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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Change and a Wet Baby

Time for ChangeMark Twain had it correct when he said, “The Only One Who Likes Change is a Wet Baby!” Now, some reading this may take issue with the statement.  For, don’t some people like change?  Yes, they do, but we must qualify that.  If we believe that some people like change, we need to admit that those people do not like all change.  It is easier for us to accept and even like change that we see as positive and that we think we can control.  Unfortunately, there is much change outside of our control, and we all have changes occur that are not positive.

I am reminded of my husband Mike when thinking of this.  Mike says that he thrives on change!  I do not want to disagree with him, for he really does deal with change better than most people with whom I have had experience.  Mike has dealt with many significant changes in the 35 years we have been together, and by no means have all of them been positive.  Unlike some other people I know, Mike does not complain when changes occur that aren’t positive, or when things don’t go his way.  He does not wallow around in misery, hoping things will improve.  Instead, he gets to work on making better things happen.  I respect him a lot for that quality.

But while I do believe that Mike deals with, and even likes, change more than the average person, what I think he really likes most about change is variety.  Most likely Mike’s upbringing has a lot to do with this.  His dad was in the military, so they relocated every eighteen to twenty-four months from the time he was born until he was an adolescent.  As a result, Mike has difficulty answering one of the most common questions we all get to answer, “Where are you from?”  I know some who are reading this share this common experience and understand completely.  This experience certainly has something to do with how quickly and how well one deals with change.  Although this example relates to change, it isn’t the whole story.  And this blog post isn’t really about how Mike deals with change.  It is about change in general.  And it is about a baby, our family’s new baby!

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Mom Chatham, Dad Johnathan, and Drew

Andrew Sebastian Kildosher was born on February 24th at 2:36 AM to our daughter Chatham and son-in-law Johnathan.  He came into the world at 7 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long.  And as you can surely see, he is beautiful!  Our newest grandchild, Drew, is our first grandson.  We have three precious granddaughters; soon to be thirteen-year-old Mary Grace, eleven-year-old Elsie, and five-year-old Virginia.  And now we also have a precious grandson.  All of these children are indeed a blessing.

Other than announcing our family’s new addition, what does this have to do with change?  Well, quite a lot.  Drew’s mom and dad have already learned that when Drew is wet, he cries, and when his wet diaper is changed, he stops crying!  This newborn who is only a few days old is teaching us something.  When we are uncomfortable, we cry, although maybe not literally.  Just like our newborn grandson cries when he is uncomfortable.

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Drew wanting change!

As adults dealing with change, how do we react, or respond when we are uncomfortable?  There are actually several responses or reactions we can experience when dealing with change that makes us uncomfortable.  While the degree of our discomfort will affect our responses, other variables do as well.  There are three frequent responses to change.

One possible response to change that we do not see as positive and/or that we cannot control is to avoid or ignore its reality.   In essence, we hide our heads in the sand, hoping the unwanted change will go away.  It rarely does.  This response is often a passive response and can be subconscious.  It is expressed as basically doing nothing about the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Another response is to try to bargain with the one we see in control of the change, such as God.  This response is often the result of a crisis we find ourselves or our loved ones in.  An example is in the case of a critically ill loved one, we may pray, “If you let her live, I will be more committed to my faith, go to church regularly, or…….” While the person verbalizing this may be quite sincere, once the crisis has abated, it is easy for the person to forget the pledge and revert back to their previous behaviors.

A third response to change is to accept it and to make its reality our reality.  When denial and bargaining do not work, acceptance is the best option.  Acceptance is an active response.  Once we accept the reality of the change, even when it is unwanted, when we move with it, we often find that there is something positive about it.  When we try to hold on to what has passed, we end up with nothing.  We lose what we had and are not able to accept the new.

 

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Another example of change!  Conversion of U.S. dollars to Columbia pesos.

 

We have heard that the only constant is change.  We are either moving forward or backward.  Life is not static.  We can choose to move with change or try to resist it.

Back to our wet baby, Drew.  In just the few days he has been with us, he is no longer the same.  Why should we try to be?

Patti name

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Social Media Mistakes

 

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This sign in the American Girl store in NYC captures the main message of this post.

I have written before that when I am bothered, I write.  I am writing now because I am bothered.  I have written previously about social media in general and Facebook in particular.  I am writing again about social media in general and Facebook in particular.

I have been a frequent user of Facebook for several years.  Although I am also on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, I post more and read more of others’ posts on Facebook than any of the other sites. And although I know there are more social media sites than these I mention, I cannot tell you what they are.  I know that acknowledgment dates me.  So be it; I can only keep up with so much!

Let me make a few disclaimers before I go any further.  I am sure that I have made and continue to make every mistake I am listing.  I write and teach what I need to continue to learn.  So please do not think my message is just for my readers; it is most of all for me.  Perhaps it can help others as well.  This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list.  It is what is on my heart at the moment.  And the points are true for any communication, not just social media communication in general and/or Facebook in particular.

When communicating on social media, remember:

  1. Before putting a post up about a party, consider whether some who will see the post will feel excluded if they were not invited to the party. This is true for children’s parties, but it is also true for parties of adults.  Of course, everyone cannot be and even shouldn’t be invited to our parties, but let’s consider how to avoid doing anything that hurts others.
  2. Avoid using social media to announce things to your closest friends and family that you could pick up the phone and call and tell them or write about in a personal note to them. This is particularly true about major events in our lives. Of course, it is easier and quicker to announce things on social media to the masses and that is fine for things you are announcing to the masses if you need to do that at all.  Please note my qualifier: use a more personal approach with closest friends and family.
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While I believe this to be true, let’s do our best to have positive relationships.

