Building Resilience

My son sent me a text with a pic attached from his local Costco. He was standing in a long line that snaked all the way back to the meat section. He reported that people were buying incredible amounts of food and they were out of all their paper products and water. He thought it was comical that people were hoarding water since everyone has access and will continue to have access to fresh water.


Yet, when he got to the front of the line, the worker asked him if he wanted the available bottled water at the counter. Someone had decided against it and left it at the register. He excitedly accepted the water and felt accomplished that he had scored big.


Now, his sane mind told him that he didn’t need this water. However, emotions can apparently be strong motivators. Look around and you can see how this fear can become contagious. I’m sure you see it daily in the grocery stores. Yesterday, I saw people running through a Kroger to snag one of the last available toilet paper packs.


There is no denying that this is a scary time filled with uncertainty. You don’t know from day to day how things are going to change. And the truth is that human beings really don’t like change. Your patterns, routines and habits have all been upended. Kids are out of school, parents are working from home, and all your usual services and supports are closed. All of this combined can make you feel a complete loss of control.


So what can you do about it? Here’s a couple ideas to help you through this time.


Establish a schedule and new routines in your daily life.  Getting exercise and going to the gym daily helps me stay sane. It makes me feel energized for the rest of the day. With the gyms closed, I knew that I needed to establish a new healthy routine. Two days this week I was able to go for a walk outside, and the others, I jumped on the treadmill. The exercise coupled with getting “out of the house”, helped me immensely.


Monitor the amount of time that you spend on Social Media and news. It’s important to stay informed, but too much information can make you feel overwhelmed and can heighten anxiety. I have noticed that when I overconsume news, I become distracted easily and have difficult focusing. When you feel that happening, walk away from your computer and become involved in a different task that’s pleasurable.


Reach out and connect with others

I crave interaction with others. Therefore, staying in my house can feel like a punishment. Make a point to reach out to friends and family as much as possible. Contact that friend you haven’t talked to forever. Check on your elderly neighbor that doesn’t have family in town. With so much technology that enables us to connect, there’s no excuse for not reaching out. Be creative, make a plan and take action.




Focus on doing good for others

Being isolated in the house can lead us to some extraordinary “overthinking”. It can take you back in time, looking at your failures, or worrying about things yet to happen. The best cure for this is to redirect that energy in helping others in need. How can you give back during this time of need? How can you use your talents to help people that are currently struggling?


It’s easy for us to get lost in the moment and feel like this time will last forever. Remind yourself that this is not forever, and this is just a moment in time. If you have too, say this out loud to yourself, when you are having a low moment.


We will all this through this time together.



Treading Water

Do you know someone that is going through a bad time or has ever experienced a rough patch in their life?


Let’s be honest-no one is immune to heartache. At some point in your life, you will go through a difficult time. You will be disappointed, disheartened, and feel like you can’t go on. You will think that this new CHANGE that has occurred is just way too much to handle.


How do I know this? Because there isn’t a person alive that gets through life without some bad scrapes and bruises. It’s part of the whole journey that is referred to as “life”. And at some point, it will be your turn to endure some difficult experience.


I have heard countless stories of getting fired from a job, grieving a loved one, not achieving your dream, having a loved one disappoint you and the list goes on.


So, here’s a couple things to remember so that you’re a bit more prepared and resilient for the next low point that you encounter:


This is only a moment in time.

When you’re going through this bad time, you don’t have perspective. You become so immersed in your pain and sadness that you neglect to understand that this is a temporary condition. This horrible pain is not going to last for eternity. This feeling is just for now and will eventually subside. The fact that the sadness is for now and will pass is always a tough concept for people to accept when they are in the midst of a disappointment. They feel trapped and can’t see outside the walls of their agony. But trust me, it will pass, and things will lighten up. Just keep repeating this to yourself.


You are not unique-we all have some burden to carry.

When you are going through a challenging time, it’s easy to look around and think that you are unique. It feels like everyone else is living a fairytale life while you are struggling to get through another day. Remind yourself of the truth-no one’s life is perfect and you are presently seeing the world through a distorted lens. Wallowing in this is not going to help you move forward.


You need to allow yourself to let go of the loss

People don’t like to feel pain. They will go to great lengths to avoid any hurtful feelings. However, there is a certain amount of pain you must walk through in order to get to the other side. Numbing the pain won’t work and neither will distractions and positive talk. Yes, they might give you some temporary relief, but the only way to truly move forward is to be honest and vulnerable with your feelings and be willing to trudge through it until you reach acceptance. Maybe then, you can get some understanding and put the pain and the experience in the right place.


