Monday, August 30

Collective Sigh

My town and its inhabitants are about to heave a collective sigh of relief.

I live in North Myrtle Beach, SC, and annually, people pack their vehicles to overflowing, corral the kids (and dogs that they'll sneak past desk clerks), and make the long, traffic-jammed journey just to arrive here where hundreds of thousands just like them are bound and determined to have a relaxing week so get out of their way, dang it! *whew*

Our bustling tourist town that welcomes about 14 million visitors annually, is about to turn back into a sleepy surfside community of 16000.

It's a strange love/hate relationship, like the visit from a family member that drives you crazy. You get to a point where you actually kind of miss them, and then they show up -- and it's all smiles and fun for a short while, but quickly turns into "when the heck are they leaving?"

Soon my neighbors and I can begin to experience an abundance of food on the shelves again, rather than trying to go grocery shopping only to be confronted with shelves that look as if they've been attacked by swarms of starving refugees.

And I'll once again be able to drive to a shop 15 minutes away and actually get there in about 15 minutes. As opposed to sitting in traffic for 45 minutes, being super careful to watch out for last minute right hand turns from the left lane, because someone saw the beach souvenir store and remembered they needed a Myrtle Beach shot glass, shell necklace, alligator head, and the free hermit crab advertised on the sign out front. (People...NOTHING is free -- they try to sell you an overpriced cage for the poor little crab who will probably be dead before you get him - or her - home.) Also, despite the HUGE signs on the stores, they ARE NOT "Going Out Of Business" -- look closely -- the signs actually read "Going Out For Business" Seriously. It's got to be one of the best marketing ploys around, right up there next to their famous advertisement of "10 t-shirts for $3" I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but when you get inside thinking you're going to spend a mere $3 and have Myrtle Beach t-shirts for all of your friends back home, you'll realize you've been had! There's a rack of antiquated, misprinted, chintzy tees that no else wanted -- 10 different styles of tees to be exact -- and you can have any ONE of those ten for only $3. the tourists that keep our town afloat, even in this grim economy, I thank you! We mostly love you ♥ and we'll see you next Spring!

p.s. Hurricane Earl slipped past us, so come on down for Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 14


I never had one of those weddings that little girls dream about.

The first time I got married, I thought my mom would enjoy the whole wedding gown shopping experience with me, but I should have known better. A half hour at David's Bridal with my mom high as a kite and me completely mortified was enough. I literally grabbed a dress in my size and was out the door for 250 bucks. That set the course for the entire wedding. Let's just get it over with...

The dress was ugly. Not just now looking back due to style differences, but it was ugly then and I knew it, but strangely did not really care much; or at least that's what I'd convinced myself.
I was fresh from the accident that had left me a paraplegic, so looking back, I know I had not fully accepted what had happened, and I had it in my mind that I would look stupid anyway, not walking down the aisle, but rolling - so I just had a "why bother" attitude.
There was so much going on in my head at the time. I was living with my sister, trying to figure out life as a woman with a disability. Well meaning people kind of shoved my first husband and I together, and before I knew it, I was getting married.
One good thing came from that marriage, and that's my son, Nathan. He's now 19 years old and a great kid!
By the time I met my soul mate, my best-est friend in the universe, my hunny-bunny, etc... who is now my 2nd, and last husband, I was 29 and had been in a wheelchair for 10 years, so had come to terms with it. I'd even begun to thrive by then. Yay!
This time though, having gone through an ugly divorce, being financially drained, and not wanting to ask my dad to pay for a wedding for an almost 30 year old. We went to the justice of the peace.
I so wanted to express the deep love, romance, and joy I felt for him in the form of a memorable day, but it just was not to be. As I often say, "it is, what it is."

Now, pushing 43 years old, I find myself watching wedding themed shows like a hungry orphan!
I 'oooh' and 'ahhh' over David Tutera's magical wedding transformations! I shake my head at the 'Bridezillas' and wonder how they have a friend in the world left, much less a husband! I get tears in my eyes when a girl comes out in 'the perfect dress' on 'Say Yes to the Dress.'
I occasionally let myself daydream about a wedding I'll probably never be able to have. My husband and I both work for ourselves and the economy has put some serious restraints on our spendable cash. I figure maybe by the time we're in our 60's we'll be able to afford a beautiful wedding, but by then, I'm not sure whether I'll be up for one. Spinal cord injury is known to take years off of ones life expectancy, so...well... we just won't even go there right now. Right now I am happy, healthy, and still in love with my husband after 13 years together. So I will just count my lucky stars and thank the heavens. Epictetus said, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."

Tuesday, August 10

Motivation Is Contagious... do your best to catch it and spread it around!

I love meeting motivated people and finding out what drives them. I know it sounds silly, but when I encounter a positive person, and realize they're excited about life too, it's like meeting a long lost friend -- a kindred spirit.
My most recent experience like this was with Chad. He is the dad of my son's fabulous girlfriend, Elizabeth; and we all met this past month when Beth and her family spent a week here at the beach. First let me say how much of a relief it was to find out her family is just as wonderfully quirky as our own. I immediately liked them. Perfect and "normal" people scare me because I know there's something funky going on when no one's looking. There were no airs being put on...they were just nice people with whom I enjoyed great conversation.

