Are We Lucky or Blessed?

 

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Blessings beyond compare

Lately, I have heard several people say, “I am lucky!” or That was lucky!” Whenever I hear about luck, I want to reply, “What does luck have to do with it?” (Can you hear that song?!) I am not sure about luck. I even just heard that former first lady Barbara Bush, who just passed away at the age of 92, talked more than once about how lucky she was. Even so, as much as I admire Barbara Bush, I am not sure about luck.

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Trust and Obey

IMG_0943Have you had the experience of thinking about something, and someone else mentions the same thing? This happens to me more than occasionally. One such example was last week. I had the subject of Trust on my mind, and our pastor spoke about Trust in his sermon on Sunday. He even used an example of Trust that I had been thinking of. I was amazed. While my pastor’s focus of Trust was a little different than mine, I was struck by the synchronicity of something on my mind also being the focus of his sermon. I have learned to follow my heart in these matters. I realized that the subject of Trust should be the subject of this blog. I decided to obey the urge that put this subject on my mind and heart and share some thoughts about it.

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Bloom Where You are Planted

 

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Baby orchids that grace our dining room table

April has come, and Spring is in full force. We have once again made it through the coldest months of the year, and now can look forward to warmer and longer days and the outdoor activities they bring. We are enjoying the beauty of the flowers and trees as they awaken from their dormant state. The awakening of the flowers and trees may mimic our awakening. If we have been dormant during the winter, it is now time to bloom, to bloom where we are planted.  To be the best version of our self.

Being the best version of oneself is hard work. Just like many other things, it is easier to talk about than to do. But also, like many other things, to accomplish it, we have to get started. To bloom where we are planted implies being our best, and doing our best. As you read this and think about it, what is the message that rings true for you? What does this mean for you?

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Love is in the Air!

IMG_4086Spring may finally be arriving, at least in the Southeast.  But there is no guarantee how long it will last.  Old man winter may have one more hurrah before going dormant for a few months.  May we all be spared any more frigid weather and snow.

This weekend brings Passover and Easter, two major religious holidays.  Many people will be celebrating their faith and with their families.  Regardless of our specific religious and spiritual beliefs, it seems appropriate to remember the common ground we all share, and that is Love.  Love can bind us together, even when there are differences that too often divide us.

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One explanation for Love

But what exactly is Love?  Continue reading

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Prosperity Living

img_2739.jpgWhat do you value most in life?  You may not have thought about this, and thus have difficulty answering the question.  But if I look at your calendar, I will know what you really value.  This, however, may vary from what you would say and even think you value.  Our truest answer to the values question is reflected in how we spend our time.  And for many people, there is a disconnect in what we think we value and how we spend our time.  There is a significant difference in what we say we value and how we spend our time.  Research proves this.

Research reflects that when people are asked what they value the most, they have similar answers.  Even people from various backgrounds, who on the surface appear very different, have more similar answers to this question than different answers. The most frequent answers to the values question are health, happiness, and prosperity.   The exact words “health” and “happiness” are often used, yet there are different words used that describe “prosperity.”

 

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Flowers make my heart sing.

What exactly is prosperity?  Different dictionaries have different definitions of this word.  Descriptive words for prosperity include: successful, thriving, financial success, wealthy, secure, and well-being.  Some of these words mean very different things, yet many people would agree with most of them, especially related to financial means.  We don’t often think of a person being prosperous without financial success, yet there are people who consider themselves prosperous in ways other than financial. Yet in the Western culture prosperity is often equated with financial success.

 

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Some things are still free, such as books from libraries. This is the Little Free Library in Apex, North Carolina.”

 

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Sunsets are also free.

As you read this, you may easily agree with the “health” and “happiness” answers, yet you might not be so sure about the word “prosperity.” And even if you agree and would answer the question with the same or similar words, how you spend your time might not be consistent with your answers.  Not because you aren’t being truthful; most people (not all, but most) try to be honest and tell the truth as they know it to be.  And when we hear the word “values,” we think we are giving an honest answer.  What we are really referring to instead of values is attitudes or beliefs.  Although these three words are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same.  If we really value something, we “walk the talk.” We can have an attitude or belief about something and not really value it.  A couple of examples will bring clarity to this.

 

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Our snowball tree last year.  It is soon to bloom and provides beauty with no price tag.

