Never Give Up!

Image 1Sometimes it’s the smallest things that give us inspiration, like a white mug with a drawing created by Jacky Fleming that sits on my desk that has a girl/ woman who is jumping for joy, with the symbol for female on her shirt, that says never give up.  I purchased it in a women’s bookshop in London about 20 years ago and it reminds me of my Junior year Abroad when I felt so free being  far away from New York and I was sure that the world was waiting for me with open arms.

What do you do when moments of despair take over and it feels like there is no hope?  We quickly lose that feeling of invincibility that you feel at the age of 21 and it’s increasing hard to conjure up hope.

So I’m amazed how one day I’m pulled out of my own funk by reading to my bright eyed 8 year old daughter from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

There’s an adorable little yellow guy who struts his stuff as he goes confidently into the world.  At times, he’s “soaring to high heights” but there are many bumps and snags along the road, that “scare you so much you won’t want to go on.” But onward he goes.

I think we can all take a page from Dr. Seuss as we go through our lives.

So be sure when you step,

Step with care and great tact,

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft

And never mix up your right foot

from your left.

And will you succeed!

Yes! You will indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

If you ever get caught in a downward spiral in your life, try taking a deep breath and find this Seuss book and read it.  Or watch one of inspiring graduation talks like the one that Steve Jobs gave as a commencement speech at Stamford that can be viewed on Ted Talks.

International Women’s Day!

It’s International Women’s day and Citibank  has some “secrets from the professional sisterhood”- with 15 insider tips for building confidence and connections.  I find that most of them apply to a woman’s personal development as well.  I hope they will inspire you!

1. Listen to your inner voice and take note of the things that ignite your zest for life.

2. Focus: keep your eyes on the prize, however you define it.

3. Keep learning and challenging yourself.

4. Create your own tomorrows: don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. Ask for what you want.

5. Celebrate your successes.

6. Push through your fears.

7. View failures as a springboard to propel you even further.

8. Always look ahead, behind, up, down and sideways: you never know where the next opportunity will come from.

9. Reflect rather than react, strategize rather than “stew.”

10. Network, network, network – and then network some more: inside your organization,within your industry, across your community, etc.

11.  Always hire people smarter than you.

12.  Never apologize for your greatness.

13.  Don’t take things personally and let go of the negative swirl.

14.  Feel free to change your mind – often.

15. Have a plan B, C and D: don’t let life catch you unprepared.

Love yourself in style

My daughter has a hand-me-down white Benetton shirt with a purple marker stain on the elbow that has a simple message for women that they often forget.

I love my style,

I love my wear,

I love my shirt,

I love my color,

I love myself.

She loves it.  Her style is smart and sassy in her sparkly gold Hello Kitty shirt with purple polka dot leggings and black fashion boots.  She explains that of course she loves herself, and because she loves herself, she can love other people.

Do you remember that sense of love you had for yourself as a young child?  Did you struggle through the tween and teenager years to feel good about how you looked and if you were “good” enough?”

Do you love yourself enough now?

Here are my ideas for loving yourself more:

Be Yourself– The more you can be yourself, the more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more you can love yourself.  If you compare yourself to others and try to dress or act like someone else to feel better about yourself, you’ll end up feeling worse.

Don’t sit around with your feelings of inferiority!  We all feel insecure at times but the more we focus on it, the worse it becomes.  Find ways to go out in the world and do things that you enjoy to distract you from these feelings.  The more you are successful in these interests and passions, the sooner you’ll gain confidence and love yourself more.

Understand it’s not necessarily your fault.  Women often follow the rules and do all the “right things” and feel responsible if they:

  • Can’t find a partner
  • Can’t find a job
  • Their marriage/ relationship ends
  • People don’t like them

Life is easier if you realize that you aren’t responsible for external factors.

Don’t try to be perfect.

You can only learn if you take some risks, make mistakes and learn.  You don’t have to be perfect- it’ll just get in the way of loving yourself.

Take Your Time.  Find Your Style.  Love Yourself.

Hats off to you, moms!!!

When we have children, we immediately add on a new identity of “MOM” that we hold near and dear to our hearts and at other moments wish we could shed, if only briefly, so we wouldn’t have to constantly worry so much.

I’ve talked to many mothers who don’t appreciate themselves enough for all they do.  I remember when I was a stay-at-home mom, at times frazzled and overwrought, I felt like I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t keeping up with my career.   When I began to meet other stay-at-home moms around me as my children grew I was shocked at what they did (and I realized I did, too).  They were juggling a schedule for feeding, changing, cleaning, teaching and amusing children and keeping them SAFE, which may not be rocket science, but it is an art – as well as a demanding job.

I am impressed by moms who hold demanding jobs both inside and outside the home, like my sister-in-law.   She travels all over the world- Singapore, China, South Africa, Poland, and more for her job.  Still, she has the energy to stay connected with what is going on in her daughters’ lives and catches up with the family routines as soon as her plane touches ground.

I know low income struggling moms who are working, studying and raising kids and I have no idea how they manage to do what they do.  I am in awe.

