Ordinary or Extraordinary: Which Will You Choose?

We seem to always have a list of reasons, challenges, and constraints as to why we can’t be extraordinary and live life extraordinarily.

  1. I don’t have enough money to do that
  2. now is just not the right time, I’ll do it later
  3. I would sooo do that if I didn’t have:
    • a family
    • a house to take care of
    • mortgage payment
    • the responsibility of protecting a safe, secure life
  4. I’m too old
  5. it’s impossible
  6. I simply can’t

We think these “reasons” are what’s holding us back when, in fact, they are not. Being extraordinary is a choice. Young, old, male, female, rich, poor, or whatever, it makes no difference. Anyone can be extraordinary; however, in order to be extraordinary, you must be willing (most people aren’t) to give up your ordinary life and make big changes. Warning: this will be uncomfortable and difficult. 


Here are some steps to start living YOUR extraordinary life:

  • embrace the unknown, there are so many great lessons to be learned
  • step outside your comfort zone, don’t run away from new experiences
  • realize there will be sacrifices
  • improve your confidence and believe in yourself
  • understand that you deserve to go after your dreams
  • know that failure is inevitable and that it’s ok, it’s part of the learning process
  • forget about what people think, there will always be naysayers and judgemental people
  • get out of your own way

The secret of living an extraordinary life is to take control of the mind since this alone will determine whether you live in a suffering state or a beautiful state. In the end, it’s all about the power of decisions. Our lives are shaped not by our conditions, but by our decisions.” Tony Robbins

extraordinary   WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?



Is Sitting Making You Sick?

Sitting too much can cause more health issues than just, what used to be called, secretary spread.  It’s even been said that sitting is the new smoking.

It is well-known that a sedentary lifestyle can cause blood clots in your legs and/or your lungs. Travel is the usual reason for this concern; sitting in one place, a small space, for an extended period of time.  Other concerns of sitting are:

  • heart disease
  • shortened life
  • diabetes
  • various cancers
  • weakened bones
  • hip and back issues
  • weight issues
  • anxiety  or depression
  • varicose veins

Driving, working, watching TV, playing games on the computer, and reading, are all things people do sitting down. With that in mind, here are some suggestions to get up and get moving.

  • take a break every 30 minutes to just stand up, at work, watching TV, gaming, reading
  • take regular leg stretching breaks on long drives or when flying
  • walk over to your co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling
  • get a pedometer and set a reasonable, steps per day, goal
  • stand up and walk around when you are on the phone
  • do some basic stretching exercises at your desk
  • read on a treadmill or recumbent bike
  • take the stairs instead of an elevator
  • park your car farther from the door
  • use a desk that allows you to sit or stand

Remember, the risk of serious health issues increases with a sedentary lifestyle. Being active is not as hard as you think and there are lots of simple ways to include some physical activity in your day. Moving around is good for your physical health as well as your mental health.


Mindfulness – Living in the Moment

Does this sound familiar?  I’m under the gun, there aren’t enough hours in a day, I’m swamped, I’m overwhelmed, I have all these chores to do, I’m just too busy, I am busy, busy, busy. This is how many of us live our lives.  Don’t want to live this fast-paced, chaotic life?  Ponder this…

The world we live in today promotes distraction,  disassociation, and mental fragmentation. When we’re on vacation we’re worrying about the work piling up on our desk. When we’re at work we’re thinking about vacation.  We spend so much time in our heads, going over and over the past and having apprehension about the future, that the present goes whizzing by and we have missed it.  We can’t get those moments back.

We can, however,  practice mindfulness…living in the moment. Living in the moment means not being on autopilot but being aware of what is going on around you right here and right now. It means being present and staying in this moment, not thinking about what has happened in the past and not thinking about what will happen next.  We can practice being still and peaceful.

