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Guest Blog: The Question That Changed My Life

This was the topic of my first blog and I issued an invitation for guest blogs on the question.  Below is our first guest blogger!

The Question That Changed My Life

Hmm… the question that has changed my life was posed to me a few weeks back.  I was invited to write on this topic, and I thought to myself what an easy subject.  Why I know I have a profound question that has driven my life, I’m sure of it!  Boy, oh boy, I have never been so off track and so gloriously wrong in my entire life.  Trying to capture this answer has instead turned into a quest, not unlike that of rereading a book to get a better understanding of the characters.  Or in my case, perhaps using stronger reading glasses to see if there was anything that I missed; a common thought or word, but as usual, I’m always complicating simple matters.

Then today, I attended the funeral of a kind and generous family man. As I was sitting in church, misty-eyed, I thought of his kindness, love of family and his joy of living.  This prompted me to begin reflecting on my life and note when a stranger, acquaintance or a family member sent a kindness my way or radiated happy contentment.  Surprisingly those instances had a powerful impact on my emotional health and strength.   Providing me with that extra shot of confidence and grit when I needed it.  In trying to unearth the question that has changed my life, I discovered I have been attempting to be generous with my words and actions to others.  Most days successful other days not so much.  I face each day in the content knowledge I am loved and have family, friends, and creatures to love – total bliss!

The simple question I now ask consciously at the start of each day is “what can I do to be kinder to myself and others, how can I bring contentment and joy to my own life.”   A powerful thought that gently leads to shedding light on other areas of my life, unearthing new questions that nudge me to grow.  When I was a child, I remember something my mom once told me: “Be kind to those you will meet, you don’t know the burdens they may be carrying.”  She treated everyone with compassion wherever she went, and I am happily striving to do the same.

Meet our guest blogger!

IMG_2741Hello there!  My name is Susan Smith (really that’s my name).   I am fortunate to have a husband who has put up with me for over 34 years, an incredible son, a dream come true daughter in law, and a precious granddaughter who gets that I’m a sucker for her every whim!  We live with a dog who believes she is human, a cat who plays mind games, and a cat who thinks she is a dog.  I love experiences that are creative, challenging and a little bit messy.   What a life I have! 

 

Do you have a question that changed your life?  Let me know if you would like to be a guest blogger!

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Life Lessons From Mr. Pickles

There’s nothing like a new puppy to give you a new perspective.  When Mr. Pickles came into our life, we weren’t sure we were ready to open our hearts to another dog – and certainly not sure we were ready for the demands of a puppy.  But there he was, looking sad in his cage at the shelter and a wriggling bundle of love when they let us hold him. A ten pound Chiweenie – half chihuahua, half daushund.

His full name is Dillon Pickles, Jr. – Dill Pickles for short – or Mr. Pickles when we are being formal.  He doesn’t mind that he was given a silly name.  He only cares that he has found a warm home, with plenty of food, walks, and toys – and lots of love and attention from two humans.

But I sense human characteristics in Mr. Pickles.  I like to think he was reincarnated from a human to a dog, destined to live out another lifetime to teach humans some lessons.  I try to picture him as a human – a man small in stature, with the hint of a mustache that never completely grew in.  I think he was a mid-level businessman – perhaps a department manager.

What lessons have we learned from having Mr. Pickles in our life over the last few months?

Bloom Where You Are Planted and Live With Joy

Although I like to think we are providing an outstanding home for a dog, I’m pretty sure that Mr. Pickles would have found joy in any home that he went to.  A dog bounces out of bed in the morning full of gratitude for just having a life.  As the old saying goes, if you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude.  Mr. Pickles embraces his circumstances.

Humble Yourself 

Mr. Pickles has no ego – he is here to please us. The success of his “pack” depends on him taking ownership of his place in it.  If he makes a mistake, he promptly turns up on his belly and asks for forgiveness. It’s a lesson we could all learn, to promptly admit our mistakes.  But we can probably skip turning up on our belly.

Why Worry?

Dogs have a wonderful lack of worrying.  Yes, they might be at the door when we get home looking like they have spent the day fretting about us in our absence, but you know they were really sleeping in our favorite chair all day until they heard the car turn in the driveway.  Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything, but it seems we humans can’t help but do it.  This is one lesson that I particularly need to work on.  As the saying goes, “Every problem has it’s price, but if you worry you pay double.”

Self-Care Should Come First

Dogs are amazing at making sure they take care of themselves.  Play time, meal time, nap time – all done when they are needed.  Mr. Pickles can’t be the loving family pet without enough sleep.  We humans push ourselves to put other’s needs first.  But like the oxygen mask on the airplane, if we don’t put our mask on first we are not going to be able to help anyone else with theirs.

Sometimes It Is Better to Ask for Forgiveness Than Permission

Mr. Pickles knows he is not allowed on the human beds in the house, but sometimes he just can’t help himself. He wants to embrace every wonderful thing life offers, so sometimes he just has to go for it.

I aspire to be more like Mr. Pickles.

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Lee Ann Pond is the founder of Engaging Leadership, which provides training and support for business leaders, with a focus on employee engagement.  She has an MBA, 15 years “C” suite experience in finance and HR, and is a certified executive coach.