Category Archives: LIFESTYLE

HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE

Slices of Grief

It isn’t easy

I’ve spent much of my life trying to put grief and heartache behind me, sometimes outright ignoring it. This isn’t the best way to heal or the best example to those I care most about, like my children or a significant other. I am a strong woman – I’ve had to be. However, I am learning that there is great strength to be found in vulnerability. That may not make sense to you, but it is starting to make sense to me.

I have lost people close to me to the great and ultimate avenger: death. Many of my friends in the last two months have lost their fathers. These friends’ losses happened during an emotional time for me, as I braced for the annual reminder of my own father’s death, which occurred on the 25th anniversary of my brother Tommy’s death. November 10th presents a double-whammy for me. Each year, I think it will be easier, but each year presents its own difficulties, which allow me to miss my father more than I expect.

How I Faced It

My father died in 2001, exactly one month after my husband, the father of my four children, moved out. My husband’s leaving occurred one-month after 9/11, an event that devastated our country – and though my little family was on the West Coast, it changed our lives as we, the six of us, watched the 2nd plane hit live on television – and everything after that, on that day, blurred. My father’s death two months later was the culmination, as well as the beginning of what I perceived as the worst time in my life.

I was alone. That Christmas, both my father and my husband were gone, and I was alone. Yes, of course I had my children – and they saved me – oh, so many times, but the two most important men in my life were gone.

I don’t know how I faced it. I don’t think I did face it. I think I covered it with new-found joys, with the holidays, with Disneyland (annual passes!), with the love for my children and from my children, and with the busy-ness my life entailed. I was working 3 jobs, taking five classes at the local college, and now raising four children alone. So, no — I didn’t face the grief I felt, the grief that was brewing. I just lived.

The Long and the Short

No time in my life seemed to pass more slowly or more quickly. I am not sure how that is possible, but it is. I jumped out of bed every morning, most days trying not to think where my next dollar would come from and certainly trying not to dwell on what I could have done differently for my dad or for my marriage. My grief was real, but it was shoved to the back burner – tears only came in the shower or in the dark of early morning and they were quickly forgotten at the first flip of a pancake.

I learned to box grief up and only bring it out when no one was looking. There are those who assumed I was a heartless bitch and there are those who worried I might crack. I just had to keep getting out of bed in the morning and somehow put gas in my car.

My Comfort

When my brother passed away 41 years ago, I was just 13 years old. He was 20 and had been severely handicapped since birth. I had no idea how to grieve or what that even meant. I was raised in a very religious home and there was plenty of talk about my brother finally being free – finally out of his deformed body, finally in the presence of God, but none of that helped me comprehend the impact his death would have on me or my life, or my mother, or my family. It seemed like a bandage to cover the pain of his death, not a way to face his death or understand how it would change me, my siblings, or my parents forever.

A Tom Sawyer Trick: Whitewashing

It is a human tendency to whitewash pain, when really we should face it, head on – determined to let it clean us from the inside out: breaking our hearts, cleaning our minds, softening our memories, and planting a new place for that love. My pain found its way on to lined paper, in the form of a poem. And thus, it began – my lifelong quest to heal myself through words.

Many have asked, “Why do you write…, why do you write about your pain, your sins, your weaknesses?” and others have answered by saying, “Thank you for writing how I feel, I thought I was alone.”

We are not alone

Grief is a common denominator for many of us. We know that pain. We know the heartbreak. We know that feeling of catching breaths through sobs that collapse. We know the tender mercies bestowed by love and compassion from others.

Today, I remember my father’s hands on my cheeks lifting my face to his as he tried to comfort my 14-year old broken heart. Today, I remember his finger slowly dragging along the alto line of a hymn. Today, I remember his love of ice cream. Today, I remember his love for anyone he ever met. Today, I remember his love. Through slices of grief, I remember.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE

50 Cents and Responsibility: Lessons from an 8-Year Old

“But this will not do, God will certainly punish you for stealing and for being unfaithful.”
– Jupiter Hammon

I was a precocious child growing up and somewhat mischievous, as well. A number of older people forget their youth. I feel bad for them, I really do. That or they manipulate their past in their mind over and over again, in order to paint themselves in a better light; sort of finger painting of the mind. I stopped doing this a few years ago when I stopped punishing myself and allowed those memories to come to the forefront. I started my own, shall we say, therapy to explore more about why I am who I am, a riddle wrapped with perplexity and tied with an enigma bow.

