Can You Unplug???

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Seriously! I’d really like to know. Can you totally unplug from your cell phone to social media and everything in between?

That’s what I just did for five full days as I decided to take a very short and very needed “time out”.

And that’s exactly why this blog post is two days late. It is my first of 56 blogs that did not post on a Tuesday and it was a conscious decision.

I have to tell you that it was one of the most stressful things I have ever done! The thought of disappointing my readers, missing that important email, or ignoring that text drove me crazy for the first day or so.

Then I was finally able to take a deep breath and realize that the world wasn’t going to fall apart. I would survive!

I have to admit – once I settled in and got used to the idea of being unplugged, I really enjoyed myself. Being in the present with no dings, no buzzes and no rings was quite refreshing. I got to truly experience what was right in front of me without worrying about what needed to be done next.

I traveled to New Orleans for a few days of fun. I had an opportunity to tour the facility where most of the floats are made for Mardi Gras. As I saw everyone around me with their heads buried in their phones, I smiled at the fact that I wasn’t even carrying mine! That’s right, I left my phone in the room, and now I could enjoy all the sights and sounds and smells around me. How liberating!

And now, as I head home, panic sets in once again. How many emails will be waiting for me? How many texts need to be answered? How early do I need to get up to post this blog?

So once again I take that deep breath and decide to enjoy my last few moments of independence from my gadgets. The world will survive!

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You Want Me To Do What???

The holiday season is upon us. In full blast!

The holiday season is upon us.  In full blast!

Cooking!  Decorating!!  Shopping!!!  You barely have time to catch your breath.  So what I’m about to tell you may not make any sense…

Find some time this holiday season to try something new!

Yes, that’s right.  I’m challenging you to STOP, take a breath, and quit worrying about everything and everyone else.   Find some time for a little fun.  Carve out a few minutes to enjoy a little laughter.

Every year I promise myself that I will try one new thing during the holidays.  This year, it was riding the Polar Express.

Remember that kid’s movie?

Well, there are several places that have now recreated that experience both for kids and for the young at heart (that’s adults who still act like kids from time to time).

My Polar Express experience happened to be out of the St. Louis Union Station, and what a hoot!  We actually rode on a real train – it came with a conductor, elves, and Santa himself.  We sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs, and for one hour, I was definitely a kid again.

Check it out – Google it – and see if there is a Polar Express close to you.  And if this doesn’t tickle your fancy, find something else that does.  The point is to take a “time out” from all the holiday craziness and find something that makes your heart smile.

And please, share your experience with us.  We just may be able to add a few new things to our own list for next year’s holiday season.

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Trust Yourself

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Lessons I learned from the Polar Bears on my recent trip to Churchill, Canada, amaze me every day.  And I promised I would share the top three with you – so here’s the third one:

TRUST

Trust who?  Mostly yourself.

In my two previous posts on Lessons Learned from the Polar Bears, I shared thoughts on focusing on your goals relentlessly, then standing your ground and not letting others shake your pursuit of your goal.   Now, learn to trust that decision and even more importantly, trust yourself in reaching that goal, in attaining that dream.

How many times have you decided to do something that’s a little difficult – lose weight, change your career, improve your relationship – and you are really committed to it!   Until you hit a hurdle, a roadblock, and instead of rolling up your sleeves and working harder, longer, you take the easier route and  quite.  You tell yourself that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

I’ve been guilty of this so many times.  After all, it’s easier to reach for that chocolate bar and tell myself I’ll start that diet tomorrow.

But the polar bears taught me to trust my instinct and find a belief in myself that is unshakable – to not give up when the journey becomes difficult.

One morning, while in Canada, we ventured out in the Polar Rover, slowly driving over the frozen tundra, when our guide spotted a mother polar bear with her very small cub.  At first, she wanted nothing to do with us, but our guide decided that we would wait and give her some time to learn to trust us.  Slowly but surely, she sauntered over to our vehicle with her cub in tow.  The mother sniffed and explored and finally decided she could trust her instincts.  In fact, she trusted us so much, that she actually laid down in front of our rover, with her cub beside her, and went to sleep.

