Top Ten Positive Qualities of Bitches

bitch

When I think of the qualities I most want to possess, “bitchy” has never been one of them.  But maybe it should be.  Hear me out here peeps.  “Bitch” has several definitions, but I’m referring to the version used for women who behave in a demanding, dominant, dismissive and/or insensitive way.

So why would I EVER want to possess any characteristics related to this behavior?  Because, while this label is associated with undesirable conduct, there are some lessons we ladies could learn:  Here are my Top 10 Positive Qualities of Bitches:

  1. They are decisive
  2. They are clear about their expectations
  3. They communicate their needs succinctly
  4. They don’t let obstacles stand in their way
  5. They have a plan
  6. They aren’t concerned with what other people think of them
  7. They stay focused on their goal
  8. They make certain their needs are met
  9. They use all available resources
  10. They expect to succeed

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a recovering people pleaser.  I tried so hard to please everyone that it would slow me down in making a decision.  I also cared way too much what others thought of me, so my needs often ended up on the back burner.  I’ve found that embracing qualities that can be associated with being a bitch has helped me communicate more clearly and achieve more of my goals.

So while I’m not suggesting you now strive to become The World’s Biggest Bitch, I think as women we could benefit from turning our bitch up at times.  You don’t have to become a mean girl, in fact, please don’t, but be decisive, be assertive and expect to succeed. Communicate your needs respectfully, but unapologetically.

Everything is degrees.  Assertiveness is great, but if it’s turned up too high it becomes aggressive; turned down too low and it’s timid.   Fine tune your inner bitch and let her help you achieve your goals.

Tell me in the comments section which of the Top 10 Characteristics you could “turn up” to gain more satisfaction in your life.

How a Conversation with my Young Self Reminded Me to Play Big

iStock_000010510059SmallAt the risk of raising suspicions that I’ve been sniffing Wite-Out, I’d like to ask you a question.  When was the last time you had a conversation with your eight-year-old self (or any younger version)?

At the closing of a conference I recently attended, participants took part in a guided meditation.  During this guided meditation, we briefly glimpsed younger (and older) versions of ourselves who smile and point us on our way.  This exercise got me thinkin’!

If I was able to meet with myself as a child, what questions would she ask me about how life has been? This thought alone brought me a (surprising) amount of emotional pain.  See, as a child, I was optimistic, excited, curious, and filled with a hope that couldn’t be distinguished, (like most children I suspect).  While, for the most part, I’m still all of those things, there’s one thing that has dimmed.  I was a Fearless Dreamer.

By Fearless Dreamer I mean there was no dream too big for me.  I could be a firefighter, astronaut, college professor, lawyer, humanitarian, philanthropist…anything I could imagine.  I could drive a hot pink convertible Corvette, have a huge apartment in Manhattan and a beautiful country home in my hometown.  Yes, all of these, and more, were the things I dreamed about.

So why does the idea of meeting with my child-self make me sad?  Because I think I’d disappoint her.  I picture her excitedly trying to guess which of my dreams came true. “Are you a college professor? Do you have a Manhattan apartment with a beautiful view of the city at night? How many kids did you have? Did you change the world and make it better?”  On and on she’d go, ticking off questions quicker than I could answer them.

Then my adult-self would begin to say things like, “well, it’s complicated.  See, it’s not as easy to accomplish those dreams.  There are bills and obligations and responsibilities…” It’s at this moment, that her face goes from bright eyed excited curiosity, to confused bewilderment that shows on her furrowed brow, to a disappointed, shoulder drooping, sad glance down to her lap.  As if I told her there was no Santa Claus or Easter bunny.

This image makes me sad.  Very sad, in fact.

That is until I start coaching myself.  I’m all about perspective (as you probably know), so how could I shift my perspective to a more positive angle, while still being truthful?

