How to use excuses to drive you

Excuses come in all shapes and sizes. Excuses are quite simply put…dream busters. On the other hand, what if, we used excuses to fuel our passions?

You know we each have the same 24 hours in a day and yet I often here people say they need more time. That the day seemed to fly by, and they have nothing to show for it. Have you ever found yourself saying that?

We have smartphones and tablets, laptops and televisions, coworkers and family members, that pull us away from our tasks in a moment without us even begin aware of it. Running our life on auto-pilot is second nature to us now.
So, what’s your excuse for not living life to the fullest? What is your escape from life? Where do you go to hide? Are you even present? I know these questions might seem kind of abrupt and in your face but too many times people turn to pass the buck instead of making informed, clear, decisive decisions about anything.

Have a look, if only for today or this moment, at what is your reason behind each of the interactions, thoughts, choices and decisions that you are making. Where are they leading you? Are you making the best use of your time? Do you even care?

I was thinking about this question after being on a coaching call with a client who was refusing to take responsibility for the outcomes that she was experiencing. What’s your excuse? It’s a simple question that has great implications.
Excuses place bright shiny objects in front of us, that steal our attention in an instant. It doesn’t matter how big or small, they are all time wasters. Do you know what your biggest time wasters are? Is it clutter, procrastination, inability to say no, daydreaming, putting out fires, poor delegation, no plan, habits, resisting change, a combination of these or something else?

But what happens when we use excuses to push us to do something? For instance, I think about this question even when planning a trip. What’s my excuse for spending money on yet another trip? So, I’ll be perfectly honest here, I travel for food. Yup, I love to eat, but it has to be really, really good food as well as good for me. I have a weird belief that my body is my temple and that what I put into it has to be worthy. Ok, so there are times when I just flat out will eat whatever is available or when I travel to places like Old Orchard Beach, Maine for some Pier French Fries but for the most part I am really concise and clear about what goes in my mouth.

After I’ve had a great meal or read an article about a certain region of the world that is known for raising a particular kind of animal, vegetable or fruit, then my antennas perk up and I am like a hound on a scent. The research begins, I work on a plan and then BAM, off we go. Living and eating like a native is always at the base of the travel plans for my husband and I.

This is exactly how we ended up in San Daniele, Italy. In pursuit of the best prosciutto in the world. It all began after reading an article in Bon Apetit magazine about prosciutto sandwiches. The seed was planted, it was the excuse that fueled the desire. After a short flight, a train ride (my favorite), and a car rental we found ourselves winding through the small villages and towns of the Italian countryside to our destination.

As a little girl there was an Italian delicatessen called Micucci’s Market the next town over, that is still open today. Every Thursday we would all pile into the car and take the weekly jaunt to Micucci’s. I still remember the smells coming from the deli. My dad’s mother was from Italy, so he was very particular about his cold cuts and being a big man, he loved his food. So, this trip to San Daniele had other excuses fueling it. It was a trip that I knew my dad would have loved to have taken.

San Daniele is a small village in the mountains with a population of 8100 but boasts the most magnificent prosciutto in the world. San Daniele, sits halfway between the Carnic Alps and the Adriatic Sea which provides an exquisite micro-climate for the meats aging process, which has been taking place since the 1600’s. The views of this region are breathtaking.

Prosciutto, which translates to “ham” in Italian, is made from the hind legs of the pig. Because of the aging process, prosciutto does not have to be cooked, unlike bacon or pancetta. There are mainly two regions in Italy where prosciutto is famous, that is Parma and San Daniele. There is a long-standing battle between these two regions as to who offers the best prosciutto. I say, you must check them both out for yourself and then you can decide.

There are never any additives to the aging process other than salt and the air and, of course, time. The aging process takes from 200 to 400 days, so just as in parmesan cheese, the older the better or like a fine red wine. Can I say that about myself…that I’m getting better with age? I always have feared about becoming a cranky old lady.

As my husband and I descend upon the small town of San Daniele it is siesta time and the town is quiet and the streets are empty. It is ten minutes to two and we are starving. Hoping to get a taste of this exquisite ham we find ourselves entering a delicatessen where the pig legs are covering the walls. The butcher behind the counter is expertly slicing some prosciutto for his client and offers us a slice. It’s heavenly. As he is about to close up shop for the siesta time, we ask him where he would go to eat.

His eyes light up and he draws a map on a napkin, pointing us in the direction of a small restaurant a few blocks away that is down a side street, off the beaten path. We arrive at the L’Osteria di Tancredi restaurant which is simply charming.

We are seated and ask the waitress to bring us a board of prosciutto, cheese with paired wine. These are the moments in life I seek. When time stands still. The taste, the smell, the wine…life doesn’t get much better than this simple meal.

Then I notice a couple at the next table were just served noodles with this amazing prosciutto on top. I ask them if they speak English and thankfully, they did. They described this dish as their favorite (they are natives) and I quickly summon the waitress as we order the same. Homemade pasta with aged prosciutto and a perfectly paired Italian wine. I can honestly say that there is nothing better than eating food from the region, in the region, served by the natives. They are passionate which makes it even better.

