awareness

Swimming Lessons

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Summer, Jersey Shore. Our family reunion.

At night we had dinners at homes by the bay. Seafood, pizza, pasta, coolers of beer, laughter.

All day was sand, sunscreen, and the mighty Atlantic.

We only came every four years. Each time the ocean seemed drastically different. There was the year when swarms of jellybean-sized-jellyfish crowded us ankle deep day after day.  The year I brought my young children and it was just too cold and rough for them to swim.  And I can’t forget the time I was in my late teens and went swimming with my dad.

My dad was disabled my entire life.  His progressive, severe rheumatoid arthritis took him from hobbling, to cane-dependent, to wheelchair-bound.  His broken body betrayed his wandering, roller-coaster riding spirit many times, but still, he always kept pushing his body as far as it would go.

This day, he had probably taken 20 minutes to carefully shuffle across the scorching sand with the help of a cane and a patient cousin.  Slowly, carefully, taking a break every ten yards or so, but he had to get to the water.

Oh, how my dad loved the water.  It was the one place he felt free.  He could float, glide, swim, and move unencumbered by the lumps, aches, and pains of his joints.  In the water, he would float, belly, toes, nose bobbing above the waves, his smile as wide as the unending coastline.

The beach was its usual crowded and the water its usual choppy.  If there was a yellow flag warning, we didn’t heed it.  Nothing could keep my Dad from his floating freedom in the briny sea. My Dad and I descended the steep wet sand and out we went to swim.

We floated.  We talked.  We dog paddled.  We enjoyed the sun.  Minutes passed, or was it hours?  Time to head back in for a sandy snack. We looked up and the coastline was distant.  Farther away than I had thought it would be.  Much farther. So we tried to swim in, but no matter what we got further and further away from the shore.

The waves, once so joyful to float over, became relentless.  We were tired.  Our arms and legs were no match for the tides dragging us out.  I was staying under a bit longer each time than I should have.  Panic started to set in.  We were running out of solutions.  Fear set in. Fear took over our minds.

My Dad was still floating but he knew we were in trouble, too.  He was struggling to stay afloat himself.  My Dad, a better swimmer than I, was still no match for the undertow.  He wanted to help me so much, I am sure, but he could hardly help himself stay up.  How could he help me when his own life was in trouble? Both of us were running out of energy.  If I grabbed onto him to give my body a break from the effort, even though he was better in the water, we both would surely drown. Our will to live was dwindling by the minute.

Wave to the shore, he said.  So many of our family were watching us.  So I waved, flailed, used every ounce of strength to try to signal.  How can I tell them we are in trouble?  I screamed. Crossed my arms, all kinds of signals. My dad doing the same. Nothing worked.  They all just waved back, likely figuring we were just having fun with my dad’s swimming skills, well-known in our family ranks. My cries of “help us” got lost in the ocean breezes. Our cries were in plain sight but could anyone hear us?  Was anyone even listening? Nobody understood our fear.  No one seemed to care.

It seemed like hours but my dad’s cousin Tom finally figured out we were in over our heads.  He bravely swam out and somehow dragged us in from the riptide.  I still remember an aunt screaming “smile!” and snapping a photo as we slumped out of the water, past exhaustion.  No one knew we had been within an inch of drowning.

Fast forward twenty-something years, this story hits me in new ways in my daily life. Am I now the one on the shore? Are people struggling right in front of me that I pass by, unknowing? Are they at the brink of drowning and I miss their signals?

I think of my father.  The better swimmer.  How much he must have hurt inside, knowing he couldn’t help his daughter without both of us losing the battle against the breakers.  How can you help someone who is drowning when you are are not fully afloat yourself?  When you are pummeled by the endless waves, just trying to stay afloat?  A lesson in this.

I can point and draw attention. Signal to those who might be able to help. But will they hear the silent or distant cries? If I wave my arms will that make a difference? I can keep her company like my Dad did for me…  Keep her calm. Try to set her mind at ease in the middle of the fear I know well…the fear of the ocean getting the best of me and dropping into the unknown. Keep paddling.  Don’t give up. I know you’re tired.  Help is coming.

I can make suggestions, try to guide her toward the shore.  Keep working until someone with the strength comes out and meets us, or we find our way back to steady footing.  There’s no happy ending if we both drown, so I try to be a lifeguard the best I can, in the literal meaning of that word. Even the best swimmers get in trouble sometimes.   Every lifeguard wants to save everyone in distress, but the lifeguard also has to stay afloat herself.

