Sunday, September 20, 2015

Shopping Socialization - I Don't!

Can you relate?!

When I go shopping I don't talk to people. I'm on a mission with my best resting bitch face on. While people are socializing in the fruit section I'm mentally lobbying with politicians and big-box companies. I've been asked before "Sarah, why don't you like to talk to people when you shop?" 

To answer this question let's use this morning, for example... I'm walking through the grocery store for a few staples.

*24 ounces of brown shaded, artificially flavored high fructose corn syrup and sugar concoction = $2.80 on sale for $2.49.
8 ounces of pure maple syrup = $6.90 on sale for $4.99.
*1 loaf of organic, preservative free natural multi-grain bread = $6.80 on sale for $5.99.
1 loaf of enriched white sandwich bread = $0.89.
*1 64 ounce bottle of 100% not from concentrate fruit juice = $4.80 on sale for $3.99.
1 box of 10 sugary, fake juice, fun squeezable drink pouches = $2.
*1 preservative-free package of fresh pasta (of course you will need to purchase something to flavor it) = $4.60. 
1 package of dried soup noodles with MSG fake flavoring to infuse it with = 5/$1.
*4 sticks of real unsalted butter = $3.40 on sale for $3.29.
1 giant tub of artificial spread = $3.60 on sale for $2.99.

I hear someone who resembles a manager comment to a customer that it's an enigma how someone on food stamps could manage to be so obese and they sarcastically joke that they will be paying for their healthcare benefits too. Mention how it must be nice to have free money to waste on junk food, like "those people" do.

Makes me want to grab my itty bitty overpriced glass jar of "product of Canada" maple syrup and hit him on the head with it in hopes it knocks some sense into him. I didn't, but I would be lying if I said the image never came to mind. I rant internally... "All these exercise, school and positive reinforcement preventative health programs designed for our "war on obesity" and the low-hanging fruit seems to be adjusting prices to make healthier food options just that... Realistic options."

So... this is why I don't socialize in the grocery store. It's honestly in everyone's best interest. An innocent , "hi, how are you" will undoubtably end with me standing on the check out counter passionately leading the rebellion in protest.

End ramble. Carry-on.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Public Profile

Re-established reputation via public profile.
Our affective bias buttons being pushed all the while.
Those with pure altruism need not us remind.
We know because you impact us with acts so kind.
And your humility...
Never ceasing to be.
Those who must publicly profess
most likely don't walk in the manner they eloquently profess.
our perceptions of reputations
can be manipulated far too easily.
Never question your reality
created by behavioral patterns which have emerged so frequently.
Always question the truth chosen to be revealed and
pray God exposes what lies in private darkness concealed.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Stories by My 7 Year Old Son

Jake and Jace

Once there was a boy named Jake and Jake had a brother named Jace. They lived in a village in Mexico. They lived by the ocean.

There was a well. It ran out of water. They went to the ocean.

There was a large dam and it covered the water's edge. It stormed and all their crops and shelter caught on fire. They didn't know what to do.

Then... a tornado came by them. It picked them up... and they went west... over the Pacific Ocean... and then north... and then east to California in the USA.

They were lucky and still alive.

Some people were scared and so they went to a farm.

Jake and Jace knew much about how to farm, but they went back to the city and they dressed like Americans. They got a house and job.

They were not scary anymore.

They lived in the USA for the rest of their lives.


The Ending World

Once in a jungle the air got cool and it started getting colder. It was snowing and the wind was breezing.

In the earth there was a cave going from one side to the other. Someone jumped in and never came back.

The earth cracked splitting one side 52 miles from the other.

One side had just the ocean. One, which was the other side, had everything else.

The one with just the ocean went to a northern galaxy. All the water fell off except for the boats and the people.

The other formed more water from the lake. The other one also had some holes with water in it. It formed water too. The people built buildings and houses too.

But then, there were too many stars that were as big as the star named the Sun.

The people named it Steal. Earth was the one with everything but the oceans. Steal was the one with just ocean.

One of the stars hit Steal. It exploded. It went all the way to the galaxy with Saturn and hit Saturn. A little bit of Saturn broke off. It shot off; it went slower, and slower. It went over by Earth and stopped.

They called it The Year of 1.

They called the big rock the moon. Every year went higher. The moon went gray.

Everybody called it The Ending World.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Pawn No More

no longer do I wear
childhood naivety 
over me
allowing your kind to 
take advantage 
of me 

once upon a time 
smile and 
smooth words 
loss of rational thought
with the drop of a dime 

you were no good for me
fallen pray
to your 
and your 
lack of empathy

to me you were confusing 
when I glimpsed rare behavior 
this was the real you
it for potential

here is the REALITY
those glimmers of hope
you KNEW this was how
could woo 
as I was unaffected 
by your tantrums
you took advantage of 
my empathy

for a psychopath's victim
like me
you let us fully
see who you are
when we no longer 
feed your appetite for 
control and supremacy 

when it's too late 

to you life is your game
that you win by pulling the strings
of those who are your 
acting irrationally 
so you achieve 
self gain 

