It’s a Wonderful World

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Over the Rainbow It's a Wonderful WorldIt’s been 8 years today, September 18th, since my late husband Gregg and I married. At the GOMF French Meadows Summer Camp in 2003, Gregg and I sang the first song we ever sang together–Over the Rainbow/What’s a Wonderful World. It became our song, with Gregg singing the lead and me harmonizing, and we sang it at our wedding two years later. Here’s the video of that special moment for me at Camp two months ago when I could finally sing the song by myself without crying. The clouds are indeed far behind me. Jason King of Portland Oregon is playing the ukelele. We’re at the campfire. Happy Anniversary, Gregg. I am so glad our paths crossed.

© 2013 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

The Power to Choose Significance

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Mary Lore and Gregg Simmons 9-18-2005On September 18, 2002, I was in Taos, New Mexico for a week-end retreat. At the time, I was in the process of dramatically changing my line of work, transitioning from the world of finance and crisis management to the world of Managing Thought®. I had never been to a retreat before and the only reason I went was to meet Taoist Master Ni Hua-Ching. He had fully dedicated himself to help people raise their consciousness and bring about a better world and I wanted to learn first-hand how he had constructed this life for himself.

As it turns out, Master Ni didn’t show. He returned to China and put the retreat in the hands of his two sons. My first thoughts and emotions were of disappointment. I wanted to speak with Master Ni. Only Master Ni could make this retreat worthwhile for me!

I quickly recovered and with full faith that something valuable and meaningful could be gained, I wondered what it could be. I went to breakfast, sat down and looked across the table into the eyes of an amazing man who I married three years later, on September 18, 2005 – Gregg Simmons.

During our time together, I gained so much.

  • He helped me expand my capacity to love deeply, laugh heartily and live life fully.
  • He saw the love and light in me, held up the mirror so I could see it too, and he encouraged me to share this light with others.
  • He introduced me to his friends who are now my friends.
  • When he died suddenly just three months after our wedding, friends and family said it was a shame that our time together was so short. Because we were so in the moment in each of our moments, it felt like we were together forever. He helped me experience the true power of being in the moment.

As I reflect on this, I find a valuable and meaningful lesson.

On the surface, it seems that September 18th is a day of great significance for me.

To me, the real significance is in the moment, in the choices I made when I learned that I wouldn’t be meeting Master Ni. In that moment, I could have chosen to remain disappointed or get angry, leave the retreat or skip breakfast. I could have been so caught up in my emotions that I didn’t notice Gregg, or listen to him, or caused him to be disinterested in me.

Because I chose to wonder how I could gain something valuable and meaningful from the retreat to help me be of service to the world, I met the man who helped me to do just that.

I have the opportunity for significance all day long every day. As “stuff” happens, I always have the opportunity to choose who I wish to become and what I wish to create in this world.

I have the power to choose significance.

How can you choose significance today?

For more on this, read or listen to the Forward Thinking™ Reminder, Choosing Intentions.

P.S.  Gregg Simmons, it is my honor and joy to have been your best friend, lover, confidante, teacher, student and fellow adventurer.  Thank you for introducing me to carrot cake. I am enjoying a piece as I write this and I raise my plate to you!

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Perception is Not Reality

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What's Your Perception?As I sorted through everything in my parent’s home, I re-discovered my mom. Until then, I only knew MY perception of my mom. This blog is the sixth in a series of blogs sharing lessons in Managing Thought gained during the transition of my parents from their home of forty years.

I didn’t see her as the second youngest of eight children, who at age seven, became the youngest child, and the loneliest, after she saw her little brother hit and killed by a car.

I didn’t see her as a child of immigrants, who couldn’t understand why she was told to hide her heritage to avoid prejudice.

I didn’t see her as the brightest in her class eager to learn as much as she could.

I didn’t see her as the young woman who walked through rough neighborhoods determined to be the first in her family to graduate from high school.

I didn’t see her as a daughter who helped her parents study to become US citizens.

I didn’t see her as a young woman who married at the age of 19 and wanted two boys and two girls so they could be best friends through life.

I didn’t see her as a young woman who, after having her two boys, suffered two miscarriages and a tumor, was told she couldn’t have any more children, and prayed to Mary for the birth and good health of me and my sister.

I didn’t see her as a mother of four children, who put aside her dreams to become a lawyer.

I didn’t see her as a daughter and sister who moved away from her family and her support system when her husband was transferred.

I didn’t see her as a daughter who held the hands of her parents when they died and who missed them dearly.

I didn’t see her as a woman in her forties who learned to sew so she could make gowns for her daughters to wear for prom.

I didn’t see her as a woman who almost drowned as a youngster, overcame her fear of water, and learned to swim at age forty.

I didn’t see her as a woman who re-entered the workforce and went back to college at the age of fifty.

