What Boat Are You In?

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Recently I had coffee with a friend. During our conversation, she suddenly said: “We may all be in the same storm but we’re not in the same boat.”

Wow – that really struck a chord with me. Think about it. We are all definitely in the same storm named COVID. How we navigate our own boat or the actual experiences we are having are all different.

Personally, I don’t have children so I don’t have to navigate school and lessons and how to become a teacher overnight. Also, I’m not in the same boat as those trying to learn the ins and outs of working from home. Although it may sound sooooo inviting, you soon begin to understand that you need to set boundaries so you can stay motivated.

For me, my greatest challenge has been the isolation. You will find me in the boat with all the other extraverts, trying to figure out how to survive without other people. I even love interacting with strangers. I’ve been told that I can make friends while standing in line at the grocery store. Well, I don’t have that option anymore. Now things have changed so much that people are hesitant to speak to each other. For an extrovert who get their energy from other people, that is torturous.

So, you see, there are all different kinds of boats. The trick to survival is knowing what boat you are in, taking the good with the bad, reaching out a helping hand to those who are going a little more crazy than you are, and remembering that we are all in this together. It sounds trite but it is so true, so I’ll say it again:

We are all in this together.


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If You Could Do It All Over Again

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What is your do-over? C’mon, I know you have at least one. Is there something you did or didn’t do; something you said or didn’t say, and you would like another chance to do it differently?

For me, I wish I would have asked my father about his garden. It sounds so simple, yet something I never did. He took great pride into covering every bit of ground in our front yard with brilliant geraniums and beautiful marigolds. I’d love to know why he enjoyed it so much; why did he find such peacefulness there.  More than anything I would love to connect with him over something he enjoyed doing so much.

So, if I could do it all over again, that would be it — I would ask my dad about his flowers and what he loved about it so much. Why he found such joy in that small but mighty garden in front of our city home. I did not inherit my Father’s green thumb, but what I do treasure are all the beautiful flowers in my yard that my husband has planted. Maybe, in some form, I am entering into my father’s world, seeing the beauty that he planted year after year, and absorbing some of the peacefulness he must have known through his own garden.

Yes, that would it. That would definitely be one of my do-overs.


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Objects are Smaller in the Rear-View Mirror

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When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, we all said things like:  2020 isn’t the end of the world, it’s the start of a new one.

I, for one, was very thankful for the unexpected time off. I felt like I had been given a gift to reevaluate my life; try some new adventures and finish some projects that I had put on the back burner. I was energized.

But now? 120 days into this pandemic with no end in sight? I’m wearing out.  I have to work harder each day to keep my positive attitude. I have to try harder to keep from being consumed by stress and uncertainty. So, to help calm the crazy, I play a game with myself. Maybe this will help you as well:

When I’m feeling scared and overwhelmed, I think of the rear-view mirror on my car. I know that sounds strange, but please play along with me. What do you see when you look into yours? Do you notice that the images in your rear-view mirror are distorted, smaller and even fading away? Well, that’s how I like to think about this pandemic. With each day that passes – I acknowledge that it is behind me, out of focus and getting smaller. Eventually, it will be out of sight.

So, I encourage you to think of tomorrow as a new start. Think of all this as preparation for what lies ahead.  Slowly but surely, we will shift our attention to our windshield, looking forward and focusing on what lies ahead. The past and what we see in the rear view mirror will only be a memory.


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Productivity During the Pandemic

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How’s your energy level these days? Are you feeling a little sluggish? Sleeping a little more than usual? Well, you’re not alone.

When this pandemic first started, it was a novel idea to work from home.  Wearing casual clothes every day was fun, and seeing the cat prance across your colleague’s desk as they were giving a presentation was certainly different. But now? Now it’s not so cute anymore. If I’m honest with myself, I’m tired and confused and have lost my energy. With this pandemic and the uncertainty of when things will get back to some sort of normal, I don’t have a definite time limit to complete my projects and I’ve certainly lost my focus.

So, if you’re in the same boat as me how do we fix it?

Well, here’s one tip that might help. You’ve probably heard this one before but it doesn’t hurt to review:

Start your day with the one thing you dread the most. Something that you need to do but, for some reason, haven’t gotten around to it. Make a point of finishing it first thing in the morning before you get sucked down the rabbit hole of emails and social media. If it’s part of a bigger project, at least you can get it started. Take a deep breath and just do it. That way you will get a sense of accomplishment and you don’t have to agonize over it all day long.

Well, that’s my plan. Starting tomorrow I will pick the one thing I dread the most and just get it done first thing in the morning. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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What Super Hero Power Would You Choose?

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If you could have any super hero power in the world, what would it be?

  • Would you like to be invisible?
  • Fly above the clouds?
  • Possess super human strength?

Personally, I would love to have the power to know other people’s stories. Why they act a certain way – what in their background caused them to say or do something in the moment. I honestly believe that if we know someone’s story, it will strengthen the human connection we have with them. Make us understand and sympathize with their reaction.

