Category: Discovering Me! Discovering You!

I think it is important for you to know something about me such as who I am, what has been my journey and how I made the decision to start this blog. I want to share the journey I have traveled so far and how I came to be the me that I know and love today. I find it extremely exciting and invigorating to meet other women and learn their stories. This section will share the stories of our lives – not just mine. It is not that I think my life’s story has been so different than millions of other women out there but it may be just different enough that someone will read it and find comfort or inspiration in the “sameness” or just see it as inspiration to look at your own journey and how you became the wonderful you that you are today. I hope that other women want to share their stories as well.

Each day is a new opportunity to learn something new. It can be a new word, a new recipe, a new language – every day in every way we are learning. Maybe we are coping with the loss of a job or a loved one, dealing with a serious illness, helping our children or something that impacts the way our lives used to be and is not forcing us to learn to make the most of our lives as they are in our new reality. Maybe we have entered a new phase of life like retirement, parenthood, returning to school to pursue another degree, taking a dance class or swim lessons. Every day in every way we can learn and embrace something new. Together we can keep learning!

There is Good in Every Day!

There is a saying that has been around for years.  It’s been embroidered on pillows, quoted in books, used in movies – so long that I am not sure who said it first but it still resonates every time I hear it.  It goes “Every day might not be good.  But there is good in every day.

Like many sayings, they are intended to inspire and uplift us but over time we become dulled to its meaning.  This one is worth revisiting.

Even on our worst days, we need to remember that we all have bad days and it’s OK.  The challenge is to try to not let the bad days outnumber the good days and that can be a huge challenge for some of us.  When that happens, we should always challenge ourselves to find at least one good thing about each and every day.  It will lift us and make us grateful for the day regardless of how bad it seems to be.  You might be surprised.  If you find one, you can find others and before you know it – the day is not so bad after all.

Everyday I consider my first first good thing, my biggest blessing of the day is when I woke up.  I get a chance to start all over again with a new day.  We all do!  Perhaps there was a physical, mental or emotional problem that zapped all of our strength and will power the day before but today – we get a chance to face it again and maybe accomplish a little more and find the strength to keep moving forward.

Sometimes, I just go outside and sit in the sun surrounded by the orchids or I volunteer at Girls, Inc. and see the smiling faces of the girls and realize how good the day really is .  We need to find that one nugget inside of ourselves or outside of ourselves that, no matter how bad the day seems, will make us smile and say to ourselves that today is a good day and I am the good in this day!

 

 

It’s not just about the “try” – it’s also about the “do”!

Star Wars character – Yoda “The Empire Strikes Back”

In a lot of ways, our society has become comfortable with the try as being the best that we can do.  How often do you hear “I will try my best” or “just try it” or, when something did not work, “I tired my best?”  As we get older, trying is not enough.  If you go through life just trying, it could mean that you are reluctant to make the commitment to really invest yourself in whatever you are attempting to do.  You are holding back so that if you are not successful no one can say you failed because you tried – you gave it your all. The question is did you really?

A lot of times we are afraid to make a full commitment and we spend our time making a plan.  You can find yourself so bogged down in the planning that you never move forward.  Everything in life cannot be planned and no matter how elaborate the plan, we cannot predict the future.  There are so many reasons our plans may not unfold perfectly.  This fear of not being able to plan everything from beginning to end can stop us from moving forward and fully committing.  Then we get stuck in just planning and trying without every really doing that which we want to accomplish.  This applies to relationships, that next job, the new business, a new adventure, or just getting through the week.

As that great philosopher of our times, Yoda, said “Do.  Or not do.  There is no try.”  Make the commitment to move forward and not stand still or hold back.  Think about saying to yourself I will do this rather then I will give it a try – you may find yourself getting there faster!

Leaving home – At 65 Years Old!!

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

A lot of people spend their entire lives living in the same city where they grew up.  In some cases, living in the same community only a few doors away from family and friends.  I did the same.

A lot of people go off to college and then settle elsewhere not returning to their hometown but deciding to strike with their new found independence.  I went away to college as well but that away was less than 12 miles from my home.

That’s me with the big yellow truck!

As I looked at what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be for this chapter of my life, I realized that there was time for yet another great adventure – leaving home and living somewhere else.  After giving a lot of thought to where, we decided to make the move to a Florida.  Let the adventure begin!

Of course, such decisions are fraught with some heaviness and even a little guilt over leaving family and friends.  But help them understand why you are leaving and they will support your decision.  Most important, don’t make the move to run away from something because you will only take it with you.  Rather, run towards something – a new beginning.  Think of the possibilities that await you.

