November 2007

Migrated from Blogger – original post November 19, 2007

When presented with a problem or challenge that defies an instant solution I push the problem to the back of my brain. It may be minutes, it may take years, but eventually the answer spits back out. I refer to them as “A-Ha!” moments, because quite simply, that’s what they are.

Our brains are working all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Think about how amazing this is—our brains can work on problems and figure things out even while we are dreaming! Perhaps that is why I cringe when I hear someone say “I’m so dumb” or “My poor little brain”. Negative self-talk aside, which I addressed in a previous entry, these statements are so very far from true.

Each of us has the most powerful organic, problem-solving, creative, and intelligent tool that exists on the face of this earth. Each of us! This tool never sleeps, it never stops, and it begins working long before the moment of our birth and never stops until we take our last breath on this earth. It regulates every beat of our heart, coordinates the deeply complex functions of our bodies, and grows and learns along life’s long journey.

So why is it that we ignore its potential? Why is it that we often sell ourselves short and believe we can’t do XYZ?

I mentioned in a previous entry that I realized out of the blue one day that I was reading non-fiction, and understanding it. Cover to cover, chapter for chapter, I didn’t have the problem reading and understanding the material that I once would have had. What changed? My perceptions changed—for a short while I literally forgot that I was ‘incapable’ of reading non-fiction. When I realized that I had been reading non-fiction books and understanding and learning and retaining the information, my pre-supposition was shattered. My dad would call it ‘re-visiting premises’, I call it an “a-ha” moment.

For years I asked myself, “What do I want to do with my life?” Or tongue in cheek I would say to others, “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” I set my brain to work on that question and it finally spit out an answer the other day. I’m 37 now, so I figured it was high time I got an answer on the subject!

Then answer was simple and complicated at the same time, “Anything I want bad enough to set my sights on.”

Here is the icing on the cake. Are you ready?

It doesn’t have to be just one thing, forever, with nothing else.

Look here, it isn’t the 1950’s and you don’t have to go to work for one company for the rest of your life if you don’t want to. Not just that, but who says that taking a part-time job flipping burgers isn’t a fine start to making ends meet while you work on your skills as an artist, or writer? Don’t look for answers outside of yourself from the people who surround you—search your mind and your heart for the answers that are right there waiting to bust out. Take that idea, that dream, and run around with it in your hands, ruminate over it while you sleep. Find all the ways that you can think of to make it happen, in its originally visualized form or as something else entirely. Do you need some examples of how to make it happen? Read on, here are some of my main goals:

  • I’ve wanted to be a writer for so many years. So I write in my blogs, all four of them. I write in my journals, all twenty of them (give or take a handful), and I work on and off on my different creative writing projects.

  • I’ve also wanted to be my own boss—so I started two businesses and am well on my way to starting a third. I want to help others find their way and give back to the community – so I study to be a life coach and started a business focus group for other like-minded entrepreneurs.

  • I want to raise my child myself and not put her in daycare—so I’m a stay at home, nursing mom of a fantastic 13 month old.

  • I want to own real estate and be a good landlord for others—so I’m researching the real estate market now and hoping to put aside enough to buy my first investment property.

  • I want to raise my own vegetables—and when I have the time, I plan the garden, prep the beds for ‘lasagna gardening’, and look forward with great anticipation to spring.

  • I want to work on various craft projects, experiment with new recipes in the kitchen, and travel to Europe—and I dabble in the second goal on a regular basis, rarely have time for craft projects at present (though that will change in future years when we are homeschooling), and by golly, I am dead-set on getting to Europe within 3-4 years at the latest!

Do all of these things happen at the same time? No way! Sometimes I barely manage to keep the diapers changed while I deal with emergency cancellations or re-schedules for the cleaning business. Other days I take naps with the princess or read from my Life Coaching studies or write long emails.

You don’t have to have all of these things pulling you. You may only have one or two. My goodness, just think, if you only have a couple to work on just imagine what you can get accomplished!

