Go Beyond the Obvious

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and by now you have received dozens of emails, texts and messages reminding you to be grateful.

So, today I’m not going to do the same thing. Instead of sending the same typical, predictable message as everyone else, I want to make this one different. So, please indulge me.

Stop for a moment, right now, and picture just one good thing that happened this past year as a result of the pandemic. Something that you realized or experienced that bought a different dimension to your life that would not have happened if it wasn’t for COVID.

Don’t answer too quickly and please don’t give the standard answer, like “spend more time with my family.” Yes, that is very important and I’m thrilled that so many people have experienced that, but I am asking you to go beyond the obvious.

This is really a hard question so I’m taking today to reflect on the new person I have become in this last year because of, and in spite of, the pandemic. My life has certainly changed and I know there is a new path before me. I just have to clear away the branches and debris to see where it leads me.

Happy Thanksgiving, my Dear Friends.

 

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Quiet Influence

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There are people in our lives who have made all the difference in the world. Without their influence, we would not be where we are today. They are the ones who don’t ASK if we need help, they just show up when no one else seems to understand. They are the ones who grab our hand and guide us through the darkness. The sad part is, they may not even know of the impact they have made on our life.

So, during this season of Thanksgiving, I am pausing to think about those who have shaped my life. About those who fill my heart with so much gratitude that I have no words to express it. Funny, it’s not always the people you would expect. Sometimes, it’s those hiding in the shadows that can see your pain, feel your loneliness, and lead you to a safe place where you can finally breathe again.

Are you getting a picture in your head of someone who’s help was so profound that it literally changed your life? If so, reach out to them now. They probably have no idea of how something they said or did eased your confusion. Don’t wait another minute. In an email, text, card or better yet, face-to-face (or Zoom), tell them.

 

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That One Person

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There are people in our lives who have made all the difference in the world. Without their influence, we would not be where we are today. They are the ones who didn’t ASK if we needed help, they just showed up when no one else seemed to understand. They were the ones to grab our hand and guide us through the darkness. The sad part is, they may not even know of the impact they have made on our lives.

Last night I spoke to a group of teens on the topic of gratitude. As I talked to them about reaching out to say thank you to those who have helped them, it suddenly popped out of my mouth: “And they may not even be aware of the influence they have had on you. Please be sure to tell them.”

As I drove home, it made me think about those who have shaped my life. About those who fill my heart with so much gratitude that I have no words to express it. Funny, it’s not always the people you would expect. Sometimes, it’s those hiding in the shadows that can see your pain, feel your loneliness, and lead you to a safe place where you can finally breathe again.

Are you getting a picture in your head of someone who’s help was so profound that it literally changed your life? If so, reach out to them now. They probably have no idea of how something they said or did eased your confusion. Don’t wait another minute. In an email, text, card or better yet, face-to-face, tell them.

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It’s Simple but It’s Not Easy

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You’ve heard about it, read about it, and may have even practiced it.  And, often, when we need it the most, it’s the hardest to process.  What am I talking about?

Gratitude!

As a Professional Speaker, it is often the topic of my speeches.  I believe in it so much that I actually created a Gratitude Journal and Gratitude Cards.  It’s a powerful technique, yet we often dismiss it or fail to take the time to put it into practice – especially when we are facing some of life’s toughest challenges.  Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for what we have when our life is falling apart around us.

That’s why I’m dedicating this blog to my niece, Jennifer.  The photo you see here was taken of her home just a few days ago.  Everyone is safe, thank goodness.

As her family huddled together there was nothing they could do as they helplessly watched just about everything they own go up in flames.  Later, here are the feelings she expressed:

    “The outpouring of care and compassion that was exhibited by my friends, and complete strangers was overwhelming. The first responders were incredible…My family and I (including our dog, Sampson) are safe at my dad’s, and that is ALL that matters…It could have been so much worse. I am humbled by the community’s reaction and immediate willingness to help. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. I cannot BELIEVE how quickly the fire spread as we watched helplessly. And now a new day………blessed.

I just hope I can find the gratitude and strength and peacefulness in my heart the next time I face one of life’s great challenges.  I hope I will remember my niece’s courage and be inspired by it.

And now, please excuse me as I head to Target to buy more fire extinguishers.  This one hit too close to home and I plan on being better prepared than I am right now.

