My Beacon in the Night

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

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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Sorry, What’s Your Name Again?

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How many times have you been in a meeting, an event or even a family reunion and you forgot someone’s name. This happens to me all the time. How embarrassing! So, I wanted to ease my pain and get better at remembering names for more than five seconds after I met the person.

Here are a few ideas that have helped me and may help you as well:

First, really focus on the person and concentrate on their name, nothing else. As you shake their hand, repeat their name and make sure you are pronouncing it correctly. Saying their name once will do, otherwise it can get a little creepy.

Second, make a mental connection with someone you already know. When I recently meet a woman named Anna, I immediately pictured my niece, Anna. It really helps me remember names. If there is no connection with someone you already know, try visualizing. Find something about their face or what they are wearing to remind you of their name. For instance, Carla may be wearing colorful eyeglasses. Hence, Colorful Carla.

Third, introduce the person to someone else using their name. You get double points for this one because not only do you remember their name, but you are also helping them with a meaningful introduction.

People who are good at remembering names probably don’t have a better memory than you do. They just work harder at remembering names. Check out this short video and see if this helps you: https://binged.it/2WGwHEi. Now go out there and meet some new people trying out these techniques. Let me know how it works for you.

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It’s 200 Years Old Today

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Yippee ki-yay! Bring out the bubbly and help me celebrate this 200th blog you are reading right now. Who would have guessed – especially with my tumultuous relationship with technology.

It all started with using my rule of three…

First, my friend, Paul, called and asked me to help him with his blog. I immediately answered:

“Sure! As long as you know I have never written a blog, or even read one.”

Second, this same friend then sent me a blog about writing blogs: https://www.enchantingmarketing.com/category/blog/. They have changed the format somewhat over the past few years, however, when he first sent it to me, I became intrigued. I immediately googled the word blog to figure out what he was talking about.

And here it is – number THREE. I visited my brother, and there on his desk is a book about writing blogs. I was quite surprised and asked: “Are you thinking of writing a blog?”

“Nope” he answered. “My daughter gave it to me. If you want it, take it.”

And there it was, my rule of three! Now I HAD to look into writing a blog. As it turned out, I was leaving on trip to England so I took that book with me.   There, sitting on the Thames River, sipping a Guinness, my first blog was born. When I returned home, I hired someone to set up everything I needed to begin posting my blogs. Since then, I have never missed a week. This is the picture I posted along with my first blog on May 4, 2015.

I truly hope you have found some joy or inspiration or peace in reading my blogs all these years. Each and every one has been written with you in mind.

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My Perfect Facebook Life? HA!!!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

My life is not Facebook perfect. Personally, I don’t know anyone who does live a Facebook life. Yet it seems that every time I open my page, the whole world is on vacation or celebrating something special. There are lots of smiles and hugs and sunsets and rainbows. Be honest, don’t some of those photos and messages just drive you crazy!

For me, Facebook is one small snapshot of my life. Along with that comes stress, feeling overwhelmed, and yet another pair of pants that just don’t fit. However, we don’t post those images on Facebook. We don’t tell the world about our struggles and disappointments. Heck, that wouldn’t be as much fun to read about.

So, I caution you about Facebook and the messages you read there. Yes, I know it’s a great way to connect and share messages, but please be aware that everyone else experiences the same anxieties and doubts as you do. You are not alone. So, if you find all those accomplishments and perfect selfies depressing, I encourage you to close your computer, put your phone down, and call a friend. Find some comfort in the knowledge that you are human and everything does not have to be perfect in your life. I could not have said it better than the insightful Steve Jobs:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

 

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Ageless Beauty

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You are as old as you choose to feel. Really, I mean it! Of course, there are some factors that come into play as we age: a few more aches and pains, not as much flexibility, maybe a bit of a memory lapse now and then. I’m not denying that there are challenges as we get older. One of the biggest ones? People telling you: “you’re too old for that.” After some time, you begin to believe it yourself.

A perfect example of this is the hilarious movie titled Book Club. It’s a hysterical story of four “older” women who refuse to let their age dictate the way they want to live their lives. Each of them have chosen to write the final chapter of their life the way they want it to be. And you know what? You can do the same. You, also, can write the story of your life so it will bring you all the happiness and joy that you can possibly handle – with no judgment. After all, there are many limitations that are placed on us as we get older, but never let the number of your age be one of them

Recently, I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman named Jodi Lyon-Grams who started a series titled Your 50 Forward Story. I am honored that she included me to tell my story.  I hope it helps you feel comfortable with your age and enjoy every single minute of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvHtQr2twew.

 

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Lean Into Joy

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How do we bring more joy into our lives? How can we feel more fulfilled?

That is the 64 million-dollar question. And it’s a difficult one to answer because joy means something different to all of us. One thing is certain, though: I’ve never known anyone to experience joy unless they find purpose in their life.

You know, we all have jobs that pay the bills. Some of us are lucky enough to find passion and purpose in our career. But if that’s not you, then you need to find something that does bring you joy in addition to your work. If your day job feeds your family, you must find something that feeds your soul.

