Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's All A Humanitarian Choice

Last night I attended the memorial service of several who were killed in a small plane crash on a humanitarian mission to Guatemala.

As I stood as just one in the large crowd, holding a candle as the sun faded, like a wave consuming me I had the startling realization - AGAIN - that we make profound DAILY choices.

The group's name said it all - "Choice Humanitarian". Friends and family spoke on behalf of each of the individuals lost - each one had died sharing their light in the greatest way they knew how. Their actions - their leaving home - their giving of their time - their refusal to stay comfortable for the sake of their fellowman - it astounded me. They CHOSE to be givers. The CHOSE to be on that plane - they CHOSE to serve humanity.

It's not guilt that I'm feeling today. No, guilt seems like such a superficial motivator today. It is deeper than that. It is an awakening in me that my wings WANT to stretch because of what I learned last night standing there. My heart aches to CHANGE the world to a greater degree and have a deeper impact - not for the world's sake - but for my own - BECAUSE I was remined that one person CAN change the world . . . and SHOULD. I see that dying in pursuit of bettering humanity is somehow the greatest choice we make. That means dying to one's own agenda, one's own pride, and even one's own idea of what success looks like.

Choosing to let parts of ourselves die opens up the possibility to let other parts of our soul LIVE. That is choice. What do you choose today? When your heart commits, the only real question that remains is WHERE? Pick your place in the vineyard and begin. Deeper than guilt, higher than love. Holy, powerful surrender.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Go To The Source

The AP Press reported this morning that the Dalai Lama is suffering from exhaustion. The man who many look to for encouragement, spiritual advice and leadership is, himself, suffering from fatigue during these trying times.

This may come as a shock to many around the world who have placed their trust in him. Wow. If the Dalai Lama is struggling, what hope does that offer us of less spiritual competency?

My aha? It offers us even greater hope in God. Period.

How many times do we look at others around us and place them incorrectly upon a pedastol - assuming they are beyond weakness, that they must have it all together, that they are above us spiritually somehow immune to our petty failures? Well, all humans, even the Dalai Lama, struggle. All humans fall short. All humans sin. All humans call out to the same creator in times of anguish, loss and suffering. And even those of great and noble character, like Mother Teresa, struggle with doubt, direction, and the meaning of life.

Whether you're struggling financially, in your relationships, with your health, or struggling with an addiction, you need new strength. When tough times come, and they do - even if you're the Dalai Lama - go to the source for renewal of your body, mind, and soul. THE Source. God.

Just last night I was reminded . . . in Isaiah 57:15

"I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts . . . (19) May they have peace, both near and far, for I will heal them all," says the Lord.

Tough times humble even the greatest leaders - reminding them to go to The Source of life, truth, and courage.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Watch Your Mouth!

As I'm completing the text for my new book "How Tough Moms Succeed In Tough Times", I've also been reading the book "Nice Girls Don't Get Rich". It is an interesting paradox that we women have been culturually groomed to fail.

We've been told to be "nice", "loving, "nurturing" and "sweet" . . . well, those qualities sister may not be the ones that will save you when life packs a punch.

I've been reading as well about the Great Depression and how women got tough, got focused, got smart and got resourceful to protect themselves and their families.

Tough cookies don't crumble in tough times. They pull out that Momma-Bear instinct and fight. Times are pushing us moms to toughen up today. Perhaps we just need to re-learn the vocabulary of our youth -

"Nice" translated = diplomatic, reflective, methodical
"Loving" = supportive, intuitive, encouraging
"Nurturing" = creative, resourceful, networked
"Sweet" = genuine, empathetic, appreciative

Words are powerful things. They build complete realities. If you're wishing your world looked different - start with the words you use to describe it and watch the transformation in YOU and YOUR circumstances.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So Far From "Ghandi-esque"

As much as I revere Ghandi and his wisdom, I don't want to BE Ghandi. And as much as I love the heart of Mother Teresa, I don't covet her mission. I love being a mother of five busy children. I love forging into the unknown with a business plan and a hope for the future. And, I enjoy the comforts of a home, furnishings, deoderant, and my Mr. Coffee.

What I do hunger for though in my life is that "Mother Teresa-ish" quality, and that "Ghandi-esque" maturity. I want to reach inside and touch sainthood in those moments when my sneaky mischevious spirit creeps up. I want to be able to levitate in pure bliss and peace in those moments when I get cut off on the freeway. I want to find a way to hate no-one and love more people deeply. I want to see higher life purpose and still be task oriented enough to get places on time.

My greatest heroes are the people who can summon compassion and wisdom in those moments when they are most needed, and then look like touchable, unassuming, ordinary people in the moments in between. People who give creatively and courageously; individuals who take initiative to change the world beginning in their neighborhoods, and servant-hearted accountability partners who love without enabling. That's real, that I can appreciate, and that I can trust. No hype, no fluff, and no sheet : )

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hey, Nice Pots!

I love my pots. They are bubbling with purple, pink and white petunias, lavendar and 2 different kinds of mint. After I run in the evening I sit on my steps and change out my sweaty running shoes for my white flip-flops and I sit and breathe in the air from my little terra pot garden. These plants instantly make me feel happier about living.

