January 1, 2015
My Grandfather always used to say, “It’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” As one who loves to learn, I remind myself of this on a daily basis. I try and learn something new every day.
When we celebrate New Year’s many people are reflective, and I am no exception. Although I am not one who regrets, or wishes I’d done something different (after all, we learn best by our mistakes) reflecting on the New Year allows me to take stock of the things I’ve learned and incorporate them in to my life moving forward. Life lessons equate to wisdom, at least that’s my thinking.
I was recently having dinner with a friend who is about 10 years younger than I. We were talking about the aging process and I shared with her, “My 30’s was still about trying to impress people while making everyone happy yet not having a sense of who I was. When you enter your 40’s there’s this surge of confidence where you begin to realize there’s nothing you can’t do, however, wisdom hasn’t settled in yet, so some decisions are questionable. But when you hit 50, it seems like everything finally comes together. 50 brings confidence without arrogance, security without naivete, compassion without pity, insight without assumptions, experiences without expectations and relationships without conditions.
Last year was a year of new beginnings almost every day. I entered a new position without a clear understanding of what I was getting in to. Each day I learned what needed to be done and I set out to get it done. Each day, I realized that I had a choice to play the blame game, or to figure out what I was going to do to turn the ship around. Each day, I got to know the people around me and learn who was ready to go on this ride with me, or those who opted out. Some days were amazingly rewarding, while others were very, very difficult. Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive Board and staff who believe in my ability to take the potential of the organization and run with it, without looking back.
So, there’s the conundrum, looking back. After all, isn’t that what the New Year is all about? Looking back and reflecting? Well, if you’re looking back to see how far you’ve come as well as lessons learned it’s healthy. If you’re looking back with the attitude of, “shoulda, woulda, coulda”, that will not assist you at all in moving forward. You’ve got to assess and progress. I look back simply to marvel at what life tosses our way and how, more often than not, we can surprise ourselves with what we’re able to handle. And with the things that aren’t handled well, it’s a learning moment, never a regret. Regrets do nothing more than set a roadblock for self-forgiveness.
With all that said, what did I learn this year? Here’s just a few of the many things I learned.
1. Never assume. Life is full of surprises so hone your flexibility skills and move along.
2. Communication is King. Unfortunately, not everyone communicates the same way so the best way to communicate starts with listening.
3. It’s never too late to change something that isn’t working.
4. Trust your gut, most often it’s right. Especially as you get older. (One of many perks of getting older).
5. It’s not how hard you’re working, it’s how much you accomplish.
6. If you trust someone enough to hire them, trust them enough to get the job done. (That’s under delegation 101)
7. Leadership can be lonely, surround yourself with great people. “Being a leader means finding the right solution, not the easy one.”- Kate Stull
8. Always remind your staff that their ideas and insight matters, they forget.
9. Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
10. Working hard doesn’t always mean working smart. Assess your work and ask yourself, “Does this matter? Is it getting me closer to my vision while aligning with my mission?”
I could go on and on with all of the things I learned, or was reminded of that really matter in life. I suppose, aside from the top 10 things I listed, I have to address the many wonderful people I have met. People are amazing and there’s no better learning opportunity than meeting new people and listening to their story. So I suppose, if you’re not learning, perhaps you’re not listening- bonus tip. 😉
Here’s to an amazing 2015.
November 23, 2014
For those of you that have followed my blog, you know that I have a strong commitment to my health. I eat well (most of the time), exercise as often as I’m able (not as much as I’d like), and I stay focused on the positive. Throughout most of my life, I have experienced few health issues other than pregnancy and delivery and few minor things here and there. However, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a situation where I listened closely to my body and realized it wasn’t happy.
Since starting my job last February, there is no doubt my activity level isn’t where I’d like it to be, but I squeeze in exercise 3x per week. I have held pretty tight to eating well, though many meetings that include eating out make it tough, even if I feel like I’m making the right decision. There’s been stress in my life, recent passing of my Dad and situations at work that come with the territory, but all in all, I feel pretty good. However, two weeks ago, that all changed.
