Confidence

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I was recently in Philadelphia waiting for my daughter-in-law and her mom as we planned to meet for lunch. I always appreciate a little time alone while traveling so I can browse in shops that I do not have access to in Florida. And so it was on this day while I awaited Lisa and Janet’s arrival, that I found myself in a little store called Francesca’s.  As I walked in, two sales women approached me, each with a garment in their hands, each saying how good these would look on me. I saw it for what it was, “double teaming”, hoping for a quick end of month sale.  I had little interest in what they were dangling in front of me, as my mind was on something behind them, on the back wall.

I have written before about signs that have caught my eye, and usually it is the bright bold letters that initially grab me.  But this sign was not bold like the others. Quite the contrary, the background was a soft pink color, and the letters were a very light beige color. I almost had to strain to read the message. I took a few steps forward and read,

“She thought she could and so she did.”

The two sales women were still pushing their wares, but I hardly heard them because after seeing the sign  I immediately thought of my granddaughters, all 8 of them. “She thought she could and so she did” —that is what I want the world to say about each of my granddaughters one day.

The sign speaks of confident, high SUCCESSTROGEN women who allow themselves to imagine and think outside the usual boundaries, and assure themselves that they can do most anything.  Women of all ages who think they can, can, and they will. As women we are positioned to change the world better than at any other time in history. Finally we can  impact any  industry, even those where our presence and  leadership is presently lacking.  Women will end the gender inequality that permeates our corporate world by increasing the bottom line, developing employees at all levels of an organization, and by creating innovative products and services.  The sign in Francesca’s speaks of women who will improve the patient experience for those with health issues, figure out what to do for the homeless to get them off the streets, and improve the medical care of our veterans. What confident women can do is beyond any imaginable existing boundaries.

“She thought she could and so she did”–yes that is exactly what I want others to say about my granddaughters, my friends, and readers.

And so on a lighter yet not unimportant note:  Fifteen years ago,  I set out to find someone to spend the rest of my life with. I thought I could find someone who would truly “get me”, delight in my shenanigans, and touch me to the depths of my soul.  He would value independence, both his and mine, and together we would be so much more than either one of us alone.  I thought I could and I did.

So if you think you can, I know you will.

Happiness: An Inside Out Interaction

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It was early morning, still dark outside with just a few signs of life below, and I was wide awake. The concept of closing my eyes and falling back asleep was out of the question, and so I did what any other normal person would do if awake at 4:30 am. I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and headed to the gym for an early morning workout. No one else  was in  the gym, consequently, I had the whole gym to myself.

I went through my usual routine, sang along with Bob Marley to “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright”,.  As I headed out of the gym  I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Oh dear! My work out clothes were inside out! It was fortunate that it was early and no one was around to observe.  My inside-out mirror image looked wrong, clearly out-of-sorts.  I began to think of other times when I my behavior is inside-out, or backwards.

Surely an example is when I apologize for something I didn’t do, just to be nice. Too often I am in an airport moving quickly from one terminal to another, and someone bumps right into me because they weren’t looking up and didn’t see me “in my lane” so to speak.  “I’m sorry!” I quickly announce when actually it wasn’t my fault!  The look on their face tells me they not only didn’t own any part of the physical mishap, but they were annoyed at me!  Another example is when I find myself defining  a solution to a predicament when I have not carefully identified the problem–again, backwards, or inside-out. But there is one instance, where inside-out is a very positive thing.

Inside-out is the best when we are talking about happiness. When someone is truly happy inside, deep to their soul,  that happiness is projected to all that they say and do. The happiness works its magic from inside to out.  My granddaughter, Kira, has that inside-out happiness that is contagious. She is that sunshine, that spark, that ignites the world telling everyone that regardless of what is happening at the moment, they will be okay. I do not think that kind of inside-out happiness is a learned thing, I think Kira was blessed with it at birth. But I do think that you and I can get there if we really want to be happy, even if we were not born with it.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women are happy. They are happy with themselves, their personal and professional lives, and generally see the world as a good place to be. We like the, gravitate towards theme, and often wish to be more like them. And we can be happy like them.

