Admit One

ycog8R7cEI was recently awarded a free popcorn along with my theater ticket indicating either recognition as a valued customer, or perhaps the popcorn machine had run amok.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed my free treat.  Oddly enough just a few weeks ago I found myself at Chuck E. Cheese with my grandchildren.  They played a variety of games and accumulated  tickets with each success.  At the end of the day, they exchanged their hundreds of tickets for what appeared to me to be a meaningless prize –a box of Nerds candy!!  But if you were to ask any of the 7 children with me, each one would have said the box of Nerds was a great prize, well worth the effort.   Nerds!!  I could have taken them directlly to the candy store, but of course, that wasn’t the point at all. The kids wanted to win the right to choose and choose they did. Nerds!

Those two ticket-related occurences made me think about all the tickets that touch my hands and the joy they bring me. My “Admit One” ticket to the Sarasota Orchestra’s  outdoor performance at Ed Smith Stadium endeared me to the romantic side of orchestra music forever. My ticket to a lecture by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who continues to put her life on the line for her beliefs that women should be educated and treated equally, re-energized my faith in the power of women.  And my ticket to a roller coaster ride at Disney with Shannon and TJ provided me with the heart stopping thrill of having survived the ride!

More important than the tickets we purchase, I feel as though we are also given a ticket to experience life.  Everyone gets her own ticket at birth.  Unlike the theater ticket that we purchase and submit upon entry to the performance,  the ticket to life is free and we keep using it as it offers us entry into many experiences  as we journey through life.

Our ticket to life  validates my belief that we are each responsible for our own lives, and we get one chance to live it. We  become keenly aware that there are tickets for finding joy and happiness, tickets that feed our curiosity, and tickets for challenges that result in our personal growth. There are tickets for those who believe to see evidences of their faith, and there are tickets for those who care about others to do any number of kind things to make the world a bit kinder.   Martin Fisher wrote,

“Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.”

I agree with his words, but we must remember that we have to choose to attend the show,  fully participate in it, sometimes alone, and sometimes with the help of others.  To reach our full potential, we can not just stand by and observe the greatest show on earth, we need to be an active participant in it, helping to create it.

I handed in my tickets to the Orchestra, the lecture, and the roller coaster, fairly sure of what I was getting myself into.  But sometimes, when an opportunity presents itself, I am unsure of what to expect, I am apprehensive, perhaps even fearful of the unknown. Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN view life as the greatest show on earth and take full advantage of what it has to offer them. They do not fear the unknown but rather have a “bring it on” mentality.  Their diverse backgrounds and myriad of experiences demonstrate that they have fully participated in life, “the greatest show on earth.”

Have you been using your ticket to life lately?


Birds who Sing

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I was recently in the gym working out to Bob Marley’s, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, one of my favorite work out tunes.  That was followed by Danielle Bradbury’s rendition of “Grandpa”.  When I work out, I sing…loudly I might add. I love to work out and somehow I love to sing and the two go hand in hand for me. Problem:  I do not sing well.  Most of my “gym rat” buddies encourage me to sing and even request one of my usual happy tunes, but one friend finds my singing annoying. Now don’t be too harsh on him, he really is right in that I do not sing well and I often sing the same song over and over. So when he is in the gym, I do not sing out loud. I don’t enjoy my workout as much, but I do not like to be the source of others pissiness. Consequently, when he is not in the gym, I sing like there is no tomorrow!

My friend Leah is not a gym user and I have not discussed my loud singing problem with her but last week I invited her to join me for dinner.  She came in the door with a gift bag in which was a sparkly picture frame with a quote inside. She said she knew I would like it and she was spot on.

I read it out loud, “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sing best.”

I know Leah wasn’t talking about my singing because she was not privy to it. But what the message she wanted to convey to me was “do what you do because if we wait for someone who can do it better, we may wait too long, and frankly they may choose not to.

So the broader message is…If there is something you enjoy doing and you don’t engage in it because you are not good at it, go do it anyway. Take a lesson, or ask for help to get started, or just plain go out on a limb..but don’t miss out, do it. Do what you enjoy, and taking from a previous blog, “learn by doing.”

