Striving for Fall

As the holiday weekend approaches, it is the official end of summer.  Yes, in the south there will still be days of 90 or higher, but already the temperatures are cooler at night. The first day of fall is still some time away, but you can feel the shift in the air and in the attitudes of people.  Summer is carefree, vacations, day drinking, out on the lake, lazy weekends.  But fall is one of my favorite times of the year.

For me summer has always been a busy time, but in fall I can enjoy my days more.  Windows are open so a  fresh breeze can flow through the house, but this time with no danger of pollen. Temperatures of more enjoyable as the heat of summer subsides, making outside patios more inviting.  the humidity lowers a bit, and even on the cool evenings it is easier to spend time on the deck with friends, sipping wine or hot tea.

The weekend is the last blowout of summer.  It also brings with it my father’s birthday – he would have been 82. And so a quiet toast to the man who was my first love, the man who taught me how a woman should be treated, the man who made my mother so undeniably happy.

This weekend also brings the welcome of the next season for me.  I have worked hard to get everything lined up, and with a lot of prayer, sweat equity and faith, it is all coming to fruition.  All I have to do is stay the course.

But what do we do when life is falling into place?  That may seem like a strange question, but it makes sense.  We strive, because we must always work hard to be better and to be curious of the world around us. When we stop learning and growing then we become stagnant.

Sometimes that means fine tuning our daily habits.  Because ultimately our daily habits define who we are and what we are to become. For me, this means, as much as I hate to admit it, I need some routine in my life.  I am working on getting to bed earlier, to get up earlier, work out, drink more water, read more, depend on technology less. Which means I need discipline to reduce the bad habits.

By reducing our bad habits, we open the door for more positivity to come into our lives. And who can’t use more of that? Oh, but it is hard.  Because we certainly do enjoy those bad habits or at least I do.  But maybe if we can reduce the frequency of the bad habits, then they can instead become guilty pleasures, to be indulged less often, but enjoyed much more. And maybe that is one of the secrets to life.

So this Fall I strive. And hopefully striving will continue to thriving. And the warmth of all of it, of a happy life and a happy heart, will keep me cozy during winter’s cold.  After all, there is nothing like a fire in the soul to heat the heart and the home. So strive.

Life is short.  Make it good.


Motivation’s Ghost

Motivation can be hard.  And there are a thousand, maybe eve a a million reason to procrastinate being motivated.  And it could be about anything – to exercise, to do work, to clean the house, organize, get a new job, or anything else that maybe we don;t want to do.  What I have found is that motivation, or lack there of, and procrastination go hand in hand.

Why is it so hard to get motivated to stop procrastinating, get off the couch and get busy doing the things we need to do?  I am not truly sure, but it is probably a combination of things depending on the person and situation. It is something I struggle with though, and many others do as well.

I usually procrastinate for several reasons – If I dread or do not enjoy the task.  If I am afraid it will take a lot of time.  If I am not sure if I can do it well.  And usually once I get started it isn’t all that difficult. It can also be hard to stay motivated when you are alone.  When you have others in the house with you, you can work on the buddy system, so to speak.  If the other person knows you are supposed to be working out every night, or cooking better, or working on whatever goal, they will ask you why you are jut sitting on the couch?  And then you are motivated.

Many times we set out with lofty goals for the day.  For me, I will get up early, do some PiYo, work hard at writing, do the documentation that I need, write blogs, work on the book, work out more at lunch, eat right, clean the house, cook a healthy dinner…and then I get home, get comfortable, and before I know it time slips away and it is 9pm.  Too late to start anything really.

Maybe the trick is time management, and not procrastinating so much.  Because if we did not procrastinate, time management would not be a problem. At least for me. I have read many things about how to  get and stay motivated. The term just Do It isn’t so popular and a part of our culture for nothing.  and that is what we have to do – is just do it.  we have to make ourselves get off the couch, do the work, the cooking, the cleaning, the exercises, the whatever.  that is why it is not easy. If it was easy everyone would be good at it.

It takes strength and perseverance to accomplish motivation.  And sometimes it takes something else.  I am tapping in to two things right now to help me. One is giving myself a deadline. The other is keeping my friend Melissa in mind.  before she passed, she talked about not taking your life or your physical body for granted.  She talked about how she used to resent having to exercise and would make any excuse not to do it.  Then, she got cancer and was too weak to move around by herself.  She said she would never resent having to do anything like that again. She would celebrate being able to exercise to move around on her own every day from that point, but she never got the chance.

So here I am, looking at the treadmill. And running is hard, though it feels good afterward. Obtaining our goals is hard. But something happens when you take the dread, procrastination and resentment out of the picture…you actually get motivated.  You love yourself despite of yourself – even of you don’t like everything about yourself or your life.

