Discover Your Adventure

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I walked into a sporting goods store the other day and saw this poster.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Not because of the picture – my idea of camping is spending the night at my friend’s house instead of in my own bed.  But the words “Never Stop Exploring” really hit a chord with me.

What a great concept!  Can you imagine waking up every morning with the attitude that every  day is an adventure and something to be discovered, explored and experienced.

The good, the bad and the ugly.  No matter what is waiting for you.  Reach out to taste it, feel it, and learn from it.  I wonder if this would have made a difference when I was going through a really dark time in my life.  I wonder if it would have made it easier to get up and look for that new job, search for a new home or sit across that desk from the bankruptcy judge.   I wonder if thinking of the day as a new adventure, no matter what it was, would have made that journey of my life a little easier.   

I’ll never know, but you can be sure that there are more challenges yet to come.  Life is a roller coaster and you never know what’s around the next curve.   So all we can do is hold on tight and


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Smiles for Sale

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How do you keep going, day after day?  How do you pump yourself up when you don’t even want to get out of bed some mornings?  It’s hard.  It’s really, really hard, but on those days when you just don’t think you can face another challenge, try this:

Choose to smile!

I’m not kidding; this really works.  And on those days when you just can’t muster up a smile of your own,  here’s a couple of helpful hints:

Mimic some sounds that force a smile, like making the long “e” sound.  It causes you to stretch the corners of your mouth and it comes close to the real thing.  This concept was actually proven by Robert Zajonc who did a study on how smiling can affect your mood.

Another trick is to look at pictures that amuse you, touch your heart, and make you smile no matter how crummy you feel.  What would it be for you?  Pictures of babies?  Pictures of puppies?  Pictures of shoes?  It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it warms your heart.  This video just may help get you started:

Choosing to smile – it sounds so simple and even a little bit hokey, but the key word here is CHOOSE.  There is only one person who can truly make a difference in your life and you already know the answer to that one – YOU.  So make a choice – will you choose to be miserable today or will you choose to take one step towards happiness.  It’s all up to you.

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The Impact of Only Three Letters

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What if you could become a stronger leader, better listener and awesome parent, spouse and friend – all by changing one word?  Yep, that’s right.  All it takes is one word.

Here’s a quick example of how only three letters can change someone’s perspective and attitude.  This example can be used with a team member, friend, and even your teen-age kids:

           “Julie, you did a great job on the project, but…”

What happens when you hear the word “but.”  First of all, it discounts everything that was said before it.  Julie no longer remembers that you said she did a great job, instead she’s waiting to hear the negative comment that follows.  She may even get her feathers all ruffled up, getting ready to defend whatever it is you’re going to say next.

What if you replaced the word “but” with “and?”  How would that sound???

           “Julie, you did a great job on that project, and…”

Now she’s open to hear what you have to say next.  No matter what your ending statement is, Julie is more receptive. 

So the lesson is – change the word “but” to “and.”  It sounds simple, but it’s not.  You see, I just broke my own rule and used the word “but” in the previous sentence.  It takes some work, and it is well worth the time and the effort.  You will get more of what you want, have happier employees and family members, and people will want to hang around you because of your positive attitude.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

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One Cupcake Too Many

Professional Speaker, Positive Attitude, Personal Development

Here I go again!  The Easter holiday just passed and I couldn’t keep myself from reaching for the jelly beans, cupcakes and chocolate bunnies.  Now they’re showing up on my hips, waistline and thighs.  UGH!!!  It was a lot of fun putting on the weight – not so much fun taking it off.

That’s why I came up with three new tricks to help me shed those extra pounds – AGAIN!!!  Maybe a few of them can help you as well:

First: I’m trying to look at this whole weight loss thing a little differently.  Instead of telling myself “no,” I simply do a review at the end of the day and see how I could improve.  What did I eat?  What could I have changed?  What would make tomorrow a better day?  For some reason, asking these questions makes me feel less deprived.  It’s a subtle shift in words and a shift in my attitude. I look at how I can be better instead of beating myself up over the choices I made.

Second: I wear my clothes that are a little tight on me.  It’s a gentle nudge telling me I need to lose some weight.  So as I reach for that dessert after dinner, and it feels like my button is going to pop off and fly across the room, it’s a reminder that maybe I can pass on that chocolate chip cookie this time.

Third: When I have a craving, and for me it’s usually chocolate, I do something to keep my hands busy.  Sometimes I call a friend or I do the laundry or anything that takes my mind off a snack.  It helps me to think about something other than food.

So what do you think?  Give some of these ideas a try.  And the next time you’re tempted to go on a Chocolate Bunny Binge, they just may help you recover from your cravings a little quicker. 

Do you have any other ideas to share?  I’d love to hear them.

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9 Out of 10 Factor

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

So here’s the third lesson in this series on surviving the challenges that life sometimes throws your way.

This technique I actually learned from a movie.  It helped me develop a positive attitude so I could rebuild my confidence and believe in myself once again.

