It’s All In Your Mindset

Ever met a positive person who seems to find the silver lining in all situations, despite the adversity facing them? If you have, I bet you cling to them. I know I do. Why wouldn’t we, right?

I’m currently reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, which focuses on (in case you haven’t already guessed) happiness. In The Happiness Advantage, Achor discusses a great many things about how we can be happier individuals, but one tidbit that stood out for me was our mindset and facing adversity. We all have had trials and tribulations – some more tragic than others. How we deal with them is how we differ as human beings. If we look at the challenge we’re facing as an opportunity, we’re more likely to be happy. Simple, yes. But how many of us fall into that trap of the  “whoa is me” mindset when something isn’t going our way?

As I drove in my car the other day thinking about adversity and overcoming it, the first person who came to my mind was my father. His attitude toward life was always positive. He saw a rainbow when there was rain. The man appreciated life. Anyone who knew him can attest to his friendliness and zest for life.

Many, many years ago, Dad was a state trooper, protecting and serving the fine citizens of the Sunshine state. One fateful day, Dad had a near-tragic accident while in the line of duty. The accident left him in a coma for three months and with a brain injury. Doctors speculated he’d never walk or talk again. The outlook wasn’t optimistic. But they didn’t know my dad. They didn’t know that he was determined and saw it as a challenge he wanted to overcome.

He spent more than a year in rehabilitation, learning to walk again, to talk again, to do all of the daily things he needed to survive. These are things we don’t often think about because we have them within our grasp and take them for granted. But, unfortunately, when something of meaning to us is taken from us, our focus changes,  and we fully appreciate what it was to us and yearn for whatever was lost to come back.

My dad proved his doctors wrong. He walked and talked and did all of the things they said he wouldn’t ever do again. He was never completely whole again, but he never saw himself that way. None of us did. He saw it as a second chance. Think of all the people you know who have had near-death experiences, some of them might have a new, improved outlook on life. True story: our time here is limited and it’s up to us to live it to the fullest. We can either focus on what we don’t have or appreciate what we’ve been given. 

(This picture was taken about 15 years after my dad’s accident.)

I once asked my dad if he regretted the accident, and his response to me was, “I would have never met your mother and had you kids if I hadn’t had the accident.” (That’s another beautiful story to share at another time). His response to adversity: see it as an opportunity for something great to come. And with that attitude, he lived a full life the remaining years he was blessed to be on this planet.

Taking Chances

My husband and I recently purchased a record player. We’re feeling nostalgic these days; middle-age will do that to a person. It’ll make you crave some things from the past, remembering with rose-colored glasses. That’s the beauty of nostalgia – it’s always seen in a pleasant way. Owning a record player again has changed our lives. Okay, that sounds a bit dramatic, but it definitely has caused us to cut down on watching television, and instead, just chill and listen to music. There are so many things I love about having a record player again. Read more →

Unconditional Love

I have become a savant in the art of grieving. It’s not something I had hoped to excel in; it just happened.

This has been a year. (Sigh).

First I lost my mom; then I lost my dad. And now there is a void.

My sister aptly said to me, “Our parents were the people we knew would always love us no matter what we did.” Sure your siblings, your spouse, your close friends love you, but the love your parents have for you is purely unconditional. It’s a special kind of love.

It’s unfortunate I understand my parents completely now that they’ve passed. But sometimes it takes a tragedy to make one see things clearly. If I could, I’d call them up and say, “Hey, remember all those times I thought I knew better? Well, I was wrong!”

Hindsight is always 20/20 vision.

I could spend hours talking about Mom and Dad. I could tell you that my dad was a happy man, that he was gentle and beloved by many. I could tell you that my mom was strong, that she loved with all of her being, and that she made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. I could tell you how amazing my parents’ love was for each other. I could go on and on, singing their praises.

