Category Archives: HUMANITY

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Dr. Max McKeown: Are you a NOWIST? Or a THENIST?

Joined in studio by behavioural strategist Dr. Max McKeown, author of the new book #NOW: The Surprising Truth About the Power of Now.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Dr. Max McKeown:

Max McKeown1. Why did you decide to write your new book? How did you get interested in the subject of nowists and nowism?

2. What is a Nowist mindset? How can we spot different kinds of Nowist and Thenist?

3. You say that its only worth paying the “right pain for the right gain”, can you explain more?

4. How can we learn to ride stress like a mule? How can we use the energy of life to keep moving forward?

5. What do Nowists need at work? And from their leaders?

6. What’s the link between Nowism, Strategy and Innovation?

7. Psychology of moving forward, and some of the research behind it.

You can find Max McKeown’s book here:

About Max McKeown:

DR. MAX MCKEOWN is the author of #NOW, The Strategy Book, winner of the Commuter Read at the Chartered Management Institute Book of the Year 2013 and Amazon’s Best Business Books of 2012. He is also author of The Innovation Book, Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty, and four other books. He works as a strategic coach with Fortune 100 companies and is also a popular keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He is a member of the British Psychological Society. He has an MBA and PhD from Warwick Business School.

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, SALES, WELLNESS

Stephan Aarstol: Shifting to a five-hour workday, and changing your life forever!

Joined in the house today by Stephan Aarstol, the CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, and the author of The Five-Hour Workday: Live Differently, Unlock Productivity, and Find Happiness.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Stephan Aarstol:

Stephan Aarstol1. What’s wrong with the current eight-hour work day and 40-hour work week.

2. What prompted him to move his company to a five-hour workday.

3. How a shorter work day makes businesses more profitable and productive and employees happier, healthier and more loyal.

4. Steps to implement a five-hour work-day at your company, and how to test risk free!

5. How winning on ABCs Shark Tank changed his life.

6. The importance of the pursuit of happiness.

Find Stephan Aarstol’s book here:

About Stephan Aarstol:

Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, an online, manufacturer-direct brand in the stand up paddle boarding industry. With a three-year growth rate of 1,853 percent, Tower was named the Fastest Growing Company in San Diego by the San Diego Business Journal, and was featured in the Inc.’s 2015 500 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies.

After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank and securing an investment from Mark Cuban, Aarstol was featured by People Magazine as one of “Shark Tank’s Biggest Winners.” Aarstol’s company quickly became one of Mark Cuban’s best-performing investments from the popular show, and in early 2016, ABC returned to feature Tower Paddle Boards in a nationally televised episode, “Beyond the Tank.”

Tower began as a disruptive, direct-to-consumer stand up paddle board company, and has since evolved into a more holistic beach-lifestyle company. Today, Tower offers a growing array of beach-lifestyle products, sold and shipped directly to consumers at a fraction of traditional retail prices. Tower’s successful brand extensions include a beach-lifestyle magazine, Tower Magazine, a sunglass company at SunglassesByTower.com, and a direct-to-consumer surf- and beach-lifestyle company at TowerMade.com.

Aarstol’s objective is to build Tower into the world’s premiere beach-lifestyle brand, and he currently has plans to extend the Tower brand into many additional business units.

As an entrepreneurial-thought leader and online-marketing expert, Aarstol’s insights have been published in the Washington Post, Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Mashable, and many other prominent business publications.

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP

Col. Lee Ellis: Are you an honorable businessperson?

Joined in studio today by Col. Lee Ellis (USAF Retired), founder and president of Leadership Freedom LLC, and author of Engage With Honor: Building A Culture of Courageous Accountability.

Discussion guide from today’s conversation with Lee Ellis:

Lee Ellis1. Why becoming an honorable leader requires character, courage, and commitment.

2. What business leaders can learn from his experience as a POW, and translate that into industry-oriented success.

3. Leading with honor even in difficult circumstances.

4. The Leadership Behavior DNA Discovery Process, which reveals a leader’s strengths and struggles in order to develop authentic leadership.