So motivation is slowly coming back. I call it Motivation’s Ghost, because he shows up just a little bit at first, here and there.  And then, if we grab on, maybe he will stay a little longer with each visit, until he is a regular.

Goal Boards and Celebrations

I do one every year to high light the things I want to accomplish both professionally and personally.  It’s a goal board.  And the first time I did one was back in 2007 with my wonderful friend Melissa who recently passed away.  Every time i create a goal board, I think of her.

We all need goals, we all need reminders to keep going keep working, keep improving. We must always remember to be curious about life and all that is around us.  because as long as we are learning, we are growing and developing.  When we stop being curious about the worked around us, we are become stagnant.  An I never want to be stagnant.

This next goal board, this next chapter in my life is going to be one of celebration.  For the first time in a long time, almost 10 years, I will be in charge of no one but myself.  I will be taking care of no one but myself.  And there are many things on that goal board to attain.  TO find pure happiness and joy again – which is an ongoing process.  To enjoy love and passion (and hot sex – if you want it, you have to put it on the board).  To continue writing, but on my terms, to travel, to laugh, to truly have my friends as my family. And to create a life where love is so present that it is tangible.

And then there are the standards: The get back into shape, get back into investing, take better care of myself.  But these goals are no from a place of hope and happiness.  The struggles are finally over, and it is time to truly live this life in all the glory and magnificence it was meant to be.

To enjoy the small things, like working on a place where I see the Batmobile every day, and giggle.  Where it is rewarding and fun, and the people are great. And to celebrate everything for which I have prayed being granted to me.  To continue to exercise and get stronger. I continue to dream and work hard.

And that is what life is about. Even in this day and age of photo filters, the Kardashians and  bigger is better, and rich is the best, o continue to work to be a better human being never goes out of style.  To always strive to improve yourself is never a waste of tie, because what better investment to make that ourselves and our lives?  So leave the bad parts of the past behind.  Keep the lessons you learned, move forward and always keep those goals in front of you.

Head On

Head on.  Most people fear that phrase a bit, because it is usually followed by something bad.  But I like the phrase, because it describes how to handle problems, issues and demons.

I remember my grief counselor telling me that dealing with the grief of losing both parents and my boyfriend and his family would be difficult, but that the only way to do it is head on.  She looked me straight in the eye and said, “You have to face it head on. That is the only way you can do it and be healthy.” And so I did. And she wasn’t lying, it was one of the most difficult tasks that I could do.

But the reward is worth it.  Because when you face your problem head on and deal with them, there is no residual left. When you come out of the other side, you are stronger, better, finer, healthier and happier. And again, you might as well, because your issues, problems and demons are going to be there no matter where you go. You cannot out run them – they will keep pace.

But it requires courage, as facing things head on is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, downright brutal actually.  But that it is the best way, to face not only the bad, but the good as well.  The best way to face life really, is head on.  Because you cannot go under, over or around life…you can only go through it.  So give all of yourself to it, every bit of you, and face it. All the laughter, and tears, and love and pain and lonely nights, and glorious mornings.  We are here, so we might as well.  What else have you got to do?

So dance with your demons in the pale moonlight.  Get to know them, so that you may get past them. Head on, straight from the hip, eye to eye. There is nothing more brilliant or beautiful than the strength of the Human Spirit shining through dark waters.

Once you are done, you will be at peace. And that which gives you Peace, will lead you to happiness. Not bad for two little words.

Don’t Chase Happiness Do This Instead

According the the magazine Psychology Today, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction. We all want it, that ever illusive Happiness.  but how exactly do we get it?  Ah, that is the question.

Many books have been written on the topic as so much are seeking the answer, trying to find happiness. Including myself.  But I don’t think it is found by chasing it.  Because we can get so busy chasing happiness, or what is supposed to make us happy, that we end up running the wrong race. I think that happiness is not something we can attain by chasing.  I think that it is something that comes to us, seeks us out even.

Most think that they will be happy if they only have that job title, or that house, or that partner, or the life.  But the fact is that many people reach those goals and still feel unhappy. Why is that? I think it is because we are going about it wrong. We go about it backwards.

I say this because we go after the job titles, buy the clothes, the house, the car, then expect all that to make us happy.  We expect to be able to cross things off of our mental checklist and when all those goals are checked off, we are supposed to be happy.

But what if that is all wrong?  What if there is another way? What if instead of going after the job title, we instead go after after a job where we feel fulfilled? A job where we feel like we are useful. For instance, I love writing, being part of a team, and being somewhere that I can contribute. The title doesn’t really matter…what I love to do can be called a copy writer, content developer, technical writer, knowledge writer, Content writer, document specialist, communications specialist, content expert, UX researcher… you get the idea.  So who cares what the title is?

