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Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten Reasons To Think Inside The Box (and feel good about it)

For years we have proclaimed the value of "thinking outside the box."  It has been the subject of many self-help experts, endless corporate training seminars, and countless professionals from a variety of careers.  I have to admit that this seemingly innocuous catch phrase, which has become a platitude of our generation, was one that I accepted without much concern as to the consequences.  Here's what thinking out side the box has done to some of us :  It has created a sensory overload of expectations with a planet full of overworked individuals who keep looking for ways to "expand" their repertoire of ideas.

Some times thinking outside the box can be good and profitable.  I'm all for that.  Sometimes it just creates more stress. If you're looking for some reasons it's OK to go back to the box and stay there for awhile, here's a list for you to consider.  Although I don't recommend remaining here permanently, I do hope you give yourself permission to consider the following points.

Ten Reasons To Think Inside The Box

  1. It's nice and quiet inside the box. Remember when you enjoyed playing inside one of those big boxes when you were a kid?  Nobody bugged you.  You could pull your favorite toys inside.  That box became all sorts of amazing things :  a space ship, your own house, a race car, or a cave where you could hide from dinosaurs.  Anything was possible with your imagination.
  2. Boundaries allow us to remember the importance of sequencing, order, following rules, and accepting directions.  Many great projects have come to a grinding halt without these factors.
  3. Focus - We can concentrate better when we eliminate the elements of sensory distractions at work.
  4. Benefits of Containment:  What would happen if we all drove outside the dotted lines on the highway, parked over instead of between the solid lines in the parking garage, or allowed airplanes to land anywhere they wanted outside of their designated runways?  Chaos, perhaps?  Containment offers safety and consistency.
  5. Nobody has to place a limit on the size of your box.  You can expand the box to fit your project or imagination while maintaining an "outline" and order to your process.
  6. You can have more than one box.  This allows you to sort your ideas and manage more that one project within a specified period of time.  Work on one box at a time then shelve it until you can assemble each component. (I am doing this with my writing and have several projects under construction; each in varying stages of development.) 
  7. Staying inside the box prevents you from going off on tangents.  It's less likely that you will avoid what needs to be accomplished if all your resources are available to you in one setting.
  8. Storage Units - have you ever seen a storage unit?  There's a lot of room for boxes of all shapes and sizes.  Think inside a storage space if the box or boxes need to be retired for a while.  (Sometimes we can get burned out on an idea or concept and need to let it go for a time.)  You could also use the "storage unit" concept to temporarily expand your imagination while still maintaining some level of containment.  (Just avoid over-doing this or you'll end up thinking too far outside the box again and end up on the emotional equivalent of "Storage Wars" or "Hoarders.")
  9. If you travel too far outside the box, you might get lost and have a hard time returning to your project's original purpose.
  10. The "Box" is like a Home Base.  It's OK to go on vacation once in a while, but there's no place like the comfort of your home.  If necessary, travel with your box.  Just remember, there's a kind of freedom and flexibility that is associated with the minimalism of staying in the box.
Hope that helps you sort out the benefits of "Thinking Outside of the Box" or "Thinking Inside of the Box."  Whatever you choose to do with your ideas, projects, and life choices, please give yourself permission to do what is right for your individual situation.  Forget the pressures that others place on you or that you impose upon yourself. And regardless of the endless adult responsibilities that you or I encounter, it's always fun to  consider activities that inspire children's imaginations.  We can learn a lot by watching how they play and problem solve.  That was us before we allowed our thought processes to become so complicated.

Happy Monday and Have an Inspirational Week!   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Holding Your Breath Again?

I just finished reading a book that had an impact on how I view my pursuit of writing.  The fact that I actually finished the book in less than one week is reason enough to elicit  an excited "hoorah!"  My primary reason for promoting this book is that it inspired me to consider two main concepts that I have a tendency to ignore.  I continue to dig deep to figure out exactly why I continue to struggle through familiar territory when I could have mastered the terrain long ago.  What are those areas?

1.  A return to a healthier life style - One I enjoyed from my early twenties to early thirties when I worked out on a daily basis, taught Aerobics and Fitness classes, and even earned my Personal Trainer Certification.

2. Writing for a living.  I have a file full of projects in progress.  What I need now is an Agent to help me through the process of publication.  I have several projects that are identified as needing to be pitched by someone in the loop.  Many publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. 

