Bring Back the Excitement

images cat picture


Our family took Miles to the groomer at the pet store the other night. While the she struggled with a squirmy pug, we decided that we should walk around and shop. We picked up cat food for Biscuit and Joey and proceeded to check out the cat toys. My son wanted to buy catnip but I reminded him that we have the only cats on the planet that don’t have any interest in this substance. In the past, they’ve just sniffed it and walked away, disinterested.


And then we spotted it. It was a long stick with some feathers, bright shiny tinsel and a bell on the end. Although it had been a long time since I had seen our older cats play, I decided to take a risk and make the purchase. I was curious as to whether they would show any interest in this toy.


When I got home, I brought out the cat toy and called the boys. They came running in and immediately had interest in the new addition to their house. Before long, they were jumping, standing on two feet, and running around the room. I hadn’t seen them this excited in a long, long time.


In fact, the toy caused so much excitement in the house that I eventually had to put it away in a drawer for the night. They just wouldn’t stop attacking the toy, which in turn, revved up the dog beyond our tolerable limit.


The next day, I remembered that the toy was in the drawer, so I took it out to play. The cats came running and a replay of the night before ensued. In fact, they knew the sound of the toy and were present within seconds of me touching it. It kept their interest much longer than my interest in continuing the playtime. This time, however, I left the toy on the ground and walked out of the room.


The day after that, I spotted the toy and picked it up. I called the cats to play, but it took quite some time for them to arrive. I tried to engage them in play but it was a lethargic game, at best. Apparently, the toy was yesterday’s news.


By now, I bet you’re wondering why I’m sharing this story with you. What does a cat toy have anything to do with life? Well, you know how excited you are when you start something new? You know that feeling you have when you start a new job, create your own business, or begin a new relationship? It’s all novel, exciting and fresh. Life is easy because you’re full of energy and stoked about your new venture. After a while, however, reality sets in. The newness wears off and you fall into your routine.


This is the pivotal moment that separates the resilient from the less resilient; possessing the ability to hang in there and not give up or move on to something new and easier. This is a crucial step in finding your desired success. It’s also when you have the opportunity to truly gain and learn the most.


Making it through this period, past the initial shininess, enables you to build confidence for future endeavors in your life.


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.


Fear of Aging

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. She was talking about how she was approaching “a certain birthday” and how hard it was to get older.  During the discussion, she shared her fear of getting older and what it now feels like to hear her age said out loud.  She explained how it seemed unbelievable that she could truly be that number on her driver’s license.


The conversation continued as she began to share all her fears of staying active and reaching the age where her health could fail. She admitted that these thoughts were consuming a lot of her time. It rattled her to hear that a friend’s mother had died at the age that she was approaching.  As I listened to her, I gave deep thought as to whether I’ve been experiencing the same feelings and beliefs about growing old.


I believe that John Glenn might have said it best when he said the following:

“Too many people, when they get old, believe that they have to live by the calendar.”


In other words, they allow the number on their birth certificate to influence the decisions that they make in life. They rationalize why it’s too late for them to go back to school or attempt a marathon. They are convinced that their days of learning and growing are over because, according to the calendar, they just can’t or shouldn’t do it anymore. They don’t check in with how they feel, emotionally and physically, in order to make their ultimate decision.  They live by the rules that have been established by their beliefs, values or culture.


I was recently taking a spinning class at the gym. There were about eight women of all ages, shapes and sizes in the class. At one point, I caught a glimpse in the mirror during the most strenuous part of the class. Every woman was sweating and working feverishly to keep on going.  Let me backtrack a bit and share that I’m one of the older ones in the class. At that moment, I realized that I was going the fastest by far and wasn’t breathing even half as hard as my teammates. A shot of adrenalin rushed through my body with this realization and I felt strong and empowered with this new knowledge. Most of all, I felt young.


