Monthly Archives: July 2012

How Great You Are

How Great You Are

“The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by, and this you will become.” ~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Survival tools for life: Optimism, appreciation, faith, hope, belief, love. We can cherish them and use them, or keep them tucked in our tool belts and be tools ourselves. Bad joke, sorry.

But seriously, you know what’s not in the survival tool belt? Negative self-talk, doubt, and pessimism…trust me, I’ve checked. So stop telling yourself that you’re incapable or ugly or that you would be prettier if you lost another 5 or 10 pounds. Stop feeding yourself this endless negative monologue of “if onlys.” Stop telling yourself that you’re worth less than you actually are, and above all, stop believing it! You are your biggest cheerleader, and you’re cheering for some other team…namely the waify airbrushed models and celebrities in Us Weekly that you just saw in the grocery store aisle. How much power those unknowing models have over millions of women in grocery store aisles each week! Well, I’m sure they have some idea of their power, or they wouldn’t be starving themselves for a living.

You bring wonderful and amazing gifts to the table each and every day. My friend who called me this morning was weary but trying to keep a smile on her face for her kids so they don’t see the worry over money problems that is beneath the surface. She is a great mom and wife, and doing the absolute best with what she has. How disturbing it is to think about hard working moms and women like her who doubt themselves for one second because they feel they somehow don’t measure up to what the media and society says they should be?

That negative self-talk can be more caustic to a woman’s health and well-being than disease or drugs or anything destructive in nature…ok at least on par. That internal stress actually impairs a person’s health…but this is constant internal stress, so the damage is ongoing and never-ending. It kills me to see bright, beautiful women think less of themselves because someone else tells them to think it.

Stop shrinking inside of yourself and letting your light get dimmer with time. Put down the magazine, take a good, hard look in the mirror at the miracle that you are, and go out and live brightly, fully and unabashed in your own skin. You are great, but no one will see that until you yell out to the world, “I’m gonna show you how great I am!” (Muhammad Ali said that in a press conference before a fight when he was coming in as the underdog in 1974…he won.) It’s his voice you hear in the video below. I realize it also has the Rocky quote again, but you can’t hear that enough!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

Fight the Fight

Fight the Fight

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”~Rocky Balboa

My inspiration today comes from Rocky. I feel a little beat up by life recently…it’s taken a few swings and has made contact once or twice. (This is all figuratively of course, not a subtle cry for help…except to the universe). When I get knocked to the ground and feel like I can’t get up again, I think about quotes like the one above. No veil, no promises – just the fact that it’s not easy, it’ll probably get harder, but it’s worth pushing on and living bigger. Tears and fear of the unknown are so easy to seize while the will to push on is feint and easy to ignore. I don’t expect ease or luxury, but sometimes there’s a little whisper that tells me it’s all so unfair and that things aren’t coming as easily as I’d imagined. To that whisper, I must remind myself to push back and remember that the fight is worth fighting. I suspect that most of us opt for the victim status while pointing fingers outward at the reason we still lay on the ground. I have been hit, but I promise that I will continue to get up, try again, and ultimately win.

It’s about not letting life dictate the terms. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s about pushing forward when everyone expects you to tap out.

“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” ~Vince Lombardi

Celebrate Creativity!

Celebrate Creativity!

Let’s celebrate creativity!

I believe the world defaults toward the logical and the analytical, while the creative and out-of-the-box ways must be proactively pursued. They tend not to happen upon us naturally. I know a few free-spirited right-brainers out there, but they are a rare breed who most definitely swim up-current against the rest of the “that’s-just-how-we-do-things” crowd. Creativity is usually defined as the creation or innovation of something new with value – but that sounds like something a left-brain writer of definitions would say. If a creative person were to define creativity, I’m confident there would be more sense of bringing an element of spirit and color and life to everyday life.

