Sunday, September 28, 2014

You're Never 'JUST' Anything

Depending on the source you use it could easily be tabulated that there are over 1 million words in the English language. Amazingly many can be used differently and have multiple meanings. For example, the word 'JUST'. It can be used as an adjective or an adverb; as well there are related synonyms (upright, accurate, exact, honest) and antonyms (biased, untrue, unjustified).

How many times have you heard some one's confidence or self-esteem questioned when they or someone else refers to them as being 'just this' or 'just that'? I've often heard young people say, 'I can't make a difference, I'm just a kid.' Someone at the office might say, 'The boss doesn't want to hear my opinion, I'm just an employee.' Guess what? As long as you're a living, breathing human being YOU have a voice. You have insights, experiences to share, and opinions. Don't ever let anyone, especially yourself, claim that you're just anything.

Never believe that you're just a student, just a mom, just a brother or sister, or just an employee. Give 100% to whatever you choose to do and you'll be more than you think you are. If you're a student then you're the future of our world as we know it. If you're a mom you're one of the most nurturing people a child will ever know. If you're a brother or a sister you have a unique opportunity to be a mentor. If you're an employee you have the ability to be part of something bigger than yourself.

Don't limit yourself by being just something. As well, don't limit those around you. Challenge yourself to be part of the solution rather than a contributor to the problem. Take the time to better know yourself, your hopes and dreams, and your gifts and talents. Choose not to limit yourself to stereotypes. For years the Army has used the slogan, 'Be all you can be.' Give it a try. What have you got to lose? Step out of your box and your self-imposed comfort zone. I know it's scary and intimidating, but anything worth fighting for is going to be.

What's something you're striving for? More importantly how can we help you achieve it?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Doing The Right Thing Because It's The Right Thing

How many times do you find yourself observing mankind's behavior and then thinking, "Seriously, has everybody gotten lazy?" For me that happens at least a few times a week. There's the usual scenarios: the people who speed up on your left side when the flashing arrows to merge to the right have been seen for more than a block. Is their time somehow more precious than yours? The people who take clothing into the fitting rooms only to discard their unwanted leftovers in a pile on the floor waiting for someone else to magically pick up after them? That seems to happen A LOT at JCPenneys and Kohls. I feel sorry for their employees having to constantly clean up the mess. The people who will throw their cigarette butts and trash out their car windows as if the rest of us don't mind living in their littered world.

OK, so now you're probably thinking that I'm on my soapbox and beginning a well-executed rant. Perhaps you would be right. We are ALL busy, but that doesn't give any of us the right to be lazy or disrespectful to those around us. I constantly find myself straightening a pile of clothes on a display table or putting that falling shirt correctly back onto it's hangar. Why? I'm not sure. I've never worked in clothing retail so I don't have old habits. Perhaps I'm OCD. Perhaps I just don't mind taking the extra second or two to make things nicer for the next person that comes along.

However, I do smile when I see a person actually slow down and open a door for someone else or see a person offer to get something off a high shelf. In reality it doesn't take any longer to be respectful and do something nice than it does to be lazy and have disregard for others.

In the words of Clint Eastwood, "Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power."  

So ... my suggestion for you today is to take the time to observe; the behavior of those around you as well as your own. Don't like what you see? Make a change. Now that can be empowering!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who Sets Your Priorities?

Everyday we live our lives with a TO DO list a mile long. We have things we have to get done, things we should get done, and things we'd like to get done. Every night we look at our lists again and say, "There just aren't enough hours in the day." Realistically we'll never get every thing done so we do the only thing we can. We prioritize our list. The thing about priorities, though, is they are always personal and we always have a choice.

Priorities are different for everyone. Every one of us gets to choose what we feel is important and what isn't ... well, most of the time anyway. We can't always choose the number of hours we work for our jobs or the deadlines that we're given, those are given to us. We can't choose how many hours in a day our children attend school. But we do get to choose, to some extent, how busy our lives get. WE get to choose whether or not we go to church, whether or not we play sports, how often our kids go to dance class, whether or not to create time for our family, and when and if we carve out time to socialize with friends.

We can complain all we want that we don't have enough time for things, but would that be accurate? Only WE can decide what is most important to us. For example, family meals have always been a priority in my family. We choose to make that happen as often as possible. Our schedules may get crazy, but my husband and I have always felt that family dinners were important. It's when we can all talk and catch up for a few minutes before we run off to our next scheduled event. Sometimes it's a home-cooked meal, sometimes it's carry-out, and sometimes we meet at a local Little Caesars for a $5 Hot-n-Ready. What we eat doesn't matter, it's the sitting down and talking part that does.
I never pretend to have everything figured out, but I think the key is that we remember not to judge other people and their priorities. What I think is important for my family may not be a priority for someone else. Never confuse someone else's choices with your own. I make my own choices and I have to live the consequences that they some times bring. Never set priorities for someone else, that isn't your right. You aren't in a position to judge or critique anyone else's life. Take a good look at your own and put your energy and focus on that. Think long and hard about what is important to you. Don't see enough time in your day for it? Maybe something in your schedule needs to be tweaked. That's the beauty of it. It's your life and you get to make those choices.
What's something you feel is so important to you that it remains at the top of your priority list? What do you choose to give up so that it can stay there?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting A Free Pass

Remember when you played Monopoly and you got a 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card? It allowed you a 'pass'; meaning you didn't have to go to jail and wait three throws of the dice or you didn't have to pay the dreaded $50 fee (I think that was the amount). What if you could do or say whatever you wanted in real life and not have to pay any consequences for it? Unfortunately if we watch the evening news we'll see that it happens just about every day. Yet we can hope  that we won't have to deal with any serious issues or crimes. I'll bet we all know that one special someone in our lives though who acts as if they're above reproach. That one person who thinks they can be rude and inconsiderate and never have to apologize or consider any one else's feelings.

