Do you really know me?

Really,  does anyone really know anyone? We are such an interesting, complex, mixture of daily experiences,  from birth till death. Not even our siblings, who grew up in the same house know some of the experiences that shaped us. It has been years since I’ve really given this much thought.  This whole concept of really knowing anyone, resurfaced recently when I was dealing with someone at work. I asked her why she was leaving early. She told me that she is a single mother and had to pick up her son.  Then she went on to say that she tries not to judge people because every person has their own challenges, stories, experiences; and the truth is that you really don’t know anyone’s story… or their journey thus far.

You often forget though, in your daily life.  You forget that you really don’t know the many layers that make up the people who sit next to you for 8 hours, whom you roomed with throughout college, or who sleeps next to you each night. It can be a frightening thought! But, let’s not be frightened by this.  When this thought of “do I really know you?” surfaces we often tuck it away. The whole idea can be a little daunting.  It is not unusual to see on the news each day, couples, co-workers, family or friends who thought they knew each other, particularly in tragic situations. What I am reflecting on, however, is how I  react and respond to people whom at first I thought I knew, and then when I discover something interesting about them that changes my perspective. This reflection and a combination of very recent experiences really made me start to think about not really knowing anyone, and that no one really knows me.

What I am reflecting on, however, is how I  react and respond to people whom at first I thought I knew, and then when I discover something interesting about them that changes my perspective. This reflection and a combination of very recent experiences really made me start to think about not really knowing anyone, and that no one really knows me.

I recently started a new job, and with that always comes new experiences.  Lately, I’ve been really bothered by someone at work who habitually comes in late. It was a new job for her too.  I was bothered enough, that I was pondering how to bring up the subject to her. She did not really report to me, but if affected me, so I wanted to say something. I decided on a more backhanded approach.  I was trying a gentle entrance into the subject in the hopes of having more of an interactive discussion rather than me bitching at her for being late.  Timing is everything, so I waited. Much later in the day, around mid-afternoon. I casually asked.  ” Would you consider yourself a morning person?”

“Why would you ask that?” she replied.

“Well, you don’t seem to get going and warm up until much later in the day.”  I chuckled. I needed to keep the conversation light.  She smiled and admitted that indeed she was not a morning person. As our discussions continued and she explained more of who she is, I began to understand that her tardiness was not deliberate.  I felt less bothered.  It made me realize that once you start to know someone, your perspective changes. You may take a while to get to know them, but with each unwrapping of the layer of who they are, your perspective continues to change. It may get better, or it may get worse.

Now in the past few weeks, I have had more than one occurrence of “broadening my perspective” about different people I thought I knew. I really started to realize that every person you meet is so layered in their own experiences that only in time do they start to reveal themselves. And that person controls how much they reveal – consciously or unconsciously. You meet people who appear happy, successful, carefree with all the most wonderful things going right for them.  Then you discover, in the wonderful timing of the universe, be it days or decades, that all is not as it appears.  In one short week this past month, I discovered that someone I thought to be happily married is not; someone who seemed strong is emotionally fragile and someone who appeared to have a wealth of friends didn’t have anyone to call while being hospitalized for almost a week. Each one surprised me in a different way. But again, upon further reflection, I realized that such a phenomenon is not uncommon.

It is not uncommon for me to be approached by perfect strangers. It’s more like a daily occurrence, in what I comically refer to as  ” while minding my own business”.  And one Saturday a few weeks ago, I was focused on reading a magazine when a young man approached me. He had just moved to Miami from California and had lived in many states and was curious why so many people in Miami did not speak English. I politely answered him and this drove the conversation in many new directions. He did most of the talking and before long he shared that he was an aspiring writer. He was a bit despondent about the progress he was making as a writer.  Networking is key, so I offered some suggestions on how he could get more involved in a writing community. Eager for me to read his work, he returned a few hours later with new material.  In a matter of 30 minutes, someone I just met was trusting me to critique his work!

I like being able to use my positive energy to impact someone’s life in a forward direction. And I must admit that as he stood there waiting for me to give him my opinion of his work, I asked myself ” Is the universe teaching me something?”  It seemed like one after another in quick succession I had experiences with people that brought back this burning question. Do you know me?? And I found myself asking, “Do I really know them?”

This discovery changed things for me. As always, we are learning and growing throughout our lives.  Don’t judge a book by the cover, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, on and on…. You think you know someone, you think someone knows you.  I am hoping that these reminders from the universe will continue to help me be better at understanding who people are, why they make the choices they do and what makes their circumstances different. And I realized from all these occurrences that no one really knows me entirely either.  There are parts of my life that the layers are still yet to be unfolded.  Truth is, we are ALL like that.  We are the only ones who really knows who we are.