We have to begin by defining happy for ourselves, with no consideration to anyone else’s definition.  What is it that makes me happy?  Once I have defined it, I need to go after it keeping happiness as my  goal in all I do.  Initially it sounds rather selfish and me-centered yet my happiness directly impacts those around me.  Doing the things repeatedly that generate positive feelings within me  builds a strong happiness foundation, one that can hold up against most any challenge. That deep happiness impacts our interactions with all others, making the inside-out impact huge. Do not under-value happiness in your life.

You might take a moment on this SUCCESSTROGEN site to review the top Twenty List at the top of the screen,  as an initial activity to help you define happiness for yourself. Consider re-reading “Seeking Happiness” (blog posted July, 2011), but seriously you don’t need my help defining happiness for you.

You know what happiness is to you.  Just say it, own it, and seek it.

 

 

 

 

Yeast

 

Yeast dough

 

I  slowly  lost 12 pounds this summer and I am happy about getting rid of that unhealthy “middle ground.” In order to do so, I had to just about eliminate all the unhealthy sugars and carbs I had grown to love. Now slim and trim once again, I noticed the other day that I was craving a piece of  bread, one of those carbs I disallowed myself for the past four months of dieting. The heavy rainfall today made it a good day to stay home and bake bread.  I like to cook and usually enjoy recreating a dish featured in a magazine or served in a local restaurant, but today, I just wanted the comfy-ness that only home-made bread can provide.  I browsed through my cookbooks and found an old favorite recipe of cheese and onion bread, the answer to my craving. I hoped that I would only eat one slice, lest I have to begin dieting all over again!

I gathered the ingredients, found I was lacking the yeast, and made a quick trip to Publix to solve that small hurdle.  After all, you really couldn’t make bread without the yeast. The yeast makes it “rise to the occasion.” I had to laugh to myself when I found the yeast on the store shelf–it is in the same red and yellow packets of three as it has been since I made bread with my grandma in the 50’s!!!!. Some good things never change, nor should they.

And so I began mixing all the ingredients and covering the bowl with a hot towel letting it rise, just the way I always did.  An hour later, as planned, the dough had risen,  I punched it down and covered it again. I knew in another hour, it would rise again, as it was meant to do. Yeast has that incredible ability to make something rise to the heights it was destined to reach. And even after the dough is punched down, it rises again.

And that made me wonder.  The yeast is the catalyst that makes the ingredients become all that they can be.  Without the yeast the bread would be just flat and dull.  But with it, the ingredients bonded and blended with one another, resulting in a wonderful loaf of cheese-onion bread.

In a similar way, there are many things in my life that raise my spirits, rising me to a whole new “happy level”. The yeast is often provided by others:  a call from a former client to thank me for value I brought to her organization,  a text from a grandchild,  and the discrete wink I receive from that special someone when we are in a public place.  These experiences are the yeast in my life, the things that raise my already high spirits even higher. When I am raised up, “flying high”, there is little that can get in my way. I welcome those boosts daily and thank those that provide them.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN are fully aware of those who boost their spirits.  They are also aware of when they themselves  raise others to new heights.  Women managers develop others so they, too, can achieve.  Moms raise their children up by their love and support.   I, along with the other mentors and professors at USF, provide  the yeast to our students, providing them skills to raise their self-awareness and ability to communicate more effectively.

Consider those in your life who provide the yeast and remember to pay that forward as you become that significant ingredient for someone else.   Surely, that is our role as parents, teachers, friends, and lovers, to be at our best and to help others achieve and develop to their fullest potential.

 

 

 

Pickleball

dreamstime_m_34279615I found myself sitting on my Bayside deck the other morning, with a cup of Bengal Spice tea  taking stock of my life. I love my life, absolutely love it.  I live where I want to live and do what I want to do.   I smile easily because I have a sense that I deserve to be where I am. I worked hard for many years and endured many challenges. I continue to work hard to do the right things and focus on positively impacting others.  And to top it all off,  I have met someone who truly takes my breath away every time I see him. Let me reiterate that, every time I see him! Yes, I love my life.

