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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS

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The word Troll has had many meanings over the years. Where I grew up in Michigan, those in the Upper Peninsula called those who lived under the Mackinac Bridge (Lower Peninsula), Trolls. To Troll downtown, meant to “check it out.” Trolling is also a method of fishing. Do you remember the Troll dolls? I have had hair days like that. Fast forward… now there is a new meaning… a Troll is someone who makes nasty comments on social media.

Jason Goes to Target

My wonderful friend Jason Hewlett wrote a blog about seeing his wife at Target, not realizing it was her and falling for her all over again. The opener on his Facebook post was priceless: he explains that he saw this gorgeous woman while he was shopping and felt like he was cheating on his wife… only to realize it was her! It was such a beautiful and honest open love letter to his wife that was shared all over the place, going viral with more than 145k shares. Ironically, his wife doesn’t often go on Facebook, and he suspected she’d never even see the post unless he told her about it.

Cue the Haters

But something happened. This beautiful story abruptly goes sideways! Suddenly total strangers begin posting mean-spirited comments. What’s not to love here? Why would anyone do this?!? Somehow I got caught up reading these awful comments amongst the supportive and kind remarks. Have you ever read a story, then gone down the wormhole, reading all the comments? I felt so downtrodden — like I’d just discovered that the world is a harsh and cruel place, populated by venomous people with poison in their hearts.

Simon Says

My friends Jon and Owen’s crazy juggling act, The Passing Zone, made it to the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent. Talented performers and amazing human beings they are. Once again, the Trolls rear their ugly (probably non-talented) heads.

What’s up with this crazy?! Apparently, the feeling of being anonymous gives these Trolls an odd sense of power. These are the same people who are probably in terrible relationships or are alone in their parents’ basements feeling miserable. I had to sit on my hands not to defend my friends against these haters, because I know deep down that I will not change the minds of any of these people. Politics anyone?

Kindness is the New Black

The truth is that hurt people want to hurt people. Loved people want to love on people. Whenever you see these nasty comments from Trolls, do not engage. I repeat, do not engage. Just make sure you don’t add fuel to the fire. Think before you click. Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say kind, helpful or supportive?” Do not feed the Trolls. Starve them.

Let’s face it. The world needs fewer critics and more cheerleaders. Go Team Kindness!


You Can Ring My Bell…Or Not

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A Kroger  opened in our neighborhood. You’ve gotta love that new store smell and the fresh and perky employee attitudes. This store is awesome! It has a Sushi Bar, a Starbucks and, the Express Lanes have a sign that states, “About 15 items.” Sweet! The pressure is off.

As usual, we are out of milk, cereal and dog food. I’m on a fast grocery run between kid pick-up and 17 other errands. I approach the checkout and see that you can ring a bell for exceptional service. When you “ding,” everyone yells, “WOOOOO!” I don’t know why this cracks me up, but it does. So I have been experimenting. If I ring the bell the moment I arrive at the cashier, does that ensure better service? If I don’t ring the bell, do the checker and bagger feel disappointed? Do I get to yell, “WOOOOO!” or is it just for employees?

After many failed attempts at gathering any true intel, I decided to ask. Except, I may have asked the wrong cashier.

“Excuse me, do you get happy when people ring the bell?”

“Not really.”

“Really?!?”

“Well, I only like it when a manager is around to hear it. Mostly, it’s just annoying.”

This was a totally unexpected answer. Seriously? Doesn’t everyone want their bell rung? (That doesn’t sound right — but stick with the story). Doesn’t everyone want to provide great service, whether a manager is around or not? If great service happens and a manager isn’t around to witness it, did it actually take place?

As a frequent bell ringer, I walked to my car downtrodden. It’s like finding out there is no Easter Bunny or the real age of Mick Jagger. Sitting in the car, I thought about what just happened and there are some great lessons here:

  • What you think motivates your employees, kids, bosses, partners… may not be what actually motivates them.
  • Hire, surround yourself and make friends with people who want the bell ringing.
  • Check your own “WOOOOO!” Are you doing things that motivate others to want to ring your bell? Great service, attitude, professionalism?
  • Are you ringing others’ bells regardless of who is or is not watching?

