Be impeccable with your word

Be impeccable with your word.

Recently I had someone promise me to deliver something  to me that I needed. In exchange for something I was doing, they would provide X. I was disappointed. Truth is this has been a chronic problem with this person. It has gone on for years. This time, even though I hesitated, I had told my husband that we were expecting X.

He said “Right, a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots”.

I was put on the defensive, having to excuse the behavior of someone else when I truly had no fault in it. Total bummer.

A long time ago, after my divorce, I was thinking about starting a business. I had the money to start one and Lord did I have ideas. I was going to open a cupcake bakery, I was going to open a t-shirt business, I was going to do this. Each idea would be inspiring, I would get excited, put together ideas, name the business, work on recipes, etc. I put in the necessary time to start one. Then it would die off, and another idea would come or I would make an excuse as to why that one wasn’t a good idea anymore.

I thought at the time that I was just floating, that I could bounce around, thinking and dreaming and it   really didn’t affect anyone but me. After I started to waffle with the third idea, a little voice came from the most unexpected place.

The wisest souls come in the most interesting packages.

It was my eleven year old daughter Megan. She said the words that shook me to my core and finally inspired me to change.

“Mom, stop. We don’t believe you anymore.” We ; was her and her younger sister Alli.

Unbeknownst to me, at the time; I had dragged them into my ideas. Filled them with wonder at having a cupcake shop that they could work in,  we would bake together, wear matching t-shirts, eat yummy cupcakes! I had involved them in the t-shirt business showing them my designs and asking their opinions on the softness and color of the fabric options.

Her words stopped me cold. I looked into her big brown eyes and was lost. There was no answer, no excuse now. No way to convince her that this new idea would work out. She didn’t believe me. She didn’t believe in me, anymore.

Quite the brave act I think, confronting her Mom. At her age, telling this to one of the most impactful, most in charge of you people in your life. She sat looking at me, and I sat like a little kid in trouble at school. Nailed.

I could not have that. A kid, who didn’t believe in her own mother. What kind of mother am I to let her kid down.  Over and over. I just hadn’t put that together. But now I had to. Always.

I had to prove to my daughters again that I was trustworthy. That I would do what I said. That I could calm the whirling dervish inside of me and get down to business. That is exactly what I did.

They were included in the process of building the shop. From a distance though, to make sure I had everything in order. Our grand opening, they were proud and showing the friends they had invited all the stuff.

Mom had followed through. She did what she said.

I started looking at all the other ways I was breaking promises. To them, to myself.

“We will go to the park today, let’s have pizza for dinner. Do you want to have a friend spend the night this weekend?” All potential hero moments or letdowns.

The unbroken promises pile up on you until you don’t even believe in yourself anymore. The inner voice says; it doesn’t matter, it’s okay.”

An unending maze of words, making promises to fill the gap of the last unbroken promise.

It is a dangerous game, especially in business to say you are going to do something and then not do it. People in general, are understanding of what life throws at you; they understand relationships, family, illness and overall busyness that comes from walking the planet. However, when there is always something, always one thing after another that comes up and knocks a promise out, it becomes too much. It’s a little like trying to hug the Tasmanian Devil, sooner or later you have to just get out of the way.

In business, it is very important, as your word becomes your contract. I will deliver X to you by this date. You will have the materials for your project on time, delivered. It can be a costly game. You forget where you are with each person. Were we working on this? What did they need? You are always behind. Each day, you beat yourself up more and more.

I wish all people would have an amazing kid who would tell it like it is, even when it hurts. But, because they don’t I will. What I found was as I stacked one fulfilled promise on another I felt stronger. More in tune, better about myself and my abilities.

There is no excuse other than dying to un-deliver or under-deliver on a promise.

  1. Don’t make promises you can’t or don’t want to keep.
  2. Think about what you are willing to do, what you can accomplish in a time period.
  3. Don’t convey that you can do something if you can’t.
  4. Delegate if you don’t have time, find a way to get the person what they need.
  5. Be present in conversations as you don’t know what you could miss.

