Tag Archive | self help

Are You Vanilla Ice Cream?

In the past few months, two major publishing houses have shown an interest in publishing the book I am planning to write. Most writers spend their entire life working for the kind of opportunities that have been presented to me, so I do not take these blessings lightly.

Words usually flow out of me like a river, but every time I attempt to write this book, I am dry. Nothing of significance gets put on paper.

I wrote a few chapters and submitted them to one publisher, only to realize afterward that they were terrible (not her words, she was too kind, but mine). I wrote about my journey, my life, like I was an objective observer, a newspaper reporter stating the facts of an event; not as someone who was thrust into darkness and climbed out of it to share the story.

I admit, the thought of actually writing a book terrifies me. The negative voices swirl round and round in my head: What if the readers don’t like it? Who am I to write a book? Who would care about what I have to say? What if people laugh at me?

But, I understand the importance of releasing such thoughts, and I have never let fear keep me from trying something new. It is my philosophy to push aside what others think, throw caution to the wind, and “go for it.” So, what is different this time? What is stopping me?

I have racked my brain for months trying to put my finger on the problem, and then, after a conversation with Dr. Barbara DeAngelis, it dawned on me that it isn’t the fear of failure that is blocking me, but rather my unwillingness to reveal a deep part of myself; my unwillingness to be vulnerable; my unwillingness to step out from the pack.

For most of my life, my identity has been based on my strength, my ability to be in control. I take care of others. I handle situations with nerves of steel. I am the energizer bunny – I keep going and going and going. If I reveal my vulnerability, as this book challenges me to do, I will show a part of myself with which I am uncomfortable. I will be flawed…exposed…human. Am I ready for that?

I am most comfortable somewhere in the middle of life – not blending into the woodwork and not swinging from a star. As Renee Gambino, an income breakthrough strategist, would say, I’m vanilla ice cream.

Writing this book presents me with the chance to make a difference in someone’s life, but in order to do so I must be willing to be authentic, open, and rise above the mediocrity. A true challenge… but a worthy endeavor.

So, after much self-examination, I’m listening to Barbara and writing again. This time with a very different approach – I’m writing from a place of truth, vulnerability and humility. Who knows where this challenge will lead me but it will definitely be an interesting ride.

The moral of this story: If you want to achieve something worthwhile in life, if you want to fulfill a dream or reach for the stars, you must be willing to dig deep to a place that makes you uncomfortable. You must be willing to expose a part of yourself, for better or worse, and you must be willing to stand out from the crowd. We have one life and it is brief. Isn’t it better to be pistachio almond (with hot fudge and sprinkles on top)?!

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The Heart of a Friendship

To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile. ~Unknown

February is the month of the heart, the time when we celebrate love. We buy chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and greeting cards to profess our undying love to that special someone. But, in all the hoopla of the season, perhaps we forget to honor the affection provided by the people that sustain us and enable us to thrive – our friends.

We hear so much about marriages, committed relationships, and romantic breakups, but I believe we neglect to truly understand the dynamics of what may be the most important relationships in our life – friendships.

Boyfriends come and go, spouses are replaced, children grow up and leave the nest, but our friends will be by our side through it all. If we are blessed, some of them will be with us from childhood until death; and these people know us better than anyone else.

We all have friends. Fate brings friend to friend, then leaves the rest to human nature. We have best friends that stick with us forever, and we have friends that come into our life for a brief period and then go on their way. Whichever role they play, you can be sure they serve a purpose.

According to experts, friendships have a major impact on our health and well-being. Friends help us celebrate good times and provide support during the bad times. As philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge.”

Friends prevent loneliness and increase our sense of belonging and purpose. They boost our happiness and improve our self-confidence. They help us deal with our mistakes.

So … if friendships are so great, why do they cause so much pain?

The word friend is defined as “a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people; a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.”

We all have a preconceived notion of what a friend should be; we place expectations on relationships based on our needs. But sometimes we use the word “friend” to describe anyone with whom we have contact. We project the intimate bond we desire onto a person where no deep bond exists.

To avoid the pain of an unrequited friendship, it is important to recognize that there are different kinds of relationships and varying degrees of affection attached. When it comes to friendships it’s not one size fits all. Some people are great for Friday night outings. Others are partners for work events. Some people are not willing and/or able to commit to a relationship on a deeper level. And then there are the people who offer unconditional love and trust – they are always there, no matter what. They are the ones by which we set the standards for everyone else. But, they are a rare gift, not the norm.

Each of these relationships has a unique purpose for our life and as such should be valued. Just as a financial expert advises to diversify investments, the same is true in friendships. Invite people into your life that bring different personalities and skills to the table – they will broaden your horizon and enrich your existence. But, to avoid heart break, see each relationship for what it is. Just as you wouldn’t rush into a romantic encounter without some courting, don’t place too many expectations on a friendship without getting to know the person. When you take it slow, you will be able to objectively evaluate the relationship and the role a person will play in your life so you won’t be disappointed.

Even if a friendship doesn’t develop the way you want, acknowledge that you simply have different needs. Treasure the relationship for what it is and release your expectations; value the gifts it offers.

