In Sickness…

A couple days after returning from Houston, I fell ill. Often times, I don’t feel well, but continue to function and think I am being lazy until I am feeling better and then I realize I was sick. This time was different; I knew I was sick. I didn’t function well at all. The first day I did some personal development and had some quiet time on the couch drinking tea and hanging out with the cats.  I felt a little better the next day for a short time so went to wallyball.  It was okay but I was tired. I realized later in the day I still didn’t feel well so I skipped basketball. By Monday I was feeling very frustrated with feeling off. I struggled to wake up in the morning and started to cry; I hate that feeling of grogginess and trying to wake up. I didn’t have to help with cattle when we went out to the farm. I did continue to do things around the house and went out each day to feed the chickens. Everything just seemed so hard, everything took so much effort. I wanted (and did) cry when things seemed so heavy or overwhelming.  Wednesday was the beginning of the end.  Despite having a sore back which started on Tuesday, I went to bootcamp and felt more energetic after. I was able to play wallyball and basketball on Thursday and it was good. So what does it all mean besides that I am terrible sick person?

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Me sick, trying to read with Murphy (who was also sick as we found out later). I didn’t read much of the book, but spent more time reading on line.

I had a couple of coffee dates, one last Wednesday afternoon and one today. My visit last week was with someone who works in health care. The person today was someone who has had some severe health problems and still struggles with immunity and a bad back. Both told me stories of sickness but more than that, they told me stories so strength, of perseverance and hope. Both people, through their musings gave me perspective.

The person I saw today has suffered through vehicle accidents and cancer. She has had personal struggles as well. She gets up every day and makes things happen. She is unable to work but does some volunteering helping kids. She stays positive despite what she has gone through and what she is still dealing with. Listening to her, I just felt like everything seemed so hard. When she dropped something, she used one of those claws with a handle. It is normal for her; for me it seemed so difficult. One comment she made was that she she could reach everything in her home. The things some of us take for granted, others see as a blessing.

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I got the tea cup and tea from my fearless Monat leader when we were in Houston and had it in the afternoon that first and worst day.

The health care worker related her growth over the years that was amplified through her work, her ability to have empathy and to be a better person because of the people she has met. She talked of each person having a story. We all have a story but there are people who have spent their lives not having someone listen to their story. She said that much of the illness she sees is a result of heart and head pain (ache). She believes in connecting with people to bring a few moments of joy in that heart and head pain. She is passionate about people knowing they have worth. It was interesting to listen to her say many of the things that I too believe.

I am not a good patient…I am not patient at all with being sick. Yes, I push myself through it but I cry when it gets tough. Yes, I get back to working out as soon as physically possible, perhaps more quickly than other people but a hero I am not. It was so fitting to have my visits with these two people after going through my little flu bug. I am inspired by people who go through so much and remain strong, positive and full of grace, and those who care for people who suffer greatly through illness and heart and head pain, those who are strong, positive and full of grace as well as those who are miserable and nasty and want to give up. I fear I would be more like the latter if it were me. In my health though, I will practice strength, positivity and grace. And… I will practice empathy and listening to the story and hopefully helping someone to know they have worth.

Three Strangers and a Friend

It’s time to share some insights I gleaned from interrogating asking better questions and listening to the answers. My last day in Texas I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend I have not seen in 38 years (except the hour I saw her in October).  I got to spend over 24 hours with her and we got to catch up on such a small portion of our lives since we spent time together so many years ago. On my way home, I had 2 flights and a bit of a layover in the airport giving me the opportunity to meet and listen to 3 lovely women. The underlying thing that makes the experiences (long lost friend vs strangers) different is history.

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Having lunch in Houston with my team members, the Houston police went by on their horses.  This one stopped for a pose. Not really related to the post but part of my Houston experience.

Meeting up with my friend FM was great.  She is still that funny, sweet friend I remember. Looking at her, she looked so different (as we all do after 38 years) and yet there was a familiarity too.  I got to meet her family (I had met her husband as many years ago) and visit with them.  FM and I haven’t been in contact all these years but I have had occasional contact with some of her family members so I did keep up with major milestones in her life. Still, life stands still in my memories of her. We both grew and matured and became different people but at the core we are the same.  I am still processing fine details but one conversation in particular, started to clarify in my mind one of the things that I am seeking information for in my quest to ask questions.

I met a quiet (my perception but perhaps she was just trying to ignore me haha) lady on the flight to Calgary.  I will call her Ann. She and her husband, who I also met, are missionaries in another province and run a camp.  She also home schools her kids as I did and their children are not much younger than ours.

