Dress Rehearsal to 50 with only six months more to practice before my debut!

Don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t speak it…it is what you know…just be.

Time to stop the guesswork

Run don’t run, eat don’t eat, work don’t work, sit don’t sit…it’s insanity! Everything we are supposed to do, we aren’t. Everyone we are supposed to be, we shouldn’t. Where is the line and who decides when you cross over? What I know is that when I run I am a better version of me. What I know is when I don’t obsess over what I eat, I eat less and better. What I know is when I put boundaries around work, I have more expertise. What I know is that I can’t sit…I just don’t know how.

Six months before my 50th birthday and I am finally realizing that the first 49.5 years were the dress rehearsal for what will be the best days of my life. I have spent 49.5 years learning how other people do “it” and then trying “it” on for size. Well I finally know what works for me and now I need to do “it” and move on to the greatest performance of my life, my 50’s.

I know what styles fit my body best and it is not likely that after 50 years this will change. I know what foods work in my system best, as no one has a system like mine. I know how to do my job best for the company that is the perfect fit for me. I know what I know and for those things there should be no more decisions. Let knowing be the decision allowing more time for those mysteries that remain.

Figuring out the last act

What I believe lies in front of me, in the next six months is to figure out the rest. Those things that I have not found the fit. The monkey brain that cannot slow down, cannot stop thinking, cannot relent that is what is left to figure out. Even for that I know the course to take yet continue to stumble as it takes over. The noise, the never ending cacophony of what I should be doing all the time is the next frontier. Do I meditate, do I use oils, do I listen to spa music all day, do I watch tv, read, walk, sleep…RIGHT down the RABBIT HOLE I go!!!

I know what I know. We all do. It is just a matter of putting it all in its place. I control the mind, it does not control me. I control the reaction regardless of what plays out in front of me. Just like the brands I choose to buy, the people I surround myself with, the life I have created…I ultimately have control of this monkey mind and that is the mantra, the final act I will rehearse for the sake of sanity.

Putting it in place is the easy part. Playing it out is where the rubber meets the road. Easy to do when the day is yours to decide. Hard-as-heck when the pressures of life have their way with you.

Life as I live it – L.

Raw Thoughts on Space and the Doing of Being…

To be or not to be…there is so much to do.

Space is Mine when Time Permits

As I have been enjoying the holiday for the last two days I have not worked at all and because we are in quarantine time is immense. There is time to do everything and anything; as long as I am home. As the past three days have gone I feel the tension and stress of my world lifting. I magically have time to do things I simply don’t have time for normally. I have read three books in the last week, watched a number of Netflix series and spent an enormous amount of time sitting on my back porch. It has been bliss.

I have also been spending time thinking about my writing and why I am not doing more of it. My words have not dried up, I have simply not taken the time to put them on paper. Where is my commitment to this gift that allows me to put things on paper that I don’t even realize I am thinking? As it happens when I get stressed the first thing to go out of balance are those things I love the most like hobbies and self-care. Ironically I realize how badly I need those things when I am stressed more than when I am not. It is those things that help balance me out, that take down the intensity within and allow space to breathe. While time permits I am finding my chill-factor surprising with today being the pinnacle as I decided to do literally nothing. I have read, I have walked, watched football, read some more and napped. Wow. …and then I feel guilty like I should be doing something. Why?

Trapped between Being and Doing

I explore this idea of doing and being productive with my therapist often as my self-worth is wrapped up in the doing. I struggle to simply “be”. I am still exploring the concepts of “being” and “doing” so I don’t have the answers but I am sure they lie somewhere in the balance that is otherwise lacking in my “normal” life. The fact is I like how “being” feels. Being seems to be where gratitude lives. When you are being you are not wanting more of anything. To be is to be one with what you have, who you are and where you exist. I want to want to BE.

The oxymoron here is that in order to be I do more to get myself to a point where I can be. Wait…what the hell? I guess that is truly the definition of an oxymoron and why I don’t have the time to DO the things I want to do or to simply BE because I am always doing things to get to the next state of being. Forget oxymoron it is simply moronic!