Well that wasn’t as hard as I thought.  I imagined a new and improved conversation with my child-self.  I’d say, “Well, I didn’t accomplish those dreams in the way I thought I would when I was you, but I accomplished many.  I have an office that feels warm and welcoming, has lots of sunlight and the sound of birds chirping.   I’m not a college professor, but I’ve been able to help people be more optimistic, excited, curious and hopeful about life.   I’ve helped them to dream big, thanks to you.  And also thanks to you, I’ve continued to dream big.  In fact, I’m working on a big dream now!“  This is where she says to me, “So dreams really DO come true!”  She jumps up, gives me a big crooked-toothed smile that reaches her eyes, a tight hug and runs off towards that swing set she so loved to dream on.

All I know is that I have more work to do to make even more of my dreams come true.  Meeting with her reminded me to stop putting limitations or restrictions on my dreams.  If I can dream it, I can be it.  Care to join me?

Tell me in the comments section how you would feel meeting with your young self and what you could still learn from that version of you.

Fast Track to Authenticity – Stop Letting Others Define You

Do you remember being called something negative as a child?  Ugly, stupid, fat, skinny, short, etc.? Or maybe nothing THAT negative, but labels like, willful, stubborn, argumentative, flighty, absent minded or the like?

It amazes me how many of us, as adults, still unknowingly hold onto those labels.  How we’ve taken the words and actions of others and assigned them meaning in our life and in our identity, (keeping in mind that some of these labels were given to us by 7 year olds).  And we’re still buying into it, or trying to prove them untrue.

So much of our joy (and pain) in life is determined by our perspectives.  As a recovering people-pleaser, I get it.  For years I tried to be whatever others expected me to be.  I put so much value on the opinions of others and virtually no value on my own.

On the flipside of that, I would expend a huge amount of energy trying to prove people wrong if I didn’t like their opinion of me (all while wondering if their opinion of me was actually fact).

Worse than all of that was, at times, I would make assumptions about what other people thought of me.  As a 26 year old single mom, attending PTO meetings at my son’s school was awkward to say the least.  I was sure all those other moms were judging me.  Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t, but this colored my perspective of myself.  I put a high value on what I assumed these women thought of me.  That was not only unfair to me, but also to them.

So how did I stop caring what other people thought of me?  I didn’t. I still care what others think of me, I just don’t let it define me.  I define me.  I decide every day who I am and who I want to be.  Does it hurt when I have a hater?  Sure it can, but that’s ok.  I reflect on their perception, see if there’s any room for improvement and move on.

If I feel there’s room to improve and align with who I want to be, then I work towards it because I want to be the best version of myself.  For me. Not to prove them wrong.  Haters gonna hate! They’re not going to suddenly adore me if I change.

So what criticisms have you over-valued in your life?  What labels just aren’t true anymore (and maybe never were)?  Who do YOU want to be?  All your yesterdays are over.  You can’t change them.  But you can change your today and all your tomorrows.

What are you waiting for?  Tell me in the comments section which three adjectives best describe who you want to be.

Are Lap Dances Cheating?

A couple weeks ago a woman called into the local radio station.  She wanted to ask the listeners if they thought her boyfriend getting a lap dance at a strip club was considered cheating.   So in essence, I guess she was wondering whether to be mad or not.

I got the impression that “boyfriend” told her he was going to the strip club.  I also got the impression that he told her he got a lap dance.  Regardless, I couldn’t figure out why she was asking the question.

What if the majority of callers said, “Yes, that is absolutely cheating and unacceptable”?  How would she have reacted?  Or, what if the majority of callers said, “No way, that’s totally ok”?  She seemed so clearly neutral to the situation and just wanted to know which socially acceptable “team” she should be on.

While most of us don’t come by our beliefs from the radio, do you ever wonder where you acquired some of them?  How you came to believe them?  If you even really believe in them anymore?

One of my favorite questions to ask is “why”.  This is especially true when someone has a limiting belief.  This typically drives my friends and clients crazy, but it really gets to the core.  So for instance, I recently spoke with a 40-something-year-old, who said, “I could never change careers now”.  I asked her why and continued to challenge her limiting beliefs.

