It Scared the Bejeebers Out of Me!!!

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There it was staring at me, only two feet away. Our eyes locked and it took a minute for my mind to register what stood right in front of my nose. Then my internal alarm went off and screamed – SKUNK!!! I never moved so fast in my life.

You see, I was raised on the south side of Chicago where gang fights were a part of everyday life. But this? This scared me more than anything I ever experienced in the city. It totally freaked me out!!!

I immediately sprung into action and called my neighbor screaming “What do we do???” Together we worked to contact the right people and have the skunk removed. That’s when I realized it – I already possess all the tools I need to face the challenges in my life. It doesn’t matter whether I’m facing a skunk or a blank screen on my computer because of a virus. The formula is the same:

  • First, stop, take a breath and collect your thoughts.
  • Second, ask yourself “who do I know that can help me? Who is an expert in this area?”
  • Third, thank your lucky stars it wasn’t worse. In my case, I could have been bitten or sprayed which I understand is awful.

As I think about it, these three simple steps work every time I find myself WAY out of my comfort zone and in a place I don’t want to be. STOP AND TAKE A BREATH/REACH OUT FOR HELP/BE GREATFUL.

Now if this works for a city girl who came face-to-face with a skunk, I’m confident it will work for you, too. Give it a try.

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Out of 1440 Minutes in a Day, Take 15 for Yourself

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Some days I just don’t feel like it:

  • I don’t feel like waking up to an alarm
  • I don’t feel like reading my emails
  • I don’t feel like cooking dinner

And I know I’m not the only one. Right??? Yet somehow we all find a way to push through it and get all those “supposed to’s” done.

But what if we took a “time out” whenever we needed one, even if only for a few minutes. What if we gave ourselves permission to stop, take a breath and hit the refresh button?

One thing that has helped me get over the guilt of taking breaks is that I schedule them in small chunks. Think about it. If you tell yourself you need the day off, you come up with all sorts of excuses why you don’t have the time. But can you manage 15 minutes? That would be:

  • 15 minutes to soak in the tub
  • 15 minutes to just rest your eyes
  • 15 minutes to enjoy a piece of your favorite chocolate

In fact, I think I’ve talked myself into a 15 minute break right now. I’ve almost finished the book I am reading and haven’t had time to pick it up for the last couple of days. That’s where I’m heading right now. Just 15 minutes, that’s all, and I will feel refreshed and revived and ready to face the rest of the day.

 

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The Sweet Sound of Laughter

It was one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard. As I was slowly waking from my nap, I could hear my husband and my brother laughing hysterically. About what? I have no idea! And it didn’t matter because all I heard was the two men I love most in this world forming a closer relationship.

It all started about six months ago when my husband announced: “I have a great idea. Let’s take a driving trip to the Badlands and Black Hills with your two brothers.” I immediately called them both and was anxious to put the plans in motion. Unfortunately, my oldest brother could not make the trip, so it would be just the three of us forging a new adventure and creating new memories. We decided to travel together for only five days and agreed on a trip consisting of:

Breakfast / Driving / Lunch / Driving / Sightseeing / Driving / Dinner / Driving

You get the idea. Would the three of us survive each other’s company inside a small Acura? Only time would tell. Up until now, we always got along but that was at family gatherings that only lasted a few hours. How would we emerge at the end of a five-day journey, spending nearly 24/7 together?

So, that’s why I loved hearing the sound of my husband and brother laughing. Not only had we survived five full days together, we were all closer because of it. I emerged from this trip with a new appreciation for time and how we choose to spend it. I have a new patience and outlook on family gatherings and the effort we put into strengthening those relationships. For me, get-togethers with family and friends will never be the same again.

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Sit Up and Take Notice

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Most of my friends make fun of me because I like Country Western music. But that hasn’t changed my mind. The messages I hear in those songs are some of the most powerful words I have ever heard. They touch my heart and make me sit up and take notice.

