Second Chances

Millions of people were glued to their televisions on Sunday watching what can be considered one of the greatest “comebacks” in sports history. (Personally, I was busy helping package 10,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger with the Rotaract Club of Appalachian State University, but I would have like to have watched The Masters live.)

second-chance_24146876964_oThe story is one you either love or hate. Let me tell you why I love it. Tiger Woods’ fall from grace and popularity was easily one any of us could have experienced. Except his was more public. When he was making headlines for one scandal after another, we (the collective “we”) pointed fingers and blamed him for his transgressions. What we (again, the collective “we”) failed to recognize was that he was no different than everyone of us. Human. Prone to mistakes. And available to be forgiven.

I recognize many of my friends will disagree with this, but I was happy to watch Tiger Woods’ celebration of another major golf tournament because I was reminded that I have a second chance too. Certainly my mistakes and health issues and disappointments haven’t been as prominent in the media as his, yet they exist. I haven’t lost millions in endorsements. I haven’t watched family members turn away from me in disgust. I haven’t had friends give up on me when I have made bad choices. But my issues, in my life, have been just as difficult to face and handle, they are just on a smaller scale and more private. Thank goodness.

So my happiness for Tiger Woods is really happiness for forgiveness and second chances. And what better lesson for us all to be reminded of during this Easter season than that?

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You’re my people…

Have you ever wanted to do something so badly, but put it off so many times that you almost gave up completely? I mean so badly – with the best of intentions – but you feel like you’ve already failed, so why bother?

“People will think I’m crazy if I do it this late…”
“I doubt anyone even cares about this anymore…”
“It won’t even make a difference at this point…”

That’s been me with my weekly e-news and blog… let’s be honest… for a while now! It’s worse than a relationship I was in several years ago…on again, off again, on again, off again…

Every time I quit, I say I’m going to start back. And every time I DO start back, I quit again when things get busy or when things get difficult. In the last year, I’ve lost friends who I thought would always be beside me, I’ve lost jobs I thought for sure were mine to get, and I’ve lost six family members to death – including my mother. But those are just excuses. One after another after another.

“You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

I’m so grateful for the friends, family members, business associates and Rotarians around the globe who encourage me, support me and remind me to never, ever give up on my dreams and goals. I’ve run into people all across this country who ask, “When are you going to send another one of those great emails? I miss your quotes and stories!”

If you’re reading this today, you are one of those people, you’re “my people,” and I thank you. And I’d like to be one of those people for you in return.

Let’s do this…together…again. Are you with me? Leave me a comment below and let me know how I can encourage you. What do you want to start new or again?

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Expiration Dates

A few months ago I noticed one of those little yellow squeeze bottles in the door of my fridge. You know, the ones shaped like lemons and filled with 100% REAL Lemon Juice. Not only could I not remember using it recently, I didn’t even remember buying it!

Upon further inspection, I noticed an expiration date printed on the side. WHOA! Let’s just say I’ve aged a little bit since that lemon juice expired in my refrigerator! YIKES!

lemon juice

I quickly tossed the little squeeze bottle into the trash, shaking my head at myself. I never knew those things even HAD an expiration date. Which got me thinking…well, don’t we all?

Food is an easy one to remember (ok, maybe not for me…), but what about all those other things that expire before we use them? Things like coupons (I don’t know why I save all those fast food ones I get in my mailbox every month! I have NEVER used them before, but maybe one day….maybe??), gift certificates (those make me so mad at myself if I forget to use those!), prescriptions, running shoes (ok let’s be honest…I have never had that problem but I know people who do), and so much more.

What I quickly realized, though, is WE also have an expiration date – people, pets, jobs…But rather than stress out over what our expiration date might be, we should concentrate on what we will do BEFORE that date.

Maybe you’re like me and have a “bucket list” of things you want to see or do one day. But I’m not talking about a bucket list here…I’m talking about personal stuff. Spending time with friends and family…rekindling a strained relationship…losing weight or slowing down or getting healthy.

My bucket list is long and varied. But my list of “things to do before my expiration date” is fairly simple. Love and be loved. Leave this world a little better than I found it.  And quite honestly I have to work on both of those every single day. What about you?

