Movie theater

A movie at a movie theater is still the best

I want to take a few minutes of your time to talk about going to the movies. I know, it’s kind of a strange thing to talk about because what’s there to say, really? You either like it or you don’t. 

But I want to dive deeper into this activity, going to the movies, not just the medium. Sure there are a gazillion movies you can stream at home for a fraction of the cost of going to a movie theater. 

And depending on the circumstances, that can be fine. 

But I believe there’s nothing like the experience of watching a movie at a movie theater so I’m going to talk about why it’s still the best way to experience cinema.

The screen.

Mark and I went to a special screening of Jaws last year and I don’t think I’ve been as scared of that mechanical shark since I first saw it in 1975 when it was first released.

Jaws was a summer blockbuster that year. My cousins and I waited in a line that wrapped around the Century South Theater building. (You don’t see that much anymore)

I’ve seen Jaws on TV tons of times. Still good, but not scary. 

But omg. ***spoiler alert in case you haven’t seen Jaws**** When the shark comes after the guy at the end, his blood-curdling, high-pitched, agonizing shriek made me cringe for real. It was horrible. Maybe the sound system added to the experience. 

And one scene when they’re out on the boat and it’s twilight, I never noticed in all the times I’ve seen the movie, what a beautiful shot that is or the shooting star flashing across sky. 

Nothing can make a bad movie good, but a good movie is better at the theater. And maybe intended to be experienced on the big screen. 

It’s a communal event.

Getting out and seeing people and sharing the movie experience is a thing. You may not talk to fellow movie-goers, but you now have a shared experience. Mark and I usually sit through the credits and we always talk about what we saw.

Sometimes it’s a short conversation, like Wow that was really good. And then we talk about why. I’m not saying this type of dialogue isn’t possible at home, but at home we’re more likely to switch it to something else immediately and it’s just not the same.

At one of the movie theaters we go to there’s an older crowd and I believe they must have a movie club. I think that’s a great idea, like book clubs discuss what you read, movie clubs discuss what you saw, what you liked, what you didn’t like. What a great way to connect with people. 

Gets you out of the house.

You know the animated science-fiction Pixar movie Wall E? Earth has been destroyed and humans hover on a home ship waiting for the all clear to go back to earth. Well, in the Wall E world, humans don’t have to get out of their chair for anything, not even a drink, because they have an AI/robot doing everything for them.

Does that sound just a teensy bit familiar?

We can stream just about everything from home, get our fast food and groceries and whatever else we desire delivered…it’s almost like we’re conveniencing ourselves right into the Wal E future. Agh!

It might be easier to stay home and watch a movie, but easier is not always better. Going to the movies gets you out of the house. And there are tons of theaters now that will serve you once you’re there. 

The many elements of moviemaking

Years and years ago, I took a film class at San Antonio College. It was a summer session class and our final assignment was to make a short film, 4-5 mins. We shot on an 8 mm camera and had free reign of the campus. Of the 7 or 8 films made in that class, only 1 came even close to being decent (not my group’s) which was suprising as heck because we’d seen the raw footage. Terrible. As bad or worse than the rest.

Somehow, that crappy footage was pieced together to be funny and interesting. The magic was in the editing.

Making a movie is really hard to do.  When you watch a movie you’re watching the result of maybe years of effort, collaboration, coordination, prepation, and work. All for you.

It’s kinda cool when you think of it that way, isn’t it?

I’d love to know what you think. Do you go to the movies? If not, why not? If you do, what about it do you like?

Read more about going to the movies on the blogpost: Going to the Movies

Listen more, get more

What can you gain when you listen better?

As someone a long time ago once said, We have 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. (According to Goodreads.com, Greek philosopher Epictetus said it about two-thousand years ago.)

2 ears, 1 mouth. Listen better. Sure. Sounds good.

Makes sense, even, but I’m afraid it’s not working out that way. Not for me, anyway.

I used to think I was a pretty good listener and included listening as one of my strenghts. I’m not sure what happened to my listening skills. 

I’ll give you an example of what I mean.

This is an actual conversation I’ve had with my husband:

Me: How was your day?

Mark: It was good. Busy, but good. 

5 minutes later

Me: How was your day?

Mark: You just asked me that.

Me: (deer in headlights look) I did?

Mark: Yes

Me: Really?

Mark: Yes

Me: What did you say?

