A stranger saved my life, I really hope I can pay it forward.

A stranger saved my life on Valentines Day.   I mean a real stranger.  I don’t know if this person is male or female, young or old, black, white or green with pink polka dots.  It doesn’t matter.  What does matter is this person made it possible for me to still be here, to not make my husband a widower.  God willing I will continue to watch my grandchildren grow and maybe have the joy of great grandkids one day.

This person did it in a very simple way.  They paid attention when I did not.  They were disconnected from the many distractions we have nowadays when we are driving and for that I will be forever grateful.

I am a recovering multi tasker.  I would use any little bits of time to get lots done.  Television commercials are a great time to run around the house and do things and quite honestly the way things are going there will be 25 minutes of commercials and 5 minutes of the program.  Wait I think we are already close to that point.

So it is no surprise that I consider waiting at stoplights a perfect time to clean up the passenger seat, rummage through my purse, open the mail I picked up or check my phone.  Pretty sure I am not alone in this.

I was in an amazing mood after a lovely birthday breakfast for my daughter and her family.  I drove away and smiled thinking of the nice time we had together.  I heard the familiar ding of a text message on my phone and was grateful the stop light ahead was red so I could read it.

And I did..a beautiful thank-you text from my daughter.  I glanced up quickly since I was first in line and saw the light had turned green. I started through the intersection and then I heard someone honking their horn.  It was polite honk, not a long angry one but just one long enough to get my attention. Out of my peripheral vision I saw a car to my left that could have broadsided me and honestly I thought “Dumb ass, why are you honking?  I have the right of way with a green light”

Except I didn’t.

In a heart wrenching moment my sanctimonious self glanced in my rear view mirror and all the cars behind me  were still stopped at the stop light.

I wanted to throw up.

I hadn’t seen a green light.  Not only did I go through a red light, but I put myself and that erectile dysfunction other car in extreme danger.  I could have been broadsided, my car totaled and my life taken.  I immediately thanked the driver and my guardian angel for looking out for me and then I cried, turned off my phone and threw it to the back of the car.

I drove the 75 miles home in silence and prayer.

Nothing…and I do mean NOTHING on my phone, tablet or laptop is worth losing my life over or endangering someone else.  So I made a promise to disconnect and I did.  Oh I still have my phone and all my other gadgets but I now control them.  I thought it would be hard to not only break the addiction to my phone and social media and multi tasking but it was not.  I discovered when I limited myself  that I had more time for things I always said I had no time for..reading, decluttering, photography, writing.

I won’t be the one at lunch looking at my phone and I will politely ask you to put it away so we can visit.  Not an unreasonable request.

Ironically sitting at home on my bedside table was a book I have been wanting to read titled:

“The Joy of Missing Out”  Finding Balance in a Wired World by Christina CookFullSizeRender (5)

The title alone says it all and it is a wonderful book.  I now have time to read it.

I still post and read face book and check my e-mail.  I am just not obsessed over it.  I am now embracing “The Joy of Missing Out”  rather than FOMO..the “Fear of Missing Out”

The people who really need me can find me without texting, email or face book.   Call my phone or landline, leave a message.  As my mother says “bad news travels fast” and as a nurse I will tell you there are very few “true” emergencies.

When we visited Italy in 2014  (a dream trip I waited a long time for) I learned to look up everywhere we went. The ceilings, the bell towers..oh my gosh there was so much to take in when I looked up.

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And that is my message to you..Look up, pay attention, be with the people who are with you.   We have this amazing privilege called LIFE.  Let us live it looking up and enjoying the things and people around us.

Looking down almost killed me.  Every time I look up I remember and whisper “Thank-you for paying attention”

Be healthy today in every way!

 

It’s about time..or not! Living without a clock for a day…what I discovered!

As promised I am posting about my day without all the time keepers in my life.  And as promised I am posting it “soonish” which has become my new favorite word.

So in my previous post ( find it here) I had a new awareness about time and what a hold it has on me.  I promised to go a whole day without using my watch  ( I’m addicted to the point that I wear it to bed) or any other of device that displays the time.

Before anyone says “Who has the time for this?”  I will share that it is such an anomaly that I would have a day free to do this and it was a luxury.   I even started to back out on Sunday night ( because seriously who has the time for this!) but since I coach people on how to get out of their comfort zones and since I am always hearing how people don’t have time to eat well, exercise, journal, meditate, or even just take some time for themselves I KNEW I needed to make good on my promise.