Unfortunately, we aren’t like a bottle of lemon juice – we have no idea what our expiration date may be or what our “shelf life” will be. So don’t you think it’s time to get started on those things that make each day more satisfying?

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Put On YOUR Oxygen Mask First!

I was speaking to a group last week about the importance of volunteering – why you should do it and how to get others to volunteer with you (or for you). While preparing my remarks, I stumbled across a package of cups I bought with a friend many years ago that say “Stop me before I volunteer again!”

We can laugh about that because we know it’s funny (even if it is true), but deep down we all know I won’t stop volunteering – neither will you…it’s not “who we are.”  But just remember this – the only way you can continue to give to others is if you take time to care for yourself first.

headshot who we areRemember when the attendant on your last flight reminded you to put YOUR oxygen mask on first before helping someone traveling with you? If you’re like me you always think that’s just a little bit weird…but there’s a reason for it.  Experts tell us if we begin to lose oxygen on a plane, we may become disoriented or even unable to recognize familiar faces. It is imperative that we care for ourselves first in that situation if we expect to be any help at all to those around us.

Life is a lot like that, isn’t it? We are nurturers by trade. We are the “rock” of our family or the “dependable one” in our office or even the “go to” mom in the school. This means when we fail to care for our personal needs, we aren’t the only ones who suffer.

Don’t neglect yourself and your needs. If you’re gasping for breath or barely hanging on, you’re of no use to anyone at all.  There are so many things, even little things, we can do to help ourselves…going to bed earlier, eating healthier, finding some quiet time, even just being honest with ourselves and those around us. (How many times have you said “I’m fine!” when you are far from it??)

Will you join me this summer to commit to doing more for yourself – wait for it – WITHOUT feeling guilty about it!!?? It’s not going to be easy…trust me… but I’ll try if you will.

Because we both deserve it.

Go ahead-put on YOUR oxygen mask. I’ll wait…

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Nobody Likes A Bully!

The past few weeks have been overwhelmingly emotional for me, for a variety of reasons… my first Mother’s Day without my mom, an elective surgery for my dad, the pressure to increase my professional workload while building a new small business, my innumerable volunteer responsibilities, and a ridiculous encounter with a “friend” that caused me pain and self doubt. And those are only a few…

But what that last experience did for me, though, was remind me of how much I dislike bullies. After the confrontation, I went through many hours of uncontrollable sobbing and fewer hours of sleep. I woke up, looked in the mirror, and didn’t like what I saw. I had bloodshot and puffy eyes, a red nose, huge dark circles and a harsh realization that I was the only person in that “relationship” who was upset. I’m certain the other person didn’t lose sleep or become physically sick from the episode. So why did I?

It whappy for youas right then and there that I declared “No More.” No more will I succumb to bullies. No more will I let negative people bring me down to their level, ruin my day (or week), or upset me.

By now you’re probably thinking, “yeah, right…you? YOU were bullied?” You betcha…and it wasn’t pretty. Even worse, when I reflected back on the situation, I realized just how many times it’s happened to me just this year!

But here’s the best part…when it happened again the next week (not with the same “friend” – I’m not a masochist!), this time I responded differently. I smiled. Sweetly. (With my lips closed.) I nodded. And then I looked away. I didn’t even reply. And then I moved on.

I wish I could say that’s been my new response every time someone has bullied me or insulted me or even said something stupid or mean recently. It’s not. But I’m definitely getting better at it. One day at a time. I still intend to speak up and defend myself (or those I love) when appropriate (you can’t expect me to never say anything at all, right?), but I will NOT let those people affect my emotions and my personal well-being.

After all, you can’t control how people will treat you. But you can control how you will respond to those people and those negative situations.  Harsh words still hurt. But now I look at them differently. I will not lose sleep over a bully. I will not cry because of a bully. I will not consider myself unworthy because of a bully.

Because I know there are more important things to lose sleep over…like watching a sunrise, directing a friend’s wedding, going to a football game, or even catching an early morning flight. Yeah, I’ll keep losing sleep for those things…

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