Same thing with everything else in life.  Figure out what makes you happy as far as your career, and go after that. Same with relationships. Figure out how you want your relationship to feel, then follow what makes you feel that way.  If we follow and go after that which makes us feel the way we want, then happiness will find us.

Don’t worry about that checklist for a “perfect partner.”  I’ll save you the trouble – a perfect partner or relationships doesn’t exist. And we can Checklist ourselves right out of happiness. Go after the relationship that makes you feel valued and loved, needed, wanted, fulfilled, important and gives you peace.

And when we do this, happiness finds us.

What if life throws a curve ball, and suddenly, all that made you feel good suddenly shifts or changes?  Well, that’s OK. Then you just start paying attention, start listening to your soul again, deep down, to figure out what makes you feel good again, what makes you laugh, and smile. It’s all there, all those things, it’s only a matter of being true to yourself and following the bliss. And it’s OK if it takes some time to figure out.

This is where I am actually.  So much has changed, and I have changed, so naturally the things that made me feel fulfilled have changed.  And getting back into the habit of keeping up with the things that still do make me feel good can be tough too.  But life is a process. A beautiful, messy, amazing, hard, tragic, magnificent, magical, funny, sad, incredible process.

To start the process, get involved with hobbies and activities that make you feel good, that make you feel alive.  Always be curious. Ask questions, and learn new things.  When we stop learning is when we stop growing and living.

It almost sounds too simple doesn’t it? But some of the best things in life and the most simple.  There will still be bad days, bad moments, even bad times. But there will be a lot more good than bad if we are willing to follow how we want our life to feel.  And if it doesn’t make you feel good – then get rid of it. Whether it is a job, career, partner, whatever.

Life is short, make it good.


The Present of Being Present in the Present

We have heard it many times – to be present, to be present in the moment. But what does it mean exactly? How do we do it and what is the advantage?  Is the message just some new age hoopla?

No, not hoopla at all.  And to me, being present in the moment means that you are 100% mentally, physically and emotionally available in that moment. There are no distractions, no multi-tasking, no worrying about later, or thinking about the past, just enjoying what and who is in front of you. Oh, but that is so hard in this day and age isn’t it?  And in this day and age of 24 hour news, all the time social media and never taking vacation, it is even possible?

Yes, but it takes effort, especially when we are in the habit of being so scattered that the idea of focusing on what is in front of us seems foreign.  that means putting the phone down, not Facebooking and not answering text messages unless it is an emergency.

And what about the benefits? Those are the best of all. You get to enjoy every rich, wonderful moment in this life, with those whom this life gives you.  You make memories that are etched within your heart. You experience life with such a profoundly deep fashion that you truly live, not just exist. Because there is a difference. Being truly present is like applying electricity to a light bulb. It illuminates every corner and facet. You are here, now, on this planet, so you might as well be present.

You also give the gift of giving those around you your total and complete attention. You give them your complete time. You give them 100% of yourself. And don’t we all deserve that?

So give that gift not only to yourself, but to all those who are around you.  Life is short,  make is spectacular.

Do Something That Sucks Today

We all have those things that we have to do that we dread, or even resent.  Whether it is exercising, moving, or even carrying a bunch of groceries up three flights of stairs because your apartment building doesn’t have an elevator.  But we forget something, we forget that we have the ability and health to do these tasks that we complain about and dislike so much.Because let’s face it, these things suck. IT sucks that we have to exercise to stay in shape – no pain, no gain. It sucks that we still must do errands in the rain…

My friend Melissa talked about this when I went to see her three months ago. She talked about how she missed being able to walk to the mailbox. And later, when she was so sick with cancer, she vlogged about not taking your health for granted. She talked about resenting having to run for exercise, or all the cooking and cleaning she did, or having to take her toddler out to run errands out in the the rain. And she talked about how we should not resent those tasks, because we were able to do them, because she would do anything to be able to do them again.

And she was right. I have resented running on the treadmill, even called it the dreadmill. But how blessed I a that I can run, that have the energy and ability.  That I have the stamina, that my knees are still good, that my body still works in the way in which it was designed.

Her recent passing has taught me many things. And she has inspired me to run more, but not just to loose a few pounds or get in better shape, but to also celebrate my body and my health.  Never take your health for granted, or your abilities or what your body can do.  Even those things that we don’t like, celebrate the fact that you can indeed do them.

So today when I run, when I am moving furniture around, when I have many grocery bags to bring in, or when I am bending over weeding my large garden…I will be thankful that I am doing all of these things.

So get out and celebrate what you can do, what you were designed to be able to do. Exercise, lift, move, be active. Appreciate it all. Go out there and do something that sucks today.