Everyone has drama. Some of it is bigger than others. Truth is people, in general are nice. We are all just trying to make our way. We understand if you need more time, or are unable to take on new work at this moment. Accepting our limitations is a big part of being human. Working to better ourselves is another.

Nobody is perfect. We are human after all. It is the pain that causes us to learn.

The learning that makes us better.

Make promises and keep them, be impeccable with your word. People are watching you.

Especially you.

Smiles,

H

Do not dim your light to get approval from others-

DSC01479It is easy to do. When looking for approval or love from a potential mate, family member or work mate; we tend to just want to fit in. We want to be accepted into the fold. People walk the thin tightrope of wondering if we are good enough and always trying to be our best self.

I remember having a (guy) friend who was from a very learned family. He had been put under tremendous pressure to go to college and off to a Masters program. His father was successful in his circles and was thought of as an expert in his field. His mother, although a stay at home Mom, had been educated and could play the perfect role of being a good cook, entertainer as well as keep up with a conversation of world politics at the table.

He fascinated me. He was very smart, book smart. I on the other hand had been raising other people’s children as a profession for a number of years. I wasn’t dumb in any sense but my thoughts were centered on more on peanut butter sandwiches and Sesame Street  than who won the Pulitzer this year and what the P/E ratio is for the top ten stocks of the year. I was about nurturing children, exposing them to nature, life lessons and developing their strengths.  We started dating and it started. He bought me a subscription to the newspaper because he wanted to discuss current events with me. When he handed me four boxes of college vocabulary words to learn, I knew there was trouble. He imagined himself to be Professor Harry Higgins to my Eliza Doolittle character, except in real life. I tried for awhile then tired of the constant badgering to do this and do that, so I would be a proper girlfriend candidate.

We took a trip together, as friends, across the U.S. It was really eye opening to me. We saw 14 states and I saw things I had only seen in magazines. Stupidly, we toyed with getting married in Vegas just for the hell of it. We didn’t- Thank God!

When we arrived at his parents home in Ohio, his mother took me clothes shopping (which was completely awkward, as I didn’t want her to spend money on me, my friend however, convinced me to let her as she didn’t have any daughters and it would bring her joy, ok…).  He was staying there  and I would be heading back to the Northwest, I got to my room and started to pack to leave the next day. It was then that I overheard something that taught me to never try to be someone I am not, for someone else. 

” She isn’t what I had in mind.” He was talking to his father, saying I wasn’t smart enough to be his girlfriend. Not good enough to be his wife someday.

I couldn’t wait to get on the train for home.  I forgot to mention, if only as a side point, the entire trip I had been developing the biggest zit on my face, a borderline boil. I see it now as the festering of something that was not good for me, manifested in physical form.

I have the ability when I am so done with someone to completely disengage and not give a crap. I have seen this as a positive and a negative in my life. When I am done, I am done.

We said goodbye, and I boarded to train. I didn’t look back. I have never seen him since.

He contacted me weeks later and asked how I had managed to leave so cleanly. He had noticed me not look back. I told him what I heard. He was mortified.

Even years later, he carries that with him. The absurdity that one would expect another human being to change completely for another, enrich yes, but to ask them to be someone else. That it was ok at all.

I think people spend too much time worrying about what other people think. They think that everyone is sitting there judging them and wondering why they do this and do that. Truth is, no one really cares what you are doing, they are mostly worried about what other people are thinking about them. And so goes the vortex of unworthiness and lack of self.

I see people so wrapped up in worrying about what other people think they don’t do anything. They sit and watch. They don’t allow the silliness to overcome them, or to giggle at something funny. You won’t see them start singing in a flash mob, you won’t see them running to the plane, they just sit and look around to see who is watching them. I like to call these people “the people who have too many rules for themselves”.

At 12, my friend Erin and I rode the bus to town. We wanted to go to Taco Bell to see how many crunchy  tacos we could each eat. We started the silliness on the bus.

She said “Let’s pretend we are from a different country and speak a different language. It will be fun.”