Mark: (Long pause) It was fine.

Whoa. That’s pretty crappy. The problem was not that I forgot what he’d said.

No, the problem was I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t fully present even as I stood right there with him?

Why not? Was I asking a question because I felt the need to speak, to fill the silent space? I don’t know. 

But I know I can do better. I want to do better. 

The thing is I believe listening is one of the most fundatmental ways of showing love. It’s pretty basic really.

When we truly listen to another person, we’re fully present, body and mind, engaged in what that person is saying.

But why is it so hard to do sometimes?

There are many possible reasons.

Maybe we’re

  • thinking about something that happened earlier
  • formulating a response to what is being said
  • wondering when this person will stop talking
  • dying to check our weather app
  • itching to check new posts on Instagram (or Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

When petty stuff distracts me so much that I can’t listen well to someone I love, that’s a problem.

And it’s not just hearing their words that’s important. It’s giving them my full attention. Listening, yes, but also seeing, feeling, and being completely present in the moments that make up my life.

I realize, for example, how quick I am to pull out my phone or think about pulling it out for no good reason. Major distraction.

Shifting focus

The other day, I held my 2-month old granddaughter in my arms while she slept. It was just us and the house was quiet, except for the faint squeak of the rocking chair I sat in.

I thought, Hey, there are tons of movies I’ve been wanting to watch. Maybe I can watch a movie. Or maybe I can listen to an audiobook.

But because I’ve been thinking about this whole idea of “listening” and what it means to listen and be fully present, I stopped myself, didn’t pick up my phone or turn on the TV.

It was so quiet. 

I just sat there and listened. To the quiet, to her breath, to her sigh. And the listening caused me to feel her more, her presence, the weight of her in my arms.

In that moment, I found myself overcome with immense gratitude for the amazing miracle I held in my arms. I prayed for angels to watch over her and for her protection, now and always. 

No movie or book could ever compare to the magnitude of that moment for me. I’ll always remember it as a gift, made possible by the power of listening. 

I know this to be true. And you know what? As wonderful and awesome as it was, I still struggle. It’s still hard for me to listen. 

This is something I have to practice every day, for myself as much as for anyone else.

Listening is an act of love. It connects us to the world, life, people, our surroundings. The Universe has something to say and if we don’t listen we could miss it forever.

Do you struggle to listen? What keeps you from being a better listener? I’d love to hear from you in the comments : ) 

Read more about listening (to yourself) on this post: Discover the value of your intuition

End of Your Life Book Club

Book recommendation: End of Your Life Book Club

This is a book recommendation for The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. (I listened to the audiobook version read by Jeff Harding.) 

Last December, I was looking for something good to read and found this title on my running list of books someone has recommended, either somone I know or some other source, like a magazine or newspaper.

I didn’t remember what the book was about or who had recommended it, but the audiobook was available on Libby so I decided to check it out.

A 2-person book club?

The book is the story is of a mother and son, both readers, who start their 2-person book club when the mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They will spend many hours in conversation as he accompanies her to doctor appointments and chemo treatments and agree to read the same book so they can talk about it.

Judging from the title alone, it seems like the story would be gloomy and sad, but I didn’t find it so at all. 

Here are a few things I loved about it:

I love that the core of the book is conversations between a mother, Mary Ann Schwalbe, and her son, Will Schwalbe, the author of the book.

Through the long hours of chemo treatments with his mom he gets to know her like he never had before. He learns about her younger years and life choices, and what shaped her into the woman who became his mother. 

Through these conversation the reader learns about this extraordinary, smart, humble, and compassionate woman. She believed she had a responsibility to help people if she could. And even though she knew she couldn’t do everything, she knew she could do something. And so she did. Alot, including working with refugee families in Afghanistan and work tirelessly to build a library there. 

And, oh yes, books

As you might have guessed, The End of Your Life Book Club is about books, how reading can change your life. It’s about how stories relate the shared human experience. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to sit in on this 2-person club. And I’m grateful for a chance to meet someone like Mary Ann Schwalbe. Her legacy lives on through this story.

If you’re looking for a good read, I recommend it. 

End of Your Life Book Club is available in audiobook, ebook, and print. I encourage you to look for it at your local library and Libby.

For more information about the Libby app, read Want to read more books? Maybe Libby can help.