I conclude by being honest with myself and knowing that I am a doer and even in that statement it is flawed because I don’t get to do the things I want often enough. If time is mine to decide then why can’t I decide when, where and how I will “do” my life outside of a holiday weekend? I know the reality is that I can, I always decide even when I decide an unbalanced approach that turns me into someone I don’t want to “be”. The blessing of today is there is space to pontificate these states of contrast. The blessing tomorrow will only exist if I continue to pontificate on a new future; one where doing and being live together in a peaceful existence.

Life as I live it – L.

Eat the Frog or Take a Bite out of the Elephant?

How do you know which to do? I find myself with more To Do lists than I have time “to do”. How do you conquer it with so much “left to be done”?

As Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one …”

I have always understood this analogy as it is best to take on the largest or least attractive tasks first thing in the morning when you have the energy and are fresh. Most of the time the “frogs” that are awaiting us are in addition to the work that has to be completed to keep things afloat. By focusing while you are fresh you can more optimally eat the frog allowing you to get back to those other tasks. The easier and therefore more common thing we do is to start off the day believing that if we can get some of the less important tasks out of the way it will leave room to start the bigger project. If you have tried this you know that this is not the case and that you likely never get to the bigger project. We see this with email more than any task. Believing that you are going to do a few emails before starting the bigger project is a “trap” because email, much like a treadmill, just keeps churning. Email is also a “time-suck” because finishing a few emails turns into many emails only realizing when you look at the clock that you have been on email for much longer than intended. Turn it off, shut it down, or simply don’t start it until you are through with the priorities to avoid email becoming THE priority.

Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

I also understand this to mean that you just have to do it, whatever it is, one task at a time. Beyond “To-Do Lists” there are days I find myself taking life one minute at a time, which is another way to activate this advice. While this advice again is easy to understand it is harder to execute if you don’t have the time. Time is premium these days as we find ourselves stretched beyond what seems reasonable for one person to handle. Stop looking at the WHOLE and start with the parts. This seems counterintuitive in a world that frequently suggests that not being able “to see the forest for the trees” is a bad thing. The bigger the “frog” the less appealing it is to eat it. The bigger the “elephant” the harder it is to conceive biting it once let alone ingesting the entire thing. When you remove the “impossible” Finish Line that lies ahead you can conceive what IS possible in the tasks to get there.

So why is it simply not this easy? What stands in the way of doing?

Procrastination! How many times do we put off what we can do today to tomorrow? All the time. Procrastination can be a matter of lack of will or lack of skill. Procrastination of will is putting something off simply because you don’t want to do the task. The task has negative emotions attached to it that prevent us from wanting to do it. Procrastination of skill is putting something off because you do not have the skills to do the task. This requires more work in learning how before we can actually do the task. The skill needed is the obstacle rather than the incentive to learn something new and complete the task. Procrastination is the enemy of productivity impeding progress.

So how do you overcome?

The solution is to combine the beasts, frogs, and elephants, and consuming both only putting off procrastination itself. Do this by starting the day off with your “Key 3” priorities. What are the 3 things you want to accomplish in this day? Name them and identify them as your “Key 3” priorities by putting them at the top of your list. Now DO them! What will come between naming and doing? Your “Monkey Brain” will want to divert to less demanding tasks or more enjoyable tasks however you have set your “Key 3” and that is what you must focus on and “sit with” until complete.

This all seems so simple if only we were robots that could just type in the “Key 3” and complete. We are human and with that comes the complication of having emotions. Emotions that tell us something is too hard and can create discomfort in our mind and body. We cannot allow our emotions to determine our actions. We exercise self-control in many “common sense” areas of our life where our emotions would have us acting irrational and therefore we can certainly control those emotions over lesser things.

