Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Look for possibilities in change

"It isn't the changes that do you in, it's the transitions," I reread in a book I had purchased when I was a magazine managing editor facing lots of changes in our workplace. "Change is not the same as transition.

"Change is situational, the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal."

William Bridges explains this process in his book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. Also the author of the took Transitions, Bridges says that transitions begin with an ending, with a letting go of something, followed by what he calls "the neutral zone" or the land between the old and the new realities.

Yesterday we talked about the changes as we age. There are many other changes that occur in life. You may be experiencing relationship changes. Career or job changes. Changes with aging parents or with children leaving home or going through crisis. Changes because of illness—yours or a loved one's. You and I constantly experience some form of change in our lives. It's important to pay attention and manage those changes and transitions.

Bridges points out the dangers and the possibilities embedded within the neutral zone that lies between the change and the actual transition. He calls the neutral zone the "best chance for creativity, renewal, and development."

Take a look at the changes and transitions you are facing to see what possibilities might be there for you. What do you need to do right now? How might you manage these in a creative way?

Please contact me should you wish to discuss a transition in your life and how to negotiate it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grieve loss and embrace change

Have you hit one of those "0" birthdays yet that really bothered you? Perhaps the age contained a "5" rather than a "0." It seems we all get to one sooner or later that stops us in our tracks.

I breezed through several of the "0" ones with no problem—in fact, embracing the prospect of getting closer to that wise-woman stage. But then I hit one that really zonked me. At least for a while. I'm past that now—and see that age as simply a number, not necessarily indicative of anything. I'm trying to make the best of each age and just keep doing what I want to do. Maybe even learning new things as I go.

You and I face physical and hormonal changes, however, that we can't ignore. Are you going through some of those right now? Noticing that you don't bounce back as quickly from a string of late nights? Or sighing when you notice those smaller clothes at the back of your closet that no longer fit? Maybe it's your changing libido? Or it's finding hairs in places you never saw them before!

How do you come to terms with these changes and with your aging process? Do you ignore it? Embrace it? Grieve the losses—and then move on?

I encourage you to find a way that allows you to move on without too much looking back. What has helped me is noting the losses that I perceive, talking about them, grieving them and then letting go. Sometimes I have to let go again when I feel the loss later. That's OK. It still helps me move forward. It has also helped me to talk this over with friends, counselors and coaches. Do whatever helps you. And then go out to meet life with a spring in your step and joy in your heart! As the saying goes, "Age is a matter of the mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Look and feel good regardless of dress size

In January 2012 I asked whether size mattered. Does your dress size make a difference to who you are and how you see yourself? Does it make a difference in your self-esteem level?

It's well known that the better you look and feel, the stronger your self-esteem will be. However, that should not mean that women who wear size 6 will be happier than women who wear a size 18. In fact, it simply isn't true.

I just read a fascinating book by TV host Mika Brzezinski called Obsessed in which she discusses her own food addiction even as a size 2. Food addictions and issues aren't limited to those who are overweight or obese. Brzezinski calls women—and men—to something different than simply a smaller clothes size. She urges us all to pay attention to how we eat—to eating in a healthy manner, to self-care in all its aspects.

If you struggle with weight, either too much or too little, think instead of how you might better take care of your body. What small changes can you make to eat in a healthier fashion? What can you do to assure that you get enough sleep? That you reduce your stress as much as you're able to do? That you make sure to get enough movement or exercise?

Looking and feeling better doesn't necessarily mean a tiny dress size. I have seen women who simply glow and have all the self-confidence in the world and who are carrying more weight than what may be recommended for their age. It's a matter of taking the best care of yourself that you can—and then learning to love and accept yourself. I did yo-yo dieting for years and know those ups and downs from the inside. No more. Now I simply want to feel healthy and stay as active as I can without obsessing on it.

Please contact me if you wish to talk about self-esteem and/or weight issues. You don't have to deal with it all by yourself.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Believing is seeing

On Monday I wrote about watching for miracles and living in wonder. I also put a note on my Facebook profile about it that day.

In response, a friend of mine put up on my profile a Roald Dahl quote that really struck a chord with me, so I offer it to you, too:

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."

"Watch with glittering eyes." Isn't that a wonderful description? And the final sentence—"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it"—reminds me of something a preacher said long ago. He said that, though we often say that seeing is believing, he would turn that around and say believing is seeing.

I've thought of that so often since then, and I completely agree with him. When you believe that you'll see miracles and great things, you will. When you are looking for goodness in the world, you will see it. When you believe in yourself, you will achieve.

