friendship

Surprise!

Everyone likes a surprise. Nobody likes secrets. Generally speaking I can’t keep a secret. You shouldn’t tell me anything that wasn’t meant for the world to know. Just a fun fact about me.

Ironically, I picked up the phone one day and was recruited to keep a secret from a special friend in my inner circle. Clearly the requester had no idea how bad I am at this or they wouldn’t have asked, right? Maybe I was the only option? Of course I signed up for the job but it wasn’t going to be easy. I just couldn’t say no.

The person being surprised is a sleuth. A gal with 1 million questions and a memory like no other. I’m going to get caught I just know it. She is going to be so mad at me for being deceitful. How will I overcome this?

Why did I volunteer for this? Who can I can recruit to help me be sneaky? At least if I’m not the only guilty party she can’t be mad for long, right? I got the pack on board. We each played our part. So far so good. Days are turning into hours. We are honing our deceitful skills as we speak. 

While we are being deceitful the suspecting party is catching on. Her latest line of questioning was Kim asked me this weird question and then Sarah asked me this on the same day…. Me: okay, so what are you trying to say? She: I hope they are not being sneaky for my birthday. Me: I doubt it. You are imagining things. Big sigh. She: Who are you talking to about flowers? Me: somebody asking a dumb question. She: Who? Me: my sister. Bad answer she is a master gardener. Oh well, dodged another bullet. I think.

We have been keeping a secret about a surprise birthday gathering of an unsuspecting or maybe inquiring soul for what seems like months. In reality it’s a week. It’s been torture to say the least! I’ve had to make sure I don’t slip up in a text, in person or on the phone. Talk about challenging.

Close call the day before. Somebody said I’m bringing your gift tomorrow. Oh no, did she catch on? Nail biter for sure. I deferred and deflected but not sure sure if she fell for it….

It’s been kind of fun in a way but I’ll be glad when it’s over. At the end of the day the surprise went off without a hitch. Tears of happiness were flowing in abundance and a very special person was recognized by many who appreciate her.

When the surprise can be kept, the outcome is amazing. It makes all the scandalous secret keeping worth it. I’ve had my fix for surprises for a while. I don’t even like to wait for Christmas to see what I got for presents. I like to know now. 

The best part was a virtual birthday card. Pretty proud of the idea. Excited for the unveiling but it will be a gift that she can look back on many times. So many people sent amazing messages. Not sure why I’ve never done a virtual card like this before but it was my favorite part of being sneaky. 

A big thank you to my Miagi who put all the videos together for an amazing end result. More tears. As expected. Time to shift back to honesty is the best policy motto. Have you had the opportunity to surprise one of your close friends? If not, be sure to give it a try. See if you can keep the secret surprise!

balance, challenges

Abundance

It was my fourth trip to the grocery store in the past ten days.

Even in that long time, the scene was mostly the same.  Fruits and veggies were pretty well stocked.

But, canned goods were basically empty. Same with the pasta aisle. Fresh meat cases completely bare. Bread was hit or miss. Toilet paper shelves had tumbleweeds on them once again…ten days later.  Ten days!?!

It’s enough to make me anxious.  People walking around the store, shopping with masks and gloves, looks of mistrust.

Where did everything go?  Why is there nothing left?

Early on in this coronavirus crisis, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes.  I was still going in to my job at that point, so it was only a week ago (but wow it seems like so much has happened in that week).  I was listening to “8 Ways to be Calm and Prepared During a Crisis.”  It was number 8 that stood out to me the most: Keep giving.  Howes talks about how important it is to stay in an abundant mindset, even when (maybe especially when) things are scarce.

But it’s not just an abundance of things he is talking about.  He talks about time, energy, effort, love for people we know and even people we don’t.  He told a story about an exchange with a stranger in an elevator.  Instead of ignoring the person at this awkward time, he made the effort to talk to them and share just a word or two of general encouragement.  We are all in this mess together (even if we have to stay physically separated from most).

I took his advice this week.  Every morning as I was out riding my bike or running, I made it a point to say a clear “good morning” to everyone I passed.  I looked them in the eye. Many were surprised, but most responded.  During the day, I reached out to colleagues just to check in and say hello.  I tried to text my gym friends, since many of us have stopped going and I want to encourage them to stay active and connected.  I had longer talks with both of my brothers than I have had in months.  I wrote letters and started creating artwork to send to people I can’t see or who might need a lift.

Abundance happens to be a common theme in the book I am reading right now, too: “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.  More on that later, but continuing to work on my inner dialogue about what my purpose is and what is available to me is a big challenge. I do think I happen to be reading this book right now for a reason.  I have never had an abundance mindset, which is reflected in my home, my income, how much I eat, how much I spend, and all kinds of other ways. I have always been worried I will run out of things.  But, as I have been working on for years, I am rewriting my story toward a more magnificent ending. This is one doozy of a chapter for me, and for many of us.

How about you? How can you come from a place of abundance when we are faced with possibly having less, earning less, even trusting less and connecting less?  What do you have to give abundantly? We all have something, even many things.  Who can you lift today?  Share your story in the comments.

