You Rock, Henry Ford!

Who Gets The Credit?

Have you ever noticed the similarities between the human body and the car? Henry Ford did. In many people’s minds, he invented the first automobile. Actually, in 1886, two Germans, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, were the first to invent the gasoline powered engine.

Ford’s first automobile, the Quadricycle, wasn’t built until 1896, ten years later. If you’re a potential Jeopardy contestant, you might save this in your mental data bank. Otherwise, you’ll see where I’m going with this trivia.

The Comparison

The human body is such a magnificent design, it was no wonder someone used its prototype to take progress to a new level. So, how is the car similar to the body?

You can compare the function of the headlights to your eyes, the wheels to your legs, the air filter to your lungs, the frame to your skeleton, the electronics to your nervous system, the fuel to your digestive system. …well, you get the picture.

Think Out of the Box!

My point is…these guys really nailed the ability to think outside the box. These ideas didn’t come from their feet. I’m not downplaying feet, because they get you where you want to go, but getting a pedicure doesn’t help you pass the SAT. These guys used their brilliance and creativity to manifest their creations…and all this from their frontal cortex.

Thank Your Brain

I think we take the brain for granted. The body functions as a whole, but the mastermind, like the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz, is located there. There’s now information, however, that the heart is the real powerhouse, and it’s the heart that sends more information to the brain than visa-versa.

Just Try To Stop Your Thoughts

Why is this important? With 60,000 thoughts a day, you’re constantly talking to yourself. These thoughts can keep you occupied for the majority of your waking hours. Even when you’re involved in a conversation, you’re probably spending a good bit of time thinking of your reply rather than listening.

Let’s face it, we’re all just endless, bubbling fountains of thoughts.

Don’t even try to stop these thoughts, because you can’t. Yes, during meditation you can slow down your thoughts, but they don’t go away. The beauty of meditation, though, is it makes you aware of what you’re thinking, and the content of your thoughts makes all the difference.

Thoughts have power. They motivate you. They discourage you. They drive you towards happiness or despair. Doesn’t it make sense to use your brain to manage them, to tame them, to replace them, or even to select them?

Pick a Better Thought!

Just as you can choose to  change the channel, or flip around on Netflix, you can also change your thoughts when they’re leading you towards depression or despair.

How many times have you been excited about an idea until a negative thought, or a negative comment, stopped you in your tracks?

Well, here’s a quote from Henry Ford, and this is why we now travel by car rather than by horse. He said, and I quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Put that in your frontal cortex.

Childhood Memories

I’m Still Reading

It’s still the Pandemic, and I’m still reading…

In her book, “A Feather on the Breath of God”, Sigrid Nunez gives us a detailed description of her parents, and how she experienced them throughout her childhood. I’m guessing this continues into her adulthood, but I’m only halfway through the book.

 Of particular interest to me is the way she details the small wonders of life…those childhood remembrances that offer more sweetness than spice. It’s those memories, I believe, we can only truly cherish in retrospect.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As much as people like to compete about who had it worse, maybe traveling through your childhood by letting your senses tell their story will give you a different history.

I remember the kitchen. It was red. I guess red was in vogue. But it felt warm…a sensual kitchen. Coming from that room was another sensual treat…the smell of bacon. 

Yes, I know I can fry my own bacon, but does a meal you’ve prepared for yourself ever taste as good as one prepared for you?

 Another memory is fireflies. Is firefly an anachronism? Do they still exist, or do I seldom (this means never) sit on my front lawn? And why would I? It’s a chemical cesspool. The lawn of my childhood was untreated. It had weeds. I could catch fireflies from the comfort of my own lawn.

We’re All Complicated

It’s been suggested to me that I write a book about my family. That always seemed like a monumental task. 

My memory is that of a child. Every human being is complicated, and as a child, you don’t have the brain development to see events through an accurate lens. In fact, do you ever? Can we ever see ourselves through an accurate lens? I doubt it. 

A Feather on the Breath of God” inspired me. I could take a similar course. Knowing that I’m writing purely from my own limited perception, I could make a stab at it. After all, they are my perceptions. I have the copyright.

The Small Things

I’ve been told that during your life review, it’s the small things that count the most…the small kindnesses, those things we’re quick to throw away…the things we deem inconsequential.

