Monday, December 27, 2010

Passion and Purpose

I've been pondering on what my passion and purpose were for most of my life.  I have never figured out what I want to be when I grow up.  I am passionate about clothes, decorating, beautiful things.  But I have never been in a position to use that passion to make a living and I have never had enough money to own many of them.

 For many years I thought that my sole (soul) purpose for existing was to give birth to my daughter and that she would grow up to be great and famous.  That I was just the instrument for her to come into being almost like the mother Mary and her son Jesus.  Sometimes I still feel that way.

Lately I have been thinking and focusing more on  how I can find my purpose and meaning through my writing.  I want to touch many lives in ways that can change them.  There have been so many books and articles that have changed my life and I hope that just one blog or eventually a book of mine can do the same for someone else.

I have found that I enjoy writing.  And I think I'm pretty good at it.  I always thought that my daughter was the writer.  She is the one with the journalism degree.  She is the one who is published.  She is the one who wrote articles for the newspaper and started a book.  She has written in journals since her early teens.  She has taken classes and been certified.  I haven't done any of that and at age 56 didn't even know I could.  I didn't know where to start even.

Thanks to Dr Pat for having us makeover winners start blogs as it made me a lot more self-confident and also made me realize I do have a voice and something to say.  My throat chakra is singing!  And as I write more and more I find myself more passionate about my voice.  That's joylicious!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Memories~

During this holiday season it's hard not to get mired down in the festivities of parties, gift giving, and dinners and remember the real reason for the holiday.  The birth of the baby Jesus.  A rebirth of the new year to come.  Hope and excitement for new experiences.

I have many memories associated with different Christmases that conjure up pictures in my mind of seasons past.  One of the hardest for me this year was wrapping presents without the "help" of my kitty Charlie.  Even though I have two other cats they could have cared less what I was doing in the spare bedroom!  The present wrapping and decorating of the tree always held such fascination for Charlie.  He would chase after the ribbon and chew it to pieces.  He would play hide and seek in the tissue paper ripping it to shreds as he would wiggle his rear end and jump into a pile of it as it slid across the floor.  I would find bows under the couch six months after the holiday.

One year I found a cashmere sweater completely unwrapped.  Twice.  I finally had to hide it because, for some reason, the attraction to the smell and feel of that sweater was just too much for him to resist.  And don't get me started on the ornaments and tree climbing.  I have almost all hand blown glass ornaments and he would decide to play what I would call his "kitty in the jungle" game where he would hide in the bushes, or in this case the Christmas tree, and jump out at whoever walked by.   Not good when everything around him was so breakable!

I also have wonderful memories of my stepmother and how she worked so hard each year for every one of her children and grandchildren to have a wonderful holiday experience.  She set the dinner table with her best china and silverware.  When we were younger, and there were less of us, she and my father would buy each one of us a special Christmas ornament and set it on our dinner plates waiting for us to arrive.  There was always a beautiful center piece, pretty napkins, and candles lit.  We would come into the dining room and look at her gorgeous handiwork and everyone would be filled with admiration and glee.  And the delicious dinner that was always the same no matter how much her and dad might want something different.  Ham, Shirley Shaw potatoes, green bean casserole and pistachio salad.  Yum...can't wait!  We still have almost the identical meal because no one ever gets tired of it.

I have memories of laughter at work.  One year all of us in the office had a decorating contest with the press operators.  We covered every window with lights.  Decorated a Christmas tree. Hung ornaments and decorations throughout the pressroom office.  I remember one of my co-workers and I turning off the overhead lights and sitting by the glow of all the multi-colored lights working and laughing.  This year there are no presents, no laughter, no sharing.  Almost no lights other than on my desk and the tree looks bedraggled and sad.  It's hard when time and circumstances change!

And most of all, I have memories of my daughter on Christmas morning.  Waiting anxiously for her to get up.  No early riser my sleepy headed little girl!  I would finally have to go into the bedroom and wake her up so that we would have time to open presents and eat breakfast before we had to leave for family functions.  I always thought it was so funny that when I was small my sisters, brother and I would be up at the crack of dawn wanting to run into the living room and see what Santa brought us and open presents.  My mom..er I mean Santa..would put our stockings on the end of our beds so that we would have something to open and look at and candy to eat and, hopefully, allow her (and dad when he lived with us) to sleep in to a somewhat reasonable hour.

I'm sure everyone has their holiday traditions and memories.  Good and bad.  Happy and sad.  I'm trying to focus on the good ones this year.  I keep feeling myself trying to slip back into old ways and sadness for what has gone by.  But I know the future is so bright and shiny that it can only be a joylicious holiday!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Affirmation

This is from my fabulous friend Kathy, aka KD, one of the Dr. Pat Holistic Makeover winners.  I wanted to share it with you!  ~Kat

"Thought I'd share an affirmation from my mom's Swami. A friend of mine recently died and it was read at a Big Chill type of gathering that we had. He used to meditate upon it every day. He had severe rheumatoid arthritis and it helped him survive many years after he had contemplated checking out due to the pain. Even though I like it, it talks about negative stuff which in a way I think contributes to it sticking around in consciousness...but nevertheless much of it is powerful and uplifing. - KD"

Daily Affirmation

 
From now on I shall consciously control the emotional force which lies hidden deep within me.

I shall not allow the thought of sickness, failure or any other negative mental state to rule.

I shall reject all hampering and harmful suggestions of other people.

I am strong, courageous, and competent.

My memory and will power are increasing day by day.

I face this day with faith in the Infinite Mind in me, faith in Myself, faith in the Law of the Mind.

This period of silent meditation, about the truth of my real self, will keep me poised and serene during this day no matter what happens in my outer world.

I am greater than any outside event, stronger than any situation, master of any circumstance.

I will not be dejected; I have immeasurable strength and power within. 

There is a glorious future awaiting me. 

I shall face all difficulty with a smile. 

Pain is the real eye opener and guide. 

I shall never be despondent; ever I will laugh, jump, or smile.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Forgiveness

How do you forgive someone who has "done you wrong"?  I've been thinking about that lately.  From what you thought was a slight of someone you thought was a friend to a virus unleashed on your computer that cost money, time, and is an inconvenience to fix.  From the theft of a Christmas present from your front doorstep by a stranger to the more serious offense I heard about in Bremerton yesterday where someone caused problems in an entire neighborhood by slashing over 100 car tires. 

All of these are fixable problems.  But they cause pain, upset and often money that people these days don't have.  They aren't as bad as say, a drunk driving death or murder.  But still, they hurt and cause not only physical damage but harm to that thing we call ego. 

How do we forgive that random act of unkindness?  That faceless person who has hurt us?  I have been trying to bless the person who hurt me recently.  I'm sending them forgiving thoughts and prayers.  I'm hoping they needed and/or are enjoying my daughter's Christmas present.  It all turned out ok for me.  But what about people who are really hurt?  The people in Bremerton who can't afford new tires right now or couldn't go to work today because they had no transportation?  Or the person who gets a virus on their computer while they are looking for work and have to scramble to find a computer to file their unemployment claims?

This email came from Abraham this morning, "It is your rules that make unlawful beings. You would get along better if you would just trust each other to treat each other appropriately, but you don't. So you keep making laws -- until you make criminals of everyone."

So do we have to be wary of everyone and everything?  Do we truly make criminals of each other even when we are just living our life and minding our own business?  I love Abraham but I'm having a hard time with this one.  I want to trust others and treat them appropriately but when we are hurt we tend to want to lash out.  I was angry and upset yesterday but I just kept repeating over and over, "I forgive you.  I forgive you." and I started to feel better.  I have no idea who I was forgiving but I had to release my hurt and it was the only thing I could think of to do. That and put it into God's hands.

I feel like I'm rambling today.  Not sure what direction I wanted this to take but wanted to share some of my thoughts.  Please chime in if you have any insight or suggestions.  Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out the joylicious stuff!

Oh, and it all turned out OK for me.  I called the company where I purchased the gift and they are resending the entire order at no charge.  How fantastic is that?  I praise their customer service immensely and if you want to know who they are ask.  I can't write it on here because my daughter reads my blogs!!  Maybe that's where my joylicious life comes in.  I know I will have a wonderful Christmas no matter what and I'm thinking that there are some people out there who will have troubled minds that day.  God bless them.~

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Comfort and Joy

This morning I drove to Snohomish to get my hair done.  It was early and the sun was just starting to peak out from behind the Cascade mountains.  As I drove down Highway 9 through the quiet icy morning I marveled at the beautiful white fields and trees covered with frost.  It was so glistening and perfect!  Untouched by humans this early in the day.  The mountains sparkled with their snow caps reflecting the sun.  Mount Baker completely white with the blue backdrop of the sky looked amazing.  Even the airplanes on Harvey Field looked pretty with their different colors against the white of the frost.