To which I replied “People will think we are weird.”

And then at age 11, she hit one out of the park- “Who cares, we will never see any of these people ever again.” 

That was the most brilliant thing I had ever heard! It’s true! We didn’t ride this bus all the time, I would never see any of these people again ever in my life!

This is a lesson I have passed down to my kids too, they enjoy being silly, playing spies at the grocery store, talking on imaginary walkie talkies. They crack me up. Most of all, they have a lot of fun. They shine. Their energy and love for life is contagious. Don’t change girls!

I don’t worry either, I just be me.

Reminds me of a quote Dr. Phil once said- “You wouldn’t care so much about what people think about you if you knew how little they did.”

BAM!

With Love,

H

 

 

Memory in a bottle

Grandma Peg and Grandpa Art

A few years ago for Christmas, my Mother gave me a gift. It was a bottle of perfume. It looked expensive from the beautiful box it came in.

It’s from the specialty perfume store in Portland she said. I thought you would like it.

It seemed an odd gift to me, usually perfumes come from lovers or you choose one based on the paper flips of a magazine. It is a highly personal decision.

“Give it a try,” she said. Me still feeling odd receiving a very personal gift from my Mom.

I squirted it on my wrist, and the waves of scent hit my nose.

“It’s Grandma. I said as tears welled in my eyes. In that moment I had been instantly transported back in time, sitting in a chair next to my grandmother, smelling her, listening to her speak in that tone and say “Well, Hi There!” in her excitedly twangy, welcoming  tone.

We were playing cards, she was cooking. She taught me to knit with her crumpled up fingers, so patiently and intently. The excruciating time I let her down by saying I had cleaned my room when I actually hadn’t simply because I  believed she wouldn’t climb the stairs to check. “I’m very disappointed in you. ” It cut like a knife. I never wanted to disappoint her again.

She was the one who always remembered birthdays, with a dollar or a penny in the wallet or purse that came with it. Since we were out of town, we got money more than gifts. A five dollar bill until 18, then everyone was ratcheted down to a dollar as she had many family members to send cards too.

Her handwriting, the cards she bought. How she used to cut the front off the Christmas cards she had received to use as gift tags the year after. Everything she did. She was the glue that held the family together.

I remember the last time I saw her, my aunt was very sick. We sat together in her little house in the desert. She said how she feared outliving another one of her children. My Uncle Jerry had died in a car crash along with his wife years before.

She teared up and said she couldn’t go through that again.

“I don’t know why I’m living this long.” It was heart breaking, as I knew Diane was very sick, the color of her skin a bright yellow from jaundice, the doctor’s couldn’t help her. I held her hand and listened. Cried along side her.

She would walk everyday, no matter what. I would go with her. She would often stoop to pick up a random rubber band on the path.

That’s your grandpa checking in. “How?” I asked.

“Grandpa Art always had a rubber band or two around his wrist because you always need a rubber band.”

Not long after our last trip to see Grandma and Diane, Grandma fell and broke her hip. She was to go into surgery the next day.

She died in her sleep that night. Died on her terms, without outliving another one of her children.

A few days ago my Mom was over, and when she was leaving I asked her if she wanted to smell Grandma.

“Yes, Caron’s Bellagia?”

“I’ll get it,” It had been awhile since i had pulled it out.

She sprayed her neck and her wrists. I did the same. There was a calmness that enveloped us. A peace.

She was here, with us, in us. Always.

He courage, her spunk, her love.

The feelings, the history, captured in the fragrance inside a bottle.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

Merry Christmas

With Love,

Hazel

The Age of invisibility

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The Age of Invisibility

Today I noticed something enough to write about it. I was at the store and I noticed older people, in their senior years with their heads down. As if apologizing for being in the way, at the store. They are slower in the checkout. Sometimes they can’t reach the items. And they are old. Like it’s a bad thing.

On Veteran’s day I saw some oldsters out with their platoon hats on, it was their day. They probably waited all year to present themselves in that hat to the public. I wonder how many people stopped and told them “Thank you for your service.” Let alone ask them about their experience. Let them share their hey day with us.

