There is a story that is told of two men in the hospital. They were roommates. One man was in a bed far away from the window and the other had a bed that was right beside the window overlooking a beautiful and spacious courtyard. Each day the man by the window would describe all he could see in vivid detail for the other man. He would describe young families enjoying a special day together, giddy couples strolling hand in hand so much in love, beautiful flowers blooming in gorgeous colour, glorious sunrises and breath taking sunsets. The list went on and on. At first the man away from the window really enjoyed these daily descriptions of interesting activity, but it was not long after that he became increasingly jealous and resentful. He did not want to simply HEAR about the flurry of activity outside his window, he wanted to SEE it too. One night the man by the window started having a medical emergency and begged the other man to call for the nurse. Due to his jealousy, he refused and completely ignored the man by the window's desperate pleas. Sadly medical attention came too late and the man by the window passed away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man who was far from the window asked to be moved to the bed beside the window. He could hardly wait! He was desperate to experience the incredible activities firsthand, not vicariously through his roommate for once. Excitedly he lifted himself to get his first glimpse and what he saw left him absolutely speechless. All that could be seen was a brick wall! This story has always stuck with me about how important a positive attitude and perspective is.
I am realizing more and more that mindset is everything when it comes to how we view various life scenarios. Whether something is an ordeal or adventure, a stepping stone or stumbling block often lies within how we perceive it. Sometimes in life we need to reframe a situation to grasp what the true life lesson is, or to give it a positive spin. Two people can be experiencing the exact same scenario yet "see" it very differently. One may see it as an amazing opportunity, and the other may see it as a worst case scenario. We often talk about the glass half full or empty illustration, but our attitudes towards life in general are instrumental in how we succeed in life.
When it comes to a marathon some want to win and others just want to finish. I tell my students to focus on self improvement and not compare themselves to others. Their goal should be to be their own competition and focus on being a little better than yesterday when it comes to their goals. I remember one little guy that I taught would try so hard in class but mostly what he would get was C's. He would get so defeated when he would get his marks back but one area he really excelled in was Visual Arts. He was a great artist and I will never forget when he got his first "A." He was in a state of shock! He kept saying "Thank you Mrs. R.!" I said "Don't thank me. You earned it! You did amazing!" He then said "But you don't understand. This is my first A! I can't wait to show my mom!" This was so much more than one mark to him. This became a catalyst for change as he then started to believe in himself more and that affected his whole school experience in a positive way.
It is so easy to complain. If I am not careful I find myself going down this path easily and often. I have to train myself to reframe some of life's frustrations and put a more positive spin on them. Here are some recent examples in my home. The laundry basket is always overflowing, but we are blessed to have so many clothes and a washer and dryer that keeps on going! The house needs tidying again, but where would I be if I did not have these amazing people to spend my life with? The bills just keep rolling in and I am so thankful we have good jobs and the ability to pay them! What are we going to have for dinner? Thank God we have food and are actually having dinner. It is so cold outside, but we have a warm and cozy home. You get the idea. Life is good! Often what we have some could only wish for. It is easy to get caught up in negativity, but that only leads to discouragement.
I specifically seek out people who have positive mindsets. They keep me grounded, and help me get back on track when my attitude needs a change. Those are the best kind of people. They share their stories of hope and healing. They let you know you are not alone and remind you that usually much of what we stress about doesn't really matter in the end.
Life can be just plain hard. Believe me I have been there. There have been seasons of my life that I thought how can I possibly handle any more pain and heartache? As hard as it was though I knew that If I kept the faith and believed that I was given this pain for a purpose, I would eventually come out on the other side and that has been the case, time after time.
Staying positive is difficult. It can be an uphill battle where negativity and stress weighs you down. Reframing situations to consider what is the good in this scenario or what can be learned from this trial can help us keep moving forward when the times are tough. This quote is very true that says "Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond to it." Is your response in certain areas, weighing you down? I know I have been needing to reframe many situations lately and it is a very effective and handy life skill to develop. Care to join me? I highly recommend it.
Until next time,
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Little Lesson Learned: Looking for the positive or learning opportunity in a negative situation can make all the difference in the world.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019
Today was a very big deal in my small corner of the world. I actually... drum roll please... drove to McDonald's and got myself a coffee! True story. I am sure this small errand does not seem very noteworthy in the grand scheme of things to others, but to me it was monumental. The reason is I have been in a boot cast since mid-December due to bunion surgery and have not been able to drive since then. Today as the ice had melted, I am spending more time in shoes and my pain was minimal, I ventured out on my quest. It is incredible how liberating this little bit of independence, this baby step felt, and it definitely started my day in a very positive fashion.
These past weeks, have taught me so much. It is difficult for someone like me who finds pride in being independent to rely on others for virtually everything. Putting my feet up was necessary, but not always as easy or enjoyable as I anticipated. Recovery takes time and patience is key. Looking over a boot cast all these weeks has given me a very different vantage point. With much time to reflect, here are some key lessons I have learned which I hope you can apply to situations that you may be facing at this time.