I woke up and found myself nauseous and dizzy. Dizzy spells are not uncommon with me, I blame it on the barometric pressure. But nausea never accompanied my “dizzies”. I sat down in front of my make-up mirror and felt clammy. Not hot flash clammy, heart attack clammy and then I looked at my clock radio and couldn’t read the time. I knew something was wrong. I said to my husband, “Something is not right, something is not right.” We immediately went to the ER. By the time I got to the hospital and into a room, my speech was all but gone and my body felt like dead weight. I could barely move my legs, arms and head. Panic set in and I knew I was likely experiencing a stroke. My grandfather suffered a stroke in his latter 30’s and part of my commitment to health and fitness was to avoid that scenario, but here I was. The nurse kept asking me questions and my effort to say one word was the most difficult thing I can recall doing in recent history. And then the thoughts started going through my mind, “I’m never going to walk again. My husband is going to spend the rest of his life taking care of me, and I’m the healthy one!” Every negative scenario ran through my mind. I’ve never been more frightened than I was that morning.
I had a CT scan, MRI, loads of blood work, and on and on and they found nothing. By late afternoon, my speech was back to normal and my strength had returned as well. What happened? What caused it? The fact that the weakness in my body wasn’t bilateral ruled out a stroke. Ultimately the neurosurgeon called it a, “Seizure phenomenon.” Hmmm, well that doesn’t tell me much other than they don’t know what caused it. I ran a half marathon two days prior, could it have triggered something? The stress over the past year, could it be that? Who knows?
What I do know is that I didn’t ignore symptoms just because I take care of myself. We know that women die more often from heart attacks and strokes because they ignore the symptoms. No matter how healthy you are, listen to your body, pay attention to abnormal feelings and get them checked out.
The one thing that was found was a bump in an artery in the brain scan they want to check out. But I’m also following up with an internist per a suggestion from a friend that isn’t happy with the “phenomenon” diagnosis and thinks I should exhaust all avenues. Likely not a bad idea.
I have always taken pride in how I care for my health, but we know many people that have been as healthy as a horse yet dropped dead of a heart attack or some freak accident. So, was this a life altering experience? Will I start paying closer attention to my bucket list? Well, yes and no.
1. I don’t do bucket lists because I spend too much time stressing over checking things off! I’d rather follow what’s in my heart and make it happen.
2. I realize that the stress in our lives is often brought on by assumptions and unrealistic perceived outcomes. Reduce stress by reducing assumptions and stop trying to write the future.
3. I realize that no matter how healthy I am, the body gets tired and high intense exercise and a strict diet isn’t’ always what’s best for the body or mind, it needs a break from time to time. I need to know that taking a walk instead of heading out for a run is fine too and some days better for my mind/body. That gelato, or chocolate that I’ve been avoiding is not the end of the world if I cave in and enjoy. I’ve been teaching for years that moderation is the best way to live. I need to heed my own advice vs. my all or nothing compulsions.
4. Tell your family you love them every day and try to spend more quality time with them. My kids spent two solid days with me at the hospital. We played games, we reminisced and laughed, a lot. If you haven’t downloaded the app from the Ellen Show, Heads Up, do it today. It’s a blast for all ages.
5. Slow down! Even as I type, I type fast and hard. My personality is somewhat like a bull in a china shop, not always, but more often than not. I push hard and when I have a task to complete, I give at least 100%. I need to learn that slow and steady works sometimes too. Assess situations, and don’t view every task as a crisis that needs immediate handling.
6. Ask for help. Women are the worst at that. I have always been someone that would rather do it all myself, despite the challenges. Heaven forbid I should look weak, right? Well actually for me it’s not the case. I’ve been on my own for so long, I just learned to do everything myself. Life is give and take. I can’t do it all and I shouldn’t expect to do it all (See #2). Ask for help and offer help, it’s a pretty solid way to live.
7. An attitude of gratitude. I have written in many of my blogs my gratitude for being able to go out and run when I feel like it, or exercise whenever I want because I have full use of my body. How lucky I am. After this recent scare, now more than ever, I am incredibly aware of how grateful I am for the ability to speak (maybe my family doesn’t love that one!), the ability to move without restriction and the strength to do every day tasks without limitation. I’M THE LUCKIEST GAL IN THE WORLD!
Moral of the story: No matter how healthy you are, especially women, never, ever ignore unusual symptoms. Your body is trying to tell you something, LISTEN! There is no guarantee that being healthy means you’re immune from illness or disease. Live every day like it is your last, love with your full heart, be kind to yourself and others and move your body because you can.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.
October 19, 2014
Dad, giving me away.