We (the younger set) walk the store with our heads up, vibrant, on a mission. Us with our smooth skin, meander through the makeup aisle wondering about the next eyeshadow blend, the newest lip gloss. As if that is important. We have full use of our bodies, we can walk fast, our minds are sharp and we can handle the self scan checkout systems, no problem. We use our ATM cards and remember our pin. We get annoyed when they write a check. And have a coupon.

I want to point out right here that the little exchange at the checkout,   while you are in a hurry, and they purposely got in the line of their favorite checker who is friendliest to them, could possibly could be the only human interaction that they have that day. Or week.

Imagine.

They got up early and primped their aged skin as best they could. A little rouge to cover up the lack of sunshine. They had their hair done yesterday and put a cap on last night so it would keep for their weekly trip to the store. They ate a light breakfast, only one cup of coffee, because they don’t want to have to use the restroom with it’s fancy schmancy turn on by itself faucets and towel holders that are so complicated or those weird air dryer machines that are called a knife. This trip is a multi hour planning ordeal. They caught a bus, or maybe drove- (which is probably pretty scary with so many of us on the roads, zipping around each other and ALWAYS in such a hurry).

They arrive and the contents of the store have been rearranged, and everything is so high priced they have to make decisions about what to buy or if they need the medicine this time. They keep their head down, on a mission, trying not to bother anyone or be in the way.  They hurry through the line with the hard stares of the younger people with their screaming kids in the cart, trying to get home for naptime. They are rushed and it is over-they have had their outing for the day/week/month.

A few weeks ago, I saw a woman trying to help her husband out of a car and into a wheelchair. She was a smaller woman, the husband much larger although now frail. I asked if I could help her. She politely said no, as if this was her duty, what she had signed up for and she would handle it, come hell or high water. They were out of the house and going to enjoy a McDonalds coffee together. Duty. Mixed with Love, perhaps; hopefully or just duty. With Duty comes the idea of burden for the one who needs. Again, the reinforcement that the oldsters are not needed, or trouble. It’s beyond Sad. Her proud moment of saying that she could do it, cost me too, as I wanted to help. We feel good helping others. Being there for others. I left feeling sad.

Another thing we are worried about is Pride. They are Proud and they can take care of themselves. They have outlived, outseen and outplayed this whole world, who are we to help them?

We live on a double edged sword of wanting to help each other but not wanting to impose. Not wanting to bring attention to the fact that some things just aren’t as easy as they used to be. Acknowledging that is serious business.

I met a woman named Margaret. Margaret was my grandmother’s name, whom I loved dearly. She died at 90, a wonderful, amazing and real woman. I automatically had compassion and an interest in Margaret. I was selling carpet in a flooring store when she came in with her daughter. Her daughter was a little older than me and her Mom Margaret must have been in her late 80’s. Such a sweet little old lady. She was nervous, it was her first purchase since her husband died and she was wondering how it would all work, her furniture needed to be moved, her photos in frames, everything. I remember her worrying about how she was going to pay, finally settling in to using some of her savings for the project.

When she came in, she smiled at me, her eyes watery with nerves; and she asked me if it would be ok.  I don’t know who reached for whose hand, but I held her hand and gave it a tiny little squeeze to let her know if would be ok and then we just stood there, and I didn’t want to let go, and she didn’t want to let go. Her little hand nestled into mine took me back to holding my grandmother’s hand that last time. Soft with wrinkles. Such a comfort.

We need to realize that we have right now an unending supply of adoptive grandparents waiting to be seen and adopted.

Our society has become a place where we ignore each other. Partly, because we feel useless to change that person’s circumstance. There isn’t a way yet to fix “old”.  Loving people, if we acknowledge them and see them; requires giving, and perhaps a commitment from us to make a difference. And we’re busy. So, busy with our stuff. Busy with our kid’s stuff and work and everything to keep a house going or to stay above water and off the streets ourselves.

