Mashaguna

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Every once in a while I come across an unfamiliar word and I add it to my vocabulary because  it is fun to say or brings with it a meaning that far exceeds anything a more well-known word could offer.   Some unique words just say it all. I remember well when my Italian grandfather found someone to be dull-minded, he called him what sounded like “chi-drool”–I think it meant donkey. But donkey didn’t quite capture what my grandfather meant,  “Chi-drool” captured it well.

Recently when I was relaying a story in my wound up way of story-telling with my loud voice, hand gestures and the like,  a friend said, “There is a Jewish word for you, Mary Ann, Mashaguna.”  While he tried to be careful as he defined it for me, I got the point. MASHAGUNA  (pronounced Ma Shoo g’na)means a little crazy, over the top. I would have preferred he said it meant animated or enthusiastic, referring to my story telling ability, but he didn’t. He said Mashaguna and he meant just that–crazy, over the top. I rarely see him now, obviously he didn’t like that side of me!

And so it is. But I have come to terms with it, fully accepting the Mashaguna title knowing that I am over-the-top.  I generally speak using superlatives (These jeans are the best ever!”), eat in the same new restaurant so many times in a month that I never want to eat there again, and play the same song for exercising (Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds”) over and over again. I exercise like a Mashaguna far too many times in a week, play far too many word games, and could conceivably drink a Nutella shake every night of my life.

My  Mashaguna-like behavior may well work against me at times, but I no longer fight it, because it is me. It is who I am. I am over-the-top and while there  are some consequences to being that, for the most part I get a lot of fun out of being me. I find myself laughing to myself throughout the day at what I experienced, and thoroughly enjoy telling and retelling others as well. I worked hard at getting to know me and like me, and find myself very happy with the me I have become. My liking me makes it easy for me to like most other people, appreciating the differences in our personalities and styles.

And so let’s talk about you.  You know better than I if you are a little crazy, a true Mashaguna like me, or not crazy at all. Perhaps you enjoy a gentle quiet life and either enjoy the Mashagunas of the world from afar, or avoid them completely. But the important thing is really how well you like being you. I contend that if you truly like who you are, then you are happy and life doesn’t get much better than happy.  If you don’t like who you are, then you can hardly like anyone else. So  you need to change that, but don’t delay. Get there soon. It is so much more fun when you can enjoy yourself for who you are, accepting your bumps and warts  along with your  all the good things about you.

 

The Message We Send

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Recently, I spent several hours in the Atlanta airport waiting for a connecting flight home to Sarasota.  Conscious of the fact that I had plenty of time, I walked from terminal to terminal for exercise.  While doing so, I  passed a woman with a t-shirt that had one word and one word only on it. In big bold orange letters, the t-shirt read “NO!”  Nothing more, nothing less–no tagline underneath or on the back of the shirt to better explain her message, just “No!”

I decided not to approach the woman and start-up  a conversation, fearing she would say something like “Hey, can’t you read?” but the bold letters stayed on my mind.  What on earth did this woman mean?  Was she saying, “No!”,  as in “Don’t ask my opinion about Obamacare, or “No,  I don’t want to legalize marijuana.” or “No, I do not want to give you a dime.”  Perhaps she was just telling the world about her generalized negative attitude. Who knows what message she was trying to convey, but clearly she was not interested in meeting me.

While  I would not wear a t-shirt that says “NO!”, I bet sometimes I give off the “no–don’t bother me” message in other equally as obvious ways.  For example, sometimes I am so focused on my list of things to do that as I am walking about town, my head is down, my pace is fast and determined, and it is highly unlikely that I am smiling.  Each of those behaviors send the “No!” or  the “do not disturb” message.   I may as well be wearing the t-shirt!! While my behavior is not a crime punishable by prison, sending that message is wrong for me.  My mission, if you will, is to help others, to add to their personal development, to help them feel good about themselves, and increase their overall happiness. Therefore sending the “No!” any way at all  is not in sync with the purpose of my life. When I am not in sync with my purpose, I am not happy and therefore not at my personal best!

If I am true to my mission to help others, then the only option for me is  to consciously send a message that communicates availability and willingness to help. Further, I must send that message in everything I do.

I am convinced that we are better together, we need each other to fix the world and comfort one another, and we can only do that by sending the “Yes!” message.  Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN say “Yes!” without wearing a t-shirt. They are proactively involved in their families and their businesses to work with others to make things  better, to create new products and services, and to impact the world.

