Giving Back


I was finishing up a meeting with some friends today when the talk turned to the holiday season.  They suggested that I write a blog about how to control the typical stressors of the holiday season. As I mulled this over, one of my favorite people, Morgan Lyn, shared what she had recently done to make the season a little bit brighter.


“I bought coffee for the next person in line when I put in my order at Starbucks.”  She explained how it felt to watch each person in line follow suit. “I stuck around just to watch it all happen.  What a great feeling to see what I had started and watch it just keep going and going”.


It wasn’t surprising to hear that she would do something like this. This action was perfectly aligned with her character and her priorities in life.  However, it gave me a thrill to watch her talk about it and see how much it had deeply affected her.


There is no denying that this time of year can be stressful.  The days are packed with more shopping, cooking, parties, and commitments than you can fathom.  However, in all the excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of what this time of year is truly all about— giving back.


In lieu of this, I have a couple suggestions as to how you can “give back” this year in ways that will really matter.


Let one or two people into your lane while you’re driving.

Everyone is in a hurry this time of year.  Roads are backed up with shopping traffic and people are very low on patience.  My suggestion to you is let one, two or if you’re feeling overly generous, three people in to your lane.  Give them a big smile and watch their reaction.


Take someone lonely out for coffee or tea.

This time of year is so hard on the elderly and the ill.  They feel isolated in their homes and they dread going out in the cold. Even if they drive, they won’t take the chance in this cold, rainy, snowy weather. Please note that I suggested taking them out somewhere instead of visiting them in their house.  I’m pretty positive that a change of scenery and a reason to get dressed up is the best medicine you can give them.  All they want is a little of your time.


Offer to walk someone’s dog.

I take my dog for a walk every single day. If you only knew how much I dread doing this on those bitter cold days!  I would be overjoyed if someone in my neighborhood knocked on my door and said they wanted to walk my dog. It’s a good deed for the owner and the dog appreciates it too!


Take someone’s newspaper or mail to the door and hand it to them with a smile.

Now you’ll find out the second thing I dread— going out in the morning to get my newspaper.  What a good deed to get someone’s mail or newspaper and take it directly to their door! It’s just a kind gesture that goes a long way.


Send someone a handwritten note and let him or her know that you’re thinking about them.

Sadly, I receive very few handwritten notes anymore.  When I do receive one, it really makes me take notice. Imagine, someone taking the time and energy to send a note in snail mail! I’m not talking about sending a Christmas card— I’m referring to a blank note with your own thoughts and feelings inside.


Offer to watch someone’s child so they can get some shopping done.

This only counts if it’s your idea. You can’t wait for them to ask YOU.  I guarantee, this one would be much appreciated.


Stop and ask a clerk working in a busy store how they’re doing.

I’m not referring to the typical niceties. I’m suggesting you stop, look into their eyes, and ask them how they’re truly doing. You’ll be surprised how much they will appreciate this gesture.


Giving back doesn’t always have to mean you need to open up your pocketbook— all you have to do is open up your heart. There are plenty of ways to give back to people in need.  You’ll end up gaining more than you ever thought possible.






Purpose and Passion

I had a business meeting with a new contact the other day. As we chatted, the conversation turned to my involvement in 85 Broads. For those of you not familiar with the group, 85 Broads is a network of women professionals that support and empower each other to achieve their goals. I have recently taken on the role of President in the organization.


With pride, I shared some of the social and philanthropic events we’ve organized in the past year. I explained how women prefer to get to know one another before doing business together.  After I was done giving a general overview of the organization and my involvement, he looked at me confused and asked the question that left me speechless—


“But what’s in it for you as President— why do you do this?”

Honestly, I didn’t even know how to answer that. I had just spent a good five minutes explaining the wonderful assets of the organization and the many things we had accomplished as a team. I stared at him with a confused look on my face. I had to take my time to formulate my response.


The remainder of the day, I mulled over the interaction. It eventually occurred to me that maybe he didn’t understand what it feels like to be motivated with purpose and passion. Yes, I thought, he was referring to being monetarily compensated. He had listened to my whole passionate explanation of the organization and still didn’t understand how I could pour so much of myself into a position that didn’t monetarily reward me.


My purpose in my life is clear to anyone that knows me.  I passionately coach women to achieve their goals and go after their dreams.  I encourage them to live their life true to who they are. I support them to make changes and push forward to go after what they want.  My strengths are seen daily in my work: my ability to influence, support and empower others to achieve the impossible. When I’m working within my own strengths, I feel strong and empowered. In other words, I feel that I’m the best version of me.