I reluctantly gave up my watch when I went to bed and wondered what the day would bring.  Oh I also covered up the most obvious time displays ( oven, microwave, computer, phone).

I actually didn’t officially start until 12:30 am thanks to my cat who woke me up because she got trapped in the garage and I had to disengage the alarm system to get to her…and there was the time shining at me on the wall display…I was half asleep so it wasn’t really my fault.

So in  nutshell here is what I discovered:

  • It was surprisingly easy to NOT know what time it was.  I was aware and careful and as the day progressed I REALLY didn’t care or want to know the time.
  • Couldn’t use the sun to gauge  it since it was raining and cloudy..oh well.
  • I was very focused and got a lot done ( this was a surprise)!
  • Without the clock and all those little voices in  my head telling me I was wasting hair loss time, I actually DID NOT waste time.
  • It was relaxing with no pressure to hurry up.
  • Some of what I think about time is habit and some of it is lies I tell myself ( no time for this, I can do this later etc).
  • With no clock to tell me what to do or how long to spend on things I found my own rhythm for the day.
  • I try to control it all the time but it really controls me.
  • I try to cram way too many things into one day which frustrates me and makes me feel unaccomplished.
  • Eating when I was hungry and not because it was lunch or dinner time was much more satisfying although my body went from “a little bit hungry” to “I am starving” in a very short period of time.

To be honest I thought I would hate this kind of day.  I thought I would be unproductive and frustrated and go through withdrawals without my watch or some other form of time keeping and it ended up being just the opposite.

I thought I would be all upside down without it and what it did was really turn me back to right side up!

I actually miss not keeping time and I quit wearing my watch to bed.  I don’t think I cured my procrastination habit but I certainly have some new awareness of how focused or unfocused I am…for some reason not looking at the time quieted all those “squirrel” moments that distract me from my intended tasks.

And in the end it was not about the clocks, watches or any other displays of time in my life.  It was and is about my perception of how much time I need, how I spend it and how I value or don’t value it.

So how about you?  Are you ready for a timeless day?  Want a little coaching about it?  Let me know here and we can get started.

And here is my favorite clock of all in my  house that loudly reminds me to “Go out and have some fun with your time”  Don’t you just  love it?

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Lessons about freedom from a dog leash..who knew?

Well if this isn’t the perfect post for Your Upside Down Life because it’s perfectly upside down. I had no idea when I picked freedom for our theme for July that I would learn about freedom from a dog leash.  I don’t think anyone would put freedom and dog leash together especially when it really has nothing to do with putting a dog at the end of the leash.

Our trusty dog leash had a mind of its’ own.  It was constantly disappearing and reappearing and causing me immense amounts of stress especially when I was in a hurry and needed to get the dog out before I left the house.  Our dog, Max, has a mind of his own as well and will take off in a flash when not on a leash, return about 30-45 minutes later, happily covered in mud.  Just what I don’t need when leaving the house.  So the leash is NOT optional.

I had tried setting hard and fast rules about where to keep the leash but SOMEONE in this house would constantly NOT put the leash back in its designated home.  And that someone would be me.

Things needed to change.  I could no longer leave the house stressed out, in a bad mood and mad at everyone especially myself.

I had no idea one dog leash could cause me so much distress.

Finding a good permanent home for the leash was the easy part.  Putting it there after every walk with Max made my head hurt.  In case you haven’t guessed I was not “born organized”.  I had to think about it EVERY time for a long time.  I know they say ( whoever “they” are) that it takes 21 days to change a habit.  Well they never met me or my many NOT born organized friends.  I didn’t keep track but it took months and a conscious effort on my part to put that dog leash back in the drawer each and every time.

Even though I slip up now and again, it feels weight loss amazing to reach in that drawer and the leash is there EVERY time. Simple I know but it frees me from last minute stress and that one simple habit is helping me alleviate stress in other areas of my life.

There is an old saying that “being organized means you are just too lazy to look for stuff.”  I love that saying because it makes me laugh  but the truth is I was tired of looking for stuff like my glasses, my phone, the cordless home phone, my favorite pen.  You get the picture.