So, if you are ready to start having your excuses work to your benefit, then book your travel next June for the Aria di San Daniele La Festa, which is the annual San Daniele prosciutto festival. Which for you pork lovers would certainly be an event to attend. And while you’re at it, stop by the L’Osteria di Tancredi for a bite of something fabulous, maybe a mouthwatering dessert? My husband was certainly in heaven when our very attentive waitress suggested a bite of something native.

The next time you attempt to point your finger at someone or something as the excuse for you not being able to complete something, then think of this post and flip the script. Stop using excuses for not achieving your goal, instead use the excuse to empower you to push forward and live an outrageous life!

Eat well, laugh often!

Merry Lynch

P.S. Don’t miss next weeks post titled, “Are you worth more as you age?”

Would You Give Me The Shirt Off Your Back?

Well, it never hurts to ask as I found out while having lunch at Dick’s Kitchen in Portland, Oregon.
My daughter and I are both what I would call “foodies,” we both love to cook, enjoy eating, and love to share it with others. In anticipation of my arrival, Melissa (my daughter) would compile a list of restaurants we had to visit. The qualifying standards were unusual offerings, imaginative decor, and organic, home grown, free range and cage free food that could satisfy our taste buds.

This visit was no different and with a hankering for the best burger in town we found ourselves at Dick’s Kitchen where I had a choice of free range local beef, bison or boar and to top it all off I could get it on a gluten free bun which was an added bonus.

Besides the great menu the customer service was over the top from the time we stepped in the door. In the age of fast food and internet shopping personalized service is all that brick and mortar stores and restaurants have to offer. It seems as though they understand that at Dick’s Kitchen.

Each staff person also had on a tee shirt with the Dick’s Kitchen logo all with varying verses that were quite clever. I asked our server if the t-shirts were for sale and she promptly brought over the list and size ranges. The problem was the server behind the counter had a tee shirt on that I did not find on the list so I asked about that one. Come to find out, they were sold out and normally I would just shrug my shoulders and move on, but not this time.

For those of you that know my husband I am sure that you would agree that he needed a tee shirt that said “Fast, Hot and Juicy,” it was meant for him and I had to get it somehow. Trust me when I say that I have never done this before but I inquired about buying the shirt off the servers back. After a few rounds of “are you serious,” “it’s used and dirty,” the server stripped down and promptly handed over his shirt. So not only did I have an amazing free range burger that was amazingly tasty and juicy, my daughter and I had a relaxing, fun filled afternoon with the staff at Dick’s Kitchen in Portland, Oregon.

Leadership comes from the top down; it takes a special environment for team members to be able to genuinely be interested in their patrons. Take a tip from Sam Walton who said “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
Dick’s Kitchen will keep me talking about them for a long time. It wasn’t just about the server giving me the shirt off his back; it began the moment we walked in the door.

To top it all off, the t-shirt was a huge hit. My husband traveled with this t-shirt all over the world. Here he is in Paris which seems a little crude in the culinary capital of the world but he is all that and more!

Cheers to Fast, Hot & Juicy!

Merry Lynch

P.S. Love burgers and Portland, Oregon? Click the share button and head on over to Dick’s Kitchen.

Are You A Change Agent?

Certainly, by now, you know that you have some gifts that you could share with the world. And for those of you that can’t think of anything you could share, get over yourself and dig deep. Look at the world around you and find a person, place or thing that could use some help and go lend a hand. I look at helping others as the rent that I pay for my time on Earth.

Recently I have been volunteering at the local university in the country I am now residing in which is Poland…and let me say if you don’t know this already, I do not speak the language. The US State Department funds a program called the American Corner around the globe in conjunction with educational facilities. Feeling very blessed in my life, I felt it is the least I could do, and I get to meet people from around the globe who just want to speak English better or meet their first American.

I participate in a workshop called, Conversation Club, that meets once a week and is meant for foreigners that want to improve their English. Pretty much we sit in a circle and begin talking about a specific subject. The idea being is to get each participant to speak, which quite honestly can be challenging depending on the topic. People get all stuck in their heads about their English isn’t good enough, so why open my mouth. Where does that kind of thinking show up in your life?

Through my participation I have also facilitated a program for high school students that are studying English. That was a blast. But for me, it is all about the interaction and connection that I can help facilitate. The high school students were all from Poland and stared at me starry eyed that I had lived in San Diego, a place they dream of seeing someday.

Poland is mainly a Catholic country and has a mostly white population. They government has been declining the entrance of refugees, even though it is mandatory through the European Union. The people that come to the American Corner are from all different races, religions and ethnicities and I might add are from all ages.

The American Corner is free to the public and provides a small library and offers workshops and programs such as the one I attend. Each meeting different people show up, so it is really a mixed bag. Being held in the local university many of those that attend are students from around the world.

It is interesting to have Russians sitting next to Poles or Ukrainians. The history between these countries has been horrific at best and the wounds are still there. I have to say that I was a little nervous about being a room with strangers from opposing countries that are still at odds and at war. And even though this gathering is about getting more comfortable speaking English, I have found it to be an opportunity to have true dialog with people you might not otherwise be in contact with. The Conversation Club is truly about connection.

