Rest…

For the last 7 days, there has been a lovely surprise in my inbox.  Uneeka Jay has been sending me love notes.  Well, not just me, hundreds (probably thousands!) of people have been receiving love notes as part of her Love Rewrite, 7 Day Self-Love Challenge.  Each day has contained a message and a challenge about learning to love yourself.  Every one of them has been full of wisdom and plenty to make you stop and think about how you treat yourself.  Having recently moved half way across the country to start a new chapter in my life, ended my engagement and being involved in a long, occasionally frustrating job hunt, boy am I having trouble loving myself sometimes. Her messages came just at the right time.  For that I send her many, many Thanks!

This mornings challenge was simple.  A single word.  Rest.  Rest

Wow, did that really hit home.  I read it.  I read the accompanying message (partially quoted below)  I realized how I had done exactly this to myself and how, unconsciously, it and the need to stop doing it had played a huge part in my decision to uproot my life.  Even more, I saw so many of the wonderful people in my life in this message.  People I care about deeply. People who have been not only my friends, but my mentors, fellow instigators, greatest cheerleaders and kindest critics.  So, in the spirit of Uneeka’s sharing,  I am sharing her message in the hopes that it may speak to them also.

Are you busy?  Always running around? Live by your schedule? Constantly connected to social media?  If so, you may not be demonstrating self-love.  Being busy is a way to avoid dealing with how we feel about our lives and ourselves.  The busier we are the less time we have to truly think about where we are and where we want to go.  Being busy also gives the perception that we are happy and fulfilled when we are really drained.  A true badge of honor is your ability to rest..

Thank you Uneeka.  Your message was what I needed to hear.  Hopefully it is what someone else needs to hear also.  Now I am off to rest, take a long walk and enjoy the sunshine!

Words and the Superbowl

Yes, the Superbowl last night was lackluster and with few exceptions (RadioShack, Budweiser’s Puppy Love, Coca-Cola and Cheerios were my favorites) the ads were meh.  As usual, my Twitter stream was probably the most interesting thing I was watching.  Usually quiet during a sporting event, even my Facebook wall seemed to be actively following both the game and the ads.  Then I started to get disgusted.  Early in the game a ton of memes, tweets and posts started showing up making fun and saying some pretty nasty things about Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Yes, it is a sporting event and yes, some good natured ribbing and trash talking will happen. The problem for me is that some of the comments were just downright petty, mean and derogatory.  Yes, Peyton and the Broncos had a bad night, a really bad night, but the fact is they got to the Superbowl.  There is a certain amount of respect due to players who work incredibly hard to reach the pinnacle of their profession.  And yet, here we were, we armchair quarterbacks, saying and publicly posting some really nasty stuff because they were having a bad night.

At one point I posted this on Twitter and Facebook

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I got several responses, most of them private, essentially telling me to lighten up, it is just sports, it is just entertainment.

That was when I got really disgusted.  It is not just sports.  It is the example we give our kids.  Coaches teach child athletes sportsmanship.  Or at least they are supposed to. But what about the non-athletes or the kids who are only ok? What message are we sending to them?  That if someone is not good enough or is having an off day, it is ok to make fun of them?

Kids learn what they hear and observe, not always what we say. They learn how to think and behave based on what the adults around them do and say.  Whether it is making fun of Peyton Manning because he is having a bad ballgame or the racist tirades that were happening over the Coca-Cola or Cheerios ads (that is a rant for another day), kids will copy what they see and hear us doing.

We think that our little memes, jokes and comments, whether it is about sports, the color of someones skin, their ethnicity, sexuality, female or male bashing, whatever, are just “harmless entertainment”. We forget that kids are observing and listening and thinking that kind of behavior is acceptable.

We are all guilty of it, myself included, at one point or another.   I just wish we would all start being more conscious of how our words and actions are observed by and reflected in the young people around us.

What are we teaching kids about sportsmanship and life in general? That you make fun of the ones who are not as good or are having an off day or are different?

My 3 words for 2014

End of the Year Fireworks

Whether it was the word I chose or not, 2013′s word should have been change. There was a lot of it! Personally, professionally, you name it, it was a year of change. A year of high highs and low lows.  A year of coming into my own.  Even better it was a year of Transformation (yes, with a capital T!)

I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about what 2014 holds. A lot of what 2014 holds is still murky – a new city to explore, a new job to be found, a new home to be located, a new community to become a part of, etc…  The only thing that I am clear about is that it holds promise.   Wonderful, hopeful, insightful promise. But if the last 48 years have taught me anything, it is that promise comes with responsibility.  A responsibility to not squander the hopeful horizon that lays

Horizons

Horizons

ahead.  With that in mind, I decided on my three words for 2014.  I also decided that in being true to the transformation process that began in 2013, these three words have to be active.  These are words and actions that will guide me through whatever the new year has in store.  Words and actions that serve as a homing beacon when I start to feel adrift.

