Written April 24, 2018
Last night I was thinking about expectations. Those that we put on ourselves, on other people and expectations about life in general. Often we have such a preconceived notion of what is supposed to happen, or what a person is supposed to do, that when the expectation isn’t met it ultimately causes disappointment.
When that happens to me I often sit back and try to evaluate exactly what my expectations were and why they weren’t met. The more I did that, the more I came to realize that setting expectations based on how I would handle a situation, often set me up for failure. Expecting others to deliver in exactly the same way I would was most likely unreasonable. We are different people that handle situations in different ways and the quickest way to set myself up for disappointment was to have an expectation that the person or situation deliver in the exact same way that I would.
Some people overachieve because that is their nature. Others deliver but in their own time and way. Some are just naturally born underachievers. I find if you take time to truly get to know the person and set expectations commensurate with their style, then disappointment becomes far more rare.
Equally important is the expectations we place on ourselves. I can’t tell you how often over the years I have applied unneeded pressure to myself by setting expectations that were just not deliverable. When I didn’t meet them, it often created self doubt and angst that I learned over the years was so unnecessary. We are not machines, we are humans with ever changing emotions and abilities and it is equally important to understand our limitations and set expectations for ourselves accordingly.
Sometimes, I find it helpful to create a prioritization list, whether mental or on paper. It contains all the things I expect to accomplish but buckets them in groups of importance. When I finish the ones that are the most important, I move on to the others and I am left with a feeling of satisfaction that the list is getting smaller rather than the pressure of trying to accomplish everything at once.
How we set and deliver expectations is truly a product of who we are. How we learn to adapt and alter those expectations is a product of the person we want to be. Dealing with the outside world takes more effort than it has in the past. So why place ourselves in a position of potential failure by setting unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others. I don’t believe in expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Setting an expectation that is deliverable and then delivering on it is far more satisfying.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.
Written April 25, 2018
Here we find ourselves in the middle of the week again and what a crazy week it has been so far. Busy, busy, busy! Have you ever found yourself looking at your calendar for the day and every minute of it is planned out? Work obligations, taking care of family, shopping, errands, cooking, cleaning, etc. If you had to add one more thing you just don’t know where you would put it. Isn’t that most days?
If you were to pull out that schedule and closely scrutinize it, in that myriad of tasks that you need to get done between the time you get up and the time you go to bed, would anywhere on that list contain a space for “me time”?
It is amazing that the last thing that makes any list is a block of time that belongs just to us, for our own personal use, in any way we like. A few moments in the day where we can shut out the outside world and forget about the stress of tasks that need to be accomplished. It is a block of time where we allow ourselves to be selfish with those moments and use them to recharge, regroup and focus on nothing else but ourselves. What we do with it is totally up to us. Use it to take a walk alone, read a part of your favorite book, meditate, pray, write or just sit and be alone with your thoughts.
Running this program, a full time job, family and personal obligations make me one of the biggest culprits of avoiding “me time”. However, I have learned some techniques that I use that allow me to snag that time that I need to regroup and recharge. I block out time on my calendar and schedule all work and personal obligations around it. I take 15 minutes out of my day and spend time with my plants around the pool area, something that is relaxing that I enjoy. I work on a needlepoint project that centers me and gives me time to be with my thoughts while soothing away the care of the day. The important thing is whatever I choose, it’s mine and for that moment of the day I don’t belong to anyone else.
We strive to take care of everyone else in our lives, yet we seem to always find it difficult to find the time to nurture and take care of ourselves. If we aren’t “fully charged” how in the world can we expect ourselves to be able to lend a hand to recharge others? If you have gone day after day making sure that the world is taken care of, yet haven’t taken them moment to do the same for yourself, please make it a priority to carve out just 5 minutes today for you. Then expand it to 10 and 20 and eventually get all the way to an hour. You will find the energy it affords you to focus on others will be nothing short of miraculous!
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today!
Written April 26, 2018
Have you ever had those people in your life, whether work, social or personal, that no matter how hard you try to please them they are just down right mean? You work as hard as you can to accommodate, adjust and make the situation better, yet everything you try just doesn’t seem to work. At the end of the day they are just mean by nature.
There is a point in the relationship where mean actually becomes bullying and if you have experienced it you know that it can be down right frustrating when you are doing everything you can to turn the relationship around. Over the years I have discovered that those very people are people that just aren’t used to being talked back to. I learned that the more we take from them the more they dish it out and are always ready and willing to heap it on you as long as you allow it to happen.
Many years ago I had a client when I lived out west that made my life miserable. I was in the client service area of my company and we were taught that the client is always right and you accommodate them no matter what. I was young and naive at the time and in my first client management role. I would go into meetings and the client would yell and scream. If he got mad enough he would pick up a chair and throw it across the room. I could never do anything right no matter how hard I tried and he was always ready and willing to let me know it.
