And What Exactly Is The Meaning Of Life?

It baffles me at how many people zip through life at breakneck speed, starting so many days behind schedule and ending them complaining there is not enough hours to get it all done.

They forget to eat, don’t know how to stay healthy, or don’t recognize when they are sick.

Maybe that’s you. Except for the forget to eat part, it’s me too.

I’ve been asked many times things like,

What is the point?

Why am I so unhappy?

Where did I go wrong?

How can I do this?

What is the reason for it all?

Why am I here?

Where is God?

Sometimes I feel like some wise mystic who waits on a mountain for pilgrims to come and ask,

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of Life

What’s the meaning? Why are we here? What’s the point? Why bother?

Because there is meaning. You are alive. You are here. You belong. You have a chance to do something.

Take a deep breath and consider this: it all goes by so fast. We live, we die.

quotescover-JPG-44

Love God.  Love your neighbor.  Do good.  Love what you do.  Bloom where you’re planted.  Give.  Take care of what you have.  Be non-toxic.  Plant hope. Reap joy.  Shine.  Be kind.  Forgive. Don’t look back. Live. 

We rush through our lives so eager to grow up, get a career, make and spend lots of money,  climb to the next rung on the ladder.

We are forever looking back or fantasizing the future that we neglect the present.

The here and now.  This day, this hour, this moment.

I’m not saying don’t ever look at the past – reflection is necessary for growth and learning.  And only a fool wouldn’t make plans for the future.

The point is to find balance, and in the process don’t forget to live.

And that’s the meaning,

that’s exactly the point of life,

to live.

Wherever you are. Whoever you are. Whether things are good, or bad, if you’re rich, or you have nothing.

Life is a gift. Life is life.

Live it.

 

Is there really a secret to success?

success2

Do you think yourself as successful?  How do you define success?

Merriam-Webster defines it as, “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame“.  I think Webster completely misses the mark with that definition.  Success is viewed differently depending on your culture, upbringing,  social situation, work environment, and worldview.

Success is not a one-size-fits-all standardized, measurable thing.  No one would argue that the self-made millionaires, Edison/Einstein types,  Hollywood stars, Olympic athletes, or Pulitzer Prize winners aren’t successful.

But in reality the super famous,  geniuses, and wicked wealthy people represent such a small number.  If we look at fame as an indication of success, Wired Science reports,

somewhere between about  1 in 10,000 and 5 in 10,000 (or 1 in 2,000) people in the world are successful.

3

The truth is successful people can be found in every crevice of the planet.  From the tiny fishing village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, to the congested metropolis of Tokyo, Japan,  you’ll find success.

Isn’t success simply accomplishing that which you set out to do? Whether it be a goal to climb the world’s ten tallest mountains or to climb out of poverty – you determine what you want to achieve.

Anyone. Including you, can be successful.

There is no secret to success.  Instead there’s a mindset, and opportunities. 

e2ba4c93-8f72-4a5a-892f-2f5aca524889

To be successful in any area of your life, you must consistently do these 4 things

  1. Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives
  2. Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision
  3. Cultivate emotional intelligence
  4. Stay the course

#Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives

Know what you want. Rather than wander aimlessly through life letting the “chips fall” where they may, decide what/where you want to be.  And write it down.  Napoleon Hill, the author of The Magic Ladder to Success,  puts it in perspective:

78ba0100-e690-4f21-bdd9-fafff5e52efb

#Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision 

Once you have your goals and a plan, you need the tools and the people to help.  If you want to lose weight you’ll need to learn how to change the way you eat, and you need to move. Do you need to get exercise equipment, a gym membership, or a new pair of sneakers?

If you want to start your own business, you need education, training, and business mentors.

Make friends with the right people, surround yourself with good influences, and keep moving yourself forward.

Keep moving

 #Cultivate emotional intelligence

Successful people learn to temper their emotions.  They are empathetic, understanding,  set the tone for their team, and know how to bring the best out in others.  They keep their head in the game, and don’t sweat the small stuff.  If you want to accomplish your goals you can’t be pouty, reactive, or vindictive.  I recommend either reading up on emotional intelligence or try taking a free class. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.