Here’s an example: for years I went to a chiropractor. She helped me recover from a car accident and cured me from a neck pain that I thought would haunt me for the rest of my life. She was the best darn chiropractor I ever had. Then one day I noticed her earrings and complimented her. She said she made them herself, then led me into her back room that was filled with beads and wires and clasps. THAT is what she loved doing in her spare time. Her chiropractic business fed her family; her hobby of making jewelry fed her soul.

The website Etsy is filled with homemade wares that fill someone’s purpose. I’ll bet you that most of the people selling their handcrafted items have full time jobs that are not related to what they are selling on Etsy. Yet they have found a way to cultivate meaningful work. They have found a way to bring purpose into their life. And if arts & crafts isn’t for you, what about volunteering? What club or organization can you become involved with that brings joy into your life.

So, maybe it’s time to let go of “supposed to.” You’re supposed to be miserable at work or you’re supposed to work only at what brings in money. What else can you do, in addition to your day job, that makes your life meaningful.  What else can you do to lean into joy.

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I Salute You, My Dear Friend

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I didn’t want to write this blog. I mean, I was really trying to avoid it. I didn’t want to talk about that life lesson we’ve all heard a million times. You know which one I mean:

Hug the people you love because you never know if this is the last time you will see them.

No matter how many times we hear it, we all seem to fall back into our old habits of taking each other for granted.

So that’s why I didn’t want to write about my dear friend, Jill Morganthaler.  I didn’t want to fall into that old cliché.

But I couldn’t help myself because I can’t seem to think of anything else…

Some people told me I screamed when I heard the news. Jill had suddenly and unexpectedly died while scuba diving.  She was on vacation with her husband. I refused to believe it, even after someone showed me the Facebook message that her brother posted.

“It must be a mistake,” I said. “Someone is playing a sick joke on us.”

But my kind, caring friend, the one holding the phone up for me, shook his head slowly, whispering: “It’s not a joke.”

Jill was a retired Army Colonel who served 30 years in the Army. She was an Iraq vet and had a stare-down with Saddam Hussein as he was leaving the courtroom. She was one tough woman. Over the years I heard stories of her triumphs and her defeats; of her happiness and her fears. We shared victories when we won the Toastmasters contest together and drank martinis before heading to our meetings. She was powerful and forceful – you always knew when Jill was in the room. She was bigger than life itself.

So, I’m not going to tell you to hug the people you love – you already know that. Instead I am just going to be content with the memories and lessons that Jill has etched in my heart. She lived life to the fullest. Even in the last hour of her life, she was doing what she loved – scuba diving. Even in her death, she is leaving behind a story to be told. We are all better for having known her.    I know my life will never be the same.

Rest in Peace, my Dear Friend.

 

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The Power of the Mind

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Last week I talked about dealing with the unpredictability of life.  For me, it was my husband’s surgery and waiting to hear how my life could possibly change.  I’m so happy to report that everything turned out fine.  It seemed like the anticipation and the “getting ready” phase were far worse than the actual surgery itself.

Now that I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, I am reminded once again of what helped me through this very difficult time.  Like all the other times before, it was my friends and family who were there for me.  With their constant calls, emails and texts, I never felt alone.   

One day, as I talked to a friend in a frantic voice, she calmly asked me: “How do you envision it?”   

Without hesitation, I answered: “That everything will be all right.”

Now, as I reflect on that conversation, it reminds me of this picture I have hanging on my bedroom wall.  It was created by Jason Kotecki and I love the possibilities it holds.  One box, the same box, can be anything you want it to be.  You can picture an outcome that you can work towards.  This concept truly helped me keep my sanity during an extremely stressful time.

So, take a minute to look at this picture, embrace all the different possibilities, then ask yourself:

“How would I fill in the blank line at the end of this picture?  How do I envision my life?”

 

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Hello – Is It Me You’re Looking For???

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I don’t get it.  I mean, I truly don’t understand what is so important that everyone is constantly on their phone.  And I’m not just talking about the young people who grew up with this appendage attached to their ear.  It’s also the “older folks,” people my age, who can’t seem to survive 15 minutes without checking their phone.

Now I know I sound like an old lady – like a GET OFF MY LAWN old lady – but I can’t be the only one who feels this way. 

A few nights ago, my husband and I planned a “date” night.  We chose a lovely venue that offers a unique dining experience called The Vignette Dining Club.  The idea is to make you feel like you are dining in someone’s home.  They entertain small groups of approximately 16 people with an intimate atmosphere that celebrates good food, connecting with old friends and making new ones. 

As we were all seated and enjoying the delicious food, I turned to my right to hear what the chef was saying.  He was describing the dish that was in front of us and how he prepared it.  To my surprise and irritation, there were three people who were on their phones.  REALLY!  The teacher in me wanted to grab the phone from the woman next to me and scream: “You’re being rude!”  Of course, I restrained myself, but it was really, really hard.

I truly understand that there are valid reasons that people need to be available – babysitters, aging parents, and many more.  But checking your emails when someone else is talking is not one of them.  That blaring light from your phone affects the experience of those around you.  Can you go one or two hours without checking your email?  If not, maybe you should stay at home.  (Yikes – there, I’ve said it!)

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