One day my phone rang and I picked it up and he was on the other end. Before I could get a word out, he told me that he had a member on the other line and he was going to bring the member on with us and rip me apart in front of him. Before I could say anything, he did just that and proceeded to berate me for 15 minutes with the member on the line. When I hung up the phone I sat there in amazement, shaking and made a decision that would change how I dealt with mean people for the rest of my life.
I picked up the phone and called him back. He answered and I said, “now let me speak”. I told him that I go out of my way to ensure that he and his account are taken care of. I work day and night to ensure that we delivered the service that they expected and that he would not find anyone more dedicated. I told him that he would never speak to me like that again (his call was actually laced with expletives that I couldn’t even repeat here) and if he did I would ask to be removed from his account, he could deal with someone new, and I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was treating me. I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore.
That moment completely changed our relationship. He no longer berated me, he didn’t yell in meetings, he even wound up inviting me over to his house for dinner with his family. Once he knew that I was no longer going to take it, it wasnt “fun” for him anymore.
We all have people like that in our lives. The question is whether or not we allow them to sap our energy and accommodate them to the point that we give them that power over us? Or, do we take our power back and provide an ultimatum that gives them an opportunity to change, or at least show us there is no hope, at which point we have to decide if they really deserve to be in our lives. When we work every day to to put good out into world, we deserve good back and that my friends is a reason to smile.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.
Written April 27, 2018
Last night I was doing my “Thankful Thursday” where I pick something that I am thankful for and focus on it. This time it was specifically about my parents, grandmother and brother. I would imagine that any parent has their children, schools them in the way of life, remains there for support throughout their life and hope that they have done their best to set them on a path to being the best that they can be. Well, most parents, we know some children that aren’t that fortunate.
My parents and grandmother both worked when we were children. They had to so they could survive and provide. I can’t count the times they went without so that my brother and I could have. My mom made her clothes so that my brother and I could have store bought ones. My dad labored at the country road department. My grandmother worked in the boy’s school warehouse and helped when she could. All of this to ensure that my brother and I had the kind of childhood that my parents wanted for us.
We were taught right from wrong early on. We lived in the south so we always…always… used “yes mam and yes sir” as a reply. We were allowed to participate in school and civic activities as much as we wanted. We were at church Wednesday night, Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Through it all we were allowed to be who we were, and were never made to be what we weren’t.
The best gift our parents and grandmother gave us though was our compassion for others and the need and desire to give back. They instilled in us a sense of selflessness that would carry through our entire lives. Little did they know that they set us both on a path to amazing things just by being the parents and grandparent they were supposed to be.
While I went on to found Bring Smiles to Seniors, through his Plein Air Painting my brother has now founded a program that works with military veterans with PTSD. He is working to get commercial support for his program to help these men and women who have fought for our freedom deal with their PTSD through painting. I continue my work to ensure that even more seniors continue to smile every day.
As children, there are many paths we can take. Some great, some not so good. When you are fortunate enough to have the love and support of a family like ours, taking the right path is easy. Sometimes that is all children need. To be there, provide the moral guidance, let them be who they are and give them the tools and foundations to build the life you hope for them. I am grateful for and thank mom (Alice), dad (Kenneth) and Grandma Lola for making that path for us as my brother and both work to leave the world a little better off than we found it.
Could your child or grandchild be looking to do the same? Sometimes it takes just that one thing to set them on the right path. I have seen it over and over again in this program. Grandparents and parents have reconnected working on cards together, or facilitating school programs. I have seen the work done to create a path and the results you have shared with me have been amazing. That my friends is what #connectingthecircleoflife is all about.
With that, have a wonderful weekend, see you on Monday and don’t forget to be the reason someone smiles today.
Written April 30, 2018
For those of us in Florida the spring weather continued to be unseasonably cool with no humidity and we are enjoying that for as long as it will last, which unfortunately won’t be much longer. Hope you got to spend time with friends or family and most importantly a little time with yourself.
I was talking with my friend Linda over the weekend and we got on the subject of doing things. How many times do we say we are going to do something and we just never get around to doing it? We talk about it, incessantly sometimes, yet we never really make the commitment to make it happen and before you know it days, months and even years go by.
It can be just about anything. We are going to lose a few pounds, start an exercise routine, take up a hobby, garden more, use electronics less, and the list goes on. When we look back, it is easy to see countless hours spent saying “I’m going to” rather than many times where we said “I did”. Why is that?