#Stay the course

Success will find you busy working. Build on your strengths,  be persistent, optimistic, and learn from your failures. There will be obstacles, set backs, mistakes as well as triumphs. The point is to never lose your grit.

Anyone who has set a goal and accomplished it is a success. Success does not happen overnight.  It won’t drop from the sky, and it will never come if you turn around and admit defeat.  It is a challenge, and that’s exactly what makes life zesty!

shareasimage-3

You Will Become A Better Person By Doing This

There was a time in my life when I avoided any one who was suffering.  Ironic for someone who chose nursing as a career.  I didn’t last long as a hospital nurse.

I stopped watching the news.

I became tongue tied when I did try to offer condolences to a friend.

The thought of going to a funeral or wake triggered panic, dread.

Until one day I was sick of avoiding, ignoring, pretending.

That was not how I wanted to live my life! Bad things happen, and that’s never going to change. Kids die. Planes explode. Buildings collapse. Accidents happen. Spouses cheat. Cancer spreads. Evil destroys. We all die.

And I can’t do a damn thing about it.

Except…

I can accept it, and share the pain.

So I did.  And it didn’t destroy me. Actually, the opposite happened. My spirit became stronger, and my own heavy load seemed lighter, so much less important.

Somehow the act of sharing another’s hardship freed me from my own suffering.

Now, I see burdens everywhere I go. P1070618The traffic of my daily encounters reveal so many who suffer.

Whether it’s a headline tragedy, or the quiet grief of a neighbor you hardly know, there are people who are lonely, broken, despairing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our burdens become more bearable when we help carry another’s.  We become liberated. Our purpose becomes clearer.

Lifting the burdens of another, making the road a little easier – it’s the cure for suffering. It makes you a better person.

P1020174

People in the midst of terrible, heavy suffering tend to hide it. They want you to think everything is fine.  Maybe that’s you right now, you go to work, do your shopping, show up at functions with a smile on your face and the whole time you’re thinking,

I have to do this again tomorrow??? I can’t. God help me. I can’t take it anymore!

The secret for overcoming hopelessness, grief, fear, tragedy? Lose yourself in the service of others. Share the burden. Give some of yours and take some of theirs.

When someone asks you,

 What can I do?  Is there anything you need? Anything at all? 

Say yes.

There is something you can do for me. You have pain. I have pain.  If you let me have some of yours, I will give you some of mine.

That’s the miracle of healing. It makes us better.

There will never be a shortage of suffering in this world. None of us truly know the right thing to say or do when tragedy strikes.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

It’s ok. Don’t say anything. A hug, a nod, a comforting shoulder to cry on.

Start small. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

charles dickensYou suffer. I suffer. And life goes on. And it is through that suffering we find life.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

There was a time in my life when I avoided any one who was suffering.

Not any more.

And I’m more than Ok.

Would You Believe These Guys are Best Friends?!

Did you ever meet someone and immediately think,

I like this person! There’s something about him that, well,

reminds me of

me!

You like the same food, enjoy the same music, and have the same world views.

You are like

two peas in a pod
two peas in a pod

I never stopped to consider the origins of the cliche until I was taking pictures one day and saw it.

The identical peas, each with a tiny umbilical cord.

Twins. 

Compadres.

Matching set.

Two minds thinking as one.

Soul mate.

Best friends.

What a glorious thing it is to find someone who ‘gets’ us, relates to us, makes us feel at ease. We can pour out our heart and soul to and we know there is nothing we can’t say.

Our best friend can finish our sentence, knows how we like our coffee, and always finds us the perfect birthday gift.

There’s nothing like that deep, mysterious connection with another human being.

It is irreplaceable.

Do you have a pea like that?  If you do, don’t take that person for granted. The world is a better place and life is so much richer because of that precious soul.

Maybe you don’t? Or, maybe you have, but haven’t realized it.

Who would have thought this wombat and this pig would become best friends?

