Happiness: Wants v. Needs – Blog

We all want things and we all need things. Or do we?


Are we looking at these things with a clear view? Do we want or need a new car? Do we want a bigger house or do we need one? Why? Sometimes our perspectives are on target. For example, if my current car is singing its death song and is costing more to fix than get a newer one, I might consider that I need a new car. Now, the question becomes, do I get the “top of the line with all the bells and whistles” or do I get something more practical/serviceable for my family needs? Perhaps, my children now have lives and homes of their own and no longer live with me. On a fixed income, I’m spending more for the house bills than I can add to my retirement savings. Perhaps I need someplace else…. Perhaps I want a million (or more) dollars, but though it’s great, will it really bring me happiness and a sense of personal fulfillment? Perhaps it will… or perhaps it will bring more pressures…. Perhaps I love the “simple life” when I go on vacation, but would I still love it on a more permanent level? If this what I really want? Is this what I really need?


We often buy into what is needed because we actually need it. We buy into what is not needed because others tell us we need to do it, or because we have convinced ourselves to listen to others’ persuasions that we need it.

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  • Do things really make us happy or is it a status thing?
  • Do these things really have true meaning to us, bring us joy, or help us to live our best life?
  • Are these things what we have been either led or convinced ourselves to believe is important, but do not bring us happiness or fulfillment?


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If we want to know the answers, we have to look truthfully inside ourselves. If we like and feel good about what we see and hear, wonderful! If we don’t like it, do we really want to change so that we like it and feel good (or are very happy)?  It’s up to us to be happy with ourselves and have a meaningful, fulfilled life. What we need vs. what we want is a question for us order to achieve our happiness.


If we want to change something in our lives so that we have that sense of life value, we can make that change.



If you find you would like to make changes in your life and feel the need for someone to assist you with personal support while you are changing, feel free to use the contact page to message me. 



Training Issues Blog

As a professional, I have had it confirmed and re-confirmed multiple times that every individual has valuable talents and abilities – even when some of those abilities are hidden from others’ view.


The other day, a friend enrolled in an online training and was really excited about it. During the training, disappointment appeared. Though the visuals were great, she was not able to hear the presenter during explained of the visuals (they spoke off camera). She searched for a transcript of the training…but there was none. Therefore, she didn’t get the full benefit from the program.


Most people can raise the volume. However, there are many folks who cannot simply because of hearing difficulties. For example, some people

  • must rely on visuals or reading speech.
  • have hearing difficulties who can hear some sounds and not others.
  • are totally deaf.
  • can hear noises/sounds, but cannot understand speech.
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There are those with severe vision difficulties, so though they hear the audio presentation, the visuals are not easily accessed. Perhaps someone has epilepsy (another hidden condition). Some visuals and sounds initiate a seizure.

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Often, those with personal challenges appear just like everyone else. They us e-mails, texts, carry on conversations, help others, make purchases, etc. As business people, we can’t assume that everyone is the same. As a professional who works with those with different abilities, I see this way too often. With some adjustments in how we present information, we can reach, and help, even more people.


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If you would like to talk with me about how you can reach out to more individuals with challenges in your trainings, feel free to visit my website (https://hiddeninlife.com). Simply go to the contact section and leave me a message.

5 Basic Presentation Tips

When doing any training, the participants will get much more out of the information if they can make it personal and if the training is interesting to them. The following tips are geared to you as a presenter.