So today let's "watch with glittering eyes" to see what we notice. Savor it all—and remember to be grateful!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Step up to the plate

I still remember my childhood fights with siblings. I was the middle child and had an older brother and younger sister. I remember how frustrated our parents would get with our fights, especially when they tried to get to the bottom of what had happened and who did what. Each of us pointed at another person and whined, "He started it" or "It's all her fault." None of us wanted to take responsibility.

When my sons were younger, I witnessed the same thing.

I've thought of that a lot in the years since my childhood and since raising my three sons. How easy it can be to point fingers at others or at a life situation or something else outside ourselves when life goes wrong. "If only I hadn't lost my job, I wouldn't have become so bitter." "If only he had loved me in return, my life would not have turned out so badly." "If only my parents hadn't done this to me, I would have turned out differently." It's really no different from "He started it" or "It's all her fault," is it?

What an opportunity it is, however, when you and I can step up to the plate and take responsibility for the things we do and the things that happen to us. It is then and only then that we have the possibility of learning and growing, of taking what is and making the best of it. Who knows what heights you and I can reach then?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gifts that keep on giving

Yesterday I treated my three teenaged granddaughters to massages and pedicures after which we went out to dinner. One of my favorite things through the years has been the time I spent each summer on what I call "Grandma Days." Often these have been one-on-one experiences as I took one grandchild at a time for a fun day of doing whatever they wanted. Sometimes it was a day at the zoo, sometimes tea at the American Girl doll store in downtown Chicago, sometimes an amusement park or sometimes just dinner and a movie. These always included an overnight at Grandma's house, making sweet rolls, watching movies or whatever caught our fancy.

Now that many of my grandchildren are teens and pre-teens, the things we do have changed. And sometimes we do them together such as these massages when I take three girls at one time. What hasn't changed, though, is what these days mean to them. And to me! I treasure these times of connection, of getting to know them even better, of fun and laughter, of memory-building. What joy!

What I realize more and more is that I started out doing these days for my grandchildren. But as I look back over the years and the fabulous memories, I realize just how much they have meant and still mean to me. Every day of vacation I took (in the days when I had a job) to do these Grandma Days was more than worth it! Not only did Little Sonia get to come out and play—but Grandma Sonia has a rich storehouse of memories just packed with delight and joy! These days definitely are gifts that keep on giving ... and will for a lifetime.

What do you do for others that has turns out to have been a surprising gift to yourself?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On being human

Yesterday when I wrote this blog, I was having a bad and sad day. I felt zero creativity and energy. How on earth can I write an inspiring blog when I feel that way, I wondered.

So there I was, caught between those two points that are all too familiar to you and me as humans: the need to be real and be with what is—and the desire to rise above circumstances and stay positive. It's that life in balance once again, isn't it? Walking that tightrope of being human with all that means and also being the best self we can be, savoring all our moments and days. Quite a tightrope, isn't it?

When we face tough life situations, we make numerous decisions, most of them without thinking about it. Where we come down in terms of being with what is or staying positive and putting on our game face depends on the given day, how much sleep we've had, how much energy we feel, what the situation is, whether we've reached out to our support system and many other factors.

What helps you when you're on that tightrope?

Monday, July 22, 2013

A life of wonder

This past month I've been witness to a huge miracle.

A friend in my women's Bible study group received the gift of new life when she finally got the liver transplant for which she'd been waiting eight years! Because her health had deteriorated so badly in the last several months, she also needed a kidney. She got both!

There were many times when we all thought that a liver and kidney wouldn't become available in time for her. But it did—and that huge miracle was filled with many tiny ones: her getting the transplants just hours before some law/policy changes that would have negatively affected where she was on the transplant waiting list, a transplant nurse she met while she'd been hospitalized with difficulties several weeks ago and who ended up being influential in my friend being the recipient of the available organs, and many more "coincidences."

Her amazing experience makes me wonder how many small miracles I overlook every day. What do I pass off as mere coincidence—or worse, not even notice at all?

Are you living your life awake and aware, noticing all the wonders around you, seeing miracles occur right before your eyes? How might your life be different if you watched for such things rather than focusing on to-do lists and the mundane?

Let's start today looking for miracles—and living in wonder!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chocolate and mindfulness

There's an art to tasting chocolate mindfully. Did you know that?

I just read an interesting blog written by Todd Masonis of Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco saying that he gets asked often whether there's a right or wrong way to taste chocolate. He goes on to give a few tips on tasting it mindfully.

