Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

As 2010 comes to an end (thankfully), we all have some experiences I am certain we would like to throw in a basket and toss out like the garbage, just as the ball drops in Times Square.

Well, let's do just that!!!

Toss them out to the curb today!!!

Take all the negative experiences and events that occurred in 2010, or even prior, and wrap them up tight in a symbolic garbage bag or barrel, and toss them out for good as 2011 approaches!!!

We do not need them!!

They do not define us or affect us unless we keep them hanging around!!

Bad things happen to everyone from time to time  but they do so in order for us to learn from them, to grow as people,  NOT for us to dwell on them and re-live them and suffer endlessly as a result of them!

Time to move on ....time to change our outlook and views on things that cause us worry, anxiety, fear, and trepidation!!

Heart broken?  Forgive and move on!!

Betrayed?  Forgive and move on!!!

Feeling down or disappointed?  Move on!!

This is not the way to lead our lives!!

2011 is my self-proclaimed "Year of Faith and Belief"!!!

Resolve to have Faith that you are "where you are meant to be right now" and pray that you will be guided down a path of happiness, joy, peace and love!!

Because that is where we all will arrive if we learn to leave the driving and guiding to a greater Power than our own minds and actions!!

2011 WILL be all you pray and wish for if you Believe it!!!!

Go out and seize this opportunity to make the change today and to claim what God has given you already- peace, joy and love!!

It is your gift and the ONLY thing stopping us from attaining it is our own minds, negative thoughts, and doubts!!

Well guess what...that is the old you, and 2011 is the jumping off point for all of our happiness and peace!!

There is nothing impeding us that cannot be overcome by four simple words:

"This... is..... my...... Time!!!"

Go out and serve each other, and in doing so you will be served all you wish and desire!!!

This so called " Reality" we are in is a mere illusion and we must make 2011 the excuse to break free and capture what we have been given and have merely not accepted!!

I am with you on this journey, and I pray you take this opportunity to make your life all that it was intended to be!

I know you will!! And so will I!!

Thank you all for your love and support all year ... it has not gone unnoticed and always makes a difference!!!!  More than you will ever know!!!

God Bless and Stay Strong!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You Never Know from where your Source of Happiness will come today!

This is a true story but it could truly be used as a metaphorical anecdote indeed!

My train commute started out as usual, save for several open parking spots and the tons of snow all over the lot!

I found my favorite seat and began my normal morning routine - check and respond to new emails, send daily horoscopes to my wife and brother in law, find a Daily Inspirational quote to shoot off to people I believe will benefit from reading it on any given day, and then browse the WSJ, Financial Times, NY Post (of course) and NY Times on my Droid phone.

The doors opened at the first stop after I got on the train and I suddenly heard "May I sit in this seat, Sir"?

I said "of course" and the response was "AWESOME. Thank you so much!"

I was seated in a 5 seater with three on one side and two on the other and this young man of ten years old with glasses and the most colorful scarf quickly jumped into the seat next to me.  His Mom quickly followed behind and got him unbundled!

Before she could even get to the hood of his coat, he introduced himself to me so politely I was blown away.

"Hello, Sir. My name is Sebastian. Nice to meet you. What is your name?"  he reached his hand out for a shake.

" My name is Douglas. Nice to meet you Sebastian."  and we shook on it!

Over the course of the next 40 minutes, young Sebastian (speaking in French to his Mom as she tried to focus his attention on reading and not "disturbing" the quiet, reading commuters with small talk) owned that section of this MetroNorth Train with his sheer enthusiasm, politeness, anecdotes, and natural positive personality.

When the female train conductor stopped at our seats for collection Sebastian asked her if she could make Tinkerbell out of the ticket (apparently done for him before by a very creative conductor), she told him she could not and seemed not to notice just who she was dealing with this lovely morning.

Sebastian looked at her through his glasses and merely said in response:

"That is ok. You are the most beautiful conductor I have ever seen in my life".  This brought laughs from everyone around us and smiles from ear to ear on every single commuter in earshot!

Even the business-like conductor melted and said:  "Why thank you and you are a mighty handsome young man.  You certainly made my day!"

And he certainly did... but Sebastian's work was not done just yet!

Over the course of the trip I learned the following from this special young boy:

"His Mom's coat was real leopard"
"His friend was on the train as well."
"He has a boy who is his enemy who tries to punch his mom (in the breasts no less)
" He and his friend are training to be Super Heroes and he showed me the results of his training on his biceps"
"He was going to his Mom's work where she is the Boss - and she likes bossing everyone around"
" He liked my name because it is the same name as our President"
"He asked me if I was a President and when I said 'No' he said I should be because 'I looked like a President'
"He asked me why I was not wearing a tie and I told him because work is slow and it was ok to not wear one this week, he said I really should wear a tie".  I promised him I would starting tomorrow.
"He felt I was a 'really nice Man' and he thought I should be our President."

He marveled at the snow out the window, told me when we were going into tunnels, and pointed out things on our neighboring commuter's newspaper that he found fascinating - especially "American Football".

All the while calling me "Douglas" each time and beaming with the rare, genuine excitement that we all probably once held as youngsters, but has since been washed away from us over times, struggles, and human interactions.

At first his Mom tried to keep him quiet and distracted, but she quickly realized that neither I nor my fellow 5-seater commuter companion minded his banter and questions, and observations in the least.

In fact it was thoroughly enjoyable, refreshing and welcomed!!!

The trip culminated quicker than any commute into work I believe I ever had and the "piece de resistance" came when Sebastian told me how nice I was to speak with him and leaned over to give me a peck on my cheek! 

"Keep up the good work, Douglas", he told me as he re-bundled and got ready to de-train.

As we left the train - he and his Mom heading to work to boss some people around, and me to the subway, i heard him calling "Douglas", "Douglas" behind me from the crowded platform. I stopped and waited for them to catch up in the crowd. Sebastian once again thanked me for our chat and told me "You really need to be President, Douglas."

It was an amazingly rejuvenative commute, all brought on by a special young 10 year old who sees life as we all should see it -- through the eyes of the grateful, the eyes of wonder and enthusiasm, the eyes of the present moment! 

Filled with kindness, gentleness, and love!

This young man and his Mom have a long road ahead of them, but I am certain that the special gift that God has given him will take him places, and accomplish things that we do not even measure on our daily scales of success!

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit next to Sebastian!  Merci Beaucoup, mon petit jeune garcon!

My day has been made and for that I am grateful as well!!!

Just remember, you never know from where your source of happiness will come today!

Stay Strong!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great photo of Blizzard aftermath in Brooklyn NY

Christmas Blessing!! Please read!!

There are 12 months/ 12 disciples/ 12 tribes of Israel / Jesus' birth celebrated in the 12th month.

There is nothing attached.

Just send this to twelve others.