Love yourself

6 Ways to love yourself more

I saw this little plaque at a discount store and it has such a simple message: Love yourself

I thought, “Yep. I need to see this every day.” 

Because everyone knows it’s important to love yourself, right? Like, if you don’t love yourself how can you love anyone else, right? That’s what I’ve always heard.

But if you’re like me, you kind of say, Yeah that’s true. I agree.

But wait. Am I living that truth?

Do I:

  • Embrace the true meaning of the statement?
  • Even know what that means? What does “loving yourself” look like?
  • Actually practice it?

So if we look at what it means to love yourself, it could lead you to ask, what is love, anyway?

And then it gets so sticky and confusing and you think, love isn’t something I can label with a bunch of words and it’s not always the same, like I love my kids one way and I love chocolate another way, so of course, I’d have to love myself a different way. 

Maybe. 

But if you really believe it’s important to love yourself, then isn’t it worth taking the time to figure out what that means? 

The directive to love yourself is meant to be taken seriously, not blown off, like, Yeah yeah. I get it. 

In her book, You are a Badass (I know, I always mention this book), Jen Sencero ends every chapter the same way, no matter what the chapter’s about, every chapter ends with the words (you guessed it): Love yourself. 

I came to expect it, but still was like, I know, I know, love myself. 

But really. Love yourself. What exactly does that mean?

I don’t think it’s about doing more or less, I think it’s a way of being. 

Here are 6 things a person who loves herself does:

1. She is kind to herself.

We can be our own worst critic and our own worst enemy, especially when we compare ourselves to others. But someone who loves herself has compassion for her failures. She accepts that she’s not perfect and doesn’t act like everything she does and says needs to be perfect. She forgives her mistakes which makes her better at forgiving others. She contains her inner critic. She talks to herself as she would talk to someone she loves and values. 

2. She stands up for herself.

I’m always amazed when I see this in action. It seems so ballsy. I struggle standing up for myself, for sure, because I don’t want to offend people, don’t want to make a scene. But someone who loves herself knows she can stand up for herself without being rude or aggressive. She doesn’t allow herself to be used, taken advantage of, or treated like a doormat. She doesn’t expect people to read her mind so she speaks up, otherwise she knows she risks getting angry and resentful. And that’s not who she is. 

3. She sets boundaries.

This relates to standing up for herself, but it goes beyond that. She sets boundaries for her own well-being. That includes being okay with saying “no,” loving toxic people from a distance, and not feeling guilty when she does what she knows is best for her even if it may disappoint some people.  

4. She plays a self-love mental playlist. On repeat.

She replaces negative messages, both from the past and in the present, with messages that remind her she’s a miracle of creation. There’s no desire to be like anyone else because she has everything she needs to create the life she desires. She knows this, believes it, and lives it. 

5. She sets personal goals and works toward them.

Even if she has to set them aside for a time or other commitments take priority, she doesn’t forget them. She allows them to evolve as she does. The woman who loves herself knows the essence of her passions and pursuits. She knows she has gifts she is meant to develop and nurture so she gives them attention. 

6. She practices self-love.

It’s easy to fall into old patterns and habits so she knows she has to practice taking care of herself… in her relationships, her body, mind, and spirit.  

The master of self-love described above is not an actual person, but a super-strong, super self-loving fictitious character who is a culmination of some serious self-love habits.

Want to be more like her, but have some work to do in this area?

You’re not alone! 

But it’s okay! 

Because no matter where you rate yourself on the self-love scale (1 being “not at all”, 5 being “I’m pretty awesome. And that’s not vanity. It’s my truth.”) improving self-love is do-able. For some of us it may take more conscious effort and practice than for others. 

Practice treating yourself with compassion, patience,  and attention. 

These 6 traits are what came to my mind when thinking about how I want to love myself. Do you stuggle with any of these? Did I miss anything?

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know your thoughts, and additions or subtractions to my list in the comments.

For more on this topic, read It’s important to be good to others, but don’t forget to be good to yourself too.

Listen to this

“Becoming Wise” podcast offers morsels of wisdom

I was looking for a podcast to listen to, something short, but packed with insight. That’s how I stumbled on the podcast called “Becoming Wise”

The name intrigued me because, How do you become wise? And what is wisdom anyway?

But as I perused, I saw that the podcasts are short, around 10 minutes long, so they’re like morsels of wisdom, and feature big-idea people like Brené Brown, Seth Godin, and Desmond Tutu.