You can’t rush the experience of finding meaning in your heartache. That comes only with time and the willingness to truly dig through your feelings. So have the strength and courage to face the situation and know that better times are ahead

Eliminating Stress



Is anyone out there feeling some stress today?  I’ll make an educated guess that most of you are feeling some level of stress.  It has become the norm in our everyday lives. However, you don’t have to live your life this way.  There are strategies that you can utilize and decisions that you can make to lower or eliminate the stress that you feel on a daily basis.  Here are some tactics that might help you lower your level of stress and enable you to enjoy your life more.


Get an objective view of the situation

I understand that you lead a busy life. You have a lot of different responsibilities on your daily priority list.  However, you can become so overwhelmed with your commitments and responsibilities and so hyper focused on your own experience that you can no longer see things clearly. In order for you to get a more realistic view of your life, ask yourself the following questions:


1. What impact would this have on my life or others if I don’t follow through with this responsibility?


2.  Is the impact worth my level of stress and anxiety?


By asking these questions, you could force yourself to see that it isn’t the end of the world if you drop this commitment.  It’s so easy to get lost in the endless loop of stress or anxiety that you can lose sight of whether it even truly matters.


Watch your extreme thinking when you start getting stressed

Think about someone you would deem as stressed or anxious.  Chances are they talk in extremes and their extreme thinking fuels their anxiety.  They pepper their communication with words like  “have to”, “always”, “never”, “must” and “should”. They speak in hyperbole, setting themselves up for more stress. This communication style is simply fuel to the fire.  The running dialogue is always swirling in their head, and it’s the perfect storm for a life filled with stress and anxiety. Until they address what they’re telling themselves and make an effort to manage it, the stress and anxiety will only get worse. We all fall into this pattern now and then, so make an effort to acknowledge it and take action.



Stay away from stressful people

Do you know any people in your life that are stress mongers? These are the ones that just resonate with anxiety.  Every time you’re around them, stress just seeps out of their pores. The problem is that it usually then seeps into your pores.  Their goal is for you to understand the level of stress that they are feeling.  However, what actually happens is that they successfully transfer that stress to you.  Often, you leave the conversation feeling stressed and anxious while they go on to their next victim. I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that they probably don’t follow through on any advice you give them.  My suggestion to you is to minimize your time with these individuals.  If it’s impossible, just don’t engage in the anxiety talk and change the subject in the conversation.


Steve Maraboli said the following,


“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health.  Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.”



Please keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted to fall into this unhealthy pattern.


Take Action

On 4th of July weekend, my husband and I drove up to Chicago to spend a few days away.  We felt pretty lucky that we planned the trip that specific weekend since it ended up raining almost every day at home.  With the weather beautiful, we spent time shopping, eating and just relaxing. We rented bikes and rode 42 miles along the lake.  Needless to say, the trip allowed us to relax and let go of the stressors of everyday life.


When we got back Sunday evening, I had a list of tasks to accomplish; I woke up especially early to start tackling my list.  I calculated how much time I needed to workout, get dressed, do some paperwork and then leave for my jam-packed day. I had everything scheduled down to the minute, which, as you know, is always when your life deviates from your plan.


I ate breakfast and got in my car to go to the gym.  I backed out of the drive and pulled into the street. My stereo was blasting from the last time I had been in the car. When I hit the street, something made me turn down the stereo, and listen more carefully. I could swear that I had heard a strange sound emanating from my car. Since my car was still in reverse, I rolled a little further back while listening.  Something just didn’t sound right. That’s when I caught a glimpse of the driveway.  There were dark tire marks covering the entire driveway. Confused, I pulled forward into the driveway and got out of my car.


I walked around the car and looked at my tires. My front passenger tire confirmed my suspicions.  The tire wasn’t just a little flat; it had absolutely no air in the tire! My first thought was how did this happen? My tires had been fine last night when I went to the store. My second thought was how this was going to impact my whole day. I mentally went through the list of responsibilities that I had that day.  The feelings of stress and anxiety quickly took over my body. I was definitely pushed against the wall and I felt my blood pressure begin to rise. How quickly my feelings of calm and relaxation from my recent getaway had turned into stress again!