Baltimore Inner Harbor

The people you love, the friends and family you have known all of your life, those who have fed your soul, lifted you up, supported you and helped to make you who you are will always be there and will remain a part of your life – like that air you breathe.  You will be there for them as you always have been even if it is at a distance.  Sure some of the  spontaneity of last minute gatherings will be lost but the relationships will continue to grow and be a part of you forever.  It isn’t about being easy.  It is about making the effort and being present no matter what form it takes.

So hold on to your past, hold tighter to the present and jump into the future with both feet on the ground dancing in the rain.


Le

Happy Holidays!

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As most of us are heard to say this time of year, I don’t know where the year went!  Particularly this last quarter of the year for me has been so full that I have been remiss in posting new articles to this blog.  For that I apologize but rest assured that I plan to be right back at it as soon as the New Year begins.

I did not want 2016 to end without sharing a few words of encouragement and friendship.  This is the time of year when we tend to be reflective.  We should look back on the year that is ending and assess what we did and what impact we left on those around us.

I try to approach the New Year the same way I approached the past year by asking in what way can I make an impact on every person I come in contact with – whether that person is known or unknown to me, friend or foe, rich or poor, immigrant or countryman.  Everyone has a value and needs affirmation even in little ways that they matter in this world.

I want to remind people that it is in the little acts of kindness that we make the biggest difference.  The things that we give away for free are the things of the most value and bring the most joy – a smile, a hug, a kind word – even in the face of those who do not return the gesture – it still makes a difference.

So as this year ends and the new one begins, tell yourself that you will find little ways to make a big difference very day and your own days will be that much brighter and your heart will be that much fuller because of it.  Forgive someone from your past or present – only by forgiving can you yourself be forgiven.

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I will be back in the New Year with lots of things to share.  Happy holidays to each and every one of you.  I wish you good health, love and many blessings in the New Year!

Happy Five-year Anniversary! Cancer free!

image-e1471727112942-683x1024Milestones along the journey

For most of us who have faced cancer, reaching the one-year mark cancer-free is something we never think we will achieve.  But we get there and feel a little relieved that maybe we can put this behind us.  Then you face the five-year mark just hoping and praying that you reach that milestone – you don’t want to think about it too much because that fear of the now known unknown can consume you.  So you get on with your life, still holding your breath and waiting for the other shoe to drop while praying that it never does.

You’ve done it

canstockphoto34449649Hallelujah!  You have reached your five-year anniversary of being cancer free. and suddenly your heart opens a little wider and you loudly exhale.  The actual number of years may vary depending on the type of cancer you had but the feeling is the same – you are truly back!  You beat cancer!  Your chances are now almost the same as anyone else. Everyone lives with the fear of what they don’t know but maybe now what you don’t know will not be so fearful since you rose victorious from the first time around.

What’s next

canstockphoto19200860No one wants to face it again but knowing that you dug deep and found the strength to get through it once will help you get through any challenge you now face in life since everything else then pales next to having your good health.  The joy you found after your surgery when you heard “we were able to get it all” or when you finished your chemo or radiation treatments with successful results, the joy in just being alive and having one more day is what carries you through each and every day.

IMG_2482-e1471717121349Moving forward with a purposeAsk yourself – what can I do to continue to earn this second chance?  The answer may be as simple as enjoy your life.   Enjoy your successes large and small. Take joy in the successes of others – friends, family, strangers around you – for their joy will only increase your joy and gratitude in being alive and so very, very blessed.

Facing our challenges!

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“Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass.  It’s about dancing in the rain.”*

My favorite expression of all times.  I use it as my signature on my emails and as a silent chant in my head when things seem to be rough.  Everyone’s journey is from time to time fraught with challenges which may seem to rock your very being.  As we get older, we only hope that  it becomes easier to manage our expectations and our reactions to those situations which give rise to the challenges.

canstockphoto4242641It is easy to feel overwhelmed and consumed by a difficult time that is facing you.  Whether it is a serious illness, the loss of a loved one or a friend, a serious argument with or disappointment in a loved one or a friend, the loss of a job, uncertainty about the future, it can all be difficult to handle and make us question how to move forward on our own journey.  When we feel alone and confused, it is easy to start with the negative and get bogged down so that we can no longer move forward.  What we should do is start with the positives – even the smallest things that we take for granted each day – and then with gratitude in mind for what we do have, we can better face the challenge in front of us.

canstockphoto21761971This is a good time of year to step back and take a look at our lives and how we handle adversity.  Do we truly turn lemons into lemonade or dance in the rain?  Do you stand in the rain until your clothes, hair, and spirit feel heavy like a weight that adds to the burden you are carrying?  In Spring and Summer, we shed the layers that cover us in the winter whether it be literally in terms of dressing for the cold weather or figuratively in coming out of the short dark days into the bright sunshine of summer where we can feel lighter and caressed by the sunlight and renewed energy around us.  With that to move us forward and continue our journey.

