I’ll Take a Mulligan, Please

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

It’s my brother’s birthday tomorrow, and since he loves to play golf, I sent him an appropriate card with a golfer on the front. The saying inside said something about a mulligan, but since I have no idea what that means, I really didn’t pay any attention to the words. I bought the card for the photo on the front.

So, when my brother called me this morning, he asked me if I know what a mulligan is. I took a good guess but was totally wrong. So, he explained:

“A mulligan is when a golfer hits a bad shot and is given a chance to do it over again.”

What a concept! What a great idea!! I couldn’t help but think: what if we were given a mulligan in life? What if we were given a do-over when something crummy happens to us or we make a mistake.

As I think back on my life, there are lots of mulligans I’d like to take, but what if you only had one chance – one choice. What would your mulligan be? Let’s see, maybe I’d:

  • Study harder in college – Nah!
  • Learn to cook – I don’t think so!!
  • Save more money – Hardly!!!

The mulligans that come to mind are spending more time with friends and family, laughing a little longer, and even being a better friend myself. When I think of all the mulligans I’d like to cash in, they always revolve around people: loving more and laughing harder.

Don’t you just love that word “mulligan.” It opens up a lot of opportunities on how we can all play better in the game of life.


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Following the Sun

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This time of year, every year, sunflowers come into full bloom. Since I grew up in the inner city of Chicago, I never actually saw a sunflower in real life – only in pictures. I guess that’s why I was so fascinated when I found an entire field of them growing just a few minutes from my new home in Middleton, Wi.

I discovered that sunflowers follow the sun. Did you know that? They actually start each morning facing east, then slowly turning – I mean physically turning – to follow the sun as it sets in the west. As I read more about this, I learned that it’s really the younger flowers that do this, yet how amazing.

It made me wonder about you and me and how we start every day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn from the sunflower and look toward the sun? To follow the brightest spot on the horizon even on those cloudy days that we all face? How empowering to stand together, supporting each other and sharing our energy.

As I look at this picture of the sunflower fields, I can almost see the faces of my family and friends who have stood beside me during my cloudy days. I see Jack and Geryl and Asha and Dennis and so many more. I am surround by a field of friends who never let me forget to follow the sun.

If you’d like to learn more about these beautiful fields of sunflowers, check out Pope Farm in Middleton, WI: https://www.popefarmconservancy.org/.


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A Lesson on Kindness from a Six-Year-Old

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Did you read this heartfelt message from a six-year-old boy who wants to share a lesson on kindness?

I actually read it yesterday morning and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was tucked between the horrendous news of the mass shootings in both Ohio and Texas. As I read about tragedy and tears and turmoil, my heart was heavy.

Then, there it was. An article that started with the quote: “I will be your friend.” As the story goes, a mother told her son she would make him a back-to-school T-shirt with any message he chose. It could be something about one of the school’s sports teams or anything his heart desired. The young boy chose the phrase “I will be your friend.” He said he wanted any classmates who are being bullied to know they have a friend in him.

Even as I write this blog, I have tears in my eyes. Such a powerful lesson from a small child. May we all learn from his kindness and love.

If you’d like to read more about this story, just click here: https://cbsn.ws/2YNL3U3.


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Calm the “No’s” You Tell Yourself

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How many times have you heard the word “no”:

  • No, you don’t qualify for that loan
  • No, you didn’t get that promotion
  • No, I don’t have time to meet with you

Even worse, how many times have you told yourself “no”:

  • No, I don’t have enough experience so I won’t even bother to try
  • No, I’m not smart enough to get that position
  • No, I’m just not good enough

Those are the most damaging of all – the “no’s” we tell ourselves. They can limit our possibilities and squash our dreams. So how can we overcome them? How can we control them?

Well, here’s one trick that helps me:

Every time I tell myself “no,” I stop and replace that statement with something positive. For instance, if I tell myself “No, I’m not qualified for that job,” I will stop and turn that statement into something like “I know I am qualified and will do all I can to prepare for that position.” Then I’ll make a list of all the qualities I possess that will make me a success.

One of the most challenging times for me was when I first started my speaking business. I can’t begin to tell you how many people told me I was “too old” to start my own business. Many people, even some dear friends, told me that no one pays for speakers anymore and that I would fail. It was really hard to push through, but I overcame these “no’s” by replacing them with statements like:

I believe I have a powerful message that will help others who are facing challenges in their life. I believe in myself and I am NOT going to give up.

Replacing “no’s” with a positive statement will not eliminate them completely, but I guarantee that it will quiet them. Every time you see one coming your way, stop, face it, and say something good to replace it. With time, you will have all those negative thoughts, and all those “no’s,” under control.

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Stretch Your Comfort Zone

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Staying in your comfort zone is easy, it’s safe and it’s predictable. You know what to expect and you know you can handle it.

It can also be boring. That’s why I, personally, am always searching for something new to experience, whether it’s a different restaurant or a unique event to research.

And normally it works out pretty well in my “after hours” life, especially if there’s little chance of failure. But what about real life? How often do we stretch beyond our comfort zone to take on a new project or risk failure?

Achieving a new level of success is not easy – and it shouldn’t be. Forcing yourself to face fear and self-doubt tells you that you are on the right track. Don’t run from the discomfort – face it. Dig deep down and fine tune all those talents you know you possess. Believe you will be a stronger person tomorrow because of the challenges you push through today.

Think back to the last time you found yourself out of your comfort zone. Did you have those same feelings of fear? I’m guessing the answer is “yes,” yet you found a way to conquer them. And how do you feel now when you face a similar situation today? Not so scary, is it? Why? Because you have expanded your comfort zone.

The way I see it is: The task didn’t become easier – you became stronger. So, push past those metal restrictions you place on yourself, stretch those comfort zones, and know you can achieve new levels of success. Acknowledge the fear, accept it, then do it anyway. You will be amazed at what lies ahead of you.

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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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