That’s when I decided to take control of the situation.  I thought about how I wasn’t going to focus on this negative turn of events but I WAS going to be solution oriented.  I went into action and asked my husband to help me change the tire.  I planned out how I would handle the rest of the day’s responsibilities and went in the house to make calls.  I reorganized my schedule and just kept moving forward. I spent time at the tire store only to find out they couldn’t do it until the next day.  I muttered the mantra “It is what is” probably a thousand times within 48 hours.  Saying these words enabled me to move forward and not focus on how today was supposed to be so different than the way it was turning out.


It’s hard to get through life without eventually having these types of mishaps. Bad things happen when you least expect them, especially when you can’t afford the time, energy or money for them to happen. You feel a total loss of control over the situation, which then results in stress and anxiety. The bottom line is that you need to take control of the situation to feel better. Focus on taking action to solve your immediate problem, instead of wasting time and energy thinking about what should or could have been.  It is what it is. Trust me, it’s a much smarter, happier, and more effective way to live your life.

Find Your Strengths

When I was in college and working on my undergraduate degree, each day was like swimming upstream. I had a lot of anxiety surrounding my studying and test taking. This anxiety came with good reason— I wasn’t very good at it.  The information went in my brain and then quickly left.  When I finally did take a test, I often felt that the questions on the test looked foreign compared to the information I had pored over for hours.


If a good portion of it was essay, I would be relieved and my anxiety would decrease considerably.  I knew that I could somehow articulate to the professor my level of knowledge on the subject. I didn’t realize until later why this was so much easier for me. One of my strengths was communication (Imagine that). For many years, I viewed these weaknesses in my learning as deficits in my intellect.  I actually bought into the myth that I simply wasn’t as smart as other people. I also bought into the idea that if only I tried hard enough, I could turn my weaknesses into strengths.


This idea that I could improve drastically in my area of weakness was ingrained in me from an early age. There is this notion that if you work hard enough and care enough, you too can become a superstar in any arena. Think about it, when you were going through school, did your parents pay more attention to your A’s, or was the focus on your one C? Did you believe that you weren’t trying hard enough and with the right amount of investment, your C could easily be an A?


Chances are, the course where you received a C for your efforts was not in an area where your natural talent lied.  The truth is that you have the ability to grow the most in the areas of your strengths. When you take your talent and couple that with practiced skills and knowledge, you have the recipe for off the chart success. Therefore, it makes more sense to invest your energy into areas where you can show the most growth, rather than focusing hours and hours on your areas of weakness. On a side note, there are some weak areas where you still need to be somewhat proficient in life. For example, not being strong in math doesn’t mean you can totally ignore your personal finances. You still need basic skills to get by in the world.


Since I have a little bit more knowledge and wisdom than I did when I was 20, I no longer waste my time attempting to become proficient in certain areas that I know aren’t my strengths.  I’m never going to be an excellent painter and you won’t find me scrapbooking anytime soon.  In fact, if you ever saw my artwork, you would chuckle. My skills are low level and I’m fairly certain that my abilities wouldn’t progress too far beyond average.  I’ve made peace with this, and I don’t spend much time thinking about it.


However, I have noticed that my writing gets better and better the more I write.  I continue to perfect my skills in coaching women the more I work with clients. I’ve realized that presenting to groups gets easier and my skills only keep getting better the more I practice.  These are all areas where my abilities soar since I have the natural talent.  These are the areas that make sense for me to invest my time and energy.


So how about you? Do you know your strengths and utilize them on a daily basis?  Do you spend too much time in your professional and personal life focusing on your weak areas instead of the areas where you can truly excel? If so, then you need to rethink your approach to life.  All you have to gain is success and happiness.

Political Stress


I was able to catch “The View” on TV this morning. There was a great segment that had comedian Lewis Black discussing the presidential campaign. What made this so enjoyable was the fact that you couldn’t tell which political side he supported. He made everyone laugh by sharing how exhausted he was with the whole political process. He implored, “Can’t we just vote now and be put out of our misery? Other than four people in Ohio, everyone knows who they’re going to vote for.”


I have to admit, he makes a great point. Wherever we look, we are bombarded with messages about the political campaign. It doesn’t matter where your views lie; the majority of the messages are downright negative. If I listened and internalized everything that appeared on TV, phone, newspapers and the many sources on the Internet, I could begin to believe my life was in grave danger— no matter the actual outcome of the election.