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, just a lot of reward. Make sure you pray, and pray believing God will answer.
May today be all you need it to be.

May the peace of God and the freshness of the Holy Spirit restore your thoughts, rule in your dreams tonight, and conquer all your fears.

May God manifest himself today in ways you have never experienced.

May your joys be fulfilled, your dreams be closer, and your prayers be answered.

I pray that faith enters a new height for you; I pray that your territory is enlarged. I pray for peace, healing, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, true and undying love for God.

Now send this to 12 people within 5 minutes and remember to send this back..... I count as 2, you'll see why.

(Suggestion: copy and paste rather than forward)

Have a blessed Christmas season and thank you for being such a major blessing in my life !!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Daily Inspiration - Hellen Keller


When one door closes another opens. But often we look so long, so regretfully, upon the closed door, that we fail to see the one that is opened for us.
----Helen Keller

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. -Helen Keller

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. -Helen Keller

There is opportunity in every trouble.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My wish and prayer for you today and EVERY DAY!!

May God grant you always...

A sunbeam to warm you,
a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you.
Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray,
Heaven to hear you.

-Irish Blessing

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Stay Positive - How to Think Positive

I apologize for the lack of writing lately, but I have become re-invigorated from a little break and I am ready to resume the journey with you all!!  However, today I must share the following link on "How to Stay Positive"!!! 

It is a great piece and tremendous reminder of how important it is to keep the negative thoughts from cascading and drowning us!!! We often struggle with this constant battle and this article gives some great tips on how to stay on top of it all!!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Happiness depends, as Nature shows, less on exterior things than most suppose.
~ William Cowper

As Thanksgiving is upon us, it is necessary for all of us to truly reflect on our lives and give thanks for all that we have and can call Blessings!!

We are in a time of almost unprecedented financial distress in this world and all indications are that it may get worse before it gets better. No matter how wealthy you are, you are affected by this worldwide slowdown and anxiety ridden period.

Nonetheless, there is so much in our lives that we must take pause and give thanks for despite the troubles in the world around us today!

I give thanks for all of you, first and foremost!!  Without the love of my family and friends, life would not be worth the living and certainly would not hold the value that it does because of you all!!

We are in this life together and must rely on each other to survive!!!

Enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday from the world's troubles tomorrow and really try to take inventory on all of the many blessing in our lives that we overlook every single day in the rat race we constantly endure!! 

You do not have to look too deeply either. Start with "just being here", healthy, to enjoy the day and you will already have one on the list that many people cannot claim!!! The rest of them pile up from there!

God bless and thank you for blessing my life with your love and friendship!!! 

Enjoy your day!!



Friday, October 22, 2010

Great piece on "How to Stop Worrying"

My sister-in-law turned me onto this wonderful site/newsletter and after a brief review of the site, it became abundantly apparent that "DEFEATING WORRY" is not a small topic or concern for anyone!!

We have devoted a lot of time to defeating worry, fear and anxiety on this site so it is validating to see such a wonderful piece in another publication!

Please read the piece below and take it to heart!  I have included a link to the site as well!

Enjoy and Stay Strong!!!

How to Stop Worrying
by Jonathan Lockwood Huie

"Everyone worries - some people more than others - but worry is a natural human condition. By its nature, worry tends to deal in generalities, and true worry is always about things that have not yet happened. That may not be obvious, so consider an example. Someone says, "I am worried because I lost my job." Actually, that is shorthand for something like, "I have lost my job, and I am worried that I might be evicted from my apartment, not have money to buy food, and be unable to give good care to my family." Worry is about what might happen in the future rather than about what has already occurred.

Left unchecked, worry can squeeze the juice - all the happiness - out of life. Worry can also harm your health by raising your blood pressure and upsetting your body chemistry. The history of the word "worry" tells its own story. The word "worry" derives from an Old English word meaning "to strangle." Think about how apt that is. Have you ever felt strangled by your worries?

Without doubt, worry is a terrible thing, but is there any way to control worry? One powerful way to combat worry is to put it under a microscope - list each worry, and analyze the worries one at a time.

If you are troubled by worry, make a list of all your worries. Don't stop until you can't think of another worry. It is important that you not hold back any worries, however slight, or generalized, or even silly they may seem.

Categorize your worries. For each worry, ask yourself the following five questions.

1. Is this worry about a "small thing?" There is a Swedish Proverb, "Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow." Suppose the event you are worried about actually does happen - how bad would the consequences really be? For example if you are worried about forgetting part of your speech or about other people's reaction to a new item of clothing or hairstyle, consider the worst possible outcome. Suppose people actually did laugh at you? Is worrying about that worth jeopardizing your health and happiness?

2. Is this worry about something that is very unlikely to happen? Such as worrying about getting hit by lightning or bit by a shark. If you find yourself worrying about the possibility of a very unlikely event, some arithmetic and a stern talk with yourself may help. Yes, an asteroid could fall, a shark could bite, a bridge could collapse under you, and lightning could strike, but the odds are very very small. If you worry about that sort of thing, look up the odds and take reassurance from the huge numbers in your favor.

3. Is this worry about something inevitable? For example you might worry about the fact that you are aging and will die some day. It is true that you will die, and it is true that you can't know on which particular day you will die. These kinds of worries are especially challenging. If you have a strong faith in a higher power, prayer is a powerful answer. Whatever your beliefs, fear of the inevitable can be addressed with a stern conversation with yourself about the futility of such worrying. More practically, keep active and focus your energies on challenging projects, interesting people, and being of compassionate service to those less fortunate than yourself.

4. Is this worry about something beyond your control? For example you might worry that something terrible will happen in the world. It is true that horrible things happen every day. Today's TV news will be filled with terrible events. Why invest your energy into guessing what they might be. Also, why waste energy worrying about the consequences of the events in yesterday's news. We live in a very big world with six billion people. Many people die each day. A few die horrible deaths, and you can be sure that the TV news will cover the most graphic tragedies in real-time full-color video. Yesterday's news featured events like murders, demonstrations that turned fatal, oil and gas explosions, and wing-nuts burning flags or books to gain cheap attention. Today and tomorrow will be no different. If you can think of a rational, constructive, and compassionate action to take, please do it now. Otherwise take a deep breath, and turn your attention away from the roar of the crowd. Don't waste energy worrying about such things. Focus only on those things that you are able to, and choose to, affect in a positive way.

5. Is this worry about something you can control - and can improve your life by controlling? For example, suppose that you have received an eviction notice, and you are worried that you will soon find the sheriff at your door to enforce the eviction. This is not an idle worry. In fact, it is quite likely that the sheriff will show up. But is worrying the best thing to do? Of course not. Taking positive action will address the current problem, the more serious probable future problem, and also the worry. Put your efforts into taking action. Worrying won't find you a place to live, but focused action will. If something needs to be done, but you don't know what to do or how to do it, get help. In the eviction example, you might call your creditor or landlord to ask about reduced payments. Or find a state or local agency that offers free counseling on debt issues.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

If you are religious, Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer is probably the best answer to worry ever penned. Whatever your beliefs, consider this affirmation based on Neibuhr's message...

