Sharing the lessons along the way…

Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Perspective and the Detour

There are very few things in this life that change everything.  Examples might be loss, major life changes, total eclipses, gratitude, humility…

Perspective however seems to need at least two of the above examples.  And it sure changes everything.

Life changes when there is a detour on what you originally perceive as your path.  This path you have so carefully mapped out, perhaps sometime in your late teens or early twenties, or the path you have planned after that one didn’t work out.

That detour can bring chaos of unparalleled proportions.

That detour can bring perspective of unparalleled proportions.

The shift in consciousness of which you are left after the detour is not something you can hit the reverse button on a remote control.  In fact, that shift requires you move forward with a courage and boldness that you have never known.

If you have made it to this point in life where you recognize you are following the detour signs, I am proud of you.  If you have driven passed those big orange road signs and find yourself continually re-routed to somewhere else, keep your seat belt on.

You are on your way to something that your life has waited for…at a level you aren’t even sure exists until you reach the other side of the detour.

But you know when you get there.  It is like the surprise party that you wished you hadn’t been the person who is at the center of attention.  And then you have to figure out how and what to do with it.

Often we miss that surprise party, so the ah ha is more like an uh oh.  Other times, we are changed forever.

When we have perspective for what our true purpose here is, we cannot possibly use a remote control or GPS to re-route.

The title of my book is Detour.  It certainly was a detour that I could not have predicted nor could I have imagined being able to follow the signs to the other side.  I found my way and my perspective was changed forever.  I could not have predicted the good that would come out of it or the position it would place me to make quite the same difference in the lives of others that it did.

Now, the story of my Detour 15 years ago is out, in print.  Now my story hopes to be able to make a small difference in the lives of everyone struggling to figure out what the detour in their life may mean to them.

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Unlikely Gratitude

I have a neighbor who has a little Chihuahua dog and he never kept him on a leash when they were in their front yard.  My boys and I struggled going past the house on our because my boy Amore’ often would get aggressive with other dogs.  When Amore died, Duke met the dog and the dog would often come to the other side of the street to see us on our walks.  Ruby met him too.  The guy seemed like a nice enough guy despite the one negative experience I had.

When I was using the walker and the motorized wheelchair, we didn’t have a choice but to go by his house because the sidewalks on the other street were better and I was less likely to fall.  But we always had to take that chance of the little dog coming and my dog or dogs pulling me off balance.  Once the neighbor yelled at me because I wouldn’t just go on down the same street instead of passing his street.  I yelled back that the sidewalks sucked and that the walker didn’t work well and to please get his dog.

We still exchanged pleasantries after that incident and I had no hard feelings because he couldn’t understand why sidewalks would be a problem or that Amore was often unpredictable—who could who hadn’t had to try using a walker or had a problem dog.

Fast forward from that moment three or four years ago to July 2017.

Hope Fiona and I were walking on a Friday evening past his house, which is our normal route.  I had noticed I hadn’t seen much of him this year and that he appeared to be frail and wasn’t walking that well in the past month I had seen him.  He stops me to tell me he was in a bad car accident in January and when he was having to learn to walk again, his first thought was of me.

He said he remembered me always continuing to walk my dogs whether it was with a wheelchair, a walker or a cane and that he hoped he had the same strength as he was struggling through his recovery.

He shared his journey from wheelchair to walker to cane and was proud to say he was getting around pretty well without the cane now and could walk around the block.  He asked me how I found the strength to do it and continued to say how much he thought of me during and still because he had a tremendous head injury that has to continue to heal.

We talked about muscle memory and physical therapy and water therapy, and even though it was starting to rain and Hope really wanted to walk, we talked about the importance of continuing to move forward no matter what.

He asked me my name because in the 12 years I have passed his house and talked with him, we had never exchanged names.  He thanked me for something I had no idea even happened.

This experience reminded me that I was doing something right in this life, but also reminded me about how someone is always watching you and that making an impact on others’ lives is far bigger than what you deliberately do for someone else.  It is more about who you are and how you are while you are doing the simple, routine things in this life that has just as much of an impact.

 

 

Maybe I do

PhotoMail (5)

I have been without a canine companion for nearly two full months since Ruby died.  I have lost count of the number of people who have sent me posts of a dog in need of re-homing, the number of texts to take a dog, foster, and the number of times I have been asked, “Have you gotten another dog yet?”

Ruby was my back up dog for Duke and I did not have a backup dog for Ruby because I did not imagine I would need one for many years.  Her death was sudden and traumatic.  While I could not imagine a life without a dog exactly, I knew I was in no way ready for another.

My friends and I talked at great length about how we do not know me without a dog because for the last 16 years, I have had one or two.  My brother said I could not be me without one.

I made a conscious decision not to rush into another because emotionally, losing three dogs in three years was a lot.  I went on the hope method that I had learned how to stay grounded without the need of an external grounding source, which for me was always a dog or two.  My dogs taught me how to do this over the years, and I felt somewhat confident in the lessons I had learned from them.

Still, I was not sure.  I wasn’t sure if I would feel lonely without one.  I was not sure that I wouldn’t lose my mind or otherwise lose my sense of mission and purpose.

Two months in, I have not lost my mind or otherwise lost my sense of mission and purpose.  I still do not feel lonely.  I do miss having a living, breathing, always loving being under foot, but have watched others’ dogs and getting my dog fixes often.

I figured I would be trying to find ways to avoid coming home to an empty house, but as it has turned out, I still like my place.  It is still the refuge and the Zen space I created for my dogs and I.  While I have the freedom to do other things, and sometimes choose to do them, I am often simply choosing to come home after work.

It is not uncomfortable.  I do not feel like I am missing anything in my life.  I do plan to add another dog into my life next year.  I honestly never thought I would be ok under these circumstances.

Since I seem to be, I will go with that.

One Year Ago…

Just Keep Smiling

Dear Duke,

It has been a year since you crossed over Rainbow Bridge, and I have done my best to honor your lessons and your legacy.  I cannot lie and say that I didn’t spend some time feeling lost without you, but I did my best to keep moving forward no matter what was happening in my heart or in my world around me.  I have off and on felt lost in the past year without your presence– in ways I cannot describe to humans who have not experienced their soul mate.

Your sister Ruby and I have bonded quite a bit since you’ve been gone, although she doesn’t seem to understand when I try to tell her about soul-mates.  She has her own lessons to teach me and I have grown quite fond of her unique ways, as I try to discern exactly what those might be.

Some days, I am not sure I don’t need you to keep going.  Some days, I am convinced that somehow you would know exactly what I should do next.  Some days, I know you could help someone better than I can or even a whole team and I can.  Other days, I feel confident that I am honoring everything you and your brother taught me over the years.  Other days, I am encouraging those who knew you to do the same.  Other days, I stay busy enough to not feel my heart aching quite as much.

At work, you are everywhere.  A plaque hangs in the lobby and a stone hangs in your courtyard—both with your picture in remembrance of your service.  Pictures of you are in my office and you will forever be in my Lightning Hero Award video.  I started volunteering with Project PUP because you no longer can.  Therapy dogs are at work nearly every day of the week because you cannot be.

I am certain I miss your presence more than anyone or anything else’s I have ever lost in this life so far.  So much so, that I can hardly believe it on some of my bad days.  I want you to know that I am doing my best to take care of your “guys” at work and encourage them to honor your service in the way that they treat themselves and others.

I trust that you and your brother are doing exactly what you most love to do over there, and I hope you have joined up with Maggie, Sadie, Zeus, and the many others you both helped to foster who have moved on from here.

 

 

 

 

The Magic of Rainbows and Unicorns

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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