Our mighty brains are capable of so much. Not just mine, not just the rich guy down the street, but every one of us has this potential to be so much more.

Turn off the television.

Stop surfing the internet.

Put down that video game controller!

And ask your brain a couple of very important questions…

What can I do to make my life the life I have dreamed of? How can I be MORE?

If it takes asking the question each morning and each night for the next week, month, or year…won’t that time be well worth it when you realize what the answer is? Set the task, and keep it in your mind. Make lists, brainstorm, and let your creativity (yes, we are ALL creative in some way) throw out crazy ideas. Write them all down in a notebook. Begin the process NOW!


Migrated from Blogger – originally posted on November 15, 2007

I swear it’s the littlest things that make me happy.

This morning has been a good one. One of my staff members showed up while I was still in my pajamas, with no shower, busily cleaning my house for my mom’s birthday dinner tomorrow. We talked about her schedule and how I wanted her out cleaning some of the clients on her own and independent from others. I don’t usually hold court in my pajamas, but hey, we roll with the punches ‘round here.

A few minutes later, two other staff members show up. A small problem has come up. The client’s dog is loose from the backyard and won’t allow them near the front door to do the scheduled cleaning. Thankfully, the house is close, just a couple of blocks away, so I throw some clothes on and zip over there.

I park on the street, get out, and see the big brown lab sniffing the ground in the front yard. “Hey, buddy! Whatcha doing?” I call out, not the least bit afraid of him. I have two dogs at home, one of them is bigger than this guy (1/2 great dane and ¼ pit bull). He comes galloping over to me, a goofy look on his face, overjoyed that he had someone to play with! I pet him, ruffle his fur, and talk to him. Then I lead him over to the open gate where he balks for a brief second before running past me into the yard. I quickly shut the gate and lean over it to give him more love and affection. He’s a sweet dog and I’m feeling like the Dog Whisperer as my two staff members pull up in their car to see the way to the front door is safe. The neighbor even thanked me because he had charged at her earlier and scared the crap out of her.

Back home, with the baby down for a nap I call AT&T to see if I can get call waiting on my phone. It’s a call I’ve been dreading. The last time I had to deal with AT&T they had some firking ‘voice recognition’ software that had me swearing until the air turned blue.

Somehow, I think I wasn’t the only one who hated the software, because they are back to call centers and human beings, thank the heavens. I reaches this amazingly competent, friendly, and efficient rep who not only took care of getting my call waiting activated, but told me it wouldn’t cost me a thing and then explained how to use call forwarding as well. Fantastic service, I even got her email address in case I needed further help—to which I promptly sent an email thanking her for her over-the-top customer service. I’ve worked in call centers before, they are usually centered on the 9th level of hell and treat their people like numbers. I hope she forwards the email on to her supervisor as I suggested and that it does help her at her next review. She certainly deserves a raise in my book!

So there you are, two little things that meant so much towards getting my day moving in a positive and energetic manner.

Folks, the little things really do matter.

Migrated from Blogger – original post November 10th, 2007

I read once that our ego doesn’t understand sarcasm—so if someone says to us “You are such a loser”, even in jest, than that statement as it stands is filed away in our brains exactly like that.

Years ago, while visiting a distant family member I saw that she had all of these positive statements (“You are a winner!” and “You are your own best friend” etc) written out and taped throughout her house and car. At the time I kind of snickered to myself and thought it silly that she ‘needed some piece of paper to make herself feel good’. But after reading the factoid about our egos not understanding sarcasm it made me question my easy dismissal of her ‘feel good’ messages.

Years later, as I studied different psychology texts and life coaching techniques I ran into many references to the positive effects of positive self-talk. It caused me to re-visit my premises and to acknowledge and recognize the real value this technique could have on people’s lives. I began to watch how I spoke about myself, and how my husband and family members spoke of themselves and others. It was an eye-opening experience.