5. Engaging with courage, commitment, and caring concern VS. motivation by fear, intimidation, and self-preservation.

6. The most important piece of advice for members of the younger generation who aspire to become strong leaders.

7. The 7 steps to become the best leader that you can be.

Find Lee Ellis’ book here:

About Lee Ellis:

Lee Ellis is Founder and President of Leadership Freedom® LLC and FreedomStar Media®. He is an award-winning author, leadership consultant, and expert presenter in the areas of leadership, teambuilding, and human performance. His past clients include Fortune 500 senior executives and CLevel leaders in telecommunications, healthcare, military, and other business sectors. Some of his media appearances include interviews on networks such as CNN, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, ABC World News, Fox News Channel, plus hundreds of engagements in various industry sectors throughout the world.

Early in his career, Lee served as an Air Force fighter pilot flying fifty-three combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1967, he was shot down and held as a POW for more than five years in Hanoi and surrounding camps. For his wartime service, he was awarded two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart, and POW Medal. Lee resumed his Air Force career, serving in leadership roles of increasing responsibility including command of a flying squadron and leadership development organizations before retiring as a colonel.

Lee has a BA in History and a MS in Counseling and Human Development. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College. He has authored or co-authored four books on leadership and career development. Lee’s latest book entitled Leading with Honor®: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton has received multiple awards since its release including Winner in the 2012 International Book Awards in the Business and Management Category, and selection on the 2013 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List.

Lee and his wife Mary reside in the Atlanta GA area and have four grown children and six grandchildren.

Lee Ellis

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HR, HUMANITY

Better off Dead: My Two Dollars Story

Better Off Dead

My two dollarsOne of John Cusack’s first movies was an odd spinoff of the wildly successful John Hughes films of the 80’s and 90’s called Better off Dead. Throughout the film, there is a running theme of a newspaper boy, yes, for those younger than 40 – we did not exercise child labor laws that strictly back then, chasing after the main character, Cusack for two dollars. You see, on top of delivering the papers to your front door, you had to do collections door-to-door, weekly for the money from the person getting the newspapers. Daily papers were .25c, and the Sunday paper was .50c, equaling two dollars a week. A few weeks ago, this came to mind one evening in a convenience store near my home.

A Wild Week

After what had been a wild week with candidate negotiations, allergies, and lack of sleep based on said allergies, something good finally happened. Sometimes, you just have to look past yourself to realize there is someone out there a little worse off than you. I had to run down to the local 7/11 for milk, as the carton in my fridge had spoiled. I drove down to the corner store, cursing that my craving for mashed potatoes and the need of milk to make the deliciousness that that dish is, forced me out of my home and into my car to procure this magic liquid.

When I arrived at the market, it was unusually busy, people milling around – looking at products deciding what snacks they wanted, etc. Now you see, I am not really a big grocery store guy, I eat out a great deal, so I know convenience stores well and how they operate. You have to move fast, or a line will form and then you are caught standing there pissed off because you just want to go home and eat mashed potatoes, and yet you are standing here, waiting. First world problems, am I right?

Two Dollars

better off deadI hate being right sometimes, and like a perfect storm, a line had formed, yet, not a bad one, there was a single guy and father there with his two young daughters in front of me, so I thought, oh well just a few more minutes. It could be worse with the sea of bachelors that were in the store. The first guy went off without a hitch, paid and off he went. Then, the father walked up with a loaf of bread and cheese. He was rung up quickly, handed the clerk his card, and the transaction was done. Boom, I am on the home stretch now! The youngest child then pulled a candy out of her pocket that she had been holding. The Father looked at her and smiled and said, “Sure, baby girl.” I stood there deflated and angry. I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to get back home to make the potatoes and eat my dinner. The clerk rang up the candy, and it popped up as two dollars on the register, he handed the man the card, again. So yet another transaction I have to sit through, great how much longer do I have to wait!!
Then, it happened, the card was declined, for two dollars.

His body language showed his humiliation that he could not afford two dollars, in front of his children, when he was told there no more funds available on his card which turned out to be an EBT card. Two dollars. For those who don’t live in Virginia, the EBT card is the equivalent of a debit card for food stamps funded by the Common Wealth of Virginia, and he had run out of funds. He scooped up the little one, who was crying that she wanted her candy, and took the other child’s hand, then walked out to his car leaving the candy on the counter in front of us. He said nothing but I caught his eye as he looked down and slowly left the store. The attendant took my milk as I watched the family with the sound of the words of two dollars ringing in my head, and I said, “The candy, I want the candy, too.”