When we got to the Calgary airport there was a couple hours layover.  I got off at my station (gates) in that huge airport and looked for food but at 7:30 everything was closed so I went to station A and found a Chili’s.  I pulled myself up to the bar near a lovely lady I will call Alex. She and I hit it off immediately. Her children are a bit older than mine.  It was such a chance meeting; one where it just feels like God has lined it up for great things in knowing each other.

The flight home was short but the lady (I will call Wanda), I sat beside grew up in the community I did, went to the same high school, knew the people who owned the property my son and his wife owns and had some great information to share on common interests.

At the end of each conversation including with my friend, I told each person about my project and asked them if there was anything I could help them with.  Still not sure how that will work out as that takes people by surprise and they don’t have an answer.  Perhaps they will contact me and have something.  Until then, I just offer.

Going into the better questions/listening project I did not have specific questions to ask, nor was there any specific information I was trying to glean.  Really, to be natural and not feel like I am interrogating someone, I need to keep the conversation flowing.  However over the couple days, I started to pin point something I want to know for my own growth, something that eludes me. And today, a fleeting thought popped into my head and I think it is related to that thing. And that’s all I am going to say about it, because I want to have a conversation with individuals and seek their answers in hopes to figuring out my own.  When I find it, I will share.

I Want to Listen More

I am sitting in beautiful downtown Houston outside the Hilton waiting for my friend to pick me up.  I enjoyed a wonderful convention and am blessed to stay an extra day and spend it with a friend I hadn’t seen in about 35 years until a brief visit in October. I am so excited for our time together.  But that’s not actually what this post is about or that will work into it I am sure.

As some of you know, I have been doing a lot of personal development stuff particularly in the areas of business along with becoming an all around better me…actually that’s the biggest thing I get from the books, podcasts, TED talks and Youtube sessions I engage in.  Over time I will share some of those nuggets because what you immerse in influences who you become.  This post is about one of those things I want to work on based on something a big leader in the real estate industry has been doing and talked about in a podcast.

He is an introvert and his business coach gave him an assignment to meet for coffee, talk to and listen to 50 strangers in a year and at the end ask them if there was a way he could help them with something. It was (is as he continues through another year) to increase his comfort level talking with people, strangers in particular.

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The curb beneath the horse’s nose is where I sat for 10 minutes with a total stranger.  The buggy I believe was for a wedding.

I totally loved the idea. Despite getting over-peopled, (especially in crowds) and needing my down time, I am more of an extrovert than introvert. I have therefore been wanting to modify the idea to suit what I need to work on.  I have exposed myself to crowds, this weekend being an example with over 1500 people in a grand ballroom for sessions and events day and evening, but I wouldn’t say I have a huge discomfort with it, just need downtime too.  I do need to listen to people more.  Anyone who knows me, knows I can talk endlessly.  On days when I am not talkative (I think, I am just listening), my friends comment that I am quiet. So I have been formulating a plan. Coming to Houston was round one of practice.  I sat with a lady on a plane and yes I did talk some but I concentrated on asking her questions.  I have talked and told my stories this weekend but have also listened.  Speaking of stories, here is what happened last night:

We had an 80’s theme closing party.  After leaving there I changed into jeans and then decided with the warm temperatures I wanted to go outside and enjoy a short walk.  As I was approaching the corner, there was a young lady on the phone then she hung up just as I got there and sat on the curb in tears.  I sat down beside her, gave her a hug and she told me her situation and unleashed her anger. I listened, made a couple of jokes (as I do when I try to disperse stress) and continued to sit with my arm around her and reassure her. In the end, I told her I was not making any judgment about her situation but told her in the next little while to evaluate it and that she is worth more than this moment and moments like these (if they happen regularly).  It was a 10 minute interaction with a stranger. I talked less than 2 minutes of it.  I am not a hero, did not go above an beyond, I was just there at that moment.  That, and I took the opportunity to listen and to provide for her in that moment, the hug that she needed (and for which she expressed great gratitude). My few words and my action of listening may impact her life in a small way now or maybe a huge way unknown or unrecognized by either of us.  However, I was rewarded in knowing in that moment, I made her feel worth more than all she was going for and that is huge.

Which brings me to my assignment for me.  I am going to be setting up coffee/tea/visit dates with family and friends to start, because they will still be nice to me if my personal social experiment goes south. After awhile, I will be looking to others to visit with.  I will plan for 1 hour of time, so if any of you want to volunteer, I will put you in my calendar. Even if you don’t like me, feel free to have coffee with me.  I will talk, but only enough to make the conversation more comfortable.  I will mess up with some of you and request a do over because I am just learning.  I won’t share any private details of our visit but if there is something I learn about me, I will blog about what you taught me keeping your name out of it unless you want me to share that.  And at the end, I will ask if there is anything I can help you with.  I may not be able to in the moment or even at all, but sometimes someone can give a request and a year down the road I can say, ‘hey, that someone needed this or that, and now I know how to help’. If there is nothing I can help you with in the moment, that’s okay too.  I want it to be fun and relaxing and enjoyable for both of us. So, if you get a strange text from me in the near future, no need to wonder what I am up to, this is it.

