive life, and enjoy living once again. Be grateful for what IS working in your life right now. Live in the present and focus on the positive. Learn from your experiences and prepare yourself for the next exciting chapter of your life.

Moving ForwardRediscover Yourself

It’s easy to get lost in caring for your family and children or elderly parents or nurturing a career. You may have given up a lot of things that you enjoyed. Make time to get to know yourself again.

“To move your life forward, it has to start by focusing on yourself,” wrote Mark Branschick, M.D. in an article, Seven Ways to Thrive After Divorce, for Psychology Today. “Use this precious opportunity to rediscover who you are. Think of this time in your life as an adventure to explore the real you.”

You can lose sight of your unique gifts if you’re focusing on what you don’t like about yourself or your life. Think about your qualities and skills and how you can best use them. What truly makes you happy? What really matters to you? What do you feel is your true purpose in life? What hobbies and activities did you enjoy before becoming a caregiver, a married couple, or a parent? What is it that will make you excited to get out of bed every day? Make a list of what you can do to reach your goals. 

Rediscover what brought you fulfillment, satisfaction, fun, and joy as a way of rebuilding yourself and your life.

Reinvent Yourself

My life changed overnight and that can be disconcerting. Last summer, we moved into a new home we had built to be closer to my Mom (who unfortunately died the week before it was finished). My husband and I went from being empty nesters to a house full of grown children and grandchildren. Plus, I had to find new clients as a freelance writer and begin working again.

It was a tumultuous year in other ways as well. As I’ve shared before, my mother-in-law lost her fight against ovarian cancer and my son began going through a nasty divorce and custody battle.

Let’s get real, between all these events and changes in my life, I was shaken. I felt fragile and fought depression for the first time in my life.

It’s been a journey, but I am beginning to recover and heal. In the process, I’m learning to embrace all the new changes in my life. My new job writing magazine articles does require meeting strict deadlines, but the subjects are fun and it’s exciting work. We are a multi-generational family living together, but I’ve come to enjoy having the cocoon of family love around me during this difficult time. My oldest son is going through many of the same emotions as I am as he finds his way after divorce and we’ve connected on a whole new level. When our three grandchildren are with us, they bring us joy and keep us young.

My friend, Cindy (left), me, and my husband getting ready to zip line for the first time.

My friend, Cindy (left), me, and my husband getting ready to zip line for the first time.

So, don’t be afraid of change. Get out of your comfort zone and discover a new side of yourself. Maybe that means a new career, trying a new sport, traveling to a new place, changing your hair, or taking classes. Shake things up a little.

A few years ago, I reconnected with a childhood friend, Cindy, who was also a caregiver. In the last few years, she lost her husband and both her parents.

Cindy is my inspiration. Talk about embracing change. She is traveling around the world, went back to school, and moved to North Carolina to be near her daughter and three grandchildren. We went zip lining together for the first time and are making plans to go up, up, and away in a balloon next time she visits.

Embrace Your New Role

You will go through several stages before this step can happen. However, the time comes when you make a choice. You can move on and discover possibilities that a life change presents you or get stuck in negative emotions.

Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. If you can move forward, eventually you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know this from experience.

In time, you’ll reconnect with old friends or make new friends, go to work, back to school, or volunteer, rediscover what once brought you joy, enjoy new adventures, and find your way. You’ll look at the changes in your life in a positive way, feel more confident and in control, and become more productive and optimistic about your future.

The time will come when you will find yourself again, embrace your new role in life, and feel like your new shoes are a good fit. You will breathe a sigh of relief. Life will never be perfect, but eventually, you won’t have to struggle so hard to “make it work.” It just will.

Images courtesy of surasakiStock, Ambro, and renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A Fresh Start in a New Year: New Beginnings

Had a lovely two weeks off enjoying time with my family and grandkids. This week it’s back to the real world and the pleasure of writing my first blog of the year.

As the new year begins, I’m drawn to quotes about new beginnings. A few of my favorites:

New Beginnings“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ― T.S. Eliot

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

As I shared in my last blog, last year was a traumatic one. Looking back on it, I realize that there will be some healing time ahead for me as I pave my way to new beginnings. This became fully apparent at the end of the year when I sat down to transfer important dates into my new datebook.

Although my husband urges me to use my phone to keep track of appointments and anniversaries and such, I still prefer an old fashioned datebook. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a datebook since I was a teen. I have this end-of-the-year tradition to browse through the year in review, enjoy good memories, and see how my life has changed.

I knew this year would be different. My datebook for 2015 included some painful reminders that included the dates of my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary, my Mom’s death, and her Memorial. Nonetheless, I picked up the old datebook before fully realizing just how hard this process would be.