SO… Will I still ring the bell? Absolutely! If I truly get good service, the world should know! In this crazy life, there’s still nothing like giving and getting a real, “WOOOOO!”

Go forth today, “WOOOOO” and be “WOOOOOed.” Now more than ever we need more cheerleaders, fewer critics and better customer service.


BUSY is a Four Letter Word

sorry_were_too_busy_graphic1Is your life rocketing by? People often say (when I say ‘people,’ I mean me), “Where is time going?!?” Who the heck knows? Every time I turn around I get a “due for a dental visit” postcard. Wasn’t I just there last month? Six months seem to pass like six weeks. Are you with me on this? When a new season hits, it is always a surprise. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Valentine’s Day? July 4??

If you ever wonder where time is going, consider your wonder a gift. Just having the realization is key. [The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?] In that moment of clarity, STOP and evaluate whether you are in control of your time, or is your time controlling you?

The key is to look hard (really hard!) at how you’re spending your time. Me? True confessions? I’m a Mashable/ Buzzfeed junkie, which leads me to click on another story, then another…oh look, an article on 10 ways to avoid procrastinating! I also admit to an ongoing Facebook addiction, as well as a growing fixation with Pinterest.

What about you? Are you watching Law and Order reruns from 2003 when you want to learn conversational French? Are you complaining that your boss doesn’t appreciate you and wishing for a new job, but sending ZERO resumes out?

Now I truly believe we should allow ourselves SOME time for these mindless dalliances. Some downtime is good, right (check out my Downtime is not a Crime post)? But clearly I need to set limits. Do you?

So next time someone asks you what’s new and you start into your rant about how busy you are, think about what you’re really busy with! Everyone you talk to is busy. If you complain about being BUSY, stop it. You can fill your time doing a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean they are important.

The next step? Decide to do something. Recognize and stop time thieves by
Becoming a Time Tamer:

• Take a moment to evaluate time wasters and replace them with things that are important
• Activate time limits for web surfing and social media. It is easy to click your way into a 3 hour time void. Stop checking, start doing.
• Mark time for YOU on your calendar. Stop overscheduling (this goes for your kids too!) and actually schedule rejuvenators – exercise, meditation, quiet time.
• Eliminate the YES SYNDROME – you can say NO more often.
• Remember to be in the moment – it truly is a present to be in the present.

Don’t wait for time to slow down. It won’t. Take charge today and tell time what time it is! Isn’t it about time?


LET IT GO [not just a catchy movie tune!]

let it go2Oh, how I wish I could belt out a tune like Idina Menzel in Disney’s Frozen. Well, I can belt it out, but the dogs in the neighborhood howl wildly. No worries. I don’t let my lack of singing skills stop me with this song. It is just too perfect. Let It Go. Many of us need a song like this as a stress mantra.

When your anger is triggered, it is hard to think logically. Having a mantra such as “Let It Go,” or one of your choosing can save the day. But alas, the words don’t always work! So make up your own to fit the bill.

It happened just the other day. My son could not get over something my daughter did, so I began singing Let it Go and made up my lyrics:

Let it go
Let it go
I’m one with peace and calmmmm
Let it go
Let it goooooo
I love being your mommmmm
Here I stand and here I’ll stayyyy
Let the fight rage on
Your fighting never bothered me anyway!

Yup, you have no idea how many songs I have ruined for my kids this way.

A theme song may come in handy when:

  • You get worked up over something trivial
  • You come across something you have no control over
  • Someone breaks one of your pet peeve rules
  • Your partner/spouse does something to annoy you
  • You’re about to explode

Have you heard this Disney song so many times from your kids that you find IT is the trigger for your anger?!? Find the perfect song for you! Is it Survivors, Eye of the Tiger? Rhianna’s, Bulletproof? Katy Perry’s, Roar? Frank Sinatra’s, My Way? Sing it loud and proud and LET IT GO!

Do you have a stress mantra song that works better? Comment below!


