Inspired

Happy Monday, folks. Between the two blogs and the normal day-to-day (with the extra life throws in as one goes), I’ll most likely be alternating my posting schedule. Thank you for your continued kind support.

These past few weeks, I’ve had varied reasons to reflect on drive: that inner something that propels one through the challenges life brings; keeping one’s focus on the prize despite obstacles (external and internal). For some reason, my mind jet-setted to a lady patient I had in my first, in-patient rehab setting.

This lovely lady will go by Margaret (not her real name). Margaret was about 65 when she came to me. She was much disfigured and disabled by a long-standing history of rheumatoid arthritis. Diabetes had also taken its typical (associated) toll on her vision and circulation: she was legally blind and had been admitted to rehab due to a below-the-knee amputation of one of her legs.

Margaret couldn’t really turn her head b/c of the arthritic changes. Her fingers were thick little sausages that couldn’t open wide enough to really hold on to a walker. And her hips and knees were already fairly contracted into flexed positions.

Little by little, Margaret shared pieces of her story. Sometimes, more than I wanted to know, on a highly-detailed and personal level. She had many a reason to be bitter and resentful of her past, but was one of the kindest, quietest patients ever.

Because of her multiple deformities and weakened state, no one expected much of this tiny, hunched lady. She was fitted with a prosthesis anyway. The physical therapist most likely adapted her walker so she could hold on to it, and Margaret found a way. She was able to walk short distances with her very-devoted daughter nearby, enough to manage in her living space.

For some reason, she wasn’t able to return home right away and wound up on an ‘alternate level of care’ at our sister facility. Unfortunately, ‘alternate level’ wasn’t good. Long story short, Margaret wound up with an amputation of the other leg, ABOVE the knee.

Anyone who has worked with prosthetic patients knows that walking with two below-the-knee prostheses takes less energy than getting around with one above-the-knee.

To this day I don’t know how she did it, but Margaret pulled it off. There was no way she should have accomplished what she did, but I’m thinking her drive, spirit and motivation made the difference. So did her daughter’s support.

Who am I to make excuses when I remember that?

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Goals, Resolutions and Organization–Oh My!

Welcome to the second full week of the new year! Hope all is well with all of you. 🙂 As you can see, the holiday decor is down and all looks bare–kind of like my home. (I’m really missing the Christmas decor, more so than in other years, I guess.)

At the end of last week’s post, I alluded to some aspirations for this year. Since I didn’t do a New Year’s “resolutions” and/or “goals” post, I thought the comment below might apply. I left it in response to a recent post on staying organized at Jami Gold’s excellent blog. She is so dedicated to her followers. I’ve yet to fathom how she has the time to work a day job, stay on top of her many projects and write the detailed, ridiculously informative articles she posts for writers at her site. (Just scroll down the right sidebar. I promise you’ll find something that speaks to you.)

When I have the time and some structure, I can do very well in the organization dept, but mostly of ‘things’ or ‘duties’ (i.e., household papers, closets, notes for school, etc).

Re: writing and projects: I’d gotten insanely overwhelmed with trying to do too many other ‘writing-related’ tasks while working on developing some workshops I plan to teach. (Last year) I wrote some specific goals re: the workshops, and made a conscious decision to put the fiction writing to the side for a while. (Story ideas weren’t getting me anywhere either.) That helped big-time. Although one piece is missing (publishing the digital and paperback companion booklets), it won’t hold me back from starting the contact phase.

Goals: I jotted a few down last January. They’re on a word-doc somewhere. I revisited them once and found I’d made more progress than expected.

Every step forward gets me closer to my goal(s). I can slow myself up by judging the pace, or just keep on feet-forwarding it.

I also came across this: “The first and most important step toward success is that we can succeed.” Nelson Boswell, as quoted by Don Charisma at his awesome and highly inspiring blog.

Do I have the organization part handled? Eh, never so much as I’d like. Daily life keeps me very busy w/o the avoidance tactics I manage to throw in there on a regular basis.

Allow me to own this too: I think my biggest issue is the fear of failure/fear of success thing, so my newest goal is to hit SEND and initiate the contact needed to set up speaking gigs—with a spreadsheet to keep track of who I contacted and follow up via phone or email.

Here’s the irony: Whenever I do a workshop, I start out exactly the way I sing: a touch tentative up front, but get into the groove fast. I always come out energized and excited b/c my inner performer LOVES being at the front of the room. Just sayin’.

So what is the ultimate outcome behind resolutions and/or goals for you? Is it to forward your career or to self-improve? In the final analysis, I don’t see how one can truly be separated from another.

Awareness of one’s motivation, however, can make all the difference.