Only they’re not. The smallest things can mean the most. When I write, I want to remember the small things.

Your Life…A Meaningful Design

When I was growing up, I remember watching a TV show called “What’s My Line?”. Several panelists would try to guess what the contestants did for a living.

This is what most people think of when they hear the words “Life Purpose”. In their minds, it’s a job. If you look back at your life, you can almost divide your life into chapters. This is actually one of the things we do in my Life Purpose Coaching program.

 As people look back over their lives, it’s almost like they’ve had several distinct lifetimes in one. This is what makes life interesting. Just about the time you’re entirely bored with your life, another challenge appears.

Purpose

Sometimes the new chapter, or we could call it Purpose, is not something you see coming. It’s a direction change totally out of the blue. Sometimes you get tiny clues, or fore-shadowing, of what’s to come, but you have to pay attention.

Foreshadowing

When I was around 6 or 7 years old, I saw a picture of a dock going out into the water. I was mesmerized. I remember staring at it, intrigued. It must have made an impression on me because I never forgot that picture.

Here’s what makes the picture so meaningful. It was one of those things I didn’t see coming. After I graduated from college, I got a job teaching in Florida. Did I apply for a job in Florida…not exactly. I sent my resume to what I thought was Nassau, the island. Where I actually sent it was to Nassau County, in Florida.

 One day as I was crossing a long bridge over a large expanse of the St. John’s River, I saw it. There was the dock I had seen in the picture. This was extremely meaningful to me and was evidence of foreshadowing, or early evidence of things to come. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up!

So, when you’re wondering what your life purpose might be, just know you probably have more than one. Would you bother taking the trip to planet earth with only one life purpose? I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I don’t believe it’s the norm.

A Meaningful Design

I think every major event in your life has purpose. I believe every minor event has purpose. It’s like your life is a jigsaw puzzle with trillions of pieces that fit together. It only begins to make sense when you have enough pieces arranged to form a meaningful design.

Your life is a meaningful design. Nothing is wasted.

A New Purpose

Last week I had to put my cherished cat to sleep. For the past 15 years, part of my purpose was to take care of him, and I believe his was to take care of me.

As I grieve, I’m know I’m on the cusp of finding new purpose, new meaning, or new something!

If you’re finding yourself on the cusp too, let me help you find your new something.

Question: What would you like your new purpose to be?

 

Cool It

One Word

If I tell you my process for going from 0-100 in the anger department, you’ll probably wonder how I can call myself a Spiritual Coach. Trust me…this is a race no one want to win. 

I used to be so calm and serene, and in many ways, I still am. So, what triggered the change?

I can tell you in one word: menopause. I think that’s why they call it “the change”.

If you’re a woman under the age of 45, go for the gusto. Relish your serene years. I don’t want to scare you, but they have an expiration date.

I’ll Tell You My Triggers

My three main triggers are computers, crowded places, and traffic, not necessarily in that order. It depends on the day.

Today it was computers. After conducting a Coaching session, I tried to send an email to my client. Murphy’s Law… Microsoft Word wouldn’t open.

Had I been hacked? Was my computer doing its frequent impression of the Slowsky turtles from the commercials?

Just as my amygdala was cooling down, giant red letters came across my screen… “YOU HAVE NO INTERNET… Strike two.

Did I mention grocery stores and crowded places? First, let me say I’ve learned my lesson from the confrontation I’m about to share. A few months ago, I was in line to check out when an older lady (meaning she was around my age), got so close behind me I thought we were going to merge.

At this point, I turned around and politely stated, “You’re in my space.” Without missing a beat, she screamed “SUCK IT UP” several times in a voice that could shatter glass. Even the cashier looked a little tense.

Physician, Heal Thyself!

Life can be challenging, but from now on I’m taking my own advice. When my thoughts take me to the danger zone, I’ll switch my mental channel to Comedy Central. 

Life lesson…keep my disgruntled thoughts to myself. I don’t know what this lady had been through that day, but I’m guessing it had something to do with a computer.

Question of the Day: What are your triggers?

You’ve Got To Read This Book!

Well, Have You?

Have you ever read something that moved you to the point you just had to write it down?

