Cheating – It’s Not That Complicated

“It’s Complicated” is a relationship status these days.  Sure, there are some “complicated” aspects to any relationship, but cheating isn’t one of them.  Cheaters cheat because they have a need that is not being met.  It’s that simple.

There are 3 main types of cheaters: Insatiable’s who have more needs than any one person could meet; Incompatible’s who are in a relationship with someone with drastically different personal or religious views (in relation to sex/intimacy) or a different sexual orientation; and finally the Average Jo(e)’s who are roughly 90% of cheaters.

My one tip for those who love an Insatiable or an Incompatible: Run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction.  Your energy would be better spent finding a cure for cancer or eradicating world hunger.

As for those who love the Average Jo(e) and would like to prevent them from straying, these tips are for you.

  1. Don’t get lazy! – We all put forth great effort in the beginning of a relationship.  We are charming and attentive, passionate and affectionate.  Over time, these behaviors can wane.  When they do, over long periods of time, danger is approaching.  Flame Tip: Step it up. You know your lover’s hot buttons…press it at least once a week.  Tell her she looks gorgeous and you don’t know how you got so lucky.  Tell him you’ve been thinking about how good he looks under you.  Whatever works
  2. Don’t disregard their complaints – When we hear, “You never ________ anymore” we get our panties in a bunch.  Stop focusing on the “never” and start focusing on the _______!  Your loved one is trying to communicate a need they have that is not being met.  If you try to rationalize away or disregard their complaint they will just get the need met elsewhere.  Flame Tip:  When you’re on the receiving end of a complaint, no matter how poorly delivered, consider it, then prove them wrong by telling them they’re right and then acting on it.
  3.  Focus on their needs, not yours – Just because you think they should be happy because you cook, clean, work, fix stuff, doesn’t necessarily make this the need they wish to be fulfilled.  For example, it’s great that you mowed the lawn, but if you’re lady NEEDS words of affirmation, this chore is not going to meet it.  If your man NEEDS to be touched, your 5-course meal isn’t likely to meet that need. Flame Tip: What does your partner truly NEED from you?  Is it words, touch, time, gifts, gestures of love? Figure it out, then NIKE (Just Do It)! Check out the Five Languages of Love for further info on this topic.
  4. Add elements of surprise – If you think obligatory, missionary “gettin’ it on” is sexy, think again!  Change it up, add something new or different.  The higher the level of trust in a relationship, the more opportunities for “New and Exciting” exist.   Flame Tip:  What’s an element to your intimacy that you could add to?  Role play, naughty dice, adult store visit are all  options.
  5. Know your role – Business and society sometimes cause us to play chameleons.  This could result in men turning down their masculine and women turning down their feminine.   We all have a tendency (regardless of sex) to prefer the masculine or feminine energy.  Make sure you are catering to your partner’s preference.  Flame Tip:  Polarity (opposites) is sexy.  Determine which energy charges up your partner, then turn it up in a positive way.

If you are an Average Jo(e) and find yourself dissatisfied enough to consider other options, here are my tips for you:

  1.  Communicate – Be as direct as possible in letting your partner know how you’re feeling and what they could do to keep you from straying.  Flame Tip:  Communicate the things that they’ve done in the past that you loved.  Do this by reminding them of a great memory you have of the two of you earlier in your relationship.  Let them know how great that was and how you miss those days and would like to find a way to keep them in your relationship.
  2. Shiz or get off the pot – If you have no desire or interest in rekindling the passion in your relationship, then end it.  You’re not doing anyone favors (kids, your partner, yourself) by sticking around in a relationship you have no intention of nurturing or repairing.

Cheating is a sensitive subject.  I get it.  But if you’d like to prevent it (whether you would be the betrayed or betrayer) it’s going to take work.

Make sure you’re needs are being met (and you’re communicating if they aren’t) and make sure you’re meeting your partners (reasonable) needs.

It’s simple but not easy.  Please share your thoughts on this, I’d love to know what you’re thinking!  Remember, you can respond anonymously by entering your name as “Anonymous”.  Your email is not posted.  Comment below.

What Season Are You Living In?

I LOVE Summer and I’m always sad to see it go.  But I really do love Autumn and the added bonus of experiencing it in New England. Not only do I love wearing sweaters and boots again, but I love the colors traditional to this time of year.  They’re not the new, pretty colors of spring or summer, but the deep, warm, beautiful colors of fall.  The scents and tastes of meals enjoyed year after year fill my memories of this season.

