Friendsgiving

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Friendsgiving – don’t you just love that word? 

Next week is Thanksgiving and for years my family celebrated this holiday with kids and grandkids and parents and everyone within our circle of relatives.  But as I grew older, I wasn’t always able to travel home and be with my family.  It was a lonely time and I did not look forward to spending the holiday alone.  And that’s where my friends came in.

At a time that could have been very empty for me, my friends would welcome me into their dorm room or apartment or house and invite me to join them in an evening of eating and drinking and laughing.  Some of my fondest Thanksgiving memories are with Mike and Christine and Destany and so many others.

So that’s why I love the word Friendsgiving.  It’s a time to be thankful to the many friends that have entered my life.  Some have stayed while others merely passed through, and all are a huge part of who I am today.  Because of them, I hope I welcome others into my life and make them feel welcomed, whether it’s a holiday or not.

So to everyone who is reading this post and to all the lives that you touch, I wish you a sincere Thanksgiving, a heartfelt Friendsgiving and a life filled with all the happiness your heart can hold.

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What’s On Your Bookshelf?

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Have you ever read a book that was so compelling, so captivating that it took you deep into the night with your book light on because you just couldn’t put it down?  For me, it’s this book: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.    

I have to warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.  It follows three women during WWII and how their paths cross, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  Now, I’ve read other books and seen movies about the concentration camps during that time, and I’ve even visited a couple which was an extremely chilling experience, but nothing consumed me like this book did.  Maybe it’s because one of the characters is from Poland.  Since I’m 100% Polish, it made me wonder about my ancestry and how they were affected by these atrocities.  I never heard any stories from my family, but somehow, someway, someone from my family must have been directly affected.  It’s a terrifying thought. 

Now that I finished this book, I’m taking a little break.  I don’t plan on picking up a new book for a couple of weeks.  However, today, I am heading to the local library.  I just want to sort through the piles, touch a few books, thumb through the pages and see what jumps out at me.  Do you have any suggestions?  Anything I just HAVE to read?  Pretty soon I’ll be ready to take my next adventure through the power of reading.

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What Path Would You Take?

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What would you be?  Diving deep down into your imagination and digging into your “alter-you,” who would you be that is different from who you are right now.  I mean, throw all caution to the wind and don’t worry about talent or money or practicality.  Who or what would you be?

Now, my life has led me down many different paths.  Let’s see…I started out as a teacher, then an advertising sales rep, then a real estate developer, and now a Professional Speaker.  In between, I was also an owner of a Quizno’s Sub, a manager of a bridal department and also led the visitor services team at Millennium Park in Chicago.  WHEW!  I better stop there.

So, when my husband asked me the question: “What would you be that is different from all the other things you have done,” I surprised myself when I shouted out, without hesitation:

“A dancer!” 

Yes, that’s it.  I want to dance across a stage with my dress flowing behind me, arms waving in the air, as graceful as anything you have ever seen.  Why???  I have no idea.  Except for winning four dance lessons at a local Fred Astaire Dance Studio, I have never been involved in professional dancing in any way.  Yet that’s my answer – my final answer: “A dancer!”

So, what about you?  What would you like to be that is different from who you are right now?  If you let your mind wander, you just may discover a different part of yourself.

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Change is in the Air

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A new season is upon us, there’s no denying it.  Just take a look around.  The falling leaves and the falling temperature are both sure signs that autumn has arrived.

As I breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the changing colors, I can’t help but think of how this season parallels my life.  

First of all, there is change, and that is something we cannot control.   Our only hope is to accept it and find a way to deal with it.  Some change is harder than others, and many times we are brought to our knees because we don’t know how we will survive it.  But it may help to remember that the longer nights, and the darkness, are always followed by light.  No matter how long the night may seem, it WILL come to an end.

So, keep your eyes open, enjoy your surroundings, and you may even discover some fun along the way.  With Fall also comes Halloween and candy (peanut butter cups for me, please) and stomping through the leaves.  When the time is right, you will be able to see the beauty –  even in the darkness. 