I often wonder 
do psychopaths know who they are
are they consciously aware 
of their
personality blunder

and if so - do they even care

the psychopath 
from my life 
gets an emotional high
getting ahead by 
using those who care
charm, intelligence, and lies
... a way of life

to the manipulative torment
there is no limit
no one is immune 
whether bound by blood or
only to thy self is
a psychopath true

it amazes me
*keep in mind hind sight 20/20*
how easily you could 
take advantage
use and abuse me
and yet 
I would be 
the one feeling 

there must be an art
to having this 
disordered personality 
to be able to confidently lie
when BOTH you and I 
know the truth part

if this poem were about you
I would be shocked if you even knew 
I'm sure you would say 
I'm projecting myself 
ownership and blame 
two definitions 
you never differentiated 
and when I tried your wrath

they don't care about you 
they don't know how to 
nor are they capable to
there is only so much you can do
to help people 
but for them there is no help
beautiful, intelligent, heartless, 
and cunning 

a walking shell without a soul

Monday, August 4, 2014

TAL•ENT•ED A Lesson in Engagement

What does it mean to be talented? How do we invest in talented people to keep them engaged? 
  1. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

    "Talent means the skill that someone has quite naturally to do something that is hard. Someone who has talent is able to do something without trying hard. It is an ability that someone is born with. It is a high degree of ability or of aptitudes."

    Gallup recently conducted another employee engagement study in 2013, finding that a mere 13% of the world's employees are actively engaged. 13%. Stark! 

    Everyone has talent and a capacity for success. The secret is to be able to identify this potential in others and to invest in that potential appropriately. 

    We are born with talent. Talent exists in our areas of rapid learning. It would make sense then that holding a person back from exposure and larger responsibility in areas of his or her talent for the sake of gaining more years of experience would be incredibly disengaging. For someone who isn't talented in the same skill or field, sure. That makes sense. 

    I look to the practices of Gifted and Talented children in schools. These kids are academically talented. They aren't required to do the work that they naturally know. If they are able to achieve the result they move on and focus where they can be challenged. Sometimes I wonder if these companies studied by Gallup are making employees do hours of arithmatic when they hunger for calculus. If these companies are forcing employees to complete the required work of a third grader even if they are ready to take on fifth grade level work.

    Today's workforce is populated by Gen Y, followed closely behind by Gen X. What you will find in numerous publications is the importance to Gen Y of investing in unique talent. When you hire for potential and invest in it appropriately, growth and the need for change happens at a more rapid pace.

    As a result, today's workforce values an environment that invests in employees based on their talent, or potential to succeed in the role, combined with the results that are delivered. Today's workforce will struggle to understand investing based on how long someone has been in their role because they are use to learning rapidly and moving on to the next challenge. 

    Looking back even 5-10 years, the environment was different. Just as we study our external customer demographics and adjust marketing strategies to keep the customer engaged and loyal, we must do the same for our employees. Just because the strategy changes doesn't mean that who you are as a company does. It means that you are adaptable to an ever-changing environment. This is how you survive.

    The future success of business today depends on our ability to adapt to how we invest in our people. The survival of the fittest will be won by the companies who are able to evolve. Employee engagement and talent investment will continue to be the biggest and smartest hurdle for every company to focus on. 

    Want more smiling faces? The first step is awareness of how you view people. Do you see your employees the way they see one another? Do you invest in your employees in a way that adds value to their experience? Align your view and act according to reap the rewards of engagement!

    Remember, front-line employees treat customers the way they are treated. In a leadership position, your guest is internal. The next time you have a customer complaint (AKA disengaged customer) ask yourself, "what does their story say about my service to my team?"

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What Makes You Perfect?

Below is a short, poetic story to answer the question "What makes you perfect?" 
I had just found a thread online where people were answering this question. As I was thinking about it the experience described below took place and I really felt that it was contextually relevant.

My personal philosophy has always been "don't let perfect stand in the way of better." Something 'perfect' about me is my conviction that we should each focus on and offer up our strengths to one another in order to compliment each other. It's a philosophy that I've applied to how I raise my children, to my career, and in the advise I offer up to others... 

and so, the story begins... 

Sitting on the porch
My husband and I enjoy a nice, cool breeze.

Suddenly the dogs begin to bark and
We hear a young girl's voice shakily speaking softly,

"Excuse me
my chain fell off my bike. Can you help me?"

I turn and see a young girl with such hidden beauty. 
Her eyes were sweet and her smile was strong from what was probably years of fighting 
through ridicule and "everyone is picking on me."

I quickly scanned her, trying not to let it show.
I didn't want her to know
I was curious how she had gotten burned alive from head to toe. 

I caught her eyes, smiled, and extended a hand full of love.
To help her, we were happy
I asked "what's your name?"
She replied "Gabby"
"I'm Sarah"
She let out a breath of relief.

The chain had only slipped
A very simple fix
Showing her there's good in this world was well worth getting my hands dirty.

She began to leave and the bike was working well
Suddenly she turned asking,
"Do you know Israel?"

Warmth head to toe had begun
Holding tears I said, "yes, he's our son."
I've seen children burned and all sorts of grief
yet something about this girl was hitting me hard.
Hard to explain, hard to put into words... Such sadness & pain...
It was like I could see she was in some cycle of someone intentionally inflicting burns to her
Emotionally and

Glowing, she says "he's my friend. Thank you. Israel is a friend of mine."

Gabby rode away
Enjoying life and a beautiful Spring day.