People make comments about my thriving pots. I guess my petunias are a hit - can I tell you my secret?

Once a day I pluck off every single petal that is starting to whilt. Petunias by nature are short lived. If you keep them on the vine while they droop and sag, it sucks up all of the perky "new flower juices" and the plant goes flat and bare. We are not petunias, but I'm telling you friend, in a very similar way, we've got to get in the habit of plucking away those habits of ours that are sucking us dry lest we go bare as well.

How many of us wait too long to quit that job, too long to go on that health regime, too long to say those important "I love you" words? For how many of us has the time on the vine tapped us of our creativity, our spontaneaity and our drive? That feeling when we've been tapped out, sucked dry, and beaten down is not our element. We want to be our best selves - and that means lean up, thin out, and double-up on the creativity. Unleash the energy locked up in unproductive areas of your life!

Trimming the whilt off my petunias helps them perform like celebrities - always shining and always bursting with new life. What areas are wilting in your life that need plucking? And where do you want new growth? Pruning is producing!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Going Through Hell

Read something the other day -

"There is always a light at the end of the tunnel but it might be hell in the hallway!"

Wow. That is so true. There is ALWAYS a light - a divine light I believe - at the end of every tough situation - but you may have to endure some hell to get there.

With my husband going through cancer treatments I've decided HELL (h-e-double hockeysticks - as my kids say) stands for "How Exactly do you Live and Love"? That truly is the question hell asks us. What do we believe about Living? What do we believe about Loving? What exactly have we decided about those two things?

So, the other day I told God - "yup dang it, it feels like I'm going through a little bit of hell right now."

And I believe I could hear God asking - "Tiffany, whether you live long or short, whether you have much or have little, whether you get what you want or only learn to love what you get . . . hell is not a place - it is a question. What's your answer?"

I'm still developing my answer. I don't like what I'm going through (and you may hate the hell you're going through too my friend) but I'm more introspective and less angry. I'm looking around at people who do it well and I'm taking notes. I'm trying to be at least diplomatic. Going through hell is teaching me more about my character than I care to admit.

So the next time you smell brimstone and life heats up about 100 degrees and the beads of sweat are rolling down your face, think of hell like a question. How Exactly will you Live and Love? Don't fear tough times. Fear your answer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Love Your Guts - Unconditionally

I have a friend Makay who is just like a sister to me. From the first time we met we have laughed and cried together. She is just like a ray of sunshine.

At the end of every cheerful email she types "LYG" . . . the acronym for "Love Your Guts".

Now, in some ways it seems a bit morbid doesn't it? Telling someone you love their inner systems? . . . and yet, I absolutley know what Makay means and I can hear her sweet voice saying it with bubbly enthusiasm. Truly contagious!

When she says "Love Your Guts" it is a vote of unconditional support, courage and approval. How many people do you know that love YOUR guts?

I am so grateful for the people in my life who love those unsightly and imperfect parts of me - my inner workings - even the broken ones. It gives me the courage to face parts of myself that scare me, intimidate me, and even inspire me to greater levels.

Thank you Makay - hey girl - LYG!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Many of my family and friends live in sunny California. As my children were growing up we would try and head out to the sandy beaches at least once a year.

I hadn't realized how much my children picked up on the monetary cost of those trips until one day my son asked me when we were going next to "Can't-A-Fornia".

He'd heard us cancel trips or speak with financial overwhelm about the trips enough that he had actually incorporated that into the name. How sad.

I want to be the type of mom who injects feelings of possibility into my goals and dreams - individually and collectively. I want my children to hear in the undercurrents of my speaking with them, that dreams are seed money, that ideas are endless, and that the manifestation of every possibility in their lives is only as far away as their fingertips. They only need to open their hands to touch it.

From now on I'm even spelling "caneloupe" mellon without the "t".

I'm taking the can't out of everything I say. There's a better message I want in my life and I want my kids to hear it loud and clear. CAN. CAN. CAN. Are there words you need to change in your world?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Living With The Top Off

About lunchtime I received a phone call from my friend Sheri. We had plans to meet for a bite to eat and discuss some business ideas.

"Can I swing by and pick you up?" she asked on the line. "I've just rented a convertible Mustang for the weekend and I thought we could go for a quick spin!" Knowing my friend Sheri I burst out laughing. Only Sheri.

She seemed to catapult out of the driver's seat and squeal with excitement to show off her weekend love - a sparkly clean beaming white convertible Mustang with grey interior. The two of us, both tipping closer to the 45 year-old mark than the 25 year-old mark hopped in, made sure the camera had batteries, and spun down the highway heading for the mountain roads. We laughed so hard I'll bet we had bugs in our teeth. It was the best business lunch I've had in quite a while!

Sunglasses on, top down, wind in our hair - it cleared my head and made me want to work harder at my life.

In times of economic stress and financial uncertainty, it's good to be reminded that hard work pays off in dividends of freedom. Freedom with finances, freedom in our relationships, and the freedom of health to enjoy a spin through the mountains with the top down.

Now this is living!