There were very few cars on the road and as I drove I kept thinking how good life currently has been.  I passed a strip mall and there was a sign above it that said, "Comfort and Joy".  I think it was supposed to be for a hotel but I loved the simple message that was sent to me this day.  I have comfort and joy in my life and it's good.  Simple but good.  Joylicious~

Footnote (evening) - I was perusing some ads tonight on craigslist and one jumped out at me!  The title of it was "comfort and joy"!  My angels are working overtime.  It's a little freaky but soooo cool!~

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lightness of Being

Every day I feel lighter and lighter.  As I go through the process of shedding pounds on my body I feel like I'm shedding my skin and my old life too.  I'm becoming lighter and lighter in my heart.  The fat is melting away and the anger, sadness and unease are melting with it.  Instead of looking at life negatively and always on the down side I'm look at it more clearly.  Colors are more vibrant.  Laughter is more precious.  Life is becoming a joy again.  My step is easier and my eyes sparkle with health and enthusiasm at what happens next.

I'm feeling excited about the new direction my life has been taking.  Yesterday morning I called the Dr. Pat Show, www.thedrpatshow.com, to speak with her guest Sue Storm, The Angel Lady.  I asked her who my angels are around me.  She told me that my angels are excited for me right now.  She said they told her I have a lot going on right now and new opportunities are coming.  I completely agree!  She said I have the angels Lorena, who represents divine grace, and Jacob, who represents education.  She told me I still have more to learn but in easy fun ways not as lessons.  She also told me my archangel is Gabriel who is the angel of messages and communication.  So funny since I write a blog and am starting a website!

She asked if I had a question for my angels.  Of course, I had to ask, "Why was I told to purchase a website domain name?"  She said three words, "Expand, expand, expand."  She also said, "Put your heart into it as your soul is already there and you will be a success!  All I could think was, YES!  Expand my life, expand my blog, expand my joyliciousness.

But what a dichotomy this is for me!  As I shed the weight and as I shed the old life, I expand and expand and expand in the new one!  I have no idea what direction I'm going but I'm trusting the angels will take me there happily and safely.  So so joylicious!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You Are Amazing

My new favorite song.  Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Am Joy~

I found this daily affirmation in the Journey With Spirit newspaper I picked up over the weekend and just love it.  I wanted to share it with all of you!!  Have a joylicious day!!

I Am Joy Affirmation - Vicky Thompson

My heart is bursting with joy in this moment.
When I feel the glory of spirit beside me, I feel blessed.
When I see the wonder of God's creations, I feel loved.
When I hear the sound of God's whisper in my ear, I slow down.
When I know how close I am to God, I stop the world.
In this place of silence, I listen and hear my heart beat.
In each beat, I sense the tenderness that went into creating me.
In that delicate fabric of life, I feel honored to live upon the Earth.

Meditation Prayer -

Breathe deeply, inhaling the joy of spirit.  As you exhale, see golden sparkles of joy surrounding you.  As these sparkles of heavenly delight dance around you, feel your heart swelling with uncontainable joy as you say the following prayer:  Dear God, I see your same cloth of creation in my brothers and sisters.  I see the same love, patience and kindness dwelling within all humanity.  I now know that we are one and the same creation of God.  I lay down my judgements and embrace my brothers and sisters in love.  I let the same love you created in me touch the same love in all others.  In love, in peace, we embrace as one.  Joy eternal, joy present becomes me.

Vicky Thompson is the author of Life-Changing Affirmations: A 30-Day Plan for Spiritual Transformation.  You can find her at www.journeywithspirit.com.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Leap of Faith

I did it!  I got this wild idea last night to start a website so this morning I purchased a domain name!  I'm nervous and excited at the same time.  I don't want to share it with all of you yet as I'm still unsure of 1) why I wanted it to begin with, and 2) what focus I want it to take.  It's all swirling around in my mind with tons of ideas and directions I could go.  Something just told me, or a higher power did, to take that leap of faith and just start.

I have also decided to take this blog in a little bit different direction.  I want to start focusing on the "joy" in joylicious instead of the loss and grief.  I went through 2 very bad and sad years and now I feel like I'm on the path to a new identity and new found hope in the future.  I want to focus on that.  Remind myself over and over why I'm here and what my direction is going to be.  I want to help all of my lovely followers, loved ones, and friends find that joy in life too.

I'm not naive enough to know I will still have high and low, good and bad days.  But the good days seem to be outnumbering the bad days more and more lately.  And the highs seem to be more frequent.  I'm not sure if it is the weight loss or feeling better or my life getting easier as I distance myself from the bad years.  I just know that life is truly getting better.

So stay tuned for my new and exciting project as I figure out my path to happiness and a joylicious life.  I will share the website with all of you soon. 

By the way, dropped the two pounds from yesterday and another pound on top of that!!!  Joylicious!!!

love, kisses, and blessings  ~ Kat

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Look Back...

This morning I got on the scale and had gained two pounds.  Lord knows I tried yesterday.  I gave thanks for family and friends.  I gave thanks for good food and good health.  I was happy I have a job and a roof over my head.  But...the anticipation of my daughter's french apple pie was just too much to resist!

I had every intention of being good on Thanksgiving.  Of following my diet and trying to eat as healthy as possible without being stressed or as my dad said, "putting a damper on the day".  I set aside some celery.  I made my mashed potatoes without focusing on how good they would taste with the yummy gravy I could see cooking right next to me.  I smelled the stuffing, which is always my favorite, and looked the other way.  I passed up the cheese and crackers and the cranberry sauce.

I wanted to make healthy choices.  I chose to eat the turkey even though it's not allowed on my diet.  I had my one roll without butter.  I ate my celery and a little broccolli too.  But didn't eat anything else until...

Dessert time!!  My big downfall.  My daughter makes the best apple pie.  So I chose that too.  And it was great.  So I'm making the decision that the pie was my choice for yesterday and today I choose to go back on the diet.  I'm not going to be concerned about the two pounds.  I'm not going to beat myself up over my decisions.  I'm going to focus on my continuing to eat healthy and follow the diet as I should.

I want to look forward to the future in all my decisions.  I can't always look back at my past mistakes.  Many of those mistakes or choices are the reason I'm who I am today.  I'm currently reading a book about why bad things happen and it's made me realize that each time something bad happened to me I learned a lesson and was able to move forward into my future with better decision making skills.  I learned how to heal the past and be a better, more thoughtful, and caring person in the future.

So I made the choice to eat apple pie yesterday and today I choose to eat apples.  The two pounds will go and I will continue on my healthy path to the future.  Both emotionally and physically and I love that!  No looking back at the bad stuff anymore.  And how bad can a little apple pie be??   Joyliciously good!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

~***40***~

'Nuff said!  Finally finally finally I triumphed over my plateau of weight loss!!  I know I'm losing inches and my body is changing dramatically but the scale wasn't budging.  I shook my scale. I jumped on and off and on it again. I took the battery out and put it back.  I even moved it to the opposite end of the bathroom.  For 7 days it stayed on 39 pounds of weight lost.  I was dejected, depressed, frustrated, angry, and finally I just resigned.  I figured if I just stayed on the good path that it would eventually come off.  And this morning…hooray!!!

I received this message in my email today from Abraham:
From your human perspective, you often believe that you must work hard to overcome obstacles and satisfy shortages and solve the problems that are before you; but often, in that attitude or approach, you work against yourself without realizing it. Attention to obstacles makes them bigger and more stubborn; attention to shortages makes them bigger and prolongs them—and attention to a problem prevents any immediate resolution or solution.

I needed to release fear, thoughts of lack, and obsessing over that darn scale before it would move.  And it did.  Now to continue my journey!  I begin my second three-week session of shots today so it's on to the next goal!  Feeling better and better each day.  By the way, the woman at my doctor's office who has paid for my last two sessions offered to do so again.  She's so sweet and it is such a generous offer but I declined.  I hope she pays it forward to someone else.  And I plan on doing the same thing next year!

So just call me the Incredible Shrinking Woman.  That's what my co-workers have renamed me!  Joylicious!~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

O' Those Favorite Things!

I was watching television last night and they had a commercial on for Oprah's Friday show.  It's her annual Favorite Things show.  I was excited to see what this year would bring to the lucky audience participants but I was sad to realize that, once again, I wasn't going to be part of the audience!

It has always been my dream to attend a taping of Oprah's show.  I have recorded her show since the very beginning.  I remember getting my first VCR and figuring out how to set up timed recordings so that I could watch her show every day.  How far we have come in technology over the years!  I have spent 25 years of writing to her with show ideas, comments, entering contests and hoping hoping hoping that by some miracle I would get to go to Chicago and meet her.  I've met people over the years who were on the show.  John Gray for instance who has also been a huge influence in my life.  But I have never been lucky enough to meet her.