Being President of 85 Broads gives me the opportunity to positively impact the lives of women in our community and beyond. It enables me to expand my work in life beyond my own business.  It gives back in ways that can’t even be explained.


Recently, I was walking around the side of the house and noticed where I had placed some dead hanging plants.  There, among the dead, ugly brown leaves was one beautiful flower. I stopped what I was doing to marvel at the plant.  How did that happen?  How did that one flower survive in such dry, poor conditions?  To me, that experience had meaning.


When you’re living your life with purpose and passion, every day has meaning.  You are crystal clear on your goals and what’s important to you in life.  You meet each day with enthusiasm for the work ahead. That’s not to say that there aren’t bad days. Eventually, bad things happen and you’re met with some disappointments and unhappiness.  However, when you’re living your life with clarity on your purpose, you’re able to bounce back much faster.  You thrive even in the poorest of conditions and can dig down deep to find the strength to persevere.  Just like that beautiful pink flower.


Apparently, I’ve found what nurtures me to grow in a dry bed of weeds. I hope my new friend discovers the same someday.


Learning (and Unlearning) Experiences

My pug Miles and I were thoroughly enjoying our walk when we ran into a neighbor and her puppy.  The puppy was twice the size of Miles, but that never bothered Miles before. In his head, Miles thinks he’s the size of a Great Dane.  The two dogs had never met before, so we let them sniff each other and become acquainted.


It wasn’t long before the two of them started playing and running circles around each other.  It also wasn’t long before our two leashes were wrapped around the dogs and us.  As they became out of control and totally tied up, the other playful dog had Miles in a position where he couldn’t move. There was no slack on the leash and the puppy, totally in control, had him down on the ground. That’s when Miles, the always even-tempered, happy-go-lucky Pug became the devil dog.


Miles definitely made the first move and attacked. While he had been playing a minute ago, now he was growling and ferociously trying to bite.  The puppy reciprocated with the same behavior as we tried to control the situation.  I apologized profusely as I pulled my growling pug off the dog.  At that moment I felt like a mom that was apologizing for my son’s bad behavior.


As I left the scene of the crime and continued walking, I thought about the incident. I hadn’t ever witnessed that behavior before and I was perplexed. Miles was the most unaggressive animal on the planet. Everyone knows that Pugs, by nature, are not aggressive dogs.  And then it occurred to me.  Less than a year ago, we were taking a walk when a dog sitting in his own yard suddenly lunged at Miles.  He hardly saw it coming, and neither did I. It was terrifying to both of us. A couple hours later, I realized that he had a rather large wound and he ended up in surgery.


Even though Pugs have absolutely wonderful temperaments, Miles had learned a valuable lesson from the incident.  He now knew that he needed to be on his guard with every dog because they couldn’t be trusted.  His brain was now imprinted to approach each dog interaction with wariness and high alert; chances are, they will attack. Therefore, he now knew that at the first inclination of aggressiveness, he needed to attack to survive.  Biology ruled this interaction.


Why am I sharing this with you?  Human brains process fearful situations in a similar way.  If you have experienced a situation from the past where you felt seriously threatened, that information has been stored away for future use. Your brain has imprinted this experience so you can protect yourself in the future.


So now I want you to think about your own life.  Have you ever been in a bad relationship that ended in a hurtful manner?  If you have, you probably had difficulty trusting and believing in a new relationship because of those old feelings popping up. Maybe it was the pain and trauma of being fired from a job that left your emotions raw. Because of it, you no longer can view your new employer in the same trusting manner. The truth is that you will never go back to that original person that you trusted so blindly.  You’ve had an experience that has changed you forever.  Instinctively, you now scan for clues to make sure that your situation is safe.


But here’s the good news.  Unlike Miles, you are not tied to your instinctual behavior.  You can recognize your behavior and learn to question your actions.  You can make sense of your reactions and remind yourself that you don’t have to respond in such an intense, aggressive manner.


The bottom line is that you’re lucky. Unlike Miles, you can choose how you want to view the world and react to your surroundings. You can move forward in life and change the way you think. Do it!

