|Amy's Awesome Blog
May 6, 2013
This is a repost from a few years ago… a good reminder that life’s magic comes in the tiny moments….
I woke up at 7am, thinking about a friend, a young mother of two little childrenwho is will have brain surgery this morning.
I think she held her babies extra tight at bedtime last night. I think she lingered a few extra moments in the arms of her husband this morning.
We live out our days making plans for the future: a dinner date with an old friend next week, Christmas eve with extended family, our high school reunion next summer. Yet, challenging news such as a cancer diagnosis, an accident, or a job loss, can quickly change our future.
Last night I had a delightful conversation with a terrifically smart contemporary. We’d both experienced making substantial money and losing much money. Summing it all up, he said “In the end, money’s gratifying but the stuff bought doesn’t matter. I just genuinely want to be happy.”
Studies have revealed that once people have enough money to cover the basics, more money doesn’t increase happiness. My friend agreed, saying “More money means you just buy more expensive stuff. It’s pretty easy to get caught up chasing your tail just to keep things afloat.”
We all get a bit of a “high” in buying new things. Recent studies have shown the thrill of buying a new car wears off within a month. The pleasure of getting a new house wears off in an average of three months. This is when the tail
chasing begins. More, more, more.
I am sure the last thing on my friend’s mind last night was her bank account. I
think she stole into her children’s rooms, to hear their sleepy sounds. Perhaps this morning, when her husband kissed her goodbye she breathed in his cologne.
Happiness comes in the tiny little moments that happen now. As I write this, I am snuggled in my bed, with new books strewn around me.to enjoy. This morning I took an extra long walk with my mom. I ate a bowl of
cherries, probably the last ones of the summer season.
Life is exceptionally good when we take moments to appreciate the simple gifts it brings. It doesn’t cost a thing to pet my dogs, or savor a glass of ice tea.
Yet it is all very nice indeed, and I am truly grateful.
God Bless you all with small magical moments..
April 26, 2013
I travel often and rely on my GPS to take me places. To make this work, I need to
listen to the directions it gives me. If I am preoccupied with a conversation,
daydreaming, or listening to books on tape, I may be too distracted to follow
my GPS instructions. Afterall, I, not my GPS, is steering the car. So if, I turn
incorrectly this isn’t the error of my GPS. When I plug in my destination, my
GPS is programmed to get me there.
We all come equipped with an internal GPS. When we plug specific goals into our GPS, it gives us directions to achieve these goals.
If you decide you want to lose ten pounds, your inner GPS will guide you to lose
it. Sometimes revealing itself as a tiny inner voice, your GPS will whisper to
you throughout the day.
For example, while ordering lunch at a local fast food restaurant, it’s your inner
GPS whispering “You should have a salad”. The problem is, you’re steering your life. So, you can follow your inner GPS directions or toss it off and order a double cheeseburger. You are in charge, after all.
When you plunk down onto your couch at the end of a workday, your inner GPS might suggest you hit the treadmill. Once again, the directions are there, but the decision remains yours.
Your inner GPS is set up to get you to your goals. If you want a better relationship with your child, your GPS will assist you. If you want to quit smoking, your inner GPS is ready to help. If you have career goals and aspirations, plug them into your inner GPS , and you will be on your way.
Just remember to listen closely and follow the directions it gives you.
April 9, 2013
Holding a grudge is like drinking poison while hoping the other guy dies.
Years ago after a keynote, I was meeting and greeting audience members when a woman took me aside to ask me how she could forgive her ex-husband.
He’d abused her throughout their marriage. Despite her best efforts to forgive, every time she thought of him she burned with hatred and anger. “His abuse destroyed my future. I can’t think of anything else. My hatred for him is paralyzing.”
The thing is, her ex didn’t destroy her future. Instead, this woman was destroying her future by dwelling in the past. You cannot move in a forward direction by looking behind you.