Emotionally I sat down, looked at my husband and said with resound
"Hearing Israel is her friend is such a relief."

Raising an 11 year old boy
no stranger to popularity
antithesis of bully
poster child for empathy 

This is a measurement of perfection for me. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Harmony and Conflict

It's such a strange predicament
to be both adverse to
yet attracted to

I don't mean to create it intentionally.
When I find myself in the midst of it
the greater purpose is to achieve

We don't say what we think
because we don't want to cause conflict...
We don't want to cause a stink
and yet in turn our need to keep the peace results in

Misperceptions abound
and conspiracy theories are born.
This is when I tend to step in and
see that all of our masks are torn.

You see, we all have these animalistic
instinctual needs.
When our subconsious is hungry
it triggers us that it's time to feed. 

There's something inside each of us 
that is toxic for one another.
Understanding these hidden needs and
desires can help us to see the value of each other.

When our tensions flare up
this is our internal button going off to check in.
Instead of thinking the behavior is about us
try to put yourself in the other person's skin. 

There is a hidden instinctual need
that isn't being fed.
Are you starving someone you care about
by what you have done or by what you have said?

The next time you find yourself having conflict with one another
I encourage you not to stay silent or to run, but
rather to sit down with each other.

Look at the big picture and read between the lines.
Sure, at first it's uncomfortable, but 
I promise you that no one with die and
you will both be fine.

After you have broken through 
the conflict that has been the elephant in the room
for far too long between the two of you
what you will finally see 
is that uncomfortable internal conflict
is the bridge we cross to find


Monday, March 10, 2014

Life is a Complicated, Hot Mess!

I've always started the labyrinth at the end to not hit roadblocks. 

I'd win at pool:  not because I got all my balls in, but because I studied my opponent and would line the balls up so he'd sink the 8-Ball. 

I did well on multiple choice tests. Not because I knew the answers, but because I'm a great guesser and could deduce what the answer wasn't.  

I couldn't tell you the name of the strategy to implement for proper change management and performance excellence. I can flip your company upside down and execute it without batting a lash, just don't ask me what that strategy is called. 

I get so passionate and frustrated when I see others in power make hasty choices. I feel powerless when I can't stop it. I battle feelings to decide if I should trudge on, making do with the pieces, or throw in the towel & shut down. 

I love people, yet I'm socially awkward.

I want to lead, yet I don't wish to be noticed. 

I want rest, yet I don't want to shut my mind off to sleep.

I love the sun and I love music, yet I have an aversion to anything too bright... Or too noisy... 

I'm vegetarian yet sometimes I even feel sad for broccoli if I eat it. 

I praise others for their uniqueness and imperfections. I remind others that low expectations are the secret to happiness. Secretly I'm a closet perfectionist and cry if I don't exceed my own high expectations. Always aware I'm not delivering my full potential.

I know I have purpose here, yet feel lost.

Why does life have to be a complicated hot mess?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Life Lesson #1: Smurfs are Evil!

One of my earliest childhood memories was at Hanna Barbara Land. I have no idea how old I was at the time. I don't recall any sound. This is one of few memories I have without it, which leads me to believe the memory is before '85.

I remember the rainbow as we entered the gate and children everywhere, smiling. My mother had given us the okay to watch the Smurfs perform live. This was a BIG deal! 

You see... our church proclaimed that the Smurfs were little devils, and they were evil. We were forbidden to watch them at home and had to sneak episodes in the basements of friends. 

Today was special. We were on holiday and today we would watch the Smurfs perform live!

I sat knock-kneed on a cold bleacher in the hot humid air. The Smurfs took stage-much larger than I had expected. 

I don't remember the performance, but I remember the balls of lint on their arms. I had similar balls of lint on my sweaters at home. This baffled me. 

How did their skin have lint balls? Did they wear blue sweaters in the heat? Odd creatures:  Smurfs.

The performance ended and the Smurfs made their way into the croud. They greeted parents and patted the heads of children like politicians. I wasn't interested in meeting any of them. Actually, they creeped me out a little. 

My interest:  ice cream. After the performance my mother made good on her promise to treat us to Smurf ice cream. I could hardly wait!

The concoction that the worker scooped out was blue and sparkled in the sun. I imagined that the ice cream had magical powers, like berry juice on the Gummy Bears! It would empower me to leap across high buildings and halt evil doers with a single bounce! Perhaps it would change my size like in Alice in Wonderland. Would I be small like the Smurfs on TV or huge like the ones that lived in Hanna Barbara Land? Or, maybe... just maybe... it would turn my tongue blue! That would STILL be amazing!

I remember that first scoop of ice cream as it hit my mouth. Blueberries. The best, most amazing blueberries you could ever imagine. 

More! Faster! 
Damn, brainfreeze. 
Perhaps a little too fast? 

I squeezed my head with my right hand trying to stop the pain. Squinting through my eye lid with my left eye, I examined my left hand as my spoon dangled out of my lips. 
Was it larger? No. 
Smaller? No. 
My eye caught the corner of the metal side of the ice cream cart. I could catch my reflection.

I darted over to the cart without a care in the world. My heart felt like it was in the Indy 500 as it raced with excitement and anticipation. Catching my reflection on the corner of the cart I stuck my tongue out and squinted to examine what was in front of me. 

