Driver’s Seat

Happiness does not magically appear with your mythical fairy Godmother’s incantation and the waving of her magic wand.  While at times wonderful moments may seem or perhaps even be serendipitous, as a general rule, we must evoke our own happiness by creating a plan.

The first step in setting yourself on the path toward change is by getting into the driver’s seat of your own life. Identify the steps needed to get the desired result as well as any potential road blocks that may detour you en route.  You may not be able to predict that boulder rolling downhill, however, you can certainly be ready for it.  If the plan deviates from the course you must be prepared to navigate your way through with flexibility, keeping the goal in the forefront of your mind.  You may be wondering why one would even bother with a plan at all.  Formulating a plan not only gives you something to look forward to, it also empowers you.  You are taking the wheel and mapping out your own destination.

It is my belief that the most difficult part of moving forward with a plan is rejecting our fear of the unknown. As humans, we tend to gravitate toward familiarity as it offers us a safety net within our comfort zone. We carry out the same routines with the expectation that somehow this day will be different from all of the rest…it will be more fulfilling, more enjoyable and bring us greater happiness.  We then find ourselves confused as to why it wasn’t more fulfilling, wasn’t more enjoyable and did not bring us the happiness that perhaps we thought it should bring.  In order to change your routine, you must be willing to let go of your fear of the unknown.  You can write down an incredible plan for change, however, if you are paralyzed by your own fears, you will inevitably have difficulty with seeing your plan through. When generating the steps of your goal, include how you will release your fears.

It is really about you being in control of your own life and creating your own happiness.  Whether you have a small goal that you would like to achieve or are seeking major life change, remember that you are the driver and where you go is entirely up to you.






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Memoirs From My Sofa

Jack PineIt is common knowledge that even the best laid plans can take you on a journey that dramatically twists and turns much like a Jack Pine with it’s crooked branching, deviating from the original growth pattern or path.  This past year, I took such a journey…


I sat wallowing in self-pity of my miserable life. I was seamlessly able to dole out advice to others and had used my blog to reach others in need, however, my own personal life was faltering.  How did I get to this point?  How did I arrive at a place where I was struggling daily to find any shred of positivity in my life? I was angry at my circumstance and found myself questioning every decision I had ever made up to this exact moment; my light was growing dim.

I had spent the last 9 years of my life dealing with my husband’s cancer, his platelet disorder, his 10 month recovery from a botched surgery, a bicycling accident that left him with a compound fracture and currently, the possibility of Frontal Temporal Dementia.  All of this in addition to being a mother of 4 children.  Somewhere between the platelet disorder and the botched surgery, I was experiencing my own crisis…I was spiraling into a major depression. Over the years my husband had ceased being a supportive partner, he was no longer capable of sharing in any decision-making process, and most difficult…he was no longer my lover.  I felt an unshakable loneliness and resentment and I longed for normalcy. A diagnosis of Frontal Temporal Dementia would mean that my husband would suffer a slow, horrific death that would include disturbing behaviors. My husband’s doctors had recommended that I come in to their office and speak with their psychologists in order to help me process my husband’s potential diagnosis. I remember after a few visits one psychologist said to me, “Mild depression would be like having a cold, you wouldn’t feel very well but could get through your day.  Moderate depression could be compared to the flu.  You….you have pneumonia! You are suffering from a major depressive episode.”  Really? This person was actually going to accept a payment from my insurance company for that diagnosis?  I didn’t need a degree in psychology to know that I was struggling to cope with the overwhelming challenges that were facing me.  I could guide others on how to find their light, and yet, I was seemingly no longer able to find my way out of the darkness.

I searched my soul for direction and made the decision to go “home”.  I had left my small town roots 25 years ago and headed for the big city.  I had found myself longing deeply for that irreplaceable, small town feel and the comfort of family and friends.  I had to come to terms with the fact that no matter how strong that I was, I really could not manage alone any longer.  We put our home up for sale and began to pack our lives into boxes; much like I had compartmentalized all of my heartbreak.  Items were carefully wrapped up tight and the boxes sealed.  If only my painful memories could be tucked away into a box and opened if and when I wanted to revisit them.  Unfortunately, life does not work that way.