Maybe it reinforces a belief you already have, or wish you had. Maybe it even motivates you to  take action. After all, according to English play-right Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

During this pandemic, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. My bedside table is stacked with books of multiple, shapes, sizes, and topics. I keep trying to whittle the pile down to size, but it tends to keep growing.

I’m trying to clear the clutter so I can call myself a minimalist. But one look at that stack of books totally blows my bragging rights. My bedside table screams “hoarder”.

The Alternatives

I could check books out the library. That would be the prudent move. At least I could return them. But it’s so much easier to let my fingers do the walking and order from Amazon. Ok. I’m a lazy hoarder.

Then again, Maybe I’m just a slow reader. I’m not clearing the stack quickly enough. Where is Evelyn Woods when you need her?

The beauty of books is their ability to move you to locations you’ll never visit, as well as move you to tears.

My Memorable Sentence

I found a memorable sentence last night while reading a book by Robert Kolker about a family with twelve children, six of whom had schizophrenia. What are the odds?

Maybe my history as a Mental Health Counselor and Life Coach peaked my interest in this subject, but it’s a fascinating read, especially if you’re at all interested in mental health.

It’s a true story. This family made a great contribution to science in the search for a cure.

To quote from Hidden Valley Road, “Embrace the cards you are dealt, or it will eat you alive”.

Rather than cursing your fate, it seems the antidote to your troubles lies in finding meaning and purpose…specifically…your purpose. 

With most people, it usually boils down to helping others in some fashion…putting your own unique touch on your mission, one you’re often, and maybe ironically, well equipped for. 

So, in the long run, maybe it’s how you play your cards that makes all the difference.

I’m Preoccupied!

The Problem

I don’t know about you, but I’m often preoccupied with something other than what I’m doing at the moment…sound familiar?

I remember my car wreck in the suburbs of Denver. It was totally my fault. Thankfully, no one was critically injured, but all the same, it was both unsettling and costly.

When I told my mother about the accident, her comment was, “You were preoccupied.”

She was right on, because, ironically, moments before the wreck, I was angrily telling my sister, who was riding shotgun, to please put on her seat belt. So, yes, I was preoccupied.

Doing the Dishes

This morning, while doing the dishes, my mind gave me a wake- up call.

I heard the thought, “Just do the dishes”. I actually enjoy the process of doing the dishes because I love the feel of warm water on my hands. I usually have cold hands. Every migraine sufferer knows cold hands can be an indication your blood vessels are awry.

My Life Review

I believe we’re each shown a review of our lives when we die. So, what would I see in my life review? I can imagine God telling me I’d missed half my life because I wasn’t even there for it.

It happened without me. I was preoccupied.

Our minds are like wild horses, always on the move. I admit I create my own blocks to mindfulness. A few weeks ago, my TV remote was on the blink. In the morning, I love to turn on the TV, eat breakfast, and read the news. I usually have a choice. Hear the bad news on TV or read the bad news in the paper. 

While I was awaiting the new remote, I was without TV. I had absolutely no distraction while reading the paper. I could be totally present. 

Was I happy?

Nope. Something was missing. Focusing on just one thing felt vaguely distracting. I became preoccupied with my dissatisfaction. Have you ever been reading an article and suddenly realize you’ve been totally somewhere else in your head? 

This was me. So I started the entire article from the top. Thank you, preoccupation.

I could always take little stickies and post them on the faucet, the shower, and the newspaper.

Or…I could simply remind myself to be more mindful.

Maybe then God will tell me, ”You were there for the whole enchilada!”

GRIEF

Zachary

It’s September. I’m asking myself what happened to August. It was like my 6- month visits to the dentist. Wasn’t I just there last week?

Zachary, my constant companion cat, died June 1st. It seems like yesterday.

You may be thinking, “Get over it. It was just a cat.” Well, I’m here to tell you, there’s no such thing as “just a cat, or just a dog, or to a small child, even, just a hamster.”

Zachary’s Older Brothers

I remember getting my first cat, Tyler. He was a biter. I complained wistfully to a friend “I should have gotten a goldfish.” Actually, he just needed a companion. I guess I wasn’t that exciting as a playmate. Sam, my second cat, solved the biting issue. Tyler just needed one of his own species. Some cats are like that.