Atonement Gained

The clerk’s expression was one of puzzlement that turned to a look of atonement for not doing what I should have done. I tried swiping my card but was having problems with the machine to complete the transaction quickly enough. Turning to look outside, I saw the Father getting into the passenger seat. Feeling my frustration, the clerk only said to me, “Go, Atonement gained, I suppose.” I nodded to the attendant and ran out of the store leaving both my credit card and wallet on the counter to catch the family before they left. When I got to the car door, his window was down so I handed him the candy and just quietly said, “Sir, you forgot something.” I turned to go back inside, and the father called out to me and mouthed, “Thank you, man.” Two Dollars.

A Very Good Man?

When I went back in, there was a line of people all staring at me, a long line. They were all men of different races, Black, White, Indian, and Asian. Not one person said anything, not one person was upset, in fact, they were all staring at me, some deep in thought, others smiling and nodding. As I reached for my carton of milk, the attendant held on to it for a moment looking me in the eye, smiled, and gave me a short bow and said, “You are a very good man.”

No, I really am not. I stood there in that line cursing the fact that I, a single man, who has enough money to eat out every night if I want, was angry that I had to wait in line. I felt anger toward a Father, caring for his progeny and, more than likely having cheese sandwiches for dinner, couldn’t afford candy, for two dollars. It is moments like this that remind me that we must look around and lift each other up, love each other a little more, and recognize that even though it can be bad at times, there is more than likely someone worse off than you.

Next time, I am going to be a great deal more patient with the world, I think we all should strive for that. I wish it would only cost two dollars to change the perception in the world, which would be amazing.

#truestory #life

AUTHORS, HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Ryan Holiday: Ego is the Enemy

Joined in studio by best-selling author Ryan Holiday, who joined me to discuss his latest book, Ego Is The Enemy.

Notes and discussion guide from my conversation with Ryan Holiday:

Ryan HolidayWe love to blame others for our problems. Is this the wrong attitude?

Definition: An unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.

We discuss Ryan’s own personal battles and how they impacted the writing of this book.

I don’t think most of us have a good sense of self. This is that part of the problem.

Our ego damns us at almost every turn (early career moves, success, failure).

We create our own obstacles most of the time.

What do we do wrong to enable this to happen.

The key is conquering your ego. But how…

A learned skill? Are some people just not able to pull this off?

Most people won’t be willing to take responsibility for there life and actions.

The new book pairs with “The Obstacle is The Way.”

Ambition, achievement, and adversity all play a role.

This is still influenced by stoicism.

The goal is “to think less of yourself?”

We are fooling ourselves if we think we aren’t an egomaniac.

Believing in your greatness kills creativity.

Ryan Holiday

Want an explanation for the photo above? See below:
Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.46.50 PM

About Ryan Holiday:

Ryan is a strategist and writer. He dropped out of college at nineteen to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and later served as the director of marketing for American Apparel. His company, Brass Check, has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as many prominent bestselling authors.

Holiday has written four previous books, most recently The Obstacle Is the Way, which has been translated into seventeen languages and has a cult following among NFL coaches, world-class athletes, TV personalities, political leaders, and others around the world. He lives on a small ranch outside Austin, Texas.

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HUMANITY

Guns and Mythos

Guns: What Are They Good For?

Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? – Ernest Gaines

I was twelve years old when I shot my first pistol. It was my Grandfather’s revolver, a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum six shooter. My Grandfather was good friends with the local gun shop owner, Mr. Sprague in Yuma, AZ. He had a personal firing range – underground, behind his shop – and only he or his friends were allowed to shoot there.

My Grandad took me there one afternoon to teach me, not only how to shoot a gun, but to understand its sheer power. He wanted me to learn to respect the weapon for what it could do. I remember not being nervous holding it, in fact quite the opposite. I was going to be the lone ranger, Shane – High Noon time is what I was thinking to myself. I was just a kid who  went to movies and watched TV shows. To me, this was the equivalent of becoming like my many heroes from those shows – shooting guns, killing the bad guys, and, well, getting the girl. I was just starting to like them at that age.

He showed me, with an unloaded weapon, how to aim at the target and how to breathe in while pulling back the trigger. The one thing he could not tell me, the one thing I had to learn on my own, was the power that this firearm had. I loaded the weapon, pulled back the hammer, and then squeezed the trigger just like I was trained to do. BANG! The shot rang out, and my arms took on a life of their own, going upward as by body hurdled backward from the shock of the kickback at the release of the bullet. I was terrified of the experience and the sheer power that this gun held and that I was the one who wielded it. The target we used was a watermelon, it became a pile of unusable fruit.