In another conversation a woman thought she had nothing to offer the world because she didn’t finish college.  I asked if she truly believed that or if she just thought everyone else did.  I could rattle off a bunch of successful people who didn’t finish college.  Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Russell Simmons, Ted Turner, Brad Pitt, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Oprah, Tom Hanks, shall I go on??

Moral of the story?  Don’t let others define your rules.  You’re the boss of you!  If you want to “cut off” your boyfriend because of a lap dance, have at it.  If you couldn’t care less about lap dances so long as all involved retained possession of their own DNA, that’s cool too.

On the other hand, if your beliefs are limiting what you can do or enjoy, ask yourself why you are hanging on to it.  The most inspiring stories come from those who challenged both their own and other’s beliefs.  The 4 minute mile was at one time deemed impossible by experts…until someone did it.  Then someone else broke that record.  Bob Wieland lost both his legs in war.  Yet he’s run numerous marathons…entirely on his hands.

Do you have a belief that you let go of once you realized it wasn’t truly yours?  How about a belief that’s unshakable to you.  You believe it to your core.  Share in the comments section what those are for you.

Exploring Your Negativity

I’m a very positive, non-judgmental kinda gal.  However, recently I drove by a billboard that had a woman decked out in German attire holding a nice big mug of beer.  She looked kind of silly.  Well not “kind of”, she looked ridiculous.  As I drove beyond it, I couldn’t stop wondering what she was thinking posing for that billboard dressed like that.   How does she respond when her friends tease her about it?  What about when she’s grocery shopping?  She must get those odd glances from fellow shoppers.  How does she feel about being the “Billboard Lady”?

Then I started wondering: Why do I care? Why am I spending so much energy trying to get in this woman’s head? Why am I feeling such negativity about it?  And then it hit me.  I would never have the kahunas to dress like that and have it plastered on a billboard.  I’d be too worried about what other people thought about it.

I’m all about embracing your authentic self without regard to how others judge you, and yet here I was.  Feeling negativity towards a woman who clearly didn’t give a crap what others thought about her billboard image.  In fact, maybe she felt pride to be the one pictured.  Maybe that’s her German restaurant and she’s damn proud of it.  Either way…You Go German Girl!!

This incident has led me to reflect on my own insecurities when I have a knee-jerk reaction to judge someone else.  These are the questions I ask myself:

Why do I care? – This is the first question to determine where the negativity is coming from.  If it involves harming someone or something else, then I’m probably justified.  Otherwise, it’s likely pointing at an internal issue.

What’s my issue with it? – That middle aged mom clearly wearing her teenage daughter’s clothes.  I’m not the “Fashion Police”.   What’s my issue?  Am I jealous that she can pull it off?  Am I insecure in my relationship and concerned she’ll steal my romantic partner’s attention?

How can I work on this now? – Once I’ve identified the insecurity, I can work on it.  Using the example above, I would ask myself if I’m not confident in my own appearance, what can I do to change that?  Or, if I’m concerned about a straying partner, what work needs to be done in the relationship?  Is that insecurity because I’m not confident in my appearance or is my intuition telling me something is going on?

Ultimately, I’ve found this type of reflection incredibly beneficial to understanding what aspects of my life I need to focus attention on.  Exploring the root cause of any negativity helps me understand myself, and others, better.  Look within first.  It’s a good practice to living a positive, authentic life.

Tell me in the comments section how this resonates with you.

Empty Your Mind to Spark Creativity

There are an endless amount of books and workshops dedicated to the topic of creativity.  We’ve all heard at one point or another that incredibly annoying phrase: “Think outside the box”.  Whether your work is in art, construction, accounting or management, we all need to get creative in order to be innovative and cutting edge in our chosen field.

The creative process begins in our brain.  Many of us, however, are using so much of our brain power to remember “stuff” that we aren’t leaving a whole lot of space for being creative.  We are so busy trying to remember appointments, plans, schedules, dates, names, numbers, facts, responsibilities and about a thousand other things, that we can’t very well afford a lot of time and energy on creativity.

