Paw Prints On My Heart

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Over the last 36 hours I’ve experienced pain like never before – and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Our family lost Safari at 4:02am on September 20, 2013 after 16.5 years of ecstatic joy, unlimited play and unconditional love. She was a golden retriever/basset pound puppy – a surprise gift from my husband right after we moved into our first home. She loved every human being and learned to love children even more after we had Griffin and Morgan in 2004-2005.

Dogs are so emotionally responsive – the major reason I am and always will be a dog lover. When I was sick at home laying on the couch, she was at my feet. When I left for work in the morning, she always knew I’d return and would wait patiently in the sun room in front of the big palladium window keeping a watchful eye. And when I was on the deck grilling, she would hang out waiting for a taste test. She was consistent, resilient and ever-faithful. She loved to relax in the sunshine on the screen porch at our lake house. She was always super quick to scoop up any type of food that dropped to the floor – except for lettuce. My heart aches beyond expression.

But I will also describe to you a few key experiences within the past week that are key indications she was saying good-bye and it was time for her to cross over the Rainbow Bridge. These realizations are helping me heal and I hope maybe they do the same for others.

Dog-Gone Daisies

Every year, my perennial daisy bush blooms in late spring and again in late summer. For some reason, this year, we had no white daisies in March and April. The bush itself was full, green and lush. Just no blooms. My husband and I often commented how odd that was. Then, 3 days ago, last week before Safari passed, I saw the first speckle of white in a bud about to burst open. And don’t you know by Friday morning, 4 hours after her passing, I counted 10 full daisies shining in the early morning sunrise. It was a sign. Those were a gift from Safari and a present I could share with my children. I sent each of them to school with a daisy on their binder to remind them how special Safari will always be…even when she is no longer with us.

Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad

I’m a Catholic school girl and remain to this day a very spiritual, faith-inspired person. On Thursday, September 19th I re-tweeted this: “@Scripture_Truth: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24”. I added the comment to this re-tweet that I say this every day. This verse has always resonated with me. I loved singing that hymn every Wednesday morning in school mass. It reminds me that every day is a gift. That same September 19th morning, I mentioned this verse to my kids in the car, who attend a wonderful Christian school, and how much it meant to me during my school years. At lunch, I went back to school for a gem-mining science exploration project with my daughter. While in the classroom, I randomly glanced up over our minerals, rocks and gems to see a huge wall banner decorated with rainbow butterflies. Inscribed in the middle was Psalm 118:24. I was rejoicing. I was glad. And now I will always remember that Safari spoke those words to me several times that week. Priceless.

A Safari Sleep Over

My kids are ages 8 and 9. Reading is a very big part of their studies as they no longer learn to read, they read to learn. We are required to spend at least 15 minutes a night reading and we love doing it. On Tuesday, September 17th, Morgan was reading to me on her bed and Safari softly sauntered in. She stood in the middle of the floor, intensely looked Morgan straight in the eye for about 45 seconds – enough time for Morgan to notice. Morgan said, “Mom, look at Safari. She’s listening to my story.” You see, about a year and half ago, Safari lost her hearing. But Morgan was right, Safari was there focusing, listening and hanging on every word that child had to say. Noting this, I got up to get her dog bed from beside my bed where she ALWAYS slept and bring it into Morgan’s room. Safari immediately curled up and in minutes, was snoring softly in a satisfied sleep. It was her first and ONLY sleep over with Morgan. How special.

Star Light, Star Bright

At dusk, on Friday, September 20th, 15 hours after her passing, our family gathered in the cul-de-sac at our home for a heart-felt balloon launch with love notes to Safari. We quivered and tearfully read our messages to one another while the crickets chirped in the silent late summer evening. On the count of 1-2-3, we released four helium balloons into the sunset and stared into the sky watching them rise up into the heavens –  one step closer to the dog we will always love. About 90 minutes later, I’m on the phone recounting the day to my parents with respect and reverence. I look up outside that same big palladium window where she always sat to see a huge, single bright star in the sky. At first, I actually thought it was an airplane landing since we sit right in the flight path of the local airport. But this light was not moving or blinking. It was incredibly bright and staring me straight in the face. It was a symbol. A message stolen in time speaking to me that Safari had made it to the other side with confirmation that she received the balloons with our messages.

Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

I will never be the same without Safari. But I wouldn’t give up one glorious memory, one crazy day mess or one precious moment I spent with her. Safari made permanent paw prints on my heart, with several obvious clues that even loss produces miracles.

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Kids Are Like That Sometimes

It’s been a bit hectic getting back into our routines after Christmas break. Alarm clocks. Schedules. Homework. Being on time. Choosing outfits. Figuring out dinner.

But I’ve made a conscious decision to be more intentional with my family – especially at the end of the day before rushing into evening routines. So yesterday I park the car, take a deep breath in the garage to clear my head, come inside, set my stuff down and see the kids snuggled in front of the fireplace.

Before I get the first word out, my son says, “Hi Mommy! Did you have a good day at work?” Funny, that’s the same question I was going to ask him about school. It instantly brought a smile to my face to realize that there are moments like these where I feel like my children care more than I do. Or that they are reading my mind and staying one step ahead. Or that they are teaching me a lesson for a change.

I kinda like when that happens.

intentional

Simplify. Simple As That.

It’s only after I had some quality time off to myself that I realized how cluttered and difficult life can be. With 12 more days off in my 28-day between-job hiatus, I’ve been thinking about how my routines, purchasing habits and tasks can be tweaked ever-so-slightly in an effort to simply simplify. Here are 9 recent discoveries.

simplicity on a fence

Word to the wise.

  1. Super shiny tinted lip gloss. It used to be full-blown lip liner, lipstick and a top coat of gloss. But why? A super shiny tinted lip gloss in a tube creates less mess in the purse/make-up bag and is a 3-in-1 no brainer.
  2. Dishwasher gel packs. No more messy, flip-top gel detergent. I explained them to my kids using the solid versus liquid science analogy and they got excited to help me do the dishes. WOW!
  3. No iron. No dry clean. No hand wash. No explanation necessary. Shop smart.
  4. Few or no throw pillows. There are days I just want to fall into bed without any more hassles. But I always have to clear away throw pillows first – which are only there for decoration anyway.
  5. Electric candle warmer. A good friend bought me one last year and when I think about it, I use it. NOW I’M SOLD!! No wicks, no smoke, no flame, less danger. Plus, constant scent management.
  6. Indoor griddle/grill combo. Perfect for our 2nd home out on the lake where space is tight but we always have time for great food and good friends.
  7. Organized linen closet. Roll the towels. Sheets inside pillow cases. Baskets for the little stuff. All thanks to Pinterest!
  8. Try the magic eraser first. Not sure how, but 99.8% of the time, this wizard of a product can get the job done – including ink pen on a sweatshirt.
  9. 12 uses for Vicks VapoRub. One jar can do all this? Can’t wait to try this on mosquitos and headaches.

 

10 ways I’m taking some time out for life.

I’m 5.5 days into this 28 day hiatus between jobs and I’m amazed at what I’ve noticed going on around me. When you are not worried about getting to work on time, meeting deadlines, pleasing others, working the corporate game and running to extracurricular activities, you can sit back, soak it all in and live life for a change. Sounds simple, but most of us don’t do it. I’m extremely fortunate to have a husband who supports me in taking a month off to do a bunch of nothing, as well as a new employer (effective Feb 22) who values time off as much I do right now. Guess that means I’m in for a wild and crazy work ride when I get started 🙂

Lost time is never found again ~Benjamin Franklin

So, how have I been taking some time out for life? Here are just a few things I’ve experienced in the past few days that have tickled my fancy to a whole new level – simply because there is nothing else on my agenda competing with them.