We know that there is great discomfort in reaching for goals that are outside of our norm. I am reminded of how it feels when you start a running program. Every time you run your mind is telling you to stop again and again and again. But you don’t, you keep running. Eventually, the body and the mind become comfortable with the activity and it becomes the new norm. When you start a diet, your body immediately fights your effort with cravings for foods you are limiting. Staying the course in avoiding those foods and cravings gets you to the goal you have set for a healthier life…but not without effort. By stating the “Key 3” and being relentless to ignore the distractions that take us away from the priorities we have set we can accomplish our goals both small and large.

Creating pleasant distractions, like music that provides a backdrop to focus, can help us stay on track. Put yourself on your calendar. Setting the time on your calendar makes you accountable to the priorities that you have set. Combine the two by inviting others to join you in completing the task can provide a pleasant distraction from the norm as well as the extra accountability to stay on task for the sake of those that you have committed time.

Last I offer the one tried and true thing that works…take a break. Yes, this is completely counterintuitive to what we have explored in eating the frog or the elephant one bite at a time but it works. When you walk away for a few minutes, an hour, or a weekend you will always find that those “Key 3” priorities come into focus. It seems counterintuitive at the time as “powering through” has its place and time however putting space between the intensity of the tasks at hand can bring more clarity and a renewed energy.

Eat your frogs, take bites out of the elephant but don’t forget to take the time to smell the roses.

Life as I live it – L.

Where have you been? Drowning in overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed without a plan to decide everything! Here is how I am overcoming “overwhelmed”.

Wow, I pulled up this my treasured blog and realizing that it has been two months since I wrote anything and then realized that the final blog post was on my mom’s anniversary of her passing, more than two months ago. Isn’t that profound. Yet again another ending. But it is not. Here I am back writing. Back to making the time to explore the creative outlet that I embrace as a passion, secretly and yet through my medium publicly here for the world to read or disregard.

As I start writing today I asked myself “Where have you been?” Busy? Distracted? Overwhelmed? Yes, that last word…overwhelmed! I have used this word more times in the last week than I have ever. I have literally buried myself in To Do’s, deadlines, pressures, and commitments that have all but taken over my life. And before the assumption can be made I am reminded that it is not all from my work/career. There are as many personal To Do’s, deadlines, and pressures in my “personal life” than in my “work-life”. What I am realizing in hindsight is that those routines, those things that I was doing to keep it all in check got abandoned in the last two months because I was “too busy” not realizing that the sheer abandonment of those things would be my undoing. Overwhelmed is a state of being when my life has taken me, prisoner, because I have relinquished control. I allow all of the outside pressures to creep in so far that they determine my sleep schedule, take away my time to write or read, and ultimately take over. I fool myself into believing that I don’t have time…when in reality I have the same time I had two months ago, I am just spending it differently.

Realization is key here because it was the moment that I was realizing that I gave up this control that everything became overwhelming. And it was in that realization that I got up and decided to take control back. How? Through deciding. Deciding what I will do when I will do it and with who and how. Boom. I have preached so many times in my life to others the power to decide and that ultimately YOU DECIDE always what is yours. Regardless of how it manifests or plays out in front of you; that you are “there” is your decision. These are lessons I have always known and yet forget to deploy when the going gets tough.

Time Blocking — Schedule in the non-negotiables to see what time is left in your day

The first place to take it back was in first divvying up my time. Time is the factor, time is where I am losing the fight. I took the time to sit down and look at a blank calendar, of one 7-day week. I then started dividing it up into those non-negotiables and crossed out the time allotted for work and the time allotted for sleep. Okay, now what is left. WHOA!!! The big realization here is why I feel overwhelmed! On any given weekday I only have four hours that are unidentified; two before work and two after work. Those four hours are the same four I need to get ready to start and end my day. That became the first real perspective in the exercise I was taking on. It is no wonder I am overwhelmed because what I am trying to accomplish in four hours cannot be done in eight! It is unrealistic. So I continued to fill-in my calendar with time to read, write, get ready, make dinner, workout, etc. Perspective was key here as I could feel a weight lifting in realizing that I was not overwhelmed I was overcommitted. I then moved into the weekend where time is more forgiving and made sure to play out those things that are key to my quality of life (aka sanity) so that the lack of routine on a weekend did not derail me. Voila, here I am back reading, writing, and enjoying a peaceful morning…two months later.