Reflecting on the seasons made me think of the “seasons” of life. Recent studies show that U.S. women live an average of 81 years compared to 76 for men.  That means I’ve begun my Autumn in life.  I suppose this should depress me, but in fact, I feel quite good about it.

In my Spring, I was a bit of a “late bloomer” but learned a lot by watching others blossom and grow.

In my Summer, I was full-on-out!  I wanted to experience everything.  Like Impatiens, I was pretty, but I could wilt without enough attention.  I was fun and exciting, flying by the seat of my pants, pretty and playful as a Day Lily. If you’re tiring of the flora analogies, I’ll just say this: My summer was hot and colorful, enjoyed to the fullest.

But Fall, Mmmmm, Fall. Where summer was moving and hustling, Fall is more like savoring and appreciating.  Don’t get me wrong…I still treasure every moment, I just don’t live in ONLY the moment.  I’m not pretty like I was, but I’ve taken on a warmer glow, a wisdom and grace that I didn’t have before.

In my Autumn, I feel pretty smoldering in a sweater and jeans.  Not exactly how I feel in a bikini.  My Summer would have me jumping through hoops to prove to others that I was good and worthy of their love and affection.  Fall, on the other hand, has me recognize in myself, that I’m worthy of love and affection and won’t settle for less than what I deserve.   In Summer, I needed to be tended by others, my Autumn is much more self-sustaining.  I worry much less what other people think of me and focus on being true to myself.

My “4th of July” colors of summer were pretty awesome (albeit ‘showy’), but I’m certain my Autumn colors will be equally (if not more) impressive!  These blooms thrive in amping up their bad selves with color and foliage and growth (just ask any Autumn-er).  Well Hot Damn!  For this discovery, I’d like to toast my Summer’s ‘wine cooler’, with my Autumn’s Sauvignon Blanc and simply say, thanks for the memories!  I’ll happily trade your insecurities and toned ass for my confidence and love handles!

Here’s to all the ladies no matter what season you’re in!!  Be sure to share why and how you’re celebrating your season!

Communication – 7 Tips to Proving You’ve Evolved

So many bad things happen simply because of miscommunication or lack of communication.  You know when you’re watching a movie and the characters are clearly not sharing all the necessary information with each other and you’re sitting there like, “Tell him!” or “Don’t let her walk away!”?  There are ways to avoid these situations.  Despite the tendency of some, there is no need to revert back to the days when we all had a hairy back! Here are my Top 7 Communication Tips for the Evolved!

1 – There’s no such thing as common sense – This is evidenced by the infinite number of ways to swipe your credit/debit card in a store.  I always feel like a “winner” when I correctly swipe the card without direction from the clerk.  We all have different experiences and personalities, so our “common” differs from others’ “common”.  We also tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people, so when we are outside this group, like in a business or public setting, it can be difficult to communicate effectively.

 2 – Don’t start in the middle – Just think of some of the most classic films and what would happen if they started in the middle: Snow White would just be a creepy dwarfophile; George from “It’s a Wonderful Life” would just be a crotchety, bitter man undeserving of his wife and children; While Sandy & Danny (Grease), and Edward & Bella (Twilight) would just be your everyday conflicted teens, yawn.  So while it may seem obvious to you, don’t start communicating by assuming others know the “back story”.

 3 – Don’t make people work for it – If you have a message, be direct and to the point.  No one wants to be in a conversation that resembles the game of ‘Clue’. Dropping hints, being coy, beating around the bush, these all sabotage a good discussion.  Unless you’re handing out a secret decoder ring, just spell it out.

 4 – Be clear on the purpose of your communication – If you’re trying to help someone, say so.  If you’re upset and want to voice your feelings, say so.  If you’re ticked off, say so.  Don’t leave the person wondering what the point to the conversation is.  Confusion is not a recommended tactic if you’re trying to be understood.

 5 – Make sure your body language and tone support your words – If you’re trying to convey patience, open-mindedness, forgiveness or any other image, watch your non-verbal behavior.  Saying you’re open to hearing their viewpoint, then rolling your eyes as they share, shows them you’re full of crapola!

 6 – Listen – Stephen R. Covey said it best, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  This means you are not going to plan a defensive comeback each time your partner (not opponent) raises a point.  Listen for the sake of understanding, not strategizing.