The last episode was published July 2019 so it looked like the podcast may be done, but I decided to give it a listen anyway.

Compassion changes everything

One segment title caught my attention: Compassion for Our Bodies. I thought, Oh yeah. Let me check out what they have to say about having compassion for my ever-changing, menopausal body.

The podcast host, Krista Tippett, introduced Matthew Sanford, an innovator of adaptive yoga who’s been in a wheelchair for 30 years, since an accident that killed his father and sister when he was 14 -years old.

Mr. Sanford says, “Your body, for as long as it possibly can, will be faithful to living. That’s what it does.” This from a man who has endured numerous operations and painful recoveries. He says of his experience, “My body didn’t ask to get hammered and break, and to have its spine shredded, and many bones broken. But it went, ‘Ok. Let’s regroup. Let’s go.’” He also says, “I look at places — skin on my body, old pressure sores and old stuff that happened — where you can see the skin is struggling to stay and hold. I don’t think, ‘It’s not holding, dang it.’ I feel like, ‘Man, it’s working as hard as it can.’

Whoa! How true! 

That philosophy is something I’ve tried to practice for a while now, but what a great reminder. The interview got me thinking, How can this idea help me as I age and my body changes and I’m less able to do what I used to do?

Mr. Sanford’s insight opened me up to have more compassion for my body and gratitude that it “for as long as it possibly can, will be faithful to living.”

How can I dislike any part of my body when it does nothing but work for me, even when I eat too much, skip my workout(s), or don’t get enough sleep?

The episode had me saying, Thank you, body. You’re amazing and wonderful and I’m sorry I don’t treat you like it sometimes.

A small bite of food for thought

If you’re looking for a small helping of something of substance, I recommend “Becoming Wise” Podcast. I like to listen to an episode and mentally chew on it for a while.

Here’s a sample of some other episode titles:

Courage is Born from Struggle with Brené Brown
Beauty is an Edge of Becoming with John O’Donohue
We Choose Our Own Tribes with Seth Godin
Healing Through Story with Desmond Tutu
The Everyday Gift of Writing with Naomi Shihab Nye
Evil, Forgiveness, and Prayer with Elie Wiesel

That’s quite a sampling, don’t you think?

There are a total of 37 episodes. Happy listening!

For more reading on the blog about “Aging” read Getting older and how to be okay with it

For more information about Becoming Wise or Krista Tippett’s other work, go to The On Being Project at onbeing.org.

If you have a chance to listen, share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Create your vision and dare to dream big.

Create your vision and dare to dream big.

You’ve probably seen the saying on a t-shirt or maybe a coffee cup: dare to dream.

It’s a directive meant to inspire each of us to imagine what is possible, to visualize the thing that, if it weren’t for lack of money or abundance of fear, would keep us excited about getting up every morning. It’s that thing that would give your life purpose and drive you forward.

Does your big dream get you in the gut? Almost make you want to cry when you envision how incredible it is?

If it doesn’t, it’s probably not big enough.

What’s your vision?

I’m reading a book right now called The 12 Week Year. The subtitle is Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months. It’s a book designed to help you reach your goals by having shorter deadlines for yourself and coming up with a plan of action toward your goals.

The entire program begins with setting your vision. And this is where I got stuck. I thought I knew what I wanted and have been very fortunate to have accomplished some big personal goals in the past few years, like writing a book, one of my lifelong dreams I wouldn’t have thought possible five years ago. Now I’ve written two novels and publshed them myself.

While I feel good about that accomplishment, The 12 Week Year has helped me see that my vision was incomplete.

The truth, I realized, is that I’m holding myself back from bigger dreams.

Because writing and publishing is not enough. I want to connect with people through my writing. That’s something entirely different.

But how can I make that happen?

The problem is when I think about what I have to do to take the next step toward my goal, I feel Resistance pulling me down. I mentally whine and come up with all kinds of reasons it’s going to be awful.

The truth is I don’t know much about it but I know I probably won’t be good at it. It’s too much to learn and I hate it. (Can you tell I have a teensy bit of negativity about it?)

But I realized (thanks Coach Kathleen!) that in order to get what I really want and do what I really want to do, I have to change my mindset about this thing I feel I don’t know anything about, don’t want to do, and it’s gross and I hate it. It begins with an “M” and ends with “keting.”