Through the pain and through the triumphs, friendships are the treasure of a life well lived. As Emily Dickinson said, “My friends are my estate,” and I couldn’t agree more.

 

The Miracle of Friendship

A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you. – Elbert Hubbard

Recently someone asked me what I believe are the qualities of a good friend. To be honest, I had to stop and think about this for a while because it is something to which I really hadn’t given much thought. I have always been surrounded by an army of friends, many of whom have been by my side since childhood, so I probably take friendship for granted.

To answer this question, I decided to look at the people in my life to find some commonalities and examine my behavior towards them. In doing so, I compiled this list of what I believe makes a good friend. There are many more qualities that can be added, but I think these are the biggies. Finding someone who embodies these attributes and being this person for another is a true gift.

Loyal to the end. Perhaps one of the best ways to determine true friendship is to see who keeps your secrets. A true friend would never make you the subject of idle gossip and would go to the grave with something you said in confidence. Finding a confidant can be quite challenging, but when you do, cherish that person and hold on with everything you’ve got.

Doesn’t judge. We all make mistakes and do stupid things. A true friend does not judge you and will not treat you differently, no matter what you’ve done. He or she will stand by your side when everyone else has turned against you.

They’ll be the mirror you’re afraid to look into. Sometimes you may not see that you’re involved in harmful behavior, physically or emotionally. You may be in a romantic relationship that doesn’t serve you well, have a dead end job, or be abusing substances. During these times a true friend will tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear. This person will speak the hard truths and will be someone on whom you can depend for brutal honesty.

Motivates you to do better. A true friend is your best cheerleader. This person is not jealous about your accomplishments and will always encourage you to believe in yourself, because he or she believes in you. This friend challenges you and builds you up, he or she doesn’t tear you down.

Unconditional love. You don’t have to work for a true friend’s affection; the love is not based on what you do for him or her. This person doesn’t care about your financial status or job position. You are loved solely because of who you are.

Always by your side (even when you don’t ask for help). Everyone has times of need, and a true friend will be by your side helping out, or just sitting with you in silence. He or she provides support and comfort and you get through the difficult time just because this person is there.

Spend Valentine’s Day with the Love of Your Life

­I was watching television recently when it happened … I saw the first commercial for the Valentine’s Day diamond collection – you know, the gift that every woman will treasure. As I listened to the music and watched as the camera panned the romantic setting, waves of emotion overcame me like a tsunami. At that moment, in my mind, everyone in the world was in a loving, committed relationship and I was going to be the only person sitting home alone on February 14 (most likely eating ice cream).

Realistic assumption? Of course not. But for a few minutes the drama queen in me took over and my emotions ran wild. Fortunately, I was able to reign them in, but the feelings I experienced are very common.

The truth of the matter is that while there are many people in wonderful relationships, there are more people today living life as singles than ever before. So, there are more people sitting home believing that they are less of a person because they are one and not a part of two. Society perpetuates this belief.

When we are little, we are taught that we need someone to complete us. The princess is always in search of her prince. We search high and low for him, trying on every glass slipper looking for the perfect fit. Sometimes we find the right shoe, other times we squeeze a size nine into a seven. Going barefoot is never an option.

We are given the misguided notion that life is a Hallmark commercial. But… guess what? The fairytale doesn’t exist; at least not in the way it’s portrayed. There is no prince or princess that will make any of us live happily ever after – no outside person can do that; it’s an inside job.

Until we rekindle the flame of self-love, there will be failed or unfulfilled relationships and tears at the thought of being alone. The self-love I refer to has nothing to do with being selfish, it’s actually being selfless. It’s putting the time and energy into understanding who we are and what we want. It’s about finding our path and fulfilling our dreams. It’s making ourself whole so we can be in a relationship with another (or not) in a healthy way. When we’re whole, there is no jealousy, resentment or neediness. It enables us to find (or stay with) someone who complements us – not completes us.

What better time than Valentine’s Day to reestablish a relationship with yourself? Let it take root and then share it with your soul mate or your sole mate!

If You Have Nothing Nice To Say…

If you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. Ah… a mother’s wisdom. I’m sure most of us have been told this many, many times. But, how many of us actually follow this sage advice?

Words are a powerful force and the powerful effects of negative words cannot be underestimated. Words are remembered long after they are spoken. They have the power to destroy one’s self-esteem and self-confidence, making someone feel less than adequate and fearful. Words leave invisible bruises that can last a lifetime.

Most of us understand that negative words hurt, and yet, how many of us actually stop and think BEFORE making a negative or disparaging comment? Do we ever think about the impact our message has on the recipient or is it so important for our opinion to be heard that the consequences are insignificant to  us?

And it is not only personal comments from others that can be damaging.  Being in the company of people who frequently complain or see the bad in everything can be just as emotionally detrimental.  Such people project a negative energy that soon infiltrates everything and everyone around them.

Case in point. My 18-year-old son recently completed a certification course at our local fire academy and is currently working toward becoming a fireman. This is his dream and he is taking the appropriate steps to that end. He is attending college to earn a degree. He has been a volunteer for two years. He strives to learn everything about his chosen profession. After he completed the certification test, I posted on my personal Facebook page about his status. Someone immediately commented that her son took the test a few years back and is number 5,000 waiting for a job. She went on to say that it is impossible to get a job and anyone who goes into the profession is crazy.

