Category Archives: Personal Image

Trick or Treat Yourself

10 27 14 CatTrick or treat!

Yes, it’s that time of year again, where often, people may confuse treats with things that actually are tricks. Oh no, what is she going to tell me I’m doing wrong? Believe me I am all about fun, and if you don’t believe me, yes, that blog photo is me!

But how often do you reward yourself by saying, when I get this project done or that goal accomplished, I am going to treat myself with a big bowl of Rocky Road ice cream? Or at the end of the workday or work week I am going to indulge in several Happy Hour drinks? Or buy something I really can’t afford and end up paying more for it in credit card interest in the long run?

Are these really treats? They may feel good momentarily, until you get the stomach ache, hangover or the bill!

Let’s talk about how often we really “treat” ourselves. How do we treat ourselves? A little play on words here!

How much negative self-talk do you practice? If your best friend talked to you the way you talked to yourself, would they still be your best friend? Look yourself in the eye in the mirror and repeat to yourself out loud “I love you” – compliment yourself – it may be harder than you think.

Do you make time to rest your body and spirit on a daily basis? Most people probably don’t, they get caught up with the daily hustle of work and obligations. But in the same way as your Outlook calendar or your smart phone calendar or Siri will remind you of your constant “to do’s,” why don’t you use them to schedule some time for yourself?

People always say they don’t have time, but how long is 10 to 15 minutes? Those 10 to 15 minutes in a day can be more valuable than you think. I used to say the same thing: “Oh, I can’t take 10 minutes at the beginning of the day to do a focused meditation!” Now, if I don’t do it, I notice that my day does not go as well!

Here’s one way you can find 10-15 minutes for yourself. Do you know that an hour-long TV program has 15 minutes of commercials? If you record your favorite program and then watch it in playback mode, fast-forwarding through the commercials, you will gain those 15 minutes back. If you have six weekly favorite TV programs that you usually watch live, by recording them you can gain yourself back one and a half hours! You can do a lot with an extra 90 minutes a week!

Instead of reaching for the ice cream, how about 15 minutes watching the sunset, taking a walk, taking a bubble bath, doing some relaxing yoga stretches or tuning in to any one of the many meditation videos on YouTube. Treats such as these will have a more lasting and transformative effect on you. If you have a spouse or children, sharing 15 minutes with them in some relationship building activity will have benefits for your loved ones as well – but that’s another blog!

If you do partake in any Halloween parties this weekend, enjoy yourself and party safely! Remember to always treat yourself in the best possible way; your body and spirit will thank you for it.

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True Freedom

7 4 15 FireworksHappy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! As we celebrate the birth of our nation and our nation’s freedoms, after the burgers are eaten and the fireworks have lit up the sky – let’s think about our inner freedom.

How free do you feel? You might not be in a cell behind bars, but what prison bars have you created for your spirit?

Self-doubt
Low self-esteem
Fear
Bad habits
Unforgiveness
Hatred

It’s time to release those things that are not serving us. To choose to love, starting with ourselves.

The Bible says to love our neighbor as ourselves, but if we don’t love ourself how can we then love our neighbor?

It’s that airline “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” principle. I had a hard time understanding that principle at first because I am such a giver! But I understand now.

Do you ever talk to yourself? What do you say?

Do you say, “Oh, I’m stupid! Why did I do that?” If you wouldn’t say something to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself!

What are your inner voices telling you? There is a good movie in theaters now for you to see, and take your children to! “Inside Out” is a story of the voices inside a young girl’s head: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Great lessons to learn here!

Make sure you listen to your positive voices!

Be good to yourself. Start by scheduling 5-10 minutes in the day to pause, reflect, meditate, be thankful. Acknowledge a skill that you have and be thankful for it.

Look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” More than once. And mean it. It might be harder than you think!

Self-care is not selfish, it is vital to our physical health and wellbeing. When we love ourselves, work on our personal growth, and free ourselves from the fears and doubts that hold us back, then we will have even more love to give.

So this weekend, make a choice. Start setting yourself free from those things that hold you back. Love yourself enough to move forward.

Louise Hay’s favorite quote is, “Life loves you.”

Feel the love today and every day, and be free.

Do You Have Your Keys?

Schl¸ssel zum ErfolgDo you have your keys?

Not to your car or house, but the keys to your professional success. Just as a physical key will gain you access to enter a door, there are “keys” of knowledge that will give you access to opportunities in life.

A friend of mine likes to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do.” Barbara B. Bergstrom is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and expert on business etiquette and protocol. She is highly valued in our community for her wisdom when it comes to questions of etiquette.

