Tag Archives: @Ray_anne

HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE

Slices of Grief

It isn’t easy

I’ve spent much of my life trying to put grief and heartache behind me, sometimes outright ignoring it. This isn’t the best way to heal or the best example to those I care most about, like my children or a significant other. I am a strong woman – I’ve had to be. However, I am learning that there is great strength to be found in vulnerability. That may not make sense to you, but it is starting to make sense to me.

I have lost people close to me to the great and ultimate avenger: death. Many of my friends in the last two months have lost their fathers. These friends’ losses happened during an emotional time for me, as I braced for the annual reminder of my own father’s death, which occurred on the 25th anniversary of my brother Tommy’s death. November 10th presents a double-whammy for me. Each year, I think it will be easier, but each year presents its own difficulties, which allow me to miss my father more than I expect.

How I Faced It

My father died in 2001, exactly one month after my husband, the father of my four children, moved out. My husband’s leaving occurred one-month after 9/11, an event that devastated our country – and though my little family was on the West Coast, it changed our lives as we, the six of us, watched the 2nd plane hit live on television – and everything after that, on that day, blurred. My father’s death two months later was the culmination, as well as the beginning of what I perceived as the worst time in my life.

I was alone. That Christmas, both my father and my husband were gone, and I was alone. Yes, of course I had my children – and they saved me – oh, so many times, but the two most important men in my life were gone.

I don’t know how I faced it. I don’t think I did face it. I think I covered it with new-found joys, with the holidays, with Disneyland (annual passes!), with the love for my children and from my children, and with the busy-ness my life entailed. I was working 3 jobs, taking five classes at the local college, and now raising four children alone. So, no — I didn’t face the grief I felt, the grief that was brewing. I just lived.

The Long and the Short

No time in my life seemed to pass more slowly or more quickly. I am not sure how that is possible, but it is. I jumped out of bed every morning, most days trying not to think where my next dollar would come from and certainly trying not to dwell on what I could have done differently for my dad or for my marriage. My grief was real, but it was shoved to the back burner – tears only came in the shower or in the dark of early morning and they were quickly forgotten at the first flip of a pancake.

I learned to box grief up and only bring it out when no one was looking. There are those who assumed I was a heartless bitch and there are those who worried I might crack. I just had to keep getting out of bed in the morning and somehow put gas in my car.

My Comfort

When my brother passed away 41 years ago, I was just 13 years old. He was 20 and had been severely handicapped since birth. I had no idea how to grieve or what that even meant. I was raised in a very religious home and there was plenty of talk about my brother finally being free – finally out of his deformed body, finally in the presence of God, but none of that helped me comprehend the impact his death would have on me or my life, or my mother, or my family. It seemed like a bandage to cover the pain of his death, not a way to face his death or understand how it would change me, my siblings, or my parents forever.

A Tom Sawyer Trick: Whitewashing

It is a human tendency to whitewash pain, when really we should face it, head on – determined to let it clean us from the inside out: breaking our hearts, cleaning our minds, softening our memories, and planting a new place for that love. My pain found its way on to lined paper, in the form of a poem. And thus, it began – my lifelong quest to heal myself through words.

Many have asked, “Why do you write…, why do you write about your pain, your sins, your weaknesses?” and others have answered by saying, “Thank you for writing how I feel, I thought I was alone.”

We are not alone

Grief is a common denominator for many of us. We know that pain. We know the heartbreak. We know that feeling of catching breaths through sobs that collapse. We know the tender mercies bestowed by love and compassion from others.

Today, I remember my father’s hands on my cheeks lifting my face to his as he tried to comfort my 14-year old broken heart. Today, I remember his finger slowly dragging along the alto line of a hymn. Today, I remember his love of ice cream. Today, I remember his love for anyone he ever met. Today, I remember his love. Through slices of grief, I remember.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

One Day at a Time: Winning the Battle of Life

Winning is Important

Why?

We want recognition. We want to feel accomplished. We want to be successful.

I hated playing Monopoly when I was younger. My brother was insanely competitive – he still is – and he won almost every game. I was torn and it made me mad,  and not because he won but rather, because I lost. Some of us are better at losing than others. I’m not one of those individuals.

