Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 11)

How I Make Decisions

It’s simple, really. Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who loves change – which doesn’t hurt – but I’ve been using a foolproof method for years now when dealing with big and small decisions alike, and it works.

Try this . . .

Sit quietly without distraction and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and feel yourself in a rocking chair, on an expansive porch, at the ripe old age of 90.

Really dig deep. Cross your hands over the textured afghan on your lap. Feel a warm breeze pick up enough gray hairs to tickle your cheek. Let the sun massage its way into each well earned line on your face.

Next step? Think about your decision and let that 90-year-old self reflect back on it, while really feeling from your core.

Some sample decisions may be, ‘Should I marry the guy/girl?’ ‘Should I quit my job?’ ‘Should I sell everything and park my Westfalia on the beach?’

Your 90-year-old self will do one of two things looking back on that decision: feel peaceful with a smile on their face, like my sweet Auntie Lee in this pic, or experience intense regret and sadness with the corners of their mouth on a downward turn.

Done.

It may sound crazy, but it works for me, every time.

Recently, I saw this quote from Kahlil Gibran that reminded me of why I take the above steps in the first place: because I loathe regret. If I have any, and there is some but not much, it’s either because I made a stupid decision prior to implementing this process, or I ignored my senior self like a pig-headed idiot. I ignore no more.

We all have an inner voice, or compass, that knows if a decision is going to be good or bad for us. What we tend to do, however, is ignore it and plunge forward despite the gnawing ache in our solar plexus that’s screaming, “DANGER! BACK AWAY!” When you practice accessing your future self in a state of reflection, and really take heed of their reaction, it becomes harder and harder to screw up.

Again, try this, and let me know if it works for you. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And if you haven’t read Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET, your future self will thank you for picking it up – with a smile.

 

Adulting

All aspects of the scene are still so vivid: my tiny self, sitting at the dining room table, filling out magazine subscription cards, while mom listened to my many future plans.

Was the intent of the cards to burden our mailbox with copies of Redbook and Chatalaine? Hardly. They were blank checks in my imaginary world, each one awaiting my all important and very grown-up signature.

Independence has admittedly been an obsession of mine from the outset. I actually begged my dad to build me my own house in the backyard as a kid. I mean, come on. He had his own masonry business. What could be so hard? And he’d built a house for our dog, Spanky, with real shingles on the roof and her name across the front. Didn’t I deserve the same consideration?

Of course, I understand now why he didn’t, but then?

As an alternative, Spanky and I would spend hours together squeezed tight into her little digs. I’d verbalize my vision to her at length as we both kept a watchful eye out for brazen foe (be that stray cats or my menacing brother).

I’m reminded of that tiny me quite often when faced with adult challenges, and one thing still remains the same: I love filling things out. In fact, for me saying good-bye to paper checks proved painful, almost like destroying childhood momentos. So sue me for holding tight to my last shred of Leanadom: that old-school transaction record from the bank. That’s right, I’m that person.

I loved playing grown-up so much as a kid that I appreciate every nuance of being the real deal today. I particularly like opening mail, because it transports me back to mom’s kitchen table. I still tend to stockpile envelopes over several weeks – just like I did those subscription cards, and when I finally get settled in to open them, we’re talking a bonafide event.

A stack of envelopes, a cup of hot coffee and my ceremonial Canadian letter-opener. I just adore the “schlit” sound it makes slicing through each and every seal, while individual stacks grow higher: one for garbage, one for the shredder, and yes, even a special one for bills.

Being an adult rocks, and I don’t take one iota of my freedom and independence for granted. I would even go so far as to say that the older I get, the more I love it. It’s everything I dreamed it would be plus some, and I’m so glad that mom got to see me revel in the experience. I only wish that Spanky had, too.

You can take the girl out of the doghouse, but . . .

MY NEW FAVORITE QUOTE!

You know the guy. The one who sits down beside you on a plane and doesn’t stop talking? Yeah, I spent two hours with him yesterday. Initially I wanted to scream, having planned to sleep during my early morning flight, but the conversation proved interesting.

We covered a lot of ground together (literally as well as figuratively), and I left with a nugget of a quote – one for the reactionaries among us who suffer from seemingly involuntary knee-jerks when things spill out of our control:

“DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING; SIT THERE!”

It’s nothing short of brilliant! Maybe you’ve heard it before, but I hadn’t, and I now plan to practice it at the first sign of trouble.

And is it just me, or are the reactionaries among us proliferating? Impatience – everywhere – and I’ve had enough!

