Dalai Lama

I had the opportunity to hear the Dalai Lama speak yesterday. It was one of those events in life that when the email came out from school, I just knew I had to experience. While I can’t say it was a life changing experience, I can say,it was an affirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life and that I should continue working to be the best person I can be while living out my time here on earth.I really don’t have profound words of wisdom from yesterday, so I am just going to share some of my favorite quotes and comments from yesterday.

“Humor, humility, and humanity equal a happy life.”

“Mother Theresa was a very dedicated lady. We all have that same potential.”

“Mutual admiration creates mutual respect.”

“The remaining 86 years of the 21st century are the best to come.”

“There is no other choice than peace.”

“An optimistic attitude is necessary with holism. Meditate with optimism. If you want to die soon, medicate with pessimism.” Yes, he was very funny as well. 🙂

“Any change must start with the individual.”

“Constant love and compassion is good for your health.”

~Dalai Lama

Who Needs Gold, Frankincense or Myrrh When You Have Popcorn

Gifts come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges.  It’s often those that come in the small packages that that mean the most.

Popcorn-better than gold, frankincense or myrrh

Popcorn-better than gold, frankincense or myrrh

Coming off the Christmas holiday, today was a great reminder of that. While my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were wonderful and filled with quality, precious, cherished time with my children, husband and extended family, today the joy continued with special gifts of time and thought from friends.

It started out with a ‘checking in’ email from a dear friend. While I don’t often get to visit with this friend in person; we do manage to stay in touch via email and an occasional cup of coffee.  Somehow he always manages to send me an email on the days that I’m struggling with something and really need to see his name in my inbox with a friendly message filled with his always positive, cheerful, insightful outlook on life.

I’ve often wondered how friends have a way of showing up on those days. At those much needed, opportune moments.  I think the universe has a unique way of sending those signals out and they are caught by those who are meant to hear them. I have another friend that always manages to know just when I need a hug. I won’t have talked to him for weeks, yet he always (without fail) will text me when I need him. He has been known to drive across town – for no other reason than to give me a hug. Talk about feeling loved!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, today, not only was it the friendly email I received, I had yet another friend who came bearing gifts. Not gold, frankincense or myrrh, but popcorn.  He appeared at the door holding a bag of popcorn. While I know they hand out free bags of popcorn at one of the local hardware stores, it was the thought that touched my heart. He knows I like that popcorn and he took the time to go to the hardware store, get me a bag, drive over and come to see me.  The fact that he thought of me touched my heart.

So often we get consumed in the race to go here, bake this or purchase the perfect gift that we forget that the most important gift of all is the gift of time and touch. It was those few moments when  I was able to give him a hug,  sit down with him and share a cup of  coffee and visit that both of will cherish forever.

This is one of my favorite sayings in life and each day it grows to mean more:

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

    Maya Angelou

It was a great reminder that no matter what the gift, family and friends are to be cherished.

Falling Flat on Your Face

Accidents. You never know when they are going to happen. I guess that’s why they are called accidents. They can happen in a split second and will change your life forever. To what extent varies, however once that split second decision made, fate is put into motion and you are left to deal with the results. I learned this lesson first hand eight weeks ago. This decision, in my case, meant picking myself up from the tar and untangling myself from my bike.
Prior to my accident, I thought I was fortunate to never have experienced any major accidents in my life. Perhaps this way of thinking was optimistic or unrealistic and I’m not saying that you should go out and have an accident but what I am saying is for me, it was a much needed slap in the face (or more literally, scrape of the face) that I needed for my eyes to be opened.

Before I go any further, I’ll share a few details. It was a beautiful Sunday morning September 8th to be exact, and my girlfriend Lynda and I planned to bike the St. Paul Bike Classic as a fun girls day out. As we were biking to the registration area, I hit the front brake too quickly and flew over the front of my bike only to land on my face. My initial reaction was “what happened?” paired with “crap, that was stupid, but I’m okay”….until Lynda turned around (she was biking ahead of me) and quickly announced I was bleeding.

I managed to land myself in the emergency room with 25 stitches in my chin and upper lip, and one heck of a fat lip. It’s times like this when you know who your real friends are. Lynda drove me to the hospital, helped get me checked in, sat with me during all the evaluations and stitching up. We joked about how the accident will be a story we will be able to tell our grandchildren (when we get them) ….the “remember when grandma had to take grandma to the emergency room and get her face stitched up?” kind of story.

Nine weeks later the swelling has gone down and the stitches have healed and I am very grateful to walk away with minimal visible signs of the accident. Most of my body has healed and while there will be some ongoing issues with my teeth, for the most part I’m good.

What I have learned is that sometimes it is those accidents, those times when you fall flat on your face (in my case literally) that you are forced to slow down. To take a step back and evaluate your life and where you are going and who and what is important.