My sister is a right-brainer, and when I am around her, I feel my creative juices flowing more readily and freely. When we lived together a few years back, we’d host parties…and the theme of the party was usually whatever was biggest in the news that week. When Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline broke up, we had a FedEx party. When Saddam Hussein was put to death, as embarrassing as it is to admit, we had a hanging party. I got an Elmo piñata and tied it up by a noose over our upper floor railing. When people came in, we put little nooses around each person’s neck, and my sister hung up all sorts of hanging drawings all over. Morbid? No question. Creative and fun and unforgettable? No question. I hope my sister never changes, and I hope her creative garden continues to grow and get greener with time. I’ve witnessed some gardens that get ignored and eventually dry up, and it’s sad to hear people labeling that occurrence as “growing up.” May we never grow up in that sense.

There’s nothing wrong with being logical, but if the balance is always tipped away from the creative side of life, we’re working our way towards gray and away from color. Tapping into our own creative spring is both nourishing and refreshing for our souls. It’s stepping back and looking at a problem from a new point of view; it’s trying something new or a new way; it’s seeing things with the element of possibility instead of impossibility.

Click THIS LINK…I PROMISE you it will make you laugh AND get your brain in a creative spot.

I found the list below and I can’t imagine anyone who couldn’t find something on it to help them take one step toward being a little more creative in life.

Making the World Better One Step at a Time

Making the World Better One Step at a Time

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank

I continue to be astonished at the wisdom Anne Frank had at such a young age. Even if her thought above materializes in baby steps, nothing but good can come from it. Opportunities present themselves every day to make the world a little better. Smiling and saying hello as you pass someone instead of simply looking away. Holding the door for the person behind you. Giving up your bus seat for an older person. Saying, “bless you” to a stranger’s sneeze. Whatever the situation, there is a choice between engagement with the world and isolation from it. Change starts small, then works itself into bigger and bigger chunks – all the greats acknowledge that pattern. Today is a chance to make small contributions to a better self and a better world. A big step or a little step is still a step! (You can quote me on that one!)

I stumbled across a great website: Network For Good. It shows all sorts of current, local volunteer opportunities.

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” ~Anne Frank


Let Your Freak Flag Fly!

Let Your Freak Flag Fly!

“Freak Flag” (Urban Dictionary):

  • A characteristic, mannerism, or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking.
  • Letting loose, being down with your cool self, especially in front of a group of strangers. Your inner freak, that wants to come out, but often is supressed, from social anxiety.

    I was at a paddling team party – more like a relaxed potluck dinner with a chance to sit back and enjoy each other’s company outside of a boat. One of the girls plugged in her phone into the stereo and put on some dance music, and it didn’t take long before a little dance party broke out in the living room. A couple girls were in the middle shakin’ it, then one of the boyfriends joined in. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, one of the most quiet girls on the team stepped into the middle and just let go of any and all inhibition and went to town with funky dance moves. She was shaking and moving every part of her body to the music, and her smile was as big as her dance flare. All of us on the periphery stood there in shock at this new brazen dancing queen that was shining out of what we knew as the shy girl. She let her freak flag fly.

    As I thought about it, I realized three false “truths” that many of us probably share:
    1. We all have a freak flag we want to fly
    2. We don’t do it out of fear of what people will think
    3. We believe that the only way to do it is under some substance influence

    We all have one, no denying it. If you don’t have one, you’re boring, but I don’t believe anyone is boring at the core – just on the outside. It’s just that most of our freak flags are folded neatly (from rare use) and tucked way in the back corner of ourselves. But we want to fly it. We want to let our weirdness and uniqueness burst out because it takes more effort and energy to suppress it and to project our current boring conformist exteriors. I want to be like that girl who just let loose at the party. I wanted to just jump right in and dance with her, but I stopped myself because I was afraid of what the other girls would think – which of course they wouldn’t have cared because I was one of those side-liners watching, and I was both impressed and jealous.

    We stop ourselves because of fear. Fear of what other people will think, fear of what we may see in ourselves, fear. What’s that statistic? 90% of things that people worry about never happens. I’ve also heard that 78% of statistics are made up on the spot, but I really believe the worry stat – it’s gotta be in the 90% area. Fear of what others think is such a foolish but real guide by which many of us live…especially people pleasers like me. Who cares?! They certainly don’t!

