Phoenix, AZ – Abundant Sunshine and Happiness!

This past Memorial Day, a trip to Phoenix, Arizona trip was planned for a couple reasons:

  • I live in the Midwest and it always seems to rain on Memorial Day weekend here (and I wanted sunshine after a long winter and rainy spring)
  • Summer is my favorite season, but in the Midwest it can be chilly, cool, chilly or extremely humid around the end of May; it’s unpredictable in the Midwest, and I wanted warm weather

So Phoenix seemed to be an excellent solution: the dessert with dry heat and sunshine, and it was!  We chose the Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak for the extended holiday weekend; and it turned out to be perfect for us!  This resort is close to the airport so you don’t even need a car, we used a shuttle service  from the airport simply looking for a place to rest and relax; we didn’t intend to be sightseeing on this trip.

DAY 1 (Friday 5.26.17)

We arrived early, got settled into our room, then headed to River Ranch, the onsite water park, our view  perfect setting for R&R!  It was an early morning and we were tired so we had some BBQ at the Hole in the Wall then ended our day.

 

Day 2 (Saturday 5.27.17)

Started the day with a hike to Squaw Peak, gorgeous day and fun hike with Ken and Skylar from the resort, then relaxed pool side enjoying the lazy river, ending with a fun birthday, Italian dinner at Tutti Santi Ristorante by Nina, topped off with a shot of Sambuca with 3 espresso beans (which I was told represented the past, present and future) I recently searched and found the common representation of the 3 espresso beans is Health, Happiness and Prosperity.  Must try the family recipe for the Ravioli, it’s their signature dish!

 

 

Day 3 (Sunday 5.28.17)

We started with a Stretch and Relax Class at Tocasierra Spa in the morning with a wonderful instructor for the class; after the class, we asked her what suggestions she would have for “natural settings” and places to go for people who enjoy the outdoors, she suggested Slide Rock for the day, we also used the onsite workout facility, but unfortunately my son was too young (13 years old) to be allowed to use it so we went to the sports pool and enjoyed some volleyball and basketball!  We were so happy that we could rent a car for the day when we visited the concierge in the lobby; the car was onsite and ready to go for the next day; we decided to depart in the morning for Slide Rock State Park.   The concierge also told us about a fabulous airport restaurant in Mesa, AZ with incredible views, so we planned to visit there for lunch after Slide Rock.  The evening featured a dive in movie and the nights get cool, so we enjoyed sitting fireside and having smores to end the evening.

Day 4 (Monday 5.29.17 – Memorial Day)

Three days was enough time for all of us to enjoy poolside activities and we were ready to explore with our rental; the 3 hour drive to Sedona from Phoenix is beautiful once you hit the Red Rocks and heading to Slide Rock State Park was even more gorgeous  (click to view the trip); lunch at Mesa Grill was fabulous too!  We absolutely loved Sedona and spent time shopping at the retail there too.  By the time we got home, we didn’t have much more energy, so the next day we were treated to a Swedish Massage to end our visit, just before heading back home.

Day 5 (Tuesday 5.30.17 – Spa and Departure Day)Tocasierra Spa

We were so pleased with the resort and the staff and had a wonderful trip; it was a great long weekend visit and highly recommended.  We ran out of time to participate in the miniature golf, but night time would have been fun!

mini golf 2

What???!!!

The best AND the worst thing in our lives is….

Communication! 

 

Isn’t that the truth? Besides golfing, communication is something none of us fully master, yet it is such a powerful tool, if we improve our skills!  Effective communication can rocket us to success or plummet us to a crash landing in our business or personal lives.  And the key to successful communication is understanding, to the best of our abilities, the audience or other person first.  This obviously takes time, so if we don’t invest the time first, there is a very good chance that our communication won’t be on target and may not be successful.

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CRASH LANDING

Sometimes we get so wrapped up with what is happening in our own business, life, relationships, world, etc. that we focus on ourselves instead of the audience when communicating.  We speak from our perspective, not from the audience’s perspective.  It’s easy to speak from our perspective because that is what we know, but it can be so much more effective if we take the time to get to know our audience, and speak from their perspective, in a way that they can best understand us and obtain value from us, actually hear and listen to what we have to say.

