How to Make Someone Wildly Stupidly Happy

My friend just remarried after a very long time of being single. She met a guy she fell totally and completely in love with despite the fact that they live in two separate states. He had a health scare and the next day they went to get the marriage license and then GOT MARRIED.

She didn’t ask for everyone’s opinion or worry about the fact that she didn’t have a dress or any flowers. They didn’t send out invites. They’re in love. And they wanted to be together. So they went and pledged their love before God and the justice who married them. That was it.

And all I can think is how happy I am that she’s so happy.

Which puts me in the mode to celebrate. I’m planning a romance shower. A very small, very intimate evening of just the girlfriends so we can surround our friend with the love she deserves. We’re going to makeover her boudoir with gifts and goodies. We’re going to eat cake. We’re going to laugh and love on her.

And I know this…if you want to make someone wildly and stupidly happy, all you have to do is celebrate them.

Tell them what they mean to you. Show them with actions, not just words. Happiness is created and is born out of love. And that makes all of us wildly and stupidly happy…to know we’re loved.

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Why You Have to Minimize The Monsters in your Head

I just got off an hour and 46 minute phone call with a friend.  Yes, I said 1 hour and 46 minutes.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked on the phone that long to anyone…not my children, not my husband, not even my best friends.  But, this friend has some monsters in her head going on.  And they were BIG ones.

We had to put them to bed.

They were threatening to eat her alive.

They want her time and her life and her heart and her soul and her home and her relationships.

They want all of her.

They want to consume her, to render her unfunctional as a human being.

Continue reading “Why You Have to Minimize The Monsters in your Head”

34 Things I’ve Learned About Life

Chris Guillebeau, world traveller, famous blogger and the author of The Art of Non-Conformity recently celebrated his 34th birthday with a post entitled “34 Things I’ve Learned About Life”.  He challenged bloggers to put together our own list of 34 Things.  Read Chris’ list by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post.

Wisdom is seldom learned in school.  As Chris celebrates his 34th birthday, I’m into the 50th round of my journey.  I should have 16 additional items to add to this post over what Chris did, but I’m sticking to 34.

1.  Everyone has something to teach you.  I just got off the treadmill at the gym where I met a couple who’d been married 58 years.  He was walking on the treadmill in his jeans, plaid shirt, straw hat and suspenders.  Within minutes he shared his love of Westerns and how “Lenore had saved him from sowing his wild oats when he cut the apron springs from his Mom at 16”.   He spent 30 years working at one company and then another 15 driving a schoolbus and still has junk he wants to get rid of in his garage.    He and Lenore traveled for 9 years in their 5th wheel before he had to have 5 stints put in last year.  All that from less than 20 minutes on the treadmill.

2.  Life is about people and experiences.    For Valentines Day I bought 6 tickets to Lady Antebellum for my husband and I, my daughter and her husband and my son and a date.  My 21-year old  son invited his Grandma.  We spent the evening with 3 generations jammin’ to the tunes of Thompson Squared, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.    Watching everyone’s faces was priceless as Grandma rocked on.   People don’t need stuff, people need people.

3.  Traditions change.  My daughter Kelsey and her husband live in Texas and are no longer a regular part of our family get-togethers and celebrations.  I thought about blowing up a doll or having a life-size poster made of her, because my heart hurts when she’s not here.  I’ve resolved to stop crying (it’s been 5 years) and appreciate what I do have.  I wanted us to be the Walton’s.

4.  Evil exists.  I hate to think this is true and have spent the good majority of my life refuting it with my own quotes…people want to do the right thing, follow your heart, do good.  But, evil does exist.  So far Kansas City, Missouri has logged 33 murders in 2012 and it’s only 1/4 of the way into the year.

5.  Joy is simple.  Tag along with a 2-year old as he hunts for Easter eggs or notices the moon or follows a spider.  Today he (my grandson) saw ‘sunny clouds.’  Take note when the 300-pound man at Easter morning celebration service has tears streaming down his face because his Savior lives.

6.  If you think your life is bad, take an itty-bitty look around.  From my personal vantage point I see a child of 3 fighting cancer whose amazing parents were fostering 2 children and had to return them to the State when their 3-year old got sick, a friend whose son is in prison and a couple I know married half a century and she can’t remember his name because of Alzheimer’s.    Your life isn’t as bad as you think.

