Your Choice – No Explanation Needed

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I just saw the movie Collateral Beauty.  Although the reviews were not that great, I really loved it.  The story had twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and, when it was over, it left me with a warm feeling inside.

Especially the part, near the end of the movie, when Howard asked Madeleine if she is alone on Christmas Eve.  Her response is simply:  “My choice.”  Two words – that’s all she said.  No explanation, no excuses , no justification – just “My choice.”

Right then and there I learned such a valuable lesson.  There have been so many times in my life when I felt like I had to explain my decision.  So many times when I felt like someone was judging me and I had to justify my choice.   I can’t begin to tell you how often people question the fact that I don’t cook, like it’s a crack in my personality.  So I feel like I have to make myself look better in their eyes and I try to explain WHY.  Even worse, there are people who give me that wrinkled up look on their face when they find out that I don’t have children.  You know what I mean – that pity look.  It never dawns on them that this is a decision that I thought through very carefully and I am happy with it.  This decision did not come easy, but one that has worked out well for me.

So now, the next time someone tries to convince me that I need to take cooking classes to be happy, or starts to get that scrunched up pity look on their face because I haven’t experienced what it’s like to be a parent, I’ll simply say: “My choice.”  No other words are needed.  No other justification.  I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made and I don’t need anyone else’s approval.

I’m hoping that these two words will help you the next time someone challenges your decision.

In the words of the great Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

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Do – Undo – Redo in the New Year

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So, the other day my husband asked me to meet him for dinner.  My answer was quick and direct:

“Sorry – I have to work tonight.”

His response was equally as quick: “I thought your resolution for 2017 was to add more fun to your life.”

He was right!

Last week I posted a blog about New Year’s resolutions and how to view them differently so they actually work.  My intention for 2017 was IS to have more fun, but I realized that I never really thought about the HOW.  HOW was I going to add more fun to my life?

So here it is – some detailed thoughts on how I’m going to reach my goal for the New Year.  This is how I plan on making 2017 more festive:

1.        Take dance lessons with my husband.  This was actually his idea so – NO – I don’t have to drag him to any classes.  We actually took a Flash Mob dance class a couple of years ago and it was a hoot!

2.       Find a Pickleball class.  This is harder than it sounds because most of the classes I’ve found are during the day when I work.  I just have to dig a little deeper.  BTW – if you’ve never heard of Pickleball, neither had I until I moved to Madison just a few years ago.  It’s a cross between tennis and ping-pong – and LOTS of fun.

3.       Go snowshoeing this winter.  I’ve tried this twice before and really enjoyed it.  Now I just have to figure out where to rent some snowshoes here in Madison – then actually bundle up and DO it.

4.       Take an unexpected trip.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just something short, sweet and filled with laughter.  If I draw a 100 mile radius around my home, I’m sure I can come up with something.

5.       Surprise someone.  I want to do something for someone else that will make them laugh out loud.  I have such a great family and so many wonderful friends that it would bring me lots of pleasure to see them smile.

WHEW!  This fun stuff is hard work, but I’m committed to it.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  In the meantime, let me know your thoughts.  What do you want to do, undo, or redo in the New Year?

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The Absolution of Resolutions

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Here we go again.  I can’t believe another year has passed us by. 

Once again it’s a time for:

                                         A New Year

                                         New Beginnings

                                        New Resolutions

So very diligently, I sit down, take out a piece of paper and pen, and write down my New Year’s resolution for 2017.

Hmmmm.  This sounds really familiar.  Wait!  Isn’t this the same resolution I made last year?  The same one that I abandoned half-way through January???

Maybe it’s time to rethink this whole thing.  Maybe it’s time to look at this New Year’s resolution a little differently.   Let’s start with taking the word “should” out of our decision.  There’s lots of them: I should lose weight, I should save more money, I should spend more time with my family.  We can “should” ourselves to death.

So this year, I’m replacing my “should” with “want.”  What do I WANT to do this year to make myself happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed out? 

I’ve decided that I want to have more fun.  More evenings of laughter and smiles and just plain enjoying myself.  This year I’m going to ADD something to my resolution instead of taking something away.  Sure – I could stand to lose some weight, but what fun is that?  And if I’m lucky, maybe I can laugh some of those pounds off.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is to look at your resolutions, goals, or whatever you want to call them, a little differently.  Don’t make it such a chore.  As a wise person once told me: “Stop should-ing on yourself.”  This is a time for a new and improved year, loaded with opportunities just waiting to be discovered.  So as you sit down with your pen and paper – or laptop – and you begin your wish list for 2017, remember to focus on the good fortune that awaits you.   What can you do to prepare for all the exciting adventures in this New Year? 

