Monday, November 11, 2013

Surrender to the Journey and the Uncomfortable

Eight years ago, when my husband and I made the decision to build a life of our choosing instead of continuing to live a life of of happenstance, we had no idea where the journey would take us. 

In the spring of 2005, my husband was laid off from a job he truly despised. He had become depressed, and a shadow of himself. We recognized immediately that it was time for a change, but it was scary. He could look for another job doing what he hated, but made decent money. We were finally comfortable financially at this point. Not well off, but comfortable. We could go to dinner, or a concert, or the movies when we chose, take our annual trip to Atlanta. Comfortable. 

Instead, we decided this was our shot, his shot. With severance and unemployment, at 45 years of age, this was the opportunity for him to pursue his childhood dream. To become a pilot. The next few years were uncomfortable. He had some training from when he was younger and from college, but we needed to invest about $75K in the additional training, certificates and flight hours he needed, knowing he wouldn't be bringing in any income. Uncomfortable. 

But we saw a different life for ourselves than what we had. A life that was shaped by our choices, not a life that just transpired.

In January of 2006, I started a direct sales business. I had lots of people in my life who were in direct sales, and I loved the product, had been using it nearly all my life, so, I figured it was a good way to temporarily bridge the gap in our income. It got us part way. We ran up some debt, but we managed to get the bills paid each month, and we both started to change. I earned the company incentive trip in my first 3 months in the business, but declined to take it because instead we attended the wedding of a dear friend that weekend. As we drove to Alabama and back, he studied and I drove. 

And then he became a flight instructor. Now a tiny bit of income was coming in, and he was starting to have an impact on others lives. We're still very good friends with some of his students. I saw that my direct sales business could be something significant for myself as well. We were making changes internal and external and it was kind of exciting, but still uncomfortable.

We spent an amazing summer with our own twin engine plane while he and a friend, one of his students built hours. We flew everywhere including to our annual trip to Atlanta. It was amazing! Then he got hired by our first choice of airlines. We had done it! He was a commercial pilot! Now we learned about being on reserve and major lifestyle changes. Uncomfortable but SO worth it!

Next, I get laid off by the same company that had let him off. Spend 18 months working full time at my direct sales business, but not quite earning enough income to meet the budget with Mike still in the very early earning stages as a regional pilot.

So, I'm back to work full time, then switch to a company closer to home and things are getting comfortable again. And I'm losing my zest for my direct sales business. Luckily, I'm making enough to keep us financially stable, but now I'm uncomfortable being comfortable. I've become someone else. I've learned the need to be uncomfortable. 

Thank goodness for amazing coaches who push you to do things you would never consider, things you don't quite believe you are capable of. Through working with Christine Gallagher, I found the courage and ambition to start the Chicago Chapter of Over 40 Females. Rolling along for just 8 months so far, we are really creating an impact in the Chicago networking community. 

As we were wrapping our final coaching session, Christine told me that she sees something even bigger for me right now. Becoming a real self care coach. Really helping women in more ways than just helping them pick some candles to create a space in their home. More ways than even creating events where they can come to be pampered, make connections and network. SO uncomfortable! 

I didn't know then that my journey would lead me to Ines Kinchen. My dear friend and one of the most amazing women I've ever known. What started as me inviting her to one of my Over 40 Females events to support her has led to an amazing new journey of connecting with and helping people on a level I never dreamed of before. Being surrounded by love and making an impact every day.

I'm still not quite ready to call myself a coach, but I am fully committed to follow this journey wherever it takes me and keep being uncomfortable. 

Where are you on your journey? 


Thursday, October 17, 2013


Why is it, as women, that we are so uncomfortable with our reflection? I remember, whenever I encountered one of those horrible lighted magnifying makeup mirrors, even when I was young and cute, I reacted with an AH like I'd been spooked and a thought that I didn't need to see myself quite THAT close up. 

Who doesn't love to see those before and after photos where someone has gone through an amazing transformation?

We see those and find hope, inspiration and strength.

There is so much power and triumph in those before and after photos, yet we resist really looking at that "before" in the mirror.

