“I Ain’t Settlin”!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

“Music was my refuge,” said Maya Angelou. And I couldn’t agree more.

During some of my darkest times, it was music that helped me keep my sanity.

Several years ago, life threw me a curve that I wasn’t expecting. I don’t have to tell you what I mean, because I’m guessing that you’ve been there yourself.  Maybe losing a job, feeling betrayed by a friend, trying to figure out how to survive the loss of someone you love…  whatever your challenge may be.

Well, that’s where I was. Trying to figure out how to make it to the next day.  I just lost my 15 year relationship, had moved into a very small apartment with no furniture, and had no money.   But what I did have was a boom box.  Yes, a boom box (remember those?)  It had a broken antenna so I couldn’t get any radio stations, but I could play one CD at a time.

One of the big hits at that time was a song called I Ain’t Settlin by Sugarland. I bought that CD and played it over and over again.

Then, in my darkest moments, when I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I just didn’t know how to move forward, I would blast that song as loud as I possibly could.

My small apartment had wooden floors, so I would put on a pair of socks, and singing at the top of my lungs, I would run and skid across the floor, pronouncing to the world “I ain’t settlin!!!”

And it helped – if only for a little while. I knew that I was going to be ok.  I knew that somehow, someway, I would find the strength and the courage to move on, recreate myself, and find my way to a better place.

So, here’s my song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA26RstqSnw.  Just one of the many that made me stand taller, believe in myself, and not let anyone else define me.

Do you have a song you’d like to share – one that gave you strength, hope, made you smile? Who knows?  Maybe we can gather enough songs to create our own Power CD to be played whenever we need a little helping hand.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Mindset Positive Thinking Professional Development
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Making an Impact!

Professional Speaker-Positive Attitude-Personal Development

Our words, and our actions, can truly affect someone else – greater than we can ever imagine. They can actually change someone’s life, and we may never have any idea of the impact we have made.

For me, that person was my father. You see, I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a very small house.  In fact, we had two tiny bedrooms for six people, so it was a bit tight.  The outside of our home was equally as small, but my father had a green thumb and he could make anything grow.

We had flowers everywhere! Miraculously, somehow, my father had every square inch of dirt bursting with color.

There were bright yellow marigolds, flaming red geraniums, and deep purple rooster cones.

But the best, the very best, were the roses. My father had two beautiful rose bushes that grew up a trellis and leaned against our brick garage.  What a contrast!  The hard, cold brick framing the soft, delicate roses.

Every spring, when the first rose bloomed, my father would gently cut it off the vine and put it in a very plain ordinary glass. He put it in the middle of our kitchen table, and with his very best handwriting, he would scribble a note that said “For My Princess”.

That was me!!!

When I walked in the door, there it was, a rose as beautiful as anything I had ever seen, welcoming me home from school. I can’t begin to tell you how special it made me feel.

My father would repeat this same ceremony in the fall, with the last rose of the garden.

I received that first and last rose of the season from my father, with his precious note “For My Princess”, until I left for college.

My father passed away over 25 years ago. At his wake, I placed two roses on the pillow where his head rested – one for the first rose and one for the last rose in his garden.

Although the roses have stopped, that memory has stayed with me for a lifetime, without fading. Most importantly, it has helped me through some very difficult times.  Times when major changes in my life shook me to the core and changed my life forever.  Times when I just wanted to curl up and die because I felt worthless.

Then suddenly, without expecting it, I would see a rose. Maybe I walked through the fresh flower section of my local grocery store, or maybe I strolled past a neighborhood park.  Seeing those beautiful roses would open a floodgate of such loving memories.  Suddenly, I would find myself standing a little taller, lifting my head a little higher, and smiling.  And I realized, I can’t be worthless – after all, I am a princess.

I never told my father how he made me feel. He had no idea how, years later, those roses would still affect my life.  Heck, I don’t think I even realized it myself.  I would like to have a chance to tell him now if I could.  But since I can’t, the next best thing I can do is pass it on to you.