What drives you toward achievement?

Have a wonderful week,

Joanna

When You Take That Step Back…

A solution often shows.

Hi all and welcome to the next-to-last Monday of June. We are six months into 2014. How does time keep going faster?

Wimbledon is underway today. All the best to Andy Murray, defending champion, and all the players competing, especially the qualifiers. This is the professional tennis world’s biggie tournament, especially when it comes to prestige.

Ma n Kev  Mamma and YS (18 months)

Younger Son is a great kid, but definitely a work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure a Plan A, B, C, etc and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this 15.5-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Aside: He finally agreed to join me on the tennis court this past weekend. If he practices and gets a feel for the court, his serve and winners have potential to take my head off. (Must be all that weight-lifting turning him into a power hitter.)

Back to the post: This past November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) “My suggestion: try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the upcoming school year.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He’s come up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Kevin kindergarten school pic Kindergarten

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about before? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting near his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he usually wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up–he needs it to graduate. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

photo (49)  One of my favorite pics, when YS played with the rec league. 

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it?

Have a great day everyone!

Joanna

 

Mothers, Jeans and Self-Esteem

Welcome to another week, folks, and a new theme. Always a pleasure to be here and share with you! Thanks so much for stopping in 🙂

mothers day flowers 2014   Mother’s Day Flowers from all my men–I’m too short to get a good image if vase is on table, lol.

Joanna n baby boys  I’m thinking my boys were one and three (?) in this image. Now the big one is the little one, and the little one is the big one. Where did the time go?

Joanna n Niconus 05-11-2014  Older son and his ma on Mother’s Day–the other guy goes camera shy. 

joanna n hubby Mothers Day 2014   Hubby and me on  Mother’s Day :). Now why didn’t I insist on a photo with both my boys????

So last week I shared about jeans, finding that elusive, “perfect-fitting” pair (I’m sure I’ll look for a loooong time, lol) and some encouraging news on that topic via Charlotte Hilton Anderson’s blog, The Great Fitness Experiment. (Among the reasons I’ve always liked Jennifer Lopez too. In many ways, she put those of us whose back ends like to uh…hang out more than others on the map. She also very kindly helped designed a line of  jeans made to fit said folks. Thanks, J-Lo! )

Rather than drag y’all through a longer-winded post than usual last time, I figured I’d pick up with a related topic today. (I promise, people, I’m working on keeping these shorter. )

Much as I love jeans, I hate shopping for them. (I’m to the point where I’m NEVER in the mood to shop for anything—eh, maybe shoes every once in a while. I always seem to gravitate toward the same colors and styles anyway. Seriously, how many red jackets or purses can one person have?)

A couple of years ago, I was killing some time on a Saturday morning. Strolled into the local TJ Maxx and wandered over to the jeans rack. I wound up trying a tan pair of skinnies just for the heck of it, in a brand that tends to fit me better than others.

Danged pair actually fit okay, even in the trouble spots. Long story short, I didn’t like them enough to buy them. I did, however, feel encouraged b/c a pair of “skinnies” almost fit well enough to be a choice.

Met up with my mom later that day. Feeling good, I told her about the jeans. Her automatic (paraphrased) response? The jeans fit because they weren’t cut right and/or had stretched.

No way on the planet—in her brain—I could have lost a pound or two, or have walked and exercised my way into that cut.  Then I wonder why shopping for clothing is more distasteful than it should be, lol.

So go figure, a few weeks ago, Mama actually complimented me in a pair of skinny jeans. I believe she phrased it something like, “I don’t know if you lost weight or it’s the pants, but those look good.”

Whaaaat???????

Mama almost knocked me out. (Feel free to go a little LL Cool J here.  What can I say? My latest TV addiction is NCIS Los Angeles.)

Joanna n mom Mothers Day 2014   Okay. We’ll let Mamma have a spot on the blog b/c she said I looked nice in my jeans. 

So, my blogger-friends, shall we go there? Shall we talk about how our self-esteem relative to clothing all comes back to Mom, lol? If that’s the case, what helped you get past it? (For me, a single book changed a lifetime of perspective. This related blog post tells that story.)

Here’s the link to the post that got me started on this blogging jag. (It’s over at Charlotte’s blog.) I also came across this assortment of seemingly simple exercises  Charlotte authored for Shape magazine. I hope to have checked them out more closely by the time this post airs.

Have a great week, everyone!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could We Have Done Something Right?!

Hi all–hope you had a great week and weekend. I’m actually trying to fathom what a break from tennis will be like. The men’s year-end final wraps up tonight. No tournaments until mid-December. Now how will I fill my ‘spare’ time for the next four weeks, lol?

