Monday, September 30, 2013

Are you having fun yet?

Several of my clients have had or still experience burnout. If you've ever experienced it, you'll know it's no fun at all. It can suck the life right out of you. And it has a way of sneaking up on you. It doesn't even matter whether you have a full-time job or whether you're retired. Burnout can happen to anyone when you are consumed by work and productivity.

Ask yourself: Are you having fun and enjoying life? Or is life a complete drag, and it's difficult putting one foot in front of the other?

The possibility exists that you could be experiencing depression, in which case you will want to see your physician and follow through on her or his advice.

However, if you find your own needs are coming in last all the time—and you're completely focused on achieving and getting things done, you might be looking at burnout. Oddly enough, when you stop and take time to refresh and rejuvenate, the work you were so worried about completing still gets done—and often, it's done better.

You don't expect your car to run on empty. Why should you? In her book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, Joan Borysenko describes her own experience with burnout and says, "... when burnout takes over, values get shoved aside so that you can spend every minute working. Priorities shift from living a balanced life to chasing an unobtainable moving target." She adds that "what was once vital to you no longer matters as much. Work has swallowed your life whole." She offers ideas to deal with burnout—ways to set limits and to seek more of what you want.

If you deal with burnout and want to talk about it, please contact me for a complimentary strategy session.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Switching our attitudes

Nearly two weeks ago, my fiance and I and a couple that are close friends of ours spent three days and two nights at a lovely state park not far from our area.

Two of the days we were there were sunny and stunningly beautiful—fluffy white clouds on a background of the most beautiful blue sky ever. We enjoyed hiking and finding gorgeous scenic views in which to soak up the sights and sounds of nature. One of the days started out with rain, however. At first we were disappointed, focusing on the fact that we wouldn't be able to hike as much that day.

It wasn't long, however, before we all found a lovely lounge area in which to relax, work crossword puzzles, read our books, have fascinating conversations and just plain relax. Yes, we even found time for some napping. By the end of the day, we each admitted that the rain had offered a real gift. How often do we get to simply do little or nothing and feel OK about it, we asked each other. It turned out to be just as wonderful a day as the two sunny ones we had during our visit.

It took reframing our attitudes, however, to see that the rain was a gift. We knew it was a gift to the plants and soil that so badly needed it. But at first, we hadn't seen the gift for us since we'd all been looking forward to being out on the trails as much as possible.

You and I can all use some down time in between the times of action and activity. Notice those moments and don't miss them because you're looking for something different.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Follow your passion

Last week I heard a TV interview with a woman who had a fulfilling enough career. But she also had a cause about which she cared deeply. So she found ways to support that cause in small ways and on a part-time basis.

Little by little, however, part-time wasn't enough. Her passion for the cause was such that she just had to follow it through to its logical conclusion. It just needed to be full-time for her. And now she has created something that is doing much good in the world, and she's found many partners with whom to connect so as to grow the work she was able to do on her own.

As I heard her story, I thought of what happens not only within us as we follow our passions—but also of the good that can be accomplished in the world as we do.

What's on your heart—large or small—that is crying to be expressed? Is there a way you can start small and see where it takes you? Or maybe you just want to take a deep breath and jump into the deep end right away?

Whatever it is, I invite you to follow your passion and your dreams. Who knows where the journey will take you? And who knows what good things you might spark? For example, I have a friend whose career days are done and whose volunteer work has nearly come to its end, too. But she has a passion for motivating and encouraging others. So she sends cards and notes of encouragement to other people as they follow their passions. In so doing, she sends them soaring in the direction of their dreams. It may seem like such a small thing—but it really isn't. How often has a word of validation or encouragement been just what you needed to get off the dime? I know what a difference that makes in my life.

So don't let the size of your dream stop you. It doesn't have to be huge. It just has to be your passion fueling it!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Be fully you

Years ago I remember reading a book titled Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by You? by Jordan Paul and Margaret Paul. While the book is written with couples in mind, that question can apply to any relationship you might have.

Can you be yourself and still be loved? Still be accepted—or find approval?

And if you don't feel you can, what does that mean for the life of the relationship? Do you want a relationship where you can't be who you are? Are you really willing to twist yourself into a pretzel in order to be accepted or loved? I know, I know, sometimes in a workplace, it's difficult to be totally ourselves and still keep our jobs. And I understand that these days, it's not quite so easy to leave a job even when it feels restricting and uncomfortable.