Don't Take Anything for Granted
My day-to-day life has completely changed since my surgery. Each day gets better, but generally speaking I have been very housebound and sedentary. Prior to my surgery, I kept very busy, was very active in the community, was always running errands, enjoyed going to the gym with my family and then it all came to a screeching halt. Even walking was very difficult. To become mobile, I started with a walker that I used constantly as both a walker and a wheelchair. Getting up on my feet and going about my regular routine was absolutely exhausting. It was so easy to get discouraged. I even needed help to take a bath. It was a very humbling experience. I had a revelation of so much that I take for granted. I knew I would get better in time but thought about what about those who don't? It was a real eye opener to say the least. My first real outing was our annual Christmas Eve candlelight church service, and even though I was in a wheelchair, I was ecstatic to be there.
Patience is Key
There have been ups and downs in my recovery. My walking has been slow and difficult. I constantly need to focus on walking properly to avoid injury and improper form. Progress was steady and my recovery was on point and then I got an infection in my incision. Pain increased and my spirits plummeted. The progress I had made seemed meaningless and anger set in. Fortunately I was back on track in no time thanks to antibiotics, and nursing visits to my home. Like anything in life recovery takes time and we must be patient and not try to rush the work that is being done to bring us to a point of restoration. Baby steps will get you there. Focusing on the daily progress is better than a race to the finish line. I joked with my family that I can't wait to move from "ice and elevate, to dance and celebrate!"
Your Job Will be Waiting For You
No matter what we do professionally the truth of the matter is as much as we would like to deny it, we are replaceable. So many of us let our careers define us. It is so much of who we are and what brings meaning to our lives. I get great satisfaction from my job and strive to ensure that I am adding value to my students' lives each day. Honestly, I had a difficult time thinking about turning my classroom over to someone else. I love my students. I have worked hard to establish routines and rapport with them and I wanted them to feel comfortable with me leaving them for a short time. I am incredibly blessed. My supply teacher has been amazing. The kids are thriving and he and the support staff have been making their transition time during my absence very smooth and positive. When I go back, the kids have had a very productive and pleasant experience and they were in excellent hands. Stepping away from your job is okay for a short period of time when necessary, and it helps you appreciate the employment you have so much more.
People Step Up as You Step Aside
If I never knew I had a great support network of family and friends, I sure know it now. There has been so many prayers going up for me and I feel it. Not only that, but I have received so many gifts, cards, emails, texts, meals and visits my heart is truly overflowing. I have always tried to live a life that gives encouragement to others, and through this experience, it has come right back to me. I feel so blessed and loved and I am so grateful. My own family has always been incredible, but they have done so much more for me through this process and I know my experience would be so much more difficult without them.
There Are Better Days Ahead
My mom always said throughout my life and during my hardest struggles "There are better days ahead" and she is so right. Through my ups and downs, I have tried to keep my perspective that things WILL get better and I need to remind myself of that. I will look back on this time and be grateful for the season of rest and the invaluable lessons I have learned. Keeping perspective is key. Be open to what the trials teach you and know that you will come out on the other side when the time is right. You and I have what it takes to come through this, whatever "this" may look like in your world. Christopher Robin had it right when he said "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." I am wishing you all the best today and always and even if it is baby steps, remember the fact that you are headed in the right direction is all that really matters!
Until next time,
Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: Everything we go through positive or negative has the opportunity to teach us something if we are ready and willing to see that.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King Jr
Last week I released my blog entitled Hiding Place on my website Little Lessons Learned by Dana. Much to my surprise it has been two years since I have written a new blog. Yikes! I was embarrassed and shocked that it has been that long. I knew it had been a while, but I truly underestimated the "short break" I had taken from the blogging world. Well sometimes it takes a big life change to slow you down and get you back to the things of value. A recent foot surgery has been the ticket for me. It forced me to put my feet up and let my fingers do the talking on my keyboard once again. Needless to say I am very happy to be back.
Starting new things or getting back to old things can be complicated. When I was in my 30's I took a very big step, quitting a job I loved and went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. So far at that point I had worked as a social worker doing substance abuse and crisis counselling, enjoyed being a stay at home mom for a beautiful season and treasured sharing my love of books as a local librarian in my home town. I was now ready to add the title of elementary teacher to my resume. Excited, scared, nervous, happy, all went into the pot of my very mixed emotions. I was seriously afraid in my 30's that I would be viewed as Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies in the classroom. That literally crossed my mind. I felt so old! What was I thinking? Funny now when I reflect on this is if I was "old" back then, what am I now? Hmmm... Anyways moving right along! I was relieved to find my 30 year old self was more the "norm" than the "exception" in that adult learning environment. Many young men and women around my age had had the same epiphany. They decided that going back to school, changing careers and becoming a professional who devoted his or her life to the care and education of young children felt like the perfect career move for them.
A genuine concern at that time was that teacher's college was packed, but teaching jobs were very scarce. Even getting on the supply list was very difficult where I lived. I met many naysayers along the way who told me how foolish I was for quitting a good job to take a chance on an overpopulated profession. My faith however was in a higher power and I pressed on. I believed. I prayed. I concentrated on the fact that if it had been placed in my heart to go to teacher's college, that a job would await me at the end. God would make a way where there seemed to be no way. When I got the call to interview for our local school board I was elated! I landed a spot on the supply list and for three years took daily call-out calls and various long term assignments and then eventually got a full-time contract in 2008. My teaching career was off and running and my hard work had truly paid off!
