Friday, May 27, 2011

What I Know For Sure

Dear Oprah,

What I know for sure is that I cringe at  endings. As much as I like change, look forward to what's next and love the start of anything new, especially a good book, I get twisted up when something ends. And that is how I feel now.

I don't like that my DVR will not be clicking in at 4PM every day just to make sure I didn't miss a really good show. I don't like that a reasonable voice in a sea of media insanity will be harder to come by. I don't like that I haven't published my novel in time to get you to pick it for your book club. I don't like that you are choosing this particular time, when the world is in such turmoil and so much is shifting and changing to give us one more upset.

But I do understand what it means to get to that point in a long and good run when you know you have to end it. That it is the only way to make room for something new.

I started this blog when I made a choice to leave my corporate career after, yes, 25 years, that magic number, because my core spoke to me and told me there was no other choice, not if I wanted to keep growing. It was time.

What I know for sure is how it feels that first Monday after the last day when you get up and make the coffee and realize you don't have to go where you used to go. When all of those familiarities of daily life are missing until you create a new set.  I have lived with the challenge of taking on something brand new, listening to people question your decision, and live with nothing more than trust and faith that it will all work out, it always does.

A lot of people say they grew up watching you. I like to say we aged together. I was born at the other end of the same year you were. While in so many respects our upbringing was vastly different, we were both raised in a world of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best in which women were portrayed as changing light bulbs in their high heels. And because of that I marvel even more at what you have accomplished.

What I know for sure is your influence knows no bounds. In a day of sensationalist interviewing, you maintained professionalism and class, allowing your viewers to reach their own conclusions without feeling they had been arm wrestled. And for that you won clout and our respect.

My favorite quote was in the NY Times on Thursday when they said "Ms.Winfrey blends the mystical and the practical better than anyone else in show business."

It is the mystical that is the divine feminine and the practical that is the male and only in balance will the world be healed.  You've helped to set that healing in motion. For that I thank you.

Less than three weeks after you launched in 1986 my father died. I couldn't imagine the world would go on without him.  But it did and so will ours without  Oprah at 4.

As for you Oprah, what I know for sure is that you will build OWN to be worthy of your name. I also know change is not without its bumps no matter how much you sought it. So feel free to stop by my blog and peruse some of the early entries. I'm told they can be helpful :)

Your fan, 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Secret: Remembering to Have Fun

I admitted it publicly here back in March when the season first started, but unless you've been following my Twitter stream you don't know the whole truth. I never stopped watching. The whole season. Every week. I knew how hooked I was when  I  logged in to and  started voting. I couldn't help myself. I was addicted, all over again.

And now the morning after the season finale of Dancing with the Stars  I want to avoid the inevitable withdrawal and I know no other way than to digest with you here.

Kirstie Alley was the reason I started watching again and Kirstie was the reason I stayed. Yes, I developed a crush on Hines Ward. Who wouldn't? His enthusiasm was contagious. I mean how could you not smile when Hines was dancing. His energy was palpable.  Besides, the transformation of a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers into graceful dancer is what the show is all about. Not to mention the chemistry with Hines and Kym.

It wasn't Chelsea Kane that kept me hooked.  As good a dancer as she was, as clean and crisp and studied her steps, Chelsea never really looked like she was enjoying what she was doing, nor for that matter did her equally talented partner.  They took it all a bit too seriously to captivate the masses. 

And then there was their obsession with how young they were compared to everyone else. Chelsea would refer to the demographics of the show while waiting for her scores as though your average DWTS viewer knew what she was referrring to or cared. It seemed an attempt to justify just in case she and Mark did not make it to the next week. I never quite got how they didn't see their youth was an asset if only in stamina and flexibility and that an older person (that would be me) would vote for someone younger if they felt them deserving.

I've no doubt that as Chelsea is trying to figure out what she did wrong, not only losing, but coming in third to Kirstie's second, she is still not getting it. So I'm going to let her in on the secret.

This competition is not about doing it right or wrong. It is not just about the steps being perfect, the choreography detailed and learning the dances. It is about having fun. It is about transformation. It is about stretching your being to do something you never did before or thought you could do. It is about inspiring the viewers that maybe they too might want to try something they never thought possible for them. It is about enjoying yourself and letting it show.