My philosophy is that it’s much easier to talk about it rather than do it. As annoying as that is to not only ourselves but those around us, it seems that saying it becomes the norm rather than doing it. But what happens when we actually do make the commitment and follow through?
Several years ago, I started walking with Linda in the mornings. She lives in the same development as I do. I had several reasons for wanting to do this. I needed to lose some weight, I needed to find a way to prepare for a stressful day at work and I really had a desire to run. But how in the world was I going to start running at 54? I made the commitment to walk. Once I got comfortable with that I started adding intermittent jogging and running. I got an app that trained you for a 5k by building up your running each day. I started this in August and in February of 2017 I ran my first 5k race. You see, I had had enough of saying “I’m going to” and the feeling of running past my family and friends on that road was one of the best feelings of my life.
No one in the world has the power to make us commit to doing something except ourselves. In reality, if we spent as much time actually doing as we did talking about it, we would have achieved success a long time ago. But to do that it takes true commitment. We have to believe in ourselves, believe in what we want to do and accomplish and never give self doubt a chance to change our course.
Is there something you have been wanting to do for a long time? Think about doing it today. Start slow, we don’t need to take on the world all at once. Then, when you least expect it you too will be crossing the finish like and you will have made your life just a little more special, with memories that you created just for you, that no one can ever take away.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.
Written May 1, 2018
Wishing you a happy day every morning got me to thinking about happiness. Now, unfortunately I can’t define happiness for you because it can be different things to different people. However, the dictionary will tell you that happiness is defined as “the state of being happy”. Well that’s a big help. Generally, it is just a mental or emotional state of well-being that is characterized by pleasant emotions. So much for the text book definitions, but when you get right down to it, what is it really?
Many people go through their lives trying to capture a perpetual state of happiness. You often hear, “all I want is to be happy”, followed by an expectation that happiness is supposed to rain down upon them 24 hours a day. That expectation itself could be the very reason that they never achieve even a brief state of happiness. They have placed so much pressure on themselves in their fight to achieve happiness that the pressure prevents the very thing they are searching for.
The reality is that 24 hour happiness isn’t realistic when we have to deal with what life throws out to us every day. However, the more we find things that put us in those state’s of well-being that cause pleasant emotions, the more we can move the unpleasant emotions to the back seat. Sometimes it is as simple as sitting down and making a list of all the things that truly make you happy and then focusing on doing more of those things. Once you have filled your life with happy pleasant things, there isn’t as much room for unhappiness to come in. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Putting it into play in real life takes work, but we are rewarded with a greater sense of happiness for having done it.
If you ask me what makes me happy in my life I could easily rattle off my list to you. I’m happiest when:
*I’m with my family savoring every moment of life with them
*I’m trying a new restaurant with friends and sitting around the table having good stimulating conversation
*I’m traveling around the world learning about new cultures and new history
*I’m sitting at a table playing Mah Jongg with friends and enjoying all the camaraderie that comes with that.
*I’m taking care of and watering my plants around the pool and watching all the new sprouts coming up in the spring.
*Prepping cards for delivery to senior communities that I know are going to result in many, many smiles.
…and the list goes on.
Focusing on what makes us happy no matter what it is, and less on what doesn’t, automatically makes us happier people. It’s often not about what we want, but taking the time to enjoy what we already have. Today, I hope you make your list and find the things that rise to the top. Do them more and put yourself on that journey to a happier you. There is always room for more happiness and it’s often contagious, an extra side benefit that we could all use.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles…….and find your happy place.
Apologies in advance, but for today only you will see multiple emails in your inbox. We are in the process of transferring over the previous inspirational posts from our old blog so they will all be in one place. Going forward you will receive only the current daily posts.
Yesterday, I was thinking about how people talk to each other. Sometimes, I like to just observe conversations between people that I happen to be a part of and take in what is being said. This can be in work or social environments and the conversations I hear are often fascinating. It is an opportunity to learn new things, observe human behavior and see what drives people to say the things they sometimes say. Once in a while what I hear isn’t all that pleasant. That got me to thinking.
When we are taking the opportunity to say what is ever in our head, sometimes unfiltered, are we really taking the time to understand that the words we may be uttering may have unintended consequences on the person on the receiving end? Things we say that may make us feel better because we are “getting it off our chest” may very well be having a profound effect on the receiving person without us even realizing it. This is especially important for consideration when speaking to younger generations who are still learning the art of conversation and deriving meaning from what they are hearing. Here is an example.
When I was in high school I was in speech and debate. I decided that I wanted to enter the American Legion Oratorical contest. I spent hours with my grandmother practicing my speech over and over. There were two parts to the contest. I had to have a memorized speech (the hardest for me) and then they would draw a topic to also give an off the cuff extemporaneous speech on that topic. I loved public speaking. I went on to win the local, district and regional contests. Then came the state competition. I practiced harder than I ever had and wound up placing second in the state.