The presidential election process can be a tense, stressful time that brings many strong emotions to the surface. Of course, that’s the idea behind the messages being sent to you. They want you to feel it’s a priority to vote for their candidate. However, the negative messages being sent in the media during a high-energy campaign such as this one can impact your well-being. After a while, the constant bombardment of negative messages can lead you to feel anxious and stressed. You can begin to feel that if your candidate does not get elected, there will be dire consequences to your lifestyle.


During the last Presidential election in 2008, Psychologist Nancy Monitor noted that her patients were affected. “Many had trouble sleeping, experienced edginess, irritability, and distractions at work”. I have observed that taking part in political discussions, in the hopes of convincing others, can just add to the anxiety. Often, when two individuals fail to politically agree, each party feels compelled to enlighten the other as to why their choice is the absolute right choice. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find this process very enjoyable.


In lieu of this, I have created some stress survival tips to make it through the rest of the political season without losing your mind (or your friends):


Try to limit your exposure to the Political Campaign. If you want to be kept abreast of the campaign, allot a specific amount of time to catch up on new events and stick within that timeframe. If you have always viewed Facebook as a stress-reducer and a pleasurable activity— please beware. Facebook is crawling with strong, and often-inappropriate comments on both party’s candidates. Ten minutes spent in social media will be enough to make your blood pressure spike.


Be aware of your polarized thinking when it comes to how your view each candidate. I hate to break it to you, but neither candidate is perfect. They both are human and have their flaws. One candidate is not all bad, and one candidate is not all good. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, you will not be doomed if your candidate does not get elected. You might be disappointed, which is healthy, but you won’t be doomed.


Refrain from futile political conversations with co-workers, family members or neighbors. Should I repeat that? Please try to internalize that each co-worker, neighbor, friend, or family member is entitled to his or her own opinion. You have absolutely nothing to gain (but stress) by having a heated conversation about your views on the upcoming election. You are not going to change their mind with your facts, knowledge, or wisdom on the topic, so stop trying.


I wish you the best of luck navigating this (sometimes stressful) Political Season and remember: no matter what you believe, JUST VOTE!

Getting Smart With Smartphones

Recently, I attended a lunch and learn event that had a truly dynamic speaker. Her presentation was relevant to every single woman in the room and her delivery was excellent.  Since I attend a lot of events, I feel confident that I know a great speaker when I see and hear one.  Halfway through the presentation, I glanced around the room to get a sense of the crowd. Were they enjoying the speaker as much as I was?  Were they responding to what she had to share? The truth was that a large number of them were staring at their smartphones.


This aggravated me on a number of levels.  One, since I’m a speaker, I know how disheartening it is to be working the crowd and see people not even trying to make eye contact with you. Frankly, I find it disrespectful. Second, what could possibly be so important that the audience members can’t wait another 15 minutes to check their phones?


In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, director of the impulse control Disorders Clinic at Stanford University, shared that excessive use of the internet, cellphone and other technologies can cause us to become more impatient, forgetful and even more narcissistic.  Uh-oh. Follow up studies have shown that the immediacy of the internet and the efficiency of a smart phone can change the core of who we are.  I don’t know about you, but this gives me some thought.


Other studies have indicated that when students were asked to give up their technology for the day, they exhibited symptoms similar to drug dependency.  They actually went through a withdrawal process. Does any of this really surprise you?


I went for a bike ride the other night with my 20-year-old son.  We were having a great time when I spotted an old friend. I stopped to have a chat with her and catch up on her life.  I don’t believe I talked for more than 10 minutes at the most.  My son was about 12 feet ahead of me, standing by the lake.  The sun was getting close to setting and the scene was just beautiful.  When I caught up with him, I thanked him for waiting for me, and he proclaimed, “I had nothing to do for that whole time.  I didn’t have my iphone in my pocket.”


I can’t say that I’m not an offender myself.  There is the time I was standing with my husband at the check-out counter at the grocery store and decided that I had to check my emails on my phone, again. I had just done this not 10 minutes before.  He was talking to me and I wasn’t hearing a word that he said.  Finally, he stated loudly, “Will you please put that thing away?!!”


Is it possible that we have become too used to having every minute filled with stimulation? Are we so easily bored that we are in need of constant excitement?  Are we capable of doing one thing at a time anymore?