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*Vivian Greene.

Who do you really call your “best friend”?

canstockphoto7198916We have so many people we hold dear to us

Those of us with spouses, partners or significant others know that they are truly our very best friends.  We also can never minimize the importance and significance of having family members who support us and love us unconditionally.  There are so many people who do not have these people in their lives and those of us who do should be forever grateful that we do.  For those of us who have been on the journey a little longer than others, we have made many friends along the way but none are as close to our hearts and have had as much of an impact on our lives as those who have been with us since the beginning.

canstockphoto2417186What is a best friend?

This is the person who loves you for who you are.  This person is nonjudgmental and always has your back before you even knew it needed to be had.  The person who you can call in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning and just sit quietly on the phone letting him or her feel your pain without saying a word and know that they will sit quietly and listen for as long as needed.  This is the person who keeps you grounded, keeps you real – they knew you before you made it and stuck by you when you didn’t.  This is the person, who after 20, 30, 40 years or more can laugh at the same stories that you only need to start with a few words because you both know exactly what you are going to say.  This is the person who cries at your wedding and takes joy in watching you find love and be loved by someone special because they want only the best for you.  The person for whom you would do anything without giving a second thought because it is as second nature as breathing in and out and it all applies to these special friends in my life.  They all came into my life long before my spouse.  He is my very best friend and these friends have also become his friends – completing my circle.

canstockphoto20549307My longest best friend “Pat”

We met when we were in 6th grade – almost 53 years ago.  I cannot imagine my life without her in it.  Our friendship has survived even though we attended different high schools, lived for several years in different states, followed different career paths and had completely different lifestyles.   Her children became my niece and nephew, her husband became my dear friend, and her family became my family.  she taught me how to be a great friend without even knowing it.

My guy best friend “Bill”

canstockphoto26052453Another of my best friends since “circa” 1969 is Bill.  For the nonbelievers among you, yes – men and women can be just friends.  We met through other friends and realized early on in our relationship that we were destined to be friends forever.  That we kept our relationship at friends was not intended to diminish either of us in the eyes of the other but actually took the relationship to another level where there was no pressure, no holding back – only love, support and great friendship.  Besides being my dearest friend and confidant, he has been my parents’ third son and my husband’s best friend as well.

My artist best friend “Vanessa”

canstockphoto3630272And then there is Vanessa.  We met more than thirty years ago.  We were both dancers.  We first met in dance classes, then she became my dance instructor and later I was a dance instructor in her first dance studio.  We had so much fun traveling to NYC to take classes!  She did me the honor of asking me to be Godmother to her son, Ryan, who is now also a dancer.  In the years since that first dance class together, we have been great friends laughing, crying and sharing adventures along our journeys.

canstockphoto33445312My sassy best friend “Loretta”

We go back about 25 years and it has been a wonderful 25 years.  She has shown me what it is like to grown older without growing old.  We became friends at work where I could take shelter in her office on a bad day or have lunch with my feet up on a chair on the good days.  We had each others backs at all times!  Our friendship deepened even more when she retired almost 15 years ago and we have grown closer over the years since.  She is a joy to be around and a comfort just knowing she is there.

My legal friend “Louise”

canstockphoto26479062Our friendship formed over the meeting of two great legal minds (that’s my story and I am sticking to it) about 15 years ago.  What I immediately loved about Louise is her sense of humor.  Even on the worst day in the worst of situations she can find something to laugh about and delights in bringing you to the party.  She is a delight to be around and together with her spouse (who I affectionately call “Mickey”) they are the perfect people to include among my closest friends.  Louise keeps it real and, in turn, keeps those around her real.

Each and every one of them is part of the circle that fills my life with joy and love and the greatest friend of all is my husband who is my partner, my love, my very best friend and companion on life’s journey.  Ask yourself who are the special people in your life that you cannot imagine not having there for the rest of your life?  Take the time to reflect on the relationships and tell them often how much it means to you.  It doesn’t matter who called last or when you saw them last, they will always be there sharing the journey with you along the way.

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If you could turn back time – would you?

Do you really mean it when you say you hate growing old?

