Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Our pasts shape us. They shape us by what we have done, what we have not done and how we feel about it. Regret is one such feeling.

Do you look back at your life and regret?  Do you regret things you did, such as hurting someone? Or things you did not do, such as going to the prom or learning to ski?

What we regret can define us. 

Don't spend your future looking back and regretting your past.

Think about your regrets. Is it too late to change them?  If you regret the things you did not do, then can you do them now?  Can you take those piano lessons or that trip?

If you regret the hurt you have caused, can you make up for it?  You could track down the person and apologize. Maybe you stole some money. Can you return it now?

If you can not make it up to the person you hurt, maybe you can do something else.  You say you stole money as a child from someone who could not afford to lose it? Maybe you could give time or money to a charity now. If you can not pay your debt to some one directly, there are ways to make the world a better place. Pay it forward if you can not pay it back.

Maybe all you need to do to get past the regret is to forgive yourself. Think about what you did. Really look at it. Do not make excuses. Do not try to justify it. Examine it. Accept it. Do what you can to change it or make up for it. Then forgive yourself. 

It may take you a few tries to get it right but letting go of regret can be like removing a heavy coat after a long winter.  Enjoy the spring.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Love My Local Library

My town has a pretty darn good library. It has books, DVDs, cds, blu-rays, audio books, digital downloads, newspapers, magazines and even yes, some VHS and cassette tapes.   They even have a website that lets me download some digital content like putting audio books on my mp3 player.  I can log into the website and access major databases like HeritageQuest if I decide to check out my ancestors or Mango if I want to try my hand at learning to speak another language.

When I hear a movie is coming out on DVD/Bluray, I go to the library website and reserve it. They send me an email (calling is also an option), and let me know it is in. I pop over, pick it up and have the choice of regular check out or going through the quick automated self checkout.

I have saved literally hundreds of dollars by getting movies at the library instead of renting them; by getting books instead of buying them. I am able to check out authors I have never heard of without having to spend money on them.

If I stumble upon a topic that sounds interesting, I can grab several books on the subject on the library. If I like it, great. If not, well, I didn't waste any money on it. 

My library doesn't have the money or the space to get every movie or book that comes out. Libraries have found a way around that these days too. Multiple libraries will join a network such as CW Mars or MinuteMan.  You can then request a book, DVD, audio book, etc from another library in the network. They will courier it over to your library and you pick up and return it there.  It becomes your own personal database to pick and choose what you want.

Give it a try. If you don't already have a library card, visit your local library and get one. They usually are free or only a couple of dollars. All you need is proof you reside in that town such as a license or a utility bill in your name. If you already have a library card, dust it off. Go to your favorite search engine and type in the name of your town followed by "library"and the website will pop up.  

The library will give you a card or receipt with the due date or you can always look it up (or renew it) online.  

Give them a try! This is not your grandmother's library.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making Choices

Ursula the Sea Witch in Disney's Little Mermaid rather sarcastically says to Ariel, "Life is full of difficult choices. Isn't it?"   She is not wrong.  Life is full of choices. You make hundreds of little choices every day. Some by your actions and some by your inaction. Some of those choices are relatively easy such as whether to watch your favorite show. Some are hard such as whether or not to break up with the person that being with, breaks your heart.

Doing nothing is as much a choice as doing something.

Say you have to submit an application by Friday at noon and 1 PM comes and you say, "Oops, too late." You made the choice to ignore the deadline even if you did not sit down and say, "I think I will miss the deadline."  Choosing to procrastinate is making a choice. 

Sitting around waiting for someone else to make the decision for you is no less a decision.

Making decisions can be very hard. They can be gut wrenching. Sometimes it just feels easier to wait and see what happens.  Do not mistake. You still chose. You chose to give up control and wait, perhaps because you feared the decision, perhaps to be able to say you didn't make the choice.

You did. You chose.

Putting off something unpleasant is a choice. Rushing into something without stopping to evaluate the situation is a choice. If you become paralyzed by indecision because you feel you have too many choices, then try sitting down and eliminating them a few at a time.

Even when you feel like you have no choice, you have one. But all choices have consequences and sometimes the consequence or cost of the choice is so horrible or so expensive that you tell yourself you have no choice. You do have a choice. It is just a lousy one.

Choice is one of the greatest aspects of your personal power. The choices you make define you. They shape your future. Do not abdicate your power by passively waiting for whatever happens. Look at your life. Embrace your choices and find your power. Even when it's hard.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wasting Blame

"I suffer: someone must be to blame." Friedrich Nietzsche.

Every single day something will probably go wrong. You sprain an ankle in your exercise class. You get a run in your stocking. Your purse is stolen. You forget your lunch. Life is full of problems and issues.  It is very common to try to find a person to blame for it.

Just because something happened does not mean someone has to be blamed.

If someone steals your purse, yes, you can point to a particular person and event and lay blame. That is easy and obvious.  What about tripping on a curb? Some people shake their heads at their own clumsiness and pick themselves back up. Others try to sue the city for not painting the curb fluorescent orange so they would be sure to see it even though they were texting.

When a tree blows over in a hurricane, some people go next door and demand that their neighbor pay to have the tree removed because the roots are on the neighbor's land. Is the neighbor to blame because the tree fell?  Probably not unless they blatantly left a rotted out tree standing but it's hard to collect money from the wind that was to blame. So we blame our neighbors for having let the tree grow at all and expect them to handle it for us. (By the way, if you have home owner's insurance, you probably have coverage there if the tree hits a building.)

I'm not saying people are always blameless. I am just saying not to assume that someone is to blame just because something happened. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. Unless there was a mistake that was grievous, it may not be anyone's fault that something happened. 

The same is true of yourself. Do not assume that every bad thing that happens to you is your fault. Do not drive yourself crazy blaming yourself for not being quicker or smarter or better. Sometimes it's not your fault; it's just your turn.

Save the time you would have spent looking for someone to blame and go straight to using that time to think about how to fix the situation. It's a lot more productive.