There is a Lesson Everywhere – Even in Game Night

Wednesday night is game night at our house. As I began to write this I tried to sum up how Wednesdays came to be game night and quickly abandoned the long explanation (that adds nothing to the purpose of my story). You’ll need to just be content knowing Game Night is Wednesday Night and it is SACRED!

The evening always begins the same….we eat! However, we eat family style (AKA old school) we sit at the table and talk while we consume anything from pizza to black bean soup. The conversation is all over the map (as are the age ranges of the participants), some weeks we spend a lot of time on High School or College type things; in other weeks we discuss politics or religion or well, whatever. Every opinion matters and every opinion is respected…even when we roll our eyes! 🙂 The game experience matches with the other aspects – all over the map! From wii to yahtzee to ‘oh crap, it’s the end of the night and we never got around to a game’.

Mr Beau Vine at Game Night

Lately we (OKAY, maybe me) have become enamored with a game called Rummikub®. (NOTE: If you’re interested in the game the Wikipedia link give a good description of the history and the rules; because my explanations will be VERY incomplete.) The game is played with tiles, players ‘lay-down’ runs or sets and can play off others run or sets – here is where this game gets interesting – players can also rearrange any or all tiles to create new runs or sets in their quest to ‘lay down’ all  their tiles.

I know what you’re thinking – WHY are you explaining this game to me?!?

I’m getting there….promise!

So, last night while we’re playing it occurred to me how much life is like Rummikub®. We all have strengths (our tiles) and sometimes those stand on their own. However, sometimes we need the strengths of others (their tiles) to be able to use what we have.

The fun of the game is figuring out how it all fits together!

Here’s the other great lesson in the game – there is no absolute right way for the tiles to be played. We all see them differently and everyone makes the plays they see (even when others may see totally different plays).

I am guilty of getting caught up in the idea that my way of doing something is the ‘right way’ when the reality is that my way is just one way. It may be the easiest most efficient way <grin> but others may have a way that is just as simple for them.

Today I am working on being mindful that another’s way of doing something (albeit less efficient <grin>) may be just as effective. I am also being thankful for the strengths and talents of those around me who make my strengths and talents that much better!

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Who’s The Boss

I am not sure why I continue to be amazed that life lessons come along when I need to hear them. My suspicion is that the lessons are always available; I just notice them when I am ready to learn. I have experienced one of those times this week! I received this message from an email list I subscribe to:

“Your goals should also be designed to create rewards that are most important to you, not to someone else“

In and of it’s self this is a nice quote without far reaching ramifications for me. However, for weeks Jenn and I have been enmeshed in discussions about life, business, and how we are proceeding with each. It’s no surprise to anyone that it is hard to balance running a business (in my case two of them), personal time, relationships, personal goals and entertainment. The lines get very blurred. For example, is an evening networking event personal time, entertainment or business?

Yesterday, our business received an email. It was an email that upset me greatly.

It’s not the kind of thing that usually bothers me, (because we have learned that almost everyone you meet believes they know your business better than you and their advice is priceless) but for some reason it really rankled me. The email was a chastising email from someone who was not pleased with a decision we made for our business – A decision that saved us time and saved us from unnecessary loss of product; a decision that resulted in no loss of money to the letter writer. A decision that was made with careful and thoughtful consideration brought on my circumstances (rain) beyond our control.

From the moment the email arrived, around 11am, I began to stew. Like any good stew, I steamed, I rattled on about it, I fumed and I wrote and rewrote responses (none that ever were sent). I just kept saying over and over, ‘HOW DARE SOMEONE CHASTISE ME FOR MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION FOR MY BUSINESS!” I was still stewing on this matter when I went to bed last night. This morning I awoke with this blog post in my head and a totally different outlook.

Too often in my life I have tempered my goal for the needs of others.

Last week I had dinner with a friend whose brother was just diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. The brother is 49 years old (same as me) and his plight made me ponder my own mortality. In the days after this dinner I began to proclaim that I was officially


I implored my young friend who just began his freshman year in college to ‘do it all’ and to ‘learn it all’ and finish with no regret. (No doubt he left his lunch with me shaking his head and wondering about the ranting of an old woman). However, in reality I was ranting to a younger version of me. I was wishing I could go back and erase the regret.