Routines — Create Auto-Pilot Decisions to allow room for the “real” decisions to be made

The second place I had to go to shake the “overwhelm” off was in my decisions. Ironically after working to “right-side” this world of mine, I read an article on Medium that summed it all up, “These Micro-Habits Gave me 1 Hour per Day Back” by Tim Denning. It was a reiteration of everything I had done that day and this next piece which was “auto-deciding”. Tim calls it “Create Auto-Pilot Decisions” in the article. There have to be things that you can put on auto-pilot in your life so everything does not require a decision because decisions take effort and energy. For me, I have put my schedule on auto-pilot after writing it out and it now directs me on where I need to be and when without me having to give the energy of thought or decision. I also put my meal plan on auto-pilot, because like most humans, I eat the same thing daily. Not having to come up with a new meal plan every day or at the moment leaves one less decision. I recall hearing that Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell, and Mark Zuckerberg also put on auto-pilot their wardrobes. They found a look that works for them and that is what they wore every single day. Not having to make that decision every morning left energy to be used in a place that could be more productive and likely in their cases more defining.

Be flexible and realistic — Nothing ever goes as planned

Now that the structure has been laid out it is time to simply follow it, or is it really that simple. I love the quote “We plan and God laughs” because nothing is more true. A plan is a great way to architect your life however as our days unfold and priorities shift so must our “plan”. Don’t allow your plan to be yet another stressor and don’t abandon the plan because of unforeseen stressors. Simply following the plan when things are “on track” will give you the “room” or energy needed when things go off-plan. Being flexible and realistic is what makes it work not to be able to stay on the plan stringently. This week I stayed close to the plan but not tied to it. The fact that I had a plan gave me the structure and forgiveness in those things that took me off course to remember that they are one-offs and not the norm. Sometimes just realizing that one-offs are just that…one-off…is all the resolve we need as we are more forgiving of the distraction.

Last and most important now is just doing it. You can set the greatest plan in motion however if you never execute it is simply a plan. Plans don’t define us, they don’t amount to anything more than an intention or a great idea. When you put a plan in motion, well now you are moving in a direction. Right, wrong, or indifferent is irrelevant! The fact that you are “in motion” is enough.

Life as I live it — L.

New Circles Redefined Pandemically

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

During the pandemic, we were forced to shrink our circles of friends and family. You had to decide who you were willing to expose yourself to as we were encouraged to stay home and self-isolate. Who you chose to be a part of your circle was truly a testament to who you trusted with your life…dramatic…maybe? In some cases it also allowed us to create space where we needed to pre-pandemic but now had a “reason”. As we come out of self-isolation we have authority to manage our circle as we have been given a one-time reset. How are you expanding that circle and more importantly who are you letting in?

My circle shrunk to my immediate family; my kids, grandkids, spouse, and close coworkers. It reduced my risk of getting COVID but also reduced my risk of vulnerability in the sharing of my life. It gave space and time to rethink relationships, both those that are fulfilling and those that were lacking. The pandemic forced us all to slow down in our lives, and in some cases stop in our tracks. The good that can be taken out of that halt is the benefit of lessons learned and the respect of that time, to not go back and repeat that which you have removed or resolved.

Deep, eh?

All of my life I have understood the importance of family. As an only child, I came from a large and loving family with my dad’s seven brothers and sisters providing “my” siblings. The family has undeniably been where I turn at all times in my life. This is likely a lesson from a Latino upbringing that is well-known as a core value of the culture.

Latinos tend to be highly group-oriented. A strong emphasis is placed on family as the major source of one’s identity and protection against the hardships of life. This sense of family belonging is intense and limited to family and close friends.