7.  Challenge nonsense.  Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers is charging for cheese you don’t get when you order a hamburger because they’ve bundled the cheese price in with the hamburger price.   It costs 40 cents.    I was outraged.   I called their Customer Feedback Line at 1-888-624-8140.  No resolution.  (If Wendy’s sells a million burgers a day and keeps 40 cents on a product that the customer doesn’t want but pays for, they earn $400,000.)  I went to Change.org and started a petition called WendysMilkstheCheese.  If 22-year old Molly Katchpole can start one and get Bank of America to repeal their $5 debit card charge, we all have the capability to effect change.    Start a movement.

8.  Babies need their Moms.  Raising children is a gift and being a Mom is one of the most important jobs you’ll ever have.    You can’t be a great Mom if you’re not there.  I rationalized this into my working girl mind the first 7 years I had kids.  It wasn’t until I was 32 with a $36,000 a year salary, a 9’x9′ cubicle, 2 weeks vacation and a life filled with chaos that I realized my babies aged 2, 4 and 7 deserved better.  They needed me.  They hadn’t ordered a screaming, irritated, rushed Mother who only had time for maintenance tasks like bathing and feeding at the McDonald’s drive-thru.     Without a plan, I fired my boss and ended up being rewarded by tripling my income and getting to eat mac and cheese with my kids for lunch.    My only regret…that it took me seven years to figure it out.

9.  Show up.  This is the number one requirement of true friendship.  I call this the Moving Day and Funerals rule.  The real friends you have (regardless of how many Facebook friends you have) are the ones who show up on moving day with their truck and blue jeans and who help you throw the dirt in at funerals.    Friendship requires face time.

10.  Marriage is sacred.    I’ve been married 30 years to my best friend, my soul mate and my Prince Charming.  He’s not perfect…he clips his toenails on my new couch and farts with the best of’em but he’s absolutely perfect for me.   Marriage is a covenant and a sacred institution.  No matter what the divorce rate is or how many people say marriage is outdated, I believe it’s the one true thing that every human being wants more than anything else.  Love is an amazing thing to watch grow and mature over time.  Celebrate marriage every chance you get.

11.   You don’t have to sort laundry into colors and whites.   I know.  Technology and fabrics have evolved.  I combine colors and whites and jeans and blankets and anything else that needs to be washed into my washer and throw in the detergent.  I wash everything on cold.  Quit wasting time sorting.  It’s kind of like the old adage of why Mom and Grandma and Great Grandma cut the end of the ham off.  When the 4th generation asked why you cut the end off, Mom and Grandma didn’t have the answer.   They just did what Great Grandma had done.  Great Grandma replied that she couldn’t afford a pan big enough for the ham when she was a young wife so she had to cut some off to make it fit.  So many of the things we do in life aren’t questioned simply because we’ve always done them this way.    Question things.

12.  It’s never to late to start.    I weighed 207.4 pounds on my 50th birthday and I’m only 5’6″ tall.    I was at least 7.4 pounds over the weight I said I’d never go over and at least 50 pounds over the height and weight charts.   (Why this magical 200 number was burned in my brain I’ll never know.)    I’d been battling my weight for 21 years, since I’d finished having kids always jokingly blaming it on the 50 pounds I’d gained 3 times while I’d been birthing my babies.    The fact is…I ate too much and moved too little.  I joined Weight Watchers and started walking on the treadmill 30 minutes a day.  5 months later I just weighed in at 184.0, 24 pounds lighter.    I feel amazing even though I still have 30 pounds to lose.  Starting was my biggest hurdle.

13.  Reading is essential to growth.  Reading is the reason I’m a writer.  I spent decades taking things in, so much so, that I had to start writing to clear what had accumulated in my brain.  Some of my favorite books include Timothy Ferris’ Four Hour Workweek, David Schwarz’ The Magic of Thinking Big and David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  My spiritual guidebook is the good ole’ Bible.

14.  Say e-nough.  Technology is good but there are times when you need to unplug, unhook and uncomplicate your life.  You know you’re addicted to the machines when you can’t get through the day without your phone or your anxiety level rises when you’re forced to turn it off.

15.   People will disappoint you.  I don’t share this one to be like Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live but they will.  My own Mother sued me and disowned me.  Humans are human.  They make mistakes, speak too soon and fall short.