Whenever I feel worried,

I ask whether I can change things.

I act with courage to change what I can.

I accept with serenity what I cannot change.

Whenever you find yourself consumed by worry...

If there is something to be done, do it now - begin today.

If there is realistically nothing to be done about an issue, just move on with your life, and make the choice to live joyfully. Get busy with other things. Be of service to others. Be physically active - walk, exercise, take up yoga or qigong. Meditate or pray. Spend time with others who share your interests, and who agree not to complain about their troubles or worries.

Don't let worry squeeze the juice from your life. Take charge of your life by staying busy and focused. Choose to life joyfully in the present, without regret or resentment about the past, or worry about the future."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Check the Attitude today!!!! Daily Inspiration

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term will come.
~ Dalai Lama

So much in life is attitude, Isn't it?

Think about the power your "attitude" holds in your daily life.

We are truly slaves to the whims of our minds, thoughts and attitudes.

Like the Law of Attraction, we  draw to us that which we think and hold firmly in our minds -whether good or bad..

It is not easy to forget our challenges and daily trials and just whistle past the graveyard. But we can control our attitude if we cultivate a Faith and Belief that everything is going to be ok.

Because if we pray and focus on the positives, it will be ok!

The first step in any action for us should be to check our attitude. If it is fearful, anxious, negative and worried, we will not be drawing to us the positives we should be seeking in our lives. 

We need to reassess and change the attitude every time we feel fearful or worried, and even if you have to fake it, that attitude shift will take us to a place that over a short period of time will become permanent!!

We do not appear to control a whole lot on out lives, but we clearly CONTROL our attitudes and thoughts!!!

And those two things are the most critical parts to success, happiness, and peace!!

How do you feel today? Why???  Can you change your mind and reverse it?

Of course you can!

All of us can and must...beginning today!!!!

Stay Strong!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stress....Worry's homely cousin!! Daily Inspiration

Stress is not what happens to us. It's our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.

~ Maureen Killoran

Who knew there were so many smart people in this world? 

Not me!!

Think about the quote above and put it into context with what we all seem to be experiencing lately.

We have been harping on the FACT that worry is a wasted, useless, fear-based effort that does absolutely no good for anyone or any situation.

So too have we tried to show that worry can be controlled and marginalized if we recognize it for what it is and take evasive action against it!

Now we come to find that the end product of worry, the partner in crime to fear, STRESS is also avoidable and controllable.

We are the authors and Captains of our lives and of our emotions.

How often do you hear someone say, "I could have never held my anger back like you did."

Or "I do not know how she is so happy after all that she has been through".

These are examples of situations where we control or orchestrate our own emotions and reactions to events.

People do it all the time.  These people are no different than you and me, except they have found the secret before we did!!!

Well, guess what? We have caught up now!!!

Recognize the fact that we do indeed have power over how we react to negative issue, challenges, and trials.

The key is to be ready to control our reactions when something bad occurs, and make a conscious effort to guide our emotions away from stress and into peace and comfort in our faith.

Keep prayers handy to distract yourself and literally, verbally,  acknowledge turning all of your problems over to God and the Holy Spirit whenever you feel fearful or anxious.

This too shall pass for all of us struggling with any issues, and we will emerge from all of this better, wiser, and stronger!!!

That is God's will..

Stay Strong!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily Inspiration

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Proverbs 3:5-6 () 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths.

Although this verse above does not explicitly mention the word "worry", it is clear to me that it speaks directly to it and gives yet another "out" option for we who worry about things.

The basic message is one we have touched on before and that is
"why bother worrying about anything and exerting effort when the Lord is in control and will insure you will be on the path intended for you?"

This verse was emailed to me via an application on my phone and it came randomly out of the blue early this morning.

I believe it was sent for a reason and in keeping with our worry-free theme, it is apropos indeed.

Do you really believe we can make better decisions in our lives than God can make for us??

I sure do not!!

So I pray and request and ask

 for guidance, direction, motivation, and I do so fully expecting the Lord to deliver what is in His plan to deliver to me. 

And I try not to worry about all the little things in our lives so much.

You have surely heard "Let Go and Let God?"  Well, this verse is summarized by that exact phrase!!

Try to exercise it when you feel anxious or troubled and KNOW that God has the controls if you would just turn them over to Him!!

Stay Strong!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Count those Blessings!! Daily Inspiration

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
~ Lao Tzu

Boy, if only this were easy to accomplish would we all be joyous, happy, giddy and walking around with smiles from ear to ear!

Well, it may not be easy per se, but as my Dad often quoted to me, "nothing easy is worth accomplishing anyway".

When we step back and take inventory on our lives, our current state and what we have going for us RIGHT NOW, it is truly amazing just how blessed we all are!!

The problem we face in our society is that we tend to focus on what we LACK as opposed to all we HAVE in our lives today..even as we speak!!! 

We chase the almighty dollar and measure our success by the size of our bank accounts, cars, houses, careers, etc.

What a sad and futile effort and game we are in of these are the rules!!!

We should all be ashamed of ourselves for allowing ourselves to get caught up in this WINLESS game!!

It is impossible to win because there will always be someone with more this and more that than us, no matter how much we have in material possessions.

Right now..this very second, in our lives riddled with fear, disappointments and worry, we have so many blessings and gifts that we should never allow a smile to leave our faces !!!

Yet we consciously CHOOSE to focus and measure ourselves and everybody else on the lack of things we perceive we ought to possess!!

Take time right now,( and do not stop either), to assess and count your blessings as they say!!!!  Truly count them and you will come to realize just how great and amazing our lives are right this moment_!

Even at the height of my stress levels and worries, I am jolted back to reality and my blessings when I kiss my son and daughter goodbye in the morning, or tuck them in at night!!  When I come home and see my wife, speak with my family and friends, witness a sunrise or sunset, have my dog so excited to see me home, etc. It is all I will ever need and with that as a building block, how can anything bring me down?

We all have blessings we overlook and discount and we need to step up and re-assess them right now.

Stay Strong and forget the lack, all that matters is what we have today!!! 

We are all wealthy beyond our means in that singularly most important category!!!

And that is ALL THAT MATTERS!!

God Bless !!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

As Shark Week...errrr...I mean, "Defeat Worry Week" continues!!! Daily Inspiration

Every evening I turn my worries over to God.  He's going to be up all night anyway.
~ Mary C. Crowley

I have zero idea as to who Mary Crowley is, but she is definitely a bright woman!