It’s Nice to Want Things

I wanted things but being eight years old, there’s little choice getting baubles at toy stores because you just don’t have the money, I mean, look, you were eight. Oh, and as my buddy Pete Radloff likes to say, “It’s nice to want things.” What in the hell did you need money for, really? I suppose it is an odd rite of passage to begin earning money and become part of the general economy at some point, but a kid should have kid memories, the good, the bad, memories, good times.

I want to make a very important point here before I continue with this. I was raised with respect and was taught morals, however – at this tender age, there is only so much a person should expect from a boy to know, life you see. So, many times it is the mistakes we make, the falls that teach us; this was one of those times.

fifty centsWhenever I was in Yuma visiting my grandparents, we would eat out. Back in the day, restaurants, even the classier ones in town, had, shall we say, items for a gentleman? Cologne, condoms, and oddly, stupid toys that you could drop into a glass of water and they would form a bird, I shit you not, no pun intended.  The cost was only fifty cents and I wanted to see what the bird would look like. The small issue I had? I was eight and not making a paycheck, damn child labor laws.

My Uncle Mike was making a pay check though, and when he went out he had a change jar where he would deposit his loose change. Mostly pennies and nickels, but there were dimes and quarters, too. It sat on the dresser drawer’s cabinet that housed his work shirts and underwear, socks and such. It was just an old preserves jar that had a small crack in it and my Grams didn’t want to use for preserves. Hence, the change jar was born. As earlier stated, I was eight years old, keep up folks, and well I, being froggy, just put my hand in that mason jar and took out fifty cents. I just figured my Uncle wouldn’t miss it since it was only two coins in a sea of them, sitting in that old mason jar.

The Next Time

I got my toys the next time we went to the restaurant. The two coins were in separate pockets as to not let them jingle against each other, the sound alerting anyone of the booty in my pocket. I learned a lot from the detective magazines my Uncle Mike would leave around the house. I went to the bathroom and procured my reward for stealing from him without a care, then came back to the table with an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Um, yeah best-laid plans of mice and men; and eight-year olds, I suppose.

It may have been fortuitous, within a week I was afforded an allowance of one dollar a week to do chores. Raised the way I was, I heard a story from my Grandparents about stealing and that it was a bad thing, it hurt people when you took what was rightfully theirs. I, in my eight-year old mind, thought I had hurt my Uncle. So, instead of going to the market for a Slurpee and baseball cards, I got change; four quarters. I guess this is when I discovered I was going to be a writer, I wrote him a letter, put two-quarters in the envelope with the letter and left it on his bed. Easy, right? Nope, not even close.

My Uncle took the letter to my Mother and to my Grandparents, the reaction was at first one of anger that I would steal, but my Grandparents intervened the tongue lashing and the switch and instead, embraced the fact that I wanted to make amends. I had learned my lesson without them having to teach me. I learned from their example, their knowledge. That is how we learn, you know. My mother was so proud, she took the two toys and letter and framed it, my mother – the hidden artist.

To wrap this up, we all make mistakes, we are not perfect. However, when the imperfection comes we need to learn from it, take it with us. Funny thing is, I have a goblet I got from a bar years ago and although loose change is now non-existent with credit cards and digital chips, it’s still out there and when I have some change, I throw it in that cup.