This realization was kind of a breakthrough.

My big dream requires I do something I’ve been avoiding….commit to connecting with more people by putting myself and my work out in the world, otherwise known as “Marketing.” My own limited beliefs about this thing are blocking me from moving toward my big goals.

In a recent coaching session, my coach helped me see that I am holding myself back. I had a major lightbulb moment (even though people, including my husband, have tried to tell me this for a long time) and saw how my negative attitude was keeping me from moving any closer to my goals.

“Marketing” is a powerful tool I can use to help connect with people.

That was a major mindshift.

Because my big dream, what I really want to do in this life, is to encourage people, to help people realize their dreams matter. To offer an encouraging word, to be a glimmer of light through inevitable dark days. To be a voice of kindness and encouragement, a voice that urges, Don’t give up.

When I was writing my first novel I had days when I was so full of self-doubt I wanted to quit. My husband encouraged me every day to stick with it. His encouragement made all the difference.

On page 1 of the 12 Week Year the author says, “I agree with Stephen Pressfield, author of the War of Art, that most of us have two lives: the lives we live and the lives we are capable of living.” (Click here for a link to my thoughts on The War of Art.)

It starts with a dream.

So dare to dream big.

Don’t wait. Set aside some time (no kidding) to visualize the life you’re capable of living without thinking of reasons it could never happen. Because it’s important.

What could you do? Who could you help? What impact could you make on the world, your community, people you know, people you may not know and may never meet?

Dare to dream. And don’t hold back. Dare to dream big.

Can you relate? Or would you like to share your vision/dream? It’s scary, I know, but I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments : )

Read more books

Want to read more books? Maybe Libby can help.

If it’s been a while since you read a book or just think it’s time for you to make the time to read more, allow me to introduce you to Libby.

“What’s Libby?” you ask. 

Read more books with Libby
This is the Libby App

Libby is a free app where you can borrow ebooks and digital audiobooks from your public library. You can stream books with Wi-Fi or mobile data, or download them for offline use and read anytime, anywhere. All you need to get started is a library card. 

https://help.libbyapp.com/6144.htm accessed 1/27/2020

If you want to read more books, Libby may be able help. You can stream or download magazines, ebooks and audiobooks in a wide range of subjects and genres.

Screen shot of The Dutch House Audiobook

I’m currently enjoying the audiobook “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett, read by Tom Hanks. The book is beautifully written and I’m toward the end of it now. (I have a feeling I know what’s going to happen, but we’ll see.) Tom Hanks is a great narrator, though I admit, at times he sounds just like Woody from Toy Story : ) 

With Libby, you can read ebooks anytime, anywhere on your phone or tablet and listen to audiobooks while driving or cooking dinner.

To get started with Libby. 

1. Get a library card from your local library. 

2. Download the Libby app on your mobile device. 

3. Link your library card to Libby. 

4. Find a book or audiobook on the app.

5. Start listening/reading.

While I use Libby a lot these days, I’m finding it important to keep reading print books as well.

For these reasons:

1. I have to hold a book in my hands and focus on the text. That means no multi-tasking. 

2. I give the writer my full attention. It’s only courteous if you think about it. He or she is talking to me!

3. It forces me to practice reading the words on the page, instead of skimming the text, a bad habit I’ve developed by skimming headlines online.

Take a look. It’s in a book.

If you really want to read more but haven’t gotten started, Libby can help you “turn the page” toward a more robust reading life.

For more information about Libby, availability, and how to get started, go to LibbyHelp

Think listening to an audiobook is cheating? Sometimes it kind of feels that way to me too, but this article in Discover magazine offers an interesting insight to reading vs. listening: Audiobooks or Reading? To our brains, it doesn’t matter

Have you been thinking about reading more? Do you have a book you’ve been dying to read? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Why you can’t seem to get started (and what to do about it)

Why you can’t seem to get started (and what to do about it)

When you know you want to do something and you’re not sure exactly what that something is, how you would do it, or if it would work, it can be really easy to think it to death.

This amazing thing you want to do might be the best idea ever. You may be talking about it, and even planning it out in your head, but you’re never quite ready to take action, never ready to do like Nike says and “just do it.”

I get it. It’s hard to take action when one minute you think it’s the best idea ever and the next minute you’re thinking: Maybe it won’t work; people will think it’s stupid; Yeah, right. Me?.

