Tag Archives: motivation

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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A Has-Been Beauty Queen

This past week, my social media news feed was flooded with posts from friends declaring both their pride and disappointment after weeks of competition at both Miss SC and Miss NC. Oh how I remember those days. But fortunately, I didn’t live through that experience during the dagvl-crown_24664646841_oys of instant access and social media.

My friends and family never had the chance to post (for all the world to see) how proud they were of me or how disappointed they were that I didn’t win the state title. My committee couldn’t publicly post how frustrated they were with the system (right or wrong) or how understanding they were about the outcome over which they had no control.

Everything about the process was different then. But the outcome is the same.

I never won Miss South Carolina. To this day, there are people who still think I did.  But they obviously didn’t live through the excruciating pain I suffered for weeks after the state pageant. They weren’t the ones picking me up off the floor that was a result of one disappointment after another. You see, those people who still think that only know me now as a struggling (but sometimes successful) businesswoman, community leader, public servant and – yes – a “has been beauty queen.”

Those people who know me now (versus then) see videos and photos and still believe I was Miss SC (I’ve learned that saying to them “no I never actually won” doesn’t really work…they think I’m just being modest). But to be fair, my resume today (which in addition to my awards and community service also includes many years as an executive director of three local Miss America preliminaries and volunteer of the year for the Miss NC Pageant) certainly looks like I COULD have been Miss SC. Then you add to that the fact that I still talk about the experience on a regular basis and in a positive light…

So that’s the funny part about my story. When people introduce me today as a “former Miss SC” (it happens more often that you might think), I smile politely and say “not exactly” – and then have to explain that even though I came close a few times, I never actually won the title. There are those who are surprised and those who are flabbergasted (in a complimentary kind of  way, of course.) I am, however, honored to still be friends with the young ladies who DID win Miss SC when I competed. I am so proud to call them friends and see all they accomplished both during and after their year of service.

The only thing that really matters is this…everyone accepts me for who I am…former Miss SC or not. And here we are 20-something years later (but who’s counting?) still discussing my participation in an organization that I love, respect and more importantly, still support as one of the best and most fulfilling things of my life.

I’d be lying if I said I never look back and wonder “what if” I had actually won Miss SC and how my life would have been different (but that’s for another post – stay tuned). But mostly I just smile and thank God for the opportunity to be just another “has been beauty queen” who has been given amazing opportunities to inspire, educate, motivate and serve. In spite of not being given a state crown and a microphone to share my passion.

Hey maybe that ended up working out okay for me after all…


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Wisdom from a Cocktail Napkin

“No one changed the world by staying put.”

I don’t know who originally coined that phrase, but I saw it over the weekend on a napkin under my Ginger Ale on a Delta flight from Pittsburgh to Atlanta. Great thought from a company that wants you to travel more, right?

But that quote isn’t just about traveling and seeing the world. It’s about what you do when you get there.

Seeing the world outside of our own environment opens our eyes to new cultures, foods, fashions and beliefs. But it also opens doors to new opportunities to learn and serve.

I’ve been fortunate to visit some amazing parts of the world the past few years, but there are many othe2017-04-20 09.54.47rs still on my “bucket list.”  I admit some are for pure pleasure – Hawaii, Greece, Italy…but others are because I believe one person can change the world by NOT staying put. One day, I’d like to help bring clean water to Ghana with my friend Walter Hughes. One day, I’d like to administer polio vaccines to children in India with my friend Nancy Barbee. One day…

But until then, I will find ways to bring about change in my little corner of the world. To do this, I can’t stay put. And that doesn’t necessarily mean travel. It means being willing to do for others, and to give back more than you receive. It means living every day in “service above self” as we say in Rotary.

It means being a good friend, aunt, daughter, sister, mentor, employee, boss, neighbor or volunteer. By refusing to “stay put,” I can change the world. So can you, if you’re willing.

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Today is the day…

Today is the day I’ve been both preparing for and dreading. I’d like to say this is why you haven’t heard from me in a few weeks, but that wouldn’t be true. The reality is I just got busy – traveling, speaking, working, even a vacation thrown in there. Basically I got busy with life and I let my writing (blogs, emails, everything) move farther down on my “to do” list.

(Weren’t you guys supposed to be holding me accountable on that??)

But yesterday, I spent some time on a plane returning from a great trip to West Virginia where I spoke to a group of Rotarians at their district conference. My job was to motivate them to “find your passion and make it your purpose.” My intent was to renew their enthusiasm for “service above self.” I think I accomplished that goal.

But more importantly, they did the same for me. They renewed my enthusiasm. They motivated me to write. They stirred something inside of me that made me want to create again. They reminded me of MY purpose.

But back to today…Without sharing all the details yet (I’d prefer to wait and see how it turns out), just know that this is “one of those days” that you know is coming but don’t look forward to. I’d appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers, and I promise to share more soon.

2017-04-20 15.02.40I don’t write this message to instill fear or concern, or to elicit sympathy, but rather to remind you that we all face issues bigger than ourselves. Just because my life looks “glamorous” (I’ve heard it called that!) and fun in pictures or on social media, I have bad days same as you. I pull the covers back over my head and pretend my problems don’t exist. (For me, that also means I fail to put my pen on paper and I tell myself it will be ok.)

But some days, like today, I am reminded of both my passion and my purpose. And I’m reminded of friends like you all over the world who inspire me to do more, to be more and to give more.

So for that I thank you. I pray I can do the same for you.

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