I asked my Grandfather why he had not prepared me for that shock. He only smiled and said, “How else are you going to learn?”

As the years have gone by, I have shot multiple weapons and began to enjoy shooting rifles, more than pistols, as there was a sense of accomplishment hitting a target 100 yards away with accuracy. I did some hunting but never really liked it. Killing animals was not high on my list of things to do as a kid, and it lowers the older I get. I understand the idea of it and why: in the 1800’s, it was a good skill to have – I just did not see the point of it now.

Eventually, the rifles were sold to acquire other baubles like art and collectible comic books. I had friends who joined the military, went to war, and used the education that we got, as kids, to amplify their talents with guns with unbelievably destructive power. Two of them, upon their return, sold the guns they had. They had more than enough of them and enough of violence. War can do that to you.

gunsThe Cause?

“Should we have background checks, waiting periods? To drive a car you have to pass a test that shows you know how to drive your car safely, you should have to do the same thing with guns.” – Michael D. Barnes

My Great Uncle took his life with a gun.
In high school, a former girlfriend took her life with a gun.
Two friends of mine, after high school, were murdered in a parking lot, by a gun.

Every day, there is gun violence int he U.S., and no law other than the total restriction of guns is going to change that. So, yeah – I have a pretty good reasons to understand that weapons take lives. I have lost my share, more than my share.

What we need to do is teach the destructive power a gun has and its effects on people who lose someone to this kind of violence. Children should be taught, like I was, what guns can and will do in the hands of the careless, unemotional, and mentally ill. It should not be taught by video games, movies, and/or TV shows.

We won’t be, though.

Hell, we don’t teach our kids anything now, it seems. The entitlement festers like a sore, unattended in this country, and we blame anyone else, other than ourselves; it’s the norm. Kids want to play violent video games, they want to be Stormtroopers, or Jason Bourne. Too many movies to mention, too many video games to un-see. I feel this is where the problem begins. These children are not educated on the meaning of life, what it means to take a life, and the devastating consequences of careless actions anymore. If it truly takes a village, ours is burning to the ground, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

gunsThe Solution?

So what do we do? How do we solve the endemic problem we are facing in this country without causing an all-out uncivil war? Have politicians hold sit-ins while bickering amongst their egos? Sometimes the solution to a problem is not to overthink it.

What I believe is you have the right to own a firearm, and I am all for you to have what my Grandmother called a “bang a bang”. However, there is nothing in the constitution that says you can have bullets. Nothing. I know, I looked it up. Collect all the high powered shit you want but you don’t get bullets for it.

See where I am going here?

Just like the prohibition days, this would cause a vacuum, so I get that. Let’s make a little money off this deal then require permits for bullets, which are renewed annually along with background checks annually, as well. Criminals are going to get their hands on guns; we already have too many already in this country, and no matter what you think, our borders are too porous. Hell, if they can get drugs or people across the border, think of how lucrative guns could be. However – when we control the actual gun powder, casings, and lead distribution, they will not be very useful, will they? Running bullets in the amounts that would be profit-worthy would be a costly venture for any cartel, since you cannot just grow rounds. They have to be made in a factory and then shipped; this can be accounted for.

Secondly, when you buy a weapon of this magnitude, you should be licensed. You need a license to drive, fish, hunt, own an animal in some states, but any ass-hat can buy a gun? We need to make it mandatory that they do get training, that they understand the depth of what a bullet can do. It’s not the guns, folks; it’s the bullets that do the damage. Proper firearm training is usually offered at any local gun shop, and it should be mandatory. I know many gun owners who agree with me on this point, and it is an easy sell if someone would just sell it. Knowledge is power, folks and having a well-educated group of people is never a bad thing.

The Gun Culture

We live in a gun culture and that, sadly, is not going to change tomorrow. The history in this country is just too vast, and frankly, the world is a scary place, and people want to be safe. Unravelling this is going to be tough but we have to start somewhere, or it is only going to get worse. And after the last few weeks, that scares me more than when I shot my first gun; I never thought that would happen in my lifetime.

#truestory #life.