As I contemplated the show and Oprah and what I was feeling at the moment was a huge loss in my life I realized something...I'm a winner!  And I don't need meeting the Divine Ms. O. to validate that!  2010 has been a very lucky year for me.  I have won the Dr. Pat Holistic Makeover.  I have been the recipient of gifts from her sponsors which included Vapour Cosmetics, Resveritrol from Reserveage, and chocolate from Life with Chocolate and Temple Swift.  Yesterday I received a huge box of books that I am excited to start reading.  I'm also receiving coaches to help me with life's ups and downs. I have received two sessions of my diet plan with my doctor's office paid for by a woman who wanted to pay forward her abundance to someone else and she chose me.  I have wonderful friends and a loving family.  I have an apartment that I am very happy living in.  I have my health and I have a job.  Life is good.

So, if life is so good why have I felt somewhat stuck lately with my diet, with my blog and pay it forward project, with life in general?  This is what I struggle with.  I feel that I am on the cusp of something big.  I just don't know what that is yet.  Watching that commercial at first made me feel sad and then reminded me that life is more than worrying about whether or not I'll ever get to meet Oprah.  Life is living in the present and thanking my higher powers that I'm here to enjoy it.  I need to relax, set my intentions, and allow the universe to make it's magic.  When I stop struggling, stop worrying, and start allowing, life changes.  And that's joylicious!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Joyful Noise

When you are in the middle of caregiving, or the middle of stress and drama, or the middle of life's ups and downs, how do you find your joyful self?  How do you find your bliss or joyliciousness?  Or at least a quiet place where you can feel OK?  I struggle with this all the time.

Is it putting a smile on your face regardless of how you really feel?  I'm sure you've heard the expression "fake it until you make it".  Is it curling up inside yourself and going off into a corner so you don't inflict your negativity or depression on others?  Is it hibernating in your room or going for solitary walks?  Meditation?  Friends?

A common answer is that you focus on others or reach out to others instead of dwelling on your own problems.  But if you are already stretched to the limits with helping others or unable to set boundaries doesn't that sometimes compound the problem?

It amazes me how many times each day we ask others, "how are you?" and we get a pat response of "great!" even if the person doesn't really feel that way.  Or if you were to actually tell the other person how you truly felt when they asked do they REALLY want to know?  Or is it just as automatic to ask "how" someone is as it is to say "great"?  I remember testing that theory out a few times and the person's eyes glazed over or looked like they wished they hadn't asked.  So I just respond "fabulous!" regardless of how I really feel.

Another question I ask myself is what would bring me joy or what do I think would bring me joy?  Is it a mate?  A different job?  Owning my own home?  Enough money?  Or is it just peace of mind.  Contentment.  Loving others with my whole heart and being loved in return.  And I realize it's not things that bring me joy it's feelings.  It's taking care of myself as no one else can because I know myself best.  Listening to my heart's needs and wants and fulfilling them for myself.  In that way I can then pass that joy on and that would in turn make me happier.  It's a lovely circle of life.  Joylicious~

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Dr. Pat Holistic Makeover - Update

Every Tuesday afternoon since mid-July, the six amazing winners of the Dr. Pat Holistic Makeover and myself have a conference call.  Yesterday we all called in at our normal time and went around the group as we do each week giving our progress on our pay-it-forward projects.  We also talked about personal goals and issues that we are having. We are an incredible mindset of powerful women who help each other track our progress, give positive feedback, applause, joy, and helpful suggestions on how to be better and more amazing than we already are.

After each one of us took our turns, Dr. Pat went through the group again and spoke to each of us personally about how wonderful she thinks we are.  She told each person individually how we are changing the world and the people around us.  And how she honors us on our journeys of change and transformation.  It was truly intense and emotional for me to hear the kind and powerful words she spoke about each one of us. 

I have been struggling lately with personal self-doubt and a little frustration on how to get my message out.  I have been battling the "change of season/clock" blues and other personal issues that I have been dealing with in my life.  It's hard to write about working through grief and loss to achieve joyliciousness when you are stressed and fighting sadness.  I've also been frustrated with the feelings of baring my soul on the internet and feeling like, other than the wonderful women I email to each day, my blog message is going out into the big void of cyber-space.

But after hearing Dr. Pat's message to each of us yesterday and re-reading my mission and vision statements I do feel somewhat better.  I'm so thankful for each and every one of the other Holistic Makeover winners and their wisdom, joy, and good old advice.  I'm inspired by their messages and friendships.  And I'm so so grateful to Dr. Pat for giving me this opportunity to get to know each and every one of these fabulous women.  And so I blog on through my journey of achieving joyliciousness and inspiring and passing that message on to everyone through my mission.  I'll get there!!

You can hear Dr. Pat each day on Transformational Talk Radio, 1150 am.  Or check out her website at www.thedrpatshow.com.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Caregiving for Aging Parents

Last week Cheryl Richardson posted this newsletter on taking care of yourself when taking care of aging parents.  As more and more of us baby boomers have to step into that roll this is good advise.  I felt it was worthwhile passing on!  I know I went through many of these emotions and challenges when going through my stepmother's illness two years ago.

Aging Parents - Keeping the Love Alive by Cheryl Richardson

In the past three weeks I've had numerous conversations with people who are taking care of aging parents. Just this morning I spoke with a friend who's been in and out of assisted living facilities, doctor's offices, and hospitals more times than he can count. Having been a fulltime caregiver for more than three years when my husband Michael was sick, I know how complicated and overwhelming it can be. And my heart goes out to you if you're dealing with this situation now.

Becoming a caregiver to a parent is something most of us will experience at some point, and learning how to do it with good self-care in place, can help keep the love alive. While I know each situation is unique, here are a few suggestions that might help:

1) Get ongoing emotional support. As you go through the process of providing care to a parent, you will need a safe place to talk about how you feel. You will need to vent. You will need to grieve. You will need to know that someone out there cares about you and wants to know what's going on. This person should know how to listen well, how to hold back advice when it's not appropriate to give it, and how to be present with uncomfortable feelings so you're free to be real and honest.

2) Find a "resource advocate." It can be incredibly helpful to have someone in your life who's able to conduct research. You may have to locate specialized medical care, get help with insurance forms, check into living facilities, or find a good doctor. Delegating these activities can help ease your burden and it can be a wonderful way to allow someone who cares about you to help when he or she feels helpless. While taking care of Michael and managing our lives, I swear I lost brain cells, my memory, and a whole lot of patience. Sharing the burden of information gathering made life so much easier.

3) Don't take bad behavior personally. If your parent is difficult, negative, or irritable, it's probably because they're afraid. After all, they're going through their own challenging life changes. Keep in mind that we all tend to regress into protective behaviors when under stress. Some people go into denial and lose themselves in mindless activities. Others get irritable and end up being impatient or brusque in their communication. Some complain nonstop about every little thing. Try to remember that it's not about you. It's about the tough situation.

3) Allow yourself to experience all of your feelings - even the "inappropriate" ones. There will be times when you experience thoughts and feelings that make you feel guilty. You might be so emotionally overwhelmed by the roller coaster ride that comes with the end of life process, for example, that you find yourself wishing your loved one would pass so the craziness will stop. Please remember that your feelings are just feelings - normal responses to dealing with new and complicated circumstances.. If you respect and honor these thoughts and feelings (and share them with someone safe), you'll move through them with greater ease and clarity. And you'll be a better caregiver for your parent.

4) Be willing to have "courageous conversations." Most of us don't talk about death or end of life issues; let alone say what we need to say to feel at peace with one another. It's too scary, painful, or uncomfortable to step near those lines. And it's not always well received. The funny thing is that bringing consciousness - intentional, open conversation - to the topic can reduce fear and open our hearts. When we shine a light into the darkness, things get a little brighter. Be brave enough to initiate a conversation about end of life issues and see what happens. Tread gently and respectfully. You might be surprised to learn that your parent has been thinking about things like estate planning or what will happen to special items once they're gone, and your courage has now opened the door for further conversation.

5) Finally, be gentle with yourself. Caring for an aging parent is such a complex, multi-faceted issue for both the caregiver and receiver. We learn as we go.  If you're currently caring for an aging parent, I hope some of these suggestions help you this week. If you're not, please print this newsletter and keep it handy for future use. You or someone you love just may need it...

Life Makeover For The Year 2010 (sm) is written and produced by Cheryl Richardson. If you have any questions or comments, or for reprint permission of this newsletter, please email: cheryl@cherylrichardson.com. © Copyright 1999-2010. Cheryl Richardson, P.O. Box 13, Newburyport, MA 01950. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Let Us Give Thanks

November is the month for giving thanks for all the good things that we have in our lives.  Everywhere I look lately I see the word gratitude popping out at me.  It's easy to get mired down in everything that is wrong with our lives and forget all the good things that come our way.

