In the middle of a snowstorm driving backwards in my car…

January 23, 2015

It was snowing very hard but I have a 4-wheel drive and I thought I would be fine to drive down one of the hills by my house. When I was almost at the bottom of the hill I saw a garbage truck off to the side of the road. A car had smashed into it. There were five other cars off the road or partly in the road. I stopped my car then started again because I was in the middle of the road. At this point my car started driving itself and did a 180. It was sheer ice under the snow! I was going down the hill backwards. Luckily I sideswiped the car that had already hit the garbage truck (the garbage truck had chains and had done a 360 and crashed into the curb to stop it I found out later) then I was stopped by a truck’s bumper a little further down the hill. With the help of some wonderful people we were able to get my car into someone’s driveway and when everyone else had cleared out — even the garbage truck — my wonderful neighbor Charlie walked from his house to where my car was parked, got in the driver’s seat and started up the hill. Of course we slid back down the hill again but Charlie was able to maneuver the car into a driveway (I might have been screaming, I’m not sure…) then we went down the hill the correct way (not backwards!) then up the next hill and into my garage.

While I was waiting for Charlie to come rescue me I met Brian who lives right across the street from where my car slid down the hill. When I introduced myself he said, “I knew Joel” (my late husband who died in a small plane crash with my two sons 19 years ago). Brian met Joel at the Racquet Club in Colorado Springs when Joel was a pro in the late 70’s and early 80’s and Brian was a youngster. Brian also went to Joel’s tennis shop on Maizeland and saw Adam and Seth when they were infants! I know Brian’s parents because they were tennis players and good friends of Joel and part of the tennis community.

It is a small world. I love living in Colorado Springs!

“7 Habits of Highly Unhappy People” by Tamara Star – No wonder I am a happy person!

December 11, 2014

This is a great article by Tamara Star about the 7 Habits of Highly Unhappy People

I often teach about happiness and what has become exceedingly clear is this: There are seven qualities chronically unhappy people have mastered.

According to Psychology Today, University of California researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states: “40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.”

If this is true and it is, there’s hope for us all. There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness depending on the day.

Throughout the years, I’ve learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. But before diving in with you, let me preface this and say: we all have bad days, even weeks when we fall down in all seven areas.

The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.

Here are the 7 qualities of chronically unhappy people.

1. Your default belief is that life is hard.

Happy people know life can be hard and tend to bounce through hard times with an attitude of curiosity versus victimhood. They take responsibility for how they got themselves into a mess, and focus on getting themselves out of it as soon as possible.

Perseverance towards problem-solving versus complaining over circumstances is a symptom of a happy person. Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life and stay stuck in the “look what happened to me” attitude versus finding a way through and out the other side.

2. You believe most people can’t be trusted.

I won’t argue that healthy discernment is important, but most happy people are trusting of their fellow man. They believe in the good in people, versus assuming everyone is out to get them. Generally open and friendly towards people they meet, happy people foster a sense of community around themselves and meet new people with an open heart.

Unhappy people are distrustful of most people they meet and assume that strangers can’t be trusted. Unfortunately this behavior slowly starts to close the door on any connection outside of an inner-circle and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.

3. You concentrate on what’s wrong in this world versus what’s right.

There’s plenty wrong with this world, no arguments here, yet unhappy people turn a blind eye to what’s actually right in this world and instead focus on what’s wrong. You can spot them a mile away, they’ll be the ones complaining and responding to any positive attributes of our world with “yeah but”.

Happy people are aware of global issues, but balance their concern with also seeing what’s right. I like to call this keeping both eyes open. Unhappy people tend to close one eye towards anything good in this world in fear they might be distracted from what’s wrong. Happy people keep it in perspective. They know our world has problems and they also keep an eye on what’s right.

4. You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.

Unhappy people believe someone else’s good fortune steals from their own. They believe there’s not enough goodness to go around and constantly compare yours against theirs. This leads to jealousy and resentment.

Happy people know that your good luck and circumstance are merely signs of what they too can aspire to achieve. Happy people believe they carry a unique blueprint that can’t be duplicated or stolen from — by anyone on the planet. They believe in unlimited possibilities and don’t get bogged down by thinking one person’s good fortune limits their possible outcome in life.

5. You strive to control your life.

There’s a difference between control and striving to achieve our goals. Happy people take steps daily to achieve their goals, but realize in the end, there’s very little control over what life throws their way.

Unhappy people tend to micromanage in effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic display when life throws a wrench in their plan. Happy people can be just as focused, yet still have the ability to go with the flow and not melt down when life delivers a curve-ball.