The first half of last year was full of doctor, dentist, hair, and manicure appointments for my Mom who suffered with Lewy Body Dementia. Mom joked I was both her secretary and chauffeur. Then there were the dates of Mom’s hip surgery, the days that hospice nurses and caregivers visited, and then finally dates of family members who wanted to see my Mom before she died, and the date of her death and Memorial service. Memories flooded back to the day a doctor at the hospital strongly suggested that we put Mom back into hospice and bring her home to die. The day I had to tell my siblings and we all cried as we were forced to accept the reality of her situation. The memory of watching my Mom take her final breath still haunts me as well.

If my Mom was still alive, I’d be writing 60’th anniversary under the date of April 14 in 2016. Before my Mom’s health deteriorated, we talked about throwing a 40’s party since my Mom loved that decade. Once, when we were discussing plans, she joked, “If I make it that long.” Although it panged me to hear her say that, I was still in denial at that point and laughed it off. After all, July was less than a year away.

My step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, died a short 17 months after her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. My 2015 date book included my in-law’s 37th anniversary, which just happens to be on the same day of my mother’s birthday on July 8. Cheryl was determined and brave fighting her battle, and somehow managed to keep going in her typical brisk manner, until the week she announced she was coming home to die. The surgery and treatments were not working and, by that time, she was in a lot of pain. We had dinner at her home and she jumped up to help in the kitchen, as was her habit. A few days later, she died at the young age of 60. My 2015 datebook also includes the date of her Memorial service.

Although I forge ahead into the new year, both their memories will be with me forever and treasured.

Feeding a giraffe at the Living Desert last week with my family.

Feeding a giraffe at the Living Desert last week with my family.

Last year’s date book was also full of family court dates – unwelcome reminders of my oldest son’s ugly divorce and custody battle. Let’s just say, there was no need to write down my son and ex-daughter-in-law’s anniversary date either.

However, this last week, we all enjoyed a blissful week together with the grandchildren, visiting the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Living Desert. The kids enjoyed sleepovers with their friends along with scavenger hunts, homemade pizza, and a talent show. Just hanging around the house puttering around in my new garden or sitting by the fire pit was heavenly. Evidence that it is time to move out of divorce land and move forward into our new lives.

New Start

So, gone is last year’s date book. Distressing as last year was, it is now a time for healing and for new beginnings.

I picked up my new 2016 datebook because I thought it was cute and loved the color. But here’s the funny thing. It’s the most cheerful datebook I’ve ever owned.

I never looked inside, but on the first page it had the words: “Your days are as fun as you make them.” Right on! In fact, each month has a positive quote. For example, April says: “Don’t fall back on what’s behind you; spring forward to what’s ahead.” In November: “Learn from yesterday, dream about tomorrow. Live in the moment.”  And December: “Life goes on so keep on keepin’ on.”

Quotes we’ve all seen before, but it’s perfect for me this year. Simple reminders to live in the moment and make each and every day count. I love it! Who knows what fun dates this year’s datebook will contain?

As you can tell, this blog has served as a sort of therapy for me as I try to make sense of everything that has happened and look to the future. It is my hope that spilling my thoughts and feelings onto this page may somehow help some of you who are facing similar challenges and difficulties.

With that in mind, I look forward to sharing my journey this year with all those who choose to stop by and visit. What will your year be like? I would love to hear about your journey and plans for the new year in the comment section below.

So, here’s to new beginnings. As Rainer Maria Rilke, a famous poet and novelist, wrote, “And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Personal Review of 2015

I am taking the next couple of weeks off, so this will be my last blog of the year. Hard to believe that only two weeks remain of 2015. So what are my final thoughts about this year?

My husband, Scott, and I on a recent trip to San Francisco.

My husband, Scott, and I on a recent trip to San Francisco.

There’s a certain irony that after starting a blog called Baby Boomer Bliss, I had the worst year so far in my life. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that every day was terrible.

That’s the thing, when things aren’t going according to plan, we encounter challenges, or even when we suffer from tragic events, we cannot afford to squander priceless moments of our lives. We simply don’t have the luxury to spend what little time we have on earth worried about the future or stuck in the past.

For example, this last weekend, my husband, two sons, and daughter-in-law enjoyed a quick but delightful getaway to Monterey and San Francisco. The beauty of these two places with all the breathtaking views, dramatic coastline, and pristine forests along with the terrific company made this a trip to remember.

Our family also enjoyed a fabulous vacation together camping in Sequoia and Yosemite this last summer with many treasured moments.

Our family in Yosemite this past summer.

Our family in Yosemite this past summer.

Along with these cherished memories, there are certainly important things I’ve learned this year that I wouldn’t have otherwise appreciated as fully.

I learned that with God’s help, I am stronger than I thought. Losing my mother and mother-in-law helped me understand that you cannot put off until tomorrow what you need and want to do today – tomorrow is not guaranteed. It’s given me perspective as to what’s important in my life and what is trivial.