I often think of where I might be if I had not had the courage to make that change. Life is a series of choices both good and bad. Many things in life we learn from trial and error and many lessons in life we learn the hard way. Many of us have higher callings, gifts, talents and skills that are just waiting to come out. At times we can be our own worst enemy. My husband had been my best advocate and had been encouraging me to go back to school for quite some time. I was the issue. I had to get out of my own way and believe in my own potential and recognise that we would be o.k. if I stepped away from a steady paycheque for awhile. The Bible says faith without works is dead and sometimes we have to put our faith in action to experience the fullness of God's blessings. I am so glad I made a career change. It has its own set of unique challenges like any career, but I do know that I am truly where I am meant to be.
I am affectionately known as Mrs. R. to my students at my school. I have been off due to my foot surgery for several weeks. Recently my supply teacher who is doing an incredible in my absence, delivered a huge stack of homemade get well cards from the kids to my home. It was so sweet to see their words of encouragement and "I love you," and "I miss you" in their cute, childish penmanship. What a precious gesture that was. Feeling you are valued in this life is so incredibly important. It truly made my day and reminded me why it is I do what I do. Having an opportunity to love, mentor and educate kids each day is an honour and privilege and I always want to be mindful of that.
Maybe something has been stirring within you. Maybe you need to start something, walk away, or get back to something. Change can be scary, but can also be very exciting. We were made for a life that is full of joy and fulfillment. We were never made to just exist from day to day. If that is where you find yourself today, some serious self reflection needs to happen as soon as possible. We need to find our passions and pursue them with abandon. It starts with one step. What are you considering? What do you dream about? What is holding you back? Don't be your own worst enemy, but instead be your own BFF. You were meant for more and you will never know how different things could be if you are not willing to take the first step. If opportunity or exciting change is knocking at your door, please don't be afraid to answer.
Until next time,
James 1:5 ~ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Little Lesson Learned: Indecision can be a real "joy stealer." Go after what you want to lead a more joy filled, fulfilling life!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019
Mother nature must be having a good old laugh at my expense, as I was just commenting with my family how blessed we have been to have had such an incredibly mild winter so far. Well things have certainly changed, and not for the better I am afraid. So how is everyone keeping warm these days especially with these record setting, bone chilling, winter winds we are experiencing? No thanks is what I say! I am a sit by the fire, hot chocolate type of girl. Weather like this just make you want to hide away and not face the world, but unfortunately that is not an option.
Feeling the need to hide from circumstances and issues is a common trend. Life can get a little too hectic and stressful for all of us at times and the urgent need to escape sets in. Many people I have worked with over the years as a counselor would share their creative solutions in their attempts to outrun and hide from their circumstances. They would change cities, change jobs, get a new spouse, lose weight, have a drink, adopt healthy or unhealthy habits, or whatever they could do to run from whatever was bothering them. They were sure this would be the change they needed to finally overcome their problems. Although these types of behaviours gave some temporary relief, the problems were still there loud and proud at the end of the day. As the cliché sadly confirms, you can run but you can't hide. The issues don't go away from ignoring them, but actually much to our dismay, they grow bigger.
It is hard to admit when we have an situation that needs addressing at times. I am so happy to see movements like Bell Let's Talk that encourages open and honest dialogue about personal struggles. I remember hearing the quote "we are only as sick as our secrets" and that is spot on. We have had a great series at our church on our thought life. Many great points and take aways were present each week of this motivating and practical series. One recent point was how what we imagine is often so much more stressful than what the reality is. We envision a difficult situation, an awkward conversation or a disastrous scenario and that fear keeps us stuck, unable to move forward into problem solving mode. Delaying decisions does not make them any easier, but instead just makes us more stressed. It is true that some decisions are harder than others and need more time to process, but there are often many that could be decided more quickly if we were just open and honest with ourselves.
Recently I made an important decision to have a surgery on my foot that I have been putting off literally for years. A painful bunion had become too difficult to continue to ignore. I was scared to have surgery. I felt it was not the right time. I would have to be off work. I would be laid up for quite some time. I could think of so many reasons why I could just let it go and continue on as usual. The problem was though, no matter what type of footwear I wore, my legs and feet would ache at the end of the day and my mobility was being compromised. I felt like I was old beyond my years and knew it was time to get it done. The problem had to be addressed, not tolerated. I am in the recovery process now and am coming along. It was difficult and painful. I had it done over the Christmas season. I am off work and laid up, but it is for the best. I will come out a better, stronger, more energetic and active person in the end. The temporary pain was for a greater long term gain and that is what I keep focusing on.
Self care is becoming more in the forefront. We are all living busy lifestyles where we give to others on a daily basis. It is easy to lose sight of ourselves and what we need to do to improve. So rather than hiding our heads in the sand when the times get tough, how do we move from fear to action? Here are some action steps you can start implementing today.
Surround yourself with good, positive, life affirming people who add value to your life. Talk to people who have faced adversity and have come out better people for it. Seek their advice and be honest about your struggles. Give your concerns a voice. You will be surprised how willing people are to love you wholeheartedly flaws and all. Know that you are not alone and others want to be there for you and support you. Look at people who are succeeding despite their struggles and use them as role models and mentors. You can do it too!