I’m not sure why she made that post. Perhaps she was trying to relay information. Maybe she is upset about the fact that her son has not been hired. Maybe she was having a bad day. I don’t know her motive, but I do know that a comment like that has the power to cast doubt in a young man’s mind, cause him to question his direction, and possibly even shatter his dream.  Once a statement like that gets planted in someone’s thoughts, it’s more difficult to stay on course. How often does this happen to you? How often are you the one making this type of comment or how often are you the recipient?

A new year is approaching and this is a time when many self reflect and try to enact positive change. I encourage you to become more cognizant of what you say. Stop and think BEFORE the words come out. You have the power to impact another positively or negatively. You have the power to be a mentor or cheerleader of a dream, or the destroyer. Remember that mother always knows best and if you have nothing nice to say, pray one of my favorite prayers: “Lord, put your arm on my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”

Maneuvering Through the Dark

A few weeks ago I had the misfortune (or good fortune) of injuring my foot. It is nothing serious – a torn tendon and minor fracture – but it has forced me to wear an air boot, slow down, and rest much more than I am accustomed to. I am a person that is used to being on the go, very energetic and independent, so, while it is not a life threatening injury, it is certainly a life annoying injury.

One day, about a week into my hobbling around, I had to visit the home of someone who has never been particularly supportive of me. This person lives on the second floor of a two family home and requires the climb up extremely steep, cement, outdoor stairs in order to arrive at the entrance. When I got to the home it was daylight, but within minutes the sun went down and it was soon pitch black outside.

I completed my business and said my goodbye. As I approached the door, I requested that the person turn on an exterior light, as the stairway was very dark. I was informed that the light did not work. This person did not offer to assist me in any way and I had to maneuver my way down treacherous stairs, with a wounded foot, in total darkness.

I made it home safely, but to be honest, I was quite upset. Initially I spent some time being hurt, feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in self-pity. I decided that behavior was not going to serve me well so I began to think about the situation rationally. I came to realize that this was a wonderful illustration of our relationship.  This person has continually left me wounded, in the dark, to maneuver my way on my own. I have been trying to hang on because I was afraid to let go. But, looking back, every time I made it through the dark alone, I emerged stronger, more self confident and self-reliant.

I am a firm believer that there are gifts and blessings in every situation if you take the time to look for them. Here is another example. Had I not injured my foot I would not have been able to see with such clarity. There was something in the situation that was so clear, such a vivid message for me. It is time to let go.

How about you? What have you experienced, good or bad, that can teach you a life lesson? I challenge you to put your emotions aside and allow yourself to see your situation clearly. It may not always be what you want, but the lesson is usually in full sight.

Is It Time for You to Be A Rookie?

This month marks the fourth anniversary of the creation of Change Your Attitude…Change Your Life. When I began the radio show and then the magazine, I never imagined that it would become what it is today, that I would be able to turn personal tragedy, transition, and transformation into something that has the potential to positively impact thousands of lives. When I began, there were naysayers who said I was crazy, that I would fail. For some reason, for the first time in my life, I didn’t listen. I pushed their words aside and have held my ground. The result? I am making my wildest dreams come true and evolving into someone that I never thought I could be.

It hasn’t always been easy. I have had many obstacles to overcome, financial problems to solve, betrayals to survive, and endless business lessons to learn. But in the end, I emerge stronger and more self-confident and I face each day with renewed passion and joy. I receive countless rewards. I always say that a blessed person is someone that can find life work that serves others, adds something positive to the world, and gives your life meaning. I am truly blessed!

I celebrated the fourth anniversary show by interviewing Jim “The Rookie” Morris. You may know Jim’s story from the movie The Rookie, which starred Dennis Quaid (if you haven’t seen this movie I highly recommend that you do – it’s a wonderful story!). Jim was a want-to-be professional baseball player turned high school teacher that coached the boy’s baseball team. One season, in an attempt to motivate the team, he made a bet with his players: if you win the district championship I’ll try out for a major league baseball team.

The players won the title and Jim held up his end of the bargain, going to a tryout and throwing 12 consecutive 98 mile per hour pitches. Three months later, 35-year-old Jim Morris was striking out big league hitters in front of his high school players and family. The Rookie was born.

Jim could have reneged on his agreement; there were a million logical reasons why he shouldn’t have attended the tryout starting with the fact that he was 35 years old! But he took a chance, risked looking foolish (in his mind), and reaped tremendous rewards. That day, that tryout, changed the course of Jim’s life.

There were a million logical reasons why I should have given up creating a radio show starting with the fact that I had no experience doing this type of work and I was 46 years old! But I took a chance, risked looking foolish (in my mind), and have reaped tremendous rewards. The past four years have changed my life. I too am a rookie.

What about you? What do you want to do but fear looking foolish (in your mind)? What action can you take that will bring you closer to reaping tremendous rewards? Isn’t it time you took action and became a rookie too?