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~Dr. Suess

    As for the third reality, resorting to alcohol or any substance to boost our courage and lose our inhibitions – it’s a quick-fix, sure, but you’ll always wake up the next morning stuck with the same you…so you may as well make yourself a fun you all the time instead of just a weekend-party-time-fun-you version. Liquid courage is too quick of a fix…and I’m lecturing myself on this one. It’s surface-fix, not true-fix. I’m allowed to fly my freak flag AND be free of alcohol while doing it…what a concept! I bring up the alcohol specifically because I’m an anti-drug sorta gal, but I know lots of shyish people turn to drugs to bring out the fun them…stop it! now! Enjoy life naturally! And to all you non-shy types out there – if you see one of us shy people looking like we REALLY want to join in and dance, just grab our hand and bring us on the dance floor! If your freak flag flies a little more easily than others, help a sister or brother out!

    “Why are we so full of restraint? Why do we not give in all directions? Is it fear of losing ourselves? Until we do lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves.” ~Henry Miller

  • Up And At Em!

    Up And At Em!

    I think I turned a new, little leaf recently. Where does that saying come from anyways? I’ll look it up along with “up and at em” after this. I was at Starbucks waiting for an oil change, and was reading my new book about a man who found out he had pancreatic cancer and only had a few months left to live – to which his response was to design his last professorial lecture aimed to inspire both his students and his children to live life to the fullest. The book is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch if anyone wants to enjoy a quick read (and for me that’s almost always an oxymoron, but very true in this case).

    It doesn’t take long after reading about a dying man’s last few months of gripping onto each and every moment to look at one’s own life and take stock. He didn’t even want to waste the time to get a refund when he’d realized the self-check grocery credit card scanner charged him twice for his bundle of groceries – that’s how precious time was to him. Yet just a couple days ago I actually pondered taking Nyquil to be able to fall asleep earlier because I had nothing left to do that day. It’s both humbling and humiliating, and I felt ashamed. Here I am blogging my bucket list, and blog after blog about how to live a full and healthy life, yet my words have fallen on deaf ears…and motionless legs it seems.

    I can barely justify my lazy and uneventful days by saying I did find a new job and am simply waiting for it to start in a few weeks. I paddle on a paddling team four times a week, but takes minimal time. There’s simply no excuse to do nothing in a day – well, ok, if you’ve saved the world or did an Ironman the day before, you get a freebee. I don’t fall into that category, so I would like to plan this a little better, start making some active headway, start valuing my time, and get off my arss!

    Things I’m going to try: learn to ride a motorcycle. I’ve wanted to do it for years, and it’s time to just do it…as long as I don’t tell my doctor dad who calls them donorcycles. It’s ok, I can’t tell my mom about my tattoos, so it’s about even…tattoos and motorcycles – I’m most definitely in a life crisis. Also, I’m going to work on the abaondoned guitar left under the house I’m staying in. I’ve started to learn many times, and have three chords solidly (E, A, G), but I’m going to learn at least one full song. In addition, I’m going to work on my herb garden and cook five new meals. That should be a good start for now.

    The motivation to get up and do has just been non-existent, but after reading this book, I am simply left without excuses. I must walk the walk…which entails getting up and putting one foot in front of the other. The line in the sand has been drawn. Who wants to get up and DO something?

    Pursuing Happiness

    Pursuing Happiness

    Some pursue happiness – others create it. ~Unknown

    It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. ~Agnes Repplier

    We often forget that we don’t have the right to happiness, but we have the right to pursue it…the more difficult of the two paths…yet undoubtedly the most rewarding. When we learn what makes us happy, we can create our own happiness instead of relying on external circumstances out of our control.

    To most, the immediate items that come to mind in connection to happiness are money, fame, luxury and things along those lines. But a study published by the American Psychological Association about what brings happiness to people placed those items at the bottom. At the top of the list were autonomy – feeling that your activities are self-choses and self-endorsed, competence – feeling that you are effective in your activities, relatedness – feeling a sense of closeness with others, and self-esteem.