So here is one source of inspiration that I found last week:

The book is title: Big Girl Panties by: Stephanie Evanovich copyright 2013. It is published by William Morrow - Harper Collins Publishing (Found this at the library in the"Rapid Read" section. This means I had a 7 day limit on check out.)

The book chronicles significant life changes of a young woman, how she deals with the choices she faces, and the fears she encounters as she begins to see changes in herself.  These are concepts with which many of us can identify.  Myself included!  Too many times there is an element of fear when we are confronted with changes. Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable.  Change requires us to rethink our position in the world and bumps us out of our comfy yet sometimes miserable existence.  When faced with the possibility that change could lead to a happier state of mind, why do we often choose unhappiness instead?

"Big Girl Panties" provides insight into how challenging yet rewarding life can be when we deal with realities and make the effort to bring ourselves into healthier focus - both physically and emotionally.  The main character, Holly, is overweight and self conscious about her appearance. She uses food for comfort and emotional support. When she meets a personal trainer who offers assistance in helping her reach her goals, Holly embarked on a journey of self discovery.  She gains confidence in her ability to move beyond tragic life circumstances and learns to love herself for the amazing personality that defines "Holly." 

The author, Stephanie Evanovich, created believable characters through her descriptive writing.  As an aspiring fiction writer, I realized that I hold on too tight to my character's details.  I need to allow my characters to develop and allow the reader to feel their personalities.  Ms. Evanovich's book gave me permission in a way.  I also need to be honest in my reticence to write about my own work of fiction based on real life experiences.  So...It's time for me to let go and get on with the business of getting my book completed!

My words of wisdom for this Monday:
1.  Stop holding your breath and just breathe through whatever discomfort is going on in your life at the moment.  Fresh air is not only a luxury, it is a necessity if we hope to generate the type of energy required to deal with life changes.  Get out of the house and discover something new each day.  Today, for example, I saw that Pikes Peak had snow on the mountain top.  Just seeing how beautiful it looked on a cool yet sunny day was enough to provide a bit of encouragement.

2.  Get moving!  Yesterday I started walking again.  I took my three children to the park just in time to experience a torrential rainfall mixed with hail. We just waited a few minutes for it to pass, then got out of the car and completed a mini-workout.  Don't let anything get in the way of your progress!

3.  Read a book, talk to a friend, or keep posting positive and humorous words of inspiration.  Sharing the journey makes it all the more sweet.

Thanks for allowing me to share with you!  Have an Awesome Week!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sebastien's Bed Time Prayers

Monday night I announced to my children that it was time for bed.  Sebastien, my six-year-old, is already an expert negotiator and analyst.  I use these terms versus "Little Manipulator" because I desperately need to remain positive and hopeful in my thought process.  I have three very challenging little individuals that I need to guide through childhood and must pace myself accordingly.  Prayers are an integral part of our bed time routine.  Sebastien knows this yet still tries to act silly and improvise on our tradition.  Here's how our conversation went :

Sebastien:  "Mommy, what if I have nightmares?"

Me:  "You won't if you say your prayers with me.  Let's ask the angels to watch over you and protect you."

Sebastien:  "Well, they didn't protect me the last time I had a nightmare. They came too late!"

Me:  "Hmm.  Wasn't that the night you were goofing off and didn't say your prayers with Mommy, Isabella and Nathan?"

Sebastien:  "Oh yeah!  I forgot about that."

Me:  "Well, let's try again tonight.  We should say our prayers with respect and with a voice that the angels can hear.  Are you ready to try again?"

Sebastien:  "O.K. Mommy."

Here's our family prayer that we have adapted.  The one I said as a child scared the heck out of me as it indicated there was a good chance of dying in your sleep.  (I'm sure when it was first written, that was a valid concern.  Thankfully we have come a long way thanks to modern medicine.)

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
The angels watch me through the night
and keep me safe until morning light.

God bless Mommy, Daddy, Isabella, Nathan, Sebastien, Irais
Our Grandmas and Grandpas
Our Aunties and Uncles
Our Cousins and Friends
and our Teachers
and God Bless Rocco and Woody and Subira
(Pets from Family Members)

Sometimes we also add our concerns for the day, our hopes for tomorrow, or anything else we need to let go of prior to bedtime.  These family traditions are special and I hope that one day my children will continue to use prayer at bedtime.  It's a pleasant way to end the day.  I need to do a better job of starting their day with prayer too.  There have been times when a test or event made one of my children anxious.  We would say a prayer in the car as we waited in the drop off line at school.  It helps to know they are not alone during the school day, and that God and His angels are always on watch.