Kirstie was my hero this season. There were many who thought she was just one more over fifty woman who would hang out for a while, entertain the audience  with her star presence but never really learn how to dance. Wrong!  Kirstie did learn how to dance. She fell and picked herself up with grace. She lost her shoe and did not miss a step. She did not use her age or excess weight as excuses but rather challenges only she could get past.  She captivated Max to want to show her how, tough Max, known for his impatience and getting angry at his partners. No one could possibly argue that she earned her place in the finals last night. 

Above all she had fun. She took her pleasure in every moment. And she communicated it to the audience as did Hines who took home the Mirrorball trophy with Kym.  

That's my lesson for Chelsea. It is not enough to be really good at what you do if you take yourself too seriously and don't look like you're having fun. And you can do that at any age. 

Are you having fun and enjoying your challenges?
Does it show?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Doing The Work

If you've been wondering where I have been this past week I've been following Steve Pressfield's advice and I've been doing the Work. That is when I was not reading his latest book, which coincidentally is entitled, Do The Work.  

Steve says he designed the book to coach the reader through a project, from start to finish, as seen from the point of Resistance. It doesn't matter what the project is, a business venture or a novel.

If you are not sure what Resistance is it's that stuff that stops you from doing what your soul is calling you to do. Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. For me, it's this ugly spiny centipede type of monster that tries to pull me in every direction but towards the work. When in full regalia my Resistance clouds my brain in such a manner that I cannot remember how to put even one word on a piece of paper. My Resistance avoids this chair I am sitting in because it knows that once seated I might just find the strength to push the demon away. You see you can't permanently slay this dragon.  You can only quiet it long enough to get the Work done.

Do The Work is the first book I've read on my brand new iPad. If you have one of these handy gadgets you know how easy it is to highlight your favorite passages. I won't list all of mine here because, really, it would be easier for you to just read the book. Which I suggest you do.

But I will share this one.

"Start before you are ready."

That is what I did yesterday when I realized that I had won over my monster on all counts except writing this blog.

Are you doing the work or fighting the resistance?

Do The Work is recommended reading as is another of Steve's books on the subject of Resistance, The War of Art.  The Kindle edition of Do The Work is free thanks to the generous sponsorship of GE and Seth Godin's innovative new publishing company The Domino Project,  but if you are like me, you'll want a hardcover edition as well. This is the kind of reading, bookshelves were made for.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In Gratitude For My Mom

When I was younger I lived in fear that my mother would die when I turned 17.  As I grew closer to that age I would lay awake at night, the street light casting its shadow on the shag carpet in my bedroom,  terrified, often counting down the months and days we had left. I never went to my mother to tell her how scared I was.  This was the sixties. It was a rare family that talked about feelings and fears. Most of us had parents who grew up in the Depression and survived WWll. Food, shelter and clothing were their top of mind concerns not a young girl's imagination run wild.

But it was not just something my creative mind pulled from nowhere. Like all good fiction it was based on a kernel of fact. My mother had lost her mother when she was 17.  I grew up thinking that everything that happened to her would happen to me at exactly the same time.

Turns out I had my own life to live and part of that has been the gift of still having my mother by my side at 88 and going strong. Like any relationship that lasts this long, we've had our share of ups and downs. Years of only knowing how to speak to each in a high pitched voice filled with impatience and disagreeing on everything from my new hairstyle to why she insists on frozen broccoli when fresh is so easy to come by.

The big turning point happened within the last decade. It seemed to coincide with me learning to like me more. You see it turns out we are similar in many more ways than a strong physical resemblance. The source of our disagreements over the years were those hot buttons we each had, the things each of us did not like in ourselves was even harder to take in when we saw it mirrored back.

Then I  took my very first class at the School of Womanly Arts with another mama I am in gratitude for, Mama Gena. I had little idea what I was signing up for at the time, but I will tell you the last thing I thought it was going to get me was a better relationship with my mother. But it did.

Something happened as  I learned to love me more. I started to look for what was right and not wrong in me. I started to embrace my imperfections  right along side the stuff I was proud of. So when I saw those qualities in my mom I reacted differently. It didn't anger me. It made me smile.  And in turn she discovered more of her own adorableness.

Mom tells me we started out with her teaching me everything and now she learns from me. That is what happens when you are as lucky as I am, to be a fiftysomething woman who still has her mama to hold her hand. Things change. And as she likes to remind me, these days it is her holding my hand.

To you Mom, I am grateful for your laughter, your warmth, your generosity, your sense of style, the way we can laugh and be silly,  teaching me to cook and bake and the importance of family and connection. Most of all I am grateful for your unconditional and never failing love. Happy Mom's Day!