So what to do?  Get all of that “stuff” out of your head! Here are my Top 5 tips to activating your creativity by emptying your mind:

#5 – Learn To Say “No” – You can’t do it all.  Respectfully decline requests and favors that you just don’t have the time (or interest) to do.  Creativity takes time, so using your time wisely will contribute to your pièce de résistance.

#4 – Practice the Two Minute Rule – Sometimes procrastinating on a task uses more energy than if you had just done it in the first place.  A great rule of thumb is if you can take an action on something in two minutes or less, just do it.  This works really well for email and delegating.

#3 – Write (or record) All Those Amazing Ideas – I tend to think of the most ingenious ideas when I’m driving, waking in the middle of the night or showering.  Then I promise myself to remember the idea at a more opportune time.  Which I don’t.  So when the next epiphany strikes, write it down or record it on your phone’s voice recorder immediately (or as soon as you’re out of the shower)!

#2 – Get Everything (yes, EVERYTHING) Out Of Your Head And Down On Paper – This was no easy task, but a truly life-changing one.  I literally wrote down every single thing I was trying to remember:  Upcoming birthday’s, errands to run, emails to send or respond to, phone calls to make, ideas to research and explore, shopping lists, to-do lists and so on.  This exercise took about an hour but resulted in nothing but space in my brain (zero points for any and all jokes resulting from this line!).  I truly had nothing to think about but ideas, concepts and theories.  It was like having Disney World all to myself!

#1 – Use A Project Organization Software Program  – You aren’t freeing your mind if you don’t trust the system you use to maintain all the “stuff” you just emptied. You can use a good old fashioned filing system, but I prefer Nozbe.  (There’s a free version too.) I put everything I wrote down in Tip #2 into my Nozbe account which alerts me when an action is due.  So Nozbe does the remembering for me.

Some of these ideas came from David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” which is also featured in my March ‘Recommended Read’.

If you’d like to take your creativity to the ultimate level, I recommend that you check out two of my favorite books on the topic:

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield                                                                                                               “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon

I’m not kidding when I tell you these steps have been life-changing for me.  The first few days after using them, I came up with some really original and creative ideas.  I was also more relaxed and quicker on my feet because I wasn’t using so much of my brain power to remember things.  Tell me in the comments section how you keep your creativity charged.

Hurry Up and Wait – 4 Steps to Achieving your Goals

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sure am ready for Spring!! Right around the end of February each year, I start to get that itch to go outside and do things.  (That ‘itch’ is in hibernation pretty much from November through February for me!)

As Spring in New England approaches, I plan hikes and excursions and bike rides and picnics and parties and horseback riding and on and on and on.  There’s just one little thing…I don’t actually DO half of it.  I talk about it excitedly, even research where I’ll go or how I’ll do it, but ultimately, it’s the same old, same old.

I’m in this big rush to do stuff, and then I wait for the next weekend or holiday or season.  But when November returns, I realize I really haven’t done what I was so excited about in the Spring and Summer.  So how is this year going to be different? I’m so glad you asked!

First I’m going to identify my goals.  My youngest will be college-bound in only two years, so I want to put an even bigger emphasis on quality family time.   I want to be more physically fit than I was last year.  I want to focus on delivering more innovative, kickass results professionally.  I want to build relationships with more people beyond my inner circle.

Then I’m going to brainstorm actions that support those goals.  I will consult with family members to come up with activities we can do that everyone will enjoy and commit to.  To meet my physical goal, I will reach out to those who can help keep me motivated and challenge me (I have WAY too many “Mud Runner” friends!!!).  I will avoid “death by research” and take action on my findings each week.  I will schedule time to network or take advantage of opportunities that will expose me to new people.

Weekly ‘pulse’ checks will keep me on track.  I will review my week every Sunday to see which goals I met and any periods where I went off track.  Then I will look at the week ahead and ensure there are enough actions planned that align with my goals.  As new opportunities arise, I will ask myself if they will contribute to, or take away from, my goals.