Like the one by Tim McGraw titled Live Like You Were Dying. This song played over the speakers as I was walking through the airport and it made me stop in my tracks. In my hurried and sometimes scattered life, I actually stopped, stood still and listened to the words. Tears came to my eyes when I heard the line: “What I’d do if I could do it all again.”

It actually made me think of my father. Maybe it’s because Father’s Day just passed, or maybe it’s because I never stopped missing him. Whatever the reason, I thought of how I’d spend more time with my Dad if he were still here with me. I’d listen to his stories a little more closely and cherish the times we laughed together. I would ask for his advice – and maybe this time I’d even listen to him.  I know it sounds like a cliché, but I would do just about anything to feel his arms around me one more time. It would be the most sincere hug I have ever known because now, with more years of experience behind me, I would know how to truly FEEL it.

So on those hectic days when I feel like I just can’t add one more item to my list of things to do, I play Tim McGraw’s song and ask myself: “What I’d do if I could do it all again.”

And just in case you’d like to listen: https://binged.it/31CLCTm.

 

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When You Need a Life Preserver…

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It’s raining, it’s cold, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than going to the movies. I chose to see Rocketman, the life story of Elton John, and I was not disappointed. I was especially moved by something Elton John says at the end of the movie. It goes something like this:

“I spent so long trying to keep something I never really had in the first place.”

Wow – this could refer to so many things. We could be searching for:

  • The love and approval of a parent
  • Being accepted by someone you love – or maybe just like
  • Learning how to respect and believe in yourself

And the list goes on…

So how do you let go? How do you find the strength within yourself to live your life without needing the approval of others? In Elton John’s case, he found refuge in drugs and alcohol, and it nearly killed him. So where can we turn to find a safer solution?

For me, it was having someone I could talk to; someone who would not judge me or try to change me. Someone who was just there for me. And as I look back I realize that it may not be the same person throughout the years.

When I was very young, it was my brother, Dennis, who helped me keep my sanity through a crazy childhood. Recently, it’s my husband, Jack, who thinks I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. And in between, there have been so many others who have stopped to listen, lend a helping hand and pull me up when I felt like I was drowning. So many others that believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.

Look around – they are there for you, too. Sometimes, though, we are so caught up in our own mess that we don’t see them; we don’t hear them calling out to us. Just stop! Listen!! And grab onto that hand that is reaching out to help you.

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Is it the Journey or the Destination?

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It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” As I think about those words, I have to respectfully disagree – at least for some occasions. Let me give you an example.

Recently, I traveled to Australia. It took 35 consecutive hours to get there (nope, that’s not a typo), I stood in endless lines and missed two flight connections. Yet, once I reached my destination, it was all worth it. I stayed in a small town called Fremantle which was absolutely gorgeous. In this case, was the journey magical – hell no! Was the destination worth all the aggravation? Absolutely!!!

And now that I think of it, this can also be applied to my current everyday life. Are things going good for me right now? You betca. Was the journey to get here a breeze – not even close. Yet, if I hadn’t survived that bumpy ride in my life, I would never be where I am today. Another case of the destination outshining the journey.

So, I guess you never know. Sometimes there is a pot of gold at the end of all the searching and turmoil and confusion. Other times it’s the journey that brings all the brightness and sunshine. Maybe it’s best to try and find the good in both the journey and the destination.  If nothing else, it will help you keep your sanity!

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When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down

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Facing challenges is a part of everyone’s life. Some small, and others, not so small. How do you survive them? How do you let go when all you want is your old life back?

Well, a couple of years ago, I was interviewed by Dick Goldberg, a respected radio and television talk show host, for his podcast titled Overcoming Adversity. I was honored to share the 30-minute interview with Neil Mathweg, CEO of Realty Executives in Madison, WI. Why were Neil and I interviewed together? Because we had very similar stories. We both lost everything in the 2008 recession – and survived.  Although we took different paths, the outcome was the same. We both faced a deep darkness in our life and came out on the other side, reinvented and better than ever.