Do You Need Some ‘Conscious Uncoupling’?

bvYou may have heard this term recently regarding the break-up of a certain celeb couple. Ahhh, the joy of semantics. My eye roll also got me thinking about the end of relationships — both personally and professionally. Maybe we could all use more Conscious Uncoupling in our lives. Is it a bad thing? Sad thing? Maybe it’s a really good thing!

Have you ever been in a friendship that was totally exhausting? You go for dinner with this “friend” and return home only to feel beaten-up and drained? Have you ever wondered why you return to the same dry cleaner  — the one who has scorched seven of your best shirts?

But how can you break up? All that history! You may feel that you have been together for so long that you can’t — you went to third grade together! You were in each others’ weddings! This is your golf buddy! Or maybe it’s the accountant who’s been doing your taxes for 30 years?

Wait! Did you know that maintaining any of these relationships is not required? It is voluntary.

Know When to Say NO…MORE

Friendship is a precious thing. So too are solid relationships with doctors, bankers, pet sitters and manicurists. Connections with people who lift you up are nourishing and rewarding. Connecting with those who drag you down is exhausting! Determine how you feel most of the time during these interactions. If the relationship always leaves you feeling drained, perhaps it is time to move on. “Save the Drama for your Mama!”

Confrontation? Yikes!

Deep down you know what to say and do. Actually, you have two clear choices: you can be honest or simply avoid the person completely. If you take the more direct approach, make sure to use “I” language. “Right now I need to spend more time with my family.” Or, “I think I need to take a break.” Heck, you don’t have to explain anything if you don’t want to. Just make sure you leave the other person with ego intact. Be kind. Be caring. Send the person off with love and good wishes.

What’s Next?

Understand that you have the power to choose who you want to be with in your life. Releasing those negative people opens the door for new and better relationships. Don’t feel guilty. Relationships evolve. Time is precious. Be a best friend to yourself and decide to do some Conscious Uncoupling. Unless it is with me…I will try to do better. I love you. Truly. Don’t leave me.

Do you have a Conscious Uncoupling story? Share below!


Stop Freeze Freak Out: Top 10 Cabin Fever Chill Chasers

house covered in snowYou are stuck at home. It’s cold. It’s staying cold. You have cabin fever and the polar vortex is giving you a complex. What to do? Here are the Top 10 ways to keep your spirits high when the temps are low. Ready, Set…

1. Open that Box. Get a gift that you have yet to open? This is the perfect time to watch a Rainbow Loom video and help the kids make cool bracelets. Break out the Panini maker or put that juicer to work. Or, if you know you never will, go immediately to #7.

2. Call Your Mother. Or your father, brother, cousin, friend. It’s best if they don’t live in CA or FL – they will just rub their sunshine in your face. Connect with someone who makes you laugh or someone you haven’t talked to in a while. It is the instant pick-me-up.

3. Sochi at Home! Are the kids stir crazy too? Create an indoor Olympic course and have time trials. Heck, who needs kids? Get wooden spoons and tennis balls to create floor knee hockey. Have you heard about carpet skates? Go to www.fatbraintoys.com and get a pair.

4. Binge Watch. Do you have that left-out feeling because you haven’t seen Orange is the New Black? Are you missing out on Game of Thrones discussions? Couch…Popcorn…Blanket…Marathon…PLAY!

5. Get Neighborly. They’re probably as stir crazy as you are! Check on them if you’re doing a grocery run. Maybe a neighborhood card game, potluck or progressive dinner tonight? You do know your neighbors, right? Get on it!

6. Clean Sweep. What “clutter space” is on your nerves? Pantry? Closet? Has your garage gone wild? You don’t have to tackle the whole project, but set the timer for 23 minutes and ROCK & ROLL!

7. Have Goodwill. Grab a bag and fill it! If you have the kids, this is the great one. We have toys that haven’t been touched in years! Everyone gets a bag and the first one who fills it decides what’s for dinner.

8. Kick the Bucket. Get started on one bucket list item. Sign up for that conversational French Class. Check out the co-ed adult soccer league. Begin planning your dream vacation.