Somehow, I think it is deeper than just not wanting to lose. Like most people, I want to be relevant and, well – winners are relevant. Winners win. Winners get to the finish line first. They walk away with trophies and awards. Their home-baked cookies are the best. They hear applause and approval often. They are happy, aren’t they? Are winners happier than those of us who merely strive but fail?

Who Doesn’t Want to Be Relevant?

It may seem simple. Isn’t that what we all want? Aren’t we all just looking for a smile or a cheer, a pat on the back, a “good job” or “atta boy”, a raise in pay? Is that relevance? Or is that acceptance?

Where does your State of Mind leave you?

I didn’t purchase my first scratch-off lottery ticket until I was 26 years old. I had gone to the mall with a friend on my lunch hour. I was a young mother of two at the time – money was always tight, but I had an extra buck in my pocket and thought, “what the heck?” That very first scratcher was $100 winner. I was shocked, surprised, but most of all – happy. I could afford diapers and maybe a Cinnabon with my little girls that week, our favorite treat!

A year or two earlier, I found myself in a pickle while practicing with my league softball team on an early Saturday morning. I could throw like mad – but my arm was a little wild. I was honing my ability in lengthy practices and found myself in a very good place: playing shortstop with a #1 team with a .822 personal batting average. Until the pickle.

Some guys were waiting to use the field and decided to challenge us “girls” to a quick pick-up game. We, of course, accepted the challenge. I hit a double to deep right and found myself rounding 2nd. Mistakenly, I thought there had been an overthrow, but really – the throw had been to 3rd base, and square in front of me stood a waiting, gnarling 3rd baseman, holding said ball. I screamed and turned, only to find the ball now at 2nd base. Turning again, my cleat caught and my body went one way, while my foot and lower leg stayed planted. A loud pop could be heard. That pop was the ACL in my right leg snapping in half.

I continued to play for several more years, but I lost my position, my batting average dropped, and eventually left the sport, devastated, after six knee surgeries.

Win or Lose

I could have continued to buy lottery tickets, hoping for another winner. I could have curled up in ball and never struck out again. But I didn’t do either. My battle continued, on different fields.

“Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever really defeated until defeat has been accepted as reality.” – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee never stopped kicking, never stopped fighting.

Life can Kick You in the Ass

And it often does.

But what are you going to do? Let it? Or dodge those kicks and punches? Just turn the other cheek?

If only it were that easy. Many mornings, I wish it were easy. But I have learned, you just keep going, you just keep moving forward, Victory does not come to those who stand still or those without impetus or drive.

Life’s Battles

Ive had my share, they don’t seem to ease up, so I can’t really afford to. My parents hung a framed copy of my father’s favorite poem in their bathroom – it was titled You Can. I read that damn thing every time I ventured into their private space. Over and over again, committing it to memory over the years. On many a morning, the last verse has gotten me out of bed.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster wo/man.
But sooner or later the wo/man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

You Can

Some weeks, it’s just one day at a time. Some days, it’s just one step at a time. And some steps, it’s just one moment at a time. When all you can do is find the next moment, that is enough.

And sometimes, that’s all it takes.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Don’t Fear the Script, Rewrite It! – The Passionate Chase

Chasing Away the Script

We spend a great deal of our lives building confidence. Some days, weeks, or months, it doesn’t seem to matter how much experience I have or how many clever skills I have – I can easily get caught up in fear of failure or overwhelming expectations I set for myself. Many of us have a negative script that gets played over and over in our heads – that counts on us failing.

The two greatest fears I’ve had in my life have been falling and failing. Sadly, I am not one of those individuals lucky enough to have flying dreams – I have falling nightmares, though they have receded a bit. I did jump out of a perfectly good airplane a year ago and loved it. So, the falling wasn’t the problem, perhaps  it was more about the landing.

But failure has haunted my days.

What I Learned from Writing

I have spent the last 12 years writing about every part of my life, from earliest memories to latest catastrophes, very few subjects or experiences are off limits. From poetry, to microblogs, to lengthy blog series, to podcasts.

Writing is like giving birth for me. Hitting the wrong key or failing to save a document can lead to disaster or meltdown, and it has happened on numerous occasions.
The first several times, parts of me died with each loss.

