Friday, December 13, 2013

Peace Is Not A Season

We are in the midst of the holiday season and peace and joy abound.

Shoppers are hustling and bustling about, choosing the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Trees are cut and decorated, families gather, special meals are prepared, and thoughtful gifts are shared. 

We connect with friends, co-workers and neighbors to share a drink and special treats. We sing carols while standing around the piano, attend special church services and make donations to those that are less fortunate. 

We follow the traditions, religious and secular, that mean something very special to us. 

I think it's safe to say most people truly enjoy this time of year and show it in their mood and in their actions. I notice people going out of their way to be kind, friendly and welcoming. I see more patience, understanding, generosity and compassion in the midst of strangers, family members or co-workers. In essence, most of us seem to behave at our best this time of year and we all appreciate the extra acts of kindness we receive. 

So, if most of us enjoy the peace and joy of the season, why is it seasonal? Why don't we maintain the same sense of caring for our neighbor or co-worker all year long? 

Sound good? Well, it's possible! We just have to be conscious and deliberate with our attitude and actions. Peace is not a season. We can each behave in the same peaceful and caring way all year long and we can do it without having a punch bowl in the office lunch room. We can do it by consciously choosing to treat others in a way that would improve every conversation, every meeting and ultimately every relationship. 

My offer to you is to remember your potential for having a very positive impact will go on long after the decorations come down. You can choose to be kind, generous and understanding every day. Hopefully, those whose lives you touch will pass it on to others, and that would truly be something to celebrate. 

May the blessings of this season carry on for you all year long! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Heart's Stress Test

There has been some concern about the health of my heart after I experienced a couple episodes of chest pain last week. I'm extremely healthy, with no prior history of any problems and was surprised to be awakened in the middle of the night with sternal pain. If I hadn't just walked ten miles two days before, I may have overlooked the episode. Instead, I told my Doc, who ordered a nuclear stress test, so he could sleep better. 

Although, the official findings have not come back, the unofficial results have been reported below:

This sixty year old healthy, white female presented for her stress test on orders of her doctor. She noted the most stressful part of the procedure was going without coffee and chocolate for 24 hours prior to the test, and without food for eight hours. 

The test proved to be uneventful and routine even though she was not in charge of setting the speed or level of incline of the treadmill.  

An I.V. and wires were attached to the patient and she happily took off for her make believe hilly trek, while the physician, students and technicians looked on, watching the monitors and commenting on the heart's S-T segments, causing Kate to feel a bit like a lab rat in a laboratory. 

A short time into the procedure, it became clear that this subject's heart was quite large....not in a bad way, but in a way that has obviously allowed itself to be touched. There was also evidence that this big heart has reached out to touch many others. 

This heart also showed significant signs of healing from previous episodes of being broken. It was warm and soft and surrounded with bubbles, which were apparently secondary to a history of numerous joyful experiences. 

There were chambers filled with happiness and some with sadness, all of which showed signs of being cracked open many times in the past, allowing for all that it contained to be fully felt. 

The heart beat was strong and regular, with a bit of a jazz rhythm to it. (Nice to listen to and easy to dance to). 

There were some areas of mushiness....apparently secondary to watching quite a few You-Tube videos of dogs being rescued and kittens being cuddled by babies, as well as some touching marriage proposals. 

Although 60 years old, this heart specimen was quite young in appearance and opened easily when new experiences and people were introduced to it. 

Overall, this heart shows itself to be extremely healthy and resilient and is expected to continue to beat regularly until it stops. . . hopefully a long, long, time from now. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time to Spare

I had an epiphany of sorts a few weeks ago as I stood in front of a San Diego hotel, waiting for my airport shuttle bus. What struck me in the moment was that I was relaxed, calm and unhurried, even though travel will often tend to add to one's stress level. 

As my wait continued, I realized that I can typically avoid the kind of stress that comes with travel, or even with life in general, since I make sure I am prepared and ready ahead of schedule. In other words, I tend to work my life in a way so that I have time to spare

This tendency that I have always had, and the benefits of which I apparently took for granted, was suddenly seen as a major key in keeping my stress levels low and peace levels high. 

For instance, when traveling, I begin to pack a day or two early, referring to a master list of all the things I typically need, instead of relying on my memory. 

I print my boarding passes ahead and save time with check-in. 

I weigh my bag at home to be sure I won't be inconvenienced if my bag goes over 50 pounds. 

I pack snacks, reading material, etc. etc. in my carry-on so I will be comfortable and entertained.

Before returning home, I repack my bag the evening before, keeping what I will need aside for easy access in the morning. 

At home, I have back ups of various food items that I use frequently, so when I run out I won't have to make a quick run to the store in the midst of cooking or baking. 

I use lists to help me remember what is needed to be done on that particular day.

I double recipes and freeze food for quick meals for a future date. 

I schedule exercise time for myself as I would an appointment with someone else. 

I respond to emails on a timely basis, rather than allow them to accumulate in my inbox. 

I allow time in between my client appointments, just in case we go a bit long. 

I leave my home a few minutes early to allow for any snags in traffic. 

Okay, I could go on here, but I think you get the picture. When I (and you) anticipate what is needed and prepare for it in such a way that we avoid last minute inconveniences, life is easier. 

Simple? Yes. Easy? Maybe not for some, but I guarantee even a bit more anticipatory thinking in your life will eliminate unnecessary stress. The elimination of little stressors that can accumulate into bigger ones, will give you time to spare to do the things you love. 

The most wonderful part of having time to spare for me is having time to take a breath and when I (and you)  have time to take a breath, there's room for peace.