16.    Never grow old.  I’m not talking about staying young or botox or anti-aging.  I’m talking about living.  Each day should include sleep, work, play and learning.   Read Richard Bolles’ 3 Boxes of Life.  You shouldn’t have to wait for retirement to travel, you don’t have to graduate before you can play and working 16 hour days doesn’t make you a hero.   Getting less than 7-8 hours sleep every night will shorten your life.  Society has compartmentalized life into learning (school for 16 years), working fo the next 30-40, then playing the last 10-20.   The old model of life is broken.  Many don’t make it to retirement (the average age of a widow is 56).  Doing work you love isn’t really work.  Learning should be lifelong if you want to continue growing (check out Masterpiece Living).    Do a little bit of all 3 every day (work, play, learn) and your life will be rich and full.  Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury to be had when everything else is done.

17.  Read Dr. Seuss’ Oh! The Places You’ll Go when you’re struggling.  We all have dark places and dark times in our life.   It’s not a children’s book even though Dr. Seuss is a children’s author.   This book will give you hope.

18.  Make your home your sanctuary.  Your home should be your one safe place in the world.  It’s a place to relax, to make love, and to make amends.   It’s where you refuel your body, refurbish your spirit and launch your big dreams.   It should reflect  you.  Fill it with things you love…that make you smile when you look at them.  Light the candles.   Paint the walls.   Cuddle under cozy blankets.  Hang a chandalier.  Forget being practical.  Let your home be you.

19.  Focus on the things you like about your body.  Everyone has something they don’t like.   I weigh too much.  My hands have age spots.  My neck looks like a turkey.  My legs are dry and prickly.  My feet itch.   But, the things I do like is longer.    I have a great smile.  My muscle tone is good.  I look like I weigh 30 pounds less than I actually do.    My skin is clear.    I don’t have stretch marks despite having 3 kids and gaining 150 pounds.    My body is strong and my mind is quick.  Be grateful for the good.

20.  Tell people how much you love them.  You may not get a second chance.  My friend’s Dad died  while he was sitting in the recliner watching Monday night football and reading the Wall Street journal.  Dinner that night had seemed normal for him and his wife.  2 hours later he was gone.

21.  Stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.   If you say nothing, you might as well be doing the ______________ (fill-in-the-blank…bullying, goading, teasing, hurting, hitting, conniving, backstabbing) yourself.

22.  Argue in person.  If at all possible, never fight over the phone or by email or text.  Over 55% of all communication is non-verbal…how you say it, not what you say.   And remember the phrase ‘keep calm and carry on.”  Most things won’t matter in a week or a month or a year.

23.   Your self-worth should not equal your net worth.  Money does not make you valuable.   Money is simply an exchange.

24.  Confidence is the inner faith that casts an outer glow.  Confidence is one of those “it” factor intangibles.  You know it when you see it but describing it is sometimes difficult.  A confident woman knows what she wants and makes the decision to go after it.  Confidence is sexy. 

25.  Expect miracles.  Miracles surround us but we rarely look up.  Albert Einstein said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

26.  Take care of details, or they’ll take care of you.  When a bill arrives, pay it.  When you say you’ll do something, do it.  When the grass needs mowed, mow it.  Follow through.

27.  Never label anyone.  I have ADHD.  Rampant ADHD.  I was lucky.  When I was in school they didn’t medicate children and I was simply seen as an energetic and enthusiastic girl.   I even received the coveted Spirit Award from the high school pep club.   It wasn’t until I got much older (perhaps around 40) that I realized how bad my ADHD was and how many decisions it had affected in my life negatively.    I am NOT my ADHD and I consider having it one of my life’s greatest gifts.    Not knowing I had it saved me from being defined by it.

28.  Creativity grows the more you use it.    Just like your muscles get longer and leaner and stronger the more they’re used, your brain reacts in much the same way.    I always thought of myself as a singer.  I could sing.  I loved singing.  I believed that was the extent of my creative abilities.  Then I got older and started writing.  The more I wrote the better I got.  Now, I create art  or perhaps it could be better said that I produce art.  I’m not actually the artist but I see the vision and have others who help me create what I see in my head.   The more I do, the more that seems to flow out of me.

29.  Character is amplified during tragedy or failure.  How you act during the bad times is the truest reflection of your character, NOT how you handle success.  I had over 25 amazing years of success as an adult, before my one biggest failure that I almost let define me.  My husband Dennis and I lost nearly everything we owned, downsized our home 4 times and racked up debt of over $2.4 million.     Who I was in character and what I valued during this time was much more telling of who I was on the inside than my previous 25 years had.

30.  Choose adoption, not abortion.   Life begins at conception.  You can debate it, call it a fetus, protest, look the other way or intellectualize the abortion debate to your heart’s content but the fact is, we are killing babies when we choose abortion.  We women do have a choice.   The choice…say yes or no to sex.  When we decide to be sexually active, we are making the choice to choose life.    If you don’t want babies, don’t have unprotected sex.

