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Saturday, November 19, 2016

The things that bring us joy

Recently some folks have unfriended me on facebook. And here I thought I was lovable and my cuteness would transcend politics. For the record I was very sad when Romney didn't win, but I never hated anyone who voted for Obama. I didn't unfriend anyone.....Not. One. Time.

The rejection should have meant nothing, but having someone say they didn't want to be friends caused me to feel like an insecure teenager.  So, I reacted like I did when I was an insecure teenager...I retreated to my books.

I decided to go through my book shelves in order to give some away, and maybe dust. Books I had already read and didn't love or didn't intend to read I put to the side. While making a pile of super giveaways one book in particular caught my attention and I had a strong impression to open it. I realized it had been a gift from my friend who recently passed away. Inside the cover she had written, "Look in chapter 3, I underlined the parts that reminded me of you." What an incredible gift from her for this sad day.  I don't know how long ago it was she gave the book to me but as I read through chapter 3 I noticed she underlined "noble individual" and "knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt".  She had no idea that years after she wrote in this book I would find it at just the right time when I needed comfort, wisdom and love.

Once again my books did not let me down, not when I was an insecure teeenager and not today when I was an insecure adult. In their many forms books will be a purveyor of exactly what you need.

If Keahi were here today she would have said exactly what she did in the message from the book she gave me years ago.

My other touchstone, Valerie,  would remind me to focus on peace, as it is the only emotion that cannot be counterfeited.

We are never left alone so don't be afraid.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Our Weaknesses Can Be Our Strengths



Over the past 10 years my weaknesses have held daily meetings to discuss how best to torment and torture me.

Worry, anxiety and fear chaired this committee - they read the minutes of the last meeting on how to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life - then they read the agenda for the next meeting which was how best to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life.

And I let these meetings occur, in fact, I facilitated their ability to meet. I provided room for their meetings.

And then I stopped. With a lot of help, I stopped.

Like some cosmic exterminator I wiped them out. "I gave them room no more" to torment and torture me. It required an intervention from a good friend who noticed I was struggling, she suggested a therapist  named Valerie Dimick. I agreed to go, but I had to be convinced it was possible to live without worry, anxiety and fear. After all, they had been my go to guys...they were familiar. It was going to take a lot to teach me how to live without them.

Because of her the meetings in my head started to change.

Long ago my husband and I built a house. We were warned this would not go well, that couples fought and even separated over the building of a house. I knew one woman who divorced her husband and ran off with the contractor! But we didn't have personal problems when we built the house. We focused on building the house. It was a great way to tackle such a huge project but we did it unconsciously. We built the house with faith...faith that although we really didn't have the expertise to do this project, we would do our best and trust it would work out. Without question we made a lot of mistakes. For instance we forgot to order interior doors for the entire house, but it worked out mainly because we never considered it wouldn't.  We moved into our home on time and I didn't realize it at the time but as we built the house we were being taught a valuable pattern. We didn't focus on each other weaknesses, we focused on building a house. I was too busy, or too young to realize what was being taught. A pattern of focusing on the big picture and not on the minute to minute minutia that is a part of everyone's day.

Because I was unaware of what was being taught, I followed a different pattern with some very negative outcomes when faced with another big event in my life. Although I had been shown a pattern for getting through hard times I didn't use them. My fear paralyzed me.

When the recession in 2007 hit all my basic fears emerged. An entire childhood of abandonment issues came to light. Safety concerns hit me from every direction and I became the most worried, most anxious, most fearful person you would ever meet.

But when Valerie gave me tools to combat the daily and sometimes, hourly, attacks my mind would conjure up, I started to get better. The meetings in my head began to have a different tone. The agenda at the new meetings began with thoughts are not real. When I would think all is lost, there is no hto lose everything I would stop and literally say to myself "that thought is not true, because thoughts are not real." It's all choice isn't it? After all I had gone through far worse things in my life. But for some reason complete financial ruin was my Waterloo. I saw no way out...no possible remedy of any kind.To explain hopelessness is impossible. I can't. But looking back now I do see that my problem was where I placed the focus...entirely on me. MY life is a mess, MY life shouldn't have turned out this way, MY life....MY life....MY life. When we focus on ourselves, of course, we will be depressed.

Weaknesses are part of our DNA. That is very simple. But here is the best part, those weaknesses can be our best friend. Weaknesses can be made strengths. I know God gave us weakness in order for us to overcome them. Not to punish us....but to give us strength.

Here is the best quote ever on strengths and weaknesses I have read. It is by Thomas S. Monson

"God Left us the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of unfinished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation." 

Part of my weakness is worry, anxiety and fear....but I have a determination to combat it and make it a strength. The meetings in my head are far more positive now. I still have to reframe a lot of situations in my life. I remind myself that God wants me to be a success and that the end result of anything I do will be positive. Maybe just the confession of my path will comfort someone who thinks they are alone with weakness. And when you feel that way it is easy to stay miserable. Accept that many people have your same weakness, hell, embrace that! Support groups are formed for that very reason.

And then travel with me as we find ways to make our weaknesses strengths...whatever that might be. Meeting adjourned.



Previously published in June 2016 - Revised because of new information and enlightenment

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Keahi



Recently I sat with one of my closest friends as we attended the funeral of another dear and wonderful friend. A woman we both love.....the loss is painful, sobering and yet poignant.

I honestly cannot believe that Keahi is gone. She was a force of nature, she lit up every room and taught us all how to laugh in any situation, how to have fun and how to love. The line, "too soon gone" has never been more true, but "never, ever forgotten" is more to the point.

I simply loved her, and I miss her so much.

She was without guile. Have you ever met anyone without guile? No deception just total honesty in all her actions with never a mean word out of her mouth, ever. She always reminded me of what I was doing well, I never left her without feeling better. Often she would text or call and say, "I need some Donna time, lets go to lunch!" And she would always make sure it happened, not those vague, empty invitations of "we should get together"but then never do. I cherished those times together, we talked about politics, family, callings and what we had just read. Each conversation was uplifting because she never spoke ill of anyone, being positive was simply who she was.. We would go on for hours with never ending diet coke from very patient waitresses as we just kept laughing and talking.

You may think I am stretching the truth because no one is really like this, but she really was that amazing.  A rarity in all of our lives...a happy, joyful, vibrant woman grateful for every good thing in her life. The best example of hope there could ever be.

She said to me one time, "When I wake up in the morning I think, What fun thing can I do today?" She must have said it to everyone because it was in the program on the day we celebrated her life.

When I went to her home right after she was diagnosed with cancer she said to me, "I don't think I am going to beat this." I would not listen, I would not accept that. I fought it with every fiber of my body. Miracles occur, right? Going through the rest of life without this woman that I counted on to always be there was inconceivable. Then she said, "I am completely at peace." Not once did she complain or ask, "Why me?" She told me what an incredible life she had led, that not only did she have the best family in the world, but the best friends. That is easy to understand because she was the best mother, daughter, wife, aunt, sister, cousin there could be and the best friend anyone could have.