Thanks, Uncle Mike, it was a great lesson, and I miss you. Rest in peace.

fifty cents

**This is a photo of the actual letter I wrote to my Uncle, funny thing? I needed an editor even then.

#truestory

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Don’t Fear the Script, Rewrite It! – The Passionate Chase

Chasing Away the Script

We spend a great deal of our lives building confidence. Some days, weeks, or months, it doesn’t seem to matter how much experience I have or how many clever skills I have – I can easily get caught up in fear of failure or overwhelming expectations I set for myself. Many of us have a negative script that gets played over and over in our heads – that counts on us failing.

The two greatest fears I’ve had in my life have been falling and failing. Sadly, I am not one of those individuals lucky enough to have flying dreams – I have falling nightmares, though they have receded a bit. I did jump out of a perfectly good airplane a year ago and loved it. So, the falling wasn’t the problem, perhaps  it was more about the landing.

But failure has haunted my days.

What I Learned from Writing

I have spent the last 12 years writing about every part of my life, from earliest memories to latest catastrophes, very few subjects or experiences are off limits. From poetry, to microblogs, to lengthy blog series, to podcasts.

Writing is like giving birth for me. Hitting the wrong key or failing to save a document can lead to disaster or meltdown, and it has happened on numerous occasions.
The first several times, parts of me died with each loss.

But, I Tricked Myself

These were profound moments of loss for me, over time, I learned to tell myself that “It must not have been good enough – I can write that better.” The first time, it took a great deal of self-convincing, but I learned to find the truth in my words because I always produced better words or a more meaningful story.

A State of Mind

Napolean Hill, famed author, stated, “Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.” I have seen evidence of this in my own life. And often, all I need to do to get over any particular bump in my road of personal progress is to review my last failure.

  • Where did I land? Was it a crash landing?
  • When I got up, dusted myself off – what was it I learned?
  • When the dust around me cleared, what new experiences had I gained?
  • How did I grow, or can I grow more, as a result?

I do hate failing –

I hate miscalculating, missing a mark, or misjudging any circumstance. But I also know that a serious lesson was meant for me, so I best get to learning it. Even if all I learned was to get up –

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

You Are Not Beaten

And neither am I – it’s just another chance, another opportunity to succeed.


**If you are interested in learning more about “the script,” follow Richard Wilkins on Facebook, he shares some interesting thoughts about this negative script and how we can overcome it. Warning: he uses colorful language, he just keeps it real. 

HR, LIFESTYLE, SIMPLE LIVING

This One’s About the Journey

On the Road Again

It seems as though I have flown almost every September 11th in the last ten years. This year, I was not flying, but rather driving; I am currently on a 3,660-mile road trip, and today finds me in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, not quite at the halfway point. Roadtripping has become a kind of therapy for me. In my past, most road trips have been just “a way to get there” on the cheap. They have been about the destination, not the journey. That changed significantly for me a couple years ago, when I found myself alone, really alone, not knowing too much about my own likes and dislikes. Strange place to be as a 50+ year old. Nevertheless, I have tackled that truth and in the takedown, I found parts of me I never knew existed or had forgotten about.

I am a strong woman with many weaknesses.

Not sure how that came to be, but it is certainly true and…, not one to shy away from the truth, I find myself digging in and trying to expose how I got to where I am. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time and place, can one ever? For I feel we are consistently moving to a place where exposition is how we survive with our integrity in tact.

Exhausted by Life

It is easy to get tired – it would be easy to just go with the flow and not make waves. As many can attest, that would be strongly against my nature. So, I expose myself to situations where I will learn, where I can grow, where change is not only imminent but necessary.

The first three days of my adventure found me in St. George, Utah with about 20 women from my family – our annual Thorn Women’s Retreat (Estro-Fest) was another smashing success. Next year will mark 25 years of this particular gathering. I have not been able to attend every year, but when I have gone, I have been strengthened and empowered by the women I am lucky enough to call family.