Consider the message you are sending, either by the t-shirt you wear or by your behavior. If you are clearly sending the message you wish to convey, then good for you, carry on! If not, then maybe you will consider adjusting your behavior so that you are sending the message you wish to send.

 

 

 

 

Back to School

 

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September is one of my favorite months as it signifies the beginning of a new  school year and I always loved school.  In grade school, I truly loved getting all my school supplies together (especially new crayons!!), carefully printing my name on all my new notebooks, sharpening my pencils and waiting on pins and needles to learn the name of my new classroom teacher.  I attended a private girls high school, believe it or not, The Academy of the Holy Angels, and I well recall the excitement of starting a new school and branching out of Hackensack and meeting girls from all over the county.  While I was way too cool then to start high school with sharpened pencils, trust me, I wanted to!  My first days at Marymount in  Tarrytown were a little more anxiety driven because it was not my choice but rather my mother’s.  But the excitement to start school reappeared full force when I began my PhD program and lasted throughout the program.

This September  I am preparing  to teach in the graduate program at USF Tampa.  Could my students possibly be as excited as I am about Business Communication  GEB 6215?  On the surface it sounds like a nothing kind of course and is initially likely discounted as not very important, or worse still, an “easy A.” Boy are the students in for a surprise!

Here’s the thing.  I believe that communication is a strategic asset to our success and happiness.  How well we get through our lives is dependent on how well we can communicate. We spent hours in grammar school learning the states and capitals, how to find the area of a triangle, and identifying the types of clouds. But oddly enough, we have never been taught how to communicate!!! We probably no longer remember all the states and capitals, have never had to find the area of a triangle, nor  felt the need to name a cloud. Yet everyday of our lives we are challenged with communication issues  at work and in our personal relationships.  The words we use, our tone of voice, and our body language, all impact our message and unfortunately our message is often either lost or received badly. Most of us would benefit from communication skills enhancement.

Women with High SUCCESSTROGEN are recognized as having excellent communication skills. They  speak clearly and articulate their point of view. They are influential and engaging.  They listen well, ask pertinent questions, and engage others in a conversation.  They know how to negotiate in a win/win way getting valuable results and commitment from others.  These women have perfected their communication style to be authentic and respectful and as a result have little difficulty gaining a followership.

So this two-credit class on Business Communication is most valuable to my students looking to start a career in business.  My students in the Class of 2016 are the lucky ones, because they will have  a chance to examine and alter their communication style and effectiveness, which I believe will lead to their success and happiness in all that they do.

Don’t you wonder why more emphasis isn’t placed on  communication skills in the curriculum starting with young children?  While students know the formula for finding the area of a triangle, they continue to struggle to communicate what’s going on in their lives to their parents, teachers, and friends.

 

 

 

 

Postage Stamp Dependability

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? I was at the post office the other day buying my usual roll of Forever stamps to protect myself against the next US Postal increase.  Years ago I remember buying stamps at 2 cents each, or $2.00 for a roll of 100.  But today, that same sized roll costs $49!  Same size, same material, okay so I don’t have to lick these, but for all practical purposes I am paying a whole lot more for the same product!  But this week’s blog isn’t about the increased cost of a postage stamp.  It is about the fact that the stamp sticks to the letter and arrives at its destination every time. This blog  is about dependability, our dependability to ourselves.

I waited on-line at the post office  and purchased my stamps.   I ripped off one self-sticking stamp and placed it on my letter addressed to my friend who is ailing. I paused and mentally sent a prayer to my friend,  tapped on the stamp twice as I always do to make sure it sticks to the letter, and dropped it into the mail slot on the wall that read “outgoing.”   I don’t know why I tap the stamp twice but I do. Consistently, when applied to a letter, the stamp  sticks to the letter and gets where it is supposed to go, every time. I can count on it. I do not need to worry about it or track it online. It just gets there, every time.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN  stick with things they start because they determine it is a needed step amongst perhaps many to accomplish what they wish to do.  Some of us start things but never finish them.  We might even start so many things that there isn’t time enough in the day to complete any one of them. Or perhaps, we lose interest, or even forget why we were interested in the first place.

I often think that one of the biggest problems in the business world is that we cannot necessarily depend on every person in the organization to do her job right the first time, on time, every time and as a result, the output is not always as expected or promised to the customer.  The process is not dependable. We have seen an increase in auto recalls lately that tells me, the automobile industry is far less dependable than the postage stamp.

But. more than the lack of dependability in the car industry,  I am more concerned about it in our personal lives. If we want to lose weight for once and for all, then we need to consistently exercise and eat healthy today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.  If we want to get an educational degree, then we need to register for the required and elective classes, attend classes as scheduled,  and do the assigned work, every day.  If we want to live our lives to the fullest in spite of a diagnosis of a progressive illness, we need to continue to research and be up to speed on what is happening in the medical field, and do whatever we need to do to manage our illness–everyday, day over day.  There can be no day off from our dependability.

In doing what we need to do, we are depending on our own dependability. We need to stick to our plan to reach our goals, much like the postage stamp sticks to the letter right to its destination.

 

 

 

Dot-to-Dot Philosophy

 

 

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I am about to visit my  twin grandchildren in Rumson, NJ.  While browsing through Amazon for something fun to bring them, I came upon a dot-to-dot book. My mind quickly flashed back to a wonderful memory.  As a child, every July we would take a 2 week motor trip. Weeks before our departure date, my mother would take me to the toy store and we would buy a book to read and a dot-to-dot book for me to enjoy while hours in the car each day.  I was not able to use them until the suitcases were packed in the car and we had resolved the issue of who would have the window seats and who would be stuck in the middle.  Being the youngest of three children, I ALWAYS got the middle seat missing half the sites pointed out by my brother Mike who maintained control the AAA travel map.

But sitting in the middle didn’t bother me as long as I had my brand new dot-to-dot book. It’s cover was smooth and shiny and I remember just sitting there, squished in the middle seat, clinging on to my new book.  Perhaps the best thing about it was that it was mine, all mine. My brothers had no interest in a dot-to-dot exercise. And frankly my dot-to-dot time took me out of the ongoing conversation about the stock market and allowed me to mentally go into my pretend world of a famous writer whose works were adored by all–it was a good place to go then and frankly a pretend world I still retreat to!!!!

The dot-to-dot exercise presents many different individual dots, milestone points, arranged in a particular fashion. One does not fully comprehend  and the full understanding of the page until  all the dots are connected. When completed, if  the dots are connected in the proper order, a picture is revealed, and all of a sudden the individual dots are no more. Now together,they all make sense…they connect.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN connect the dots throughout their lives, making sense of their challenges and life events, and then making good choices based on that information.  Baffled at the time, I now fully understand the positive value of my divorce. Faced with several paths, I choose independence and that decision presented a string of more dots that led me to start my Consulting firm, begin writing SUCCESSTROGEN, and achieve my doctorate.  Those dots led me to dump the junk and simply my life in sync with my value set, and those dots led me to move downtown and expand my athletic world to include the arts.   And there are more dots. Dots to do with family and friends and other decisions to allow new people into my life, and exclude others from it.

The dot-to-dot philosophy presents the dots separately, and the task is ours to connect them and get the full picture. The risk of not connecting the dots is that we focus on the disappointments and hardships over the years and become bitter or sad, allowing those events to define us.  The dot-to-dot philosophy suggests you see your life as individual dots, and you take the time to connect your dots and get the full picture.  The philosophy is about embracing the individual, sometimes unpleasant dots and looking to see how they are part of a plan to get to a better place.  Once you have connected the dots and see the full picture, the DTD philosophy suggests that you  turn the page because surely there are more dots to come.

You may wish to record your own dots, and connect them and feel good about where you are today.  If you will excuse me now, I am going to turn my page with anticipation of a whole lot more dots and a life that is ever evolving.

 

 

 

Dump the Junk

 

 

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Recently I found myself doing one of my least favorite activities:  packing a suitcase.  I was preparing for a trip to London with my daughter-in-law, Lisa, and her three daughters—a girls trip!  Alexa, Kira and Eliza (14, 10, and 8 respectively) are fun to be with and good travelers so I knew the trip would be fun.  We had tickets for a One Direction concert at Wembley Stadium, tickets for the theater (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Phantom, and Wicked) and reservations for tea at the Claridges. I wanted the  girls to get to know London, one of the world’s greatest cities.

Quickly I determined a carry on bag was out of the question.  Unfortunately once I mentally expanded from a small carry-on to a large suitcase, I found myself packing far more than I would have needed for a month-long trip! I was adding extra stuff just to “fill the space.”  I sat on the floor alongside the over-stuffed suitcase and remembered three years ago when I realized I had too much stuff and too many obligations.  I had to simplify my life.

My life was hectic and busy and too cluttered.I decided to “dump the junk” and rid myself of clutter.  At first, clutter meant whatever I owned that I truly did not wear, read, enjoy looking at, or use in any way.  I gave all the things away and found many happy recipients lending credence to the old adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. I moved to a condo half the size of my previous one, and delight in the spaciousness of my new smaller home without a lot of stuff taking up space. I stopped accumulating things and learned to appreciate the things I have. My life is now uncluttered.

Dump the junk also meant I had to reorganize my activity-filled life to find something more meaningful.  My passion is teaching at USF and I decided to put my time and energy into being the best adjunct professor offering the most student-valued classes.  I no longer  desire a full calendar each week so I opted out of the tennis team and its obligatory clinics and practices and passed on invitations to luncheons and parties that I did not wish to attend.  I don’t mindlessly subscribe to all the events of the season, rather I carefully select those that I truly wish to attend.  I like to glance at my weekly calendar and see that I have plenty of free time to choose to do something or do nothing and just be.

I have experienced  that “less is more” and I hope I have encouraged some of you to dump the junk, rid yourself of unnecessary clutter, allowing yourself to really wear those things you enjoy most, read the books that have the most interest for you, and enjoy a few simple treasures you may have inherited, received as gifts, or purchased. I hope also that you spend your time with those with whom you are at your best, even if that doesn’t mean me! Go ahead, do it.  Dump the junk and be free.

 

 

 

 

 

Go the Distance

 

I  just returned from an 8 day vacation in London and feel out of shape. It was time for a good solid workout to get back on track. Today I needed to “Go the Distance” which for me is a 5 mile brisk walk. While doing so, I passed by a renovation site for a new business. The shop, Fit2Run, is an apparel and gear shop for athletes, specifically runners. While renovations are continuing for a fall opening, there are several signs posted in the window about job opportunities.  I am not interested in selling sports gear so I will not be responding to the job posts, however I was drawn to the company tagline:

Fit2Run:  Go the Distance

Having decided just a few minutes earlier to “Go the Distance”, I immediately felt a connect with this new store.  I realize the reference is for the runner suggesting that she “go the distance”, rather than quit before the end of her run. Broadening the message in the tagline,  I can only expect  that Fit2Run  will “Go the Distance” and provide excellent products as well as a pleasant shopping experience to its customers. If the management and employees truly embrace their own tagline and “Go the Distance”, they will be successful and the store will prosper and flourish.

Go the Distance…This is the message I gave myself as I stepped out my front door, the message that was validated by the sign in the Fit2Run window.  The meaning of the phrase spreads well beyond the sporting apparel industry.  I believe we are all put on this earth to “Go the Distance.”  My friend Pat has an aging dad and I observe her “Go the Distance” providing him with the best of care and visiting him every single day.  Helen, the concierge in my building, goes the distance by providing care for the residents well beyond her front desk responsibilities.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN “Go the Distance” in every aspect of their lives.  When they first discovered their passion, there was no question that they would “Go the Distance”, doing whatever they had to do to be successful. These successful women  consistently take care of themselves and others and continue to seek opportunities to do more. When they are competing, they “Go the Distance” to win. When they are leading an organization they “Go the Distance” by creating a culture that engages associates and influences customers.  And when they are helping others, they “Go the Distance” to help them be successful, too.

Whether you “Go the Distance” with your life is not for anyone other than you to decide and assess.  If you are truly interested in being at your personal best, then you “Go the Distance”, everyday.  You don’t quit before you get there and you don’t look for short cuts, or the easy way out. You “Go the Distance.”

I am going to take a look at my life and assess where I “Go the Distance” and where I fall short.  I am clear that I am my happiest when I am at my personal best, so my happiness is my motivator for me to “Go the Distance.”

Any interest in taking a look at yourself and deciding if  you want to be at your personal best and if you are willing to “Go the Distance?”   Once you decide to “Go the Distance”, the rest, that is creating a plan and following it,  is relatively easy because the motivation is the strength that ensures you will “Go the Distance.”.