It’s All About YOU – Survey for my Blog Readers

Energy mango/spearmint body butter, scrub and buff. Aaahhhhhhh…..

Hello All!  Cool survey for you to fill out at Survey Monkey:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QW9SMTL  that asks you to ANONYMOUSLY share your struggles at this stage of your life.  C’mon now, when was the last time someone asked about you and your life and REALLY wanted to listen to your answer?  Tonight’s the Night! Please answer my 10 quick questions.  Future blog posts will be written to address your concerns.  OHHH, did I mention that all who respond will be entered to win a fabulous “thank you” gift? ——>  Complete the survey BY 4/5/13, then drop me a message on my contact page, comment box, facebook page or email with your name and contact (email, phone, whatev) and I’ll enter you to win a super-cool little gift. And don’t worry, your word is good enough for me, I trust you!  Here’s the link again in case you missed it:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QW9SMTL

Finding Your Passion Using Assessments

I have always been a firm believer that people do their best work when they enjoy what they do.  No duh, right? No big revelation there, however it’s all too common, in the United States especially, that we focus on the areas that need improvement.  This starts in the schools and the same is true in business.  Jobs (and often managers) are so rigid in the requirements that employees are expected to perform all duties at an accomplished level.  Almost like robots.

I’m willing to bet that quality and productivity would increase in any industry if employees were utilized for their strengths and we’d all be a lot happier to boot. As neither our educational system nor our traditional business philosophy is likely to change anytime soon, we have to take charge of finding the right career for ourselves.  This doesn’t sound hard, right?

I have counseled many young adults who are so terrified at not yet knowing what they want to be when they grow up that they are frozen in fear making no decisions.  Additionally, I’ve spoken with numerous mid-lifers who ask the same question but instead of exploring it, they just go with the flow in a job that doesn’t satisfy them at all. So what to do? My advice is to take an assessment, actually several assessments.  And no, I’m not referring to the ones in Glamour, Seventeen and Cosmopolitan.

While assessments won’t spell out precisely which job you should pursue, they will identify your strengths and some provide suggestions on types of careers that might interest you.  I’m speaking from experience here people, and I can tell you that Retrospect is a beautiful view.  I took many assessments over a large span of time and reviewing them all assured me that I was completely blind to what has always been right in front of my face!  I often pursued training and education that would serve in my job at the time but didn’t necessarily advance me closer to my true passions.  I, too, went with the flow of each job, letting others lead me to the trail I should blaze.  While this allowed me to advance over the years, one fact remained: I was a coward.  I’m a very confident woman and yet I didn’t trust my own ability to FULLY blaze my own chosen path.  Reviewing my assessment results really gave me the bitch-slap I needed to start pursuing my passions.

So where do you begin? Do the assessments I’ve listed at the end of this article.  All of them.  You’ll likely see a pattern which will reinforce what you already know.  Regardless of the life stage you’re in, it’s important to know your strengths and to take steps towards utilizing them.  If you’re just starting out in your career ask yourself how your position is serving you and your strengths.  You may need to tough it out and prove yourself to get more of what you love in your position, but that’s still progress.  If, like me, you have a family to support or other financial obligations and can’t just “start over” immediately, try to find the areas in your current position that serve your passions WHILE taking baby steps towards your dreams.  Who says you can’t do both? And don’t get tangled in the, “I’m too old to do that now” bullshit.  Don’t limit yourself like that.  You can do whatever you want once you are clear on what you love and what you’re good at.

Marie Forleo says it best: There’s only one you. Never again will there be someone with your knowledge, experiences and gifts.  The world NEEDS you and your talents!  So go forth and identify your strengths and start finding where and how you can put them to use!  Here are my recommendations:

“Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath.  Purchasing the book gives you a code to take the online assessment for free.  Results will show your Top 5 out of 34 possible personality “themes”.  For example, my top 5 are: Adaptablility, Connectedness, Empathy, Harmony and Positivity.

“Career Match” by Shoya Zichy with Ann Bidou.  Assessment is in the book. Results are color themed with extrovert/introvert considerations.  For example I’m a Green/Red Extrovert. (warm, free spirit)

MBTI (Myers-Briggs) Assessment: There are several options for this one.

http://www.capt.org/take-mbti-assessment/mbti.htm  This one is taken online and has a $150 price tag in the US & Canada ($175 in other countries) and includes a personalized readback from a trained professional.

https://www.mbticomplete.com/contents/learnmore.aspx  This is taken online and results are shown online as well.  There is no one-on-one readback, but it’s more affordable at only $49.95.