Okay, all joking aside, short fuses now seem like the rule instead of the exception, with no one having tolerance for anything or anybody else. Maybe it’s because our culture is obsessed with instant gratification. Or it might be our steady decline in values. Perhaps even the highly contagious spread of apathy among Westerners. Whatever the reason, I’m a firm believer that we all just need to chill, which is why I love this quote, SO MUCH!

It’s going to happen again, you know. You’re going to be somewhere, and someone is going to piss you off. I firmly believe, however, that we can retrain our blood pressures to be more selective on what shoots them skyward.

I’ll admit that there have a been a few occasions when instantly doing “something” has been the right move, providing the right outcome, but if I’m totally honest, it’s more often been disastrous. That’s why, the next time I get my ire up, I’m going to take a deep breath and sit.

Actually, let’s start a movement: SIT FOR YOUR SANITY!  Yes, it’s an oxymoron – movement and sitting – but don’t let that annoy you.

Superheroes (Nurses) Week 2017

I know a few things about nurses. I am one, after all, but my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, a number of cousins – all nurses, as well.

Can I chalk up my 25 plus years in nursing to genetics? Maybe, but the superhero cape swayed me more than anything, and then there’s the powers that come with it.

Oh, don’t kid yourself. Nurses definitely have superpowers. Although I’ve personally assisted in resuscitating patients in the hospital setting, as most of us have, I once watched my mother revive someone in public. Full on – CPR on the ground – at a public event, and it worked! I was 20-years old at the time, and the cape she’d apparently been wearing for years became magically visible to me in that moment. I loved the color of the thing and the way it flowed out behind her without needing even a hint of a breeze. I wanted it. Not hers, specifically. I wanted my own.

But the superpowers don’t stop there. It’s 12 hour shifts – day in and night out – on our feet, often without a break. It’s dealing with people who are vulnerable and expressing that vulnerability as anger. It’s putting up with – dare I say it – physician’s egos and screaming rants when things don’t go their way. It’s risking our own wellbeing and safety by handling volatile and abusive patients and family members. And it’s one shit load of loss. 

Old, young, newborns. We’ve transported them all to the morgue and have had to wander back out into society at the end of our shift and function with some semblance of normalcy. 

The average person has no earthly idea what it’s like in the trenches of a nursing career, regardless of how many medical dramas they watch on TV. Each real life drama touches our hearts and souls in ways that profoundly affect our lives until the end of time. And each of us carries a handful of patients with us wherever we go – the ones that touched us the deepest before they passed. They’re our constant companions. I have five. My mother had four.

So do nurses deserve a week? Hell, yes they do. They deserve a week of recognition and a lifetime of gratitude and respect. 

I left the bedside seven years ago to work in healthcare leadership development, but I’m incapable of leaving those 20 years of active nursing behind me. At times the accumulation of witnessed loss can be suffocating, even to this day, but I have no regrets at having been part of such an immensely rewarding community of people. 

Hug a nurse this week, and let them know that although you can’t fully comprehend what life is like in their shoes, you care. Caring, after all, is the very fabric of superhero capes. Expressing it will make one visible on you, too.

HAPPY NURSES WEEK to all of the fabulous men and women I’ve had the privilege of working with at the bedside. And HUGS to those who have cared for me and my loved ones throughout our lives and eventually through to death. Each act, whether profound or simple, has not gone unnoticed. Not in the least.

NURSES ROCK!!

 

Does Public Speaking Scare The S%@# Out Of You?

You know the feeling – palms drenched, knees shaking, mouth so dry your lips stick to your teeth. Public speaking is the one thing that a large majority of us fear more than death. Actual DEATH!

In 2007 I journeyed from life as an ICU nurse to a job requiring weekly presentations. The night before my first “performance” literally left me tossing, turning and imagining every worst case scenario known to womankind. Amazingly, I survived, and I now speak to crowds of several hundred on a regular basis.

Did a few things get learned along the way? You betcha, and because I frequently get asked for tips after people watch my TEDx Talk, I’m going to bullet point some them for you here.

 
To get us started, however, let’s revisit the age-old expression, “Practice makes perfect.” It’s true, yes, but I’m not talking about the practice of getting up in front of people. I’m talking about practicing before you get up in front of people. That is my single most important piece of advice, although I’ll give you a lot more than just that.