  1. Grapefruit – who has time to prepare this delicacy rushing to get yourself and (2) middle schoolers ready every morning? Glorious Vitamin C rush!
  2. Music – do you sing  the refrain, hum the melody, tap to the tune or really listen to the words? Wow, there are so many songs that have new meaning for me because of the real message that I often miss.
  3. Walking without headphones – we’ve had crisp 33* sunny mornings, but the birds – you’d think it was 73* mid-summer by the way they sing, chant and chirp about the day ahead.
  4. Leisurely lunches with my husband – THE most important person in my life is being rediscovered. At least twice a week, we plan to head out to a new eatery or whip something simple up at home.
  5. Quaint, local shops I never get to – Palmetto Olive Oil, Anne’s Antiques, Moonstruck, Mauldin Furniture. Look out, you’re on my short, but very targeted TO VISIT list.
  6. Pinterest – this website is mind-boggling. I’ve been pinning for weeks, with little time to act. Now, I’m about to get ‘er done on some of my top finds on this craze of a social network.
  7. Getting involved with my 2 kids at school – decorating the Valentine’s bulletin board, weeknight basketball games, NO car line – I actually go in, attending field trips to the orthodontist, praising with them at Chapel Programs. All priceless.
  8. Cooking from my Betty Crocker / Taste of Home cookbooks – I’m’ always throwing dinner together at the last minute,
  9. Chillaxin’ with Safari – she’s my 14-year old golden, basset pound puppy. Still fairly active but slowing down fast. Snuggling by the fireplace is our fave!
  10. Stand in complete silence for 5 minutes somewhere & be thankful – at the grocery, in the shower, looking out the front door, in the bank or the parking lot. Tune everything out and focus on things you are thankful for. Amazing.

And lastly, it’s important, but this one is not about me taking time out for life. It’s about me worrying about others not valuing life enough to wear your seat belt. Again, I’m looking at my surroundings through a different set of eyes. So, while sitting at stop lights, I’ve noticed so many people not wearing seat beats. Mind-boggling! If I could arrest people in the click-it or ticket program, I wouldn’t have to go back to work on February 22 for all the $$$ I’d be making. Stifling. Believe me, there’s no way to take time out for life if that accident takes it away from you first.

 

 

By changing nothing, nothing changes.

It was eerily surreal as I gathered up the last of my things and headed out the front door. It was a dark, dreary, rainy, early morning in Greenville, SC. I had just resigned for the first time ever.

As I headed from the door to my car in the parking lot it was a bit like time was standing still. One step forward and I was moving toward what was next. One step backward and I was where I was comfortable, had many reliable business associates and was in a place where I made lifelong friends.

The past 8 years at ScanSource, Inc. were immensely valuable to me. I learned so much about the new age of marketing, how to create raving fans out of everyday customers, developing teammates to do more for themselves, and learning how to protect a corporate culture in an ever-competitive global economy. In fact, the lessons I learned there were beyond unteachable in school. It takes real world business to be impacted like I was during those years.

Here’s something I discovered: Sometimes you can be everything the ideal professional is supposed to be and still have challenges that cannot be solved by following what’s supposed to happen. The good news is these are the moments where you really grow up. I had many of those and I am a better leader, mother, friend and person because of them.

By changing nothing, nothing changes.

Sometimes to most appropriately apply your learnings it requires change. For me it was time for change. While I can’t say that I accomplished everything I had hoped at ScanSource, sometimes it takes a reality check to know when you have done all that you can. I had reached that point. Perhaps I was setting the bar too high and expecting too much from myself and others. Or, perhaps I’m just not that good. I know I can always improve and started believing I needed some sort of justification that doing something for myself for a change was the right path to take.

So here I am. With 28 days off ahead of me to focus on what’s important: my glorious children, my ever-supportive husband, my loyal 14-year old golden retriever/basset puppy, a neglected lake house, leading from within to support local charities and taking time to watch the branches blow in the breeze and hear the clock ticking in my kitchen. Honestly, I did that this morning and it was soul-soothing.

Those who know me, know I am passionate about three things. (1) influencing people to be better, (2) strategic, results-driven technology marketing and (3) learning something new every single day.

I’m psyched to open a new chapter in a new company with new endeavors on February 22, 2012. However, I’m not about to forget yesterday. Instead, I’m excited to apply my past to reach an even better tomorrow. That is the stuff that life is made of. For our careers shouldn’t define us, they should enhance us.

I’m eternally grateful for those who challenged me and lifted me up during my time at ScanSource. I may be gone, but you all are never forgotten.