Be open to change. Know that your situation can change for the better. Some people remain in their troubled state because they feel that their problems are unsolvable. There is nothing further from the truth. You are not the exception. There is a better life ahead for you if you seek it. It starts with a willingness to believe this is even a possibility.
Be patient. Like anything worth waiting for, positive change takes time. Go easy on yourself and know that every step in the right direction puts you just a little bit closer to your goal than yesterday.
Seek God in prayer. The Bible says that God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Go to God with all your problems big and small. Ask him for wisdom. Ask him for peace and direction. Ask him to give you a vision of how awesome your life can be if you are willing to embrace positive, life giving change. If prayer is new for you, give it a try. There is no right or wrong way to pray. God is there for all of us if we desire a relationship with him.
It may be cold outside my friends but we can be warm inside as we take steps to move forward, stop hiding, get talking and step into the light. We have just begun a new year. Perhaps 2018 was your best or your worst year yet. I don't know. What I do know is though, that there is a better life out there for you if you are are willing to take the first step and believe it.
Until next time,
1 Peter 5:7 ~ Cast all your care upon him because he cares for you.
Little Lesson Learned: When life gets hard, make a plan, not an escape route.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019
So the new year is already in full swing and resolutions have been made. I figure at this point people are either rocking their resolutions or have completely fallen off the wagon. Why is that you may wonder? My opinion is those who fail have very good intentions, yet they often do not have an effective plan in place. They say if you "fail to plan, you plan to fail." I have been on a year long journey of profound change in many life areas and have learn some very successful strategies from some of the best authors, coaches, mentors and motivators. I have studied the ways of the successful and have decided to model their best practices in my own life. Success leaves clues as they say and it is so very true. Implementing these changes daily has put me in a much better place than I was a year ago that is certain. With pleasure I share these five life changing tips that will transform your life for the better if you choose to implement them.
Amazing Action One: Develop a Growth Mindset
Develop a positive, growth mindset. You will never change your life if you have a negative perception of yourself and the changes you want to make. You can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. What does it matter if you have an army of people behind you, yet you yourself do not believe you can change? A growth mindset says: " I am not there YET but I am on my way. I CAN change, but it will take time." A fixed mindset says: "Nothing I will ever do will change my circumstances. I do not have what it takes to be successful, so therefore I will not even try. " The fixed mindset philosophy is very untrue, yet people believe it is true. This thinking therefore keeps people stuck in their old, destructive, unproductive habits. You have the power to say at any time this is not how your story is going to end. Choose to embrace change and look at it as an adventure, rather than an ordeal and you are already on your way. While you are on your journey also, don't compare yourself to others. Everyone has his or her own unique journey and it doesn't matter how fast you get there, but rather that you are headed in the right direction.
Amazing Action Two: Own Your Morning
My morning routine used to be a disaster. Hitting the snooze button every morning and putting off starting my morning as long as possible was commonplace. What I didn't realise was that by doing this every morning , unconsciously I was telling myself that the new day dawning was unsatisfying, and must be filled with dread and negativity. It also insinuated that surely nothing worthwhile would occur that day that would be worthy of me waking up to experience. As a natural consequence of sleeping in, I was then run ragged, running around super stressed with barely enough time to get out the door. They say you either own the morning or the morning owns you. I prefer to own my mornings these days. How I do that is I wake up two hours or more before I have to leave for work. The blessed quiet is so therapeutic. I know it won't last long, so I absolutely savour every minute. The first thing I do after hitting the button to make my coffee is not looking at Facebook, email or returning texts. This will not get me where I need to be. This is responding to others. I need to fill my own cup first. I cannot give what I don't have. I need some "me" time. So how do I do this? First of all I start with gratitude journaling. Every morning I write down five things I am grateful for. This daily habit helps me focus on all I have to be thankful for. Sometimes I write about big things like family or friends and sometimes it is the simple pleasures I highlight like a hot coffee, a warm bath or a good book. Focusing on my blessings puts me in a positive mind frame and starts my day in a very pleasant manner. Next I read my Bible and a personal development book of choice and spend some time connecting with my Heavenly Father in prayer. What a great way to begin each new day. I cannot even start to tell you how this has completely revolutionised my whole day. I cannot control how my day will unfold, but I can certainly control how it starts and realising that has been very liberating.
Amazing Action Three: Start Eating Healthier
My family has completely changed our eating habits this year. Gone are all the processed foods we used to eat. Gone are the frequent drive thru meals we used to grab. We now aim to eat clean most of the time by consuming as many whole foods as possible and limiting the amount of processed foods we eat. We barely eat out and actually prefer to eat at home. Can we have treats and cheats? Absolutely! It is all about balance these days and we try to live our lives by the 80/20 rule. It means we strive to eat healthy 80 percent of the time. Proper portion control has also been a very big part of our new regimen. Knowing what a portion looks like and how much of each food group to consume has been a real eye opener. I challenge you to start limiting your processed foods and start eating more whole foods this year. You will feel more satisfied, have more energy and experience many other great health benefits from a healthier, more wholesome diet.
Amazing Action Four: Start and Stick to An Exercise Plan
I am a Beachbody coach which is an online health and fitness coach. I am often asked in this role what is the best workout program? The answer is very simple actually. The best workout program for you is the one that YOU will do. If you enjoy working out at home like I do, then a Beachbody workout program would be perfect for you. If you enjoy the gym, spin classes, Zumba, running, biking or swimming then faithfully go that direction. The important thing is that you find what you enjoy and stick to it. Regular exercise has such important mental and physical health benefits. If you are trying to lose weight it is so essential too. Half an hour a day is a great way to start. If exercise is foreign to you, try starting with stretches or a walking schedule. They say the only bad workout is the one you didn't do and that is very true. Find what works for you and just get moving!
Amazing Action Five: Find Supportive People to Motivate You and Keep You Accountable
The group experience is so powerful. Oh how liberating it is to see that others too struggle, need support and need to have people with whom to share their success. I run monthly support groups on Facebook where we do just that. It has been such a key to my success as having others to which you are accountable is so vital for profound change. Before I started coaching and running groups I did an initial post about the fact that I was starting my health and fitness journey. I was terrified. I was nervous. I was so far from where I needed to be, but I knew I had to go public to prove to myself and others that I was all in and serious about changing my life. The outpouring of support was huge and I have never looked back. I continue to openly share my story and encourage others to do the same. Keeping quiet about the highs and lows of the journey can keep you stuck, unmotivated or uninspired. The power of "me too" is a very incredible tool for change. I encourage you to get plugged into a supportive network of people. Join a group or club. Get involved in an online community. Go public about your goals and have loving friends and family help you stay accountable. If you slip in your journey, learn from it. It is a stepping stone not a stumbling block if you view it as such.
So here's to a new year and a whole new you. Change can be scary, yet so very exciting too. If you would like more info on how to implement these amazing changes, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or on Facebook. (Dana Lear Romualdi) Good luck everyone. I am in your corner cheering you on!
Until next time,
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~ There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the Heavens.
Little Lesson Learned: Changing your life is much easier if you have an effective plan.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2017
It seemed it was just a regular Monday morning. It appeared to be just a normal, routine school day, but soon we were to sadly realise, this day was anything but regular and routine. It would forever be etched in our memories of a heartbreaking day when we lost one of our own. At break we were called to an urgent staff meeting where we were notified that one of our occasional teaching colleagues, Lynnlee, a family member of someone on our staff, was tragically killed in an automobile accident just hours before. The group was speechless and a heaviness hung like a thick, dark cloak. Tears and hugs and sorrow flowed freely. It was truly unbelievable. She was twenty seven. She was young and vibrant, just starting her life and teaching career. It was just inconceivable to learn that this young teacher, so passionate about life and making a difference in the lives of her students and all she encountered, was gone. It is so difficult to process and understand why things like this happen. At the funeral home there was a huge outpouring of love and support from the people gathered to pay their respects to an amazing person gone too soon. Most touching of all were all the cards and letters the students had made for her, a visible tribute to an outstanding teacher and role model they absolutely adored.
Equally shocking is the news this week of the death of 24-year-old Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez who was killed in an early morning boating accident. Such a promising career ahead of him and about to be a new dad. The nation is still in a state of shock over the loss of such a talented sports figure.
When tragedies of this nature strike it is so easy to be angry and confused. It does not make any sense and the loved ones who remain are left wondering how do they even go on from here? Life becomes a blur where you pray this is just a bad nightmare that you will wake up from as soon as possible.
I remember feeling that way when my uncle died suddenly. He had been up as usual, had some chest pain at work, collapsed and was gone. The family was left devastated and confused. I felt that way when I was told " I am sorry. Your baby is gone." Not once, but three times I heard those terrible words. I recall at the time feeling like I was watching my life unfold in front of me like an outside observer who was powerless to change anything. It seemed everything was moving in slow motion and I could not truly process what was happening to me.
Grief is a very difficult thing to handle. It affects us all differently and comes in waves. One minute you feel that you are handling it all well and then the next minute grief hits you like a tidal wave, knocking the wind out of your sails through a trigger of some sort. Triggers are memories of different varieties using all of the senses. They can be anniversary dates, smells, songs, expressions, or seeing things your loved one enjoyed. The list goes on and on. The most important thing to realize is that grieving is necessary and you need to allow yourself the time you need to do it well.
What has been really weighing on my mind heavily is how unpredictable and uncertain life can be. There are no guarantees of how long any of us have. I know I have been guilty of taking people for granted or putting off important conversations I know I should have with people for another day. This is something I am working on to change. Even this week I have sought out people to have conversations I needed to have, or to freely vocalize to others all that they mean to me. I don't want to miss my chance to tell them.
I have a special heart and burden for those grieving as it has been so much of the fabric that I am. I am often asked by people how do they carry on? My advice is as follows:
As mentioned, grief has no timeline or rules. Give yourself time. You will have good days and bad days. You will have a rollercoaster of emotions and many difficult times, but know that you will come through this.
Don't be afraid to love others around you just because you have lost someone. Don't let your hurt of losing your special someone get in the way of loving those around you who need you now more than ever. Let those you love know how much they mean to you always and never take one single day for granted.