The sense of family is “intense” and the feeling of “belonging” regardless of your last name is as one under an Abuela that wrote the values from modeling a life that would not be taken for granted. I have rarely been disappointed by family, and for that, I am blessed. It is in the many that I have called “friends” that I have found great disappointment in my life. Yes, I have had immense reward and am very grateful for all those that have come into my life for the experiences and the love. The disappointment is that I do not easily let go and yet the lifecycle of friendship leaves me searching for those that have moved on. I have had to learn time and time again that friends coming into your life for a reason, for a season, and then journey on.

It is ironic that as I was researching the cycle of or circle of friendship I found it peculiar that it is defined as four types;

Friendship is categorized into four types: acquaintance, friend, close friend and best friend.

https://people.howstuffworks.com/what-is-friendship.htm

…yet where is the fifth type where they leave and are, not so much as an acquaintance, as a stranger emboldened with all of your secrets. Powerful, eh? Revealing even. Real.

Out of the rabbit hole I come, a bit singed, but not completely jaded. I am blessed with beautiful lifelong friends that remind me that the four types do indeed exist and there is a place for all; even the fifth “undefined” type. Back on topic…

As you make your way out of the pandemic to “life as we used to know it” make sure to redefine how and who you spend your time with. We have been given the reset of a lifetime. Time either made your heart grow fonder or further. The pandemic redefined the quality of our work lives to a point that we may never know a traditional office environment again. Why stop there, while defining what you want in your life’s balance make sure to include only those that add to the balance in your life and not take away what is not for the taking.

I am committed to spending my time with those that take as much as they give and expand my experience. I recognize the precious time that I have left to spend on this earth and will choose the circle that serves that time richly. In redefining my circle I am not only serving myself more wholly but becoming a better friend and family member to those that have allowed me in their circle. I am able to focus on what is right in my relationships and expend my precious time and energy on those that are deserving.

Last but not least, in redefining my circle I added one person that was missing from all of my pre-pandemic circles…ME. I have learned the importance of self-care, self-respect, and time with oneself. By reducing my circle I have left time to learn more about myself and what I want in this life which is paramount to the remainder of my undefined time on this earth. The perfection of a circle is that regardless of how many are in or out the circle is always a perfect shape, sized for that time in your life.

Life as I Live it — L.

Even Concrete Cracks

This was the reality check I was given as I found myself in a puddle of tears. “Even concrete cracks” is the resolve to understanding why even the strongest of the strong humans crack. In this case it was me, cracked wide open. While the release is necessary the reality causes as much reeling as the pressure rising to its boiling point within. We easily forget this when we are at that boiling point which tends to be our weakest moments.

My crack started to form as I was rounding two weeks post-op and still dealing with daily pain. The key to managing pain is to find a baseline that you can tolerate however it is in that tolerance that you wear out. When you are in active pain, it too is exhausting, however with a remedy it is resolved. When you are managing a “pain baseline” the tolerance requires a managed effort. This is effort that requires energy from stores that are depleted. At this point it goes beyond the physical and begins to overwhelm you mentally making everything bigger than it is and the entire environment becomes overwhelming. It is in these moments that you hope you are surrounded by “your village”. I was. I am.

Healing may be the biggest effort I make in my lifetime. This physical healing has unfortunately become familiar to me however regardless of how many times I repeat the process it does not get easier. I am healing faster this time, but I am no less exhausted and emotionally spent. I knew what was coming and how to make the best of it and that preparation may have been my secret weapon. I can only imagine where I would be right now if I had not prepped. My village tells me how much worse it could be…that does not help. My village tells me how well I am doing…that does not help. What helps? Sometimes just crying it out or screaming irrationally; any outlet as for all the input there has to be a release. Where is that written in the textbooks? Where is that in the hospital discharge notes? It needs to be states somewhere, “when it all gets to be too much just scream!” Ha, yes that is a prescription worth noting.

…and that is all I have to say about that.

Life as I live it – L.

The Plight of 49

As I write this I am 72 hours from my 49th birthday or maybe better said, 72 hours from the completion of my 48th year on this earth. I am still searching for a lot of things but most ominous is the search for contentment.

