Did anyone bring the marshmallows?

glowing campfireI tend to be an optimist, but sometimes I have a hard time seeing the silver lining right away.  Thursday morning started as any other day. I got up and showered, fed the dogs, made my breakfast, packed my lunch for work, then went into the laundry room to check the dogs’ water bowl.  I know many people walk through their mornings in a haze, but I literally walked into the haze during my morning. The room was filling with smoke.  In less that a minute the smoke detectors started blaring and smoke started filling the house.

Skipping to the end of the story – everyone is fine and the house is intact.  But a lot happened between the smoke and now.

Our boiler malfunctioned (another long story) and was burning a hole through the floor beneath it.  If this had happened after we had left for work we wold likely have lost everything.  I made it to work, although smelled like smoke) and Scott stayed home, assessed the damage, and went to work on the repairs.

At work I alternated between anxiety and gratitude that this happened while I was at home.  Fast forward to Friday – no hot water and the house smells like a campfire.  I decided I had a picture of marshmallows toasting to make s'moreschoice.  I could either focus on how inconvenient it was to not be able to take a hot shower and how smokey my house smelled or I could close my eyes and imagine cooking marshmallows for s’mores over the campfire.  I chose the latter.

kitchen sink with running waterSaturday – still no hot water.  My natural optimism was returning and by Saturday afternoon I could finally wash dishes again.  Wash dishes? I have never looked forward to washing dishes in my entire life.  Perhaps that is optimism taken too far.

Looking at everything that happened from this vantage point revealed a few lessons.

  1. I really am an optimist.  However, just because I am an optimist doesn’t mean I don’t feel unhappy or frustrated sometimes. Being an optimist just means that it is my default viewpoint.  Both tapping and conscious choice restored my balance.
  2. Looking for the blessings in your life is important. Unless you look for them you might miss out.  It would have been easy for me to focus on the inconveniences of the day but I know it would not have been a good thing for me or anyone else.
  3. I can tolerate more than I sometimes think I can.  I don’t usually like surprises or anything that disrupts my daily routine.  This event was a disruption but I actually bounced back rather quickly.

I hope I don’t have a fire again.  I hope you don’t either.  But if we do, think about marshmallows.

Book Review – Presenting To Win

Presenting To Win: The Art Of Telling Your Story by Jerry Weissman is a fantastic book.  I’m not sure what drew me to it since I am not necessarily in a position where I give formal presentations very often and frankly avoid using audiovisual aids if at all possible. Prior to reading this book I also couldn’t have told you what an IPO was and I’m not in an industry where I’m likely to give presentations to investors from multimillion dollar corporations. (At least not yet.)

I have given presentations though and they haven’t always gone the way I wanted them to. Now I know why.  I’ve committed almost every one of the “cardinal sins” of presentation, both with and without A/V assistance.  After reading this book, I feel much better prepared should I be called upon to give a presentation in the future. In fact, I’m almost hoping that a chance to put these principles into action presents itself.

I could also see many applications for the same information in other aspects of my personal and professional life.  We are all “selling”, whether it be a product, an idea or concept, or a relationship. We want others to get it, to understand us, and we really want them to agree with us or take a desired action. The way that we communicate that is critically important to whether we achieve our goal. All of these corporate-tested presentation techniques have useful applications in many life areas if applied creatively.

The author practiced what he preached, and the use of the techniques was evident in the way he crafted the text, diagrams, and captions. Since I was reading on an older Kindle, some of the formatting wasn’t the best, but even with that said, the attention to detail and the use of great communication techniques was evident. I learned a lot – about presentations, about writing, about communication, and about myself.

Book Review – Gifts From Eykis: A Story of Self-Discovery

Gifts From Eykis is another magnificent book from Wayne Dyer. This is a bit different than most of his other books because it is written in the form of a novel, rather than a typical self-help book.

Eykis is a visitor from the planet Uranus. First, the main character from Earth visits the planet Uranus and observes many oddities that seem to resemble Earthly emotions. While on Uranus, Ekyis introduces the Earth traveler to anxiety attacks, worry, guilt, fear, dependency, and other emotions. The difference on Uranus is that these emotions exist only for a purpose, never just as a perception or neurosis. That wouldn’t make sense and everything on Uranus makes sense.

Later in the book Ekysis visits Earth and is quite troubled by the suffering the inhabitants of Earth inflict on themselves and others with these emotional states. In the end, Ekysis shares some “gifts” for all mankind. These words of wisdom include:

 

  • Learn to cultivate your own garden
  • If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
  • These are the good old days.
  • There is no way to happiness; Happiness is the way!

To receive more of your “gifts” from Eyksis, pick up the fascinating book and take a humble look at the ways in which we create our own suffering. I bet you will be soon wishing for a guilt-prodder or a worry-ware.

 

Book Review – The Song of Annie Moses

I loved this book. I already was in love with the Annie Moses Band, having attended one of their concerts in Ohio. I knew a little of their story before, but this book made me fall in love with them all over again. The writing is captivating, the story compelling, and the wisdom is priceless. I believe this book deserves a spot on the top shelf of all parenting books.

Robin Donica Wolaver is the author. She writes books with the same mastery and clarity as her song lyrics. By the end I felt as though I really knew these strong and inspired women through the generations. I was impressed by the congruence between their beliefs and their actions.  I felt challenged by the depth of their spiritual lives. As the book ended, I wanted more.

Book Review: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

This was a surprising read for me. Why? Because I had preconceived ideas about the content of the book.  I expected to find a story of severe allergies (I did) and a belief that everyone should chage their lives to accommodate the person with allergies (I didn’t).  This book had balance.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an allergice life by Sandra Beasley expanded my knowledge of allergy research and gave me food for thought (pun intended).  I haven’t always known that I had food allergies and mine are generally not as life-threatening as Sandra’s.  It seems that mind have had a more subtle and cumulative effect on my health.  Nonetheless, my food allergies significantly impact the way I live.

Her writing style is engaging, even in the more technical descriptions of allergy and medicine.  I found myself laughing at the descriptions I recognized all too well and deeply pondering the more challenging viewpoints.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that even thinks they may have food sensitivities and it is a must-read for anyone that loves or lives with someone with life threatening allergies.

Book Review – Mars and Venus in the Bedroom

SEX. Now that’s a word that gets your attention. Men and women spend great amounts of time thinking about sex, wishing for sex, having sex, and complaining about sex. Few couples have the skills to discuss, request, or negotiate sex successfully.  Couples also don’t appear to understand why sexual expression is so problematic.

Would you like to learn about sex and passion, increase your sexual confidence, rekindle passion, and keep romance alive?  If so, consider reading Mars and Venus in the Bedroom by John Gray.  This is an older book but continues to be relevant today.  Dr. Gray’s books are easy to read, but be forewarned, he writes about sex, sexuality, and intimacy with the same candor that you would expect of a weather report.  Perhaps that is the important first lesson of this book.