My words/actions for 2014 are:

Tolerance – I am firm believer that you have to be the change you wish to see in the word.  So if I want to see more tolerance (and I desperately think the world needs a lot more!), I need to be focused on tolerance.

Listening –  I read this recently and it really made me stop and think.  My 2014 is about giving of myself. Listening, really listening, is probably the biggest gift we can give another and ourselves.

” Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”  Karl Menninger

Reading/Writing – Yes, I know those are two words, but they go hand-in-hand for me.  Good writing comes from lots of reading.   I want to read more in 2014 so that I am inspired to write more.  I am going to clear my RSS reader regularly.  I am going to make a dent in the huge pile of unread books on my bedside.  I am going to read for business and just for pure enjoyment.  I am going to write.  Regularly. Whether it is the dozens of blog post ideas, I have in the queue or that book I keep saying I am going to start, 2014 is the year of the pen (keyboard) for me.

What are your three words or actions for 2014?

 

I walk because I can not walk away…

First, THANK YOU to everyone who has already donated! You are angels!

9-25-2013 UPDATE:  Only $225 to go! 

I am $505 away from the $2300 I need to raise for the walk and I could use your help.

This is my 9th year walking.  The 9th year that i have pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of physically, mentally and emotionally. 9 years that I have given my all in support of the women and men who have breast cancer and to try and help prevent more from getting it.

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I am sure that some of you will have reservations about donating to this cause. I will be perfectly honest and transparent that based on recent events, I have some reservations also. But this is a commitment I made long before the questions arose.   It also does not change the fact that there are people struggling with this disease and your donation can help make that struggle easier.  It can be the little extra needed for research to prevent this terrible disease.  It can the little bit that makes a difference in someone’s life.

I have said this many times, but it is no less true now.  Other than having had my children, this walk, these 3 days, these 60 miles are the most rewarding thing that I have ever done. All 9 times. I walk in memory of my mother and other wonderful women that I have lost.  I walk in celebration of the survivors.  I walk in solidarity with all the women facing the prospect of possibly having this disease.  I walk so that my nieces and the young women that I love may never have to face the prospect of dealing with breast cancer.

I walk because I can not walk way.

So please, I am asking for your help to reach my goal. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

Gloria

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day

I’ve been there…have you?

Suicide…

something not easy to talk about, but it is in being silent that we lose our ability to prevent it.

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This is a post about my experience, but more so about something even more important – How we can help others who feel hopeless and helpless.  So, please bear with me while I tell my story.  Then I promise to get to the part where I tell you how YOU can make a difference.

I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager.  Maybe even before that.  There have been many times throughout my life that I felt hopeless.  That it felt like there was little in life to live for. When just functioning normally through the day was a struggle that seemed too heavy a burden.

I have always been fortunate to have wonderful people in my life who were able to pull me through those moments.  Often without even realizing that was what they were doing.  They were just there, loving me, caring for me, taking care of me.  Then there came the day (well, night actually) when even the people who cared about me didn’t matter.  Yes, that is a harsh statement but it is true. I had hit rock bottom.  The point where the pain of being me even outweighed how much I loved the people in my life.  The night I decided I could not wake up even one more time.   I said my goodbyes… sending emails to treasured friends asking them to please take care of each other and my children…and I took an action intended to put me to sleep and not let me wake.  Fortunately, it did not work.  Friends rescued me and made sure I got the help I needed.  That moment changed my life for the better.  It gave me a new perspective.  Does this mean I don’t still have down moments? No.  It just means that I know how important having someone to talk to, someone to get you through those crucial moments can be.

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center and IMAlive.org provide just that.  IMAlive volunteers have talked several thousand hopeless people off the proverbial ledge by supporting them through their most desperate moments.   The online crisis chat is currently available most hours of the day but to be truly effective, they need to be available all hours of the day and night.

On September 10th, National Suicide Prevention Day, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center is hosting the first IMAlive 24-7 Giving Day.  People across the country are raising $50,000 to fund 24-7 service of the IMAlive.org online crisis chat.

How can you help?  Donate.  Fundraise. Spread the word. Form a team and compete in the fundraising challenge.  All of the above!  Check the link for more information on how you can make a difference.

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Help IMAlive.org save lives.  Help them be there to help someone through that hopeless moment of terror.  

 
Disclaimer: The Kristin Brooks Hope Center and IMAlive.org are clients. 
 