 7 – Sometimes writing is the best method – If you want to choose your words carefully, are worried that heated statements could come into play, or that the recipient (or you) could get defensive, then write a letter.  Make sure each thought and feeling you’re trying to convey is expressed exactly how you’d like it to be.  Write, edit, re-edit, send.  This also allows the recipient to absorb and digest what you’re saying and respond in kind.

Communication is the key to peaceful relationships, friendships, and world relations.  Leave the monkey brain where it belongs…with the monkeys!

Share your comments below, I LOVE to hear your feedback (anonymous or otherwise) and I ALWAYS respond!

 

 

Are You a Stoner?

I bet if I asked whether “stoning” is an acceptable method of punishment, most of you would say how barbaric those cultures are that use it for infractions we don’t even consider a misdemeanor.  “Stoning” is a form of punishment where a group throws stones at a person, usually until death ensues.  In rarer cases, this is carried out for a specified period of time in order to only cause injury.  No individual within the group can claim to be the executioner, but everyone clearly bears some degree of culpability. Pretty horrible, right?  You’d never take part in something like that, right? Uh, well maybe not literally, but…  Metaphorically speaking, we have all “thrown stones” and we have all been the “condemned” at one time or another.

Unlike natural stones, the stones we throw don’t have physical weight.  However, they carry as much force and cause equivalent damage mentally and emotionally.  Our stones can be words meant to cut or bruise, or actions that shun others from love and affection.

Let’s think about those occasions when we are the “throwers”.  What judgments do we make about others that make us feel justified in hurling a stone?   Think back to the last time you said something unkind, to or about, another.  Or a time you turned away or avoided someone?  What made those actions ‘OK’?

She always says stupid things, and I was tired of it so I went off on her.”

She’s pretending to be someone she’s not, so I thought it was time to show her that I saw right through her.”

He thinks he’s better than everyone else so I had to put him in his place.”

Look at what she’s wearing.”

I heard she’s slept around.”

That child is out of control.  Clearly they don’t give enough attention to their children.”

And on and on and on, right? Much like actual stoning, these words and actions slowly and cruelly tear a person down.  While the first stone might hurt a little, it’s each consecutive one hitting that same spot over and over again that makes it so torturous and painful.

Now imagine you’re the “condemned” in those situations.  What might you be thinking as each ‘stone’ hits?

I know I don’t always have a filter, but I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

I’m just trying to be who I want to be, I didn’t mean to come across as fake.

I know I can be perceived as pompous, but I don’t want anyone to know how insecure I really am.”

I feel sexy and desirable in my clothes, why does anyone else care what I wear?

I just want to be loved.”

I’m doing the best I can as a parent.  It’s not always right, but at the time, it’s my best.”

We are human, and we all do it, but think before you pick up that next stone.  Imagine the need the “condemned” is trying to meet.  Empathize with it, offer help or kindness. At the very least, offer a silent prayer or positive thought that they become who they were authentically meant to be.  You can’t give someone a hand, if yours are full of stones.

If something truly needs to be said, and your intent is to help this person AND they trust you, be direct and transparent and lovingly offer your perspective.  Using your stones as stepping stones will produce greater results than using them as a form of punishment.

I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7.

I invite your comments below if you care to share your perspective on this topic.

Why We All Should Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

I’m not Jewish, but, at times, I really wish I knew a Rabbi. If I did, the first thing I’d ask about is Rosh Hashanah. Regardless of your religious beliefs, this holiday is one we all could benefit from practicing.

Rosh Hashanah begins on September 4th, teaches that God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. They are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. It’s all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

Huh. I mean, I guess that’s kinda like my New Year’s eve, but for that (drinking) holiday, I tend to forget about any wrong-doing and start with a clean slate. Convenient, yes? Then I plan to do one thing to be better. Lose weight, tone up, be nicer to the hubby, spend more time with the kids or my mother or my friends or…oh look it’s February…off the hook!

Just imagine…you’re an adult and you could be “selected” by God to “come home”. Do you think God really cares if you’re 5 (or 25 pounds) overweight? Does he care if you drink soda? Act impatient, or change your behavior for a few weeks? Not that any of these areas couldn’t be improved upon, but seriously, aren’t there more important, universal things to worry about???

Have you examined your life? Have you accomplished all that you wanted to? Have you made the difference you thought you would? Have you ‘righted’ your ‘wrongs’? How will you be a better person in the future? Not for a week or a month, but forever on this earth. How will you be your truest, most authentic self? How will you make this world a better place, if only for a moment?