Blue! My tongue was blue. SCORE! Suddenly the brainfreeze no longer mattered.

I paced myself to finish my ice cream. I managed to stick my tongue out at each and every person who walked past. Finally, the last bite. I savored it. 

My eye caught the bottom of the bowl. There were words. I recognized the letters; however, I was still too young to read. I could feel my heart rev up again with excitement. 

Did I win a prize? I must have! I won a prize! What could it possibly be? The checkered flag was waving.

Mom. I needed Mom. Mom can read and she will tell me exactly what I've won. Quickly I put one foot in front of the other, darted towards my mother, and pushed every obstacle out of my way. I cornered like a dream and was first to the finish line.

"Mom. I won! What did I win? What's my prize?" I jumped up and down waving the bowl and spoon in front of my mother's face. Splatters of blue were flying everywhere.

Mom grabbed my arm, and the bowl along with it. She read the manuscript diligently.

Her face. I knew that face. I had seen it before and it wasn't a positive thing:  eyes big with a look of concern, lips puckered trying to form the right words, eyebrows close together creating that bubble you get when deep in thought, and she had her head cocked to the left anticipating my reaction. Right was empathetic. Left was judgement. Hers was left.

Mom put her hand on her hip and pushed the bowl into my face. She was moving it in front of me as if to show me the words. I watched her lips and the world froze in time. What was she going to say to me? I was ready to read their motion. 

"Sarah, you didn't win a prize, see." She waved more. 

This is the first memory I have of feeling patronized. If I could read you wouldn't have the bowl in the first place, now would you? 

"It's not a prize." She scoffed. "It's a warning. For parents." The dramatic pause.
"It says to not be alarmed when it turns your pee and poop blue."

Oh my ___. My chest. I can't breathe. I can't even read yet and I'm having my first panic attack. Who does that? What type of people, things, do that to you? Lure me in with ice cream and promises of magical things and than this? No control. It's too late. I already am deathly afraid of going to the bathroom. I'd not pee for three days if I had anything to say about it. But to turn my pee and poop blue? Sadistic!

I could see my little sister laughing in the corner of my eye. I shot her a look that would kill, and she stopped. Oh, yah. I could do that already. These green eyes can turn into a monster like that. *snap. Stupid baby.

Mom always moved past things quickly. She was ready to hit the next area of the park yesterday, and I was still trying to understand what had just happened. Mom snatched my wrist and pulled me out of the arena. As she dragged me away my head was turned back. My eyes glarred at Papa Smurf with the death gaze. I know he felt me. I never would watch the Smurfs again.

That was the point in my life that I knew for certain that Smurfs were evil. The church was right. 

As I've grown older and lived my life I still encounter a Smurf now and then. The only difference is that they don't always wear the blue sweater, but they are out there...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Who Am I?



Society places these upon us.
Why do we allow them to define who we are expected to be?

I've never been comfortable in a box.
I can't breathe.
The sides feel like they are closing in all around & I can't see.
Too many expectations.
What does this all mean?
What's society's perception of,

Ethnocentric points of view.
The world is guilty of using them to reference each of you.
The fertile ground where bullies are bred.
A dark, isolated place inside an ignorant head.

The world places these categories,
these labels,
these roles,
on the things seen as different than thee.
The sweet little lie is justified with false belief
that it helps us
understand one another?

But how does a
category, label, role...
How does this give you the slightest glimpse into my complicated soul?

Imagine for a moment that you had to spend an entire day
describing one another
without labels,
without roles.

What would you say?

Would it force you to look at people differently?
Would it force you to see individuality?

The absence of

And what about yourself?
Would you then see your value?
Would you recognize your wealth?

No longer permitted to cling to
your category,
your label,
your role.

Or is yours a more frightening fate?
Left wondering: Who the HELL am I?
Standing there lost & confused in an anxious state.

You aren't a category.
You aren't a label.
You aren't a role.

You are unique.
You are special.
You are an individual.
You are all of this in spite of what names for you society may call.

You are not a category.
Republican, Democrat, Christian, Atheist.
You are a person.

You are not a label.
Gay, Straight, Bi.
You are a person.

You are not a role.
Husband. Wife. Daughter. Son.
You are a person.

Can you go for just one day?
No identification tied to
to labels,
to roles?

"Tell me a little bit about yourself..."

What will you say?

Double Edged Sword

We are all talented people.
Our talents are both a blessing and a curse.
Double edged swords
sharpened and refined.
Blessing and

I love being around people,
I take them home with me.
Not literally, don't be silly
(although... at times I have tried, TRUST me)!

Empathy is a funny talent.
It's really not a skill you can learn.
You are either born with it, or you aren't.
You either watch the fire
you can actually FEEL it burn!

I'm deeply impacted by other people's emotions.
I feel the tightness of their shoes.
I feel his flat feet and her high arches.
When you win, I am surged with adrenaline.
When you fall, my knees are also skinned and bruised.

I'm like a bug attracted to light
when others want to share their plight.
A listening ear, a shoulder to catch a tear.
Giving understanding because I too feel so misunderstood and
I know how to make your life so clear.

