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.
By Nicki On November 23, 2014 No Comments
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.
By Nicki On March 23, 2014 1 Comment
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.
By Nicki On June 1, 2013 No Comments
How many times have you had to cancel on someone and when you called to leave a message, you explained every last detail? “I’m sorry, but I have to cancel my appointment today. My son has a cold and his teacher called me to say that he’s now got a fever. He’s been dealing with this cold since July. Anyway, I’m on my way to pick him up now. I’ll call back and reschedule.” Sound familiar?
Well, the truth is for whatever reason women feel compelled to explain themselves. Perhaps it’s a fear of looking bad and somehow a long-winded explanation makes us feel better.
Now let’s see what men do when they cancel. “Hi, it’s Joe, I can’t make my appointment, I’ll call back later.”
After 20 years of owning my business, I found that men never explained their cancellations, they simply cancelled. Women at times would go on so long my voice mail would cut them off.
So, what gives? Why do we feel the need to explain down to every sorted detail? Is it necessary? Does it make a difference? I’m thinking it’s just one of those things that separates the ladies from the men.
What do you think? Are you guilty?
Here’s to never wishing for more time rather making the most of it!