Branding Yourself

Branding seems to be a popular word in the English language these days.  According to the dictionary, branding is the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.  There are numerous branding experts that can assist you in finding your special voice in the marketplace.  I’m not a branding expert, but there’re a couple things that seem fairly common sense to me.


YOU are your brand. Your brand is the culmination of every move you make and every action that you take during your day.  It is the total sum of every word that comes out of your mouth and the emotion that others are left feeling after you’ve exited the building. If you truly want to positively stand out from the crowd, then you need to take this seriously. Are you putting your best foot forward on a daily basis? The following are a couple tips to help you decide whether you and your personal brand is on target.


Be certain that your audience is receiving your intended message. Most people focus on the words that they use to sell their concept or product, but the unintended non-verbal message is much more revealing. For example, if you were branding yourself as a successful financial wizard, you would be best served to dress in accordance with your message.  If you’re marketing yourself as a health expert, you should definitely look the part.  If you present as someone that is listless, tired and hasn’t hit the gym for 6 monthes, I doubt you’ll be credible. Often, we focus so intensely on the details, that we miss what’s right in front of our eyes.


Make sure you are sending one consistent message into the universe. When I say consistent, I mean your appearance, demeanor, and affect have to send your intended message every single time you’re out in public. But let’s take it one step further.  When I say consistent, I mean that you (your brand) have to come through in every single move you make in life.  For example, if you’re branding yourself as an advocate for women, you would be smart to communicate with every single woman you come across in your daily travels with the same level of respect— from the cashier in the Walgreens to the store owner where you’re buying your new dress.


Not only is your public presence important, but give thought to every time you represent YOU in email, social media etc. If you are an avid Facebook poster, think long and hard before you post anything that will personify you and your brand.  I SAID ANYTHING! Every single word you use is an extension of YOU.  I have witnessed numerous people that destroy their brand daily by not thinking before they post.  I agree that you have the right to your personal page and you should feel free to talk to your friends about numerous topics. However, keep in mind that every single time you type words that are read by others, you will be conveying your BRAND. Is what you’re posting with your personal friends congruent with the image that you want to convey? If you are serious about growing your brand, you will think twice before discussing some personal or controversial topics that might not appeal to potential clients, friends etc.


I hope you take a few minutes and give thought to your current daily demonstration of your own brand.  Make the needed changes and keep moving forward.






Happiness Thermostat

My husband insists on putting the thermostat down as low as possible in the summer AND the winter.  In the summer, he wants the rooms as chilly as possible and in the winter, he’s comfortable in a cool room. I’m the polar opposite of him.  In the winter, I’m constantly freezing and want the heat up as high as possible.  In the summer, I’m constantly freezing in air conditioning and don’t want cold air blowing on me. Apparently, my internal thermostat is quite different than his.


Our “happiness thermostat” also couldn’t be more opposite. My happiness thermostat is set on “happy” 97% of all the days of the year.  When I dip from that set point, I bounce back fairly quick.  I’m sorry to say that the same can’t be said about him.  There are dramatic ups and downs from day to day and I don’t see anything close to my degree of happiness.  He has a more subdued feeling that probably translates to “life is pretty good but I don’t want to say it’s great because something could happen to change that and then I would be VERY unhappy”.


According to a happiness theory, each one of you has a distinct set point of happiness.  You hover back and forth around that set point but you basically stay in that specific range your whole life.  In a society that is obsessed with finding happiness, it’s important to think about this bit of information I just shared.  Looking back on your life, do you see the pattern of your happiness?  Of course there’s ups and downs when you hit some trying times in your life, but basically, day to day, what is your happiness thermostat set on?


Why are there people that have very few material possessions, yet are able to find a way to be happy? How do they find happiness when the odds are stacked against them? Don’t they know how miserable they should be? On the other hand, I’ve seen women that look like they possess everything that they would ever desire in life and yet they’re still miserable. They’re terribly unhappy and they search for the “thing” that will bring them happiness.


Maybe part of the problem is how we view happiness.  If you view happiness in life as a constant state of bliss, you may be getting closer to why you’re not “finding it”.  Life isn’t all about one perfect, fabulous day after another. There are days that are trying, stressful and hard work but you can still be happy. Not that “crazy with excitement” happy, but an “I am satisfied and appreciate life and everyone in it” happy.