There are copy-cat versions on the web that are often free, but they are not endorsed or supported by Myers-Briggs.  Results are a four-letter combination.  I’m an ENFP. (Extroverted Intuition with Feeling).

DISC Assessment:  This is taken online and measures 4 dimensions of your behavioral style. Decisive, Interactive, Stability and Cautious.  Typically a $250 assessment, you can complete it and get the results immediately and for free at Tony Robbins site:  http://www.tonyrobbins.com/ue/disc-profile.php

I’d love to know how YOU scored on each of these and how you do, can or will utilize your strengths, so please share your results in the comments section of this post!

Un-Friended

I’m a very open-minded, inclusive individual.  However, today I “Un-Friended” a Facebook friend because of how they continued to communicate their views.  Please re-read that sentence…it was not BECAUSE of their views, rather, HOW they continued to communicate them.  I’d like to say it pained me to remove them, but it didn’t.  It felt damn good to cut their antagonistic, self-righteous rants out of my life! So here’s the story.  This individual is a highly educated, well-versed and, as far as I know, loving person.  A “practicing” atheist based on the sheer number of daily/weekly posts made that I was guaranteed to see ANYTIME I logged on.  I couldn’t care less if someone is an atheist.  Truly.  All posts, with the exception of one, were based on making derogatory statements about the Pope, Christians, faith, etc.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t care about the Pope any more, or less, than any other human being.  But seriously, it was getting hateful.  I tolerated these as individual expression, despite the implication that those of us who didn’t agree would not only die without any hope of Heaven, God or angels, but seemingly worse…we would die as idiots.  So back to today: I’m happily scrolling through Facebook, quickly viewing posts and photos of kids and dogs and…wait, what the hell IS that? I see ‘said person’ has posted “something” that is not connecting in my brain yet, although it appears to be a dummy or the set of a horror movie. I don’t know, what possessed me to continue trying to figure “it” out, but instead of heeding the warning of my psyche, saying, “STOP, NO, GO BAAAACCCKKKKKKKKK!!!” I continued on to the article attached and then it was clear.  The picture was of a mutilated corpse of a woman who had clearly been tortured prior to her death.  I will not get into the gory details, suffice it to say this image is emblazoned in my mind.  Once my neurons made the connection, I was pissed! I don’t watch the news, I don’t watch CSI or any of its derivatives and I deplore movies based on violence.  I read the news and am very aware of the travesties and unjust actions that occur, but I don’t need the images.  I have a very active imagination, thank you very much.  All I know is that I feel violated now.  I have friends who are Jehovah Witnesses, Muslim, Democrats, Republicans, Gay, Single, Unemployed, Alcoholics…the list could go on and on about my friends and family that are, or believe, things that differ from me, my preferences, views or lifestyle.  I love every single one of them and NONE of them have ever forced their views on me.  (Yes, including the Witnesses!) I go on Facebook to see the joys, successes and struggles of my friends.  I want to see the sarcastic e-cards and motivational words they enjoy.  I don’t even mind their “conspiracy theories” or “save these dogs” posts so much.  But if your ultimate purpose is to propagate change and improve the world, then motivate through positivity, not gory realism.  I would have been much more open to a post stating: “Women are being brutally murdered, here’s how you can help…”  Instead, this person got the same treatment Sarah McLaughlin gets with her “starving children” commercials…BOUNCED!  And I “LIKE” Sarah McLaughlin and her cause, I just don’t want images forced on me.  You can’t change the world if everyone runs from the message you’re trying to make and in the case of my former Facebook friend, I don’t even know what the message was. What a wasted opportunity to enlighten an open mind. Thanks for tolerating my rant. In Peace!