I didn’t see her as a woman who was acknowledged by her colleagues for exemplary work.

I didn’t see her as a woman who loved to dance, especially the jitterbug, and learned to golf at age sixty.

I didn’t see her as a woman who didn’t ever want to retire.

I didn’t see her as a woman who realized she was losing her memory and learned she suffered from dementia.

I didn’t see her as a woman who realized she could no longer take care of herself and who now, after 63 years of marriage, is living apart from her husband.

I now see her as a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend.

I now see her as a woman with hopes, dreams, fears, triumphs, and tragedies.

There was – is – so much more to her than my limited perception.

I remember when my husband died. His friends and family remarked how, at the service, they were surprised to learn so much about him they didn’t know. I am so thankful to gain these new perceptions of my mom — now — while she’s still alive.

And I am thankful that this Mother’s Day, and every other day I am with her, I am seizing the opportunity to love her, appreciate her, and get to know her as much as I can, while I can.

What’s your perception?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Overcoming Obstacles

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Overcoming ObstaclesPicture this:  It’s packing day. Moving day is tomorrow and I get a voicemail from the realtor to say the sale of my parents’ house has fallen through! The buyers’ bank, which had pre-approved the mortgage, has discovered that the buyer had co-signed on a loan that went south and is now backing out of the deal. This blog is fifth in the series sharing lessons in Managing Thought during the recent sudden move of my parents from their home of forty years.

My eyes opened wide.  My jaw dropped.  I gasped.

The voicemail continues as the realtor explains that they have eight people who want to see the home immediately. She is confident they’ll have another offer soon. And all I am hearing is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…because I am busy thinking thoughts that are much louder – Oh my God! What do I do? Everything is almost packed. When my dad hears the news, he could have another stroke! How could this happen? They pre-approved the loan! I can’t show the house now. It’s a mess…..

I took a breath, exhaling deeply, and thought about what I was thankful for. Immediately, I realized I was thankful that the realtor called me, and not my dad. And I was thankful that I knew how to manage my thoughts, that I could see these fight, flight, and freeze thoughts for what they are, just thoughts, not reality, and that I could choose powerful thoughts of vision, purpose, and wonder…which led me to wondering what was possible.

I asked the realtor what the quickest possible close with a new buyer could be. She told me a cash sale with no inspection. I wondered how we could find such a buyer and let it go.

Now on to the big question – to move or not to move?

I knew my dad would be worried about the money. The plan was to sell the house first and then move so they wouldn’t have the expense of two homes and so they could use the proceeds from the sale to purchase the long-term care guaranty option, which guarantees their care for the rest of their lives.

I reflected on the original vision, purpose, intention, of the plan to move right away.

In moving now, my parents qualify for independent living. If my mother’s dementia progresses or my father’s health deteriorates, they would not qualify for independent living, and then would not be eligible for the long-term care guaranty. The long-term care guaranty brings my father peace of mind and the ability to fulfill his intention of taking care of his wife and himself until their death.  The new home, with all of its services, allows my dad to focus his energy on what matters most and to have some fun. The new home allows my dad and mom to get out, interact with others, take part in activities, go on dates and have a great quality of life.

I became inspired and decided to move forward with the move, trusting in the process.  I shared all this with my father including the wondering about the cash sale buyer. My dad then said his neighbor had expressed interest in buying the house several months back. I called the neighbor.

The end result – We moved the next day. My parents got their first month free in their new home. And in that month, the neighbor bought the house for cash with no inspection! My parents purchased the long-term guaranty and all is very well in their world.

We often set goals expecting things to happen a certain way to achieve the goal. Invariably, something happens that’s different than we expect, and our brains deliver us fight, flight and freeze thoughts. Without self-awareness, these thoughts of worry, frustration, blame, fear etc. can rule our world. When we practice managing our thoughts, we know that life isn’t always in a straight line. It can be curvy. And when something happens that’s different than we expect, we can pause to add light, take that breath, choose powerful thoughts of vision and purpose, thankfulness and wonder and be amazed as remarkable things start to happen.

How can you practice self-awareness to overcome obstacles?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

The Power of Imagination

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This blog is blog number four in a series of reflections on lessons in Managing Thought during the recent sudden move of my parents — lessons we can apply every day at work and in life.

When I was helping my parents with the move, I found bags and bags and bags and bags of bags! I share this to give you an idea of what my dad was feeling when he said, “What am I gonna do with this stuff? It won’t fit in the apartment. Maybe we shouldn’t move.”  He was clearly experiencing the flight and freeze of fight, flight or freeze.

As he started rummaging through it all, he became increasingly overwhelmed, “Why did we keep this? We don’t need that,” criticizing himself and my mom.

I suggested to Dad that he focus on what he wanted to keep. I imagined Dad doing what he loves to do.  He loves to cook, golf, read, listen to music and educational tapes, go on walks, exercise, tinker, purify his water, watch war movies.  He often said he’d like to get back to doing water color.