I recently was in a situation where a friend had done something at my residence that I deemed improper from a standpoint of social etiquette, besides just plain presumptuous and thoughtless. We got into a debate about it, but I knew I was right. Later that day I simply emailed Barbara and posed the situation to the expert.

Yes, Barbara confirmed that I was right!

There seems to be a growing decline in knowledge about how to behave in public – whether in the business or social arena. Manners and “common courtesy” are sorely lacking, especially among the younger generation. It’s obvious to many (but apparently not the perpetrators) that showing one’s underwear in public is distasteful, but what about those other things that are not so obvious?

I read online articles and blogs about how to prepare for a job interview and how to behave during the interview. The tips are so common sense that it makes me wonder, has it come to this that we really have to tell people to take a shower, dress professionally, arrive early, sit up straight, don’t chew gum during the interview and don’t bring your mother to the interview? I have been to job fairs where the organizers have published in their advertisements that attendees come professionally dressed. Yet I saw a girl at the job fair dressed as if she had job experience in the oldest profession.

I’m going to grant my esteemed readers the benefit of the doubt that they know how to dress appropriately for business. However, there are many aspects to business etiquette that differ from social etiquette and you may not be aware of them. Don’t you want to be the best version of you?

You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do. You can be assured that the management at your job knows when you are not acting professionally. Your image on the job, your behavior and your manners all add up to how promotable you are, whether you know it or not.

A friend of mine tells a story about an incident when she began working for her employer. She used to come to work very casually dressed, sometimes in sweatpants. I guess they did not enforce any dress code. One day during her quarterly review her manager asked her where she saw herself in five years. She replied confidently that she would be in a management position. His reply was that if so, she had to start dressing and acting the part. She could not be perceived as serious or capable if she slouched into work in sweats. He mentored her and the rest is history.

No matter how technically trained and highly skilled you are, the key to your success is found in your soft skills, or how and what you communicate along with the image you project. These skills, along with your emotional intelligence, or ability to understand people and react appropriately to them, are what truly determine success in today’s world. Emotional intelligence can be the subject of a future blog, so today let’s think about how you are going to develop your best professional image and presence.

The keys that will set you apart from your competition are being trustworthy and honest, and possessing  the quality of civility – having respect for yourself and others. You need to be able to carry yourself with decorum and good manners in all situations, thereby creating a positive professional image.

You can scour the web for tips on etiquette, but in the meantime I’ll recommend you to my friend Barbara Bergstrom’s book, Don’t Forget Your Keys, soon to be re-published on Amazon as hardcover or Kindle version. That is, as fast as the publisher applies my edits! Even authors may not know what they don’t know about grammar and punctuation, but they know to have their key, a copyeditor.

Make sure you have your keys!

The First Love

2 14 15 i love meLove is a special and complicated emotion, probably because we use the word “love” in so many ways: I LOVE my boyfriend; I love my mother; I love Rocky Road ice cream. And last month I really loved my personal car mechanic! The Greeks had four different words for love:

Eros: is the passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings; the kind that makes you say, “I love him/her.” It is simply an emotional and sensual love.

Storge: is family love. The love that parents naturally feel for their children and vice versa; the love that members of a family have for each other.

Phileo: is affectionate, warm and tender platonic love. This is the love between friends who are there for each other when the friend is in trouble.

Agape: is the highest form of love, an unconditional love that sees beyond the outer surface and accepts the recipient for whom he/she is, regardless of their flaws, shortcomings or faults. It’s the type of love that everyone strives to have for their fellow human beings. Although you may not like someone, you decide to love them just as a human being. This kind of love is all about sacrifice, as well as giving and expecting nothing in return.

All this talk of love, but maybe we are missing a key type of love. Self-love. In the Bible, Scripture says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” – but how much do we really love ourselves? Have you committed some self-talk that you would never say to your best friend? Do you ever say to yourself, “Oh, that was stupid of me!” Watch your self-talk! Watch what you say to yourself!

If we don’t love ourselves, then really how can we love others? Remember, even on airline flights they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you can then help others. I always had a hard time understanding that!

Here are some tips to help you develop a healthy self-love:

Have self-respect. Self-respect means acting and believing that you are worthy. Because you are. If right now you don’t feel you deserve to be treated with love and respect, start acting like it any way. Do not allow people to talk down to you, degrade you, disrespect your time, energy, body, life, home. Respect yourself and respect others.

Healthy Boundaries. Boundaries are key for healthy relationships and a healthy life. Don’t exhaust yourself always trying to please other people. Say “no” when you need to. Say “yes” when you mean it. Honor your truth.