Although many people say they value health, what they really mean is they have an attitude or belief that health is important.  If most people really valued health, we would not have an epidemic of obesity or an opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S.  When many people say they value happiness, their behavior reflects that what they really value is pleasure.  There is as much difference in the words happiness and pleasure as there is in the words values and attitudes and beliefs.  Pleasure is transitory, while happiness is life sustaining.  Pleasure can be found in a vacation, while happiness is most often found in good relationships and good health.  A more thorough discussion of these differences can be found in my recently published latest book, the Second Edition of How to Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress, and Less! This link will take you directly to Amazon where you can read about it and purchase it.

https://www.amazon.com/Thrive-Spite-Mess-Stress-Less-ebook/dp/B07BD41M7R/ref=sr

There are two common phrases that relate to this discussion.  One is “You can’t take it with you,” usually referring to money and a philosophy that can result in one spending money or giving it away instead of saving it.  The other phrase is “No one on their deathbed ever wishes he had spent more time at the office,” a statement reflecting regret that work has been too much of a priority, often at the expense of relationships.  If these statements are true, what information do they give us related to prosperity living?  Several thoughts.IMG_2760

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Relationships matter the most!

Prosperity living includes health, happiness, and sufficient financial resources to have and do what is most important to us.  Without good health, it is difficult to enjoy other things that are important to us, such as cooking for our family, carrying our grandchildren, or walking on the beach.  Without happiness that allows us to sleep well, meet life’s challenges with grace, and have a sense of gratitude for our blessings, our vacations, and other monetary pleasures can be meaningless.  Those living at or below the poverty level who are unable to get adequate health care can’t maintain good health or live a prosperous life because more financial resources than they possess are required to do so.

 

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Virginia at Marbles Museum in Raleigh, where experiences are fun and affordable.

Back to the original question.  What do you value the most in life?  Does your schedule reflect it?  

 

Patti name

 

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Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress, and Less!

 

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A testimonial for the 2002 edition of How to Thrive.  Gus Whalen, who passed away a few years ago, lived life intentionally.

Isn’t time flying by!?  Our new grandchild, Drew, is already two and a half weeks old, which is unbelievable!  Our oldest grandchild, Mary Grace, just celebrated her thirteenth birthday, and the fact that she is now a teenager is also unbelievable to me!  Where does the time go?  These grandchildren are a great reminder that our days and even years fly by so quickly.  We should spend our time living intentionally.  In 2002 and again in 2018, I published a book about this.

 

 

The first book I published was How to Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress and Less!  It is hardcover and was published in 2002.  I was very proud of it and it is still available for sale on Amazon.

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2002 edition of How to Thrive book

2002 was a long time ago, however, and it was time to do a second edition.  So, I did just that.  I updated some of the material and published a second edition that is paperback.  It is now available on Amazon, and I also have copies that I am glad to mail of either book or both books to anyone who chooses that route.  And beginning today for three days, there is a special offering of the eBook version of the latest book.

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2018 second edition of How to Thrive book

Complimentary eBook – my gift to you! 3 Days Only!

Today through Saturday, March 15-17, there is a free download of the eBook version of the second edition of How to Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress, and Less!  If you download the free eBook and leave me a review of it on Amazon, I will mail you a free autographed copy of the print book.  I will need your address to do so, which you may send me by email to pfralix@fralixgroup.com.  I so appreciate your willingness to do this.  Even though the eBook is free for these three days, any review on Amazon for these is considered a verified review, which is the best review to have.   Here’s the link to the book.

How to Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress, and Less! Second Edition

You might want to know what you will find in How to Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress, and Less! This book is about my core philosophy, focusing on Passion, Productivity, and Prosperity.  People of Passion live meaningful lives, and their purpose and mission are obvious to others.  They are people of positive energy who are making a difference in the lives of others.  The book’s section on Passion gives specifics on how to find one’s passion and live it.  

The Productivity section of the book addresses how to manage those things that can too often get in our way, making it difficult for us to live our passion. We all have them, and most of us will never completely eradicate them.  But with better planning, focus, and discipline, we can be more effective.  The Productivity section shows us how to take action to live our passion.  img_4039.jpg

The Prosperity section of the book is about living abundantly.  This is not about wealth in the most common sense, although the point is made that we all need to have enough financial resources to live our passion.   This section includes a comprehensive discussion of health and its importance in living abundantly.  In addition to physical health, other health areas that are discussed include psychological, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual.  Happiness is also discussed, and the difference between happiness and pleasure.

