Tag Archives: Epiphany

The Frozen Door of Opportunity Just Won’t Open!

14 Dec

Frozen Car DoorWho hasn’t heard the phrase, “When opportunity knocks, answer the door?” or “When the door of opportunity opens, be ready to walk through it?”  Not many people talk about what to do when the door is “technically” open yet frozen shut making it difficult to open. Well, I now have first-hand knowledge with this experience and can offer a couple of tips.

This past Tuesday, it not only snowed in Philadelphia, PA and the surrounding areas, but the temperature has been well below freezing throughout the course of this week.  With this being said, even with keyless entry, my frozen car doors have not been opening with ease. So what do I do; most would answer, pull a little harder on the door handle. Initially, this may seem logical, but it is not always the best choice.  I tugged a little harder, and the door did not budge, so I yanked a bit more forcibly.  If you are heavy-handed like me, I definitely do not suggest this method as I managed to break off my rear door passenger handle pulling so hard.  Needless to say, this upset me quite a bit.  Why wasn’t I more patient?  Why didn’t I ask someone for advice on what to do to open a frozen car door or look for a Youtube video on it?  Though this is an experience I wish I didn’t have, I have been thinking about what I can learn from it.

  1. Even when a door “should” be open, you need to be mindful of your own strength.  If you break off the door handle, you will make it even more difficult to open that door of opportunity or may need to find another method to get to that opportunity.
  2. Sometimes, when we are extremely passionate about something or allow it to consume us, (I would not rest until I got the door open instead of giving a few tugs then walking away) it may bring about unexpected problems and detours on the road to opportunity.
  3. Don’t allow being ashamed if you break off the handle trying to open the door to deter you from opening other doors. Since I was younger, I’ve always been known as heavy-handed and as a bit of a klutz.  I was so embarrassed when I broke off the handle and still am, but I am grateful it was not the driver side door nor the front passenger side door. Also,m I can still get to my destinations.

I am glad that I was able to take this experience and apply a life-lesson and hope that it may help others who are trying to open up those frozen doors.

All the best,

Tanya

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Baby “Say” My Name….Please

30 Nov

Quinn Victoria FranklinWatching my baby reach her milestones is thrilling, especially the imminent  uttering of her first words. To prep Quinn for this moment to say “my name” first, I’ve been speaking in third person, pointing in the mirror or at pictures letting her know I am Mama. When I use the American Sign Language sign for mother and say “mama,” she often smiles as though she knows what I am saying.  So when she started babbling, I just knew Quinn was going to be an anomaly and in her high pitch voice bellow out that sweet sound I’ve been longing to hear, “Mama.”

Sadly, all of my hard work hasn’t paid off yet, and Quinn has decided to follow the masses of babies who follow tradition driving mommies around the world nuts  with the easier phonetic sound “da da da da da da.” Every day all day it’s “da da da da da da da da.” I grimace trying to put on a real smile and encourage her since I know  at this stage it is indiscriminate, and she is just trying out sounds. Of course, I am grateful that Quinn has such a wonderful, loving and present father who is her sole caretaker when I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it’s hard sometimes to not cajole her into saying “ma ma ma ma ma ma” instead of “da da da da da da.”

Yesterday, she started saying “na na na na na,” which her Nana will be proud to hear, so “mama” should be on the way soon.  As much as I want her to say my name, I have a feeling that there may come a time when I may be driven nuts because Quinn won’t stop saying, “mama, mama, mama.” Regardless, I can’t wait!

All the best,

Tanya

Life: What My Baby Senses…

23 Nov

Tanya Franklin & Baby QuinnMy baby girl gazes at me, touches my face, strokes my hair or grabs anything else within reach.  She savors her sweet potatoes, apples or bananas grasping the spoon to get more. Listening intently, she responds to her name and other stimuli. The smell of her poopy diapers and gas (which can smell like a grown man) does not faze her at all. Though I’m in awe at how quickly she’s growing in her first half year, I’m amazed at how she is able to operate at a level where she can take everything in slowly and become immersed in what she is doing. Observing Quinn makes me wonder why do so many adults fly through life without sensing it?

Sight: We’ve been here for a couple of decades or longer but struggle to gaze into the eyes of the person or people we claim to love with the same warmth a baby who has only been here for a few months can offer.

Touch: I love that my baby is so fascinated with my face and wants to explore it with those drooly little fingers.  For some people, it has been years since they have experienced subtle touches  that convey affection (minus the drool of course).

Taste: We are in a rush eating our meals on the run, wolfing down our food without really tasting and enjoying it like a baby might (minus the messiness of course).  When I feed Quinn, I make sure she has swallowed her food before I give her another spoonful, but on occasion I’m guilty of not completely chewing and swallowing my food before putting another piece in my mouth. I find that I have more enjoyment in eating when I take my time.

