I’m All Ears

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I want to be a better listener!

After getting off the phone with my friend, and listening to all her trials and tribulations, the conversation was suddenly over.  I never had a chance to say one word.  Nothing about myself.  It may sound selfish, but I wanted to be part of the conversation.  When we hung up, I felt empty, alone and like I didn’t matter.

That made me wonder – have I done this to others?  That thought scared me so I decided to make a pledge to myself, right here and right now, to be a better listener.

To get started, I’m going to play this little game with myself.  The next time I’m in a conversation, instead of thinking about what to say next, I’m going to look at the conversation as a learning experience.  A time to discover something new.   Maybe there’s a new restaurant in town I haven’t heard about, or a business contact I can be introduced to.  Who knows?  I may even make a new friend.

I pledge to listen with curiosity and stay focused.  Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to do starting right now.  I believe it will take some practice, but I’m willing to try.  So if we should meet in the near future, and have a conversation, let me know how I’m doing.

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What If You Fly!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I was walking through Staples, and suddenly it seemed like this journal jumped out at me.  I mean it really seemed to leap from the shelf.  I saw this quote and I just had to have it:

What if I fall?
OH, MY DARLING, WHAT IF YOU FLY?

Has this ever happened to you?  That suddenly, unexpectedly, something “speaks” to you and it literally sends shivers up your spine.  You can’t explain it – and you can’t deny it.  

It seems that our lives are often filled with “What if.”  Those two words can stop us in our tracks and paralyze us with fear.  So as we enter into a new year, here is my challenge to you:

  • WHAT IF we can follow those two words with something positive?
  • WHAT IF every time a negative thought creeps in, we stop it in its tracks and replace it immediately with something positive?
  • WHAT IF we see only the possibilities that are in front of us when we utter those two words?               

Now, that’s the way to start a new year.  Welcome to 2018 and all it’s possibilities!!! 

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Give the Gift of You

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

It’s the day after Christmas and…

  • All the gifts are unwrapped – and probably a few returned
  • The holiday music is packed away until next year
  • And Santa Claus has found his way back to the North Pole

It’s time to take a deep breath and think about your holidays – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Hopefully you’ll find a lot more good than the other two. 

It’s no secret – I love this time of year!  And  for many reasons.  One of them is because I always come away with such amusing and amazing stories.  Just think about it for a moment and I’m sure you’ll discover many of your own.

Was there something someone said – or didn’t say.

Something they did?  Or didn’t do???

A recipe that went wrong?  A dog that knocked over the Christmas tree?  A child who screamed with joy at the simplest of pleasures – usually the box that your well thought out gift came in. 

Take some time to write down these stories, or record them.  Make your story come to life by describing all the twists and turns.  Be the star of your own story and take us along on your journey.

Just imagine what a gift this will be for someone else, especially someone who loves you endlessly.  I would do anything to hear my father’s stories in his own voice; to read my mother’s stories in her own handwriting.  What a precious gift that would be. 

Imagine the possibilities and warmth you can bring into someone’s heart.  So take a moment now, heat up some of that leftover eggnog, and start writing or recording.  You’ll be amazed at what you can create.

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May You Always Find Reasons to Believe

At seven years old, I sat on Santa Claus’ lap and I believed in him and all he stood for.  So many years later, I still believe.

I believe we can…

Wonder at everyday life

Delight in our own uniqueness

Stop and listen to the music in our heart

Celebrate our strengths

Be kind to ourselves

Find time for joy

As I write this list, I can’t help but think of the movie The Polar Express and the theme of believing.  As Santa Claus takes the bell and hands it to the little boy, he says: “This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I.  Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”

It doesn’t matter what holiday you celebrate, or what faith you practice, the power of believing keeps us all strong and hopeful and alive.  During this holiday season, I raise a toast to you and all that you can accomplish if you choose to believe.

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The Backstory of “A Christmas Carol”

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Have you heard of it?

This one story has been told through films, stage plays, operas and so much more. I know it so well that I could probably repeat it without any help at all.