There is a need for us to permanently change our way of thinking about that five-letter word. Accept that there are going to be down times in your life when you’re sad. Sad doesn’t mean depressed.  There’s a big difference between sad and depressed and our society often forgets that. Depressed is a serious condition while sad is an important universal feeling that all of us come to know now and then. Between you and me, I think we live in a society that’s terrified of being sad.  We’ll do anything to feel “happy” again.  Readjust your thinking on this and get comfortable with knowing you can feel sad in a situation and it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a part of life.


I hope you’re thinking about your own thermostat and how you can make some positive changes that will help you find a place of happiness. That ecstatic blissed out feeling happens now and then in your life, but that feeling of appreciation for being alive, that satisfaction with your family and friends— that’s the “happy” you need to come to expect in your life.

What Goes Around Comes Around

A couple of weeks ago, we took our annual trip to Ann Arbor to move our son into his campus apartment. Before we left to go back home, we ate lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. As I walked in, there were a number of people forming a line to put their name on the waiting list for a table.  I was third in line when suddenly, this women pushed right in front of me.  I was hot, tired and hungry; however, I wasn’t about to get into a pushing match over who got there first. I decided to just let it go.


When the pushy woman got to the front of the line, the hostess informed her that she would need to wait 10 minutes for a table. The woman moved to the side and I was now front and center. I waited for the hostess to tell us how long we would be waiting, but instead, the hostess grabbed three menus and said, “Right this way”.  The woman looked shocked as she watched us get seated at our table before her.  I whispered to the hostess how the woman had pushed in front of me to get seated first.  She replied, “then it worked out the right way”.


“What goes around comes around”. This time the saying really held true, but how often does it turn out the other way? When I was young, my mother used to say this to me when I was disappointed with an unkind boyfriend or something that didn’t seem fair. At the time, I truly believed her but as I got older, I realized that it doesn’t always work out that way. Individuals can be downright cruel and ruthless and they don’t necessarily get what’s coming to them in the end.  It’s just a reality of life. It doesn’t seem fair, but it happens nevertheless.


My son has a job where he gets commissioned on what he sells daily.  The employees are pressured to meet their sales numbers on a regular basis.  He discovered quickly that the reason some of the worker’s were doing so much better than him was because they were adding items to the customer’s bills without informing them of the charge. Management routinely looked the other way while this happened since everyone wanted to make their quota. My son stated that he refused to reach his number using this method— he would rather make a lot less money in a scrupulous manner.  I was proud of him for making this decision although it irritated him that his honesty translated to a much smaller paycheck.


Last week he called to share that an employee had been fired. Apparently the District Manager made an unscheduled visit to the site and discovered 10 pre-printed client forms filled out with the extra costs already included.  All it took was one client to complain to management that he had never agreed to the added fees. My son felt validated— he was rewarded for being an honest employee. What goes around comes around.


Many times in your life you will do the “right thing” and your behavior will go unnoticed. You will witness others taking part in downright ugly behavior that will appear to be rewarded.  The truth is that you have a choice as to how you want to live your life. Living it with honesty and integrity will not always win you the big prize. However, when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, you’ll feel good about the person looking back at you.  Not everyone can say that.  And in the end,  I believe what goes around, comes around.


Self-Esteem Quick Fixes

The other day, I came across an article that promised to give women instant confidence and self-esteem in 4 easy steps. Now don’t get me wrong— I highly support all measures to improve self-esteem. However, I’m just a bit skeptical that you can see results in a few hours of time.


The truth is that it takes a lifetime to build self-esteem.  You can’t build confidence and self-esteem by listening to a speaker or reading an article about self-esteem. If only it was that easy! Confidence and self-esteem are developed by the consistent actions and behaviors of an individual over a period of time.


So what can you do if you’re struggling with confidence?


Get to know YOU better.  There’s no way around this one; the key to building self-esteem is getting to know you and understanding what you need to be happy. Are you in touch with who you really are and what you need in life to be fulfilled? Are you aware of your skills, talents and passions and are they a part of your daily life?  I call this “living your life with genuinity”(my own term). Once you live your life true to you, you will feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.


Set a goal and accomplish it.  It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?  You would be surprised at the number of women that go through life without actually defining certain goals they would like to reach.  The thing is that every time you are able to focus on a certain task and meet that expectation, you gain a little more confidence.  You feel a little more certain that the next goal you work on can also be met. No matter what the age, you never outgrow the need to raise and set the bar to reach another accomplishment.


