No Matter How Much Things Change, They Still Remain the Same

Professional Speaker-Peresonal Development-Positive Attitude

It was terrifying. My palms were sweating and my heart was racing. I kept telling myself: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

What was causing all this distress? I was going to the dentist. Was it for a special procedure? Nope, not at all. Just a routine cleaning; a procedure I have gotten hundreds – no, thousands – of times before. So, what made this one so stressful? It was the first time in three months that I ventured outside my home. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been self-isolating and this is the first time I’ve tried to return to some sort of normalcy in the past 90 days.

In one way it felt good to believe that this whole experience was behind us; in another way I was fearful that we have not seen the last of it yet.

As I entered the dentist’s office, there were some obvious changes. Hand sanitizer at the door, required face masks for everyone who was in the room, plastic panels separating me from the people who sat behind the desk. After my temperature was taken, my dental hygienist entered looking like someone straight out of a Twilight Zone episode – hair wrapped in a turban, face mask and head gear with a shield just like a welder would wear.

Once I got used to this new look, and we started talking, everything seemed normal again. There were stories told and lots of laughter. The surroundings may have changed, but the people did not. As I left, the women at the front desk waved and I wished them a good day. It made me realize that even though so much has changed in the last 90 days, some things will always stay the same. I got great comfort in realizing that my world of friendliness and compassion and hope was still there. My world was still filled with great beauty.

 

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Escape Boredom

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Is boredom setting in? Or has it already tightened its grip on you and just won’t let go. In the beginning, about eight weeks ago, many of us welcomed some down time so we could finish that book or try that new recipe. But now? Its feeling like Groundhog Day where every morning is the same. I know this sounds crazy, but some mornings I actually miss those traffic jams. Anything to bring a little variety to my day!

So, how are you keeping your sanity? How are you maintaining some sort of normalcy? And please don’t tell me about another game night or family gathering on Zoom! My butt can’t take any more.

Here’s one idea. Carve out some time – I mean actually put the date and time on your calendar – and do something, an activity, that you really enjoy. Not one that Aunt Suzi said you should try or one your Mom said is perfect for you. But an activity that really makes you happy. Make sure it has a clear beginning, middle and an end. That way it will give you a sense of accomplishment. Remember, these are not “have to do” activities, but something you really LIKE to do.

Personally, I don’t cook, I hate to clean my house and gardening is marginal. But the one thing I do love is talking on the phone. So, every day I pick one person, family or friend, who I carve out time to talk to and find out how life is treating them. I pour a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and just enjoy some girlfriend time. It gives me something to look forward to, catch up with people I haven’t heard from for months, and just feel good about the relationships I’ve nurtured over the years.

So, what will it be for you? What will you choose to do that makes you happy? Now, go schedule some time and just enjoy.

 

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Is That a Light at the End of the Tunnel?

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Today, in our world of uncertainty, we often feel like we have lost control. Like our life is spiraling – and it is. The trick is to stop, take a look, and notice HOW it is spiraling. It is downward or upward? More importantly, who is in control?

I have to be honest – some days I’m not sure. I personally crave some sort of permanence at a time when nothing looks familiar. When can I go back to work; eat at a restaurant; go to a movie? When can I do something as simple as hugging my brother or walking next to my friend without shouting over six feet of distance?

The key is to notice and believe that all things, good and bad, come to an end. And I promise you, this, too, will also come to an end. Soon, VERY soon, we will see that light at the end of the tunnel and know that WE are the ones in control. We choose our own destiny and decide how we will spend our day. Sometimes we may feel a little stuck, and that’s ok, because tomorrow will give us another chance to begin again; to make sure that our life is spiraling upwards.

We have faced change so many times. Think about it. Haven’t you moved into a new house, calling it your forever home, until you move again? Maybe you’ve faced divorce swearing you will never love again – until you do. And each time, with each change, you have seen and trusted that light at the end of the tunnel.

So right now, take a look and squint. I swear I see a flicker.

 

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Pretty in Pink

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

When this crisis is finally behind us, what will you do first? Who will you be most happy to see? Of course, my obvious answer is my family. I really miss feeling their hugs and hearing their laughter. But if I’m really honest with myself, a close second to family is my hair stylist. Yep, that’s right. The woman that I trust with my hair every single month to cover my gray and make me look good.