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Where do I begin

It has almost been a month since my last post.  I assure you it is not due to lack of subject matter. On the contrary, there have been many things to write about. They all seemed too short to post. But when I saw that time was rushing by, I decided to sit down and just write.

Where do I begin? I am have managed to secure a job. Not a high paying job but a job with a lot of potential to network with people and still build on other things. I also took this job because I knew for sure that it would provide me with fodder beyond my wildest dreams for this very blog.  I would be meeting all kinds of people from all walks of life and I knew that in short order, I would have lots of things to write about.  It is funny but the more people I meet the more I see a common thread. People seem to fall into the same basic categories, regardless of age, ethnicity or stature in life.  There are good people everywhere, people who will challenge you to the very core of your being and then there is everyone else in between in varying degrees.

When I worked around the elderly I found this to be true.  It wasn’t that they became difficult as they aged. It was that they were always like this and it just seemed to magnify as they got older.  Same with young kids, teenagers, young adults, and middle-aged folks.

This month I have spent getting acquainted with the job. You know, it is the adjustment period.  And the characters at this place are starting to emerge. The wonderful thing is that as I have probably mentioned before lots of things come down to your perspective. And how do I plan to navigate this new terrain you ask. Well, for one I plan to observe, gain trust and develop understanding. I have no doubt that in short order, stories will be flying.  Remember the category “Truth is Stranger”. There will be lots of that.

So I am adjusting to a new job, a new perspective, a new routine, and a new balance. Not to worry, I plan to keep writing, keep discovering, keep posting stories. It is never easy adjusting but it is always worth it! Where do I begin!!

I begin with adjusting to a new journey. There will be lots of those. Those come with change.. that constant we often try to avoid. This new journey starts now.

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Seeing What You Don’t See

Is that even possible? To see what you don’t see! Once again, gardening has been wonderful in allowing me to reflect more on myself,  and to myself, to meditate… for lack of a better word.  Having a hobby that allows me to reflect inwardly is a great thing!  Being able to practice that hobby more frequently has been a blessing.

I have been going out into my garden daily to check my plants.   Recently I noticed some tiny black insects taking over the new growth on my muscadine grape plant.   I was annoyed. Just when the plant was starting to show new growth, these insects were taking over and sucking the life out of it! I really try not to use pesticides. So I used my fingers to gently rub the soft new leaves, pushing the insects off into my fingers and crushing them.  As I moved my fingers to each new growth I thought to myself, “Would that be enough? Would the insects return or would they leave well alone?” I wanted the plant to do well.  The tell tale sign for me when a plant has settled in and is happy is when I see new growth. I had moved this muscadine grape plant to many places in my garden, and finally, new growth began to appear.  The plant was happy in its new pot and its new spot.

In truth, a little over 6 months ago I probably would not have even noticed this insect invasion at the start.  There probably would have been significant damage to the plant before I would have noticed, or worse, I would have found the plant dead. But within the past year with my dramatic life change, my routine has changed and by checking my plants each morning, I noticed the invasion. I was seeing what I usually don’t see. And once again I stopped and thought how this applied to my own life.

It was not more than a day later after one discovery that I had another. There on the same plant were three tiny bunches of grapes beginning their journey, filling my head with hopes of sweet plump grapes to munch on in the months to come.

How interesting, that for the past 5 or so years I had become so consumed with just working a job that I neglected other areas of my life!  And the results of that neglect became abundantly clear to me when I was out of work.  We all get caught up in the daily grind. We all find ourselves barely feeding what we deem necessary to survive while the rest of our lives starve for attention.  We all have that moment in our lives that reminds us we need to reconnect with ourselves. Take heed!

I make every effort now to be more balanced in my life. For me, it is a constant effort to remind myself of the details of my life that need attention. It is about knowing the value of all that is important in my life.  It is about seeing what I don’t see. It is about knowing what needs attention daily and what can be done weekly, monthly, semi-annually or yearly to stay balanced and whole.

I have changed how I spend my time. And I suspect that in a few years I will change again. Change is constant. And I have come to embrace change and call it my friend. Take time to stop and reevaluate things in your life. See what you don’t see every once in a while. You may be surprised how much it will make your life clearer!

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Deadheading! Everyone Should Do It!