  • Practice over and over and over again, especially with new material. Practice always, and until your speech looks unrehearsed. Present to your dog, cat, canary or family member, but especially to your mirror. Practice makes your speech appear seamless and prepares you for possible slip-ups. It will also let you know what areas you need to work on and where to anticipate questions or comments. This one act is invaluable to success.
  • Take a deep breath before you begin. Did you know that people tend to take only shallow, ineffective breaths when they’re nervous? Oxygenate and rejuvenate!
  • When organizing content, follow this rule: tell them what you’re going to tell them (introduction), tell them (body of the speech) and tell them what you’ve told them (summarize).
  • Address “housekeeping” items before you start to keep yourself from getting distracted – cell phones on vibrate, no laptops, etc.
  • DO NOT read PowerPoint slides to your audience. You’ll lose them at the “Objectives” screen. Instead, list bullet points and talk around them. They can read.
  • Watch out for filler words such as “um,” “ah,” “so,” and “like.” If you, like, use a word habitually in, like, conversation, it’s, like, going to, like, show up in your, like, presentation. This will guarantee to distract your audience to the point where they could care less about your intended message. You want your presentation to be conversational, but . . .
  • Have someone tape you. Trust me, this is the best way to see all potential distractions, from filler words to annoying movements that distract.
  • Accept feedback! Don’t allow yourself to get defensive when someone suggests ways to improve. In my early speaking career, someone told me to stop playing with my hair, and I had no idea I even did that! Although secretly perturbed, I ditched the habit.
  • Water! If it’s a long presentation, keep some nearby, and don’t feel self-conscious about stopping to drink. It beats having that dry, hacking cough come out of nowhere.
  • Make eye contact with as many members of your audience as you can. Concentrating on just a few can make them feel uncomfortable.
  • If you’re asked a question, and you don’t know the answer, admit it and promise to get back to them. You’ll gain respect and a reputation for being genuine.
  • Use humor to lighten the mood, but resist using scripted jokes. Let your humor flow naturally, like it would in conversation.
  • Remember – they don’t know what they don’t know, so your audience won’t notice if it’s not a perfect presentation. And it’s okay to slip up. Just acknowledge it and move on.
  • If your neck turns red when you speak, don’t wear a scooped or V-neck.
  • This one might sound crazy, but if you’re super new at speaking, petroleum jelly on your teeth can keep those dreaded dry lips from sticking to your teeth.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be lighthearted and willing to let go of perfection.
  • Expose yourself to opportunities. Joining a community club, such as Toastmasters, can really accelerate your skill level.

In summary, public speaking can be the ultimate outside-of-the-box experience, which can only lead to strides in personal and professional growth. And make no mistake, those who do it well were once where you are now. By implementing the above tips, you can minimize anxiety and actually even have some fun with it. Yes, fun! When you truly connect with an audience, you gain just as much, if not more, than they do.

Practice + Practice – Perfectionism = Positively Entertaining

 

 

 

 

The Anniversary Of My Last Drink

One year ago today, I had my last drink. Me. The girl who loved all things wine. Why? Because my relationship with it became dysfunctional.

Like any great love affair that turns toxic, it was an insidious shift. For one thing, we’d started spending far too much time together, causing me to lose all sense of self and wonder how my dreams had taken a backseat. For another, most of that time had morphed into the clandestine variety, sneaking away – just the two of us – to avoid judgement or repercussion. All-in-all, grape – the friend who had accompanied most of my good times and bad – became controlling, and it was literally causing me pain. You know, the pounding variety that pulsates between temples leaving its victims couch-bound on perfectly good weekends.

Was the break-up an easy one? No, not at all. It came with all of the usual fanfare: tears, longing, loss. I don’t fit in with some of wine’s friends anymore, making them somehow feel uncomfortable in a way I hadn’t expected. And then there’s having to really experience emotion without something there to take the edge off, whether facing the loss of loved ones or simply having an awful day. But, oh the rewards.

There is that three or four month mark after a break-up when the dust begins to settle and you start to breathe again. Then there’s a phase of rediscovering the person you’d been before the dysfunction ever started. And finally comes the glorious rebirth of someone that you didn’t even know you had the strength to become. Well, I’m breathing again, my friends. Big alveoli expanding breaths of joy.

A little over a year ago, a friend whom I have the utmost respect for, posted a blog about quitting drinking. I didn’t know she’d quit or that she’d felt the need to, but that post planted a life changing seed. It then got watered by someone I hadn’t seen since high school who confessed that he’d given up alcohol, followed by, “I have no idea why I just told you that.” I knew exactly why. It was something I needed to hear.

Sometimes we don’t find the courage to escape a bad relationship without stories of those who’ve gone before us. For that reason, I’m sharing.

A great many people can be an acquaintance of alcohol’s and never give it a second thought. They manage to see each other on occasion and even have a few laughs. Others, however, commit to the relationship almost unaware and then start to feel that there’s no way out. I’m here to tell you that it’s doable, and that “fulfilling” would be a gross understatement when describing my life without it.