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  • Focus on your audience. – There’s nothing that loss participants like not being able to know who whom you are presenting. Talking in depth about statistical analysis on a doctoral level to a group of college freshmen focusing on bachelor level introduction business courses is going to foster disinterest quickly.
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  • Give them something to connect their own experiences to what they are learning. – We all have sat through lectures and power point presentations that have made us question why we have to be there. This might be partially due to not having something that can connect with us so that we walk away with meaningful information.
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  • Focus on the topic. – Getting derailed in your explanation can lose your audience. Keep your information, stories, etc. relevant to your topic. Though you might be very talented in crafting and presenting your information, remember that they want to walk away with something truly valuable that’s relevant to them, their needs, and why they are there.
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  • Vary and combine your methods of presentation. – Everyone in the group is not a visual or auditory learner only. Each person comes to your presentation with varied abilities, and backgrounds. With variety, you can reach more individuals in your group. You can also connect with them in different ways so that your training is more memorable. Remember your own background. What presentations were memorable to you? What made them special?
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  • Remember logistics, diversity, and inclusion. – Some participants have possible different abilities or challenges. To put a video with no closed captions would deter some individuals with hearing issues from getting the most they can from your presentation. If you present on the second floor of a building with only steps, the person in a wheel chair would have difficulty attending. If you don’t like dogs, but a participant has a service dog, you will need to think about how to handle that from your own perspective, since ADA legislation requires the individual have access with their legitimate service dog.  If you present with visuals, will those with vision concerns be able to get that information in a different way or do you have these with large print as well as a standard print size. Are you using colors that enhance only regular visual abilities or colors that compliment each other for reading clarity?



We are all different…. We present differently…. We learn differently.  Together, we share and gain knowledge and skills necessary to make a positive difference.

– Mary Ann Costantini, PhD


If you would be interested in finding out more about how I can help you overcome your own hidden obstacles and deliver your best to your audience, please visit my contact page and message me today to find out how I can help you.  


Uncertainty Gem Blog

Life isn’t always what it seems. Uncertainty can be a challenge.

Our own uncertainty can blind us to what is actually there in areas such as the value of our own self-worth or the ability to really see our own abilities. As humans, we are often taught to see uncertainty as a challenge. It can become an obstacle in our confidence stream, an interference in what’s important, and other areas of our lives. Sometimes we focus on our own “deficits”, but yet see the riches of others’ talents and abilities. Perhaps think we will never measure up – until that one special person we meet helps us to clear our vision of the often hidden obstacles in our lives. At that time, we might view the uncertainty challenge in a more positive light. Addressing the uncertainty challenge may become more of an adventure.

We are much more than what we see. If we saw ourselves as others see us, we would be amazed. If we looked at ourselves in the mirror, removed our biased blindfold to see us as others see us, we would realize that there is beauty and talent in the reflection of the person we see, not the flaws we thought we saw. We would see things like:

  • a person with experience – who has overcome challenges in the past.
  • a person with a bright future – when choosing to turn the light on.
  • a person who sees imperfections (not “flaws”) as a chance to grow and bloom
  • a person of rare gem quality – who is in the polishing process and becoming even more radiant with each stroke of the experiential cloth


We are all in some area of the uncertainty challenge process. By giving up or feeling overpowered, we permit ourselves to throw this raw gem into a dark corner in hopes that it goes away – never to be seen again. However, we can feel free to use this gem as an opportunity for a new life adventure. We can turn the dull, raw gem of uncertainty into a polished beautiful gem of certainty. By overcoming our own uncertainty, we begin to polish our raw gem so that we can use it and allow its brilliance to help light our way to the next level in finding how valuable and special we really are.


If you need someone to help you get started in the polishing process of this uncertainty gem, feel free to contact me. You can use the contact page to send me a message.

Team Bond -Blog

I have come across many people think and refer to service dogs as pets. They are not. They are partners, workers, helpers, guides, servers, and team mates. Each service dog has a specific job to do and has been specially trained for that particular job.

The team is made up of dog and handler. The team helps and relies on each other so that life can continue in a positive way.


The Team

As a service dog handler, I watch out for my partner by providing basic care (food, shelter, exercise, love, healthy lifestyle, etc.) like any other dog owner. However, my responsibilities go way beyond that. Teams train together often, improving various skills relevant to the purpose of the dog’s job and human’s needs. Certification is required. They each must know and understand specialized signals so that the job will be successfully accomplished.