I suspect that when you were younger, you may have done more twisting into a pretzel to be accepted. I know I did. I didn't realize the importance of authenticity, and I didn't think I could be loved if I didn't hide certain parts of myself with certain people. As you and I age, however, we become more comfortable in our own skin. And we realize that being who we were meant to be brings so much more contentment, happiness and joy. Actually, it takes less energy, too!

What I'm discovering as well is that the more authentic and real I am with those I care about, the more comfortable they feel—and thus, the more they drop their guard and feel OK about being authentic and real with me, too. This just makes relationships deeper and more enriching.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sometimes you just can't listen

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and they began discussing something painful in their life that made you uncomfortable? How did you respond? Did you quickly change the subject? Or did you take a deep breath inside—and determine that you would try stay with them by simply listening and acknowledging their hurt?

It's not easy to do that sometimes. It can happen that the painful thing in someone else's life touches into an old wound you have. Or perhaps you just have so much going on in your own life that you're tapped out and cannot hear about another's pain. Your friend really needs to be heard, and perhaps validated for feeling the way she does. But this is hard for you since you're feeling discomfort or exhaustion.

You get to decide. You have a choice to make. If you think you can set aside your feelings for the moment and listen to your friend, imagine yourself putting your "stuff" in a drawer and closing it. You can come back to it later. Then just open yourself up to his story and his needs.

If you simply cannot go there, at least acknowledge your friend's hurt and need to talk—and then just say you are sorry but you just aren't in a place to be helpful just then. You might even set a time later when you might be able to hear.

Honesty and transparency always is a good thing. The important thing is to be authentic and real about your needs while also acknowledging the needs of the other. That can be validating for you both.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Listen and learn

When you communicate with your partner or another loved one, do you enter the conversation with the intent to learn or to protect? It makes a huge difference.

Communication is a large part of life—whether it's with a significant other, a friend or with a neighbor or coworker. How you approach the conversation matters. This is especially true in a relationship that's experiencing conflict or facing a difficult topic.

As an Enneagram 8, I'm extremely conscious of my desire to protect myself from control or intrusion. It's extremely important for an Enneagram 8 personality to protect herself and determine her own course in life. However helpful that can be to my autonomy and authenticity, it can also be damaging to relationships when I don't permit myself to be truly open to the other person—and to hearing what he has to say or to learning from her.

Do you find yourself wary in conversations with some of the important people in your life? Are you in a protection mode? See how different communication might be when you approach those people with the intent to learn more about what they are feeling and how they are seeing things. It can open you both up to a new depth in your relationship. That said, there will be some people in your life who cannot be trusted with some of your information—and it's always important to be aware of protecting yourself in those cases.

Some forms of communication today (email, texting and even voicemail) complicate our communication process. When you cannot see someone's facial expressions or even hear the voice inflections, misunderstandings are that much more possible. It's good for you and me to take extra care with all our communications. Conversations can be a gateway to self-knowledge and to knowing others more deeply—or they can be a doorway to disappointment and conflict. These days I'm trying to listen and learn. It opens up so many more possibilities in my relationships.

Friday, September 20, 2013

4 steps closer to your dream

Do you have a dream you've been holding "out there" for a long time? You want this thing—whatever it is—a new career, a relationship, weight loss or some other move toward healthier living. It's wonderful to have a dream, but at some point you may want to take steps to put legs on it.

First, name your dream. What name will you put onto this desire? Naming it and actually knowing it as a living, breathing part of your life are important parts of the process.

Second, claim your dream. Naming it isn't enough by itself. You have to decide that you truly DO want to make this dream a reality. You may have to claim it over and over again. The fears that may have been there originally keep resurfacing, or new ones come along to hold you back. Not to worry. Claim and reclaim—as often as it takes. Claiming your dream brings you energy for it.

Third, face down your fears. Take them one by one, examine them and see whether they're based in any reality. Often, our fears are not. If they are based in reality, however, see what it takes to address them and deal with them. What do you need to do to avoid the thing you fear?

Fourth, set small and achievable action steps to move you closer to your dream. Feel the energy you gain simply by writing down those steps—and see the energy you get when you move from one step to the next and the next. Wow, isn't that exciting?

