What a Non-Sports Fan Learned From the Superbowl

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Because I grew up with three older brothers you’d think I’d be very interested in sports…but I’m not.  I know some of the basic rules for football and basketball and baseball, but for some reason I never became an avid fan. 

That’s why I was a little surprised when last Sunday’s Super Bowl game had such an impact on me. 

As I thought about it, what really captured my attention was not the final score or even the action on the field – but the sheer determination to win.  A focus that became so intense it was unexplainable and unbeatable.

Here’s what I observed – and since I’m not a sports aficionado, I will probably get some of the details and terminology wrong.  But what I saw has far greater impact than any numbers on a scoreboard.    

All I know is that one team was winning by a whole lot with only a few minutes left in the game.  It seemed obvious to everyone who the winner would be.  There was a HUGE point difference and it seemed insurmountable.

Then something changed.  Somehow, some way, the losing team dug deep inside themselves and found a strength that kept them moving forward – one yard at a time, one play at a time, one touchdown at a time. 

They refused to give up!!!

Even when most people around them did give up – even some of their fans – they refused to throw in the towel.  The losing team found courage, confidence and belief in themselves and their teammates.  They found a way to chip away at that score, and in just a few minutes they crossed that finish line – champions. 

Impressive —Very Impressive!

The power of not giving up, of believing in yourself, of giving it one more try.  I can’t even begin to imagine what we can accomplish with that type of determination.

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Oh Look – Another Shiny Object

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The first month of 2017 is behind us, and if I could share one thing that has made my last 31 days successful, it would be this:

I’ve stopped looking for the next shiny object.

Sometimes it seems like I’m always looking for what’s next:

                                                The next workshop that I just can’t miss

                                                The next webinar that will have all the answers

                                                The next article that will solve all my problems

So now instead of looking for what’s next, I’m focusing on what I already have right in front of me.  And the first place I looked was at all those piles sitting on my desk.  Those same piles that contain all the information I collected at the last workshop I attended or the last webinar I watched or the last article I read.  There on my desk sits notes I took, phrases I highlighted and pages I dog-eared – all waiting for me to finish what I started.

I’m taking time to look at all those unfinished projects and making decisions rather than excuses.  Decisions to concentrate and apply what I’ve already learned.

Someone once told me that if you don’t use something within the first six months, you might as well throw it out because you’ll never look at it again.  I strongly disagree.  As I’m going through those mounds of paper and notebooks, I’m finding some really good stuff.  And now I’m ready to use it.  So in my next blog, or my next speech, you just may hear something that I resurrected .  Something that really resonated with me and hopefully will do the same for you.   

So the next time a bright shiny object is calling to you, stop and take a look at what you already have right in front of you.  After all, it was important enough at one time for you to keep. Dust it off and take another look before you bury it beneath that new handout you just brought home.

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A Peaceful Roar

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This is NOT a political statement, nor am I taking anyone’s side.  I’m simply sharing my thoughts on something that touched me deeply.

A few days ago, we all witnessed the 2017 Women’s March.  It’s estimated that approximately four million Americans gathered to support one another, to speak out for a cause, and to say “I’ve got your back.”  The people who gathered on this day, all over the world, were of different ages with different backgrounds – all with their own story.  They got on buses, hopped on  trains, crowded into airports so they could walk for something they believed in. 

And it was all done peacefully.

That’s the part that really got to me emotionally.  Instead of fighting and yelling and screaming obscenities, you saw people holding hands, hugging each other and smiling.  Lots and lots of smiles.

They promoted awareness in a peaceful manner.

It made me realize that if you really believe in something, and you want to get it done, it’s up to you to lace up those shoes, stand up straight, and take that first step.  Sometimes it’s hard to brush off all those “no’s” that people throw at you, but who would have guessed that a movement like the 2017 Women’s March would resonate around the world with millions participating.  You never know where that first step will take you.

Watching the massive crowds gather in the different towns and cities really sent a chill up my spine. Just think of all we can accomplish – all YOU can accomplish – when we don’t give up on our beliefs.

Those words of Katy Perry keep rolling around in my head: “You’re going to hear me roar.”

 

 

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I Just Need Possible

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I just heard some fascinating news on the radio – YES, I still listen to the radio!

The announcer said that today, half way through January, 75% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned.  What?  75%?  It’s only two weeks into the New Year and the New You.  What would make someone give up so quickly?

Then, as I was pointing my finger towards others, I noticed that four of my fingers were pointing back at me.  How many times have I made the same resolutions year after year after year?  I began to wonder why they seemed so hard to keep, and I came up with these five ideas:

1.        Sometimes we get so excited and so ambitious and we make a LIST of resolutions.  No wonder we become overwhelmed and discouraged.  Try focusing on just ONE change.  I know a year seems like a long time to work on only one thing, but just think how amazing it would be if you actually got that one thing accomplished, finished, done with, and never again to be seen on another New Year’s resolution list – ever again.

2.       Be kind to yourself.  If you falter today, start again tomorrow.  Don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel.  This change will take time, and as my mother always said: “You have more time than money.”

3.       Celebrate your success along the way.  That doesn’t mean a hot fudge sundae if your goal is to lose weight, but maybe it could be something like taking time for a bubble bath or sharing a glass of wine with a friend.

4.        Remember that you have a choice.  My weakness is chocolate so I’m always struggling with losing those extra pounds.  When I reach for that chocolate, I tell myself that I have a choice – I can eat that chocolate now or I can have a healthier body.  Which is more important?  If I’m honest, the chocolate does win out more often than I’d like to admit, but I’m working on that.  Knowing that I have a choice helps me to put things in perspective.

5.       Make your resolution a year long process, not just a one night statement.  Work at it every day until it becomes a habit.  I once heard someone say (and I paraphrase): I don’t need easy, I just need possible.  Make your resolution a promise to yourself that is possible.

Well, let me know how it goes.  Right now I’m going to make myself part of the 25% that have not given up on their resolutions.  I’m working on making mine possible.

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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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