Forgive grudges. Let go of the pain from the past. Move on. Agree to disagree. If we have learned anything about this life, we know we are never guaranteed anything and we do not want to live with regrets.
Live Life to the Fullest
There is no greater tribute you can give to your loved ones then to live the rest of your life well in his or her honour. Your loved one would not want you to hide away, dress in black and stop living because he or she is gone. It is o.k. to laugh and move forward. It is o.k. to enjoy your life. If your loved one was here, that is exactly what he or she would want for you.
Be Open to God's Healing
Complete healing from grief comes from God. Not only does He help us heal, but He helps us use our pain for a purpose. When difficult and heart breaking times come our way, we serve a God who specializes in helping us to eventually use those trials and all they have taught us for the greater good. He will guide us and help us minister, connect and encourage others using the very experiences that we thought we would never, ever recover from. It takes time, but if we are open to it, this can happen. As we journey at our own pace from heartache to hope, we can become an instrument of healing to others and use our pain for a positive purpose.
Seize the Day!
Make every day count. Don't wait for tomorrow. There is no better day than the one we have right now. Your life awaits you. Don't waste one single minute of it.
Love to all,
Joshua 1:9 ~ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous . Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Little Lesson Learned: Life is precious. Cherish every day you have been given and live life to the fullest.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2016
It has been very exciting to sit down and watch the Olympics on TV this month. My personal favourites are gymnastics, swimming and diving. It is especially memorable to see the athletes achieve gold. I can only imagine how that must feel after years and years of training, to stand on the podium, see your flag raised and hear your national anthem played in your honour. It is the moment these athletes have dreamed of and to see it become reality must be so satisfying and yet completely overwhelming all at once. That type of success does not come easily. It requires day after day, month after month, year after year being faithful in tasks that at times may seem insignificant. Putting consistent effort forth each and every day however, has tremendous potential to compound itself into a powerful, positive force to be reckoned with.
In the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, he talks about the truth that there is no real secret to being successful. He shares that success just naturally comes when people repeat positive and productive habits over and over. It makes sense. If you want to lose weight, you must eat healthy and exercise consistently. Having one good day and expecting the scale to move is ridiculous. Being consistent is the key. It sounds simple, yet life has a way of getting in the way even with our best intentions. So how can we go for the gold in our everyday lives and see profound, lasting change? Here are 5 tips to help you get to the top of your podium.
1.Determine your "WHY?"
Your "why" is the core motivation and/or people behind your reasons for wanting to better your life. Clearly define why you want to make changes and who it will affect the most. When times get tough, a strong why will keep you going. A friend of mine was building a home business and her goal was to eventually quit her corporate job. She would get up early and stay up late working her other job in between. She was exhausted, but focused. Her "why" kept her going. She wanted to be more present in her kids' lives. She wanted to be at the bus stop every day for her kids when they became school age and staying focused on that kept her going even through the hardest times. She did eventually quit her corporate job and her home business is absolutely thriving due to her having a clearly defined "why" that kept her motivated.
2. Envision your end goal:
If your goal is to be 40 lbs thinner, envision yourself as such and imagine what that type of healthier life will provide you. If you wish to be more financially fit and are working towards that, envision yourself debt free and what that will do for you and your family. If you are wishing to become pregnant, decorate the nursery and imagine rocking that precious baby in your loving arms. Create a dream board of all that you aspire to achieve. Put it out there and speak positively about what you hope to achieve. Keep picturing the life you will have when you attain your goals, envision it and dream it into reality.
3. Speak and think positively
Phrase what you want to become as if you have already achieved it such as: "I am a healthy, fit calm and relaxed mom" or "I am a highly successful business woman with a large team under me." Don't let negative thoughts or self doubt creep in. By speaking positively and putting it out there in the universe it is your way of saying, "Mark my words, universe this will come to pass."
4. Surround yourself with positive people
They say you become like the five people you hang around with the most. Choose those five people very carefully. Make sure they are upstanding people of substance who keep you moving towards your goals, not against them. Gravitate towards people who edify you and fill your cup so you feel doubly inspired to pursue your dreams when you are with them.
5. Get a success partner
Find someone who is on a similar journey as you, with the same goals and partner up with them. Maybe you both want to start a home business or lose weight or save money. Work on it together and check in with each other often to see how each other is progressing. Share honestly how things are going even if you are struggling. These people will help you stay accountable too as you get each day a little closer to your goal.
Striving for a better life is a continuous process. We should all be striving to better ourselves in many areas as no one is ever too old to learn new things and everyone is truly a work in progress. Life can get pretty comfortable, but nothing ever grows in a comfort zone. We need to want better things for our lives. Don't lose heart. I believe in you. Keep being faithful. If you do, you will see results. It is the compound effect in action. Envision if with me. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and see it. I see your flag being raised and I can hear the national anthem being played in your honour. Can't you see it and hear it too?
Until next time
Proverbs 28:20 ~ A faithful man will abound with blessings...
Little Lesson Learned: Gold medal lifestyles are created by being faithful in the small, positive things each and every day.
