Just a Thought…

Your smile is your logo,

I recently saw this quote and it resonated so much with me. I strive to be that type of person, whose compassion and kindness brightens someone’s day.

It’s not just what we say but it’s how we act that makes a difference. It can be something as simple as a smile, holding the door open, or listening to someone’s frustration over how long the line is.

That warmth and goodness — those positive vibes — can leave someone feeling better than they did before they saw you. What an awesome quality to share!

When I come across people who are rude, coarse, or impolite, I think about how they leave people in their wake feeling bad. If you weren’t in a crummy mood before, you might well be, after your path crosses with a negative person.

Of course, we can’t be happy all the time. We’re human. We have a right to be annoyed, somber, disappointed, and upset. We can’t always be that bright light.

But for the most part, our genuine spirits shine through. Each of us has the ability to contribute to the goodness in the world.

Leave a positive and kind wake as you move through life — not a raging storm.

Image result for image of woman dancing on tropical oceanImage courtesy of here

Lean on Me

We aren't meant to do this alone...

It’s been a hard week. I can’t wrap my head around the mass shooting in Las Vegas. I’m  thinking of my old college friend who was killed. My heart breaks for her family.

Today I was listening to The Highway (a country music station) on SiriusXM and was moved by what they said. The whole crew of The Highway was in Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest Festival. They told their stories of that horrific night, how they hid under buses and ran for their lives. They were separated and it was hours before they knew they’d all survived.

A similar thread runs through each of their experiences. Kindness. A sense of community. Family. Strength. Love.

I’ll help you.

You’re not alone.

Come with me.

We can do this.

Hold on. Please hold on.

We’re in this world together. We hold each other up, we fight for each other.

No matter what you’re going through, there’s no shame in asking for help. There will be a time when someone else needs to lean on you for strength and encouragement.

We cannot get through this life alone. We aren’t meant to.

Lean on me, when you're not strong-1

10 Mantras to Reduce Stress and Anxiety


I’ve had “white coat syndrome” since my early 20s. My blood pressure tends to surge at the doctor’s office. I don’t think I feel nervous. But deep inside, I must be. I can’t figure out why. My doctors and nurses are all very kind and easy to talk to.

I get frustrated because I can’t control my blood pressure in a medical setting. This is a concern, especially  because I have hypertension and take medication for it. And it’s well controlled — at least at home.

When I have a doctor appointment, I do my best to relax on the way there. I take deep breaths, listen to music, and tell myself I’ll be fine and not to think about it. But that makes me more nervous and I can literally feel my numbers rising.


What am I so afraid of? My doctor has never gotten angry because it’s too high. He might look concerned, and we discuss how my numbers are at home. He takes it again at the end of the appointment, and it’s always in the normal range.

I’ve thought of different ways to help calm myself when I’m sitting in the waiting room. These techniques also help control my panic attacks.

The first tip is to use deep breathing and imagery. I imagine myself at the beach. I think about how it feels when grains of sand slide through my fingers. I smell suntan lotion,  taste the salty water, see shades of blues and greens in the ocean, and hear waves crash on the shore.

The second idea is to repeat mantras while I’m deep breathing. I like mantras because they’re short and simple, and encourage me to be positive and mindful.

It feels like I’m breathing in calm and breathing out nervousness.

Here’s what I do. I take a deep breath in and at the same time, say (in my head) the first part of a mantra. Then I exhale slowly and say the second half.

Like this: take a deep breath and think, “Life is”… slowly exhale and think…”good.”

My Favorite Mantras

I see my doctor in a couple of months. Until then, I’m going to practice my breathing and mantra exercises.

I’ve recovered from panic disorder. I’m hopeful that one day I can say I no longer have “white coat syndrome.”

Not to worry. I got this.

Take a deep breath...


Just a Reminder…

bunny quote final

I love bunnies, so when I saw this on @psychologythings Instagram account, it made me smile.

Sometimes we need this little reminder.

Be kind to yourself. Believe in yourself.

