Guilty or Not?

I have several projects pending but nothing new to share right now. So, I came across this post from 2018 and thought it was worth a second showing. For those of you who have already seen it, I appreciate you taking the time to read again…

Have you ever compared your success to that of your friends, neighbors, or acquaintances? I assume most of us have; I know I’m guilty.

If you compare yourself to your perception of others, then the possibility of your self-esteem deflating is great. The negative assumptions you allow to roll around in your mind can be harmful to your mental well-being. Even though the outward appearance seems perfect, it’s exactly that. ‘Seems’ is the operative word.

Is there one method of how you measure success? Essentially, it’s up to interpretation. What does success mean to you? Do you have goals that you’re working toward? What kind of person do you aspire to be? In my opinion, here’s what you shouldn’t do – don’t give dollar signs too much power in measuring success. They can be misleading. Other factors display victory, such as volunteering, honest work ethic, being a loving husband, wife, partner, parent, sister, daughter, son, or friend
The list is endless.

Think carefully how you measure success because the last thing you need is to fall into a depressed mind-set caused by comparing yourself to others. Letting those unfavorable thoughts take control of your mind will only cause clutter and make your life messy. Instead of focusing on the success of other people, focus on what makes you feel victorious. Set some goals and go for it!

Do you have any thoughts on this subject? Any experiences? 
For example, I’ll start by saying that I never attended college post high school graduation. I made the right choice at that time in my life. But for some reason over the years, I turned my lack of college degree into an unbearably heavy burden, frequently comparing myself to those who held that academic accomplishment. As a result, I often experienced my mood shifting into negativity. I allowed those pessimistic thoughts to pull me down, to second-guess my decision years ago, and to negate the fact that I was a wonderful wife to my amazing husband and a loving mother to our two awesome children. If that isn’t success, I don’t know what is!

As some of you may remember, I did a post years ago about returning to school. I was excited and had taken all the English courses (which I loved and aced!) needed for an Associates Degree. Then I began thinking, “Why am I doing this?” I thought deeply about what going back to school would entail. Sure, the diploma would look great hanging on the wall next to my husband’s and children’s. But the thought of holing up behind a closed door, doing homework for the next several years, all of a sudden didn’t appeal to me. Alternatively, I wanted to focus on my family and the interests that I was passionate about. I came to the realization that a college degree doesn’t define who I am. I’m Me with or without it. I still pursue my passion for writing without that specific validation. I didn’t quit, though. I just chose not to continue, but I am grateful for taking that big step onto a campus thirty-six years after I walked across the stage waving my high school diploma. It wasn’t easy. I had to muster up a big helping of determination and courage to be able to sit in a classroom with young students eager to face their future head-on. With this being said, I met some other adults just like me, so I soon grew comfortable in this new setting.

Everyone shows vulnerability in some manner; this admission is mine. Since this realization, I have gladly discarded the choice to “college-compare” because we’re all successful in different ways. And when I acknowledged this discernment, that heavy burden was released, too. I could breathe easier and my mind decluttered of that negativity. The clear view was stunning!

The easy road spirals downward; the challenging road stimulates your mind and nudges you to look deeply within yourself.

Be You!!!
Sending love and virtual hugs,

Lauren 💗💗💗

All photos courtesy of Google images.

From Fabulous to Flames

We’re home now after another wonderful lake adventure and so grateful to have had blue skies before they turned hazy. Our hearts are heavy; praying for all those affected by over 600 wildfires burning up and down the state of CA, and for the firemen and first responders. Yesterday, the air was very smoky, the worst yet, and the advisory continues through Wednesday. The surroundings are a bit eerie. As more dry lightning is possible for today, our bags are packed because at the top of our street is dry open space. So, we’d rather be prepared in the event that hill ignites. It’s frightening, and I can’t imagine what others have endured who have had to evacuate, who have lost their homes or loved ones. And then think of the animals affected. It’s heartbreaking. We’re keeping all who are in the path of fires in our hearts. In the meantime, we swam in the refreshing lake, relaxed in our site, and did some hiking. It was great to get away, but also good to be home safely. Hope you enjoy these photos (only a few of the many we took; I can’t help but take too many)…

Stay safe wherever you are!
Lauren 💗💗💗

It’s really that simple!