Recently I have had several blessings come my way.  I received another free session of my diet from a woman at my doctors office and have now lost a total of 35 pounds!  That was totally unexpected and wonderful!  I had dinner with a friend and another one with my father at nice restaurants and had a great time both nights.  I received a gift card to a restaurant as a thank you from my boss for all my hard work.  That was a shock!  But a very nice one.    I have had unexpected blessings from my sister and daughter at a time when I felt really low and unsure of life.  I've started receiving boxes of gifts from Dr Pat Bacilli as part of the Holistic Makeover contest and that has been very fun and exciting.  And each time one of these blessings happens I marvel at the goodness and love in others and how grateful it makes me feel.

I have been listening to my tapes on the Law of Attraction by Abraham-Hicks.  Abraham talks about how lack creates lack and abundance creates abundance.  When you focus on lack then that is what you are going to attract.  If you focus on ill health then that is what you will attract. The best thing to do is focus on good things in your life and you will attract more of the same.  Focus on good health, joy, prosperity, happiness.  It multiplies when that is where your mind is set and that is what you are grateful for.

A few tips I have learned recently from articles I have read on gratitude and giving thanks:

1) Enlist a friend.  If you start to get down or focus on lack, reach out to a friend and share good times with them.  Email them with things you are thankful for.  Putting your thoughts into words makes them more real.  Ask them to email you with their thoughts and what they are also thankful for.  Sharing these gifts is a joy in itself.

2) Make a list of your bad times.  Realize that you have come through all of them.  Probably with flying colors and are better off for them having happened.  Even the worst of times can have positive outcomes in the most unexpected ways.  You never know what is around the next corner to bring you more joy than you have ever expected or could believe would happen.

3) Imagine your life without blessings.  What would your life be without the love of your family and friends.  Imagine not living the life we have in the United States that we all take for granted.  Be thankful for things could be so much worse if you didn't have that support system.  Small things like a warm bed at night, food to eat, pets to care for with their unconditional love for you.  If those things disappeared tomorrow how would you feel?

4) When you find yourself focusing on the negative reach out to someone.  Helping others is one of the best ways to help yourself.  It takes the focus off of you and everything you perceive is wrong with your life and puts your energy into something positive.  Positive attracts positive.  Abundance attracts abundance.

I'm thankful that October is done.  I'm thankful for a loving family and blessed to have the friends I do.  I'm thankful for a good job.  I'm thankful that I can pay my bills.  I'm thankful I'm on the road to a healthy, thin body.  I'm thankful to have won the Holistic Makeover contest.  I'm thankful for my cats.  I'm thankful for my joylicious life.  Blessings to all of you too~

Friday, October 22, 2010

One Hour Miracle

I received a note today from Bonnie McFarland who writes a website called Savouring Your Sixties, www.savoringyoursixties.com. She writes about women who are approaching or are in their sixties and beyond and she shares her insight on how to light up your life.  The article today was how to take a brief moment or hour to yourself in a time of sorrow and grief and re-energize and recharge your soul.  I thought it was worth sharing.  Joylicious!

The One-Hour Miracle

Hours after my brother called to say Mom had died, I was on a red-eye flight traveling across the country. The days that followed were filled with grief, seemingly endless tasks to prepare for mom's funeral, family dynamics, stress, and many nights of too little sleep.

Of course, it wasn't all bad. There was love and laughter and reminiscing and being with people I love. And still as the week went on, I was beyond exhausted.

Somewhere in the midst of this my dear sister and I decided to get pedicures. We would both be wearing sandals for the funeral and, frivolous as it might sound, we thought we needed freshly painted toes.

Of course, there wasn't really time to do this. We had so many other things to get done. (It's amazing how much there is to do when someone dies!)

But we decided to do it anyway. So my sister, Vicki, my sister-in-law, Diane, and I went in search of a pedicure. Someone was watching out for us because we found a place where we could all get pedicures at the same time without having appointments.

Plus this little day spa also happened to have those fancy massage chairs that can work you from head to toe -- while you're getting your pedicure!

For one delicious and delightful hour, it was as though life was normal again. For that hour, we were no longer bereaved mourners; we were just three women relaxing, chatting, and allowing ourselves to be pampered. Afterwards, we each had lovely, bright, shiny polish on our toes.

But what mattered more was how much restoration we got from that one hour. That was the miracle!

Weeks later, I'm still astonished when I recall how much difference that hour made for me. I reconnected with the place of calm, quiet, and peace in me. I became refreshed and restored. I regained enough strength and energy to allow me to do what needed to be done the rest of the week. All that from one hour. Amazing!

I know a little bit of time -- spent in an energizing, enlivening, lights-on way -- can make a huge difference in our lives. And this experience was a powerful reminder of that.


Copyright Bonnie McFarland 2010 All Rights Reserved" www.SavoringYourSixties.com.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's About Gratitude

I'm back!  Just wanted to thank everyone for the well wishes I received during my recent bout with the flu.  It's so nice to have people worry about you!

During my down time I reflected quite a bit on my life and current situations.  It's so easy when I'm not feeling well for me to fall into a depression.  I start to stress over the smallest things and dwell on misfortunes and "lack of" instead of counting my blessings. I worry about bills, work, relationships, my car, my cats, my dad, my daughter.  Instead I should be focusing on getting better and thinking good thoughts.

I've always been of the opinion that your thoughts create your reality.  I try to stay positive and focused.  I try to visualize myself happy, healthy and wealthy.  I try to be a good person and avoid negative thoughts.  I try to not worry.  But I need to stop trying and just be.  I need to put myself in God's hands and let him do the work and the worrying and just be grateful for my joylicious life.

A good friend gave me some advise the other day to help me get well.  I think it works in many situations and wanted to pass it on to you.  It was such a sweet affirmation of the goodness of people and life.

-Rest as much as you can and put in your mind the thought of gratitude for being healthy (even though you are not at the moment) but that thought will send a command to the rest of your body to heal itself.
- Eat some chicken soup (home made).
- Drink hot lemon tea with honey.
- And watch some funny movies or pictures to make you laugh and boost your immune system.
I hope you feel better soon!

So let's try and put our mind in the thought of gratitude.  Not just for being healthy but being happy and joylicious too!  Life is wonderful!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waves of Grief

 My dad and I recently attended a grief support group at Swedish Hospital/Edmonds (formerly Stevens Hospital).  We were given a handout titled The Waves of Grief.  I thought it was really good and wanted to share it with you.  I think personally I am in the last stage but as it states grief does come in waves and sometimes I notice myself going back a few stages before coming out stronger as I move forward again.

The Waves of Grief – Swedish/Edmonds Bereavement Program

The concept of the “waves” of grief may be helpful to you as you begin to make sense of your reactions following the death of your loved one.  Often this time may seem to lack purpose and direction.  With the goals of healing and rediscovering meaning in life, the following may be useful to you.

Coming to terms with the reality of your loss.  The saying, “the only way out is through” is true of grief.  The more you allow yourself to go through the myriad of emotions, the more you will move toward healing.  Be gentle with yourself, allow yourself to cry, laugh, rest when you can get regular exercise, eat nourishing food, and care for your spiritual self.  And remember to BREATHE deeply as much as possible.  These self-care activities are important now, and will remain important in the months ahead.  Continuing to seek the support of understanding people, while caring for yourself on all levels, can help you begin to realize that you can recover the coping skills necessary to move forward in your life.

Learning what it means to live without your loved one.  Gradually you will find yourself learning to adjust to a world in which your loved one is no longer living.  The work ahead of you is to discover the place your loved one filled in your life, and to consider what tasks and roles may need to be assumed by you, or by others, and what changes may need to occur.  Of course, some aspects of his/her place in your life will never be assumed by another.  This is also the time to look at what it means to change your relationship with your loved one from a relationship of the present to a relationship of memory – in memory, he/she is always with you.

Beginning to develop a new identity, a new sense of yourself.  Here is where you may begin to discover what really matters and has meaning for you.  For many, this is a time of reprioritizing life activities, developing a deeper spirituality, and appreciating the preciousness of life.

This journey has no timetable.  You may experience any of these waves in your own unique way, and maybe at recurrent or concurrent times.  Anniversaries or future losses are often times when people feel they are going through the waves again.  Care lovingly, gently and patiently for yourself.  Remember to give yourself credit for each small step you take.  You are journeying toward healing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Makes You Say Hmmmm....

I received this Note from the Universe the other day that read, "Simply put, the reason there are things you want that have not yet appeared in your life, is because you're just not used to thinking of yourself with them".  It got me to thinking... I have struggled with my weight since I was 21 years old and even had a complex about my weight before that.  I was never truly small or slim.  I've always been curvy no matter how large or small.  So I have a really hard time thinking of myself as a thin person.