But, I Tricked Myself

These were profound moments of loss for me, over time, I learned to tell myself that “It must not have been good enough – I can write that better.” The first time, it took a great deal of self-convincing, but I learned to find the truth in my words because I always produced better words or a more meaningful story.

A State of Mind

Napolean Hill, famed author, stated, “Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.” I have seen evidence of this in my own life. And often, all I need to do to get over any particular bump in my road of personal progress is to review my last failure.

  • Where did I land? Was it a crash landing?
  • When I got up, dusted myself off – what was it I learned?
  • When the dust around me cleared, what new experiences had I gained?
  • How did I grow, or can I grow more, as a result?

I do hate failing –

I hate miscalculating, missing a mark, or misjudging any circumstance. But I also know that a serious lesson was meant for me, so I best get to learning it. Even if all I learned was to get up –

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

You Are Not Beaten

And neither am I – it’s just another chance, another opportunity to succeed.


**If you are interested in learning more about “the script,” follow Richard Wilkins on Facebook, he shares some interesting thoughts about this negative script and how we can overcome it. Warning: he uses colorful language, he just keeps it real. 

PERSONAL GROWTH

The Super Power of Balance

“YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU BELIEVE. YOU HAVE GREATER POWERS THAN YOU KNOW.” –ANTIOPE, from Wonder Woman

A Million Different Directions

Many years ago, I was in a stage play called Run for Your Wife written by British playwright Ray Cooney, whose specialty is farce. The story centers around a cabbie named John who falls for two women, marries them both, and proceeds to create two separate lives for himself by setting up two households on the opposite sides of town. Moving from one zany scene to the next, John continually gets away with his double life. Of course, it all comes crashing down in the final scenes when the two wives unwittingly discover each other. Comedy at its finest.

Over the years, I have thought about this show as I have always juggled two or three jobs, plus academics or volunteering. When I first started recruiting, I was also a coach for girls’ sports at the local junior high, oh– and I also worked part-time as a dental assistant for a children’s specialty office. Three jobs and five classes at the local college – oh…, and dare I forget -> single mom to four wonderful children. About six months into this crazy schedule, my recruiting boss pulled me aside and asked me to quit my other jobs – he wanted my focus, he wanted me full-time, and was ready to compensate me for – as well as remove some of the crazy in my life.

I thought about it and became excited at the prospect of a simpler life. Little did I know that simple doesn’t always work for everyone. It doesn’t seem to for me. I have consistently had more than one job since I was in high school.  Old habits die hard.

I have received some great advice over the years – one such piece was to let go of some of the junk in my life, that my work / life balance could be just that – balanced.

Finding Balance

One of the most important things for me has been to recognize my worth and what I contribute to my organization and those around me. It occurred to me, just today, that this will be a lifelong process. It has always been difficult for me to back out of a situation where I think I could help, where I could coach colleagues or friends toward success, or – my greatest curse – being the mom, when I need to be a manager or leader. And while I am getting better at it, I have always had trouble saying no, mostly because I like saying yes. It just feels good to say yes.  And I like to help, I like to make life and work easier for someone else. But I have found joy in saying no, not to mention the power.

Weights & Measures

Personal weights & measures remind me that I am not Wonder Woman, even as much as I would like others to believe. No golden lasso or bullet-deflecting wristbands, I just got shot today and it hurt, apparently my reflexes were too slow for deflection. So what does that mean for me? Where do I go from there? Do I back down and cower in the corner? Not my style. I rise up and be the professional I know I am. I achieve balance once more.

I have a couple surfboards in my garage, along with some stand-up paddleboards. When I first got the paddleboard and tried it – I liked it right away! It required balance on my part, as well as core strength. My friends who were surfers, didn’t like it as much as surfing, because a wave propelling you removed the need for soooo much balance.

Each of us gets our balance from a different place. Sometimes, a massive wave about to crash on our heads is just what we need to move forward and stand up for the ride of our lives. And sometimes, you just need to be steady and paddle on.

“There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.” – Simon Sinek

He’s right. I guess I’ll start with why.