I was 9 years old when I first met him. He was a loud, gregarious sort. His accent was funny, so were his clothes. Worst of all, he really liked my mother. My father had decided to set up house with his new wife and my mother was looking to set up house with a new husband. It was the 70’s, that’s how things worked. This man came in to our lives through one of the most important men in my life, my Uncle Billy. If he was favored in the eyes of my Uncle Billy, he had to be a good guy.
I’ll never forget that Christmas Eve in 1971 and he was there. My biological Dad was not happy and I didn’t get it. “Wait, it’s the holidays, aren’t we all supposed to get along?” Clearly not. So Jim, the new man in our life, took a back seat, let the emotions fly between my parents and looked at me and said, “It’ll be alright darlin'” Ugh, I hated that term, I hated that accent, I hated that man and the fact that he was in my home at Christmas.
My mother married, “that man” in 1972. My sisters cried, I was oblivious. He seemed decent enough, despite the accent and the fact that well, he wasn’t my “real” father. Shortly after their marriage, my mother, “that man” aka Jim and my middle sister and I moved to Texas. Talk about a culture shock. From a suburb of Chicago to the heart of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, it was tough. My sister was gorgeous, she was immediately a welcome Yankee and soon had a serious boyfriend. I on the other hand, was unibrowed, void of any self-confidence, and an awkward Yankee that had no idea of what was to come. It was probably just as well. I, like my new “Dad” figured what ever will be will be.
As I grew into myself, which I thought would never happen, “that man” turned in to my father . Jim was attentive at all the right times and understanding of my painful teen years. Jim never doubted my talent and capabilities even though I did constantly. As my sister moved up and out, I stayed and graduated high school desperately wanting to be a singer, which I knew was my calling. Jim told me all the time, “Go for your dreams darlin’!” The term that I used to hate, now became a term of endearment. Jim never, ever lost faith in my abilities no matter what I wanted to do, he was my biggest cheerleader.
As I grew, married and had children he proved to be an amazing Grandfather. He loved my children as if they were his “blood” grandchildren. To him they were. He never missed a birthday or a graduation. He always boasted about his grandchildren and at every turn, bragged about his “daughter.” How I used to hate when he referred to me that way. But as our relationship shifted, his role in my life gradually changed and I realized he wasn’t trying to prove anything, he was simply taking ownership of what be believed to be true. I was his daughter and my children were indeed his grandchildren. When he fell in love with the love of his life, she too became a wonderful addition to his world and to mine.
So that brings me to the question in the title, does the term step-parent diminish the quality of love, care, and devotion that is given to a step-family? In some instances perhaps, in mine, not at all. Jim stepped up to the plate regardless of my angst ridden teen comment, “You’re not my real father!” He would patiently respond, “I know darlin’ but I will always love you as if you were my own.” Who says that? He did.
So here we are. I just spent a weekend with him as he’s waited for cancer to make the final call. Jim never like finality. Cancer consumption is a terrible thing to witness. The passion filled, optimistic, “things will work out” guy, was dying. A 250 pound strong, full of life man was now down to 140 pounds asking me, “Why can’t I get my energy back?” I quietly shared, “Grandpa, cancer is tenacious and very selfish with its territory.” He didn’t buy it and I tried to. He never once complained. When I’d ask if he was in any pain, he’d calmly reply, “No darlin’ I feel fine. It’s just these darned knees.” This was as the bag connected to his liver continued to drain.
During my last weekend with him, we talked about family, my kids, and his beloved grandchildren.
The gift of my last week with Grandpa/Dad/Jim
He mentioned time and time again how proud he was of me. I looked at him holding back the tears as I witnessed his daily deterioration. I wondered why technology continues to jump forward with incredible inventions, yet we still can’t beat cancer. I wondered why cancer takes the good people? Likely not a fair statement, but mourning makes you think of all kinds of inappropriate thoughts. I know that cancer is not discerning as it takes old, young, strong, smart, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, artists and writers. It doesn’t discern.
I write with a heavy heart and a love for someone I initially thought had no place in my life. I write this realizing what an absolute privilege it was to know a man that despite the anger of this world, and the ugliness of it all, always remained positive. Some (including myself now and again) accused him of being “pollyanish” but if that’s the worst of what he leaves behind, I consider myself a very lucky recipient of his love, respect and upbringing. In my experience, “step” means a step up.
You will be missed, Grandpa Jim, Dad, Grandpa. I love you.