What do confidence, purpose, water, survival, music and honey have in common?

It’s not often that I head out on business travel with an intent to overhaul my perspective on life. But I was fortunate to spend an invaluable week in Nashville a few months ago learning, laughing, crying, searching and believing more than I ever have.

In order of experience, I have listed below the people and things that completely impacted my life in such different, yet compelling ways. It was a trip that absolutely rocked my world and provided me with so many new perspectives on what really matters. I am thrilled to share this information and hope you find them just as worthwhile watching, reading or living! Cheers!

Tim Sanders

Speaker, Consultant, Author. Former Chief Solutions Office at Yahoo. Author of Today We are Rich & Love is the Killer App – he provides perspectives on confidence and cultivating an attitude of gratitude. I did a PR interview with Tim to post on our blog and cross promote his new book. http://www.twar.com

Roy Spence

CEO, GSC&M Idea City. Author of It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. He was our  ScanSource keynote speaker: defining your purpose in life. This 60-minute video will inspire you to define what really matters to you. http://blogs.scansource.com/video-roy-spence-whats-your-purpose/   ||  http://www.itsnotwhatyousell.com/spence-about.htm

Doc Hendley

President, Wine to Water Non-profit Organization. Raised in Greenville, SC and now lives in Boone, NC. Our ScanSource keynote speaker: pursuing your passion and making a difference in the world. Doc launched a book on January 5, 2012 – add it to your Amazon wish list now! His 60-minute video will bring you to tears – extremely compelling mission. http://blogs.scansource.com/video-doc-hendley-wine-to-water/  ||  http://winetowater.org

Kendall Truitt

One of (2) survivors in the 1989 Explosion aboard the USS Iowa battleship that killed 47 shipmates. Kendall is a customer in Raleigh, NC. It wasn’t until I told him that I am a San Diego Navy Brat, that we started talking maritime shop. This ‘love for all things water’ connection led him to tell me his ultra-compelling story of disaster, conflict, courage & truth. His most compelling statement is that he now has no more bad days.  http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/CRASH/TWA/IOWA.html

Lucas Hoge

Singer, songwriter – host of Animal Planet cable television show Last Chance Highway. He was playing acoustic guitar in the Jack Daniel’s Saloon at the Gaylord Opryland during my stay. He made table rounds during his breaks along with Jeff Dayton and hung out with all us guests. He asked for song requests and I willingly offered up Keith Urban, which he played instantly. He is on a mission to deliver wholesome, kick-back country music with a Christian flare and unique soothing sound. http://lucashoge.com/

Jack Daniels Honey

When in Tennessee, how can you pass up a whiskey tasting? I never considered myself a brown liquor kind of girl, but the smooth, sweet sensation of JD Honey is a new found favorite! I highly recommend this chillaxin’ new cocktail which will forever bring back memories that changed my life during this compelling week in Nashville! This has to be the Navy Brat in me!! http://www.facebook.com/jackdanielshoney?sk=app_108407892579394

 

A week full of firsts

What a whirlwind week. I’ve been to Vegas and back in 2 1/2 days. A bit much actually. On my 4 hour plane ride yesterday I was reflecting on all the things that I have encountered, realized and done for the first time just this week alone.

1. Stayed at my first Hard Rock Hotel.

2. My kids had 2 field trips in one week during Wild Wild West summer camp.

3. Business trip to InfoComm2o1o. What a spectacular event!

4. Lounged in the Vegas Playboy members only nightclub at the Palms. Quite an experience.

5. My husband bought a new water toy for lake fun this summer – a 2-man tube with no seats. Wild ride!

6. I watched the Discovery Channel “Disaster in the Gulf” documentary. My opinion has changed.

7. Spent $210 CASH on taxi cabs because so many of them don’t take credit cards. What?

8. Enjoyed quality time with several co-workers who I don’t often see or have time to get to know.

9. Witnessed a rooftop open to the moon and stars  at 53 stories high. Bone-chilling!

10. Felt bones and muscles in my legs and back that I never knew I had after hours working a tradeshow booth.

The world is so full of opportunities to experience new things and become a better, more well-rounded person because of them.

What’s on your list of firsts this week?