HEALTHCARE, HR

Healthcare HR in Crisis, HR Latte with guest Dan White

HR Latte guest Dan White, President of Workforce Solutions at AMN Healthcare, episode 1

Series: Healthcare HR in Crisis 

iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 105

Healthcare HR Today

Dan White, President of Workforce Solutions at AMN Healthcare is an Expert in Workforce Management, including Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), Vendor Managed Services (VMS) and Managed Service Provider (MSP). Dan is known to drive improved business outcomes through innovative solutions which specifically address the workforce.

Dan joins Rayanne for this three-part series on the challenges facing Healthcare HR today by addressing staffing shortages and the issues around that!

“The three most important things that impact Healthcare HR today: we’ve had a stronger/better economy for some time – so more spending, the healthcare clinical workforce is aging, and the population, in general, is aging with more healthcare requirements.” – Dan White, President of Workforce Solutions at AMN Healthcare

To learn more how AMN Healthcare can assist you with the Healthcare HR and Recruiting challenges you might be facing, visit AMN Healthcare Workforce Solutions.

What you will learn:

  • RPOs and MSPs and their benefit to Healthcare HR
  • RPO – people, process excellence, best in class tech eco-system, and measurement of excellence
  • MSP = Managed Service Provider/Program brings contingent workforce to the table
  • Three Staff Buckets in Healthcare: Core Staff, Contingent Staff, & Float Pool
  • ACA and ACHA: regulations, changes in tech, compliance – how HR can stay out of crisis mode or are we already in crisis mode?
  • Will the staffing shortage be ending anytime soon?
  • How technology can assist Healthcare HR
  • The three Cs offered by Managed Service Program: Cost Reduction, Compliance, and Control
  • Patient Care to Talent Care – white paper for the listeners

Healthcare HR on HR Latte series
Part 1, Healthcare HR in Crisis
Part 2, Addressing the Ongoing Staffing Shortage
Part 3, In Crisis Mode

You can connect with Dan White LinkedIn here and email him at: Dan.White@amnhealthcare.com.

On Twitter

@DanWhite_WFM
@Ray_anne
and @HRLatte

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66

HRLatte is made possible by:

Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HR, LEADERSHIP

Relationship Intelligence, Part 3 with Ron Wiens

Guest Ron Wiens returns to HR Latte for 2 more episodes to share his expertise in Cultural Change

Series: Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound, Part 3

iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 104

Ron Wiens, Cultural Change Expert

Ron Wiens, Speaker, Author, and Advisor on Cultural Change, introduces several concepts from his book, “Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in Single Bound.”

Ron joins Rayanne again to continue the conversation in Episode 3 of a four-part series to talk about how to get your employees, teams, or organizations to work together for the good of the whole with a focus on Relationship Intelligence.

“How people work together, how they interact, goes to the heart of what organizational culture is all about. Culture, a culture that facilitates the ongoing creation of new knowledge, a culture that gets people building and creating together, has become today’s competitive advantage.” – Ron Wiens

Ron is happy to share everything he knows — you can visit his website to learn more and download his whitepapers, with no commitment or email required.

What you will learn:

  • Understanding the value of relationships, how to build & maintain them, and why it’s important
  • How relationships with others can change the culture at work
  • Creating “new” business value constantly through relationships
  • Is building work relationships a waste of time?
  • What does it look to have an effective relationship at work?
  • “I care about your success” – “I care about the success of the whole”
  • The increase of productivity when the Joy of Work is introduced at an organization
  • Do performance evaluations have an impact on teamwork?
  • How “frank” talk improves communication that leads to trust and System Awareness
  • Forward: Creating Common Cause

Series: Build Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound
Part 1: Introducing Ron Wiens, Cultural Change Expert
Part 2: Emotional Intelligence
Part 3: Relationship Intelligence
Part 4: Corporate Intelligence

The first 3 people to tweet @HRLatte with your favorite part of this series will receive a free copy of Ron’s book, Building Organizations that Leap tall Buildings in a Single Bound.

You can contact Ron Wiens via email at ron@ronwiens.com

On Twitter

@Ron_Wiens
@Ray_anne
and @HRLatte

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66

HRLatte is made possible by:

Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HR, LEADERSHIP

Emotional Intelligence, Part 2 with Ron Wiens

Guest Ron Wiens returns to HR Latte for 3 more episodes to share his expertise in Cultural Change

Series: Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound, Part 2

iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 103

Ron Wiens, Cultural Change Expert

Ron Wiens, Speaker, Author, and Advisor on Cultural Change, introduces several concepts from his book, “Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in Single Bound.”