It is tremendously eye opening, not only for me but I hope for the participants as well. On one such evening we went around the room talking about what they will do and where they would like to live after they graduate or retire. A Ukrainian student spoke up saying that he can not return to his home because it was just destroyed by the Russians last week and his family, some that were killed and others that fled, have no where to live. A young Russian student was sitting straight across from him and their eyes met.

The conversation that pursued was fascinating and you could see how words get misconstrued and how communication gets altered. To keep the conversation friendly, I began to ask others about their homeland and the conflicts that arise. The participants from Turkey, Syria, and Azerbaijan all spoke up about the recent conflicts in their countries.

We were able to talk about problems and possible solutions, as well as the deep seeded conflicts of these different regions around the globe. You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child?” It’s about people coming together, of all ages. The attendees were not mad at each other, they just wanted to understand why it was necessary to hurt one another or to take away what they had and then destroy it.

How do we then, each of us, place kindness toward one another? How can we put the past aside? Can we learn to trust, after all the desecration? Have we learned anything from history? It seems to me that it just keeps on repeating itself. It’s the bully in the sand box that wants it all. How can we bring up children to be accepting of one another? What role as parents and grand parents can we play a larger part in? The participants at the American Corner wanted to understand one another. How can we get that to play out, outside the doors of this program?

What fears or misunderstandings do you harbor against another race, religion or culture? What will it take to put down your fist and open your hand? Maybe just by volunteering and serving others that are less fortunate, you could begin to see that people are the same everywhere. We all want love, happiness and fulfilment. Our past should not define us. Be the change the wish to see in the world. You might just be surprised who will become your next best friend.

With Love and Gratitude,

Merry Lynch

P.S. What kind of volunteer work do you or want to do? Make a pact to be a change agent this coming year. Use your gifts to help make the world a better place. Share this with a friend and go volunteer together. The world needs people like you to lend a hand.

Set an intention of doing something different this year. What kind of person do you want to show up as? What will you choose to do different? Sign up for my FREE How To Set An Intention self-paced program. Be the Change Agent that the world needs.

Is Your Life Worthy of Imitation

Is your life worthy of imitation?

As the Christmas season approaches, I reflect back to my first trip to Italy.

My husband, a devout Catholic, was raised in Poland pretty much living next door to Karol Wojtyla who would become Pope, John Paul II. As a matter of fact while having dinner one evening my very dear friend told that me she was baptized by this up and coming Priest Karol Wojtyla in Poland. A flood of questions came bursting out of my mouth like a machine gun firing away trying to understand what growing up with the Pope must have been like.


Yes, being baptized is to wipe away all original and actual sin so that you may step into your life with a clear soul, conscious and body yet my mind went right to all of the past wrong doings, divorces, foul language and bad thoughts that I have had throughout my life and wondered what living next door to the Pope must be like. Would I be different, would I have made other choices?

So as my husband and I head off for our first trip to Italy I reflect back to the conversation I had with my friend about this “regular guy,” Karol Wojtyla. But now, this “regular guy” was the leader of the Catholic Church and it had been arranged that we were to have a private audience with this “regular guy”, Pope John Paul II.

I don’t even remember the flight over I was so distraught and worried about this meeting. I was positive that Pope John Paul II would be able to see every wrong doing in my eyes and condemn me to a life of misery. My husband on the other hand was ecstatic to be meeting this amazing man from his homeland.

When we landed in Rome we were met by a Monk from the local Polish monastery that housed the Professors from Pontifical Gregorian University. I of course am still too overcome with fear to relax and go with the flow. I am certain that any moment I will be called out and maybe even sent to a monastery myself to clear my soul. Yet, our arrival at the monastery was gracious and kind.

We were led to our room which had a small window and two narrow beds on either side. The accommodations were modest at best and for the first time in my life I felt incredibly safe. It was the strangest feeling and to this day I can remember what that place represented to me.

That evening we fell asleep and the next morning arose to the quiet chanting of the monks. At breakfast we were told that our private audience was cancelled as Pope John Paul II had just returned from Cuba and was too exhausted to see anyone except the sick but we would still attend his general audience.

As relieved as I was, my husband was saddened that he would never meet this man face to face. So off to the bus stop we go, it was rush hour and the bus was packed like sardines, perfect for pick pocketing, which was exactly what had happened. Everything gone in a moment’s glance, without ever knowing until we went to buy lunch without a penny to our name. I of course was sure that it was because of my past and that we were being punished on our way to see the Pope.

As we arrive at the Vatican it seemed almost bigger than life. It certainly made me reflect and take stock of the gifts that I have to bring to the world and that if one person could start all of this, then I certainly could do something that could make a difference in other people’s lives as well.

We were ushered by the Swiss Guard into a big auditorium room with thousands of other people from around the world. Everyone was singing, chanting, praying in their native tongue until all of the sudden a little hunched over man came walking across the stage and the room filled will people yelling “Il Papa, Il Papa” and waving white handkerchiefs. It was nothing short of spectacular.

Pope John Paul II began to recite a service in eleven different languages and as he flowed from language to language the people in the audience who were Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist and non-believers from those countries raised their white handkerchiefs and clapped, whistled, and applauded. The room erupted in a sentiment of joy and camaraderie that was something to this day I find hard to explain yet I will never forget the power that this little hunched over man from a small town in Poland had.