Right now, I’m going into my second month of no touch-ups, so my gray roots are out of control. In addition to my roots, my career is also spinning in a direction I had not planned. As of today, all the speeches I had scheduled for this year have been cancelled so I really don’t know when I will be on stage again. It could be months before I am in front of a live audience.

So, that is why I’ve decided this is a good time to let my hair grow out to its natural color – white. And to add a little fun, I contacted my hair stylist today and asked about adding an under layer of pink.

“Is that still a thing?” I asked

“If it’s subtle,” she replied. “And this is the perfect time to try something fun.”

I have to admit it’s a bit scary but what the heck. If I don’t do it now I probably never will. My greatest fear is that my white hair will make me look ten years older, but my stylist assured me that we can always change it again if I don’t like it. So, we scheduled an appointment for the end of May, fingers crossed that she will be back in business by then. Hopefully, my hair won’t be as pink as the photo I posted here, but you never know.

What about you? Has your time in self-isolation given you a different outlook? Are you ready to try something you’ve never done before? I’m curious – what will you change, either inside or out.

 

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Finding Balance

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Have you ever been consumed by your thoughts? Maybe life unexpectedly threw you a curve ball and you suddenly found yourself in a situation that you just didn’t want to deal with. It could be a lost job, a health scare, or a relationship that ended.

Before you know it, you are questioning everything about your life and you feel like you’ve lost control. How do you get it back? How do you take control once again? There are times when you may feel like quitting everything – your job, your relationship, even your belief in yourself.

So, what’s the next logical thing to do? Come on, let’s be honest. For many of us, we try to fill that void; we try to mask that loss. We do whatever we can to dull the pain. Think about it: If you lose your job, you might try to fill that void by spending more time with your spouse. If your relationship goes south, you try to replace it with more work or exercise. And what if a good friendship just fizzles out – well, you can always spend more time with your significant other.

We’ve all tried to fill these voids in one way or another, but the bottom line is that it never works. Balance is the key word here. I know you’re heard it a million times, and there’s a good reason for that – it works! If we could just find the right amount of time and energy to allocate to all aspects of life, we can learn to quiet and control those voices in our head. Just know that it’s ok to feel lonely; it’s ok to face disappointment and loss. Balance in your life will help even out the those ups and downs. It helps restore the calm.

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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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I Ain’t No Quitter

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

National Quitters Day.  Have you heard of it? 

Apparently, it’s a day that has been set aside to recognize when most people abandon their New Year’s resolution.  Yes, they’ve actually done research to show that your motivation begins to waiver on the second Friday in January. This year it was January 12th.  So, all those goals you set, all those promises you made to yourself, are discarded.  Whether you vowed to exercise more, spend less money or take more time for yourself, you leave all that behind and fall back into your old habits.  It takes only two weeks to surrender to your old self.

Well, if you fall into the category of resolution quitter, all is not lost.  Let’s think about this in a different way:

What if we stop thinking of our resolutions as goals.  Instead, envision them as patterns that need to be tweaked.  What if we committed to 1%.  That’s it – only 1%, to being better every day.  That’s doable, isn’t it?   Not overwhelming at all.  Think about it.  Just 1% better at:

  • Losing that extra weight
  • Saving more money
  • Being kinder to our neighbor, our family, ourselves! 

I’m going to start my 1% tomorrow.  NO – I’m going to start RIGHT NOW.  Yes.  I envision a healthier lifestyle for myself.  I’m packing my bag for the gym tonight and won’t let excuses get in my way.  Yes, my 1% starts right now.  What about you?  Want to give it a try?

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Change is in the Air

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

A new season is upon us, there’s no denying it.  Just take a look around.  The falling leaves and the falling temperature are both sure signs that autumn has arrived.

As I breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the changing colors, I can’t help but think of how this season parallels my life.  

First of all, there is change, and that is something we cannot control.   Our only hope is to accept it and find a way to deal with it.  Some change is harder than others, and many times we are brought to our knees because we don’t know how we will survive it.  But it may help to remember that the longer nights, and the darkness, are always followed by light.  No matter how long the night may seem, it WILL come to an end.

So, keep your eyes open, enjoy your surroundings, and you may even discover some fun along the way.  With Fall also comes Halloween and candy (peanut butter cups for me, please) and stomping through the leaves.  When the time is right, you will be able to see the beauty –  even in the darkness. 

I love this Amish Proverb: A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Here’s to embracing the many twist and turns that life has in store for us.