You never know what people will remember. So, now I try to take every opportunity to be kind, to open myself up, and to be vulnerable.  It doesn’t have to be big.  It could be as simple as saying “thanks for being my friend.”

Who has made an impact on your life? I’d love to hear your story.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Mindset Positive Thinking Professional Development
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Well, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Professional Speaker-Positive Attitude-Personal Development

Just a few days ago, my husband and I took a short trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. They were having their annual Winterfest where they host the US National snow sculpture contest.   And they did not disappoint.  Beautifully detailed snow statues lined the lake front. Then I heard a voice in the crowd say:

“Did you see the cars in the lake?”

And I thought – what a novel idea for an art display. So we headed down the street, and there at the end of the snow sculptures, were about a dozen cars floating in Lake Geneva, just off the shore.  It seemed so surreal that I really believed they were purposely driven out there as part of the Winterfest exhibits.  After all, what else could it be?  When I mentioned that to my husband, someone behind me replied:

“Uh, no, people actually parked their cars on the ice and they fell through.”

Apparently, cars have parked on the ice every single year and were safe, but obviously, not this year.

Now, my heart went out to these families. Not only did they lose their car, but they had no idea how they were going to get home… and who knows what the final cost of the damage will be. I’m sure they were beating themselves up over their decision to park on the ice.

That’s when I remembered the topic of one of my speeches on positive attitude:

You make the best decision you can at the time with the information you have.

Yes, I really believe this. Think about it – you rarely make a bad decision intentionally.  Those people who parked on the ice didn’t say:

“Hey, let’s park on the frozen lake so when the ice melts, our cars will fall through and they will be totaled.”

NO!

They assessed the situation, saw other cars on the ice, knew that it had been done in past years with no regrets, and actually made a good decision at the time with the information they had.

So if you think of it that way – I made the best decision I could at the time with the information I had – eventually you can let go of any challenging situation that may be facing you, so you can begin to move forward with your life. No matter what the situation is, no matter how bleak it seems at the moment, eventually you have to let go so you can open yourself up to new opportunities.

What decisions have you made that seemed ok at the time, but didn’t turn out exactly the way you hoped. Looking back, was it a good decision at the time you made it?

Categories: Personal Development Positive Thinking Professional Development
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Aging to Perfection

I love being an older woman. You may think I’m crazy, but it’s true.  With age comes freedom.  I have finally figured out what I like, what I don’t like, and I have stopped making excuses for either.  I finally have the freedom to be myself; to live my own life and not the life that others think I should.

This lesson did not come easy for me. It took years, actually about 60 of them, before I arrived at this place in my life.  You see, I grew up at a time when everything around me said I had to be domestic.  You know, cooking and cleaning and that kind of stuff.  For years, I tried – I really tried – but I hated to cook, every minute of it, and I just didn’t want to do it.  My family and friends truly wanted to help and refused to give up on me.  They were convinced that if I just knew HOW to cook, I would like it, so they gave me cook books, videos of the famous chefs, even cooking classes.

And you know what?  I STILL hate to cook.  But now I don’t make excuses for it anymore. With age, I have learned to embrace my own uniqueness.

Yes, I have wrinkles, and yes, I have more pounds on my butt than I’d like to admit, but I have earned every one of them through experiences, some good and some not so good, that led me to where I am today. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

True beauty is ageless, and to find yours, try one of these three tips:

  1. Surround yourself with confident, kind and interesting people who encourage you and help you pursue your dream.
  2. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you or tell you anything less than “you can do it”.
  3. Take some time to discover who you really are and not what someone else wants you to be.

Once you find the answers, you will begin to experience life like you have never known before.  You will see things with an excitement and a passion that you have never felt before.  When you look in the mirror, you will see a confident, vibrant, mature person looking back at you.

Aging is inevitable – it’s not going away. So take control of your life and find more time to do the things that make you smile.  After all, it’s not the number of your age that matters, it’s your attitude and the way you look at life.  A positive attitude will give you armor that no one can crack, and nothing can dull – not even your age.

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