Not long ago I met another audience member who’d suffered a through serious health issues. He was so angry with his body for “turning on him”. He’d always been careful with his health
“While other people sit around like couch potatoes…harming their bodies with poor choices I was health conscious yet I got sick. It is so unfair, and I feel so cheated! I lost everything…my business, my friends, everything while being sick!”
Sometimes we must forgive others. Some time we have to forgive ourselves in order to move on…
Bitterness will keep you from your new future and your more powerful you.
It’s like trying to drive forward while continuing to look in the rear view mirror. It won’t work. You will veer off the road. You will miss your intended journey.
Often people refuse to forgive because they think that they are approving the wounding or thoughtless act committed. This isn’t true. The deed is done. The act was wrong or unjust. Forgiving doesn’t change that.
Forgiveness doesn’t demand reconciliation with the person who wronged you. Sometimes reconciliation works and sometimes it is an terrible idea and shouldn’t happen.
Forgiveness means you are putting the incident behind you. You are choosing to move forward.
Forgiveness is a process.
Usually you don’t just forgive and get over it. Instead, you decide to forgive one day and have a few good weeks without the bitterness. Suddenly a trigger sparks a memory that hits you like a brick to the head, and you are angry all again. So you have to sift through the crap and forgive again.
You have to keep working through the forgiveness process.
You will get there…you just need to keep trying.
Remember, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
March 28, 2013
Gladly give in….
We all do it. We get stuck in a power struggle with those we love. They want something. It is spoken or unspoken, but we know they want it. They want you to attend the fundraiser or basketball game. They wish you would scrape the frost from their windshield or scrub the bathroom floor.
Giving in would be an act of kindness, but you dig in, reminding yourself of the moments they disappointed you. It’s payback time.
Consider gladly giving in.
Life’s magic comes in everyday moments of saying yes to being loving and kind. When we show love through acts of kindness our hearts and our relationships grow stronger. There is power in positive action.
Next time you feel a surge of irritation as thoughts of “What about me?” race through your head. Resist the urge to fall back by digging
in and saying “NO”.
Instead,lean into forward action by saying yes!
Small acts of loving kindness change the world. Who you are in this world matters.
March 22, 2013
This morning while sorting through a pile of old magazines, I was struck by how often the covers lead with the newest weight loss solution…”Suddenly Slim! Lose 33 pounds!” “2013′s breakthrough weight loss soup!” “Slow metabolism? Drop One Dress Size every month!” the headlines promise.
These headlines feed into the quick fix mindset that has overtaken our culture.
We live in a world where we really don’t have to wait for much of anything. Need
a new couch or a new television? Get a line a credit and it will be delivered this
week. Want that new dress? Put it on a credit card and you can walk out of the store
with it today and wear it tonight.
We like shortcuts and new diets feed directly into this eternal hope that some expert has a secret that will reveal the easy route to losing weight and staying slim.
Despite all the weight loss programs, diet regimes, diet pills, and herbal rubs we are getting fatter and fatter.
Let’s face it. The possibility that eggs from a prehistoric fish rubbed on your
upper thighs will get rid of your cellulite or that eye of the newt swallowed
at midnight will make you forever trim is just ridiculous. That said, I liked the
idea of a miracle weight loss soup.
Change… be it for weight loss, better financial management, organizing your office, or improving your time management skills…any kind of change takes time.
Small, bite sized changes incorporated into your life create big, successful long
This is the secret to change…small equals big.
I recently had a friend decide he was going to lose fifty pounds, quick smoking,
quit drinking five energy drinks a day, and start exercising. When I asked him what small change he would make this week, he faltered. The truth is that multiple ambitious goals usually fail before they begin. It is just too much. It’s like setting off in your Nike shoes with a jump rope to climb Mt Everest. It won’t happen.
Real change comes from consistent, small, doable changes.
Huge ocean liners are equipped a steering wheel attached to gigantic rudders. Built into these ten story high rudders are a little second rudder, a trim tab that when moved, creates a vacuum allowing the rudder to turn. The tiny trim tab is the change agent that allows the turn to happen.