For me, I say: “2017 – fasten your seatbelt because here I come!!!”  It’s going to be a great year!

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Yep, I Do Believe

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I really love this time of year!

It may sound hokey, but it’s true.  I think it’s because there are so many things that happen only during this season: holiday songs, plays, concerts, parades, and decorations everywhere you look.  The list goes on and on.

Once December is over, PUFF, it all gone.  Packed away and not touched again for another year.

It’s a time for remembering and making new memories.  I’m not one for traditions, but there is one thing I do every Christmas.  I watch the original movie: Miracle on 34th Street.  The one starring Natalie Wood as the little girl.  Since I can remember,  my father and I would watch this same movie every single year – just the two of us.  It was a time to feel loved and safe and peaceful.  It was a time to laugh and cry all at once.  Now when I watch this movie by myself, it’s almost like my father is sitting there right beside me, sharing his love and the magic all over again.

Yes, that’s a good word for it: magic.  During this season I can be a child once again.  To believe in the magic that surrounds us – all of us.  It’s a time to reach out to others and sincerely wish them happiness, to smile from your heart, to believe in kindness

I know it sounds sappy, but I can’t help it.  At this time of year, I look around at all the twinkling lights and the beautiful decorations, and I do believe.  I believe in the goodness and joyfulness that surrounds us every day.  Sometimes we have to look for it a little harder, but it’s always there.  The holidays just make it easier to find.

I sincerely wish you a magical holiday season.  No matter what your beliefs are, we can all use a little more magic in our lives.  When you find yours, don’t forget to share it with others.

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Share Your Wisdom

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For the last nine weeks, every week, I’ve shared an idea that helped me during a very difficult time in my life.  A time when I felt like I had been socked in the stomach and couldn’t breathe.  We’ve all been there; we’ve all faced life challenges.  It may be that you lost your job, lost a loved one, or so many other challenges in between.

Even though the situation may be different, the emotions are so similar.  There are times when we feel scared, angry, and confused.  Our confidence is shaken and we feel beaten down and exhausted.

The nine techniques I shared can help anyone get back on their feet again.  That is, anyone who is ready to heal and begin to move forward to a new beginning.

Some of the things I talked about were:

  • Gratitude
  • Making a game out of a difficult situation
  • The 9 out of 10 factor
  • A formula to visualize your future
  • Knowing that you always made a good decision
  • Paying attention to what comes back to you over and over again
  • Quotes
  • Acknowledging your self-worth
  • The power of the word curious

These nine techniques truly helped me recreate myself.  It took lots of time, and even more ups and downs along the way, but with patience and love from my family and friends, I now have a whole new life.  These nine techniques really helped to pull me out of the darkness.

That’s why I want to share them with you.  My hope is that you read something that will click, something that will help make your journey a little easier – a little stronger.

And now I reach out to you.  I’d love to hear about any tips, techniques, secrets, that helped you through a difficult time.  What kept you going and nudged you to get out of bed in the morning?  What kept you moving forward when everything else told you to just give up?  By sharing, you never know who you may help

After all, we are in this Game of Life together.  Let’s bring a little fun and laughter and peace into each other’s life.  Let’s reach out and pull each other up.

In the wise words of Flavia Weedn: “If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”

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One Word Can Change Everything

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About eight years ago, my life was quite messy, stressful and turned upside down.  Through a series of lessons, slowly but surely, I was able to piece my life back together once again.  One of the most powerful and impactful lessons I learned during that time came from my big brother, Tom.  My really cool big brother, Tom.

At that time, Tom lived in Florida with his family.  I didn’t get to see him as much as I would like, but we talked on the phone as much as we could.  One day, I was walking through this beautiful park and my phone rang.  I could tell from caller ID that it was my brother.  Really excited to hear from him, I shouted:

“Hi Tom.” 

But it wasn’t Tom, it was his wife.  And in a very quiet voice she said: “Nancy, your brother has two months to live.  You better come say your good-byes.”  Wait!  What???  I didn’t understand what was happening. 

When I could finally catch my breath, I jumped on the first flight to Florida.  When Tom opened the door, I was startled.  His body was weak now and he was in a wheelchair.  His beautiful thick black hair – was all gone. 

Seeing the startled look on my face, he grinned, then shouted: “Hey Sis, like my new hair-do?”

And that’s when I knew it.  His body may be weakening but his spirit refused to die.  He was as feisty as ever!

