Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Rerun

This post is a reprint from last Thanksgiving:

Sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to see. A recent example is this past Thanksgiving. We invited 16 people over for the holidays and my spouse and I were running around trying to get the food and house in order for the big feast. After looking in the same place – twice – I found the ancient, orange table cloth for its once-a-year outing. However, I was not so fortunate locating the pads we put on the table to prevent it from getting scratched (over zealous appetites and sharp forks can be a dangerous combination). I looked in the garage where these pads have lived for many years. No luck. I retraced my steps, my spouse took up the search, and I looked again for good measure. Still no luck. I looked under the bed (where I did find the table leaf and a family of dust bunnies), checked the closets and even some really obscure places. Was I really thinking I was going to find those table pads in the spare bathroom? Frustration and panic can really unleash some strange thoughts.

I’m generally a patient person, but I hate it when I can’t find something. Of course I knew this was my spouse’s fault because I ALWAYS put things back in their proper place. I kept running this nasty script in my head about how if CB would just put stuff back in the SAME PLACE every time instead of experimenting with another idea, this would NEVER HAPPEN.

Time was ticking away and I needed to get that table protected from the hungry hordes. Finally, CB asked if the pads were in my office. I had checked the office closet – twice. Then it dawned on me. I had purchased a new desk several months ago and put the pads on the desk to prevent it from getting scratched by the office equipment. How often do I see these pads? Try no less than eight hours a day six or seven days a week. The missing pads are literally inches from my nose every single day, but I don’t see them. So what does this mean (besides the fact that I am not observant and had to eat humble pie instead of pumpkin that day)? For me it was how the most obvious things are invisible.

Since it was Thanksgiving, it is easy to reflect on how there are a multitude of things to be grateful for, but they are largely taken for granted. I have lived through many turkey holidays and enjoyed abundant food, as well as numerous friends and family to share the day with. Sometimes the guest list changes. Many loved ones have passed away, and new ones, including my one-year-old granddaughter, Rosannah have joined the family. Every year is precious.

Something else that is invaluable, but not always easy to see, is our own personal power. There are those magic moments when we feel great and everything clicks into place. However, when things are difficult it is easy to go down the negativity highway, and let little bumps morph into Mount Vesuvius. In my angry little mind, I had a whole novel in my head about my spouse’s thoughtless actions. I had visions of my beloved table pads being used to test drill bits and then being placed under our leaky truck to prevent oil from staining the driveway.

I admit it, the self-help writer got a little nutty with her own imagined negativity. But fortunately, I stopped my crummy thoughts in the prologue phase instead of chapter six. So you see, I struggle with the same issues as everyone else, but I’m coping with it a lot better than I used to. Part of the reason is since my writing partner, Jackie, and I have written our new book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I feel obligated to practice what I preach. And I do. I mess up now and then, but I stop myself before I get too carried away.

It really is true that if you want to master something, you should try to teach it to someone else. So please carry on our message. If you have questions, shoot us an email. If you want us to give a little talk at one of your meetings, or you would like to host a seminar, just let us know. Our goal is to erase a little negativity however we can.

And for a preview into the future, our next blog entry is going to delve more into the invisible power concept. I’d say more now but this message is already too long. Besides that, I have three table pads sitting in my office and I need to figure out where I am going to put them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

I have a friend who is one of the hardest-working women on the planet. However, now that she is in her mid 60s, she is slowing down. Worst of all, her lack of zip has her feeling blue. This is a woman who works full time, takes care of an ailing spouse, keeps an immaculate house, cooks dinner, regularly attends Buddhist meetings and activities, and also assists her semi-retired husband in his business. We discussed diet, exercise, supplements, religion and a host of other topics to find solutions to boost her energy level. Then I came up with another idea – motivation through friendship.

My friend (I’ll call her “V”) is a brilliant woman, but I knew she was lacking in intellectual stimulation. I have felt that way myself. So we decided we needed more fun in our lives. The solution was to form a group of interesting women who were interested in attending cultural events, classes or activities. Since money is limited for several of us, we are checking into events that were free or cheap. This includes museums (many have no admission nights), concerts, plays, workshops at the library, attending art fairs, listening to authors at book signings, as well as a host of other activities.

We figured if we had a group of 10, we would most likely get three or four to attend any given event. Now that we are on the prowl for fun, it’s amazing how many activities there are to enjoy. My spouse, CB, suggested more athletic endeavors. And as valuable as that advice is, I know the most exercise a depressed woman wants to do is run screaming from the person who mentions it.

First things first. Start with a little fun, then maybe a bit of exercise. And I’m sure there will be some walking involved getting from the parking lot to the actual event. That counts for something, right?

I have been fortunate to have many wonderful friends in my life. However, as time goes by, it is easy to lose touch with one another. I’ve always made it a point to take the initiative and call up my friends – even if many years have passed. When I do, very often they tell me they had been thinking of me too, but just hadn’t had the chance to call. I’m not shy. I don’t mind being the one to call. The rewards far outweigh any goofy prideful thoughts of, “I called last time…blah, blah, blah.”

So it was not a big surprise to me when I read an article about friendship in MORE magazine and saw a little blurb on how there is scientific evidence that indicates friendships and extensive social networks can lower blood pressure; reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease; ward off depression; and make us less susceptible to the ravages of old age. The article quoted a Harvard Nurses; Health Study that found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to become physically debilitated as they grew older.

Of course women have known for years that having friends is more than a nice thing – it’s really a valuable ingredient in creating a joyful life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little chatter while pounding laundry on a rock near a stream, or sharing a dessert at a fancy restaurant, women value each other’s company.

In my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I dedicate a section on the importance of having good friends. So if you have some great buddies, call them up and schedule a date. Don’t wait until you have “extra” time. It won’t happen. Good friendships are worth the time investment. And it’s good for your health. You want to argue with Harvard nurses? I don’t. And if you don’t have friends, go out and meet some. Or email me through the blog. You can always join up with my friends. They’re the best.