I have concluded that we need to focus on the end game. We need to have a clear sight of what (or who) is important and we must make the right decision for us. Not your mother (or father). Not your spouse. Not your children. Not your best friend. For YOU! I am not saying we should doggedly pursue our goals to the detriment of others. But I am saying

We Should Doggedly Pursue Our Goals!

It is not too late (no matter how old you are) to choose to pursue your goals! As the picture says, be assured that saying yes to someone else does not mean you are saying no to you!

Are your decisions today the right decisions for you?  or are you losing yourself to pacify and placate someone else?

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FEAR – The Final Frontier

My dog Wrigley is a very fearful guy. His fear manifests it’s self in many ways – the most amusing is his fear of jumping on the bed. Wrigley is tall and can easily rest his head on the bed and with most beds he could just step up and be there. However he lives in fear of hopping on the bed. We have cajoled, and offered cookies. We have begged and yelled. Yet, the result remains the same – the fear negates any efforts.

I know what you’re thinking – what’s amusing about a 80lbs dog

Wrigley and Marshall on the Bed

trembling in fear? The amusing part is that once a human touches him somewhere about the neck and shoulders he leaps victoriously on the bed and proceeds to do a victory dance that would shame Rocky! His pride in accomplishment is down right funny – since most likely he has cried whimpered for a long time before someone gave in and helped.

Last night during this process, I realized I am just like Wrigley. I look at things and I see all that could go wrong. And rather than take a leap of faith and try, I whine and cry (both literally and figuratively) and take no action.

How do you over come fear?

I discovered a blog post – 33 Powerful Ways of Overcoming Fear … Right Now – that I thought had some good ideas (although some, like hypnosis, therapy or hiring a life coach seem extreme in most cases {read my case}). However, I  have come up with my own 6-steps to overcoming fear; because I do think overcoming fear comes down to a few simple steps (six to be exact):

1) Accept the Fear – acceptance in no way means give in to the fear! Acceptance means accept the presence of fear. Observe the feeling in your mind and body without labeling or judging it. Surrender to the fear instead of fighting it. As you do this the negative energy will pass through you and your body will release it. And you can return to focusing on the task at hand. Focusing on the now not only reduces fear but also increases the chances of you succeeding as your mind is focused.

2) Find the reason – Write down all the wonderful things you will gain in your life by overcoming this fear. Do it now – Take out a piece of paper and a pen. And write down all the wonderful ways you can come up with how overcoming fear will improve your life.

3) Take Small Steps – sometimes when I watch Wrigley and his hopping on the bed phobia, I think ‘don’t try to jump so far – take smaller steps’. This is so true of the fear we have in our own lives. Our fear can become so overwhelming that we are paralyzed and unable to act. Break it down in to small manageable portions and begin moving forward.

4) Live right now – The basis for our fears come from past experiences and imagined future experiences. Stop thinking about the failures of the past or how you should have made different choices. Don’t borrow trouble for the future by imagining what might or could go wrong. Do what you can right now. Make your best possible choice. LIVE NOW!

5) Accept Help – I probably have the hardest time with this one. I like to believe that I can handle it all on my own. It is hard to accept help. But sometimes we must accept that we can’t do everything and need help.

6) Celebrate Success – I wish I could celebrate with the complete and unadulterated joy that Wrigley has when his feet land on the bed. He does not contemplate the fear, or lament the need for help – he simply dances, and celebrates his victory.

Be fearless today, My Friend!


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Intentional Television

Last fall during my illness, I was astounded by the number of televisions available in health care facilities! While in the emergency room for hours, I was able to watch a television that was readily available to entertain me at my bedside. Every waiting room is television laden. I was SHOCKED to find a television available for my viewing pleasure as I lay in my hospital bed waiting in the hallway of the radiology department. TV’s were everywhere!

I grew up in a house with one television. We only got three channels! The WHOLE family watched the same show! It didn’t feel strange to be offered a magazine as I waited to see a doctor. I could eat a meal in a restaurant without a television blaring.

I read recently that the number of hours spent watching television is decreasing globally, while the number of hours Americans spend watching television is increasing.

The television media industry is crucial to the modern world – to the economy and to the lives of people. A major study showed that 99 percent of households in America have at least one television. But the hours spent in front of the screen are getting ridiculous.

The average American teenager watches four hours a day of TV and spends almost two additional hours on the computer and playing video games. This is a distraction from studying and interacting with family members. And the numbers are growing and it’s not just kids  in the US, the average adult spends anywhere from three to six hours watching TV every day.