March 23, 2014
After only 6 weeks in my new position, I hear the voices of my clients from the past (my clients from the fitness world). Client after client would swear that they just didn’t have time to exercise and eating well was near impossible due to eating out for business meetings. I rarely bought it and believed if they wanted it bad enough,they could make the changes.
As I write this, I have become my client. Working 12-14 hour days, my flexible schedule no longer exists as I’ve become a product of work hard, exercise later. This past week as I found myself feeling a little “off” after once again eating out. I now have a much better understanding of my clients challenges. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
You really have to want it. My day starts around 7:15 a.m. or so. If I want to get a workout in, I need to be up at 5:00 a.m. and in the shower by 6:00 a.m. I have chosen to set aside M,W,F as my exercise days, but right now I’m lucky if I hit two of those days. Thank God for Saturday and Sunday, those are my make-up days. I do commit myself to no less than three days of workouts with a feeling of exhilaration if I can make four. Who’d a thought? After 30 years of listening to what I thought were excuses, I now get it. However, I do the best I can knowing that staying committed to my workouts allows me to perform optimally both personally and professionally.
Oh the food. I now average eating out about 7-9 times per week. Additionally, there is always food at the office, not necessarily healthy food. Although I don’t eat any of the left-overs at the office there’s still eating out. I thought I had it under control. I never eat anything fried or processed. I stick to “clean eating” as best as I can, but the bottom line is that restaurant food tastes good for a reason, the secret ingredients whatever they may be. Even in salad there likely lurks something that may not be good for you. After years of eating most all of my meals at home and being largely in control of what I put in my mouth, that has all changed. After this last week of once again feeling “off” after eating out, I’ve realize I simply need to keep the fridge at work stocked with healthy food. When eating out, make it minimal such as a side salad, or small bowl of soup (ugh the sodium) and then come back to the office and eat what’s in the fridge. P.S. Why do hotels that have fixed menus think when you order vegetarian it means pasta and cheese? Just throw a bunch of veggies on a plate and I’m happy. Interesting perception.
Breakfast is still the most important meal. Because my time is crunched, I’ve been grabbing a Larabar with some fruit. I was used to better quality such as oatmeal, eggs, green smoothies, leftovers from dinner. I need to get back to that.
The weather has sucked. There is no doubt (I’m sure psychologists have research on this) that a long, cold, snowy winter changes food cravings along with the desire to exercise. Oddly enough, during the time of year when we need it the most, we don’t do it. Guilty as charged. I do hope once summer hits things will change. I live four blocks from work and have walked to work a total of one, yes ONE time. Why? Weather along with meetings where I need my car. It stinks. Once the weather shifts (if it ever does) I will get back to walking.
At the end of 6 weeks, here’s what I’ve discovered. As a country we don’t design life around healthy living, we design it around convenience which means too much fast-food and too little exercise. For years I believed that no matter how busy your life, you can and must make time for health. I still believe that however, my reality has altered. A little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing.
- So how about you? Do you squeeze in the time to care for your health or do you find that it’s just too hard? If it’s the latter, I feel your pain, but do what you can to make it work, even if it’s just a few short walks here and there. Let’s not let work trump our quality of life, it’s short enough as it is!
Here’s to never wishing for more time rather making the most of it.
February 8, 2014
A few weeks ago, I was given an opportunity for a new job. The challenge is that I was working a couple of other jobs and making my own schedule. This made the idea of a 9 to 5 j-o-b less than appealing. When this position became available, a few people reached out and told me I’d be perfect for the role. I highly doubted I was their ideal candidate. However, my curious nature nudged me into researching the position more thoroughly. The more I learned and read, the more I realized that perhaps this was that time in my life where I had an incredible opportunity to marry my passion with my purpose. However, the 9 to 5 idea was far from tempting and I remained skeptical.
I loved my life, after 20 years of business ownership, I was able to create my own schedule. I could either accept or turn down freelance jobs and my time was completely my own. I was able to spend the entire summer gardening and cooking, running on a whim, (versus getting up at 5:30 to get it in before work), and actually having friends over to enjoy a leisurely dinner. I loved it. But the truth is, I had this pull in my gut to seek out every opportunity that came my way.
I don’t do well when I’m not seeking out or fulfilling my purpose. Although I dove in with freelance work and volunteering with two of my favorite charities, I still grew restless. The idea of sleeping in every morning didn’t appeal to me, a loosey-goosey schedule didn’t go well with my ADD and I found myself desperately seeking out “my place.”
