All or Nothing

Concert heads

I ALWAYS eat this and I NEVER eat that. I ALWAYS listen to artist A and I NEVER listen to artist B. I ALWAYS (fill in the blank) and I NEVER (fill in the blank). We divide into camps over seemingly unimportant things daily. I’m wondering if perhaps we’ve gone too far?

Being sold out to a cause is admirable (as long as the cause is admirable). It is important to know what we believe, where we stand and not to be easily persuaded by the mob. Do we need to be completely committed to everything in life? Do we have to belong to a camp about every mundane detail in life?

Last night I had a conversation with my husband about this very thing regarding music. Our daughter really, really likes a particular song by a certain artist. She heard it in a movie and she really likes the beat, the melody and the arrangement. She loves the way it makes her feel and the way she wants to dance when she hears it. After listening carefully to the lyrics (yes, I’m that mom), I downloaded the song for her to keep enjoying.

My husband, in his wonderful protective daddy role (something I adore about him), worried that our daughter would go from enjoying a song to idolizing the artist. I assured him no such thing was happening and as a matter of fact, other than knowing the artist’s name, she knew nothing about this artist nor was she researching them and idolizing them. She simply liked the song.

This conversation got me to thinking about why we seem to gravitate towards extremes.  If one song is good and enjoyable then the artists must be all good and we must collect all of their work. If the movie was good than the lead actor must be worthy of adoration and we must see all of the films they act in, regardless of the quality.  If we enjoyed one album of a particular style of music then we must only listen to that style. The reverse being true, if we didn’t like one song then we don’t like the artist. Must we be cornered? Can’t we be more eclectic?

Do we have to line up with a particular camp on everything in life? Can there be some areas where we can enjoy things on their own merits and not because they are a certain style or created by a certain artist? I like Monet’s paintings. I really like impressionist art as a whole, but I can appreciate and enjoy pieces in various styles. Musically I don’t think you can tie me down. I have classical, 80’s, country, gospel, pop and rock in my playlists. The pieces I listen to are ones I enjoy. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed every single piece produced by the artists I have in my collection.

There are certainly things that should divide us into camps: values, beliefs and morals. These are non-negotiables for most people. When it comes to everything else maybe we can be a little less divided? Maybe we can try some variety? Except when it comes to ice-cream: it’s ALWAYS pistachio, and if that is not available then it must be vanilla, NEVER chocolate!

Photo by: Jakub Hlavaty, Creative Commons, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakub_hlavaty/

Stop Digging!

If you find yourself in a hole, you’re going to want to get out. Nobody plans to fall into a hole. Nobody plans to spend their life in a hole. Nobody wants to be trapped, going down instead of up. Nobody!

So, if you should look around and find yourself in a hole don’t panic. Stop. Look around, and then STOP DIGGING!

You will NEVER dig your way out of a hole. You will never go up by going down. You will never fix the problem by continuing the actions that created the problem in the first place. You have to STOP doing what got  you there first before you can do anything to fix the problem and get yourself out.

If you’re in debt you’ll never get out by borrowing more money! Nope, never. The only way to get out of debt is to STOP BORROWING and START REPAYING! I know, it’s old-fashioned, crazy and so not what all the experts are telling you to do. It’s so plain ol’ boring that it works! Besides experts are just drips under pressure!

If your children keep putting up walls and you always find yourself yelling or arguing with them, then continuing to do what you are doing the way you have been doing it will only build bigger walls. STOP doing what you are doing and START relating and finding another approach to get the result you want.

If you and your spouse seem to be arguing more and enjoying each other less then STOP the actions that get you there and START communicating the way you did when you were dating. I know, crazy.

It’s a funny thing but you can’t go up by going down. You can’t get out of the hole by continuing to dig. The sooner you put the shovel down the less hole you will have to climb out of. So take a look around. If you’re in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

 

© Mmulligan | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Insert Appropriate Inspiration Here

Inspiration. We all need it. We all want it. We also roll our eyes at it when we are not feeling in the mood for it.

There are days when a Whim, a Meme or inspiration picture floats across my Facebook feed and I’m moved to tears. Then there are days when a similar inspirational thought (or even the same one) floats across my feed and I roll my eyes and grunt. We all have days that are a tougher go than others. Sometimes it’s not days, it’s weeks, months and even years.

Sometimes when our dreams, our goals and desires get foiled we feel lost, confused and bewildered. We can’t quite figure out which way is up anymore and what we should do next. Up until this moment we knew exactly what needed to be done, in what order and when. We knew the next step. We knew the plan. We knew the goal. Now everything seems to be changing and we just don’t know what to do next. It’s very disorienting.

