My father, God rest his soul, died last year on my birthday. He was terminally ill with cancer, which spread from his lungs to the rest of his body. When I was twelve, he told me he would die from cigarettes... and that’s just what he did. Sixty years of smoking two packs a day had come down to this… It was a lot different than losing, Kristi, after all, our family kept abreast of his health, and we got the chance to say goodbye countless times. Our entire family came together and rallied around him. Old wounds seemed to have healed. Looking back, oddly enough, the year my father battled cancer created some of the sweetest memories.
What death taught me about living:
1) Life will surprise you. Growing up, my father lived about 15 minutes from me, yet years would go by with little connection, especially when I was a teenager. He was distant and I felt incomplete in some way because of it. As the years passed, I would see him from time to time and it was loving, Once he was diagnosed with cancer, our relationship drastically changed. We saw each other weekly or more, and we laughed and cut up on the regular. Although we knew he would probably die from cancer, how we handled it came out of nowhere. The ugliness of cancer somehow made our relationship to what I remember today, beautiful.
2) Passion will carry you. My father was a saxophonist for over sixty years. He was driving to paid gigs at age thirteen, and received a full ride scholarship to University of Arkansas for band. In the sixties, his group had a hit on Top 20. After decades of stepping away from his sax, he lived the last thirty years in harmony with his music. Dad’s passion for playing carried him all the way until the end. It was obvious playing gave him a joy like nothing else. Dad’s last performance was at the American Legion on Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, a few weeks before his death, surrounded by family and friends.
3) Be true to yourself. Towards the end, my dad could no longer hide the pain and had no interest in dying in a hospital. He laughed and said, “only if they have a smoking room”. Eventually, we were able get him the help he needed to fulfill his wishes to crossover at home. Hospice was wonderful and allowed him to be as comfortable as possible in his own living room, right in front of his big screen TV, just like he wanted.
4) We are all born to die. Dad said he felt his body shutting down and that there was someone tapping on his shoulder. We told him he could go when he was ready, and even still, the natural desire to live was there. Even though it was sad to know he had taken his last fishing trip and played his last set in the band, it was such a relief to know that he was no longer in pain and the fight was over.
5) Saying goodbye can be beautiful. The last time I saw my father we spent seven hours together. It was one of those times you know you are living in the moment... being given the precious gift of saying your last goodbye. We prayed, laughed, held hands and told each other how much we loved each other. He told me how proud he was of me and I told him how thankful I was for him. It’s was like a living snapshot… I reassured him I would stay close with his wife who had taken care of him so wonderfully. I also told him we wanted him to be at peace and that he could go when he was ready (even though I knew in his heart he did not want to go). We hugged and kissed each other on the cheek before we departed.
6) Love conquers all. My dad loved his wife, Jewell. He joked around a lot about when they met 'she pursued him’. They were married seventeen years and were about as close as two people could be. She catered to him so much, other women said she made them look bad! Jewell knew what glass he liked to drink his bourbon in and how he liked his ice and she knew how he like his baked potato. Jewell took Dad to all of the doctor’s appointments and dealt with his grief, daily. She was there for him because she loved him, it’s that simple. They are a testimony that love conquers all and goes on forever.
7) Laughter is a necessity. My dad always had a funny streak and I was graced with his humor. We ended up being laughing partners throughout his illness and had the most fun. We would take tear dropping photos and videos with Helium Booth that would instantly change the mood and my memories. No, we hadn’t forgotten about that life-sucking cancer, but the laughter made us treasure the moments I will always carry with me.
8) Look back and be thankful. Reflecting on the times our family shared surrounding Dad were some of the most precious moments of my life. People who had been absent or distant joined the rest of our family. Even with all the dysfunction, we still found a way to be there for Dad. We lived fully.
9) Take the pictures. It was no secret, my dad wasn’t a picture kinda guy. He usually had a smart comment when a camera was pulled out and would shut down the photo session when he'd had enough. Dad was funny like that and we laughed at him for it. When he got sick, I bought a camera and began capturing just about everything... his last birthday, his performances, his last Christmas, and lots of family photos of us celebrating him. These photos and videos are treasured and were included in his service, memorial videos and website - www.patopry.com. I'm so glad we took the pictures!
10) Life is full of magic. Today, on Dad's birthday, his long-time friend and fellow musician, Tony Tims, lost his battle with cancer. Tony had been struggling through the illness with his wife, Pat, by his side every step of the way. For Tony to crossover on my dad's birthday seems like coincidence, but feels more like magic. Tonight, I believe Dad and his friend, Tony, are together.
Lastly, I’d like to make a special shout out to my dad in Heaven. Happy Birthday to you! We had so much fun together, didn't we?! I appreciate all the priceless moments we created. Thanks for tolerating me, my pictures and all the family gatherings. You have my word, I will honor your life by doing my best to enjoy my own. I'm still close with Jewell like I told you I would be. Thank you for all of the life lessons. You will always be in my heart and in the eyes of my children. I love you, Dad!