Vision. Vision helps bring more passion and focus into your life. What’s your vision? Set a daily goal to work towards bringing that vision to life. Vision allows us to stay on track. Pour some energy on your vision. It gives us purpose and self-worth.

Take care of your health. You only have one body – be nice to it and it will be nice to you! Drink water, eat clean and healthy and move your body! Dance alone in your living room! You are the only one who can take care of your body, so don’t abuse it!

Set simple morning and evening rituals. In the morning, meditate, listen to some favorite music, write an intention list for the day. In evening, light some incense or candles, take a relaxing bath and say a prayer for others and the world.

With these tips, you will become a healthier and happier self. With a stronger sense of self, you have deeper self-love, and with deeper self-love, you make more conscious decisions that will create a more peaceful life for yourself and for others.

Oh, but wait a minute. Every February comes along a holiday known as Valentine’s Day. Some love it. Some don’t. For those who may not have a “Valentine” it may bug us when we receive Facebook posts or calls from our friends gushing about what flowers or gifts they received from their sweetie. But don’t let this bother you.

A relationship does not define you. It can complement you, but it does not define who you are

3 tips for getting through the Valentine holiday:

  1. Consider Valentine’s Day as just a day on the calendar.
  2. Recognize that not all relationships are the same. Just because you don’t have a date today doesn’t mean that you will be loveless forever. Great love is out there, but it might not appear until you let go of your past.
  3. If you don’t have a date – make a date with yourself! Do something you love! Indulge in a favorite pastime or better yet, do some volunteer work, visit the lonely in a nursing home or help out at an animal shelter.

Remember, you have to love and respect yourself, before others can really love you in a healthy way.

Choose love, and don’t forget to love yourself first.

 

Be Your Whole Self

12 8 14 Cranky cat“Because I’m Happpppy!” Well, what if you feel crankyyyyy? Do you ever feel guilty because you are constantly told that you should be “happy” but you are not always?

Some experts think the most toxic idea in the happiness movement is that you should always feel good and run from feeling bad. So maybe it’s okay to feel cranky once in a while?

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan, scientist, author and professor of psychology at George Mason University, was a featured speaker last week on the December Wake Up Happy series.

Todd’s recently released book  The Upside to Your Dark Side discusses our ability to access our full range of emotions and behavior—not just the “good” ones—in order to respond most effectively to whatever situation we might meet. Appreciating our entire psychology makes us whole.

What does wholeness mean? Although we know that we have a multi-faceted personality, we tend to focus only on the positive aspects, and shy away from the difficult sides of our personalities. When we prematurely discard other sides of our personality, we’re not whole.

How can we harness the dark sides of ourselves instead of trying to hide them or ignore them?

While it might be useful to avoid uncomfortable feelings, what are the consequences of this? Anger and anxiety are not necessarily debilitating. By always striving to be happy, we get anxious about “being anxious!” We create negative feelings “about having these feelings.” The only thing to fear… is fear itself!

All emotions and thoughts are tools.

Which tool is right for the situation I’m in? Kashdan says we need to get rid of the notion that being happy is good and being unhappy is bad. In this way, we are applying a “moral judgment” to happiness that perhaps does not belong there. Sometimes people who are a little “too” happy have less perseverance. Kashdan’s point of view is very interesting because it seems to contradict some of what we’ve heard elsewhere.

Sometimes we will be happy and sometimes we won’t. If we are so afraid of painful emotions, we will not take risks. Don’t make a bad mood even worse by judging yourself and criticizing yourself for “being” in a bad mood. Create a climate where all emotions have value.

Have we as a society tried too hard to banish negative emotions, when in fact they could bring us closer to other people?

Do not try to force yourself to be happy when evolutionarily, we are meant to feel emotions such as sadness. If we acknowledge that sadness, we can ask for help and connect with other people. Let your emotions be present in the moment. Acknowledge. Move on. Don’t wallow.

There are many effective ways to boost ourselves out of a bad mood. Talking to a friend about your emotions, even if they are negative, will be helpful. Even being on the receiving end of anger, 76% of people say that because of that anger they understand themselves better. Check out Dr. Kashdan’s website at http://toddkashdan.com to learn more about his controversial work.

Where is the line between acknowledging and expressing negativity and wallowing in despair? It’s all about energy. Mix in three bits of action for every negative thought. Action will counteract your “wallowing.” Those actions will help you get out of your head and into your life. 