Hear: Sometimes there is an overwhelming amount of mind chatter or distractions around us, and we’re unable to listen to our inner voices.  Most babies, especially mine, has no problem listening to her inner voice that says, “I’m happy,” I’m hungry,” “I’m sleepy,” or “I’m just in need of some attention.” Nevertheless, there are times when I don’t listen to that voice telling me,”You’re taking on too much,” “You’re hungry” or “You need some ‘me’ time.”

Smell: Though there are benefits to smelling, I wish I was able to not get caught up in the “smell” as Quinn is capable of doing. It’s difficult to resist the aroma of certain unhealthy foods luring me, and some odors have been pungent enough to stop me in my tracks, distracting and preventing me from doing the task at hand.

Quinn has taught me  several lessons I plan on applying to my life, and I sense that there are many more learning opportunities to come courtesy of my baby girl!

All the best,

Tanya

Case #1: Judge versus the Jury

16 Nov

judge-orders-“Only God can judge me! People are always hating! No one asked for your opinion! It’s my life!” are phrases most people have uttered or at least heard uttered at some point in their lives. Lately, I’ve been scrutinizing my own actions and think a trial is in order.

Though I try my best to be positive, supportive and motivational, there have been times when I’ve been accused of judging and wonder if those accusations were valid and if I should be concerned with being perceived as a judge. Needless to say, I am apprehensive about being a judge, but how can I live life without judging? Just about everything involves it; from grading papers to taking time to evaluate my own actions, I cannot escape it.  Judging is one of the ways that we are able to improve ourselves and quality of life and to make sure we are on the right track.

I often wonder why it is acceptable and even welcomed when people are judged in a positive way such as a compliment about an outfit, hair, performance at work, parenting skills, etc..  Who ever stops people and questions why they are judging them when it is something positive? Of course,  when people point out any flaws or shortcomings, most would dismiss them as unwelcome judgments and suggest that these people mind their own business.

When it comes to the justification of judging, I think it is always important to consider the intention of the person who is playing the role of the judge and the significance this person has on your life.  Is the person trying to lift you up or tear you apart? Regardless if the judgment is negative or positive, is it being presented in a kind and caring way or cruel and insensitive?

It is important to consider if you are deflecting the real issue by focusing on this “so-called judge.” Why is it that whenever we are called out on something negative or counterproductive, like being procrastinators, habitually late or even harshly judging others with hurtful intentions, we are upset when somebody has the audacity to judge us? Why can’t it be that they love us and hold us accountable for our actions or to a higher standard than we may hold ourselves?  If everyone only provided positive judgments, would simply relying on how we judge ourselves be adequate? Sometimes, how we judge ourselves and see ourselves is way off base, and we need those “judges,” who God may place in our lives, to hold up those mirrors and reflect back what we refuse to see is really there.

As I take some time to deliberate further, please feel free to share your views on this touchy topic.

All the best,

Tanya

Divided by the Mathematics

9 Nov

math_20funRecently, I was playing an arithmetic game on the Lumosity web site (which I highly recommend to anyone looking to exercise his or her brain).  As the rain drop equations began to fall, forcing me to answer as quickly as possible before they hit the ground, I experienced an “aha moment.”  Though I’ve always been good at math, even placing in calculus when I started college, it takes me a bit longer to process subtracting and dividing than it does adding and multiplying. I tried to recall what I learned how to do first: was it addition or subtraction? Regardless, I am an adult now, and those skills have been ingrained in me, even without a calculator for basic math, yet this small thought-provoking moment caused me to evaluate many aspects of my life.

Many of us have no problem shopping for new clothes, shoes or whatever it is we may want, but when it comes time to get rid of some items already in the closet, it can be difficult and require quite a bit of deliberating on whether or not something should be given away or thrown away because we still might wear that shirt we purchased five years ago that still has the price tag on it.  Then when we have no choice but to pare down our wardrobe we wind up mistakenly getting rid of that one outfit we loved so much because it got lost in the pile.

For those people on social media sites, we all have those friends who might have just been added after an encounter at an event, may just be a friend of a friend, or friend of a family member who we may never see in person again. Interestingly, we may not have a problem adding more of these types of friends to the list.  However, we may struggle to purge those “real life” friends who may be toxic and not have our best interests at heart. Then the new year comes, and we decide it is time to get rid of the remainder of  those “so-called” friends who add nothing to our lives. With haste, we regretfully cut ties with someone whose friendship meant so much to us and cannot get back what was swiftly taken away.

It would be so much more simple if we could all just take pleasure in adding something meaningful to the lives of others. Are some of us often divided because we’re always concerned with adding more than I take away. Am I the only one who is doing this kind of math?