Over 20 years ago I had a dream to start a business. I remember not sleeping at night just thinking about bringing my dream to fruition. My purpose and passion was crystal clear, I loved inspiring people and felt I was pretty good at it. I took the dreams and turned them in to reality and before I knew it, I had a thriving personal training business with staff and great clients. I was able to travel all over the world and share my insight on how to start or grow a business. I loved doing that. Talking to entrepreneurs and assuring them that with hard work, clear vision and excellent customer service, you can’t lose.
Teaching business skills in Durban, South Africa
I have always said that as long as I wake up every morning excited about the day ahead, I’m on the right track and in my place. A few years ago I woke up and I didn’t want to get up. In almost 17 years that had never happened. I knew something was amiss. It was like realizing you’re in a relationship that’s no longer working, it takes a long time to admit it and then do something about it. That’s exactly what happened to m e. I somehow felt guilty about not loving my business anymore. But I had also realized that I did what I came to do and now it was time to walk away and leave room for someone else. Fortunately, that someone else showed up and took over my business allowing me to go out and find my next place.
It took me almost 2 years to find my place. Steve Jobs sums it up. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
Looking back and connecting the dots pointed to this new position. All those years of giving business lectures to hopeful entrepreneurs. All those years of consulting and assuring weary business owners that failure sometimes happens, but it simply gives you what you need to build stronger and avoid the same mistakes. All those years learning the importance of networking and business building. These were all dots connecting me to this position. It became very clear that this position was to be my new place.
As of February 2, 2014 I took on my new role as President/CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. You might wonder why that after y ears of fitness? Check t his out for a better idea. But the truth is once I decided to accept this position, quiet confidence became my best friend. Typically women focus on the doubt and miss all the possibilities. As the first woman CEO of this organization, you can bet I went forward with trepidation. I also went forward with excitement and when people asked, “Why?” I simply responded, “Why not?”
I have written more than once about the beauty of hitting your 50’s. In our 50’s we’re more willing to take chances (which seems ironic), we’re more confident in our abilities, we are better able to listen versus trying to constantly get our two cents in. And, we easily walk away from things that offer us little in the way of positive growth.
I just finished my first week in my new position. There were some amazing things as well as some tough decisions. But I’m up for the challenge and most importantly I have found my place. Every day I get to advocate on behalf of business owners, big and small. I get to find ways to help make other people successful. That is truly my purpose and I am passionate about moving that purpose forward.
My first speech as NACC President/CEO
Some people search forever to find their place, but very often that place is where it’s been all along, in our heart and mind. It’s taking what’s in your heart, combining in it with your intellect and creating magic. I see all to clearly now how my dots connect and I am happy to say that I really like my new place.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!
January 6, 2014
O.K, I have to admit that every January I cringe when I see the ads for weight loss. The miracles abound and the “real” answer to weight loss woes are simply a click away. Too much belly fat? There’s a program for that. Excess holiday weight gain? There’s a drink for that. Get abs of steel with 4 simple steps. My response to all of those secrets to success is bull$&@*! After 30 years in the health and fitness industry I ask that you read the rest of this post knowing that what I’m sharing with you is fact. No hype, nothing earth shattering simply the honest to goodness truth about weight loss, why people are overweight and ultimately what the ONLY solution is.
First, let it be said that I made the conscious decision to sell my fitness business and walk away from the industry after 30 years. I was fried, frustrated and felt it was time to move on and find my passion and purpose somewhere else. I’m sharing that with you so that you understand I have no ulterior motives other than to motivate you to walk away from any “too good to be true” ads and prevent you from parting with good money for bad solutions. So, here we go.
1. Diets don’t work, period. Yes, yes, yes, we’ve all lost weight on them, self included but for the long-term they do not work. What works is CHANGING your diet. Each day,bit by bit, small change by small change.
2. Say good-bye to fried food, fast food and fake food. You can’t expect to make these changes over night, but I can assure you, if you get rid of the 3-f’s your body will respond in kind, i.e. you’ll drop some lbs. and feel significantly better.
3. Ignore the television ads and 3 minute solutions in magazines. Here is what you should always remember, if there were truly a drug, vitamin, piece of equipment that really helped you lose weight successfully, it would be on every news program, on the front of newspapers, etc. There isn’t one so the next time you see an ad that shares “Millions of people have already bought our product and been successful” they’re likely lying.