In the end, the angst that I put myself through on this trip was solely driven by my ego or lack thereof and of who I wasn’t being instead of coming from a place of “I am enough” and that I do have the power within me to change the world in which I live and so do you.

What is it that is inside of you, waiting patiently for you to release it to the world?

Cheers to the best version of yourself,

Merry Lynch

P.S. In this season of giving, don’t forget to share. There may be someone in need of a message they need to hear.

Wondering what is in store for your life? Sign up to get on the waitlist of my upcoming live-on-line vision board workshop. Don’t miss an opportunity to create the life that you dream about.

What Happens When You Break Down – While Traveling The World

We’ve been through a lot together, this old broad and I. She is over 20 and I, well, let’s just say a wee bit over that. We both have a lot of miles on us, many of them have been together. We break down, patch ourselves together and get back up again. We just fit together. She has been everywhere with me, well almost. We travelled throughout the US and most of Europe, traveling across the Atlantic and down the Mediterranean. We’ve been over heated and gotten a little banged up along the way, but I think it has made us more resilient. This is when being old gets comfy.

I love being on the road. Really, I enjoy any kind of travel, car, bus, train, plane, as long as I’m seeing something new, it’s all good. Traveling by car has its own set of implications, from finding gas stations, to blowing out a tire, breaking down in the middle of nowhere, to backing up into a cement wall, and let me not forget…getting lost or as I prefer to say…I’m just misplaced (it’s not so scary that way.)

Taking care of a car that is broken down or damaged in some way, is frustrating for sure. But taking care of a body that has just stopped working is a whole other issue. Many people tell me that they just would not travel if they had a chronic illness or a pain in their ass. But for me, that is exactly what pushed me to sell it all and buy a plane ticket.
Being out of control with my health, is nothing short of frustrating. The ads on tv make me think there is a magic pill for everything. But…that just isn’t so. I am the magic pill. I have choices. I have resources. I have a drive to live an abundant life, whatever that may be.

Brought up in a natural living household where my Dad was a Chiropractor, I seem to look down that path first. Illness is never pleasant but at the same time, you can learn a lot about yourself, if you are willing to listen.
Wherever we go, my husband and I, the routine is making sure my supplements will last the journey. That my exercise needs are met by means of me packing my yoga socks and hand gloves as well as my resistance bands. If nothing else, keeping my body flexible, giving my blood some fresh oxygen, with plenty of rest, does a world of good.
I’ll also check out what natural therapies are available in that country or region where we are going. I have even been known to schedule appointments for therapies that I have not experienced before just to see what they might provide. Other countries have different wellness modalities than you might find in US, so it makes for interesting conversation, mindset and health opportunities.

Medical Tourism is a billion-dollar industry. Who knew? People travel all over the world travel to places that specialize in a certain surgery, a disease treatment or offer a natural care facility. It’s pretty eye opening.
Coming from the US, I always thought we had the best of everything. Come to find out, that is not necessarily so. There are state of art hospitals, dental offices, cosmetic surgery facilities, and doctors’ offices all over the world. So, using the excuse that I can’t travel because I have an illness or a pain in my ass, is just fear talking.

One year ago, I did indeed end up in the hospital for a four-night stay. I was absolutely freaked out because I didn’t speak the language. The hospital was not a gorgeous as the ones in the US, but the equipment was like something out of Star Wars. State of the art everything. The doctors all spoke English in varying degrees. Not all the nurses did but we communicated in other ways.

Upon my release from the hospital, I was asked by the Director how I felt my procedures and care was. I told him how safe I felt and that the care was exceptional. He smiled and said, “well we wouldn’t want you to die on our watch. There is too much paperwork with you being an American.” Even though there is a lot of truth to that, we both had a good laugh.

So, the next time your perusing through some travel magazines or watching the travel channel, wishing that could be you, go ahead and make it happen. Don’t just sit there and wish for SOMEDAY, that isn’t even a day of the week.

With love and light,

Merry Lynch

P. S. Don’t let life pass you by. Set an intention of how you want your life to unfold. Go ahead, use my FREE on-line program to get your life on track to all the abundance that life has to offer.

Potty Talk or Was It A Conspiracy

How do I get myself into these situations? Is there a secret world plot against me, do I have my head in the clouds, or do these things happen to everyone else and I’m the only one talking about them? Each time I see this photo in my cloud server it makes me laugh, so on this dark dreary day in Poland I thought I would share a laugh with you as well.

The year is 2001, just ten years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and freedom in Poland. It was a time of rapid growth yet the infrastructure struggled to keep pace. I had just expanded my business, opening a second location in Lodz, Poland. I know, sounds kind of crazy, but Lodz is the birthplace of my husband. One of his long time school friends was interested in a joint venture so we agreed and opened a replica of my Portland, Maine store in Poland.

It was pretty exciting, I felt pretty international, and certainly was proud of myself. It was something I had always dreamt of. The timing was perfect. The international trade show was upon us so I was able to fly over to Germany (where the trade show was taking place) and meet up with one of the partners (a husband and wife team).