Have you ever said to yourself, “How could I have been so stupid?” or “Did I leave my brain at home this morning?” or a variety of similar negative thoughts or verbal statements. It isn’t hard to do, especially in our busy lives.

The other day I placed an ad for my organizing business in a local circular. I sent off the ad to the publisher, looked over the proof they sent me back, told them it looked great and to go ahead and print it. Two days after the circular was printed a woman called asking for more information on my company. In the course of talking to her she informed me that my website wasn’t listed on the ad (I had been referring to it during the phone call). I was so embarrassed. I gave her the website, answered a few more questions, and after the phone call ended I immediately dug up my paperwork, hoping there had been a mistake on the publisher’s end of things.

No such luck. I had screwed up and forgotten to list the website! Aaarrgggh! My mother came in and asked me if I was alright after hearing tormented sounds issuing from my office. I stopped myself just in time from saying, “I can’t believe I was so stupid!”

But even though I didn’t say it out loud, I thought it. Later that evening as I was reviewing it again, and beating myself up for not being more thorough or attentive, I remembered how destructive and limiting negative self-talk can be. I told myself that I had to learn from my mistake and go on, because there was nothing more I could do to fix it other than call the publisher and correct it for next month’s issue. So I called the publisher and did just that. The corrected ad (with the website listed!) will appear in next month’s publication of Mother & Child Reunion.

A close family member of mine is terrible about the negative self-talk. It actually really bothers me how she talks about herself. And I also see how deeply it affects her self-esteem and ability to improve her life. It literally paralyzes her ability to grow, learn from the experience, and go forward. She is just too busy reviewing her past mistakes, instead of accepting them as learning experiences and getting on with her life!

If you are ‘guilty’ of this then consider some of the following tips, they will help you to construct a better, more positive self-concept:

· Learn to notice and identify negative or self-criticizing thoughts. Become aware of how much you think negatively about yourself and diminish your personal importance.

· Speak positively to yourself. Stop the insults and self-criticism. Instead practice positive and affirming self-talk.

· Convert all of your “shoulds” into “coulds.” If you feel you should be doing something that is not particularly important to you, or is based on what other people think you should do, try to forget it. Challenge yourself to do only those activities that will reinforce your positive self-concept and strengthen you.

· Exercise! Physical exercise is an excellent way for you to strengthen your self-concept. In addition to improving your appearance and health, physical exercise nurtures positive thoughts and feelings, as bio-chemicals released by the brain during exercise create a natural and healthy high.

· Learn to differentiate between the things you can control and the things you cannot. You have absolutely no power to change another person’s chosen behavior. Recognize and use your personal power to change yourself and design and engineer your own life in the way you choose – leave changes in other’s lives to other’s!

· Learn from your mistakes without self-punishment. There are not mistakes, only lessons. Humans learn through experience. The only time we encounter problems is when we fail to learn the lessons life constantly sends our way the first time they occur.

We only get this one life. Stop wasting minutes, hours, or even weeks or months of your life wishing you had done something different or mentally whipping yourself over your mistakes and instead focus your energies on how you can learn from your experiences and apply them to the next challenge life throws your way!

Migrated from Blogger – original post November 7, 2007

“Ten percent of the quality of your life is based on what happens to you and 90 percent on how you respond to what happens to you.” – Total Life Coaching

When I read the opening quote in my ongoing Life Coach studies I experienced what I like to call an “A-Ha!” moment. I immediately turned to my computer, typed in the phrase and then tried desperately to make an entry out of it. Nothing felt right; I would type away for a while, and then just keep hitting the Delete button. Two long days passed and I was growing frustrated.

It was important, this quote, and I wanted everyone to read it and really stew over it a little bit. After all, as Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Butt wasn’t until I received an email back from a new mother thanking me for my thoughtfulness that I knew I had the example I had been looking for.