  1. Stop being self-conscious. Try focusing on what is going on around you and not what’s going on in your mind.
  2. Appreciate and focus on whatever you are doing at the moment,  driving to work, folding laundry, or having a cuppa. Focusing on the moment helps keep you from worrying about the future. Mark Twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
  3. Accept your thoughts and feelings and be judgment-free in your acceptance. Instead of being upset with yourself because of how you’re feeling, face it head on and know that unpleasant thoughts and feelings are a fact of life, and that’s OKAY. They are what they are and you don’t HAVE to do anything with them.
  4. See the world with new eyes. When we believe we know about things we stop paying attention to them. In order to notice new things, you have to be present. You can’t zone out, (like when you drive to work and are surprised when you get there). Make noticing new things a habit no matter what you are doing.

Now that we know some of the steps to being mindful, how do we put it into practice? PSYBLOG  (https://www.spring.org.uk ) suggests the following, simple, anyone can do them, exercises.

1. The walking meditation

If you do any period of undisturbed walking during the day — at least ten or fifteen minutes — then you can do a little walking mindfulness meditation.

It’ll be easiest if done somewhere with fewer distractions, but try it anywhere and see what happens.

As when cultivating all forms of mindfulness, it’s about focusing the attention.

At first, people often concentrate on the sensation of their feet touching the ground.

Then you could just as easily focus on your breath or move the attention around your body, part by part.

The key, though, is to develop a sort of relaxed attention. When your mind wanders away, bring it back gently, without judging yourself.

2. The eating meditation

Will you be eating any food today?

Thought so.

So you can practice a little mindfulness meditation while you eat.

When you take the first bite of any meal, just take a moment to really pay attention to the taste.

Look at the food carefully, feel the textures in your mouth, smell it and notice how your body reacts to it.

You don’t need to keep this up all the way through the meal but use it every now and then to focus your attention.

3. Mindful mini-break

Checking email has now become, for many, what we do in between other tasks, sometimes as a kind of break.

Change this.

Instead, drop the email and practice one of the mindfulness exercises.

Turn away from the computer/tablet/smartphone and sit for a moment noticing the sensations in your mind and body.

How do you feel? What can you hear?

Try to be as present in that moment.

If your mind wanders off to tasks that you have to complete or starts working over things that happened yesterday, let these go.

Gently bring your mind’s focus back to the present. Just be wherever you are for a few moments.

Remember: mindfulness is not about trying to make sense of anything, it’s about attention to that moment.

4. Listen mindfully

Any time that’s convenient, try a little mindful listening.

We get used to a lot of the sounds that are around us and quickly tune them out.

If you live in the city, there might be police sirens, train announcements and people sneezing.

In the countryside there could be trees rustling, birds calling or a gate creaking.

What can you hear right now?

Or, put on some music and really listen to it for a short period: try to hear the music without thinking about it.

Try not to let your mind wander to things it reminds you of, to judgments about the music or think about the lyrics too much.

Just allow the music to flow over you and for you to flow into the music.

5. Mindful brushing

Some things we do so often that we almost don’t notice them anymore.

Habits, like brushing your teeth, are usually performed automatically, while the mind skips off to other plans, worries or regrets.

Instead, try to focus on that chore and really experience it. Notice how the brush moves over your teeth and the taste of the toothpaste.

Another routine that can incorporate mindfulness exercises is showering or bathing.

Let your senses feed on the process and bring your mind back when it wanders off to other worries or thoughts.

You can perform any chore mindfully and you might be surprised what you notice.

6. Just one breath

At any time during the day, take a moment to focus on one breath.

Breathe in, then breathe out.

Focus your attention on how this feels, where you notice the air moving, how your chest and abdomen move.

Try it now.

You’re not looking for a revelation from this experience; think of it more like a little mental push-up for your mind.

That’s it, or if you want to extend it to a few more breaths, that’s fine.

7. Candle meditation

Of all the mindfulness exercises, this requires a little preparation: you need a candle and a darkened room.

Sit for a while watching the candle and focusing on the flame (don’t sit too close).

You are not trying to stare it out or ‘think’ about the chemical reaction that is going on.

In fact, you are not ‘trying’ to do anything: it’s more that you are just noticing the candle in a simple, pure way.

8. Experience nature

If your walking mindfulness exercises should happen to take you to a park or green space of some kind, then this is the perfect opportunity for a little more mindfulness meditation.