Deep rooted in youth
love unconditionally
more practice needed

Vulnerable heart
Tears in waiting if broken
All people the same

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

A.C.C.E.P.T.A.N.C.E.

Let’s find it in our hearts to practice kindness,
less judgement, more acceptance, and to spread
love exponentially. It’s really that simple.

Wishing you a great start to your week,
Lauren 💕

Photo credit of holding hands: Google
Flower photos from our garden.

All Good Things

In these unsettling times, it’s important to find joy in each day,
even if digging a little deeper is necessary
. Anxiety, fear, and sadness
have certainly been fueled this year, which is reason enough to find things in life that make us happy. Throw in a dash of fun and a sprinkle of silly – bring on the smiles and laughter! It’s important for our mental and physical well being to find a balance so that all of our energy and focus isn’t directed only to the negative. I’m sure you’ve heard of a gratitude journal, so let’s count this post as one of my long journal entries, but first the visuals:

I’m grateful for another drive through the majestic redwoods and then onto Bolinas Ridge where the view of Stinson Beach was stunning – no fog or wind, just a glorious June day. I find joy in receiving fun gifts like the musical note earrings my daughter gave me because of our shared passion for music, and then the socks from her that tell me “I’m gorgeous, don’t change.” Wearing this kind of encouragement throughout the day is definitely a mood-booster.

I’m thankful for how I followed in Mom’s footsteps as my family indulges in sweet decadence once in a while, as well as baking for gifts. The plate of cookies are oatmeal chocolate chip, so don’t be shy! The cake was for a birthday: lemon with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting (all homemade). I also look forward to our relaxing patio time where we can talk about the day, make plans for tomorrow, and clink our glasses to celebrate being healthy and employed in these Covid times.

And then there are books! Can’t live without the exciting and adventurous worlds they draw me into. My son gave me “Little Fires Everywhere” not knowing anything about it. It turned out to be an engrossing and riveting read, and the mini series starring Reese Weatherperson and Kerry Washington was just as captivating. I found “Nineteen Minutes” listed on one of Stephen King’s book recommendations and am half-way through it. Can’t put it down either, but I must so that I can write this post! I highly recommend both books.

You see Copper lying on the bed…he was also enjoying “Little Fires Everywhere.” He is diligent in practicing how to relax and has become very good at it. 🙂 The love and joy this big puppy gives us is priceless. Oh, and look at Mini! As a child, I lived in Anaheim with Disneyland in my backyard. So, Mickey and Mini will always have a special place in my heart.

Nature provides serenity. It calms and emboldens us to look deeply within ourselves. It is a teacher of simplistic living, especially while backpacking. The sunset was taken at one of our favorite campgrounds, Look Lake – a gorgeous body of water in the Sierra without the crowds. The other photo is of Spider Lake that is a higher elevation, and I’m happy to report not one spider was found! Both destinations were perfect to take in the beauty around us, to spend time together, and to simply be. No technology, just a tent, a couple of chairs, and a picnic table. This is what we love to do, and we hope to venture onto the trails as long as our bodies will allow.

I hope you enjoyed these samples of some things in life that bring me joy – the list is never-ending. What do you lean towards in these times of uncertainty? What brings you calm? What turns your frown upside down? What makes you chuckle? Do you find that some of these photos bring you joy, too?

Wishing you a wonderful Friday and much joy in your days ahead,
Lauren
💗🎉💗🎉

An Ugly Pattern

George Floyd display May 2020

Fires

Sparked by distress –

A wound never mended.

The days are not tearless. Have we

Not seen

those same hot flames from nightmares of

yesteryear’s pleading cries?

Let change take root.

Listen.

spreading love in the neighborhood

 

The recent tragedy of George Floyd’s murder and the civil unrest that followed inspired me to jot down the various thoughts whirling around in my mind. I have more to say noted on the pages in my journal. But instead, I chose to try a another new form of poetry: a butterfly cinquain. So my words are few, but the message is huge.

Then yesterday on my walk with Copper, I came across these two displays – both profound and moving in their own ways. I couldn’t walk by without taking photos, so I give credit to my compassionate neighbors for acknowledging the ongoing injustice and the senseless murder of George Floyd, and for spreading much-needed love. This heart is one of many on a sidewalk that I admire everyday, and the collection began when Covid wormed its way into our lives. Even so, spreading the Love is part of the solution in every situation that brings pain. I thought this beautiful heart was a fitting end to what I’ve tried to convey. 

