A Fresh Perspective


The day it happened was one of the coldest days of the year.  I believe we broke numerous records for wind chill and temperature.  As you can imagine, I dreaded going out in the bitter cold, but I had an appointment waiting for me.


Anyway, in all my excitement, my ski coat hit the car console and changed the radio station to AM radio.  All of the sudden, I was hit with the sound of loud static and talk radio.  Where was my top 40 station?  While I continued to drive, I tried to figure out what exactly I had done to my radio and how I could remedy the situation.


I fiddled with the knobs and my technologically advanced screen, searching for the FM button, to no avail.  At every red light, I studied the console, pushed at the buttons and searched for the answer. I even tried to recreate how I had originally hit the radio, but even that didn’t help me.


I’m embarrassed to say that this went on for four days.  Like clockwork, I went through the same process, prodding at buttons, searching on the screen and scanning the console for the FM button that would solve all my problems. When I arrived at my destination on the fourth day, I decided on another tactic to solve this problem.


I pulled up to the gym and put my car in park.  I reached over to the glove compartment and pulled out my car manual.  I might add at this point that I did feel a little foolish, but I was frustrated and tired of the whole process.  The manual showed illustrations of the different buttons on the console, including the radio.  There, in the picture, was the large button for FM, located beneath the radio.  I pulled my focus away from the book and looked at my car’s console.  I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that the large button for FM was exactly where the manual said it would be.  Frankly, it was in plain sight and easy to see.  If I felt foolish before, I truly felt like an idiot now.


I was at Panera the other day and I was making myself a cup of tea.  I overheard the women at the counter asking why they didn’t have herbal tea anymore.  She insisted that it wasn’t there. I spoke up and told her to come over so I could help her find it.  She was shocked to see it when I pointed it out to her and she shared that she felt foolish.  She couldn’t believe that she had stared at it forever and didn’t see it. It was so easy to see now.


I chuckled and told her I knew exactly how she felt.  I shared with her that sometimes we don’t see things that are right in front of our eyes. She agreed and walked away.


We’ve all had those experiences. Our perceptions are so often colored by our expectations, our past experiences, and our preconceived ideas. My friend at Panera EXPECTED the tea to be in different packaging— therefore, every time she scanned the tea, she didn’t see what she needed.  My experience with my FM radio was affected by my preconceived idea that the answer was either on my screen or on either side of the radio.  I never looked BENEATH the radio.


Sometimes, we miss the most obvious things, and afterwards we wonder how we could have failed so miserably. In life, the answers are often right in front of our eyes, but we’re working so hard to find the answer that we make it a much more complicated process than it needs to be. Maybe we need to just open our minds and see it from a different perspective.



There I was, sitting at my desk trying to get some paperwork done.  My husband had a few days off over the holidays and he was on a mission.  His project for the day was to clean out all the closets upstairs.  I ignored him as long as possible as he went about this huge task. As the day went on, I saw him carry down massive amounts of suits, shirts and pants to be taken to Goodwill.


And then I was called on to get involved.  He stated that he really couldn’t complete his project without my input— he needed to know what in the linen closets could be pitched.  I was not pleased with my needed involvement in this project.  You see, I didn’t feel the same need or motivation to organize and purge.  I was happy keeping everything status quo.  He convinced me that my involvement was needed since it was December 31, and he only had a few hours to finish this task for 2013 tax purposes.  Aggravated, I left my desk to clean out the two linen closets.


Let me paint a clear picture of what kind of project I had before me.  I don’t believe that anything had been purged from these closets for the last 20 years. They were stuffed with comforters, sheets, and blankets from many years ago.  Actually, being able to close the closet door had become an accomplishment in itself. I believe that my closets were only truly appreciated by my cat Biscuit.  I wish that I had a dollar for every time I opened the closets to find him enveloped in a mass of blankets.


So let me go back to my forced-upon project.  Slowly, I pulled everything out of the closet, shocked by the sheer mass of stuff.  It was like a stroll down memory lane—

the boy’s old bunk-bed comforters, my towels that we received as wedding presents over 30 years ago, sheets that I couldn’t even remember owning.  My husband was right; these things were never going to get used again. I was shocked that I had ignored this stuff for so many years.  There, at the bottom of the pile, were two baby blankets.  That put a smile on my face and made me think about how things had changed.


I put 90% of the linens in a huge pile to be donated.  I didn’t use most of the things I found and they had cluttered up the house.  When I put everything back in the closet, it was clean, organized and quite empty.