Sometimes things happen that just take us down, lay us out flat, and then give us a few hard kicks in the head and heart for good measure.

I know a young couple, sweet as can be, upbeat, new in the area, and eagerly expecting the arrival of their first child. The wife was a business contact, but since I’m totally baby-oriented now, having my 13-month-old in my life and reminding me daily of how precious new life is, I sent her a friendly, informal email around her due date just checking in. When I didn’t hear back for several days I wasn’t surprised, I assumed correctly that she was in the hospital. What I didn’t expect was the email she sent verifying that yes, the baby was in the world, but to everyone’s surprise, had been born with Down’s syndrome.

I read the email and cried. I looked over at my toddler playing happily away in my home office and cried some more. And even though I’m not a very religious person, the thought came, “And there for God’s grace, go I.”

I cannot imagine having a child with Down’s syndrome. I think of my family with our big, long multi-syllable words, our writing, our creativity, and our strong emphasis on intelligence and independence. I take it all in and think, “How in the world would I manage?”

I could not bear to say those words “I’m sorry”, which really meant nothing and would have helped even less. I wrote her an email, “You will hear many people tell you how sorry they are for you, and eventually it will just become words that mean nothing, for no one can truly understand the road ahead of you unless they have walked it themselves, so I will not say them myself.”

I went on to say, “We cannot help but love our children, and no child is perfect, but all children are blessings nonetheless. They fill us with such a ferocious love, joy and sense of fulfillment that it cannot be expressed adequately in words.

Be patient with yourself as your body heals, and give your daughter the love that is in your heart and stay strong. That’s all that any of us can do.”

Although I still cannot imagine having a child with Down’s, I know in my heart that I would rise to the occasion if I were faced with it. Because in the end, it truly is that 90% of quality of life that falls to how you respond to life’s events.

Each of us has within us the infinite capacity for change, for growth, and for overcoming adversity. I hope you take a moment and re-affirm to yourself just how strong you are inside. If you do, and if you believe as I do, you will know that anything that you can conceive and dream of for your life is possible.

Migrated from Blogger – original post November 5, 2007

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained. – Marie Curie

Everywhere I go I meet people and eventually get around to talking about my businesses, the housecleaning business I started in 2005 and the professional organizing service I started early 2007, and now Life Coaching which will roll out for business in 2008.

I hear a lot of, “I could never do that,” or “You must be a super-achiever”. To each of these I answer, “You would be surprised what you are capable of” and “Not really–but I am busy!”

The other day I ran across a woman who seemed eager to connect with another human being. I was in the aisles of the public library, wrestling my crawling infant daughter away from the stacks of books that she was attempting to pull out by the handful. She heard me talking to the librarian and practically ran around the corner and joined into the discussion. Before long the librarian was off to do other things and I continued to visit with this newcomer.

I began telling her about my Life Coach studies and how I believed that every one of us has within us the ability to be so much more than what we are—we only need to find it, refine it, and let it shine.

She shared with me her disappointment over a failed attempt at her own business in graphic design. A series of unfortunate events, combined with the lack of support of her husband seemed to be to blame. We spoke further and I brought up the analogy of the forest and the trees and suggested that life coaching was often about helping clients gain perspective and that often meant stepping back out of the forest so that we could see the individual trees and realize it wasn’t just one big mess of branches and leaves.

She responded by saying, “But then others come along and they tie string around your feet to trip you up and stop you from getting out of the forest or moving on.”

I was new and still learning. And for this reason it wasn’t until later that I thought of the perfect response. What I would have like to say is, “But you have the scissors right there in your pocket. Pull them out and cut the strings and take back control of your destiny.”

As Marie Curie said, “Life is not easy.” You can know and understand that, and then promptly give up when the going gets tough, or you can take a stand and persevere and have confidence in your abilities.

I gave her my card and asked her to call me. If she does, I’ll remember to tell her about the scissors in her pocket and gently urge her to cut those strings.