Here is an example and a confession. The other day I was cranky and I got an idea. I was driving in my car and put in my CD with Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and tried to rewrite the lyrics as “because I’m cranky.” It was impossible not to smile with glee as I tried to sing words counterintuitive to the music! Result: I was no longer cranky!

Accept the dark side, as well as the light. Acknowledge. Move on. Only then can we be fully whole. 

Now go. The next time you get in a bad mood, I double-dog-dare you to sing: “I’m cranky.” 🙂

Trick or Treat your Talents

10 27 14 IndiansI’ve always loved autumn. To me there was something different in the air. There was a scent associated with the season, the crispness of the temperature as it began to dip at night, the smell of fallen leaves as they were raked and played in, the wispy smoke of bonfires, of hay, of apples and of pumpkins.

Halloween was always my second favorite season of the year (after Christmas), probably because I got to dress up in costume. And could do it legitimately. I used to dress up around the house and play act the rest of the year too. It’s a wonder that my mom didn’t send me to drama school. I wish she had!

In my younger years I was obsessed with playing cowgirl, which eventually switched over to playing Indian. My mom indulged me by sewing a fringed Indian outfit for one Halloween. I still have the photo. Ironically, years later I sewed an adult Indian costume for myself. I wish my mom could have seen it, she would have been proud.

Adults are not exempt from dressing in character. Party stores and online websites are full of adult-sized costumes of every kind imaginable. There are adult costume parties and contests – we don’t leave all the fun for the children.

What type of costume character do you choose? Is it something that maybe deep down inside you want to be? Do you want to be a superhero? A Hollywood actor? A doctor or nurse? Or the YouTube sensation of the moment?

Have you ever thought about what motivates you to choose your costume? Inevitably it is something you are comfortable with, and I think it can be a reflection of your inner mood. Costume parties allow you to tap into that inner desire.

It doesn’t have to be just a fun game that happens once a year on Halloween. You can be a superhero. Donate blood and save a life. Be that actor. Join a community theater or take part in an open mic night and let your inner actor out. Be that one who helps the less fortunate. Volunteer at a hospital or assisted living facility. Visit the sick or elderly who have no visitors.

Have a talent that you want to share with the world? Don’t hide your talents. Your gifts were given to you for a reason. Step out and take a chance. You don’t have to become famous, just share your gifts and talents with those around you.

It’s no trick. Treat yourself to the joy of letting your imagination really take shape. Find those roles in society where you can “be” that champion.

Harry Potter and his friends faced down danger and changed their world. Have you ever worked in grassroots politics or campaigned for the causes you believe in? We are in early voting week. Get out and vote. Make a difference in the world.

We didn’t stop being heroes when we became adults. That’s the treat. We actually became even more powerful.

As for me, The Black Cat will be out Friday night. You can knock me down but I’ll get up again; because black cats have nine lives.

10 27 14 Cat

Words Have Power

9 8 14 words can hurt“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

“Words will never hurt me” is a concept that is wishful thinking. Words in fact have great power.

There are countless examples of the power of the spoken word, from the great oratories of political leaders like Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler who with their words inspired or incited their countrymen, to scripture about Jesus who “spoke the word and they were healed.” What have life coaches been telling us about the power of positive affirmation? What kind of self-talk to we give ourselves?

I think we can all agree that words have power.

People tend to think of domestic violence as actively hitting or beating another person, when in fact there is a class of verbal abuse that is painful as well. True, it does not bruise, break bones or cause one to bleed, but the psyche can indeed be bruised. Violent diatribes for long periods of time cause stress and a wounding of the spirit. Verbal abuse can lead to physical abuse.

This is also called bullying. It can occur at school at work or at home and in varying degrees. Whether it’s just a short phrase: “You’re stupid!” or a longer rant, it is still verbal abuse.

On the other hand, the effect of the words “I love you” or “I’m sorry” are calming to the spirit, and healing.

Reports show that in the U.S. in 1997 the emotional abuse rate was at 15 percent out of 817,665 cases stretching across 43 states (Barriere, 2008). In 1995, a study of 1,000 women, 15 years of age and up, reported that 36 percent of women were emotionally abused while growing up; they also found that 39 percent of women were emotionally abused in a relationship within the past 5 years (Barriere, 2008). Emotional abuse occurs while children are growing up, and during adulthood in various types of relationships. It affects men, women, and children, old and young.

No matter who you are, there are resources to help. If you are in need of emergency help in a domestic violence situation, dial 911. If you feel that you fall into a group of victims that have no advocate, check out SAFE: Stop Abuse for Everyone, A Human Rights Agency. Avert damage by learning techniques to deflect harsh words.

Consider your words. And the words of others.