The Other Destination

While there is a business destination involved in my travels, I have wrapped a dropped pin with self-discovery. 3600+ miles does not scare me, nor will it scar me. It will fulfill something in me that is needed. Time in my head – to clear the cobwebs woven by hurt and anger – as well as releasing the stress that work can sometimes bring – and I am one of those crazies that works on vacation. Certain emotions tend to be felt more deeply or have a stronger impact, I believe anger and hurt call into that category.

journey

The Destination

My company, Dovetail Software is attending/exhibiting an annual event for Healthcare Human Resources in Seattle this weekend – The ASHHRA Conference. I love this event – it’s one of my favorites and I have attended a number of times. I will walk the aisles, speak with other vendors that support Healthcare HR and learn as much as I can from the practitioners there for erudition. There will be plenty for my team to take in, as we want to benefit clients, as well as make sure we are presenting the full benefits of what Dovetail offers.

Many years ago, I worked for a healthcare-specific search firm as an executive recruiter – this is where I cut my teeth in recruiting, in human resources.  It is strange but going to this conference always feels like going home. And, with the many changes in recruiting and HR over the last fifteen years, it is always a strange homecoming – like when your parents get new furniture, though you’ve been gone from home for 20+ years.

Change is Good

Like so many others, I have felt the pain of change in life and career. Life goes on and thank God for that.  We are often faced with what ifs and could’ve beens – it is when we see clearly, when we know the choices that were initially painful to make, when we see them through the lenses of today, that we know the choices we made were the right ones.

And while not necessarily pain-free, they are right, correct, the best, the way it should be.  I am happy where I am now. Work is fulfilling and life / love continue to be a gamble. And who doesn’t love a spin at the roulette table?

And so it goes.  Change is inevitable and usually for the better.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry for This Wine: The Wine for Transitions: Donnafugata SurSur 2016

The Donnafugata SurSur is a transitional wine, and I do not mean that it’s the wine that’s in transition.

Donnafugata SurSurIt’s us who are transitioning, and this is the wine that is bridging us this week from one place to the next. Literally. We are moving houses, from one part of the city to another and, though we left most of our wine in the “old” house for now, this wine made the cut of the very few bottles that we hand-carried on our move.

Here’s why I’m that hungry for this wine.

We live in Atlanta, and it’s the month of July, and it is hot. As in, sweltering. In the midst of that heat is the physicality of moving heavy boxes and bulky furniture, and making 537 decisions about what needs to go where inside a new home that we don’t yet know.

It is all, in a word, exhausting, even for someone who enjoys the karmic shake-up and editing process of a move.

So I knew that, at the end of the day, I would want something cool and refreshing and, especially in these conditions, white and crisp.

That’s one reason that the Donnafugata SurSur made the cut.

The second reason has two parts: it’s from southwestern Sicily (Sicilian wines are all the rage right now, thanks to a major surge of interest in volcanic wines from Mount Etna), and it’s made from a native grape (Grillo) that is mostly unfamiliar to me.

Being Sicilian and unfamiliar raised the chances significantly that I would be interested in this wine even though I may have been too tired to be interested in much.

And then there were the bonus points. Its low alcohol (12.73% ABV), with just enough body without ill-timed weight or heft, and fruit and florals (which I love) on the nose. There is also a clever naming convention that, among my “tougher-minded” friends, I’d be embarrassed to admit that I find adorable. In addition to being the name of an ancient indigenous Sicilian grape, “Grillo” is also the name for the cricket, which brings good luck. “SurSur” means cricket in classical Arabic, which was once also spoken in Sicily.

That’s a lot going on for one bottle of wine that made our very short-list transitional cut.

I placed a bet that I would – still – be hungry for this wine, even in a time of transition. And that bet paid off.

This wine reminds me why I love wine. Which reminds me why I love living my life. Which reminds me of all the thousands of things I’m grateful for, including moving and fresh starts and the luxury of relishing a glass or two of thirst-quenching wine at the end of an exhausting experience.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WINE!

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Hungry for This Wine: 2016 Malbec Rosé from William Chris Vineyards

It’s very hard these days to not get into a rosé mood.

Malbec RoséThe weather’s changing. The earth is tilting toward the sun. Its radiance is stronger on our face. The green grass is greener, and the blood flowing through our muscles is somehow warmer.