I love this Amish Proverb: A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Here’s to embracing the many twist and turns that life has in store for us.

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Fury Frozen in Time

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

When I first told people that I was traveling through the state of Idaho for a week, most responded:

Why?  What’s in Idaho???

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t exactly sure myself.  I had driven through it several times and was always awed by its beauty, but I wasn’t sure what else it had to offer. 

But off we went, my husband and I, on an eight-day vacation.  Before we left, I researched “Top ten things to do in Idaho” and at the top of the list I found Craters of the Moon National Monument. 

I had never heard of it before. And after exploring it for a day, here’s what I learned:

Craters of the Moon dates back 15,000 years when lava erupted from a series of deep cracks in the earth.  They formed these massive lava fields and lava tubes which are similar to caves.  During our visit, we hiked over fields that reflected the fury of the lava, yet it left behind a beauty that cannot be denied. 

That’s when it came to me – that’s when the lava fields reminded me of the challenges I have faced in my own life.  It reminded me of the times that my life erupted in fury, spewing changes that would crack my foundation and make me doubt all that I had worked for – all that I had become.  Then, with time, that fury froze.  With time the scars and cracks and fierceness became something beautiful and fulfilling.  It created paths that would lead me to a new life. 

Just like the hot lava, when we are going through changes, we need time to see the beauty that can come from it.  It’s one of the hardest things to do, but once accomplished, the most rewarding.  It’s a map of where we have been and of all that we accomplished.  It fills in the pieces of the puzzle that were missing, changing the scenery along the way.

The fierceness and fury flows to a new beginning, waiting to be discovered.

If you’d like to learn more about Craters of the Moon National Monument and see its beauty, check this out: https://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm.  It truly was a treasure to find.

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Counting Sheep – Baaaaad Idea!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Do you have trouble sleeping at night?  I certainly do.  There are times when I toss and turn all night long, never being able to get comfortable.  I look at the clock constantly.  My mind tells me: “If I fall asleep right now, I will get six hours of sleep.”  Then another hour passes, another look at the clock, and another inner voice telling me: “If I fall asleep right now, I will get five hours of sleep.” 

And on and on….

For those of you who fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, I envy you.  To wake up in the morning feeling refreshed is something I don’t experience very often.  And I’ve tried it all:       

  • Herbal teas to make you sleep – only I spend hour after hour running to the bathroom
  • Natural sleeping pills – not even close to helping
  • Sound machines to block out any noise – who are we kidding here

However, there is one thing that somewhat helps me.  My friend, Debbie, suggested I listen to Metta Chanting.  “Metta what?”  I asked.  So she sent me this link: https://binged.it/2zNrGBo.  Now it doesn’t help me all the time, but on those occasions when it does, I am very grateful.  There’s something peaceful about it; relaxing. 

So I thought I would pass this along to my fellow insomniacs.  If you’re desperate enough, you’ll try anything.  Who knows?  It just may work for you.  Happy ZZZZZZZZZ’s. 

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Me and My Pink Ukulele

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Yep – I am now the proud owner of a pink ukulele.  Now I’m sure you’re wondering what’s the big deal.  Or more importantly, WHY I want a pink ukulele. 

The real answer?  I’m not really sure.  About 1 ½ years ago, I saw a Christmas concert where the performer played a ukulele while singing the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.  I was quite taken by it.  Then about a month ago, I opened the class schedule for our local college and there it was – beginner ukulele lessons.  The opportunity presented itself to me and it just sounded like an interesting thing to do.

Now, I’ve never taken any kind of music lessons before.  And I have no idea how to read music or even what a musical note looks like, but I’m willing to give it a try.  More importantly, I refuse to tell myself “no.”  You know what I mean:

  • No, you have no idea what you are doing
  • No, you have no musical talent – at all
  • No, you’re too old to start something new

I’ll have none of that.  My first lesson is on October 31st and runs for six weeks at two hours per lesson.  I’ll be there proudly holding my pink ukulele up high.  And I must give a shout out to my husband and send a HUGE thanks his way.  He actually listened to me talk about this crazy idea and gave me that ukulele as a birthday gift.  It’s always great to have someone in your corner.   