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Another hindrance to communication is fear.  Fear of the unknown, the outcome, etc.  Fear is a big problem, a huge deterrent in effective communication and acting out of fear produces regrets. Facing fear brings rewards:  success, honesty, understanding and maybe even new ideas, collaboration?

Being overly scheduled, committed, worked, not enough time, etc. also hinders effective communication.  This is probably something we can all relate to, but if your audience is a priority and important to you, show it by taking the time needed to communicate, because you may loose your “priority” person, client, etc. if you don’t make time.

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Interrupting is another way to have a “crash landing” in communication.  If we interrupt, we are not listening, we are talking and we can’t do both effectively.  Besides that interrupting is disrespectful and tells the other person what we have to say is more important than what they are saying; obviously this doesn’t “win any friends” for us.

SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATION

Oddly, successful communication isn’t as much about talking, it is more about listening first and foremost!  We all know that feeling when someone is either engaged with what we are saying or they are in “la la land” thinking about something else; it’s easy to see.  If we are rushed, then we aren’t taking the time to listen, it’s better to slow down and focus on being mindfully present, not somewhere in the future on to the next event.  Time is precious, valuable and limited, so when we have it, it’s best to take advantage of it and make it count or we’ve wasted time.

'When I first started working here, I thought our boss would be a good listener. But, that hasn't been the case.'
‘When I first started working here, I thought our boss would be a good listener. But, that hasn’t been the case.’

Personally, I believe that successful communication involves honesty.  Most people can intuitively spot honesty and dishonesty even though we may not say anything.  If we are not being honest, there is a very good chance that the audience knows it, even if they don’t show it or “call us out” on it; and eventually truths become evident, so it’s just a matter of time. Again, it’s wasted time if we are not honest; both our time and their time. No one benefits and the dishonest person ruins his or her reputation in the process too.

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Successful communication involves being prepared, organized, thought through in advance.  Spontaneous communication sometimes misses some elements if we did not think it through in advance.

If we all work towards getting better at this:

  1. Get to know the audience
  2. Communicate from the audience’s perspective
  3. Face and overcome our fear
  4. Make time for communication, don’t do it when we are rushed
  5. Don’t interrupt
  6. Listen first, then respond
  7. Be honest
  8. Prepare and organize our thoughts first before communicating

Then we will be better communicators and avoid some stress in life!

 

A Taste of Cali: 5 cities!

Traveling and exploring the outdoors are definite favorites of mine (tied with music, of course); but there are so many places to go and things to see with limited time that planning can be time consuming.  It’s hard making decisions on what to see when we want to do it all.

This trip, we were lucky enough to have family living in California, who provided local insight and created this perfect “Taste of California” itinerary: visiting Sacramento, Folsom Lake, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and San Francisco.  Brief highlights and pictures of the places and restaurants we visited are included next, all highly recommended. Hope you find something you will enjoy when traveling!

SACRAMENTO

First Stop:  A visit to the  historic town of Old Sacramento shortly after our plan landed, we had lunch on the stationary historic riverboat located on the Sacramento River, the Delta King and drove around Old Sacramento to sightsee.OHBU4633

Capital Park    Capital Park is home to the California Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and landscaped with numerous varieties of trees, plants and flowers native to California. Of course after the park we had to get Gelato.

We also visited the Sacramento Choral Society to hear the music of Downton Abbey, after having dinner at the nearby Esquire Grill.

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Folsom Lake

The sun rises over the lake, but unfortunately I took some wrong turns and didn’t make it there early enough. The lake level was down in March to accommodate the future snow melt, but it was gorgeous even with low lake levels.  There are bike and walking trails leading to the State Park and lake, as well as a nearby bike rental place, perfect for morning exercise and exploring!

Lake Tahoe

Definitely a highlight of the trip!  The weather turned beautiful when we visited.

Before arriving at Lake Tahoe, we stopped at this cute place with Chalets banked along the rushing water of the South Yuba River:  Rainbow Lodge; so picturesque!

Arriving at Lake Tahoe…ready for lunch…must stop at Garwoods!

Look at this lunch view!

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Garwoods at Lake Tahoe
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Garwoods at Lake Tahoe- that view!

Squaw Valley Ski Resort…next stop

Resort at Squaw Creek– the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views!  Very quiet in March if you are looking for privacy!

Empire Mine:  (Grass Valley, CA)

Learn about the Gold Rush, see the estate and visit the mine.

Napa Valley – off to the wineries

Lunch first at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

Sterling Vineyards : the tram ride is unique from other area wineries. Sterling Vineyards is elevated and tucked into the mountainside whereas other vineyards we passed were in the flatter valley areas.

Beringer Estates: Tour the cave and the oldest continuous running winery in Napa Valley; they didn’t even close during prohibition because they provided wine to the Catholic church for communion!

The Harvest Inn – a relaxing place to stay after visiting the wineries and excellent dinner!

From Napa to San Francisco stopping for lunch in Larkspur, CA at  “Left Bank Larkspur Braserie”

San Francisco Arrival….it was a wet one!

but cleared for us to enjoy a beautiful setting and dinner at Sutro’s at the Cliff House

The next day cleared and we took the tour by water of the San Francisco Bay area,  the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the Oakland Bridge then had lunch at the Crab House at Pier 39, then visited China Beach, Golden Gate Park, and had diner at the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant to watch the Sunset.

 

This itinerary worked perfectly and we didn’t feel rushed, still had time to relax and enjoy the places we visited on the “Taste of Cali” trip!

Helping Frustration

We’ve all been there, on both sides, the giving or the receiving of a certain kind of “help” and I bet we can all relate to the frustrations that accompany it too.  Beginning as a toddler, we often hear “I do it” from them; and that doesn’t seem to change with age either, we all still want to do it.  We generally don’t look for help, because if we look for help, that damages our egos.  So then, when help is offered, we reject the help.

THE GIVING SIDE- OFFERING HELP

Avoiding frustration is easy if we recognize that we can’t change anyone but ourselves.  We often think that “our way” is the better way to do something, but is it?  We all learn from others because each person has unique qualities, strengths, talents and gifts; so “our way” isn’t necessarily the best.  We can offer resources so the person can help themselves, if they want it. The resources allow the person to help themselves and build confidence by accomplishing something on their own.  So don’t be frustrated if someone doesn’t accept help, understand that is a possibility before we offer it and accept that first, before offering help.

THE RECEIVING SIDE OF HELP

When someone offers “help” we need to be honest with ourselves and decide whether we really need “help” and if we do,  then we need to take action.  We were not born “all knowing”; we need accept that we are “life learners”.  There is always something new to learn in life, it never stops.  We learn from people of all walks of life, different cultures, ages, education, etc. there are no rules: old can learn from young and young can learn from old, the rich can learn from the poor and the poor can learn from the rich, basically anything opposite gives us a learning opportunity.  We learn from experiences and we all have different life experiences, so we all learn from each other.

If we accept help, then we need to remember that what we do with the help/the resource we receive is up to us.  Our future success or failure is our responsibility and depends on how we take action or inaction. There is no one but ourselves who is responsible for our success in life.  There are people who are tremendously successful who will be the first to say “I’m not the brightest, but I was able to get bright people to help me” and then created massive success. So in the public eye, the “not so bright person” ends up being the genius!

RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS and “HELP”

We will all save ourselves time, frustration and pain if we remember to:

  1. Accept people as we are; don’t expect change, it typically doesn’t happen.
  2. Be authentic, be true, don’t pretend to be someone we are not, don’t ever change to “fit in”; only change if it is important to ourselves and our values in life.
  3. Be honest.  Destiny

 

Yes, It’s All About Me Right Now! Seasons in Life & Understanding One Another

Someone sent me a message today that made me stop and think:  The message started with a personal reflection from the sender, then said:  “I’m not sending this to you because I think you are self-absorbed, I’m sending it to you because I think we all need a reminder of 2 things,”  the message had an uplifting video link and shared the thought of living a “fulfilled life” by:

  1. helping others selflessly and
  2. taking risks to live life full, with no regrets.

My initial thought was: “Yeah, I completely ascribe to that!”  But seriously, would any of you just dismiss the “self-absorbed” part of the message?  Not me!  I pay attention to what people say and it made me reflect.  Ugh, I didn’t like my self-reflection, when I reflected!  I looked at my social media accounts (blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and what I’ve posted.  Yes, I hope that sharing my thoughts, experiences and stories might help others, but it seriously appears self-absorbed!  And quite honestly, it has been.  The past year has been a deep reflection period for me and writing was a release of what was in my thoughts, trying to clear my head.  But who cares about that?!  Well, if it helps someone, then it’s worthwhile, but if it’s not helping anyone, no one cares about that stuff! It’s kind of like an online journal.  Seriously!

This led me to recognizing an analogy between periods in our lives and the seasons of the year; we each have our own seasons in life; just like the year.  Our “seasons” in life are based on what is happening in our individual lives (and that timing is unique to each person’s circumstances), the person we portray at that time depends on the season we are in, but isn’t the complete picture of someone:

Our “Winter Season”

…consists of self-reflection or sadness – “the hibernation time”

Our Winter Season

Our “Spring Season”

…consisting of education and growth

Our Spring Season

Our “Summer Season”

…carefree, enjoying life, sharing with others, family and friends

Our Summer Season (2)

Our “Fall Season” 

…helping others and giving back, the holidays are even an example of this season:  Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas

Our Fall Season

It seems like we need to go through each season to arrive at the next, but if we stay stuck in one season too long and don’t experience the other seasons, it negatively affects us, or others, or both.

Throughout life we can’t avoid these “seasons”; and they ultimately help us.  We may be in a certain season of life when others are in a different season and then it becomes hard to relate to one another during those times in different seasons.

Because of this, it’s important to think of others and try to understand what “season of life” they are in, to relate to them better, to have empathy, to be able to help others selflessly.  For example, if we are in a “Winter Season” or “Spring Season” we may not be ready to help others; we need that time to focus on ourselves.

I believe it is important to take time to focus on getting ourselves in a “good” state before we can truly help others to the best of our abilities.  And yes, there are exceptions, as in being a parent: we can’t just quit that job to focus on ourselves, so it’s not always going to be easy, but hopefully our family and friends will recognize that season when it happens and help us have that personal time when it’s needed in life.  And similarly, we should help our family and friends when we see them in a certain season of life.  It’s not always all about us!  Living a full life with no regrets happens when we understand our own season in life:  if we are in one season, there will be others that follow; always think forward to the positive and don’t regret where we are in life, because it’s just a phase, a season and there are more seasons to experience.

Enjoy life’s journey and be compassionate to others!

Our Summer Season

Waiting

Thought and Questions on “Waiting”?

Personally, I’m not one to wait, “patience is a virtue” doesn’t  come naturally to me; I’m all about taking action. As time progresses, I’ve acquired more “tolerance”(the best descriptive word to me) for patience, even though it’s not natural for me and a continual struggle.

EXPERIENCES

Not waiting has given me some amazing opportunities: ones I wasn’t fully ready for, but worked out. On the other hand, it’s also put me in bad situations. So what is the right choice waiting or not waiting?

In 2017, I’ve made some changes, and realized that I probably need to work on patience and waiting.  For the first time ever, I searched “waiting” in the back of the Bible I bought and read the passages:

waiting-reference

 

Waiting and patience are not natural to me, so this is a change I will try.  Sometimes the application of what we read to our own lives is confusing…to me at least, but I’m trying!  I already heavily booked my weekends through mid June, so I’m going to try to hold back now and slow down.

WAITING

I can see “both sides” of this:

A) Patience and waiting can bring good things, like the examples in the Bible

however, I’m also a strong believer in:

B) If you want something, you have to get off your butt and work for it, you can’t wait for it…

So which is it?  Or does each one apply to different subjects?  Or is this taking it out of context?  Questions!!?

Pros

  • We get what we truly want; we don’t settle for something less.
  • Waiting means trusting in God’s timing; having faith…

it’s interesting that I bought this necklace awhile ago, maybe I was missing “a message” to me?

Cons

  • Experiencing patience: time feels like it’s slowed down, and not in a good way
  • Missing an opportunity (even though this is true, if we act on this, aren’t we are acting out of fear, which often leads to regret?)
  • Not taking action to achieve; Inaction – we aren’t using our time wisely if we wait? This is probably the one reason that I don’t often wait…

This past weekend’s message at The Crossing was about:  suffering > perseverance > character > hope ….maybe this thought I woke up with, on waiting, is something I need to explore more?  I don’t have the answers!