Grief

Which brings me to grief. It sucks, but you can’t escape it. I’m in no way comparing the grief you experience with an animal to the death of a family member or close friend. But an animal depends on you. It’s with you 24-7. It leaves a huge hole in your heart when it’s no longer there.

As I was leaving the crematorium where I picked up his ashes, I passed a big sign in the road that said, “This too shall pass”. It was definitely comforting, but how long does it take? The fact we’re in the midst of the pandemic and confined to the home-front doesn’t allow much time for distraction.

The Mother of Grief Studies

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American Psychiatrist and pioneer in near death studies, made death her life’s work, at least that’s what she’s remembered for. She came up with the five stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

What I learned is they don’t necessarily occur in that order. The moment the vet diagnosed him, I knew we were on a finite journey. But, looking back, there was some denial creeping in. Maybe the doctors were wrong. He actually lived 5 months past their predictions. At month four I was sure they’d mixed up the records. Ok. That may be denial.

Where Is He?

When my mother died, I asked myself, “Where is she?” I believe in heaven, but where is heaven, and what’s it like there? Was she happy? Was she with God?

Where is Zachary? Is he with God? I know he’s somewhere because energy can’t be destroyed. Einstein helped us with that one. Death is so final. 

One minute you’re here and the next minute you’re not… E=mc2, like it or not.

One minute you’re a clump of matter with a soul, and the next minute you’ve morphed into a mist of soulful energy. 

After the first shot to relax him, Zachary sat straight up and his eyes were wider than I’d ever seen them.

He saw something. I’m hoping it was his brothers, who predeceased him. I’m hoping it was heaven.

Clues To Your Purpose

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Here We Go Again

Spoiler alert…here’s another reminder about the importance of your childhood passions, talents, and interests. I know… mea culpa. You may be sick of hearing it.

But it just struck me. So many people ask the question, “What’s my Life Purpose?”

It’s very “in” to ask this question. You don’t hear people asking, “Can I do the dishes for you tonight, honey?” But the former inquiry is hot.

I’m guessing, during your free time, if you have any, you’re probably doing something you like to do or something you’re good at. I’ll take myself as a case in point. I’ve always loved to write, and I’m sitting at the computer writing this blog. At this moment in time, this is my purpose. It will remain my purpose until it’s not. After all, life purpose isn’t supposed to be a life sentence.

The Right Questions

My father once told me, as a trial lawyer, the important factor in the courtroom are the questions you ask. You have to ask the right questions.

So, here’s a question. What does the pandemic have to do with your Life Purpose?

Many days I feel like the cat who described his life with a loving family as, “114 days of confinement”.  I thought this was funny at the time, because it’s so characteristic of felines, but I’m not laughing now!

John Anderson, Anyone?

I’ve always loved music. One song, recorded by John Anderson, called “I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal” (but I’ll be a Diamond Someday), is one of my favorite country songs.

When I was a guidance counselor for elementary students, I liked to teach life lessons using music and songs. So, imagine my surprise when I read an article about Carol Channing, the famous Broadway legend, including that song on an album.

I was shocked. The star of “Hello Dolly” recorded a country song. I loved the song, and she must have loved it too.

It took me back to the morning I introduced the song to a class of 5th graders. It had a very positive message. After all, don’t we all have little chunks of coal in our makeup? Anyway, one of my students didn’t agree. “I hate country music,” he shouted.

Well, you can’t please them all, and at least he didn’t have a tomato in his backpack.

Your Sacred Gifts

Maybe the right question for all of us might be “What are my sacred gifts and my divine reasons for being on the planet? As I’ve said before, you’re here for a reason.

A friend once told me, “What’s for you won’t go past you.” When the universe, or God, sends you a hint, don’t blink. Pay attention.

So, if you could make up your Life Purpose, what would you want it to be?

The odds are…that’s it. Ponder on that one.

Appreciating Your Uniqueness

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Do You Claim Your Uniqueness?

I believe uniqueness isn’t especially valued, unless you’re a savant or a Mozart. There seems to be a constant pressure to fit in. Many people don’t allow their sense of uniqueness to extend beyond their fingerprints, at least not without feeling like an outlier.

Fighting for your uniqueness is a David vs. Goliath type struggle. I’ve had to work on this…really understanding how different we all are, in spite of our similarities.

My Epiphany

Here’s an example. A family member who will remain nameless used to asked me with some regularity, “What have you done for fun?”

