Sharing the lessons along the way…

me and dad lightning hero 4-10-16

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”~ Theodore Roosevelt

I have spent my lifetime trying to explain my seeming compulsion to serve to others, but have never found adequate words or descriptions to do justice to how I have always felt.

Last night, a thirteen-year-old struggled to find those same words.  This young man was awarded the Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero award and was chosen to speak at an event where all 220 community heroes, from the last five years, were being honored for their passion and service.

When he shared about the healing power of giving back and how he had been pain-free for two years from his juvenile arthritis, I could feel his compulsion to serve from far back in the room at my table.  I thought, this kid and I could sit quietly in a room together and totally “get” where the other was coming from.

I am not sure there weren’t 218 others and their guests in the room thinking the same thing or at  least, being appreciative of his ability to share it that way.  Feeling a purpose and a drive to do something outside of ourselves is service and the benefits of it have the potential to be a life changer.

There is a healing power to giving and serving others, and to doing so from the heart and from the depths of our being.  It is the real deal—seriously, unicorns, rainbows and fairy dust kind of stuff you cannot imagine is possible.

It is far more magical when it is focused, ego-less and fiery with passion.  And even more magical when you can balance the service with self-care so that fire doesn’t burn itself out along the way.

After the program concluded and all the heroes left their respective tables to go back into the lobby for coffee and desert, I had only two thoughts in mind.  One was that I really needed to find that kid, shake his hand, and say something encouraging.  The second was that I needed to hug the amazing woman who helped behind the scenes to orchestrate all the hero events.

I found the young man in the line of people who also wanted to hug her before leaving.  I had no real encouraging or profound words as I shook his hand, but I did thank him and tell him to be sure to take care of himself too as he continued with his service.

The Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation has changed so many lives as a result of the unrestricted funding they give in honor of each Community Hero award.  There were 220 heroes in five years and I believe there were nearly 350 different nonprofit organizations that benefited from those award dollars.  I am proud and humbled to be among those honored.

If you ever find yourself in need of inspiration, click here and simply watch or read the stories of all the passionate people living in the Tampa Bay area!

 

 

 

 

 

March Madness

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

~Margaret Mead

For most of my teenage and adult life, madness has been a part of my March.  I love college basketball, so each year basketball season is one of my favorite times.  I love watching a team working together and rising no matter what the other team throws at them.

All of the sports I played were team sports.  To me, there is nothing like being a part of and watching a team playing/working well together.

I am aware that my team mentality is often lost on those who didn’t play sports or played individual sports, but most workplaces want someone who is a team player.  Even the college classes I teach require some part of the work to be produced by a team.

Every team has a leader—a true leader.  It doesn’t matter the sport and it doesn’t matter the position or role within the team unit.  Invariably a team leader will emerge and provide encouragement, guidance and support for the rest of the team.  A team who respects and trusts the leader will work well as a unit.  A team who doesn’t, isn’t likely to do as well.

Last year, as I launched the wellness initiatives at work, there wasn’t a team.  It was just me to start with, and I couldn’t wait to get others on board.  I worked with other teams and remembered just how much fun it can be when everyone works together and does their part to find creative solutions.  And of course, just how frustrating it can be when it doesn’t work so well.

In a short time, the team has grown.  The team has not only grown with employees, but also with volunteer team members and other partner agencies.  I look forward to watching the teamwork become more seamless as we all move forward.  And to then watch how much better we are all able to impact someone’s life as we do so.

It is almost as exciting to me as watching the tournament games, but as I am watching the games, I am really looking at the teamwork from a bigger vantage point.

What I know for sure is that at some point along the way in this life, we are going to need a team.  It might be a treatment team or some other group of folks banning together to help us get through something we never imagined.  Should that happen again in my life, I certainly want to have a team that works well together guiding me through the madness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tipping the scales

Rest

In the spirit of transparency, which is what I strive for most with this blog, I have to tell you I am exhausted and a bit off-balance.

Just as the needs of those I serve are seemingly endless, so too are my own needs.  The balance has somehow shifted in the past couple months to mine getting a bit less attention than others’.

Fortunately, I know I am tired.  I know I the balance is off, and I have a plan to address it.

I have known it for a while, but was hoping my body would work with me until there was a bit of a break.  Yesterday, my body made it quite clear that it would wait no longer.  It has my full attention now.

I have not come this far, only to come this far, so whatever it takes to keep this roll going, I am planning to make happen.

Step One:            Take time off if I need to take time off.  And I will use it to                                                    recuperate.

Step Two:            To finish out February and throughout March, I will consider my                                      well-being and self-care needs before I consider anyone else’s.

Step Three:        Repeat steps 1 and 2 as needed.

Self-care isn’t rocket science.  I know what I need, and I need to meet those needs because I certainly know how.  That doesn’t mean I cannot do things for others, it just means I need to take more time to fill my own tank better first.  I started toward that end as I posted my last blog, but it wasn’t enough.  Fortunately, I always have a plan B, C, etc.  Generally, I need them!

There have been countless times in my life where I have tried to be everything to everyone.  And countless times, I have fallen short of the mark because, well, it is simply not humanly possible to do so.  I doubt anyone expects that of me, so it is time for me to let that expectation of myself go as well.

I don’t have to move at the speed of light to make magic happen.  I have proven that time and again.

My action plan for this week was to post a blog.  Action plan completed!  Not to worry, I am ok and taking care of what I need to take care of, and everything will appear as it did before this post! 😉

 

 

 

Off to the Races in 2016

Racing Ruby

My life has raced along since the start of 2016.  Right out of the gate, my life at work was off to the races.  It will likely be much the same throughout the year as we grow and expand several new wellness programs.