Me and Mom

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I inherited my mirror genes from my mother's side of the family. They cause all of us blessed with them to pause in front of anything in which we see a reflection. Store windows included. So I'm always looking. Most of the time to make sure I have enough lipstick on, my hair is cooperating with the weather or checking to make sure that  splurge on a cheeseburger and fries has not settled on my waist.

Maybe you don't have these genes. Maybe you're one of the people who barely takes a moment to look. Or doesn't even want to. You're too caught up in the mire of the everyday, focused on all that is on your plate or if you are like me holding two plates, to take the time to stop in front of the looking glass.

And if we do, even if you are a member of my family obsessed with reflection, it's rare that we see what others do.  Our culture insists that we seek out what is missing, the flaws and the imperfections. So when we do look we see lack.

I'm lucky. I keep a big circle around me of people with sharp eyes who settle in on my good stuff and are generous enough to offer it up. Take for instance the other day when I had the good fortune to catch up with my friend Barbara Stanny. Stanny, as she is affectionately called among her goddess friends is the leading authority on women and money and the author of several books worth reading including: Overcoming Underearning, Secrets Of Six Figure Women and Prince Charming Isn't Coming.

We hadn't spoken in a while so there was a lot to catch up including my coaching practice and Art of Selling series and her new Money Mondays and Sacred Success Programs. Plus you know what happens when two coaches get chatting. They can't help themselves but coach a bit.  Barbara shared what she saw in my reflection,  a focused, pragmatic and  intuitive coach who puts theory into practice, shares fabulous resources and gets results.

Once I could breathe again long enough to take it in, I took another look in my mirror. After wiping it clean with a little Windex I was able to see what she did. But only after her assist. That's why coaches come in handy. They are there to cheer you and remind you of your strengths as they insist you go higher.

I'm a big fan of Stanny and hold a great deal of respect for her and her work. Any one who wants to change their relationship with money should be working with her. I shared some of my fabulous resources and where else in cyberspace I thought Barbara should be sharing her wealth of wisdom and'll soon be seeing Stanny over on ForbesWoman pretty regularly!

Barbara Stanny's next Sacred Success Retreat is May 12-15. Rumor has it there are still a few spaces left if you hurry!

What do you see in the mirror?
Have you been generous today and offered up to someone else what you see in them?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On Cancers

Cancer is defined as the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. It begins with a tumor that we hope and pray is not large in size, is not malignant, one that the doctors can go in and remove before it spreads its  tentacles and finds its way into every cell in the body, destroying all that is healthy and good.

When this unwanted growth is removed and we are told they got it all, we pray. Because we know that digging out the tumor is not enough. There will be days, weeks, maybe months of chemo and radiation treatment to make sure that  the tentacles of this deadly disease have not spread and grown new roots in other regions of the body.

And even when it looks like the chemo and radiation have done their work, anyone who has ever been touched by cancer knows that for the rest of your days you need to be a bit more careful and a bit more vigilant than you were before. Periodic  Pet Scans become a part of your life complete with prayer and the sweating out of the test results.

That is how I see the death of Osama Bin Laden. The tumor of terrorism has been removed, but that does not mean we go back to life as we knew it before. Chemo and radiation treatments will exist in the form of being more vigilant moving forward and taking better precaution to ward off future infection. The tumor is gone, but the disease still exists and we must be  alert to keep it contained.

I learned of his death standing in the lobby of the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach somewhere in the vicinity of  midnight on Sunday while chatting with several of the people I was traveling with. Another of our party stopped us and asked if we had heard. Osama Bin Laden had been caught. He was dead.

I am not one to rejoice in death or to believe in an eye for an eye philosophy. But I admit that what I felt at that moment was jubilance as well as an uncontrollable urge to find the nearest television and watch the events unfold.

Earlier that evening for a reason unknown to me I was recounting where I was on September 11, 2001. So when I heard this news, what I had experienced that day, living in New York City was fresh in my mind. The horror, the fear, the days and weeks after living in a city that jointly mourned  the loss of 3000 lives as well as the loss of life the way we knew it to be.  I was not surprised that I felt joy at the news of another's passing, that I felt triumph that the good guys had a win, that I felt proud of the strength of this country.

Osama Bin Laden's death will not bring back the lives lost, or the world that we lived in before 9/11 but it is symbolic that we can stop the spread of terrorist efforts. It is possible. We have removed the tumor and now we need to treat the area to eradicate any and all cells that have spread from that monstrous mass. And that, as in any cancer is cause for celebration.