    Things that make me happy:

  • Being on the water in any kind of boat (except ones with holes in them)
  • Bright colors in colorful designs
  • Creating art
  • Making decisions with clarity (there’s that autonomy)
  • Looking at art
  • Eating chocolate and drinking red wine (even the cheap stuff) together
  • Taking a bath while listeing to Pink Martini on Pandora
  • Warm fuzzy slippers with cozy pjs on blizzard-snowy days
  • Drinking “momtinis” with my sister during her kids’ naptime
  • Splintting a pitcher of margaritas with good girlfriends over new stories and gossip
  • Amazing ocean views from the decks of houses you housesit (like right now!)
  • Recognizing a quote from a funny movie that someone else quotes
  • Quoting funny movie quotes
  • Wind through trees on sunny days
  • Picnics of any kind
  • Dancing of any kind…except the dirty kind and sans poles
  • Stepping into a new country for the first time
  • Crooner music with a glass of wine while making dinner
  • Laying out under stars
  • Giving to others in need
  • Old people – even grumpy old people
  • Driving things while going fast – boats, mopeds, cars etc.
  • Catching waves
  • Crossing finish lines
  • Being goofy with girlfriends
  • Watching old couples hold hands or dance together
  • The different hues of greens mixed together in nature

    So if I were to analyze myself, I seem to need to surround myself with alcohol and old people. Or maybe just put on some fun music, dance a little, and enjoy a nice glass of wine with good company.

    Click THIS LINK to read daily reminders of things to be happy about.

    It takes great wit and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish. ~Robert Herrick

  • Being Vulnerable

    Being Vulnerable

    I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.
    ~ Audre Lorde

    Growing up, vulnerability was not a good thing. I never heard, “I am lonely,” or, “I ache,” or, “I am confused.” …though I’m pretty sure they were all felt along the way through the years at some point. Mine was that image family from American Beauty – the one that looked great on the outside. We had it all – good house, my dad was a doctor, my mom was a nurse and dietician, three beautiful (ok I was pretty awkward until 30 or so) girls who were all smart and athletic, two small, white, fluffy dogs. We went to church every week, …the all-American image. We weren’t even that messed up on the inside, but then again, how would we know because we never talked about anything other than schedules, vacations, funny stories of the day – anything that didn’t have to do with matters of the heart. In fact, if someone got mad when I was young, there wasn’t even ever any yelling. The mad person would just walk away. Confrontation was completely foreign to me. I’m pretty sure this upbringing was not intentional – it was simply the pattern of my parents’ generation, and they were doing the best they could with the arsenal of emotional tools they had. No blame, seriously no blame.

    But what resulted was a stunted ability – even a disability on my part – to let my soft underbelly show to anyone…ever. The answer to any question to my well-being was, “I’m fine.” …and then quickly change the subject. I learned quickly how to put the attention back onto the other person in order to keep them engrossed in conversation and forget to ask questions about me. Have I mentioned I’m a great conversationalist? You’ll walk away from a conversation with me feeling great and liking me more. Why? Because we talked all about you.

    So what exactly does wearing full armor all the time get you? You get to know a heck of a lot about other people, and very little about yourself. You forget to ask yourself how you’re doing, what you’re feeling, and even what you want and don’t want. Because you don’t know where you are or what you want, you don’t establish boundaries for yourself – boundaries that are so very important to have. In essence, you forget to be vulnerable with yourself, and stop knowing who you are…you are not even comfortable in your own skin.

    Vulnerability is opening up, being exposed, and letting in. It’s counter-intuitive to people like me where being closed feels safer. But look at what being closed prevents. It prevents connectedness with those around you and with the bigger world at large. You can’t participate fully in life if you’ve turned inward. You may see beauty, but you’re not letting it in. You may have friendships, but you’re always keeping them at an arm’s distance on the polite and small-talk level. You’re not letting yourself be known to the greatest person in your life – YOU.