Imagine being able to completely turn over all your worries at a "Worry Return Desk" at the end of the day.

Like returning a book at the library, it is that simple if you take time to train your mind to do it every night!

It does take Faith, and perseverance to do this, but those are two qualities we all possess and can use in all aspects of our lives!

See God and the Holy Spirit as the worry collector waiting for you to drop off your share for them to take off your hands and relieve you of that responsibility!

Imagine making that drop off every night so you do not have to worry and can sleep peacefully!!

We can do it and God asks us to do it!!  So why not take Him up on it??

Enjoy the worry free weekend and KNOW that you are NEVER ALONE as you walk through this life!!

Never forget that fact!! 

It is God's promise to all of us!

Stay Strong!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Defeat Worry Week....Daily Inspiration

If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.
~ Ernest Hemingway

Today completes our last entry on "Defeat Worry Week" (but I cannot promise it will be the last you will hear on the topic..LOL).

I had some hesitation with including this Hemingway quote above seeing how he did commit suicide in Ketchum, Idaho afterall.

However, the quote and the associated message was so compelling to me and so appropriate that I could not avoid including it here.

This quote goes right to the heart of the need for "action" instead of worry and stewing about our current challenges.

Worry adds absolutely no value whatsoever to any situation and it is a fear based behavior laden with "what ifs" and speculation about events that usually do not even occur anyway.

Think about how ridiculous and useless worrying really is for us.

We can train ourselves to become free of worry with some repeated actions and steps and we must do it now!

Worry sucks the life and soul out of us, for no reason whatsoever, and leaves is worse than when we started worrying about something!!

Release yourself from this dangerous but defeatable behavior asap!!

If you have a problem, focus like a laserbeam on fixing it - identify the solution and set to making that s reality---and do not let one second be wasted on worry or fear!!

You can do it!!!

Stay Strong and Keep the Faith!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily Inspiration....Defeat Worry Week!!

Worry is a complete cycle of inefficient thought revolving about a pivot of fear.
~ Author Unknown

Today's quote covers so much in one sentence that it is truly amazing!

We have focused all week on the notion and wasted effort that goes into worrying about something in our lives.

We have drawn the wisdom of history's greatest minds and thinkers to point out how futile the act of worrying is all about and attempted to uncover ways to defeat this type of thinking pattern in our daily lives.

Today's quote captures so much about the core essence of worry, so simply, that it truly is beautiful!
Worry is best friends with our own Enemy Number 1..FEAR!! 

These two are thick as thieves and seem inseparable indeed.

When we worry, all we do is reinforce our own fears about something and that fear that we allow to enter our minds is a clarion call for all sorts of bad thoughts, worries, anxieties, and we are suddenly stuck in a pig-pile of pain and despair!!!!

Worry is a cycle with fear as the pivot point. It is inefficient indeed as nothing is created by it and it only serves to perpetuate the fear for something that has jt happened yet, and more than likely will not occur at all anyway.

So how do you break this inefficient cycle for good? Or at least control it ?

I always look at worst case scenario reasoning. If you do not merely accept that fear and worry convince you that something bad will imminently occur, and ask yourself what is the worst case scenario if it does occur, you can put it all in perspective and cease the cascading element of worry and fear.

Secondly, remove the "embarrassment" factor. A lot of worry and fear stems from our concern that an event will cause us to be embarrassed, humiliated, and ridiculed.


Remove that part of the equation and potential events suddenly do not seem so daunting to us.
Thirdly, if you catch yourself in a worry and fear panic or cascade pig-pile, stop the thought progression IMMEDIATELY and recite a prayer repeatedly. Have a few prayers ready to go and launch them to interrupt a cascade!!! 

This works!!! 

Not only is the inefficient cycle of worry and fear interrupted and halted before it takes over your thought patterns, but you are also requesting help from whomever it is you pray to when in need.

It is a double edged sword, but in a good sense!

I often awaken in the middle of the night, a knock on my inner mind door bolts me awake and I catch the masses of worry and fear thoughts rushing the entrance!!  I can either be overcome and indulge them and let them run roughshod over my once peaceful dreams, or I can slam the door shut on them by launching into a prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to handle them for me while I drift back to sleep.

And the Holy Spirit is one heck of a bouncer!!!!  Believe me!

It takes practice and discipline to turn these rude sleep crashers away and not be dragged into their games, but it is not hard to do and you can do it tonight or today-  whenever they bum rush your mind!!!

Lastly, we need to stop the thoughts as they occur and go about working on a "solution" to the problem that is creating the fear. 

ACTION defeats these negative thoughts and crushes the fear and worry in their tracks! When confronted, seek a solution to the problem immediately as simply worrying about it is useless!! 

Brainstorm, focus on the brighter future, seek advice and wisdom. 

But do not give up, give in or surrender!!!

Try it tonight!!!!

Stay Strong!!!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to Robert O'Toole!!!!!

Many Blessings and Congrats on this 'milestone" Birthday!

The Universe is a much better place for having Robert O'Toole in it and we all celebrate this day with Happiness, Gratitude and Joy!!!

Enjoy it, Roberto, and many many more!!!

Peace and Love!!

Daily Inspiration

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
~ Mother Teresa

If you haven't noticed a theme here this week, perhaps I have not been obvious enough.

The key to getting over our own challenges, problems, issues, and struggles is to dive into resolving other people's problems and focus on being there for them in THEIR  time of need!

It is more than simply distracting ourselves from our own problems and worries, but by assisting others and making them feel stronger, we immediately become stronger ourselves with the action and effort!

It is a fact and it works and we can CONTROL IT!!

There is a tremendous commercial out there that essentially portrays people doing acts of kindness and after others happen to witness the act, they perform their own kindness acts later in the day.

I guess their point is that Kindness is contagious!!!  And it is true!!!

We really never know how our actions affect others, both positively and sometimes negatively. So we need to make the effort to POSITIVELY impact others' days...and as Mother Teresa points out in her quote, it is as easy and effortless as a SMILE!!!

Try it today and see what happens!!

It costs nothing at all and can mean something so valuable to someone else!!!

Stay Strong!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daily Inspiration

There is nothing
 that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.
~ Mohandas Gandhi

Imagine if we could go through one full day without worry. 

Imagine how wonderful life could

 be if we were able to let every fear, anxiety, worry, etc. roll off of our backs and allow someone else to worry about it for us.

Imagine how different life would be if we KNEW that everything that we would go through would have little lasting negative impact on us and everything would work out just fine.

Well guess what?  We have that ability within us today. It is called Faith and we must harness it to lead our best lives possible, within God's plan for us.

Granted, this is not easy and it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to operate this way in our busy lives, but it can be done and we must make it a priority!!

Let God and the Holy Spirit take over Tue worries and you will ne far happier and more at peace!!

You can do this by asking the Holy Spirit to take these worries and issues for you.

