What Ruins Your Christmas?


A little while ago, I overheard a conversation between two people about holiday shopping. They were lamenting the running around and deciding what to get and how much they were spending and THEN getting it all wrapped up and ready to go. One of them commented at the end of the conversation, “It really almost ruins Christmas, you know?” The other person solemnly agreed. I was left speechless.

I know it’s likely that they weren’t even considering the words they used, and technically they did say “almost”. However, those of you who’ve read more than a few of my posts know that I regular comment about the words we choose to use. In this case, maybe the words don’t directly affect the health and well-being of the person using them, but then again, maybe they do.

Are they taking for granted the fact that they have time and money to run around holiday shopping for family and friends? Are they grateful for the fact that they have family and friends to shop for? Do they think about the fact that there are people out there who don’t have a festive tree set up in their homes, and who haven’t done any Christmas shopping because it’s all they can do to afford food?

What “ruins” a holiday for someone, particularly Christmas? A difficult shopping schedule? Or putting away the special ornament you bought for the baby that was never born? Too many family members to buy presents for? Or wondering what to do with the gift you bought for your father who just passed away? Too much prep work for Christmas dinner? Or wondering if you’ll have anything to eat on Christmas Day?

Don’t forget that other big holiday we just celebrated that maybe sometimes gets lost in perusing glossy store ads and early morning “doorbusting” shopping sprees. Once the leftovers are gone and Black Friday passes, it is still the season to be thankful.



Vernal Equinox: Time to Grow Something New


“If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” ~ John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

I like to think that many of us spend the winter like some of our mammal counterparts, hibernating in our snug homes awaiting spring. It’s been a particularly harsh winter in much of the US this year. Our versions of “hibernating” probably included a lot of time shoveling snow or just trying to make it to work.

However you hibernated, there’s a good chance that you’ve been putting off something that’s important to you, or something new that you’ve been meaning to do. It can be far too easy to stay in that hibernatey rut and keep up the routine of kind of slogging through our days that we fell into over the winter.

If the sun isn’t shining where you are, find hope in the fact that that it’s still up there, (and maybe even eclipsing, depending on where you are!), and the the days of darkness are behind us for a while. This is a great time to stop and reassess where you are and where you want to go. Are you still traveling on the same old familiar road, wondering why it never takes you anywhere new?

Shake off the snow and cold today, or whatever form your winter blahs take,  and make today the day you revisit your goals, start yourself on a new path, or get to work on that spring project you’ve been hibernating on all winter!

Look in Your Mirror

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.  ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420

IMG_0925One of the things that always makes me laugh/cry/shake my head/shake my fist/make plans to leave the planet is people who angrily, and all too often violently, berate, belittle, and judge others for their life decisions when they CLEARLY have not got their own shit together.  Forget just the simple idea of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. How about checking what’s stuck on the bottom of your own?

Angry fist shaking aside, you even need to be cruel or self-righteous to find yourself making judgments on how people live their lives. Even the most kind hearted of us are prone to occasionally making uniformed judgments of people, or trying hard to change someone we are certain needs our help.

If there is something about someone in your life you are desperately trying to change, stop and ask yourself if perhaps they are where they are because that is simply where their path has led them at this point in their life. Then, take a moment and ask yourself if something about that person’s situation resonates with you because of something you need to change about yourself.

We find it significantly easier to poke and prod at someone else, and sigh because they aren’t making the changes you expect them to make, than to poke and sigh at ourselves for not making the changes we’d like to make. The problem with that is, the result is usually a worn out and disillusioned you.

So, if you’re feeling irritated with the Picture 240people around you, or trying to make them behave differently, take some time to ask yourself if what is bothering you is really how it reflects something about yourself that you need to work on. It doesn’t have to be an exact mirror, but maybe something similar, a certain impatience, anger or intolerance in some situations that you see reflected back at you.

To quote Michael Jackson:

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror,
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make The Change

Red heart

OMTimes Post–July 25, 2103

thank youAs we were growing up, most of us were taught the importance of saying please and thank you at the appropriate times in life. From a young age, children who are given something hear the echoing words, “Say thank you!” We say thank you for a gift, when given a treat, and for being passed the mashed potatoes, but over time, we kind of lose sight of an important reason to say thank you.