I wonder what would happen if we started seeing each other. Really looking into the eyes of an older person and asked about their life. Think of the riches that lie there, the wisdom. What they have seen, heard, lived. What can they teach us? The cultures where they honor and seek out the wisdom of the elders have something.

And I can’t unsee them, and you can’t unread this. It’s out there.

The least we can do is smile.

Big Love,

H

IT IS NEVER YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO- Author unknown

Sorry, no picture for this excerpt right now. My laptop is on the fritz.

This was given to me by my Uncle Harry, it was part of something that we were writing before he died. I am not sure if he is the author of the list or not. But here goes:

Sitting back in his ergonomically designed executive chair, Chase spotted the “responsibility” list mounted on the wall. The framed list was one of the few items he carried to Nevada when he came West. He couldn’t recall where he had obtained the list. Maybe it came from his father before his death. Maybe not. The list was titled: IT IS NEVER YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO:

1. Give what you really don’t want to give

2. Sacrifice your integrity to anyone

3.Do more than you have time to do

4. Drain your strength for others

5. Listen to unwise counsel

6. Retain an unfair relationship

7. Be anyone but exactly who you are

8. Conform to unreasonable demands

9.Be 100% perfect

10. Follow the crowd

11. Put up with intolerable situations

12. Please unpleasant people

13. Bear the burden of another’s misbehavior

14. Do something that you cannot really do

15. Love unlovable people

16. Endure your own negative thoughts

17. Feel guilty toward your own inner desires

18. Submit to overbearing conditions

19. Apologize for being yourself

20. Meekly let life pass you by

This list was incorporated into a novel I had started with my Uncle Harry Hampton Howe back in 1996. We took turns writing chapters of a mystery that I had a dream about and then we built the story together.

At the time I was a young Mom with a daughter who was 3 years old. I was busy and our shared writing suffered. He sent me an outline and this passage before I took a break. We never finished our novel as he has been dead now for about 10 years. I believe that this excerpt was a gift to me, he wanted me to know these things going forward. Today as my oldest daughter is now twenty, I want her to know these things too.

Megan- Be you. And don’t put up with any grief. Big Love ❤ Mom

Waiting for happiness

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There is a phenomenon that has swept us all up. The idea that happiness is around the corner. That it is product of reaching blank, being able to afford blank, or when this specific thing happens. The problem with attaching your happiness to some entity outside of yourself is that that goal is always movable. It serpentines away from you. Things are shiny. There is always something behind the blank, a new blank tempting to steal the happy and extend it out. The blank steals our attention and takes away from what is.

I wish that people could see what is right in front of them.

They are missing out, always looking for the future. The future is unattainable, for it is always further than one can touch. People that spend their lives worrying about the future, or looking back in retrospect to what happened years ago. Living in the past or the future robs you of the present. It robs others too. Oftentimes, people that are stuck in the idea that happiness is the product of an outside event or position; have people around them that enjoy the now. It is exhausting to always trying to help them appreciate what they have, to be grateful for what is. I’m tired of listening to people waiting for their lives to be nice. When and if blank happens.

Please do not mistake, I see definite value in thinking about the future in reference to taking care of yourself when you are older, however, make a damn plan, work the plan and look up at what is happening right now. Depression is another thing. Get some help. Make a damn plan and work that plan. Then get on with it.

You are missing:

Being happy holding hands on the couch listening to the rain. Looking into the eyes of child who is still filled with wonder and brightness. A surprise package at the door. A phone call from a friend. Your favorite sandwich. A smile from a stranger. Remembering that time you were a hero to someone. Finding something you thought you lost. Rifling through a box of old photographs and seeing a funny hairstyle you had. Connecting to a new book. You miss seeing the daisy open for the day. Your child’s excitement when they score well on a test. Feeling proud.  Getting pulled into the plot of a movie.  Your wife wearing a dress and making herself pretty.  Having lunch with a friend.  Taking a walk with your love. Doing a puzzle with your kids. A walk in an antique mall and seeing your old toys displayed. Remembering when you were a kid. When your Dad took you fishing or your Mom let you lick the spoon.  The site and sound of the ocean. The First snow of the season. The sunlight on your face. Wrapping up in a blanket with a hot chocolate or coffee. Brand new rubber boots. You are missing your bliss.