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I Just Need Possible

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I just heard some fascinating news on the radio – YES, I still listen to the radio!

The announcer said that today, half way through January, 75% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned.  What?  75%?  It’s only two weeks into the New Year and the New You.  What would make someone give up so quickly?

Then, as I was pointing my finger towards others, I noticed that four of my fingers were pointing back at me.  How many times have I made the same resolutions year after year after year?  I began to wonder why they seemed so hard to keep, and I came up with these five ideas:

1.        Sometimes we get so excited and so ambitious and we make a LIST of resolutions.  No wonder we become overwhelmed and discouraged.  Try focusing on just ONE change.  I know a year seems like a long time to work on only one thing, but just think how amazing it would be if you actually got that one thing accomplished, finished, done with, and never again to be seen on another New Year’s resolution list – ever again.

2.       Be kind to yourself.  If you falter today, start again tomorrow.  Don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel.  This change will take time, and as my mother always said: “You have more time than money.”

3.       Celebrate your success along the way.  That doesn’t mean a hot fudge sundae if your goal is to lose weight, but maybe it could be something like taking time for a bubble bath or sharing a glass of wine with a friend.

4.        Remember that you have a choice.  My weakness is chocolate so I’m always struggling with losing those extra pounds.  When I reach for that chocolate, I tell myself that I have a choice – I can eat that chocolate now or I can have a healthier body.  Which is more important?  If I’m honest, the chocolate does win out more often than I’d like to admit, but I’m working on that.  Knowing that I have a choice helps me to put things in perspective.

5.       Make your resolution a year long process, not just a one night statement.  Work at it every day until it becomes a habit.  I once heard someone say (and I paraphrase): I don’t need easy, I just need possible.  Make your resolution a promise to yourself that is possible.

Well, let me know how it goes.  Right now I’m going to make myself part of the 25% that have not given up on their resolutions.  I’m working on making mine possible.

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Making an Impact!

Professional Speaker-Positive Attitude-Personal Development

Our words, and our actions, can truly affect someone else – greater than we can ever imagine. They can actually change someone’s life, and we may never have any idea of the impact we have made.

For me, that person was my father. You see, I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a very small house.  In fact, we had two tiny bedrooms for six people, so it was a bit tight.  The outside of our home was equally as small, but my father had a green thumb and he could make anything grow.

We had flowers everywhere! Miraculously, somehow, my father had every square inch of dirt bursting with color.

There were bright yellow marigolds, flaming red geraniums, and deep purple rooster cones.

But the best, the very best, were the roses. My father had two beautiful rose bushes that grew up a trellis and leaned against our brick garage.  What a contrast!  The hard, cold brick framing the soft, delicate roses.

Every spring, when the first rose bloomed, my father would gently cut it off the vine and put it in a very plain ordinary glass. He put it in the middle of our kitchen table, and with his very best handwriting, he would scribble a note that said “For My Princess”.

That was me!!!

When I walked in the door, there it was, a rose as beautiful as anything I had ever seen, welcoming me home from school. I can’t begin to tell you how special it made me feel.

My father would repeat this same ceremony in the fall, with the last rose of the garden.

I received that first and last rose of the season from my father, with his precious note “For My Princess”, until I left for college.

My father passed away over 25 years ago. At his wake, I placed two roses on the pillow where his head rested – one for the first rose and one for the last rose in his garden.

Although the roses have stopped, that memory has stayed with me for a lifetime, without fading. Most importantly, it has helped me through some very difficult times.  Times when major changes in my life shook me to the core and changed my life forever.  Times when I just wanted to curl up and die because I felt worthless.

Then suddenly, without expecting it, I would see a rose. Maybe I walked through the fresh flower section of my local grocery store, or maybe I strolled past a neighborhood park.  Seeing those beautiful roses would open a floodgate of such loving memories.  Suddenly, I would find myself standing a little taller, lifting my head a little higher, and smiling.  And I realized, I can’t be worthless – after all, I am a princess.

I never told my father how he made me feel. He had no idea how, years later, those roses would still affect my life.  Heck, I don’t think I even realized it myself.  I would like to have a chance to tell him now if I could.  But since I can’t, the next best thing I can do is pass it on to you.

You never know what people will remember. So, now I try to take every opportunity to be kind, to open myself up, and to be vulnerable.  It doesn’t have to be big.  It could be as simple as saying “thanks for being my friend.”

Who has made an impact on your life? I’d love to hear your story.

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