Do you consider yourself a nice person? If so, you could be a prime target for mistreatment. Hard to believe anyone could blame or attack a kindhearted person, but for some individuals or groups, you're their bullseye. Keep in mind, any good person is vulnerable.
Recently, I learned a few lessons after overcoming an attack. It's surprising how one dysfunctional person can cause a domino effect in the lives and minds of others. People who you thought had better sense end up forfeiting their God-given intellect to support wrongful doing. This seemly unfortunate circumstance has allowed me to realize my own strength and re-evaluate what's most important... Maybe this lesson could help you, too.
Here are five tips for overcoming mistreatment:
1) Do right - It's not always easy, in fact, doing the right thing can be downright painful. Just because you live with integrity doesn't mean you will be appreciated for it. Doing right could actually make you a target... still, do right anyway. Continue living your life with truth and grace. There will always be injustice, just make sure it's not from you.
2) Respect yourself - There comes a time when you must look reality in the face. Decide that you will be treated with respect. Maya Angelou said," we teach people how to treat us". Do not allow others to harm you.
3) Protect yourself - Once you realize the aching truth, you must guard yourself at all costs. Cutting ties may be tough, but required. If someone is unwilling to respect you or your boundaries they are dangerous. Holding people accountable may be hard, but necessary. If you don't protect yourself, who will?
4) Build happiness - Use your pain to create pleasure. Discover the way you want to live and make it happen. Do your best to surround yourself with trustworthy and respectful people. We can't change the past, but we can form our future. What steps can you take today that will help you lead the life you truly desire?
5) Forgive - Be mindful, forgiveness doesn't mean acceptance. Wrong is wrong no matter how you slice it! After all, most people that harm you aren't sorry. Understand, forgiveness is about you and your peace of mind - it's certainly not welcoming the mistreatment or even the person back into your life. Love yourself and those around you enough to release the pain by forgiving and moving on.
Life is rarely easy, even if you've got it good. People who cater to the welfare of others can find themselves being treated poorly and taken advantage of. It's important not to take it personally. By doing right, respecting yourself, protecting yourself, creating happiness and letting go of the burden by forgiving, we can actually turn sadness into sanctuary.
It's true. Many Louisiana businesses are receiving free employee training through the Louisiana Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWTP) grant. As a leadership and communication coach throughout Louisiana, it's clear, more people need to know about this program!
What you need to know about the Louisiana Incumbent Worker Training Program:
1) You must qualify. If your Louisiana based company pays unemployment tax on 15 + employees and has been in business at least 3 years, your company could qualify for free employee training.
2) The grant is written for you. Qualifying companies team up with the TR Training Solutions' grant and training specialists, Terri and Traci (they're awesome), and are walked through each step of the grant submittal process. Be patient, it usually takes months for a grant to be approved.
3) Training is provided. After the training grant is written and accepted, specialized employee training will be provided to meet the specific needs of your company. Dozens of course topics are offered, and if they don't already have the class you want, they'll find a trainer to create it for you. In addition, all training is fully-mobile, so we come to you.
The IWTP grant is simple. If your company meets the few requirements, your business could be receiving free training within the year!
For example, one of our clients recently shared their sales have increased over 18% in two years base on a single program idea we came up with in a previous class. The company also reported training boosts company morale, builds teamwork, employee confidence and overall customer satisfaction. This Louisiana industry leader is working on their fifth year utilizing the Louisiana Incumbent Training Program grant!
Are you ready to jump start your company's employee training? Now you can!
Request a quick IWTP grant assessment - click here.
Here are 10 tips for increasing engagement in the workplace:
1) Create the vision – Inspire others to help accomplish goals. Be transparent in your company’s mission and values, make sure they understand not just the work, but the vision. Consider creating a company vision board of accomplishment and future goals.
2) Be open-minded – One of the most important leadership skills is the ability to consider all options for the greater good of everyone involved. When brainstorming, be sure not to “shoot down” ideas, stay objective until you find which idea is best for the situation.
3) Keep it “clear and simple” – Life can be complicated. Simplify the workplace by approaching each task in a clear, step by step, systematic way. Make sure everyone understands what's going on. It takes less time to be clear than to go back and fix problems.
4) Be the “coach” – Leaders are meant to bring out the best in their team. It’s been said that you can tell a leader by their questions, not by their answers. Asking open ended questions like “What? How? When? Why?” allows you to be supportive and allows others to exercise their problem-solving abilities.
5) Focus the positives – Acknowledge what is being done correctly, sprinkle in what “we” need to work on, and close with a “keep up the good work”.