Man Up

Ladies, you may have read my “Fifty Shades of 40” post. This version is more for the men out there who haven’t been paying attention. Men, start reading here: While the following doesn’t apply to ALL women, it does for many ladies I’ve spoken to, so    pay attention. When we (the ladies) first met you (the men), you were likely decisive, confident, chivalrous…wait, I forgot, I’m talking to men right now…you were badass. You took what you wanted, you jacked us up against the wall, you owned your masculinity and you were willing to kick the ass of any other male who even thought about moving in on your woman. Fast forward through commitment, marriage, perhaps children, what-have-you and…well…now look at you. When did you become a chick? Ok, that may have been a little harsh, but think about it. At some point we took some power, then some more, then, before you know it, it’s a total role-reversal. I am not blaming the men here (entirely). We did this to you. Think back to the very first time you made sex an option. “So…waddaya think? Wanna fool around?” Who are you? Urkel? What happened to the badass machine who knew exactly which  move would elicit complete passion? Because that moment…when we just get into bed after cleaning up the kitchen, doing dishes, catching up on laundry, helping with homework or maybe just washing our face, is not the most opportune time to give us an option. Sleep…sex…hmmm. I can have sex anytime, but sleep, that’s now or I have to wait another 24 hours. On the other hand, when your woman comes to bed, maybe offering a (sincere) back rub would pave the way. Sorry to disappoint, but sporadically letting your hand fall on our back while watching CSI is not exactly foreplay. Don’t ASK us…just GET us there. You know what we like, just do it. If we have a book on our nightstand, read the title. If it even remotely sounds like a romance, I highly suggest you read it. Chick-flicks? If you appear even slightly intrigued you’re almost guaranteed to get some after. Pay attention! What does the guy do in the movie that makes the girl get all gushy? Do this, SCORE! You know when your woman is most open to a little nookie. For some, this is morning, or in the shower, maybe afternoon delights are more her thing and some may just need a little help unwinding at the end of a long day. Pay Attention! Another clue, roughly 10 days after the start of her period she is having lascivious thoughts that can almost guarantee a happy ending for you. A little wine…score. Every woman is different, so don’t go jack her up unexpectedly if that is not your “couple style”. Think about what’s worked in the past. Also, don’t translate this into “no” means “yes”. Sometimes “no” means “no” and sometimes it means “maybe” and sometimes it means “yes” but let’s just start with the easier steps, ok? The key here is paying attention to her signals. We don’t want to tell you what we’re thinking, that takes all the fun out of it. Read our mind by reading our signals. Man-up and remind us why we picked you in the first place. And if some Rockstar Lady happened to send you this post…well then your work is half done, isn’t it?

Miscommunication

Listening is very important! As a person who prides herself on “looking at the Big Picture” I, too, can fail. Here is the story:
7:02pm: My teen daughter is observed viewing her phone with an expression of anger/sadness. I ask her, “What’s wrong?” She mouths, “I’ll tell you later.”
7:36pm: Husband comes downstairs to the kitchen and asks me, “What is that sound, like something being hit?” I reply that I haven’t heard anything and tell him I have no idea what he’s talking about.
8:10pm: I text my teen daughter and ask her to come downstairs and “fill me in”.
8:11pm: My teen daughter comes downstairs and quietly asks, “What’s ‘banging’?” I reply, “Well it depends on the context it was used in, but typically it is a reference to sex or some variation of it.”
8:12pm: My teen daughter collapses over the kitchen counter in laughter. I ask, “What’s so funny? Did you misunderstand a text or tweet, or something?” Teen daughter replies, “No Mom, I was asking what was banging. Daddy heard it too.” Time to get my mind out of the gutter!! 
This is an impromptu post that I thought shouldn’t be wasted. There will be a full post released this Sunday. Hope you enjoy this interim piece!

Fifty Shades of 40

If you are between the ages of 35-45, this may be a good read for you.  No, I don’t mean the “Fifty Shades” phenomena, I mean this article.  While I don’t believe the author of the Fifty Shades series had any malintent to those of us in the aforementioned age bracket, I do believe damage has been done.  I remember reading romance novels back in the day and while my husband reaped the rewards of my passionate replays, he was just as likely to miss his lines as the “assertive pursuer of my unlit passions”.  This may, in part, be because I didn’t TELL him his role, or his lines for that matter! But that’s neither here nor there.  I did give him another opportunity to take on this role by instigating an argument with him so that he could “take me passionately and no longer allow my half-hearted façade of indifference stop him from claiming what was his to take”.  However, this wasn’t exactly how our arguments played out.  A: I’m not known for my submissiveness B: He was just so confused that less than 24 hours ago I was all over him like it was my job and now I’m just being a bitch.