Now watch out for my next presentation.  You just may get serenaded on my new toy.

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Oldies but Goodies

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What do these songs have in common?

They are all on current commercials.  Yes, Lollipop is now an ad for Kohls, State Farm Insurance has A Bushel and a Peck playing in the background, and The Wanderer is used by Toyota.

Now, I realize that many people never see a TV commercial.  They watch Netflix or Hulu or whatever else offers commercial free programs, but I actually enjoy them.  Yes, you heard me right – I enjoy watching commercials.  I find many of them amusing, and now that some are using old songs that I grew up singing, I enjoy them even more.

It led me to wondering why – why are so many old songs being used on television commercials today?  The only thing I can think of is they are targeting my age group.  I can’t believe that anyone under the age of 40 would even know any of these songs, let alone relate to them.  But for me, it brings back lovely memories and warm feelings.  It actually makes me stop and take notice. It makes me remember their product and gives me a good feeling about it.

Well, at least that’s my theory.  What about you?  Why do you think commercials are turning to oldies but goodies to sell their products?  Never noticed?  Check it out the next time you’re watching your favorite show.  You just may hear a song that brings back memories you’ve long forgotten.  Who knows?  You may even begin to enjoy watching those commercials like I do.

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A Blast to the Past

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Nearly 45 years ago, I walked across a huge stage to accept my college diploma.  Graduating from Eastern Illinois University was exciting and melancholy at the same time.  Although I was proud of what I had accomplished, I was NOT ready to leave the world I was living in. 

I LOVED going to EIU.  Learning and laughing and experiencing life for the first time on my own helped to mold me into the woman I am today.  It resurrected an independence in me that I didn’t even know existed and I found confidence to face my new life. On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave the safety of my friends and everything that had become familiar to me. 

Not really having a choice, I took that diploma, packed my bags and headed out into the world of grown-ups.  My life took me in many different directions, but my path never led me back to Charleston, Illinois and Eastern Illinois University.

That is, until this past weekend!!!  Through the power of social media, and in this case, LinkedIn, I commented on a post written by someone who worked at EIU.  Through that comment, a couple of lovely young ladies reached out to me, visited me in my home town, then invited me back to my Alma Mater for a football game.  How could I resist. 

Stepping back on campus after all those years opened a floodgate of memories.  I was treated like royalty and taken on a tour of my old dorm – even my old room.  That was followed by more tours, dinner at the Victory Suite for the football game, and even a copy of the yearbook from my senior year.  I felt special and grateful and overwhelmed at how friendly and genuinely happy people were to see me.

So, today, I’d like to sincerely thank Eastern Illinois University for making me Queen for a Day.  May everyone experience a day as special as you created for me.  And may I be able to pay it forward and create such a memorable experience for someone else.

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If I Could Do It All Over Again

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

If I could do it all over again, I would ask him about his garden.  This is a picture of the front yard when I was growing up on the south side of Chicago.  Certainly, not a lot of room.  Yet my father took great pride in it and found little nooks and crannies to plant bushes, brightly colored flowers, and even a few decorative pavers.  He LOVED planting and nurturing and showing off his garden.  And as I think back to my younger days, I never asked him about it.

That would be one of my “do-overs.”  I would ask my Dad to show me his garden, small but mighty.  I’d love to know why he enjoyed it so much and why he found such peacefulness in the geraniums and marigolds.  More than anything I would love to connect with him over something he enjoyed doing so much.

Of all the “do-overs” I’d like to have, this is the one that tops my list.  So now, when I get together with the people I love, or even those that I just like, I think about asking them about their passions and hobbies and what makes them happy.  I try to enter into their world, if only for a little while, and see life through their eyes and learn from them.  In the process, I’m hoping to reduce my list of “do-overs.”  I’m hoping to find that peacefulness my Dad found in his garden.

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