Wow, it's hard to believe I created this website four years ago!
It started as a way to promote my life coaching business and I did some occasional writing.
As time has passed, I realized that even though coaching will always be a part of me, a larger part has always been being a writer. I just didn't let myself jump in with both feet. I kept testing the waters by dipping one toe in at a time. I would get waist deep and decide I couldn't go any further.
I'm not quite sure when the tide turned but it did. Now I write 2-3 blog posts a week. I publish them here and my writing has also been read in the following publications: The Billfold, The Ascent, ART & Marketing, Don't Panic Just Hire, Fit Yourself Club, and Laconia. All of these publications are located at medium.com. (If you don't have an account, sign up for one. There is amazing writing on all kinds of subjects!)
Because I continued to gain momentum, I decided to take another leap with my writing, and with that I give you the BIG NEWS: I'm going to independently publish my first book in January 2018!!!!
I wouldn't be taking a leap of this magnitude if I didn't have YOUR support and encouragement! You cheer me on, and you let me know you're reading. You give me feedback and you let me hear your voice. I write, because some of you tell me it makes a difference, and if that happens for even one person then what I'm doing is worth it.
More details to come in the next few weeks, but let me just say this: the little blue desk in this picture has something to do with it.
Life is always going to throw us curves. That’s the spice of life, right?
Some curves are going to be crazy and sudden. = “I won the lottery!”
Some curves are going to be crazy and sudden. = “Your job is being downsized.”
And some curves are going to be crazy and sudden. = “You have early signs of diabetes.”
But, really, life’s curves aren’t all that crazy or sudden and here’s why.
There are always signs when a curve is coming.
We simply don’t pay attention to them. We ignore them. We pretend they don’t exist. We think those curves are going to happen to someone else and are stunned when they happen to us.
Think about it. We eat poorly over the holiday season and then are surprised when the scale shows a 5–10 pound weight gain. Should we really have been surprised by this? Eating seven pieces of fudge in a five minute time-span should be a pretty fair indication that the scale is not going to be tipping in our favor.
Or, we keep volunteering to pick up extra tasks at work, because no one else steps up to do them. We’re in a meeting and when a job is thrown out there for someone to do, it’s like crickets take over the room. No one is stepping up, and so we resignedly take on yet another task we don’t have time for in our schedule. Are we really that surprised when we get so overwhelmed we get sick for the sixth time in the last five months?
We talk about being a taxi for our kids. We shuttle them from one activity to another and wear it like a badge of honor when we say that we ate dinner in the car for the third time this week. And then we wonder why we have kids who are cranky and burned out before they hit their teens?
Recognize and respond to the curves.
Just as there are literally signs on the road when a curve is coming, we have to do a better job of recognizing them in our lives and then respond accordingly.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” — Charles R. Swindoll
There’s one word I would change in Swindoll’s quote. I would swap out react for respond. When I react to something, it’s a non-thinking activity. When a bug lands on my nose, I swipe it away. When there is a stick in the road, I swerve to miss it. I don’t think about what I’m doing, I make a quick reaction and move on.
When I respond, there’s a thought-process happening before I take action. I ponder the pros and cons and then I make a decision. Have a plan and then stick to it. This is what we need to do more of in our lives.
Instead of picking up the next piece of fudge during that holiday party, have one piece in one hand and a glass of water in the other one. Enjoy each morsel of that ONE piece and then move away from the goodie table. Drink the water and hold on to it with both hands to keep you from mindlessly grabbing another. Enjoy conversation with others.
When another task pops up for someone to do at work, let the crickets chirp while you think about what you already have piled on your responsibility plate. Chances are everyone is waiting for you to take on the task, because you always do. Wait them out this time, and eventually someone else will speak up.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. — Friedrich Nietzsche
Stop being a taxi service for your family. Sit down one night and prioritize as a family. Maybe each child gets one activity one night a week. Maybe you put your foot down and say that everyone is home by 6:00 for dinner, and then you’re home for the night. If a practice is at 7:30, sorry, your child won’t be there. Too many families are letting outside forces prioritize what’s important.
What it comes down to is this: don’t be shocked when the curves come. There are always signs. Stop ignoring them. Stop sweeping them under the rug. Stop letting yourself get overwhelmed. Make the choice to respond in the best way possible for you.
I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime. — Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
I’m the first to admit I’m not very good at yoga. I’m still so stiff and sometimes I get a head rush from being in downward dog a little too long. I don’t hold poses for nearly as long as I should. The longest session I’ve ever done at home is 20 minutes. I’m sporadic at best with practice.