The one thing I didn’t know was the backstory.  How it went from a blank piece of paper to one of the most popular stories of all time. 

So when my brother and I decided to go to a movie called “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” I had no idea it was about Charles Dickens and how he created A Christmas Carol.  In fact, I had never even heard of this movie, but I love Christmas and it was the only one playing at the local theater with a holiday theme, so off we went.

It was amazing – I LOVED it!  And it made a huge impact on me.

Did you know that Charles Dickens went from great wealth to suffering from financial problems  just before A Christmas Carol was published?

Did you know that as a 12 year old boy, he was left to work in a filthy, rat-infested factory?  This haunted him just like the ghosts that haunt Scrooge in his book.

Did you know that many people told him the idea of A Christmas Carol would never work?  His publisher, printer, illustrator – all told him “no” at some point, yet he persisted and refused to give up.

Now I know that there are many Hollywood touches to make this story come to life on the big screen, so I did some research.   Much of it is true – a very fascinating story.

If you are interested in seeing the trailer before you invest the 10, 12, or 14 dollars to see this movie, check this out: https://binged.it/2z3w9iR.

Even if Christmas and the holiday season aren’t your time of year, you can’t deny the determination, relentless attitude and belief in himself that Charles Dickens had.  It made me think of all the times I almost quit because someone didn’t believe in me.  This movie is a reminder that once you put your mind to something, great things can be accomplished.  Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in six weeks – YES – six weeks.  Now just imagine what you can accomplish once you set your mind to it.

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Flip the Switch

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

The older I get, the more reflective I become.  That phrase “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” has become my daily mantra.

The way I see it, there are three C’s in life:

Chances

Choices

Changes

Every day you are faced with choices; and many times you are forced to take a chance that will make your life change forever.  Change is hard, especially if we like our life the way it is right now. But we don’t always have an option to keep change at bay.  Sometimes change enters into our life and we don’t even see it coming.  It could be a simple check-up that brings a diagnosis we’re not ready to hear, or a spouse who wants to move in a different direction (without you), or a boss who has to downsize his team and you were the last one hired.  Overnight, your life can change.

So how do you cope with it?  How do you keep putting one foot in front of the other?

Know that you have a choice.  Maybe not over the situation, but certainly over your attitude.  Once you can finally accept the change, finding the best way to deal with it becomes a whole lot easier.

Think of a light switch; now picture yourself flipping the switch.  That’s what I like to call it.  When I am faced with a new challenge – one that I just don’t want – I mentally flip the switch.  I try to think of the best outcome possible or how this change can help me discover something new about myself.  I know I’m making this sound easy – and it’s not.  It’s really hard!  But sometimes the only thing we can change is our attitude and it helps us keep our sanity.  It helps us get out of bed the next morning and try again.

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What Would You Be For Only One Day?

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Today is Halloween.  A time to dress up as anything you want to be – anything at all.

I can still remember when I was a kid, my mom would let me pick my own costume.   I was always a princess.  Every year l would pick just about the same outfit.  I had a sparkly gown and a tiara and sometimes even a magic wand. I’d get all decked out – and every year it was the same – FREEZING outside!  We lived in Chicago and the weather was quite unpredictable, except on Halloween.  You could always count on it to be cold and windy.  My mom would make me  wear my heavy winter coat over that magical outfit.  But I didn’t care because deep down I KNEW I was a princess – if only for one day.

So now, many years later, I find myself thinking: what would I be if I could choose just one thing for today – if I could allow myself to be a kid again.  Who would I be?  The possibilities are endless.

This time around, I’d like to be a dancer.  I mean the jumping through the air, graceful, costume flowing behind me kind of dancer.  Whenever I watch them in a live performance or on TV, I always marvel at their carefree spirit.  Yes, that’s what I’d like to be for one day – a dancer.

What about you?  What would you like to be for only one day?  Throw all caution to the wind.  Become a kid again.  Who or what will you be today?

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Life is Like the Changing Leaves

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I am amazed and awed and humbled by the beautiful colors that surround me.  It’s that time of year – autumn.  And here in Midwest there is a blaze of color everywhere I look.