4. Here are the ONLY things you need to know to reach a healthy weight, reclaim your health and potentially get off of medication: Eat less, move every single day (even if it’s only 15 minutes), drink more water, limit alcohol, get a decent amount of sleep and love yourself. That’s it, that’s the secret, that’s the miracle.
Books, magazines and ads can spin weight loss any way they want to, but the truth is #4 is the ultimate solution. Of course, your expectations need to be in line with your lifestyle. In other words, if you like having that occasional glass of vino, you know that exercise daily may not happen and you still love your Friday night pizza, don’t expect miracles. But if you’re still eating better, drinking more water, moving more consciously (even if it’s getting up from your desk every 30 minutes to grab a drink of water) you’ll be ahead of the game by years end.
O.K. I feel better. Do you?
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it. Happy 2014!!
December 31, 2013
2013 was less than dull, and my hunch is 2014 will be just as full.
As I look behind to write this post, some things were dreadful, while others I loved most.
Mother Nature took her toll reminding us all that when push comes to shove, she makes the call.
Sadly war continues in far away places, though a different kind of war lives in U.S. spaces
Hunger and homeless claim innocent lives, while soldiers keep dying despite children and wives.
Celebrities still influence in ways I don’t get, while reality television remains stations best bet.
Finally marriage is equal to all, yet plenty are opposed shouting, “It’s a bad call.”
A new Pope believes love is free and equal, and reminds us the importance to be a giving people.
Beloved athletes made their cheating known, while some celeb slurs created a nationwide groan.
Miley Cyrus made a scene with a simple foam finger and claimed to the world, “I’m a serious singer.”
There were people who passed much too young as well as others whose praises we sung.
As I look back there is plenty of pain, but sole focus on those would leave nothing to gain.
Therefore I say, “Au revoir” to ’13 and open the door and welcome ’14
No matter the year good comes with the bad, the joy and celebrations so many we had.
As we look forward to this new date, there’s so much good to anticipate.
We all have the capacity to love and learn, the desire to give and accept our turn.
We all have the ability to choose good over bad, and make solid choices we’re lucky to h ave.
No matter what comes the world will go on, just keep kindness and love as your number one.
Here’s to an amazing 2014.
December 21, 2013
For the last 15 years I have experienced and enjoyed the holidays fully. When I was young, I had the all too common experience of divorce in my family which resulted in less than stellar holidays, and often some form of drama. My story isn’t unusual, but how I decided to change it all is important
From the time I was about 11, which was shortly after my parents divorced, I never looked forward to the holidays. They were painful, often included awkward moments debating where we were to spend Christmas, who bought what for whom and how much they spent on each child and on and on. It was never enjoyable. I was more excited to see the holidays end versus start of the season. My recollection is that the celebratory part of the holidays were nonexistent.Therefore, my best defense or my coping strategy was getting sick. Invariably, every Thanksgiving or Christmas I was sick.
Being sick kept me in bed and gave me a “free pass” to skip out on the holiday drama. I found it worked well. Unfortunately, when I started my own family the behavior continued. One summer I went to visit my relatives and we began reminiscing. We got on the subject of the holidays and my cousin asked about my family holidays, “I hate the holidays. It just stirs up all the old crap and quite frankly, I dread them every single year.”
She looked at me with cheerless eyes and said, “Oh Nicki, now is the time to create your own history. You’re doing yourself and your family a huge disservice by allowing the past to dictate your future. Why not start your own family traditions and build new, happy memories?”
Why hadn’t I thought of that? How selfish I was to allow my bad experiences to flow over in to my family. I started thinking about the time I had wasted having a pity party for myself. “What’s done is done,” I thought. What was odd is that I had managed to master the skill of leaving behind my past in so many other areas, yet the holidays I couldn’t seem to cut loose. That was until my cousin put things in perspective for me. Sometimes you’re just ready to hear things.
The following Christmas I made the decision to enjoy the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I vowed not to get sick and to enjoy MY family. It was time for our family to write our own history and most important for my children to experience great holidays. Trust me, it wasn’t easy but it really wasn’t about me now was it? It’s about so much more no matter what your beliefs.
This Christmas will be the 15th Christmas since having that discussion with my cousin. Each year becomes more fun, more enjoyable and we have built some pretty incredible memories. At the end of the day it really was up to me to discontinue the cycle of negativity and create an opportunity for my children to construct their own memories and traditions. And we definitely have traditions, special, wonderful, fun, loving traditions.