Moms are doing amazing things.  Why not blow our own horns?

I believe self-esteem develops differently in girls and women

As a girl you may remember that you were praised for being “pretty” or “cute” or how your outfits looked.  Boys were told they were “big” or “strong” or praised for accomplishments.  I’m not here on my soapbox for change (maybe a little).  I’m just pointing out that female self-esteem and self-image develops differently.

I shudder when I hear my daughters, who are eight, read calories on labels of what they are eating.  They are thin yet one girl teased my daughter that she had fat thighs.  It’s hard not to get angry as they tell my daughter in gymnastics class that when she finishes her routine and pulls her hands behind her head in the dismount, we should be able to see her ribs.

Naturally women have more of a struggle to accept their looks and their weight.  Start to take a step back from messages society is sending or who is to blame.  Be determined to start sending yourself messages to overcome any inner critics in your head that are making you feel bad about your image.  Treasure the relationships that are true and honest as those reflect who you are.

Really? I thought this was 2013.

Do you think that women and men are treated the same in the workplace?  Of course not!  I was reading an article in Psychology today that explained that men were penalized for being less aggressive and moral whereas women who were less aggressive and moral earned more.

Really? So as I woman is it wrong to be aggressive? ask for promotions? higher wages?  Where is the line between assertive and aggressive?

I asked myself the other day if I were a man would I be charging more for my coaching and counseling.  Maybe.  Maybe women are still undervaluing themselves but are we being given a choice if we are rewarded for being “moral and less aggressive”.

In my research, it seems that women who are assertive are often seen as get seen as aggressive or bitchy. Further, if women get mad they are out of control and incompetent whereas for men it’s reasonable and can be a plus.

There is hope.

Quoting Amy Gallo’s article in HBR

“Don’t feel you have to muster interpersonal coldness to accompany your assertion. Feel free to be friendly and empathic while asking for your needs to be met,” says Ames. Find your own style instead of trying to imitate others. This is especially true for women. “Women need to be aware that becoming more like men is not sustainable,” says Cox. Nor do you need to be more assertive in every context every day. “You can bring out your competitive side when it’s useful and you can dial back and be accommodating when it’s helpful,” says Ames.

Play around with setting small goals and see how others react.  Spend time with co-workers so they know who you are and understand your ambitions. Feel strong and self confident as you develop your style of assertiveness that will bring you maximum success.

What will your “two steps forward” be?

I was starting to panic as I approached my 30th birthday. Unhappy with my job, unhappy in love, and feeling disconnected from others.  I would walk around New York City by myself and frequently pass the tiny storefront of a dive bar in Chelsea called the B.M.W. (Beer, Music and Wine) bar.  I was intrigued by the musicians playing on the stage and wanted to go in and listen, but I would have to pass by the stage and people would stare.

One Sunday, courage and curiosity won out and I boldly took my two steps forward into that bar.  They were having an open mike with guitarists blasting out their two original songs as if it were The Bowery Ballroom.  I hadn’t played my guitar in about seven years and never in front of an audience.  I was asked if I wanted to try to write my own song and perform it next Sunday.  I didn’t know if I could do but I couldn’t wait to go home, dust off my guitar and try.

I did it and it flowed from there.   There, I meet the man who was the recording engineer on my CD, which is called “Two Steps Forward”, based on a song I wrote about moving on from your past.  He is now my husband.  I am now at peace with my career choice, and my relationships.

I often think about what my life would be like if I didn’t step in that bar on that day.  Step outside your comfort zone and see what happens.

SMART resolutions for 2013

As the New Year approaches, women begin contemplating their resolutions.  This can be a disappointing process as we often aim high and are surprised when by January 5th, we are already eating pints of Haagen Daaz, have stopped exercising, are working long hours and are spending too much time on Facebook.

Here are some smart ways to make resolutions based on Neuroscience Coach David Rock’s SMART model for goals.

First- A goal must be:

Specific–  A lot of women want to drop the holiday pounds they put on or a few pounds or more in 2013.    If you are going to achieve this goal, be specific.  How much weight?  Am I going to count calories or eat less carbohydrates? Drink more water?  Eat many small meals?  Am I going to do Zumba classes three times a week or 20 pushup and sit ups a day? List as many details as possible.    Don’t forget to make the goal Attainable.

Measurable– Health experts say that measuring waist size is a more accurate measurement than pounds.  Whatever you are going to measure (whether you can fit in that black dress or not), be consistent.  Measure yourself in the morning when you first get up.

Attainable– Don’t set yourself up to fail!!!  Make a reasonable goal that you can achieve and you will start the new year with a sense of accomplishment.  Have someone help you be accountable for your diet and exercise program.

Relevant- Goals are only realized if they are relevant to you. Only if losing weight is important to you and you are motivated to succeed, can progress be made.  Maybe this is a goal for you, but you are preoccupied with something else more important right now.

Time Limited– Your goal has to be completed within a certain time frame.  Pick that time frame and stick to it.  If you succeed, congratulations!  If not, find a new goals when you are ready and make it SMART!