Credit: Photo by Rob Leeson/Newspix / Rex Features (1808299a) http://www.rexfeatures.com/stacklink/IFJIDKRTD

We can find amazing friends in our neighborhoods and workplaces, and also in the unlikeliest places.  If you found yours, that is so awesome! If you haven’t yet, don’t give up. Just keep your eyes open.

 You never know who might be

the right pea

for your pod. 

peasnpod

Could Your Headache Be a Sign of Something Serious?

Headaches are a common complaint. The cause is usually minor, such as tension in the muscles, lack of sleep, allergies, or hunger.

Many people experience incapacitating migraine headaches, yet even those aren’t considered life threatening.

So when is a headache more than just a headache, but a sign of something more serious?

concussion-in-sports-15-638

Any headache that is different than what you are used to, occurs in the very young or old, is accompanied by a stiff, painful neck, is preceded by a bump to the head, wakes you up from sleep, or comes on like a thunder clap, needs immediate medical attention.

when in doubt

Consider meningitis, an inflammation of the brain that causes sudden onset of headache, fever, and a stiff neck. Would you recognize it if you had it?

Any new headache is potentially worrisome. Add on other symptoms and there is no question there is a need for prompt, further investigation.  If your headache seems in anyway unusual for you, or is accompanied by a change in neurological function, an emergency consultation is necessary.

Antibiotic Apocolypse: The Rise of The Superbug

In 2013 the Center for Disease Control released a landmark report: Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013 (PDF).

The report gives a bleak picture of our current antibiotic problems.

If folks don’t stop demanding and clinicians don’t stop prescribing antibiotics for every cold, earache, cough, or other illness that is likely viral, we won’t have any effective antibiotics left!

antibiotics

The consequences of this is catastrophic.

Imagine our world run amuck with superbugs that cannot be killed. These bugs become armed militants capable of mutating and altering their defenses against anything thrown at them, making them more virulent, more deadly. This is not science fiction. Antibiotic resistance is not a potential problem of the future, it is here and now, present day.

virus

The CDC conservatively estimates that in the US alone, two million people a year get sick with antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 die from their infection.

3-urgent

I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.
I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Are we too late?  Has the overuse of antibiotics by prescribers and patients caused irreversible repercussions? Yeah, probably.

But with education and action by every one of us, we can help our situation from getting even worse.

What can we do?

CDC’s Dr. Frieden proposes a four-part solution:

  • Preventing infections from occurring and spreading:
    through immunization, hand washing, proper food preparation
  • Tracking resistant bacteria (CDC’s role)
  • Improve antibiotic prescribing/stewardship. This commitment to always use antibiotics appropriately and safely—only when they are needed and to choose the right ones and administer/take in the right way in every case—is known as antibiotic stewardship.
  • Promote development of new antibiotics and tests for diagnosing resistant bacteria.

Important take-aways:

-The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance.

50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective.

Simply using antibiotics creates resistance.

As antibiotic resistance grows, the antibiotics used to treat infections do not work as well or at all.

When someone takes an antibiotic that they do not need, they are needlessly exposed to the side effects of the drug and do not get any benefit from it.

Every time someone takes an antibiotic they don’t need,
they increase their risk of developing a resistant infection in the future.

When a person takes antibiotics, good bacteria that protect against infection are destroyed for several months.

Stopping even some of the inappropriate and unnecessary use of antibiotics in people and animals would help greatly in slowing down the spread of resistant bacteria

Remember, most illnesses resolve on their own, and very few truly require antibiotic treatment.

Let’s fight this war together and agree to be good antibiotic stewards. Otherwise, we risk being destroyed by mercenaries who are capable of assembling their army on a single grain of salt.

drug resistant bacteria 1

He said What?! Einstein’s Best Quotes

Albert Einstein, the most influential physicist of the 20th century was born with a misshapen head to a middle-class German Jewish family.  He didn’t talk until he was nearly four years old. His first sentence was…

recite-plp5nj

Einstein hated school, especially rote learning and he refused to study anything that he didn’t find interesting.

He dropped out of high-school, but eventually graduated from college. You know the rest of the story.