No matter your history, your future is yours to write, however you choose. We can continue to live in the past allowing it to dictate our future, or we can grant ourselves the opportunity to generate new memories making the past something to cherish. To me, that is the best present of all.
I wish you warm holidays, wonderful traditions and most importantly a story full of hope, love and possibility.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.
December 16, 2013
(Guest post by Quinn McAdams )
The holiday season has arrived, and many people are thinking about Christmas gifts. Finding the perfect gift for anyone is difficult, especially for a man who is active and fit. Obvious items like running shorts and shoes are helpful, but do not make a statement. Below are some ideas of some unique gifts for the healthy man who has everything.
Adding extra weight during a cardio workout will aid in building endurance and strength. Giving a man a weighted vest will allow him to put on muscle as he does his cardio routine, whether by running or going to the gym. It is a gift he is sure to appreciate.
Golf Shoe Bag
Many fit men enjoy playing golf and wind up with dirty shoes after the last hole. This can cause a big mess if they are simply tossed into a car trunk. A golf shoe bag is a stylish way to solve this problem. It comes with vents, which allow the shoes to dry out while preventing mud and grass from spreading inside the car. I bought my husband one a few years ago from this site.
Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Fit people like to keep track of their heart rate while working out. A heart rate monitor watch is a great way to do this. The watch can determine target heart rates, whether the training regimen is focused on burning fat or improving fitness and find the right balance between activity and rest. The device can also conveniently push fitness data to a computer.
Nothing is more frustrating than being out on a run in cold weather and having to use a smartphone with standard gloves. This has caused some men to simply run without gloves, which is not comfortable. Touchscreen gloves have thinner material at the fingertips to allow the person to easily change music and answer calls while exercising.
Filtered Water Bottle
Staying hydrated during workouts is very important. Those who exercise outdoors often drink bottled water, and using a filtered water bottle is a smart way to save money and respect the environment. The bottle provides the convenience of being able to fill up anywhere, and it can be useful in emergency situations. Check out some filtered water bottle reviews here.
Giving the right gift requires thought and planning when it comes to the active man. The guide above is a good starting point for practical, useful gifts that will continue to please for years to come.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.
December 8, 2013
I live in Chicago, a very long way from South Africa. About four years ago I had the privilege of visiting South Africa and it was there that I learned a lot more about this incredible warrior and liberator, Nelson Mandela.
I’m embarrassed to admit that in 1993, I was so busy raising my children and starting my business I didn’t pay close attention to Mandela’s greatest milestone, fighting for and guaranteeing full rights for all black citizens. When I visited in 2009 there was no sign (to me) of apartheid. People compare Nelson Mandela with Martin Luther King, Jr. for their unwavering efforts to give all people of color the right to live freely in a country that touts justice and liberty for all.
With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela I couldn’t help but think back on some of the amazing forces that have fought for human rights and inspired me. Going as far back as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and of course Rosa Parks. There is Desmond Tutu and one of the more recent, young activists for human rights, Malala Youzafzai.
The common denominator amongst this group of individuals, (yes I know there are many more), is leadership. Taking the risk for something they believe in and doing whatever it takes to bring justice to fruition. These individuals took the helm at a time where death was always a potential outcome yet never wavered from their convictions. Compassion is also a strong part of their DNA. Because of their personal struggles, they rose above to save others from the same fate. Humbles me just thinking about it. Risking ones life to save another.
I have always been drawn to those individuals that lead with integrity, honesty and passion. It is empowering to see that because of people who dared to dream and take the risks to make it a reality our world is a better place.
There is no doubt Nelson Mandela has touched an infinite number of lives, mine included. How lucky for those that knew him personally. He was a force to be reckoned with if he wanted change yet he was a consummate peacemaker. How one can combine those qualities and create the changes he has can only be explained as extraordinary.
My feeble attempt at honoring a man who is responsible for positively changing so many lives is shared below. Please enjoy some of my favorite quotes by not only Nelson Mandela, but the others who also fought for the rights of so many. As a mom, woman, business owner, community advocate, and volunteer these quotes and many others, have helped me become a better person.
“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.” -NM
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” – NM
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” MLK
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” MLK
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” AL
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” – AL
“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” – FD
“Without struggle there is no success” – FD
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. ” – RP
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” – RP
“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” – DT
“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.” – DT
“I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” – MY
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.” – MY
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.