Even with all downsides in my own inconsistent practice, I have experienced far more benefits.
When I practice yoga, I’m all in. I don’t think about anything else. I concentrate on the poses. It takes on a very meditative state. This then reminds me that even though I don’t think I do very well with meditation because my mind wanders a lot during guided sessions, I’m doing better than I think. I’m specifically taking what I learn and applying it to something else.
And since I’m all in, I feel like I’m a better listener and I’m completely present with others. Recently a colleague told me that I’m a good listener. She said I listen with my whole body and make the other person feel like they have really been heard. Yoga has been instrumental in making that happen.
I have also discovered through yoga I’m so much more balanced. I do a five minute basic yoga and stretching session every single morning right after my shower. It has become a habit as I don’t even think about it. It’s just what I do as a part of my morning routine: shower, lotion, and yoga in that order.
Because I feel more balanced, I’m more confident in doing simple poses at the end of my workout at the gym. It doesn’t matter to me how I look to others. It matters how I look to me and how it makes me feel on the inside. I might look like a stiff chicken in reality, but in my mind I’m an elegant swan.
Yoga has been instrumental in me becoming an attentive listener, being more present, having better balance, and increasing my confidence.
I would say yoga is a game changer.
I had no skin in the game. I’m not a fan of either Notre Dame or Navy. I don’t know a lot about them other than their records and that they have played against each other for 91 consecutive years.
There’s history, and there’s a genuine respect between them.
How do I know this?
I watched what happened when the game was over.
After the game concluded and the teams shook hands, both teams headed to one corner of the stadium. The Navy players stood in front as the Navy band, midshipmen, and players sang the Navy fight song. The Notre Dame football players and coaches stood respectfully behind them.
Then they headed to the opposite corner where Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly stood flanked arm-in-arm with his senior football players while the rest of the players were arm-in-arm behind them, and they sang the Notre Dame fight song. The Navy football players and coaches stood behind them.
It seriously had all the feels.
As the commentators said, there’s a lot wrong in our world, but today showed the good. It showed the respect, the tradition, and the love. Not just for the game but for each other. It was a lesson in humanity and gratitude.
I realize that last sentence might sound like a bit of a reach because it was a football game, but if you saw it you know what I’m talking about. It was something to behold as well as something to hold onto.
Think about something that seems mundane to others, but gives you all the feels. A memory. An experience. An item. When it comes to mind, you feel a sense of warmth and a slight smile comes to your lips. It’s something to hold onto.
Just like a football game.
**This article first appeared in The Ascent on Medium.com.
I've already noticed changes three weeks into my year of black and white photos, and it goes beyond the photos themselves. They seem to be acting as symbols for facets of life itself.
I'm becoming more visually aware.
I look for opportunities that are from a different angle or there might be something unique about them. The picture I'm featuring this week doesn't have anything unique about it on the surface. I'm taking notes at a staff meeting.
Then I noticed the sunlight streaming through the window behind me and how it highlighted my water bottle (featured in Week #1). If I had set it a few inches to the left or right, it would have been just out of reach of the sun's rays. But as it stood, the point of visual contact was mesmerizing to me and so I took the photo. (Please don't ask me what was going on in the meeting at that moment, oops.)
I'm noticing more photo opportunities I would have previously ignored. Routine views I see everyday are beginning to take on more meaning. The insignificant is becoming significant. I'm beginning to see it in other areas of my life as well. The mundane is starting to take on more meaning.
Items pop out that surprise me.
Sure the contrast of the pen to the notebook would have been noticeable in a color photo. The black and white makes it pop more substantially though. It's the first item I notice after the sunlight streaming in. Because of it, my attention gets drawn to the writing in the notebook itself.
I'm letting myself be more surprised by life itself. I'm more present in the small moments. It's in the minutiae that something happens, and I wouldn't have given them a second thought previously.
The background is no longer just the background.
If this was a color photo, I would have paid no attention to what was going on behind the items in the foreground. This has been the most profound part of this experiment so far. I see the background more often now. I see the details, right down to the electrical outlets beneath the screen.
I'm trying to do a better job of this in my life. What I see as background is significant to someone else, and I'm tuning in instead of dismissing it or only being partially there. I'm making it a priority to stay in that specific moment of time. While it doesn't always happen, I'm a work in progress.
But I am making progress.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.