Later that night, Tom started teasing me: “Hey Sis, remember when we were kids and I tricked you into going on your first roller coaster ride?  You were scared to death!”

How could I forget???  We both doubled over with laughter, and when we finally stopped, I took a deep breath, looked at him and said…“Tom, are you scared now?” 

His face turned serious and he said: “No, I’m not scared  – I’m curious.” 

“Curious, what are you curious about?” I asked.

He simply said:  “I’m curious to see what’s next.” 

Shortly after, we said our good-byes and he gave me the biggest, warmest hug ever!   He whispered in my ear:

“Remember Sis, always stay curious.” 

And that was the last time I saw my brother. 

I returned to Chicago.  I was trying to survive the loss of my brother, then when I least expected it, I lost my job.  If you have ever been out of work, you know how awful it is.  Those bills keep piling up and you have no idea how you’re going to pay them. I was so scared.  

That’s when I remembered my brother’s choice of words:  curious.  I thought if he could stay  positive at the end of his life by being curious, what could this word do for me?  I wanted to feel that same feistiness I saw in him.

So I took that word scared and I replaced it with curious.  I thought:  I’m curious if I’ll find my next job – soon.  I’m curious what my next career will be.  And I’m telling you, being curious actually made me feel better, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. 

I felt like I was starting to get some control over my life, but without a job, it wasn’t long before I got that notice in the mail.  The one saying I lost my home.  I was embarrassed and angry and devastated all at the same time.  How could this be happening?  How did I get here?

I needed help, so I decided to try that word curious again.  I took the word devastated and replaced it with curious.  I said: I’m curious if I’ll move to a new city.  I’m curious what my new home will look like.

And I found that each time I used the word curious, I felt better and better.  Through the wisdom of my brother, I began to focus on the opportunity, and not the problem.  Being curious changed my attitude and my life.

That’s the legacy my brother left me – the gift of curiosity.  And now I share his legacy with you.  Life is sometimes scary and overwhelming and unpredictable.  And when that happens, you get to choose.  It’s during those times that I hope you remember the words of my really cool big brother, Tom:

Remember, always stay curious.

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One of the Greatest Lessons I Ever Learned!

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Who would have guessed that I learned my eighth lesson from a 90 year old woman!

As I was trying to rebuild my life and figure out who the “new me” was, my good friend, Asha, suggested that I volunteer.  I couldn’t comprehend that I had anything of value to offer anyone.  I was so distraught and beaten down that I felt worthless.  Who could I possibly help?  Who would want me?

Then, as fate would have it, I heard about an elderly woman who needed company – someone to read to her, talk to her, or play a game with her.  And I thought: Well, I can do that.  No matter how badly I felt, I can still find the time to visit someone.  So I signed up.

And into my life entered Geri Franklin.  A 90 year old, six foot tall, 80 pound ball of energy.  My life would never be the same.

She had adopted a stray cat that she named Lambchops and they were inseparable.  Every time I came to visit her, she would greet me with open arms, give me a great big hug, and call me her angel.  I loved spending time with her, and it wasn’t long before I didn’t feel so worthless anymore.

One evening, as we were sitting in her living room, Geri reached into her purse and pulled out a dollar bill.  It was new and crisp and fresh.  She looked at me mischievously and said: “Do you want it?”

“Sure.”

But as I reached for it, she crumpled it up in her hands.  When she straightened it out, she asked:

“Now that I’ve crumpled it, do you still want it?”

My answer was the same: “Sure!”

But now she threw the dollar bill on the floor and smashed it in the ground.

“What about now.  Do you still want it once it’s been smashed in the ground and dug in the dirt?”

When I answered: “Sure!”  she asked: “Why?”

BECAUSE IT NEVER LOST IT’S WORTH. 

And that, my friends, is the greatest lesson I can share with you:

There will be days when life throws you a curve, and you will feel like you’ve been crumpled up and dug in the dirt.  But remember – no matter what happens, no matter what comes your way, you never, NEVER lose your worth!

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In Other Words…

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Quotes

That’s the one word that would describe this seventh technique that helped me through a very difficult time in my life. 

For some reason, I was really drawn to quotes.  I found that when I heard them and wrote them down, it actually made me feel a little better.  I began to post them all over my house – mirrors, dressers, refrigerators… even on the steering wheel in my car.  So no matter where I went, there was some quote that resonated with me. 

They were about courage, hope, love.  Some made me laugh and others made me cry, but each and every one made me believe in myself a little deeper, it made me feel a little stronger, even if only for a little while.