Your dream may be small (perhaps you simply dream of getting more sleep than you've been getting so you feel more positive each day) or it may be large (career change, for example). Whatever it is, move toward it today. Go for it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Perfectionism and recovery

I call myself a "recovering perfectionist." I learned early on to be a high achiever. Sure, there's a good side to that. There is also a definite negative side as well.

Do you have perfectionistic tendencies? Are you a full-blown perfectionist? If you are neither of these, consider yourself blessed. Really. Doing your best is plenty good enough!

When I look back on the early years of my marriage and motherhood, I shudder. I wanted so much to do everything well: to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect pastor's wife, the perfect cook, the perfect friend, the perfect daughter. You name it, I wanted to excel at it all. Good grief, what a burden.

Now my motto is: progress, not perfection. I want to be grounded and real. I want to live in the present as much as is possible, and I want to savor and enjoy life and the people around me. That is really all you and I need as we move toward being as healthy as we can, as authentic as we can and to living happy, positive and fulfilled lives.

If you, too, struggle with perfectionism, see whether you can let go of the need to excel and achieve to such a high degree. See yourself soaring as that beautiful butterfly you are, free of the burden of trying to be perfect!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The nautilus as a model

The chambered nautilus is a wonderful model for us in how to move ahead in our lives—and in how to use our pasts to good effect.

You see, throughout its life the nautilus continually adds new chambers to its structure. When the mollusk becomes too large for its current chamber, it creates a new and larger one, closing off the old one. It lives in the newest chamber, staying there until it outgrows that one. So it leaves the past behind and moves on to its new life in a new chamber.

However, here's the interesting part: Apparently, the old chambers trap air that keeps the nautilus buoyant. So the nautilus uses its old chambers to stay afloat even though it doesn't go back and live in the past by using those old chambers!

So next time some things in your life feel a little constricting and begin to pinch, how about moving out of the "shell" of whatever constricts and holds you back? Create a new space for yourself that is large enough for your new dreams, whatever they are. And let go of the things from your past that weigh you down, keeping only those things that help you stay afloat.

If your job or workplace don't allow you to be fully you, perhaps it's time for something new. Or maybe it's a relationship that's holding you back from being your authentic self? Have you outgrown something? What in your life needs some changing—something new, something that is more right-sized for you? As you move toward that new thing (that new chamber, as it were), are there parts of the old job, old friendship or old life that you want to carry with you to keep you afloat?

If this description is too vague to apply to your life, please contact me and we can do a complimentary strategy session around the topic. Let's find how this might apply to your life.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Defense and football

I'm probably part of a tiny minority in the United States, but I have a confession to make: I'm not a football fan. I don't know a lot about the game (despite my sons' best efforts to teach me) and, truth be told, I don't even want to. There, I've said it.

However, as I think more about communication—and I blogged about that last week—I think football can be instructive. One thing I do know about it is that those who play defense in the game try to block any moves forward by the other team.

I don't know about you, but I do plenty of that in my communication with others. And, honestly, it just doesn't work well if you want good relationships. Think about it.

When you have a discussion with your partner or child and a difficult topic comes up, do you find yourself defending your position? Me too. And how does that work out? Not so well, does it? If you do that and the other person does that, what's the likelihood of moving forward and finding any common ground? Right! Zero to none.

Lately I've been trying to drop my defenses and do a better job of listening, really listening to what the other person says—and to the feelings that lie underneath that person's comments. Big surprise. That works so much better, and we get through even the most difficult topics much more easily. It really moves the conversation forward—and thus moves the relationship forward—when you and I quit playing defense.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dreams and desires

Do you still have unmet dreams and desires? What's holding you back?

Ever talk with a friend who mentions a trip she's long wanted to take? A career he dreams of starting? Or an experience she wants to have before she's too old to enjoy it? And did you notice the excitement in her or his voice and the sparkle in the eye when the topic came up?

I've heard it said that we don't keep dreams alive so much as they keep us alive. I believe it. It's wonderful to have dreams and desires. It's also really wonderful to bring life to those that really burn within. Some desires give us joy by residing within us. Some simply have to be lived. You get to decide.