You are amazing and you’re going to be great today!

Have a wonderful weekend,



I looked around and was touched to see so many people. My husband and I were at a church we’d never been to, attending a friend’s funeral. We knew Sal for three years. In that short period of time, he made a deep impact on our lives.

He was generous, kind, funny, curious, and spiritual. Years ago, he’d been a carpenter. He was an artist and an American Indian, proud of his heritage. He drew intricate pictures of Indians and feather headdresses, similar to the one shown above. He was an avid reader. He loved the beach and going to church.

Sal spent most of his days at our business. He’d sit on a chair outside our store, reading or drawing in his sketch pad. We thought of him as the greeter. My husband and I enjoyed our conversations with him, usually ending in joking and laughter.

But he didn’t always feel like laughing. He endured hardships that we couldn’t imagine.

Sal was homeless. He struggled with alcoholism. He slept in a tent, hidden in a park. He had a poor relationship with his family and rarely spoke to them. He hadn’t seen his son in four years. He broke his leg six months ago and had surgery. He was in constant pain and got around with a cane or a walker. He had trouble with his feet and legs swelling. He had to stuff his feet into the only shoes he had, a pair of second-hand work boots. A few weeks before he died, he was robbed and beaten so badly he was taken to the hospital.

Despite all that, he had hope that his life would get better. He prayed and believed in God.

A couple of months ago, Sal asked a friend something that took her by surprise.

“If I died, do you think anyone would come to my funeral?”

“Of course,” Cathy said. “A lot of people would!”

His question and her answer proved to be prophetic. Sal passed away at the end of March, found dead in a van in a church parking lot. He was 55. The coroner said he died of natural causes.

There were close to one hundred people at his funeral service, including a dozen family members who sat in the front row. Most of them hadn’t seen or talked to Sal in years. His death brought them together. At least for that hour, for that day.

The people gathered in the church came into Sal’s life for different reasons. Or should I say, he came into ours.

The common thread was that all of us were touched by this man who had so little, yet gave so much. Our lives are better because we knew him. Sal’s body was broken and wasting away. But inside, his spirit thrived. The pastor said, “His inner man was being renewed day by day.”

Mourners were invited up to the microphone to share.

I took a deep breath and stood up. I was nervous, but felt a need, a desire, to tell the others how Sal had a positive effect on my life and my husband’s. I didn’t have anything planned to say, but once I started, the words flowed.

Like many of the others, Sal was the first homeless person I really got to know. He was a fixture at our business over the past few years. He may have been labeled as homeless. But  homelessness did not define him. He had a life before a string of unfortunate  circumstances led him to the streets.

Sal often looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you so much for letting me be here.” His large, dark brown eyes were kind. But I could see the pain. I’d tell him, “Of course. I’m glad you’re here.” It made me feel good that this was one place he felt welcomed and at home.

My husband loved to joke with Sal, who was sarcastic and funny. He laughed easily, even if he was having a rough time. We tried to brighten Sal’s day. I hope he knew he brought joy to ours.

Other tributes were heart-wrenching and beautiful.

One woman told us she met Sal two years ago, the first week she became homeless. She was on the streets and an alcoholic. The two would sit and have long conversations. Sal “talked me out of doing some really foolish things.” She described him as a father figure. She attributes Sal for helping her turn her life around. On the day of his funeral, she was fifty-three days sober. She’s had a job for ten months and lives with her mother. She choked back tears as she read a poem she wrote for Sal.

A parishioner shared how she witnessed Sal’s generosity. One evening she saw him in our place of business, with a bag of food — his food. He walked around and handed it out to customers. She was shocked and asked him why he was giving it away. He told her that others needed it more than he did.

A Hispanic mother and her daughter went up to the microphone. The little girl is in sixth grade. She spoke, interpreting for her mom. They met Sal at our business. She said that last New Year’s Eve, they gave him five dollars. The girl said, “He was so happy!” A few weeks later, her mom was at our business by herself. Sal gave her two pizzas that someone had given him. He said, “Yummy, yummy!” Words he knew she’d understand, even with her minimal grasp of English.

