Sometimes the Best Advice is to Simply “Stay the Course”

FailureThere was a commercial campaign focused on encouraging people to quit smoking a few years back, which used the slogan, “Don’t quit quitting.” Lately, I’ve been reminding myself to do something similar – Don’t quit. Stay the course!

Don’t quit developing healthy habits because I had dessert.

Don’t quit taking my daily walks just because I skipped a day.

Don’t quit drinking more water every day because I got distracted and missed one day.

Don’t quit trying get healthier and slimmer just because I haven’t lost more than a few pounds.

Don’t give up on developing a healthier lifestyle. Don’t start a “diet.” Diets don’t work for me and I end up simply gaining the weight back, with a few extras for good measure.

I’ve lost a few pounds, and that’s something to appreciate. I will lose more, if I STAY THE COURSE.

UPDATE: As of 5/18, I’ve lost the five pounds I committed to a month or so ago. It’s working! 

This BeliefNet article validates my approach, so I’ll keep looking at resources like this one, to keep keeping on:

BeliefNet “Stay the Course” Article

What about you? Do you get defeated when the weight won’t come off quickly enough and give up? What helps keep you focused on healthy living over quick weight loss? 

 

 

 

Watching Out for Hidden Vipers

viperShe was a viper with a charming persona and a great big smile. And somehow I had no idea that she saw a target on my back.

I had been let go from a job I’d held for eleven years, due to “financial reasons.” (I actually believe that the decision was based on my political leanings, though that’s another blog post.) Within a few weeks, I’d been hired by the competitor and was feeling rather fortunate that I would be able to continue to support my family.

A few weeks after starting the new job, I was surprised to have my coworker, who also held a VP title, strike out at me about a client inquiry. We were a primary vendor for a few large corporations, which meant that our video materials were sometimes requested by the companies’ ad agencies to support their projects. I had gotten a call from a video producer that needed some video clips. “I called and left a message for (snake lady) yesterday, though no one has called me back.”

I went into (snake lady)’s office to see if she could help assist me with getting the needed materials together. “She said she’d left you a message,” I told her. “Did you get it?” As a newbie to the company, I was worried that perhaps messages were getting lost.

“I am very busy and I return client calls within 24 hours,” she snapped. (24 hours? In the video business, things move a whole lot quicker than that. A 2 hour turnaround on phone calls is considered TOOOO long.)

“Got it,” I told her. “If you need help, please feel free to pass those calls along to me. I’m always happy to take those kinds of things off your hands.”

She smiled her great big smile and brought out her insta-charm, which was magnetic and particularly appealing to the guys. “Thank you,” she beamed, before she filled me in on what I needed to do to meet the request.

Over time, there were several occasions like this one. I’d do something, she’d get angry and snipe at me. I’d fumble through it and we’d get things managed. I talked to the president and the owner of the company and asked if we could talk it over in a meeting. “Oh, no,” they’d respond. “Leave it alone. You’ll start World War III.”

Seriously? I was flummoxed. Why would this VP level staff member be allowed to act in any way she wanted, with impunity. Was it because she was prone to walk out of meetings in anger if things didn’t go her way? Or her magnetic charm, which she could turn on and off in seconds?

I began to understand that she wasn’t happy to have another strong woman on what she perceived as her turf. She’d been with the company for several years and I discovered that any other woman who held a position similar to mine had either quit or been fired within a year or so.

It wasn’t until several months later, as the relationship between us continued to deteriorate, that I found out she made fun of me to other people and complained to the owner about perceived weaknesses she thought I possessed. (And, yes, her complaints worked. The owner’s confidence in my abilities waned.) Within nine months of my hiring, I resigned, leaving that day.

“I thought you were a fighter,” the president of the company said, when I told him of my decision. “No, you misread me. I don’t like to fight. I like to collaborate,” I replied. I drove home crying tears of joy.