9. Get Grateful. Write a thank you note. Connect with a grade school teacher who changed your life, or to that co-worker who always comes in with a great attitude, or to your mechanic who always and miraculously saves your ride from the salvage yard. Yup, pen, paper, stamp.

10.Change up the Grub. I’ve always wanted to make those Pinterest creations. Grab a cookbook (mine hasn’t been touched in years) or jump on a cooking site (www.epicurious.com) and break out of that “same-old-same-old” food routine.

Hang in there, Spring is around the corner, right? Right?? Hellooooo???

Write and tell me how you’ve made cabin fever fun and productive!

 

 


Who Made Downtime a Crime?

Who Made Downtime a Crime?We are a week into the New Year. Are you rocking those resolutions? Yes? Good for you. No? Join the club. This is not another blog about how to achieve your goals. This is rare to hear from a motivational speaker, I know. Rather, this blog is about  freedom, balance and less pressure.

Here’s the deal. I don’t know about you, but after the hubbub of gifting, decorating, traveling, partying, entertaining, and cleaning– I am wiped out. I don’t want to run a marathon. I don’t want to unplug or join the gym. I want to run to my bed and get into the fetal position.

When January 1 hits, there is a ton of pressure to set goals and get a move-on. I say WAIT! Don’t get me wrong, I think goals are wildly important. I also think timing is everything. I am going to kick off my New Year February 1 because I am just not ready to dive into productivity quite yet. That is probably perfect timing because I will be well rested and back into the routine. Plus, the gym starts to clear out.

Downtime does not equal slacker (unless you never get into gear). You shouldn’t feel guilty for wearing your jammies past noon. Don’t regret curling up on the couch with a good book (just finished, “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper, which was great!) Binge watching a series on Netflix does not make you a loser. Who made downtime a crime?!? Downtime has value. A friend recently said, “How is it possible that I’m already BEHIND! Darn holidays!” What?!? Give yourself a break. Don’t just look at the first day of the year as your big opportunity. Every month is a new start. Every day is a new start.

Give yourself permission to just BE for now.

Start your engines…when you are good and READY

Some of us need downtime before GO time.

What are your thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions?


Done is Better Than Perfect

Rocks

As the holiday crunch rolls on, I am in full panic mode. Cards to create, teacher gifts still to buy, long distance gifts awaiting shipment, monthly pictures for our family calendars yet to be selected, and every night I sit bolt upright at 1AM, because I’ve forgotten to move the frickin’ Elf on a Shelf. Wait, not only do you have to move the Elf, you also need to find something creative for him to be doing!? Pinterest, anyone?

Hold on…here’s the thing– I waited on our cards because the pictures didn’t look that great and I questioned my card idea (we did a Duck Dynasty take-off– don’t ask). I held off on the calendar because I could’t find the right picture of my sister-in-law for the month of May. I didn’t ship the presents because I wanted a few more useless things for the nephews’ stockings. STOP THE MADNESS!

My engineer “voice of reason” husband calmly tells me that if the calendars don’t arrive until Jan 1st, the family will still love them. Will my nephew notice that he doesn’t have the same amount of plastic crap in his stocking as his brother? Well, maybe, but he’ll get over it. If the Elf isn’t doing something wildly creative, does it make me a bad mom? I think not.

In stressful times, DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. BTW, this does not count for bridge builders and brain surgeons, as well as others who are responsible for wildly important tasks. This is for those of us who put undue pressure on ourselves over trivial matters. The holidays should be a fun time of year. But, every time I see a mom relaxing at Starbucks drinking a latte, and she asks me, “Are you ready for Christmas?” I want to smack that latte out of her hands along with that smug (I handmade my presents this year) smile. Anyone with me on this?

Time for a wake-up call. As a motivational speaker, I know that it doesn’t matter what happens to you; it is how you respond that matters. Clearly, I’m getting sucked into the minutiae. Join me in shifting your perspective. Let’s make time to do truly meaningful things — connect with an old friend, personally deliver a thank you card or buy a gift for someone who is truly needy.