Quitting drinking is one of my all-time top life decisions. Do I miss it? Sometimes, but rarely. And again, like a toxic lover, seeing it may give rise to temptation and longing, but nothing is ever worth going back.

And by damn, you can find love again. Sobriety is now my knight in shining armor.

If alcohol coerced you down the aisle at some point, you’re not alone. Think annulment. Consider divorce. There is a thing called Google, and there are resources.

And THANK YOU to the people who inspired me to have the best anniversary of my life. This girl has no regrets.

 

One Hell Of A Year

It was the best of years; it was the worst of years. Okay, so that was hardly an original thought, but the perfect summation of 2016, nonetheless.

I sit here on the second day of the new year reflecting back on both immense joy and intense sorrow. And how it all flew by as quick as it did, while delivering such a wallop, I’ll never know.

The joy? Plenty of it, including my ongoing work on The Matthews & McGuire Show, getting within weeks of completing the final edit on my second novel and quitting drinking (more on this in a future blog). But I also knocked three big things off my bucket list:

The sorrow? I lost an aunt, an uncle, two cousins and, worst of all, my beloved mother who suffered a massive stroke on the very day of her 60th wedding anniversary. Years have gone by without losing a soul in our family, but the celestial train pulled into the station and refused to leave until every last seat got filled. Many of my friends had loved ones climb aboard that beast of a machine, as well, leading to a permanent heart based bond in grief and support.

So what has two days of reflection on that 12 month roller coaster ride brought me? Gratitude. Yes, gratitude, because that’s what I choose to focus on.

Don’t get me wrong. I have moments yet when I’m overwhelmed by the losses and have to retreat into my cave made of bed sheets, but I’m grateful that I had as much time on the planet with these people as I did and that we got to share so much. Besides, my mother would kick my ass if I didn’t recognize my blessings amidst the mayhem, and nothing reminds us to live quite like death. Believe me, I’ve received that message blastingly loud and clear.

I’m also grateful for the above mentioned highs that pushed me so far out of my comfort zone that it would be a major struggle to crawl back in. Each new adventure prepares us to take on the next, and I’m primed for the new year.

I wish each of you a fun filled, goal-centric, limit breaking, love induced and rockus 2017. Regardless of what it delivers, let’s take one step at a time, one day at a time, and one glorious opportunity to grow at its ever lovin’ time.

 

Derailed . . .

There’s a steady course that I’ve been running for years. One that’s well marked and comforting, for the most part, although its surface has varied over time and presented unexpected challenges. Branches have fallen and blocked my path; weather has turned nasty, requiring an added dose of determination. Even my gear has worn and needed replacing, at times. But all along, I’ve remained fully supported and confident, regardless of terrain.

Recently, however, a hand, a big one, came out of nowhere and knocked me completely off course. My feet stumbled from the trail, and I rolled into thick brush before spiraling down a cavernous ravine. After a massive tree broke my fall, I stood bloodied and bruised and assessed the situation to find it dismal.

The path where I knew I could withstand anything is no longer visible. The woods around me are dense with the thickest of foliage hiding a wealth of unknowns. It’s dusk, and I’m hearing noises that scare the shit out of me.

It’s going to take every ounce of bravery I possess to find my way – not to the trail where I ran before, as that’s gone forever – but to a new one, where I pray I’ll find sunshine again and perhaps even moments of heartfelt joy.

That’s what it feels like to be derailed.

That’s what it’s like to lose a mother.

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Airplane Etiquette

No, I’m not the Emily Post of air travel, nor am I a disgruntled airline employee. I’m just a woman who gets on a plane several times a month and has learned a thing or two about getting from Point A to Point B without losing her mind or pissing people off.

IMG_5131In my experience, there are 10 simple things that one can do to maintain sanity and foster goodwill on any flight. These are not written in order of importance, but rather as they come to mind, because I’m at 32,000 feet right now, and I’m sadly watching several of these scenarios unfold.