You see, I love the fact that I can empathize with people
but I hate the fact I can't pull out my #2, flip it over, and erase all the pain.
I couldn't imagine living in isolation away from the world,
but I also can imagine living life without it:

Tug of war.
Push and pull.
Needing to be involved.
Needing to be detached.
Wishing all of my talents could learn
how to interact
with one another.

I have this too.
So strong that at times my intuition is on overdrive in my dreams.
Oblivious to my surroundings by day because I'm so deep in thought.
Processing subconsciously everything my conscious missed at night;
forecasting the future in my sleep while my thoughts are at rest.
Awareness that all is never what it seems.

Intuition is a wonderful thing when you learn to trust your gut.
On the flip side it makes you prone to conspiracy theories and
you can distrust to a point where you get stuck in a negative rut.

I want to help.
I'm skeptical about helping.

I'm an idealist to the core.
I always have a hunger for something more.
I believe utopia is in sight.
Then reality takes a nasty bite.
Looking at the world I see how perfect things could be.
I want to teach everyone how to live in harmony.
*insert Coke commercial here*

It makes me want to drop all of my responsibilities.
Nomad. Running loose.
A redhead on the run searching to make this existence a better place for you, for me.
It's not that easy.
Bills to pay.
I'm raising a family.
Why can't I get paid for being a redhead on the run,
making the world a better place?

Non-stop tug of war.
Heart pulls this way.
Logic from my mind pushes me down.

These are the battles that wage in my mind
when I'm daydreaming all of the time.
How can I find that balance?
How can I use this sword so that it cuts away the clutter of every day
and doesn't cut you or cut me?
What we have as we?
Double edged sword.

On the outside I'm cool, I'm calm,
I'm collected.
Inside, I'm
(deep breath)

Something more.
My life is meant for so much more.
I know it. I feel it.
How do I obtain it?

I guess it starts with me.
I need to figure out how to use this myriad of unique talents
in perfectly synchronized unity.

Until then I play of tug of war.
Push. Pull.
Both blessing and a curse.
Eventually I will win this game we call life
and know what my purpose here is for.


We are all broken people.
You are no more broken than me.
Some can hide it,
wear masks.
They think that no one out there can see.

She puts on her lipstick, red.
Polished heels, sharp suit.
She enters the world holding up her head.
Inside she is tormented.
Mistakes present and from the past.
A lost and lonely soul.

He stands in front of his congregation.
A pulpit, a pedestal, preaching to the crowd.
He strives to lead with perfection.
Inside his expectations make him drown.
Practice what you preach.
The mantra plays like a broken record, round & round.

She sits nervous over coffee.
Wanting him to like everything he sees.
This is the first time they will meet.
Being single at age 40 isn't where she ever thought she'd be.
Inside her gut she carries baggage of a broken heart and being lonely.
Outside she twiddles her bracelet and covers up the charm from her past love.
He left her.

He is always so funny.
He makes all of his friends laugh.
Years ago he was bullied.
Now he covers the wounds.
Bandaged up with smiles and deflection
from topics too painful to sound
into words about a broken youth.

She sits with her toys.
Wishing to get away from life's noise.
Insignificance is a monster.
It torments her from under her bed.
She cuts pictures from magazines mapping out the day she will wed.
Even at her young age
she doesn't see how she alone will ever be enough.
Her parents are too busy yelling at one another to see
she is...

He lost it all
with one unpredicted fall.
He stands with his cup
asking for just a buck.
People pass by, they don't look.
He stands and wonders, "when did I become just another character in life's book?"
Under a bridge his daughter waits.
No guarantee of dinner on their metaphorical plates.
Strangers assume he chose this fate.
He cries out, "I'm no different than you!"

Appearances are never what they seem.
We all have a past and we all dream.
Everyone has a story.
Everyone has been hurt.
Everyone is broken.

While the world is full of broken people,
all hope should not be lost.
Our brokenness makes us special.

Life is about community.
Relationships with one another.
If we weren't broken, why would we need one another?
Take off your mask.
Honestly is a sunlight you will love to sit and bask.
Until your weaknesses you reveal
you can never move forward and heal.
You will remain

We are all broken people.
You are no more broken than me.
Some can hide it,
wear masks.
They think that no one out there can see.

The world is full of people...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

No Expectations

I'm back from a month-long blogging hiatus! Things have been a whirlwind recently. On a few occasions I thought about putting my thoughts to key regarding what has taken place recently so I sincerely hope tonight's blog has been worth the wait!

I've always had this personal theory about how God speaks to us and about how God expects us to act. To me this all happens swiftly and with urgency. That "gut feeling" that I get: God. I believe that God has an expectation that we fall with our eyes blindfolded and with arms wide open in full trust that He will be there to catch us.

I've always believed in the old adage that what goes around comes back around; i.e., karma! I believe that if you focus on blessing others, with your heart right, that the blessings will come back to you. It's that whole "heart right" part that I have struggled with for so long.

There is no denying on my part that one of my biggest growth opportunities has been to give and to love without expectations. I have struggled with this. I've wanted to learn how to do this and to give and to love with the right heart. This month God really tested me and my new found strength in this skill of no expectations! (If you know me you probably cannot imagine me even forming the sentence: have no expectations!!! Ha, ha!)

On the third Sunday in November my family and I joined up with our Waters Edge Rider's family out at a homeless shelter for Veterans to cook a Thanksgiving meal. It was an awesome experience for us! While we were out there we were introduced to a woman.