There have certainly been times in my past when I wish I could have a “do over.” Change something I said or something I did – to have a second chance to make it right. Over the years, I’ve lost a couple of friendships because I didn’t have the patience or the skills to listen to their story. Today, I regret some of those loses, so I guess that’s why I’d like the super power of truly listening to – and hearing – other people’s story.

Now it’s your turn – what super hero power would you choose?


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New Phrases for Our Changing World

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We now have a new vocabulary. Think about it. Just four months ago we never heard of elbow bumping, social distancing or self-isolating. Now, they are part of our everyday language.

And, as time goes on, we are developing new habits, whether we want to or not. Every single day, our lives are changing and the hardest part, at least for me, is not knowing when this will end. So, I entertain myself with admiring the creativity and adaptability of others. We now have:

  • Patio parties where people stay at a safe distance, yet socialize with family or friends.
  • A baseball field that has turned into a drive-in movie.
  • A bar with individual bumper tables.

You’ve heard it a million times: The only thing constant is change. Well, now is the time to prove that theory. Now if the time to accept change as best we can, embrace the creativity of others and acknowledge and appreciate the endurance we have discovered within ourselves.

I think this quote by Charles Darwin says it all: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

There is always a bridge that will take you to the other side – you just need the courage to keep looking for it.


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It Only Takes Two Little Words

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During this pandemic and self-isolation, we can all feel a little edgy at times; maybe even a bit unappreciated. Well, here’s an easy tip on how to lighten the mood. Each day, take a moment to reach out to others and let them know how much you value them.

A simple “thank you” can work wonders. It makes someone feel appreciated and know that they actually made a difference. To make it even better, say “thank you” for one specific thing that they did, like:

  • Thank you for making dinner tonight…
  • Thank you for taking the garbage out…
  • Thank you for buying my favorite chocolate…

OK, maybe that last one was wishful thinking, but you get the idea. Try it tonight and I bet the favor will be returned. After all, with all the challenges we face in today’s world, wouldn’t it be nice to add a little brightness to someone’s day? I promise, it will come back to you over and over again.


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Pandemic Partners

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Seriously, how are you holding up? As time marches on and we find ourselves spending more and more time isolated with our family, are you feeling closer to them – or like you want to strangle them? If you are honest with yourself, it’s probably a little bit of both.

We all know that connecting during this time of crisis is so important, yet it can be so challenging. Although I am enjoying some quality time with my husband, and Zooming with friends I haven’t seen in years, I find myself extremely lonely. I want to – no, NEED to – hug again. I want to feel comfortable moving through a crowd of people without reaching for my face mask or worrying about standing six feet apart.

So, I patiently wait for tomorrow, believing it will offer a new start. Hoping that the challenges we face today are part of the preparation we need for what lies ahead. I truly believe that the emotional exercises we are learning now are getting us ready for a stronger tomorrow. I know that I have learned to put many things in perspective and there is so much I will never take for granted again. Knowing that I picked the perfect Pandemic Partner is one of them.


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Tragic Optimism Can Help Even on the Darkest Days

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It’s a mess out there right now. With the pandemic, riots, looting and killer bees on their way, it’s like we’re trapped in some sci-fi movie. The only difference is – we don’t know when this story will end. So how do you deal with all the fear and confusion and anger.

Something that helps me is knowing that there is a choice. Every morning when you wake up, you get to choose how you will spend that day; you get to choose if your emotions will consume you or enlighten you. Make no mistake about it, you are the only one who can make that choice.

Yes, there are days when it is hard to find the good, I’m not denying that. Other days when it’s beyond difficult to find a reason to get out of bed. On those days, remember the words of the famous holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl: “tragic optimism”. He said that to survive the concentration camps, it helped him and others find meaning in every single day.

Now, I’m not asking you to deny your emotions. In fact, I encourage you to feel the anger and the sadness and the pain. Just don’t let them consume you. No matter how dark a situation may be, look for that flicker of light. Make a choice to find meaning in every single day and ask yourself each morning: What can I intentionally do today that will bring meaning to my life.


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Find Your Strength in Others

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“You can succeed when no one believes in you but you have no chance of succeeding when you don’t believe in yourself.” Lou Holtz.

And what a difficult time this is to believe in anything. With our world spinning out of control, how do you maintain some sort of sanity through all this mess.

One simple thing that helps me is to focus on the good that is in this world. I try to visualize the image of people cleaning up after the destruction left behind by looters. As my heart breaks for the business owners, my spirit is lifted by seeing people come together to help each other. Here in Madison, we have several groups that are organizing to rebuild our city – rebuild our lives. I guarantee that you will see me amongst those sweeping and restocking and supporting in any way I can.

Take a look at how you can help others, no matter how small or minor it may seem to you. In the process, you will find that the good you do for others returns to you ten-fold.


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