31.  Say Yes!    Participate in life whenever possible.   The biggest part of saying yes is also knowing when to say no.  Say no to things and people that take you farther away from your dreams.  Say no when you’re too tired.  Say no when you immediately feel uncomfortable.  Trust your gut.

32.  Everyone needs at least one good friend.

33.  Music is an instant mood booster.    Play it.  My favorites are Adele, Cheryl Lyn (from the 60’s), Katy Perry and oldies like Frank Sinatra and retro from the 70’s.

34.  Every day is a do-over.  At the end of the day, you’re done.  You can put the “Today is Over” sign up on your bedroom door and look forward to a fresh start the next day.  The only requirement to make a change is action.  And that’s totally and completely all up to you.

***

Chris Guillebeau is the author of The Art of Non-Conformity.  You can link to his site to read his own prolific 34 Things simply by clicking here.  http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/34-things/?awt_l=LrZXF&awt_m=J6aCm5hVhsnt7W

How to Really Touch Someone’s Life

“The workings of the human heart are the profoundest mystery of the universe. One moment they make us despair of our kind, and the next we see in them the reflection of the divine image.”
-Charles W. Chesnutt

This week has been a week of reflection for me. As you know from one of my earlier posts, my best friend Terri’s father-in-law died on Monday night. The service to honor his life isn’t until Saturday.

I’ve written the funeral program.

We’ve made all the copies.

The food has been ordered for the dinner after the service.

The music that’s being played during the Visitation is being downloaded and burnt onto CD as we speak.

I’ve hugged his grieving wife.

I’ve prayed for comfort for the family.

And still, I can’t figure out why this one’s hitting me so hard. This one should be like a friend-of-a-friend, not a family member.

Is it because my Dad’s been gone for a little over two years and I miss him dearly? Is it because as I watch this generation go to their final resing place I know that I’m next?

All this reflecting has made me more than a wee bit sentimental. I find myself tearing up at weird times and in weird places. The UPS Store, for instance.

This week has been a grand opportunity for me to let Terri know how much she means to me. She’s the friend I sat next to in 9th grade Social Studies class and ate pizza and pumpkin pie with at overnights at her house. The one who never took her make-up off but never got a zit. She’s the one who shows up when I’m in a bind no matter what’s she’s got going or how inconvenient it is for her.

She’s the one who holds my heart.

She’s been touching my life for the last 35 years. We’ve had 6 babies collectively, married 2 amazing guys, each run our own businesses, leaned on each other through numerous ‘child’ crises, celebrated at our children’s weddings and now we’re watching each other’s grandchildren grow up. We’ve fallen apart and gotten back up, together.

Time has been our friend. Terri has been the continuous thread of my life. She shows up. She listens. She never judges. And she always tells me the truth, even when I would rather not hear it.

That is how you really touch someone’s life. You show up. You listen. You tell the truth and you leave the judging for God.

And it’s not done through an email or on facebook. Touching someone’s life for real takes being there, in person. For the good times and the bad. At weddings, but as Rudy Guilliani wrote in his book “Leadership”, especially at funerals.

What Will Your Story Be?


I just finished having lunch with my friends Terri and Mike and Mike’s Mother Carolyn. Yesterday they said a permanent good-bye to Mike’s Dad Bill. I’m writing the funeral program and over lunch we talked about Bill’s life and his loves.

Here’s a small tidbit from my initial musings: Time is a treasure…honoring the life of William Diehl

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

To honor your commitments is to honor God.

Bill loved his wife, his family, his church and his country. He celebrated a lifelong marriage of 56 years with his wife Carolyn. He was father to 3…Vicky, Mike and David, grandfather to 6 and great-grandfather to 6 more. He was the kindest, gentlest man you could ever meet. He loved woodworking, square dancing and playing games.

A steak and potatoes kind of man, he was no frills and no fuss. He served in the US Air Force for four years during the Korean War and spent XX years working as a _____________ at ________________.

Bill Diehl was a man of honor. His legacy stands on a foundation of God and family.

I still have a few blanks to fill in as you can see.

As I sit and reflect on Bill’s life after our lunch conversation, I find myself asking…what will your legacy be and who will write it?

Will it be personal and treasured, or will it be taken from a box of copy that can be duplicated 1,000 times at the funeral home.

Will it be you?