And guess what else I discovered?  The process of cleaning out my closet was a good experience.  The feeling I had when I looked at the end result of my work was pretty wonderful.  Somehow, I felt uplifted.  It felt as if I was letting go of the things in my life that were causing distractions.  As I looked at my new closet, I felt renewed, positive and clear on my intentions going forward.  How strange that something like cleaning out my closet could change the way I felt about life!


The other realization I had was how I needed to do this with other parts of my life.  The next day, I organized some paperwork that had been on my to-do list way too long.  I sat on the floor of my office, set up a notebook and ended up throwing away the many papers cluttering my work and life.  After the work was completed, I spent time admiring my new organized book; I was feeling clear and at peace.


We can get so used to our dysfunction and the clutter in our lives that we don’t even notice it anymore.  It becomes familiar and part of who we are.  Make a point to address the “closets” in your life that might need some attention.

Be Yourself!

I was looking out the window while on the treadmill at the gym. I had tired of the usual morning shows on the TV and was enjoying my music. I noticed that a car had pulled up with a mother and her young toddler son .The mother went over to the other side of the car to get her infant child out of the car seat, and Adam immediately found something to keep himself busy.


As he stared at his reflection in the car window, he flailed his arms and began to make funny faces.  He contorted his body and eventually went into a full-fledged dance. Disregarding anyone else, he passionately danced, gyrated and stared at the effect in the car window. The mother got all the way to the door to the gym before she realized she didn’t even have her son in tow.  She yelled to him and he scampered over to catch up.


I watched with amusement as this whole scenario played out. This little boy was totally uninhibited and in the moment. He gave no thought as to how his wacky behavior appeared to others. He was absorbed in his own enjoyment and did exactly what felt right at that minute. The reality is that Adam doesn’t have many years left before he learns that his behavior in the gym parking lot and many other places is unacceptable in society. I bet that by the time he reaches Junior High, Adam will take the utmost care to say and do the right things to get along, be accepted and fit into the world.


If only we could all live our lives with such abandon and joy! The truth is that as we grow up, we learn what’s appropriate behavior and what is not.  We internalize what is expected of us, and the roles that we’re suppose to play in our families, school setting, workplace and the world. To find success in life, there are certain standards of behavior you have to meet, and most of us can tackle this requirement with no problem.  In fact, turning the off switch on that mode of thinking can eventually become an issue in your life.


I coach women that struggle with understanding who they are beyond their roles and expectations in life.  Many have succeeded in numerous arenas, wearing several different hats, but at some point in their life, they realize that they’ve become disconnected with who they are at the core of their being.  It’s possible they’ve spent many years denying feelings and desires in order to accomplish their goals and meet their expectations. Like an athlete, they kept motoring forward toward the finish line. However, there’s a price to pay for following that path in life. Eventually, you can lose touch with YOU and find it difficult to ascertain who you are and what you truly want and need— separate from your many roles and expectations.


The day I saw Adam dancing in the parking lot, he was just being Adam. He knew what he wanted and he didn’t really care what anyone else thought. He wasn’t aware or bound by any expectations— yet. It’s not realistic to think that as an adult you can live like Adam. However, make it a point to incorporate just a little bit of “Adam” into your life every now and then.


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.

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.


Dealing With Difficult People

Have you ever had to deal with difficult people in your personal or professional life? I’m talking about someone that absolutely drives you wacky and brings out the worst in you! Maybe it’s that ONE individual that drives you so crazy at work that you’ve contemplated quitting your job. But here’s the problem with using that kind of exit strategy as a solution; difficult people are everywhere.


They’re part of our families, they live in our neighborhoods, and often share the cubicle beside us at work.  Because of this, learning to deal with these people is an important skill to master. Here are a couple tips to help you navigate the rough social terrain.


Try your best to keep the emotion out of your interactions. I know what you’re thinking; that’s easier said than done!  But the fact is, losing your temper will just escalate the situation and that’s the last thing you need! At work, a flaring temper can backfire on you and make it appear that you’re the “difficult one” in the relationship.


Try to understand what motivates this individual.  Attempt to understand the underlying reason for this individual’s behavior.  Once you’re aware of what truly motivates them to do what they do, you can develop some empathy for the individual. This, in turn, can help keep your emotions in check.  For example, maybe you have a co-worker that talks incessantly and it drives you bonkers. Looking beneath the surface, you might discover this is someone that’s lonely in his or her personal life and starved for human contact during the workday. This enables you to change your perspective on the situation.