As aforementioned,  the best laid plans can deviate from the path and anything and everything that could have gone awry, did.  I found myself in complete and total confusion as to why, seemingly, every decision that I made crumbled like a dry saltine cracker.  After a few major adjustments to the original plan, I found myself alone.  Initially, I was shocked at the outcome of this major life decision, however, what I didn’t realize at that moment, this was not the final outcome; my journey was only just beginning.

Finding me.

As strange as it may seem, I have never been alone.  I have always had a full, very busy household filled with laughter, teasing, arguing, pranks, continuous chatter and an incredible amount of love. I had never had the opportunity to sit alone with my thoughts for more than a day, and I found myself forced into a relationship with the stranger in my head.  As the hours and days passed, I slowly began to peel back the damaged layers in my efforts to understand and coexist with this unfamiliar being.  What I learned about this amazing spirit is that she has an overwhelming capacity to survive even in the darkest of moments, she values kindness and compassion, she recognizes that even the most seemingly terrible situation can bring strength and wisdom, she is intelligent and has a flair for wit and humor; suddenly the voice became very familiar…

Mind blown.

This journey wasn’t about a relocation, this journey was about a soul retrieval.  I was forced into aloneness to find my spirit and to learn to recognize my own voice. I consider myself fortunate to have had this opportunity for discovery and self reflection as it has afforded me time to recharge and remember.  I feel an amazing sense of clarity that had been lost for some time.

While the Jack Pine’s branches are crooked and twisting, the roots are strong and grow deep into the soil.  Wherever the bend, there is always a way back to the beginning.



Photo courtesy of















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It Is What It Is

I had a boss that used this phrase seemingly a thousand times and I found it to be completely worn out.  I have always believed that nothing is what it is as we have the power, the ability to change our circumstance…right?! Perhaps there is an exception to this rule. I recently watched a video on four families struggling with frontotemporal dementia and when a patient said, “It is what it is”, the light bulb inside of me turned on. YES. THAT IS IT! As a caregiver, I now find these four words to be my mantra.


There is nothing that I can do to change the situation.  I am unable to cure my husband of his working diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia.  The disease really is what it is. What I can do, however, is take care of me.  When you board an aircraft you are given a demonstration on what to do should an emergency arise and there is a change in cabin pressure.  An oxygen mask falls down and the very first thing you do is secure your own mask before helping others.  As a caregiver, you need to do the same thing; secure your own oxygen mask first. You are not capable of giving 100% if you are tired, angry, frustrated, sad or lonely.  Take care of you because it truly is what it is.


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When Darkness Falls

It has been two years since I have found my way around my own personal darkness, a seemingly black hole that did not allow light to shine through.  I allowed myself to be isolated and lonely.  I say that I allowed myself because I am ultimately responsible for my own personal happiness.  Two years is a very long time for one to sink into such darkness but there I was, sad, lonely and miserable.  I had forgotten my own words, my own thoughts of light and when I came to back to my site I was surprised at my own written words of encouragement.  Where had this once strong, positive woman gone?  The cause of my pain?

At only 46 years- old my husband has been unofficially diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia.  This is a form of dementia that can occur in the younger population and is a terminal illness. The changes in my husband have been quite difficult to witness and I have found myself challenged in ways that I never imagined I would.  Finding compassion and understanding in hurtful behaviors has been the biggest fight of my life.  In the middle of crisis I had retreated into the comfort of darkness, rarely going anywhere outside of work and home.  I found myself feeling bitter and quite sorry for myself.  It is really ok. I have every right to feel robbed of the life I had.  I have every right to feel emotionally compromised but what is important is that I do not pack my bags to stay in this extreme state.

When darkness falls allow yourself time to grieve. Allow yourself time to feel your emotions and journey toward acceptance.  Try not to allow yourself to get so lost in the darkness that once you find the light, the sands of time have taken away precious years.

When darkness falls, turn on the light.