“You realize we’re both hating you right about now,” said a new coworker, a few weeks ago. She, myself and a student’s assistant were discussing kids and getting them to do their chores without it being a struggle.

I’d happened onto their discussion, just in time to hear the assistant saying she was tired of “paying” her kids before their chores were done, then having to argue about it.

Interestingly enough, this conversation was taking place a few days after hubby and I decided to leave the dinner dishes and go hit tennis balls before dark. Younger Son (who is a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday) had cleared the dishes, but there were still pots to be washed, the counter to be wiped down…you know.

Aside: This Italian was raised to NEVER do the next thing—God forbid, something fun, lol—until the house is clean. Somehow, hubby got infected with this disease and looked at me like, You want to go now? Leave this mess? (I assured him it would be there when we got back.)

Well, hubby and I took off, had some fun and headed back home. (I happened to have an awesome day on the court–for me, anyway. Just sayin’.) It was still just light enough for a walk, so I opted to take a short one before it got any darker. “Oh sure. Leave me with the kitchen clean-up,” hubby grumped. (But not terribly.)

“I don’t know why we own Younger Son,” I answered. “There’s no reason we couldn’t have asked him to do it.”

Lo and behold, we entered a FULLY CLEANED KITCHEN. It was like the Cleaning Fairy had dropped in for a visit.

(This is pretty much the point where my co-worker expressed hate. And while I was mentioning it to someone else a day later—hey, I’m still every bit as amazed as the day it happened—another coworker overheard. She did the slow head turn, eyes wide and asked, “What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”)

BTW last night, Younger Son did something similar—washed the few dishes that were in the sink without being asked.

And a few weeks ago, when I picked up my mom from the hospital, and it was 10:30 PM, and I hadn’t made it to cleaning the kitchen b/c hubby was away, and I was tied up helping my mom, I walked into the kitchen while Older Son (who is pushing the ripe age of 17) was doing what had to be done, without anyone asking.

And even this past week, when Younger Son had an orthodontist appointment at 6:30 PM—don’t ask why anyone would schedule that time when after school is so much more convenient at my house—and hubby wasn’t home, and both boys and I were scrambling to leave the kitchen clean before taking off, Older Son casually said, “You guys go. I’ll finish this.”

Mother does the glance askance at Older Son. Huh? (This is the same kid that would step out of his shoes in the middle of the doorway and keep walking. At least he slips out of them to the side of a step these days, with one shoe pointing outward every time, which is pretty much how the kid walks, and still proof that he literally steps out of his shoes, lol.)

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?

She really got me thinking. Next time, I’ll share some of the thoughts her question provoked.

Your turn: if you have kids, have they left you flumgubbered enough to wonder what YOU might have done right? Take a minute and tell us about it, please!

Thanks and have a great week,

Joanna

 

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

Hope all of you who celebrate the USA’s birthday did so in style this past (hopefully extended) holiday weekend! We made it up to my brother’s for a good old-fashioned family BBQ. Got home in time to watch our town’s fireworks display from our backyard. Those ended just as the televised Macy’s display got underway on NBC. Can’t ask for better!

Mega-congrats to newly-crowned Wimbledon 2013 winner Andy Murray! He has grown so much as a player in the last year or so. What an awesome show of power, variety and mental hanging in there again World Number One Novak Djokovic. (Felt so bad for Djok, too. He had to fend off Murray AND the English crowd vying for the end of a 77-year English-winner drought at their prestigious tennis venue.) As seems to have become typical on the men’s tennis tour, these guys were pure class while being interviewed. I hope both are proud.

Okay, enough tennis talk. (I’m actually tennised out. Yep. It happens.)

Now back to our originally scheduled post…

Folks, I hate waxing political but every now and again “ya just gotta.” And as I said a couple posts back, this is my blog and I can grump if I want to.

Background: had the TV on the other day. Second time in just a few months I caught advertising in a language other than English, on a well-established, English-language-based, cable network no less.

The first commercial was for a popular household product. It involved two characters conversing; the first spoke non-English (with subtitles) while the second character translated to English, as per the first character’s request.

This irked me—has been irking me—enough to keep reminding myself to write a letter to the company. Not because I don’t understand the language. I studied it in both high school and college and am fairly fluent. And, I am a first-generation American child of parents who immigrated from Italy. Technically, Italian is my first language. It bugged me because it targeted non-English speaking folks first, a practice that seems to be implemented more and more, in more ways than one.

Guess I watched another, completely non-English commercial one too many times. This one was for a major national retail chain, and this time, there was no English at all.

That got on my nerves.