After researching, investigating and scrutinizing, she decided to trust her instinct.  And that is my hope for you.  That when others question your belief in your dreams, and you begin to falter, that you dig down deep and learn to trust your gut.  If you fall down, get back up again.  And if you make a mess, clean it up and keep going.   That is my hope for both you and me.

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Stand Your Ground

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Like I mentioned in my previous blog, I learned three distinct life lessons from the Polar Bears.  On my recent trip to Churchill, Canada, I saw these animals in the wild, and I couldn’t help but notice how their behavior can be adapted to our everyday life.

Last week, I talked about focusing on your goal – relentlessly.  Well, today, the second lesson I’m going to share is: Stand Your Ground.

You may be thinking: “What in the world is she talking about?”

But here’s how I see it.  You’ve decided on a goal, you’re passionate about it, you’ve thought it through and you can describe it down to the last detail.  In fact you can feel it in your bones.  You can see it, smell it, taste it, and you live for it every single day, working toward it with a vengeance.

Then…

When you share your vision with someone – a friend, family member, anyone who will listen – their reaction isn’t exactly what you expected.  They may doubt you, question you, and even worse, cause you to lose belief in yourself.  Without even realizing it, you begin to reevaluate your goal.  You wonder if it was such a good idea in the first place.  You question if this is the right direction for you.

And that is what I learned from the polar bears – STAND YOUR GROUND.  Because the bears  are left to their own devices to survive, they must have a belief in themselves that is beyond doubt.  They stand tall and move forward, never losing sight of their goal.

So, don’t be frightened by what others think, and don’t feel like you have to justify anything.  Stand up tall, and in the face of diversity, show how powerful you can really be.

Have a belief in yourself, in your goal, and tell the world that it cannot be shaken.

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Focus on Your Goal – Relentlessly

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Who would have guessed that you could actually learn life lessons from Polar Bears?

It’s true!

That’s exactly what happened to me on my recent trip to Churchill, Canada where I watched the bears in their natural habitat.  Absolutely amazing!!!

And exactly what did I learn?  Several things.   The first is:

A relentless focus on your goal!

Polar Bears spend each and every day hunting for food, and their main source of food is seals.  Without this goal in mind, they will not survive.  They are focused and unrelenting every minute of the day as they hunt to stay alive.

So how does this relate to you and me?

Well, first of all, do you have a specific goal in mind, either personally or professionally?  Hopefully, you have one for both phases of your life.   Either way, know what you want to accomplish – define it and describe it down to the very last detail.  Why do you have this goal?  What are you hoping to accomplish?  What is the end result?

Once you figure it out, focus on that goal each and every day.  Pursue your goal relentlessly, like your life depends on it.  And if someone tells you it can’t be done, use that as fuel to propel yourself forward.  Never give up on your goal – or as I like to call them – dreams.

Think of it this way – when you believe in yourself, you have armor no one can crack.  Nothing or no one can get in your way.

And that is just one of the many lessons I learned from the Polar Bears.

Personally, my goal is to become the most dynamic speaker you have ever heard.  I can feel it in my bones, I work hard on it every day, and best of all, it warms my heart.  I know it is what I am meant to do.

So, what is your goal – what is your dream?  What gets you out of bed each morning, ready to pursue it relentlessly!

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Beauty in Our Own Back Yard

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STOP! Take a breath. And look at the beauty that surrounds you.

Isn’t it funny how we sometimes overlook the everyday treasures that are in our very own city, our very own neighborhood? We take them for granted and often forget all about them.

For me, it was the fields and fields of sunflowers that grow just miles from my home. A friend told me about Pope Farm Conservancy in Verona, Wisconsin and said: “This is something you really don’t want to miss.”  She was right. Who knew that a ten minute drive would make me feel like I was in another world.

In fact, pick one thing right now in your own town that you would like to discover and experience. Then put it on your calendar to make it happen.   I’ve already chosen mine. I’m finally going on that tour of the state capitol building in downtown Madison. It is something I’ve wanted to do for over two years now, so this time, I actually scheduled my tour.  That way it is on my calendar and I know I will actually do it.