What was the key to snake lady’s success at this company? She was able to turn from full-on bitch mode to charming, magnetic warmth in seconds flat. It was truly amazing to watch. (Plus, she had an uncomfortably close relationship with the company owner, but again, that’s another blog post.)

What about you? Have you ever encountered a hidden viper? What happened?

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The Tides on This Battle Are Turning – Or Not

Tides are TurningIn flipping through our TiVo menu, I came across Joel Osteen’s program and it felt so uplifting to watch it. While many know Joel Osteen for his “prosperity gospel,” and some deride him for it, I appreciate his uber-positive message. It’s kind of a mix between traditional bible-based Christianity with new age abundance principles.

What I loved about this week’s show was the story Joel told about Susan Boyle and how she became a commercial success in spite of unthinkable odds. The singer was in the audience as he told the story of her oxygen-deprived birth and how it was anticipated that she would be at a physical disadvantage for her entire life. She’s now a public figure, known for her amazing voice and story of overcoming adversity.

Of course, this has me thinking about how much I get in my own way. I know what to do to lose weight and create new healthier habits, yet when I don’t feel hopeful, I revert back to old, unhealthy (easy) ways of doing things.

During today’s program, the line “the tides on this battle are turning” struck me loud and clear, primarily because he presented it as a decision, rather than some defining moment that is created by an outside influence. It’s from the inside. If you want the tides to turn, you get to turn them. You “start talking yourself into it.”

I have started talking myself into doing what I need to do to become healthy, self-aware and strong both emotionally and physically, into my 50s and beyond. It reminds me of a quote that I post on my social profiles:

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” ~ Bradley Whitford

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Reconsidering the Promises I’m Making

CommitmentMy days are busy. I work a 40+ hour a week job, writing social media posts for an ad agency. I’m an entrepreneur with a partner in a  customer service business, selling training and workshops to companies that need to enhance their organization’s service excellence. I plan a menu and grocery shop every week so I can make dinner for my son and my husband just about every day. I’m on a fitness journey, so I’m taking walks every morning or evening, sometimes both. I’m on the board of directors for a marketing and sales trade group. I blog here and on our customer service blog. I manage the family finances. I have a MasterMinds group that meets twice a month. Plus, I like to take on freelance projects doing sales coaching and social media planning.

Whew! Just writing about it brings me a bit of that “overwhelm” feeling, though I know I’m leaving out a lot and I can’t imagine what I’d cut if I had to. And, yes, I do have a choice in what I take on. My biggest issue with all the “busy” right now is making sure that I honor the commitments I make. Like most women, I want to say “YES” to every request. And I always always always think I have more time than I do. (Of course, I might have time if I omit any relaxation and “me” time, running myself crazy in the process.)

One of the new habits I’m creating is to look at the commitments I make and say “NO” when necessary. I love helping people, though when I try to help too many people, I end up letting them, and myself, down, either by not spending enough energy on what I promised or letting it slip off my radar.

Moving forward, I will give some thought to my commitments before I say yes. I will consider my available time and my energy stores. And I’ll only say yes when I’m sure I can give it my all. I will make slow and steady progress on this one, though I will definitely improve on making and keeping my commitments.

What about you? Do you do too much? Ever overcommit and let someone (and yourself) down? 

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A Gift from an Amazing Researcher: Vulnerability and Shame as Tools for Growth

GraffitiIf you’re a woman over 40, I’m willing to bet you’re intimately familiar with vulnerability and shame and you don’t like how they feel. You may hate them and you may even try to hide from them. For me, even looking over my shoulder to catch a glimpse can seem  too frightening.

I’ve been facing a lot of my feelings of shame of late and whoa, is it ever painful! My childhood and young adulthood were extremely challenging and I learned ways to function that were completely inappropriate. Looking back, I feel shame at some of my own actions. I also feel a much deeper shame for things that were done to me by people who should have been watching out for me. By facing it and staring it down, I’m making major progress in releasing it little by little.