All of the sympathy cards talk about how the memories won’t die, etc., etc. It’s true; my memories of them will not fade, but you know what else lives on? Aspects of their personality, their values, who they were, these things, they live on through me. I am frugal like my dad. I am strong like my mom. My outlook on life is like my dad’s. I love like my mom. I have a sense of humor like my dad. I help others like my mom did. I believe in kindness and treating others like I want to be treated – which was a value my parents’ instilled in me.

I am currently writing a novel (which is therapeutic for grieving). I never planned to create characters like my parents, but as I write, I see minor aspects of them in my main characters. So, they live on through my word. That’s a powerful gift.

I’d like you to know that my mother and father were great people. They were honest and cared for others. They were kind-hearted and hardworking. And best of all, they loved without condition.

If your parents are still alive, call them and tell them you appreciate them. Hug them. Ask them to go out for lunch. Show them you love them. But most importantly, tell them what they mean to you.

If you’re grieving, I’m sorry. I know what you are feeling and it takes time to overcome such sorrow. Your heart will mend in time. Find what helps you cope. For me, it’s writing and helping others. Each person deals in their own way, just like our grieving process.

The photo below was the last photo I took of my parents and me. Little did I know that this would be the last time we’d go out together. I had such a special time with them on this day. We ate lunch, then ventured to get ice cream, and then hung out at their house. I cherish this memory and am thankful I had this time with them.

Time is precious. Treat it with care and appreciate each and every moment. Love with all that you have and remember, you are who you are because of who raised you. 

Grief – an unfortunate part of life…

Grief. There’s nothing good about it, Charlie Brown. Death is a sad (heartbreaking) but true aspect of life. With life comes loss. With happiness comes sadness. Blah, blah, blah. Those Zen philosophical mantras aren’t comforting during the grieving process. It’s easier to say these things than to go through the experience. Words are just words, aren’t they? We all know that death is a part of life, yet when that moment happens, when the person we love passes, we find it’s pretty darn hard to cope. (Ask me how many times I’ve broken down into tears). We all cope differently. There’s those five stages everyone talks about, but things just don’t happen in life that way. Nope. I know I didn’t follow the rulebook on those stages. Matter of fact, I think I went from denial straight to anger then to bargaining, and then the ultimate sadness kicked in. It hit me: she was gone and wasn’t ever coming back. Read more →

Favorites of 2015

“Raindrops on roses…”  When I see the image below I can’t help but sing the song. I love that movie, and man, can Julie Andrews sing. I digress.

2015 is coming to an end. If I can say one thing about this year, it was the year of great discoveries: from new authors to new musicians. Don’t you love it when you find a hidden gem? You feel like an archaeologist on a quest or a gold miner who has just discovered gold. Here’s a list of my favorite discoveries from 2015: Read more →

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

I lived thirty plus years in Florida and in the same city where I was born. I even went to college in Central Florida. It was all I ever knew. I figured that I’d grow old and die there, but then something happened. Something in me changed. Read more →

Roller Skating – a Metaphor for Life

I used to roller skate. What child of the 70s and 80s doesn’t know how? Actually, I was surprised to find there are quite a few people my age who’ve never been roller skating. How did they miss out on this while growing up? Didn’t their school have a “Skate Night?” Didn’t they skate while listening to tunes on their walkman? I know I did. Read more →

In case you missed it…

In case you’re not on my mailing list, I made a couple of important announcements, and I’d like to share them here with you. Read more →

Remember these?

I do. I had a pair just like them (and they’re way cooler than those lame-o roller blades that everyone skates on now). I would skate in my driveway while listening to Olivia Newton-John on my boombox. (A radio with only a tape player. CD players weren’t invented yet, and if they were, they probably cost a bundle). I’d twirl on my wheels, thinking I was the next Dorothy Hamil. I’m sure I looked better in my head than I did in real life. But when you’re a kid, you think you’re the best at everything you do. And really, you don’t care. Read more →

A Day in the Life…

Recently, I ventured out to the Museum and Library of Confederate History, in Greenville, SC. This was part of my research for my current work in progress. Read more →