With all of the above being said, for whatever reason, while sitting on my deck, I began thinking I was ready for a new challenge.  Was it taking on another responsibility at the University?  A new writing challenge?? What was it?  A few hours later my friend, Leah called and invited me to play pickle ball.  “Pickleball”, Leah offered, “Is the fastest growing sport in America.”–and that is all she had to say. I did not know anything about the game with the silly name, I did not know what equipment I needed to play, and I didn’t even know if pickle was spelled with an “le” an “el”.  “Fastest growing sport in America?”–I was in.  Off we went to the YMCA to take on something new, something different, just for fun.

Oh my goodness, I was in my glory.  Pickleball is a bit like tennis, a bit like ping pong and also like Badmitten, and somehow it captured the best parts of all three, making the game fast, fun, and a huge challenge for me.  It took me several “whiffs” before I realized that I no longer had a long tennis racket in my hand.  The paddle, a bit larger than a ping pong paddle, had a very short handle and I had to accommodate the change and keep my eye on the ball if I wished to ever make contact with the ball.  It was a great three hour workout with lots of laughs and I sweated from head to toe. It will not surprise you that I immediately went out and bought myself a paddle and balls, and am ready to return to the court next week.

My intent here is not to convince you to go and try Pickleball, although I think you may wish to give it a shot!!! My intent is to focus on the huge burst of joy that trying something new affords. Call it a new challenge, a distraction, or whatever you like. Know that taking on something totally new is exhilerating and that is a great feeling. So go and try something new, just for the fun of it. Go with a friend so you can laugh at yourselves and learn at the same time.  Push yourself beyond your usual routine of doing things that are comfortable. Push the boundaries–and enjoy the excitement!

 

 

 

 

 

Wings

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Recently in the Hamptons,  I walked through a very old cemetery.  I couldn’t read much of what was engraved on the weather battered tombstones but one woman was recognized for being a faithful wife and good mother. A young child was recognized for his ability to make others laugh and a fire fighter was noted for saving lives. I wondered for a moment what perhaps we all wonder, what would people say about me? I quickly reminded myself that  my wish is to be cremated, so there will be no tombstone claiming I was “the best mom ever”, “the woman of a man’s dreams”, or “the best adjunct professor ever at the University of South Florida.”  Whatever people think of me may be verbally stated (or whispered !) but nothing about me will be carved in stone anywhere, anytime.

What would I hope they would say about me? I would like people to say  that  I brought joy,  taught them something, or that I changed the way they behave.  I know that Pat will say I was her “fellow Jersey girl”, Bonnie will say that I was a good story teller, and Carole will offer that I was a great x-wife. Helen will tell the story of the coconut cake and how hard she laughed. And while the jury is still out, I hope another friend says that he chose me and was glad he did.

Recently while browsing in Nordstrom  I saw a t-shirt that read “I fly with my own set of wings”–and there it was. That was what I would like to be remembered as, a woman who “flew with her own wings”–that I did things my way, made decisions for myself accepting the consequences of my sometimes impulsive behavior,  and I made life happen, all  because I knew I had wings.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN fly with their own wings. They have a strong air of independence about them.  It is  not that they do not need anyone, but they do not depend on any other for their happiness.  They think for themselves, are self-directed and self-motivated. They demonstrate courage and conviction in both their words and their behavior.

If you have never flown by your own wings, I suspect it is a bit scary at first. But the idea is that once you are sure of who you are, you then add the guts, focus, persistence and faith to fly with your own wings. Your own wings fit like no other and once you realize you have them and rely on them, you will soar!

We all know some successful women who have made a  career of their dreams, allowing themselves to be driven by their passion.  They  exude happiness. They have purpose and meaning and they generate a community of others also passionate about what they are doing. When you enter their “space”, there is a buzz, a happy buzz, a productive buzz. People around them are not complaining, they are working together, creating, planning, fixing to accomplish their goals.  They all could be sporting that t-shirt in Nordstrom, because they all

“…fly by their own wings.”

Have I encouraged you to  dust off your wings and test them out again? Your life may have changed somewhat and you may need to adjust the old wings to better enable you to take off, but do it.  Don’t wait any longer to “fly by your own wings”,and take charge of your own life.

Fly by your own wings and enjoy the journey!

 

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.