Ron joins Rayanne again to continue the conversation in Episode 2 of a four-part series to talk about how to get your employees, teams, or organizations to work together for the good of the whole with a focus on Emotional Intelligence.

“How people work together, how they interact, goes to the heart of what organizational culture is all about. Culture, a culture that facilitates the ongoing creation of new knowledge, a culture that gets people building and creating together, has become today’s competitive advantage.” – Ron Wiens

Ron is happy to share everything he knows — you can visit his website to learn more and download his whitepapers, with no commitment or email required.

What you will learn:

  • What are emotions and how do they impact our work?
  • Learn to be curious and aware of your emotions and their impact on you and others
  • Organizations tend to ignore emotions when they could be using them to better serve the company
  • Emotions are there to protect and serve individuals and the organizations where they work
  • Emotional Intelligence is important to the Knowledge Era and the constant change found in business today
  • Emotions tell us about something that happened in the past
  • Emotional Intelligence brings you the Freedom of Awareness
  • The Importance of Self-Talk

Series: Build Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound
Part 1: Introducing Ron Wiens, Cultural Change Expert
Part 2: Emotional Intelligence
Part 3: Relationship Intelligence
Part 4: Corporate Intelligence

The first person to tweet @HRLatte with your favorite part of this episode about Emotional Intelligence will receive a free copy of Ron’s book, Building Organizations that Leap tall Buildings in a Single Bound.

You can contact Ron Wiens via email at ron@ronwiens.com

On Twitter

@Ron_Wiens
@Ray_anne
and @HRLatte

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66

HRLatte is made possible by:

Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

HUMANITY

Tearing Down Walls and Discovering The Path

The Challenge of Reality

Contemplation of my own life has kept me quiet for a while. 2016 was an interesting year of learning and change for this old girl. And as I look back on it, I am thankful.

I truly am thankful for the trials presented and the learning that has gone down. How else would I be who I am were it not for the life shifts and professional challenges I have faced? I understand that I am presented with exactly what I need. For if I am unable to do what I need to do to triumph or move past a particular challenge, then it is time for me to go around or leave behind what confronts and confounds me or has slipped through the side gate into my house or has stabbed me in the back.

You see, I am a realist and it is not in me to deny, decry, or lie about what is ahead of me or what my responsibility is in it all. I know. I know who I am, I know what I am. And while I could sit back and say, it’s all good. I know it is not.

Even as I type this, the latest gauntlet has been dropped before me – a chronic plumbing problem which has led to two clogged sinks, a leaking pipe, a cracked toilet and the need to replace a bathroom wall where mold has found a home. Damn. As my neighbor – who is also my plumber just said, “nothing is ever easy.” I have to believe that I may not thrive if it were – if it were easy.

The love

As I look back on my last year and the love that has been poured upon me by friends and family, I can only consider myself lucky. Truly lucky —

December was a time for family and friends and I was able to see and hug those most important to me during this month (most of them, anyway) and I happily said goodbye to 2016 and rang in the New Year with people I love dearly, who have stood by me in times of dread and heartache, who have lifted me and brushed the tears away, and presented me with incredible opportunities of professional growth. And I was lucky enough to witness a testament of marital love as some of my best friends sealed their love in a New Year’s Eve wedding celebration.

I would be lying if I said it was a breeze. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of my own broken heart and wedding just 19 months earlier. A doomed union, though I never would have guessed. But it was and guess what? Life goes on.

Those who know me, know I am incapable of lying or hiding such things. They are written in the lines on my face. And in the beats of my heart.

Which does beat on. 

The Path

There are those for whom I have built walls. Many of these walls were built upon misconceptions, lies that others tell, or circumstances I, myself, created. 2017 is my year to tear down those walls, deconstructing someone else’s reality to build my own, laying those stones and bricks under my feet which once were walls and creating the new path I choose to walk – a path of truth and light, a path of joy, of love and friendship. A path of well being. Some have asked why, why now and are you not tired of being hurt? Indeed, I am – but far worse than loving and trusting others is loving and trusting no one.

My path is before me. One I happily walk.