HR, HUMANITY, SIMPLE LIVING

HR Latte: The Pursuit of Happiness with Dr. Daniel Crosby

Part 1: Guest Dr. Daniel Crosby in a new #KeyPointPodcast series discusses truths behind individual happiness
iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 93


Series:
 The Pursuit of Happiness

In a follow up to his recent post, “Can Money Buy Happiness? Sort of.” Dr. Daniel Crosby, Ph.D. explores the ideas of how we pursue, find, and hang on to happiness. And, interestingly enough, money can have a factor. In this series, Dr. Crosby and Rayanne will break down how genetics can impact this individual pursuit.

Dr. Daniel CrosbyDr. Crosby is the author of The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success, additionally, he is the founder of Nocturne Capitol, an investment management firm whose approach is rooted in the science of behavioral finance.

Join us in the new series, as we look beyond what we’ve always thought about the truth of happiness. Rayanne recently published a post, The Pursuit of Happiness: Like a room Without a Roof, which ties in nicely with this series: “Life goes whizzing by so quickly that we can’t even see the joy we have found or slow down enough to embrace it and feel the difference between happiness and a droning existence or what we think we should be doing, how we think we should be feeling — what the world or our world expects of us.”

Discussion Points for this episode:

  • Actually Pursuing Happiness
  • What DNA has to do with it?
  • The Journey vs. Destination
  • Are some people destined to be unhappy? The genetic factors = what is out of control
  • The set point for Joy
  • How Choices Impact Happiness

Series
Part 1, The Pursuit of Happiness
Part 2, The Pursuit of Happiness
Part 3, The Pursuit of Happiness

On Twitter

@DanielCrosby
@Ray_anne
@HRLatte
and @intrepid_NOW

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66

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Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

HUMANITY

Absolute Accountability and Responsibility

Ugly irrationalism is not the way, but so often the path chosen by many.

Who had accountability? Who was responsible?

1989

In 1989, I wrote a letter to our local La Porte, IN newspaper, the Herald-Argus. They were running a week-long, front page series on the rise in the local infant mortality rateThe focus for this series was the new poor, as they were titled, and those who were unable or unwilling to get pre-natal care either due to ignorance or lack of health insurance coverage . It’s fair to say that, I was disgusted – this was supposed to be investigative journalism? Even at 25 years old, I recognized a possible shush up. Infant mortality and premature deliveries were, indeed, on the rise but instead of investigating potential real causes, there was just a lot of finger-pointing as a governmental blame game developed.

This was Personal

It was personal. Two weeks prior to this series being launched, I had delivered a baby prematurely – almost three months prematurely. As I read the series, my baby lay in a neo-natal intensive care unit thirty-eight miles away from my home. Because answers were important to me, I felt the series was wasted print space. I was not part of what had been described as the new poor, both my husband and I worked – we also had a healthy two-year old, we had health insurance, and I received excellent pre-natal care. No answers were ever offered. And because I was healthy and took care of myself throughout my  pregnancy – however short it was, my baby survived, unlike many other babies I sadly watched die in the NICU I visited daily.

What could I do?

I wrote to the newspaper, expressing my sorrow and anger that responsible, investigative reporting had not been accomplished.  Surprisingly, the paper actually printed my letter.  Many of our friends saw the letter and were shocked and surprised – we had not shared our misfortune, outside of family and close friends, mostly because we were unsure as to whether our baby would survive; she was very ill with many complications that included several pneumothorax procedures for collapsed lungs and a brain bleed of which we were uncertain.  Thankfully, after 87 days in the hospital, our tiny Renee Christine, born weighing just 2 lbs. 5 ozs., came home weighing just under a whopping 5 lbs. She had fought hard to live and we were so grateful for the support of an incredible medical staff and the hundreds of prayers offered in our behalf.

My Words Made a Difference

Maybe they didn’t immediately, and maybe not at first. But I had sounded off at two entities, our local paper and our community hospital, which was not the hospital where my baby had been born or stayed for 3 months. Neither of which provided answers to the public or addressed even who “the new poor” were. Family, friends, and friends of friends were supportive and in agreement with us. One person asked if my mother had written the letter – surprised that I, at 25-years old, could write with such directed anger and expressiveness. It was the first time I felt powerful or that my words mattered.  They did. They still do. As do yours!

Knowledge and Power

Opportunities abound daily which allow us to share knowledge, aggressively seek change, and dropping us in a place of discovery where we can open our minds and learn. Ugly irrationalism is not the way, but so often the path chosen by many. I think of the politics today that litter our airwaves and social channels or even phony religious fanaticism that dupes so many. Why? Because we want to have a place on high where blame or credit resides. Try looking inward to see what YOU can do, what YOU can change, how YOU can educate or be educated. Whether it is getting people to talk or encouraging people to listen, there is a place and a need for adult behavior. You truly can just scroll on by, as well.