He had so little, yet gave so much.

As the service came to a close, I wondered what Sal’s family was thinking. They had no idea how he lived his last days, months, or years.

I hoped they felt comfort in knowing that Sal was cherished and loved. And maybe even proud that he left a rich impression on so many.

poppies - Copy

First image courtesy of here

Tending Our Gardens

talking to plants

I smiled when I saw this quote, because I definitely can relate. When I was about twelve, I started to love house plants. Once a week, it was my job to water and mist the fern in our living room. I loved that chore (much more than the vacuuming and dusting I had to do).

My mom saw how much I liked caring for plants, so she bought me some for my room. At one point, I think I had eight, which now seems like a lot for one bedroom. When it was time for watering, I’d carry each plant to the bathroom and put it in the tub. It looked like a jungle in there. I’d get a large plastic cup and sprinkle water over the Boston Ferns, Spider Plants, and Peace Lilys, and let them drain.

There was something I didn’t want to admit. I talked to my plants. I would’ve been mortified if my sisters or friends heard me. I’d sit on the edge of the bathtub and tell my “friends” how pretty they were and how well they were growing. I told them I loved them and that I loved taking care of them.

I’ve always heard that if you talk to plants, they’ll be happier and healthier. Even now, when I’m deadheading my roses and perennials, I whisper how beautiful they are.

I was just noticing that what I’ve said to my plants — you’re beautiful, you’re doing so good, I love taking care of you, I love you — they’re all words and phrases that people in my life want, and need, to hear.

And I do say those things. Often.

One thing our world needs is more kindness. We can never have enough.

So yes… “If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.”

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

Old Habits Are Hard to Break


The other day I was in the check out line at the grocery store. I was buying a lot of vegetables to put in my slow cooker minestrone soup. A man in his thirties was behind me. I couldn’t help but notice the difference in our items. He loaded up the conveyor belt with peanut butter cup, caramel, and chocolate chip ice cream. Three boxes of cereal; Trix, Lucky Charms, and Cap’n Crunch. Sugary drinks. Potato chips. High fat and sodium-rich frozen foods. I tried not to stare, not to judge.

Maybe he was having a party. Maybe his nieces and nephews were coming over. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But what I really think is that he enjoys those foods and that’s what he’s used to buying. An unhealthy habit.

It got me thinking how habits–both good and bad–become routine and such a part of us, we may not even realize it.

Habits can become so automatic, that we may do them even if we don’t necessarily enjoy them anymore. We get used to doing what’s always worked. It’s hard to be open-minded and scrutinize things we’ve done for months or years. If someone points out one of my bad habits, I may get defensive. But later I take a good look at it to see if that person is right. If I’m ready to change that habit, I figure out how.

For instance, I eat a treat almost every night while watching TV. Sometimes I’m not even hungry. But my husband gets some popcorn or ice cream, the dog gets a rawhide bone, and I want to join in.

I’m working on being mindful about our nightly ritual. If I had a light dinner and really am hungry, or if I plain and simple want to munch on something, I won’t deny myself. As long as I stop and think about it, and make a mindful decision.

Often I grab something relatively healthy, like a banana and a low-fat graham cracker. Or a cup of decaf tea and a piece of fruit. That way, I’m able to eat a treat with my husband (and dog), and it’s a healthful choice.

But there are times when I crave a bowl of ice cream or a brownie, so I indulge. I don’t regret one bite, as long as I truly want it and make a conscious decision to have it. I’m only  angry with myself if I eat it, and don’t even want it.

Some of my bad habits:

  • Eating later at night.
  • Craving and eating popcorn and candy at the movies (and we go often). My mouth waters just walking into a movie theater.
  • Not going to the gym enough (or not at all).
  • Procrastinating.
  • Spending too much time on social media.