As you stand, sit or walk, try to become more aware of nature around you.

See the different types of leaves; hear the bird calls, the wind and the distant rumble of traffic; sense the air moving over your skin and sun heating your face.

Again, after a few moments, your mind may try to wander where it will.

Be kind to yourself: gently nudge your attention back to nature and your surroundings.

Many people do this naturally when they are in nature but do not necessarily label it as one of the mindfulness exercises.

It’s doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as your attention is focused on the present moment.

Mindfulness exercises

Hopefully, these will give you some ideas about how to practice mindfulness exercises during your day.

As mindfulness expert, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, says:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Don’t feel limited by these mindfulness exercises. Feel free to mix and match or fit them into your life any way you can.

Almost any activity can incorporate some mindfulness exercises.

Individually these steps may seem small, but you might be surprised at the effect they can have.


It’s Tough love – Parenting our Parents

My mom will have been will have been gone 24 years this October, my dad has been gone just a little over 10 years. My dad and I kind of co-parented my mom. I did it for my dad, as mom and I never really had a good relationship. It was difficult at best. She would do the strangest things and she became mean and combative and boy did she cuss! She had early onset Alzheimer’s. We watched her lose herself bit by bit for about 11 years. Our saving graces were, each other and The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins. What a great resource. I would highly recommend it if you are parenting a parent suffering from any kind of dementia or memory loss.

When your parent is showing signs of dementia, or memory loss, it’s hard to know what to do. You may try to pretend there is nothing wrong, but that won’t last very long.  You love them and realize you have to step up and do some hard things. For instance:

  • convincing them they need to leave their home
  • taking away their driving privileges
  • setting boundaries
  • having to help with finances or taking them over entirely

This new role you must play will be stressful and uncomfortable.  Most parents will put up a fight.  Of course they will, the things you suggest are threatening their dignity and identity. (Remember when they set boundaries for you or took your keys away? Talk about putting up a fight!) However, it can be done and you can do it.

Here are some hints and coping mechanisms.

  1. Do not hesitate to ask for help, of any kind, whether it be physical, moral, emotional, financial, legal.
  2. Start checking, sooner rather than later, around to see what services are offered in your area such as support groups, adult day care, assisted living, home health care, Meals on Wheels.
  3. Listen to what others, in your situation, have to say but remember what works for one doesn’t always work for all.
  4. Don’t feel like you have to be superwoman or superman. Do what you can with what you have, make your decisions and move on.
  5. Find ways to ease into the conversations about big changes.
  6. Remember you are their champion.Your concern is that they get the best care available, regardless of where they are.
  7. Remember you are not dictator. When possible, discuss things with them and let them give their input. Make suggestions in such a way they think it is their idea.
  8. Continually remind them that your goal is to help them be independent for as long as possible and it’s okay if they need help.

This circle of life stuff isn’t for wimps. This is hard stuff. It’s important to be firm and honest. Try to be compassionate and not condescending.  Your parent is going to feel like they are losing control and indeed they are.

Most importantly, be mindful of your needs. Talk to your friends, find a support group, ask for help. You don’t have to do it all by yourself and you shouldn’t. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for your parent.


I’ll Love you Forever by Robert M Munsch

image courtesy of Barnes and Noble


An Attitude of Gratitude

We all get stuck in this quagmire we call life. We are unmotivated, we don’t know what to do, we don’t know what we want, we don’t have any confidence, the world is chaotic. Here are a few ways we get stuck.

  • not asking for help and get overwhelmed
  • worrying and assuming the worst case scenario
  • beating yourself up about past mistakes
  • getting mad at yourself and everyone else when mistakes are made or unexpected circumstances arise

Are you acquainted with any of these?

In order to get unstuck, we need to accentuate the positive. We need to get an attitude adjustment.  We need to learn to be grateful for all that we have and all that we can do. Try some of these methods for eliminating the negative.

  • Ask yourself if this will matter in a year? 6 months? a week? tomorrow? Chances are, it won’t.
  • Take a moment, slow down, take a deep breath, and find some enjoyment in the little things
  • Think about another time you felt overwhelmed or lost. How did you deal with it?
  • Help someone in need. This usually changes your perspective on things.
  • Take some time to relax and play.