Tell me in the comments section. Inspire others. Inspire me. Share your wisdom, your story. Comment. Shalom.

Why Networking is Crucial to Achieving Your Goals

Networking.  We’ve all heard the word, and some may even get a ‘sketched out’ feeling when hearing it.  For some, it translates to: “self-promotion to the point of nausea.” But I think those 10 letters just got a bad rap! It’s simply putting yourself on the playground of like-minded people.  That’s it.  Not very complicated, right?

I recently attended an “All Class Reunion”.  There I met a BFF, a former BFF and another who I was scared would stuff me in a locker in high school if I held eye contact too long.  I had an AWESOME time with all of them!! I learned who they are today, without the fog of self-absorption that most high schooler’s are afflicted with.  What a gift!  I “met” 2 adult women who are different from who they were last time I saw them.  They approach some aspects of life very differently than I do, but I loved learning new perspectives and I gained a whole new respect for the way they are navigating their lives.

Now while this example isn’t exactly “networking” in the traditional sense, it felt like it, in that we all shared a similar interest: (memories of graduating from a particular high school) and, I’m going to go out on a limb here and presume, we were ALL a little uncomfortable initially.

Whether you would benefit from connecting with others professionally, personally or spiritually, all I can say is, GO!  Put yourself out there with others.  You’re awesome!! REALLY!!  Think about some awesome things you’ve done and some questions you have.  If this is professionally based, jot down some accomplishments you’ve made and some goals you have.  If this is personal networking, note some cool “conversation starters” you may have.  Cool things you’ve done, cool stories you could share and the types of people or activities you’re looking to engage in.  If it’s spiritual connections you’re looking to make, put some thoughts and ideas into concrete words so you can more easily communicate your beliefs.  Don’t overthink these though.  You will learn the most and connect the best if you listen more than you speak, and ask more than you tell.

Why is networking so important? Because who you hang with is a HUGE factor in whether you achieve your goals or not.  Think about it…if you want to be a sought after guru in the Marketing arena, drinks with your same old buds on Friday night likely isn’t going to assist in that goal.  Looking to get your name out there? Your partner and kids already know your name, so hangin at home isn’t helping either.  Have you always had a desire to rock climb, yet no one in your immediate circle has that same desire? You need to get out there and meet other people pursuing and living their dream.  You’ll learn something, they’ll learn something and you each will have added a new connection to your “network”.

Utilize your resources, whether this is your address book or social media. Facebook (personal & professional networking), LinkedIn (professional networking) and if you’re looking for more, check out www.meetups.com (personal & professional networking). This is a great place to find like-minded individuals near you.  Would I steer you wrong?  Of course not.  Check it out!!

Already belong to these sites?  When’s the last time you reviewed your contacts (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and personally reached out to those people you know could offer you a highly beneficial perspective?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Stop procrastinating and go meet some new people.  Then tell me all about it in the comments section!!

Oh, Be Nice! How You Can Contribute to World Peace

I’m a lover.  I love to love on people.  I love finding the lovable aspects of people.  It makes me feel good and it makes others feel good.  It does, however, make me an official CORNBALL!  I’m okay with this.  I don’t just walk around doling out loving comments to every person, every day.  That would be weird.  But if I see something worth mentioning I will.  I do this so the recipient knows I was lucky enough to see something great about them.  All this “goodness” must benefit the world somehow, right?

There’s even scientific research to support this. In an interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”, Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California stated, “Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier.  My favorite is doing acts of kindness. We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness. The recipients of kindness “paid the kind acts forward” and even acquaintances of the givers became happier and were inspired to act more generously themselves.”  Hot damn!

Furthermore, regarding her research on happiness, Professor Lyubomirsky said, “A review of all the available literature has revealed that happiness does indeed have numerous positive byproducts, which appear to benefit not only individuals, but families, communities, and the society at large (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).”  So you can contribute to world peace?? Yep, you sure can.

It’s worth mentioning that I compliment free of charge.  If I were to give them only to have them reciprocated then it’s an exchange.  Like an emotional transaction.  I’d be sitting around waiting for you to pay up. Emotional prostitution? Yuck!