The show, was of course gorgeous, and it was a lovely few days spent getting to know my counterpart in a foreign country. We decided to take the bus back to Poland as we were able to get a better connection. It was a long distance to go by bus but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the hell we were thinking but we made it in one piece, well not really.

The bus was full. My partner and I sat together. She spoke no English, nor did anyone else on the bus. Now that I think about, I find my most precious or precarious stories are the ones where I am the “token American.” Everything seemed to be going great. The movie that was playing on the tv screens was Shrek, but it was in Polish and the bus, full of all adults, was in a roar of laughter. The movie screens were real tvs and not video screens, you know the ones, small and fat bodied? Remember it’s 2001.

It was pitch black outside and it was the middle of January. There was snow on the ground and it was bitter cold. The road was filled with pot holes and there was not a light or another car, bus or truck to be seen. At one time the pot hole was so big that my body went flying out of my seat and my head actually touched the ceiling of the bus and one of the tvs fell from the ceiling crashing to the floor.

The passengers got up and started screaming at the bus driver. I was frightened. I thought for sure someone was going to start to throw punches but thankfully everyone contained themselves. It was over a ten hour ride with several stops along the way.

The first of which was at a restaurant. Everyone was told to leave the bus and go inside. My partner and I ordered some food and quickly ate it, not really knowing when we were leaving. Soon after the bus driver motioned us to go to the bus. So off we went, filing in and sitting back down in our seats.

A few miles down the road, one of the passengers started screaming. I had no idea what was going on. Finally, I figured out that at our last stop the bus driver left someone behind. I thought that stuff only happened in the movies, well now I know where they get their ideas from. Mind you we are on a two lane road, pitch black in the middle of absolutley no where. The driver slams on the breaks and proceeds to turn the bus around, screaming his head off.

Half an hour later we arrive back at the restaurant and the passenger gets on the bus and he and the driver have a big arguement. Tension overload. My nerves were shot. But shortly after, everyone settled down and off we went. With full bellies most people fell asleep while others sat chatting like it was two in the afternoon.

Several hours past and the bus begins to slow down and pulls off the road. No lights anywhere. Where are we, what is going on? The door to the bus opens and my partner motions me to get off the bus. I am lead down a path where a brick building sits. It has one light on inside. We all stand outside in the pitch dark. Being the “token American” everyone pushes me to go first. I’m still not sure if they were being polite or they knew what was about to happen.

As I mentioned earlier, it was in the middle of winter. There certainly was no heat in the brick (pardon the expression) shit-house. I enter, freaking scared to death, turn and lock the door behind me. Everything looks good. It’s clean and there is toilet paper. Things are looking up.

I proceed to pull down my pants and have a seat. A full bottom seat, you know the kind where your whole ass is touching the seat. I know many of you won’t sit down in a public restroom but…I did. It was stainless steel. Do I have to go any further?

Have you ever tried to lick an ice cube and your tongue stuck to it? Or maybe you did a dare as a kid to stick your tongue onto a piece of metal and you couldn’t release it? Hmmmmmm…well you get the picture. That was my lovely little bottom. I was stuck. Totally and completely stuck. I couldn’t move. Each time I tried, I ripped off another piece of skin. I couldn’t yell because no one could understand me or even get in through the steel door.

I sat there trying to move my bottom back and forth. Around and around to dislodge myself. It was horrific. What was supposed to be a quick little pee, turned into a ten minute skin mutilating experience. By the time I stood up, there was a layer of skin on the seat that I attempted to remove before the next person arrived. I had to dip my hand in the toilet to be able to wet the seat and scrape off the skin. As I pulled my pants back on I could feel the raw skin brushing up against my underwear and pants. It was excrusiating.

Yet, I pulled my act together, cleaned up by body parts and left the building. Everyone was standing in a line looking as though they were about to rip me to shreds. Afterall, it was freezing outside. I was mortified and now everyone hated me. My ass was sore and ached everytime I made the least little movement. All I wanted to do was cry and was hoping that Scotty (from Starship Enterprise) could just beam me up and make this all go away.

I was never so happy to see the sun rise as the buss pulled into the station in Warsaw, where I knew I would have a nice hotel accommodation to soothe my raw skin. Oh my gosh, I can certainly laugh about this now. And yes, the skin on my derriere has all grown back.

Is there a silver lining to my experience? Sometimes laughter is all you can do. Never sit on a stainless steel toilet seat, ever. Maybe think of flying instead of the overnight bus….

Laughter is the key,

Merry Lynch

P.S. You’ve just got to share this. My ass will thank you!

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It’s Dark There

More than four years ago now my husband and I began a journey. This past June of 2018 we purchased an apartment (condo) in the city of Lodz, Poland. Just in case you’re wondering, I do not speak the language. Well, that is not entirely true. I can say hi, bye, kiss me, I love you and where is the toilet; which gets me pretty much anything I need. If you know anything about Poles these few words will take you a long way.

I have learned many things about myself during this time on the road and have observed where I hold myself back and where I rentlessly bound forward.

