I’ve been putting off reading Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address to the 2016 UC Berkeley grads – knowing it would bring out the feels. I read it this morning to help fire up some inspiration – sure enough, it hit me just like I expected…
The entire speech is poignant, funny and meaningful, but here’s what resonated with me the most…
“when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.”
‘Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight…”
‘Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.’
Scotty’s cancer battle profoundly changed me. And, while I do at times find myself getting dragged under by the minutiae of life, I try my hardest to focus on being thankful and choosing joy. It’s about perspective – my life could be a lot worse as I found out. I choose to be thankful and look for the meaning and joy in every day. It sounds schmultzy, but it’s true. Life is way too short to hold onto anger, be resentful, let fear control you or hang out with toxic people.
Thank you goes out to Ms. Sandberg for sharing her very personal, intimate experience with the world. By sharing it, she is helping others find meaning in their challenges. I’m glad I finally read it – it was definitely worth it.
This was waiting for me on my Facebook wall when I got into the office this morning by Scotty –
“Remember our 18 year anniversary? We had to cancel our dinner reservations because we forgot you had to take our daughter to that annoying teen show/concert thing. Do you recall how both of our kids were sick, coughing up lungs and leaving tissues all over the house for the dog to get? How about battling with the kids over the dishes even though it would be easier for us to just do them, but we don’t because we are teaching the kids responsibility? How we ran errands separately so we can divide an conquer? Remember how I sang “Girl you don’t need makeup” to you, and you stopped me saying that the song is not actually a nice thing, and then you sang Kanya “18 years 18 years..” and I stopped you reminding you how that one isn’t appropriate either? Happy Anniversary – I can’t imagine taking on the world with anyone else and still have as much fun as we do. I love you and can’t wait to see you after work… after I run errands to get the kid’s meds and whatever else you remind me that I forgot to do.”
True to my personality, I added…
“remember how I said I wouldn’t be mad at you at all today — and then I got mad at you. And how i forced you to take a selfie?”
I don’t have any special magical advice to share about marriage. It’s a lot of work, there are peaks and valleys. We do genuinely like each other as well as love each other. We laugh a lot. We treat each other with respect, even when we are angry (which does happen). We like hanging out together. Above all else though, we are committed to one another. It’s us – in it together.
If you are a parent of a tween or teen, take the time to read or at the very least read the excerpts from “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy” by Sue Klebold: 17 years after Columbine, the mother of one of the killers finally tells her story. Depression presents itself in many ways and leaves open many paths that influence young kids to pick the wrong way. A friend who may have some outlandish ideas, some mean kids at school — all things that for most adults seem innocuous, to a kid who is currently struggling to develop into who they are, with raging hormones, identity growth issues and other maladies that plague the teenage, can be a recipe for tragedy.
I imagine many of us parents can identify with Sue Klebold in many ways. We all struggle with how to speak to and address our kids’ issues. Do we write them off to typical teen angst or do we push further? And we have found that each child is so different that there is no formula that works for all. If we push on one and it work, the same approach causes chaos with another. Parenting is hard and there is no perfect way to get the job done –or is the job ever done?
Both of those boys were depressed as are many other young kids today. Depression is a serious issue for not only the young, but all of us. It’s the reason that many are asking for depression screenings to be included in routine check ups: Why Depression Screenings Should Be Part of Routine Check-Ups
“Depression is as much a primary-care issue as chronic physical conditions, like diabetes or hypertension. It’s also intimately linked to physical health—managing a lifelong physical condition also requires consistent mental-health management.”
- The Amazing Benefits of Creative Time
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- High fat/low carb diet could combat schizophrenia
Its it’s the historic storm of 2016…Jonas. I am sitting in my house with about 26 inches on the ground and it hasn’t let up. I love when Mother Nature exerts her power and we all are forced to slow down. I wonder how challenging it is for those of us so used to going at life full steam. We are literally snowed in…
For those not enjoying storm Jonas, you are missing out on life’s reminder that we are powerless against Mother Nature.