If you have ever ran, biked, swam, rowed or otherwise been in a race, you may know that giving your all during that race takes a toll on the body at the very same time it can be invigorating and exciting.  Most races are short-lived and have a specific distance after which you can rest and recover before training for the next.

Each day often feels like a race.  At the end of the workday, I come home, walk my dog, feed us both and then crash.  I only hope that my body gets enough rest and recovery time before starting the next leg of race for the week as I go.  At the end of the workweek races, I have very little left of me.

In response to this wonderfully exciting, not likely to end anytime soon, race at work, I have had to make some adjustments in my self-care and planning on weekends and evenings.

I have stepped up my healthy eating to yet another level, have set my bedtime routine earlier and my phone/screen time after work has been limited.  So far, these changes have been helpful in being able to make it through the workweek, but doesn’t always allow for there to be energy to do much other than rest and recover on weekends.

It has made for some great bonding time with my alien vampire baby dog Ruby
, but it hasn’t  allowed for as much social time with my friends and family. I am still getting some on the weekends, but with my level of fatigue and the colder temperatures, that is a bit more challenging to do.

There have already been many extras and many exciting things in 2016, for which I am both grateful and feel honored.  (Lightning Hero Award!) My plan is to keep honing my self-care as I move through month #2 of 2016 to keep the momentum going.

How is 2016 treating you so far?  Do you ever feel like you are always off to the races?

 

 

 

There is a natural order and flow to the universe.  It becomes evident as one period ends and another begins.  No time is it more evident than the ending of one year into another.

This year, on New Year’s weekend, I did something a bit different than I have in the last few.  While I was my usual reflective self, purged things in my house no longer necessary, and such, I was also ever conscious of the need to be still enough and grounded enough to understand what I needed to let go of from 2015.  I wanted to be clear and certain about what would carry over into 2016.

My 2015 was overall quite positive with the exception of the loss of my soul mate dog.  Much of what happened in 2015 involved the ending of an era.  An era that started nearly 15 years ago, and I am not sure I realized the magnitude of that ending.

I didn’t just need the stillness and grounding to close out a typical year, but to close out an era and to put some serious thought into what I wanted to create for the next era that had already begun to emerge in 2015 (late 2014 technically).

Moving forward is probably one of my frequently used tags for this blog, so it might surprise you that I historically am not very good at letting things go.  I have so often in my life hung on so tightly to ideas, thought patterns, people, jobs, situations, friends, etc. long after I knew it was no longer serving me.  I am not sure I can say that in this new emerging era.  I have gotten quite a bit better, and perhaps even more efficient, in my ability to let go and move forward.

It was certainly something Duke and his brother tried so very hard to teach me in their lifetime, so I am proud to be able to honor them by finally “getting” it.  I surprised myself when it was time to let Amore and Duke go because I didn’t feel the need to hang on for dear life for myself.  I felt more the need to let them go for them.  Duke was truly the testament for that.  Amore paved the way for it.

Letting Duke go meant the end of a very challenging era.  My entire life was thwarted, derailed, and I was on a detour for quite a while.  But somewhere along the way, I realized I might just be a Weeble-Wobble.  How else can I explain where I am now, based on where I started?

weeble-wobble

The detour taught me more than I ever expected to learn, and gave me a perspective that I never thought I would have.  The lessons, the perspective, gratitude, humility, and the strength from that era helped me to move forward at the time of his loss, but more than that, have allowed me to get back on the path with more certainty, in spite of my illness.

It is this foundation I chose to take with me into my life’s new era, and into 2016. What are you choosing to take with you into 2016?  What are you letting go?

 

 

 

Celebrating Life and Death

mom

As I remember it, twenty years ago tonight, I got a call from my older brother.  He said, “Your mother is dead.”  To which I replied, “What do you mean she is dead? Where is she?”  He then said she wasn’t dead yet because she was at the hospital.

We were all there in the ICU waiting room when I suggested we all leave the hospital.  After years and dozens of what we thought was the last trip to the hospital, I said, “She is not going to die just to spite us, so we should probably go home and get some sleep.”

And we did.  I didn’t rush to the hospital the next day either.  I told my husband at the time to go to work because I didn’t figure anything would happen yet.  I don’t remember what everyone else did.  I only remember what happened once I got to the ICU waiting area and no one from my family was there.

I called back to the ICU nurse’s station and the nurse asked me to come back there so she could talk to me.  I asked, “Is she dead?”  She replied, “Ma’am, please just come back so I can talk to you.”  I demanded she tell me before I went through those large double doors into the ICU.  Perhaps I made a bit of a scene in the waiting area, but I don’t recall and am certain I didn’t care.

The nurse finally said that yes, she died earlier.  I was shocked at what I said next,  “Is she still here? Can I see her?”  I am not a fan of dead bodies, but I had to see for myself if what she was telling me was really true.

It was.  I saw it for myself while my stepfather and his sister stood on either side of her body.  Somehow, I was told that everyone was at my grandfather’s house and given directions on how to get there.  I only remember the walk to the parking garage at the hospital.  It was cold, dark and I don’t remember knowing what to do next.  Then I have flashes of memory at my grandfather’s house.  My husband found his way there eventually, although I have no real memory of how all of that happened or how I got home from there.

Ironically, after twenty years, the parts I remember are the same as the week after she died.  Even as clearly, I remember the true gravity of the situation a few weeks later.  I had waited for mom to get sober for years.  It took a few weeks for it to sink in that the hope I had held onto so tightly for mom to get sober and be more mom-like had died too.  At that point, the real healing could begin.

Twenty years later, I have a better understanding of why mom was the way she was when I was growing up.  I have a better appreciation for what was good about her and for those characteristics that I share in common with her.  I certainly would not be the person I have grown into had it not been for her, so for that I celebrate her life.

 

 

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