For the last four years I knew exactly what I was doing, how I was doing it and what the outcome was to be. I had the goal in front of me. I knew how this goal fit into my life and how it would pave the way for the next step. I was in business not because I so believed in the business I was in I couldn’t help myself. I was in business because it aligned with my goals, dreams, values and visions and it was a vehicle to get me to where I wanted to go. It was a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Then over the last few months something so sure, so certain, so predictable felt like it was unraveling all around me. It wasn’t really, it was just shifting, but to me it felt like everything I saw for my future was coming apart. Lots of soul searching. Lots of questions. Lots of wisdom sought, counsel requested. Lots of talking it through, thinking, praying, wondering.

In the middle of it all a little thread began to appear. The thread that seemed so insignificant at first I almost ignored it. Answers weren’t forthcoming to my questions so I decided to focus on this little thread and see where it would lead. As I wound the thread into a little ball, the yarn grew and the path became clearer. An epiphany!

In the midst of what looked like a pause on the future I longed for was actually an opportunity! The business and the dream weren’t two sides of the same coin. They were, and are, two mutually beneficial parts, each whole and separate from the other. What looked like disappointment became fulfillment and redirection. One didn’t lead into the other. They are meant to work together, independently but cooperatively side by side.

Sometimes what looks like a delay, a disappointment or a step backwards is really a huge leap forward toward your dream and your destiny. Sometimes what looks like a delay is really a short cut.

Be brave!

I Should But…

ProcrastinationI should start my project, but the laundry needs to be folded. I should start my workout, but I feel so tired already. I should sit down and prepare the budget, but I don’t want to look at my statements. I should follow up with that client, but I really don’t feel like making any calls right now. I should schedule that appointment, but I don’t really want to see the doctor.

Why do we procrastinate the very things that will actually get us to our goals? Maybe you don’t, but I do and I’m pretty sure that most other people do too. We know working out will leave us feeling better, give us more energy and get us closer to our goal, but we put it off. We know that preparing a budget will help us keep on track for our financial goals, but the idea of seeing the bank statements in their current condition feels overwhelming and we put it off one more time. We would rather keep letting our money tell us where it’s been rather then us telling it where to go to work for us.

Yes, in the back of our mind we know that following up with our client will at least help build trust and could even potentially lead to a re-order, but we put off making the call using a variety of excuses to assure ourselves our procrastination is the wisest choice.

I’m not going to offer any psychological insights. I’m not going to offer any arguments for why we do this. All I am going to say is that I realize that if nothing changes, nothing changes. If I don’t put my big girl panties on, be an adult and do what I need to do then I don’t have any business wondering why life is not getting any better and I’m still chasing my tail, my life not improving and my reach staying small.

Change is scaring. The unknown is unknown. Truth be told though, staying put and not taking a risk is much more frightening than taking a risk, facing the unknown and staring fear down. So off I go… now where did I put those big girl panties?

There’s Always One

– 1

There’s always one. One unhappy customer. One complaint. One negative comment. One who doesn’t agree with you. One bad day. One bad moment. One.

Even when the rest of the crowd is enthusiastic, complimentary, in agreement, there is one who is unsatisfied, disagrees and is disappointed. Human nature, it seems, is to focus on the one. Cling to the one negative in a sea of positives. Gauge our performance by one who does not share our view.

The entire room can tell you that you look amazing, but one will say something less than positive and your entire opinion of your appearance is defined by that one.

The audience congratulates you on your presentation. Many comment on how they were touched by your words. Some even tell you how you made them think and maybe even convinced them to see it from a different perspective. But there is one who disagrees with you and tells you. Your impression of the evening is set by that one.

Vaguely in the back of my mind a statistic floats about that it takes 10 positive comments to counteract one negative, to set us back at zero. Experience tells me that ratio is too low.

I admit I am surprised by my reaction to one. One who doesn’t even have a vested interest in what I do and why I do it. One who does not have a significant part to play in my life. Their comment does not want to leave my mind. Of all the positive feedback I received that one comment is all I can replay. Negative one.

I determine to redouble my effort to pour positive comments into the lives of my kids. Not empty and hollow quips, but meaningful positives. I determine to catch them doing the right thing and making a big deal out of it. I determine to compliment their efforts, attempts and wins. I want to inoculate them to the power of negative one. Not because I want them to have a swelled head or unrealistic views of themselves, but because I realize that negative one is capable of distorting their view in the opposite direction much more effectively.

Negative one. You may seem powerful. You may shake me but you won’t move me. You don’t deserve center stage. You don’t deserve to determine how I view the world or myself. Your control ends here.