Affirmation-Channeling Your Positive Thoughts



I have a chalkboard wall in my bedroom.  It’s my positivity wall, some might call it a vision wall.  Only uplifting, positive words and thoughts are allowed on my wall. Sometimes there are, new to me, words that I find interesting, like coddiwample.  To coddiwample is to travel with great purpose toward a vague destination. What a great word! Sometimes there are goals on my wall. Right now, it says “bonjour mes amis”, the goal being a visit to France.  Sometimes my kids and grandkids write positive things on my wall. I love it when they do!

Mostly though, my wall has affirmations on it.  Affirmations are emotional support statements and encouragement to oneself.  Affirmations build us up by helping us believe in the power of our words and positive thinking.  Here are some of mine.

  • I am fearless
  • I am loveable
  • I am beautiful
  • I believe in myself
  • I live in this moment
  • I forgive myself for not being perfect.
  • I am grateful for the gift of this day
  • I deserve the good
  • I am unique and wonderful
  • I  make my own choices and decisions
  • I am doing my best and it is enough
  • I am happy
  • I am full of love and compassion
  • I am the author of my story

Want to make your own affirmations? Following are some guidelines.

1) Your affirmation must only have positive words. If yours has words like, can’t, don’t or won’t, reword it.

2) Your affirmation must be present tense. Even if it is not true right now, repeating it will train your brain and motivate you.

3) Your affirmation should be relevant.

4) Your affirmation should be specific.

5) Repeat your affirmation. There are no set rules as to how many times or how often to repeat your affirmation.  Be focused when you are repeating it and repeat it regularly.  Do what works best for you.

At first, you will have to make a conscious decision to repeat your affirmation. It is said that it takes 21 days of repetition for an affirmation to make its mark on your brain.  Shoot for at least 1 month. At some point, your brain will automatically go to the positive thought.  Think of it as you are training your mind the way a bodybuilder trains their body. It’s really up to you to do the work.

Don’t forget –



Are You Listening To Me?

I say it all the time, communication is a wonderful thing; wonderful and oh. so. difficult.  You have the speaking part and the listening part.

The speaking part

  • why you say it- what is your intention, purpose
  • when you say it – out of the blue, during an argument, time of day
  • how you say it – inflection- changing your tone can completely change your meaning
  • what you don’t say – sometimes more telling than what you do say
  • your body language – posture, facial expressions

Let’s focus on the listening part. Most of us, most of the time, are just pretending to listen. Our focus is somewhere else, maybe looking at our phones, rifling through things, watching TV. We aren’t really listening, we’re busy forming our next thought. We’re waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can speak.

The listening part

  • be present, alert, engaged
  • don’t interrupt
  • ask questions – for explanation and clarification
  • be empathetic – put your self in their shoes, understand
  • give undivided attention
  • acknowledge
  • don’t judge

Being listened to and understood is a very basic need. When you actively listen you encourage the speaker to open up and better convey their thoughts and feelings.  The benefit for them is they can tell you have set aside this time just for them and that you value them and what they are saying, a rare thing, indeed.

The benefit for you

  • you will be a better parent, friend, spouse, employee
  • you will have a new and very important skill
  • have better, open, honest, trusting relationships
  • you will help others feel valued, in turn making you feel valued also

Listening is a skill well worth honing.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”             

-Rachael Naomi Remen-

Ladies, Let’s Get Down and Dirty

I originally wrote this for a freelance client. I decided it wasn’t right for that particular client. Still, after putting in the work, I wanted someone to read it. Aren’t you the lucky ones?

Ok ladies, let’s get down and dirty.  Oil change 101

First, we need to gather the correct tools:

  • old clothes
  • eye protection
  • latex gloves
  • rags
  • box end wrench
  • oil filter wrench
  • drain pan
  • funnel
  • new oil filter
  • new oil

Before heading off to the store, check your owner’s manual for the amount, type, and weight of oil your car manufacturer recommends. Your owner’s manual will also recommend how often you should change your oil, follow that guideline when purchasing your oil filter. Your owner’s manual will also probably recommend you take your car to the dealership to have the oil changed. If that’s what you’re gonna do, stop reading now, and ignore the rest of my post. (Please …don’t do it, keep reading…just for the fun of it.)