Gotta do something with my time! When you don’t have time, there is always a lot to do. When you do have time, you often don’t do the things you can do. Who hasn’t declared that “when I’m not working, or on vacation” they will get XYZ done?! Those books to  organize, the room to redecorate, the whatever that is on your to-do list…  It seems that busy keeps you busy, slow and bored, keeps you slow and bored.  Like attracts like!  You pull towards you more what you think, what you embrace and what you do.

I now have a lot of time for gardening and slowly but surely I have been doing it more and more.  The ultimate therapy for me! I am forcing myself to stay busy, especially with the things I enjoy.  Today I came to a revelation while I was out tending my gardening. Unexplainably I started to notice a change in my plants.  It seems odd that I would just notice today, but as they say, “When the student is ready” the teacher truly does appear. The plants looked so much better, seemingly ever so grateful for the attention, the water, the nurturing and love they are now getting EVERY DAY!

As I have mentioned before, my previously busy work life led me to be more of a laissez-faire gardener. I love gardening but with long work days and work weeks, many a plant was left to their own devices.  On the one day out of the week when I was home and not catching up on my house chores or otherwise I was often surprised to find a bloom or a fruit on a tree in my garden.

Today I stood looking almost surprised that the plants were more lush, more fruitful, more quick to respond to the ever-growing attention. Way back in a shady area of my back yard I have a small patch of heliconias and ginger lilies that have been growing there for many years. The truth is, they have been surviving more than growing. I was grateful when there was an occasional bloom, but more often than not, I would question why they didn’t bloom. To me, they looked healthy.  “I should have been seeing far more blooms!”, I’d think.  The connection why they weren’t any was lost to me then. Student clearly not ready then!

In that same patch of heliconias, the gentleman who regularly cut my lawn would remove the dead leaves and flowers.  I appreciated that he did it then, but didn’t really understand the real value of it.  What he was doing was deadheading. Times have changed since then, he left and the plants were on their own surviving among dead flowers and leaves.

To me, as somewhat of an organic gardener,  if your garden is “well balanced” with flora and fauna it will thrive.   I have recently come to discover, that is not exactly how things thrive.  By reading more about plants I have and recently purchased,  I noticed the repeated mention of the benefits of deadheading.  I never really dead headed or believed there was any great truth to it. But as I looked at my heliconia patch, a mix of dead leaves, stalks, flowers and branches, I moved in to start the process of deadheading. The teacher was appearing at last, as the student was ready. Today it made sense, when before it had not. I needed to deadhead my plants to see progress.

Deadheading

Deadheading

As I worked my way through it I reflected that this process was such a metaphor for life. We all need to remove the dead, negative and useless in our lives so that we can flourish. I thought about how my own stubbornness delayed the process of deadheading my plants and the impact of it. There were less blooms and less happy plants.  I have held on to people and projects and processes in my life for way too long because of my own stubbornness and refusal to believe that it was for the best. And once I deadheaded them, my life began to flourish.  Even when it was suggested that I deadhead my plants I did not listen!  I repeated that same behavior in my life. I have had friends and family who suggested that I “deadhead” the people and things in life that were holding me back. Only after going through the painful journey did I learn it to be true.   Even then, I isolated each incident, not realizing that this was a practice I needed to perform in general, across the board, in all areas of my life. And in all areas of my garden.

I went through the heliconia patch with growing enthusiasm,  and as I stood back to look, it became clearer figuratively and literally.  Everyone should deadhead!! I am now being more thoughtful about gardening!  I read up on what conditions each plant thrives in best, assess the climate conditions of my garden and the movement of the sun before I strategically placed them. The results have been quite noticeable! The same applies to how I live my life. Look around at your life with a new set of eyes.  See what is withered, past its prime, holding you back. Snip, snip! It may seem pointless at first, even mean perhaps, but things will renew and refresh in ways you could not possibly imagine. Be reflective and careful in this process. You don’t want to snip a new shoot!

Focus and find clarity in what makes you happy. Stay busy, stay charged, stay grounded and open to new thoughts, ideas and opportunities. It took a few days or so to see the benefits of my deadheading.  If it is one thing that I have realized during all that, is that change truly is constant. The moment you sit back and rest on your laurels, you stagnate.  I plan to stay busy,  keep deadheading and watch for new growth, new blooms and the hope of great things to come.