After I told her what I’d been up to , there was a long silence. “Yes,” she’d say, “But what have you done for fun?”

At this point, I was starting to feel that I must have a very low bar in the “fun” department.

Maybe I just thought I was having fun. Maybe the rest of the world knew the secret password that seemed to have passed me by.

It was at this moment I started to realize that we really are unique. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” made more sense than ever. Fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Part of our uniqueness is found in whatever gives our lives meaning…or purpose. …different strokes for different folks, as they say.

Meteorology, Anyone?

For example, I always wondered how people made the decision to pursue meteorology as a career. That job wasn’t even on my radar screen. While some people are fascinated by the weather, I just want to make sure I don’t get rained on while I walk. But the meteorologists and storm chasers are fascinated by the skies.

Enter hurricane season. The weather people are in an absolute state of ecstasy. Thanks to high def, I can almost see their pupils dilating as they describe the newest tropical formation off the coast of Africa. I observe their obvious glee as they describe fronts, latitudes and longitudes, as well as the next named storm. If the TV was like a 2- way mirror, they could see me freaking out on the other end. Obviously, we’re not on the same emotional page on this one.

The Good News

But, lest I seem like an ingrate, I’m grateful for the heads-up. In 1926, almost 800 people were killed when a hurricane hit Miami, Florida. They didn’t have the radar detection we have now and many were caught unaware. So, even though I’m freaked out by the forecast, it’s a necessary part of preparation. Bottom line, I’m grateful for the forecasters.

So, in the long run, I think it’s better to just accept yourself for the unique individual you are. That’s the most fun of all!

The Power of Persistence

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Who, Me?

Here’s a question. Can you name your worst enemy? Even though a few names may cross your mind, I suggest it’s you.

How many of the 60,000 thoughts you’ll have today will be negative? I’m guessing a high percentage…and I’m not a pessimist. I simply know that our minds have a negative bias.

It’s a survival mechanism. Animals know this. It’s a matter of eat or be eaten.

I won’t go into the physiology of fear, but it plays a hefty role in not only your decision making, but your confidence level, and what you’re willing to try.

Failure…Yuck!

If you’ve ever failed at something, and who hasn’t, you might avoid this failed activity forever. Gone…trashed. Off your bucket list…kicked to the curb. But look at it this way… what made you try it in the first place, especially given the fact there are no guarantees?

I’m guessing it’s probably because it was something you wanted to do or achieve, something that interested you, something you were excited about, something you thought would be fun. Now, it’s like a deflated balloon. You’ve left this dream in shreds and shards.

What Next?

So, what to do next, and how many times to try …10,000?

No, that was Edison, and it paid off pretty well for him. But who, today, is that tenacious?

I’ll bet you’d make less than five attempts before you’d throw in the towel. That sounds like something I’d do.

It’s so easy to get discouraged. One failure, or one “No” to your request can feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back. After all, you still have those humiliating memories of that important test you studied for but failed, or the business plan that didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t blame you for quitting.

Keep the Faith!

But if you’re motivated enough to keep the faith, and throw in a dose of tenacity, your chances of not only success, but happiness multiply. The problem with most of us is we’re perfectionists. We can’t be happy unless we do it perfectly…anything less is seen as failure, and it’s shoved off the bucket list. If someone tells us we can’t, we make them the expert on our lives, and quit.

Many years ago, I played the banjo at an assisted living center. I was nervous about playing until one of the women in the room shouted out, “I don’t want to hear it!”. At that moment my fear morphed into irritation, as I remember thinking, “Well, you’re going to hear it!” I didn’t play it perfectly, but somehow that lady showed me, in a way, how silly it was to care so much about what other people think.

A Lightbulb Moment

After years of not playing, I rediscovered my love for bluegrass. I think Ken Burns’ documentary on country music had something to do with it.

I’d forgotten almost everything I knew and was, again, a total novice.

My goal is to practice every day for at least 5 minutes. I have no excuse not to. And some days I do, and some days I don’t. But the important thing is I haven’t given up.

I’ve learned that loving what you do is more important than how good you are. Bottom line, the more I practice, the better I’ll be.

I’ll never be Flatt and Scruggs but you know what, I’ll be happy, and to me, that’s what counts.