These books paint a picture of never-ending passion, however passion was never meant to be never-ending.  We’d all be exhausted if we were passionate like that all the time.  Please don’t misinterpret my meaning for “passion”.  I’m not referring to good sex and variety in the relationship, which should be expected throughout, taking into consideration natural ebbs and flows.  I’m referring to the “butterflies in the stomach, tingling all over, I wonder what will happen next, insecurities-be-damned” emotions that are often found at the beginning of an intimate relationship.  The reason these passions exist at the beginning is because we tend to ‘fill in the blanks’ of any aspects we haven’t seen first-hand yet.  For example, you are incredibly attracted to ‘Blaze’ because he is handsome and assertive and is successful in his job.  Those are the facts as you know them.  All the other unknowns you fill in with whatever sounds good, like because he’s assertive, he must have had a wonderful relationship with his father who taught his son how to be a man and this quality will make him a great husband and father someday.  Since he’s great at his job, he will ‘obviously’ be able to provide wonderful things for me (his future wife) like vacations and jewelry and a house that will be the envy of all my friends.  So while you’re giving him the best sex he’s ever had while planning your future wedding, keep in mind, you made all that up.  It’s just as likely his assertiveness is hiding a controlling and domineering personality.  Or, that he’s successful because he puts nothing before his job, including girlfriends, future wives and future children.  Over time, this Knight in Shining Armor will prove to be as flawed of a man as you are as a woman.   You will both do things to drive each other crazy and slowly extinguish the flame of passion.  While this may sound depressing, it’s just reality.  That crazy, unpredictable flame can be replaced with an eternally lit glow that still has the power to heat you both up, but is more frequently keeping you both warm.

The changes we experience as women between the ages of 35-45 are enormous.  Our bodies are changing, our children, if we have them, are likely gaining more independence.  We are starting to pay attention to the life clock we didn’t even consider 15-20 years ago.  We are tired of sacrificing, tired of providing for others while forgoing our own needs and tired of no longer being seen as the complex, sensual women we are.  While true and reasonable, some of us see this as an opportunity to quit our spouses and find our own “Christian Grey”.  In some cases this may be the right path, but I don’t believe that’s true in most.  If the guy you married was a good guy then and is still overall a good guy, don’t be too quick to throw in the towel.  We’d like for them to read our minds, just like they seem to do in those books, but that’s not fair.  Most men don’t have any idea what we are thinking or feeling.  We need to help them out a bit.  Share a few secrets you’ve been keeping, give a few clues or, even better, you can be upfront and honest and openly share your needs with them.  There’s a good chance they will listen and try to please you, just like they did so well when you were first together.  Help them understand what your needs are and work on understanding theirs too.  When I was first dating my husband, I wouldn’t blow my nose or eat in front of him.  Now I do both with gusto.  Hot?  Not even a little, but that’s OK.  I stopped trying to prove I was perfect long ago.  So read those books if you must, but at the very least, let him read it with you so he can see what role he has and what his lines are and maybe he’ll even surprise you with a few moves of his own!

Soul – Angel Card Readings

I’m a Christian.  While there are some aspects of my beliefs that may contradict with others who identify as Christians, I believe in a Loving God.  I am incredibly intrigued by the teachings of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and other teachings.  I know everyone thinks “their” beliefs are the right ones, and I respect that, but I’m open to varying viewpoints.  I feel like they all could connect together as one but somewhere in our human-ness we separated them.  But that’s just me.  I also love the idea that my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and especially my dad are “up there” watching over me. I’m skeptically open-minded.  The ‘skeptical’ aspect is only exposed when I am introduced to non-traditional beliefs.  

I have a friend who does Angel Card readings.  These would fall under my definition of “non-traditional beliefs”. Similar to tarot card readings, but instead call on ‘your’ angels to help select the cards that will provide guidance and assurance for you.  All I can say is that I felt more calm and confident in my path following the reading and I felt more close to those that have passed before me.  I think of my grandmothers who were both strong, independent women.  I think of the grandfather that I knew and how he and my dad instilled a value-based integrity and work ethic in me.  I think of my aunts and cousins and friends who left some sort of an impression on me.  Someday I will find out the validity of these readings, but until then, I will enjoy the comfort they bring.

Body – The Dukan Diet

I have been a skinny girl my whole life…until my last child that is.  I never completely lost the baby weight.  It was easily disguised until I hit about…well, let’s just say “mid-30’s”.  In a confluence of circumstances, I went from a position that had me on my feet most of the day to one that required a lot of traveling, to a desk-based position.  The last two not helping in my attempts to maintain, let alone lose, weight.

We have an amazing wellness team in my company, and for months I watched as co-workers slimmed and toned.  I finally tired of complaining and decided to try the diet.  I especially liked that results happened quickly and there was a plan that extended beyond the “diet” phase.  In a nutshell there are 4 phases.

The Attack Phase – this phase lasts up to 10 days (you choose the length).  In this phase, you eat only lean meats, fish (including shellfish), poultry, eggs, and fat-free dairy products in any quantity. (There are vegetarian/vegan modifications).