The interactions I have had concerning the place in which I call home, at least for now, has been nothing short of fascinating. When people find out that we haved moved to Lodz, Poland from San Diego, California, their eyes widen in wonder. Many Poles are not able to even travel to the United States due to the cost of the Visa they need. The images they have painted in their minds is one of white, wide sandy beaches, palm trees and endless ocean views that keep them dreaming of a time when they would be able to experience it for real. So they look at me with their heads cocked like a cute little puppy and shake their heads in disbelief.

I ask, “what does America look like” in their mind, in one word. Each time the answer is either “bright” or “opportunity.”

It’s my experience that most people feel that way about American. And for Poles having been trampled on for centuries, the words “bright” or “opportunity” is certainly a fair response when looking at America. But today, Poland is an economic power house with a public transportation system second to none (even for EU standards), endless opportunites (although the Poles struggle to see them), great food and yes of course, vodka (afterall the potatoes are the best – which makes the vodka “gluten free” – BONUS!). The grass is always greener, do you think?

Now, let’s reverse this. When they ask me the same question, “give me one word to describe Poland” my initial reaction comes from my childhood and the word “dark” comes blurting out of my mouth. I remember being in school and watching the news about the “iron curtain”. All of the images were black and white, so that is where my thoughts go. To many Americans that have never traveled to Poland, their response is generally the same. It’s dark. The sun doesn’t shine, people are dressed in black, it’s scary, and the people have empty blank stares.

It’s the images from the movie, “Schindler’s List” or the horrific stories of the Holocaust and of families being separated and never heard from again. It’s about loss of life and loss of control. But that isn’t the Poland of today, yet many of us are still plagued by the images or stories we heard as children. How do we go about letting go of these images and prejudices and begin to build new friendships and paths?

Images are saved in our memory to keep us out of harms way, always on the ready in the fight or flight mode. Yet, often times, these images or memories we have held onto for dear life, no longer serve us and actually end up hindering us from doing something different, learning something new, experiencing a new way of life.

As I travel the globe and settle into my new home, I challenge myself and I will do the same to you; to look toward the light. The next time a negative thought crosses your mind-take notice, a new opportunity crosses your path and your turn the other way, or a chance to get into dialogue with a stranger represents itself and you pretend your busy or looking at your smartphone; grab onto it, take the opportunity, make a different choice and say “yes”. Turn the dark into light by changing one thought, one word, one day and interaction at a time.

When the negative images, voices or thoughts creep up, take a moment to pause and intervene with these questions or thoughts:

Acknowledge your negative images, voices or suspicions. Just notice them without judgement.
Take note of your surroundings. Are you in danger or are you just about to experience something new and are a little nervous or unsettled? Thank your negative mind, we all have one, and tell it that you are “ok” and that you are choosing a new experience.

Then LEAP OR RUN torward the chance to do something that scares you. To do something that will begin to replace the negative images that hold each and everyone of us back in some way shape or form.
Because, once you choose to do something different you can never go back to the way you were. It’s never “dark.”

Leaping affectionately toward the light!

Merry Lynch

P.S. Finding it hard to dispel those negative thoughts? Try doing something different by learning about the power of intention with my FREE self-guided, on-line program: Live Life Fearlessly Through the Power of Intention. Take the leap, dare to build the life of your dreams. It’s just a click away.

Are you brave enough?

Traveling through Poland a country that has been ravaged by war over and over again makes it seem like there are stories to be told in every corner, town and village. No matter where we go, people share the memories, the losses, the triumphs. This time the story is of one woman’s bravery and the vines.

I often wonder if I would be brave enough to endure such hardship. I wonder if I would risk my life or that of my family for a neighbor, friend or stranger who is be taken away to a concentration camp. I wonder if I would just give in.

These thoughts came flooding in my mind as we (my husband and I) found ourselves driving through the countryside in the village of Dlugiesiodlo. This is horse country. Since the 16th century Poland has been breeding Arabian horses and has used them extensively throughout their cavalry with much success.

We happen across a horse show for young teens and watched as these majestic creatures pass by. Now mainly appreciated and owned for their beauty, the Polish Arabian horse can bring upwards of $100,000 at the Autumn Arabian Auction in Janow Podlaski.

As the horse show comes to an end we follow the horses and their riders to the stable to get a closer look. The horses are handled with kit gloves and well attended. The young female riders busy themselves by braiding the mane and tails of their horses in a loving way. There is a deep connection between the rider and the horse. The Arabian’s are brilliant and very inquisitive, preferring humans over other horses.

We walk around the beautiful property and come across a lovely stone home covered in ivy. In some places the ivy is so thick that it has even covered the windows. I wonder why the owners would not cut the vines back? Maybe they’re too old or simply not bothered by the darkness that lay inside the home.

As I stand and ponder, which I often do, an older gentleman exits the door. He notices me standing there staring. He begins to talk to me, in Polish of course, and I grab my husband to come translate. He tells the story of his aunt who lived in the home during World War II. She was the brave one.

Nazi’s were on the hunt for Jews. The Nazi’s scoured every inch of Poland pulling Jews out of their homes and off to the concentration and extermination camps in Auschwitz and Birkenau where over 1.1 million people died. This home was no exception.