 

An open letter to my life…

This is an open letter to everyone who ever has been, currently is or ever will be in my life.  It is going to be sappy and sometimes it is going to sound unbelievable and, to some of you, maybe even a little weird, but it is my story, my truth and I hope it inspires and motivates you.

I received a gift this past weekend.  One of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I received the gift of myself. True, complete, whole ME.

 I spent the weekend at the Landmark Forum.  It was long, it was hard, it was emotional and it was Magnificently Wonderful. I was given the chance to explore who I really am, the way I behave and act and who I can be.  I learned to let go of the things that I did not even realize I was dragging around, things so intertwined and shackled to me that I did not even know they were there,  like an invisible ball and chain dragging behind me through my life.  This past weekend, over the 13 hours a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (yes, 39 hours!), I transformed my life.  Yes, I know some of you may have heard or read some crazy things about Landmark. No, it is not a pyramid scheme, no it is not just about taking your money (hell, there are self-help seminars that are a lot more expensive and I’ve been to some of them). So, please, while you read about my experience, just keep an open mind.  I know it sounds hooky and a little cultish to talk about having transformed my life, but you all know me well enough to know, if I say it, I really mean it.

 If you have been in my life up to this point, at one point or another, I got you caught up in what Landmark calls my “rackets”.  It was my way of being that helped me survive.  A way of being I created based on my interpretation of what events in my life meant.  An interpretation that was colored by my own fears and insecurities.  I would say and do just about anything to be enough – good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, competent enough, loving enough, loveable enough… the list of enoughs goes on and on and on.  I always felt like I was lacking. I felt insufficient.  So I, often unconsciously manipulated my world and the people in it so that when, inevitably, it was discovered that I was not “enough” then other people were at fault, I was right.  I was the victim. I could be the martyr. Like a second skin I wore this way of being, letting it shield me from the hurt and disappointment possible in the world. Worse yet, I let it shield the world from me, from the real, true, extraordinary me.  I am sorry.

I am not the same person who sat down in that seat at 8:59 on Friday morning.  I am a person who has completely let go of my past, even the stuff in my past that I did not even realize I was still hanging on to.  I am person who has the peace, strength and courage to make my life into anything I want it to be.  And best of all, not to just say that, but to truly, deeply and completely know it to be true.  I learned things about myself that I knew but did not really Know.  I also learned what I am capable of and that is being truly extraordinary.  No, I was not brainwashed. Yes, I am still the same person with the same day to day life, but I am also a whole new person with a life of all new possibilities.  Nothing added, Nothing taken away.  Just space in my life, my head, my heart for the creation of new possibilities.

I learned this weekend that I do a lot of things to sabotage myself, my life, my career and my relationships and I learned why I do it.  Yeah, I know you can get all of that in therapy, but what the Landmark Forum taught me, that therapy and hospitalizations never could, is the real impact of all of that behavior and most importantly how to really let go of it and put it behind me so that I don’t have to continue those behaviors. Just one of the many things I learned is I would create distance with people because I knew I was always going to fail them because I was not good enough in some way.   Well, guess what, I am good enough and I always have been.  The Landmark Forum taught me how to distinguish between what really happened and the story we all create around what happened and the behavior we create based on that story.  It is really powerful and fascinating.  I have to tell you the world better watch out for this new fully aware, fully empowered, motivated, energized me!

butterfly

I have been trying to find the perfect expression for how I have felt that last couple of days when it came to me – a butterfly.  I have emerged from a cocoon woven from my own fears, insecurities and perceptions of the past.  The past is gone. It is behind me. There is nothing in front of me but limitless possibilities that I get to create.

 

I want this for everyone who has ever been in my life and everyone who ever comes into my life. I  want this for YOU.  This peace, this joy, the real, lasting, true knowledge of who you are and what you are really capable of.  In every person in my life I see Greatness (yes, capital G!). I want everyone in my life to be transformed, to have this gift, to be the Greatness I see in them.

So ask me about it, ask me how you can have it. I promise you I will be honest. I will tell you what I see in you and I will tell you how to have and be all the things I see in you.


Thank you all.  Thank you for being a part of my life, whether it is my real or my digital one. Thank you for being part of this journey with me.  Thank YOU for being my motivation and inspiration.  I love you all. 

What kind of woman are you?

A couple of quotes lately have me thinking about what kind of woman I am.

“I’m not the girl your mother warned you about.  Her imagination was never this good.”

“Well-behaved women rarely make history”   Goddess

What kind of woman are you?  Are you making sure the world sees the qualities you want them to see?