We taught seminary at 6am for years which is an exhausting and stimulating experience. We would get together afterwards with all the other teachers every day at 7am to talk about teaching, points of doctrine and anything else that came along. She was always the best example, the best friend anyone could ever have.

I went through a terrible time in my life and Keahi never let me do it by myself. She took me to the spa, we went to bookstores, we went to lunch, we ate ice cream, we went shopping, we drove in the car and listened to tapes....she prayed with me, and reminded me we had one more lunch to go to and I couldn't ever give up.

And we talked about Rome. Quite a while ago our church announced a temple being built in Rome and we made plans to go when it opened. I felt it was out of my reach, but she convinced me we could do it. We talked about it all the time. I don't know when it will be finished, but when it is, I am going to go...for Keahi. Not because I don't think she can see it from where she is, I am sure right now she is helping Peter and Paul pick out the tile. I want to go....to finish the journey we talked about so often.

I will do everything I can to be a better friend to people, to be kinder, to enjoy life more...to bring joy to others every chance I get.

I had a hard time understanding why she was in so much pain. Why did a woman who loved so much, who was so good, so kind, have to suffer so much? And then I realized through her courage she showed us how to withstand the tumults of life. If she could withstand the horrific effects of cancer without ever giving up, then we cannot give up either. If she could withstand all of that pain then I can go through whatever life has in store. I will never forget her example, her courage, and her incredible love for God. She was at peace.....no matter what she never questioned why, she simply felt her incredible blessings and her biggest blessing was her family.

Families are Forever
Her celebration of life was just as she wanted it....nothing sad...2 of her daughters and 2 of her sons gave beautiful tributes to her, all filled with laughter. Her beloved sister sang a song she had written herself and the Hawaiian music, well it was simply beautiful.  And then her husband spoke...how he did I have no idea. No one loved a husband more than Keahi loved her husband. And then he mentioned that written in Hawaiian on her tombstone will be, "Don't tell me what to do." Don't you love that? After the closing prayer everyone stood up and sang the song she had picked out years ago as her family was filing out with her casket. 


Spirit in the sky...Everyone sang it with pure joy for a life so well lived.

Aloha Keahi, thank you for being my friend, and for showing me the way....







Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What I Should Have Said Was Nothing....

Recently a woman on Facebook asked a very provocative question. Her views are left leaning and she wondered how anyone could support Trump. The posts her question created reflected incredulity from all her readers. After scanning the page I read she is a very talented writer, professor and journalist. I trusted her question was sincere and honored her the request to know why anyone would vote for Trump. Be clear I am not a Trump supporter, I do not have a candidate, perhaps I will but for now, I am one of millions of Americans classified as "undecided".

After writing an emotional response that included my family’s experiences over the last 8 years or so, I expected to be skewered. The response on her facebook page was phenomenal. She expressed empathy to a plight she didn't realize was occurring. She was kind, and expressed true concern for our situation. Then she did something akin to asking my husband for a recipe, she asked me to write about it.

I can do that.

These are my simple observations from personal experiences. No hyperbole, just our agenda to survive. I am not running for office, nor am I advocating a candidate. I really don’t know who to vote for. My views are mostly middle right, I mostly stick to a live and let live attitude. Making a living is hard so I don't picket or boycott since you rarely land a glove on the folks you want to hurt anyway. I have friends from all walks of life and lifestyles, all races, creeds and tongues...You can believe my honesty on this front or not.

Our politicians say a great deal for votes and then do very little once they are in office. The apex of our crisis came to my family 8 years ago when the recession began. Nevada has the second worst unemployment rate in the country and during the worst parts of the recession it was number one and number one in foreclosures. Not one Nevada politician came to help. They could have at least said things are bad but we know they will improve. But they did nothing. I asked Rep Joe Heck our republican congressman what he was doing to help with our crisis. He said to my face..."I am introducing legislation" So basically nothing. Construction everywhere stopped right in the middle of projects, and overnight businesses closed. And then the ripple effect began, construction stopped, jobs lost, homes lost and great people began to leave Nevada in droves because there were no jobs. The recession went across the country and our president in an attempt to encourage people to tighten their belts made a careless remark about not going to Las Vegas. The next day companies cancelled conventions scheduled here and folks cancelled vacations.The mayor was apoplectic and in a rare move Harry Reid objected. President Obama later corrected his statement in a letter, but few people heard it and the damage was done.  It was a deep financial hit and a morale killer. Years later he told a group there is "nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week". We live and learn.

When our health insurance bill became so high we considered giving it up, instead we signed up for Obamacare because our income was so low. I misunderstood the instructions - which in my defense are as complicated as a nuclear arms treaty - and didn't know we had to state our income on a guess going forward instead of what we made the previous year. When our business began to make more money, (and that is what we want to happen, right?) we were fined $4,000 for incorrect information. It was a huge mistake I am still bitter about. Everything we make goes back into the business and our survival so it was a huge hit. When Mrs. Clinton made mistakes with emails that could have - might have - impacted national security, national security, and received no consequences I was angry. Why isn't there an insurance mulligan with Obamacare mistakes? National security gets a mulligan but not the regular guy? I got off of Obamacare as quickly as I could find different coverage and now we have coverage through a private healthshare program that qualifies under Obamacare. For the record some of the changes Obamacare have made are long overdue. Children staying on their parent’s policies until 26 (although if there were more jobs this wouldn't be necessary) and preexisting illnesses no longer preclude you from coverage. Changes did need to be made to health insurance and republicans were not going to do it, so the discussion starts with Obamacare. Repealing it without an alternate plan will not work, but too many people are facing higher deductibles and premiums with less coverage and there will eventually be a rebellion. Small businesses cannot afford the guidelines and they will continue to hire more part time workers. And that doesn’t help anyone going forward.

I did not caucus for Trump, but he took Nevada by a huge margin. Why? Jobs...or lack of jobs. Hardworking people are looking around at no retirement, no savings, no IRA's and a government hell bent on taking more of what we don't have. I have watched my college educated husband start over at 60...why? Because he had to, the choice was giving up or going forward. Some folks did give up, they walked away from their homes and every obligation they had. In the last 10 years 16 million (excellent article) people have left the labor force making it 92 million people total. It is easy to quote a very low unemployment rate when you take so many out of the equation. I realize that number includes retired people, but it also includes people without hope of work or they find themselves unqualified to work. With our savings, investments and IRA's gone, the Tagliaferri retirement plan changed to "no retirement plan"or "work until you drop". But what could we do? We were too old to get jobs that would come close to our obligations, so we started a business. Nothing has been harder, but we refuse to give up.  Learning social media, quickbooks, advertising, buying, and a never ending conga line of regulations has not been easy. We are competing with companies that are long established with much bigger budgets to hire people to advertise, do books and keep up with regulations. I didn't even know where to start. So after a nervous breakdown (real) I realized we are not alone in this, as my dear friend and accountant said to me during a raging meltdown, "Donna do you know how many of my clients are in the exact same place you are?" I finally realized it wasn’t just me, the whole country was 50% off.