In life we have to swim daily. Sometimes the waters are calm and other times they are dark and stormy.

In life we all need saving at times. Sometimes it’s life saving medical treatment for an ailment. Sometimes it’s saving from a bad relationship. Sometimes it’s saving us from our mind, troubled past, or even financial stresses.

We must all remember life is always worth living. Today, tomorrow, and the next day. If you ever think ending your life is the only choice it’s merely the only perceived solution to an insolvable problem. As somebody who was saved, somebody who is a lifelong helper, I am shouting out to the ocean and the world to say don’t give up. Somebody is coming to save you. Don’t let fear take control. Wait another day. Do the doggie paddle of life. Think of my Dad. He was handicapped, wading in the water and he didn’t give up. I didn’t give up because of his spirit. You don’t need to give up either.

There are always people who care. Some may not see the signs in plain sight. You might need to establish a drowning sign. A key word. A hand signal that is universal. Don’t delay – make sure your tribe knows your drowning symbol whether it’s at the beach or closer to home in daily life.

Suicide is real. It impacts those near and far. It does not discriminate. It’s impacted my life and this is my offering of hope to those I may know in need, those I may never know are struggling and those who already lost the battle. I honor you by sharing my story today.

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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.

friendship, perspective

Dear Friend

I see you.

I hear you.

I feel your pain.

I also see your inner light shining bright

With sparkle from within.

The shine that’s unique to you.

Your internal flame.

Your bright spirit.

You are special.

One of a kind.

Your life is important.

Your life is important to me.

Your life matters to others.

Today may seem like everything’s going wrong

But tomorrow is a new day.

The sun will shine bright just like your inner light.

You will radiate just like the warmth of the sun in the new day tomorrow.

Can’t wait to see what you conquer tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the next step to your new adventure.

Keep pushing yourself to new beginnings.

Each day you have the chance to soar to new heights.

You set the limits, not others.

Don’t stop believing in yourself.

I won’t stop believing in you.

Thank you, Dove chocolates, for reminding me to go left when the world says go right.

This post goes out to all my friends who need this sweet message.

This post was brought to you by Dove chocolates, a little reminder with dessert.

friendship

The Friend Zone, Part 1

This post could go in many directions and maybe it will be a series, but for now you will get entry level friend zone, aka post one.

Conflicts: every friendship has conflict. No two people will ever see eye-to-eye on every subject every day.

Strength: the strength of a friendship can be defined by how conflicts are resolved. Are two parties able to sort through differences and find compromise or do friends divide because one side is too stubborn?

Diversity: friendship diversity is important in my world. No one friend can be a one stop shop for me. I need diversity. It’s part of my own self-development. I choose to surround myself with people who make me stronger, people who push my limits, people who I can help, people who I can lean on, and so on. Diversity ties into balance.

Balance: balancing friendships, families, conflicts, life, and so on may seem like a full time job some days. Having a diverse group of friends can be helpful. If you are struggling professionally, you may have a shoulder to lean on. If you are challenged on the home front, you may have a different friend to lean on. Balance has benefits.

Leaning back: when you lean on someone, trust builds. When your friend hits a bump in their road, your trust factor will help them feel comfortable to reach out to you in a time of need. Leaning is highly desirable in a friend circle and leaning should always be a give-and-take cycle to be healthy.

Non-competitive: friends that get it right are non-competitive. They don’t fight for stage presence. They coexist. They want the best for each other. Selfless behavior can be hard to come by. When you find this in a friend, hold it tight. It’s precious. And unfortunately you may have to weed through some bad friends to find the diamonds in the crowd.

Givers and takers: in life there are both givers and takers. Some may give big and some may give small. It doesn’t matter, you can easily spot a giver. Time, loyalty, and and a soul-satisfying sense of self when giving is present. A taker is one who takes advantage of a person over and over again, usually for self- promotion. This you can see from a distance if you pay attention, but it’s harder to see if you are in the muck of it on the daily.

Take a look at your friend circle. How does your circle stack up? Are you a giver or maybe a taker? Do you compromise or are you always in the right? Is balance and diversity important to you?

This post doesn’t necessarily represent any individuals in my circle. Rather, it’s general observations of the circles I have witnessed over time and their common denominators.

My posts are my thoughts and always up for interpretation. My hope for this post is that it makes you stop and think about your environment. Is it quality or quantity of friends that you value? Have you found your people? Do you have any missed friendships you should try to rekindle?

Until next time.

dare to be different

Tat Time, What’s the Number Now?