What treasures lie in your back yard? Tell me about them so I can put them on my “list of things to do” the next time I’m in your neighborhood. But don’t wait for me to visit. Take some time this week-end and explore on your own. What did you discover?

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My Best Friend Forever

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Right now I am visiting my friend in Seattle. I’m sitting on her patio and looking over Puget Sound. Absolutely beautiful! But the best part of it all – the very best part – is the friendship we share.

I have been blessed with the best friends anyone could ever ask for. They have been there for me to dry my tears when my heart was broken, they have shown up on my doorstep with packing tape in hand to help me move when I just didn’t want to go, and they have shared belly laughs so intense that tears ran down our cheeks. I couldn’t have survived without them.

And now, my very best friend of all times is the same person who walked down the aisle with me last year. He is my rock, my safe place, my #1 fan. He is teaching me to love unconditionally – something that isn’t easy to do. Believe it or not, he will even do the Macarena with me. Now, that is true love!!!

Don’t know what the Macarena is??? You don’t know what you’re missing!

So, who’s been the rock in your life? What stories can you share about your friends? Right now I have a huge smile on my face because of all the crazy experiences I have had with mine. I hope this post brings about some memories for you, too.

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The Fear of Asking Questions

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Taking time for yourself, whether it’s going on vacation, spending a week-end with your favorite person, or just taking a “time out” for a day of fun, can end in memories that last a lifetime.  Often, the pictures we take make us smile and laugh out loud.  That’s what happened to me.

As I was going through my photos from my recent trip to England, I came across this one and I just had to smile.  I remember it so clearly – just like it happened yesterday.  It was a glorious day, about 70 degrees with the sun shining  – such a beautiful blue sky.  I decided to travel to this nearby town called Henley on the Thames.  What a perfect day to explore.

I had no idea what I was going to find, but off I went.

As I walked through the main street of this lovely little town, I saw a building that was so quaint, I was drawn to it.  It turned out to be the Visitor Center, so I decided to check it out.

There was a woman standing behind the counter.  She seemed so busy – and I assumed she didn’t have any time to talk to me.  I almost turned around to leave, then I told myself:

“No – you’ve come all this way.  Now turn around and talk to her”.  So I decided to ask her one question:

“I have one day in Henley.  What do you suggest I do?”

Her face lit up and she gave me enough info to fill my day.  That one question made all the difference in the world, and because of it, I learned about a river cruise down the Thames River.  What a wonderful experience!  One I would never have had if I didn’t take the time to ask that one question.

So, the next time you have a question – just ask.  Don’t assume that the other person is too busy, or that your question is silly.  By asking, you will find new adventures waiting for you.

And if you are too shy to ask questions, let me know.  I’ll share some hints on how to make it easier.

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Have You Put Your Dreams on Hold?

Have some of your dreams been moved to the back burner because life just got in the way?  Well, if those dreams keep coming back to you, maybe it’s time to dust them off and take another look at them.

For me, I’ve wanted to go to Stonehenge in England for over 20 years.  I was fascinated that this massive stone circle was built in 3,000 BC.  How did the people so long ago move stones that weigh over 30 tons!!!  All without modern equipment, and even computers.  I just couldn’t imagine it and it totally fascinated me.

But traveling to England was way down on my list of “things to do in life.”  It came after going to college, getting married, buying a house …  You know – all the things that happen in life that cause you to put your dreams on hold.

Well now, in my new life, I have a new husband and his job took him to … wait for it … England.  Out of the blue, I had this opportunity to dust off my old dream of seeing Stonehenge, and I jumped at the chance.  I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  It was everything I had imagined and more.

So, don’t give up on your dreams just yet.  Although your life may have taken some unpredictable twists and turns, you never know what path will lead you back to the dream you had so many years ago.  What is it for you?  What dream keeps popping up over and over again?  Are you adventurous enough to follow it?

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