  1. Do you really want to alienate a large group of people just to make your voice heard? This is especially true about political and social issues, things about which we often have different opinions.  Do we really think we are going to change anyone’s opinions about these issues by what we post on social media?
  2. Before we post anything, even something we think is totally positive, we should consider how others we know who will read it will read it.  The reason I am writing this blog post is mainly due to this point. Nothing more needs to be said about that.
  3. If you are connected to others on social media, do your part to keep the connection going. Yes, that does take time, but it can be done in a manageable amount of time.  We each have to decide how much of our time we are willing and able to commit to this means of communication.  But let’s do our part.
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“Weird” is in the eye of the other!

  1. What we post on social media represents us. Do we really want profanity, negativity, and attacks to be how others perceive us?  Communicating effectively is hard work, even when we do all that we think we can to be positive and appropriate.  Eliminating things that can be barriers to communicating well with a variety of people with different value systems and other differences helps us stay out of trouble!

There are more points that could be made, and probably will be in a subsequent post, when I am bothered again about these issues!  Until then I will go.  I must spend some time connecting with my social media friends.  This will take more time than normal since I must remember what I have just written.  How soon we can forget.

Patti name

 

 

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Because Tomorrow Happens in the Blink of an Eye

 

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NYC here we come!

This title comes from an advertisement in the November 2017 issue of Southern Living Magazine.  The advertisement is for Kiawah Island.  When reading this back issue earlier today, the title hit me as an apt description for the fast passing of time, something I am more keenly aware of recently than ever before.  In my earlier years, I think I thought that time would last forever.  Now at 66 years of age, I know better.  That is one reason I am committed to making memories that will last forever, because I know I will not.  One of the memories that I hope will last forever is time spent with our dear children and grandchildren.  The most recent of those is a wonderful trip to NYC with our middle granddaughter, Elsie, to celebrate her 11th birthday.

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Lunch at Juniors before the play.

I am reminded of a business colleague of my husband Mike’s, Paul O’Day.  Paul passed away last year, but not before he and his wife spent precious time taking each of their grandchildren on a special trip at a certain age.  Paul talked about those memories several times when we were with him.  Although he no longer is, I am sure that those memories are alive with his loved ones.

Since first hearing of those trips from Paul O’Day, I have heard from others how they also make memories with their grandchildren.  All of those memories do not have to involve travel, but in our case, since travel is a big part of our lives, it seemed appropriate to take our grandchildren on a special trip.  So, Mike and I decided that we should not wait any longer to begin that tradition, and we decided to begin with Elsie, whose birthday occurred soon after our decision.   Elsie was given the choice of where to travel for her special trip with us, and she chose NYC.

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The Lady is a powerful reminder of our country’s openness, compassion, and strength.

Our trip with Mary Grace, who is soon to be 13, will be this year also.  Although five-year-old Virginia is already talking about her trip, that will have to wait until she is older!

Elsie and I flew from Jacksonville, Florida to NYC on Wednesday morning, February 7th.  This trip coincided with a business trip of Mike’s, and he flew in later that day from a business trip in Miami.  Although we only had two full days, we managed to do everything that was on Elsie’s list.

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The School of Rock rocks!

This included the School of Rock play, a Mani/Pedi, a hair styling for her and one of her American Girl dolls, an ear piercing for her doll, a trip to the Statue of Liberty which included a walk to the crown, lunch at the American Girl Café on her birthday, and a visit to Rockefeller Plaza to greet the Today Show hosts.  It was quite exciting that Al Roker, who happens to be Elsie’s favorite Today Show host, shook her hand and wished her a happy birthday!  Additionally, we had pizza the first night at Uncle Paul’s and dinner the second night at Eataly.  We also visited the American Girl store several times and even had Elsie’s hair done a second time before her birthday lunch.  What we did not do much of was rest!

 

After Elsie’s birthday lunch at the American Girl Café, we boarded the plane and left New York Friday afternoon.  We arrived in Jacksonville in time to celebrate Elsie’s birthday with family and her bestie Stella at Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant. IMG_3790

As I think about our trip to New York with Elsie, I am so grateful that we had this special time with her.  I think that is the first time that we have had Elsie all by herself.  Mary Grace, being the firstborn, had the family all to herself for a couple of years before Elsie was born.  Virginia has had special time when her two older sisters were away at camp.  I do not recall us ever having Elsie without her sisters also being present.  Being the middle child, and also given her personality, Elsie does not “demand” attention. It was wonderful to have Elsie all by herself and to be able to give her undivided attention.  I think we need to make time for each granddaughter alone, and not just with special trips. Their parents do spend time with each of the girls, and this time alone with Elsie has made me aware of the importance of this.

 

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Dinner at Eataly!

Elsie looked forward to her special trip with us with great anticipation.  She was so excited about it before and during the experience.  Now that it has passed, I am sure there is somewhat of a letdown for her.  I feel the same.  In the middle of the experience, I knew we were having a very special time, and that it would end too soon.  While the trip had to end, I hope that the memories will last.

I hope that the memories of our special trip to NYC with Elsie will remain with her long past the time when we can’t.

Patti name

P.S. This Blog Post was written before hearing of the tragedy in the Broward County, Florida high school shooting.  I can’t imagine the grief of the parents and other family members who lost loved ones in this tragedy.  My prayers are with all of those involved in this latest horrific school shooting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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