He will do so if you merely ask Him.

Stay Strong!!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
~ Mother Teresa

The beautiful quote from Mother Teresa above really embodies the power we hold over other's lives!!

We have the ability and wonderful gift of making someone else's life happy --at our disposal!!  Even if it is simply one interaction or moment, it is meaningful and extremely powerful!!

Operate under this knowledge and you will find your own life becoming happier, more peaceful, and adding enhanced meaning!!

Take the focus off of your own problems and challenges, and help out others as they struggle and you will undoubtedly improve your own life!!!  Immediately!!

Stay Strong and have a great week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.
~ Dalai Lama

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.
~ Plato

Friday, October 1, 2010

Edward J. Flaherty.... we miss you!!

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the passing of my Dad, Edward Flaherty.

It is hard to believe that 12 years have passed since he was called home to God and not a day goes by where I do not think of him and speak to him!

He was a great man, a wonderful father, and my best friend. I always felt loved and safe with him in my corner and he encouraged me to do so much despite my fears and hesitancy as a child. 

He was truly a special person who overcame a lot and gave everything he had to his family!

I know you are in Heaven, Dad, watching over us and in peace, and I miss you today like it was 12 years ago!!

Thanks for the love and support .See you soon!!!

Keep us Staying Strong!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Order your very own Stay Strong T-Shirt Today!!!

If you are interested in ordering your very own "Stay Strong" t-Shirt, shoot me an email at today!  Use it as a daily reminder to yourself and to others who will read the message every time you wear it out!!!

They are only $10 and they come in Grey or Navy Blue --- S, M, L or XL  ---send me your size and color preference today!!

Limited amount of these shirts currently exist!!

Thanks and Stay Strong!!!

Daily Inspiration

Love and kindness are the very basis of society.  If we lose these feelings, the survival of humanity will be endangered.
~ Dalai Lama

This quote is so very true!  Our peace and happiness really rests on the kindness we experience and exercise in this world on a day to day basis.

Kindness is all that matters in our interactions and kindness is one of the most powerful influences we can exert on our fellow human beings and our pets!

When someone is kind to you or to your children it is such an amazing thing that is truly becomes a spiritual event!!

Act kind to all you encounter and you will see you days, weeks, months and entire lives transformed from where you are today - it is THAT powerful indeed!!

Try it -- you have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain!

Stay Strong!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Never Stop Believing!!! Never Stop Driving to your Goals!!!

As I waited on a telephone hold this morning, this song came on. Despite the fact that I have heard this song 50,000 times over my lifetime, I was deeply moved this morning by the lyrics. It was as if I was listening to it for the first time!

I think of my own daily struggles with life, trying to find meaning and value and do the right thing for our families and ourselves, and this song really sums up the Source of Strength we all need in our battles!

I view this song from not only the voice of friends and family who you know are right there in the thick of these battles with you - Always --- but also from a Spiritual perspective!

THIS is what is meant by Faith in whomever you believe in spiritually! THIS is what I picture God, or Jesus or Buddha, or Allah, or Virgin Mary, or especially the Holy Spirit communicating to us every morning, day and night!

This is what we need to hear and know and TRULY BELIEVE!!  There is ALWAYS someone there along side us during the times of solitude, when we feel defeated, beaten up, in despair and Hopeless, lonely and troubled!!

I strive to be this person on this earth for my friends and family and often fall woefully short due to my own shortcomings and human frailties - BUT I feel the pendulum shifting as we speak and I know with my prayers for Guidance and Strength and Courage, I WILL be a better bridge and source of strength for all whom I know are in NEED of it today!

For those of you whom I have failed, I apologize -- and WILL make it up to you~!~!

The time is NOW for YOU to be that bridge and shelter as well! 

Despite all YOU have going on in your lives, there is someone who needs you and whom you can ASSIST TODAY!! 

You ARE NOT hopeless - you ARE NOT Powerless -- YOU CAN DO IT  --- starting today!!!

Believe it and it will be Truth! 

I believe in You!! 

Now it is your turn!!!!

Read the amazingly beautiful words below and BELIEVE that there is someone PROMISING you this type of protection and shelter and STRENGTH!!! 

Because there truly is if you BELIEVE there is!!!

Stay Strong!!

A Bridge over Troubled Waters

When you're weary

Feeling small

When tears are in your eyes

I will dry them all

I'm on your side

When times get rough

And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

When you're down and out

When you're on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you

I'll take your part

When darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,

Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine

If you need a friend

I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Daily Inspiration

One kind word can warm three winter months.
~ Japanese Proverb

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
~ Leo Tolstoy

Friday, September 24, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Daily Inspiration

Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.

~ Buddha

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quotes to Stay Strong, Heal, and to Prosper.....

"Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest to us."
- Meister Eckhart

"Do not fear mistakes -there are none."
- Miles Davis

"Undoubtedly, we become what we envisage."
- Claude M. Bristol

"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in the life has a purpose."
-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

"Desire, ask, believe, receive."
-Stella Terrill Mann

"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."
- Albert Camus

"Eliminate something superfluous from your life. Break a habit. Do something that makes you feel insecure."
- Piero Ferrucci

"Expect your every need to be met, expect the answer to every problem, expect abundance on every level, expect to grow spiritually."
- Ellen Caddy

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be WHO you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."
- Margaret Young

Stay Strong!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Give Thanks and Remember....

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which read:

"I am Blind, Please Help."

There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat.

He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words.

He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words he had written.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.

That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came by to see how tihngs were.

The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning?  What did you write?"

The man said, "I only wrote the Truth. I said what you said but in a different way. I wrote,

'Today is a Beautiful Day but I cannot see it."

Both signs told people that the boy was blind, but the second sign reminded people that they were so fortunate to have their eyesight and should count their blessings.

Is it any wonder that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story?  Give Thanks to God for what you have TODAY!

Be Creative. Be Innovative.  Think differently and positively.

When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile!

Face your past without regret and handle your present with confidence. 

Prepare for the future without Fear!

Remember, the most beautiful thing in the world is to see someone smiling  - and it is even more beautiful knowing that you are the reason behind it!!

Keep the Faith and Stay Strong!

- Source Unknown

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Recommendation~~ You NEED this book Now!!!!

Once again my Brother-in-Law Tim comes up huge in the book recommendation arena and turns me on to a tremendously inspirational book called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron.

See a review here: Review

With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.

This book links creativity to spirituality by showing how to connect with the creative energies of the universe, and has, in the four years since its publication, spawned a remarkable number of support groups for artists dedicated to practicing the exercises it contains.

I just started this book and I have to tell you, it has already made an immediate impact on my perspective, outlook, mood, and outlook on life!  The Morning Pages writing exercise is an amazingly catharctic way to start your day and to flush out your mind and internalization system of negastive thoughts.  Like a plugged drain, this exercise chips away and erodes the emotional "blockages" that are normally cluttering your mind and distracting us from our inner light and creativity!