Part of what he says is to slow down, read the label and really look at and smell the chocolate. Spend time with it. Savor everything about it. Then "take a tiny bite to break it into a few pieces," he says. "Let it start to gently melt on your tongue. Now move the chocolate around your mouth and coat your tongue, but avoid chewing. If you eat it quickly, you'll miss the tasting experience that makes each bar origin unique."

Masonis says it's best not to "overthink it, just taste slowly and mindfully." He points out that chocolate makes us happy and "if it's too cerebral, you may be missing the experience."

I think the same can be said about other life experiences, too. Approach life slowly, look at it from several different viewpoints, examine it, taste and smell and feel it, savor it. What difference might such an attitude and approach make to your life and experience? I'm already thinking about several ways to apply this. I'd love to hear your thoughts, too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Choose life

Yesterday I read something about how you and I each have burdens and the unique pains of living that each of us faces. And we have a choice: Become the wound or heal. We can choose life ... or we can sink down into whatever particular issue or pain with which we each deal in our lives. We can let our circumstances drag us further and further down into despair. Or we can do everything in our power to try rise above those circumstances, to face them in the healthiest way possible.

What are you carrying right now? Are you doing something about it? Are you making healthy, life-giving choices in dealing with it?

If not, would you like to change that? Are you tired of letting the wound(s) or the pain define you? If so, choose one thing you can do today that will move you toward a healing path to wholeness and happiness.

If you feel stuck and want some help getting back on track, please contact me for a complimentary and absolutely no-obligation strategy session. Choose life!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What feeds you?

Because I just spent a week with my fiance and my three sons and their families relaxing in cabins near a lovely Wisconsin lake, I am more deeply in touch than ever with what feeds me: connections with those I love.

I know what a relational person I am. But experiences such as last week just reinforce and remind me. I loved the wonderful flow of energy as we moved in and out of community. Sometimes we enjoyed times of solitude, reading a book or going for a bike ride or walk. Sometimes we gathered spontaneously in groups of two or three, just sitting on the porch with our morning cup of coffee or enjoying a game of volleyball or tossing a frisbee. And always, there were the boisterous and wonderful times where all of us gathered to talk, laugh, eat, drink and play. Meals prepared and eaten in community were such a joy.

I returned home well fed emotionally. And I'm reminded to keep creating and feeding all those connections in my life that are so important to me.

What's important to you? What do you desire? What brings you joy? And what are you doing to get that in your life? What's necessary for your care and feeding? I urge you to pay attention to such things and take the time to get that in your life. I've heard too many people say, "When I retire, I'll do those things I love" or "When I have more time, I will spend more time with my loved ones." And then something happened ... and that time never came. Perhaps it was death. Or divorce. Or catastrophic illness. And then it was too late. Don't wait until tomorrow. Start today doing what's important to you. Follow your heart.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Listening opens your heart

It is extremely important for you and me to know that we're heard when we share our stories and particularly our deepest feelings with others. It is equally important that we listen, really listen, to hear what others are telling us. Are you a good listener?

Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have tells about a time in his earlier life when he did far more talking than listening. He talked "faster and louder to the world around me," he says, "because I couldn't hear the world within me." And, as he points out, "... the more noise I made, the less chance I had of having what was real enter me or rise from me."

I like the way Nepo describes what happened when he began to listen more: "It's taken me many years to learn that the world comes flooding in if I can only keep myself open.

"It remains important to reach out and to express oneself, but underneath that is the need to be porous and real. Through the opened heart, the world comes rushing in, the way oceans fill the smallest hole along the shore. It is the quietest sort of miracle: by simply being who we are, the world will come to fill us, to cleanse us, to baptize us, again and again."

Listening is a skill you can learn. In fact, I would say it's an art. I know how my heart is warmed when someone listens to me with full attention. And I know how great it feels when I listen, really listen (not thinking of what I'll say next or what I'm fixing for dinner!), to someone else. My heart really does open up more ... and "the world comes rushing in."

What can you do today to enhance your listening skills?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Take back your power

Have you ever been burned out? Careers aren't the only causes of burnout. An extraordinarily busy family life can just as easily cause burnout as can a stressful, high-level career.

Burnout isn't anything you want to ignore. In addition to sucking the joy right out of your life and looking very much like depression if it goes on long enough, it left unchecked, it becomes that much more difficult for you to take charge of your life again.