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High school Tai Kwan Do (1965-1969)

At least once a week someone will say to me “I hate getting old!” Considering the alternative, I would like to get as old as possible, thank you  very much.  Sure, I know they are referring to the aches and pains of “old age” but wouldn’t you rather feel a some aches and pains as opposed to feeling nothing?  I don’t feel as if I am getting old – I am just getting older.  There is a difference.  You started getting older the day you were born and each day of your journey you continue the process.  That does not mean that older is bad or sad.  It just means that it is part of the journey.  Without getting older, we cease to live so why not get better as we get older?  Why not continue to grow and laugh and love and enjoy the journey?

Would your really want to start all over again – who would you be?

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My junior high prom dress that I made for myself (1968)

I don’t know about you but I worked hard for every day of these (almost) 65 years.  To go back and start over would be to change me as I am now.  We are the sum of our experiences.  Everything we have gone through in our lives – our joys and disappointments, our ups and downs, our successes and failures – everything we have experienced went into making us the people that we are today.

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Drinking sangria in Malaga, Spaln (1996)

Very few of us go through life without making mistakes, bad decisions, even intentionally or unintentionally hurting others.  If given another chance to do it all over again, I am sure we would do the same at some point.  We are only human.  What makes us the people that we grow up to be is that we learn from those experiences and use them to make us better – more caring, loving, a better wife, partner, friend, sister, daughter and on and on.  Only by failing can we succeed.  If you have never allowed yourself to fail, you have never truly taken risks.  We have all heard that one before.  This applies to work, school, love and life.

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A masquerade fundraiser at the Baltimore Museum of Art (around 1989)

What is the most significant success or failure that you have had in your life?  Even if you wish your life were more like the life of someone else you know or read about – more money, better career, etc., how do you know that it would be your experience if you were able to exchange your life for theirs somehow?  You don’t know what it took for them to be the person that they are. You may even tell someone you love that you wish we had only met earlier.  If that had happened, there is a real possibility that you would not be the person that you are now – ready for love and ready to accept the other person into your life.  We each need to live the life that we are given as fully and as richly as we can.  Live in the present and enjoy each moment because it quickly becomes your past.  So look at your old photos and see where you have been.  Then ask yourself, what would you change if you had to do it all over again?  Do you really want to throw it all out and start all over again?  This is your journey but it only moves in one direction – forward!  Embrace it and enjoy!

 

There is no time like the present to prepare yourself for your future!

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canstockphoto1399857Are you working your dream job?

In our world today, if you are able to make a living doing the things that you truly love to do, things that truly excite and motivate you, things that make you happy to get up each morning and leave the house looking forward to the day’s challenges, you should feel truly special.  Many people go through their day marking time.  Just watching the clock click away the minutes until finally, it is time to leave – and that is sad.  Whether you are new to the workforce or a seasoned veteran in your job, you need to take a look at yourself and at your job to see what you can do to make your job, your career something that will give you the satisfaction that you need.  We all can dream.  We need to see ourselves in those dreams and realize that it is only a dream as long as we do not take steps towards making it our reality.