There is also something thrilling (and scary) about complimenting an unsuspecting person.  There’s that moment when I wonder if the person is going to completely ignore me, accept it ungraciously (hate that!) or speed walk away clutching their child’s hand. More often, however, I get non-verbal communication which I’ll translate for you here: “Are you talking to me?”…”Ummm, where’s this going”…”Really?”…”Do you think so?”…”Wow”…”Thanks”.  It can completely shift a person’s thoughts from skeptical to “damn right!”

Underdogs hold a special place in my heart! That person with absolutely ZERO fashion sense who is always the most pleasant to everyone?  Yep, she’s mine! The “Bitch” who appears unapproachable, but is actually terribly insecure?  Mine too! That Parent who is clearly on their last nerve, but is showing Superhero-strength in patience? Them too!!  I adore the cocky professional who talks a good game but actually is all show, or the mom who hasn’t quite lost the last 15 pounds from her pregnancy…twelve years ago.

Bottom line is I try to be transparent and honest and I will do that at risk of being rejected.  But in the end, it’s worth it.  So often, the self-talk in our heads isn’t very nice.  We are hyper-critical of ourselves.  But when someone, with no apparent motive, gives a sincere compliment, doesn’t that feel good?  Don’t you walk a little taller, feel a little prouder when someone recognizes something beautiful about you?  Or when they think of you, and tell you, just because?  I think so.

So, I write about this for two reasons.

  • #1 – Consider yourself warned
  • #2 – Is this something you could do more fearlessly?

Think about it. It’s easy, it’s free, it’s fun!  Give for the sake of giving.  Love for the sake of loving.  And in case you’re wondering…I think you wear those extra pounds rather nicely…more to love! 🙂

Thanks for reading and won’t you share ANY thoughts you have on this topic? <3

Taking Your Success to the Next Level

As many of you know, I design and teach leadership development classes and programs.  In these, I stress the importance of reaching beyond the walls of your physical location or company and reaching out to others you could learn from.  This is especially true if you’re involved in the strategic planning of your organization.  Looking to take your success to the next level?  Whether you’re the CEO of a large corporation, run your own business, have your own Etsy site, or are on the board of a non-profit, you should absolutely be part of a “Mastermind Group”. So get your “Einstein” on and let’s plot and plan!

I recently attended a conference where this topic was discussed.  These professional groups conference regularly, (phone, skype, in-person) to discuss ideas, challenges and successes.  In speaking to others, it amazes me how many executives, business owners and directors of non-profits are not taking advantage of this type of strategic exchange of information.

There should be a minimum of 3 members and a maximum of 6.  Unlike traditional networking groups, a Mastermind Group needs full trust from all members. In other words, you probably don’t want to be in a group with any direct competitors.  These groups are tight-knit, bonded teams who are fully committed to their own AND the other members’ success.

Don’t limit members to one industry, geographic location or stage of career.  When discussing strategy, there is much to be learned from others. Someone in Finance could offer insights to an Art Shop owner and vice versa.  Similarly, someone in Melbourne, Australia could have much to offer someone in Boston, Massachusetts. I would encourage a mix of members in varying stages of their careers.  This could offer some very rich discussion and perspectives.

Each member must be fully committed to meeting regularly and participating equally in the discussions. Meetings should include each member sharing a success and a challenge.  Every effort should be made to address each member’s presented challenge and to brainstorm solutions and ideas.  Egos should be left out of these and no single member should dominate.  Ideally, meetings should last between 1-2 hours and be held weekly or monthly.

My leadership development classes have proven time and time again the power of perspective.  Stepping outside the “box” of your company or industry will demonstrate the power of creative solutions. There are universal truths in any business, so share what you know and allow the recipient to translate your knowledge into a language that is applicable to their circumstances.

Now what? Think of others you’d like to collaborate with.  In fact, I challenge you to make a list of professionals you highly respect and trust.  Reach out to them (or even share this post) and tell them you’d like to include them in a Mastermind Group.  Also, don’t wuss out and think “I don’t have anything to offer.”  That’s capital BS!! If that thought even enters your mind, make a list of topics you have some insight on.  Then, comment on your progress.  Are you part of a group already? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Top 10 Back To School Tips

I know we just started August, and we all want to pretend that back to school isn’t right around the corner so we can enjoy the remaining days of summer.  As much as I hate being a kill-joy, some of these tips require a little preparation or completion prior to the first day of school.  If you do not have school-aged children, don’t rule this post out.  I have some tips for everybody here! I also added school grades after each tip so you know whether it pertains to you or not and the best time to begin this step.  So check ‘em out, schedule tasks in your smart phone or other calendar and return to oblivion.

