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

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

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

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

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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One Simple Step to Being Happier

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What helps us lower our chances of heart disease, tolerate pain better and even extend our life expectancy? Friendships. Yep – you read that right. Hanging out with friends can help us lead a happier, healthier and longer life. According to research, friendships actually increases a feel-good hormone called oxytocin. It helps us strengthen bonds with other people in our lives and create lasting relationships.

In my humble opinion, hanging out with friends can be different than spending time with family. If you’ve ever been away on a “girl’s weekend,” you understand what I’m talking about. It’s an experience that makes us laugh a little longer and share a few secrets that we never thought we would. It’s a time for acceptance and bonding and just taking care of ourselves.

But in this fast-paced world, how do you keep up with friends? People change jobs, they move, they start their own families. Times change, and so do people. So it’s important to make the time to create experiences with those you really connect with. It’s not about the time we spend together but the bond that is developed. I couldn’t have said this better myself:

“Friendship isn’t about who you have known the longest–It’s about those who came and never left your side.

This is a quote that really touched my heart. It’s a great reminder to invest in the friendships that make you the happiest and brighten your day. I have been so fortunate to meet and become friends with some amazing women. Without them, I would have never survived some of the greatest challenges life threw my way. To all my girlfriends out there, may you all find the happiness and joy that you have brought into my life. I am a richer person because of you.

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Drop Back 10 Yards and Punt

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

How many times have you had a great idea, then stopped short of following through. It could be something in your business life, like: “I’m going to apply for that promotion” OR something in your personal life, like: “I’d really like to go skydiving.” Yet when it comes time to actually DO it, you stop yourself. All those internal “no’s” sweep over you like a huge wave and you just can’t catch your breath.

Why? Why do we find every excuse in the world to sell ourselves short???

It might help to step back and take a look at the end goal. Can you somehow get the same result by taking another road? For instance, if you’ve always wanted to go to veterinary school but just couldn’t afford it, what other options do you have? What other avenues can you explore:

  • Work as a veterinary assistant?
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter??
  • Become a professional groomer or pursue other animal related careers???

Do you get the idea? Figure out what you love to do, then adjust a bit and look at the other options that are available to you. Once you declare to yourself and to the world what your passion is, you will find doors that you never even knew existed. Now all you have to do is open them and discover what lies behind them. And if it doesn’t fit your needs, try the next door.

Life is a continuous process of adjustment and you never know what you will discover along the way.

Think of it as a treasure hunt that will lead you to your moment of triumph.

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My Beacon in the Night

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It was my beacon in the dark, my light at the end of the tunnel, my Taj Mahal. What am I referring to??? The Super 8 hotel in Hampshire, Illinois. No, I can’t even tell you where Hampshire, Illinois is, but what I do know is that when I hit an unexpected, fierce snowstorm, everything came to a standstill. The expressway was totally covered with snow and ice and slush so thick you could not see the lines on the road. I had no idea if I was in my lane or not. With the whiteout conditions, I could barely see five feet in front of me. Then, almost like an apparition, I saw a sign on the side of the road that read Super 8. I could barely see the exit ramp and even made a wrong turn as I tried to find the hotel.

Finally, I made my way to their parking lot and my only worry now was: do they have a vacancy?

WHEW – they did! As other travelers lined up behind me hoping for the same result, I got the key to my room and was happy to be safe.

I had no idea where I was but that didn’t matter. I was warm and safe and on the other side of the window that protected me from the blaring storm outside.

It’s interesting. I drive this route at least once a month. That means I must have passed this specific Super 8 hundreds of times, yet I never noticed it. I’m curious how many other places I’ve missed because I’ve been so consumed by whatever is happening in my life at that moment. I remind myself to make more of an effort to stay in the present. With all of life’s distractions, this is really difficult to do. I promise myself I will try harder tomorrow.

In the meantime, a huge thanks to the Super 8 in Hampshire, Illinois and to the day and night managers for giving me a safe place to lay my head.

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It Only Takes One Little Word

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One small word – only three little letters – can make all the difference in the world. Yes, it’s the power of one word, and the word I’m talking about today is yet.

My good friend and colleague, Roger Wolkoff, taught me this trick: The next time you feel like you can’t do something, just pause, then finish the sentence with yet.

I can’t find a job – yet.

I don’t know how to do this project – yet.

I have no idea what I’m doing – yet.

Get the idea? For me it’s learning to play the ukulele. A couple of years ago I went to a concert where someone sang a lovely song while playing the ukulele and it looked like so much fun. So, I asked for one for my birthday.  When I got my ukulele, I immediately signed up for lessons. OMG – what was I thinking??? I have never played any kind of instrument before and wouldn’t know a musical note if it hit me in the head. So what did I do? I immediately went to:

“I can’t play the ukulele!”

Then, I remembered the trick of using the word yet, and I changed my sentence to:

“I can’t play the ukulele – yet!”

It makes all the difference in the world. That one three letter word opens all sorts of opportunities to you. It helps you flip the switch and begin thinking about what is possible.

So, give it a try. The next time you tell yourself you can’t do something, pause, then add the word yet. It works wonders.

 

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