How to Thrive in Spite of Mess, Stress, and Less is more practical than theoretical.  It is comprehensive yet not complicated.  And, it is long enough to cover the subjects without creating more stress by having to commit an inordinate amount of time to read it!

I will be interested in your thoughts about my latest book.  And stay tuned for the next book which is scheduled to be published by the beginning of 2019, about our Hurricane Irma experience

Your support in the many ways that you provide it is so appreciated.

Patti name

 

 

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What a Difference a Year Makes

IMG_2149One year ago today began a series of events that rocked my world.  The first happened on this day, March 7th in 2017. That event was a serious car accident.  Although it was serious and kept me down for several weeks, the only permanent damage from that accident is a scarred leg and ankle.  I am one fortunate woman, and very grateful.

The second event was another car accident a few months later.  There was no physical harm from that accident, but coming so soon after the other car accident, I was emotionally damaged.  Then a few weeks after that, my husband and I were in Hurricane Irma when it made a direct hit on St. Maarten.  That hurricane was the worst hurricane ever recorded.  Thankfully we survived Hurricane Irma, but the emotional toll that it took on me is not yet gone completely, and may not ever be.  I wrote about that experience in six blog posts, and the book about that will be published by the end of this year.

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Our St.  Maarten resort a few hours before Hurricane Irma hit.

In between the second car accident and Hurricane Irma, I was riding in a car with a friend when something flew from a truck in front of us and flattened her tire on a busy interstate.  We were not hurt, just a little shaken by what happened, and even more so, thinking about what could have happened.

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Mike and I decided to keep our “Welcome Home” from St. Maarten sign up for a year!

As I reflect on these events at this point in time, my overwhelming feeling is gratitude. Any one of those experiences, as difficult as they were at the time, could have been so much worse.  While the hurricane was quite disruptive and very frightening at several points in the process what many are still suffering from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and other areas was so much worse.  Less than two weeks after our Hurricane Irma experience, Mike and I were back home and soon back into our normal routine, while these many months later some people in other areas still do not have power and other (what we think of) as basic necessities.  We only have to look around to see others who are suffering worse than we are.  That fact has been obvious to me many times over.

Yesterday, as I wrote this, was a gray day, and not just because of these reflections. It was cold and rainy, and my mood matched the weather.  I came home from a luncheon and did not know what to do to shake my mood.  I thought about going shopping, and the “old” me would have done just that, but not now.  I did not want to shop, and I did not need anything, so that was not a good solution.  I busied myself for a while with laundry and other things around the house but could not sustain the necessary energy for much of that.  Since March 7th had been on my mind, and since I needed to write my blog post for this week, I decided to honor this year’s anniversary with this post. IMG_2739

What did the events of this year teach me?  Our challenges are wasted on us if we do not learn from them.  My lessons from this year have been profound.  These events changed me.  Although there are more examples of this than these I will mention, these three are the most dramatic.

One of my lessons is to be compassionate with myself.  I think I have usually been compassionate with others, but not always with myself.  These events slowed me down, requiring me to change my focus.  The serious car accident had me unable to get out and go about my normal routine for several weeks.  I had to depend on others.  That was not easy for me.  After the Hurricane experience, I had some mild depression.  It was situational, due to the accidents as well as the hurricane.  The depression cleared after about a month.  I learned to let myself lean in to the emotions I was feeling, to own them, to not try to stuff them down, for them to resurface later.  This was major learning for me.

IMG_4007A second lesson was to begin to change my expectations of others.  The “begin to” is an important distinction.  During this year, I was hurt by the failure of some I expected to be there and to do more for me emotionally during those times, who did not.  I had casual friends check in with me more than some close friends during those major events.  That was hard.  I have come to accept that others do the best they can, most of the time and that when they are not “there” for us, it is about them, not us.   I have grown in my acceptance of this lesson by re-reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Agreements two and three, “Don’t Take Anything Personally” and “Don’t Make Assumptions” especially ring true about this lesson.

My third major lesson was the unpredictability of life, and our inability to prepare for many things that will happen to us.  When life throws us off of our game, we have options as to how to deal with what is happening.  One option is to try to avoid or ignore what is happening.  If we do that, we lose.  We lose our ability to learn from the lessons those experiences are sent to teach us.   Another option, and a far better one, is to lean in, to accept what has happened, and to learn its lessons.  If we slow down, take it in, and accept the changes that are happening, we will come out on the other side stronger and better for the experience.

So here I am one year later, stronger and better.  And ever so grateful.

Patti name

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