1 – Start a Tradition (K-12)(2 weeks prior to Day 1)

If you haven’t already, start a tradition for your kids and back to school time.  Back-to-School is practically a holiday in my household!  Other than school clothes shopping, there are ways to make the first week of school exciting.  As a working mom, I take a vacation week the first week of school.  We start each morning with a healthy breakfast, pictures in front of our old oak tree in a rockin new outfit, and chatting after school to hear all about it.  We have a full, healthy family dinner every night.  This focused attention has always been a fav of my kids.  Plus, this week allows me time to organize myself and my home.

 2 – Organize (K-College) (2 days prior-first week)

Week 1 can be crazy for parents and students.  For school-age parents there are all the papers that need to be signed, fundraisers to begin, PTO meetings to plan for, etc.  To make this process easier, go to the school’s website, find the school year calendar, and put all important dates in your organizer/smart phone.

For high school & college students, do the same, but add in any pertinent information from your syllabus.  Even if a date isn’t listed, note any rough times an important paper or project may be due.

 For high school students/parents, start a “portfolio” noting “worthy of mention” projects, grades, accomplishments, volunteering, etc. and reach out to your guidance counselor for advisement on this very important college-bound step.

3 – Prepping (K-College) (1 week prior)

I know as my kids got older, I got more lax on bedtime during the summer.  Several days prior to Day 1, is when I require a regularly scheduled bedtime routine.  Those late night parties & picnics and morning sleep-in’s can really mess with a body, so allow a little time to acclimate to any new structure.

 4 – Travel Time (Everybody) (1 day prior)

Allow extra travel time.  If you travel outside the home during typical school start or finish times, your commute is likely to be affected during these times.  Allow extra time to arrive at your destination.

 5 – Re-establish rules (K-College) (1 day prior)

TV, computer, gaming, phone, whatever.  I’m a big proponent of speaking with people and getting their feedback on decisions that affect them.  Having age-appropriate discussions that make the rules clear, provide your reasoning and allow them an opportunity for their input can result in a fantastic compromise and easier transition from summer free-for-all to school time focus and fun.

If you’re the student, giving yourself rules and abiding by them, can really help you focus and balance, while doing well and having fun!

 6 –Food (Everyone) (2 days prior)

For some reason, many of us (myself included) allow more “naughty” foods during the summer.  Plan ahead and get everyone back on track with healthier choices.  Fruits, wheat crackers & peanut butter, for snacks and more homemade meals for dinner is a great way to get everyone back on track. Planning is key to eating right!

 7 – Exercise the Brain (Everyone) (1 month prior)

If you’ve allowed yours or your kid’s brain to hibernate over the summer, it’s time to spark this organ back into action.  Homework is right around the corner.  If there is an assigned reading book, it’s not too late if you heed my advice.  Plan the number of chapters that need to be read between “now” and “then” in order to meet any deadlines.  If this is a book or several books your child needs to read, read it with them.  You can discuss highlights together, and I bet you’ll find it more fun than you thought! At the very least, they will enjoy discussing it with you.

If you’ve caught up on required reading, now is a great time to get back into the habit of reading regularly to stay sharp. Be sure to subscribe to this site to become a VIP which will automatically enter you into the August VIP perk prize, which is a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card! Nothing encourages reading more than reading what interests you.

 8 – School Clothes Shopping (Everyone) ( 1 month prior)

Full-on fun for kids, full-on expensive for parents! Check out this link for “Tax Free” dates in your US state which will help lower the expenses.  http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/08/02/2013-state-tax-holiday-calendar/ Also, for younger kids or frugal students, consider shopping at local consignment shops which typically carry hot brands, like American Eagle, Hollister, Gilly Hicks, Coach and other name brand clothes at an incredibly discounted rate.

 9 – Responsibilities (K-College) (3 days prior)

We all have them.  Kids and students are no exception.  Define what these are, discuss these with your child and communicate clearly.  Not only does this foster team work, it also prepares them for the business world.  Make sure chores are age-appropriate but don’t be too easy.  Life after schooling is tough, start preparing them for that now.  We are all part of a team. Family, school, work, church, etc.  We all play a role in making that team better.  This instills pride and responsibility.