Enter Trump. The anti-candidate, the guy with all the answers but mostly sounds like he has none of the answers. He wants to be our proxy against the established team of politicians on either side. He throws mud at ideas and concepts that haven't worked. And he has tapped into a group of Americans that are afraid continuing to use these failed ideas and concepts will finally finish us off. Up to now any candidate that stood up and said things need to change was unelectable. But the Donald came at just the right time for a whole group of people politicians have been ignoring. People who have lost his or her life savings and finds no one in government really cares. I am a county planning commissioner, I know the language of distress, distrust and disgust from constituents. When no one takes the time to hear their concerns they rebel. That is what’s happening in America, people are rebelling and their pitchforks and torches come in the form of Donald Trump. When I talk to people about who they are voting for gender doesn't come up. People don't care if Hillary is a woman or not, but the media does and it provides another wedge to drive us apart.
I don’t see any proof that either candidate has any idea what today's economy is like. They are all privileged beyond measure. All of them attended Ivy league schools, their children attended Ivy league schools (I consider Stanford a Ivy league school - at least by cost) none of them have student loans or a dismal path to employment, they will never worry about health care or retirement. They don't even have to be concerned about ISIS since they are surrounded by secret service or private security 24 hours a day. To insure I will never understand their lifestyles Mrs Clinton gave a speech at UNLV in 2014. (I have provided a link stating her demands for giving the speech from the Review Journal article) When people were struggling to pay mortgages Mrs. Clinton is demanding a Gulfstream and a presidential suite.

It doesn't help that the entire DNC was devoted to how good things are and the RNC was devoted to how bad things are leaving me to wonder....

"Where do I go now?"

Enter Trump

He isn't a politician, he isn't nice, he isn't smooth...he has no filter. He got the nomination because he isn't a politician. Politics haven't worked for the hoi polloi in a long time. His rhetoric is grating and nonsensical, he is PT Barnum. When I ask people why they are voting for him two things are mentioned...He understands the economy is challenging, and he says the snarky things they want to but can't. In an interview Nancy Pelosi referred to "uneducated white men" when discussing those voting for Trump. The phrase “blue collar worker” had been replaced. Probably because blue collar workers are a democratic stronghold. Instead of trying to find out why Americans are feeling disenfranchised and hopeless they dismiss them by diminishing them.  And then Trump leaves us all dumbfounded when instead of trying to find a solution for immigration Trump wants to build a wall...seriously? He talks about torture and nuclear bombs as though they are pieces to a game. He doesn't have a plan to fix anything any more than Mrs. Clinton does, for the record her plan is more of the same.  Since neither side has a path to recovery for the economy just admit it and get out of the way. The people are the reason America is great, not our politicians. We work, we invent, we dream, and we take risks. Government was never supposed to make jobs, it's sole purpose is for the "common good” , that which is shared or beneficial for the common community.

Working through my dotage is our retirement plan, I get that, so get out of the way and let me do it.

And someone find a leader I can follow.....





Monday, August 8, 2016

And Perhaps What I Should Have Said Was Nothing.....



Recently a woman on Facebook asked a very provocative question. Her views are left leaning and she wondered how anyone could support Trump. The posts her question created reflected incredulity from all her readers. After scanning the page I discovered she is a very talented writer, professor and journalist, so I trusted her question was sincere and decided to honor the request as to why anyone would vote for Trump. Be clear I am not a Trump supporter, I do not have a candidate, perhaps I will but for now, I am one of millions of Americans classified as "undecided".

After writing an emotional response I expected to be skewered. The hate on social media is intense and because I am adhering to an almost zen like approach to life these days I avoid exposing my opinions for anyone to read. I adore my friends, and find it head scratching to sacrifice friendships on the alter of politics. Has anyone had their opinion turned around because of something they read on facebook?

Well, no.

The response on her facebook page was phenomenal. She expressed empathy to a plight she didn't realize was occurring. She was kind, and expressed true concern for our situation. Then she did something akin to asking my husband for a recipe......she asked me to write about it.

I can do that.

What follows are my observations from personal experiences. There isn't any he said, she said...no hyperbole...just my agenda to survive. I am not running for office, nor am I advocating a candidate. When I stated indecision about the presidency I meant it. For the record I am middle right. Which means I am liberal about some things, conservative about other things but mostly stick to a live and let live attitude. I understand how hard it is to make a living so I don't picket or boycott since you rarely land a glove on the folks you want to hurt anyway. I have friends from all walks of life and lifestyles, all races, creeds and tongues...so I get you and being a good Christian woman I am thrilled to never judge, just love. You can believe my honesty on this front or not.

Over the last 60 years we have been steadily sliding into warm water not noticing it has begun to boil. Our politicians say a great deal for our votes and then do very little once they are in office. The apex of this crisis came to my family 8 years ago when the recession began. Right now Nevada has the second worst unemployment rate in the country and during the worst parts of the recession we were number one with number one in foreclosures. None of our politicians came to help. They could have just said things are bad but they will improve, but nothing. Not republicans, not democrats....no one. I asked Rep Joe Heck our republican congressman what he was doing to help with our crisis. He said to my face..."I am introducing legislation" So basically nothing.....Construction everywhere stopped, sometimes in the middle of a project, and overnight businesses closed. It happened everywhere, on the strip, in our neighborhoods...everywhere. And then the ripple began...jobs lost, homes lost and great people had to leave Nevada because no jobs were here. The recession went across the country and our president in an attempt to encourage people to tighten their belts made a careless remark about not going to Las Vegas. The next day companies cancelled conventions and folks cancelled vacations. We were left with ever worsening problems. The mayor was apoplectic and I think in a rare move even Harry Reid objected because President Obama corrected his statement in a letter. Very few people heard the letter and the damage was done.  It hurt financially and further damaged suffering morale. Years later he told a group there is "nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week". We live and learn.

When our health insurance bill became more than our mortgage we considered giving it up, instead we signed up for Obamacare because our income was so low. I misunderstood the instructions - which in my defense are as complicated as a nuclear arms treaty - and didn't know we had to state our income on a guess going forward instead of what we made the previous year. When our business began to make more money, (and that is what we want to happen, right?) we were fined $4,000 for incorrect information. It was a huge mistake that I am still bitter about because everything we make goes back into the business or just survival, it was a huge hit. This year when Mrs. Clinton made mistakes with emails that could have - might have - impacted national security, national security, and received no consequences it caught my attention. Why isn't there an insurance mulligan with Obamacare mistakes? National security gets a mulligan? But not the regular guy. I am happy to report we have coverage through a private healthshare program that qualifies under Obamacare. For the record some of the changes Obamacare have made are long overdue. Children staying on their parents policies until 26 (although if there were more jobs this wouldn't be necessary) and preexisting illnesses no longer preclude you from coverage. Changes did need to be made to health insurance and republicans were not going to do it, so the discussion starts with Obamacare. Repealing it without an alternate plan will not work, but the way it is now isn't effective either. Too many people are facing higher deductibles and premiums with considerably less coverage and there will eventually be a rebellion. Small businesses cannot afford the guidelines and they will continue to hire more and more part time workers. Which makes the whole system worse.

I did not caucus for Trump, but he took Nevada by a huge margin. Why? Because of jobs...or rather lack of jobs. And that is the way it is all across the country. Good, hardworking people are looking around at no retirement, no savings, no IRA's and a government hell bent on taking more of what we don't have. I have watched my college educated husband start over at the age of 60...why? Because he had to. The choice was giving up or going forward. Some folks did give up, they walked away from their homes and every obligation they had. In the last 10 years 16 million (excellent article) people have left the labor force making it 92 million people total. It is easy to quote a very low unemployment rate when you take so many out of the equation. I realize that number includes retired people, but it also includes people without any hope of work or find themselves unqualified to work. With our savings, investments and IRA's gone, the Tagliaferri retirement plan changed to "no retirement plan"or "work until you drop". But work at what? We were too old to get jobs that would come close to our obligations, so we started a business. Nothing has been harder for me yet we refuse to give up.  Learning social media, quickbooks, advertising, buying, and a never ending conga line of regulations has not been easy. And we are competing with companies that are long established with much bigger budgets to hire people to advertise, do books and keep up with regulations. I didn't even know where to start. So after a nervous breakdown (real) I just starting working. I am not alone in this, as my dear friend and accountant said to me during a raging meltdown, "Donna do you know how many of my clients are in the exact same place you are?" My head cleared up a bit and realized I thought it was just me when the whole country has been placed on the 50% off shelf.

Enter Trump. The anti-candidate, the guy with all the answers but mostly sounds like he has none of the answers. He wants to be our proxy against the established team of politicians on either side. He throws mud at ideas and concepts that haven't panned out. But he has tapped into a group of Americans that are afraid these failed ideas and concepts will finally finish us off. Any candidate up to now that stood up and said things need to change and mean it, were unelectable. But the Donald came at just the right time for a whole group of people politicians have ignored. People tired of losing things they had worked their whole lives for and having no one in government really care. I am a county planning commissioner, I know the language of distress, distrust and disgust from constituents. When no one takes the time to hear them they rebel and that is what is happening in America, people are rebelling and their pitchforks and torches come in the form of Donald Trump. When I talk to people about who they are voting for gender doesn't come up. People don't care if Hillary is a woman or not, the media does and they do all they can to keep us hating each other.

From my standpoint neither candidate has any idea what today's economy is really like. Both are privileged beyond measure. All attended Ivy league schools, their children attended Ivy league schools (I consider Stanford a Ivy league school - at least by cost) none of them have student loans or a dismal path to employment, they will never worry about health care or retirement. They don't even have to be concerned about ISIS since they are surrounded by secret service  or private security 24 hours a day. To insure I will never understand their lifestyles Mrs Clinton gave a speech at UNLV in 2014. (I have provided a link stating her demands for giving the speech from the Review Journal article) While people are struggling to pay mortgages, while they lay awake at night wondering what will their future be, Mrs. Clinton is demanding a Gulfstream and a presidential suite.

It doesn't help that the entire DNC was devoted to how good things are and the RNC was devoted to how bad things are leaving me to wonder....

"Where do I go now?"

Enter Trump

He isn't a politician, he isn't nice, he isn't smooth...he has no filter. So why did he get the nomination? Because he isn't a politician and politics haven't worked for the hoi polloi in a long time. His rhetoric is grating and nonsensical. He is PT Barnum......When I ask people why they are voting for him two things are mentioned...He understands we need to work, and he says the snarky things we want to but can't. In an interview Nancy Pelosi changed her rhetoric from "Blue collar worker" to "uneducated white man". Instead of trying to find out why Americans are feeling disenfranchised they dismiss them by diminishing them.  Instead of trying to find a reasonable solution for immigration Trump says he will build a wall...seriously? He talks about torture and nuclear bombs as though they are pieces to a game. He doesn't have a plan to fix anything any more than Mrs. Clinton does, for the record her plan is more of the same.  Since neither side has a path to recovery for the economy just admit it and just get out of the way. Let us do what Americans do because we are the reason America is great, not our politicians. We work, we invent, we dream, we are the ones who take risks. Not our government, government was never supposed to make jobs, it's purpose is for the "common good". What is shared or beneficial for the common community.

Working through my dotage is our retirement plan, I get that, so get out of the way and let me do it.

And someone find a leader I can follow.....


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Our Weakness Can be a Strength



Over the past 10 years my weaknesses have held daily meetings to discuss how best to torment and torture me.

Worry, anxiety and fear chaired this committee - they read the minutes of the last meeting on how to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life - then they read the agenda for the next meeting which was how best to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life.

And I let these meetings occur, in fact, I facilitated their ability to meet. I provided room for their meetings.

And then I stopped. With a lot of help, I stopped.

Like some cosmic exterminator I wiped them out. "I gave them room no more" to torment and torture me. It required an intervention from a good friend who noticed I was struggling, she suggested a therapist  named Valerie Dimick. I agreed to go, but I had to be convinced it was possible to live without worry, anxiety and fear. After all, they had been my go to guys...they were familiar. It was going to take a lot to teach me how to live without them.

Because of her the meetings in my head started to change.

Long ago my husband and I built a house. We were warned this would not go well, that couples fought and even separated over the building of a house. I knew one woman who divorced her husband and ran off with the contractor! But we didn't have personal problems when we built the house. We focused on building the house. It was a great way to tackle such a huge project but we did it unconsciously. We built the house with faith...faith that although we really didn't have the expertise to do this project, we would do our best and trust it would work out. Without question we made a lot of mistakes. For instance we forgot to order interior doors for the entire house, but it worked out mainly because we never considered it wouldn't.  We moved into our home on time and I didn't realize it at the time but as we built the house we were being taught a valuable pattern. We didn't focus on each other weaknesses, we focused on building a house. I was too busy, or too young to realize what was being taught. A pattern of focusing on the big picture and not on the minute to minute minutia that is a part of everyone's day.

Because I was unaware of what was being taught, I followed a different pattern with some very negative outcomes when faced with another big event in my life. Although I had been shown a pattern for getting through hard times I didn't use them. My fear paralyzed me.

When the recession in 2007 hit all my basic fears emerged. An entire childhood of abandonment issues came to light. Safety concerns hit me from every direction and I became the most worried, most anxious, most fearful person you would ever meet.