Today was an absolutely and positively great day. I was excited to be interviewed on UCB Radio about my book Magic Kisses which was definitely out of the ordinary, yet despite that, my day was quite routine. I exercised, visited with my family, worked on my home business, made meals, spent time relaxing around the pool and did some house cleaning. Not a day that stands out per se, but still a great day none the less. I am realising that truly any day that I can be here to make an impact, love others, be loved by others and enjoy God's great creation is truly the best day ever.
There is something to be said of finding pleasure and being grateful for even our most ordinary of days. I had a little girl in my class once who no matter what we did whether exciting or routine, was always known to say "This is the best day ever!" It would always warm my heart as some days seemed rather uneventful, yet in her grateful opinion, there was always something magical to appreciate. I would frequently smile and think I want to be more like her about my approach to life, because despite her young age, she clearly got it.
We recently vacationed in Ottawa, our nation's capital. The sights and beautiful scenery were truly something to behold. This year we did a lot of walking to the sights, packed a lot of our own food and enjoyed many picnics along the breathtaking scenic views. It was a more simplistic vacation in some respects, yet an extremely enjoyable one. What I find was the most enjoyable was the rare treat of the four of us on vacation together. As the kids get older, it seems getting the four of us together at once is increasingly more difficult. As Shannon and I visited around the pool today, I commented to her that as she gets older, we will have less and less moments like this, and how I for one am going to enjoy every minute of our time together.
Our washing machine has been on the blitz this week so off I went to my mom's to take care of our mountain of laundry yesterday. As we camped out around the washer and dryer, we enjoyed catching up, laughing and sharing memories about our recent vacation with her. A silly annoyance of a washing machine malfunction allowed a special opportunity for a great visit. Trust me I visit my mom often and certainly don't need any dirty laundry to do so, but what I am trying to say is what a great, ordinary day it was.
Ordinary moments in ordinary days are happening all around us. The thing is though, we often take many of them for granted. Karen Kingsbury wrote a very powerful children's book called Let Me Hold You Longer. The touching and emotional book tugs at the heartstrings of every parent as it talks about how we celebrate the "firsts" in our kids' lives, but what about the "lasts?" The problem is we never know when we will get the last goodnight kiss, or the last cuddle with bedtime stories, or the last card saying we are the best mom ever. We just don't know, so we need to savour every one while we can get them.
We ran into a sweet, young mom in Ottawa. She was in the thick of potty training and although she was handling it with grace and class, it was evident she was a bit frustrated. She said to me with a sparkle in her voice "Remember this LOVELY stage ladies?" I replied "I certainly do and believe it or not, you're going to miss this someday." She smiled and said "You're right. That's what they tell me."
The Bible says: This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. It refers to every day not just the spectacular ones, but the ordinary ones too. Every day is a gift that we need to celebrate. Some days are clearly more exciting than others, yet finding the gratitude and blessing in even the most ordinary, simple day will really carry you far.
Until next time,
Little Lessons Learned: Every day is amazing if you view it as such. Consider that.
Psalms 118:24 ~This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Copyright: littelessonslearnedbydana, 2016
The weather has been glorious and it has been so encouraging to wake up and enjoy the beautiful sunshine day after day. Today was a little curious though. It was sunny, overcast, raining, gray and then repeated all over again. It was like the weather couldn't decide what it wanted to be. I couldn't help but make a real life connection to the weather situation, as that is how I feel some days. Some days are just like that. There is the good, the bad and the ugly all in one day. No matter what life throws us and believe me it with throw us some major curve balls, our attitude is truly the key to handling it all. Having a little sunshine in our pockets to make our own or someone else's day a little brighter can really go a long way.
I read a story of a gentleman who worked at a toll both for over 30 years. Where his co-workers would literally drag their feet and pull themselves into what one of his colleagues called her "coffin" for the day, he just grinned and said "Excuse me but I am having a dance party." He would play his favourite tunes and dance the day away. As he completed his mundane, routine task of collecting money, it was hard not to notice the joy overflowing in his spirit to all who passed by. A great example of finding joy where there is only a boring, predictable routine in some people's eyes.
Look for drops of sunshine in each day. It doesn't take much to turn our days around if we are open. A sunshine surprise could be a note from a friend, a coffee left on a desk, a sweet hand drawn picture with a heartfelt message in backwards letters, a concerned phone call, a hug, or a smile. All these things can help make a bad day better or a terrible day bearable. I remember one particular day at school several years ago, I was having some emotional stuff going on and I found myself teary in class. It was not something I could discuss with the students but kids are very perceptive and I know they could tell I was a little "off." At that time one little boy came and just about knocked me off my feet surprising me with the biggest bear hug of all time and later that day a sweet little girl begged me for a chance to share an original song she had wrote. Of course I obliged as how could I deny her adorable face and heartfelt enthusiasm? Much to my delight and surprise is was affectionately entitled by her "Why I Love Mrs. R." Sometimes I am truly humbled by what I do every day and kids sure do have a special way of helping you remember what is really important in life. Lots of sunshine coming from their pockets towards me for sure. I needed my sunglasses in class that day!
I love Justin Timberlake's new song called Can't Stop The Feeling as it talks of having sunshine in your pocket and dancing the day away no matter where you are. I have included the video at the end for your enjoyment. For copyright reasons, it cannot be directly linked to the blog but the link at the bottom will take you to YouTube to view it.