A fairly recent book by Joan Borysenko, Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, chronicles her journey through burnout  and back out again. She also includes the stories of and quotes from a Facebook community of others who have suffered through burnout. One especially good quote comes from Jan Carmichael Davies: "Sometimes we need permission to surrender to the feelings of burnout in order to take stock, be gentle with ourselves, and begin to safely rebuild our lives. Too many people these days keep powering through, toughing it out, until they collapse. They don't feel that they have permission to stop and put themselves first."

Borysenko said another Facebook friend told her that she used to think burnout "was an admission that something was wrong with her." But now that woman sees it "as an invitation to come into alignment with a more elegant expression of her gifts, relationships, and overall life energy."

Isn't that a beautiful way to see burnout? That woman is taking a negative in her life and seeing the possibilities in it. What would happen if you did that, whether it's with your burnout or with some other situation or disheartening part of your life? What's going on right now for you that might be inviting you to "a more elegant expression" of your "gifts, relationships, and overall life energy"? I'm asking myself that same question since this whole idea intrigues me.

Friday, July 12, 2013

4 F's of transition and change

A former client felt the pinch in her significant relationships: She realized her needs weren't often getting met because she was far more intent on pleasing others than she needed to be.

What do you do when you face a time of transition such as that? When you need to make some change in your life? Do you tighten up and resist making any change?

Here are 4 F's to consider in such situations:

Face up to what is real for you. Don't be afraid to take a hard look at things and see what's happening. Get in touch with how you're feeling and about what triggers those feeling for you.
Feel the fear as you consider making changes. If you are about to set some boundaries with friends and loved ones, it can be frightening. If you're into pleasing others and you see happiness as dependent on the approval of others, change can be scary. Feel that fear. Examine it. And, as the saying goes, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."
Focus on what you really want. Do you want to be more authentic? Do you want there to be more give-and-take in your relationship? Do you want to have people tend to your needs just as you care about theirs? What's the real bottom line for you?
Fashion a plan, one step at a time. Decide what you want to do about the situation. What changes on your part might set about an entirely different outcome, one that would feel good to you? Be sure to just take it a step at a time. Gain success with one step and move on to another. Each successful step can give you confidence to try the next one.

In time, I'm willing to bet that you will add a fifth F to your lineup:

Feel the satisfaction of taking charge and the joy of achieving a transition and a change that feels more authentic to who you really are. Taking on any life change or new habit successfully can be such a confidence-booster. You'll feel so empowered!

If you would like a complimentary, no-obligation strategy session because you face some change in your life, please contact me to set up a time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Living simply: Just do it

Recently I read a blog post by a writer who said he would give up one thing each month for 12 months. It's his way of trying to live simply and discovering what's really necessary in his life. It's an interesting concept. For example, one month he said he would give up coffee, another month it was alcohol, another was use of the computer/internet in the morning, and another was buying new things. His list was fascinating.

People talk a lot about simplifying their lives, about decluttering, about giving up what doesn't bring them joy or isn't good for them. But this man is doing it. He says if, after the month, he doesn't really want to add back into his life that which he gave up, he won't do it. And in each case, he has planned for a replacement for that month. For example, one month he is giving up buying things. His replacement for that month is "creating, borrowing, sharing." He's clearly thought this experiment through and knows it's good to replace an old habit with something else when we try to rid ourselves of the old one.

I give him credit for trying such an experiment. He's putting his money where his mouth is. It's easy to talk about what we want to change. He's taking that next step: committing to action.

Is this something about which you've thought? Do you want to pare down some activities in your life? Gain more free time? Or get rid of some of your stuff? And gain more space? Let this writer, Leo Babauta, inspire you to make a move in that direction. Just pick one thing and try that. See how that feels. Is it something you want to sustain?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In praise of self-care

Last week as I made to-do lists and lists of what to bring to the lake for the week—and as I wrote blogs for all the vacation days I'd be away—I also scheduled time to visit my favorite salon and get a pedicure.

Ah, what a treat in the midst of a busy schedule. The woman who gave me my pedicure urged me to just sit back, enjoy the chair massage, browse through magazines and soak up the care she gave me. I did just that. It was only an hour. But it was such a relaxing and enjoyable hour. I savored the leg massage, the lotion she applied, the care she gave my toes. I didn't think, even once, about the work awaiting me back at home. I was in a far different inner space than I'd been all morning preceding my appointment.

Years ago I would never have taken the time nor spent the money for what I deemed a luxury. Now I see such things as good self-care. It's more than care of my body. It's care of my mental state and my soul, for it puts me in such a relaxed and open space inside. I came home in a far more creative space, ready to write these blogs and tackle the rest of my to-do list.