Finally, I’ll yell it from the rooftop!  For a little accountability fun, I’m going to make sure anyone and everyone is aware of my goals AND schedule a time to Pay the Piper! There’s nothing like a weekly blog for this step!! SOOOO….my November 16th, 2014 blog post will be my “Pay the Piper” post (say THAT ten times fast!!)!

So tell me in the comments section, when do you find yourself ‘hurrying up just to wait’, which of the four steps above would help you the most and what tips do you have to ensure you accomplish your goals!  I’d love to hear from you!!

Sending the Wrong Vibe – 6 Tips for Conveying the Right Message

I recently had a conversation with someone who is described by others as “ornery”, “cranky”, “miserable” and “mean”.  A few of these same people also threw in that he “had a good heart though”.  I knew him as being a little ‘rough around the edges’, but he had always been pleasant with me.  So when I saw him, I asked how he was, what was new, how life was, etc.  During this conversation, he said something that struck me.  He said something to the effect of, “Life would be so much better if people were just nicer.”

I replayed this conversation many times in my head over the next week.  I tried to see the world through his eyes, considering every possible angle.  Like trying to solve a puzzle, I was trying to correlate his perceptions with those of the people around him.

How could someone, described as he was, be so unaware of how he was contributing to his own unhappiness?  Didn’t he realize that the vibe he was sending to others was off-putting and unapproachable?

I started to think of times when I had an expectation of someone I was speaking to.  Maybe I heard they were condescending or I feared they would be unimpressed with me.  And guess what?  Most of the time I was right, but not because of who they were, but because of who I was projecting myself to be.

Was it possible that I was sending a vibe that invited someone to be condescending with me?  Could I be unimpressive because that’s the unspoken message I was conveying to them?

Call it “Law of Attraction”, “Power of Suggestion” or “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”…I’ve found it to be true.  As so many of you have commented on your love of lists, here are 6 tips to ensure you’re sending the right vibe:

  • Acknowledge Your Fears – Name them, accept them,  then tell yourself that your fears don’t define you (do all of this out loud if you can) Once revealed, it’s harder for those fears to sneak in
  • Give Yourself a Pep Talk – Remind yourself of your awesomeness and that NO ONE is better than you
  • Focus On Your Message – What are you trying to convey? Confidence, warmth, concern, admiration, joy, seriousness? Be clear on your intention and why this is important to you
  • Expect Acceptance – When speaking with others, expect that they will like and accept you as you are
  • Shake Off Mistakes – If you misstep or let that fear creep in during the conversation, shake it off and get right back on track
  • Be Aware of Non-Verbals – Make sure your body language and facial expressions are congruent with the vibe you’re sending – these are what people will perceive first about you

Follow these tips right before you speak.  Whether this is one-on-one or with a group, the same rules apply.  Just be you! You ARE awesome!!

Comment above which nasty little fears have a tendency to creep up on you and how you battle these vibe villains!

Living Your Dream, One Step at a Time

Many of you know that I fall under the ranks of “multi-passionate”.  The idea of settling on just one “thing” horrifies me.  I’m always looking at the new, exciting and shiny.  I embrace change (for the most part).  I enjoy trying new things.  Some things stick, others enjoy the short-lived “Flavor of the Month” title. One thing is certain:  If I hadn’t taken some sort of action, I’d never know what “stuck”.

The other night, I was reviewing my business finances and preparing an expense report for my accountant.  It reminded me of how far I’ve come in the past year.  For years I’d said I’d NEVER want to be an entrepreneur.  Dealing with finances and taxes?  Bleh!!!! No thanks!  But then I realized how I could turn my passion for helping people into a business.

That was about as specific as my business plan was.  I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined to at least try.  I enrolled in training workshops, watched webinars, listened to podcasts, read books, hired professionals.  I learned so much!! More than I thought I was capable of.