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Caregiving for the Caregiver

This past year I found myself in the constant roll of caregiver, sometimes often feeling like I had nothing left to give.  Tired and worn I reached for the little things that brought me comfort.  Sometimes the smallest things can bring you the biggest smile and I have compiled a list of what brought light to a dark, difficult year for me.

  • A hot bath complete with candles and plenty of bubbles.
  • Painting my toe nails with a fun, bright color.
  • Stopping by my favorite coffee shop for my special drink, paying for the person behind me.
  • Playing with my animals.  There is nothing more fun then tearing through the house with your doggie’s squeaky toy and having him chase you at top speed.
  • Getting a haircut.
  • Putting on a cheap, cucumber peel-off mask.
  • Trying new recipes.
  • Finding a new hobby – I became a HAM Radio operator!
  • Creating a new upbeat music playlist.
  • Phoning a friend, better yet, Skyping with them!
  • Smiling at a stranger.
  • Letting someone else cut in while commuting in heavy traffic.
  • Trying a new lipstick color.
  • Placing an affirmation where I could see it every day.
  • Reading a good book.
  • Putting on soothing hand lotion.
  • Dabbing on my favorite perfume.
  • Making a childhood favorite meal.
  • Singing while driving.
  • Stepping outside to look at the stars.
  • Going for a drive.
  • Doing something nice for someone without expecting anything in return – biggest smile ever!
  • Baking cookies and then sharing them.
  • Sitting by a warm fireplace.
  • Slipping into my favorite sweatshirt.
  • Watching my favorite movies while munching on popcorn.
  • Going to bed early and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Sitting by water…my favorite is the ocean but even a stream will do.

Whatever it is in your life that is positive and brings you a moment or two of joy, by all means do it!  It is only possible to be a good caregiver when you are fully charged and energized.  Be good to YOU!



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  • You will never amount to anything.
  • You are ugly.
  • You can’t sing.
  • You will never win.
  • You aren’t good enough.
  • You aren’t tall enough.
  • You aren’t smart enough.
  • You aren’t fast enough.
  • You aren’t cool enough.
  • You aren’t thin enough.
  • You don’t matter.
  • You don’t think.
  • You are taking up air.
  • You will never walk.
  • You will never be as good as your brother/sister.
  • You are weak.
  • You won’t make it.
  • You don’t try hard enough.
  • You don’t care.
  • You aren’t worthy.
  • You can’t.
  • ………

The list of lies is really endless.  Replace the lies with the truth.



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Healing the Hurt

Painful life experiences can leave scars upon your soul.  Where do you begin to heal the hurt?  It begins with getting up each morning and making a conscious effort to find the positive.  It starts with changing your focus from the hurt and pain to the better days ahead.  That sounds easy doesn’t it.  Simply put, it’s not.

How do you forget death, abuse, betrayal, or whatever burden you are carrying?  I won’t tell you that you that you ever actually forget those things but I can tell you that you can move forward, you can live a happier life.

  • Acknowledge and validate your experience.  Often times we have to overcome enormous obstacles and feel even more pain when we are not validated.
  • Forgive.  This does not mean that you accept the bad behavior of others but rather you recognize the weaknesses in humans.
  • Begin each day on a positive note by either reading  a positive affirmation or by doing something positive for yourself.
  • Donate your time to those less fortunate.  Giving to others in itself can be almost medicinal.
  • Be good to yourself.  Make time daily to do something that you enjoy.
  • Make a list of wonderful moments in your life and read them often.  Make a list of what moments you would like to see happen in your life and focus on them.
  • Recognize that not every situation that appears negative is negative.  I recently fretted over a very hostile job environment and left it without anything to replace it.  Had I not had that experience, I never would have landed the incredible position that I am in now.  Additionally , my first relationship ended quite painfully and I thought I would never recover from that wound.  The ending of that relationship was the beginning of the miracle that I named Anthony, my son with my second husband.  Yes, it is difficult to see what the possible positive outcomes could be when we are in the middle of what seems to be a nightmare but if we allow the dust to settle in our minds, often times there is enough light to get us through.
  • Finally, love your self.  You have heard it said before but it is the most important step of all.

~The Possibilitarian’s Light

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