I’ve been struggling with my food choices the past few weeks and it has reminded me that when you eat like shit, you feel like shit. I’ve been so locked up in my head – not feeling my best – and it has translated to purposely not acknowledging what I am putting in my mouth. I am dealing with cystic acne on my face. I am a lot more fatigued and lose stamina during my workouts and not to mention the slow bloat (weight gain) I am seeing.
We have also gotten in the habit of ordering take out many times a week. Eating out all the time makes it hard to really know what you are eating and how it is made. With both Scott and I working, and with the kids’ schedule – we have been opting for convenience rather than health.
Last week, I started getting back on track. I started paying attention again to what I am eating which is half the battle, and making conscious decisions. I also made plans to make dinner at least four times this week at home. I think it can only help the entire family in the end. Planning and preparation is really key to making it work. It’s not a new concept – there is no magic bullet and it seems to get harder as you get older.
I have a sweet tooth (SUGAR ADDICTION) and I crave it — when I eat some, I want more and more. I am starting to consider doing a sugar detox – it’s a big commitment and I want to go all in if I decide to do it. Maybe something for me to jump into in January…
- THE TRUTH ABOUT CARBOHYDRATE ADDICTION (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)
- How Sugar Hijacks Your Brain And Makes You Addicted
- Fallen off the Weight Loss Wagon? 9 Tips to Get You Back on Track
- Diet, CrossFit & Running: What Really Changed My Body + Win a VISA Gift Card
Let’s all start the week with a laugh compliments of Saturday Night Live and Will Ferrell. This is a brilliant sketch full of wonderfully, subtle shots at the 2016 Republican candidates. Some of the things they are talking about downright frightening….
Here we are in December, weeks away from the New Year and the beginning of winter. Colder weather, darker days, a lot of stress for some trying to survive the holiday season.
For me, it can be the perfect recipe for losing motivation and momentum – if you let it. I used to think that this time of year and into early January, when all the gyms are full and people start creating New Year’s resolutions, was the time for renewed inspiration. I find myself starting to feel the pull of the warm bed in the early morning and find myself staring at the clock during some of my workouts wondering how much longer I have until it’s done.
It’s a good thing to recognize because as someone who loves working out – the feeling of a good sweat and the feeling of strength that comes with a great workout. There’s nothing like it, I can’t imagine drifting away from this lifestyle – but it becomes more chore-like if I don’t continue to challenge myself by trying new things or switching things up.
So – for those who are active on the regular and reliably focused on leading a healthy lifestyle – I challenge you to switch things up in the upcoming year. If you find something you love already – great – keep it up but also try a few new things to spice things up. Try a new class – ZUMBA anyone?? Try weight lifting, try Barre. Get outside of your comfort zone — your body and mind will actually benefit from it!
- How Often You Should Switch Up Your Workout to Keep Losing Weight
- When, Why, How & How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine
Star Wars Kraft Macaroni & Cheese “Can’t Play”
I’ve been following the recent controversy around accepting refugees into our country. Our country was created by people fleeing oppression and it continues to flourish by all of us who make up this glorious melting pot.
History repeats itself – I shared a recent article about groups of people not wanting to accept Jewish refugees fleeing from Germany during WWII and we all know what happened there.
With the explosion of digital information there are groups of people who are taking advantage of situations like the terror in Paris to instill the fear of fear in people world wide. In this NYT editorial, Fearing Fear Itself, Paul Krugman makes the interesting point, “the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire.”
“The world would be a whole lot safer if people would stop caring about politics and start caring about people.” – a friend on facebook
It also goes along with the sensitivity of society lately. Disruption, thinking differently, being better at something or inadvertently saying something stupid – any and all of the above can produce responses that seem unfit for the situation.
Here are just a few examples I’ve seen lately…
Online, people can’t make an off color joke (intentionally or unintentionally) without it becoming a big ordeal, causing an uproar, a boycott or producing a verbal lashing. What used to happen? We would think to ourselves or even say out loud “oh that person is an asshole” and we moved on.
Kids and sports. My son and I were not that thrilled that he received a ‘participation’ trophy for playing flag football this Fall. All I did was pay to have him on a team and he got a trophy at the end of the season. That is not trophy worthy in my book and as it turned out, it wasn’t trophy worthy in his book either.