Einstein is known for many things: the theory of relativity, cavorting with ladies, absentmindedness, crazy hair, and some really cool quotes.  Here’s some of my favorites.

mug

God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

bobblehead

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

purple spiral

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.

Never memorize something that you can look up. (I think he came up with that because he was so absentminded!)

mysteriousLogic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.

Thanks Al, for everything. Except those ridiculous rules of marriage. No wonder Mileva divorced you.

Technology is the Devil

Bobby Boucher: Mama, when did Ben Franklin invent electricity?
Mama Boucher: That’s nonsense, I invented electricity.  Ben Franklin is the Devil!

I learned lots of lesser known facts about life after watching Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy.  Foosball, girls, electricity, and poor Ben Franklin is the devil.

Can you imagine what Mama would do if Bobby brought home an iPhone6+?

NO SON OF MINE IS GOING TO BE PLAYING WITH NO EYESPHONE! EYESPHONE IS THE DEVIL!

Does Mama, even with her overdramatized, overprotective, and outrageous behavior, have some wisdom for us? Is technology wicked? Does it rob us of love, relationships, and even take our soul?

What are the costs of technology, of living in a digital world?

Switchfoot at The Landmark Theater, Syracuse, NY
Switchfoot at The Landmark Theater, Syracuse, NY

We watch concerts, see sunsets, live life through phones. What used to be face to face conversations are done online.

I do it too! I text friends who are sitting across from me. I Skype my kids instead of yelling upstairs to tell them dinner’s ready. I hardly even use the “landline” phone anymore.

It’s great to have this technology, but have we gone too far? Interpersonal communication with a physical human being that includes touch, facial expressions, inflections, tone – remember that?

I don’t  believe technology is the devil.  But it can be a baneful influence if we let it. If you want to be healthy and happy there has to be balance and moderation in everything.

How about you? Do you need to pull the plug on your technology, even a little?

Why not give it a try? Turn off your phone. Shut the computer. Take a walk. Read a book. And when your break is over, grab some clean, cold, high quality H20 and watch The Waterboy.

Glass_of_Water

Would My Dad Know Who I Am Now?

Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others.  And then there are those like me who are happy/sad.  My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys. Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.

My father died when I was twenty.  I have spent more years living without him than with him.  The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me.  He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter.  I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.

He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody.  I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him.  Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No.  He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.

He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?

If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.

P1140488

I would know him.  His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile.  He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies.  He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.

I would know my father.  He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling.  He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.

My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.

I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,

Sweetie, I saw it all.  Your career, your wedding.  I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids. Will reminds me of myself when I was his age.  I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas.  I saw it all.  I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud. I love you.

Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.

I love you too dad. Miss you. XO

Me and my dad.
Me and my dad.

Originally published June 16, 2014

Secrets revealed: the surprising thing most patients dread

9 out of 10 patients would rather get a shot than step on a scale.

By far the thing most patients dread when going to their doctor’s office is getting weighed. Me included.

Unless you live in a cave as deep as Krubera, you already know –

we lead the world with the most obese individuals, 67% of adults are overweight, and nearly 30% of kids are either obese or overweight.

Yes, there’s an obesity epidemic going on around us and as much as we hate to admit it, the odds are we are part of it.

If you happen to be in the minority with a BMI of 24.9 or less, good job. Keep up the good work and tell me in the comments what has helped you keep your weight ideal.

No one likes to get weighed. But we need to do it. The problem is not going away on its own. We need accountability, education, and encouragement if we are ever going to make serious progress in becoming a healthier nation.

Our bodies weren’t meant to carry so much weight.  You wouldn’t drive your car around with 95 extra gallons of gas in your trunk just in case.  Why that would be a hazard, rob you of good gas mileage, and contribute to extra wear and tear.

The same applies to bodies.

Carrying too much weight is a major risk for heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and a host of other issues.

Don’t dread the scale.

You don’t have to feel guilty, get angry, or make excuses.

Why not acknowledge the problem and make a choice to do something about it?

Your weight didn’t get to where it is overnight, and it isn’t going away on its own.

Eat less. Move more. Repeat.

It has been and will always be the only thing that works.

17685170802_60ce03094e_z