Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘self-development’

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.








Are you a holiday Zombie?

It is a well-known fact that we cannot move forward when our thoughts are consumed with something from the past.  Whether those thoughts are positive or negative from the past, if we are consumed by them, we cannot move forward fully.

Being consumed with overly positive thoughts is no less serving for us than being consumed by traumatic or upsetting events.  We miss this moment, right now, when we allow our thoughts to drift fully into those past events.

That is not to say that we cannot have happy or not so happy memories—that isn’t what I am talking about.  I am talking about the wishing for a different time, living the emotions from a different time, and missing being present now.

Around the holidays, anniversaries of deaths and other times of the year, this becomes more prevalent.  The steady diet of past events swirling about in our heads creates a lot of stress on our bodies, and we move about our day like zombies because we are reliving the past instead of living in today.

Moving forward becomes quite a bit like trudging along in quicksand because we are literally stuck in another time and place.  If it gets thick enough inside our minds, even the people in our lives today take on the characteristics of those from the time period in which we are stuck.

We may see only negatives or only perceive someone doing something to us that might be similar to what someone from our past did.  Or we overly glamorize someone because they remind us of someone (or some feeling) we knew in that past moment we find ourselves.  Either way, we aren’t seeing it for what it really is today.

I have struggled in the quicksand at various times in my life.  All I know for sure about it is that it is no way to live with any quality.  I know for sure that there is no true way to discern what is happening right now when I am looking at it through those past filters.

We cannot get out of quicksand by fighting the quicksand.  Thoughts of the past and memories are going to flood our thoughts.  That doesn’t mean that we have to give them the power to overtake our lives.  So how do we get out of the quicksand?

I have done it in many ways over the years of managing quicksand, but I am by no means an expert about how you might find your way safely away from it.  What worked for me each time was different, but the critical factor was that I truly was willing to do something to get out of it.

As we trudge through the holiday season’s quicksand together, I want to hear from you.  I want to know how you have gotten yourself through it and to the other side of it.  I will share mine throughout the month, if you share yours too.  Imagine the list we can compile to help others if we do it together!


I still believe in rainbows–no matter what

sunrise rainbow

Today has been one of those days where I am glad I know who I am and what I stand for in this life.  Today I am happy that I do not depend on others’ opinions of me to know it in my soul.

My day began with seeing my very first sunrise rainbow.  It was pretty incredible peeking out of the darkness of rain clouds moving in from the gulf of Mexico.  Its colors were brilliant and it was a great way to start the day.

There are days that test just how much resolve you have toward the mission I have written so much about in recent weeks, however.  There are days that test the strength of your character and perhaps even challenge that integrity in ways you might not have expected.  Today was one of those.

And at the end of it, I still believe in rainbows and I still believe in you.  And I believe in my ability to stay focused, authentic and move forward with the mission in mind.

The idealist in me has taken enough hits to know that there will always be rainbows.

No matter how dark the sky might seem at any given time, the sun always rises with a purpose and sets with a purpose.  You can bank on it.  In between, if we are paying attention, we might even see a few rainbows.

Sometimes we need days like to today to remind us that no matter what, we are in this not just on days of sunshine and good times, but during dark days too.

Day nine of the writing challenge feeling more resolved than ever.



ReNEWal: My Theme for 2015

Happy 2015!  Ready or not, we are in a brand new year, full of wonderful opportunities to learn, grow and test our limits!

I am really excited to be heading into 2015!  I usually share my theme for the upcoming year sooner than January 2nd, but I honestly had some trouble honing in on just one theme.

After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to theme 2015 ReNEWal.

I am as excited for the new, as I am refreshing the existing parts of my world.

Unlike last year, I don’t anticipate much major drama or trauma, with the exception of my Dukie turning 14.  So far he seems to be holding his own, so I don’t even want to throw that out there.

As the calendar turned, I have been putting fresh paint on my walls, purging old things, repurposing things and switching as much around as my living space allows.

I feel renewed, hopeful, refreshed and absolutely ready to rock the year 2015!

Did you theme your new year?  Did you create a vision board, or set goals for 2015?

Creating a Better 2015 #3 of 3

2015 #3

In my last two posts, I have given you a question to ask yourself with the end goal of creating a better 2015 than 2014.  To recap, the first one was “If you could change one thing about 2014, what would it be and why?”  The second one was, “What stopped you from meeting a goal you set for yourself in 2014 that remains a goal in 2015?”