What’s Holding You Back

Starting something new, something you’ve dreamed about can be intimidating. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of taking those first steps toward your dream. After all you don’t know what you don’t know and you realize that others will quickly realize you don’t know what you don’t know and… the spiral begins. Fear of failure, of looking like a fool, of ruining the possibility of fulfilling your dream begins to take over.

Everyone starts somewhere. You don’t know what you don’t know, but there are lots of people who are willing to come alongside you and help you find out what you need to know. Living in the information age has its benefits. A quick Google search and you are bound to find out at least a little something about what you don’t know yet.

Taking little steps forward is empowering, exciting and exhilarating. Little stabs of doubt and fear will try to deflate your excitement and steal your dream. Don’t listen to them.  They’re only afraid they will be expelled from your life for good. So what if you fail? Everyone makes mistakes. It’s almost cliche to remind you that Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways that light bulbs wouldn’t work before he found one way that would. Yes, you’ll probably make mistakes. That’s okay. If you wait till you know everything you need to know you’ll never begin.

There is something raw, beautiful and attractive about ignorance on fire. Just begin taking steps toward your dream. You never know, you might just succeed!

Following Your Dreams

There is something amazing that begins to happen when you overcome fear and begin to follow your dreams. Things that seemed impossible before become possible. Things you never thought you’d witness begin to happen to you.

For decades I’ve dreamed of writing and speaking. I have allowed myself to be held back believing I was too young, didn’t have enough to say, was too unknown, too…. you name it I created a reason for why I wasn’t pursuing my dream. I even told myself I was being humble and waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder to tell me it was my turn.

Crazy. The things we use to mask our fears of being rejected, of failing and of losing our dreams are really just excuses. After all it’s far less painful to dream for the future than to try only to have our dreams rejected.

Thanks to a great friend I’ve been encouraged to pursue my dreams. Really, intentionally, purposefully pursue them. When I took steps towards my dreams my dreams took giant leaps toward me. Things I never would have imagined happening to ME are falling into my lap.

I can’t promise you that when you take the first step your dreams will rush at you too, but I can promise you that until you move toward your dreams they will not be any closer than they are right now, so why not take a step? You may be surprised by the outcome.

Why I’m not raising Well Behaved Children

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

What?! What parent in their right mind would admit to not raising well behaved children? Am I letting them run wild?!

I don’t want to raise well behaved children, I want to raise well prepared adults and I believe there is a profound difference between the two.

Well behaved children (WBC) are raised to be well behaved children. They know who calls the shots, how to avoid getting in trouble (in the teen years this usually means how not to get caught), and how to please the adults who decide all the details of their daily lives. They are rather well behaved. Childhood, however, does not last forever.  Sooner or later those same WBC need to be functioning, well adjusted adults who take responsibility for their own choices and decisions.

WBC may comply outwardly, but outward compliance is no guarantee of inward agreement. Just because a WBC knows how to act to avoid punishment doesn’t mean they understand the why of what they are asked to do and, when they are not supervised, they would probably make a different choice. How many of your peers grew up in strict homes where children were ordered around, rules were made to be obeyed and punishment was swift for every infraction? How many of those same peers, once they left the family home, either were gullible and easily taken advantage of or rebelled against their childhood and went wild in their new-found freedom? Granted not every child, but I bet you can think of several examples of both. How many of them got into financial trouble? How many of them had difficulties on the job? How many of them struggled in relationships? In their marriages? Children grow up. If the only thing parents teach their children is to be well behaved children then they haven’t given them enough.

Before you write me off as a liberal, let-your-children-run-wild, irresponsible parent let me clarify something. I do believe children need structure, discipline, instruction and guidance and I believe the purpose of these is to equip children to be wise, insightful, capable, caring and spiritually grounded adults: to be Well Prepared Adults (WPAs).

WPAs are given tools to make good decisions, to be comfortable in a variety of situations, to be able to relate to and communicate with people from various backgrounds, life stages and economics. They know how to make decisions based on available information, how to take responsibility for their behavior and how to work cooperatively. They have developed their moral character and are better equipped to navigate a world where the rules may not be so clearly defined.

I would rather have a child that doesn’t always live up to someone else’s expectations for their behavior than a child who leaves home unprepared to solve disputes, listen to another’s perspective, and is unable to solve problems. Teaching children these skills means that sometimes things will be messy, limits will be strongly tested and mistakes will be made. No, my children are not allowed to run wild, but we spend more time teaching, training and correcting than we do demanding.

Childhood is short. Adulthood lasts a lot longer. I want to raise capable, mature and wise adults. So here’s to not raising well behaved children!

The Skin You’re In

© Melis82 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Melis82 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Skin. We all have it.