Much more difficult to look at than our physical reflections is our internal reflections. I had a spectacular speaker at one of my events last month, Dr. Shannon Burke, and she spoke eloquently about how difficult we women find it to stay quiet and still, even though our most brilliant inspiration often comes from these very moments.

Every one of those amazing before and after photos exist because at some point, she made a decision to change that before. To stop being that before. But we can't make a decision to stop being the before if we refuse to look at it.

Now, I am not going to tell you to "step out of your comfort zone" because frankly, I think that phrase has been overused so much that it has completely lost its impact. 

Instead, let's beef up the fight in our fight or flight response and lean in to the fear. Put up your dukes and don't back down from the reflections in those quiet moments. 

We all have things, situations, parts of our lives that we tolerate. Things that maybe don't fit any longer or that we've just not been brave enough or inconvenienced enough to really examine and change. 

Lean in, face the fear and sit in the quiet reflection of you. Dare to look at those things in your life that you silently wish were different. 

Dare to imagine your "After". 

I would love to hear your reflections in the comments if you're brave enough to share...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Commitments and Respect

I read an open letter last week from Sinead O'Conner to Miley Cirus stressing the importance of self respect to the young singer. When we fail to respect ourselves, we can't expect anyone else to respect us or treat us with respect.

We are professional women, we demand respect from others. 
We're horribly offended when someone else doesn't keep their commitments to us. 
So why, is it OK for us to fail to keep our commitments to the person we should respect the most? Ourselves.

We read a book or an article, or see something on the web or the internet and we get inspired to do something great for yourself like exercise, or walk your dog every day or meditate or eat better or get a pedicure once a month. 

But then we get busy with work, or the kids, or a girlfriend needs help or a parent gets ill or any number of other things come up and well... that promise we made to ourselves goes by the wayside. 

And then we feel guilty for not doing what we told ourselves that we would do, and so we make the promise again... and the cycle goes on and on and on.

It's not just doing better at keeping our commitments to ourselves, it's about respecting ourselves as much as we deserve.

When we commit to love and respect ourselves as much as we do our best girlfriend, it's easy to keep all those other promises that we make to ourselves.

What do you think? Do you deserve a little more R E S P E C T from your number one fan (you)? I'd love it if you'd share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A stress free way to start the day

What better time to reduce your stress level than before you begin your day? I was asked recently...

What would you recommend to business owners whom are stressed out with their businesses as a quick way to de-stress in the morning before they tackle the day?

I would definitely suggest a solid morning routine which includes some inspirational self care. 
Optimally, add 15-20 minutes to your morning routine, but if you can only spare 5-10 that will still help.

Optimally, you will have a space in your home that rejuvenates you. This can be your back deck or patio, a corner of your living room or bedroom, or even your bathroom if it is soothing and refreshing. 

Include some soft music, this can be while you enjoy your morning beverage (coffee, tea, smoothie). 

I also recommend lighting a candle, burning incense or a fragrance warmer to add some glow and pleasing fragrance.

If you meditate, this is a perfect time to do that as a start to your day.

This is also a great time to practice your affirmations.

Key elements to reduce your stress level, whether you meditate or not:
  1. Be grateful for what you have right now. I'm not saying practice gratitude for what you envision having, but truly give thanks for some wonders you have in your life today, in this moment. Today that thing may be the opportunity to run your own business, or a great night's sleep, or a supportive and loving spouse, or really cushy bedroom slippers.
  2. Have a notebook or scrapbook with some work you have done that you are especially proud of, that makes you feel you are doing your best work and look through these. Remember why you are doing this. Remember the purpose that you are meant to share.
  3. Give focus to 3 tasks you intend to complete today. See how you will complete them and envision the impact you most desire from their implementation. 
  4. (optional) Read a beautiful or inspiring quote or reading.
  5. (optional) Have a funny/inspirational photo near your mirror to remind you how amazing you are.
  6. (optional) MOVE! Put on a great song and let yourself sing out loud and dance around.
Now go tackle your day! Make it the best day of your life! 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the idea of adding this to your morning. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What does "Self-Care" mean to you?

We hear this term a lot. As women entrepreneurs and professionals, we have a pretty good idea of what this is supposed to be, right? 