But when Valerie gave me tools to combat the daily and sometimes, hourly, attacks my mind would conjure up, I started to get better. The meetings in my head began to have a different tone. The agenda at the new meetings began with thoughts are not real. When I would think all is lost, there is no hto lose everything I would stop and literally say to myself "that thought is not true, because thoughts are not real." It's all choice isn't it? After all I had gone through far worse things in my life. But for some reason complete financial ruin was my Waterloo. I saw no way out...no possible remedy of any kind.To explain hopelessness is impossible. I can't. But looking back now I do see that my problem was where I placed the focus...entirely on me. MY life is a mess, MY life shouldn't have turned out this way, MY life....MY life....MY life. When we focus on ourselves, of course, we will be depressed.

Weaknesses are part of our DNA. That is very simple. But here is the best part, those weaknesses can be our best friend. Weaknesses can be made strengths. I know God gave us weakness in order for us to overcome them. Not to punish us....but to give us strength.

Here is the best quote ever on strengths and weaknesses I have read. It is by Thomas S. Monson

"God Left us the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of unfinished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation." 

Part of my weakness is worry, anxiety and fear....but I have a determination to combat it and make it a strength. The meetings in my head are far more positive now. I still have to reframe a lot of situations in my life. I remind myself that God wants me to be a success and that the end result of anything I do will be positive. Maybe just the confession of my path will comfort someone who thinks they are alone with weakness. And when you feel that way it is easy to stay miserable. Accept that many people have your same weakness, hell, embrace that! Support groups are formed for that very reason.

And then travel with me as we find ways to make our weaknesses strengths...whatever that might be. Meeting adjourned.





Thursday, June 23, 2016

Who Am I?




Thanks for sending in your DNA sample.

And that is how it starts.

Being adopted I wanted to find out where I came from. I have done a lot of family history but only for the family I know. Finding birth parents hasn't been a driving force in my life, I honor their privacy. But I am curious. I am not expecting a big surprise. I look a bit Anglo Saxon, so I imagine I am from Northern Europe...but maybe I am the product of a Viking experience. 10 generations back my people were stolen from Spain or Morocco,and brought to, I don't know, Norway, or Poland...Maybe I am a descendant of Catharine the Great....or Genghis Khan.......
Maybe Italian? That would freak out my husband who is really Italian.

All I know is I am from Texas and that is not going to change. And my birth mothers name is -

Opal Leigh Jones

I didn't know anything about my birth mother until my father passed away and I found my original birth certificate. No dad's name....

This might be the reason I enjoy saying the word "bastard" so much.....

I will let you know the results of the great DNA mystery. Although I am not expecting much more than, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. 

I'll know more in 6-8 weeks. It's kind of exciting isn't it?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Meet Jessica Durrant...

"Jessica Durrant is a freelance illustrator specializing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle genres" That is the opening line from her webpage. In case you aren't aware of her work, this is an introduction that needs to be made.








Jessica is one of my daughters best friends. She has been part of our family for years so we have been on the front row watching her success skyrocket.

We simply adore her.



Jessica started off with an Etsy shop in 2009, and now her work can be found associated with Target, Lancome Paris, L'Oreal Paris Kerastase, QVC, Fenwick's, Marionnaud and Avene. Harper's Bazar named her a fashion illustrator to follow on Instagram in 2014 and 2015.




Once a year she has a flash sale that my daughter Ashleigh flies out to Atlanta to help with every year.



Jessica took a chance on herself which has inspired us all.







Her work is inspired by fashion and her travels and anything else she sees that strikes a cord.



Her 5th Annual Flash Sale Begins at Midnight June 21st, 50% off all 8.5 x 11" prints. 
 
Jessicadurrant.com
Midnight tonight (June 21 for 24 hours) a coupon code can be found in her Etsy shop banner and on Facebook - This is not a sponsored post, I'm just a fan.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I'm A Baby Boomer...You're Welcome!

I have the best friends. They are smart, articulate, kind, giving and smart. Did I say smart twice? That's because it bears repeating.

I have very smart friends. And for the most part my tribe are all baby boomers, growing up during some of the most turbulent times in our country. But Baby boomers got up one day and decided things needed to be changed. So this generation, these baby boomers, made some changes.

Women burned bras and busted through glass ceilings.

Black people drank from any water fountain they wanted and Jim Crow laws disappeared.

"Crippled" gave way to "disability" and "wheelchair accessible" became part of our lives.

Lets hear it for seat belt laws that saves thousands of lives, and 60 is no longer professional death. Start a whole new life at 60 if you want.

Frozen dinners are better...peas are not nearly so fluorescent.

Electric rollers, blow dryers and curling irons all started to come onto the scene with Vidal Sassoon. I don't know why..but they did and we stopped seeing women shopping with curlers in their hair.

Smoking is way down since we sent the Marlboro man packing....and drunk driving, thanks in large part to MADD is a serious crime.

We were charged with saving the oceans, the whales and the rain forest. Since they are all still here we must have triumphed over that. I don't hear much about acid rain and the brown skies of Los Angeles are clearer. Folks stopped littering....in fact throw something out of your car window and watch your butt get a ticket.

Again, you're welcome.

And then we made other changes.....

Computers, cable TV and the internet!!

On the word of a president we went to the moon.

On our watch we have mobile phones, and polio, whooping cough, and small pox are things of the past, and cancer has a much higher rate of survival.

Voyager I was the first man made object to leave the solar system - the universe got a lot bigger after Voyager I.

Baby boomers have made some mistakes...but even with the wars we have had there has not been a world war III. 60 million people died in world war II and we have had the capability to destroy the whole world with nuclear weapons since 1945.....but we haven't.

You're welcome.

My parents were children of the depression, they lived lives of scarcity even when things got better. I don't save every bag as my mother did, or wash off the foil paper to use over again....but I appreciate the world they left me.  Baby Boomers started to gear their lives toward abundance and so many great things have happened. Our parents had to live through World War II but we watched the Berlin Wall come down without a whimper. Communism in the USSR disappeared and Hungary became Hungary again, Poland went back to being Poland...and on and on and on.

People who have changed our lives forever are baby boomers...Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steven Spielberg and the Beatles..not to mention the Beach Boys. Jerry Seinfeld, Stevie Nicks, George Clooney...Wolfgang Puck, Craig Venter, Steven King and of course, Oprah Winfrey. String theory came about as did the human genome project....Ben and Jerry, Gary Trudeau, Michael Jordon and Rush Limbaugh.

And Millennials? When we annoy you with requests for help with our computers, remember we gave you the Super Bowl, the mini skirt, and saved you from beehive hairdos and fins on cars.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Harambe the Gorilla

I join so many others who are saddened by the death of Harambe the Gorilla...what a beautiful animal he was! Having said that after reading several comments by folks about this tragic event I am amazed at the clairvoyance so many seem to have. Not only are some completely convinced they would never make a mistake like the mother of the 3 year old, they also seem to know the exact thought process of a gorilla. Over the years I have been told wild animals are just that....wild. Trying to domesticate or give them more human like qualities is often a foolish endeavor. There are a great many so-called experts who have tried to make pets of wild animals only to have some very tragic consequences occur. Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy comes to mind, or many others who have tempted fate with a wild animal.

At this point the zoo needs to make some big changes to their habitat.  And although I am very sad that Harambe is dead I am greatly relieved the little boy is safe.

This world is a place of a million mistakes, we all make them, even the folks who think they are not capable of mistakes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Candied Nuts!!





Candied Nuts are something I need all the time but making them was the bane of my existence until I found the perfect recipe.

Past failures included...cooking them on the stove - I always burned some of them. Baking them...I never knew how long and they were not consistently good.

Then one day, there it was like an object from an Indiana Jones movie. The perfect recipe, and I am passing it along to you.



Candied nuts are fabulous in salads, or just to eat one after the other! I also substitute candied nuts in muffin or nut bread recipes. The candied aspect adds just a little extra something, and I am always looking for a little extra something.

Sooooo easy to make.

Use Walnuts or pecans -


Whip one egg white and 2 teaspoons of water in a bowl until frothy



Pour the nuts in and stir until all the nuts are covered....work fast! Grab a large plastic bag and pour a mixture of one a 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (you can add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper if you want, but a little goes a long way) in with all your nuts and shake it until everything is covered. Once the bag was broken so my whole floor was covered....
Now put them in a parchment covered cookie sheet - you will thank me later for zero clean up using the parchment paper, plus it makes it easy to break up the nuts. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour....turn them every 15 minutes.





Ta Dahhhhhh!!



They store well in the refrigerator.....but I don't keep them long because they are so good!!

follow us on Instagram @RayRaysCatering 

Facebook - RayRaysCateringAndFineFood

Website - RayRaysFineFood.com

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Gratitude

I have the best friends in the whole world. They come in all sizes, shapes, nationalities, religions, colors and opinions. What I love the most about my friends is how they inspire me and keep me going. The past couple of days have not been great, I had some terrible news to process about 2 children of 2 different families. One family here and another in Kentucky. Both children are critical and it has been heart breaking to watch these great families go through such difficult times.

What I forget is without difficult times we don't see miracles. And miracles are in place to remind us we aren't alone in this crazy life. The outpouring of love for both families has been wonderful and important and necessary. Number one rule - we cannot get through this life alone. A dear friend posted on Facebook the other day that her mother was in surgery and although she wasn't particularly religious she would appreciate good thoughts for her mother....from her friends. She just didn't want to be alone. And everyone responded! Some with prayers, some with wishes of good luck, some with stories of how their mom had the same surgery and was fine.  We don't have to be religious to be thoughtful, or kind....I appreciate it when friends of different faiths and beliefs tell me they are doing everything they can in their part of the "spiritual" world for me. That caring is everything to me.

My friend's 9 year old daughter had a severe Asthma attack and her brain was deprived of oxygen. She has been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator since last Friday. Today the doctors slowly took away the medicine that was keeping her in the coma and found she didn't have any brain activity. It is one thing to beg and plead with God to keep your child here, it is quite another to accept the fact that may not occur. This is all the harder since they lost their 22 year old son just last year.



Life isn't fair. Tornadoes hit and little girls have asthma attacks, people are robbed, and floods occur and cancer strikes, its all part of earth life.

But guess what else is part of earth life? 

Wonderful people who drop everything to help. The meals that are brought in. The hugs that are given. The needs that are met without anyone asking. 



We have puppies, guacamole, and a song I love more than anything, especially now. This was my step-mothers favorite song, one of the few things we had in common. It brings a lot of peace...by the way peace is the only emotion that cannot be counterfeited. When you feel peace it is real....it is truth. 







So we will go through hard times, but we will go through them together. We will hold each other up and get through the day. Then we will rejoice when the skies turn blue again.

We will celebrate each others victories, the graduations, the babies, the perfect chocolate cake. We will laugh together more than we cry.....but somehow when we are sad, when we are afraid and alone, is when we need each other most.

Take those things from your life that keep you from seeing people as God sees them. Avoid mockery at all costs, work on your judgements of other people that make them smaller than they are. But more than anything else.....love....love with all your heart. Don't miss any opportunity to show love to someone else. We have no guarantees, our futures are completely unknown. All that matters is what you do right now. And if you see a need, and you can, fill it. If you have an opportunity to simply tell someone they look great....do it. If you can show a kindness....do it. Let someone get in front of you at the check out line, or on the freeway. buy someone in need a hamburger, clean out your closet and donate everything you aren't using, take someone flowers, write a thank you note to anyone who has impacted your life. Show love.....right now.

You only have right now.

Don't waste it.






Monday, April 25, 2016

Could Everything Be Rigged In Our Favor?

Imagine my surprise when a blog I wrote over a year ago popped up on my screen. There must be a logical reason for this sudden appearance, but I choose to believe the Universe is conspiring in my favor. There is a personal challenge I am about to start and this little written nudge made me laugh out loud. Usually my words come back to haunt me, today they came back to push me to achieve my goal. This blog was put together with the words and wisdom of others and it was good to read it again. If you are embarking on a new road today, maybe it will be just what you need. xoxo. Here it is....



A wonderful writer, speaker, philosopher and church leader Jeffrey Holland once wrote about the universal problem that hits all of us.  He said doubt, discouragement, and despair blocks our growth, dampens our spirits, diminishes our hope and leaves us vulnerable to other troubles.  His words from March of1980...
"I speak of doubt - especially self-doubt, of discouragement, and of despair.  In doing so I don't wish to suggest that there aren't plenty of things in the world to be troubled by.  In our lives, individually and collectively, there surely are serious threats to our happiness.  I watch an early morning news broadcast while I shave and then read a daily newspaper.  That is enough to ruin anyone's day and by then it is only 6:30 in the morning.  Iran, Afghanistan, inflation, energy, jogging, mass murders, kidnapping, unemployment, floods. With all of this waiting for us we are tempted, as W.C Fields once said, to "smile first thing in the morning and get it over with."

We come back to choice...choice of how we view everything.  

Here is a distinction F.Scott Fitzgerald once made, that "trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own" (The Crack-Up 1945)

As my friend Valerie continues to tell me, "Events are neutral" Hard to believe but so, so true.  We get to choose how we react, we really are the captain of our ships.

From his talk "For times of Trouble" Jeffrey Holland wrote of a story I love.  "Thomas Edison devoted ten years and all of his money to developing the nicks-alkaline storage battery at a time when he was almost penniless.  Through that period of time, his record and film production was supporting the storage battery effort.  Then one night the terrifying cry of fire echoed through the film plant.  Spontaneous combustion had ignited some chemicals.  Within moments all of the packing compounds, celluloid for records, film, and other flammable goods had gone up with a roar.  Fire companies from eight towns arrived, but the fire and heat were so intense and the water pressure so low that the fire hoses had no effect.  Edison was sixty-seven years old-no age to begin anew.  His son Charles was frantic, wondering if he were safe, if his spirits were broken, and how would he handle a crisis such as this at his age.  Charles saw his father running toward him.  He spoke first.