The Cruise Phase – this phase lasts until you have reached your desired weight.  You follow the Attack Phase options, but every other day you can have (most) vegetables.

The Consolidation Phase – the length of this phase is 5 days for every pound lost.  You follow all the options of the Attack and Cruise phases but can add 1 serving of (most) fresh fruit/day, 2 slices of whole grain bread/day, 1.5oz of cheese/day, 1 or 2 servings of starchy foods/wk in addition to weekly “celebration” meals.

The Final Phase – this is the “rest of your life” part of the diet.  This simply requires you to follow the “Attack Phase” rules once per week for the rest of your life.

This is a somewhat oversimplified explanation of the program, so I recommend getting the book in hardcopy, Nook or Kindle format.  The only main additions are drinking lots of water each day and walking for 20 minutes every day.  I lost 25lbs in about 3 months.  Every body is different, but if you’re looking for something, I’d recommend trying this one.

Mind – “The Week”

When was the last time you fed your mind?  Not just with information you needed for your job or your family or your life, but information that would expand your “daily brain requirements”?  “Worldly” is not in the “Top 10 Adjectives Describing April” list.  While networking at social gatherings, the moment a current news event became the topic of discussion I would slowly back away from the group.  Eventually, I figured it might be easier to understand a little about what was actually going on in the world.  I didn’t even know where to begin.  There is so much “noise” out there, I didn’t really understand what the heck was going on.

While at a business conference, one of the instructors had a “recommended reading list” and on it was a magazine called “The Week”.  I subscribed and haven’t gone back since.  What I like so much about this magazine is that it is a compilation of other news articles.  This way, you can see the opposing viewpoints, and create an opinion based on the varying sides of an issue.  It covers every conceivable topic (World news, US news, Arts, Food, Travel, Obits) and it has Crossword and Sudoku puzzles!!  Check out www.theweek.com for more information.

Lavish Them with Praise

In the wonderful “experiment” of parenting that I’ve been practicing for almost 21 years now, I have found that when given with sincerity, compliments are very powerful for children. This is especially true in an area where the child is unique and different. I know there are theories out there that indicate lavish praise sets kids up for disappointment later in life when they don’t receive it from others.  But I’m not talking about praise for expected behaviors like following parental instructions or not jabbing objects into the family dog’s eyes.  I mean sincerely appreciating them for their good qualities.  Confidence is such a scarcity these days among children, teens and young adults.  If they don’t love themselves, how is anyone else going to find them worthy of love?

My son was not exactly the model student in structured learning environments.  He was not disrespectful, but we would receive calls from his teachers because he would habitually roll and drop his pencil on the floor, for the apparent purpose of having to get up and retrieve it. This and other such disruptive behaviors became common place in his earlier academic life.  So, did we lavish him with praise whenever he did NOT roll his pencil? Of course not, that was expected behavior.  But my son was quite skilled at hitting a baseball, riding a skateboard and having an unusual level of empathy.  These were the things we praised him for, lavishly.  Also, it wasn’t his ability we praised him for as much as it was his dedication to improving his skill or showing empathy to someone less fortunate.  These were aspects he had total control over.  I wish I could say I was blessed with this skill from the moment of his first conference, however, first, I had to let go of my own insecurities as a parent in order to praise him appropriately.  So for the purpose of having a “re-do”, we had another child.  My daughter is a very pretty girl.  Do we praise her beauty? Not so much.  She didn’t DO anything, she just happened to be blessed with an outward beauty.  So what does she “do”?  She generally does well in school, but not from a lack of effort.  She’s very family-oriented and considerate of others’ feelings.  These are the attributes we praise her for.  Lavishly.

Are my kids perfect?  Nope, but they are still awesome.  The best part of all of this is that they are so comfortable in their individuality, that unlike many of their peers, they have no problem going against the grain.  They have made mistakes and will make more, but they confidently march to their own drummer.  They unapologetically embrace their identity. You may be picturing my kids stuffed in lockers and given daily wedgies, but you’d be wrong.  On the contrary, I think others are attracted to them, not because they happen to be good looking kids, but because their confidence shines through.  Thus far, both of them have managed to hold off on the typical “rites of passage” teens typically have explored by their age or at least postpone those milestones until they feel more in control of themselves.  They are totally ok with being “behind” their friends and classmates.  They just own it.  Lavish your kids with praise and help them grow to love and be confident in their own identity.  Tell them how great they are.  Then watch as they conquer the world following their own set of rules!