So back to the story. I quickly learned that Chad had lost about 85 pounds in the last year, as had Carol, his wife, who is teeny now- so it was hard to imagine her as anything but small.
Let me tell you why I was so motivated by Chad specifically. He's an IT guy (that translates into "computer geek" for those who are not computer geeks), so he's pretty much trapped in an office space most of the day. Many people would use that as an excuse for being inactive, but not Chad. He literally mapped out a path through what he refers to as "The Cube Farm" (through the offices and cubicles) - and began walking it every day -- 1 lap during a morning and an afternoon break, and 2 laps during lunch. It totals about 3 miles! So instead of being held back by what many would see as a stumbling block, he made stepping stones! I love this kind of thinking!
Even better is that other people, seeing him walking around every day, began to walk with him!
But wait...there's even more. The workers came together and joined a "pound for pound" challenge, losing pounds of weight and donating pounds of food to a food bank!
The story of Chad and the Cube Farm once again shows us all that we never know how far-reaching our actions can be, whether good or bad. Let's all do our best to send out waves of kindness, motivation, and positivity. Who knows what great things we can create!
***The photo at the top of this post is the actual map of The Cube Farm*** Thanks Chad!

Friday, August 6

The Same Road

While striving for success as a public speaker, I teeter on the delicate balance beam between coming off as "over-confident" and allowing my insecurities to show. Having a strong, deeply real desire to help people find their own path to self-acceptance, success in life, and true joy, I worry about exposing my personal weaknesses for fear that I'll be viewed as some sort of fraud, leaving people wondering who the heck I think I am trying to guide them to a happier place when I have so many bumps on my own path to fulfillment.

It brings to mind the time when I was a new wife; I attended the church my (now ex) husband had been attending since he was 19 years old. The pastor was incredibly charismatic, in both senses of the word. One of his tag lines was "follow me as I follow Christ" and many did. Unfortunately he walked a treacherous path that ultimately led to not only the destruction of the church, but his marriage, and several peoples spiritual walks. We must each walk our own path.

It's because of this experience that I never suggest anyone "follow my lead" but rather, I extend my hand to any and all who might choose to walk beside me for a while, and hopefully as we share what life has taught us, we part ways having learned something positive. After all, we're on this crazy ride called life together, aren't we? Being the one who stands (or in my case, sits) in front of people and talks about these things, doesn't mean I'm better at means I'm someone who feels comfortable sharing what I've learned (often the hard way) with others, in hopes that they might not fall into a hole I've gotten stuck in already, and thankfully managed to climb out of.
How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way, and unless it's God, or a Higher Power, we should never put anyone on a pedestal. Gloria Steinem once said, "A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space." I could not agree more.

Thursday, August 5

Thoughtful Thursday!

Today I'm going to try to do thoughtful things over and above what I might normally do.

The world seems to be getting a little meaner all the time, or maybe I'm just getting more sensitive in my middle-age! Haha!

Regardless, being nice is contagious. I'll often give a big, dorky smile to someone who looks like they're about to bite someone's head off, and seriously, 90% of the time their face breaks into a beautiful smile! I never stop being amazed at how different that one little act makes people look!

So here's some words from people much wiser than me...enjoy them and maybe smile, or commit some random act of kindness for a grumpy person today!

Scott Adams:
Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

James M. Barrie:
Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.

William John Bennet:
A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.

Henry Burton:
Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; 'twas not given for thee alone, pass it on; Let it travel down the years, let it wipe another's tears, till in heaven the deed appears, pass it on.

Miguel de Cervantes:
Great persons are able to do great kindnesses.

Barbara De Angelis:
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.

Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:
If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give.

Eric Hoffer:
Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.

Washington Irving:
A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.

Samuel Johnson:
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:
I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other.

Harold Kushner:
When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Give what you have. To some one, it may be better than you dare to think.

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profundity.
Kindness in giving creates love.

Blaise Pascal:
Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Albert Schweitzer:
Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.

Mother Teresa:
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

William Wordsworth:
The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

Tuesday, August 3

Rewriting the Rules

"The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

The other day, I heard someone quote that old rule, "Children should be seen and not heard" and it kind of surprised me that people are still using that in any way other than jokingly. In my opinion, children should be not only seen, but watched over with love, and listened to with care. We'd all be happier people if we stopped to enjoy the laughter of children more, or sat down with them and really heard what they were saying.
It's been my experience that kids often want to tell us more than they do, but they need to warm up to spilling the bigger stuff. As a mom I've learned (after much lecturing on my part) that the best conversations I've ever had with my son is when I shut my mouth, open my ears and my heart, and let him talk. Kids are so smart, and they know when you're really listening and genuinely want to hear what they have to say. When we open ourselves up to them, they'll open up to us.

So there's one "rule" I've rewritten.

Remember the "Never wear white after Labor Day" rule? Oy! I know Stacy & Clinton say to toss that rule out the window, but it's been so ingrained in me that Labor Day still finds me, year after year, packing away my whites until the first day of summer. I know! I know! I am such a dork!

What are some "rules" you think need to be broken? Or maybe you have some rules you think should NEVER be broken?
I'd love to see your input.