On the Right Foot

#inspiration, kicks, right foot,The aquafit instructor told us to kick our legs to the side, alternating right to left. I am left-handed, which means I often do things the opposite way to most people.

We had a full class and the participants were crowded close together. When I started off on the wrong foot it was a challenge not to make contact with the person next to me. My kicks caused problems on both sides.

The only way to avoid this was to stop, pay attention to what those beside me were doing and coordinate my steps with theirs. Once I was on the right foot things went smoothly.

The phrase, ‘start on the right foot’ means to make a good beginning; to start of well. Despite my best efforts, this is not always easy to do.

Earlier this week my day started off on the wrong foot. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fight or withdraw from the world. I was kicking myself and it would have been easy to inflict my self-destructive behaviour on others.

What I was doing wasn’t working so I needed to do something different. Once I acknowledged I was tired and overwhelmed it was easier to accept my limitations that day and move on. My attitude improved.

I started my day over, on the right foot this time. Once I was back in step with the world around me my day became positive and productive. And even better – no one around me was injured!

Communication Breakdown


#inspiration, internet, communication Our normally efficient high-speed internet was not working. We had been away from home for two months and counted on this means of communication to stay in touch with family. It was also necessary for keeping up-to-date with other commitments in our lives.

Our apartment in Mexico had a landline so we hadn’t bothered to get a Mexican cell phone. Unfortunately, the landline was connected to the internet. The result was a breakdown in all but face-to-face communication.

Our service was down for over a week, back up for a few days and then down again. No one else in the building had this problem. To say we were frustrated would be a gross understatement.

On the plus side, in the evening my husband and I talked or played cards instead of surfing the internet or watching Netflix. We hadn’t realized how much time was spent online until we were forced offline.

I know checking my email and social media can be addictive and have been working hard at curtailing this habit. It is easy to get caught up in the virtual world, with ‘friends’ I don’t even know. This comes at the expense of those I want close relationships with. There is something drastically wrong with this picture.

Emails and texting are convenient and often necessary. Spending hours online scrolling through Pinterest or Facebook leave me with little to show for my time. In order to create more of what I want in my life, I need to focus on personal interaction.

I find it ironic that it took an online communication breakdown to help prevent a breakdown in personal communication.

Me, a Teacher?

#inspiration, teach, learn,I had always thought of a teacher as someone who  imparted knowledge to a class of students. This could either be an academic program or some other creative endeavor. I pictured someone doing research, creating a lesson plan and presenting the knowledge in a way the learners could understand.

As a teenager, my career goal was to be a kindergarten teacher. Life had other plans and I didn’t get the education necessary for this. The closest I came to fulfilling this desire was to spend several years as a Brownie leader. My opportunity to be a teacher has long passed.

Recently I read a book that changed my thinking. The author explained how all of us are teachers.

I teach by my attitude and behaviour. You may be observing and learning from me even when I am not aware. If that is the case, what am I teaching?

When I lose my temper, am tense, unforgiving and judgmental I’m teaching negative emotions. You will either learn to do the same or to stay away from me. Neither is acceptable.

If, on the other hand, I am peaceful, respectful, encouraging and empathetic I am teaching a lifestyle you will want to know more about. My example will draw you closer.

I learn best from someone who is open and honest. Your challenges and how you deal with them teach me I don’t have to appear to have it all together. I learn there is freedom in being authentic and want to pass this lesson on to others.

My teaching comes from life experience and lessons learned along the way. It is not only formal education that has the power to impact lives. I don’t have to spend time in study and preparation in order to teach. Instead, I need to be aware you are learning from me before I even open my mouth.

In that case, I pray my attitude and behaviour are teaching the right things.

Trouble Underfoot

#inspiration, beach, walk, discomfort Our time in Mexico was coming to an end and this was one of our last beach walks. The wind at my back was refreshing. It also caused a problem I hadn’t anticipated as sand and shell fragments blew into my sandals from behind.

When this became uncomfortable I would stop, remove the sandal and shake out the offending debris. The frustration at being slowed down was tempered by the knowledge my foot wasn’t getting sore.

A piece of dry sea grass blew in and got trapped under my arch. This wasn’t as irritating as the sand or shells but I didn’t like the feeling of it flapping around. I started to lift my foot from the sandal bed and the grass blew right through and disappeared. There was no need to remove the footwear; I just had to get out of the way.

The life analogy struck me immediately. Sometimes troubles and inconveniences hit, slowing me down or making me uncomfortable. I often hold onto these longer than necessary, causing prolonged frustration and annoyance.

Other times, the problem was never supposed to be mine. I simply got in the way and didn’t allow it to pass by. Instead of moving aside to let it go, I trapped it and held on. This was not how it was supposed to be.

I remember a picture I once had on my fridge. One character said, “I’ve come to realize the only thing holding me back is me.” The other replied, “And a mighty fine job you’re doing of it.”

I don’t want to be the one holding me back from the life I desire. Maybe the next time trouble hits I will do something different and step out of the way to let it blow right on by.

Starting Over

Inspiration, new beginning, lessons,
Two months into my painting classes I was feeling quite proud of myself. I could see the improvement with each lesson. My last project was hanging on the wall and made me smile each time I looked at it.

Fresh from this success I decided I was ready to take on a more difficult picture. I tackled it with confidence but by the end of my lesson was feeling disappointed. It wasn’t going well and I hoped it was just at an awkward stage and would look better once finished.

The next time I saw my instructor she told me to paint over my picture and start again. I felt like a failure. My work must be terrible if I couldn’t salvage what I’d started.

She showed me where I’d gone wrong and what needed to change. I had done things my own way and they hadn’t worked. Now I needed to consider the hours already invested as a lesson learned and not wasted time. It would be far more productive to start again than to try to fix my mistakes.

Originally I had started with the focal point. This time I filled in the background first. Step by step I built up to the area to be featured. The result was much better than the first attempt.

Instead of being passable, it was now something I could be proud of. I had no idea the background details were so important.

This experience taught me that past success doesn’t guarantee the same in the future. I hope I have learned not to be so sure of myself that I fail to listen to advice. The work I’ve done and the hours put in are not worth a thing if I’m not getting the desired results.

No matter how much I think I know, sometimes starting over from a new perspective is just what is needed.

 

I am happy to announce my new book, Another Perspective has now been published. It is available on Amazon or directly from me.

Sufficiently Suffonsified

#inspiration, sayings, familyTwenty-five of us were out for dinner. A woman from Mexico was on my left and one from Florida on my right. The conversations were multiple and varied. The noise level made it difficult to hear more than snippets of what was being said across the table.

Suddenly, three words caught my attention. From opposite me I heard, “I’m sufficiently suffonsified.” A few others also heard the words and were confused. I, on the other hand, was totally delighted

You see, this was something my mother said. I don’t remember ever hearing anyone else say it and always assumed it was something made up by her family.

Mom passed away twenty years ago and I hadn’t heard the saying since. What had been temporarily forgotten now returned along with a flood of memories. I was mentally transported to my younger years and could see her smile and hear her voice.

After a large meal, mom would say, “I’m sufficiently suffonsified and any more would be an overindulgence of my already exasperated appetite.” In other words, she was full and couldn’t eat another bite!

It’s funny what can trigger memories. Sometimes, like this night, it was a few words. Other times it is the sight of a humming bird or aroma of freshly baked bread.

The everyday moments form the legacy I will be remembered by. The hugs, the laughter, the time spent together are more important than I realize. Since I don’t know what may trigger memories for my children and grandchildren in future years, I will do my best to leave a positive impression. My goal is to ensure they will be sufficiently suffonsified with the love I have shared.

Do You Agree?

#inspiration, decorating, house tour,My friend and I had just completed an interesting few hours. We had been on a home tour and seen some extensive renovations and many decorating styles.

As we walked away from the last home she said, “I didn’t care for the decorating in that one. Some of the others were beautiful but that was not my taste at all.” She went on to explain why she felt that way.

I agreed with her opinion but put my own twist on it. “At least that one helped me know what I don’t want,” I said. “We certainly saw a variety of styles today and not all were my taste.”

The styles I liked and those I didn’t all contributed to defining my personal design preferences. The differences are what make us unique.#inspiration, not the same,agreement

Some of the homes we saw were built for casual entertaining. Others were more sophisticated. We saw subdued colours and expensive artwork in one and colourful walls and bright ceramic accents in the next. One home had inflatable pink flamingo cup holders floating in the pool!#inspiration, colourful, decorating,

Different taste applies to more than homes and decorating. Your choice of movies, books, clothing and hobbies will not be identical to mine. We might agree on some but it’s rare to agree on everything. That doesn’t make one of us right and one wrong.

I used to be afraid to express my opinion. It wasn’t easy for me to learn I could disagree with someone and still be accepted. Now I know that life is richer when we welcome our differences and learn from one another.

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” John Mason

My new book Another Perspective is available at a special preorder price for ebook format. Click here   Paperback will be available the end of March

 

 

Connect the Dots

#inspiration, connect the dots, life lessonAs a child I enjoyed doing connect the dots pictures. Sometimes I could guess what the picture would look like before I started and other times it was a surprise.

Recently I bought a book with difficult dot to dot pictures. Most have close to five hundred dots and the lines often crisscross or head off in unusual directions. Sometimes they come back to where I thought they should be and other times surprise me with what they create.

Once in a while I haven’t been able to find the next number in sequence. I’ve learned I can start over in a new area and eventually I will find what was needed.

Even when the picture is completed, I can’t always immediately see the image I’ve created. I may have to look at it from a distance to see the big picture and not just the connecting dots.

This book reminds me of life. I don’t always move in a straightforward manner to reach my destination. I may double back or go in the opposite direction for a time. When I temporarily lose my way, I can start over from where I am. Every move I make is contributing to the overall picture of my life. Some days it is far more complicated than others.

At the end of the day I may wonder if I’ve been productive. That’s when I need to step back and look at the day from a distance. This other perspective may be just what is needed. I am able to see the big picture and know where to add colour or shading to enhance what was created.

No matter how I feel about the result, I know that tomorrow I will open the page to a new puzzle and follow the dots to see what this one has in store for me.

Love and Friendship Day

#inspiration, love, Valentine, romanticMy husband and I attended an event a couple of days ago that was an early celebration for February 14th. We are in Mexico and the celebration was different from what we experience at home.

On a large banner, the words Feliz Dia del Amor y la Amistad were printed. Translated, this means Happy Day of Love and Friendship.

Valentine’s Day as we know it, is all about romantic love. It is important to recognize those we love and let them know how much they mean to us. My husband is the most important person in my life. I never want to take for granted the love we share and celebrate it frequently.

But, how often do I celebrate the other types of love in my life?

One significant type of love is the kind I have for my family. My daughter and son-in-law; son and daughter-in-law and my amazing, talented, witty and compassionate grandchildren (absolutely no prejudice here!) mean the world to me. Each of them has enriched my life in her/his own unique way. They deserve to be celebrated and I don’t tell them often enough how much I love them.

Friendships form another kind of love. Whether we have been friends for months, years or decades, these relationships have helped shape me into who I am today. We support each other through the roller coaster of life and I love each of you.

A very special love is the one I have for you, my faithful readers. Your encouragement and support gives me the strength to keep writing. Without you, I wouldn’t be living my passion. From the bottom of my heart I send you thanks and love.

To each of you, I wish you a Happy Love and Friendship Day.

A Different Perspective

#inspiration, #another perspective, viewpointFrom the third floor deck of our condo in Mexico, I look down on a palm tree. Normally I am on the ground looking up at these trees. This is a new point of view for me.

The tree itself hasn’t changed but my perspective certainly has.

I see bunches of what appear to be berries. From the ground I see the reddish purple ones. From above I see many more of these clusters and they are all green. Also are bouquets of tiny yellow flowers, in the same type of grouping as the berries. I wonder if the flowers mature to berries.

These are high up in the tree and couldn’t be viewed from my previous vantage point. Neither could the bees buzzing around the flowers or the humming bird hovering nearby.

There was much more going on in this tree than the swaying palm fronds and few clumps of berries I had seen from the ground.

Sometimes all I need is a different perspective to see what was there all along.

I have found life to be far more fulfilling when I take the time to look past my limited first impressions. A different perspective is able to help me change my point of view.

I’ve heard it said you only see what you’re looking for. In that case, I need to look past the obvious to be able to create value in all things. There is no telling what I may discover.