This woman, Missy, was not a Vet, but she and her husband had been displaced and this particular shelter had room for them so they allowed them to stay. Missy was in tears talking about how they had ended up in Louisiana from Chicago and her tale was full of traumatic events. She shared that she was pregnant and the baby was eleven days overdue. She had nothing for the little boy that was soon to be in the world, no money until the third of the month, and she feared that she would lose her son.

I'm generally a cynic so when God tugged on my heart saying, "help them", logic immediately set in and said... "Really? She is 44, she doesn't look pregnant. Her story is a bit far fetched." But God said, "help them." So, I listened. I chose not to run my mouth with conspiracy theories and I decided to help them.

I wasn't sure where to begin. I didn't have the funds to provide for a baby in a day. Shoot, I have a baby coming in March and I think we have gotten so much as a onesie!! "OK, God. I'm closing my eyes and going to fall back now. Catch me, OK?"

Social Networking is a pretty cool thing. I put a couple posts on a few different pages and the donations came pouring in. I was in awe of the hearts of the people within our community. In 24 hours I was able to see God provide for a family with nothing. He took her from nothing to having more than enough for a newborn baby boy. Truly amazing!

When I first moved to Louisiana I wanted very badly to work for a local non-profit that was devoted to connecting people with the right resources and to helping people with the right life skills to get on their feet. It would have been awesome, had this non-profit actually existed. It didn't. I thought for a long time that maybe there wasn't the need here like other places I have lived. Boy, did these past two weeks teach me otherwise.

As we were taking in donations for Missy and her husband, Terry, people were asking about other donations. Could we take anything else for people in need? My husband and I both agreed, yes. Why not? We have a huge shop that's just sitting here, over half empty, and we have the room. The experience put us into touch with so many other activists within our community who were dedicated to serving the city and who had different resources and talents. The network was falling into place.

Our landlord was so excited about the new venture. Next thing we knew he had blessed us with all of the wood needed to house the shop with shelving units. People came forward to donate time and labor. Shelves went up and donations poured in. Friends joined in as we sorted, organized, and awed. This all happened in less than a week!

Days had gone by and I stayed in touch with Missy and Terry. God was pulling on my heart telling me that my place wasn't to just dump these gifts on them and to run. God was telling me that the need was bigger than that. It hadn't been met yet.

By the Sunday following the dinner both Missy and Terry were being moved into a room in a house, away from the shelter, where their dogs could roam free and they could have a little more independence. They could have a little more normality. Once again the amazing hearts of those around me shone through, but God kept pulling on me, telling me that the need hadn't been met yet.

My husband and I started to reach out to the couple more. The closer we got the more we understood how dysfunctional their relationship was. Our concern for the well-being of Missy and for her unborn child were growing stronger.

During this time we constantly had an influx of donations and needs. The shop was hopping! It felt wonderful to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Daily I would ask Missy to go to the hospital. Daily she would tell me she was going to go later. This was an enigma to me. I couldn't understand why she just wouldn't go to get checked out. I had mentally decided that only one of three things could be happening: 1) she isn't really pregnant and has been living a lie even to her husband, 2) the test results may show that he is NOT the father, or 3) she is an addict fearing what her UA may show when she goes into the hospital. My husband and I felt frustration, but it was from a different place then where it normally would be from. We weren't concerned about all the stuff we got for her. We were concerned because we didn't know how to best help her. It just didn't add up.

Yesterday I took Missy to Wal-Mart to get some basic things, like underwear. The things that I take for granted. I was standing in line at the check-out waiting for the blow of the total: $87 and change. Not too bad, but definitely wasn't in the budget this month. It's amazing how God knows our steps and the state of our heart even before we do. When we got home that evening I had an unexpected check in the mail for $90!

Today comes and the phone rings. It was Missy and she was begging me to come pick her up. She had drama with Terry again and was again rambling on about how she had to leave him. The logic of the whole situation didn't really make sense. My "gut" was telling me she was pushing him away. People do funny things when they get scared. Missy is an insecure woman and I could totally see how her actions answered every question I had about the baby enigma.

My husband and I told her that we would be happy to pick her up, but that she was going to the hospital. No more excuses. No more resistance. Missy agreed with hesitation. Her husband was ecstatic because each time he begged her to go she diverted the situation with accusations that put him on the defense.

We took our time getting out there and when we arrived she had finally come clean. She wasn't pregnant. Missy had a miscarriage earlier in the pregnancy and her insecurities got in the way of her honesty. Terry had always wanted a child and she feared he would leave her if she couldn't give him one. Her insecurities and her fear of rejection had caused her to create an environment in which he would just leave her or she could justify leaving. This way she would never have to come clean to him face to face. I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if we hadn't been connected to this couple. Would this honest moment ever have happened? Would they have been separated?

Missy was so scared to tell us the truth that we already knew. I don't think she has ever experienced authentic love before. She only knew love with strings attached and love with expectations. The reality was that I had so much empathy for her situation even though I didn't agree with what she did. I understood it.

With all of that said and done we still refused to whisk her away. This time there was no running. These two needed to communicate. They needed to figure out where they wanted to be now that they both had an honest awakening of where they are.