Have a Wonderful Day and Remember You are Never Alone!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Day After Remembering 9/11

Yesterday, like for many people, was a day to remember the lives lost on 9/11 twelve years ago.  A few days prior to this, I had been feeling a little out of sorts.  It was a mixture of grouchy for no apparent reason sprinkled with apprehension and sadness.  I was aware that the anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, but had not yet connected it to what I was experiencing.  I figured I might just be PMSing again.  Yesterday, a Wednesday, started off cloudy and a little chilly.  I walked Sebastien to school under my pink umbrella as rain poured from the heavens.  The city was literally blanketed in tears of commemorative mourning. 

There were several children dropped off by their parents far from the building and without umbrellas or other protective rain gear.  I was annoyed and sad that these little ones had to get soaked on their way to class.  In reality, I'm sure they were fine.  Children won't melt in the rain.  I have anecdotal proof of this from times I have allowed my own children to romp in the rain.  However, on the anniversary of one of the worst days in our nation's history, I was a bit sensitive and overprotective of everyone..even if they were not my children.

I received a few visual reminders that touched my heart and allowed me to understand how anniversary dates can impact our lives.  I woke up, prepared for my day, made sure the children were ready for school, 
and  took my children to school the same way as every other day.  But when I dropped off Isabella at Middle School, I saw the flag flying at half-mast and had an immediate physical and emotional reaction.  My stomach felt like I had been punched in the gut and I had to catch my breath.  I had an increase in heart rate and began to feel a lump in my throat.  I wanted to breathe, but knew that as soon as I did it would be necessary to release the tears that threatened to consume me.

Reminders were on news channels, radio talk shows, and documentaries throughout the day.  I saw three men holding up the American flag as they paraded across the crosswalks at two major streets in our area:  Academy and Galley in Colorado Springs.  On the corner of one street they had posted a USA sign in Red/White/Blue lettering with 9/11 date and the number of lives lost that day.  The opposite side of the crosswalk housed a sign with large USA lettering in Red/White/Blue that leaned against the crossing light pole.  Those gentlemen were there ALL DAY! 

Many cars honked and waved to them to acknowledge their tribute.  I again got a lump in my throat and felt tears begin to course down my cheek.  I didn't care if anyone noticed, because I knew everyone would understand.  There were many strangers I passed on the road yesterday, yet we all had one thing in common.  We all knew what those men represented, why they felt a need to be there all day, and how much we appreciated those few moments of solidarity.  It was a tremendous opportunity to reflect on what had been lost that day and the things for which we can still give thanks.

9/11 was significant for me because it was shortly after that my husband and I decided to start our family.  That day was a strong reminder that you cannot put things off forever and that life is precious. Our daughter Isabella Soleil was born almost 10 months after that historic moment.  I don't think anyone will ever stop feeling emotional about 9/11.  Every year we will continue to think about where we were that day, how it impacted our future decisions, and what we hope to accomplish in our life as the result of those heroic individuals who ran to assist in the aftermath of the crisis.  Their legacy of inspiration will live on forever.

So as you go about this "day after" remembering 9/11, I hope that you too will gain strength and inspiration to meet the challenges that happen in your life.  Anniversaries are a good time to reflect, remember, and reinvent who you are and want to become.  And if you have to have a good cry to release all those emotions that you tend to bury throughout the year, then let it happen.  You're not alone.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Growing Up - To My Children and All the Children of My Family and Friends

Growing Up

You are growing up
faster than I am ready to accept.
Everyone told me
to enjoy every moment of your
cries, laughs, hugs, and milestones.
They were right!

Time went by so quickly.
So many challenges we have faced.
Now we don't always agree and
many times we argue our points.
We both want to be right.

There are still plenty of tears and laughter
yet to be experienced together.
I want you to understand
that no matter what happens
or where life takes you...

I will always care about you and love you.
I will always be your safe home base
with plenty of warm hugs.
I promise to be your place of return
when life becomes harsh and unforgiving.

I know you will be awesome.
I am proud of who you are becoming.
You still have challenges to face
as you continue to grow up.
Please realize I am here for you.