If my story sounds familiar and rings true for you in even a small way, please take some time to listen to the TED talks by Brene Brown. Seriously, take some time NOW and go watch them. My favorite is about Listening to Shame and it’s so compelling that I wish it was a requirement for women everywhere. (And – BONUS – it’s totally entertaining.)

One of Brown’s main points is that vulnerability is actually courage in action. It’s not weakness and “it fuels our daily lives.” She states that to let ourselves be vulnerable is a gift to ourselves and others.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change,” she says. Describing herself as a vulnerability researcher (who focuses primarily on women), Brown is also well-versed on the topic of shame. Both shame and vulnerability can be catalysts for growth. In order to innovate and solve problems, you have to be willing to face failure, which is often the basis of shame. Shame tells you “you’re not good enough” and asks you “who do you think you are?” Facing it and admitting your failure requires vulnerability and allows others to say, “me, too.”

Brown describes out the “warm wash of shame” that is familiar to so many women. Our culture creates expectations for women that we can never meet, causing us to feel shame and separate from others and potentially never reach for what we really want. The good news? When we face shame and vulnerability, we can “dare greatly” and accomplish much.

My favorite quote from her talk is this one:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

 

What about you? Have you faced shame and vulnerability and come out stronger, more peaceful and happier on the other side? Tell me about it!

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Every Story Reveals a Prism of Truths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week, I’ve been witness to some  interesting happenings that have me looking at what’s considered “truth” in a whole new way.

A group to which I belonged hit a bump in the road when the partners had a falling out. The break-up played out on social media and those who thought they knew the “truth” chose sides based on what they thought they knew about what had happened. In fact, many of them only knew what they saw announced publicly or what they’d been told through email or private messaging by one or two of the parties. Claws came out and reputations were damaged. It was horrific, as people who were only peripherally involved demanded information and made public comments about what should have been a private matter.

In another situation, I witnessed a team in my work sphere manage a challenging situation. I’d watched it play out and made assumptions about what had happened. I made some snap judgements about the team’s competence. Over a few hours, the details became clear and in reality, the situation was handled remarkably well. I was disappointed in myself, as I had only seen my perspective and assumed it was “truth.” It wasn’t.

In reality, truth has so many sides. So very many sides. What you see depends on what part of the prism you’re looking through. And I’m learning, as I get wiser, to hold off on my judgements until I see more than one aspect of the “truth.”

What about you? Have you ever made harsh judgements based on limited information only to find out later that you were wrong? Tell me about it!

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Fetching Up a Teenage Boy…Now What?

medium_5372081748Growing a teenage human isn’t the easiest thing in the world. My son turned 15 in mid-September, around the same time he got his first girlfriend, and I, as Mom, have no idea how to handle it.

Do you tighten down the controls, in hopes of preventing too much of a fixation on the girlfriend?

Do you trust, based on past experiences with a wonderful young man who makes great decisions in school?

The girlfriend has only become “official” in the last few weeks, and I find it so sweet that my son has met someone who appreciates his smarts, wit and kind personality. And it’s a bonus that I’ve talked to her mother a few times, who seems as protective of her daughter as I am of my son.

My boy has always shown an outstanding ability to fend off peer pressure, though I’m not naive enough to think that the biological drive to have a more “intimate” relationship isn’t incredibly strong. I’m also wise enough to understand that, at this point, I’m here as an advisor. He will do what he does. My work as a parent – to raise him to understand the value of caution in creating intimate relationships – is pretty much done. My job as advisor and supporter, when asked, is it for now.

What about you? How did you handle the teenage years with your son or daughter?

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Giving Up First World Problems

SpheresIt’s so easy for us to complain about the little things that bother us in our day-to-day lives, though what I like best about hitting midlife is how much easier it is to distinguish between real problems and what’s become known as “first world problems.” (KnowYourMeme.com defines them as “frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. It is typically used as a tongue-in-cheek comedic device to make light of trivial inconveniences.”)