Without even thinking and without hesitation I said something to the couple that even surprised myself. I told them that the baby stuff they had been given was theirs and it was up to their discretion what they do with it. I shared with them that there were several needs for baby boys in the community who were recently born or who were about to be born that we had been made aware of. I put the ball in their court to decide if they would like to bless another family with what they had been given. If they did, we were here to connect the right people to the items. If they didn't, fine. We would be in touch.

Then we left. We left and we went about our day. I had so much peace. A year ago, hell even six months ago, I wouldn't have had any peace at all. I would have been pissed to say the least. My perception would have been that we had been taken advantage of. I would have steamed about where the items could have gone and I would have taken them with me today when I left. My heart would have grown a little harder and my mind a little more skeptic. I would always wonder who was "really" in need. I was nearly giddy that this didn't happen.

I did it. I finally did it. I gave, I loved with no strings attached. No expectations. It felt really good! I sincerely believe that our steps are ordered before we take them and that people are put into our paths for a reason.

I cannot wait to see where God takes this new venture of our over the course of the next few years. If you want to learn more about what we are doing in our community or to learn how you can get involved, visit us on Facebook at today!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Think Therefore I Am

I have always been a positive person. I guess I was just born that way. My glass is always half full. There is always a silver lining. I'm always bopping around to theme music in my mind.

One thing that has been a facination for me is the human psyche. I'm always facinated by people's stories of hardship or depression. I'm obsessed with helping shift the perception that people have of their situations, to helping them see the potential within their reach, to stimulaing them to make the change! I love helping others to become happy, to believe in themselves, and to see a brighter tomorrow.

This month was a stressful month for us. It started off with a cancer scare with my husband and the joys of "hurry and wait" that comes along with all of the testing. Immediately after getting through that I'm admitted into the hospital for almost a week. I get out and then one of my husband's best friends who rides with us is in a motorcycle accident, air lifted in critical condition.

My husband's tests came back clear. I'm healthy, home, and feeling great. Our dear friend went from critical condition to being sent home with staples and a broken hand within hours.

My husband shot me a text today to pray for him because his nerves were shot. He didn't even know how he would function today at work.

My response? Glad you asked:

"The mind is such an amazing thing, and the power we give our thoughts over us. It's always astounding when you take a step back and realize how we let a simple thing, a thought, consume us. We stress, we fixate, and we physically suffer. Then... a simple shift of perception... and that stressful weight lifts off of our shoulders. We laugh. What you see as a brush with death for you, for your wife, and for your best friend... it could be a reminder of all the blessings we have in life. A reminder of how much we love... are loved. A reminder of how we shouldn't waste a second of this precious life worrying about what horrible thing could have happened. Now, quit stressing because at the end of the day... you don't get that time back! My nerves are gold, are you kidding?! In my book we were just blessed with three miracles in three weeks! Smile, Baby, I love you!"

Moral of the story:  Your situation is always as good, or as bad, as you think it is!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Death and Living

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "The only thing certain in life is death (and taxes)."  We all know that one day we will pass, and yet this logic doesn't make losing a loved one any easier.

Over the course of the past week I have had several people in my life lose an elderly parent. It's funny how death always takes us by surprise even though we know it's a part of life.

I remember when I lost my father. It was sudden and unexpected and there was so much I wished we had the opportunity to do, that I wished we had the opportunity to say...  I remember learning my daddy had passed. I was pregnant with my oldest son and it was Good Friday. I will never forget that call. I remember my sister, Melissa, on the line asking me to sit down and to remain calm. My gut fell and I just knew, I just knew my daddy was gone.  I had gotten a glimpse of the caller ID blinking that the Boone County Hospital had left a message. No words were needed. I knew.

That holiday was a blur to me. I prayed it wasn't real, I prayed that he too would rise on Easter morning. My daddy didn't rise. It wasn't fair. He was too young. He had a young son at home. He was too healthy. It was too sudden. It wasn't fair!

My sisters and I made photo collages of his life. That silly red Fiat convertible that never ran. Those rediculous tube socks he always wore. The lame jokes that we missed hearing. His writings. His voice. His wit. His charm. His humor. His fried egg sandwiches on Sunday mornings. His love for vintage military t-shirts. Our sadness he never got that bull dog. Our grief he would never see his grandbabies.

A couple of years ago my grandmother passed. I was particularly close with Grandma Love.

When she passed she had experienced her fair share of dementia, gerry chairs, and nursing homes. For years she hadn't been the granny I remembered. Alzheimer's had taken hold of her mind and her body. I KNEW she was in a better place. I KNEW she had gone home.

My granny was ill. Her body was shutting down and it was a matter of time before she would be gone and with God. I will never forget that call. I was in Manhattan with some co-workers on a beautiful July 13 evening. We were enjoying wine and tapas. My cell buzzed and I flushed. Once again, it was Melissa. She told me my granny had taken her last breath. I had been on edge for days waiting for this call, but it didn't matter how "prepared" I was.

I started bawling in that Manhattan restaurant with a table full of executives just staring at me. I walked for hours that night, dangerously I'm sure, crying on the phone and wandering Central Park.

Once again I found myself with my sisters making photo collages of her life. The kids she loved and nannied over the years. Her trip to Israel. Her undying love for our grandfather. Her home that was always open to anyone. Her love for her church. Her crazy diets. The time she was so mad at me that she wet her pants! Her Christmas card she signed, "Love, Crack Granny."