6) Kindness is a virtue – It’s astounding what a simple hello, smile, high-five or pat on the back can do. We often don't know what others are enduring… Being kind to ourselves and others builds a foundation of respect and well-being that is priceless.
7) Training is a priority – Strengthen your company's success by making sure all employees know how to perform their duties with confidence. On-boarding, cross-training and on-going employee training can make all the different in the success of a team. Try partnering team members with company mentors who know the ins and outs of a particular task. Utilize these seasoned employees to provide in-house group training as well. Don't forget to make learning fun!
8) Connect with the staff – Celebrate the victories, holidays, birthdays and the “just because” to create a bond with your team. Know what they like and dislike, know about their families, learn about their interests. Consider creating a lighthearted questionnaire for your employees asking questions that allows you to get to know who the are. Make it a priority to value your team.
9) Planning – This is one of the most important skills of business management and leadership. Planning provides direction, promotes brainstorming for creative ideas, decreases uncertainty and offers us a guideline.
10) Be Flexible - Creating a healthy work/life balance for you and your team can ensure a happy workplace. People must feel valued to do their best. If you want to increase success, be flexible with those you work with... Maybe someone is sick in their family, maybe they have a pressing matter that must be taken care of, etc. Working longer hours does not always increase productivity - in fact, when people don’t feel appreciated, valued or respected, productivity levels go down.
It takes more than a title to be an engaging leader. By providing direction and connection, effective leadership emerges. Create the work/life balance that you and those around you deserve. Lead the way!
Life will teach you some pretty interesting lessons if you let it. Take being a business owner and having two babies back to back... I thought it would be cute to have boys twelve months apart, and IT IS! It's also a lot of work and requires dedication, organization and at least an ounce of hope. Here are some lessons having a family has taught me along the way...
1) Balance is key. In life, there are many daily responsibilities. Learning how to balance it all requires us to really look at what's important. Where do you want to put your time and energy? Some things may have to go, not because you don't care, but because they don't allow you to serve your purpose as easily. There will also be tasks that require you to sink your teeth into... Bring your life into focus and make time for balance.
2) We need rest. The power of rest is sorely under-rated. When we are tired, we are not able to give our full potential. Our country is filled with busy bodies... Know there is time to rest and rejuvenate. When we allow ourselves time to recharge after a long task, day or week, we are better prepared for progress. Even stretching offers a wonderful release that money can't buy! Take time to relax and find "peace of mind" regularly.
3) Keep the dream alive. Sometimes, our dreams seem so big and far away, but if we keep believin' before too long we're living what we used to dream of. Of course, it's good to have a healthy dose of reality, so be aware that you have to manifest your dream with passion and drive. Always remember, magical moments can happen in the right timing!
4) You better work it! If we want results, we gotta' work. Executing a savvy schedule can bring rich rewards. Planning saves time and energy helping you achieve your goals. Checking off those accomplished tasks is rewarding! If you are having a hard time remembering why you're doing what you're doing, refer back to #1.
Having the ability to balance "the important" to achieve our dreams is the greatest of all skills. When we plan for tomorrow, we can focus on today.
Recently, my sister's confessed killer was granted a retrial for his sentence on death row. At first, it was a complete shock... Unbelievable, inconceivable. After eighteen years of suffering, the saga was granted to continue? No way! Anger set in.
Processing the fact that while I had every right to be angry, I began wondering about all the great spiritual lessons and blessings overcoming this experience further could teach me and those around me. See, if we are here to grow spiritually, couldn't this be seen as a blessing? Bizarre concept, of course, but beyond the ego lies wisdom and trust in the unexplained.
Anger is always an uncomfortable emotion... When you're a genuinely positive person, feeling fiery is not an easy feeling. When anger surfaces, we have to be rational. Recognizing these three truths about anger can change our perception and way of life forever.
1) Know that anger is natural. In some ways, anger is healthy, it shows you care. While many of us would like to wish away this unsettling emotion, it is there to guide us on what is ideal and acceptable in our lives.
2) Understand there is power in anger. When we understand that anger is a natural part of our lives, there to help us grow and prosper towards living the ideal experience, we are able to realize it's purpose and power. We can't do anything about what we don't acknowledge. If knowing is half the battle, then understanding and adapting is the other.
3) Transform anger into good. Anger may not feel good, but it has the ability to alter lives in a positive light. If something unfortunate happens, do what you can to recognize and overcome it. If possible, do what you can to avoid it happening in the future. Simple concept, it's true, but very effective.
No one is perfect, and we all have a lot to learn. While we think we have so much control over the elements in our lives, the truth is, many circumstances are completely out of our realm of understanding and control. The more flexible we are in understanding that anger is a natural emotion meant to be overcome, the more we will be able to transform that pesky emotion into what it was intended for, good.
Amy O'Pry Massey
In the silence of your own spirit, what do you dream of?
