You Are Good Enough!!!

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It is human to make mistakes yet women are often unforgiving of themselves if they don’t succeed.

Here are some ways to give yourself a break and allow yourself to make mistakes and not overextend yourself.

1.  Don’t judge yourself more harshly than you would judge others.

  • If you feel like a failure because no one wants to eat your specially prepared tuna casserole, don’t judge yourself.  Blame it on the recipe or their tastes.  Or better yet, let them cook – you wouldn’t judge their efforts harshly.

2.  Don’t be afraid to say no when you are asked to take on projects when you are too busy to handle them.

  • Some women fall into the trap of trying to please everyone when they are already spread too thin.  Once people see you as a “yes, I’ll do it” person, you may find you are always in quicksand.  Be honest when you can’t.  Stand Firm.

3.  Accept yourself how you are.

  • Stop trying to be the “perfect” weight or have the “ideal” look.  Healthy eating and exercise make sense as does   enjoying finding your favorite styles.  Many women become obsessed with losing weight and think looking a certain way will make them happy.  Accepting yourself how you are is the first step towards happiness.

4.  Don’t think it’s your fault if your boss yells at you or if someone doesn’t like you.

  • Women are often quick to blame themselves and take other people’s criticism personally whereas men blame others or the situation.  Your boss or someone else may be unfair or be taking things out on you because of problems in their own life.  Not everyone is going to like you and that’s fine.

5.  Be proud of your accomplishments even if others don’t acknowledge them.

  • Women’s efforts are often overlooked.  Stay-at-home moms raise children, support their partners, clean and support programs at the schools and after-school yet their contribution is often seen as minimal.  Women work in a wage earning job and often still take on the full responsibilities of raising their children.  We can begin by being proud of ourselves and then ask others to be proud or offer their assistance.

This post is also listed in www.myculturemagazine.com 

I get by with a little help from my friends…

mnn2SRkSome stress is a part of life and can even motivate us to do our best – like the rush you get before a show or a presentation at work.  But when stress reaches high levels it is dangerous to our health and can paralyze us from making positive changes in our lives.

So here’s my advice for combating stress. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to your female friends for love, support and just plain fun.  It’s easy for me to correlate times in my life when I was happier and less stressed with the quality and/or quantity of my female friends.  As a girl, I had a best friend for years named Lizzie and that meant I always had someone to sit with at lunch or to go ice-skating with or to just watch The Brady Bunch.  Not to mention sleepovers – if those aren’t the cat’s pajamas, I don’t know what is.

I also remember the emptiness I felt the first year at Connecticut College because I had no friends, or how depressing it was to be isolated in my early years as a Stay-at-home Mom. Friends are that important.

There is even evidence that we live longer when we have strong female friendships. In this article on women’s friendships ,  they site research in the area of friendships such as how in The Tending Instinct, Shelly Taylor found women’s relationships and need for community is based in our DNA and can also be seen by studying animals.

A study at UCLA School of Medicine discovered that when we’re with our female friends, we emit a “feel good” hormone called oxytocin that helps us reduce everyday stress.

A study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. This is critical to understanding how self-image develops in girls and women.

 Most importantly, Haupart states that, Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.”

Unfortunately, with our fast-paced digital society, women’s friendships are on the decline while stress levels in women are in the increase.  Try to reconnect with friends in your life.  Be open to new friendships. 

I have a friend from Italy and she makes green tea in a pot on a tray with china cups and puts out light flakey buttery cookies. It’s a welcome and refreshing approach to catching up with a friend.

So meet a friend for tea, to get your nails done, or see a movie.  I have learned that above all one thing is clear:  We Need Each Other.

This article is also published in the Wellness section of myCulturemagazine

I like it the old-fashioned way…

journalsJournaling, that is.  I can’t imagine my fingers clicking away as I keep a digital record of my most private thoughts.  No, I prefer the feel of my Bic Round Stic pen as it glides across my preferred spiral bound, thin lined, purse sized journal.

Every feel you need a place you could vent endlessly about your trials and tribulations in love (or lack thereof), life and trying to make sense of it all???  A journal provides a captive audience that is willing to listen without judgment or comment to WHATEVER you want to say.

For me, journaling has been a Godsend.  I have shelves in my closet full of these life journals that I’ve kept since high school.   When I was done writing for the day,  I closed the book and felt I could put those worries aside and keep them in that book and it was safer that way.

It can be helpful to try different journal styles to see what works for you.  I recommend trying the empowerment journal if you are trying to gain confidence in yourself or to fulfill a particular goal.  It’s simple.  When you feel so moved, write down things that you are proud of that you accomplished that day, that week or anytime in your life.  It can be small things, like I’m proud that I got to work on time in a presentable fashion or big things, like I’m proud of myself for getting a promotion at work or helping my child feel better about themselves after being bullied at school.

The gratitude journal is very popular this year.  A way to cut through all the negativity around you is to remember things you are grateful for.  Perhaps you are grateful for a chance to talk to a friend that you’ve lost touch with or that the construction noise outside your building has finally stopped.  It can be as simple as appreciating that you have a roof over your head or the chance to have a meal together with your whole family.

So, try it out.  Put Down The Laptop.  Maybe just go down to the local coffee shop with your pad and paper and see how it feels to scribble down ideas about your thoughts and dreams.

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.

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.