I suppose if I chose to, I could just have easily taken that glimpse in the mirror and focused on the wrinkles in my face and the veins sticking out on my legs.  I could have analyzed every piece of me that looked different than it did 20 years ago. Trust me, there’s plenty. I could have gone right from that realization to lamenting the fact that I can’t run anymore because of my chronic back issues. However, I CHOSE to not focus on what I CAN’T do, but zero in on what I CAN.


Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” I’ve found that the happiest women in life live their days in this very manner. So, instead of focusing on the fact that I can’t run, I focus on the increase in stamina I have in biking. Instead of focusing on how the years are going by and I’m getting old, I put my energy into my passion— helping other women move forward in their life. I try to live out my purpose and passion in every day of my life, while being open to new experiences. Ironically, this leaves little time to focus on regrets of the past, or fears of the future.


So far, it seems to be working.

Personality Tests

My husband came home from a week of job training that included test taking to discover personality traits.  He was excited to share it with me and wondered if I had come across this assessment in my career. As he explained his results, he tried to ascertain where I would fall on this test’s continuum.  I listened with amusement; he obviously took the whole process very seriously.


When I was in high school, I took a so-called career test to help me discover what I should do with my life. I waited with anticipation as the results were passed out to each one of us.  I scanned the paper feverishly to find the key to my future.  On the bottom of the page, it showed my results. I read the description of my future and slumped in my chair. According to the career inventory test, my perfect career was as a Nurses Aide. I’m not quite sure how this was decided, but I felt instantly depressed and defeated. To me, that seemed to be the farthest thing from who I was and what I wanted to do in life.  As I processed this information, a thought popped in my head: Why do I think that this test knows what I want in life? Only I can decide who I am and what I will accomplish in my life. How dare that test tell me that being a nurse’s aide is my fate!


That experience was pivotal for me.  It proved to me that tests are not always accurate and they should be treated as a guide and tool in the process of learning more about self.  Below are a few reasons why I feel that these assessments sometimes fail to deliver.


You can answer the questions as your wishful self, instead of who you actually are. People are not always honest when they take a test.  Sometimes, even though they’re instructed to give real answers, they can’t help but answer as the individual they desire to be in life, instead of how their traits and behavior actually play out. For example, maybe they believe only extroverts are successful in life.  In lieu of this, they unconsciously slant their answers to convey this trait.


Some individuals don’t understand “self” well enough to answer appropriately.  It comes down to knowing you.  If you haven’t done your work to learn more about who you are, it’s very possible that your test won’t clearly reflect the true you.  Many of the questions demand an individual to reflect on their own behavior, and some people just don’t see themselves very clearly.  They may not be able to recognize some of their behaviors and actions in life.


The test results could change according to how you’re feeling about yourself. I remember taking a test at a time in my life where I was miserable in my career. According to the administrator, it was to reveal my strengths and my personality.  If I shared the results, you would have one of the biggest laughs of your life. I wasn’t in a good place in my life, and that really came through in the results. I didn’t answer the questions like my usual self, and the results were quite skewed. Looking back now, I’m thankful that I didn’t take them to heart and build my life around them.


I use assessments daily in my coaching work. However, I see them as another tool to use in the process.  Healthy discussion on key topics is often more helpful in uncovering the information that will help us find your path. Don’t put more trust in these assessments than they actually deserve.

Dr. Seuss

While perusing the web, I came across an image of Dr. Seuss and a picture of “Green Eggs and Ham.” That single image took me back to the years when I would read his many books to my boys. I remember how they had memorized every word even before they had learned how to read. I loved Dr. Seuss rhymes and enjoyed the books just as much as my sons.


What hadn’t occurred to me those many years ago was the insight and wisdom that Dr. Seuss possessed. Sure, the rhymes were catchy, but there was more to it than that. His perception into what truly mattered in life was pretty impressive.


So in honor of the Dr., I’d like to share some of his words of wisdom.


“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. And you are the one that will decide where to go.” What an empowering statement! You are in control of your own destiny and are capable of anything you set your mind to. You know YOU better than anyone else. All you need to do is trust yourself and follow your heart. You have the control to shape your future and make things happen. The decision is yours.