And absoluteness lies only in mathematical equations.

BUSINESS, HUMANITY

Share Your Strength

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Shedding Light

I once spoke at a Women’s Conference called “Business in Heels,” a well-attended one-day event in a beautiful setting. I felt fortunate to be included in their agenda. Not only did I make several new friends, but I learned a bit more about women in business locally and what they are achieving.

The program cover featured slender beautiful legs donned by a pair of hot pink pumps – not exactly my attire, and at the top of my presentation, I told the audience that I hoped next year’s event would be titled “Business in Flip-Flops” – this warranted a low chuckle from the nearly all-female crowd but got me thinking about expectations and how business and life has changed over the last ten to fifteen years. Many women, like myself, and men are fortunate enough to work from home, for a company or running a small business.

Not one morning of my adult, working life have I awakened thinking, “Oh damn, I am a woman, therefore – my day in the world of business will be tougher than if I were a man. How can I fight this injustice?” I simply thought, “Oh damn, the price of Lucky Charms and gas went up again — I need to work even harder so I can afford to be a mom.”  Much of my struggles are no different than other single moms or dads, as well as multiple two-income homes.

Life is expensive, whether or not you have a family.

I Made Choices

Life as a single mom is not easy, but I never had time to dwell on those difficulties. Fifteen years ago, it was normal for me to fall asleep at my computer, writing and working until 1 to 2 am, only to rise by 6 am to get four kids out the door. The end of a couple marriages, surviving a couple controlling relationships that included all kinds of often unspoken abuse, returning to college to get my biz degree, getting a great job then losing my home to foreclosure, being fired from a job I thought was great, unemployment or underemployment for extended periods of time, being drugged but escaping sexual assault while on a business trip, and yet another broken heart….

It’s been tough and I have not been shy about writing and sharing these tough times. The best part? Others have let me know that I am not alone – men and women who have have similar experiences have messaged or connected with me to share their own stories. We all have our individual paths paved with thorns. I readily recognize the responsibility I bear when it comes to my lot in life and the cards I have been dealt. Some of my choices have added to my struggle, there is no denying.

I Am Becoming More and More Aware

With the continued fights against racism and bias, as well as other injustices like LGBTQ prejudices, domestic abuse, and un-equal pay, a resounding personal awareness has come to light.

The fight must be fought by ALL,
not just those who suffer from injustice.

No one who hears my story can believe that I was once an abused wife. “You are such a strong woman, how did you ever let that happen?”

It didn’t happen overnight. It was years of conditioning – of guilt, regret, of “this is my lot”, and how could I possibly ever leave? No academic degree and four mouths to feed. I never thought I could leave until a man, actually several men who were family friends, told me I deserved better. None of my women friends told me to leave. Afraid to get involved? Afraid to break up a family, like I was?

The decision to leave became real when I finally realized it wouldn’t change, it wouldn’t get better, and that one of us would soon be dead. That is a frightening realization. One of us would be dead. 

I didn’t want that someone to be me. I needed to be here for my kids. I had more life to live. And I didn’t deserve it, no matter what I had done or not done – I didn’t deserve to be beaten on a regular basis or fear for my life during the next drinking binge. I deserved better.

Sharing the Strength

The strength of those not subjected to abuses, racism, or discrimination must be shared with those who do suffer, undeservedly or not. If you can be a voice, a hand, a lift – please be that voice and that hand. It is not our place, my place, to remain silent when your/my voice or strength can make a difference.

One more thing…

My fire or passion may not burn within you – and that is ok — we are all in the place or getting to the place where we need to be. It is a journey. My journey – my path – is different than yours.

And if I can share anything, please remember:

Just because you do not see or experience injustice
or inequality yourself doesn’t mean it does not exist.

I never had a bruise on my face, but there were plenty on the back of my head and in my heart.  Lift where you can. Shed light where it is dark. You may be saving the heart or life of your best friend, your brother or sister, your child.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

HUMANITY

The Pursuit of Happiness: Like a Room without a Roof

The Pursuit of Happiness

The best way I have found for me, personally, to combat depression is to discover new levels / places where happiness can be found or discovered: an actual pursuit. Seems elementary, right? I suppose it is, at its base. I want to be happy – I think most people do. But do most people aggressively pursue happiness? Or do they wait for it to show up at their door, unannounced but welcomed with significant fanfare, given today’s social media-infused environment? We live in a strange time – it would seem that gone are the days of suffering in silence, of struggling alone in our heartbreak or addiction, and certainly gone are days of quiet celebration or humility.