Taking care of ourselves, so that we can be our best, to do all that we do for those around us. Whether that be friends, family, business associates, customers, or the world.

I love the analogy of the oxygen mask on the airplane. Put your own mask on first, before helping others. You can't be of use to those you care most about, if you are compromised.

But this term can mean any of at least a hundred things, if not more. I generally consider myself pretty good at this practice. I manage my stress levels pretty well, I take time to relax and do things that make me feel refreshed and ready to take on the world again.

But there are always things we can do better, right? I recently went on my
annual vacation with my husband and a large group of friends. One of my very sweet friends took an "extreme close-up" photo of me and I realized those wrinkles really are starting to show up - even if I don't notice them daily.  One of those self care things I need to do better is my daily skin care routine. I have all the products, but can't manage to take the 5 minutes each day to complete the process. I take my eye makeup off each night, this is only guaranteed because of my contacts. I would say once a week, I manage to wash my makeup off the rest of my face. Even less often, I then finish the process to take care of my skin before I go to sleep.

Why? Why can I not manage to fit this 5 minute routine into my day? I do a lot of other things. Simply, I felt it was something that could slide. Until I saw that pic. And still, it's a new habit I need to build into my routine. 

When we think of "adding self-care to our routine" we often feel very overwhelmed. We feel like this is going to be one more item on our to-do list that isn't "necessary" or "high priority" and we portion that time for other things. 

I believe, that self-care is very necessary and very high priority. Remember the oxygen mask analogy? We simply cannot do all of the things we want to do, need to do, are meant to do if we are not at our best.

And, I think that "adding self-care to our routine" is much like eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So, start with making a list. What are things that constitute self-care to you? My definition: things that make you feel refreshed, refilled, renewed and ready to take on the world again. 


  • massage
  • manicure/pedicure
  • facial
  • bath
  • enjoying your favorite beverage on your deck or patio
  • exercise
  • clean eating
  • chat with your best girlfriend
  • a guilty pleasure movie or TV show possibly with popcorn
  • a glass of wine, possibly with your best girlfriend or a special someone
  • a great dessert
  • walk outdoors
  • sauna
  • steam
  • makeover
  • retail therapy - a new great outfit or pair of shoes
  • time off - vacation or stay-cation
  • read a book
  • listen to music
  • sing out loud
  • dance to your favorite song
The list could go on and on and on. My best strategy for eating that elephant is pick no more than 5 things that make you feel refreshed, refilled, renewed and ready to take on the world again. 

At least 1 that is a "big" thing, something you aren't going to do every day or every week, but would be a special treat and schedule that into your calendar no less than once per quarter (3 months) or as much as say once per month. (like a massage, pedicure, facial or vacation)

1 or 2 "medium or small" things, something you can do at least once a month, or as much as once a week. For me one of my top ones is lighting several candles in my family room and watching one of my favorite TV shows with the lights off and candles lit. 

1 to 3 "tiny" things, something you can do at least 3 times as week or as much as every day. Get a really great body lotion you can put on after every shower, pull out that skin care routine, and figure out how to do all of the steps, and DO THEM at least 3 times a week. 

If you try to schedule them all at once, you may feel overwhelmed again. So, once you have your list of 5, add 1 item per week to your schedule for the upcoming 3 month period. If you start with the "big" thing, and work your way to the "tiny" things, they will be much easier to "digest".

I would love to hear your lists. Share in the comments what your 5 items are and if you already have any of them scheduled on your calendar. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Women are the worlds best jugglers

How true is that? 

  • What woman you know doesn't do at least 3 jobs?
  • Who makes it look effortless most of the time?
  • Who doesn't get thanked enough?
  • Who slowly and quietly gets more overwhelmed each day?
  • Who seldom complains about the load she bears?
And of all the hats we wear, we are nearly always supporting, doing or caring for someone else. 

So, when do you decide it's time to take care of you? And if you ever make this difficult and guilt inspiring decision, who is it that does take care of you?

Run down the list of hats you wear in a typical day, or week, or month, and consider how those who are paid as professionals in each field demand to be treated and served. 

Chefs have dishwashers, most professions have secretaries, or assistants, some professions have entire staff to tend to things that are outside their expertise.