They say that athletes should visualize themselves winning.  Crossing the finish line in first place.  Why can't I visualize myself as healthy and slim?  Or at least normal size?  Even when I lost 60 pounds 3 years ago, whenever I looked in the mirror I still saw a very fat person.  I remember one day I was shopping in a fabric store and as I was waiting to be checked out the cashier made some catty comment to me about a woman who was shopping.  She was overweight and the woman said something like, "a woman that size should never wear an outfit like that".  I turned to see who she was talking about and realized the woman was the size I visualized in my head that I looked like!  So I was surprised when it dawned on me that the cashier didn't view me that way.

I think it was the first time since I had lost the weight that I figured out I was truly smaller to the rest of the world.  Yes I had lost 3 dress sizes and yes I felt really good but I didn't think or see myself being that way.  I think it equates to people who are anorexic and never see themselves as that way either. So maybe what the Universe message to me was to start visualizing myself thin.  To day dream about the clothes I will be wearing and look at myself with clearer eyes and realize that I'm on the right road.  I've lost 27 pounds so far and my pants are starting to get baggy.  I need to adjust my thinking to accomodate that loss and realize it's a great one!  And it will only get better.  Joylicious!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Milestones

I hit a personal milestone this morning.  It's a loss I'm happy to report!  I have lost a total of 25 pounds on my diet!  I now weigh what I weighed a year ago before I started the nightmare rounds of hormones and bio-identicals that started some of my weight gain.  I am now looking forward to the next goal of another loss of 20 pounds.  That would make me joyliciously happy!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's Eating Me?

Last week in my diet meeting one of the women said she is constantly hungry even though she had eaten her meal and knew she wasn't really hungry.  She said, "I'm hungry here."  And she pointed to her heart.  It started a long conversation among us of why we eat even though we know we aren't physically hungry.  We are hungry for something else.  Or trying to fill up what we think we are missing.

I know for me, eating when I'm not physically hungry means I'm bored, lonely, feeling bad, or even just tired.  I'm trying to fill up a lack of love that I feel is missing from my life.  I'm trying to stuff feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.  I get that momentary high of sugar or carbs and then when it begins to wear off I look for my next fix.  And what's really bad is that half the time I'm not even aware of the food as I stuff it in.  I mindlessly watch tv or read and the next thing I know a package of cookies or bag of chips is gone and I have no recollection of tasting it.

When I was reading the book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth yesterday there was a passage about being aware of our surroundings.  Of noticing the way food tastes, smells, and feels in our mouth.  Of learning our body well enough to know when we are truly hungry and to feel the feelings of being full without stuffing.  She compared this mindless eating to taking a walk through the forest with ear buds from an ipod in our ears so we don't truly hear the sounds of the wind rushing through the trees, leaves crumpling under our feet, the smells of the redwoods, or the birds chirping.  We miss out on life and the fullness of the joys of the experience.

During the diet meeting the doctor asked the woman if she wanted to start journaling her feelings to see if she could discover what   she was truly trying to feed.  The woman seemed very reluctant and said writing her feelings was hard for her.  I can relate because I have always had trouble expressing myself as well in a public forum.  Even if the public forum is only a journal for yourself.  But I have now found that blogging, like journaling, is a way of learning about ourselves.  It can be very empowering.

As I've continued on this diet journey I have started to really listen to my body for hunger pangs or why I'm eating at the time I am.  I'm trying to discover when I want to binge and why.  What is my mood at the time and what is happening externally in my world.  I'm trying to be more mindful and present as I eat.  To savor each bite and really taste the flavors of the food.  That way when I do go back to a more normal diet I won't immediately regain any weight I've lost and I will have learned more about healthy eating.  This diet has brought an unexpected bonus of changing my thought patterns and habits in ways I hadn't imagined.  Joylicious!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Preparation

Today's blog is a newsletter I received from Cheryl Richardson yesterday.  It speaks about how suffering loss can prepare you for something better even when it is hard to see it at the time.  I thought it was worth sharing.  Enjoy!

In Preparation - Cheryl Richardson

This week I caught an interview with Jennifer Hudson, the young singer who was voted off of American Idol and ended up stealing the show in the movie, Dreamgirls. Jennifer was asked how she handled the disappointment of being eliminated from Idol when most people thought she would win. She admitted that it was painful and that she cried a lot, but that eventually she returned to her faith. "I chose to trust that God had a bigger plan for me than I could see at the time," she explained.

I guess so. Her performance in Dreamgirls led to an Oscar.

Jennifer's story is a powerful reminder of how life's disappointments may in fact be preparation for something even more significant in our lives. And, this belief has the best chance of coming true when you make a demonstrated commitment to learn and grow from your present day circumstances.

When I look back at the painful breakup of the relationship I was in before my marriage, for example, I can see that the suffering and subsequent growth I went through was exactly what I needed to prepare me for a more mature and lasting relationship later on - although I certainly didn't know it at the time. The pain and disappointment forced me to grow. It challenged me to face my fear of living alone. It prompted me to get my butt into therapy. And it ultimately helped me to develop self-respect. I learned to treat myself better, which in turn, naturally raised my standards for how I would allow others to treat me in the future.

Jennifer's belief can serve us all in times of suffering or pain. For example, is there something going on in your life right now - a breakup, a problem at work, the slow growth of your business, or financial hardship - that might be attempting to prepare you for what's next? Think about it. What if your current challenge is a call to action - the kind of action that will prepare you for the next phase of your life? What are you being invited to learn? What qualities of character are trying to be strengthened or developed? Where do you need to take more responsibility in your life?

As I've dealt with my own challenges, the belief of "disappointment or suffering as preparation" is something I hold onto as a reminder that we are never alone, that there is a purpose to our suffering and pain, and that when we get to the other side, a great opportunity to use what we've learned in service to ourselves and others awaits.

Take heart. Every day, in some way, we're all being prepared for something better...
Joylicious!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grandma

When I was a young girl, I can't remember how old, my mom used to send us to stay with my grandmother for a week or two every summer.  She lived in Snohomish in a house that, as a small child, I have very fond memories.  And that as an adult didn't match up with reality.  Everything was bigger, more fun, more exciting than I think it really was but from my perspective it was a treat to get to stay with her and I loved it and looked forward to it every summer.

From my perspective as a small child the house was huge, the yard even bigger, with a garden that seemed to go on for miles.  There were cages in the yard with cute fuzzy bunnies.  I didn't want to think about what happened to the "pets", especially when we had rabbit for dinner.  I can remember running up and down the rows of vegetables in the sunshine and thinking how lucky I was that my grandma lived on a "farm".  Little did I know that returning as an adult I viewed it very differently realizing it was just a large lot on a normal street!

I was in awe of my aunts who weren't that much older than me as they took me and my sister on adventures picking blackberries, running through fields in the neighborhoods, and buying penny candy from the store on the corner.  I was fascinated with the oldest of my aunts who was in high school and getting ready to go to college.  I thought she was so grown up and I always wanted to be in her room looking at all of her exciting knick knacks, jewelry, and clothes.

There was a laundry chute in the bathroom that went to the basement and us kids would take turns sliding down it running back up the basement stairs to do it again and again.  The house smelled like sawdust as my grandpa always had it delivered to heat the house.  And I remember huge thunder storms and my sister and I would get into bed with grandma as we were terrified of the loud booms.    My grandmother make jelly with the berries we had picked.  And she canned beans and other vegetables too.  Sunday dinner was always delicious as she was a very good cook.  It was an innocent and lovely time in my life.

As an adult I tried to stay connected with my grandmother as much as possible.  She eventually moved to smaller houses, still staying in Snohomish, and they were always comfortable and welcoming.  I enjoyed her cooking up until the end.  I would try and visit her as often as possible even though I lived in Seattle and was a busy single parent.  Several years later my hairdresser married and moved to Snohomish so I had regular visits with grandma every 6 weeks on the dot!

I would time my hair appointments so that I could go and have lunch with her and have a good cozy visit for the afternoon.  I would help her with chores and we would chat about all kinds of things   Sometimes my daughter would be with me and sometimes it was just the two of us.  I cherish those visits in my heart and will never forget them. 

But looking backwards, yes I know I said I wouldn't, I wish I had not been so self-involved.  I wish I had asked her more about her history and life and talked less about my problems and life.  I wish I had listened to her wisdom and advice and not fretted so much about small things which in the grand scheme of things weren't really that important.  What was important was my relationship with her and how much she meant to me.

My grandmother lived on her own until she was 94.  She drove until she was 93.  We think something might have happened to make her stop driving but none of us really knew for sure.   She had a gentleman friend who she went to lunch with until he passed away at 92 and a circle of church friends who watched out for her.