Along the way, we learned lessons about life and values and relationships and self-esteem. It’s very hard to talk about those dark days and the embarrassment we both felt.  So why do we do it?  Because both Neil and I want to help others who are going through challenges in their own life. We want to reach out and hope that something we say will make their recovery time shorter and their climb out of the darkness a little easier.

If you have just 30 minutes, please listen to our interview.  You will discover very helpful tips, either for yourself or a friend, that will help you overcome adversity, no matter where life may find you: http://www.dickgoldbergradio.com/overcoming-adversity/.

 

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Fake It Until…

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You’ve all heard the term: “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

But the phrase that has really struck a chord with me is:

“Fake it ‘til you become it. “

The first time I heard this revised version was by Amy Cuddy on her TED talk. It reminded me of all the times I was afraid to try something new; of all the times I told myself: “NO, you just can’t do that. You’re not young enough or strong enough or good enough!” How many times have I set limits on my own possibilities and my own dreams!

A great example of this is my blog. 208 weeks ago I posted my first blog and I had no idea what I was doing. I’m so thankful that I have great friends who helped me set up the technology side of it.  Then I had to figure out the rest on my own. Did I fake it – YES. Did I eventually become it – ABSOLUTELY! It was a great accomplishment and a huge boost to my confidence.

Fear can be such a debilitating force and it can stop us from moving forward. Yet fear is normal. It’s part of the process. Our goal is not to get rid of fear but to walk through it and see who we become in the process.

So, the next time you feel challenged or fearful or begin to doubt your confidence, repeat to yourself.

Fake it ‘til I BECOME it.

BTW – this is the photo of me posting my first blog. Can’t you just feel the fear and astonishment?

 

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What’s Your Why

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What’s your why? The first time I heard this question I was sitting in the audience. The presenter asked this question, then lit up the screen with a picture of his three-year-old son. He proudly stated: “That’s my why. That’s why I get up every morning and do what I do.”

Since that time this question has haunted me. I really wanted to understand my why; to understand why I have such an obsession and love for being in front of an audience and delivering inspirational speeches.

Personally, my answer isn’t so obvious. I don’t have children and no other answer immediately popped into my mind. So, I’ve searched for my answer for years and finally, I figured it out.

It’s really not the speaking that’s my why and certainly not the rush of adrenaline I get just before going on stage. Rather, it’s about helping people who are going through challenging times right now. I guess you could call it a type of Paying it Forward.

For those of you who don’t already know my story, the 2008 recession wiped me out. By 2010, I had lost my business, my savings and my home. The only thing – THE ONLY THING – that got me through that difficult time were my friends. They grabbed me by the hand and led me through the darkness, refusing to let go.

If I can do that for someone else through my speeches, if I can relieve their pain even if for a second or two, then I have found my why. I have found my reason for doing what I do.

It’s a hard question to ask, and my sincere hope is that you find your why and live your purpose. Remember, we don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.

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When Life Gives You Lemons, Make a Limone Martini

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Losing your job sucks. It’s scary and overwhelming and devastating all at the same time. What do you do when this happens to you? How do you handle this setback while keeping your dignity intact?

Breathe!

That’s the first step. Just stop and take a deep breath. I know it doesn’t seem like it right now, but you will survive this. Take a break and let your mind and body absorb what just happened. This is a loss and it needs to be acknowledged.

Then get out a pen and paper. Start making a list of all the people you can reach out to for help; all kinds of help. Let’s see – there’s insurance to be evaluated, budgets to be adjusted, unemployment lines to stand in, and above all, finding a new job.

After you make your list, prioritize everything on it. Stay focused and think about this as a giant puzzle. Slowly but surely, as the pieces begin to fit together, you will begin to see a new picture. You begin to pull yourself out of the darkness and see a lit path that will lead you to your next adventure.

The way I see it is that there aren’t any failures – only opportunities to find a different way to reach your goal. As you work on the puzzle for your new life, turn it around, look at it upside down, and see if you can find a different window or a hidden door that you missed before. Discover the possibilities that you overlooked the first time. What else lies out there for you? Try to keep an open mind – and in the end, if you allow it, your life will be brighter than ever.

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