That’s resistance holding you back.

And at the heart of resistance is fear … fear of rejection, ridicule, failure. (“Resistance” is wonderfully addressed in Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. Click here for book review.)

Fear plays a tremendous role in what we do and a huge role in what we don’t do. Instead of getting started and taking action we think about it and consider it over and think about it more and in all that time of thinking, we do nothing.

Here’s an example. I’ve had this blog for a few years. It’s changed a lot in that time, especially as I’ve shifted my focus to writing novels. In the Spring of this year I got very involved with my second book, A Song for Love and was in the revise/edit mode for a while, wrestling with the manuscript. I felt like I really needed to focus on that, which I did.

Maybe that was an excuse, but I stopped blogging and focused on the rewrite and publishing. I published the book and then, instead of getting back to the blog, I started another project.

It’s hard to admit this, but I’ve been thinking about this for months and every time I started writing a blogpost, even if it was in my head, Resistance shut me down. I’d think, I don’t have anything important to say. And besides, who cares what I say? Do my thoughts even matter?

I wanted to get back to it and I thought about it a lot, but no idea was good enough, so I did nothing.

I’ve thought about my inaction a lot (too much actually. That’s one of the pitfalls of being an analytical person.) and thought maybe what I’ve learned from this most recent experience can help someone else.

These are a few lessons that helped me and may help you, too.

Get started already!

I often wonder which is harder–starting or finishing? It depends, I suppose. But I do know that you’ll never finish if you don’t start. And you have to start from where you are. It’s okay if you have to start small. Little by little adds up to a lot.

Aim for progress over perfection.

Most first attempts are awkward and far from perfect, but don’t let that stop you from working to improve. Celebrate your victories and all you’re learning along the way.

Nothing says commitment like action.

Thinking about and planning your way toward your huge, audacious goal is important and necessary, of course. But at some point, you have to stop talking about it and DO IT!

Give yourself a chance.

This idea is a little harder to communicate, so please bear with me, but it relates to the notion that whatever it is that you feel like you want to do was put in your heart for some other purpose. In other words it’s not really about you. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about resistance and how something flashes in your head, you get an idea, and then you get a surge of resistance that just makes you think, Oh that’s a stupid idea and you kill it before it has a chance to come alive. He gives the example of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, those first four notes, Duh, duh, duh, dah. Three of those notes were the same. That must have seemed silly on some level. He could’ve said, That doesn’t even make sense. But he didn’t do that.

Not convinced?

I was watching a story about the creation of the soundtrack to the movie, Jaws. When John Williams first presented his idea to for the soundtrack, Steven Spielberg thought he must have been joking. It was only two notes … Duunn, nuh, Duuun, nuh. It wasn’t until they matched those same two notes with the film of the circling, man-eating shark, that they were like, Holy cow! It’s perfect!

The Jaws soundtrack became iconic. It still is. You hear those two notes in that sequence, Duunn, nuh. Duunn, nuh, and you know that means something bad’s about to go down.

So the point here is that even though you may not think you could create something as amazing as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or the soundtrack to Jaws, no doubt, neither did they.

So what are you waiting for?

Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Identify what is holding you up and keeping you from taking action. Then please put those reasons, excuses, and obstacles aside and start were ever you are. Take the first step because that is the only way to gain momentum, to move forward. You never know where it will go and what you can do.

Time is relentless. It just goes and goes. Think about this: If you take action toward your goal today and do a little something every day toward your goal, how far would you get in a week? A month? A year? Crazy, right?

Now, think about not acting and what it will be like a year from now when you look back and think about today, this very moment as you’re reading this. Will you be saying, If only I would’ve started. Where could I be now?

Cue “Jaws” soundtrack and get moving.

Photo by Mark Montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

If not now, when?

If there’s something you want to do in this life, something you think you’re meant to do but just haven’t gotten around to doing for some reason, I encourage you to start.

You may have had reasons, really good, legit reasons for not doing the thing(s) you know you’ve always wanted to do, the 2 most all-encompassing reasons are: not enough time or not enough money.

I was reading a “Dear Heloise” column recently in which a reader wrote to say that Heloise suggests that people should travel to different countries but how can he do that when it’s so expensive and he doesn’t have the money?

Heloise proceeded to make suggestions about how the reader could save and/or earn more money for his trip. She ended her advice with, “Make your next trip your priority.”