The family moved her into an assisted living home when she was 94 that was closer to where I and one of my aunts lived.  It was such a luxury to be able to visit whenever I wanted.  She loved to invite me to dinner and we would sit in the dining room and chat and then go upstairs to her apartment and visit like we used to.  But I don't think she ever got over missing her home and her things and being able to sit in her dining room and look out over the little lake that she lived near.  She only lasted a few months at the assisted living facility before she passed away.  I have no regrets about the time I spent with her over the years but do have regrets about not knowing more about her life.  Or asking her who everyone was in all the pictures in her albums.  Or about her trips.  We joke that all she ever talked about regarding her trips was all the meals she ate but she must have had wonderful adventures and most of them came in her 60's and beyond!

Cherish your elders.  The have such wisdom of life, love, and loss.  They have seen so much, done so much, lived amazing lives, and it's our job to discover what they have to share.  Otherwise it can be too late and we will never know.  My grandmother absolutely knew the meaning of joylicious and I miss her every day!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shiny Happy People~

There is an REM song titled Shiny Happy People that gives me inspiration for today. 

I woke up this morning with a headache and my foot has been bothering me for a couple of weeks.  As I lay in bed I reflected on thoughts of how comfy the bed was and how warm and cozy I felt cuddling with my kitty.  I briefly thought about playing hooky from work and just staying home all day.  Especially because I knew that I had a very light workload today.  Very tempting!

But my sense of responsibility made me force myself to get up and feed the cats, take my shower, and start my day.  As I stood in the shower feeling the warm water flow over me I thought about my life and how I have been inspired and how blessed I am to have the people around me that I do.  Especially recently.  It seems that negativity and drama seem to have disappeared from my life and shiny happy people have appeared in their place.  What an awesome gift! 

Maybe it's because I'm happier with myself these days that I am attracting these kinds of people into my life.  Maybe I've cleared the air at work with enough gold dust to have avoided or changed workplace drama into harmony.  Or maybe I've been a good influence on friends and family and I just don't notice or get sucked into their drama any longer.  I can sympathize, empathize, and be a moral support to them but I can't allow their drama or unhappiness to disturb my well-being.  Maybe it was just going away for a few days and being in a city that I love with a daughter that I adore and not stressing about anything more than what to eat for my next meal or what shop I wanted to visit next.  Who knows for sure?  But what I do know for sure is that I like this feeling and it makes me like my life right now.  Joylicious~

Shiney Happy People - REM

Shiny happy people laughing
Meet me in the crowd
People people
Throw your love around
Love me love me
Take it into town
Happy happy
Put it in the ground
Where the flowers grow
Gold and silver shine

Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing

Everyone around love them, love them
Put it in your hands
Take it take it
There's no time to cry
Happy happy
Put it in your heart
Where tomorrow shines
Gold and silver shine

Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Because We Are Worthy~

"It is difficult to describe the peace that comes with giving yourself permission to know what you know. To have hard, complicated realities staring at you and be able to raise your head and look back at them with a steady gaze, scared maybe, grieved perhaps, but straight on and unwavering" ~Valerie Tarico ph.d.

This quote arrived in my mailbox this morning and it really hit a chord with me.  It made me stop and realize that when you look back at your life no matter how hard the time was you can't have regrets.  You can't flinch at your past actions.  You must accept your life as the life you were meant to live and look forward to the future.

It's hard not to grieve losses and past mistakes.  It's hard not to have those little voices in your head telling you that you are not a good person.  That you aren't worthy.  That you don't deserve a good life.  But you need to look at your life with clear eyes and an open heart and know that the life you lived made you the person you are today.

And you certainly don't want to live your life with regrets.  When I look at old pictures of myself I remember how hard I always was on myself.  I have always stressed about my weight.  I moaned about grey hair, wrinkles, no money, no time, work issues, relationship issues.  And when I look back I think, wow, I wasn't too bad looking!  Why didn't I appreciate myself more?  Or I'll think, I didn't give my daughter that bad of a life.  Yes, we were broke, yes there was drama, but she turned out to be a wonderful, amazing young woman so I must have done some things right.  We need to learn to give ourselves credit for what we did right.  Not grieve over what we didn't have or didn't do but what we're going to do and what we're going to be.

I received my "Notes from the Universe" email today from Mike Dooley and it was along the same topic.  It stated,  "Oh, you're going to laugh alright, Kathy, but not just at the funny clothes you wore, or how na├»ve you thought the animals were, or by the unrecognized angels in your midst. But at how close you were when you thought yourself far, how much more strength you had when you thought yourself weak, and how easy life was when you thought it hard. "

Isn't life amazing that I would get the same message stated in two entirely different ways on the same day?  Joylicious!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

There is a saying that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, and a lifetime.  I had one of those awesome experiences yesterday where someone came into my life for a reason. 

As many of you know, I have been on a special diet for 3 weeks now.  It is very expensive but also very effective.  I have lost 18 lbs so far (yay me!) but was not going to continue due to lack of funding for the second 3 weeks of the program.

As I was asking questions during our meeting last night with the doctor about what the procedure was for  stopping the injections for the diet and next steps the woman next to me shouted, "You're not leaving are you?  Is it due to lack of funds?"  I told her it was and that I didn't have a choice at this time.  She told the doctor, "I'm paying for her!"  I was so shocked!  I said, "You don't even know me!"  She told me she had recently come into a windfall at her job and she wanted to pay-it-forward and she knew how much losing weight meant to me and how important it was for my health.  I started crying at her generousity and beautiful spirit of giving.  What an awesome gift!

So, to make a long story short, I am continuing on with the diet program for 3 more weeks!  And due to the incredible kindness of a stranger will be able to do it with ease and peace of mind.  I plan on paying it forward to someone else someday!  So be prepared world!!  Sooooo joylicious!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The End of Summer

I am just finishing a week of a very disappointing vacation.  The weather seems to have already turned to fall and I feel like summer was never here!  It rained almost every day I was off.  And, although I did drive with my sister to Enumclaw to visit a dear friend the rest of the week was mostly reading, cleaning my house, and taking it easy.

Sometimes our expectations don't live up to the real world.   Too little money, too rainy, too little energy, too constricted of a diet, all conspired to make this time not what I hoped it would be.  I need to learn to appreciate what I have. 

And I do.  I had a very relaxing, stress free week which I needed badly.  I got to see an adorable town I've never visited before.  I caught up on all my reading and research and even read an entire 800 page book in two days.  Such luxury!

I think it was my time to stop and smell the roses.  To listen to my body and realize I needed a break.  To be away from the negativity and uncertainty at work.  To have quality time with myself and my family.  It's priceless.

Tomorrow I'm back in the stress of life.  But I will look back on this past week as a time of rejuvination and restoration and not disappointment.  That's more joylicious!

Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm Waiting for a Girl Like You~

Why is it when we want something the most it feels like we have to wait the longest?  And why do we get impatient for it to happen and it feels almost like going through the stages of grief?  We get shock (I can't believe it's not happening yet!), anger (why won't it happen damn it??), sad (it's never going to happen..), depression (I don't understand why it hasn't happened..what did I do?),  hope (maybe it will happen tomorrow!), acceptance (it's definitely happening tomorrow!!), and then happiness (it finally happened!!!).

It seems that we try to rush our lives from one urgent issue to another. And if one thing happens to slow us down instead of taking life easy and accepting that all good things will happen in their own time and God's time, we want to push through, get frustrated, and stress ourselves out?

I think it's time to go on vacation and re-learn how to relax.  How to stop and enjoy life. Take a deep breath and look around at the loveliness that is around us.  Sleep in, smell flowers, read a book, meditate, just relax...

I think that's what I'm gonna' do!  Happy vacation!  Joylicious~

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Twistin' the Night Away

I’m a very light sleeper.  I toss and turn all night and the littlest noise wakes me up.  It gets very frustrating some nights as I also can’t turn off my brain.

I’m currently reading Geneen Roth’s book Women, Food, and God.  It’s a really good book and as I read it before I go to sleep I tend to ruminate on what I’ve read and turn it over and over in my mind as I drift off.  The title of the chapter I have been reading is “It’s Not About the Weight but It’s Not Not About the Weight”.  It delves into the why’s we eat and how we might be upset about our weight but that it's really a deeper issue that's going on and that it's not really about our weight.  She states we use food to fill a void in our life.  Just like alcohol, sex, and drugs or whatever other choice of self-sabotage you might use to cause problems in your life. 