What do you do for self-care that you used to consider unnecessary or a luxury? Or don't you? Are you open to trying something new? When you do good things for yourself, you are far more gracious and willing to do them for others, too. These things can be the gifts that keep on giving.

Do something nice for yourself today!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Change is coming

This week I'm enjoying lakeside fun with my fiance, my sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Oh, how precious these times are. My oldest grandson leaves for college this fall; so it won't be long before they will all peel off to college and not long after, to begin lives of their own somewhere. That will be a fun stage in their lives and in our life together, too, and I know it will mean change. Each stage has its own joys and blessings. For now I want to savor each moment of our time together.

And I want to prepare myself for the change when Spencer goes off to college and for the changes coming as each of them leaves home.

Change. It's something so many of us resist. Yet it's inevitable. Preparing for the changes (when we know they're coming) can help us get through. I often imagine what my life will be like after a major change. Then I can make choices about how I will face that change and what I will do. Many changes come upon us completely unbidden, and we have no time to prepare. And with some changes, we simply can't foresee what our new normal will look like. Insofar as it's possible, however, try to prepare. I know it helps me a great deal if I can have some images of that new normal and make some choices in shaping it.

What do you do when change is coming? And how do you savor each moment before the change and after? Think about a time when you mentally prepared for a change in your life. Journal about what helped you through that change. See what life skills you used—and remember that you still have those skills.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Do I own 'stuff' or does it own me?

Last Friday I talked about possessiveness and ownership, particularly as it dealt with relationships. But what about possessions? Are you at the stage where you're letting go of the "things" and "stuff"? I hear so many people talk about that these days: "I'm trying to get rid of some of my stuff so my kids don't have to do it when I'm gone." Or "I want to live a more uncluttered life, so I'm starting to get rid of what I've collected through the years." "I'm going for simplicity these days."

At any stage of life, that can be a good thing. It's really true that the more stuff we have, the more we have for which to care and worry. After a while, that stuff can own us rather than the other way around. We can spend more time attaining, sorting through it all, protecting it, cleaning it and worrying about storing it than we actually do enjoying it. And don't you sometimes wonder if the U.S. is the only country in the world where we have huge homes filled with things and still rent storage sheds in which to put additional stuff?

I'm starting to look at the things I own in a different way now. Is this something I really enjoy? Might someone else use it or enjoy it more? Is it taking more of my time than I want to spend? And when I either donate or take things to a resale shop, how do I feel about that letting go process? Do I feel lighter? And do I savor in a deeper way those things I decide to keep?

Whatever helps you to savor the truly important things in life is worth doing. Focus on the positive and what's important to you!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mine, mine, mine

Roots and wings. If you're a parent, you've probably given lots of thought to that concept. It's what we all were told we needed to provide as parents. We needed to provide the security of roots and a sense of belonging to our children, and we needed to help them grow wings that could spread and take them wherever they needed to go. And that's just what I did. If you're a parent with older children, you likely did that, too.

So my sons have spread their wings and long since flown the coop! They don't all live right next door to me anymore. They are my sons, but they aren't "mine" in an ownership sense. Most families have that experience these days since our society has become so mobile. So we must adapt—and savor whatever times we can with our kids and grandkids. It's important to be intentional about making time for each other in these days of insane schedules, even for the youngest of children. Everyone is booked and scheduled up to the hilt, it seems. Several of my grandkids are teenagers, so they really do have busier schedules than I do these days. They, too, are my grandkids, but they aren't "mine."

This puts us in touch with several issues: balance, expectations, the ability to let go and a sense of ownership. In Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, he reminds us, "... the dearest things in life cannot be owned, but only shared" and says that our possessiveness and jealousy "often contaminates how we love."  Nepo urges us to loosen our hold on the things around which we feel "ownership," including relationships. This is a good reminder for me anyway, because at times I have expectations around relationships and time spent together that can cause me disappointment.

What's your experience? Are you good at finding the balance between roots and wings? Do you keep your expectations realistic? Are you able to let go of disappointments and expectations that don't materialize?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

When will I be good enough?

At first it didn't even seem onerous or futile. I didn't even think about it. But one day, as Cinderella's sisters discovered with the glass slipper, it simply didn't fit. I couldn't do it anymore!