Incorporate exercise into your life.  I’m a pretty firm believer that exercise is key for every woman that wants to feel good about herself.  You don’t have to aspire to attain the perfect body— you just need to move on a daily basis. The feeling of becoming physically stronger actually makes you feel mentally stronger.  On top of that, the endorphins released during exercise only add to that good feeling.  Suddenly, you are walking a little straighter with confidence. You feel good about you!


Face your fears. In order to feel good about you, get outside your comfort zone and really stretch yourself! This is where self-esteem gets a real boost. What’s ironic about this is that you might stay with what’s safe in life because you don’t want to fail; which you feel would lead to you feeling bad about you. However, the opposite is actually true— the more you stay safe, the less confident and self-assured you become.  It doesn’t feel good to know you don’t have the guts to challenge yourself.  If this sounds familiar, push yourself to take the plunge. The process of facing your fears is a huge step into self-esteem territory.


Find your voice. Take a good look at your life. Are you a pleaser?  Do you try to make everyone happy?  Do you feel people take advantage of you at work, or in friendships? Then you need to address this immediately and learn how to have healthier physical and emotional boundaries.  Until you do this hard work, you will struggle with self-esteem. Your ability to be able to articulate what you need, without worrying what others think, is imperative to your confidence level and self-worth.


This is what I want you to remember: building self-esteem is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. It comes with having experiences coupled with consistent work to better understand “YOU”.  It happens when you have a vision of what you specifically need to be happy and you then take action to live that life.


Cultivating Creativity

I’ve worked with women in the past that are quite insistent that they don’t have a creative bone in their body. When I hear this nonsense, it becomes my mission in the coaching process to help them uncover their creativity.  The truth is that every woman is creative-she just hasn’t uncovered her creative gifts yet.  Often, these women have a very narrow definition of  “being creative”.  They view creativity as being expressed through art, when actually your creative sense can be expressed in numerous ways.


Even highly creative individuals hit a dry spell now and then. Just ask me. Lately, the process of writing my weekly blog had become tougher and tougher. Developing new ideas and being able to focus on my work became extremely difficult.  I would literally sit at my computer waiting for an epiphany— the more I wanted this to happen, the less inspired I became. After much thought, I realized that there were changes that I needed to make to get my “creative juices flowing” again.  So here are a few tips to either uncover your creative genius or get your creative “mojo” back!


Give yourself permission to slow down.  Is focusing on one thing at a time a foreign concept to you?  Is your schedule packed and do you run from one place to the next? Repeat after me: creativity is never going to thrive in a frenzied lifestyle. You need to slow down and give yourself some space to relax.  Do you know what mindfulness is? It’s the ability to be completely in touch with the present.  It’s the skill of accepting the thoughts that pass through your brain in a nonjudgmental way. Don’t analyze, don’t evaluate, just let the thoughts stream through your consciousness. When you can slow down and focus your attention on your thoughts, feelings and emotions, you are more inclined to have a creative sense.


Find what environment is conducive to your creativity.  We all have places that work better than others for our creativity.  Some women like to be with talking with their girlfriends.  Others feel creative when they are relaxed and having a cup of coffee in Starbucks.  I have found that some of my best ideas have arrived when I’m surrounded by nature.  I wrote 50% of my book, 31 Days to Finding Your Inner Sass”, sitting outside on my chaise lounge.  There is something about being outside, feeling the light breeze, and hearing the bird’s chatter that stimulates my creativity.  I know this works for me so it’s my “go to place” when I’m feeling stuck.  Try out different venues and see which ones spark your creativity.


Get your body moving to find your creativity. Now, you’re probably thinking this is just crazy. How is that supposed to help? But here’s the deal— when you’re exercising, your brain is busy wandering from thought to thought.  This is exactly when the best ideas happen. Also, exercising helps control your stress and anxiety, which are toxic to any creative thinking. On top of that, exercise improves your brain activity, which can only help your creativity. I can honestly say I’ve developed many ideas for blogs and projects on the elliptical in the gym. It certainly works for me.


Get outside your comfort zone.  Routine and monotony breed unimaginative thinking.  How to break out of your rut?  Change up the routines in your life and do something out of the ordinary, even if it’s something simple like going a different way to work. Try a new class, take up a new sport or go on an adventure.  Just be sure to do something that challenges you and puts you outside your comfort zone.


If the creativity has been missing from your life lately, give thought to some of the tips I have mentioned. I firmly believe that you are truly capable of being a highly creative genius.