A (happy) distractor- Retail therapy. Stuff is just stuff. Perhaps spending money you don’t have on things that you kind of like in an effort to be happy. Trouble is that most people that cope in this way, don’t have the extra to be able to sustain it. It is unsustainable. There is always something new and then the debt builds up, stealing the happy, extending out the happy to the unknown.

If you look around and see that stuff is what you will remember when you are on your deathbed and people and memories are unimportant, I invite you to open your eyes. And see.

Another happy distractor-  Addiction. My uncle drank himself to death. An amazing, creative and hilarious man, believed that success was always out there. And when it didn’t show up on his schedule, he drank to forget. He drank to escape, he drank for whatever reason he could. And he died. Without reaching the success in writing and film that he wanted. It’s over. This one encompasses retail therapy and drugs as well.

 

A way to start seeing and feeling your happy is to Love. Remember what you love. If you love flowers, plant or buy flowers. If you love a movie, watch it and remember why. If you love to paint or you love art, go to a museum. If you love animals, visit a shelter and care for them or take one home. Follow your love, as much as you possibly can and soon you will feel happy bits enter your life.

Say the word love. Say it a lot. I love this coffee, I love this outfit, I love this restaurant. Love is not only for your partner and your family. The architecture of this building can be something you love. Love everything. Sometimes I just say Love, because I Love love.

If you don’t love something, move on to something you do.

My wish is that you see the potential happy that is around you today. Smile at the people you see to show that you see them. Do something that helps someone. Appreciate the little things. Expand yourself.

Feel the happy in the waking up Late on a Sunday. Your favorite song on the radio.

Feel the happy in everything you do, see and touch.

I know it can be hard. I promise, though, that it is worth it.

The happy lives in you.

With Love, Hazel

The Knotholes of life

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Change is something that challenges everyone. It kicks their butt. The idea that something that once was one way becoming something else can affect them to the core.

Why did this happen?

How can I stop it?

I just want it back the way it was.

There was a time in my life that I was coming up against some pretty big stuff. I needed to make some changes because the status quo was not working. Stress was my middle name, first name and last name.

My business was faltering, the one I spent all my divorce settlement trying to hold onto.  The last bit of security I had to hold onto my house. Things were bad. To top it off I was in a toxic relationship that was not a good representation of what I wanted to teach my daughters to look for in their personal relationships. Basically I was a wreck.

The flip side was scarier though, at least I knew what this felt like, I knew how to wake up and do what I did everyday. I thought I could handle it. Then the health stuff happened. Pnemonia, Flu and Mono at the same time, brought on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. And on a very sunny day, a day when all I wanted to do was pull some weeds out front at my house that I might lose soon, my last summer in that house; I passed out in the front yard. Something had to give.

Still I wanted to hold on to this because I knew what this was.

A good friend stopped by my shop as she often did. She had a sense when I was really in a vulnerable place and she told me this tale.

“Imagine that you are a little person, so very small. A giant hand has grabbed you by the butt and is trying very hard to pull you through a knothole of a tree. And you are struggling, desperate to pull back out of the hole, to escape and be where you were. Can you see it?”

By then I had closed my eyes, and was visualizing the scene with her soft, caring voice leading me.

“Yes.” I answered.

“Now imagine seeing yourself, finally so exhausted, you cease the struggle. At that moment, you become limp and your body slides through the knothole with ease. And the other side is so free, you can move, you can be. It is a much more beautiful place than you ever could have imagined. ”

Sometimes we fight so hard to stay where we are, with what we know; that we give up our health, our dreams, our very selves.

I remember this story when I am looking at changes. You weigh your options, look at it all. Then let go, and see what happens.

Slide right through, and celebrate that we are meant to grow, challenge ourselves see what this great world has to offer.

Remember that in nature there is no security.

Let go, trust in the process, believe.

Just live.

With love, Hazel