    Vulnerability is risky. Opening up means risking heartbreak, deceit, betrayal, and pain. I’m pretty sure that risk is the reason people who have been hurt in the past can make themselves go callous and put themselves on ice. But in this case, the case of life, even the people who get hurt time and again will say the benefits of vulnerability far outweigh the risks. You can meet new and wonderful people, deepen rich friendships, be open to new opportunities and experiences, and live more fully in a world of interconnectivity. But most importantly, you can love and be loved.

    I found a list of things we can do to start on the path of vulnerability:

  • Trying new behaviors
  • Taking a risk
  • Initiating contact with strangers
  • Tuning into feelings of others and yourself
  • Willingness to get help for yourself
  • Being open to receiving help and support from others
  • Being honest with others and yourself when it would be easier to lie in order to avoid conflict
  • Accepting change when it comes your way
  • Looking for deeper reasons or motives for your own behavior
  • Self-disclosure of your weaknesses to others
  • Being direct and precise about your feelings, beliefs, and attitudes when discussing them
  • Willingness to listen to honest feedback
  • Dealing with anger in a productive, non-offensive manner
  • Letting go of fears that impede your movement toward others
  • Letting go of guilt or remorse over the past
  • Letting go of hostility, bitterness, and resentment toward others for past hurts
  • Development of trust in others’ good will
  • Willingness to be seen as weak or emotional
  • Accepting your humanness, failures, and mistakes as OK
  • Understanding the reasons you are risking vulnerability
  • Feeling secure enough to admit your failings, mistakes, and losses

    A study was conducted and found that most people fall into two categories – those who have a sense of worthiness, and those who struggle for it. The people who had self-worth had one thing in common:

    “Courage. The original definition of courage when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.” ~Brené Brown

    I found my quotes in this good blog about vulnerability.

  • Land of the Free and the Crazy

    Land of the Free and the Crazy

    I had a really fun 4th of July. The entire Oahu outrigger canoe community landed on Waikiki beach with all its crazy festiveness. The 4th of July race is fun because you paddle out against the waves and surf back to shore with them…and the waves did not disappoint. Sometimes they would land right on top of boats going out and completely flood them so everyone would have to jump out, turn the boat over (a mere 500 lbs) to empty it, then turn it back over, scramble back inside and keep racing. Sometimes waves would send one canoe barreling into the one in the next lane over and there would be collisions with loud bangs and paddlers flying into the water. To add to that, the paddlers like to have fun and wear costumes or add some flare because of the holiday spirit. Combine crazy paddlers with crazy locals with thousands of additional sailors on the island for RIMPAC with wide-eyed foreign tourists and you get quite the beach scene.


    My team chose to make and wear tutus. More than once I stopped to look down and laugh at the fact that I was wearing a tutu on a public beach in broad daylight and felt perfectly comfortable doing it. The simple joy from wearing a tutu in public was surprising and liberating. We even got a couple free drinks from old men in Dukes who thought we were “cute” in our costumes. It turns out they were a bit of a legend group of older men – their pictures were on the walls of Duke’s, which is a famous Waikiki restaurant named after Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s most famous surfer and Olympian, and is a tribute to all the original great surfers and paddlers. The picture we took with the men is below.

    It occurred to me halfway through my second free drink (the point of many a deep thought) to be thankful for that moment, and that day – a day dedicated to the mark of our freedom as a country. Sometimes it feels like patriotism is a bit of a dying concept – it’s become politicized and is arguably not pc in some circles…which blows my mind. But to stop and look around at the happiness, the craziness, and the celebration around me yesterday, it’s plain to see that freedom is not a dying concept. I chose to take in the scene of freedom and independence around me and to bask in its reality…a reality that so many nations crave and still fight for. This is a great country. Nothing exists in life without quirks and shortfalls, and our country certainly has a few of those, but the daily gifts we often unknowingly enjoy is truly a reason to put our hand to our heart and say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    The picture below was from my race – just to show a little of what a mess it was out there with boats colliding from the big surf – biggest surf for that race in 8 years!