About a year ago Steve decided he needed to lose weight and lower his blood pressure. Steve recognized that he drank too much Coke and overindulged in potato chips. HE began by allowing himself one Coke daily and he consciously savored that one coke. The rest of the day he chose to drink either water or lemonade.
Steve also recognized that when he arrived home from work, famished, he’d make
a beeline to the chips he stored in the corner of his counter. The next small change
Steve made was putting some space between his impulse and his action. When he arrived home, he would veer from the kitchen to the bedroom to change out of his work clothes. Then he would head for his fridge filled with healthy food options such as baby carrots and apples. He also moved the chips ( purchased for his son) into another less accessible location in the kitchen.
When these small changes became second nature, he’d add another small change
like reading food labels for sodium or eating popcorn without salt.
One year later Steve has lost twenty five pounds and significantly lowered his blood pressure. He looks and feels fantastic.
His weight loss and healthy lifestyle didn’t come quickly. His story probably
won’t make the cover of a magazine, but it worked.
What area of your life would you like to improve? Decide on a small change you
will commit to making.
At a recent workshop, several members of my audience committed to changes such as reading a spiritual devotion for fifteen minutes every day, another to spending a brief time every morning to organize her office, yet another to exercising for ten minutes three days weekly over her lunch break.
Small changes allow us to succeed, and success helps us motivate us to the next small change.
As human beings, we are change experts. We just have to remind ourself that the small, successful changes add to do the momentous change…and that big change doesn’t happen overnight.
March 13, 2013
My keynote ” You, The Everyday Hero: Celebrating the Power of Kindness” emphasizes that “who you are in this world matters” I use basic kindness principles to show that being everyday hero doesn’t require you to have super powers or even a red cape. You just need to do the little extra that you aren’t otherwise obligated to do.
Speaking of this, I just had THE BEST conversation with everyday hero Kathy from a metro transit organization. Kathy’s positive energy emulated the principles of kindness.
When I told Kathy I tailor my program to include heroic stories from the organizations I address, she couldn’t wait to share good feelings by telling me the following story.
One of Kathy’s co-workers is a bus driver who was on his route when he saw a woman fall in the street. This everyday hero promptly pulled his bus to a safe area and stepped out to help this fallen stranger.
Kindness principle: Acts of Kindness are like seeds, they will grow but someone has to spread them.
When this bus driver stopped to help this fallen woman, his act helped her but, this kindness also spread to people watching it. Witnessing an act of kindness increases happiness and makes you more likely to pay it forward. Even hearing about an act of kindness spreads good feelings because hearing about kindness encourages you to be kinder.
Acts of kindness are like seeds, they will grow, but you have to spread them. The bus driver started the act of kindness as did Kathy when she repeated the story to me.
Kathy also illustrated the kindness principle: “You are responsible not only for your actions, but also your attitude”
Kathy bragged about her metro transit organization. She told me about recent awards they’d won and let me know how proud she is to work with such a high quality organization. Kathy said “I work for a GREAT boss!” and sent me a link to an interview done about him, and she praised her supervisor and her fellow employees.
Kathy’s pride in and excitement about her organization positively flowed through the phone to me.
Do you start your day crossing your fingers, hoping you will collect happy experiences to create a fabulous day for yourself? Instead, pack happiness like you would a bag lunch. Decide you will bring happiness to your day instead of extract happiness from your day. Then, no matter what happens, your positive attitude will flow through the event or interaction.
In our fifteen minute conversation, Kathy emulated the spirit of the everyday hero. Her positive upbeat approach to her workplace was a breath of fresh air!
How do you represent your workplace? Are you bragging about your tremendous co-workers and the splendid work you do? You are responsible not only for your actions but also for your attitude.
Thanks Kathy for giving me a lovely beginning to my week!
Here’s one more kindness principle “You never know how an act of kindness will return to you”.