Now for the final of The Tawny’s top three things to ask yourself to make 2015 better than 2014:

What will 2015 look like, feel like and be like if it is better than 2014?

And the loaded part of the questions…

We have to know what 2014 felt like, looked like and was like first, so we have to figure out a way to measure that.  Is your quality of life (genuine happiness and gratitude) different (good, bad, ugly)?  Do you feel better or worse about yourself, your future, your life, the things in your life (spouse, job, whatever)?  Where is 2014 compared to where you wanted 2014 to be?  How is it compared to what your “idea” of it was going to be before the year began?

These are some heavier questions, but we cannot know if 2015 will be better or how to make it better if we don’t know how 2014 impacted us, can we?

I will give you an example:

My 2014 started out pretty scary and sad.  I lost a dog companion of 13 years, lost medical coverage, was handed a huge debt to the government.  I anticipated some of that happening throughout the year, but not all in the first quarter of the year necessarily.  From there, 2014 seemed to only get better.  By the end, I not only feel like the quality of my life is better but also that my confidence in all areas of my life is better.  My 2014 was a quite a bit better than I expected it to be in spite of the first quarter trauma.

For 2015 to look better than that, I will have to do much the same to deal with any traumas or monkey wrenches.  2015 holds with it opportunities to really impact a lot of people, so I will have to make sure that I take extra good care of myself along the way to implement a new program and continue with what I am already doing.

I know these three questions are not quite as simple as they seem and quite honestly make us take a closer (perhaps hard) look at stuff we might have rather not.  These are the things I ask myself at the close of a year because I always believe there is room for growth and improvement no matter how good or not so good a year has been!

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you plan to create a better 2015 for yourself!

Open Hearts Open Doors

Open Hearts=Open Doors

Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that is perfect.  The only way to learn anything in this life is to hear someone’s point of view out, without reacting, without interruption, without judgment, and with an open heart.

The veterans my dog and I work with primarily live in a situation where getting along with roommates and housemates becomes a focal point.  Duke, Ruby, Koko and I spend a great deal of time and energy attempting to model and teach conflict resolution.  It certainly isn’t an issue isolated to group living because it happens in the workplace, in homes, on the highways, etc.

There is little conflict when roommates are in a state of gratitude, so I call this the honeymoon period.  The honeymoon period includes feeling grateful for housing and help toward helping themselves, and a level of humility in knowing they need to focus on their own problems rather than being sucked into the dramas unfolding with others.

Once the honeymoon period starts to wane, which is usually the time that they likely have started to really work on their issues and set goals with staff, conflicts start.  Old stuff is oozing out all over the place in lesser form, such as overreactions to a dish left in a sink by a housemate.  Shortly afterwards, they begin to blame staff, the boss, the spouse, and others in general for their unrest and upset.

Some may find their way back to feeling humble and grateful for a bit longer, some may not.  The ones that cannot at least find this intermittent gratitude and humility usually find their way back into their addiction or other unhealthy coping patterns.

What I see central to avoiding conflict is first seeking to understand the one with whom you are butting heads.  Instead, what I see most often is someone telling another what the “right” way is to do whatever, which is just about the opposite of seeking to understand where the other person is coming from.  Sometimes the other person doesn’t have the skills to tell you honestly where they are coming from, but often when asked, they can at least stop their negative reaction long enough to wonder.

Sometimes a person isn’t at all interested in sharing anything at all to help you gain a better understanding and that is ok.  Your part of it is over.  It is time to walk away.  Since almost all of us, as human beings, just want someone to understand where we are coming from, it is rare that I cannot get a positive response from the question to avoid conflict or drama.  The question has to come from an open heart and genuine desire to understand, however.

Here are some examples of what you might say:

  • That seemed to upset you. What did that mean to you?
  • That really seemed to get to you. How did you experience that?
  • I see you are upset. What just happened there?
  • That seemed to get to you quickly. What do you think is behind that?
  • I notice you do things this way. What is your process for doing it that way?


What I find is that I stand to learn a lot from validating what I see, then asking the question.  I learn that the way they saw it or the way they were doing it might actually make more sense than what I thought was the righteous and only way to do it.  I learn more about how the other person views the world and sometimes even what from their past baggage they might have reacted to with their behavior.

There are many versions of seeking to understand in the business management, psychology and self-help world, but they all boil down to the same basic idea.  If we put aside our own agenda just for a minute and seek to hear someone else first, there is far more to gain for everyone involved.


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