BUSINESS, HUMANITY

Share Your Strength

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Shedding Light

I once spoke at a Women’s Conference called “Business in Heels,” a well-attended one-day event in a beautiful setting. I felt fortunate to be included in their agenda. Not only did I make several new friends, but I learned a bit more about women in business locally and what they are achieving.

The program cover featured slender beautiful legs donned by a pair of hot pink pumps – not exactly my attire, and at the top of my presentation, I told the audience that I hoped next year’s event would be titled “Business in Flip-Flops” – this warranted a low chuckle from the nearly all-female crowd but got me thinking about expectations and how business and life has changed over the last ten to fifteen years. Many women, like myself, and men are fortunate enough to work from home, for a company or running a small business.

Not one morning of my adult, working life have I awakened thinking, “Oh damn, I am a woman, therefore – my day in the world of business will be tougher than if I were a man. How can I fight this injustice?” I simply thought, “Oh damn, the price of Lucky Charms and gas went up again — I need to work even harder so I can afford to be a mom.”  Much of my struggles are no different than other single moms or dads, as well as multiple two-income homes.

Life is expensive, whether or not you have a family.

I Made Choices

Life as a single mom is not easy, but I never had time to dwell on those difficulties. Fifteen years ago, it was normal for me to fall asleep at my computer, writing and working until 1 to 2 am, only to rise by 6 am to get four kids out the door. The end of a couple marriages, surviving a couple controlling relationships that included all kinds of often unspoken abuse, returning to college to get my biz degree, getting a great job then losing my home to foreclosure, being fired from a job I thought was great, unemployment or underemployment for extended periods of time, being drugged but escaping sexual assault while on a business trip, and yet another broken heart….

It’s been tough and I have not been shy about writing and sharing these tough times. The best part? Others have let me know that I am not alone – men and women who have have similar experiences have messaged or connected with me to share their own stories. We all have our individual paths paved with thorns. I readily recognize the responsibility I bear when it comes to my lot in life and the cards I have been dealt. Some of my choices have added to my struggle, there is no denying.

I Am Becoming More and More Aware

With the continued fights against racism and bias, as well as other injustices like LGBTQ prejudices, domestic abuse, and un-equal pay, a resounding personal awareness has come to light.

The fight must be fought by ALL,
not just those who suffer from injustice.

No one who hears my story can believe that I was once an abused wife. “You are such a strong woman, how did you ever let that happen?”

It didn’t happen overnight. It was years of conditioning – of guilt, regret, of “this is my lot”, and how could I possibly ever leave? No academic degree and four mouths to feed. I never thought I could leave until a man, actually several men who were family friends, told me I deserved better. None of my women friends told me to leave. Afraid to get involved? Afraid to break up a family, like I was?

The decision to leave became real when I finally realized it wouldn’t change, it wouldn’t get better, and that one of us would soon be dead. That is a frightening realization. One of us would be dead. 

I didn’t want that someone to be me. I needed to be here for my kids. I had more life to live. And I didn’t deserve it, no matter what I had done or not done – I didn’t deserve to be beaten on a regular basis or fear for my life during the next drinking binge. I deserved better.

Sharing the Strength

The strength of those not subjected to abuses, racism, or discrimination must be shared with those who do suffer, undeservedly or not. If you can be a voice, a hand, a lift – please be that voice and that hand. It is not our place, my place, to remain silent when your/my voice or strength can make a difference.

One more thing…

My fire or passion may not burn within you – and that is ok — we are all in the place or getting to the place where we need to be. It is a journey. My journey – my path – is different than yours.

And if I can share anything, please remember:

Just because you do not see or experience injustice
or inequality yourself doesn’t mean it does not exist.

I never had a bruise on my face, but there were plenty on the back of my head and in my heart.  Lift where you can. Shed light where it is dark. You may be saving the heart or life of your best friend, your brother or sister, your child.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

HUMANITY

The Pursuit of Happiness: Like a Room without a Roof

The Pursuit of Happiness

The best way I have found for me, personally, to combat depression is to discover new levels / places where happiness can be found or discovered: an actual pursuit. Seems elementary, right? I suppose it is, at its base. I want to be happy – I think most people do. But do most people aggressively pursue happiness? Or do they wait for it to show up at their door, unannounced but welcomed with significant fanfare, given today’s social media-infused environment? We live in a strange time – it would seem that gone are the days of suffering in silence, of struggling alone in our heartbreak or addiction, and certainly gone are days of quiet celebration or humility.