How does that person make you feel? When they say rude things or try to be manipulative do you feel bullied? Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and ages. They can be found on the elementary school bus, in the high school locker room, in the office, in your own home, or in rush hour traffic. They're those people who, for whatever reason, feel better when they're putting someone else down; whether it's about your appearance, your values, your goals, or your accomplishments. For decades there have been those people who will tear others down in order to build themselves up. It's always at someone else's expense.

Do they realize how they're behaving? Do they even want to change? Deep down are they sorry, but feel trapped in their own behavior? I'm sure every case is different. I know some people who are able to get a snide remark into just about every conversation; for some I think it's on purpose. Sadly, for some I think it's become a normal way of life.

So what do we do when we encounter these people? Do we try to avoid them? Do we grow thicker skin? Do we let their rudeness just roll off like water? We can try these approaches, but they won't always work. We'll feel vulnerable at times and hurt and other times we'll remain strong and be able to tell ourselves to 'consider the source'. 

How do handle your 'special someone'? What would your advice be to someone in those shoes?

Monday, September 8, 2014

That One Recurring Dream

Do you have that 'one' recurring dream that you've dreamed for years? It may vary a bit each time, but it's always so similar and familiar. My dream involves me being a waitress. I can visualize the customers sitting down at the table. I can tell you their exact orders, and I can picture myself walking to the kitchen to turn the orders in, fixing their salads, and filling their drink order. Then the dining room usually gets busy and things get chaotic. My heart starts to race and my hands get clammy and I have to start telling myself, 'You've had nights like this before. You've got this.' Eventually I start trying to convince myself that it's just a dream and it's not real. 

I can go months or even years without the dream and then when I least expect it - it comes back in full force and vivid color. Why do you suppose it happens? I usually try to attribute the stressful dream to something I ate for dinner or the fact that I've probably got too much on my mind. 

You do need to realize that I'm not just pulling this scenario out of my overactive imagination. I actually worked in a restaurant all through high school and into college. Perhaps that time in my life was busy and a bit chaotic and a little stressful, but truth be told I WAS A REALLY GOOD WAITRESS. I actually liked serving people and enjoyed the job. Here's a secret (which I guess is no longer a secret if I share it), I actually met my husband when I was a waitress in college. It was near the end of my shift, he came in, I waited on him, we talked, he asked for my number, I gave it to him (o.k. ... I actually already had it written out just in case he asked for it or I was feeling exceptionally assertive). My point is that not ALL of my waitress memories are bad. We were actually married nine months later and we'll soon be celebrating our anniversary of 30+ years.

So what's your recurring dream? What do you find brings it on? More importantly, how are you able to turn it off?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How Do You Measure Success?

The world seems to be full of competition and personal drive. How do you measure your successes? As an artist do you measure your achievements by the number of paintings being displayed in a gallery or by the number of music CDs you’ve already sold? As an employee do you define your success by how far you’ve been able to climb the corporate ladder? As a gardener do you only feel accomplished once you’ve been invited to participate in a garden walk and received formal recognition for the fruits of your labor?

Do you ultimately measure your success by how YOU see yourself or by how others see you?

Do you consider yourself a good parent if your children are healthy, happy and well-adjusted? I watched a Hallmark channel movie just last night and heard a wonderful line. It went something like this, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” I considered it a sort of epiphany. If you are a parent, like me, who is very tuned in with her children (whether they are still at home or grown and on their own), then this is probably pretty accurate for how your emotions can be weighed in with those of your children.

This is my 200th blog post for A New Season of Insights. Who would have thought just a few short years ago that I would have THAT much to say or share? I know I wouldn’t have thought so. I wanted this 200th post to be special and monumental and significant and whole lot of other important things. Wow, talk about putting a lot of pressure on yourself, but then I stopped and asked myself, “What’s your blog all about anyway?” I consider it to be conversational and real and relative. Nothing more, nothing less. So we’ll get back to measuring successes. How do I measure my success as a writer? I have a little more than 100 Facebook followers. Have I reached 500 or 1,000 readers yet? No. Will I get to that point? I can’t say (my crystal ball is still in the shop). At last count my Admin. page says I've had 9,667 page views of my blog. That seems impressive; at least to me. I’ve written 199 posts (before today that is). I’ve had some GREAT feedback from readers; some amazing questions and some heartfelt comments. The fact that I still get to wake up every day and think about what I will write continues to bring me great joy. So with that in mind, I guess that makes me a success.

How about you? How are you measuring your success?