Imagine the terror. You live alone in the country, surrounded only by fields and woods and then comes the knock on the door. A banging really. You rush to see who is there and the Nazi’s, in full uniform, come bursting through your door. Rummaging in every closet, every nook and cranny, opening every door. Your heart pounds. You are overcome with fear. But the vines know. It’s in God’s hands now.

The Nazi’s leave nothing to chance. They ransack everything as the woman stands in silence praying to be spared. They yell and threaten. She is alone and vulnerable. But the vines know.

Finally, the ordeal is over. The Nazi’s have left. She stands still making sure there is silence and that all is safe. She runs up the stairs to the second floor. Quickly opening the door to the bedroom that was pillaged by the army. Everything is in a shambles. She glances at the window, it is closed, the vines know.

Gathering up her strength she runs to the window and opens it. They are safe. The vines knew. The vines that covered the home were so thick that the Jewish neighbors were able to hide behind them as they stood on the edge of the balcony, holding their breath for dear life. They survived this time.

So, as I ask if the vines will be trimmed to allow light in the room, the man just shakes his head “no.” The vines will keep them safe. The vines will remain. The image of this home and the story he told still shakes me to my core. The fear this young woman must have felt overwhelms me. What would I have done? How brave would I be?

To bravery,

Merry Lynch

P.S. If you enjoyed my journey through the Polish countryside you may also enjoy this:

Poland, a place to visit and fall in love

Don’t take offense, it’s a cultural thing

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Health benefits of eating seeds

SEEDS –  good for your health and your life

Hanging out in a foreign country during the summer has many benefits, one being the harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables where the farmers line the streets to share their abundance. Polish farmers, no matter what size their plot of land always have something to share even if it is a bag full of paprika’s or pears picked fresh off the tree and left by roadside for you to enjoy. The honor system is in place here where you take what you want and leave the payment behind. Everyone gets to share in the abundance.

You might think that growing up in a small New England town where the farm stands were plenty, that I might have planted a few tomatoes along the way. But actually, I never really thought about where my food came from or how it grew. It just always seemed to appear on my plate.

My mom, a stay at home mother, was not a gardener. She did have window boxes that she loved to tend to but never planted anything that we could eat and certainly never grew anything from seed. Gardening all seemed very foreign to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, I never knew where to begin. As a young girl, when not at school or at the beach you would find me in the closest tree with pine sap all through my long curls and all over my hands and clothing. So, getting dirty never seemed to stop me from doing anything. I just didn’t have a role model or even know of anyone that gardened or grew their own vegetables.

Poland has a history steeped in gardening with a love for the soil. During the centuries of death and destruction, gardening was one way they could keep food on the table and be able to barter with the neighbors who may have milk cows, chickens or pigs, maybe even some honey. We met with a farmer at Hala Mirowska, the Warsaw farmers market, whose family has had a stand there for over 100 years and have no plans of doing anything else. They are farmers to their core.

 

This love for the soil continues and the abundance at the farmers markets is both beautiful to see and mouth-watering to taste. There are many things that surprise me about the food that the Polish farmers produce, the size, the different varieties of the same fruit or vegetable, the taste, the color. They even have farmers that only sell eggs, which are left out in the sun in a basket, and you can purchase the eggs based on the flavor or nutrients you are looking for. The chickens are feed different kinds of food to produce different nutrients and tastes. Food is eaten by season, something that I certainly had to get used to when first moving here. I have heard that eating by season is healthy but never really experienced it. It’s really quite different and was very frustrating at first.

Coming from America where I could get anything I wanted at any time, made it a hard adjustment in my cooking style. The summer harvest is colorful and tasty where the fruit or vegetables seem to burst with flavor in your mouth, while the winter harvest is made up of cabbage, sauerkraut, potatoes, pickles and root vegetables. Quite a different recipe collection and color on your dining plate, especially since the meat selection is generally made up of pork or chicken. So your winter dinner plate can look pretty bland, still tasty, but bland looking.

Summertime in Poland is when you find people of all ages wandering the streets with giant sunflowers (some bigger than the size of my hand), leaving behind a trail of seed hulls wherever they go. I am a big fan of sunflower seeds but had never thought of eating them right out of the flower. Sure, they are messy and maybe your hands get a little dirty, but it is fun to grab a flower and munch wherever you may be heading. It’s a summer thing. You can’t do this any other time of year. That is what makes it so special and silly all at the same time.

What I didn’t realize are the health benefits from eating sunflower seeds. For instance, one quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides your body with over half of the amount of copper that your body needs for the day. For menopausal women, these seeds are packed with vitamin E which helps to reduce hot flashes as well as reduce the risk of colon cancer. They are also packed with magnesium, which helps with your mood and depression. The seeds also provide vitamin B1, B3 and B6 along with selenium, phosphorus and folate providing the body with the nutrients it needs to ward off stress. And don’t let me forget that it’s kind of meditative to sit and pull the seeds out one by one and eat them.

So even if you can only purchase sunflower seeds packaged in a bag, go out and get on the summertime bandwagon of enjoying this nutrient packed powerhouse of what Mother Nature has to offer and leave your own trail of sunflower seed hulls wherever you go.