And you, a busy professional woman, do all of these, only get paid for one maybe two of them and insist that your needs can wait.

and wait...

and wait...

and wait...

But what happens when they can't wait any longer? What happens when you finally hit that tipping point? What happens when you burn out mentally, emotionally or physically?

People in your life will step up and pitch in and they will care for you. And then you'll feel even more guilty.

So what if you decided that taking care of you, self-care, that thing that you know you're supposed to do, but just never manage to get around to, was important. What if you decided that it was a priority? 

What if you could come up with a way to do that on a regular basis and not feel guilty? 


Maybe not.

There are a thousand little things you can do in a day to lower your stress level and take a little bit of self-care without neglecting your loved ones, your business or your ever growing to-do list. 

Here are a few to inspire you to do a little self-care today...
  • Give yourself a mini facial - grab one of those sets of beauty products you bought but never took the time to use and do all the steps. Enjoy the glow and great feeling skin.
  • Listen to your favorite song. Turn the volume up loud. Before you pick up the kids, sing all the lyrics at the top of your lungs and chair dance if you want to.
  • Call your best girlfriend and share a funny memory.
  • Do a random act of kindness for someone who can not return the favor, but a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line, pay a parking meter, give a McDonalds or Subway gift card to a homeless person.
  • Send yourself a note or card - in the mail. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Let go of the guilt and GLOW

I love what I do. I mean, I really love what I do.

An amazing thing happens when women get together, we build each other up. We support one another, we comfort one another, we encourage one another, we exchange advice, we commiserate by sharing similar experiences and the compliments flow. 

How often do you get compliments every day?

Ladies, we spend so much of our lives caring for all those around us. You know you do. And you know you should be taking care of yourself better, you know that "self care stuff" is something you should be doing, but because it's for you, you never get to it. And why is it that this falls off of your list every week? 

Because you feel guilty doing for yourself.

Add to this, every time you chat with your girlfriend - sometimes via text or facebook message - you promise that you have to get together sometime soon, it's been too long. We can't let it go this long again. And the exact same thing happens. You never get to it. And why? 

Because you feel guilty doing for yourself.

But this time, the guilt is a double whammy - you're damned if you do and damned if you don't because you feel guilty to "do for yourself" by making the time to spend with your girlfriend or you feel guilty for not keeping your promise to your girlfriend.

How can you win?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You need to take your self-care seriously. I have been thrilled to watch the "extreme self care" practice of Kelly O'Neil as she prepared for her amazing women's leadership conference. 

Take a stand for yourself. If your doctor said you had to make an appointment, you would. This is critical to your mental and physical well being. Say no to the guilt. Make a date with your favorite girls. Luxuriate in one another's company. Notice the glow each and every one of you has after spending time together.       

Did you know: when women get together they physically produce more of a chemical oxytocin which reduces stress. 

You know, you are getting important anti-oxidants by sharing that glass of wine.
So, let go of the guilt. Give your girlfriends a call, grab a bottle of wine and feel good for taking the best kind of care of yourselves.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why did you do it?

Women business owners and entrepreneurs, why did you do it?

Why did you decide to start your own business? What was your inspiration? What did you hope to gain? What were you trying to get away from?

I think some women entrepreneurs started their business because they dreamed of a better life. 

More financial abundance, more time with their family, vacations, a nicer car and home, more security, more fun, more HAPPINESS.

But MOST women entrepreneurs started because... 

  • You wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. 
  • You have something to say and want to be heard.
  • You have a big vision about the person you want to be.
  • You have an image you want to put before your children as an example of the possibilities for future generations of women.
  • You were tired of the control of your well being and the security for your family being in belonging to someone else.
You were dissatisfied with something, your previous career, working for others, or a situation or problem in the world. AND you chose, you felt EMPOWERED in some way to change it. You took action. You took a risk.   

And YOU certainly want all those things
more financial abundance
more time with your family
a nicer car and home
more security
more fun 

But they aren't your why, your motivation, or the thing that gets your juices flowing and your engine roaring.

Please, please share below what was your reason? Why did you do it? I'd love to hear your story and you never know who you're inspiring with your story. Don't forget to share a link to your blog or website so we know how to find you!