There is something about the “9”s that get our attention as we recognize that it is the last year of a decade. It makes us think back about our 20’s, 30’s, or in my case my 40’s. What did you do? Who did you become? What changed? It also forces us to consider what is coming next. I am going to be 50 in exactly 368 days…what? 50! I am not even sure that I know what to feel, only that it is yet another place to start. Start what…well that is still to be determined because I first have to finish up the last three days of 48 and conquer 49. It is in these words that I find my greatest challenge. When will I stop conquering? When will I worry less about finishing and starting? In my mind this is likely where contentment lies; in the being and less in the doing.

I am reading “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss and in his concluding chapter he offers a passage from the “Zen in the Art of Archery”. It is wise so I offer it here…

I must only warn you of one thing. You have become a different person in the course of these years. For this is what the art of archery means: a profound and far-reaching contest of the archer with himself. Perhaps you have hardly noticed it yet, but you will feel it very strongly when you meet your friends and acquaintances again in your own country: things will no longer harmonize as before. You will see with other eyes and measure with other measures.

Tim Ferriss

I too have changed, but who doesn’t in 49 years. Some of those changes have been easy and adaptable and some I am still struggling with, but again who isn’t? This is likely where contentment lies. It lies in the release of the struggle, releasing the need to change and truly being content. Content with what you do, what you think, how you act and ultimately who you are…content because the only measure that you consider is your own.

I will always “seek to understand” as I am curious by nature. I will always study as I am hungry for knowledge. However to resolve what I know allows for the rest to be enjoyed and not labored. Reading, writing, running and all other things I do are not tasks that require deadlines and tracking. Instead understanding that they are what I do, when I want to do it, how I choose to do it. This applies to everything I do. This is what “49” will be about…releasing the “must do” discipline and replacing it with a more forgivable understanding of what I do because it is right, because it is me, because it fits. Wiser and content that is my goal for this year. Let’s do this thing!

Life as I have lived it for 49 years – L.

Who are you…really?

This moment in our lives when everything we thought “was” “is” we are faced with many questions about life and who we are. We walk around in this world in “roles” as defined:

the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation

When that assumed function or part is no longer relevant because the situation no longer exists who are you? The situational roles cannot “define” you as they are only relevant in those situations however those roles that are truly defined are who we are regardless of situation. Mom is a role we play regardless of situation, if you are a Mom you are and will always be a Mom. “Director of ______” is a title that becomes a role you play in a situation. That “title” does not have relevance in all situations.

Why do I go into all of this? Well because I think it is easy to identify with these titles that truly cannot define us however when we lack definition of who we are we claim these titles as identity. The issue in a time like this when we are stripped of those titles, roles or fantasies of who we tell ourselves we are or better who others think we are, is that we are forced to face what is left…who are you? Who are you…really???

This is the time to look inward, reflect, revisit your plan and start over again. As Swizz Beatz, an American hip hop recording artist, DJ and record producer said, “everyone should have a 2.0 version of their game-plan. If you don’t use this time you never will. How many times have you heard people say, “only if I had time to do…”. This is the TIME.”

He is right, the time is now to define who you REALLY are and then decide who you want to be and make the game-plan.

I want to offer you an exercise to try-out as you are exploring “what’s next” in this journey, building your 2.0 version of who you and who you want to be. This was offered by Tim Ferris in a 2015 TED Talk and can be very revealing if you just give it the time, the idea is not goal-setting but FEAR-setting…let’s explore.

  • Fear-Setting – 
    • Ask yourself the following “What if I…?” and then do the work to “Define”, “Prevent” and “Repair”.
      • Define – write all of the worst things that will happen if you take that step. Write at least 10 things that you fear will happen.
      • Prevent – write down the answer to prevent each of these from happening or decrease the likelihood. 
      • Repair – what can you do to repair the damage if the worst thing happens.
    • What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success in your “What if I…” scenario?
      • You could build confidence and/or develop skills and ultimately everything is a learning experience. 
    • What is the cost of inaction (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) in 6 mos, 1 yr or 3 yrs? 
      • If I avoid this action or decision what might my life look like?