My heart is still heavy, but Hope for change is not lost. 💗

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

Ice Chips & Christmas

Dear Friends,

I finally had my ERCP last Thursday – the procedure I had to repeat (after an incomplete try in October), and then wait six weeks for. Anyway, it went smoothly this time. I had no moments of consciousness, knowing there was a tube down my throat causing panic. The Good news is the positive outcome….no auto-immune liver disease or cancer. The cause for my attack and hospital stay in September was another pesky gallstone in the bile duct. I’m SO grateful for this diagnosis.

ercp Nov 29 2018

I will say though, that if you’ve had your gallbladder out, know that gallstones can appear in the bile duct, which can be dangerous. If the bile duct becomes blocked then the bile stays in the liver making it sick. Not a good thing. I’ve learned a lot since my daughter’s auto-immune liver disease diagnosis six years ago. Things I never cared to know.

Anyway, they kept me overnight for monitoring, so I was home in the comfort of my own bed late Friday afternoon. Since then, I had some unpleasant after effects, but I’m feeling better now. To rest and eat lightly are doctor’s orders for a couple of weeks. I can do that. 🙂

Image result for chicken noodle soup

What remains surreal is that I’ve endured similar symptoms my daughter experiences with her disease. Maybe it’s the mom in me that has to truly feel the pain my daughter feels. I don’t know, but it’s very strange and coincidental. I have to add again that all of this is non-alcoholic related. Gallstones can cause havoc! 

Needless to say, I’ve lost momentum for blogging, and at this point, I’ve decided to take December off from WordPress to focus on a little “me time” and the Christmas season upon us. I will miss all of you, but I’ll look forward to returning in the new year refreshed and invigorated. Wow, 2019! Time, she is a flyin’!

So, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year full of new adventures, possibilities, and lots of Love! Lauren ❤🎅🎁🌲

Xmas 2017

Photo #1 – my hospital stay
Photo #2 – Google
Photo #3 – Copper during Christmas 2017 (my dog) 

P.S. I also have to express how grateful we are for the outstanding team of doctors at Kaiser. 

Most People

Dear Friends,

There’s been a lot going on, which has taken me away from blogging. So, I apologize for missing your wonderful posts, but I hope to start reading again soon. In the meantime, I’m sharing a song that struck a chord with me. Luke Bryan is one of our favorite country music singers, and if you like country music, then you’ll know who he is. If you’re not a fan of this genre, then I invite you to listen to the words because they truly say it all. With all the hate and violence, Luke sings, “Most people are good.” This song encourages us to still believe in humanity and not focus 100% on what the media shows us.

With continued heartbreak in the world and with our daily doses of stress of various types, I thought this song would be a soothing addition to your day. It might also change your outlook if you’re struggling to find the good. I hope you enjoy it! Lauren ❤🎵🎶

The Right Attitude

No-fear-Image

One of my new dear friends, Debby, from https://dgkayewriter.com/, wrote this to me regarding my last health update and it stuck…

“We get what we focus on, so don’t make it fear!”
~DG Kaye

This message isn’t new, but it’s so easy to allow fear to slip into our thoughts. It affects not only our reactions to stressful times, but it also affects us physically, causing anxiety and even some unwanted aches and pains. So, this was a timely reminder for me, even though I’m not truly living in fear. However, I am inviting Optimism for a long stay, and if you’re dealing with stress in any form, will you join me in this attitude adjustment? I hope you will, and Thanks, Debby! 💕

hope

And lastly, I’d like to wish you all a Fabulous Friday, and a Wonderful Weekend ahead. With love, Lauren ❤❤❤

Photos: Google

Fingers across the keyboard

Dear Friends,

This is a follow-up to my last post on Sept. 19th, and I’m typing as thoughts pour out, so this is more raw than edited. As you may remember, I’ve had a medical issue that landed me in the hospital over a month ago, and I’ve been anticipating a procedure that hopefully would’ve brought answers. Well, the procedure was last Thursday, an ERCP. It’s where a tube passes through the mouth, esophagus, and stomach into the first part of the small intestine. Then a catheter goes into the bile duct to detect causes for high liver enzymes (all non-alcoholic related), severe abdominal pain and jaundice. The doctor injects a dye so that x-rays can be taken of the biliary ducts. I’ve provided an image below if you’re interested. 