Welcome to the season of rosé, the one that lifts our mood and reminds our tastebuds of all that’s light. Translucent, even. And definitely sunny.

I am huge fan of rosé and here are two reasons why: it can be made from just about any grape (giving it tremendous diversity and range), and it can be made from just about anywhere.

By “anywhere” I mean the places you’d expect, like the Provence region of France, Italy, and California.

But did you also know that rosé is made in places that wouldn’t expect, like the Rioja region of Spain, South Africa, and Chile?

And also… wait for it… Texas?

Yes, Texas indeed.

Stay with me here.

It may not have hit your radar yet but a THING for wine has hit Texans. Hard.

In recent years the amount of grapes grown and wines made in Texas has leapfrogged over most other US states. This momentum has been bolstered by local and regional tourism boards, which are posting enviable numbers of consumer visits and engagement.

Here’s one of the best parts, in my opinion, of this major upswing:

The rosé of Texas.

I love it because, as this week’s wine pick shows, it’s made from unexpected grapes like Malbec.

I love it because, when I pour it for friends, they are surprised — actually, “shocked” is more accurate — that it’s from the Texas Hill Country.

I love it because they love it even before I tell them that.

I love it because it’s opening all of our eyes.

And I love it because it’s GOOD, and because it’s exactly the wine that I am hungry to drink right now.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WINE!

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Hungry For This Wine: Cecchetto Raboso Passito

Can you taste “hungry” in a wine?

CechettoThat is, can you taste the desire that brought the wine into being? Can you taste the passion that brought the wine to your glass?

I think you can. But only if you’re really (really) lucky.

A few weeks ago I was in northern Italy for a wine trade fair, and one night I was lured away from the usual crowds and boisterous evening activities to visit one single, quiet producer called Cecchetto, some 90 minutes away.

I was lured away, that is, because they are hungry for this wine.

They are so hungry to share this wine that I’ve received personal, thoughtful emails from them for more than a year.

They are so hungry for the mystery and the science of the winemaking process that they travel to places like Armenia and Georgia to share knowledge and experience with the winemaking community there.

They are so hungry that they experiment incessantly, from wood for barrels (oak, chestnut, mulberry…) to aging in huge casks for years and years on end. Their experimentation, and the end results, have attracted the attention of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, among others.

They are so hungry to preserve their heritage that they’ve committed to a grape – Roboso Piave – that long ago represented a significantly greater percentage of vineyard plantings in their region. Today the quantity of Roboso is lean, replaced by the über-popular Prosecco and Pinot Grigio. But Cecchetto plants it anyway.

And they use it to make this wine, a passito version of it, which concentrates the fruit, the process, and the intention.

It’s the kind of wine my husband loves, because he loves Port and other wines in that sweet style. It’s the kind of wine I also love, because I love the narrative and the heritage of it. It’s the kind of wine we drink together, slowly and when it’s dark outside and we are capping another day.

This is the kind of wine we, also, are hungry to drink.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Cecchetto Raboso Passito wine!

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Hungry For This Wine: 2014 Smith-Madrone Riesling

Smith-Madrone RieslingThis wine arrived just in the nick of time. 

It was a Friday night, my husband and I were home alone, our twin boys having been invited to a sleepover elsewhere. It was a long and exhilarating week of work that we both love but lordy, by that point, exhaustion had won out.

We didn’t want to cook, we didn’t even want much to think. It was an order-in night for dinner — Thai food, in our case — and it was the sustenance kind of dinner that you expect to fuel you with calories and, honestly, not much else.

But then there was this wine. 

It had arrived earlier in the week, along with bottles that this particular Napa producer is frankly better known for, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. But my husband and I are both suckers for Riesling, and spicy Thai food was on the way. We pulled the cork, casually poured a few measures of the wine into our glasses, and took our seats.

To be honest, I didn’t even smell it first. I know I should have; it’s something “wine people” do, but this producer is familiar and I respect their wines and their process. They want to make wines that express their place on the earth, they say, and they also want to make wines that express themselves as people and as winemakers.