He said, "Where is your mother? Go get her. Tell her to get her friends.  They'll never see another fire like this as long as they live!"  

At 5:30 the next morning, with the fire barely under control, he called his employees together and announced, "We're rebuilding."  One man was told to lease all the machine shops in the area, another to obtain a wrecking crane from the Erie Railroad Company.  Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Oh by the way, anybody know where we can get some money?" (paraphrased from Charles Edison, "my most unforgettable character," Reader's Digest December 1961, pp. 175-77)
Virtually everything you now recognize as a Thomas Edison contribution to your life came after that disaster.  A disaster I think I would have not recovered from.



 



Remember, "Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own."

Why didn't Thomas Edison quit?  What is it about some people that they never quit?  I believe William Shakespeare said it best (doesn't he always?) Remember, dear Brutus, "The fault....is not in our stars, but in ourselves"


I am reading this today with a new outlook of hope....










Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Reason for Menopause - The Grandmother Hypothesis (And this isn't just for Grandmothers)

Know me for longer than a minute and there is an awareness of my need to know "why?"
Some folks have said to me...

"Why do you care so much?"

"Sometimes there isn't a reason or an answer...often the sun just comes up."

"I don't know, please just go to sleep" ( A phrase repeated from my mother when I was 5 and my husband a couple of days ago.)

I won't accept the premise some queries are not answerable. If there is enough information for a question, there is enough information for an answer.

So imagine my profound joy to find a reason for menopause. On paper menopause appears quite useless, but here was a scientific hypothesis for menopause instead of the cruel joke/fraternity prank I thought it was. If I sound less than grateful for the extra weight, loss of memory and skin elasticity, and often just the will to live I enjoyed 10 years ago.....Oops.

I met a brilliant woman at a writers conference (Bloggers after Midlife) who presented on a panel about the positive side of aging. Afterward we spoke for a few minutes and I told her the conversations my friends an I have about the effects of aging. I shared our inadequacies and sometimes sadness at being older. She steered me to a blogpost called the Grandmother Hypothesis. This new friend Lynne Spreen had written an intriguing blog you must read and consider. In her blog post menopausal women are asked to understand how essential they are to the survival of our species. She writes women live a full one third of their lives after child bearing years. If they were here only to reproduce then life spans would only be 35-40 years.

Post-menopausal females bring such a survival advantage to the tribe or pod (protecting and helping the young mothers, finding food, and anticipating danger), that it is equivalent in value to the ability to reproduce.
  • Think about how you protect and help young mothers.
  • Finding food - teaching them to cook, shop, garden, sew, euphemistically finding food can be education, wisdom and patterning of any kind.
  • Anticipating danger - I don't care how liberated you are, walking home in the dark alone is stupid, putting your hand in a lion's mouth or poking a bear with a stick rarely has a positive outcome. Great safety tips...
  • Think about menopause as valuable as reproducing.
I hope SURVIVAL ADVANTAGE TO THE TRIBE wasn't lost on you.

Before you let your emotional sweater snag on whether or not you reproduced, take that off your worry list right now. My stepmother did not reproduce yet she raised and taught me almost everything on Lynne's list.  Not to mention all the endless friends I have that are not biological mothers. But they are all mothers of one kind or another. 

It is exciting to consider a reason for menopause, with a new found purpose to look Menopause square in the face and give her a big kiss....even though she can be a bitch.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Best Weekend Ever!!

In my life I haven't attended a convention....ever. Not of painters, bankers, realtors, clowns or salesmen of any kind. I have never been to a convention. I have heard of them, I have walked past them...I have seen conventions represented on television and heard of unheard things done at conventions, but I have never been to one.

Until just this last weekend when I attended my first convention. But this wasn't just any convention, oh no my friend this was a convention of women who write and everything connected to that. A room filled with CEO's entrepreneurs and analytic experts, all networking and building their bands. There was tweeting and trending, Instagram and snapchat, not to mention periscope. Women with podcasts and book tours. And women who are asked to speak all over the country. It was called - BAM - Bloggers At Midlife.

And just like Ginger Rodgers, BAM goers do everything Fred Astaire does. Only backwards and in high heels. Because they are all doing it at midlife...and although they have a personal brand the group brand was fierce. This group of midlife women gathered together to inspire and remind each other that our best days are not behind us...but ahead of us. We looked menopause, wrinkles and extra weight right in the face and laughed. We dared them to stop us, because women of midlife have stories to tell, people to teach and nurture...we have lives to live! Most of us have raised our children, had a career or two and now it is time to find a way to feed the muse. The voice constantly whispering in our ears, you have a talent, use it, you have great ideas, teach them, you have great worth, show it must be heard.  It does the world harm not sharing our voices, ideas and talents. So what if you are 50, 60, 70 or a 100? - it doesn't matter. What matters is doing what this part of our life was set aside for. We do have challenges. Women of midlife are routinely characterized as Maxine, that ghastly women with the cigarette dangling from her lips, boobs flat as pancakes and hair from the underside of a wombat.





There isn't a instrument invented that can accurately measure my objection to this kind of stereotyping. I know no one like this, and I will not stop until this kind of message is killed.

If any woman from this conference had gotten a "subtle" message from the universe that they were too old to start a business, write a book, or speak around the country, they had a whole tribe of woman ready to ran over that message with a large truck of some kind.

Hey Universe! Did you hear that? I can figure out the computer, I don't smell old and I can start a business.

If my best days are ahead as I suspect they are, it is going to be amazing. Every woman I met understood there is plenty of work to go around and if one woman does well it only means we can all do well.

It was a convention void of competition, politics and small children (except in pictures!!) . For 2 days I didn't see anyone diet...or even worry about dieting. We had a disco party and danced the night away.  When "I will survive" was played we all listened with a different history because we have all survived and now its time to tell that story.







Sunday, April 10, 2016

In defense of Garlic

The other day a discussion broke out with someone about our pasta....I uses the term"our" loosely because although my husband is the cook, I find the bowl for the pasta and I always wash the bowl, So it's our pasta. The discussion went something like this...

"Do you put garlic in your pasta sauce?"

What?

The pause between her words and my reaction could have been timed with a calendar. Do I put garlic in our sauce? No words would come that could properly answer such an odd question. Of course I put garlic in my sauce, I put garlic on my Rice Krispies. Not putting garlic on my sauce would make it just tomato debris. Garlic is the mother herb, the elixir of life....its garlic.

Then she said, "We need to know because we don't like garlic."

You don't like garlic? Just how do you ward off vampires?

No garlic......while processing that I thought of  the people who look at me as though I am being punished because I don't drink.  There are those who wonder how, or why, I ever wake up in the morning since I don't drink coffee.  This is different, this is baseball without a hot dog. Thanksgiving without a turkey, Texas without chili.....Sauce without garlic?

So to  all of you sidestepping garlic, I say, roast it, sauté it, chop it, or  hang it from your ceiling.....but don't neglect the garlic.