Where They Are

It’s easy to look at someone and see where they are at.  There are those people who seem to have it all together.  It even appears it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to get there. Some people seem to have been born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth. There are others who seem to work pretty hard and they have things work out great for them. And then there is me.  I tried that and it didn’t work. I can’t do that; it’s not my thing. If I had that opportunity, I would be there too.  If I had the helping hand, it would be easier. I am not as smart, popular, healthy, motivated, strong, trained, as the other person. I just don’t have that kind of time to spend doing what is required. I could go on with the voices.  We all have them, badgering us at every turn, pushing us down, making us doubt and holding us back. What can we do with those voices when they keep pestering us, especially those ones that compel us to compare ourselves with others?

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You know those people you read about or maybe you personally know who have overcome great odds and reached a goal?  There is that guy who was from a broken home, who ended up on the street and then started a business and then another and another and made it big. Or how inspiring is the person who were in an accident and came back from it, overcoming odds beyond imagination and making an impact on the world. The stories are endless; spending time reading and listening to the stories are inspiring.

The difference between the first paragraph and the second is knowing the backstory.  When you know what a person went through to get where they are, you can be inspired by it.  When you don’t consider what they went through, you may think they were just lucky or gifted or were handed the opportunities.

So back to the voices. What can we do? Learn the story, get to know the person and find out where they started.

This applies to our jobs, our business ventures, it applies to our family and home, to our health–specifically what is determined/affected by our habitual food intake and exercise (or lack thereof). Aside from the hard work someone may be putting in, there are sacrifices we may not see, there was the prep work that happened years ago in another job that we don’t see.  The person may have spent time purposely networking, meeting people, calling people, connecting with people for the sake of kindness which has come back to them.

This moment, this ‘where they are’, happened over time, maybe a lifetime of experiences. Where you are today, didn’t happen over night.  There was a time you were not as accomplished, and there are people who look to you for inspiration.

I Believe…

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One thing I thing most people struggle with, particularly in developed areas where we are not worried about our daily bread, our safety, a roof over our head or any other day to day needs, is knowing what we will do when we grow up.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, the question can crop up, perhaps not in that way but ‘what will I be when I grow up?’ still rings true when we go through life changes and want to know our purpose.

In the mean time, we go through life dreaming about things we want to do, managing life’s struggles, hoping for something different, enjoying some great moments, trying new things, engaging in conversations, building a family, a home, a life, and still wondering what is it all about.

I still haven’t figured it out but I feel like I am getting closer and none too soon; I’m not getting any younger.  One thing I have realized is the person I was as a child, the person I was a teen, young adult, and all through my life is still the same.  Yeah I know; profound. Reflecting on moments in my past, I can pinpoint certain moments, moments that defined me and moments where someone said something like when my eighth grade teacher wrote something about me that I had to look up because I didn’t understand the words he used.  I have the same deep desires in me now and in all I do, those things come through.  I guess it is my why.  Still trying to define it but in a nutshell, I have a desire for people to live an abundant life.  I believe this is done by realizing ones full potential and I believe many people are bogged down with self doubt in their abilities.  I believe that when people feel good, they feel better (again profound).  Feeling better means having more self confidence, feeling capable, feeling ready to concur the world.

I believe that exercise is a huge key in developing those feelings of self efficacy.  When you are strong physically, you are stronger mentally and emotionally.  When you can take care of yourself, you can take care of others and other things. I love helping people realize they can do more than they think they can.

I believe when you look good you feel good.  I mentioned my Monat business.  Bad hair days are real.  What is also real is hair and scalp problems that go beyond a curl out of place.  People don’t talk about it.  They hide the scalp inflammation, they hide the thinning hair and cut off the breaking end and just don’t feel good.  I love it when someone finds relief with these through a great product that I introduced them to. Monat is my business to produce passive income.

We are flipping a house.  I have always wanted to do something like that.  I have enjoyed design and construction and decorating for…ever.  I am an ideas person, always have been so this is a great outlet for that. As with Monat, it is a means to secure a different lifestyle via real estate investing. My husband and I are looking for a means to spend more time doing the things we love and putting time in else where.

Finally, I believe we all have the potential to do so much more in any area of life and the things we do converge in magical ways to make us more of who we are and who we are meant to be.  Each life experience, every struggle, all the milestones culminate in growth that makes each person unique and uniquely capable of doing more than he or she can even imagine.

Or at least that’s what I believe.