I am very excited by this book and the lessons it imparts - and will follow up with more as I finish reading the book.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor - "artist" or not - pick up this book today and start writing as it instructs!!   We are all "Creators" and this book will help us in any creation at all --- BUY IT NOW!!

Buy it used here:

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Q&A with Malcolm Gladwell on his book, "The Tipping Point"

published on:

q&a with Malcolm Gladwell....

What is the Tipping Point?

1. What is The Tipping Point about?

It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller? Why do teens smoke in greater and greater numbers, when every single person in the country knows that cigarettes kill? Why is word-of-mouth so powerful? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? I think the answer to all those questions is the same. It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics. The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us.

2. What does it mean to think about life as an epidemic? Why does thinking in terms of epidemics change the way we view the world?

Because epidemics behave in a very unusual and counterintuitive way. Think, for a moment, about an epidemic of measles in a kindergarten class. One child brings in the virus. It spreads to every other child in the class in a matter of days. And then, within a week or so, it completely dies out and none of the children will ever get measles again. That's typical behavior for epidemics: they can blow up and then die out really quickly, and even the smallest change -- like one child with a virus -- can get them started. My argument is that it is also the way that change often happens in the rest of the world. Things can happen all at once, and little changes can make a huge difference. That's a little bit counterintuitive. As human beings, we always expect everyday change to happen slowly and steadily, and for there to be some relationship between cause and effect. And when there isn't -- when crime drops dramatically in New York for no apparent reason, or when a movie made on a shoestring budget ends up making hundreds of millions of dollars -- we're surprised. I'm saying, don't be surprised. This is the way social epidemics work.

3. Where did you get the idea for the book?

Before I went to work for The New Yorker, I was a reporter for the Washington Post and I covered the AIDS epidemic. And one of the things that struck me as I learned more and more about HIV was how strange epidemics were. If you talk to the people who study epidemics--epidemiologists--you realize that they have a strikingly different way of looking at the world. They don't share the assumptions the rest of us have about how and why change happens. The word "Tipping Point", for example, comes from the world of epidemiology. It's the name given to that moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point. It's the moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards. AIDS tipped in 1982, when it went from a rare disease affecting a few gay men to a worldwide epidemic. Crime in New York City tipped in the mid 1990's, when the murder rate suddenly plummeted. When I heard that phrase for the first time I remember thinking--wow. What if everything has a Tipping Point? Wouldn't it be cool to try and look for Tipping Points in business, or in social policy, or in advertising or in any number of other nonmedical areas?

4. Why do you think the epidemic example is so relevant for other kinds of change? Is it just that it's an unusual and interesting way to think about the world?

No. I think it's much more than that, because once you start to understand this pattern you start to see it everywhere. I'm convinced that ideas and behaviors and new products move through a population very much like a disease does. This isn't just a metaphor, in other words. I'm talking about a very literal analogy. One of the things I explore in the book is that ideas can be contagious in exactly the same way that a virus is. One chapter, for example, deals with the very strange epidemic of teenage suicide in the South Pacific islands of Micronesia. In the 1970's and 1980's, Micronesia had teen suicide rates ten times higher than anywhere else in the world. Teenagers were literally being infected with the suicide bug, and one after another they were killing themselves in exactly the same way under exactly the same circumstances. We like to use words like contagiousness and infectiousness just to apply to the medical realm. But I assure you that after you read about what happened in Micronesia you'll be convinced that behavior can be transmitted from one person to another as easily as the flu or the measles can. In fact, I don't think you have to go to Micronesia to see this pattern in action. Isn't this the explanation for the current epidemic of teen smoking in this country? And what about the rash of mass shootings we're facing at the moment--from Columbine through the Atlanta stockbroker through the neo-Nazi in Los Angeles?

5. Are you talking about the idea of memes, that has become so popular in academic circles recently?

It's very similar. A meme is a idea that behaves like a virus--that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects. I must say, though, that I don't much like that term. The thing that bothers me about the discussion of memes is that no one ever tries to define exactly what they are, and what makes a meme so contagious. I mean, you can put a virus under a microscope and point to all the genes on its surface that are responsible for making it so dangerous. So what happens when you look at an infectious idea under a microscope? I have a chapter where I try to do that. I use the example of children's television shows like Sesame Street and the new Nickelodeon program called Blues Clues. Both those are examples of shows that started learning epidemics in preschoolers, that turned kids onto reading and "infected" them with literacy. We sometimes think of Sesame Street as purely the result of the creative genius of people like Jim Henson and Frank Oz. But the truth is that it is carefully and painstaking engineered, down to the smallest details. There's a wonderful story, in fact, about the particular scientific reason for the creation of Big Bird. It's very funny. But I won't spoil it for you.

6. How would you classify The Tipping Point? Is it a science book?

I like to think of it as an intellectual adventure story. It draws from psychology and sociology and epidemiology, and uses examples from the worlds of business and education and fashion and media. If I had to draw an analogy to another book, I'd say it was like Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, in the sense that it takes theories and ideas from the social sciences and shows how they can have real relevance to our lives. There's a whole section of the book devoted to explaining the phenomenon of word of mouth, for example. I think that word of mouth is something created by three very rare and special psychological types, whom I call Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. I profile three people who I think embody those types, and then I use the example of Paul Revere and his midnight ride to point out the subtle characteristics of this kind of social epidemic. So just in that chapter there is a little bit of sociology, a little of psychology and a little bit of history, all in aid of explaining a very common but mysterious phenomenon that we deal with every day. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not sure that this book fits into any one category. That's why I call it an adventure story. I think it will appeal to anyone who wants to understand the world around them in a different way. I think it can give the reader an advantage--a new set of tools. Of course, I also think they'll be in for a very fun ride.

7. What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

One of the things I'd like to do is to show people how to start "positive" epidemics of their own. The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly. That makes it something of obvious and enormous interest to everyone from educators trying to reach students, to businesses trying to spread the word about their product, or for that matter to anyone who's trying to create a change with limited resources. The book has a number of case studies of people who have successfully started epidemics--an advertising agency, for example, and a breast cancer activist. I think they are really fascinating. I also take a pressing social issue, teenage smoking, and break it down and analyze what an epidemic approach to solving that problem would look like. The point is that by the end of the book I think the reader will have a clear idea of what starting an epidemic actually takes. This is not an abstract, academic book. It's very practical. And it's very hopeful. It's brain software.