Read more on my OMTimes blog!

One Step Backward

Sometimes I feel a bit like a salmon. Pushing my way upstream against all odds, getting battered and bruised, feeling exhausted and wondering when I will get to where I am going. I think that I feel as though I have to stay the course no matter how strong the current is. I get washed back downstream again and again. It takes weeks, months, even years to get back to where I was.

A little common sense may make you realize that most salmon die once they get to where they are going. Granted this is a bit extreme of an analogy, but it kind of suits my purpose. How much longer does a person keep pushing and getting battered and discouraged before they realize that maybe this is the wrong stream? Before their bodies finally give out and stress or worse takes its toll? How many waterfalls do YOU have to leap up and get washed down again before you realize that maybe there is a different, better path?

I talked about this in Resolve to be Happy, to an extent. Many of us spend years, even a lifetime, beating ourselves up within our so-called comfort zones, simply because the thought of something new, no matter how much better it might be, is simply too scary. We put on our suit and tie, take our taxi to work, clock the time clock, complain about our job, sludge back home and sit in front of the television. We call this living!

Okay, so my situation is really not THAT extreme, but yes, I have had my share of feeling like I am struggling and struggling to get somewhere, but when I stop to think about it, I am not really even sure where I am going, and if I get there, is that really where I want to be? Are the washes downstream really setbacks, or just the Universe trying to point out that I missed that left turn at Albuquerque? (One of my favorite Bugs Bunny lines!)

So, sometimes, what feels like a sacrifice, a failure, giving up… maybe its really going back to find that left turn. I have friends who have shown me that getting fired or laid off, while scary and upsetting, can be the kick in the pants needed to make a life change and turn that step backwards into two steps forward. Another one spends day after day in a job that makes them miserable and unhappy because it pays well. Now they look at the idea of taking a step backward and turning onto a new career stream, swimming outside of their self imposed comfort zone in search of something more.

For years and years my art, and now my writing, have taken a back seat to this comfort zone. Those of you who do follow this blog probably have noted the fairly long gaps between posts. Its not for lack of ideas what to write about, its more for lack of energy. I always say, tomorrow I will paint, this weekend I will write a blog post. I have two books and an in depth article sitting on the back burner for that day when I am suddenly, miraculously less bogged down by being tired and unmotivated.

I said in Resolve to be Happy that I didn’t mean you should necessarily quit your job tomorrow. But shouldn’t you? Are you doing what you really feel like you’re meant to do? How many subtle hints and trips back downstream again do you have to have before you burn out, or get eaten by a bear? How are you doing on that journal, that list of things you always dreamed of doing? Have you become what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Don’t take the leap without thought and preparation of course. A step backward is still a step backward. There’s still other streams to navigate, though with good planning the trip will hopefully be a bit gentler on your body. Don’t just race back downstream and take that left turn without a good idea what rocks and waterfalls there are to navigate, but don’t be afraid to do it, either.

For thirteen of the last twenty years, I have worked in the veterinary field in some form or another, from my first job as a kennel attendant, to emergency care & shelter medicine, to the last two and a half years at a fast paced, high tech, advanced care veterinary practice. The further I have gone in the veterinary field, the more I know I would not be happy in a practice that only did well care. I love the mental challenge, the mystery solving, the advanced client education, the amazing potential for growth and learning.

My body, however, has different ideas. My body and my brain have been at war for a while now. I am one to push myself to keep going, keep battling upstream as my body whines and complains. There’s only so far you can push before things start to break down. That list is a whole other blog post and really not necessary, as most of you 40 and over can appreciate.

Suffice it to say, I have been shoved back down stream many, many times. This week, I decided to go check out what I missed at that left turn in Albuquerque. The bad news is, I am leaving the veterinary field. Maybe for good this time.

The good news is, (I hope anyway) you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of me on this blog, and with good planning and luck, on the internet and in magazines. It has not been done with out a lot of careful thought and planning, and it IS scary. It’s a step back, briefly I hope, in search of my two steps forward.

So, I give my fellow fishes a hug – many of them are already in the right stream and well up over the waterfall – take a deep breath and go with the flow back downstream.

I’ll let you know what lies beyond Albuquerque!