I think all of this ultra-sensitivity is causing people to be less kind, more risk averse, and too careful -which seems to be the sentiment in this email my brother sent to me today (copied below). I obviously did not write it. It was one of those long, forwarded, you don’t know who really wrote it, emails, but it resonated with me because I do think we as a world are becoming more and more sensitive and less tolerant than is good for us.
TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s!!
First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets, and, when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.
As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes..
Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And we weren’t overweight. WHY?
Because we were always outside playing…that’s why!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. –And, we were OKAY.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem..
We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs,
no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broken bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from those accidents.
We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.
We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and -although we were told it would happen- we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever. The past 50 to 85 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas..
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
If YOU are one of those born between 1925-1975, CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good. While you are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it ?
This weekend I attended the memorial service, well, it really was a celebration of life, for my friend Niki. A group of her local DC friends gathered in a church basement behind the Nation’s Capital to connect and share the joy that was Niki Mitchell.
Niki was a writer, a published author, The New Color of Success: Twenty Young Black Millionaires Tell You how They’re Making it, and a masterful PR executive with a wicked sense of humor, wit and passion. It was clear if you knew her and if you didn’t, all you had to do was be in this room this weekend. Her friends and family are a collection of amazing, talented, funny people.
The celebration of her life was full of stories told by the people who knew her best – the ones she loved, she worked with and shared with. We laughed a lot during the afternoon as we remembered her. We cried about the void her unexpected passing has left. We comforted one another as we said goodbye. She will never be forgotten by anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Her childhood friend, who literally knew Niki her whole life, shared all the phases of Niki’s life – childhood, young student, writer, wife, mother. One thing she did share was a few weeks before Niki’s unexpected passing, they spoke about taking better care of themselves. She said she had noticed that Niki was not taking care of herself. She was so busy taking care of everyone else around her – she was neglecting her own wellness. It’s a reminder to us all – take care of yourself first -mentally and physically- so you can take care of others around you.
Closing out the celebration, her business partner spoke about ways you can tell you lived a good life. Niki checked all the boxes and even though she left too soon, her life made a difference. His words reminded me of a favorite quote: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
On the drive home, Scotty and I talked about how this type of remembrance is how we would want to celebrated. I want a celebration of my life that included laughing, eating good food and as I shared with Scotty, dancing! Everyone will need to bust a move in my memory! I want people to say their goodbyes in the spirit of who I am.
The rest of the weekend, I was mindful, evaluating where I am, where I want to be and who I am around. Life is too short to be around people who suck the happiness out of you. It’s cliche but true — life is way too short to waste time with fools and to worry about stupid little things that at the end of day, don’t matter.
When Scotty and I first moved to Northern VA, my new boss, Daryl and his wife, Niki, were one of the first people who befriended us. That was almost twenty years ago. They moved away recently and although we didn’t talk regularly, when we did – it was just like old times. Yesterday, Niki died unexpectedly.
Niki was a loved and loving wife, mother and friend. Professionally, she was a journalist whose articles have appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. She was part of a reporting at the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour that earned the prestigious Peabody Award. She ran her own media relations firm.
My heart breaks for my dear friend Daryl and his daughter. Another reminder of how precious and short life is. There is no time to waste….
The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.-Eminem
I found out a former co-worker of mine took his life two weeks ago. I can’t get him out of mind. While I didn’t know him all that well, he appeared to be a happy, successful man and showed no signs of what was to come. I have come to find out that he was having marital and family problems that must have weighed heavily on his mind. Still, nothing is bad enough to end it all. I can’t even imagine getting to that point where you no longer want to exist. I have been sad, and down – who hasn’t, but never have I considered ending my life to solve it.
I can only imagine the pain he must have been in and the despair he was feeling. I hope he has found peace now and my thoughts are with his wife, kids and family as they try to understand what happened and learn to live a new normal..
This month is National Suicide Prevention Month and to remember my former co-worker, Amrik, here is some information and resources:
When it comes to suicide prevention, EveryDay Matters. In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day and Suicide Prevention Month, we thank those that work in a community and take action every day.
- The Trevor Project: 1.866.488.7386
a 24-hour free and confidential crisis and suicide prevention helpline specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or questioning youth.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline