Angels and Airbags~

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I have always wondered what it would be like. I have always been cautiously curious about what a person experiences in a significant car accident. Other than a few fender benders in my life I’ve been incredibly fortunate that I’ve never gotten the chance to explore my curiosity, until last week.

We had done all the right things to be sure that we were traveling safe as we drove over the pass to see family on the 4th of July.  Most of the traffic was heading towards our hometown so as we headed out we could see that traffic in our direction was smooth sailing. The days spent with family were truly treasured days; we don’t regret having made the effort.

We headed home as a reasonable hour; making sure we would have daylight for our entire ride home. Thirty minutes into our drive we could see that there were a great deal of folks making their way home from the Central Oregon area after having enjoyed hearty celebrations there. My husband and I had just discussed the fact that we would need to really watch how others are driving as they were coming fast and way too close together.

Then it happened.   The driver of a large truck had been distracted by something he saw along the road. This distraction caused him to fail to see that the car in front of him had put on their breaks. In a knee-jerk reaction the driver over-corrected and plowed straight into our vehicle at 55 miles an hour. I saw the truck, let out a scream, there was impact, and airbags deployed which felt like having lightning strike right in front of us. Windows broke, smoke flooded our car, and we scrambled to safely get out of the car on the only side that was usable at this point.

As I stood shaking alongside the road I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I watched my husband make his way out of our vehicle and it was obvious that he had some injuries and was in a daze. Within minutes the paramedics and police came to our rescue. It all seemed very surreal. The driver of the oncoming vehicle had crashed into a ditch alongside the road behind us; his truck was totaled due to the impact as well but gratefully, he was not injured.

I stood off to the side as a flurry of helpers and well-wishers made incredibly kind efforts to support us; my husband had sustained the major portion of the impact and so it was vital he had the paramedics working with him. Now I know what it feels like to experience a significant car crash; to be in a setting where you have absolutely no control. If someone were to ask me what my thoughts were in those few seconds as I watched this oncoming vehicle slam into our truck, I would say there was just an odd sense of quiet. A sense of helplessness without the sense that this was something I could fight.

Many folks have faced various car incidents and I am so grateful that Greg and I did not sustain the kind of injuries so many others have had to endure. Bumps, bruises, and strange new pains are the extent of our woes ( and the loss of a new well-loved and well-used truck).  It could have been much worse.

Here’s the piece of the story that has left me asking the right questions. It could have been much worse; we could have perished. That begs the question “what would I have regretted?” What would I have wished I had made a priority? “ Where would I have wished I had put the bulk of my time knowing that day could have been my last?” For me, there were numerous areas of priorities that I have worked hard to keep over the last few years, people who I’ve kept at the top of my “to do” list, and activities I have maintained that I felt happy about. Most people in my life would not have to second-guess how I feel about them but I am sure I could do better at this.

As I look at this accident in hindsight I am filled with gratefulness that our lives were spared, the other driver included. I am grateful for the help we received. I am grateful that there “just happened” to be a turnout right where there was impact and we were able to get off the fast-moving highway. I am mostly grateful, however, for another chance to take a good look at my life and once again, evaluate my key Life Accounts, priorities, and the use of my time and talents.

Certainly, I’d love nothing else than to never have to experience this ever again; I am not longer curious. My hope, in sharing this blow-by-blow narrative, is that you might grab this opportunity to evaluate your life. Where might you have regrets? What ought you change today? Who needs to know how you feel about them?

We went from calmly driving while listening to 70’s music to being slammed by airbags in a period of seconds! No warning!   Life can change just that fast; let’s use the time we’ve been given to build a legacy of love and impact; no regrets!

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How about a Summertime challenge?

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Day after day I go about attending to the different errands on my “to-do” list; hustling and bustling through traffic to accomplish my goals.   It’s very easy to go in and out of banks, grocery stores, gas stations, and even the post office without paying any real attention to the individual who is serving me.

It was 2 years ago when I found myself feeling quite convicted about the fact that I could be so busy minded that I rarely acknowledged those who are so helpful in the service industry. It’s been 2 years since I began to challenge myself to slow down, to take time to get eye contact and start a conversation with whoever served me in some way.

Over the past 2 years I have had the joy of hearing coffee baristas thank me for being kind or being patient. I have gotten to know any of the sweet people at my local Albertson’s store; their stories, their challenges,  even sharing stories from their family life. I was recently told that I am known as “the nice lady” there.   I have learned how powerful a compliment, a thank you, and a smile can be in the middle of someone’s workday.

Cost to me? Time, it takes more time to engage with people. It does take me longer to do my errands but I think it’s so worth it.

I don’t share any of this to make myself sound “so nice”.  I have really had to grow in this aspect of my life. However, summertime is a time when these folks work even harder, there are more tourists and activities that can put stress on those who serve our needs each day.

So how about a summertime challenge? What if you commit to taking a few extra minutes out of your day to connect with those at the grocery store, Starbucks, gas station, and eateries? Watch and see how when you encourage them you will also feel encouraged.

There’s a lot of busy, irritable people out there! How about we shine our light anew this summer?  🙂

America, Could I have a word with you?

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Yesterday a gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball practice early Wednesday morning, shooting several attendees. The gunman’s goal was to “rid” the world of the Republican Party leaders. We should all be appalled. We should all pay attention.   What is happening to the home of the Free and the Brave?

As a 4 year old I remember sitting with my parents in the living room as they somberly watched the funeral procession of President Kennedy; that awful act of brutality shook our nation to the core regardless of political persuasion.   My parents were Conservatives and yet I never heard them utter a disparaging word about the President or others in leadership. There was a respect that was healthy in order to have lively disagreements about policies and laws being passed.

I am sad for my grandchildren. I am sad they are living in a day where our country has normalized aggressive, hateful rhetoric. I am sad they are living in a day where it is considered “humor” to hold up the severed head of our President. I am sad that they are living in a day when healthy dialogue and disagreement has been exchanged for screaming, burning flags, breaking windows, and even desiring physical harm to those with whom we differ!

As an adult, an American woman, a Christian, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a businesswoman, and a grandmother I find myself in a constant state of shock by the daily news; I almost have to take gaps of time to simply bury my head in the sand in order to navigate being distracted by behavior that makes me incredibly sad. I have been in prayer for our Country, the leaders on both sides of the aisle, and for those who love our great land. I am confident that God is mindful and able to bring about good change in the lives of anyone who reaches out to Him; but what it our responsibility, America?

We can control what we say and how we say it. We can express our differences with anyone (government, company, team, our kids teachers, coaches, and community/church members) with respect, clarity, and the ability to listen. We have no business playing into the harsh rhetoric of the day, which pours more and more gasoline on fires that are already burning. Frankly, scripture is so so so wise on the impact of our words!

James 3:5-6   “The tongue is a small part of a person’s body, but a tiny spark can seta great forest on fire. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Matthew 12:36-27  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 4:29 ” Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Whether in Facebook comments, Twitter “tweets”, texts, emails or even in face to face dialogue we must not give ourselves permission to engage in disrespectful, angry tones.  We cannot be people who celebrate a persons hardships or failures; we cannot be  people who mock and laugh those who also call America home.  If we do, we will cease to be the great nation we want to be.

I was in kindergarten when my teacher taught my class of 5 years old children that it was important to “do unto others as we wanted them to do unto us.”  That age-old wisdom still holds true today.  America, let’s stop all the harsh, hateful rhetoric rather let’s set an example for those young eyes that are watching us and will be the next generation.  Let’s change our tone together: not doing so is going to have continued widespread harm.

We are better than that; we are the United States of America.

Time for a change? Time for a plan?

How’s your Life Plan~ Time to get intentional again??

Dianna Salciccioli

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It’s been almost 15 years since I was given the daunting opportunity to build my first Life Plan.  The very idea that I could somehow establish some plans or a course of direction for my life felt like a whole new concept; almost impossible.  As a mother of two teen boys, a pastor’s wife, a sister, daughter, friend, and community member how in the world could I possibly build some order and intentionality into my life?  Frankly, I was already running as hard as I could!!!

And THAT was the problem ~ I needed to give myself permission to stop “running so hard” and start to “run smarter.”  Thus began my journey of building and living my Life Plan, a journey that completely turned my life around enough that I now spend my days helping women to find fresh success as they too live their lives with renewed intentionality.

Here…

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What is it?

 

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Anyone who knows me knows that I have a large fun-filled playroom in my home and I love watching little ones playing with all the treasures I have joyfully gathered for them. My granddaughter Scout often enters the playroom, looks from corner to corner and then replies “Is there anything new?” because almost always there are new “fun” things that I add to the room.

A week ago I found a cute pink “old fashioned phone” and placed it on the child-sized  vanity table. Within a week I had 3 different little girls come into the room and upon finding the item asked me “What is this, Mimi?” I was forced to face the stark reality that so many elements of life  have changed all around me; phones, record players, and typewriters all obsolete.  I was reminded  just how quickly time passes.

The use of our time, how we spend our days, the activities we engage in, or people we pour into is very personal and unique to whom each of us are.  Yet, we all have the same amount of hours in our days to waste or to use well.

In an article written by Grace Bluerock she lists the 9 most common regrets people express at the end of life:

I wish I had been more loving to the people who matter the most.

I wish I had been a better spouse, parent, or child.

I wish I had not spent so much time working.

I  wish I had taken more risks.

I wish I had made better choices and took time to enjoy life more.

I wish I had followed my dreams.

I wish I had taken better care of myself.

I wish I’d have done more for others.

I wish I had chosen work that was meaningful.

The day will come when our present online gadgets my find themselves in a playroom somewhere; time will have marched on.  Choose to use the time you’ve been gifted incredibly well ~ may there be no regrets! 🙂

 

 

How about an EQ (Emotional Quotient) checkup?

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EQ (Emotional Quotient) is a fairly new and important topic.   In 2009 the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” was printed and written by Travis Bradbury and Jean Graves. It is a fantastic expression of EQ; what it is and how it affects all that we do.

EQ is referred to as the ability to recognize, evaluate and regulate your own emotions, the emotions of those around you and groups of people. Which basically means having the ability to enter a room, conversation or relationship recognizing your own emotions while also being able to perceive the temperament of that situation. A higher EQ will be mindful of their words and posture so that they can bring cohesive value to the situation vs. a lower EQ that would tend to miss the social cues and their own emotions thus bringing more harm to the situation than actual good.

So, why does a high EQ even matter?    To answer that let’s look at the attributes of a low EQ and I believe that answer will be self-explanatory:

  1. Inability to control emotions.
  2. Clueless of the feelings of others.
  3. Trouble maintaining friendships.
  4. Emotionally inappropriate: content and timing.
  5. Trouble being sympathetic.
  6. Lack of appropriate volume control.
  7. Strangely unmoved by sad or emotional events.

Hmmm…..whether in family, business, or community involvements it appears that a low EQ is going to have really negative outcomes!

The attributes of a high EQ are quite the opposite!

  1. The ability to relate to a wide range of people.
  2. Understand the need for a balanced life.
  3. Know how to express gratefulness.
  4. Recognize areas where they need to grow; acknowledge it.
  5. Ability to navigate change well.
  6. Recognize the need for timing and tone in all conversations.
  7. Able to own mistakes; apologize.

So, if you took an inventory of the past year, where might you rate your EQ? Low? Mid-range? High?   It is important to have this awareness especially if you feel that you continue to hit relational and occupational road blocks and can’t seem to figure out why.

Well, there is hope! Here are a few tips to help you grow in the area of your EQ via an article by the writer and blogger Karla Jennings:

  1. Become more self-aware. Serving as the core area of emotional intelligence, being able to identify how you feel throughout the day, as well as who you are, helps you make important life choices. Put your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on paper. By doing this, you’re able to put things into perspective, which helps you become more aware of who you are, what you want and why. Knowing how to express your emotions can often help you manage them in a proper and healthy way.
  2. Work to gain empathy.   Empathy is extremely powerful and essential to raising your emotional intelligence. Increasing your ability to empathize can help you get closer to others, gain their support when you need it, and potentially defuse high-charged conflicts in your professional and personal life. Be aware and listen carefully to what they are telling you. You know you are becoming more empathetic when you’re able to decipher and recognize the feelings of others.
  3. Gain Self-regulation. Part of growing as a person involves acquiring new skills while experiencing new relationships. By learning to control and manage your emotions, especially your impulses, you are able to prepare yourself for emotional self-management. People who self-regulate think before they act, have the ability to say no, and shift their thoughts to prevent their emotions from controlling them. They are self-aware enough to know their strengths, weaknesses, and are willing to look at themselves honestly
  4. Grow in Social Skills. Another way of raising your emotional intelligence is being able to easily talk and connect with others. Being socially responsible demonstrates that you really care about others and not just about your own personal gain. Individuals who focus on the development of others rather than their own, practice emotional intelligence as well as humility.

Don’t we all want to find joy, success, and satisfaction in our personal and professional life?   Of course we do! Take a little time to think about your interactions with others and if you see a need to grow. Begin to be mindful of the 4 steps I’ve provided for you and begin to soar in a whole new way!  To your success!

Winter Blues~

 

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After 6 long months of snow, ice, hail, wind, rain, and more snow; the sun has finally shown its face (at least for today). If I were a skier I am sure that I would be mourning the end of a great ski season; so sad to see it go. However, I am rejoicing in the prospect of long warm days ahead!

I hate to admit it but I think I may be one of those people who gets “emotionally blue” the longer winter continues. I get tired of trying to drive on snow, tired of wearing mittens, large jackets, snow boots, short days, and being mindful not to go out at night because of ice on the roads. To be truly dramatic sometimes I feel trapped by the winter season!!

I am a girl who was raised in Santa Cruz, California and only experienced mild temperatures and seasons for most of my young life; but life in the Northwest has been quite different! I am learning, sometimes unwillingly, about the impact of seasons as they change.

Life is a little bit like our seasons, isn’t it?  Sometimes we find ourselves in a season that feels like a bleak, cold winter; a season filled with challenge, uncertainty, and even pain.  In these times we might imagine that seasons will never change, never get brighter, never get warmer. Yet, just as spring follows the winter, our life seasons will change as well.

A few ways I “survive” the winter months are: binging on British shows on Netflix, good coffee, exercise, doing home projects, writing, and reading, and spending time with those that I love.  These are a few tools in my arsenal that get me through until I can bask in  the season of hiking, biking, long walks along the river, camping and basically everything outdoors!

In that same way, perhaps when we are in a “winter” season in our lives we truly need to find ways to navigate it carefully and intentionally; self-care, spending time with “life-giving” friends and family, prayer and meditation, exercise, etc. Then, when you least expect it ~ the sun will come out again. Don’t let the “winter season” of your life destroy your hope for a a brighter day!

“We all know that if the seasons were the same, there would be no growth. We know that without winter there would be no spring. We know that without frosts there would be no bulbs and without the monsoon there would be no rice harvest. In the same way, we also know that without sorrow there would be no joy. Without pain there would be no healing. I think that’s precisely where the beauty comes in. It comes in through the fruit of the seasons. He has indeed made everything beautiful in its time.” Naomi Reed ~ Author

The storms will come, but I presently love this sunny day! 🙂

Where’s your Joy?~

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Lose anything lately?  Car keys? Glasses? Credit card?  It is so easy to lose “stuff” isn’t it?  However, according to Pastor Rick Warren “The easiest thing of all to lose is your joy. You can lose it with one phone call or email, a letter or conversation. You can watch a commercial or the news on TV and lose your joy. It’s the easiest thing in the world to lose.”  Have you been losing your joy and if you have, is it possible to get it back?

I say “yes”, but I think it’s important to figure out what’s stealing your joy before you can regain it. What’s diminishes joy in your life?  I will give you a few suggestions to consider:

What are you reading, watching or listening to regularly?

Are you constantly absorbed with negative news, rants on Facebook, or sad songs?  If we have a steady diet of things that create negative emotions within us we will begin to see our joy slip away.  I love the scripture verse that says “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8   Perhaps it’s time to redirect your focus to new input that encourages and inspires you.

How do you talk to yourself?

I have often said that “there are times in my life that I have spoken to myself in ways that I would never allow anyone to talk to me.”

What you tell yourself about yourself, others and everything that happens to you will determine how you feel.  We can be so harsh with ourselves. Take a little time and observe the stories you tell yourself about yourself.  Are your words life-giving or do your words regularly steal your joy? Perhaps it’s time to turn your words around realizing it’s time to apply kindness to yourself in the same way you freely show kindness to others.

Are you walking in fear?

Are you facing uncertainties and challenges that have caused you to become fearful and anxious?  Fear and anxiety are joy robbers for certain.   There are uncertainties in life, the daily news can create situations that heighten our fears, however, if we get stuck in our fears we will lose our joy only every time!  Perhaps there are some activities you can add to your calendar that will lift you from a fear-filled place to a hope-filled place:  talk your fears through with someone life-giving, exercise, pray, volunteer your time, or do something artistic. Engaging in activities that help you “get out of your head” can help lessen your level of fear and anxiety.

How’s your health?

Do you wake up refreshed? How’s your energy level? Are you proactive in taking care of yourself?  Not feeling well, not feeling energetic, or simply feeling out of shape can affect your joy.  Perhaps it’s time to make some adjustments in your lifestyle.  Do you need to laugh and play more often?  Do you need to add exercise to your daily routine? Time to prepare meals with better nutrition and take a break from fast foods for a while? Take small steps in a fresh direction and celebrate each small win! Not only will you feel better, you will feel better about yourself which can bring you renewed joy.

Joy comes from within us.   The aim is to navigate those things rob us from expressing our joy.   Joy is not happiness’. Joy is something deeper. Joy is a choice we make every day.  Joy, real joy, weathers the challenges and changes in our lives.  Guard it well.

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7 Tips to Make This A Great Week

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Well Monday is here again. While this ,of course, means the weekend is over, it also means a new week of unlimited potential lies ahead. The following are 7 ideas that will help you have a happy, productive and meaningful week:

  1. Set Goals

Ideally on Sunday I will take some time to review the week ahead.

Do I have my priorities already placed on my calendar?

Have I gotten confirmations on key meetings for the week?

Do I have my food planned ahead?

When will I exercise?

What is the most important goal for the week ahead?

  1. Get the Most Out of Every Day

This may sound like a cliché, but each and every day is a gift.. Be inspired. Live with vitality. Enjoy life every day.

What cup filling activity will I choose this week?

Where can I “give back” this week in my community?

  1. Do That Thing You Are Resisting

Almost everyone has at least one thing that they are resisting. What is that activity that causes you to sigh every time it comes to mind? Perhaps it is fixing something around the house, making an important phone call or re-starting the exercise habit. Start that thing this week and you will be sure to feel as if you have accomplished something this week.

  1. Nurture Your Relationships

I truly believe that happiness is highly dependent on the quality of our relationships with other people. So be committed to nurturing these relationships. Here are some quick ideas how:

Love on your family and friends. Treat those you love with kindness no matter how tired you may be.

Pick up the Phone: email is great, but make a point this week to call someone who you have been missing.

Meet a friend for lunch: do you have a friend that seems to have fallen off the side of the Earth? Invite them out to lunch and catch up on everything you have missed.

Remember birthdays: make a point to remember important dates, such as birthdays, anniversary’s, and even points of success. (Tip: Facebook is great for looking ahead to find out the birthdays of your friends and colleague’s.)

  1. Stretch Yourself

Stretch yourself by trying something new this week! What could be fun and challenging? What have you always been afraid to you?

  1. Be Disciplined

Starting the week by setting. If you struggle with self-discipline I suggest you keep your plans in front of you and look at them each day determined to stay on task—getting someone to keep you accountable is also very ,very helpful!

  1. Make a Difference

This week commit to making a positive difference in the world. Even the following small actions can make a big difference in the life of another person and/ or the world:

  • Buy lunch a homeless person.
  • Show kindness to everyone who serves you: grocery, car wash, gym, etc.
  • Volunteer your time for a good cause! Read for elementary school kids, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, there are so many causes that could use a little time from you.

How are you going to make this a great week?

I watched The Shack~

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When I mention the new movie “The Shack” I get mixed responses. Back when the book came out I never took the opportunity to read it; life was just so busy at the time. Nevertheless, people I loved and respected both loved it and disliked it.

When my girlfriend asked me to watch the movie with her I was intrigued by all that I had heard; allegory or a literal representation of God? It was time to find out.

When The Shack was originally written my life had been a series of wonderful blessings, challenging situations, hurtful experiences, sadness’s, great joys and blessing: a real mix.   Having now seen the movie I believe I would have been deeply moved in so many ways yet it may have lacked a deeply personal response from me at that time.

It’s been over 5 years since an angry, ruthless, greedy individual stole my precious nephew’s life; snuffed out in the prime of life. Christopher was/is dearly loved. Never forgotten.   The perpetrator has yet to go to court; Christopher’s’ body has yet to be found.

In the first few months after losing him I used running as an avenue to process and “work out” the angst in my soul. “WHY GOD?? You could have saved his life, protected him, kept him from harm!!! Where were you??”   My trust in God was challenged, believing in all I was told He was – love, protecting, caring was turned to disbelief. I ran and ran and ran; all the while shaking my fist at what I didn’t and couldn’t understand.

One day, while running, I dropped on my face in a grass field tired of the battle, tired of trying to understand, and heavy with the deepest grief I had ever experienced. When I got still I heard God whisper to my heart “My shoulders are big enough for your grief and questions. I need you to be prepared to forgive in order to feel whole again.” I sat there for over an hour pondering His words and questioning the latter…forgive???

Back to the movie; seeing it now after walking through such deep sorrow, going from anger to sadness and grief, to asking questions, rebuilding trust in the One who formed and knew Christopher, to learning to forgive ( sometimes daily); the impact of the movie struck me deeply in this single paragraph:

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.  Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes.  That will only lead you to false notions about me.  Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors. Evil exists, broken people exist, wounded people exist and make devastating choices. These are not acts that I coordinate but I will work for good what evil sought to destroy.” The Shack

As I exited the theater I could feel the tears welling, first in my throat and quickly to my eyes as I began to ponder those words and their impact on me in this season of my life.

I settled myself in my car, sitting there in the silence listening to the wind outside. Out of nowhere I began to sob from my soul, more grief finding a way out!   The words had reminded me that God didn’t cause my pain and that he was there at every moment to help and heal my soul and the soul of my entire family. Forgiveness is for me. Forgiveness sets me free from bitterness; forgiveness keeps my eyes on Christ while knowing full well that it doesn’t minimize the perpetrators guilt.

I am confident and long for the day when my entire family will celebrate a grand reunion with Christopher; what a day that will be!! Until then I will fight to forgive and grow even stronger in my faith that God is good, God is faithful, and God will never leave me nor forsake me.

Revelation 21:4  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”