If you have something that you really want to do, think about what it might take to attain that dream. If you have more excuses than strategies to reach the dream, reflect on what fears might be getting in your way. Are these fears you can manage? What will that take? Can you commit to taking that journey?

Picture your life now. Then picture your life as it would be if you lived your dream or fulfilled your desire. Is it worth pursuing? If it is, create a step-by-step plan to get there. And remember to keep the steps small and achievable.

If you would like to talk about how to get past fear and reach for a dream, please contact me. I love to see people pursue their passions and dive straight into their dreams!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Remember active listening?

Anyone remember active listening? I recall hearing much about it when I raised my three sons. Parenting books encouraged it. Marriage manuals advised couples to use it. Thankfully, it's still in use today.

It's worth recalling some of the tips to active listening—especially in a day and age when the number of distractions in our lives has escalated to a nearly deadening and frightening level. And let's not even get into the topic of the incivility of talk shows where talking seems to be a competitive sport.

The first thing you have to do is to stop talking. I find it helpful to remember that I have one mouth and two ears; the ratio gives me a clue as to what's important.

It's equally important to signal to the other person that you truly are interested in what she says. Put down your iPhone for a few minutes. Resist the temptation to glance down at the newspaper or book you were reading. Good eye contact, nodding your head, facial expressions—all of these non-verbals are important in flagging to the other person that you want to hear what he says.

Ask questions and find ways to show you empathize (which is different from sympathizing) with the other person. Ask questions for clarity. Play back to your friend, child or partner what you have heard him say to be sure you've understood. Listen to the response to be sure you've correctly interpreted the message she was sending you.

And, though this isn't part of active listening as I originally learned it, I would add one more piece: Resist giving advice. I generally think advice is worth exactly what you pay for it (typically nothing). When someone wants your advice, they'll ask for that. Mostly, people just want to be heard and validated. What a gift that is to give each other.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Check out your communication 'dance'

Lately I've been thinking a lot about relationships and communication. It's so easy to get into strange and unhelpful communication patterns in our friendships and other significant relationships, isn't it? That being true, it's good to stop and take a look at those patterns. They really can be changed, if both (or all) parties want to have more effective communication.

I just got an audio book from my local library that I highly recommend. It's Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. Johnson, a research professor and professor of clinical psychology, discusses many of the typical dances we do in conversation with one another. Her focus is on couples, but the information definitely is useful for any relationship that matters in your life. She bases her work on research she has done to show that we all long for connection with others. We want to know we matter to others.

For example, one person in a relationship may be the one who reaches out and initiates things, whether conversations or activities. And the other person may be one who tends to withdraw. When the one who reaches out gets no response from the one who withdraws, she may push harder—and in so doing, push away even further the one who withdraws. You can just see the outcome of such a dance.

It's fascinating to me to think about my style and how that plays out with the different essential relationships in my life. I can see places to tweak my style, and I notice places where real change is needed. Because I'm a lifelong learner, this type of thing jazzes me. I know it will enrich and deepen the friendships and relationships I have. I have no doubt that a few changes here and there will make my relationship connections even more positive and joyful.

Have you looked at your communication dances lately? What do you see? Smooth waltzes? Jerky cha-chas? Perhaps it's time for some tweaking. Or even some new music!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The past: The choice is yours

You know you can't change the past. I know it, too. Yet sometimes don't we hang onto it with thoughts of, "If only this, or if only that"? Yesterday I wrote about forgiveness, quoting a powerful passage from the novel I just finished, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. The novel also had some wise words about the importance of living the life you have rather than hanging onto the past or worrying about the future.

After the main female character confesses to her husband that she wanted revenge for something he'd done to hurt her, and he acknowledges that he knew that, she says, "What, so you forgive me, just like that? Like it's nothing?" He responds that it's the only thing to do for she's his wife, to which she says, "You mean you're stuck with me...."

But his response to that reframes it all: "I mean I promised to spend my life with you. I still want to spend my life with you. Izz, I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past."

Later he adds, "We've put things right as well as we can. That's all we can do. We have to live with things the way they are now."

It all seems so obvious. And you're maybe thinking "Duh." Still, it can happen to any of us. We go to that place just as did the main female character. We can get stuck there, dwelling in the past, going over and over it even when we know it leads absolutely nowhere. But just as we do when it comes to forgiveness, so we do with how we view our past: We have a choice in what we do with it. Let go. Move on. Give up the hope of changing your past. It can't be done. Live the moment you have right now. It's all we have—and, really, that's a real gift, isn't it? Is that why it's called the present?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Holding on to resentment is exhausting

Forgiveness. It's one of the more difficult things you and I do, isn't it? And yet it's so essential to living well. I just finished an amazing novel, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. And it contained a powerful description of what it means to forgive and to let go of hatred.

One of the book's main characters asked her husband how he could just get over the difficult and awful things that life had sent his way. Her husband responded, "I choose to. I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget."

"But it's not easy," his wife said.

His wise response to her: "Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.... I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No, we always have a choice. All of us."

Honestly, I can't say it any better than that. Isn't that exactly right? It is hard work to keep carrying resentments, anger and hatred.

Is there someone you need to forgive today? Go ahead. Drop the load. Let go. Forgive. Maybe it's even yourself (that's the most difficult of all!). Don't waste another exhausting day carrying it all around.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Energy, powerful energy

Energy. It's an amazing thing, isn't it? Have you ever noticed the energy that follows someone into a room? Notice sometime what happens when a person enters the room. Does she bring with her a joyful, positive energy? Or can you almost see the black cloud over his head entering the room with him—and then feel your own energy dip?

Each of us is surrounded by an energy field. Depending on what we're feeling and what "inner space" we occupy at the particular time, that energy changes. If you are in a negative place inside, perhaps feeling extremely angry or sad, others will feel that energy when you approach. However, if you are filled with joy or just simply feeling open and loving inside, that's the energy you'll project when you walk into a room.

Energy is powerful and strong. Try this, just to see its strength. Sit comfortably with your arms bent at the elbows, hands in front of you. Rub your hands together firmly until you feel the heat building up in your palms. Keep it up for a while. Then slowly pull your hands apart a ways. Hold them there for a while until you feel the pulsing in your palms. That's energy. Now slowly move your hands toward each other again and feel the resistance that's there. Isn't that amazing?

Learn to be aware of the energy inside and around you. You do not always have a choice about what happens to you. You do have a choice about how you respond to those things, however. You have a choice about whether you approach life and its experiences in a positive way. Or with a negative attitude. Whatever your choice, that's the energy you'll feel inside—and the energy you will project onto others. Choices. They're yours to make.

Friday, September 6, 2013

'Harvest' your writings

It just never fails. Every time I go back to one of my old journals and do what I call "harvest my journal," I am enriched. I always experience huge aha moments.

If you journal, try it sometime. When you feel the urge to do so, reread a section of an old journal. See where you were then, what questions were on your mind at that time, what was being resolved and just notice what was going on inside—and outside—you at that time. Then reflect on what that means for you now.

Do you find yourself at an entirely different place now? Have you settled what was then a big issue for you? Or are the questions on your mind then still niggling away now? If so, what do you want to do about that? If not, celebrate your growth!

If you don't keep journals, you can do much the same thing by going back in time in your mind to remember what loomed large for you a year ago, two years ago or more. Then think about where you are now. (Some people keep a diary and record not only the events but reactions to them; so if that's your style, you can do the same thing with a diary.) Awareness is the point here.

Only moments ago, I just happened to pick up my journal from 2011 and was fascinated by some of what I wrote then. Some things have worked out beautifully and resolved themselves. I am so grateful! And others provided huge aha moments and reminded me that they still needed some attention. In yet other instances, I could see how far I had come. At this stage in my life when I'm asking some big life questions, all this information is extremely helpful to me. I know a tighter focus on what I've gleaned today will enrich my life, probably even in ways I cannot yet imagine—and in the end, the experience will be positive and bring me to a place of even deeper joy.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Give worry a holiday

I'm a worrier. I don't know about you, but I worry about things. It isn't excessive, but I really would like to not worry, period. I can't think of one instance in my life where my worry has really helped the situation. However, I can think of several times when I have wasted minutes or hours worrying about something that never happened—or something that turned out well rather than into the disaster I had imagined.

You and I can't control much of what happens to us. We can control how we respond to those things, however. And we can control how much time we give over to worrying about what might happen—losing time we'll never get back, if you really think about it.

When I catch myself worrying these days, I try to stop myself right away and ask: Do I really know what will happen? Is it possible for me to know? If not, will I be OK just setting this aside for the moment? And then I picture myself putting the whole issue, worries and all, into a drawer and closing it. It can be there until something further develops. Until then, if there's really nothing I can do to affect the outcome, I try—I really do try—to just let it be.

Sometimes I find journaling about the situation or fear helps me let go of the worry. I take a good look at it and realize how futile is my worry.

What tips do you use to stop worry in its tracks? Or don't you even worry to start with?

Stay positive. Don't let the negative, worrying thoughts take up space inside your head. See if it doesn't make you less stressed and more joyful. I'm trying, too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Smiles and the whole world smiles...

"Wear a smile on your face when you make your calls," phone salespeople often are told, as they are reminded that people will know they are smiling; and it will make a huge difference in the interaction.

It seems impossible to believe, doesn't it? Can someone really tell that you're smiling on the other end of the phone? I believe it. When you smile, you make yourself feel better. And when you feel better, you will speak from an entirely difference place inside. If you don't believe this, experiment by having a conversation in front of your mirror—sometimes when smiling and other times when frowning and looking angry.

It seems such a small thing, really. Smiles are free, and they make such a difference. English essayist and poet Joseph Addison said, "What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable."

Well said. And while you and I often hold back a smile until we see that the approaching person might receive it well, those who might not perhaps need a smile the most. As writer  Lawrence G. Lovasik reminds us, "Nobody needs a smile so much as the one who has none to give. So get used to smiling heart-warming smiles, and you will spread sunshine in a sometimes dreary world."

And remember the Louis Armstrong lyrics, "Smile, and the whole world smiles with you." Go for it. Put one on your face right now—and bring some joy into your day. The more you do of it, the more joy you'll be spreading.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rewards and savoring

I'm writing this blog on Labor Day. It's so beautiful outside, and I really want to go for a nice, long walk. Last week was so hot and humid that it deterred me from doing any walking out of doors. So I have promised myself a treat (actually, two treats) if I discipline myself to stay with this blog and finish it. When I finish it, I will get that walk outside that I really want. And when I return from that, I will give myself some time to relax and read a couple chapters in my latest novel. I'll do what needs to be done and then get two things I really desire. (Mind you, I like writing these blogs. It's a pleasurable part of my day. It's just that today, I'd rather be outside.)

Do you ever use a reward system with yourself? In these days of instant gratification, it seems to be a good practice—or at least it works for me. Well, sometimes it works. Other times, not so much—as when I really want that Dove chocolate piece and right now! Much depends on how tired I am, how hungry I am, what type of inner space I'm in.

When my sons were young, at times I used the reward system with them, too. "Just finish your chores first, and you can go to the park for that game of pick-up baseball." "Do your homework, and then you can ride bike with your friends."

Some will say we shouldn't need rewards. We should just do what needs to be done, period. Perhaps so. But I find that if I can anticipate something sweet (a walk, not just chocolate!), it adds to my enjoyment of the whole experience. I can savor not only what I'm doing—but what I know will follow. It just adds more joy to my days. Can that be so bad?

OK, now I'm grabbing my walking shoes and sunglasses. Time for the two things I desire this afternoon.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Celebrate women's contributions

Today is Labor Day. Did you know that the first one was celebrated in 1882 in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union? Later, several states passed legislation creating the holiday; and in 1894 the U.S. Congress passed an act making it a legal holiday.

The idea was to celebrate "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community. Later, more emphasis was placed on the economic and civic significance of the holiday.

Today, Labor Day, we celebrate all workers. We celebrate those who are currently working, those who have worked, those who are looking (desperately!) for work and those only recently released from colleges into the job market.

We celebrate all the ways women have contributed to the economy through the centuries as well—going back to the days when they weren't even seen as adding to the economy. Guess what? They were! And we celebrate Rosie, the Riveter—and all the women who in their own ways have created an atmosphere where women now have choices. My granddaughters will have choices that my mother and grandmother never dreamed of having. When my mother was born, women couldn't even vote! I am so grateful for the changes since then.

Celebrate women who stay home and raise families. Celebrate women who work outside the home. Celebrate those who do both. Here's to all of us who make this nation what it is—and who contribute to improvements globally as well!