It’s that time of year when I put some fresh ink on my canvas, aka my body.

My body. My expressions. My designs. My tats tell a story of sorts. They have meaning and normally signify moments in my life path. A triumph. A struggle. A birth. A tribute. The list could go on. I’m often asked about my tats. I’m even sometimes judged for them.

No matter what others think, I still do me. I have one heart, one brain, one body to live in and I’m going to make it as customizable as I envision.

So what’s the new piece? A piece of ass so to speak. Where is it? You will have to see me in person to see that, I suppose. Maybe it’s visible maybe it’s not?!?!

I guess you will just have to ask me about my tats if you are curious.

 

fitness and nutrition

The Miles Won’t Run Themselves

Yup, I was going to write it – the dreaded “poor, poor pitiful me” post.

The “who peed in my cheerios?” post.

The “why-did-I-do-this-to-myself-what-in-the-world-was-I-thinking-why-did-I-sign-up-for-this-and-how-do-I-get-out-of-this-mess” post.

The ever unpopular “I can’t” post.

After some good running weeks, even a relatively successful 8-mile run that led me to write “I think I can finish this!” in my running journal, I hit an unexpected slump.  Suddenly, every run went from my usual mild discomfort to SO hard. Legs were leaden. Heat was overwhelming. The weight of the effort had me down and out. This went on for weeks. If I had the option to go to CrossFit instead of my scheduled run, I often took it. I was down to two runs a week, struggling for every mile.  I lost my mojo.

What do you do when something like that happens?  Sure, I wanted to give up at times…. many times! But I kept showing up for two runs each week.  Seeing friends on Sundays made such a difference.  Accountability to them and my goal kept me holding on by a shoelace when I was down.

Finally, a glimpse of hope.  The heat broke. There’s a huge difference between running in 95 degrees and 82 degrees.  Morning runs were even a little chilly.  A little spring appeared in my stride.  I kept going. I also broke a spell of bad sleep, which makes a world of difference.  I am back on track, more or less, a little more than a month out from our half marathon.

In the mean time, I have decided that overall, I am not a happy runner.  It is convenient, portable, and simple enough to participate in.  But, to be honest, I am bored by it when it gets longer than about 45 minutes.  It is hard on my body AND I have no desire to invest much time or energy in how to get better at it. There are too many other things I’d rather be learning or improving!

I do have to remember that there was a time (not too long ago) I would have been so proud of 15-minute miles.  I have made progress.  But I don’t see myself pursuing it once the half marathon is over.

So, for the moment, I press on.  I’m grateful for the ups and downs of training and for the goal in front of me, and the people I am sharing the journey with.  I’ll keep training the best I can, moving my legs along one step, one mile at a time.

awareness

Suicidal Thoughts at Midnight

I heard titles and headlines matter, inspiring me to use a catchy title here in this blog that might get a click or two!

Hopefully I got your attention. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and today is actually World Suicide Day. I am dedicating this blog to anyone out there who needs to read this post.

You are important. You have a purpose today, tomorrow and the next day. No matter how difficult times can seem, there is always a path to see the sunshine and live another day.

Use the tools around you if you are struggling. Phone a friend when times are rough. Confide in a coworker or family member if you need somebody to connect with. If you are not the type who finds it easy to share personal information, take advantage of a suicide hotline or confidential app.

 

#bethe1to

Be the one to listen. Listen for the suicide warning signs.

Be the one to watch. Look for the suicide warning signs.

Be the one to question. Ask a question, save a life.

Be the one to ask: are you thinking about suicide? Be direct!

Be the one to persuade. Helping somebody see it’s easy to get help calling a toll free number is key.

Be the one to refer for help. Help them make the appointment for help. Volunteer to go with them to ease the tension.

Be the one to help save a life.

We can all offer hope to another. Hope is free. You just have to put forth a little effort.

Helping save a life is purpose work. Put the suicide helpline in your phone favorites today. You never know when you might need to share it with a friend or loved one.

1-800-283-TALK

24 hours a day
7 days a week
365 days a year

– A crisis doesn’t have a timeline. Be prepared to help keep somebody safe. One life matters.
– Talk to your kids. Let them know of two trusted adults they can contact if they need help.

Take my suicide awareness challenge. Post on social media today about suicide awareness. Pass on the national hotline number to somebody at work or home. Write a hand written note to somebody who may be struggling. Connect with those who need a little extra support right now.

Education is prevention. Pass on a tidbit of knowledge from this blog and I will feel like this post had a purpose.

Much love to all! Stay safe.