One of my favorite quotes is: “She believed she could, so she did.”  I had a small plaque with those words on it and I put it smack dab in the middle of my dresser.   I could read it every morning when I woke up and it helped me tackle the day.   More importantly, I read it every night before I went to bed.  That way I had seven or eight hours of sleep where this thought could percolate inside my head.  It helped me believe in myself once again.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite quote?  One that speaks to you and makes you smile?  Maybe you have two quotes.  Three quotes.  Five quotes.  Post them where you can read them every single day. 

I actually made a list of The Top 10 Quotes that Helped Me through the Day.  If you’d like a copy, click here and feel free to use them in whatever way helps you the most.  And if you have time, please share your quote with us. We can all make our own list of favorite quotes and start smiling today.

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The Rule of Three

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Yep, I discovered The Rule of Three when my life was quite messy.  It’s the sixth technique I’m going to share with you during this “How to Get Back on Your Feet” series.

This is what happened:

I started noticing that there were some things in my life that kept coming back to me over and over again, like the word Toastmasters.  I’d never heard about this group, but several people told me to look into it – that I might be interested.

At first I ignored them, but the third time I heard the word Toastmasters, I went home and Googled it.  I found out they are an international organization whose members give speeches at their club meetings, then are evaluated by their peers.  They promote communication, public speaking and leadership skills.  Although I didn’t give any speeches at the time, I decided to give it a try.

Today, Toastmasters is probably one of the major contributions that led me to being a Professional Speaker.   I met so many people who helped me get my new business off the ground and turn it into the success it is today.

Another time The Rule of Three changed my life happened when my young friend, Karla, suggested I try online dating.  Now, realize that I was 63 years old at the time and I had vowed to never let another man in my life.  But somehow, she convinced me to try it and “just see what happens.”

At that time, I lived in Chicago and I never planned on leaving the city – NEVER! 

After a couple of weeks on eHarmony, a picture of a sweet-smiling guy popped up.  I was interested, that is until I saw that he lived in Madison, Wisconsin.

Nope, not for me.  I’m not leaving Chicago.

But the third time his photo appeared, I sent him an invitation.  And as they say, the rest is history.

I now live in Madison, Wisconsin.  We got married a couple of years ago.

So I’ve learned that when something comes back to me three times, I have to  stop and take notice  That doesn’t mean that I have to follow through, but I do have to look at it carefully, research it, then decide what’s best for me.

Remember, you never know what life will throw your way.  It just may be worth taking a closer look.  Paying attention to The Rule of Three has certainly taken my life in different directions, and I couldn’t be happier.

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Need a “Do-Over?”

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Have you ever wanted a do-over?  Have you ever wanted to reverse a decision that didn’t turn out exactly the way you planned?

Well, keep reading.  This next lesson may help you look at those decisions a little differently. 

This technique I learned through a combination of reading motivational books, watching inspirational movies, and meeting some of the greatest people EVER!!!

I admit I’ve made a bunch of decisions that didn’t go as planned.   I found that I was beating myself up each and every day, blaming myself for what went wrong.   I knew I had to find a new way to look at those decisions.  I had to find a way to accept them. 

So I started thinking back to the time when I actually made those choices.  What was really going on in my life?  What information did I have?  And I realized that I never intentionally made a bad decision.  I don’t think any of us do.  I believe that we all make the best decision we can at the time with the information we have.

Let me give you an example:  

At one point in my life, I had a business partner and we invested in real estate.  It was 2006 and the Florida market was hot.  You couldn’t lose!  We had this brilliant idea to sell all our property in Chicago and reinvest it in Florida.   The plan was to make enough money so we could retire early.  We did all the research – we met with realtors, bankers, and attorneys.   It was a great decision. 

Well, we all know how that turned out.  I lost everything.  For years I beat myself up over that decision.  But as I take time to reflect and look back at that situation, I realize that I did all my research and I actually made the best decision I could with the information I had. 

Would I make the same decision today?  Absolutely not!   But at the time, it was a good decision.  I just couldn’t predict the future.   

So stop beating yourself up over things that didn’t go quite right in your life.  Look back to the time when you made that decision.  You may just realize that it was the best thing for you at that time. 

If you are holding on to any regrets, if you are beating yourself up over something you did or didn’t do, say or didn’t say, let it go.  You can’t move forward if you are still holding on to the past.  Give yourself a break and know that you made the best decision you could at the time with the information you had. 

This is a new day – a chance to make new choices.

 

 

 

 

 

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