While I spent the better part of six weeks in a fog, that forced slowdown was a blessing. In many ways I’m better than I was before my accident. The accident forced me to slow down. I had no choice. My body did not allow me to do much of anything and anything extra was out of the question.

Even in the haze of my concussion, I found time to think. Think clearer than I have in a long time. Think about what is important in life. Family. Good friends. People who care about you and people you care about that you may not even know it yet.

Giving back. It helped me to realize the importance of sharing with others. Mentoring. Taking those gifts and blessings that we’ve been fortunate enough to experience and sharing them with others. My accident gave me time to think about how many wonderful people have taken the time to mentor me in one way or another. How the time they spent with me changed my life. How the words they spoke gave me new perspective that opened a door in my mind to a new way of thinking. New experiences. I’ve found new passions and desires and I’ve definitely learned that life is a blessing that can change in a second. It helped me realize that life is short and giving and sharing are important and there is no time like the present.

Listen To Your Gut

I remember the evening vividly. It was a cold January night and I was at my computer working on homework. I popped over to my Augsburg email where there was a new message in my Inbox. A journalism class was going to be offered at school. This class particularly interested me in the description; it included visits to WCCO TV as well as guest speakers from the Star Tribune and other various Minneapolis media locations. I remember the feeling of excitement deep in my stomach as I read the email and the description….yelling from my office at one end of the house to my husband who was in the living room at the other end of the house (OK our house is only thirty-eight feet long, so it wasn’t like I had to yell) but I did…with excitement more than anything.

I wanted to take this class. I have always loved to write, my passion for it starting in high school. I was editor, well technically I was co-editor of my high school newspaper but I have excommunicated Dave for his pretty much zero contribution throughout the year. After twenty-seven years of me giving him crap about this, last year he finally admited his negligence…anyway, that is another story.

My initial reaction about the possibility of taking the course was extreme excitement but then the “but’s” started entering my mind. It overlapped Spring semester, meaning I would be taking three classes instead of my usual two. It was being offered on Tuesday and Thursday which meant getting off work early twice a week and getting home late (the class was scheduled to run until 9 p.m.) But… but… but… Even though my heart wanted to do it, my mind kept making up reasons not to.

This is where having a great support system comes in. My husband is a rock star when it comes to support. His immediate response, without one bit of hesitation: “Well, it’s only six weeks and by then it will be summer. The roads will be good. Besides, you can do anything for six weeks.”

It’s amazing how one statement can make your mind flip and believe that anything is possible. I knew I wanted to do it. I just had to make it happen. And happen it did.

As I was driving home last night, after attending the second to last class of the six weeks, I had to reflect on how fast those six weeks has actually gone. How thankful and right taking this class has felt. I have enjoyed every single session beyond words. It has brought clarity; personally, giving me affirmation that I indeed am at the right school, exactly where I am supposed to be at this time in my life.

All because I listened to that one little tug in my stomach.

Inspiration

Inspiration.

It means something different to each of us. How do we know when or where we are going to find it? Often it is those little moments that appear out of nowhere that mean the most. A kind word of encouragement or thanks. A soft touch or warm hug from someone can inspire us to continue the trend and pass it along for someone else who may just need that encouragement a little bit more.

Then there are the obvious, outright inspirational thank you’s that if you are lucky, you get to hear vocalized to you. I was very fortunate recently to have just that happen. A friend came to me and actually shared with me how I had inspired him. This particular person has shared brief glimpses of his life with me before; however, this time it was different. He had run his first marathon the previous weekend so it was particularly fresh and heart-warming.
It was one of those “ah-ha” moments you have in life when you realize that something you did because you wanted to do it, gave someone else permission to do something they longed to do. Bettering themselves and accomplish something that they, too, didn’t know they were capable of.

All of this creates better life for those involved and all those they touch.

I’ve also noticed it seems to come from people and places than appear out of nowhere. This also happened to me recently after meeting someone new. This person is one of those people that when they first come into your life, you think, ‘Hey, they were really nice’ and then you find yourself drawn to them and wanting to learn more about who they are just because their aura can’t help but pull you in.

One of those people that you instantly connect with and who in return connects with you. While at first you don’t know why you are even magnetically drawn to this person, I’ve learned that while the answer at the time is never clear, I have learned to follow that inner pull and delve deeper into this person, they were brought into your life for a reason and they are put there to help you. Those reasons are not clear but just follow that instinct and it will reveal itself.

Letting yourself trust on that level is not easy.

Each new person that we meet is there to show us something that we need to learn. They are part of the next steps in our journey. It may be as simple as teaching you how to use a parking meter or it may be the person that teaches you how to run. Eventually leading you to running a marathon-or whatever your “marathon” in life looks like.

As we meet new people those who inspire and motivate us changes, sometimes daily. Be that inspiration to someone, I guarantee it will come back to you in many forms, perhaps in one of my favorites; a warm hug.