Roth also talks about how we have to learn to put the past in the past.  One very interesting concept that had me thinking a lot was when she wrote about adults who have problems with their parents or upbringing and feel that their parents owe them something, whether an apology for how they were raised, or some other unfinished business from their childhood.  How they blame their current issues on whatever happened to them as a child. Her contention is that you are now an adult and as an adult have to realize that your parents are older too and that the dynamics are now different and the apology or changes you needed as a child isn’t the same as what you need, or don't need, from your parent’s now.

It’s funny that I read that last night and how appropriate it was for a situation I had at work today.  I always post the current month’s birthdays on a readerboard in the office.  One of my co-workers came in and asked me to remove his name.  He said that when he was 13 he was so excited that he was becoming a teenager and couldn't wait for his birthday.  But he went on to say that it was also the first of many times that his parents forgot his birthday.  He told me he doesn’t like to celebrate it because of that and asked me to remove his name which I did.  He said that he lets his wife and daughter celebrate it but otherwise wants it to be just a normal day because he has bitter feelings towards his parents due to these past experiences.  

What popped into my head first of all was why are you still allowing your parents to define how you celebrate your birthday?  This is not a young man.  He is in his 50’s.   There is no way that his parents can now go back and ever make up to him the fact that they missed several of his special days.  But he can and should now move forward and have the most rockin’, outrageous birthdays he can.  He needs to make himself feel special and to celebrate himself the best he knows how and not look back.  

It also made me realize I need to fill the empty spaces of missed birthdays (metaphor here), low self esteem, self doubt, longing for a relationship, etc. with joy instead of food for whatever I feel is lacking in my life.  There is no blaming our history or our parents.  There is only the present and how we treat ourselves now and how we regard the future.  I want to follow Louise Hay’s advice and look at myself in the mirror each morning and say, “I love you”.  And I want to have a rockin' good time doing it!  That would definitely be Joylicious!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dream a Little Dream of Me~

This is an excellent article by David Kessler titled "In Your Dreams".  It is from the Oprah.com website and I thought it was worth sharing.  Joylicious!!!

In Your Dreams - Dreams and Grief

Dreams come in many forms and provide insight into your greatest hopes and fears. But David Kessler explains that your subconscious could also be the key to helping you through your grief about the loss of a loved one.
Here's one woman's story.

Catherine and her husband, John, sat at dinner. John pulled back from the table with sudden pain in his chest. His wife immediately said they needed to go to the emergency room.

John disagreed. He jokingly told Catherine it was probably indigestion, with no negative reflection on her cooking. John was determined to wait it out, hoping the pain would go away. After a half hour, his loving wife had had enough. Catherine practically pushed him in the car and took him to the hospital.

They arrived to a packed waiting room. John, still convinced he was suffering from indigestion, started nagging Catherine about returning home. Though the ER was chaotic and crowded, a nurse tended to John immediately, as patients with chest pains are brought straight to the back for observation and testing. Catherine was left alone in the waiting room, unable to follow John into the back.

Catherine sat patiently outside as she saw the ER grow even busier, one ambulance arriving after another. Then she heard someone yell, "We have a gunshot here," as they brought a patient back. She reluctantly went up to the busy nurse at the desk and said: "It has been 20 minutes. Can I go see my husband now?" The nurse looked up with a puzzled look and said no one was allowed into the back until the ER calmed down.

Almost two hours after arriving, after many visits to the front desk, a social worker stood before Catherine, explaining that John had a massive heart attack and died. She apologized for the chaos and busyness of the night and told her that not only could she not see John, but they were so in need of beds that he had already been taken to the morgue downstairs.

Catherine, in shock, drove home to find friends and family already gathering in response to the news. Catherine sat very still in a chair while family members cleared the dinner plates from earlier.

The phone was ringing nonstop with friends who'd heard the news. An unexpected call then came in from the social worker at the hospital. She told Catherine that she had made a horrible mistake, possibly the worst of her career. She had mistakenly told Catherine that John had died, when in fact it was another patient who had died. Catherine held the phone to her ear with more tears flowing down her face. The social worker went on to say that John was quite upset that Catherine left, as his chest pains turned out to be nothing more than indigestion.

Catherine, of course, said she was on her way back to the hospital. The social worker stopped her mid-sentence to say that an ambulance driver who heard about the incident was already bringing John home.

Catherine put down the phone, trying to comprehend what had just happened. John, on the other hand, was sitting in the front seat of an ambulance, listening to the kind driver telling him that mistakes are often made in medicine, but at least this mistake had a happy ending. As they turned the corner to his home, the driver, for fun, reached down and turned on the lights and siren.

John stepped out of the ambulance like a rock star with sirens blaring. He walked toward the overjoyed Catherine, who jumped into his arms. The family engulfed the couple as Catherine and John seemed to hug for an eternity. After a few minutes so, Catherine began to feel annoyed with the noise and looked to the ambulance driver to have him turn off the sirens. But then she realized the siren was the sound of her alarm clock. It was time to wake up for work. It had all been a dream. John was gone from the living and her life was forever changed.

Dreams often make promises they can't keep, an aspect of our psyches that brings with it a fleeting feeling of reconnection. Many people say that regardless of the outcome of the dream, they are grateful for even a few more moments with a deceased loved one.

Dreams sometimes give us glimpses of other worlds. We may never know how real they are. Some dreams are crazy, others hard to figure out, and some may turn out to be real. We do know that dreams are a natural part of sleep. They symbolize everything from our hopes to our deepest fears.

Dreams can provide us with information about what is really going on inside us. Our dreams can demonstrate the inevitable lack of control we feel when we are grieving. Dreams may serve many purposes, including a distraction from pain or our soul grappling with the reality of loss.

Dreams help us deal with overwhelming feelings while we sleep, an aid to the grief process, as the unconscious mind cannot distinguish between a wish and reality. We may not realize how much we work out psychologically in our dream state. All of us dream every night, but only a small percentage of us are aware of our dreams after we wake. Dreams can become a meeting place between the world of the living and the realm of the deceased.

During grief, our dreams often change. Messages are usually much more to the point and contain signs of reassurance, continued existence and emotional support. When our deceased loved ones appear in the dream world, it provides a respite from the current world of pain and loss.

When people dream of a loved one, they often report feeling a sense of peace afterward, a reassurance beyond words. Some have pangs of pain when they realize it was only a dream, but eventually, the dreams will begin to subside and become less frequent. While they are still happening, they often represent a form of communication, reassurance and emotional support.

The dream vision of a loved one can also represent unfinished business, giving us the chance to complete something that ended all too soon.

Our dreams show us that our loved ones are not, in essence, the sick people we tearfully said goodbye to in the hospital. Neither are our loved ones the bodies we saw at the funeral homes. Our loved ones are healthy and intact, the people we knew and now long to see again.

Who and what are you dreaming about? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

David Kessler is the author of Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms (May 2010), as well as the co-author with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross of On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons. Visit his website for more help and resources.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 1 - And So It Begins

Today is the first day of my new diet. I went to the hour long meeting last night and we were given an info packet that was about 10 pages thick plus a zip drive with 300 more pages that include the diet founder's book, recipes, and instructions.  Yikes!  Lots of reading.  But what was fabulous was the instructions for days 1 and 2.

The instructions read verbatim, "You MUST gorge yourself and eat as much food as you can throught the day. (This overeating will only be done for the fist two days.)"  And the food list for the two "loading days" as they are called include some of the following:  chocolate, pastries with whip cream, sugar, fried meats (particularly pork), eggs, bacon, mayonnaise, bread, thick butter, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut milk and oil, olives, cakes, cookies, custards, creams, pastries, cream and cheese.

This is the first diet I've ever been on where I could order a pizza with all the works, cheesy bread,  AND dessert and tell the waiter it was because I am on a diet!  They would look at you crazy!  But believe it or not, I'm only into 1/2 of the first day and I already feel yucky!  I'll be glad to get to the cleansing, low cal part of the diet after these two days are over.  This should be every woman's dream.  Who knew eating so much junk and fat would make you feel so cruddy! 

I'm hoping that this diet works for me.  It is based on my giving myself shots of a hormone each morning that will reset my metabolism.  And, yes, I actually did it this morning.  The shot didn't hurt at all but the alcohol swab stung like a son-of-a-gun!

I'll probably gain 3-5 pounds in this two-day loading period but hopefully it will come off quickly and I will feel fabulous in the process.  I'm on my way to a new start of another joylicious adventure in my life!!  Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All You Need is Love

I received this quote in my email today from Mama Gena, “Love yourself first, foremost, and always.” 

Why do women find this simple statement to be so hard to follow?  Me included?  Women put their children first.  Their husbands, lovers, and friends first.  We give and give until there is nothing left.  And, in addition to neglecting ourselves and not nourishing our souls, we can be our own worst critics.  Thinking we are a bad mother, a bad friend, etc.  What kind of role model does this show our children?  We love too hard and too much.  We give so much to others we empty ourselves out.  We can lose self respect for ourselves.  We get depressed.  Especially when that love isn’t returned the way we want it to be returned.