That, I get. As winemakers in Napa for more than 40 years, certainly Stu and Charles Smith are keyed into what the market wants and what their land is best suited to produce. By and large, for them on Spring Mountain, that means Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

But then there is this Riesling.

This Riesling says that they have their independent streak. It says that they listen hard enough to their land (and its steep hillsides) that they know it is suited, too, to produce the grapes for this wine. It says that they know this wine will be good.

This Riesling IS good, and refreshing, though in a way-beyond-sustenance kind of way. You get oranges and white flowers and fresh acidity. You get the desire to take another sip and then another.

It’s the kind of Riesling that reminds you to be grateful that wine, and this wine, is part of our life. It’s the kind of wine that makes you grateful that your kids have a friendly and active social life, and that you have this time alone with the person who loves you most in the all the world.

It’s the kind of wine that I’m hungry to drink, with Thai food for dinner or many other things too. It was just the right thing at just the nick of time, to pull us back from the far edge of everyday life.

CLICK HERE for additional details on this wine!

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AUTHORS, CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Why You Should Run in the Rain

Literally. I don’t mean this as a metaphor (“Run in the rain so the shiny rainbows of life sustain you in the darkness where you light your candles as a beacon … ”) or in the completely non-literal sense of how we apparently are using the word “literally” these days.

I mean that if you’re a runner, or a cyclist, or a walker, or a hiker, you need to still do your thing when it’s raining. Or when it’s snowing. Or cold. Or dark. Or you’re tired.

If you’re building a habit in pursuit of a goal, it’s a habit in pursuit of a goal. Not a fair-weather habit that will get you started maybe on a half-assed goal. Your habit needs to literally (and I mean literally) be an all-weather, all-circumstance goal.

Just Make a Decision?

It sounds like I’m saying is that all you do is make a decision and then you do the thing. Of course it’s harder than that or we’d all have done everything we ever decided to do. There’s a strategy in changing behaviors (which is what habits are). The Fogg Behavior Model created by Dr. BJ Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University, identifies three elements to creating a new behavior: motivation, ability, and trigger.

Ability is a function of whether something is easy to do or hard to do. I’m able to get up and run in the rain on a Saturday morning because it’s easy for me to do. Well, the actual running is always very hard, but one you’re out there, what are you going to do? Quit? In front of my team? Which is another way I’ve painted myself into the commitment corner, but that’s another topic for another day.

The Hardest Part

The key is to find out exactly the smallest bit that is the hard part. For most of us, getting up, getting dressed or changed when you get home, and getting started is the hard part. How many times have you struggled to get yourself up and to the gym, but then felt great once you got there and got started?

If the hardest part is starting, then find a way to make that easier. I’ve made it easier by not even having it be a decision I have to make when it is the actual time to make it. I decided long ago that I was running on Saturday mornings. And then I run in the rain because I’ve made the decision in advance. The rain becomes irrelevant.

It’s Saturday morning. I run. That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have to spend any brain power that morning talking myself into getting up and getting out the door. I decided that yesterday. I actually decided it about two years ago – so I’ve also had some practice.

Make Fewer Decisions

If you’re trying to get an exercise or better eating or more writing habit going, the fewer decisions you make at that point of doing or not doing, the better. Deciding whether you’re going to do it is a big decision. Given the choice of running in the rain or not, my in-the-moment brain says “I’m warm and dry. Why would I even want to go out in this?”

Instead let your decision-making brain decide impartially in advance and set your schedule so it doesn’t matter what your right-now brain thinks. You’ve got a plan and now you don’t even need to think. Isn’t that what a job does for you? No, not make us stop thinking, but makes the decision for us that we’re getting up and getting started on our work. There’s no decision to make. It’s why I highly respect those who work for themselves and don’t procrastinate. Maybe they have applied this same strategy to their business and there’s no longer any question about whether or not they want to get the work done! They work “in the rain.”