Maybe some of you are thinking that this certainly doesn’t pertain to you.  If so, congratulations— you are on the right path to finding balance with technology use.  The rest of you (including myself) might need to reflect on this a bit.  Do you find yourself staring at your phone while you talk to your kids? Do you take your phone to bed with you? Do you get excited when you hear someone has left you a message?


If so, I have a challenge for you. I hereby decree Sunday, August 26 no technology day.  Can you go a full day without connecting on your computer and phone?  I plan on doing it, and I’m going to see if I can talk my son into doing the same.  So, who’s in? Write to me and let me know your experience.


Addressing Doubts

It happened last night. I had that dream again. You know, the one that signals that there’s something going on in my life I need to address. It’s the dream that keeps reoccurring again and again. Maybe the characters and settings are different from the last time, but the basic premise is the same.


I’m unsure of my age, but I’m definitely back in high school. I sense the familiar smell of thousands of adolescents crammed into a building. I visually see the same old hallways and the stairs that take me down to the first floor. Even my best high school friend, Sally, is there with me. We’re standing at her locker and chatting with a group of girls. Sally offers to put my books in her locker so we can leave for a class program in the auditorium.


Somehow, I become separated from Sally and I have no idea how to get to the program in the auditorium. I walk quickly through the halls, frantically searching for the room. I run up and down the stairs looking for my friends and for the place I am supposed to be. I’m required to attend the program and I certainly don’t want to be separated from everyone else! Ready to give up, I decide I should just retrieve my books and go home. However, I can’t get my books because they are locked in Sally’s locker. I stare at her locker feeling stressed and out of control. What I need is right before my eyes, but I just can’t get to it.


Even when you don’t think things are on your mind, your brain is always busy. At night while you sleep, your subconscious is attempting to work out all the issues and minutiae from the day’s activities. It’s trying to make sense of the emotional stress and unresolved feelings. Don’t underestimate what you can learn from your dreams. Take them at face value and look for themes and patterns.


No, it doesn’t mean I want to be in high school. What it does mean is that high school was a stressful time for me. I still remember those feelings I had during those years. The reoccurring theme in the dream is not being able to find the room on time. I’ve lived this dream many times over with only the setting changing: occasionally high school, sometimes college, and often an early job. As for the piece of the story where I’m so close to my books but can’t retrieve them? That’s where I see my present hopes and dreams becoming clearer, but I still can’t touch them.


You know the part of your life journey where you finally make the decision to move on a new change, job, or project? The beginning is so exciting and inspirational because you have finally decided to move forward. You no longer have inertia and you are energized to be moving toward a goal. The middle of your journey is a different story. That’s the time where you feel the anxiety and stress. That is when those thoughts start to creep into your consciousness and you begin to doubt yourself. Just maybe you are not capable of everything you THINK you are capable of in life. One bad thing happens and you wonder if you should take it as evidence that the whole thing is just not going to work. You were wrong and maybe a little crazy too.


My dream is a reflection of all the negative thoughts that I try to keep at bay during this journey. It’s all the things I try to stuff down, yet they’re simmering right beneath the surface. That dream is my vulnerability showing.


We all have our doubts and our questions as to whether we can accomplish what we have set out to accomplish. That middle part of the journey is definitely the hardest part. It’s OK to acknowledge your doubts during this time, but keep moving forward. Just put one foot in front of each other and keep focusing on the goal.

Building Confidence


I was chatting with a woman at a networking event a couple months ago. She confided in me that it was the first time she had attended one of these types of events. It was apparent that she was not in her comfort zone and although I was quite preoccupied with greeting other people, I tried to keep an eye on her. Every so often, I made a point to check in with her and engage her in conversation.


A week ago, I ran into her again. This time, I had the ability to spend some quality time with her and really have a true conversation. As we got to know each other better, she confessed that this networking event was going a lot better than the first one. Because I had watched her out of the corner of my eye at the previous event, I knew exactly what she meant. And then she said, “I have been watching you. You are so confident talking to people. It’s just so easy for you. I’m just nothing like that and this is really hard for me.”


I shared with her that a person is rarely born with networking skills. Like everything else in life, you perfect the skill with practice. If you haven’t had many experiences walking alone into a party or event, it can be overwhelming and even daunting. If you’ve spent the last 20 minutes in the car on the way to the event convincing yourself how you don’t want to go, it will be that much harder. In lieu of this, let me offer a few tips to make socializing a bit easier.