canstockphoto16950246A lot of people start their work careers at a fast food franchise or cashiering in a big box store.  Many do not aspire to make that their life’s career but don’t know how to move forward and change that position.  Rather than bemoan the fact that you seem to be “stuck” take a look around you and see what you can do to make a change.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  1. Be patient!  I know you want to have everything happen now but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.  Realize that you have things to learn – about the job, about yourself and about working with others.  This takes time and patience.  canstockphoto7810267
  2. Learn all you can about the industry or profession you choose.  Do your research using the internet, personal contacts, professional contacts, job fairs, professional journals, mentors – by any means you can find. Learn about the educational requirements and what it takes to succeed.  Go to job fairs and make inquiries at companies similar to the field you want to enter and see what opportunities are available or how you can break into the field.
  3. Take advantage of opportunities in your current position to showcase your talents.  Perhaps you are very good with people or very good problem solving.  Volunteer for opportunities to work with other employees in positions that many be different from yours to learn more about the company or to just learn how they were able to get the position that they have.
  4. Never, never, never leave free money on the table!  By that I mean take advantage of every opportunity that your employer offers.  Free tuition – take classes!  Whether you start with one class a semester or more, someone else has offered to help you pay the tuition.  Unsure what to study?  Begin with some basic requirements that will be common to any major while you whittle down the courses to what your major will become.  You will still be ahead of the game.  canstockphoto26916544Contribute to any employee savings account that provides for matching funds from your employee.  It is NEVER too early to start saving for your future.  Even if all you can afford is $10 a pay check.  You begin something that will become a habit that you will take with you to every job you have and down the road when you look at retirement, you will be glad you did.
  5. Treat yourself with respect and show the same to others.  A smile goes a long way.  You may be having a bad day but so may your co-worker, or your customer, or even the person you are talking to on the phone (yes, I do feel a smile can be conveyed in the way you talk).  Always, always, always be courteous and respectful and as the golden rule says “treat others as you would have them treat you.”  canstockphoto15751345The customer may not always be right but the customer or client or co-worker is always entitled to your best and your best includes respectful treatment.  Your smile and “Hello, how may I help you” may be the only kind thing that person hears today.  Their response may be the only kind thing you hear today.  It showcases your people skills if you are successful and gives you something to work on if you are not.  If a co-worker treats you disrespectfully, that does not mean you need to be disrespectful back to them.  Try to find a way to have a discussion either directly or through a supervisor or colleague to find the source of the problem.  There are times when you will run into people you just cannot get along with but you can learn to respect the position or the workplace and put those issues aside.
  6. canstockphoto8999957Model your behavior and dress after someone you aspire to be.  Learn your work culture and dress and act appropriately.  Maybe in an advertising firm there is unlimited room to be a free spirit but most workplaces, while you don’t want to be a clone, you don’t want to be the person who looks out of place.  You also don’t want to be the person that does not reflect the particular workplace.  There is casual work attire and then there is appropriate casual work attire.  Unless you are a fitness instructor or work at a fitness apparel company, there is never a good reason to wear stretch pants or yoga pants to work!  Your attire reflects who you are and when at work, you represent the company you work for.
  7. Get a mentor!  I recently heard of a Joseph, young man fresh out of university, who turned down an opportunity become a mentee of another Peter, a professional with whom I am acquainted.  I knew that Peter would be a wonderful mentor because he was caring, compassionate, experienced and connected.  Joseph man felt that when Peter could not point him to a better job during their initial conversation “the man couldn’t even promise me a job!”  It is important to recognize that a mentor may not always be someone who can give you a job.  However, that mentor can make the difference in your ability to find a job on your own.  Mentors are eager to advise and counsel you in how to be the best person you can be.  A mentor can guide you in busness etiquette, advise you on coursework you may need, open doors and help to make introductions to others who may potentially have business opportunities, listen to you and help work through your frustrations or provide help in making decisions.  A mentor can prepare you to be ready to accept the opportunities that come your way.  Never turn down the opportunity to benefit from the experience and knowledge a mentor can provide – they will be your biggest cheerleader and greatest supporter!

IMG_1365Are you waiting for things to happen to you rather than preparing yourself to make it happen?  Whether your journey is just beginning or you are changing lanes, so much awaits you if you make the most of the talents that you have and take advantage of the resources around you.

 

Childless but I’m OK! Really!

canstockphoto10802177Really, you don’t have any children?

It is hard to believe it but even in today’s society, there are times when it seems as if women without children are still looked at as having something missing from their lives. It is as if we could not live a full and happy life without children of our own.  There are many women out there like me.  Women who for whatever reason, find themselves in their sixties without children of their own – no grown children, no grandchildren, and in the thinking of many, no one to take care of us in our old age.  When the question is asked “Do you have any children?”  and I respond “No, I do not” the reaction is very predictably one of three.  The first reaction – after a very pregnant pause (yes, that was intended) – is that the subject is quickly changed to something else.  The second reaction is “Really?  None?  Not even from your first marriage?” as if the response is subject to change.  The third is “Aren’t you lucky!

canstockphoto23683574Does it really matter how children come into our lives?

Children are truly a blessing however they come into our lives.  It does not matter if we are married or single, young or old, actively seeking parenthood or becoming a parental figure or surrogate parent of sorts for a child in need of someone to fill that role in their life.  My approach to life has never been to live languishing in those things that I do not have in my life but embracing and nourishing those things that are present.

canstockphoto10204278There are many ways to have an impact on the lives of children by being a friend, a mentor, and a role model and I am grateful for those oppportunities.  I take great joy in in the accomplishments, large and small, of the children of my friends and colleagues, my nieces and nephews, and so many others.  I love participating in events celebrating the accomplishments of young people.  It does not make me wistful for things I did not experience but joyful in seeing young people grow, learn and develop into the wonderful, loving, successful adults we all need in our future.

Life is good either way!

I recently overheard a woman in my gym saying that she felt blessed that she did not have any children and was able to pursue her career as she did.   I would never considered myself lucky that I did not have children.  It is simply a fact of my life.  It truly takes a village to raise our children and we can all have an impact in their journey.  I feel I am incredibly lucky and blessed to have been able to impact so many children and young adults along my journey and there are so many more that I hope to meet and encourage as the journey continues and hopefully, I will see many of you – with or without children – along the way.

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