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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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!!!

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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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I Salute You, My Dear Friend

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

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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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Find Your Safe Space

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We are having an artic blast in the Midwest.  I’ve been born and raised in Chicago, so you would think I’d be used to the cold.  But I swear, it has never been this frigid.

As I sit in my home, wearing flannel everything and still feeling chilled, I couldn’t help but think about my trip to Churchill, Canada.  I traveled there a couple of years ago to see the polar bears emerge from hibernation and meander to the Hudson Bay, looking for food.  It was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Looking at the pictures, I was extremely touched by this one of a mother bear and her cub.  They both seem so content and comfortable and trustful.  Yes, that’s the word I’m looking for – trustful.  They have both found their spot where they feel safe.

That’s what I wish for you – and for me.  To find your safe space, your snuggle-up-and-believe-everything-will-be-alright space.  It’s nothing that can be ordered on Amazon or researched by Alexa.  It’s a place you have to discover on your own.  One that makes you feel all cozy inside with a belief that all is right with the world.

Yes, that’s what I wish for you on this cold and frigid night.  Along with a hot chocolate and a belief that warmer weather IS coming.

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Starting with a Blank Page

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with all the possible choices we have.  Think about it.  There was a time when you ordered a cup of coffee – that’s it.  Coffee.  Now??? We have an infinite number of decisions to make.  Let’s see: I’ll have a blonde latte with soy milk and only one pump of vanilla, please.  And that’s considered an easy order.  I’ve heard others that are far more complicated.

And it doesn’t stop there.  We make choices when it comes to color and price and health and so much more.  It’s no wonder we get overwhelmed and often paralyzed with the infinite number of possibilities we face every day. How do you get past this? 

Here’s the way I see it – When we start with a blank page we can create anything at all , we can decide on whatever is possible, and that can be very daunting and downright scary.  Everything, both large and small, is a decision to be made and we become paralyzed.  So, to help get through this, I’m trying to limit my list of choices.  I’ve decided to pick three of whatever it is.  Three – that’s it.  Then I research those three and make my decision at that time.  It’s tempting to check out everything that pops up on the internet, but I’ve gotten a lot better at hitting that delete button.

So, the next time you are planning a vacation, deciding what to make for dinner or researching a new car, pick three, limit your choices, and research those.  Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with all the details.  See if that works for you.  It might make all those decisions a little bit easier.

Now, back to my blonde latte with soy milk and only one pump of vanilla.  This barista even wrote my name in the foam.  Nice choice!

 

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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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