As I’ve pulled closer to my family through the stressful events this year, my love has grown deeper for my loved ones. After 37 years of marriage, I was reminded that my husband and biggest supporter rocks! I am so fortunate that my children – including my youngest son’s wife — are also my best friends. My older son’s divorce and custody battle was awful beyond words but drew my son and I closer than ever and made me even more grateful for my grandchildren and the precious time I have with them. This year also made me thankful for all the love and kindness shown by friends and members of my congregation.

In memory of my Mom who died in June. Our family has enjoyed sailing for more than 30 years - Mom loved it too. People at the dock admired her for walking down the plank to get on the boat with her walker.

In memory of my Mom who died in June. Our family has enjoyed sailing for more than 30 years – Mom loved it too. People at the dock admired her for walking down the plank to get on the boat with her walker.

Caregiving for my mother who had Lewy Body dementia full-time before her death has given me a new-found appreciation and empathy for all of you out there who are in the same boat. Losing my mother drew me closer to my father and siblings. It also helped me learn the importance of consoling others who have lost loved ones through this most difficult time.

While I wouldn’t want to repeat this year, as hard as it was, I wouldn’t want to trade it away either. 

However, I am at heart an optimist, and am hopeful that 2016 will be a year for fresh beginnings and a time to refocus and recharge after a challenging year.

I hope the same for all of you. A big thank-you to the 13,000 people who have visited my blog and a big hug to those of you who took the time to leave wonderful comments that always make my day.

See you next year!

Four Ways to Heal From Emotional Pain

We would all like to hide and run away from emotional pain, but no one skips through life untouched. I can’t complain. Most of my life has been relatively easy and free of pain and adversity. However, as I’ve written about in this blog, this year was a tough one with two recent deaths in our family.

Emotional HealingI’m sure there’s many of you out there going through similar experiences. If you’re going through a challenging time, how can you heal and move forward with your life?

Of course, recovery takes time. Allow yourself to surrender to feelings of sadness, anger, and pain. Accept what you are going through. Give yourself time to rest and heal. However, there are things you can do to help the process along.

Last week, my father in-law and sister-in-law as well as my two sons, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren went to the Living Desert, a local animal park. (If you ever visit the Palm Springs area, be sure and visit this charming zoo.) The day was therapeutic for all of us. Why?

After giving this some thought, I came up with four reasons. If you’re going through emotional pains, I hope these tips will bring you some peace of mind:

Tap into Your Spirituality

At the Living Desert, we couldn’t help of thinking about God and all the beautiful creations he put on this earth for us to enjoy. God gives us strength beyond what is normal and reliance on Him is essential to recovery. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it through this year without a spiritual foundation, prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and the support from members of my congregation.

Surround Yourself with People You Love

This is true in general, but never more so than when you are going through emotional trauma. Lean on those people who genuinely love and care for you. My husband, my children, my father, and my siblings became more important than ever to me after my Mom’s death. The same thing is happening now with my husband’s family. As we mourn my mother-in-law, we are all clinging to each other. Our grandchildren are soothing and restoring us with their laughter and silliness, their excitement as they learn about new things, and their hugs and kisses.

If you are in a state of recovery, make it a point to only be around those people that make you happy and bring positivity to your life. People that are optimistic and cheerful. People who can make you smile and laugh. People who remind you of the beauty in the world.

River w butterflyAllow Nature to Heal You

Simply being outside in nature will heal and comfort you with its gentle reminders of rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal.

At the Living Desert, the sun shone bright on us warming our faces. Butterflies landed on our shoulders. We laughed at the giraffes’ long purple tongues greedy for carrots. We ate lunch surrounded by palm trees.

My grandson, Rowan, said, “This is the life.” And he was absolutely right.

That’s why you’ll find me sitting in the courtyard enjoying the smell of lavender and rosemary, watching our new kitten play, and listening to the gentle sound of our gurgling fountain every chance I get. Our family often spends evenings on the patio by a crackling fire gazing at the stars. We planted a garden and are thrilled to see carrots and radishes breaking through the soil.

As Thomas Merton said, “One has to be alone, under the sky, before everything falls into place and one finds his or her own place in the midst of it all.”

Turn Your Wounds Into Wisdom

Now is the time to contemplate and meditate on lessons learned from pain, loss, and disappointment. Yes, there are always important life lessons that can improve our lives.

“Turn your wounds into wisdom,” Oprah Winfrey advises.

So, allow yourself time to rest, time to heal, and time to recover. Then follow these four steps and remember that no pain lasts forever. You’re still alive and there are people to cherish, exciting places to see, thrilling experiences to be had, and new things to learn. No matter what happens,  you can rebuild and create a fabulous life feeling grateful for every day you’re alive.

Postscript: I wrote this article before the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California yesterday – which is only about an hour away from where I live. My heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy and I pray you all can find emotional healing from this horrific event.

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net