And that’s the most important advice: Make your (insert word or phrase for the thing you want to do) your priority.

That’s the only way to make it happen.

Which leads me back to the question: “If not now, when?”

Will you start now? And if not now, when will you make those things you’ve always wanted to do your priority?

No one’s saying you have to forget your commitments and responsibilities. Not at all. But how can your goals and dreams become a reality if you don’t put those goals and dreams in the forefront of your mind and make them your priority?

Start now. It’s okay to start small, but don’t wait.

Working at my desk.

Time goes and goes.

Where has the beginning of 2019 gone? I’m amazed that April is just days away. I have a lot on my goals list this year. Time to re-focus and prioritize.

And I have to ask myself these questions:

  • What do I really want to do?
  • What am I doing to work toward that goal?
  • If nothing, why not? When will it be a priority?

The point is the same as what Heloise explained to her reader.

People can offer numerous creative solutions to help us overcome obstacles in order to reach our goals, but unless we make them a priority they’ll continue to be a thing that will happen “someday”.

If we wait for the perfect moment the path is clear and no obstacles stand in our way, we’ll be waiting for a long time.

Until we make our goals a priority and take steps to make them a reality, those obstacles sound a lot like excuses.

So what is it you want to do? What are you doing now to work toward your goal?

If not now, when?

Read Waiting for “someday” puts dreams out of reach for my own “If not now, when?” moment.

The magic of gratitude

The magic of gratitude

Gratitude can change your life. It’s like magic. And even though I truly believe this, it still catches me off-guard when I experience how amazing it is.

Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Wow. Can it really do all that?

Gratitude. It’s a simple thing: being thankful for what you have.

Plug in to your gratitude funnel

So what’s so special about gratitude and if it’s so great why isn’t everyone doing it? It’s free, doesn’t require any special training or certifications.

The truth is it takes practice to be in a constant state of gratitude, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to notice what’s wrong before noticing what’s right.

Sometimes we’re just not all that thrilled about the way things are, sometimes we just want to complain about about any number of things we let get under our skin: mundane tasks, people who don’t do/say/think what we think they should, unexpected setbacks, an uncertain future. Some of these things are big, life-changing events, some are small, regular, petty things.

Yes, it takes practice to have a mindset of gratitude. For some of us (ahem), lots of practice.

Take this example: I was doing laundry the other day and I really didn’t feel like doing laundry. I was just about to say out loud, “Oh my gosh, I hate doing laundry,” when I remembered my goal to practice gratitude, especially when I want to complain about something.

So I said, “I’m grateful that I can do laundry, that I have clothes to wash, that I’m physically able to do it, that I have machines that do most of the work.”

All of a sudden, I felt pretty good about doing laundry.

I realized that gratitude doesn’t actually change anything (I was still doing laundry) except percecption (having the ability to do my laundry is a good thing), thereby changing the experience (instead of feeling cranky about it, I was genuinely happy that I had the good fortune to be doing my laundry).

Where’s the magic?

The magic is real and it’s all internal, not external. Gratitude transforms the way we experience our circumstances.

I recently read Jen Sencero’s book, “You Are a Badass” (which is awesome, by the way) and she said that when something happens that sets you back, try being grateful for that thing instead of being frustrated and angry.

I thought it was a crazy idea, but I thought I’d try it when I got the chance.

And my chance came soon enough. It was a silly, petty thing (aren’t those the things that can be most upsetting at times?) I was trying to leave the house for an appointment and was running late. I remembered I’d filled a glass of water to drink before I headed out the door and when I reached for it I knocked over the glass, spilling water all over the counter and on myself. Great! I thought, If I take the time to change I’ll be even later than I already am!

But then I remembered Jen Sencero’s advise. Okay. Stop and think about this. No, this is good. I’m glad this happened, I thought to myself.

I had to laugh because by me saying I was glad about it meant that I had to come up with a reason this was a good thing. It forced me to think about what was happening and allowed me to stop before spouting off a few choice words and, instead, I decided to take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

There is no need to rush. Everything will be okay. It’s water. My shirt will dry. I’m grateful to have clean water to drink every day.

Practice, practice, practice

Practicing an attitude of gratitude takes concious and continuous focus, but I’m discovering that it’s well worth the effort.

Try it and see if you agree that gratitude is like magic.