There comes a point and time that where we come from, and the challenges we have encountered
in our past, no longer have a stronghold on our future. In every successful person's life, they've taken what good they could from their past to push them forward into fulfilling their life's true purpose.
What seperates dreamers from achievers? Courage... The courage to overcome the past, the courage to overcome the fear, the courage to overcome obstacles, the courage to truly walk in faith and believe in the unseen.
Remember, we are always evolving. Today, I encourage you to dream big, live with passion and have the courage to be who you were born to be!
??Truth is, life happens to us all. Everybody has a story, some more sensational than others, but we all have pain from the past. Tragedies, letdowns, slaps in the faces... We've all got 'em. So how do you stay positive in a world full of setbacks? You decide to get over it.
Check out these steps for moving forward:
1) Acknowledge the problem. Knowing the root of any problem is key. Identify what you think and feel are holding you back.
2) Take responsibility. We all play a part in our own well-being. To be forgiving of a situation doesn't mean what happened is okay, it just means you are not willing to spend any more of your energy re-living the pain. Recognize how your own perception is holding you back.
3) Imagine the ideal. Where would you like to go from this moment forward? Boundaries aside, what is the best case scenario? By painting the ideal picture, we are able to begin projecting possibility into our life.
4) Be ready and willing. Let's face it, people are not always eager for change. Sometimes we'd rather feel victimized than just getting over it, after all, we know how being miserable feels, but we don't necessarily know how delightful the future could be. When you are ready to move on, you'll find yourself looking for ways to be more understanding, more considerate of yourself and others, and you'll be filled with a desire to create a better life.
5) Commit to small changes. Make decisions that you can live with. Step by step we are creating our own reality. Little by little does the trick. By committing to take smalls steps in the right direction, we are able to create a preferred way of life for ourselves and those around us.
6) Understand, it's a process. Keep in mind, there will always be ups and down, no matter who you are or how good you live. How well we handle life is our testimony.
7) Accept health and happiness. Sounds funny, but it's not always easy to let go and feel joy. Some folks are so full of hang ups that they'd rather remember something bad that happened decades ago instead of doing their best to get over it. If you are still longing for inner peace, you must first accept that you are willing and able to be happy.
8) Reprogram you thoughts. If you have a difficult time with silencing the mind, you are not alone. Practicing self-control enhances our ability to maintain control over our emotions and thought process. When a less than desirable thought or image pops up in your mind, stop and replace it with something else... Whether it be gratitude, silence or positivity.
9) Listen to yourself. Be your own best friend, rather than your own worst enemy. Think about it, an ideal friend would listen and support your need to be authentic to yourself and your need to be happy. We are given the power of instincts... Listening to ourselves allows room for guidance and purpose.
If knowing is half the battle, now all we need to do is act. Only by acknowledging our hang ups and doing what we can to get over them, are we able to live life more fully. Regardless of what has happened... Our happiness and well-being are worth moving forward.
Amy O'Pry Massey
It's funny how we want something so bad, then one day, we have it. Goals can be equated to simply taking the initiative to move forward. Have you ever wondered if what you daydream about could really be your ideal balance? Here are some tips for "living the dream"...
How To Get What You Want Out Of Life:
1) Listen to yourself - When we are in tune with our own happiness it shows. Sometimes, what we want can seem so far away, yet somehow, it's possible. Allow yourself to have fun brainstorming ideas of ways you can enrich your life both short and long term.
2) Put it on paper - Acknowledging what we want by writing it down on a piece of paper can really set the intent. Whether we put the paper away or building a dream board, the energy of the universe begins to work in our favor. Don't be afraid to set your dream into motion!
3) Take small steps - We all know having what we want is usually earned. Patiently working little by little to strategically take steps in the right direction is key. Wisdom is gained when we are able to balance our present happiness and contentment while working on the future.
Getting want you want out of life is really not as hard as it seems. When we listen to ourselves, set our own happiness into motion and are open to achieve it, we can truly have what we really want.
Amy O'Pry Massey
We all know the popular phrase, "The truth hurts"... Let's face it; Keeping honest without hurting someone can be tricky. You know that "foot in the mouth" feeling when you wish you weren't still talking? Yep, it happens to the best of us.
Utilize this one tip for telling the truth without Spilling the Beans:
- How much do they really need to know? See, the way we communicate is the bedrock of who we are and how we impact others. Sometimes, "the devil IS in the details". When dealing with any subject, we must allow kindness to be our guide. By pausing to consider our best possible reply, we can be comforted that it doesn't usually require much. In these times, less is more, so by keeping it simple, we can stay honest without regret.
Remember, “it's the carefully edited truth".
Amy O'Pry Massey
Public Relations and Business Development
Amy O'Pry Massey
Leadership and Communication Coach
Individual & Group Coaching
Social Media Marketing
Online Profile Management
Build Your Dream
Promise of Hope
#wakeuppeople - poem