Put the jolly back in the holiday. You’ve heard it before, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and it’s true! Done is better than perfect. Boxes shipped. Cards out with average pictures. Baked goods for the school party from the grocery. The Elf in a boring pose. It’s all good.

This season, give yourself the gift of not being perfect. You will still end up on the NICE LIST, keep your sanity and make other around you merrier too.

What are you going to let go of this holiday season? Sound off here!


When NO PROBLEM is a Problem

babyprobThe waiter screwed up our order. I tell him that it is okay, and he responds with, “No problem.” Ummm…it actually was a problem. Have you ever walked out of a store and said thank you and gotten the, “No problem” response? Did I miss a problem? When did everyone born after 1985 decide that “No problem” was interchangeable with “You’re welcome”?

It shouldn’t bother me, but it does, probably because I was born well before 1985. As a motivational speaker, I often ask people about their pet peeves and this one comes up regularly, so I can’t be alone in this thinking. Here’s the deal–no problem reverses the terms of the transaction. Rather than you doing a favor for an establishment by shopping or eating there, now suddenly the establishment is doing you a favor by having its employees help you. Then they tell you that it was no big deal, seeing as how your server, associate, or whomever is getting paid to do that very thing (I think that’s the definition of a “job,” no?).

No problem is an appropriate response when telling someone you’ve gone out of your way to help–essentially communicating that the person shouldn’t feel indebted. That is cool. But too often, hearing “no problem” when there is NOT a problem causes a problem. I understand that the words,”You’re welcome,” may get tiresome, so let me offer a few alternate responses:

1. My pleasure.
2. Happy to help.
3. Certainly!
4. Sure thing!
5. Enjoy!
6. Thank YOU!
7. Thanks for coming in today!

It seems that “please” and “thank you” are becoming a lost art. And now we are losing “you’re welcome”? I’m losing it along with my close vision. It is all too much.

Thank you for reading my rant. I hope you didn’t just yell, “No problem!”

   What do you think? I would love to hear your comments!


Procrastinate Later

As I look around my office, I see the land of unfinished projects: kid’s artwork meant for scrapbooks, client files stationed on my desk to remind me to send a special thank you note, info from conferences waiting for action, and randomness that needs to be filed (but should be tossed instead). 

Do you live on SOMEDAY ISLE too?  Someday I’ll have time to make those special memory books. Someday I’ll purge the paper that I don’t need. Someday I’ll tackle my “that would be nice to do” list. Of course, all of this hinges on the dreaded phrase, “When I have time!”

Suddenly it hit me — I’m waiting for time that really doesn’t exist. Phantom Time. That is, time that will always be replaced with more important tasks. Always.

However, it is not a lost cause. We can do some things to jump-start into action:

GET THE URGE TO PURGE                                                                                                                    

Learn to let go. Take one drawer, one kitchen cabinet or one office cubby that makes you crazy. Set a timer for 20 minutes and go to town. Be tough on yourself. Do you really need this? If you haven’t touched an item recently, maybe it isn’t that important. It’s like when you get ready to move, and you realize that you haven’t unpacked boxes from your previous move. Years have passed and obviously you haven’t missed the contents. Sell, recycle, donate — it feels great!

YOU’VE GOT TO MOVE IT MOVE IT                                                                                          

Remember the line from the kids movie, Madagascar? You really do have to move it! Don’t just shuffle things from one side of your desk to the other. Get rid of clutter piles. Take action. Do it. Delegate it. Or dump it.

TAKE A PICTURE — IT WILL LAST LONGER                                                                                          

Who says you have to keep every art project your kids create? Take pictures and put them in a photo book from Shutterfly. What will your kids do with a box of their handprints and macaroni sculptures when they are adults? A book takes up less space, collects less dust, and is far easier to enjoy.

GO SET READY                                                                                                                                       

Okay, make the decision to go and do it. Set a time and space. Get ready to release yourself from the guilt. Escape from SOMEDAY ISLE. Don’t procrastinate today–do that later. Give yourself a break, and beware of phantom time. The time is now. Let’s go!

When you are finished, come back and post your purge success story. We all need to come clean!