Beyond that, I think that The Tipping Point is a way of making sense of the world, because I'm not sure that the world always makes as much sense to us as we would hope. I spent a great deal of time in the book talking about the way our minds work--and the peculiar and sometimes problematic ways in which our brains process information. Our intuitions, as humans, aren't always very good. Changes that happen really suddenly, on the strength of the most minor of input, can be deeply confusing. People who understand The Tipping Point, I think, have a way of decoding the world around them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Be Not Afraid

Life is not easy!!

It is full of challenges and tribulations and hurdles and obstacles, disappointments, failures, anxieties, and the fear of the unknown!!

This is Life unfortunately!! 

But on the flip side, Life is full of wonderful things as well. 

We often miss these beautiful aspects of life as we wade in the daily toils of our lives and only when it is too late do we look back on what we missed!

Do not let this happen to you!!

We all have the ability to rise above the daily struggles and place our eyes on the larger meaning of life - and we OWE it to ourselves to do this on a daily basis!!!!

Whether it is when you lay your head on your pillow, wake up at dawn, on the train, in the car, at your desk, or during some down time in your day - TAKE THE MOMEMT to reflect on what your life is SUPPOSED to be!!

Do not let FEAR - our biggest inhibitor of progress, peace and happiness- interfere in what God has intended us to experience!

We all strive for a life of ease and luxury!  Well, guess what -- I do not believe that is why we were put on thie Earth! 

I believe we were put here to struggle, to grow and develop through challenges, hard times, and difficulties!

I also believe we were put here to ASSIST others in THEIR struggles and challenges as part of our GROWTH as Human beings!!

Therefore, when life has you on the ropes and down for the count - do not QUIT, do not lament and take a woe is me approach!!

Instead, EMBRACE the challenge!!  Change your perspective on this!!

FOCUS on the solutions and the ways in which you can CHANGE your situation for the better!

None of us is chained to our current situations - no matter how bleak or dire it appears!  We ALL have the ability to rise above the mire of our daily troubles and build a better, improved life!!!

First step is to put Fear aside!  Fear is a useless emotion for us, as is Worry and Anxiety!!!  Every minute wasted on fear and worry is a minute of time we will never get back!!

Step 2 is to Visualize what is is you want from your life!!!  Actually close your eyes and if you could watch a movie, in the future, of the life you WANT to be living, imagine and watch it transpire in front of you!!  Be as engrossed in it, as detailed as possible -- and that will bring you closer to that goal!!

Our minds are amazing  - and powerful beyond belief --- and they can be programmed (and re-programmed) to take us anywhere we want to go!!  It takes some effort, but the reward is well worth it!!

Mother Theresa is a perfect example of someone who threw herself into other's struggles and always seemed at Peace and Happy - despite living a life many of us would view as difficult and sacrificial!!

Take Control and Seize your opportunities!

Most importantly -- Have FAITH that you are being guided in this life and that there is so much more awaiting all of us when this journey is complete!!

Stay Strong!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daily Inspiration

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.
~ Booker T. Washington

Simply Put -- Don't Quit!!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Feeling down today? Read this and your outlook will change!!!!

We all have probably heard the saying: 

"There but for the Grace of God go I." 

And nothing expresses this truth like the story I read this morning.

We all have problems. We all have struggles and challenges that we face daily. No one is immune to that!

This is what life is sometimes and sometimes it is those challenges that make us who we are, build our character, and mold us into complete human beings!

These issues, be they financial, relationship, emotional, family, work, career, etc., always seem earth-shatteringly important to us and sometimes we allow them to consume our entire existence, ruin our day, interrupt our sleep, and endanger our relationships with our loved ones.

Well, when you read this story below, I would be willing to bet (and HOPE) that all of your (our) issues and problems will pale in comparison to what this family is facing together!

It is almost impossible to even grasp the emotion and heartbreak that must grip this family on a daily/hourly minute to minute basis!

I do not post this to depress anyone - especially on a rainy Monday morning -- but only to asssist us all in WAKING UP and recognizing the true Blessings we have been bestowed -- to be alive, to be healthy, to have people in your lives to love and to be loved by, to have healthy children, to be able to walk, run, - DO ANYTHING we want to do!!!

I hope this story will touch you as it did me this morning -- and realize HOW TRULY BLESSED WE ALL ARE TODAY!

Stay Strong - and pray for this family and especially for the children and the mother's strength and her amazing faith!

 AUBURN — Like she does most every night, Karyn Slomski gathered her young children close to her and read to them — first a story about a day of kindergarten for her 4-year-old daughter, Maggie, then Dr. Seuss for 6-year-old Brendan.

This storytime was different than the rest. It was recorded on video, intended as a living memory.

Slomski hasn’t told her children yet, but she is dying and could have only weeks to live. They know their mother is sick, that something called cancer has ravaged her body over the past four years. But they don’t yet know she will soon be gone.

“I want them to be able to see me when I’m gone, to see us all together as a family,’’ said Slomski, 38, as the videographer prepared for the session. “I wanted something more than pictures, for them to remember me. And to remember how happy we all were.’’
So for 90 minutes in front of the camera, the Slomskis huddled close on the couch in their sunlit living room in Auburn. Karyn Slomski read, laughed and talked with her children, reminisced with her husband, and declared her love for her family and the life they’ve had together.

The videographer, Kate Carter, travels the country to record interviews with the dying as mementos for their loved ones. Carter formed the nonprofit group, LifeChronicles, in 1998 after the death of a close friend with three children. She had worried that other children would lose the memories of their parents, and has now recorded hundreds of videos that chronicle lives nearing their end.

The group provides the videos for free and supports itself through private donations. On this trip, Carter flew across the country on frequent-flier miles donated by a supporter of the program.

“I can’t keep your body alive,’’ Carter told Slomski, who has undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and hormone treatment over the past four years. “But I can keep your memory alive.’’

Slomski, who has advanced breast cancer, approached her social worker at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute about making a video as a way for her husband and children to remember her.

“It’s not talking about death; it’s celebrating our family,’’ she said. “It tears me up that they won’t have a mom, and this is a way I can leave a small piece of me with them.’’

The entire family gathered for the beginning of the interview, with Slomski and her husband, Jeff, telling the children the cameras were simply there to record the family at this point in their lives, like a family photograph.

“They don’t know the next part,’’ she said.

Slomski recently began a new session of chemotherapy in hopes of extending her life, but has been told it only has about a 20 percent chance of success. If it fails, her health will decline rapidly. After receiving the prognosis, she decided it was time to put her affairs in order and record the words and images she wanted to leave behind, for the years to come when Maggie and Brendan’s childhood memories fade.

“It’s been part of our lives for four years, and at some point you get past the tragedy of it all,’’ she said. “Now we have the reality of me not being here.’’

Side by side on the couch, the family reminisced about favorite vacations. Brendan recalled North Carolina — swimming in the waves, playing ping-pong, the visit to Washington, D.C., on the way. Maggie remembered Cape Cod, especially the candy fish and campfire s’mores. As the memories rushed out, Karyn smiled wistfully.