Have you ever seen the movie Miracle on Ice?   It’s a true story about the 1980 winter Olympics.  At that time, the men’s US hockey team was competing against the Soviet Union.  They needed to beat the Soviet Union to ultimately win the gold medal.  Now, at that time, the US team didn’t have the money or the facilities to match the Soviet Union, who had already won several gold medals in previous Olympic Games.   The Soviet Union was favored to win, hands down.

As I was watching this movie, there was a scene where the US coach, Herb Brooks, was in the locker room with his team.  He looked at them and said: “9 out of 10 times, they will win, but not today.”

That one line made me sit up and take notice.  I loved it!  So I filed it in my memory for future use.

Now, at that time in my life, I was looking for a job.  I had just landed an interview for a management position with Bloomingdales in Chicago.  I had management experience, but never in retail.  So before the interview, I researched and prepared everything I could on the position and the company.   I was totally ready.

Then, on the day of the interview, I walked in,  looked around, and noticed that I was surrounded by my competition.  Everybody, and I do mean everybody, was a lot younger than me and had a lot more experience in retail.

That’s when my inner voice kicked in and started pecking away at me.  You know what I mean.

I started telling myself: “Nancy, you’re never going to get this job.  You’re too old.  You don’t have enough experience.”  And I started all that self doubt in my own head.

And that’s when I remembered that phrase from the movie.   I stopped, looked around at my competition and I said to myself: “9 out of 10 times, they will get the job, but not today.”

I went into that interview with so much confidence they couldn’t help but hire me.  Now, did that one phrase alone get me the job? No!  But I’ll tell you what it did do – it gave me the confidence to walk into that room and give the best interview I could possibly give.  I didn’t doubt myself or allow anyone else to doubt my ability.  I didn’t give my power to somebody else.  I had control.

So, you never know when that one line can help – maybe you’re going to an interview, getting ready for a presentation, or facing a family gathering.  Whenever you find yourself in a situation where negative thoughts are coming from your own head, or from other people surrounding you, stop, and tell yourself:

“ 9 out of 10 times that will happen, but not today.”

It will help change your mindset so you can believe in yourself once again.  It sure helped me.

Stay tuned next week for another life lesson learned.

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Iron Pours and Ideas – What Could They Possibly Have in Common?

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Iron pours and pit-fired pottery. I had absolutely no idea what this meant, but there it was, right in front of me. The magazine ad said I could experience this at the Midwest Fire Fest.

I’m in! I LOVE new adventures, so this was right up my alley.

My husband and I jumped in our car and headed to Cambridge, Wisconsin. Never heard of this town? I’m not surprised since it only has a population of 1,457. But there they were – hosting this Fire Fest that totally intrigued me. Not even the steamy temperature or the threatening storms could keep us away.

Standing outside, we watched men and women dressed in fire protective gear throwing chunks of iron into this huge caldron, sparks flying everywhere. When the iron was so hot that it melted, they actually used large ladles to pour the hot iron into small sand molds previously designed by people attending the festival.

Do you see a similarity here?

Think about your ideas and your dreams. They start out in huge chunks, just like the iron. They are unshaped and in raw form. As you begin to move forward, fitting the pieces of your idea together, sparks begin to fly. You get excited, ecstatic and emotional as those pieces begin to mold into one form, one shape, one final idea. Wearing the proper “fire protective gear” is essential so you can tune out all the naysayers and keep moving forward, no matter how many people may tell you “it’s just not possible”.

As I move forward in life, creating and molding my own ideas and my own dreams, I was moved by the 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”.

When your idea, your dream, is finally realized, those around you will be amazed by your tenacity. Many times, you even amaze yourself; seeing your sparks fly everywhere.

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Well, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

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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.”


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?

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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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Google Your Mind

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I was listening to the radio the other day – yes, I still listen to the radio. My younger friends make fun of me, but I’m ok with that.

At any rate, the guy on the radio was talking about 2015, and mentioned the top five Google searches for this past year – Adele’s new album, the Paris attacks, Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, and if you were searching today, you could probably add Star Wars to the list.

It got me thinking – what if I Googled my own mind for the events that made a difference in my personal life this past year?  What top five events would make my list?  Who are the people that I have touched and who touched me in return- possibly changing my life forever.

My list certainly would NOT be the same as the Google list. Even though I enjoy Adele’s music, I can’t say that it has made a profound difference in my world.

So I decided to take a few minutes, reflect and make a list of the top five positive turns my life has taken in 2015. I decided that I wanted to face the new year with a positive attitude, and that is where my focus lies.

At the top of my list, not surprisingly, are the new friends I have made along the way, and the old friendships that I have nurtured. And at the top of that list is my husband.  It’s so comforting to know that each and every day, there is someone who has my back.

Just as important is my family and the stronger ties that continue to build between my brothers and myself.  Rounding out my list would be having a profession that I love, going on my dream trip, and learning to live a more peaceful life.

Have you given any thought to what your personal top five Google list would be for 2015?  Even if you just have one, share it with me.  I’d love to hear what you absolutely loved about 2015.

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