Words CAN hurt. What impact will your words have today?

Like the saying goes, “Keep your words sweet, you never know when you may have to eat them.”

Find Your Voice

8 25 14 microphoneI was a quiet child. Remember how they used to say, “be seen and not heard?” That was pretty much me! Although I do recall getting in trouble in grammar school for talking in class! What was I thinking? However, I don’t think students get in trouble for talking in class anymore, they are texting each other!

Which leads to a question, are children learning how to communicate in the true sense of the word? Are they learning how to speak and listen and get a message across, face to face? What does the future hold for the communication skills of this generation? That could be another blog, but today I address the adults.

How are YOUR communication skills?

It is commonly said that the fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the world. You don’t have to have the goal of being a motivational, platform speaker, but in today’s world, you should have the confidence to answer your boss coherently at staff meetings or make a toast at your sister’s wedding.

I have a theory that this fear stems from a source that is unique for each person. There is a reason for that fear, and it takes some introspection to get to the root of that fear. It usually goes back to childhood. I believe that in general we feel that the audience staring at us is somehow better than us. We deny our own self-worth.

Once I figured out where my fear came from, I experienced a breakthrough. I was afraid of speaking in front of a group because in grammar school the other students teased me. Today they call it “bullying.” Why did they tease me? Essentially because I was “the smart kid,” the “teacher’s pet,” or now what they might call “nerd” or “geek.”

OK, so now I’m thinking: if I am the smart one, then why should I care what they think about me? Light bulb moment!

But just like a garden, it takes some watering and nurturing of this confidence in order for it to grow. I found that supportive and nurturing environment with an organization called  Toastmasters International.

There are Toastmasters chapters, or clubs as we call them, in 126 countries around the world. This past weekend our World Convention culminated in a speech competition for the World Championship of Public Speaking. These are grand and glorious conventions. The speakers at Finals level are phenomenal! But it all starts at club level, a “speech laboratory” where one can practice, get feedback and grow as much as you want to. Your development is up to you.

Are you lacking self-confidence? Do you wish to be a better speaker and leader? My manager wrote on my performance appraisal 25 years ago that I had to join Toastmasters. It was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Now, I am coaching and mentoring speakers who are aiming for that World Championship. One of them said they’d like to see me on that stage. Hmm, why not?

Don’t wait for your boss to make that move to push you towards personal development. Take some steps to find your voice. Determine the cause of your fears. Find a supportive environment to vanquish those fears.

Find your voice, because it’s those who can use their voice who change the world.

How is your Brand Image?

anything-less-than-your-best-LombardiMany people are enamored with celebrities. When you are in the grocery store cashier line you see celebrity faces spread across the tabloids and magazines; you see their antics on the blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter. Everyone has his own particular interest or favorite celebrity. A friend of mine doesn’t care that much about pop culture. When I mentioned the word “Kimye,” the blended word associated with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, he asked, “Who is that?” He is more concerned about his own image and his own pursuit of success, rather than the image of paparazzi favorites.

Are you concerned about your personal brand image? If you have been unemployed or underemployed in the past few years, you have been concerned about how you present yourself on your resume, during your interview and while networking. You should be concerned. You need to know how to present yourself in the best possible way.

A few years ago I was attending a workshop for job seekers about how to network to find their next job. Sitting at a table chatting with the woman next to me, I offered her my “personal brand” card and asked for hers. She stammered, “I don’t have a card!” What if she had been at an event with recruiters or hiring managers? How impressive that would have been to hand them a personal brand card! She had to write her contact information on a scrap of paper for me.

Businesses need to also be concerned with their image. When people have a need, they shop for the best business to meet that need. Is your online and print image the best that it can be? This goes for big business, small business, and even the freelance entrepreneur with a website! I know that if I look at a business website and it has misinformation or lacks polish, I’m not impressed. If they lack the care and concern for their market image, how much care will they have for the customer?

I was looking at the website of another woman I had met who advertised herself as a business marketing consultant. On her testimonial page, a quote by a client stated: “She is professional and contentious.” Really? I don’t want to do business with someone who is contentious or argumentative! She can’t be very detail-oriented if her website has such a grammatical error.

If you want to put your “best self” forwards, whether you are an individual or a business, it may be time to have someone help “proof you” in order to “improve you.” Don’t settle for anything less than your best. Vince Lombardi, the well-known former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, said it this way:

“If you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish with your lives.”

These words still ring true years later. If you’d like to read more about this number one coach and his timeless values, check out his book: What it Takes to be Number One

And come back for more insights on my new blog!