All the best,

Tanya

My “Not So” Random Acts of Kindness

26 Oct

Not So Random Acts of KindnessI’ve always taken pleasure in doing something kind for a random stranger. It could be holding open a door, letting a person ahead of me in line at the checkout counter, or one of my favorites, giving a coupon to a person so that he or she can save a little money. What has occurred to me in the past few months is that my random acts of kindness are not so random.

It all started at Pep Boys.  I was having my car serviced, so I printed out a twenty percent off coupon for me and an extra one to help some random person save what could be more than a few bucks depending on the repair. Usually, there is just one other person waiting, and I’m able to simply offer the coupon, but this time there were three people.  My random act of kindness turned into an intense deliberation over who could benefit the most from the coupon. Should I give it to the senior citizen, the woman with three children or the young guy who could possibly benefit from the coupon too?  How would the other two people feel watching me offer this coupon to the third “random” person?

I then realized that I do this with restaurant coupons as well and have even got my husband in on the act.  If we have an extra coupon for twenty percent off of the meal, we will both look for a large family to give it to rather than an individual.  Or we will seek out older people who may be on fixed incomes.

Every once in a while, especially in supermarkets, I will simply leave a coupon next to the item for some random stranger to benefit from it. But I must admit that I get far more pleasure being kind to strangers directly and seeing the smiles on their faces.  Being kind lets them know that kind people do still exist,especially when many people believe kind people are anomalies. Whereas, stumbling upon a coupon on a shelf is mere chance and may not be perceived as a kind act.  Too often do I give fate a hand and pinpoint what random person should benefit from my kindness.  I want nothing in return from the person (just maybe for them to pass on the kindness), but I do wonder if it is wrong of me to not be so random.

Please share your thoughts.

All the best,

Tanya

Hi Stranger! Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

28 Sep

IMG_0036Do you speak to strangers? Yes, most of our parents warned us about speaking to them, but I truly believe if more of us spoke to strangers, the world, or just our own neighborhoods would be much more pleasant environments. I know it might sound corny and like something from “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” but I enjoy saying, “Hello,” “Hi” or “Good morning” to people with a smile on my face and in the tone of my voice.  Have you ever noticed how most children, even before they can walk or talk, are so eager to say hi and wave their hands vigorously until the person(s) they are saying hi to responds?  Though that might be kind of creepy if adults did that, the simple gesture of saying hello and being happy to see and greet a person you do not know is cool to me.

Something I have been doing for the past few of years is making a conscious effort to greet people and hopefully brighten up their day for even a millisecond with a cheerful “Good morning!” Interestingly, many people are in such a rush and don’t even look up from texting while walking to say hello, not that friendly and grumble back a response or just prefer not to even be bothered and avoid eye contact so that they do not have to even acknowledge the person attempting to greet them.  Regardless, I am going to keep on saying hello because as Will Rogers said, “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.”

All the best,

Tanya

The Condition: The Bell Tolls for You Dog! Will You Answer?

21 Sep

Pavlovian Conditioning DogsLast week, I talked about the power of creating positive habits, but months, if not years, before I pondered over how easily we are conditioned and wondered if certain stimuli have the power to not only control us but consume our lives. Pavlov used a bell and food to perform his conditioning research with dogs, but many of us live by the bell, the chime, the whistle, or whatever sound we have set up for our phones or gadgets.

As cell phones started to become more prevalent, I vowed not to live by the bell. Even today I still have a pre-paid phone, yes a prepaid! This way I only use my phone for emergencies since I pay by the day. I am not consumed with constantly checking my phone to see if someone called or sent me a text message; as a result,  I have more time on my hands.   For most, the idea of having a pre-paid cell phone or just using it for emergencies is absurd, and I understand that line of thinking.  But I ask you to consider how many minutes or even hours in a day do you devote to responding to that bell which may chime several times a day?

Though I thought I escaped living by the bell, I must admit that I have not.  My iPad has been my vice.  I use a wonderful app called Baby Connect which allows me to set up alarms and timers for when it is time to feed my baby, when her diaper was last changed and even when she last slept.  I have found that I rely heavily on this tool and sometimes allow the bell to dictate when the baby can have her next feeding. Sometimes it is necessary to just use common sense if the baby is crying and showing signs that she is hungry rather than waiting for the bell to chime.  What’s interesting is that I believe the baby is starting to associate the bell chiming on my iPad with feeding time.

Amazingly, many of us, including me, are guilty of stopping in our tracks when the bell chimes to see a Facebook status update or comment, a reminder to complete a task or go to an appointment, a text message or a email message.  Even if there is an intense conversation, a heart to heart moment or just something requiring all of our attention, some of us are controlled by the bell and must stop to see what it is about this time.