Each relies on the other. Handlers with challenges are assisted with everyday living skills. Without the dog, persons with challenges would not be able to comfortably function “normally” in their world. Often times, this assistance helps the person in daily activities and skills, but also brings about a confidence and sense of “normalcy” that is often missing in their lives without assistance. There is a bond that goes far beyond the bond one has for a pet. The double bond (personal assistant and trusted friend) goes very deep. As a team, they are a vital and intricate part of each other’s lives. They live and work together constantly.

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I know first hand about the loss of a special partner. When a service dog dies, the handler grieves much deeper than might thought. The outward sign is that the dog is no longer by their side. This is in itself a constant reminder of loss. However, inside, this intense loss is hidden from others’ view. I, and others who have experienced this type of loss,  have lost an important part of their lives. We have lost part of ourselves. Like any death of a loved one, the person goes through the grieving process. They will never “forget” about their partner, but they can move forward – each person moving at their own pace and in their own time.

For those who have experienced this, some of the things that might help with the loss of a service dog might include (but would not be limited to):

  • Find a way to honor your team mate:
    • Picture of him/her with you
    • Shadow box holding valuable mementos such as dog tags, service vest, collar, leash, ID/certification card, etc.
    • Donate to an organization associated with you and your team mate or a shelter in His/her name
    • Plant a tree, shrub, or flowers in or near an outdoor area that was special to him/her.
    • Etc.
  • Write in a special Journal about your special experiences and memories.
  • Allow creativity such as poem, art, etc. to express your love and gratitude to your partner.
  • Allow yourself time to heal. Grieving is never a “quick” process. There will be good days and not so good days.
  • Acknowledge that your service dog will Never be replaced.
  • If you get a successor service dog, never compare the successor with your prior service dog. They are two different helpers. Each will have something special to offer you even if they are doing the same job.
  • Talk with a friend, professional, or find a support group who can support you through this process as you move forward with your life.


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If you would like more information on how we can support you through the loss of that special partner, go to the “Contact” page and message me. We would love to be able to help you. We have been there too.

Reaction Freedom Blog

My daughter and I (with my service dog) decided to have lunch while on a shopping spree. We entered a restaurant and followed the host to our table. He made an obvious  point of saying the words “Special section”. An alarm went off in my head. What did he mean by “Special”?  We sat in this section before when the place was nearly full to near capacity–nothing special here. So I dismissed the “specialness”. Perhaps they were getting a large party and needed a certain area. Maybe I misunderstood his words. As we ate, we noticed something else. We were the only ones in that “special section”, other than a couple employees sitting a few tables away, apparently on break. Others came in and were seated in the main area, not off to the side like us. The waitress was smiling and attentive to others, but avoided our table like the plague. Our waitress’ continued sour expression said more than she realized that day.


I have been in different public facilities that have had negative attitudes displayed from the employees and certain patrons. I have also been places where we had very friendly and positive experiences.  I could have become very angry at the negative behaviors. However, I chose to think that the individuals involved simply did not know or understand about service dog teams. After 3 years, there are very few issues that occur. More people have become aware of service animals.




These experiences make me think of other people in the various communities that are misunderstood because of culture, gender, disability, military status, etc. The discrimination that is experienced, is it intentional or unintentional? Both exist in the world. Was this taught from experiences or ignorance?


I’ve learned from others. We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves. How we react is up to us.  We are free to be negative or positive. We can choose to walk away, make a scene, or teach. We can choose to bear the shackles of a grudge or the freedom to forgive. I have decided to liberate myself from the negative by being more positive. I prefer to teach and forgive. I am still learning. I am free. I choose to remain unshackled and free.

Stepping Out – Blog

Stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy.  We leave the comfortable, yet still, area in order to try new things, experience new situations, make changes in ourselves, and move forward with our lives.


In some respects, it can feel like a daunting uncertainty. We often ask others whom we trust about this upcoming change. We look at the various aspects and possibilities. We re-think positions. Finally, mustering courage, we step off that comfort spot, taking that first (scary, but crucial) step. Then, we take another…. Then another…. With each step, we gain assurance and confidence. We find we really are moving forward. We open ourselves to learning and experiencing something new. We often find that what we gain, we begin using to take the next step. As time continues and steps pass, we overcome those fears, hesitations, and uncertainties, often surpassing what we once thought possible for ourselves. We discover we have added a new level (a new dimension) to our own possibilities. We can do more than originally thought. Because of overcoming that barrier that kept us in place, we find ourselves truly free to continue exploring and enjoying other aspects of our life, and the world beyond.