The key here is to be goal-oriented and focused, but allow room for letting sh*t happen without falling apart when the best laid plans go awry- because they will. Going with the flow is what happy people have as plan B.

6 You consider your future with worry and fear.

There’s only so much rent space between your ears. Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right.

Happy people take on a healthy dose of delusion and allow themselves to daydream about what they’d like to have life unfold for them. Unhappy people fill that head space with constant worry and fear.

Happy people experience fear and worry, but make an important distinction between feeling it and living it. When fear or worry crosses a happy person’s mind, they’ll ask themselves if there’s an action they can be taken to prevent their fear or worry from happening (there’s responsibility again) and they take it. If not, they realize they’re spinning in fear and they lay it down.

7. You fill your conversations with gossip and complaints.

Unhappy people like to live in the past. What’s happened to them and life’s hardships are their conversation of choice. When they run out of things to say, they’ll turn to other people’s lives and gossip.

Happy people live in the now and dream about the future. You can feel their positive vibe from across the room. They’re excited about something they’re working on, grateful for what they have and dreaming about the possibilities of life.

Obviously none of us are perfect. We’re all going to swim in negative waters once in a while, but what matters is how long we stay there and how quickly we work to get ourselves out. Practicing positive habits daily is what sets happy people apart from unhappy people, not doing everything perfectly.

Walk, fall down, get back up again, repeat. It’s in the getting back up again where all the difference resides.

No Language for Loss – by Ellie Miller Greenberg

September 3, 2014

No Language for Loss – by Ellie Miller Greenberg.

Susan Estrich’s Blog Post about Radical Survivor

June 2, 2014

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Radical Survivor.

http://www.creators.com/opinion/susan-estrich/radical-survivor.html

 

Loss through Anthony Marra’s eyes…

May 23, 2014

From Anthony Marra’s first novel titled “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena”

“Sonja stood and walked to the flat, afraid of what she might hear next. At the kitchen table she examined the glass of ice. Each cube was rounded by room temperature, dissolving in its own remains, and belatedly she understood that this was how a loved one disappeared. Despite the shock of walking into an empty flat, the absence isn’t immediate, more a fade from the present tense you shared, a melting into the past, not an erasure but a conversion in form, from presence to memory, from solid to liquid, and the person you once touched now runs over your skin, now in sheets down your back, and you may bathe, may sink, may drown in the memory, but your fingers cannot hold it. She raised the glass to her lips. The water was clean.” (Pg 120) Yes, it is an amazing book.

Spring is in the Air…and It Feels like a Million Knives Hitting Me All At Once

May 3, 2014

I am reposting Nancy Miller’s blog post from this week. It is beautiful and right on target. Thank you, Nancy, for writing this.

 

Spring is in the Air…and It Feels like a Million Knives Hitting Me All At Once.

7 Steps to Happiness

January 19, 2014

I watched the Broncos football game today and observed the faces of the players from both teams. Although it seems like “just a game” to me I know that it isn’t to the players…or the fans. 

Thinking about happiness reminded me of an article from Psychology Today from 1989. Below are the “Seven Steps to Happiness”. Here’s hoping that you are having a great Sunday no matter who wins the football game!

1Invest yourself in closeness: Of all the circumstances happy people share, loving relationships seem the most characteristic and most important. So when you’re setting your priorities, time for your loved ones should be No. 1. (I love Greg Roman! He loves me, his bar, Rhino’s Sports and Spirits. and the Broncos!)

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2. Work hard at what you like: If love is most important to happiness, keeping busy at work you like may be second in importance. If your job doesn’t fit that description now (or look like it will in the near future), search hard for ways to find work that satisfies your very real need to do something that is meaningful to you. (I am so happy that I was able to write a book and learn so much at the same time! You can download the book from Amazon on January 24 and 25 and it will be FREE!)

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3. Be helpful: Altruism builds happiness in at least two ways. Doing good makes you feel good about yourself. In psychological terms it enhances self-esteem. And there’s evidence that altruism relieves both physical and mental stress–thus protecting the good health so important to most people’s happiness. (The picture below shows a rescued cat who was returned to her owner in the arms of an amazing Humane Society Customer Service Representative name Carolyn.)

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4. Make the pursuit of happiness a priority: All things may indeed come to he (or she) who waits, but why wait to feel good? Discover what makes you happy and make time to do it. (Hiking in Colorado with friends Linda Lewis and Mary Bartz!)

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5. Energize yourself: Run, play a sport, dance–the choice is yours, as long as you keep aerobically fit. Whether the feeling of well-being produced by exercise is due to the release of endorphins–the brains natural painkillers–or something else, researchers agree that fitness is one reliable road to happiness. 

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6. Organize, but stay loose: It’s good to know where you’re going and to make plans for fun along the way. But since novelty makes us happy, be ready to seize an unexpected opportunity to try something different.

7. Steady as she goes: We all have our nights and lows, but strive to a sense of perspective. Emotional intensity can be costly. Those who hit the highest highs tend to read the lowest lows as well.

What makes you happy?

 

Trapped in an elevator…and it could have been worse!

October 20, 2013

Greg, my fiancé and I made a trip to San Francisco to see my Uncle Alan, Aunt Barbara, my cousins, and some friends. We checked into the Marriott Hotel downtown and decided to walk around for an hour before we were going to meet everyone for dinner. We got on the elevator on the twentieth floor and pushed the button for the lobby. The elevator started down and then stopped. All the lighted buttons went dark and the elevator was eerily silent. For the first time I looked, really looked at the other people who were in the elevator with us. Two young children and a woman about my age. The little boy started pushing buttons and the older woman pulled his hands away.

It took us about 20 seconds to realize that we were stuck in the elevator. Greg checked his phone and saw that he had the number of the front desk. He called the manager and explained that we were stuck in the elevator. The manager said he would contact the Otis elevator technician and let us know when we would be getting out of the elevator. We were in between the seventeenth and eighteenth floors.

Our elevator-mates were 7 and 2 year old siblings from Toronto and their babysitter, a native from Taiwan and 22 year resident of San Francisco. After receiving a call from the babysitter, the children’s mother joined the manager at the front desk. Greg was told that the only certified Otis elevator technician in the city of San Francisco was already fixing two elevators and would get to the Marriott when he could. The babysitter and I thought we should call 911 but were overruled.

For the next two hours Greg, the babysitter, and I sang songs, taught the 7 year old how to play patty-cake, had thumb wars, played Simon Says then games on my iPhone, took pictures, ate snacks (the babysitter was very well prepared for this emergency) and learned some Chinese.

 After 90 minutes in the elevator the 7 year old announced that she needed to use the washroom. We high-fived because I needed to “use the washroom” too. We made Greg call the manager and tell him that there would be an emergency in the elevator if we didn’t get out soon. It was another 30 minutes before Greg got a call and we understood that we were going to be rescued. We felt the elevator being moved up manually and saw the doors being pried open. The kids ran into their mother’s arms and Greg and I walked up two flights of stairs to our room.

Now that I am safely out of the elevator I have been able to think about the experience. At the time I was crazed but acted like it was an adventure because we didn’t want to scare the children. (See the photos where we actually look happy!) Although we didn’t know if we might plummet to our deaths (I have since been told that this only happens in the movies, it doesn’t happen in real life) or how long we would be in the elevator, I am grateful that we were stuck with two delightful children and their babysitter. What if the elevator had been full with eight large men who had been drinking who were going to a sports event (we rode with them in an elevator the next day), someone who had gas or really had to go to the bathroom, a crying baby, well, you get the idea. We were lucky! The electricity stayed on and we had room to sit down. Our phones worked and the technician did show up. And yes, we did get a free night at the Marriott and we made it to dinner with my relatives 45 minutes late. Greg assures me that we will never get stuck in an elevator again…I can assure you that if there is a next time I am calling 911!

So, my blog post today is about perspective and preparation. Our experience could have been worse but here is the learning for me. The next time I get in an elevator I will make sure I have gone to the bathroom, have a bottle of water and snacks, and I will check out the people who may become my new best friends!ImageImageImageImage

 

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A heartfelt response to “Radical Survivor”

October 19, 2013

I began reading right there beside the fire, and kept reading until I finished. Nancy is so staggeringly honest. This story is incredibly poignant, sad, funny, and yes, hopeful. It really softened my heart and made tender my spirit. I cannot begin to imagine her pain but because her writing is so descriptive, I did feel her pain while I read. The title is so perfectly apt.

David

 

Old Photos and Potato Chips

September 30, 2013

My sister-in-law, Tracy, asked me to send her some photos of Joel, his brother Lee, and our sons, Adam and Seth.

Tracy asked me if it made me sad to look through my old photos. I told her that looking at the pictures made me smile and appreciate what I had even though I miss Joel, Adam, and Seth with all of my heart. 

Of course looking at the photos takes my breath away because my boys were so cute! The first two pictures also reminded me of why I like potato chips so much…

Take a look for yourself — I think you will agree with me that my boys were cute and that potato chips are delicious and fun to eat.

*Seth is on the left and Adam is on the right in the first two pictures. In the black and white you will see Adam, Lee, Seth and Joel.

Enjoy.

 

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