My mom used to refer to this premise but she called it "Keep a rainbow in your heart." It was her way of saying no matter what comes your way today, stay positive and your day will go much better. It was a simple statement, but really made sense to me even at a young age.
Often I have been prompted to say a compliment to someone, or perform a kind, simple gesture yet have questioned the significance. It is always reassuring when I go ahead and do it, and time and time again the person often confirms that is just what he or she needed.
In Sunday School we were taught this little formula that uses the letters of joy to instruct how to have true joy in your life. It goes put Jesus first, others second and yourself last. It makes sense as when we do this, we get our eyes off our circumstances and can reach beyond ourselves and help others. The cool thing is we get helped as well in the process, so it is clearly a win - win.
What sunshine in your pocket do you have to offer? I read a quote this week that stated "One of the best things you can do to improve the world is to improve yourself." Very true. Don't ever question your value. You have the power to make someone's day who may need exactly the sunshine you have for them in their very dark and cloudy time. Think about that. Don't hesitate to shine and keep your own attitude positive. Sometimes we are the only ones available to pull ourselves out of a funk. If that is your scenario, remember the man in the toll booth and know although your daily life may not be all you had hoped it would be, you always have a reason to be happy and dance the day away.
Until next time,
Matthew 5:16 ~ Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in Heaven.
Little Lesson Learned: A little ray of sunshine can brighten the darkest corner.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2016
Isn't summer fabulous? The sunshine, the birds chirping, the beautiful days to spend with those you love. It is such a wonderful season. It is also the season where many are planning special vacations, or little getaways with those they love. This year as fate would have it, we had to put a roof on our house, so that put a little glitch in our vacation plans. Nevertheless we were determined to plan some nice family times, but in a closer vicinity than we normally do. This year our main vacation will be on Canadian soil, which goes a little easier on the pocketbook. No matter where you go though, I am finding it is always a treat to just be together.
On Thursday our family went to Frankenmuth, Michigan. Tyler especially has been working so much, it was so great to have a chance for the four of us to spend time together. What a great day it was! It brought back such great memories of my childhood. Every December our church organised a "seniors" trip to Frankenmuth and by some miracle because our moms were going (although they were certainly not seniors) they allowed a bunch of us kids to go as well. As a parent now, I am surprised that they allowed us kids to tag along, but to our credit we were forewarned about what behaviour was expected and we graciously complied. What a thrill it was to visit Bronner's, a Christmas wonderland that is Christmas themed every day of the year. The fact that we went there during the Christmas season was an added bonus. To say we were excited was an understatement. I saw that excitement in my own kid's eyes this week even though they are older. Something about Christmas that brings out the kid in everyone. We even picked up some special ornaments for them that were a great keepsake from our trip. Other highlights included, shopping in the quaint, little shops, enjoying a local concert, revelling in the tasty food from Frankenmuth's unique restaurants and taking a riverboat cruise on the Bavarian Belle at day's end. A great way to unwind and catch up on all the local history and sites Frankenmuth has to offer. It is only about 2 hours or so away and it was a great day! Our next adventure this summer will be off to our nations' capital, Ottawa which is sure to hold lots of fun and great memories too.
Before school let out we did an assignment on "My Favourite Place." Time after time the kids mentioned the simple locations that gave them the most joy. Local highlights like the Splash Pad at Seacliff Park, Colasanti's, or Point Pelee came up time after time. Often a friend or family member's house was a place that brought them great joy and lots of awesome memories as well. I was touched by their gratefulness for the simple excursions and all that they have to offer, as these are often overlooked. I have really been finding that to be true myself as we have a pool in our backyard. Especially this year we have really enjoyed it. It is a great place to relax, visit with company and just forget about your worries for awhile. Sometimes we can search so far for the perfect place to visit and often it can be right in our own backyard literally. Embracing the simple pleasures is where it is at.
Whether you are travelling far this summer or enjoying a day trip or staycation here are some things to remember.
Take Lots of Pictures
You will want to have memories of these special times and we know how quickly they are over and we get back to business as usual sadly. You will enjoy looking back on the special memories you made.
Cherish the Time
Know that kids grow up and life moves on. You do not know how often you will get opportunities like this again. Enjoy every minute. These times were meant to be special and memorable and you deserve this time with those you love.
Don't be afraid to spend a little extra money to treat yourself to something meaningful like a unique souvenir, a memorable event, or a once in a lifetime experience. Last year we spent a fair amount of money when in Tennessee to go see the Dixie Stampede and to go zip lining. Money well spent. Worth every penny and my family agrees.
Love Those You Are With
Take a moment to pause and thank God for those who are with you on whatever vacation you are on this summer. You are blessed to have them at your side and we never know how much time we are given to love and cherish those that God has blessed us with. Hug them often and let them know how great it is to be sharing these special experiences with them.
Celebrate the moment wherever you are. Near or far there is much to enjoy. Safe travels everyone.
Until next time,
Little Lesson Learned: It doesn't really matter where you go. It is about spending special time together that really counts.
Ecclesiastes 8:15~ So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2016