Make sure your vehicle is on a flat surface. Run the engine for a few minutes to heat the oil then turn the car off. Open the hood, find the dip stick (not the nitwit) and remove it, to help the oil flow when draining. Put your box-end wrench, oil filter wrench, drain pan and new filter, on a large piece of cardboard or something similar so everything is there when you need it. Before sliding this under the car, coat the new filter with clean oil.

Don your eye protection, put on those gloves and let’s get under that car.

  1. The oil pan should be easy to identify, it’s large and it sags.
  2. Locate the oil drain plug, it is the long bolt head at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Position your drain pan under the plug and loosen it (the plug), using your box-end wrench ( lefty loosey).
  4. Carefully remove the plug. The oil is going to come out quickly (very quickly) but it will take a few minutes for the pan to completely empty.  Remember: OIL MAY BE HOT
  5. Wipe the oil pan threads and drain plug threads with a rag. Take a good look at the condition of the oil pan and oil drain plug threads and gasket. If you think the plug looks wonky, buy a new one.
  6. Put the drain plug back in and tighten to snug (I believe this is akin to a pinch, a dash, and a smidgen) and carefully add 1/2 turn (righty tighty).
  7. Find the oil filter.  Move your drain pan under the oil filter.
  8.  Loosen the oil filter with oil filter wrench (lefty loosey). Allow the oil to drain.
  9. Remove the filter. Check to make sure the filter gasket has come off with the filter. If it’s still stuck to the engine mounting plate, remove it. Wipe off any excess gunk.
  10. Install the new filter onto the engine. Tighten the filter, by hand (righty tighty). Doesn’t need to be too tight. If you can unscrew the filter with your hand, with only a little bit of struggle, then you’re just right on the tight.
  11. Under the hood, remove the oil fill cap. Using your funnel, pour in oil and replace the cap.
  12. Start the engine and run at idle for a minimum of 30 seconds. Check under the vehicle for leaks (especially by drain plug and filter). If leaks are visible, shut off the engine immediately and have the leaks repaired.
  13. Put dip stick (still not the nitwit) back in and check the amount of oil. Add more oil if needed. You shouldn’t have to add oil. Remember, we checked the owner’s manual for the amount.
  14. Done. Over. Finished. Well done, you!

Important tips to heed:

  • Never use an adjustable wrench or socket on the drain plug. Use the properly sized box-end wrench.
  • Always hand-tighten the filter.
  • Never use a filter wrench for tightening.

Visit earth911.com to find an oil/oil filter recycling center you.

I think I’m pretty sure, I might try this…sometime… in the future…maybe…perhaps…

This was rather fun to write. If there are errors, please let me know. It could turn out badly if I forgot something important. EEEK!


Sweet, Sweet Story

A momma is nursing her 2 year-old son.  Momma’s been hollerin’. It’s been a rough,  2 year-old asserting his freedom kind of day.  They are calming and settling down and getting snuggly with each other.  Momma kisses him on the top of the head and says “I love you”. He pulls away and puts his little hand on his heart then puts the same little hand on hers.  Surprised she says “That’s right, we love with our heart. Who told you that we love with our heart?” His answer, “God”.  Momma is amazed and overcome with emotion. They continue to snuggle and love each other; he falls asleep.

Curious, Momma calls the babysitter to ask if she has been talking, about love and God, to the boy.  It wasn’t the babysitter. Momma talks, later that evening, to her other son, who is 10 years old. She retells the tale to him and asks, “Have you been talking to your brother about God and love”?  “Yes, I have” answers the 10-year-old.

the boys

What a wonderful story about love, God’s love, a momma’s love and the love between brothers. This sweet,sweet story is true and about my oldest daughter Lexie and her sons Jett (10) and Joaquin (2). Sorry about lack of your face in the pic, Lexie. I love you.<3

lex Jett Q