Most of us take it for granted.

Did you know your skin is actually an organ? It’s amazing and has many functions including keeping you warm, keeping your insides well, inside, making vitamin D out of sunshine, and let’s not forget feeling touch! It’s even the first line of defense in your immune system.  (See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_skin)

Since skin is an organ what you do to improve your overall health will also improve the appearance and health of your skin. Unlike other organs, skin comes in contact with your external environment and needs cleansing to keep it healthy. Here are some tips to support your skin’s health and appearance:

1. Cleanse. You touch lots of objects (all covered in bacteria) throughout the day. Between those things and the invisible particles floating around the office, the car and outdoors, our skin works hard at keeping bad stuff out. Dead skin cells can also accumulated on the surface instead of sloughing off. To help your skin stay healthy use a pH correct cleanser (skin is slightly acidic) formulated for your skin type morning and evening. Follow up with a pH correct toner that will restore your acid mantle and help skin better absorb moisture.

2. Moisturize and protect. Even oily skin needs moisture. Choose a light moisturizer that does not contain petroleum (mineral oil) to support and provide moisture to your skin cells.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but skipping moisturizer on oily skin can lead to even more break-outs by causing your oil glands to overproduce and protect your skin. Most day cremes contain sunscreen in them. If your skin is sensitive to sunscreen you may want to choose a moisturizer without it and use the sunscreen in your foundation instead.

3. Exfoliate. About 2-3 times per week use a gentle exfoliant to help slough off dead skin cells and increase the turn over of new cells. Break-out prone and more mature skin will benefit from a gentle masque rather than a scrub. Scrubs can irritate sensitive skin and may lead to more break outs. They can also pull and tug on mature skin further loosening it (eeeek).

4. Keep it breathing. If you use makeup select makeup that is right for your skin, that doesn’t contain mineral oil and will not clog your pours. Always make sure to remove your makeup and cleanse your skin before going to bed.

5. Stay hydrated. If you are not getting enough hydration to your internal organs your external organ (your skin) will show it by looking dull and losing elasticity. Hello saggy, baggy eyes and droopy lines. Hydrating will keep your skin at its best.

Remember that whatever you place on your skin can be absorbed into your blood stream though your skin very quickly (think nicotine patch). Be sure to choose skin care and cosmetics that contain only pure, safe and beneficial ingredients. If the company isn’t willing to let you see what goes into the product there’s a good chance you wouldn’t like it if you knew. Keep looking. It is possible to use pure, safe and beneficial products and experience great results.

So, here’s to healthy skin for a lifetime. What’s your favorite skin-healthy tip?

So You Want to Start a Business.

mother and daughter working on laptopDo you ever wish you could go back in time and tell yourself something important about the future? If I had the chance to go back about four years here’s what I’d tell myself about starting a business from home:

Dear Me,
This is the best opportunity of your life!

  1. Don’t worry about what others will think because they’re not! If they are and they think you’re nuts or making a fool of yourself know they are merely projecting their own fears. When you succeed (and you will) some of them will come around. Some will even tell you they wish they had the courage to do what you did. You’re doing this for you and your family, not for them.
  2. This is not going to be easy – simple, yes, easy, no. It is going to take work, effort, and you’ll be on a sharp learning curve. You have what it takes. What you don’t know you’ll learn. It’s much, much easier than dropping your kids off at daycare and going to a job. You won’t miss out on all the kids’ firsts.
  3. You don’t know what you don’t know but you’ll learn! There are resources and people with wisdom and expertise willing to help you succeed. Take advantage of as much of it as you can. Read books. Listen to training series. Read white papers. Join webinars and attend seminars. Put what you learn into practice.
  4. Your family will figure it out. There will be adjustments for everyone. As you carve out time away from home to build your business there will be pushback, but you’ll all figure it out. Your spouse and family just want to know that they are more important to you than your business. Keep them first on your priority list. Love on them. Reserve your best time for them and they’ll be more than willing to cheer you on.
  5. Your business is what you do. It’s not who you are! Yes it’s exciting and fulfilling, but you are not the company nor the product you represent. You are you: an individual with roles, responsibilities, dreams, skills, talents, abilities and a heart that beats intensely for the people and things that matter to you.  The business could disappear tomorrow, but you would still remain. Work in such a way that the relationships you build would also remain. Make sure to keep growing as a person.

So go build. Always keep the end in mind. There will be adjustments along the way. It’s not a straight line, but it is an amazing journey. You’ll get to where you want to go. Dream bigger. Start sooner. Enjoy the journey.

Signed,

Me, 4 years later

PS You can’t even begin to imagine how well it will turn out.