One Word Can Change Everything

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

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.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Attitude Professional Development Professional Speaker Uncategorized
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Something So Simple

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In my last blog I talked about some of the greatest challenges I have ever faced in my life.  And I also promised to share some of the lessons, tips, techniques – whatever you want to call them – that helped pull me out of the darkness. 

Well, here’s the first one:

It sounds so simple, but it made a huge impact on helping me believe in myself once again.

It’s called the Gratitude List.

But this Gratitude List is slightly different.

I actually read about it in a magazine, and the article promised that it would make me feel better – or at least give me a few minutes of peacefulness.  And at that time, I was willing to try anything!

I remember reading that you have to write down what you are grateful for every day for 30 days.  That’s the key – 30 days.   I thought to myself, “All right, I can do this.  This is simple. ” 

I had just gone through a major change in my life, so I lived in a tiny apartment with no furniture.   I pulled out a pad of paper and a pen, I sat on the floor and thought:

“OK, what am I grateful for today?”  And I came up with………. nothing.  Not one thing.

Because when you are in such a dark place, you can’t think of what you are grateful for.  All you can think of is what you’ve lost. 

So I said to myself:  Nancy, you are not getting up until you think of three things you are grateful for.  That’s all I ask of you – three things. 

It took some time but eventually I did come up with three things.  And every day I would pull out that same pad of paper and start writing things I was grateful for that day.  And amazingly, with each day, the list got longer and the things I was grateful for came easier to me. 

Then about half way through the 30 days, I noticed a shift.  I noticed that the things I was writing down when I first started were very superficial.  I wrote: thank you for my shoes, thank you for my pretty bracelet, thank you for my car.  But as time went on, I wrote things like: thank you for my friends, thank you for the love of my family, thank you for my perseverance.  And I realized these are things I cannot buy with money and things that no one can ever take away from me.  No matter what happens they will always be with me.  

It was at that point that I truly began to feel better, and started the long, confusing process of putting my life back together again.

The Gratitude List is big, and I didn’t expect it. 

So I’m asking you for just 30 days, every day, take out a pad of paper and pen and write down what you are grateful for. Take some time in the morning, at lunchtime or in the evening, but find some time every day.  You WILL see a change in your attitude.  It will help make your life easier, happier and more peaceful. 

Please, let me know your experience with the Gratitude List.  Next week, I’ll share another powerful lesson that helped me turn my life around.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Attitude Professional Development Uncategorized
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60 Seconds of Peacefulness

Personal-Development-60-Seconds-of-Peacefulness

My schedule is CRAZY! I have no time!! How will I ever get everything done!!!

STOP!

TAKE A BREATH!

Now for just one minute – only 60 seconds – look around and see the beauty that surrounds you. It could be those lovely flowers you pass every day and never notice them. Today, for one minute, look at them – see their color, smell their fragrance, and enjoy!

I happen to love sunsets. Whenever I can, I stop my car, get out, and just stand there for a short time and feel myself surrounded by its beauty. It brings me a peaceful feeling and helps me to realize that there is more to life than meetings and emails and more meetings. I’m sure you’ve heard this before: at the end of life, no one says they wished they had spent more time at the office. So think about it, what will you wish you had spent more time doing?

This is the time to put that “something” on your calendar, even if it seems silly – like looking at the stars in the sky before you go to bed at night. Allow yourself the luxury of peacefulness, even if it’s only for one minute.

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