Some of my good habits:

  • I eat healthy: a lot of fruits, veggies, Greek yogurt, chicken, fish, whole grains, and not much red meat.
  • I drink a lot of water.
  • I don’t smoke or drink (except an occasional glass of wine)
  • I walk every day, with a goal of reaching 10,000 steps per day.
  • I practice deep breathing which helps calm me.
  • I smile and laugh easily.

Habits are choices. If there’s something we want to change, we first need to acknowledge it. And then figure out a way to replace that bad habit with a positive one.

I wonder what I’m going to choose to nibble on tonight when I’m watching TV.

A little wisdom from Calvin + Hobbes

Second image courtesy of here

A Special Message

A few nights ago I received a wonderful, unexpected text. It was my niece’s husband, Mark (not his real name). He won’t be with our family this Christmas. He’s in the military, serving six months in the Middle East.

My husband and I sent him a care package a few weeks ago, hoping it would reach him in time for the holidays.

Mark texted me to say it arrived, and he was so thankful. The box was filled with holiday cookies, candy, our Christmas card, and a letter. I hoped he’d like it. I wasn’t sure what treats he’d want. But I knew that wasn’t the important part. I wanted him to know we think of him often and pray for his safety. I told him we’re grateful to him and his fellow officers for serving our country.

We texted back and forth for awhile, and I was thinking how great it is that we can communicate so easily — me in the United States, and Mark, thousands of miles away, in a foreign land.

I told him I was making beef stroganoff for dinner, and he said that was one of his favorite meals. Comfort food. My daughters wondered if that made him sad. I don’t think so. He wants to hear about our normal lives, about the familiar. He’s doing his job abroad, which I’m sure is very unpleasant at times. But it must help to know that when he gets home, he’ll be reacquainted with the people, places, and things he loves and misses so desperately.

God bless our troops at the holidays, and always.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

My Holiday Mantra


Every year I ask my daughters to give me a small Christmas list. They’re both in their early twenties and even though they’re easy to shop for, I like to get a couple specific ideas.

I opened Talee’s email and clicked on the first link. It led me to the bracelet pictured above.

I smiled. It warmed my heart. She believed she could, so she did. What a strong message. It says a lot to me that Talee picked this out for herself.

I’m sure she thinks it’s cute because of the slim design, the rose gold, and the ‘girl power’ mantra. I do too. But it also reminds me how far Talee has come.

Maybe I’m reading more into it than I should, but here’s what goes through my mind:

  • My little Talee, painfully shy with terrible separation anxiety in preschool. She used to hold onto my legs and say, “Mommy, I’m scared.” When I asked what she was afraid of, she’d shrug and tell me she didn’t know. I desperately wanted her to be confident and speak up for herself. As she got older, an amazing thing happened. She became sure of herself, walking tall and proud, talking to people with direct eye contact. She’s grown into a happy, confident, and outgoing young woman, graduating from college in six more months. She believed she could, so she did.
  • My little Talee, with sports induced asthma so severe, I thought she’d have to give up her passion — basketball. But I don’t think quitting her favorite sport ever entered her mind. She never, ever gave up.Through determination and hard work, she became one of the most valuable players on her high school basketball team. She still plays intramural tournaments in college. She believed she could, so she did.
  • My little Talee, dealing with anxiety and panic attacks when she was just ten years old. She was frightened, embarrassed, and frustrated that she couldn’t make it go away. After having a panic episode one day in fourth grade, she was terrified it would happen again. Her fear caused her to miss several weeks of school. With medical help, she learned how to control her panic. It wasn’t easy and took time. She persevered and is stronger because of it. Panic no longer rules her. Talee is the one in control. She believed she could, so she did.

It’s funny how one small Christmas gift has so much significance for me. I know Talee would laugh if she knew that, and tell me I overthink things way too much.

Maybe I’ll buy three bracelets.

Mackenzie would also love one. With tenacity and courage, she’s carved a successful path for her career, one she’s dreamed of since high school. She believed she could, so she did.

When I wear mine, it’ll remind me to continue reaching for my hopes and dreams. And I’ll think of my strong, beautiful daughters.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here