Mangia!!!!!




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sick??


I whine a lot, I get tired, my knee hurts, sometimes allergies bother me, but I don't really get sick. Then last Friday night occurred. I thought something was coming on, I assumed it was allergies.  Then everything started to hurt, even my my teeth! It turned out to be a sinus infection, a pretty bad one....but just a sinus infection. Inwardly, I panicked. I admit it. Before I found out what it was lots of things went through my head.

Like....

1.) If you could barely handle this what would you do if you really got sick?
2.) How much time have you spent thinking you still had plenty of time to do the things you really want to do?
3.) Does everyone know you love them?
4.) You never wrote the book, went to Rome, Paris or Israel, or took your children to Texas.....
5.) Your underwear drawer is embarrassing

Every once in a while life sends you a little note of concern. Are you living your life, or just going though the motions?

If I die with a messy underwear drawer it wouldn't be the worst thing....if I don't get back to Texas, write that book or walk around Rome I will still have lived a great life....but I think I want more.

You too?




Saturday, March 26, 2016

Women are the most powerful and influential people on Earth


I had the great good fortune of welcoming 23 women and an incredible teacher, Valerie Dimick, into my home for a full day of learning what she has gleaned throughout her practice, study and life.

The message is simple, women are the most powerful and influential people on earth. Then using scripture and the words of leaders she shared with us how to access that, because we certainly don't get that message from the world. The teachings of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the way I steer my ship.  Having said that, I don't expect friends or family to believe exactly the way I do, but this works for me. I respect everyones beliefs and I have found there can be common ground without diluting convictions. In fact others opinions and beliefs  strengthens mine because I find His teachings everywhere and His light in everyone. That knowledge gives me peace. Christians today certainly have their critics, and I have the added bonus of not even being accepted by other Christians because of the religion I belong to. But in order to be true to myself I follow what my North star points to, without the need to be right or have validation. Just Peace. Peace is the one emotion or feeling that cannot be counterfeited because it only comes from God. By whatever God you worship by whatever name - the feeling is the same.

Peace.....

One of the exercises at the seminar was to finally once and for all give up "mock humility". We have all been given gifts and talents...all of us. But when complimented on a talent or gift women notoriusly act small. We take compliments and store them away rarely looking at them or appreciating them. Valerie emphasizes being grateful for what compliments are, an acknowledgment of a gift from God. Marianne Williamson wrote my favorite quote. It is a long quote and can be found in its entirety in "Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "a Course in Miracles"  But for
brevity I am using only a bit of it. "There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as Children do....as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." Notice this part, we are all meant to shine. Think of a world where our gifts and talents are used to the fullest extent. Think about that....Now consider what keeps us from shining. What keeps us from sharing all of our gifts with the world.

Consider this.....

Fear.

Fear seemed to be all I knew. I lived a life of "what ifs". What if we don't get the job, what if we run out of money, what if we get sick, the list is endless and very negative. When I started learning from Valerie I had to deal with my fears first which were I'm not good enough and who do I think I am?
Most people allow one of these fears or both to run their lives. Another part of Marianne Williamson's quote is

"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

Think about that, "who are you not to be?"

I never believed I was "good enough". It was a message I received regularly from my parents, followed by the equally unsettling, "who do you think you are". I don't know where those messages started because I come from "better stuff" as my Uncle would remind me. My ancestors settled Texas in the 1800's never stopping to think if they were good enough or not. Why would they think about if they were good enough? Because if they weren't good enough they would die, it was survive or die. Where did that fearlessness get lost? When did my parents become so afraid that they thought by keeping me small they were protecting me? Maybe it was living through the depression and 3 different wars. My mother lost her father while he was trying to save their ranch during the depression. War was very real to them as they all lost family members in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. With that history is wasn't unreasonable for my parents to try and keep me safe by not wanting me to take chances. Not unreasonable but fear promoting. They didn't support my decision to go to college or the religion I chose. (who do you think you are?) They were happy I got married but did not support our decision to have more than 2 children. (too expensive) They loved our first very small home, but never approved of the home we chose to build. (too big, huge taxes, who do you think you are?). It was a constant message of living small as they passed their fears to me. We learn as children that our parents are never wrong and we spend our lives trying to please them. So no matter what opportunity would come my way I waved it off. When I had an opportunity to write a column for the Houston Chronicle on a trial bases I was over the moon. My parents reaction was, "how much money will they pay you?" If you know anything about writing you know the answer to that. I acquiesced to their disapproval went into my room and threw my purse through the window. I didn't write again for 20 years and I still have problems giving myself permission to write. I could have gone on living small, but life had a different plan for me. I married someone who enjoys leaping off cliffs. With only a few exceptions I reacted to our lives out of fear. Before we got married I went to look for apartments, I looked for sensible places at affordable prices. He hated every one of them and wouldn't stop looking until he found a place with style that wasn't warehouse living but within our budget. He did the same with our first house and then the house we built. I lived in fear and tried to convince him to aim lower, to live safer...he helped me have the faith I needed to live a bigger life. So universe, could I have married anyone better to help me see my fears? It has been painful as I was most comfortable picking the low hanging fruit. My fears would wake me up at night while ideas would wake him up. I was living small, always worried about what could go wrong. He lives by the principle the Lord is in charge, knows what we need and will provide. He works very hard and uses all of his talents, but he does it in a less worried way than I did. He knows he is enough, and all will be well. Valerie gave me the tools to overcome my fears, to get out of my comfort zone which kept me from being happy.  Change has not been easy. But when my feelings of fear got so bad, when it saturated my life so completely and I couldn't function I went after help. I read scriptures, I read stories of other fearful people, I pondered, I prayed, I fasted. And then I found help in therapy with Valerie. Now I replace the negative thoughts with positive ones as quickly as they come. I now know that God does not work in the negative....and I know it is not Him that sends trials to me like a mean and vengeful God...earth life does that but He is there to help guide me through it. I am good enough, I am enough, I am enough. And who do I think I am? I am a daughter of God...an offspring of deity....I can do anything with Him. It doesn't matter what I can do, it only matters what He can do. When I hear myself say things like, how am I going to fix this? I stop...fixing things is not my department. I now can wait with a less worried attitude because I know God will fix it, and I can depend on a God like solution rather than my very human solution. I now know that all events are neutral, money is neutral, trials are neutral....and I have a choice of how to deal with things. When difficult things occur, and they do, I have a choice of how to face it. Being negative, expecting the worst, is a choice as is being positive and expecting God's hand in everything. It is such a better way to live. Being positive and living in truth is a choice.


My life is different now because negative has a red flag attached. I know what negative thinking has done for me - it lies.  And I know what living a positive life is like now, it is truth. I recognize that power in my life, the power to choose truth and happiness and be the influential being I was intended to be.....this is better. Thanks Valerie

Remember it is a Plan of Happiness, right?

Valerie Dimick will be presenting another seminar April 23 at my home. For more information please contact ValerieDimick.com