Motivation…

I wish I could adequately describe the feeling of mentoring at an event like Lean Startup Machine,  Startup Weekend or the TechGirlz Entrepreneur Summer Camp.  It is exhilarating, inspirational, motivating and exhausting all rolled into one and so much more.  At the end of these weekends I am physically exhausted and mentally charged up.  Sleep does not come easy, not only because of the long hours, but because the dedicated men and women who attend, run, mentor and speak at these events instill a sense of wonder, inquisitiveness and focus that makes it difficult to quiet my mind.

Being a part of these events is such an amazing experience! Every woman and man who attends comes with such passion and dedication. They immerse themselves into the experience, often hoping to just come out of it better at what they do and to learn something, to meet others who are as passionate about finding ways to run and grow better businesses, be better leaders and build stronger communities.  They inspire me and motivate me Every Single Time.  Watching them work through the process and learn, seeing the lightbulb moments, watching them turn “failures” and disappointments into learning opportunities to make the next iteration better and more efficient — how much more can you ask for in the way of motivation?Fail Fast

The question is then… what next?  What do I do with that motivation?  How do I take what I learn from each of them, the inspiration they give, the focus they prompt and use it to help others?  How do I ensure that the motivation is not wasted, not squandered?  How do I do it?  Sign up to mentor at another one. Encourage others to attend.  Pay it forward…

What do you do with your motivation?

Powering Up Support for Women

Madeline Albright once said “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”.  I don’t remember where or when I first heard this quote, but it made a profound impact on my view of other women in the workplace, my life and in general.   This is why I am immensely proud to participating in this weekend’s PowerUp Weekend.  

I grew up being taught that everyone might not be equal in the eyes of others, but they should be.  Everyone deserves the same treatment, rights and opportunities.  Whether some choose to acknowledge it or not, this is not always true when it comes to women.  What is even more disturbing is that women are often the worst culprits when it comes to not being supportive of other women.

I am blessed when it comes to this issue.  I am surrounded by many women who not only understand that it is imperative that we support other women but that we spend the time and effort to lift them up, educate them, show them possibilities and provide the resources to get them there.  The women I am honored to consider my friends and family, the women I work with on projects like Social Media Club Philly, Philly Startup Leaders, TechGirlz, Girl Develop It and the Philly Women In Tech Summit are amazing!  They understand that we bring so much more to advancing and changing our world if we work together and support one another.  

This weekend I am privileged to spend my time with another great group of women.  Women who will be sharing ways to not only build a great career, but to also have some balance.  Women who understand that having a powerful life involves everything from building a career you love to healthy living.  Uneeka Jay (@PowerMommy) and her company, Powerful U Media Group have brought together an impressive group of speakers and attendees for sharing, learning and networking.

I am very excited to be attending PowerUp Weekend 2012 and look forward to meeting more women who are working to support, encourage and lift up other women!

A Second Look…

Getting dressed this morning, I happened to look in the mirror.  Such a simple act should not prompt the flood of emotions that engulfed me, but there I was struggling to find my breath and fight back the tears.  I did not like what I saw.  That single passing glance reflected back a short, fat, aging woman that I did not recognize and did not like.  This can’t be me…yet, I knew that it was.  Or was it?

ImageWith every ounce of emotional fortitude I could muster, I forced myself to turn back to the mirror, take off the shirt I was in the process of putting on and really look.  Not that passing glance that only reflected back my flaws, but a full, naked body reflection of my true self.  What I saw in that second look was completely the same, yet oh so very different.  For every flaw, I saw the beauty my mind was trying to hide from me.

I saw…

a 46 year old woman … who is proud of the wisdom that life’s experiences have given her

a lot of laugh lines and crows feet … that mean I have lived my life smiling and laughing as often as possible

a few extra pounds … that have given me great curves in the right places that occasionally still turn heads and hopefully the incentive to start taking a little better care of myself

slightly weary eyes … that reflect back the good that I want to remember and the bad that I want to learn from that is woven through the tapestry of my life

All it took was that second look to find the things that I needed to see.  The things that in my heart I know about myself, yet are so easily pushed aside in my/our push for some skewed version of perfection.

I am not perfect.  I have made mistakes.  My physical shell may not be the exact package that our society claims is beautiful.  But none of that really matters.  What matters is that I take that second look.  That I make the moment to see what is behind the “flaws” that the first glance reveals.

I am 46 years old.  I am a few pounds overweight, but I have curves that other women would kill for.  I am smart.  I am sexy. I am beautiful. I make mistakes, but I try to learn from them.  I am blessed to have people who love and care about me.  I am lucky enough to get to do work I love. I do my best to contribute to my community and my world and make them a better place. I believe in sharing love, laughter and smiles often.  I am me. And me is good enough.

As a good friend who left us much too early was fond of saying “I may not be perfect, but I am imperfectly awesome.”

Who are you?  What do you see when you take that second look?