They are as follows:

  1. Refrain from grabbing the headrest in front of you to lift yourself out of your seat. There’s someone attached to that headrest, and you’ve just jarred them out of their comfortable position, or – worse yet – woken them up.
  2. Speaking of sleep, unless you’re fortunate enough to be in first class, a full recline should be avoided. I’ve actually had my laptop jammed between myself and someone’s seat back, unable to pry it loose. Most travelers are professionals with work to do. Be respectful of space.
  3. Speaking of laptops, I recently sat between two guys who decided to share drinks. One of them held his glass over my laptop, while the other reached out to pour whiskey into it. Ah . . . no. DO NOT pour liquids anywhere near the vicinity of someone’s laptop – ever.
  4. Try hard not to lose patience with screaming babies or their mothers. Babies cry, and I sometimes envy the fact that they can do so in public. They’re in unfamiliar environments, they’re being held tight against their will, and moms can’t just say “pop your ears.” There’s a good chance that they’re in pain. Cut them some freakin’ slack.
  5. Speaking of babies, I empathize with the little gaffers, but one thing moms can do for the empathetic among us is keep them from kicking the backs of our seats. Cry, scream, laugh all you want, but a constant battering from behind can make even the kindest of us take a turn.
  6. We’re all going to get to our seats eventually, so chill. If there are seniors boarding in front of you, or someone who is handicapped, do not let out a loud sigh and start rolling your eyes. Give them a hand, instead. There’s a concept.
  7. While boarding a plane, please be aware of the location of your carry-on luggage at all times. If it’s smacking numerous people in the head who are seated in the aisles, it’s in the wrong place.
  8. If you’re seated beside someone who is reading, staring out the window, has their eyes closed or is wearing headphones/earbuds, do not start talking to them. They do not want to engage. A friend recently had his earbuds literally pulled out of his ears by a person beside them so that they could talk for an entire flight. Good karma will never come from this.
  9. Smile. ‘Nuff said.
  10. Be nice to your flight attendants. Dealing with impatient, rude passengers day-in and day-out can really suck. It actually is not all about you. Surprising, I know.

There you have it. Ten simple rules that have potential to make your travels far more enjoyable. If you have additional suggestions, add them to the comments section below. I’d love to hear them.

Feel free to share this information with the road warriors in your life, and if you see me on your next flight, please take the time to say hello. Unless, of course, I’m wearing headphones.

Happy trails!

 

I Refuse to Hate

I don’t have cable; I have no use for it. My news comes through social media, or it doesn’t come at all. Yesterday Facebook informed me of this: FOX 4

The death toll rose to five officers not long after I read this post, and the announcement of seven other officers and two civilians being injured soon followed – as did the location of the shootings: just a few blocks from my home. According to news sources, these attacks are now, “The worst shootings targeting police officers in our history.”

I moved to the U.S. from Canada in 1997 as an RN. I’ve now spent nineteen years in America – eight of those as an American citizen – and during that time I’ve cared for, grieved over, laughed and cried with and respected every form of American I’ve come in contact with. That’s how I was raised, and I’m grateful for the example set.

You see, color isn’t a major issue where I come from – neither are guns. As a Canadian, it took me several years to really see the reality of prejudice and distrust that exists in America. I simply couldn’t grasp the concept of people hating each other for any reason, let alone race. I still can’t grasp why it continues, but I have certainly witnessed and personally experienced prejudice enough times now to know that it’s alive and thriving. Sadly, it appears to be growing stronger.

Now that violence and death have moved into my neighborhood, I’m more acutely experiencing the anger, disappointment, heartbreak and fear that accompany such senseless acts. What I don’t feel is hatred. I refuse to. Nothing will drive me to that.

Maybe I’m still suffering from naivety, but what I’m seeing is a people issue, not one that’s specifically black or white. “We the people” need to embrace our differences and stop judging entire races or subcultures on the small percentage of radical individuals, in every group, who want to grease the hate machine. We collectively can’t allow these perpetrators to succeed in destroying the very thing that I think we all desire: genuine community.

Matthews & McGuireFor a year now, I’ve been working on “The Matthews & McGuire Show,” a podcast dedicated to diversity and personal growth that I cohost with my
good friend, Mike C. Matthews. On it, we celebrate our differences and the differences of others, trying to help bridge the racial, generational, gender and cultural gaps that threaten our society as a whole. I’m constantly learning from my cohost, and I believe he from me, which speaks volumes on how much richer our lives can become with inclusivity.

I challenge each one of you to take some form of action, large or small, to amplify the voice of acceptance and encourage love where you are.

LoveHate and violence cannot, and will not, solve the issues that we’ve allowed to manifest in this country. The only answer is love and acceptance, something our spiritual leaders, including Christ, I might add, have been telling us for centuries.

I think we all agree that things have gotten out of control. Now let’s try and agree on the most loving way to move forward.

If you’re reading this, I love you. If you’re white, black or brown, I love you. If you’re green, purple or teal, I love you. If you’re gay, lesbian, straight or transgender, I love you. If your blood is red, I love you. If you choose not to love me back, for whatever reason, I’ll love you still.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all families of, friends of, and victims of violent crime tonight. May you find peace and the support of every variety of neighbor.

© 2018 Leana Delle | Website: NAKB Design