Practicing Gifts Not Gaps

Sometimes writing about positivity and happiness makes me have to change my ways.  I tend to be a control freak and sometimes wanting control gets in the way of happiness and I’ll tell you how.  I am still learning and practicing everyday.

So one of my beliefs is to focus on my gifts and not the gaps in my life. This is easier said than practiced and this week, let’s just say I’m stretching and growing out of my comfort zone.  I’ll share some of my vulnerabilities.

I don’t always see the good. I sometimes really see the small gaps and cracks and when I unintentionally focus my mind here and forget to see the bigger picture, I miss out on all the good that far outweighs the bad, but again, I’m a control freak, and want things to be just as expected.  Life isn’t that way and sometimes I get stuck.

My favorite definition of happiness is when our expectations are in alignment with our reality. This means if I expect something to happen and it happens, I’m happy. If I expect something to happen and it doesn’t, I’m frustrated. Kind of silly, but true. Why not just adapt and change my expectations to fit the new reality, right? But I don’t transition that quickly sometimes which makes me mad because I know I should but I don’t and I hold on to what isn’t versus what is and that’s just focusing on the gaps and not the gifts. Does that make sense?  It’s opposite of what I’m training myself to do.  Ugh. I’m still learning.

Okay, so for my example. Jeff left for work the other day and didn’t put his plate in the sink,and didn’t make the bed, which are two things he normally does. I came in from working out and saw things out of place and was mad after he left for work.  Seriously.

Seriously? I chose to say something about it via text, saying blah blah blah, blah blah blah. I felt good being right about what was wrong. I created conflict vs. maybe thinking and understanding his point of view that maybe he wanted to read the paper or was running late for the train and ran out of time. His intention wasn’t to be disrespectful and he wasn’t expecting me to do it, he just didn’t do it for whatever reason. While I was focused on what was “wrong,” I completely overlooked what was right. He was the one who got out of bed before me and brought me coffee in bed. He was the one who drove Christian to school that morning. He did and does so many wonderful things and yet I focused on the gaps and not the gifts. Had I looked at the dish and the disheveled bed and felt thankful for all that is good instead of feeling frustrated by what was out of place, I would have just moved the dish and made the bed and in five minutes or less, and I would have been living happily ever after right then. If I would have not made a stink, I would have have recognized all that is good and I would have created good will. But I didn’t. I got stuck in the moment and stayed there. Not for long though. He was the one who kindly and gently pointed out my gifts not gaps philosophy and I luckily and quickly agreed with him. I thanked him for sharing this A-HA moment and didn’t stay stuck on my position and was able to move on, living it up and loving him again just like that.

That is one thing I’m good at, letting go and forgiving myself and others just like that once I am aware. I don’t want to stay mad or frustrated and I don’t have to be right just to be right.  I still wished he would have made the bed before he left, but I adapted and accepted it, made the bed and moved on without holding on to the gap. Oh, that felt good.

I will keep practicing and being thankful for my perfectly imperfect life.  What are you practicing?

Life is good.  Practice on.




Experiences or Stuff?

Is there any topic that you’re really interested in? I love reading about happiness, mindfulness and positivity stories. Did you know that you can set up Google Alerts that will monitor the web and will send you links to content related to your search terms?  I love this and thought I should share this with you. It’s like receiving a little knowledge gift in your inbox everyday. I used to receive knowledge management links when I worked in this field and loved seeing the latest and greatest news and research. Just type “google alerts” in your search bar and they’ll walk you through the simple setup.

I am preparing a program about the gift of happiness and looked through some of the research I’ve collected on the topic. One of the sections is about whether money can buy happiness. And of course, the answer is, it depends. I love this answer, by the way, for many questions, like when your kids ask you whether they can have x,y or z, you can buy yourself some time in deciding your reply by saying it depends.  I also like answering with a question and having them try to think for themselves. But that’s another topic.

So back to this money and happiness thing…they say after about $75,000, your needs are met and more money doesn’t necessarily bring more happiness.  Let’s say you have more money and your food and shelter needs are met, how should you spend that extra money to bring you happiness?

They say that spending money on experiences will bring you more long term happiness than spending money on stuff. When you spend money on something fun, you get the joy and anticipation of waiting for the event and then you get to enjoy the actual experience. And then afterwards you have the joy and excitement from the memory you’ve created and the stories you get to share. Plus, most people don’t compare their experiences or feel that someone else has a better experience than themselves, so there is a more complete sense of joy.