Carter then asked Slomski to describe her children, and what she loved about them most. She told Brendan she loved how he was always smiling, always happy, and he grinned shyly. Maggie was the sweetest girl, kind and an expert with hugs.
“Aw, mommy,’’ she said, patting her mom’s head and draping her arms around her.

As the children flopped and fidgeted, she told them she couldn’t ask for nicer children, and reminded them what she had told them: They could be whatever they wanted to be, and she was incredibly proud of them.

Slomski then sang the children a favorite lullaby, “Que Sera Sera.’’

“When I was young, I fell in love,’’ she sang, her voice strained with emotion. “I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead.’’
She stopped, overcome, and her husband gently comforted her.

After the song, the children went outside with her sister, and Karyn wept.

“The thing is, they never see me cry,’’ she said.

Then she and Jeff recounted how they met, becoming roommates when Karyn answered an ad.

“He opened the door, and I said, ‘Oh no, he’s cute,’ ’’ she recalled with a chuckle. They quickly became inseparable, and before long their friendship became more. He proposed on a weekend in Maine, dropping to one knee in a restaurant after hiding the ring in a dessert.

“Then she spent the next two hours on the phone,’’ he quipped.

They talked about what they loved about one another, what drew them together. Karyn said she loved his mind and passion, his confidence in who he was. Jeff said he loved her spirit, her resilience, and her inner joy. Karyn said she wished that Maggie would find someone as great as her father someday.

Together, they talked about how their children had made their love, and their lives, forever richer.
“I can’t imagine my life without them,’’ she said. “It just would have been … ’’

“Incomplete,’’ he said.

“Incomplete,’’ she agreed. “They got me through these four years. We love each other, but they are the reason we’re here.’’

It was four years ago that doctors delivered the shattering diagnosis — not only that she had cancer but that it had already spread throughout her body. She might live a year or two, but she would never recover. In a horrible instant, the life the couple thought they had was gone.

“All those things we thought we would share together, it wasn’t going to be,’’ she said.
Karyn said she is not afraid to die, and has faith she will be able to look over her family. She feels lucky, she said, for the time they’ve had together.

But she also worries, in a deep way that nearly resembles guilt, about how they will carry on without her.

“I’m just sad they aren’t going to have a mom, and he’s not going to have a wife,’’ she said. “They are going to struggle, and I don’t want them to struggle.’’

She turned to her husband.

“It’s the most amazing gift I have to leave them with you,’’ she said to him. “Truly, it is.’’

“You are inside me, inside the kids, inside so many people,’’ he said, his voice trailing to a whisper.

Just then, the children reappeared. Ducking under a camera cord, they hugged their parents, then darted to the backyard and the swing set, beside two wooden Adirondack chairs turned toward each other.

Stay Strong!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Life is like a Riptide -- Prepare yourself well and survive!

I was informed by a relative that a woman she knew had recently drowned on Long Island as a result of a massive riptide that hit that beach. Despite being a strong swimmer, she succumbed to the currents and sadly she is no longer with us. It is believed that she went back in to save another person who was caught up in the current and was lost as a result.

A rip current, or riptide, is a strong channel of water flowing seaward from near the shore, typically through the surf line.[1] Typical flow is at 0.5 metres per second (1–2 feet per second), and can be as fast as 2.5 metres per second (8 feet per second). They can move to different locations on a beach break, up to tens of metres (a few hundred feet) a day. They can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the world's oceans, seas, and large lakes.[2]

As an avid beach-goer my whole life, I have felt my share of riptides and my parents were very clear about teaching my siblings and me the proper way to avoid being caught up in one.  As I was imparting the same education on my 9 and 8 year old children in the aftermath of this tragedy, it dawned on me how closely a riptide resembles the struggles in our daily lives!

As defined above, a riptide is a strong powerful current that is normally created near breaking waves and can create a "tow" or "drag" seaward from the shore. It is easy to get caught up in these powerful currents and often times trying to swim against them is fruitless, dangerous, and as we witnesses recently, can be fatal as well.

As I look around at my friends and family, and indeed in my own life, many if not all of us are caught in a massive riptide right now!

A riptide of financial worry, health related worry, relationship strife, loss of loved ones, or a combination of all of these - the Perfect Storm of crisis and anxiety, and for some hopelessness!

As we were taught as children, the only way to avoid getting caught up and harmed by riptides (literal or figurative) is to go with the current temporarily and gently swim sideways away from the perpendicular flow of the current. 

What happens?? 

Eventually the power and force created by the breaking waves and crossing currents diminishes as it gets further away from the shore and you are able to gently pull out of it's drag.  Once you are out of it's pull and old path, you can get back to shore safely!

Well isn't this just plain ole common sense and sage advice for the riptides in our lives right now ??

If we try to struggle and fight and claw our away against the flow and current, we will quickly tire ourselves out and become exhausted, weakened, and ineffective in it's power to drag us where IT wants to go!

That is the Negativity Riptide!   We have to fight, but we have to fight smarter and more effectively to prevail -- flailing and panicking will not do the job!!

The key to beating a riptide (figuratively or literally) is to first RECOGNIZE the powerful current that grabs us and intends to do us harm!  Once we know what is occurring, we can execute what we prepared to do prior to the situation!

Once we recognize that powerful pull of negativity, we must not swim agianst it but ride it out without panicking or losing our composure!  Ride it a bit with the BELIEF that it will quickly lose it's power to pull you out to sea, drown you, or drag you where you do not want to be taken!

As you push aside the negative thoughts and FOCUS on the future - focus on the solutions necessary to get out of whatever predicament you find yourself - the power of the riptide will continue to weaken and finally you will be able to side-step it and swim back to the safety of the shore!

Riptides -- both in the ocean and in our lives - eventually lose their grip on us and disappear!!  It is HOW we react when we first encounter these riptides that determine our futures, the outcome of the situations, and the amount of time it will take us to get back to safety!

We are ALL lifeguards in this riptide world!  We must be vigilant and watch for out for our friends, family and loved ones who may be experiencing a riptide event in their lives!

As lifeguards WE MUST get off the beach and dive into that water with them and help them get through the currents that bombard, trap and threaten them daily!!!

Be the Hasselhoffs and the Pamela Andersons of this beach you oversee!!! 

Look around you -- the beach is open and the currents are fierce and our loved ones NEED us on alert, they NEED us on guard to help them back to the shore!

THIS is why we are here!!!   THIS is what will allow us to forget our own riptides in our lives and help us back to our own shores of safety!

If we let the currents overwhelm us and panic - and do not do what we have learned --- we are in serious trouble!!!

This Perfect Storm - these currents and conditions will pass for all of us! 

Just be ready for them when they hit and patrol your beaches -- and all will be well!!

Stay Strong!