They had a lunch for all the attendees after the competition and as we were sitting there waiting for our food we were approached by our local chapter president. I assumed he was coming up to congratulate me for placing second and representing our town well. Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite. I remember his words like they were yesterday. He said, “We were all really counting on you. It is too bad you let us all down”. I still get chills when I remember that moment. You see, I can remember that moment like it is happening today. But I can’t remember any other moment through all my other competitions where people came up and congratulated me, even though there were many. Words matter.
How often is it that words come out of our mouth before our brain realizes what we had just said? Once they are uttered, we can’t take them back. Although they may often be taken out of context from what we really meant, once they have been said what ever impact they are going to have is already done.
While I believe we all have a responsibility to share, enlighten, teach and help people grow, we also have a responsibility to be caring, compassionate, loving and kind. Making others feel worse so that we can feel better serves no purpose in the long run and the impact we may be creating may be just the opposite of what we intend. In the end, it is what we say and how we say it. In the end, words matter.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today!
Yesterday, when I was visiting my mom over the weekend, I got to go to church with her and hear the new pastor’s sermon. This particular day it was about love and whether we actually put the work into making love meaningful or if it just a word that we routinely use. This got me thinking.
We use the word love often throughout our day. There are many things that we can say that we love: Children, family, food, travel and a myriad of other things. But when the words “I Love You” come across our lips, do we really mean what we say? It is very easy to say the words. Anyone can say them. However, putting the work into what is required to make those words meaningful is the key to making them real.
Generally, it is pretty easy to tell when someone is saying “I love you” just because it is what they feel they are supposed to do. It’s a requirement of a relationship. It’s a response to something that has been said. It is even a way to get themselves out of a situation that should have never happened in the first place. But to truly believe that the words are real requires actions that go far beyond the mere utterance of the words.
Loving involves caring, compassion, understanding, compromise and dedication. It is almost as if you never have to utter the words for someone to understand that the love is real. However, saying the words provides a nice validation that what we think is real is backed up by something that we are able actually to acknowledge by saying it.
One of the greatest gifts of life is the ability to love and even more so the ability to be loved. If we are used to bad relationships, it isn’t that easy once you find true love to just let that love in. You have to respect it, believe it and then let it into your heart. When we are able to do that, it is a beautiful thing. When we are able to say I love you and the person on the receiving end has no doubt because of our actions, that is the most beautiful thing of all.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
I have had the pleasure of spending this weekend with my mom and dad to celebrate Mother’s Day a little early since I will be out of town next weekend. I got to spend quality time with them that brought a reminder to light that also showed itself a couple weeks ago.
When we were preparing for our trip to North Carolina for my dad’s 80th birthday with all the family, my mom called and asked me if I had my grandmother’s baked bean recipe as she could not find hers. I searched, but it appeared that I did not have it as well. Knowing that we lost grandma a couple of years ago, I suddenly realized that if neither of us could find it, it was lost forever as she was no longer there for us to ask.
This weekend, mom, dad and I got into a similar conversation and were talking about the fact that as we are now older, many of the people that we would like to ask things about regarding our family are now gone. With them goes the memories and a lot of the family history that we could no longer find. In many cases, they don’t even have to be gone. They could be still alive and suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or other ailments that rob them of their memories.
While the subject may not be very uplifting, the beautiful part is that for those that are lucky enough to have family members still around to answer our questions, there is still the opportunity to learn what we want to know. The question is whether or not we take the time to actually sit down with them and ask?
Think about some of your recent family visits. Are they spent exchanging the normal pleasantries and then you just do what you need to do to get through it so you can move on and go on about your own life. Or, do you take the time to actually sit down and have a conversation and learn all there is to know about them, your history and their lives before you no longer have the opportunity to do that. In doing that yesterday, I learned things I never even knew, which was wonderful.
For many, things have happened within their family circles that have estranged them from the ones that they were once close to. Often, there is good reason why those chasm’s have been created. However, at some point we have to ask ourselves if it is worth the risk of waiting and taking the chance that they will no longer be there to repair what we might not think repairable. We can only do that when it is right for us and we know it in our heart. But sometimes changes in circumstances, being out of bad situations and time allow healing that gives us the strength to make that move before we no longer have the opportunity.
Do you have a little family history that you want you want to know? It is often only a phone call or a visit away. Make the effort to have the conversation and remember to ask. Sometimes you will learn things that you never even knew that can be used to enrich your own lives. I am thankful that I still have that opportunity and plan to ask all the questions I can, while I can.
Have a great Sunday and remember to be the reason someone smiles.