Don’t waste time lamenting, talking and gossiping about this person. Talking about this person to others and how they’re driving you crazy is a natural reaction to this situation. However, if you’re spending every waking hour talking, thinking and stressing about this person, you need to reassess your priorities in life. Is this truly a valuable use of your time and energy? None of this behavior is going to change or improve the situation.


Reach out to someone you respect and trust to get their opinion. I once worked in a company where I clashed horrifically with a woman I’ll call Ann. I began to believe our relationship issues were my fault entirely, so I kept trying harder and harder to make it right. I reached out to a trusted individual that no longer worked in the company.  Before I said anything to her about the situation, she asked me if I worked with Ann. I asked her why and she went into a 10-minute tirade about how Ann drove her crazy until she finally left her job.  I immediately felt validated, which in turn made me feel energized to come up with strategies to deal with the situation. Talking with someone you respect helps you look at the situation objectively.


Assess what you CAN control in the situation, and what you can’t.  You can’t get control the fact that there are going to be certain times you’ll be forced to interact with this person. You CAN control whether you have boundaries with this individual.  For example, if you work with this person, you don’t HAVE to go out to lunch with her every day and you don’t HAVE to be friends with her outside of the workplace.  Limit the amount of time you interact with her during your day as much as possible.


Accept the fact that you’ll need to treat this person differently than the way you treat other people. You’re not going to be able to be “you” every time you’re in their presence. You’ll need to be aware of your boundaries, keep your guard up and careful about what you say in this person’s presence.


There will always be difficult people around us; it’s just a fact of life. However, learning how to interact with difficult people is an essential skill needed if you are striving to be happy, healthy and successful. I know you can do it, girlfriend!


Near Life Experience

My week started by attending a funeral on Monday.  I’m sure you’d agree that going to funerals are not a favorite thing for anyone to do in life. However, they’re definitely part of life and hard to avoid, the older you get.  The experience at the beginning of the week encouraged me to contemplate life- how quickly life can go by without the chance to chase your dreams.


By Wednesday, I attended the Sassy Girlfriend Talk where the topic was age.  We shared in a circle what age we felt in our head.  Not the one you see when you look in the mirror, but the one, when you close your eyes, you truly FEEL.  I’m asking all of you now to close your eyes and think-what age are you in your head?  If you could turn back the clock 10 years, what decisions would you make in your life? What dreams would you go after?  Now the big question for you, why can’t you chase that dream right now?


I’ll admit it, in my head, I think I’m 25! Don’t laugh, I really do! I think I can do anything I set my mind to do.  Honestly, I think this attitude serves me well since Sunday, I rode my bike 58 miles. I suppose if I felt 65 in my head, I would have hesitated to try to tackle this. I think I’ll stick with 25 since it seems to be working for me.  It never occurs to me that I’m at an age when I might not be able to accomplish something. You might refer to this as “denial”, however, I call it living and taking advantage of every day.


My son called me yesterday from Columbus to share an experience. He was shaken and didn’t know how to make sense of his day.  He explained that he had just finished his lunch break and was walking back to work. He walked out of the airport door and was on the sidewalk when he heard a loud horrible thud right in front of him.  He looked up, not understanding what was happening around him.  There, 10 feet in front of him lay a man.  The man had jumped off the top of the parking garage. Instinctively responding, he ran to where the man had landed and knelt down to check on him. He checked his pulse to see if he was alive.


As he went back to work and tried to make sense of things, it occurred to him that the man had landed 10 feet in front of him, directly in his path.  One or two seconds later, that man would have made a direct hit.  What are the chances?  How lucky he was to avoid that fate. For the first time, I believe he felt his mortality.


In my experiences working with women, I have realized that all of us, at some time or another, take life for granted.  We casually put our dreams and desires in life on a list and say we’ll get back to them when we can.  Maybe we want to go back to school and finish a degree or finally start our own business.  Maybe it’s taking that trip to visit our friend we haven’t seen in years. Whatever it is, we assume that it will all be there for us when we’re ready to take action.  We assume that we have many years ahead of us to live.


My suggestion to you is that you all channel the age of 25 and believe you can accomplish anything you want.  Stop putting your goals and desires on hold, waiting for the absolute right time to change your life. The right time is NOW!

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.