Sweet Melissa

It is never easy to loose a friend, but harder when they are so young.  We met 23 years ago in Albany Georgia when I was working in radio.  She was dynamic and dazzling.  She was a force and an amazing on air talent.  She taught me how to produce a morning show, and was always generous with teaching when she knew.  We lost track of each other, as people do, for about 10 years. Then I recognized her voice on an Atlanta radio station and contacted her out of the blue.  From then on she was an amazing force in my life.

We have had so may conversations, we have helped each other professionally, we argued, we have supported each other through many life situations.  She was there for me when my Mom died, she was there through countless breakups and makeups. She taught me about making goal boards, and I have done them every year since that first one we did together.  I could always call her and she would talk me off the ledge, tell me to take a deep breath and make decisions from a place of calm.

She was a firecracker and had no problem telling anyone what she thought. Nor did she have a problem telling you how much you meant to her either.  I remember so many good times and great conversations.She was so giving as a person, as a human.

And when she called me 3 months ago, to the day, and told me she had cancer, my heart sank. I went to visit her and that time was precious. We would learn it was kidney cancer that had spread to her liver, lungs, breasts and brain. It was aggressive. She did immuno-therapy treatments and radiation. She fought for her life. And she did it with grace, humor, optimism and beauty.

But some things in this life just don’t make sense. and her having cancer at 44 is one of those things. I will miss her.  And I hate cancer. I really do. I almost called her Monday, just to hear her voice.

To honor her, she has taught me not to hesitate to make that call.  And to live life to the fullest.  Not to make it about yourself, but about the lesson. So many memories are flooding in…the trip to Savannah, the girls trip to Chattanooga, so many phone conversations, and talks over wine, dinners at Ritter’s, walking around the neighborhood, looking at and choosing her apartment when she moved to Nashville, building our first goal boards, going to readings and events. Going over to her house in my PJs after a bad break up, and she answered the in her pjs too, so I would feel better….and so many more.  So many laughs, good times, conversations and more.

Goodbye my beautiful friend. I love you and will miss you.  I am blessed to have had you as a friend and mentor.  You touched so many lives and inspired so many people. She recorded a series call Adventures in Cancer where she wanted to share and teach others through her experience.  She said she knew that this cancer was not about her, but about the story, the lesson and helping others. She recorded this yesterday, the day before the passed. She leaves behind her parents, 3 children, 4 step children and an devoted husband who was the love of her life. Please say a prayer for her family that she leaves behind.


Fall in Love Again

I fell in love with running back in 2001.  This is when my mother first came down with cancer (which she beat). I read that it was a good way to relieve stress, and since I wasn’t dating anyone, I needed a great way to get rid of stress. I ran around my then neighborhood, up and down hills. And that was it, I was in love.

I loved the way running made my body feel. I loved the challenge, I loved pushing myself, feeling what my body could do, when I pushed it past the point where it thought it could go. I loved how good my body felt afterward, and how the exercise affected me.

And I loved the runner high I got. This was only me time. Intimate, I listened to my body telling me what it needed and how far it could go, how much I could push. It was listening to my own breathing,and rhythm. In my mind nothing else existed but the rhythm of my own breath.

And since 2001, I have run on and off, each time rediscovering the beauty of running and all that wonderful intimate time with myself. And here it is, 17 years later, and I still love to run.  I haven’t done it seriously in about 2.5 years. I recently started back again ad have fallen in love all over again.  rediscovering the wonder and drive of the run.  Pushing myself to go harder, longer, faster and better than the last time.

It is slow at first, getting used to the rhythm, getting used to the stride and the gate. It is working past being out of breath, and the cramps and fatigue that go along with it.  In a way, it t exemplifies my life.  In my strive to be better I often push myself past what I thought I could do.  Well, it has to be done and failure is not an option. The difference in that this, running, is for my health and benefit, instead of in spite of it.

And as I run, I focus in on this new phase of life and only what I want, what my body wants and needs.  There is clarity in the runner’s high. What I want is Life.  I want laughter and fun, and the reward of hard work.  I want to study ad learn, and apply that information. I want to build this life. I want Love and passion. I want long kisses and holding hands and teasing and breathless moments,  I want smiles and flirting and dancing in the kitchen. I want thrills and adrenaline, because I want to play. I have worked so hard and now it is time to play just as hard. I want a good, filled, well lived life.

I want, and will take, the earnings of the past few years. Meaning that I will take what I know to me w=mine, because I have warned it with each tear that fell down my cheek.  I have earned it with each broken, shattered heartbeat. By the grace of God go I, and by His Grace I have come this far. And now, it is time for me to enjoy life.

So here I am, running again. Listening to my body again. Pushing myself again. And falling in love again with running. And that is what I would say about life: Fall in love with you life again. Work through the issues, push past the pain, and see the results. Smile and go further than you thought you could. Because that is the thing about life, it is never too late to fall in love again.

Life is short. Make it good, make it fun, make it worth while.