Enjoy the fruits of summer!

Merry Lynch

P.S. Many people ask me how I did it. How did I pack up everything and move abroad? How did I bust through fears, anxiety, financial implications, and just do it? If that is you, the one thing I can share is that I set an intention. I set an intention on every vision board that I created. I set an intention on my screen saver on my computer. I set an intention and would say it to myself when I looked in the mirror. I felt it, I could smell it, and I could taste it. It takes igniting and aligning each of the senses so that your sub-conscious begins to believe it and places before you the tools and opportunities to make it happen. Then all I had to do was act.

Here is a FREE program I created to teach you how to that. It’s called LIVE LIFE FEARLESSLY THROUGH THE POWER OF INTENTION. It worked for me and I know it can for you as well. Go ahead, it’s FREE. Get your life back and going in the direction that you dream about. There is a great workbook that you can download as well that will take your right through the process as well as videos to keep you on track. Get it today!

 

4 Ways to Practice Forgiveness

Living in a foreign country puts me in situations that I have never experienced before. These are not bad situations, or scary, just different. Many people stay stuck just where they are because of this. Doing something different doesn’t always feel good but that in no way means it’s a bad thing.

As adults, we go to the same restaurants, eat the same food, use the same words, drive the same roads and then talk about a life we are not willing to grab. But what if you were? What could you do?

For instance, maybe you want to live abroad? You could begin reading about others that have already moved away. Or study the countries you are interested. Make a pros and cons list. Maybe join an international expat organization, many of them are free. Plan the date of your garage sale to begin “right sizing”. Language classes maybe?

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, there is no time like the present deciding what retirement means to you. We have choices and lots of them. There is absolutely no reason not live an extraordinary life at any age. So just what does all this have to do with forgiveness. EVERYTHING! This “forgiveness” stuff smacked me in the side of the head while driving through Spain.

Driving to church in the south of Spain, my husband and I began to quarrel. I was driving, our big ol’ 1998 black Mercedes, that we shipped over when we began our overseas journey in 2015. I had never driven in Spain although I have visited on several different occasions. Time to learn a new skill!

My husband and I, gave ourselves more than enough time to get to church. What we did not realize was the GPS signal would be blocked by the walls of the old buildings in the historic town and we would have to find our own way.

The streets wound up and down getting narrower as we traveled. At times it felt as though the side mirrors would snap off from being rubbed against parked cars or sides of buildings. People darted in and out between the cars, and the bicyclists seemed to come from everywhere. Then it was the buzzing sound of the moped creeping up behind me nudging me to move over, so it could pass.

I felt totally out of my element and out of control. Then on top of it all, we were now late. Making some wrong turns and not finding any parking was making this short drive unbearable. My husband telling me to go faster, turn here, go there, do this all while the sites and sounds were clashing around me made us bicker. It was the blame game. I know you know the one. Pointing the finger at someone else, it’s his or her fault. It seems to instantly appear and more so when trying new things. Hence, why as adults, we do the same thing over and over again expecting different results instead of going through being uncomfortable for a while.

BAM! There it was. I realized what was going on in my head as the tears are streaming down my face as we solemnly walk through the church doors. I was mad…at my husband. And then, I realized that I needed to cut myself some slack and him too. So, I headed off in another direction to have some me time.

I walked into a small enclave at the side of the church and was overcome by what I saw. The small room boasted a statue of Mother Mary surrounded by hundreds of fresh bouquets and newly lit candles in celebration of Lent.

The message was loud and clear. Forgive. Instead of being mad at my husband, I needed to forgive myself. Learning something new, like driving through the narrow streets of Europe, takes time to master.

I noticed how mad I was. I was pointing the finger at my husband, instead of realizing that it’s ok to be embarrassed, to make a mistake, to not know what to do. But it is not ok to blame someone else, to feel guilty that I don’t know, to be embarrassed, to feel shameful that this is my first time in driving the narrow, windy streets of a city that is centuries old.

So, as I stood looking up the statue of Mother Mary, I begin to turn my thoughts around to being overcome with gratitude for the life I have. I began to be thankful for having the fortitude to try something different and not give up. To be grateful that I have a man beside me that loves me so deeply.

Doing something different is not always easy but that in no way means you should not try. It does mean you must forgive yourself and leave the shame, guilt and embarrassment game at the door.

Here are my 4 Tips to Practicing Forgiveness:

  1. It’s About You. Take the finger and point it back at yourself. Now matter what the circumstance, you played a part.
  2. Recognize It. Don’t let your thoughts take you down a rabbit hole. Grab a hold of them and stop the blame game. Be okay with the part that you played. End the emotional roller coaster.
  3. Where are these thoughts coming from? By noticing just how quickly our thoughts move outward and onto someone or something else will help to bring you back to the present moment.
  4. Let It Go. Seems kind of cliché to say this but it is so true. Don’t go hashing and re-hashing the circumstance. Learn from it and Let It Go so that you can GROW.

Mother Teresa says, “if we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” So, the next time you venture out into the wide world and attempt something new, begin by forgiving yourself, have a laugh, then go out and enjoy the journey.

Enjoy!

Merry Lynch

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