 10 – Your Education (Everyone) (1 month prior)

Learning should never stop.  Have you reached a point in your life where you could squeeze in a little “you” time?  If you’re waiting for an invitation, here it is…”Dear (your name here), you are cordially invited to invest in your own education.  Whether through your local community college ( http://www.utexas.edu/world/comcol/state/ ), state college, adult education program, or any other program, I encourage you to review all available classes and enroll in any one that interests you!”  Learning never stops.  Music, Art, English, History, Zumba!  Stop making excuses why you can’t, and start, or finish, that degree or take a class that you’ve always wondered about.

 Learning is AWESOME!  I am lucky enough to know some fantastic teachers and instructors and some amazing students.  Happy New School Year and Happy End of Summer!   I’d love for you to comment by adding any “Top 10 Back-To-School Tips” you may have.

 

Fencing with a Secret Keeper

Last week we talked about that voice in your head not speaking very nicely to you!  This week we are going to talk about the Secret Keepers and how they show their Confidence Deficiency.  While the Self-Saboteurs are usually quite lovable, the Secret Keepers are a little more prickly.  Nothing we can’t handle together, so let’s get to it!

Self-Saboteurs use their sword against themselves, Secret Keepers fence against others.  They are hell-bent on keeping their secrets, and will undermine any potential exposers.  They don’t want you to know that they have flaws.  They will lash out if you do anything to expose them.  These Secret Keepers will verbally attack you and are often blame-avoidant, defensive and tend to deflect negative attention onto others.

Life is viewed skeptically with an eye on the ulterior motive.  It’s difficult to want to help a Secret Keeper as they can cause a lot of stress in our lives, but these people have been hurt, so the idea of being vulnerable is more painful than any guilt they may feel when they hurt someone.  They can justify any action that hurts another by simply believing that person was going to eventually hurt them anyway.

As a coach, I can provide a safe place to feel vulnerable.   If you are a Secret Keeper, it’s important that you connect with someone you trust has no ulterior motives.  This could be a mentor, friend or coach.  I would recommend that you start by acknowledging to yourself, your “secrets”, ie: not smart enough, too sensitive, out of control, etc.  Then, list everything you can think of that “disproves” the claim. For instance, if one “secret” is that you don’t know as much about a topic as you’d like, list all the examples of times you did just fine, like the last project you pulled off, or helping a co-worker who knew even less, etc.

If your chain mail is being yanked by a Secret Keeper, I have a technique you can try.  Keep in mind that the more threatened this person is by you, the more time you’ll need before you’ll see a shift.  If you have felt their wrath, a good approach to try (after settling your own emotions) is to personally approach them and privately tell them how their action affected you.

Heather: “Hi SK, I’m hoping you can help me with something, do you have a minute?” 

SK: (defensive, but less so since you’re looking for help) “What’s up?” 

Heather: “Yesterday you made that comment about how I ‘always seem to have time to chat everybody up’, so maybe I could use some more to do.  Initially that really hurt me because I try to do my best and felt like you were calling me out in front of others, but then I thought maybe you were trying to help me.  Do you really believe that I don’t work as hard as everyone else?”

The key here is to cool their jets (by asking for their help), show your vulnerability (by showing how you perceived their comment, while being cautious of how much you share for your own protection.)  Following this up with the idea that perhaps they were trying to help you gives them an “out” for their behavior.  Calmly and sincerely asking if they really feel that way is where the rubber meets the road.  You have acted unexpectedly, likely confusing them.  Being confronted like this may cause them to back down and rephrase what they “meant” by their remark.  Regardless of their response, don’t get defensive.  Say you’ll have to give it some thought, and thank them for their feedback.  This approach doesn’t attack them.  The key is to get them to drop their guard bit by bit.

The problem with Confidence Deficiencies is that the sufferers (and they really do suffer) rely so heavily on external validation.  Because both types allow that negative chatter to continually play in their head, they don’t have the confidence within, so they seek it from others.  Unfortunately, these comments just go into the Ego Jar, which has no bottom, resulting in an insatiable need.

Whether a Self-Saboteur or Secret Keeper, these people just need a helping hand from us.  Being kind to the nice ones is easy.  Being kind to the not-so-nice ones is much harder.  Show some love and patience with others and remember we all have demons we are battling.  Use your sword to help someone fight their demon.  Be nice to yourself, talk nice to yourself and most of all love yourself!  I’d love your comments, but if you’re too busy lovin on you, that’s cool too!!