None of this would happen if we didn’t take that first step.



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Weigh the Pros and Cons  –  What it is you really want

How much do you want it? – If you don’t really want it, you will not achieve it.

Make your decision – Go for it

Form a plan – What needs accomplished and how? Make a “To Do” list.

One Step at a time – There are no magic wands to “zap” it into being. You need patience and effort.

Check off the parts you have accomplished – Watch your accomplishments accumulate.

Don’t sabotage yourself – Make enlightened choices that will move you forward.

Think Positive – Get rid of the “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”. It’ll drag you down and create obstacles you don’t need.

Seek support – Remember that others can support you as you travel your path. We all need encouragement.

Appreciation Blog

Too often, we get busy or envious of other’s achievements and forget to appreciate and celebrate our own. We

  • see (and potentially want) what others have, but do not see their trials, work and progression.
  • see in our own minds the end result of a project or goal and can feel the “rush” in order gain the end product, rather than appreciate our own efforts to that achievement.
  • grudgingly acknowledge or often complain about the process, but forget that every step in the journey holds valuable lessons for us.
  • tend to forget about the “little” victories in our journey
  • focus only on the setbacks and major victories and forget that there are so many good parts in-between


Because of these (and quite possibly more that are not mentioned here), we forget to truly appreciate what we have and are experiencing.

  • Obstacles teach us to think, opportunity for more patience, and problem solve.
  • Trials can help us focus on the important things and increase our patience, strength, and perseverance.
  • Setbacks can let us know that no human is “always right” and helps us grow and learn
  • Small gains are quite often the steps to larger gains, taking us closer to our goals.


Some days, we might wish for a magic wand so we can “zap” whatever it is and it would instantaneously be changed to what we desire. However, magic wands would not really allow us to enjoy and truly experience our journey that way. With each step of the process, we have achieved something. Have we recognized what that “something is”?  Were we willing to take a look at this achievement and celebrate it?


Yes, there are times when we would all like something more in our lives. I guess that’s why we have goals. It’s good to be content in knowing that things are going forward and we are where we need to be at this point in life. We are achieving our goals and learning more of life’s lessons in the process. Perhaps you can ask yourself:  How am I appreciating and celebrating the achievements in my life?



Without knowing non-success,

we cannot know true success when it comes….

Without Appreciation,

we might find it difficult to experience

happiness and contentment

in our successes

along our journey.




(See my blog on Acceptance to read about my own disability.)

Chameleons Blog

I had a conversation with a friend the other day. We got on the topic of how we as humans can blend-in with our environment or stand out. It reminded me of a chameleon. As I thought about it, I began to see how we are like the little creatures. We can hide who we really are if we choose or we can boldly go forward so that we can be recognized. We adapt to our surroundings according to the culture or situation we are in.


I have, like so many of you, consciously changed my behaviors according to my situation. When at work, I have had to be a team player – one of the crowd (blending in) to pull my work with others’ to get the job done. I have changed my own “coloring” to a “uniform” standard. (There’s no “I” in “team”.) I, like you, have blended in with the crowd in many situations where I was just one of many. I also become part of my environment when I learn, observe, or just want to stay “unnoticed”.


I have also struck out in the limelight of teaching, volunteer leadership, etc. where those students, administrators, parents, and community members saw me in some type of leadership position (keeping my true colors of who I am as a teacher/leader). At times, I didn’t bother camouflaging myself because I am who I am. I have a service dog, so hiding my disability really isn’t an option. I’m not sure I know too many moms that can “hide” from their children.


We also make our changing ability evident when we are dealing with thoughts and emotions. Some we hide; some we do not. We all have been there. We all choose to blend or be visible.