Turn off your brain and just take action. When you walk into a packed room, you can easily be overwhelmed by the experience. The key is to take action and move without thinking about it too much. Don’t analyze the experience or the individuals present. Just force your body to move, walk up to someone and introduce yourself. Whatever you do, don’t grab a chair and sit down. I know that feels safe, but it immediately will put you at a disadvantage. It will also give you the opportunity to overthink what is going on and feel worse about the situation.


Realize that the best networkers are great listeners. If you are good at listening, you have already made it to first base in networking. You would be surprised how people truly enjoy talking about their selves. My suggestion is that you have a list in your head of the questions you might ask. For example, where do they work, have they been to this event before, etc. Also, when you become a little more comfortable, you might point out something about the person that you admire. For example, maybe they are wearing a beautiful scarf or great looking earrings. Conversation often flows from there. You can ask deeper questions with the answers you receive.


Greet everyone with a smile. We receive the bulk of our message from nonverbal communication. Therefore, your smile, your body, your hand gestures, relays the majority of the message to your receiver. Remember to approach people with a nonverbal message that communicates, “I am very interested in meeting you and want to be here today.” Your message shouldn’t say, “I am dreading every single minute of this and can’t wait to get out and I am absolutely not interested in learning anything about you.” Don’t laugh; I remember meeting a woman that conveyed this very message to me.


I didn’t take it personally because she treated every person at the lunch the exact same way.


Treat everyone that you meet in life with the same level of interest. I just discussed this with a new friend I met networking. Nothing burns us more than when we meet someone who’s warmth and friendliness is in direct relation to whether we can further their career. Apparently, it’s all about what’s in it for them. Be friendly and kind with everyone. Period.


If the suggestions here seem too difficult, you might have to further develop your acting skills. Eventually, with enough practice, this whole thing called networking will become more natural.

An Intense, Inspirational Experience

As I mentioned last week, I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Israel and Jordan. It was an exhausting but life-changing experience. One of the most incredible, intense experiences I had during my visit was seeing Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial. After leaving the museum, it was difficult for me to even articulate the emotional effect it had on me. Seeing the pictures and stories of the millions of people that had perished affected me in a way that I didn’t anticipate.


As time passed and I was able to make sense of the experience, I became interested in better understanding what had motivated the heroes that attempted to aid and assist the Jews. These brave, courageous women and men risked their lives and their family’s lives to do the right thing. They refused to believe the Nazi propaganda and unlike the majority of the population, they refused to turn their back on innocent victims that were treated unjustly. If they were caught aiding the Jews, chances are, they and their families were killed instantly.


One such hero is a Polish Catholic Social Worker named Irena Sendler. She served in the Polish Underground, the Zegota resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw. Irena was responsible for checking on the status of the Typhus outbreak inside the Warsaw ghetto, where 500,000 Jews resided. The Nazi’s were terrified that the disease would spread outside the ghetto walls. Irena smuggled food, medicine and clothing into the ghetto for the families.


Irena was able to secretly remove 2,500 children from the ghetto. Many were disguised as packages. She provided false identity documents for them and hid their real identities in jars, which she buried in her friends backyard. Once they were safely out, she placed them in homes with Polish families, nuns and priests. These courageous volunteers risked their lives in order to welcome these children into their homes. At the end of the war, the children would be returned to their families.


Eventually, the Nazi’s discovered Irena’s actions and captured her. She refused to divulge any information even though she was severely tortured. While imprisoned and waiting for execution, she was rescued by the underground resistance and spent the remainder of the wartime in hiding. Very few children were ever reunited with their parents since almost all of the individuals in the ghetto perished.


Irena was one girlfriend that definitely had her inner sass. She was courageous, strong and clear on her convictions. She knew what was important to her in life and she was willing to risk all to be true to her beliefs. She refused to sit by and watch innocent people be treated unfairly.


So what about you? What would you do in such a dire situation? Would you have the courage to stand up for what you believe in or would you keep the “status quo” to stay safe? Are you a follower or a leader? What is your legacy to the world? It doesn’t have to be quite as dramatic as Irena’s, but what will people remember about you? Do you live your life in fear or do you push yourself outside your comfort zone?


It is my hope that you will take a lesson from Irena— let go of fear and live your life to the fullest. Be true to yourself and go after what’s important in life. Irena refused to back down to the “no’s”— she believed in possibilities even in the face of such doom. We all could learn a thing or two from this courageous woman.


For more information about Irena, go to