I am guilty of loving someone too much.  Of putting my daughter, family, or friends first.  Of taking care of others while neglecting myself.  But, and I’ve talked about this before, how can we adequately take care of others when we don’t take care of ourselves?

I was in a relationship a couple of years ago where I gave so much to someone who didn’t appreciate it.  And they didn’t respect me for it either.  I was always feeling lonely even when I was with him.  I needed to learn to love myself first before I could love him back and do it in a healthy, mature manner.
Of course the relationship ended badly.  And my heart was broken.  And I thought, I’ll just change myself into this great person and he will want me back!  And he did…for a minute.  But the old patterns started again and I realized in the end that I needed to change for myself not him. 

I needed to learn to love myself first to understand and set proper boundaries to have someone love me in return. And now I want to find someone who will appreciate that I feel good about myself and live joyliciously so he will want to be part of that joy and love!  It’s still a work in progress but I’m getting better every day.  I’m finding that I am starting to like myself again.  And to be able to look in the mirror each morning and say, “You are ok.  I love you. You matter to me.”

A few years ago I got a tattoo of a heart on my shoulder to remind myself of just that.  Maybe I’ll show you someday!  Joyliciously fun!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Charlie

Last night I was flipping through reading random blogs when I came across one that made me stop and read. It wasn’t all fancy with tons of pictures or a colorful background. All it had was a date and then the author starting writing. What caught my eye were the first two sentences. They read, “I’m in agony. I hope I did the right thing.”

The blog then proceeded to talk about dealing with advanced diabetes, medical procedures, medicines, and trips to health facilities. As I read my heart went out to this woman. But as I read I began to realize what she was talking about was that she had put her beloved pet cat down the previous day. She talked about lying with him for hours crying at what she knew was the impending end. Of him sleeping between her and her husband each night and the love she felt for him. She talked of her sadness at knowing it was the right time to put him down but the hardest decision she ever made. And the self-doubt as she drove to the vet with him beside her in the car that one last time.

I had tears running down my face. But what really got me was as I scrolled down the page a picture of her wonderful cat appeared. It was the twin of my dear kitty Charlie. And I had just experienced a similar loss only 8 months before. Oh how I could identify with her emotions. I still have a hard time talking about Charlie. I want to someday write about his personality and antics but for now the loss is still too fresh. Even after all of these months.

How is it that we become so attached to our furry little friends? They are our other children. Their constant and unconditional love for us. Their need for us and us for them. They provide companionship in good times and bad. I originally got Charlie to help me with empty nest syndrome when my daughter went away to college. I had him for 15 years. He was my buddy, my baby, my angel kitty.

My heart goes out to the woman whose blog I read. I wish I had saved it and sent her an email. But I was so shocked when I saw the picture and crying so much I had to close my computer and go to bed for the night.

Cherish your pets. They are here for us when we need them. To comfort us and make us laugh. To fill us with exasperation and amazement. Enjoy them while you can.

To my furry angel kitty – Charlie! Love you always. Joyliciously~

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Vision and Mission Statements

As most of you know, I was one of 7 finalists in Dr. Pat's Holistic Makeover (http://transformationtalkradio.com/).  I feel very privileged and blessed to be part of this process and sharing my stories with you.  In winning this makeover we were each challenged to come up with a Pay-It-Forward project.  Thus began my blog on learning to have a joylicious life after suffering loss and grief.

Recently Dr. Pat asked all of us to write our vision and mission statements for our Pay-It-Forward projects.  She also asked us to post them on our blogs.  Here are mine.  I would love any feedback or suggestions on how I can make my blog better or future items or stories you would like me to share or discuss.  Thanks so much!  Have a joylicious day~

Vision Statement: I envision women reaching their full potential by learning to embrace loss and grief as opening a path to a new hopeful, peaceful and joylicious life.

Mission Statement: Using my writings, blog, and speaking engagements I will inspire, coach, and enable women to see that they are special and that their stories matter.  That all women can experience a joylicious life after suffering adversity.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aloha~

In a recent issue of AARP magazine (yes, I’m a member), I read the following: “When Vacation Isn’t 62% of those 45-54 have used their paid leave for caregiving.”

At the time my stepmother became ill with ALS I had over 1000 hours of sick leave available to me as well as 4 weeks of vacation a year and 8 furlough days. And I used all of them to help my father take care of her and then to take care of him when he was in the hospital. I would do it again if called for but I now know, looking back, that it wasn’t healthy for me to spend all of those hours as a caregiver and not take care of myself in the process. And that is why I struggle with good health now.

I think too often women, in particular, give so much of their time and energy in service of others that they can damage their health. Our kids need us, our parents need us, we feel a commitment to our job, our church, our friends. And it is hard for us to say no.

We love our family and friends. We don’t want to disappoint them or feel we are letting them down. But I think we better serve them and ourselves if we set boundaries and expectations and then hold ourselves accountable to those very things. I constantly have to ask myself, “what good am I if I’m so tired or not feeling well that I’m not taking proper care of myself or my father”? If I can’t give 100% to whatever task at hand, no matter how lovingly or willingly we do it, I think we need to ask for help.

And that opens up a whole other issue. Asking for help. I’m the worst. I think I’m superwoman. I can do it all. And I want to do it all. But I have to know my own limitations and not let my pride get in my way. I have to look at is as I’m giving a gift to the people who want to help too. I’m making them feel better by letting them know they are needed and wanted too. That they can contribute as much as me and as well as me. It’s a validation of their worth too.

Let’s all try and take some time off. A true vacation. Even if it is only one day to cherish and pamper yourself. Nurture yourself. It will make you feel better. Then you can pass on those good feelings to everyone around you and it’s taking better care of you and your loved ones in the long run. Joylicious!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Challenge

Some people are wondering why I’ve named my blog Kat’s Joylicious Life and I’ve been asked to define the word Joylicious and what it means to me.

I think of Joylicious as a combination of several words that evoke strong emotional feelings. Those words would include joyful, delightful, delicious, luscious, scrumptious, enchanting,  peaceful, hopeful and hope filled.

Finding a life for yourself that goes beyond happy and encompasses your current and future situations.

It means taking your loss and grief and trusting in the process that the universe is not testing you.  But that it is opening up space for new and better experiences to come to you.

I also want the word to be used as a reminder to women not to lose themselves in care giving or relationships.  To love themselves and cherish themselves even during the hard times so that they don’t neglect their health and well-being.  If you don’t take care of yourself first it’s very hard to have anything left to give to others.

It’s a reminder to live your life with passion and pleasure.  You only have one life so why spend it being negative and depressed.  Look for the Joylicious moments in your life every day.

More to come…Kisses!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Weight-y Issue

When I was a sophomore in high school we had to take Physical Education as a required class. I was never very good at it as I have always been uncoordinated and have never really enjoyed or understood why people willingly want to exercise.

One day we were told to suit up and head to the gym. We wore these horrible short navy blue jumpsuits. When we got there we were assembled in a line and one at a time asked to step on a scale and get weighed in front of the entire class. It was and still is one of the most humiliating experiences and memories of my life. I got on the scale and weighed 135. I was the 2nd to heaviest girl in the class and the heaviest girl was truly heavy! My self-esteem had never really been good but this was terrible!

The whispers and snickering of the other girls. The sideways looks of pity. I was devastated. I had always been self-conscious when shopping with my friends anyway as they all wore sizes 2, 4, 6. I was very curvy and, at 5’5”, wore a size 11 and had to shop in the women’s department while they all chose clothes from the junior department! What I would give to weigh 135 now! And I haven’t seen that size since I was 20 years old!

I think it was so cruel of my school to do that to us girls. Even some of the thin girls were humiliated. I had always felt not good enough anyway as my mother was beautiful and a petite size 7 and 5’2”. I can still hear those whispers and laughter in my head to this day.

When I was 21 I gave birth to my daughter. I gained 70 lbs during my pregnancy that I have never taken off. But how long can you claim, “it’s the baby weight” when your daughter is 35?

Next week I’m going to start a new diet. I really hate that word. Think about it. The first three letters are D-I-E. That can’t be good. I’m so tired of feeling like I’m depriving myself all the time and see my weight creep up and up. I will be working with my naturopath and I want to call it a new lifestyle. Changing my metabolism. I’m reading the new book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. I’m trying to change what’s in my head too. The negative self-talk messages that make me fat. That voice that tells me I’m not good enough to be thin and beautiful. I know I can do this. I want to take off this weight for the last time in my life and be healthy so that I can live to a ripe old age.

I will be exploring some of these feelings in the coming weeks. I know that there is a beautiful, joylicious woman in there! And I’m going to find her!! I hope you join my journey!