I’ve been purposefully reconditioning myself to not necessarily ignore the bell but to not feel the need to immediately jump up and respond to it as soon as it chimes.  Is the ding controlling your life? Will you be able to resist the urge to drop everything and respond the next time the bell tolls for you?

All the best,

Tanya

We’re All Made to Matter: Tribute to My Dear Friend Sandy

23 Aug

Four_Fundamental_States_of_MatterEverything around us, regardless of how large or small it may be, truly matters.  To demonstrate this, if you take the preposition in the title of this post “to” and change it to “of,” it completely changes the meaning of the sentence. Even the definition of matter depends upon the context of the sentence.

Matter can be a solid, liquid, gas or plasma; this of course includes humans. However, I am intrigued with the idea of matter mattering. Let me explain. I have seen how my actions, be they simple or complex, can impact someone’s life in a positive or maybe even a negative way (of course this is never my intention) and how people can do the same for me.  This is especially true when it comes to family, friends and coworkers.

Sandy and Me

Sandy and Me at her Son’s First Birthday Party

Someone who mattered to me was my dear friend and office mate Sandy.  Sadly, she lost her two year battle with colon cancer late yesterday evening, and when I think about how she lived her life and how she impacted the lives of others, I find it hard to believe that we, as well as our actions, do not all matter.  She was such a caring person who willingly showed me the ropes when I was first hired as a full-time tenure track professor and welcomed me to the office, literally, with open arms (she gave me a big hug) saying, “It’s so wonderful to meet you Tanya.”  That interaction alone mattered as I was feeling anxious and intimidated as a tenure track faculty member and trying to find my way. Inviting me into her home to meet her family and to even film the first birthday parties of her two little boys also mattered.  Coming into the office to a surprise box of marshmallow peeps (one of my guilty pleasures) courtesy of Sandy made me feel like I matter. There are many more instances, but I will keep it at these three.

She, being the selfless, humble and giving person that she was, never thought twice about helping me or anyone else out. How brave she was as she fought the great fight, never complained and always looked on the bright side!  I often told her how inspirational she was and how I admired her positive outlook on life.  It breaks my heart that I will be starting this semester without my friend and office mate and that her husband will be left without his wife and her two little boys will be left without their mommy, but I am grateful that I was able to tell her how much she mattered to me while she was still here. Please be sure to tell those you care about how much they matter to you. Though I am certain that you, along with your actions, matter to someone too, if no one has told you how much you matter, then allow me to say, “You do matter!”

All the best,

Tanya

Baby I Got This: Watch Me Handle My Goals!

17 Aug

Quinn V. Franklin

“Sometimes you’ve got to think outside of the box,” people say.  This especially applies to achieving difficult, new or what seems to be unattainable goals that require a steadfast approach, but many of us do not actually apply this concept.  Is this because the ability to “think outside of the box” is innate; either you are adept in this area or not?

Watching my baby girl Quinn tackle one of her first goals of getting her pacifier back in her mouth is what got me pondering about this.  Though she is three and a half months now (15 weeks and one day to be exact), rather than just put the pacifier in her mouth when she cries and screams for it, I will guide her hand to put it in her mouth or put her hand on the pacifier while it is in her mouth to hold it there, which is something I observed her doing for the first time when she was just a little over a month old.  I will say, “You hold” or “Use your hand” to help her make the association with words. The idea is to give her a chance to figure it out on her own and to see what she is capable of doing.

Quinn V. Franklin

Quinn holding in her pacifier all by herself

However, in the past few weeks, I noticed that Quinn was not simply using her hand to retrieve the pacifier, but she was using her bib or receiving blanket to assist her with pushing it back in her mouth, which is something she has been doing more and more frequently on our morning stroller walks.  How creative is that!?  If I automatically just put the pacifier back in her mouth, I would not have witnessed Quinn’s innate ability to “think outside of the box.”    No one taught her this technique she uses to retrieve the pacifier, and she certainly did not see another baby do it.  She just reached a point where she either did not want to wait patiently for someone else to put it back in, was acting out of frustration or just said, you know what, let me see if I can do this on my own.

When it comes to achieving goals, regardless of how small or large, I typically follow what I was taught to do.  Even though this is not necessarily a bad thing, I wonder how much more successful I would be at achieving my goals if I went more with instincts and what comes natural?  There truly are some benefits to being new to the world and seeing everything with fresh eyes.  Come to think of it, babies do not have to think outside of the box because they do not even know that this “box” exists!  Thanks so much baby Quinn for helping me consider new, innovative ways to achieve my goals!  I just had to share this epiphany with others and hope this idea has you (potential readers of this entry) thinking outside of the box too!

Best,

Tanya