“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Isn’t that the truth? How often do we make things so much harder than they have to be? As a Women’s Success Coach, I can attest to the fact that often women make their decision-making process much more complicated than it has to be. Invariably, the process involves spiraling thoughts sprinkled with many “what-ifs”, even when the answer is right before their eyes.


“Why fit in when you were born to stand out” I understand why we would share this with our kids— we want our kids to be comfortable in their own skin and be true to who they are. However, let’s be honest here: I come across many women that are still struggling with this concept. They are trying to fit into the mold of other’s expectations, instead of being true to themselves. It’s so much easier to just be YOU!


“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” Of course you will! This is the number one reason the coaching process doesn’t end up working. You need to be willing to see that there could be an alternative way to approach life. You need to be willing to open yourself up and be vulnerable. Processing new information can change the way you see the world. You need to be open to CHANGE. It’s possible that a change can be the best thing that ever happened to you.


“You can get help from teachers but you are going to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.” Well said, Dr. Suess! Having an understanding of who you are and what you need in life comes with time spent alone. Many women fill every waking minute with activities because they’re scared to feel what’s going on inside of them. Take the time and become acquainted with you and what you need to be happy. That is the most important thing you can learn.


When he worked he really worked. But when he played, he really played. I want you to read this one again. I come across numerous women that work way too hard and have difficulty letting go and enjoying life. Dr. Seuss had it right; what’s the use of working so hard if you don’t get to reap the benefits? Be passionate in your work AND your play.


See what I mean? Take his words to heart and go after your dreams. These quotes are as relevant in your life today as they were when you were a child. Dr. Seuss believes in you (and so do I).

Taming Your Inner Brat

Let me share something about my buying habits— I’m pretty selective about my purchases.  I won’t buy the first thing I see and I never make impulse decisions. I’m the type of buyer that mulls things over and over before I get out my credit card. Well, usually.


I recently attended a fashion show fundraiser.  During the show, I made a mental note of a dress that I liked, but assumed it would be out of my budget range.  At the completion of the show, I strolled around the vendor tables to see if I could spy the runway dress. As I turned the corner and looked up, I saw a young woman holding THE dress up and talking to her friends excitedly.  When I approached her, she shared with me how much she loved the dress and just had to have it. The boutique owner chimed in and stated that there were only two pieces left of that particular style and absolutely no inventory left at her store.


Immediately, I decided that I had to have this dress! I tried to control my excitement while the girl went off to try it on.  I hovered around the table anxiously waiting for her to return, secretly hoping that she only fit into the bigger size. She came back and decided to buy the smaller size. Disappointed, I searched for alternate solutions to my dilemma. I ran to the lounge to try on the bigger size— I rationalized that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I bought the dress a little too big.


As I put the dress over my head and looked in the mirror, I felt a huge rush of adrenaline shoot through my body. The dress fit perfect! I ran back out and couldn’t give the owner my credit card quick enough.  Boy, was I excited about making my purchase!


Dr. Pauline Willan, a Psychologist and author of ”Taming your Inner Brat” cites three specific reasons why you can get hung up on wanting what you can’t have.


1. You pay more attention to and can become fixated upon what you CAN’T have in life.  This “thing” might begin to feel much more important than it actually is.


2. When something is scarce or in short supply its perceived value increases. You may begin to believe that if other people want this item so badly, then you should want it also. Think about some of our past Christmas seasons and the toy of the year.


3. You often want what you can’t have due to “Psychological Resistance”. This refers to your desire to not be controlled by others.  A good example of this is when you’re on a diet and your husband reminds you 7 times a day that you shouldn’t eat the cake in the kitchen because it’s not on your diet.  These comments from your husband might lead you directly back to the piece of cake.  No one likes to be told what they can and can’t do.


Give some thought to your own life. Have you ever obsessed over something or someone that you just had to have? Next time you’re chasing that thing or person, do a reality check.

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.