I like this exercise because it forces us to face the reasons why we don’t act on those things we say we want. It is more revealing than goal-setting because goals can at times become ethereal and allowing a sort of “hall-pass” if we don’t reach them. Fear-setting requires you to face IT, reveal IT and solve IT.

Who is it that you WANT to BE, what is it that you WANT to DO, what is IT? We are all at a proverbial START LINE, we are ALL starting over at some place and now is the time. If not now, when? Are you staying where you are because _______________ (fill in the blank)? How does that serve you today and how will it motivate you tomorrow?

Who you really are is here and now. You are no longer the titles that are bestowed upon you but are faced with who you are in “real” life. You are Mom, you are sister, you are friend or you are not. Only you know what you and who you really are and ultimately how much it matters to you to be that person or want for something more or different.

A close friend and mentor of mine called me the other night and as we were reminiscing over 21 years of friendship she reminded me of who I was when she first met me. She recounted, “You had no confidence and doubted yourself because of an education that at the time you did not have…” but in her eyes an education I did not need. She went on to recall that she could never understand why I thought so little of myself and thought so much of college/education as the person she saw before her already had the knowledge. You see it was not enough what someone else thought of me if I could not see it myself. I had to do the work, I had to define it and decide on it. She was right, I put so much weight in education that not having it discounted everything I DID know, everything I WAS. Three college degrees later I AM confident, I AM educated however I know now that I always WAS. It took time working on me, believing and proving it to myself because it was important to ME despite it not having relevance to anyone else.

I tell you this story because it is imperative that you decide for YOURSELF as you define yourself. Not as others see you, not as you are titled in the outside world, not based on your reputation. Who are you…really?

John Wooden, famous UCLA basketball coach, says, “Your reputation is what you are perceived to be and your character is who you really are”…I leave you with this thought, this exercise and best off I offer all of this to you in a time that I KNOW you have the time to do something about it. Whether you do or you don’t, well that is yours to decide because ultimately it always comes back to that simple point of control…decision or indecision…ultimately you always DECIDE.

Who are you…really? Me? I am still working on it, every day…Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up – L.

Blessed beyond measure…or am I?

As I sit here writing this I feel so blessed and so grateful for all that is in my life. I have more than I could create, buy, promote and yet it is my life. Every blessing. I fear putting it out in the universe because it would seem to good to be true which means that it could not sustain, it cannot endure…or can it?

I remember telling my mom a month before she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer that “my life was so perfect it scared me”…and then it wasn’t. She was diagnosed and in that moment the clock began ticking on what would be her final year; almost to the day. Things didn’t feel so perfect then but what I began to realize as the year ticked on was that if things had not been so “perfect” at that moment in time I never would have been able to spend her last year with her the way I did.

It is in those moments in our life when things are not ideal that we long for what we once had, and then start to acknowledge the perfection that was once our reality. This is why living in the present is an ongoing mantra that we hear the most these days. Living in the past keeps us there and worrying, lamenting even looking forward to the future is “torture” as the monks would say, as there is no truth there.

What I learned about living in the present during “her” final year is that I did a lot of it. There was nowhere else I wanted to be and would not leave her side in her last three weeks. I was present; time had no meaning, no value and knowing that all was “perfect” in my alternate universe allowed me to be present with her every breath, every laugh, wince or muted moments of wit. Even in what felt like the worst moments of my life I was blessed beyond measure.

Today I am reminded every moment of every day that I am still blessed beyond measure. I have a husband that “adores me” as told to me recently by a friend. I have kids that have created a life for themselves that makes me proud to be their mother. I have two grandchildren that make my heart skip a beat and make everything right in the world regardless of what is going on in our lives. I am blessed to have many fathers and one biological Cuban that makes me proud to call him Dad. I am blessed to have three Aunts that treat me and mine like we are there children…and in that line-up not one mention of what I have or where I have been in my life as it simply does not matter. It has taken years to come to the reality that what creates value in ones life is those that they surround themselves, and that is all.