As a young woman, I tried so hard to be perfect. I thought I would be lovable and acceptable if I were the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect seamstress, the perfect cook. You name it, I tried to do it perfectly. Then when my marriage revealed itself to not be so perfect, I began—only began, mind you—to see the futility of such an illusion. And it's taken many years to  shed those ideas. Sometimes pieces of that illusion still return to bite me!

Have you had any of those same ideas? If I can just be clever enough, I'll be accepted into this group. If I am agreeable, people will love me. If I work harder than anyone else in the office, I'll be so essential that I'll have true job security. If this, then that ... but it really doesn't work, does it?

Authenticity is simply the only way to go. Does it guarantee complete happiness? No, of course not. But it does bring far more contentment and serenity than trying to be something you are not. Perfection is absolutely unattainable anyway. Doing the best you can trumps that any day. And being real and authentic—being who you were uniquely created to be—that's a goal worth the striving.

I'd love to hear your experiences with perfectionism and the journey to authenticity if you're willing to share with us. One of the best ways you and I learn is through our sharing with others. We don't have to be experts. We simply have to share our journeys and the learnings we have along the way.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Look out for this syndrome

Have you ever felt that any successes you achieved were just a matter of luck? That it was only a matter of time before everyone discovered that you really didn't know as much as they thought you knew? And that sooner or later, others would realize you really shouldn't be in your position or shouldn't be paid what you are or were?

There's a name for this; it's called the Impostor Syndrome. A 2010 Forbes article outlined what the syndrome looked like in one high level executive's life. The article said in part: "Research that began in 1978 with the work of psychotherapists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes found that many women with notable achievements also had high levels of self-doubt. This deep lack of confidence—which couldn’t be equated with anxiety or other disorders—appeared to involve a deep sense of inauthenticity and an inability to internalize their successes.

"These individuals often have the belief they are 'fooling' other people, 'faking it' or getting by because they have the right contacts or are just plain 'lucky.' Many hold a belief they’ll be exposed as frauds or fakes. Impostor Syndrome goes far beyond normal bouts of self-doubt."

If you feel this way sometimes or often, check your self-talk and your self-image. Try to change your inner messages. Learn to receive affirmation and compliments from others with a simple "Thanks"—and take them in. That's often difficult for us as women. We're better at giving than receiving, it seems. Remember, too, to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Share thoughts about this with other women so you can help each other. Make a list of those things you do well, and keep it handy (I know, I know, it's far easier to list our supposed flaws than our talents or achievements—but try!). Believe in yourself—and others will believe in you, too!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Make someone happy

"When I'm really down, anxious about something or really sad, sometimes it takes so little to help me feel better: a smile, a hug or a kind word can do it," she said.

I was in a group of women discussing ways we could reach out to others when one of the women said that. And isn't she so right?

I can think of many times when a smile or hug have made a huge difference in my day. Or perhaps I received a card in my mailbox from a friend "just because," and that lifted my spirits.

It really doesn't take much. Random acts of kindness can include what you and I see as nothing, really: a smile, opening a door for someone, picking up something a person dropped and didn't notice that they dropped. Any number of kindnesses that don't cost money or take time turn out to be priceless!

Happiness comes to us when we do kind things for others. It's always a win-win, isn't it? We've made someone else happy; and in the process, given ourselves a big happiness boost as well.

What can you do today to put a smile on someone's face?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Career twists and turns

I have friends and clients who have lost jobs and still are looking for another. I have some who still have a job and have never lost one. Still others have lost jobs and landed in something they really like. And I know some people who found a job—and know it isn't where they need to be right now. Those people are still searching and know themselves to be in transition. And some of my friends have retooled and started businesses of their own.

Where are you on that continuum? Or have you retired and no longer worry about employment?

These are difficult days, filled with many twists and turns. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it's important that you be honest with yourself about it. When you are, your action plan will be a realistic one. If you have a job and know you need to continue looking, for example, it's so much easier if you admit to yourself (and others close to you, who can keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities) that you are in transition and still looking. You can mentally prepare yourself for a path that has more twists and turns in it—and some surprises up ahead.

Being able to anticipate what may lie ahead creates a sort of cushion for us to land in. It's really all about expectations, isn't it? You and I have talked about that before. The closer your expectations can be to reality, the happier you will be. The better you feel about yourself and about life, the more positive you will be when job-hunting and interviewing. And the better your chances of landing are. So much depends on attitude and expectations. So much depends on your point of view. Does your outlook need an overhaul today? If so, what's one thing you can do now to improve it?

Please contact me if you would like to discuss any of these issues. I'm happy to offer a complimentary strategy session to see whether coaching might benefit you.

july 1