Not a Professional

I am not a psychologist; I have visited a few. I am not a doctor of any kind; I have visited many different kinds. Most have wanted to prescribe a pill to help me sleep, to battle light anxiety, to keep me alert, to combat fatigue, to ease digestion issues, and reflux – an so on, you are most likely familiar. I am not against pills or drugs. I am, however, against the masking of issues or unnecessarily prescribing drugs.

Let me clarify, I do not suffer, as many do, from clinical depression or anxiety. I am a person with typical aches, pains, joys, and sorrows that accompany being a human. I’d call myself “normal” if I didn’t have so much trouble believing there is such a thing.

Bipolar Disorder

My father was diagnosed as manic depressive 25+ years ago, before Bipolar became the chosen name of his disorder. He was a light-hearted, loving man who taught me, not only the power of a solid handshake, but also how to see beyond a moment, a place, a person. He truly loved all people.

Even today, many years after his death, I receive messages from people telling me how much they genuinely loved my dad and what a difference he made in their life. That is quite a legacy of someone who suffered severely from mental illness for many years – of someone who made many mistakes later in life – of someone who hurt family and friends with those mistakes.

He never stopped loving people or trying to achieve success. He never gave up on happiness. Just two of the many lessons I learned from him.

The Pursuit

I think it is my responsibility to grow, to develop talents or learn new skills – these things bring me happiness or help me to see beyond a current level of status quo or a feeling of being trapped.

An example of this would be my current obsession with visiting cities or landmarks I have never seen on recent road trips. It’s easy to visit Carmel a dozen times and dine at the same restaurants on every visit. It’s another thing to step outside your comfort zone and take a bit of time to learn something new – you don’t know everything, as much as you would like to believe you do.

Dr. Daniel Crosby, author of The Laws of Wealth,  states in a recent article, “Eighty percent of the non-genetic components of happiness can be controlled by our attitude and by making choices that are consistent with finding true joy. The first step in this pursuit is ensuring that the goals we are setting for ourselves are consistent with finding true happiness.” – Can Money Buy Happiness? Sort of.

Pursuits can be as simple as discovering a new hobby or talent. A little over  a year ago, a good friend introduced me to mosaics. It is an art form very different from what I was accustomed to. I am still learning, even after re-tiling my hearth and a couple window sills, creating several decorative trays, platter, and plates. Expanding my horizons keeps me from being locked in old ways, with old, stale thoughts and same old experiences. For me, NEW = Happy.

Out of the Box

The unexpected in life, as well as meeting new and different people can enrich your soul and change perspectives. You are not done – you are not complete. The moment you find comfort in your own little, lonely box is the moment personal growth retards and doors close for lifelong learning and the actual search for happiness. I am determined to stay outside of that little box which has been my life until now.

Happiness A worthy pursuit, yet somehow, most of us fail.  And in our failure, of what do we miss out?  Does it affect our partners, spouses, families, or friends?  Our work?  Our lives?  Of course, but do we even notice?  We get so caught up in living that we don’t even realize or even care when we are unhappy – it has become our normal.  And then, we fail to recognize when we are happy.  Sometimes, the simplest things alter our attitude and mood enough to allow a little bit of joy to creep in. And sometimes, it’s just faking it – and hell, if it works, why not?

Don’t Miss It

Like grabbing the brass ring, it is easy to miss.  Life goes whizzing by so quickly that we can’t even see the joy we have found or slow down enough to embrace it and feel the difference between happiness and a droning existence or what we think we should be doing, how we think we should be feeling — what the world or our world expects of us.

My Little Tip

I use a fab little app called Sleep Cycle – every morning when I wake, it asks me how I feel. I started selecting the smiley face, no matter how I felt upon waking – guess what? It has made a huge difference in how I start my day. And why wouldn’t it? Perception becomes reality. If it works the opposite way, it stands to reason, right?

Happiness is contagious and NOT underrated. Share it. Like a room without a roof.

**Stay Tuned for my new 3-part Key Point Podcast series with Dr.Daniel Crosby: “The Pursuit of Happiness”