As I sit here this Christmas morning waiting for the day to begin I am in the present. In this moment. Anxious, waiting, unsure of the swirl of emotions that surrounds me but owning it. Enjoy TODAY, stay in the moments, don’t get ahead of where you are…for the present is the gift that God has offered you today, right now.

Life as I see it – L.

Friendships – Do they choose us or do we choose them or…

Friendship is something we all learn about early in our lives. Our first friends are typically our parents, friends children, cousins or if you are so blessed, a sibling. These early relationship form so easily out of the commonality of having parents that like to spend time together and hence your friends are formed. These early friendships might be some of the truest because the work is done through finding our shared likes and dislikes and having tolerance for both. Rarely later in life do you find yourself in the same situation as these early friendships where they are “forced”.

I have many friends and when I look at the landscape of my friends I have learned to accept that they all have/had their place in my life.

Early Friends – I have a handful of friendships, still, that formed in my childhood. These friendships are the truest that I know as we can spend years apart and the minute we come back together it as if we had never been apart. I value these friendships the most as these are the people that truly know me and still love me. They have been the audience of my life, through all of the good and bad, and are still here.

Work Friends – I think that these friendships are much like “early friends” in that we typically don’t choose our coworkers. We seemingly choose who we draw close to during those 40 hours we spend at work together but inevitably we share many varying relationships that ebb and flow with the environment. I have had the blessing of finding some of my best friends in the workplace.

Acquaintances – I have come to appreciate these friendships the most as these are truly those that only serve you when they serve you. Selfish, yes, but admittedly satisfying. These are those that you know but don’t see often. They are friends of friends, they are social media followers and sometimes previous friends that time has drawn away. These are the friendships that frequently surprise me the most as they show up when you least expect it but most need it. These are also the friendships that seem the most forgiving as they are not close enough to judge your good and bad.

Best Friends – These are the ones that create the greatest emotion. They bring about the greatest love and cause the worst hurt. These are friendships that draw us in through connection and just short of intimacy we allow “in” without caution. Much like our intimate relationships we open up our hearts and souls to these friends giving them unfettered access to every part of our true selves and lives.

The reality of this friendship profile is that one friend can be all of these in a lifetime.

I was not blessed to have a sibling and as an only child I found friends that took the place of the sisters and brothers that were missing in my life.

  • My earliest Best Friends were Tommy, Anna and Jennifer. They were my neighbors in my first home in Miami. Those days are still remembered with candor. We would play kickball in the street, using the potholes as our bases. We took ice skating lessons together. We would also know the bitterness of each being the odd-man out in a friendship of three! 🙂 I lost touch with them when we moved to Edgewater but have never forgotten them nor those memories.
  • My longest friends are Kelly and Ginni who I met in school and have always remained close. We shared the gift of friendship, raising our children together and now becoming grandma’s!
  • My closest “friends” are my cousins Shirley and Tanya. This is where I know I was blessed as I have never been a cousin and always the third sister. They know me and love me beyond measure. This is what a blessed friendship is truly made of and earned.

I felt compelled to write this blog because I am seemingly on the “way out” of a friendship that has meant the world to me but is now breaking my heart. I have learned in my 48-years that this is how most friendships mature; they are exhilarating in the beginning, serve a supreme purpose when they are at their pique and then as our lives take us into different directions we are left wondering what went wrong. I have also had the benefit of experience to know that these friendships that drive miles between us are never really “gone” as the best ones will show-up right when you need them.

If you are reading this today and have been or are a friend of mine, I say THANK YOU for loving me. Thank you for teaching me, thank you for being a part of my story. I know that as I grow wiser in my life it is because of the many friendships that have enriched my heart and soul. For every friendship regardless of time or situation has a place in the story that is our lives. For those that have played a leading or supporting role I am blessed and for those that continue to be a part of my story; stick around, it is sure to be a FUN ride.

Life as I see it – L.