The other thing about material acquisitions is that we adapt to the thing quickly and then want the next thing and don’t stay satisfied for long. We also tend to compare what we buy with what others have bought and this sometimes leads to dissatisfaction.  For example, if I buy a new iPhone 5 and then my friend buys a new iPhone6+, I might feel like mine isn’t good enough, just from knowing that my friend has one that is better even though I was perfectly happy with my own until I compared myself to others even though I and you never, ever do that, right?  I might want to have the iPhone195 just to feel superior and that mine is the best. But you know the next iPhoneMillenium would be right around the corner and lead to my quick disillusionment. So stop with the stuff and the quick fix that needs another quick fix and spend your money on play and fun instead, and be sure to share that fun with someone.  Experiences, especially shared ones with loved ones, create memories and stories and that’s what gives life meaning.

Another guru says that the secret to the good life are good relationships. So see? I think we’re on to something.

Pick a loved one, a BFF or special someone and plan something for you both to experience together and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Enjoy the anticipation before you go, have fun together, share your story and live happily ever after.





Gifts Not Gaps

Pain and loss are part of our lives, sometimes personally and other times experienced by our loved ones and thus affecting us.

What are we to do with pain?  How do we healthfully process it and accept it and continue living happily ever?

Pain creates a glaring gap that’s hard to ignore. It creates a hole in our lives and stops us and sometimes even changes the trajectory of our journey. It creates a gap between our dreams and our reality that is not in our control.

Sometimes we get stuck and can only see and feel the pain and fall into the gap. How do we get out?

I think the secret to moving on and processing the pain and moving forward is spending more time focusing on our gifts instead of what is lacking. It’s a practice of gratitude for all that is still good, despite the despair.  The pain doesn’t just dissipate because we’re thinking happy thoughts, but we get to choose where to focus our energy and to adapt to our circumstances.

If we choose to focus on the gap, then that is where we will stay and that is what we will experience the most. If we choose to focus on what is good and working in our lives, potentially, eventually, we will close the gap and be able to move forward despite what’s missing and causing grief. Perhaps the gap will slowly diminish to the point that it doesn’t draw us in and define us.

I think we want to define ourselves by the goodness in our lives and the potential that lies in front of us everyday, despite our sufferings. We understand that pain and suffering exist for whatever reasons, however we don’t want to live in this space for very long. We have to keep choosing to see the good, despite the gap, and moving forward.

I think this is where the mind is very powerful and can help to transform us and help us to live happily ever after, even after experiencing pain and loss, if we are able to choose to allow ourselves this gift of life and all that is good, that is available to us despite the pain, right now.

See the good in you and others and really focus on what is good in our life, and acknowledge the gaps, but don’t dwell there. Perhaps the gap will eventually diminish and become part of our past as it shapes our future, so that we can live fully in the present.

Wishing you peace and love, BeLoveRs, focused on gifts, not gaps.




How quick are you to adapt?

Life is constantly changing and we really have no control over our circumstances, even though we pretend we do. We so want control over our lives and plan every minute, but really we are at the mercy of the universe.

We only get to control how we adapt to what is delivered to us.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

We are always in a state of change, from aging to health to jobs and friends and living and dying and everything else in between.

How quickly are we even able to realize that life is changing and how quickly do we develop new routines based on our new and ever changing circumstances?

Do we drag our feet? Jump right in? Create new routines? Complain? Embrace the change? Or what?

We all have a free will and we can choose to adapt quickly or drag our feet. We can resist change or we can embrace the change and enjoy the new level of life and accept what is.  This can be really, really hard!  But we must adapt, and the quicker the better so that we can continue living happily ever after on a new plane of what is.

Meet yourself where you’re at. See the change and figure out where you’re going next to become the new, best version of yourself and to enjoy what is, what you have, and who you’re with.

I’m in the process of adapting to having independent teenagers. This is a new summer experience for me and I am adapting to being a chauffeur and chef and not being in charge of creating our shared experiences and accepting that sometimes I am not included in the experiences at all.  It’s not comfortable for me and yet I am adapting, slowly and am ready to speed up the process of acceptance, like today. I’m there.

What about you? What change are you experiencing?  Are you adapting quickly, or dragging your feet? Are you aware that there is even a change occurring?  The quicker we can adapt, the quicker we can find peace and continue creating our new happily ever after.

Don’t you love this constantly changing life?

Thanks Trish, for the topic idea for today!! Sometimes it’s challenging to think about what to write every day and I like how you made me think. Thank you, Love.