Lately, when I’m feeling annoyed by something work-related or less-than-happy with somebody at the office, I remind myself that I write social posts and website articles AND teach people how to be nice to people, FOR A LIVING.

Some people stand over hot stoves all day, or stand on their feet and wait tables, or care for the elderly in nursing homes, or perform the same redundant function, over and over again, on an assembly line. All day long, they do something that they don’t love. Something that they have to do to pay the bills. Something that leaves them physically exhausted and unsatisfied. They dream of having a job that they love, though they have bills to pay and family to care for, and they don’t have the option of going back to school or pursuing a new career.

Me? I’m incredibly blessed with my work. Even I work too many hours. Even if it seems to  hurt my brain. And how incredibly self-centered would I be to let any of it truly annoy me?

When I think about it for just a few seconds, I’m pretty stupified by how fortunate I am to get to do what I do. And extremely grateful that it pays for my family to have a comfortable home, clothes on our backs, and food on the table.

The “first world problems” lens is a good one to hold up when you feel angry or annoyed about just about anything. How important is it really?

What first world problems have you stopped complaining about? Tell me about it! 

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First World Problems of a Kept Young Man

CatI can only imagine who pays the bills of the young man I saw at the nail salon last week. He was probably in his late 20s, with an expensive haircut and an effeminate manner. He was there for both a manicure and pedicure and I was fortunate to overhear his entertaining banter. I was awed by his lifestyle, which was obviously so completely different than mine.

“I wish my skin was as dark as yours. I have to go lie in a tanning booth three times a week, just to look like this,” he told the Asian nail tech, holding up his arm next to hers. “You’re so lucky to have skin that color.”

“I’m going to ride my horse this afternoon when I’m done here,” he shared. “I have three pairs of riding pants, with the patches at the knees? They’re so ‘in’ right now. I need a new pair of riding boots, though. I’ll probably wear a jacket and a hat, because it’s such a cute little stable, it makes you want to dress up.”

“I spent an hour at water aerobics this morning and after that, my trainer worked me out for two hours,” he complained. “I’m so tired! But if I don’t do that at least a few times a week, I can feel myself getting flabby.”

As he walked up to the counter to pay for his treatments, he asked the same nail tech, “So you like Gucci, too?” I couldn’t help but wonder if he realized that her wages were probably not significant enough to afford high-end designer labels.

It was a fascinating snapshot view of a day in the life of a wealthy man. On a Tuesday when most are at work earning their livings, he’d been working out, getting his nails done and riding his horse. As I watched him drive away in his Audi A8, I kept wondering how the rest of his week played out.

Me? I was taking a one hour break from my day job to get a quick manicure, after which I’d run back to the office, finish up my assignments for the day, then go home and make dinner for my family, then work on my entrepreneurial venture through the evening. Wow. To have so much leisure time is almost unthinkable to me. What a contrast.

What about you? When have you encountered someone whose day-to-day life was completely different than yours? What did you think?

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A Lesson from a New Twitter Friend: You’re a Work of Art in Progress

Tana ArtI have a new friend on Twitter, @TanaBevan. She describers herself as a “Writer. Blogger. Doodler Extraordinaire. Encourager bar none!”

That’s one of her fun little doodles  —>

Since I’m all about positive energy and enthusiasm, I had to check out her blog. The first piece I read really resonated with me. It’s about how being perfect isn’t possible, so why not just accept that as a fact of life? Tana says:

“The pursuit of perfection is an exhausting exercise in futility. Better to embrace your imperfection. (Agreed, this is easier to handle in theory than reality.) Still, why not go for broke? Decide to view yourself as a Work of Art … in Progress!”

Since I’m always trying to be better/do better, I love Tana’s energy. Nobody’s perfect and nobody has to be. Do what you can and enjoy your life. And that’s all there is to it. You can check out her blog: Tana’s World