Kathy, your positive attitude caused me to write a blog…about you! You never know how an act of kindness will return to you…
Who you are in this world matters!
March 6, 2013
I once watched my neighbor’s Labrador, Mitch, drag a tree branch down the street to his home. It was ridiculously oversized and cumbersome, but Mitch inched it along dragging, dropping, repositioning, to take this oversized branch home.
It was hilarious and silly. Mitch might enjoy chewing the branch, but he’d gain no real sustenance from it.
Mitch might successfully drag the branch home, but his owner will eventually throw it away.
How often are you like Mitch? How do you measure success?
Do you spend your time and energy dragging stuff into your life that offers no real sustenance?
Many years ago I met an elderly business woman who’d worked day and night to establish a tremendously successful company. She lived in the poshest part of town. Her home was decorated with expensive furniture and original artwork. She wore furs and practically needed slings to support her hands, weighed down by enormous diamond rings.
During a party hosted by her company, and after too many glasses of wine she cornered me to tell me about her success and the price she’d paid to achieve it. One marriage and several romances with “extremely lovely men” ended because, she admitted, “I wasn’t around.”
On her journey to success, she attended business meetings instead of her childrens’ birthday parties and entertained clients during her kids’ soccer games and dance recitals.
She’d always meant to make it up to her children, she explained, slurring from the wine. “I just never found the time because there was always so much work to do.”
Now her children are adults and their relationship is strained. “I only hear from them when they want money” she sighed. “I guess that’s what they learned from me”.
Sadly, she spent all her time and energy dragging home the biggest stick on the block, but it couldn’t nourish her.
A multimillionaire, yet she remains the most unsuccessful and loneliest person I’ve ever met.
What is most important to you? Think about it…
Now, look at your personal calendar, checkbook, and credit card statements. Where are you spending the majority of your time, money, and energy? Does it coincide with those things you consider most important?
If it doesn’t, the time to change is now.
Take time to consider how you measure success.
To quote my very best friend ” A child’s best gift from his parent is time spent”
February 26, 2013
The following is a final short chapter from my book…Couples Under Construction How to strengthen your relationship while you build your dream home…
I’ve not had a dying patient wish he had driven a nicer caror that he had spent more time at the office. Not one dying patient wish she had worn nicer clothes or that she had lived in a bigger home.
I once read the following words are most commonly said when dying.
I love you.
Do you love me?
I forgive you.
Do you forgive me?
There are about 6.5 billion people living in this world. We speak over ten thousand languages, with hundreds of thousands of customs, coming from up to 250 different countries.
In the midst of all those differences, all 6.5 billion of us have the same desire, to be loved. All of us hope someone in this world will shine his or her light on us and see us as someone special, someone significant.
If you’ve bought this book, you have that. This person you stand beside saw something unique and magical in you. You were chosen.
In the midst of disappointments and triumphs, decisions and compromise, frustration and excited anticipation remember your couple is more valuable than the house.
Whether you are building or not, as a couple you are always under construction.
February 17, 2013
Last autumn I took my two dogs for an evening walk. Zoey is a well mannered five pound poodle. Isla. a pomeranean, was supposed to be only four pounds, but now weighs in at a whopping twenty three pounds. Isla jerks on her leash to the point of choking herself, she barks rabidly at everything ….people blocks away, blowing leaves, and passing vehicles. She races in a frenzy, sometimes catching Zoey’s leash dragging and choking her.
In addition to being walked by the dogs, I had earbuds in and was talking with Steve on the telephone. Multi-tasking, to the max. We’d gone a few blocks when a small dog appeared, wearing a collar and dragging a leash. All three were in a smelling frenzy, greeting each other as only dogs can.
The little dog was lost and I was concerned for it.
Because I was multitasking…talking on the phone, walking my dogs, thinking about the lost dog…I wasn’t thinking straight. When I mentioned the stray dog to Steve, he said, “Tie the leash to pole, someone must be looking for it”.