This past year I lost my daddy's sister, my aunt Peg. She had fought a long and hard battle with cancer. My aunt Joyce had emailed me and told me that Peg was in the hospital. It wasn't looking good. This time I was the one who called Melissa and Becky. There was no question, we were going to Memphis. We made it to see Peg one last time before she passed.

Aunt Peg was in pain and we knew she was ready. It didn't matter. We bawled in the hallway together with family. We sat in the parking lot and in the lobby talking with my aunts and my cousins telling rediculous stories of my aunt Peg's crazy adventures! RVing, holidays in New York, her horible sense of direction!

It wasn't long after returning home that we each got the text from our cousin Don. Aunt Peg had passed. We cried. We bartered with God. We hurt because of all the lost time. For months we knew death was close. For days we knew it was even closer. It didn't matter how "prepared" we were.

It's funny. No matter what we do (or don't) accomplish in life, in the end we have love and we have memories.

It's funny. No matter how "prepared" we are to lose a loved one it's not easy. It's sad. No matter how "ready" that loved one is to go home, we still hurt.

And yet, I remember deperately convincing myself that it was OKAY to be sad that my granny and my auntie Peg had passed. I felt guilty for it. I felt selfish. Why do we do this to ourselves?

What we have to remember is that tomorrow is never promised. Live each day to the fullest. Live each day like the last. Create some memories that will evoke a smile and a happy tear once you have taken your last breath. Live your life for something.

Should you lose someone close to you, no matter the cause, it is okay to cry. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to lose it and to break down. It is okay to be rediculous, to scream, and to laugh!

We only get one shot at living. Make it count.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Organized Chaos!

This week I went to my first city council meeting for my little town of Westlake, population 4600. It reminded me of my first experience flying Southwest Airlines:  organized chaos!

Let me elaborate for those of you that haven't had the priveledge of flying Southwest. There are no assigned seats, only pre-assigned groupings. You huddle in a mass and board the plane and seats are first come first serve. The entire process leaves me anxiety ridden and everything is a mere blur, but somehow you get to where you intended on going. You get wooed into flying with them again by free snacks and no carry-on fees, but the experience leaves much to be desired. Oh, and did I mention you won't find their flights on any of the fancy discount websites? Another note:  good luck finding a direct flight. Everything has a layover here and a transfer there.

My local government is a Southwest flight.

It's not just the wonderful city of Westlake either. I started writing this post on Monday evening and had to postphone my blogging. On Tuesday my boss frantically got off his conference call. He placed the phone down and looked at me with a panic look and muttered two words, "Organized chaos!"

Now, I laugh because this is a topic that had been heavily on my mind since Monday evening. What are the odds? Then, at that moment, I realize that there is organized chaos all around us:  traffic, schools, work, government, volunteer groups... it's everywhere! Why do we do this to ourselves?

One of my favorite Franklin Covey quotes is, "Fail to plan and you plan to fail."  The leaders of this organized chaos have to know the anxiety level of those who are trying to follow them. I mean, can't they feel it?

I really do value spontaneity, but it has it's place. I just don't think passing an ordinance to allow RV Parks within city limits is that place. This is something that requires thoughtful planning and regulations. You don't just pass an ordinance and then say, "Well, the good news is we have 30 days to figure this out!" But it happens, doesn't it?

What I can tell you is that I am going to do my part to put a stop to the organized chaos! If I jump into something it won't be with my eyes wide shut! I will do my part to lessen the anxiety level of those around me versus raise it!

If you are ever in charge of leading a meeting, I have some words of advice from my personal leadership experiences:

1) Have an agenda.
Now, this can be taken two ways and you should take it both ways! First, what do you want to accomplish? What is the end result? We all come together for a purpose, so what is it? Figure that out well ahead of time, and tell us at the start of the meeting exactly what that agenda is! Afterall, we are all aware that you have one. This takes the guesswork out and allows us to really focus during the meeting! Second, take it literally. Put an agenda together! During the meeting, how are we going to accomplish the goal you have set? What topic will be discussed? What can I expect? I'm investing my time to meet with you so please make it worthwhile. Make sure you invest some time to plan the conversation for each topic. Even if the meeting is intractive you must be prepared to steer the conversation in the direction you need to go.

2) Stick to the agenda.
If you have an expressive group that tends to bounce topics or to get off track use the agenda to stay on focus. Ask for ideas to be jotted down. Better yet, pass the agenda out early and ask people to come prepared to share their top two ideas when that topic is discussed! If a discussion point comes up that is not part of the agenda table it for the next meeting. It's okay to expect any discussion topics to be submitted prior to the meeting to incorporate them into the agenda. This should be an expectation!

3) Delegate and follow up.
Never end a meeting without a clear call to action of who committed to what and when you will follow up or will expect there to be follow up. Always have a plan regarding who you will assign responsibilities to in the event you do not have a volunteer. Sometimes people need to be voluntold! Send out a recap of meeting notes. Actually follow up!

I envision that one of these days we will have a world delicately balanced by both organization and chaos... but no longer the intermingled organized chaos! Until that day happens I will keep my antacid and my anxiety meds within arms reach!!!