So…

I went to the retail chain’s Facebook page and wrote this:

Love your store. Seriously dislike the advertising you’re doing in _____. (BTW, I speak THREE languages, including ______.) Last time I looked around, though, this is the UNITED STATES. Our primary language is ENGLISH. Just sayin’.

Please understand: It’s not that I am without compassion for those who struggle with a language barrier. My issue is with “corporate”, if you will.

Speaking of, the company in question has yet to reply to my comment. (Doubt it will.)  I got quite a few Likes and a few supportive comments from good friends. One person, however, had this to say:

“And one the primary values of the United States is the freedom to conduct business in whatever language you choose.”

Person got 6 likes to my 25 or so. (Fist pump. Hey.That’s encouraging.)

My response to author of comment:

(Shakes head @_____.) Little by little this country is giving itself away. One day, you might wake up and not have a clue what language is coming at you. Sad. Go to other countries. You’ll find everything written in THEIR language first, usually English second. (And BTW, plenty of people from around the world speak better English than many Americans. What’s up with that?) Here, we don’t care. Just cater to the masses, who aren’t being put into a position to learn the language of the country they came to. Again, just sayin’.

I’ll stop here and pick this up next time.

I’d love your thoughts on this matter so far. What do you think about advertising in a language other than English on English-speaking television channels? I mean, have you ever tuned into the Italian station and listened to advertising in English? If you’re a tennis fan, what did you think about Murray’s win? Or Djok’s loss? Or Nadal, Federrer, Sharapova and/or Serena Williams’ losses? (Did I ask enough questions, lol?)

Enjoy the day, folks. Thanks for indulging me.

Joanna

Hey, It’s My Anniversary–Again!

Hi all! Hope Monday (and the rest of this week) finds you all well. I’ve been dealing with a sinus infection all weekend and haven’t had energy to do much. At least Saturday ran an NCIS marathon; Sunday brought the Barcelona ATP Masters Championship featuring Rafa Nadal in the final. That worked-and the maestro of the clay courts won, too. Yay! (Thought I was linking to a single photo. What the heck–enjoy!)

Back to today: married eighteen years to my hunny and beginning to get the whole ‘depth’ thing that goes along with a long-term relationship. He and I are known for our differences, but we work hard at being respectful of what makes each of us who we are on the day to day. I promise too, that opposites really did attract on every single level, even down to us viewing my laptop screen: him with reading glasses, me with distance glasses, lol. Yet, one day at a time, one situation at a time, we’ve made it to Wedding Anniversary #18 (and even like each other today).

What keeps us strong? Speaking only for myself, choice.  As I’ve written in previous anniversary posts, choosing to be committed on those rare days I not want to be. Truth is, no matter how wonderful a relationship, it takes work. True, some might take less work than others, and there are those who find themselves in a situation in which only one person is doing most of it.

That’s par for the course. Ideas about a 50-50 share of the work is common, but most folks may not consider that 50-50 is an average number. And those of you who are mathematically inclined understand that an average is gained by adding varied sums and dividing by the total number of sums used.

What does that translate to? Simple, math-wise anyway. Sometimes I do more of the work. Sometimes hubby does.

Honestly, I may be more blessed than some. Hubby and I rarely fight, as in it gets nasty and/or ugly between us. (Maybe five or six times in eighteen years? Not bad, right?) Despite our disagreements and fundamental differences as people, we try to talk things out and approach each other as friends. I’ve also come to know that I need to explain my point of view the next day, or when we’re not in that angry moment, when one or both of us might not be thinking clearly. (That’s just plain-old impulse control, friends: an imperative life skill to practice no matter what the situation or setting, i.e., work, home, etc.)

Neither of us likes being at odds. Fortunately, those ugly times usually last little more than a week, and even when the stretch has been (much) longer, we’re still respectful when dealing with the matters a household and family bring. No directing the kids with, “Tell your father…” or “You can let your mother know…” Fights (between almost anyone, I think) are often about control issue(s) anyway. Being aware of that makes a huge difference—period.

I could probably go on and on but I most certainly will not! 😀 I will, however, point you to a pair of previous posts on commitment. (Find those here and here.) Please, also take a moment and visit April Cassidy’s Peaceful Wife’s Blog. She covers a range of related topics and shares much wisdom.

This was taken at my bridal shower. Geez, my favorite Frannie Drescher   (as Fran Fine) got nothing on this big hairdo!
This was taken at my bridal shower. Geez, my favorite Frannie Drescher (as Fran Fine) got nothing on this big hairdo!

And before I forget, happy anniversary to my hunny! My humble gratitude and love to the guy who has shown his own side of love and commitment to this looney lady all these years! I am blessed.

Until next time,

Joanna