Puddle-Stomping Fun

We haven’t had a lot of rain here in the last several years. Now that the Pineapple Express (the weather phenomenon not the movie or the “sativa-leaning hybrid”) is rolling through, I’m tempted to get some galoshes and just stomp through puddles. But, I do still like to pretend I’m an adult, so running in the rain is the next best thing.

There’s a slightly naughty sense of freedom. Defying fate to give us our death of cold. When you see other people out walking or running or riding in the rain, too, you want to give them a knowing wink. As if to acknowledge that feeling of getting away with something.

Since I’m not a witch or a little girl made of sugar or spice, I’m certainly not going to melt. On the contrary, I’ll come away from the run in the rain with a pile of wet laundry, stronger legs, and a greater belief in my own mental toughness.

Here’s to another rainy run!

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Are you Change-Ready for 2017?

So here it is and here we are….AGAIN! A new shiny year with great expectations for how we are going to change ourselves and the world around us. Some of us have already made the usual to-do lists and promises of lofty and inspiring goals. Finally the year we will lose weight, get a new job or overcome that behavior we don’t like in ourselves. If I can just nail this goal I will be happy and the world will be “great again.”

change-readyThere are just 2 problems with this perennial approach we all seem to take each year. The first is that we always consider the output we want more than the input or throughput it will take to get there. So we usually fail quickly or get bored when our patience for immediate gratification runs out (anywhere from 3 days to 30 days for most of us☺). The second is that we tend to think of our goals in insolation instead of in the context of a system with environmental dynamics in which they actually exist.

So how can we make this year different?

1. Getting the Sequencing Right!

Part of the challenge with realizing our goals is that we just jump into them without planning. You know the common phrase “ready, willing & able?” Well it is out of sequence! If we don’t rearrange this concept before we get started we are going to run into problems. The correct sequence is “willing, able and ready” and here is why:

Willing – means you have the mindset of discipline to do the work! Without this contextual framework and emphasis on cognitively acknowledging that you need to actually “do the work” it’s game over pretty quickly. Just writing things down does not count!

Able – means that you are aware of and have set up the environmental conditions to assist you in approaching your challenges on the way to achieving your goals. Everything works in a system so you must enable or disable the system around you to ensure success. This can range from scheduling that gym time in the calendar along with your exercise goals for the day, to getting some targeted coaching on that specific behavior you want to work on or even scoping out the homework or networking plan to explore that next career opportunity before you go to an event and start randomly meeting people.

Ready – Okay now armed with the mindset and environmental framework of what will be required, its time to get out there and start working! On what exactly you might be asking…..on being Change-Ready!

2. Being Change Ready!

Every goal we have ever reached has been over time as we have taken one step and then another. For many of us, we have most often done this unconsciously and out of need rather than want. When there is an urgent or pressing need our ability to persevere and be resilient is usually not a problem. It’s when it is more of a want without immediate consequences where we have our bigger challenges of maintaining conscious discipline.

Being Change-Ready requires that we apply conscious discipline to do 2 things over and over again to ensure traction & momentum forward:

a. Facilitate Progress
b. Facilitate Aligned Action

When we facilitate progress we are not just acknowledging that an action is required, we are in fact acting on a step forward. It can be one step or several that creates some traction toward our goal. So schedule gym time in your calendar with a note on whether today is a cardio or weight day and ensure you have enough time to get there and enjoy the experience. Or perhaps, print out your resume and start reading it over with a pen, circling those areas you know need updating and adjustment before you can start some serious networking conversations. These small steps create the energy of forward momentum. It is YOU, however, that must initiate the facilitation of progress with the first step and commit to practice taking these first steps everyday continuously!

When we facilitate aligned action we are setting up our new system to enable success or disable obstacles that can derail us. So clean out the refrigerator and pantry before your new dieting approach is scheduled to start, don’t schedule networking events when you would normally go to the gym and let others know what your goals are so they can be supportive of you vs. sabotaging you unconsciously!

Make 2017 a year of being Change-Ready! All goals can be achieved when we are willing, able and ready to “do the work” by facilitating progress and aligned action on a daily basis! Good luck this year!

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