Three Lessons in Simplicity

The dream was so enlightening I wanted to linger in it for as long as possible. I stayed still without moving a muscle remaining connected to my dream state for a few more minutes. When I finally turned to get out of bed, I made a solemn promise to retain the lesson provided by my nighttime experience.

My fascinating dream started in a panic. I was on a flight to Paris with a group of tourists, all strangers, when I realized I’d forgotten to bring any form of currency. Now in real life that would be something I could resolve, but in this fantasy world it meant spending two weeks in the City of Lights sans money for food, essentials and souvenirs.  My head began pounding with a nasty stress headache. The thing I wanted at that moment, even more than money, was an Ibuprofen, also an item left behind.

Feeling utterly miserable I started to wonder if I died. Oscar Wilde once said, “When Americans die, they go to Paris.” Did this mean I was going to spend all of eternity in Paris without a lousy franc?

Suddenly I had a one of those light bulb moments. I would ask everyone on the plane for a small contribution to sustain me.

Gaining my courage I stood up, announced my plight to the group and walked down the aisle collecting funds from my kindhearted flight mates.

By the time we deplaned, my headache cured itself and I had enough to at least feed myself. I don’t remember much more about the dream except that I was immensely happy with very little in Paris. I enjoyed the simplicity of existing on inexpensive meals and exploring every free venue in the city.

My three takeaways from my dream flight to Paris go like this:

  • If you need help, ask for it. Don’t try to go it alone. Sure I had to swallow my pride and look like a blonde bird-brain who doesn’t have it all together, but such is life. It happens, deal with it.
  • Make the most of the moment. Whether it’s a trip to Paris, or your kid’s soccer game be mindful of where you are. No thinking about the pile of unfinished work at the office or laundry at home.
  • Someone once said, “everything is figure-out-able.” Stay with your problem until you have a plan A and a plan B. Get creative and find some sort of solution.

Wishing you sweet and insightful dreams!

Reasons to Smile

Little dog with owner spend a day at the park playing and having fun
After months of job searching, Diane was excited to be back in the workforce again. During the first day on her new job she emailed me two JPG files. Opening them I smiled with delight. One was a picture of a cafeteria and the second a bright blue piggy bank. Contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not one of my advice columns about finding a new job. No, it’s about…well, read on and see what you think.
Blue Piggy Bank

Never before has anyone sent me a picture of a cafeteria. This was a first. Although my client, Diane, was grateful to secure a job which meant drawing a long-awaited weekly paycheck, she wholeheartedly appreciated the small perks that made her first day a welcoming experience. The cafeteria was sparking clean and shiny, well stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. This meant no brown bagging it or running out to expensive, crowded restaurants. My client’s new employer was a large financial institution. The bright blue piggy bank was symbolic of perks such as a free checking account along with other benefits included in the total compensation package.

Later that day I thought about Diane taking a few minutes out of her lunch hour to share her excitement with me. When was the last time I hit the pause button and stopped to show appreciation for simple blessings? About that time I gazed out my office window and watched a vibrant humming bird light on a lantana bush. Yep, got the timely message, and bowed my head in thanks.
free humming bird
Then I wrote this little motivational phase in my daily journal: “Just open your eyes and you will have many reasons to smile.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the rigors of everyday life always working toward that big pot at the end of the rainbow and overlooking reasons to smile and acknowledge tiny gifts. Mahatma Ghandi is credited with saying, “There is more to life than simply increasing speed.” Perhaps it’s time we all slowed down a bit to observe the beauty in the details.

So, the next time you are presented with your own version of a bright blue piggy bank, take action. Acknowledge it with gratitude and thanks. Think about sharing it with someone. Tell me about it in the comments section of this blog. I’d love to see what you uncovered when you stopped to find joy in a small enchanting gift.

Sometimes You Just Feel Like a Hotdog

 Grilled hot dog

As we meandered in and out of casinos on the Las Vegas strip, I suddenly realized I was famished. About that time we were in Caesar’s Palace, so I suggested we head over to the Mesa Grill, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. My mouth began to water when I started thinking about some of his famous Southwestern cuisine. Unfortunately, my taste buds were in for a disappointment. We were too late for lunch, and too early for dinner. Knowing my stomach would not hold out much longer, I spotted a food court and went off in search of something healthy while my husband selected an all-American vendor who served up hot dogs, hamburgers and beer.

I snagged a table as my husband approached with a burger and ice cold beer. Taking his seat, John related a story about a man in front of him placing his order. Apparently, the server identified him as the chef of a local high-end restaurant. She was delighted to have him at her food stand, but puzzled and politely inquired why he was not eating at his establishment. The chef shrugged his shoulders and replied with a smile, “Sometimes you just feel like a hot dog.”

I love that story because it smacks of simplicity. Keeping it simple is definitely a good option. We have a tendency to over complicate our lives. For example, do you break out in a cold sweat when you cannot find your phone? We do derive benefits from our high tech toys, however, we should not be “on call” 24/7 unless we work in an industry that mandates it. It is perfectly acceptable to “unplug” and withdraw from all communication modes and enjoy some tranquility.

Simplifying life is not just about buying less and managing down time. Are you a slave to your social calendar? Do you say “yes” to every invitation? Do you feel obligated to spend time with people when you’d rather be home reading a great novel? Understand this…”no” is a good word. If jazz is not your preference and the gang is off to hear some band jamming Coltrane’s work, politely opt out. If your friend, Nina Negativity, wants to bend your ear for hours about all the drama in her life, find a way to distance yourself.

And finally, if throwing gourmet dinner parties for your friends causes stress and involves spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, simplify the menu, or suggest a pot luck. If all else fails, just serve up some hot dogs with a dollop of mustard and lots of love.

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