 

 

 

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My Dirty Hands

Gardening is great therapy for me.  Lately, I have been doing a lot of gardening. It has been months since I’ve been without work, and it has not been from lack of trying.  I have been doing networking, social media, webinars, changing resumes, sending out resumes, filling out online applications, on and on. Continue reading

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Getting Out Purposefully

No less than two days after my encounter with Rosie (see post Just When You Need a Boost ) I was invited to meet up with a former colleague at a Farmers Market at University of Miami.  When I arrived and called to confirm with her where to meet, another woman’s voice answered her phone.  “Frances,” she said, ” who would believe that I would see you two times in one week.  This is Paula.”  She then handed the phone over to my colleague. Paula turned out to be the woman who had said that I had the best scones ever just two days before.  When I walked up to her a few minutes later, it all came back to me, who she was from my past. I had not seen her in six years and now twice in one week!

I walked around the Farmer’s Market to get ideas. Food is my thing, so this was a great way to stimulate ideas.  I interacted with all the sellers. I met a lot of interesting people from all walks of life. This was great on so many levels!  When you are not working, you tend to stay home more. It makes sense. There is less opportunity to spend money. I totally get it!  But getting out, especially getting out purposefully and interacting with people, well, that has far more benefits than you could ever possibly imagine!

The key is to make those interactions work for your purpose.  Whether it is to stimulate you to find your passion or purpose, to expand your business, to learn something new, make those interactions mean something to you and for you.

Getting out purposefully is a test of your will. The strong tendency to stay put. It makes you really have to dig deep to find purpose,  purpose to spend your time and your gas. But making that grand step, moving forward with the mindset and the intention to grow, whether it is your mind, your network or your resolve, I urge you – make that grand step!

As I stepped out that morning, I would even say EVERY TIME I’ve stepped out, I knew I would benefit and have benefitted.  And I strongly believe that it is because I was willing to stay open and ready to receive.  So get out there, purposefully!  You never know what benefits await you if you choose to stay behind closed doors. And those closed doors are meant figuratively, spiritually and literally! Opportunities abound out there!! Take the first step!

 

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Just When You Need a Boost…

I find that in life, just when you need a boost, it comes from the most unexpected places.  About 2 weeks ago or so I got an email about a talk being given at a local hotel.  Continue reading

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Food Filled New Year!

Well the Chinese new year is officially here! And as planned I made all the required foods to ensure I started off with a bang. The wings were AMAZING!!  Definitely going to make that recipe again! Baked AND crispy!!

CRISPY Baked Chicken Wings

CRISPY Baked Chicken Wings

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Everyday Encounters

Just some thoughts on the subject..

Every day we have these encounters, but it is not every day that we consciously recognize them. And they represent connections made! And dare I say, connections that may again occur at some point in our lives whether or not we choose to see them now.  Steve Jobs spoke of connecting dots. It is about recognizing the connections in the journey of your life. How one thing leads you to the path of another. And the choices you make as you navigate that path determines the direction your life takes.

Now the way I see it, the thing that you most fear, and the choices you make to avoid it will only delay the inevitable in your journey. But how you navigate through life is all part of your journey.  In the end, everything is timed as it should. My philosophy… live life with no regrets.

Posts in “this happened today” will resonate with you.  More than anything, because we are all connected!!  And I enjoy the discovery of how connected we all are. Hopefully you will too!  Often, I find the funny side to the encounter or event that happens.  Sometimes, I need to be reminded!  There is an old saying regarding life situations  that says-“if you don’t laugh, you will cry”. I prefer to laugh!  Because through laughter I find the positive in the story, the experience, the purpose of the journey. And by staying positive, we can move forward.  We draw good energy to us. We blossom and we grow. On to the next path in our journey!

I was once told a story about a person rushing to a job interview. They were running late.  Panicked and frustrated they cut someone off in traffic to make it there on time. They get to the interview only to discover that the very person they cut off in traffic was their interviewer!  I can only imagine how that played out! We have all had what I call “oops” moments.  Rather than wallow in regret, I learn from it.

Trust me, I will still have those “oops” moment stories to tell in my everyday encounters!  As much I have learned many lessons in the past, I sometimes forget or ignore the message or lesson in an encounter. And sadly, somewhere down the line, the story repeats. All part of being human I guess.  I must admit that I have gotten better at recognizing the connection. For what it is worth, I may not know the purpose of the connection, but I now go with the flow. Trust in the journey.

Stay connected to the things that happen to you today.  Being more present could and will take your journey closer to where you want to be. Imagine if that random person you just barked at or cut off in traffic, turned out to be the person who would offer you the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

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Chinese New Year 2016

Thankfully, Chinese New Year 2016 is almost here!  And personally, I cannot wait! As I told you, I am all about food!  I love the cooking, eating, and yes, the discovering of it all! And you do not have to look hard in each month to find some event to celebrate with food! If not, hell… make one up!

I have always, since I can remember, had a connection to the Chinese culture! Continue reading

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