The dog leash craziness taught me a couple of things:

  • patience with myself   ( it took months to train my brain with this habit)
  • acceptance ( lots of my creativity comes from being “random” ( thats a fancy way of saying disorganized) and its not a “bad” thing just part of who I am
  • slowing down   I had to slow down and consciously put the leash away

All of the above “freed” me from negative self talk, wanting to be something that I was not ( naturally organized) and gave me permission to just slow things down which I learned was a major part of the problem.

What I have noticed that by changing this habit of constantly losing the dog leash I am suddenly aware when I randomly put my glasses, phone, or keys somewhere they do not belong..this little voice says to me … “Oh no you don’t!  You will be looking for those in about 2 minutes…put them where they belong”

That little voice suspiciously sounds like my mother but I’ll take it!

And now when I see the leash I smile. I love my creative side. It is part of my essence but I also love that I can learn to be more organized and less stressed.

The leash  came with Max ( the endless shedding dog) when we adopted him. I love the irony of the design on it. Who knew it would teach me peace and freedom?

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Quit Eating and do this instead!

We are obsessed with food and we can’t live without it.  This time of year pumpkin recipes, ideas for football game snacks and holiday parties are plentiful.  Our state fair is in progress and its all about the fried food.  Everything  from fried oreos to fried sweet rolls wrapped in bacon and covered with sugar.

We eat.  We eat a lot.  I’m guilty of it for sure.  I love food.  Who doesn’t?

I just got back from a dream trip to Italy ( fair warning you will hearing a lot about it )  and a couple of things about Italy:

  • It’s hard to find a bad meal in Italy..it is all divine even at the smallest dive
  • They LOVE their food.
  •  I’ts more than food to them it’s a way of life.
  • Fresh food is delightfully abundant.  In NYC you might find a Starbucks on every corner.  In Rome you will find a fresh market.

And yet Italians rarely eat.

No they do not.

They dine.

You might argue that it’s a matter of semantic or words but I promise you there is a big difference.

This is what we saw everywhere and because we stayed in some very small local towns so I can guarantee it is not just for tourists.

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We laughed that every spare space, be it in an alley or just on corner, the italians would find a way to put a table there. They love to dine outside and watch the world go by.

Coffee is everywhere but not once was I served in a “to go” cup.  People premier-pharmacy.com took their time and sat down to drink it ( even in busy Rome).

There are no drive thru’s and not once did I see anyone eat in their cars .  Of course the way they drive that would be a disaster anyways.

We even drove past a picnic one day complete with a table, red checkered table cloth and real wine glasses.

What would happen if we actually sat down and dined rather than just eat?  What if we made it an experience, took our time, used real plates,and  real cups?  And what if we did this even if  we were dining alone?

I know what would happen because I experienced it.  Food would be enjoyed,  eaten slowly and with purpose.  It would be an experience to savor.

Maybe the problem with weight in this country is not so much what we eat but how we eat.  I know some of you are thinking you have no time.  I get it, and yet you only need to start with one meal.  Try it.  See if it makes a difference.

If you need a baby step then start by asking for a real cup at Starbucks ( they have them, I promise)  Sit down, sip and  breathe.

So don’t eat today. Instead dine with purpose and pleasure.  It will make a difference.

 

 

Sage advice from my 87 yr old Mom

How many times did I roll my eyes at advice my Mom gave?  Too many times to count and now I wished I had listened a little more carefully.  There is, however,  one piece of advice that she gave everyone everyday without even opening her mouth.

It came to mind recently when there was a news report that researchers have discovered that stress is contagious.  I laughed at that one.  That is old news to anyone working in a high stress job.  Those researchers could have saved a lot of time and  money if they had just talked to a few nurses.

I know from experience that when everything is hitting the fan it makes a HUGE difference if the nurse in charge stays calm.  The same situation looks and feels vastly different when the charge nurse  is losing her cool.  I’m sure that can be said for any stressful anti anxiety situation.

As Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD said in her book “My Stroke of Insight”:

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Here is another contagious stress inducer: Multi tasking.  I am sooo guilty of this.  As a matter of fact I was thinking about this blog post and my Mom’s advice as I was racing to get out the door and started to laugh.  In the midst of multi- tasking and rushing I dropped and broke 3 things, tripped and did everything poorly until I slowed down and gave myself an extra 5 minutes.  That is all it took, an extra 5 mintues

So what advice did my Mom give us everyday without opening her mouth?  Here it is and it still hangs in her kitchen.

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Sometimes it is the simplest solutions to the biggest problems that work best.

Thanks Mom and Happy Mother’s Day..a little early.