Image result for bile duct and liver anatomy

Surprisingly, the doctor (a bile duct expert) couldn’t get the instrument all the way down, in fact, barely down at all because my common bile duct is so scarred. I’ll spare the gory details, but long story short, it was incomplete. This means I have to repeat it next month. Honestly, when he spoke to my husband and I after I had been in recovery and I found this out, I felt depressed. I felt my shoulders drop, knowing, first of all, that I still have no answers, secondly, he still can’t rule out some scary diseases (one of which my daughter has), and thirdly, I have to do this procedure again. 

Everyone was so nice, though, and I’m grateful for an awesome team of doctors – doctors who we know because of our daughter’s experiences. And my doctor was genuinely disappointed with the turnout. But he’s also performed enough of these that he knew when to stop trying before causing complications. I thank him for that.

So, the symptoms I’ve had can be caused by gallstones in the bile duct (gallbladder is out), Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis (PSC, the auto immune disease my daughter has), or Bile Duct Cancer. I admit to being scared and have had some emotional moments. I hope it’s just stones, which are dangerous alone. Any of these causes affect the liver because if bile isn’t taken from the liver through the bile duct into the small intestine, the liver then becomes “sick” and begins to fail. Liver failure is fatal. For PSC, the only cure is a liver transplant, which is what we’re anticipating for our daughter in the future – a future that holds so many uncertainties. 

So why I am blogging about this? I don’t know. Maybe part is to bring awareness to the bile duct and how rare some medical issues can be involving it. Until our daughter was diagnosed, I didn’t give the bile duct a second thought. Nor my liver because I’ve never been a big drinker. This whole thing has been surreal – the fact that I’m experiencing everything similar to my daughter’s symptoms. She doesn’t drink alcohol at all, so it’s just an auto-immune disease that chose her. Ask anyone who knows me..I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking. So, it’s all a case of being unlucky just like those who are diagnosed with cancer or some other horrible disease.

The upside to sharing what I’ve been undergoing is that in spite of the continued anticipation, the unpleasantries of another ERCP, or fear of the unknown and known, for that matter, life goes on. I feel better physically, although my throat still hurts, but it’s better than yesterday and the day before that. My mindset is healthier, and that doesn’t mean I’m not realistic either. The outcome will be good news or it will be daunting news. Regardless, I want answers. I want to know what’s going on inside me. However, I’m not trying to burden you by posting about this. Maybe what I’m going through will resonate with someone and be of some help even in a small way.

Selfishly, though, I ask for your ongoing positive thoughts and prayers. And I thank you for reading this longer-than-planned post. 🙂

Image result for moving forward

Moving forward with hope in my heart and love for my family and friends who have provided tremendous support. Lauren xoxo
p.s. The title of this post is credited to my son.
p.s.s. Both images are from Google.

Refresh Button

copper in the fall

As summer bids farewell for yet another year, Autumn prepares for her entrance, and doesn’t she look lovely! With season changes, I’m often compelled to reorganize and do some fall cleaning. So, to begin with, I rearranged the furniture in our living room, something that has become an annual tradition and a way of inviting new perspectives wherever we choose to sit…

Maybe now we have the chance to watch the sunrise out of the big window while sipping our cuppa tea or coffee. Or we have a better view of a roaring fire when winter drops in for an extended stay and hot chocolate is on its way. Or the opportunity is more fitting to sit closer to someone we love for a treasured, intimate conversation.

Whatever the benefit, there is something about this change that offers a newness, a revitalizing start as we near the ending of 2018. I also love the coziness of this season – the warm hues, and the spicy aromas in the kitchen. I’ve already bought ingredients to begin pumpkin bread baking – one of my holiday baking traditions that everyone loves. So you see, this simple switch is like clicking on the refresh button on life. Even a small change can add a pinch of extra spice to this time of year.

May this season of Autumn bring a refreshing newness to your life, as well.
P.S. Copper sends his autumn wishes, too, (with lots of kisses).
This photo was taken by my daughter. ❤🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁❤