Independence Day Rewrite

Independence Day

I was seven years old when my parents divorced and my mother went from being a housewife to the main provider in the home while battling her first stage III diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphoma.

I got a clear message from my mother at that time, not sure if it was said, or simply implied, or both, but she was determined that her three girls would not be dependent on anyone, they would be independent women! Even after she remarried, her theme was clear and consistent, you will learn all the skills and capabilities you need to not be reliant on anyone.

True to form, when I got my license, like any teenager, I was anxious to take the car out and feel my newfound freedom. My mother had no problem with that, but of course, I first had to demonstrate that I could remove and replace a flat tire if need be.

This is one of the many examples of the teachings that I received. Being raised to be independent has some great freedoms with it; I know I can do anything I need to do to get where I want to be. Unfortunately, I can no longer change a tire, because of those darn air guns that put the lug nuts on so tightly I don’t have even enough weight to jump on a crossbar to get them off! That said, I am rarely left stranded in a situation because I was raised to rely on myself to figure it out and get it done.

The other message that I never quite picked up on clearly enough at the time was that in life you’ll get further by building a team and asking for help, or even just comfort when needed. While battling her illnesses over the years, my mother had regular trips into the city for radiation, chemotherapy and numerous appointments. She was often too weak or tired to cook or maintain the home and of course there was the time spent in the hospital, complicated by single parenthood and what to do with the kids!

Everyone that knew my mother recognized her as a force! She was well known in our community as a “get it done” and independent woman. She was smart, driven and capable, however these traits did not stop her from accepting kind gestures of meals being prepared, driving trips into the city or even carpooling so us kids could get to where we needed. It took years for me to recognize this skill is not only important in life, but makes the journey better.

Let’s face it, the human race was not meant to exist alone. We are community-based creatures with need for connection and interaction. So many people are trying to “do it on their own” this relates to everything from work to entrepreneurship to life’s trials and celebrations.

It took me such a long time to figure out how to reach out for help, accept or invite assistance with anything I was trying to do – even when it was just trying to survive! All this has taken even longer to put it into practice, and let’s face it, I am still working on it, but I am convinced inter-dependence is the one of the keys to happiness.

As wonderful as independence is, our lives are more fully lived when we have connection and inter-dependence. The feeling one gets when they help someone is a gift we give to each other. The distance we can go when we work together is much further than what we can cover alone.

I’m not saying not to develop your own talents and skills, nor am I saying rely on others for everything. What I am saying is that you don’t have to know it all, do it all and manage it all alone.

I encourage you this month to look at what you want to accomplish over the upcoming month, and see where you might reach out for assistance or develop a team. One of the beautiful benefits I see each day as a coach is what can be accomplished together.

I know there are amazing dreams, big goals and everyday tasks that are on your plate, I wonder how much easier, faster and enjoyable they will be when you stop trying to do it all yourself and ask for someone to join your efforts.

 

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7 Ideas To Keep The Sparkle In Your Holidays

Holiday Sparkle

When did the holidays become something to survive? When did holidays get to be things filled with to-do’s, rushing around and fulfilling obligations?

Sometime between childhood and today I have learned that not everyone likes the holidays. Lately, I’ve heard quite often how some people even “hate” the holidays.

I don’t happen to be one of those people (I know, you’re probably not surprised) but I am curious where the sparkle went out of the season for some. I’m sad to hear some answers, there are too many errands and not enough time, I have to go to parties with people I don’t like because it’s expected, I don’t like my family, or I miss my family. I can’t erase the pain of missing family, but for the rest I can share the way I preserve some of the joy of the season.

I’m not saying that I don’t have some sadness during the holidays because I miss people who are no longer here. I don’t claim to have all my decorations done just so and presents bought and wrapped before I prepare my Thanksgiving dinner (which by the way this year was steak). What I have done is altered my focus for the season from being movie perfect to perfect for me.

For me, the holidays are all about slowing down and spending time with those you treasure and love. This is not about buying the perfect present for the distant uncle or making sure the tree has more gifts than last year. This is about the gift that cannot be bought, the most precious gift; time.

I have a small family, I’m fortunate in that way, however each of us have extremely busy schedules and our distance makes time spent together even more precious. I suspect over the next year it’s going to become even more difficult with my speaking schedule, my son’s photography business taking off and my daughter’s travel schedule.

Some of the things I have done to maintain the joy of the season:

1. I have, for the most part, omitted gift giving for friends. I schedule time to get together instead and work this in over December and January so as not to add to people’s already stretched schedules.

2. I ask my children for a single big item they would like but can’t afford or that they have been saving for. Granted, my children are grown now and this works for us because of their age. My son has a particular lens for his camera in mind this year. Last year for my daughter it was a headboard for her bed that she had wanted for a long time. I could have gotten her another red sweater and other small things but it turns out, she doesn’t even like red sweaters!

3. I am flexible with traditional holiday meals. This year Thanksgiving dinner was just for my son and me, my daughter stayed back East. A turkey for the two of us might have been a bit ridiculous mostly because neither of us is overly fond of turkey; it’s just what you do. I asked him what he wanted and he said steak. I can tell you so many people were jealous of us…it’s not a hard switch to make!

4. I pull out all the stops to get the family in one place for a couple of days no matter what. This is a foregone conclusion that wherever you are, Mom will be flying you home for Christmas – wherever home happens to be that year.

5. I say no to invitations that seem obligatory but are not part of the list above. I refuse to be busy doing things I don’t want to do in my “free” time. That is what we call a job and can suck the joy right out of the season in a heartbeat!! Remember, to say no does not require an excuse (real or made up) it simply requires you to do it unapologetically but politely.

6. I send out handwritten cards. Yup, it’s totally old-fashioned in this digital age, but since I’m not at the malls buying gifts, I have time to thoughtfully write out cards to those I am grateful to have in my life. I do this for both my business and my friends and family. This is both a gift to myself to celebrate these people and how they have touched my life over the year, and a gift of gratitude to them.

7. I have pared down my holiday decorations a lot! Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one of those houses on HGTV, but not enough to take time away from the other things I love – the non-things! Besides a ton of decorating means a ton of undecorating, packing and storing after the holidays. I have a few meaningful items that I always put out and forgo the rest. It doesn’t change the festivities, those are created by the people inside the home sharing memories.

These ideas may or may not work for you. For some the idea of serving steak on Thanksgiving is blasphemy! These are simply ideas to ponder if you are one of those people who seems to have lost the spirit and are looking to put some more joy back into the holidays. Some simple changes to consider to help you align your most precious gift with the most precious people in your life.

Sparkle on!
-E

Sharing Joy

The Message

Here's your sign!
I have said before when I get a repeat message in my life, in any capacity, it makes me think the Universe is trying to tell me something. Right now, it feels like the Universe is screaming! I am being bombarded these days with news of deaths and illness in my direct circle.

The Picture

Let me go over some of what my current landscape looks like today:

Close friend looses 37 year old family member/Spartan racer and very strong healthy man, to condition he’s had for life. Leaves behind a legacy of greatness and living, together with a wife and 3 young children.

Family member has stroke and is facing uncertainty, and a whole bunch of change in his life.

Close friend’s mother has just entered hospice care. This woman’s mother blossomed following the tremendous grief she moved through after her husband died. She went from being this quiet, devoted wife to the party organizer at the assisted living facility for her new-found friends. She became someone always doing something fun and most often things she didn’t do when married.

A new, but dear friend, announces he’s about to take up his battle with Cancer, one that he’s certain to overcome, but a battle nonetheless.

A mentor of mine, for whom I run his local group, has died in a tragic accident at 33, leaving behind a huge legacy, a young wife and a large, amazing community called Live Your Legend.

A sister of a family member has been placed into hospice after living with MS, Cancer and metastatic Cancer. Preparing to leave a full life of all that was dear to her.

What does it mean?

I have to wonder – Is the Universe trying to tell me something? OK, I get it! No more messages at this time please!! Live life while I am here!

As you know, I walked away from corporate life a few months ago to move my business from a “side job” to my full-time focus. I can honestly say, although the road is tough and a bit scary for its uncertainty, I absolutely love each day. I mention this at this time because it is really, really important!

We have one certainty the minute we are born, that we will die. We have no idea what the road has in store for us, but we can bet on an unforeseen circumstance coming along at some point. What that unforeseen thing is, and how it will show up in our life is unknown. Will we be able to provide our family and loved ones the comfort of a full and beautiful life well lived?

A Time for Reflection

I am spending some time in reflection. Am I living the life I believe in? Am I chasing money at the expense of what is truly valuable in my life? What is truly important to me when faced with the end of my days, or a life change that will dramatically altar my sense of “normal”? Do I believe I am using my days to their fullest and living my values? Would I be living any differently if I were faced with the knowledge of my days ending?

If I had not taken the leap to leave corporate by now, I think I would be doing just that at this point. However, since I have taken the leap, I now look to two people who have just died and am so moved that each of them have been living such amazing full and inspiring lives. They were strong, purposeful people leaving behind more than some of us will after many more years than their short time here. They died while fully engaged in this thing called life, they weren’t just earning money and paying bills, they were living fully.

My Desired Legacy

I work each day to continue to reach out to people and help them consider new possibilities in their lives. I hope to be able to encourage others to reach for their dreams despite any odds they feel there might be. I hope in my life to make a positive impact in as many lives as possible to say, you matter, you can do it and I believe in your dreams. I also hope to be one of the people in your life that lets you see you can have the life you desire and it is worth reaching for. Finally, I hope to die while living fully and doing the work that I love and connecting with those seeking to do the same.

Please let your light shine while you are here – we owe it to the world!

10 Life Lessons Learned on the Rink

True happiness

I’m a hockey mom. I loved watching my son play the game because of the sheer joy I saw on his face even through the cage on his mask and the mouth guard in his smile. I also loved the lessons he, and I, learned throughout his 14 years on the ice.

1. With practice and desire one can become really good!
My son started playing hockey at age 4. I remember him struggling to cross the ice without falling down pushing a milk crate to keep him steady. He worked on just standing up without falling over for a really long time and was he was determined! Later, in his teens, I went ice skating with him on Boston’s Frog Pond and he was holding me up while skating backwards to help me across the ice. He is pretty amazing on skates and I was looking everywhere for a milk crate!

2. Don’t let physical limitations fool you into thinking you can’t do something.
My son had pretty severe asthma as a child and spent many days in the hospital trying to overcome attacks on his little body. Most people would have let this type of condition prevent activity, but with medical consent and guidance he went on to play ice hockey. I wasn’t going to let his limitation prevent him from living the life he wanted, we adjusted accordingly and kept on top and in front of his condition. We can let our limitations restrict us or make us more resourceful.

3. When you get checked (even from behind) get up and get moving, the game is still going on!
Some people from these hockey days might remember hearing this woman in the stands yelling, “Get up! This is not ice dancing!” Yah, that was me, he was a defenseman. It’s nearly impossible to defend the net from your butt! This lesson was really important to me when my mother died. I couldn’t help the team (my family) if I was on my butt, I had to get up, life was still going. I had an important job to do so I geared up and got back in the game.

This isn't ice dancing

This isn’t ice dancing

4. Sometimes there will be an unfair play.
OK, life is not fair – move on. I could have tried to teach my son this lesson by telling him that things in life may happen that are not “fair” but I didn’t have to, hockey did it for me. When a bad play is made during a game people get upset, but the game moves on. You can’t sit around complaining (unless it’s soccer ☺) you’ll get a delay of game penalty! Sticks down – the ice is melting!

5. Prepare for the game you are in.
There are times you will have formidable opponents and times you will have easy ones either way the game is the same. If you prepare for the opponent and not the game there is a chance you have miscalculated. If you always prepare for the game you should be ready no matter which opponent shows up to play.

6. Wear good protection!
Yes, hockey can be a dangerous sport, but have you seen the pads that go on before a game? Whatever the game you’re in, prepare. You may get bumped and bruised but with good padding you’re a bit protected. In life he has taken off the pads, but certainly has a thick skin because after all, this isn’t ice dancing!

7. Authority figures sometimes make a bad call.
Yes there are bad calls made, by coaches or by referees. Sometimes that makes or breaks the game (sorry Seahawks) but you can only be responsible for how you play. No matter what the referee sees, calls or doesn’t call, you are responsible for playing the game with integrity and heart. Stay focused on what you control and how you play.

8. One person does not lose the game.
One game my son got off the ice and he was mad at the coaches for keeping a bad goalie in the net. I quickly reminded him this was a team sport and that if everyone had done their job properly no one would have been able to get past five players to get a shot off. Most losses in life are also the responsibility of multiple parties, it is often not the result or effort of only one party.

9. Sometimes you will lose and you will survive and be better for it.
I remember a particularly hard loss my son had. It was a playoff game and he played his little heart out! I know that day he left EVERYTHING on the ice and I was so proud of his efforts. It was a great game but they lost. My son came out of the locker room in a bit of a hurry and when we got to the car he just sobbed. That was my son’s first heartbreak and he learned that sometimes you can put all your efforts out there and things just won’t go your way. By the afternoon he was able to talk about the game and remember a few good plays and a few really awful plays. He became a better player and probably person from that loss.

10. When you have felt the disappointment of losing, you become a better winner.
I have such a problem with society trying to protect our children from losing! When my son was very young his team was getting just slaughtered on the ice. By the close of the first period the score was something like 8-0. So as they came out on the ice for the second period and the goals continued to pile up, the score never changed. When talking to my son after about such a tough loss he said the coaches told the players the scoreboard got stuck. I let him know that it had not gotten stuck they stopped it and that his team got schmucked 22-0 (or something like that). I reminded him that the other team just played better this time and they deserved every goal. I also pointed out how the other team handled their win – they did not gloat at such a huge score and that was what good sportsmanship was about. He never forgot that game and remains a bit humble when he wins in anything knowing what it feels like on the other end. In life clearly there are wins and losses but it’s how you handle each that determines your character.

I required both of my children to play sports growing up for the experiences they would gain and the lessons they would learn. I believe there is so much about life to be learned in a sports setting that is grasped best when it plays out on the field, court, rink, etc.

I think for all that my children learned in their sports, I also gained valuable insight. The life lessons are there for all of us, the players and the parent.

Play on!
-E

Play On!

Play On!

An Open Letter To My Children

This post is a bit past due – however the sentiment still applies.

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers – yours and those that have mothered you and molded you into the person you’ve become, helped you through times you never thought you would make it through and loved you when you felt unlovable.  Mother’s Day is a bit different for me, I don’t see it so much as a day my children honor me, more a day for me to thank them for making me a mother.

I was 19 when I had my first child, I was figuring out how to be an “adult” when I became responsible for this little human – it was terrifying and wonderful all at the same time.  I have literally grown up alongside my children.  I have often said that having children saved my life, and to this day I believe it is true. These days as we have all made it to so-called adulthood, it is fascinating to see the reflection of my life in their lives and theirs in mine.  I am moved by their desire to help others and their empathy and humanitarianism.  I don’t always agree with some of the choices they make and then I remind them, I made a few decisions my parents weren’t thrilled about either – and we all turned out ok in the end.  Sometimes I say that more to remind myself!

On this Mother’s Day I got to speak to my daughter who lives on the other side of the country while she was in between her 2 jobs.  We just chatted as normal about her weekend fun and how she was beginning to get comfortable in this thing we call the “adult world” and some thoughts about what opportunities are in the days ahead for her.  Later I hopped in a car with my son and we drove out to a beach, had Bloody Mary’s, some lunch and a long discussion about travel, what it means to live life fully.

At the end of the day, this for me was a celebration of my children.  I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to have this front row ticket to watching these two develop and grow – they are the show I have come to see and I am excited every day to see what they create in their lives.  I completely owe my gratitude to them as they have supported me, helped me through times I might not have made it through without them, loved me when I felt unlovable and helped me realize and become the woman I am today.

This Mother’s Day, I celebrate my children who raised me while I was raising them and who love and support me through all my dreams and adventures.  May we continue to grow together and discover all life is meant to be for each of us.

With all my love

-Mom

My Pride &  Joy

Finding Your Tribe

Meet some members of my tribe

Meet some members of my tribe


I have heard the comment that you are like the people with whom you spend the most time. This is something that I understand and agree with, but did not make it much of a conscious decision. The people you spend the most time with are sometimes just in that space – your work, your daily to-do’s put these people in your daily life circle, but there are those people with whom you choose to spend your time.

Recently, I decided to really look at the statement and reflect on it (I highly recommend this for everyone). There were some people that I was pleased having in my circle that influences me, and a few that caused me to question if they were indeed the influence and the energy which I wanted to surround me. This is not to say anyone I spend time with is a bad person, but my intention was to align myself with those people who possess the qualities I desire. It was clear that some of the people were not embodying the characteristics of my future desired self.

So I made some very deliberate choices and although I have not dropped out of anyone’s life, I am being very intentional about those with whom I am surrounding myself. I have also spent some time during my morning meditation thinking about my tribe and allowing the universe to direct me – or help me get out of my way so I can find them, or they can find me!

I have continued to participate in events that are aligned with my values, and support what I believe is my purpose. I had hoped between the meditation and the events in which I was participating, I might find a couple people that are the positive spirits I sought. While following this process, I became involved in a movement where I had the chance to interact with a group of people who have the biggest hearts and are so accepting and loving towards each other. Few of us knew each other a month ago, but through an effort to replace the terror of the Boston Marathon tragedy with love, we have bared our scars and bonded as we healed together.

Growing up, I always wanted one of those really big families; I feel like I have finally found it. I am now surrounded by an amazing group of people from whom I believe I will learn and develop to become a better me. If I can be a fraction of the people that have become my family over the past month, I will be the most happy, fulfilled and successful person I have ever known.

By recognizing my time is important, and clearing space by spending less time with those not embodying the elements to which I aspire, I have made room for positive additions. The Universe has brought me a gift wrapped in a community of people I feel so utterly connected to and loved by for no reason except that I am me. I have been lucky enough to have truly found the people with whom I want to spend my time – not only for what I can learn from them, but what we can learn and accomplish together.

What can this exercise bring you? Are you open to the possibilities that your tribe is out there looking for you?