I ignored Steve’s advice, grabbed up the stray dog’s leash and began walking home with three dogs.
Chatting away with Steve (who kept repeating his advice) I noticed that from time to time the stray dog would sit down and look behind him so I’d tug his leash and we continued to my house some blocks away.
Still chatting with Steve, I took all three dogs into my home,and unhooked all three leashes. The new dog was confused.
When I turned to close my front door, a college aged kid was standing on my front porch. He was on crutches with a heavy cast covering one leg from thigh to ankle. His face was bright red and sweaty, he was breathing heavily as though he’d been running.
The kid took a deep breath and said, “Hey Lady….I’ve been hollering at you and chasing you for five blocks…can I have my dog back now?”
Multitasking doesn’t work.
February 5, 2013
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It is 2:30am on August 30th and Susan cannot sleep. Weeks ago she committed to hosting thirty people for Thanksgiving dinner in their new home. The builder
called yesterday to announce that the delay in cabinet delivery will reschedule
the November 1st move in day.
Susan’s family must turn over their current home to the new owners on October 31st. Weather reports predict an early winter with lots of snow, which may also slow the construction process.
Her boss gave Susan a weird look when she mentioned taking time off in November to move into their new home. Sam, was sniffling yesterday “He just cannot stay home from school this week! I cannot take another day off of work!” Susan tosses and turns as thoughts of pending disaster dances in her head.
And so it goes: the free fall into the worry abyss.
If this: then that, and so on, and so on, and so on.
As humans, we have a remarkable ability to push ourselves moments, days, even years into the future and consider the possibility of “what might happen”.
The hitch with this futuristic viewpoint is that just being able to “think it”
does mean it will happen. Thinking does not make it so.
Worrying is not supportive. We want to think worrying helps us solve challenges ahead of time, but does not, because it cannot. Anticipating every conceivable utcome will not get us any closer to a solution. Worrying never, ever helped solve a problem.
We have no control over the future, and we cannot choose the best response to
an unknown. Lying awake, worrying about a range of potential problems is at
best a waste of time and energy. At worst anxiety may deplete energy needed to
respond properly when the time comes to respond.
Too often, in the middle of the night we start to catastrophizing about the
worse case scenarios.
One problem begets another, and they are all for naught. Worrying spins you
into dizzying circles instead of leading you to solutions.
Here’s the truth.
95% of what you worry about does not end up coming true.
The 5% that does come true you handle well.
So don’t let your thoughts get hijacked by worrying.
My coaching client was required to speak at a board meeting regarding her
resignation letter. She felt insecure about speaking publically. She decided
that her best outcome would be to tell her story “calmly without crying” and
that “being prepared” would help reassure her composure.
This client agreed to focus on three main points and journal daily about her
thoughts and feelings in order to calm her emotions and focus herself.
Writing is a helpful tool for working through difficult times. By putting your
thoughts, feelings, and emotions on paper, you will be better able work through
the emotions and climb to a more powerful perspective.
When we spoke after her meeting, she was extremely satisfied with her
presentation. She believed journaling helped her immensely and plans to use it
in future to calm herself in anxious moments.
Once Susan began writing about her worries they seemed a lot less intimidating.
If the house were not complete in time for Thanksgiving, then Susan would
relocate the meal to another family member’s home. Of course, she would be
disappointed, but it would not be a disaster.
If the family had to leave their old home before the new home was ready, then
they would temporarily stay at a local hotel. Not perfect but doable.
One by one, the worries faded.
In my family, when facing challenges, we say “It isn’t chemo”. By this, we
qualify that most challenges do not involve life or death endings. They are just
bumps in the road, inconvenient, not fun, but only bumps.
Worrying never (ever) solved a problem.
So stop focusing on the bumps in the road. Instead, look up and enjoy the
‘present’ of this moment as you journey through life.
The above is an chapter from my new book “Couples Under Construction”