 

 

perspective

Misty Morning Ride

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I rode along in the wee hours of the morning.  I had been waiting for the sun to rise forever.  When it was still dark, I cruised along through the parking lots, near empty at that hour, hazy streetlights diffusing a bit of light over a few jogging shadows.

The thick fog delayed the sun’s long-awaited entrance.  Finally, it was light enough to go around the trails.

Still early, still quiet, I zipped through the trees, making my way along the wide path when I noticed them.  White gauzy splotches hanging from the trees.  At first I thought it must be some kind of infestation.  A caterpillar nest, like the ones that cover our side yard pecan tree some years.  Maybe some other insect.

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Then I noticed more of the white patches as I rode along the more-than-a-mile route.  And more.  And then even more.  Seemed to be no rhyme or reason. They were between grasses and next to ponds ponds, resting on leaves and spread between branches.  High and low, big and small, many and few.

Kind of eerie, if you ask me.  Sort of like white cotton candy, but more like someone took little gobs of that white webbing they bring out on Halloween and placed millions of little patches of it everywhere.  On a foggy March morning, it was jarring as I pedaled by.

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Then I realized, it was only spider webs. Hundreds of them, scattered in the woods. The heavy fog gathered on them, tiny little droplets, making them appear white in morning’s misty haze.

And then I thought, these webs were there all along, sitting there, doing their job.  The work of hundreds of spiders, usually invisible, now illuminated by a simple change in the weather.

It made me think about what’s happening right now.  This coronavirus crisis.  I think of the stories I hear of people sewing masks, people sharing supplies they have, shopping for elderly and at-risk neighbors, companies opening up content to those in need, people sharing talents online to lift others up.

I’ve also heard stories of anger, of stress, of disregard and racism and unkindness.  The ugly side.

As this disease washes over us, like the mist on those spider webs, what will it bring to light about us that was always already there?  Will it be the best of us? Kindness, generosity, patience?  Or will it be something else, something scary? Hoarding? Selfishness?

There’s no doubt this crisis will reveal who we are.  What will it reveal about you?  About me?

Like a web, we are all connected.  May this change in weather show us how we are bound together in strong and positive ways.  Another opportunity to choose daily.

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author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.

perspective

Giving is Not the Same as Expecting

There are so many givers in this world. Those who give their time to others. Those who give care to those in need. Those who offer love and hope to others. The list could go on and on. If you fall into the giver category, thank you. The world needs more of you.

Giving isn’t always a gift that is tangible. One can give love. One can give inspiration. One can give a shoulder to lean on. One can give hope. Whatever one gives, it is a choice. A desire to serve others in some way.

Life isn’t fair. I can’t catch a break. Poor me. If you fall into this category, suck it up. Find resources to help you get over the hump you are in. Start to pay your way little by little. Set a budget and work hard for what you need / want. Do not expect others to do for you and don’t be a mooch. Not much in life is free these days and if you take advantage of kindness in any form you will soon find yourself abandoned and alone. Eventually the givers lose interest in takers.

Expecting is different. Expecting mom and dad to pay for a cell phone until the you turn 30. Expecting the latest and greatest iPhone vs the one that works fine but is a model year behind the latest release. Expecting a brand new car as a teen. Expecting to have access to unlimited funds when one is capable of working. Expecting a car or car service to promote your independence without any contributions to gas. These are just some common teenage / young adult expectations I see over and over.

Expecting is annoying to say the least. One should never expect anything. One should expect to put forth work or effort to earn things that matter. There is definitely a benefit to learning this early on in life. If your teen expects things on the home front, they turn into employees that expect things. They turn into spouses who contribute less. They turn into lazy adults.

As I wrote this, I could feel the negative vibe in the post. For those of you who may follow my writing you may know that I am not the Negative Nelly type of writer. However, when the giver and taker scenarios arrive in my real world, I can be frustrated.

The same level of frustration appears when I see entitlement. Scenarios could include my own children acting entitled or it could be just the world around me. It could be an employee feeling entitled to a raise despite minimal efforts on their part. It could be a vendor feeling entitled to contract or a loved one feeling entitled to something. Even the customer who feels entitled to a discount for reasons that would put you below your operational costs.

In life we should think fair and consistent. Is this scenario fair for all parties? Are my actions consistent with my behaviors? Am I doing the right thing?

Earn your keep. Earn your value. In today’s competitive world you need to see what sets you apart from others and springboard off of those strengths. Nobody ever gets anywhere riding the coattails of others.

Make giving part of your motto in 2020 and see how life favors you. Remember giving is free on most accounts. You just may need to get creative.

January can be give smiles month.
February may be give compliments month.
March may be give time month.
April may be give your listening ear month.

With the above samples in hand, you can get creative and find what works for your lifestyle. I do promise you that if you adapt giving into your life you will receive far more in return. I’m not promising money, fame or fortune. I am promising a refreshed look at the world if you give a little.