We had agreed to take this “journey of a thousand miles”, one step at a time. So I first suggested he gather everything he wanted to keep relating to his art supplies. When that was done, he focused on his golf keepers. Then he gathered the books and tapes he wanted to keep …

As he gathered these things, he perked up. He started talking about what he planned to paint and how he could set up his bench in his room. He spoke of the golf league he wanted to join and jotted down a note to himself to call about signing up. He wondered how he could practice French and put that on a list to talk about with the activities director at his new place. He was no longer stressed and concerned by all the stuff. And he was developing an action plan to accomplish his vision. The stuff that was left was what was left! He could choose to give it to friends or family, donate, sell, recycle or put in the trash.

When we take a moment to imagine ourselves doing and being what brings us joy and inspires us, then we become inspired and we receive ideas on how to create what we imagine. When we stay focused on what we truly we want, on what really matters, in work and in life, we receive ideas on how to create and expand upon what we really want.

We don’t waste time, energy, and money, getting rid of or letting go of what we don’t want. What we don’t want or what doesn’t matter is no longer a focus and shows itself out.

Einstein said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.”

Are you focused on what you really want? Or on what you don’t want? What could you imagine?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Changing Overwhelm to Wonder

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This blog is the second in a series of reflections on the lessons in Managing Thought during the recent sudden move of my parents—lessons that apply equally to the big changes and challenges we face every day at work and in life.

When my 85-year old father learned he had three weeks to move out of his house of forty years, he was paralyzed. Recovering from two minor strokes, caring for his wife, my mom, suffering from dementia, living in a house with forty years’ and four children’s worth of stuff, it’s not surprising he was overwhelmed.

When he asked me to help, I wasn’t surprised when my brain also bombarded me with thoughts of overwhelm. I deeply exhaled, invoked the state of wonder and asked myself, What can I say or do in this moment to help my dad? Out popped Lao-Tzu’s wise words, The journey of a thousand miles begins in a single step, and together we decided to take this journey of a thousand miles one step at a time.

I then wondered, What could the first step be? Out popped the wise words of Confucius – To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life.

So I suggested he start with his bedroom.  He went through his drawers and closets and desk, and removed what was to be discarded, donated or sold. When his room was in order, he woke up in the morning and went to sleep at night with the constant reminder of the completion of that first step. He breathed out a sigh of relief, breathed in the power of his accomplishment and felt empowered to take the next step.

When something happens that is different from what we expect or believe or concluded from past experiences, our brains present us with fight, flight or freeze thoughts. Thoughts of overwhelm, paralysis, avoidance, anxiety, fear, this can’t be done, and worry, for example, are all fight, flight and freeze thoughts. When we re-invoke the state of wonder, we receive answers that move us powerfully from fight, flight or freeze in a direction that serves our purpose.

We don’t suddenly accomplish a huge undertaking, we accomplish it in steps.  And when we acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishment of each step, no matter how small, we become inspired and invoke a power within to envision and accomplish the next step. Often, it’s helpful to start with something small that’s highly visible so we are constantly reminded of and celebrating the accomplishment of our first step and subsequent progress. In doing so, we become inspired and wonder what the next steps could be.

My Dad very simply and powerfully, with a bright smile and a twinkle in his eye, said, “Okay, Mare, what’s next?”

What huge undertaking overwhelms you? What one step could you take? How can you celebrate your progress? How can you turn overwhelm into wonder?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

Asking for Help

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This last month, I’ve been helping my parents move from their home of forty years to an apartment in a retirement community.

When the Keller-Williams realtor announced we had a buyer who wanted to close and take possession in less than three weeks, my father was stunned. Although he wanted to move for several years, he was dreading it—he’s 85 years old, recovering from two minor strokes, his wife suffering from dementia, a house with forty years’ and four children’s worth of stuff and so much to plan and do. He was overwhelmed. He had no idea where to start or how to start.

I so admire his first action – he asked for help. Many of us believe that asking for help is a sign of a weakness. Many of us expect others to help. Sincerely asking for help is not a sign of weakness or a show of force. It is a gift—a wonderful gift to ourselves and others. We receive help and we give others the opportunity to be inspired and experience their true nature.

My father asked for my help. In return he received my help AND he gave me the gift, the honor, and opportunity to be of service to my parents, make a difference in their lives, express my love and be loved, and deepen our relationship.

How we feel and what we experience depends on our focus, on what we choose to think in each moment. Had my father remained focused on fear, overwhelm and beliefs about asking for help and weakness, we would have missed the opportunity to experience the joy of life and some very special moments.

As I reflect on the entire process, I find it rich with experiences and lessons in Managing Thought, such as this. I look forward to sharing these with you in my upcoming blogs.

How can you ask for help? At work? In life?

© 2011 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.