In February of this year we decided to decrease the availability of Television in our household. We dumped Direct TV, and started to watch ‘our shows’ via the web. I thought it would make no difference because ‘we don’t watch that much TV’ but the first month was surprisingly hard. It turns out we had been turning on the television as a time waster (meaning that we weren’t watching because we wanted to see a specific show/event but just because we weren’t involved in doing something specific). It’s hard to just sit and mindlessly watch when you must specifically seek out a show.

Rather than just ‘turning on the TV’ now I sit on my porch and read or play with my dogs. I go for walks or have conversations. The book budget had increased and I am now needing to charge my nook twice a week or more rather than the every-other-week schedule I had been keeping. We still watch some shows via Hulu, but even that number has greatly decreased!

Here’s the thing, no one in our house would have said we watch a lot of TV! Until we got rid of the ability to just turn it on without thought. Then and only then did we see how much of our time was wasted with mindless watching. But my eyes were opened to how much time I gave to something I wasn’t really enjoying.

The experiment is over. We could go back to our old ways. But I am enjoying my life unplugged from the boob-tube.

Now, I am thinking about other thing I may be doing thoughtlessly. What about you? What are you doing that chews up your time without returning great joy?


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The Power of Negative Thinking

I haven’t written in a while. Not because I don’t want to write; not because I haven’t tried to write; and not even because I have nothing to say. I haven’t written because the words can’t seem to funnel out of my head, through my fingers and onto the page! It is discouraging!

The Power of Negative Thinking

I chalked it up to writers block or perhaps, just being unfocused. Then today in one fell-swoop Jenn hit the nail on the head when she said ‘Can you just say ONE positive thing!’

It’s true I’ve been on the negative bandwagon for the last week or so!

Many years ago I remember reading that humans only use 10% of their brain power. I have since learned that this isn’t true but the fact remains that the human mind is a wonderful and amazing thing. I often wonder where my feelings and thoughts; my experience of negative or positive emotions; or my encouraging or discouraging interactions with others come from. It seems to me that there are times when my brain acts on it’s own to flip a switch from positive to negative in a matter of seconds.

But if we do not control our thoughts, who does? If we are not masters of our emotions, who is? If we cannot choose our words carefully, then who can?

Can you really just put a happy face on it? Yes You Can!

I find for me that there are two huge factors that get in the way of my positive! They are:

1 Obsessing about the past

Life’s full of woulda, coulda, shoulda moments….let them go and focus on what you can change today!

2 Dwelling on the future

Yep, stuffs gonna happen! If you can control it or fix it get on it….if not worrying ain’t going to fix it!

It’s hard to do things in the past or the future. Go ahead and try it. (I’ll wait)

You can not change what you wore in 1980? You can not plan for everything that might happen in the future (you can plan for some things but not everything) If you find that you’re caught up in wishing you could change the past or worrying about the future, STOP IT!

Tell your thoughts you’ll get back to them later. And go do something that makes you feel good. Do something positive for someone else.

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What is your Cause?

A few days ago a Facebook friend commented that she had just read the book – The Help. She commented that she was a good Southern gal and that she could not recall any separate bathrooms for domestic help in the 1960’s when she was a young lady. Then she made a profound statement “I graduated in ’62 and wish I had the foresight to be part of the solution. It saddens me that I just accepted things as they were.”

In Church on Sunday we sang ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’. The minister commented that this negro spiritual was a song of two meanings – one was the obvious religious symbol of waiting for the day they would die and receive their reward; the other meaning referred to the Underground Railroad, the resistance movement that helped slaves escape from the South to the North and Canada.

Suddenly my mind put the two events together and I began to wonder how history would see my actions? Would I be a Freedom Rider or a safe spot along the Underground Railroad? Or am I just accepting things as they are?

What's Your Cause?

Am I seeing the full impact of today’s issues?

Because I read and critique obituaries (yes, it an odd habit that I started in my teens) I have often considered what information is important in obituaries. For example I am adamant that grandchildren and great-grandchildren be listed by name! Although it is rarely an issue in this day and age, listing a woman as Mrs. (insert Husbands name) really raises my hackles. Naturally, I have considered my own obituary. What can the world say about me?

Did I speak for those who are oppressed? Did I speak for those who are bullied? What did I fight for?

The answers to these questions have caused me to travel many paths. It has caused me to challenge my thinking. The answers are not always comfortable. The change is not always easy.

What about you? What do you believe in? What are you willing to fight for?

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