Not a Professional

I am not a psychologist; I have visited a few. I am not a doctor of any kind; I have visited many different kinds. Most have wanted to prescribe a pill to help me sleep, to battle light anxiety, to keep me alert, to combat fatigue, to ease digestion issues, and reflux – an so on, you are most likely familiar. I am not against pills or drugs. I am, however, against the masking of issues or unnecessarily prescribing drugs.

Let me clarify, I do not suffer, as many do, from clinical depression or anxiety. I am a person with typical aches, pains, joys, and sorrows that accompany being a human. I’d call myself “normal” if I didn’t have so much trouble believing there is such a thing.

Bipolar Disorder

My father was diagnosed as manic depressive 25+ years ago, before Bipolar became the chosen name of his disorder. He was a light-hearted, loving man who taught me, not only the power of a solid handshake, but also how to see beyond a moment, a place, a person. He truly loved all people.

Even today, many years after his death, I receive messages from people telling me how much they genuinely loved my dad and what a difference he made in their life. That is quite a legacy of someone who suffered severely from mental illness for many years – of someone who made many mistakes later in life – of someone who hurt family and friends with those mistakes.

He never stopped loving people or trying to achieve success. He never gave up on happiness. Just two of the many lessons I learned from him.

The Pursuit

I think it is my responsibility to grow, to develop talents or learn new skills – these things bring me happiness or help me to see beyond a current level of status quo or a feeling of being trapped.

An example of this would be my current obsession with visiting cities or landmarks I have never seen on recent road trips. It’s easy to visit Carmel a dozen times and dine at the same restaurants on every visit. It’s another thing to step outside your comfort zone and take a bit of time to learn something new – you don’t know everything, as much as you would like to believe you do.

Dr. Daniel Crosby, author of The Laws of Wealth,  states in a recent article, “Eighty percent of the non-genetic components of happiness can be controlled by our attitude and by making choices that are consistent with finding true joy. The first step in this pursuit is ensuring that the goals we are setting for ourselves are consistent with finding true happiness.” – Can Money Buy Happiness? Sort of.

Pursuits can be as simple as discovering a new hobby or talent. A little over  a year ago, a good friend introduced me to mosaics. It is an art form very different from what I was accustomed to. I am still learning, even after re-tiling my hearth and a couple window sills, creating several decorative trays, platter, and plates. Expanding my horizons keeps me from being locked in old ways, with old, stale thoughts and same old experiences. For me, NEW = Happy.

Out of the Box

The unexpected in life, as well as meeting new and different people can enrich your soul and change perspectives. You are not done – you are not complete. The moment you find comfort in your own little, lonely box is the moment personal growth retards and doors close for lifelong learning and the actual search for happiness. I am determined to stay outside of that little box which has been my life until now.

Happiness A worthy pursuit, yet somehow, most of us fail.  And in our failure, of what do we miss out?  Does it affect our partners, spouses, families, or friends?  Our work?  Our lives?  Of course, but do we even notice?  We get so caught up in living that we don’t even realize or even care when we are unhappy – it has become our normal.  And then, we fail to recognize when we are happy.  Sometimes, the simplest things alter our attitude and mood enough to allow a little bit of joy to creep in. And sometimes, it’s just faking it – and hell, if it works, why not?

Don’t Miss It

Like grabbing the brass ring, it is easy to miss.  Life goes whizzing by so quickly that we can’t even see the joy we have found or slow down enough to embrace it and feel the difference between happiness and a droning existence or what we think we should be doing, how we think we should be feeling — what the world or our world expects of us.

My Little Tip

I use a fab little app called Sleep Cycle – every morning when I wake, it asks me how I feel. I started selecting the smiley face, no matter how I felt upon waking – guess what? It has made a huge difference in how I start my day. And why wouldn’t it? Perception becomes reality. If it works the opposite way, it stands to reason, right?

Happiness is contagious and NOT underrated. Share it. Like a room without a roof.

**Stay Tuned for my new 3-part Key Point Podcast series with Dr.Daniel Crosby: “The Pursuit of Happiness”