As I turn around and gasp at the beauty, I can’t help but compare the leaves to my own life.  A life that has certainly known many colors, dimensions and phases.

This is the way I see it:

Some of the leaves are still a very healthy and green, just like some of the phases of my life.  There have been times when I have lived without any doubt or fear and everything seemed to be going my way.  Kind of like the way it is right now.  I have a new husband in a new town and my new business is taking off to new heights.  Every day is lived with excitement and anticipation.

And then there’s the leaves that are turning yellow and red and orange.  They remind me of the changes I’ve faced that were just as beautiful.  Things like finally buying that dream house, or getting that hard earned promotion, or finally bridging the distance between myself and an old friend.  Those beautiful colors remind me of the good changes in my life that I have welcomed with open arms.

But let’s not forget those brown, dark and dried up leaves, ready to fall to the ground.  Just like those terrifying changes that crept up behind me and socked me in the stomach so hard I could hardly breathe.  Changes I certainly didn’t want and couldn’t control.  They were here to stay and, like it or not – ready or not – I had to figure out a way to deal with them.

So now, as I sit back and marvel at the changing trees, I also marvel at my life and all the ups and downs, in and outs, and everything else I have survived.  All of them, good and bad, bringing me to where I am today.  I understand that the changes will be constant.  My hope is that I will always find the beauty in every single one of them.

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It’s Time to Give Back

Professional Speaker-Positive Attitude-Personal Development

Do you volunteer?

I have found that whenever I take time to help others, asking for nothing in return, some unexpected and amazing things happen.

For instance, several years ago I volunteered for a group called Chicago Greeters, obviously located in Chicago.  They offered free tours to anyone visiting the city and matched them with a knowledgeable tour guide – that was me.  It’s an amazing service: http://chicagogreeter.com/.  If you are ever visiting Chicago, I highly recommend it.

Well, during the two years I volunteered there, on one day, and one day only, I worked with a young woman and we became instant friends.  Now, ten years later, we still remain very close.  Her friendship was worth any amount of money I could have been paid.  And as the commercial says – our friendship is PRICELESS!

Another great experience I had was with an organization called H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly) also located in Chicago: https://www.homeseniors.org/.  They asked me to help a 90 year old woman who was depressed and she needed someone to keep her company.  They asked me to read to her, play a game with her or simply visit and keep her company.  I spent three years with Geri Franklin before she passed away, and in the time we spent together, she shared with me a love and wisdom that has literally changed my life.

So now I have moved to a new city.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found a place to volunteer and I’m getting antsy.  It’s time – time to give back and make a difference in someone else’s life.

So that’s why I’m asking you – do you volunteer?  What experiences have you found to be the most valuable?  What organizations would you recommend?   What are your stories of volunteering?  I’d love to know.

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Remember – It’s Your Story

Professional Speaker-Professional Development-Positive Attitude

This is the fourth week we are talking about storytelling.  Why?  Because it is so powerful in getting your message heard and remembered.  Did you know that an audience is twenty times more likely to remember a fact if it is presented as part of a story that touches them emotionally (this is according to Jerome Bruner, cognitive psychologist).

But does it really matter who said it?  Just think about some of the lessons and techniques you have learned recently.  Do you remember the Power Point and graphs and charts – or do you remember the stories that you identified with.

So in order to be a great storyteller, let’s take it to the next level…

So far, I have shared with you techniques on where to find your stories and how to construct them to have your audience sitting on the edge of their seats.  Now there’s only one more bonus tip you need.  It will help you become one of the best storytellers ever!  The final tip is how to remember your story so you can make an impact on your audience.

Bonus Tip!

To help remember your story:

  • Record it and listen to it over and over again.
  • As you listen to your story, visualize it.
  • Say it out loud as many times as possible.
  • Use short, simple, descriptive words.

So, if you should find yourself standing in front of an audience, and those nerves begin to kick in, try the four tips above.  Remember, it’s your story.  You should know it better than anyone else, so just begin telling it.  Have fun with your audience.  Laugh along with them. You will be amazed at how impactful you can be.

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