Because the truth is, no matter what the words say after you’re gone, you’re writing your own legacy right now. This very minute. And unlike Bill’s whose blanks are there because I simply didn’t know the answers, your blanks are there for you to fill in. You’re writing the story. Your story.

Will it matter that you were here? Did you live every day for comfort and security or did you stick your neck out on a few big things that might somehow change the world.

Did you take time for the people who really matter to you? Or were you simply too busy?

When you’re gone, who will care? What dent in the universe did the hyphen of your life make.

These are big questions. Only you know the answers. It’s your story. Write it well.

How To Heal a Hurting Heart

I’m usually obnoxiously open about what I’m writing about. But today I’m going to be a bit secretive. My heart is hurting. It concerns one of my kids. I can’t talk about it yet. I probably will never talk about it on this blog.

We all have things in our life that hurt. If you’ve hit 50, you’ve undoubtedly dealt with a few piercing life issues. As I write this I have friends who are dealing with a son in prison, a friend whose husband has major life-threatening health issues, church friends whose 3 year old daughter just had brain surgery, and a newly separated friend who tried to commit suicide.

Personally, I’ve been sued by my own Mother, endured decades of emotional abuse and lost everything I’d ever worked for in my own financial failure. These are the things that matter. The things that strike fear and worry in our brow. These are the things that hurt our hearts.

Not what kind of phone do I have. What kind of car do I drive. How much money do I have in the bank. None of these things can solve the gut-wrenching topics I wrote about above.

So how do you heal a hurting heart? Where do you go when all you want to do is melt into a little bitty pile on the floor and wait for someone…anyone, to pick you up?

#1: First, you cry. You open up your heart and your soul to the raw emotion that tells you something is really wrong.

#2: Second, you lament. You open up to friends and your closest family and tell your story over and over and over again until the tears are all dried up. You assess every angle of what happened.

#3: Third, you ask this question…”do I have any control over this”. If yes, get moving and take action. If no, simply move on to #4 and #5.

#4: Fourth, you rest. Emotional turmoil sucks the life right out of your very being. You need energy to prepare for the fight.

#5: Lastly, you pray. God’s in charge. He knows what you need and he knows when you need it. (I just realized I actually got the order all wrong. Pray right after crying.)

My heart’s been broken pretty regularly over the past few years. Sadly, I feel like I’ve gotten used to torment and sadness. It goes against every mode of my being. I’m a joy-giver, an encourager. I don’t like or want sadness and pain to prevail in my life. So I’m going to fight it with every breath of my being. I’m going to wrangle this hurt with my whole heart and soul until it gives birth to a new day.

If your heart is hurting too, never give up hope. You’re not alone. A new day is on it’s way.

What I Learned From Bob

I was having lunch with an old friend today from the first advertising agency I ever worked at over 25 years ago.

Rose and I were catching, up, barely taking breaths between our words and making the waitress incessantly nervous as she waited on us to place our orders. We couldn’t stop talking long enough to decide whether to have the 6 oz. Sirloin or the Salmon Salad. Between the bread and the drink delivery, Rose said “can you believe Bob died?”

My heart skipped a beat.

Bob was one of my old consulting buddies. Our last projects together had been strained as I had little tolerance for client mumbo jumbo or for Bob’s persnickety ways. Bob was about 14 years older than me which made him a cross between a nice uncle, a demanding Dad and an annoying brother. We’d billed thousands of dollars a month together as we strategized with heating and cooling companies, roofers, an oil company and retirement communities.

Bob was always early. I was always…right on time. Bob always had to rehearse. I preferred winging it. Our style differences didn’t matter much in the beginning but as I began to think about moving on, Bob’s preferences became exasperating.

Bob’s death made me gasp. Thinking of the planet without him made me sad. He was such a steady force that I guess I thought he’d be around forever. He’s not. After a trip to the hospital on a Tuesday night where the doctors declared him fit and fine, he died the next morning with his wife in the next room making coffee. I’m not sure of what killed Bob. I don’t really know if it matters.

Everyone has something to teach us. No matter how old, how young or how opposite of us someone is…there’s always something to learn.

Here’s what I learned from Bob:

• Preparation is essential to success…have a plan and then go work it
• Always have a clean car even if you’re the only one who ever rides in it
• Carry cash
• Ask lots of questions
• Integrity, trust and character are essential elements of good relationships
• Always make copies
• Be a mentor whenever you can

Bob was a great man. He’ll be missed. He was only 64 years old and left a wife and a daughter who love him. I got the lessons Bob, even if you didn’t think I was listening.