Goodnight, BeLoveRs. This world needs our love. Prayers for Maddy’s family in Santa Cruz and may you somehow find peace with the injustice that has come your way.


Changing Expectations

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”― Allen Saunders

Isn’t it crazy and sometimes heartbreaking how life doesn’t go as we plan?

Why is it we expect it to be the way we want it to be and then it’s not?

One of the things I’m practicing is learning to adapt in the moment that life throws a curve ball. I’m not saying I like it or that it’s easy, it just is. Life Is.  And I’m practicing and failing and practicing. Ugh.

Sometimes it’s a small change we hardly pay attention to, and sometimes it’s big. Really big.

Regardless of the change, once life happens we have to choose how to react to the given moment and hopefully we can do it with grace. And hopefully we can adapt gracefully, quickly, and without lingering negativity.

For example, today I was scheduled to play a USTA tennis match. I had mixed feelings about playing, but knew that I had this commitment and wanted to do my best despite my anxiety and conflicts about playing just today.

I got to the courts early for practice with my partner and finally warmed up to they idea of playing and enjoying the sunshine and slight breeze. I had sunscreen on. I had brought a bottle of Gatorade and had refilled my water bottle. I ate a power bar for energy and I was prepared and ready to win. However, right as we were getting on our assigned courts, the captain called my name and told me that one of the other team members got the time wrong and they defaulted on our court, meaning we no longer had to play and won the match by default.

This was not what I had expected. This is not the way I wanted to win. I reluctantly came, prepared to play and wanted to earn my win. I didn’t like being denied the opportunity to play, after I was ready and mentally prepared.  I was mad for a split second or two. And then I recovered and thought of Plan B. We should always be thinking of our Plan B and maybe even C and D.  My Plan B was to go home (while I was mad), but that would have meant chores and no exercise.  So I chose Plan C – and stayed and played singles with my partner and worked on a few new things. I was happy to have played and enjoyed the afternoon after all, with my friends, playing a little tennis, watching a little tennis in the shade and enjoying a lunch together afterwards.

I think the lesson is that life really doesn’t go as planned and that we should plan anyway, hope for the best, and then come up with a plan B or C or D, so that we can continue living in the moment, even if it’s not the moment we had envisioned.

Life IS good, despite the continuous curve balls.

keep calm and carry on

Namaste BeLoveRs.

Day 193: Rainy Day and Homesick


It was sunny this morning and then the rain came. A typical Holland day. The weather forecast predicts daily rain and cold weather. Thank goodness April and Steve and the girls are coming this week to bring some sunshine to this house, because there is a case of home sickness here today.

Even trying to make rotisserie chickens in our oven for the first time didn’t chase away the blues.

20130203-223710.jpgThey sure were tasty, although we kept missing our Costco rotisserie chickens! Aren’t they good??

For me, my symptoms we’re caused by missing all the Superbowl buzz!

It’s not that I’m even a huge fan of the Superbowl, it’s just that I love the camaraderie that it brings. I like hearing about the pools, the appetizers people are making, where they are going to watch the game and more importantly, the commercials and half time show! The entire process and experience is so American, and people dress up in their team colors and fly their team flags. People gather for the fun of it and I love it! And being here,we’re missing all of it, and it makes me home sick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy being here, I’m just more aware I’m not there. The same thing happened at Halloween time. Luckily the feeling doesn’t last too long, but it was and is definitely there. There usually is some “medicine” to fix the blues. Tonight my family is already asleep, so that they can wake up at midnight to enjoy the game here. We bought just a little bit of party food to celebrate, even though it won’t be the same as being in the States! Hopefully I’ll get to follow along with people’s Facebook status updates, play by play!

Juliana also has homesickness. She is ready to move back home and is struggling the most with our decision to stay longer than one year here. This surprised me as she was one of the most eager to take on this experience. Right now we are considering staying until the end of 2013 and possibly until next summer. This is hard for her to imagine, as she longs to be back in California. (If anyone has expat kids and has experienced this, I’d love to hear from you.) As she tells me her thoughts, I truly listen and try not to shine over her feelings. She is a very bright girl and her feelings are valid and real. I do not argue with her, yet I listen to and support her and hope that she’ll continue to see the good and not wish this time and experience away too quickly, even though she really misses her friends and the California way of life. It’s hard to look into the future to try and decide what is best for everyone, yet we are doing our best.

Speaking of best, Go Niners!! I’m feeling better now!