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Sound Advice From Sweden

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Imagine starting each morning with a positive attitude and a belief that today will be one of your best days ever.

Ahhhhhh – wouldn’t that be great!

Well, it’s not as far off as you may think.  The people of Sweden actually have a word for this.  They call it Gökotta.  Since the word really is untranslatable, the best description I could find goes something like this:

To rise at dawn in order to go out and listen to the birds sing.  To wake with a feeling of gratefulness.

Now, since I’m not a morning person, I doubt that I will be waking up at dawn, but I think this idea can work no matter what the hour is.  Focusing on waking up with gratefulness will definitely bring peace and joy to your day. 

I may have to make a few adjustments, though.  Personally, I’m going to start with replacing my obnoxious alarm clock with something softer.  Since Gökotta suggests the singing of birds, I’ll find an app on my phone to help wake me more gently.  Surely there’s an app for that.  

In the meantime, don’t delay.  Find your own recording of “birds singing.”  Start right now and see if tomorrow morning brings you more gratitude and joy and peacefulness, simply by waking to the sound of birds singing.

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How To Tame a Negative Nellie

Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow and everywhere I look, I see articles on gratitude.  Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a HUGE fan of gratitude.  Keeping a gratitude list actually helped me turn my life around several years ago when everything was crumbling around me.  In fact, I wrote a series of five blogs on the topic of gratitude and being thankful.  If you’d like to read them, start here then scroll through the next four: https://nancydepcik.com/blog/page/13/.  They’re pretty insightful.

But today I thought of a little twist.  What about all those people who aren’t moved by gratitude – don’t know what it really means, how to use it or even care about it.  Do you know anyone like that?  Maybe someone who complains a lot, or isn’t aware of the amazing things that surround them.  Do you sometimes have to share the day, whether it’s a holiday or not, with a Negative Nellie? 

How do you handle that?  How do you keep from getting sucked into their bad mood?

Here’s an idea – give them a compliment!  Yes, you heard me right.  In the middle of all their complaining, moaning and groaning, tell them you like their shoes, or you like the color of their shirt, or the cake they brought is absolutely delicious.  Derail them!  Make them stop in their tracks and figure out how to absorb something good in their life.

I’ve tried this a few times and it works!  Maybe not all the time, but when it does, it’s amusing to see the look on their face.  It’s a good feeling to know you’ve turned their attitude around, even if it’s only for a moment or two.  You’ve made them stop and take notice.  Besides, it keeps you from reaching for the aspirin. 

Try it – what have you got to lose?  Watch the impact you can have on someone else.  Then you can go back to having a lovely day of your own. 

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Grateful Memories in Spite of…

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Have you ever dreamed of something –  hoped for it, saved for it, imagined it – only to find out it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?   That’s what happened to me on my recent trip to Italy.

You see, years ago I heard about an area called Cinque Terra.  It was described as a rugged portion of the coast on the Italian Riviera with five villages built into the cliffs.   It sounded so romantic, and any photo I saw of the area was breathtaking.  I just had to go and experience it for myself. 

So I saved and waited and saved some more.  And when I arrived, this is what I saw!  Hordes and hordes of tourists – so many that you could hardly move.  I learned later that each of the five towns has about 400 residents each, yet every year they have 1.2 billion visitors.  That’s billions with a capital B.  You had to fight your way to get on the trains, and sometimes the hiking trails were so crowded you were at a total standstill.

So much for my vision of sitting at a local cafe, sipping a cappuccino with the Italian residents. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It was still beautiful – just not the way I had imagined it.  So what do you do?  How do you handle a situation like this?

For me, I made a conscious choice to see the beauty that surrounded me.  I remembered the words of Mary Engelbreit:  “If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” 

I knew I would probably never be in this part of Italy again.  So I embraced the craziness and started conversations with visitors that surrounded me.  And then I ordered a bottle of wine – the local wine that you can’t get anywhere else.  I began to embrace the uniqueness of this area.  It didn’t happen immediately, but every time I found myself getting annoyed with the crowds, I simply said: “I am grateful for ________________.”

Now it’s your turn to fill in the blank.  No matter what is happening around you, good or bad, there is always something to be grateful for.  What memories will you choose to make?

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You’ve Got a Friend

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Has your confidence ever been shaken to the core?  Have you ever gone through a challenge so great that you doubted yourself and stopped believing in your own self-worth?

