Advice From a Flamingo

My friend Carol gifted me with a coffee coaster adorned with  flamingos of the flamboyant pink variety wading in a wetland. As I gazed at the scene I identified with the key verb – wade. That’s how I feel about 2021. It’s January 13th and I am still not prepared to dive in and embrace the year head-on. In fact, I haven’t even created my goals for the next twelve months. Could be I’m looking for a softer entry, and wading into life this year sounds perfect.

Thinking about this bird prompted me to do some research. As I did, I realized a flamingo is a good role model for setting goals. Recalling the flamingo display I saw a few years back at the San Diego Zoo, I remembered they are fed a special pallet to keep them “in the pink.” Hmm, staying healthy both emotionally and physically is always a goal for any year.

Finding Balance

You probably know this top-heavy bird can balance on one leg for hours on end. Ah, another key word, balance. I want to stay grounded and keep this year in-balance which leads me to another interesting term – pivot – which I am making my word of the year. I want to excel in the art of the pivot. Yes, this does indicate change, but it’s a balancing act. When you execute a pivotal movement, one foot is kept fully grounded. I don’t need to be a change agent this year, but pivoting will keep me flexible. So sign me up for the flamingo balancing act.

Setting the Pace

Here’s another fun fact about our feathered friends. In order to fly, flamingos need to run a few paces to gather speed. Perfect! I’m not diving in or hitting the ground running this year, I shall gather momentum to get me moving in the desired direction.

Lastly, a flamingo nest is not fancy, just a mound of mud, maybe 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) high. This speaks to the simplicity I want to keep in my life. Editing out the noise and focusing on only what is important, necessary and joyful is key here. My goal is to concentrate on activities that help me grow as a person, along with actions that bring kindness and caring to the forefront.

Be the CAO of Your Life

So, dear readers, seems like the flamingo’s advice helped me work through how to structure my life in the coming year. How about you? Anything resonate, like balance and simplicity? As my friend Joanne states it, you are the Chief Awesome Officer of your life, so plan accordingly.

I wish you all a year of living in the pink as you follow your dreams and make your dent on the universe.

A Different Kind of Gift

A number of my Facebook friends love taking tests. You know what I’m talking about, right? For example, there is the Color Personality Test, How Old Do You Really Act Test, and the What Should Your Parents Have Named You Test. (I got Emma by the way).

     Well, I have a test for you. It’s about gift-giving. Coincidentally, this is my birthday month, and I can tell you precisely what will happen. My friend Nancy will give me some wonderfully practical item (last year it was organizers for my luggage) that I will keep forever. Janie will send me something lovely, but it will probably arrive in November. She has a loving, generous nature, but tends to run behind a bit. From my husband, it will be something he knows I want even though I never expressed it. He is perceptive that way. 

     My pal Samantha loves sweets. Consequently, my gift from Samantha will probably be some luscious chocolate-fudgy something or other. She gifts me with something absolutely over-the-top, and I love her for it! 

     Birthdays are fun, and presents are great, but let’s get serious for a moment and talk about a different kind of gift. Rate yourself on the non-material gifts you offer the world. Are you generous with your compliments? Do you lavish praise on others, especially those who desire your approval. Are you taking the time to offer encouragement and a helping hand? Do you mentor and act as a role model for others? Do you give of your time and stay present in the moment when interacting with loved ones? Is gratitude high on your priority list?

     If you passed this quiz with flying colors, I applaud you, but if you came in a little lean, no worries. We are all a work in progress. I’m making kindness a priority this year. On my Vision Board, I posted a sign that says, “Kick up Your Kindness Level.” One of the ways I am doing so is by using the website, More Love Letters. 

     The founder, Hannah Brencher, a Ted Speaker and blogger, was my inspiration. Feeling lonely and depressed when she moved to New York City, this real-life hero did something about it. Hannah started writing and leaving love notes all over the city. She tucked them away in library books, coffee shops, and even bathroom stalls. You can read more about this kindness movement in her  book, “If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers.”

     Each month I go to Hannah’s website and write a love letter of sorts to someone who could use a dose of encouragement. If that act of kindness appeals to you, head over to her website now.

  This week, make it a point to shine your light on others. Caring acts bless both the giver and receiver. And thanks for reading this post and being a loving change agent!

Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear how you made the world a little brighter with your act of kindness.

How to Recover From a One-Two Punch Life Event

Sometimes life hits us hard with an adverse event throwing us off balance. In return, we react, we adjust, we recover. But what happens when two major life issues clobber an individual in one year? What is the process for getting up, fighting back, and returning to normalcy?  

   A client of mine learned to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and rebuild. For Rhonda, it started when her long-term job with a major financial institution was made redundant. Walking out the door on her last day with her pink slip and severance package in hand, she stayed positive. She did something quite wise, Rhonda decided to take a breather. She deferred our work on her job search for 30 days.

     When I caught up with my client to schedule our first session, she answered the phone in a calm, professional manner. It was what she said next that left me with no words. Rhonda explained she was sitting in a hotel room with her husband and two dogs because her home burnt to the ground in a Northern California fire. 

Picking Up the Pieces

     There you have it, folks, two major life events mere weeks apart, both traumatic, both requiring emotional and financial recovery. Where to start? After processing the initial shock of dual events, Rhonda drew on her resilient nature and began to design a plan. Although highly independent, she knew she must ask for and accept help from friends and agencies. The family made plans to move out of the hotel and into the home of a distant cousin.

     After some counseling and joining a support group, Rhonda and her spouse began finding glimmers of that elusive silver lining.

Now unencumbered by a mortgage payment and Rhonda’s job, the two began discussions about fulfilling a dream and moving to Colorado. While warming to their newfound freedom, their burden became lighter as they anticipated positive psychological changes.

Trauma Recovery

     I suspect at the outset of the tragedy; the couple experienced situational depression. Who wouldn’t? Rhonda told me they left their home mere minutes before the fire consumed it.

     People do recover from trauma, and looking back, Rhonda reports having a stronger appreciation for life. Those two events stacked one upon the other were severe, but change often provides new opportunities. 

     In tough situations, lean into resilience, but the life lesson here is don’t try to go it alone. Whenever a traumatic event impacts your life, ask for help, seek counseling, and as you work through recovery, train your brain to see the positive.

Dear Reader,

When the COVID-19 crisis is over, I suspect there will be multiple stories regarding one-two punch life events. I am publishing this today, to remind us, that on the other side of the toughest situations, it is possible to rebuild.

Stay safe.