I was DEFINITELY outside my comfort zone, but I was learning so much and trying so many new things.  I did it all at my own pace.  I made mistakes and survived.  I had those self-doubts, “Who do you think you are? What do you know about being an entrepreneur?” They hurt and at times I considered the validity of those questions for longer than I should have.  But then I reflected on them and either took measures to learn what I needed to or just shut down that naysayer in my head.

I also realized that for the most part, people wanted me to succeed and wanted to help me achieve my goals.  I met a ridiculous amount of new and wonderful people, many of whom I expect will be in my life for years to come.

Even though I started this journey knowing virtually nothing about starting a business, one short year later I’ve come a long way.  I had my doubts at certain points but everything came together and I’ve had an incredibly successful first year.

The point, please Watson?  Sorry, the point is that I would not have discovered this had I not taken the first step.  Here’s a quote by Lisa Sasevich to illustrate this, “God can’t course-correct you when you’re standing still.”  If you don’t take some sort of action, you may be missing out on some golden nugget of awesomeness in your life.

What are you passionate about or even just interested in?  What’s something you’ve wondered about or dreamt of doing?  It doesn’t have to be starting your own business.  It could be learning about photography, owning a beach home, leading a yoga class.  Stop waiting and take the first step.  That’s it.  Just the first one.  When you’re ready you can consider what the second step is, but do something!

All my readers have contributed to my success and feeling of fulfillment, so please accept my most heartfelt and sincere “THANK YOU”!!!  I look forward to creating even more exciting ways to serve you in Year 2.  (Have some ideas on how I could add value to your life?  Please share them with me in the ‘Contact Me’ section.)

Tell me in the comments section something you’ve fantasized about doing and what the first step is on that journey.

If you would like to partner up and work on living a life by design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Love You or Love You Not?

This can be a crappy time of month for those who are single or in an unhappy relationship.  Pink and Red hearts and cupids are EVERYWHERE.  Flowers, candy, cards and jewelry are advertised as the ultimate social proof of being loved.  Stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a chick after all and certainly love me some flowers, candy, cards or jewelry! My aggravation comes from the insinuation that you are validated on this day ONLY if someone gifts you with an “I love you” gift.

For those who are single or in unhappy (or un-gifting) relationships, this can be rather depressing.  IF they buy into this that is.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much you are loved by another human being if you don’t love yourself.  There are too many people who need this validation from someone else in order to believe that they are worthy of love.

How about proving your worthy of love by loving yourself?  Need some help?  Here are 7 ways to give yourself a little love this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Write a Valentine’s card or letter to yourself.  And don’t be lame.  Write about all those great qualities you possess, nice things you do, good intentions you have.
  2. Buy yourself a bunch of your favorite flowers and put them in a place you’ll enjoy them frequently.
  3. Take yourself out to dinner.  You can do this alone or make it a ‘Friends Date’.  Make sure you get your fancy on – dress to impress! (impress yourself of course!)
  4. Wear some sexy and daring underthings beneath your everyday attire (or for that matter, wear nothing underneath) to remind yourself that you got it goin’ on!
  5. Get yourself a treat like a box of chocolates, bottle of wine, 12 pack of beer or the fixin’s for a Cosmo, then enjoy slowly and lovingly.
  6. Go check out some jewelry stores and buy yourself that piece you really love.  Maybe it’s a ring, or pendant, watch or cuff links.  Go ahead and spend a little extra, you’re worth it, remember?
  7. Hit the spa and get a manicure, pedicure or massage.

Word of caution:  These acts are not intended to replace or stand-in for someone else.  Do these for no other reason than to show yourself some love.  Really put your heart into it.

Doing kind and loving things for yourself will remind you how awesome you really are.  Giving someone else the task of determining your worth and value is a really bad idea.

If someone happens to gift you with something this V-Day, BONUS!  But get excited about how you’re going to gift you!  Won’t you be your valentine? Post in the comments section ONE thing about you that is worth celebrating!!