I know I have, and it’s a scary place to be.  As I look at my life now, it’s hard to believe that my confidence was shattered, but there’s no doubt that seven years ago my life totally fell apart.  And it all happened so quickly.  One day I was in a loving 15 year relationship, owned a successful business and lived in a beautiful home.  Then the next day – PUFF!  It was all gone.  And I never saw it coming.  The 2008 recession swallowed my business, all my finances and I found myself sitting in a bankruptcy office.  How did I get here?  What was I going to do next?

So how did you survive your life challenge?  Whether you lost your job, lost someone you love, or lost your home, how did you get up the next morning and put one foot in front of the other?

One HUGE thing that helped me was my friends.  Never questioning me or judging me, they were just there.  One helped me pack my boxes to move, another held my hand as I looked for a new place to live, and others invited me to dinner and just let me ramble about my heartache.

Above all, they made me believe that I wasn’t alone.  And in the end, it has made me a better friend to others.  Now when someone calls me with a problem, I just listen.  Although I may be tempted, I don’t offer advice, and I certainly don’t interject my own stories of “you should hear what happened to me.”

I think that’s what I’m most grateful for – learning how to be a better friend to others. Learning to listen, tune in, and just BE there. 

For me, this quote says it all: “Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest–It’s about those who came and never left your side.”Mikaela Tiu

Thanks to all my dear Friends who never left my side!

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Share Your Wisdom

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For the last nine weeks, every week, I’ve shared an idea that helped me during a very difficult time in my life.  A time when I felt like I had been socked in the stomach and couldn’t breathe.  We’ve all been there; we’ve all faced life challenges.  It may be that you lost your job, lost a loved one, or so many other challenges in between.

Even though the situation may be different, the emotions are so similar.  There are times when we feel scared, angry, and confused.  Our confidence is shaken and we feel beaten down and exhausted.

The nine techniques I shared can help anyone get back on their feet again.  That is, anyone who is ready to heal and begin to move forward to a new beginning.

Some of the things I talked about were:

  • Gratitude
  • Making a game out of a difficult situation
  • The 9 out of 10 factor
  • A formula to visualize your future
  • Knowing that you always made a good decision
  • Paying attention to what comes back to you over and over again
  • Quotes
  • Acknowledging your self-worth
  • The power of the word curious

These nine techniques truly helped me recreate myself.  It took lots of time, and even more ups and downs along the way, but with patience and love from my family and friends, I now have a whole new life.  These nine techniques really helped to pull me out of the darkness.

That’s why I want to share them with you.  My hope is that you read something that will click, something that will help make your journey a little easier – a little stronger.

And now I reach out to you.  I’d love to hear about any tips, techniques, secrets, that helped you through a difficult time.  What kept you going and nudged you to get out of bed in the morning?  What kept you moving forward when everything else told you to just give up?  By sharing, you never know who you may help

After all, we are in this Game of Life together.  Let’s bring a little fun and laughter and peace into each other’s life.  Let’s reach out and pull each other up.

In the wise words of Flavia Weedn: “If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”

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I Would Walk 500 Miles

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I LOVE that song – I Would Walk 500 Miles by The Proclaimers.

As the song says:
I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more…

Who or what would you walk 500 miles for? Who or what would be worth the pain and the sacrifice?

Now don’t be so quick to answer the question. Really think about it and the commitment it would take.

When I first saw this picture of a sculpture by artist Frances Bruno Catalano, it really took my breath away. I read that his reason for creating it was to capture the vacuum caused by being forced to leave your land, your life, or your people for any reason.

However, this piece of art had a different message for me. This sculpture made me wonder about times when there was a void in my life, and the people I surrounded myself with to help me fill that void.

Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said: “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”.

That’s right! We are greatly influenced by those who are closest to us. They affect our way of thinking, our self confidence, and the decisions we make.

Hopefully you can look around and breathe a sigh of relief. However, if you look around and scream “Yikes, what was I thinking”! it may be time to make a few changes.

So it is those people in my life who helped me fill the void of loneliness, confusion, self-doubt, and so much more that I am truly grateful.

After all, “Friendship isn’t about who you have known the longest… it’s about those who came and never left your side”. (Mikaela Tiu)

And for them, and the hope they gave me, I would walk 500 miles!

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