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN put themselves out there, even if they “don’t sing the best”. It is not about who is the best, but rather who has the passion to do something, for surely that drive and motivation will be far more valuable in the accomplishment of the task than being the best at it.  Sometimes when one has achieved “best in class”, the passion has waned…sort of a “been there, done that” kind of emotion. When the passion is there, the time is right!

If you have the desire, the passion, go and do, whether you are the best or not, go and do!

Find Your Sunshine


I am at my best when I have a busy day in front of me.  Right after my meditation, I check to see what is on the calendar for the day.  When the day is packed I am a happy women, usually work out and then begin to take on the day. On the slower days, I notice that I take a little longer to get to the gym and frankly I  don’t seem to workout quite as vigorously as I do when there is a full day ahead.  Yesterday was one of those days.

As a result, I decided to take a quick trip over to St Armand’s Circle and browse in some of my favorite shops.   While passing by the new fashions displayed in the windows usually lures me inside,  today I didn’t see one thing in any window that encouraged me to step inside.  All of a sudden,  as I passed a store I rarely shop in, large letters adhered to the outside of the window glared at me and stopped me in my tracks.

“Find your sunshine”, the words commanded. I entered that store immediately! I simply had to congratulate someone on the very important reminder they were sending to the community.

Find your sunshine!

The sign reminds all of us to find our happy in the event that we  have misplaced it for one reason or another.  I have my sunshine with me almost always and  so do you! That’s why we smile a lot and generally see the positive side of life. Occasionally, however, we seem to forget to let  our sunshine out, hiding the infectious smile.  The sign reminds us that it is not enough to keep our happy inside, we need to display it, to share it as a reminder to others to find their sunshine as well.  When we smile, others smile. When we smile, others feel better.

Women with High SUCCESSTROGEN smile easily, displaying their sunshine and warming others around them. Happy is a major part of who they are.

If my smile isn’t coming easily on a given day,  I take a moment and review my mental list of things for which I am grateful.  I recall something  funny, a time when I laughed out loud, and my smile reappears quickly. My go-to tool is to recall a recent funny late conversation with  Helen and Leah. Some of those memories actually make me laugh out loud, and more important, smile again!

What is it that brings out your smile? What is it that helps you “find your sunshine?

Learn by Doing


I enjoyed another delightful weekend  in Rumson, NJ, with twin seven-year olds, Harry John and  Mae.  After playing hours upon hours of “Dr Scarlet, the Horse Vet”, I declared that all my horses  were now healed and we should play another game.  Next  we painted race cars and  set up our own Nascar-esq event.  Hours later, while Harry and Mae were still going strong, my back began to tell me I had raced enough cars and I found my way to the couch.

Sitting on the couch to many of you means watching TV or perhaps even taking a little nap.  Sitting on the couch to Harry and Mae means its  iPad games time! We always start with my word games but when Yenga, the game designers, refuse to accept Harry and Mae’s made up words, Harry and Mae opt out and find a game of their own to teach me.

The game of the day was  “Jump Car”.  Mae  downloaded it and was giggling while playing, often uttering, “You guys have to play “Jump Car”! It is so much fun!”  Harry quickly downloaded the game on his iPad.  I was just closing my eyes, (just for a moment mind you), trying to rest. In true twin unison, they both exclaimed: “Gram, you have to download “Jump Car”!  I was not as skilled at “Jump Car” as I am at Words with Friends.  When I asked the kids a fourth time to show me how to skip over the bars and avoid hitting the other cars,  I saw Mae look at Harry and simply raise her eyebrows as if to say, “Oh Brother, Gram just doesn’t get it!.”

That’s when Harry put his hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said ever so slowly,  “Just – keep – trying – it, Gram. You – learn- as – you – go !”

“… learn as you go.”

How wise Harry was!  The only way to learn something is to actually do it.  You can listen to the explanation of an expert, watch a UTube, or enter an online chat to learn about almost something. But at the end of the day, you really learn most things by doing,  “as you go.”

Life is a “learn as you go” series of events, with no instructor’s guide.  No one taught us how to be a mom, a lover, a business woman, or an entrepreneur.  We learned by doing.  I could have used a rule book when all five of my children were teenagers way back when! When my marriage ended, no one taught me how to pick up and move on with strength and confidence. No one taught me how to forgive a wrongdoing, but I learned by forgiving.

I have come to believe that if we women were all identical, there would be a rule book on how to be a woman,mom, entrepreneurs, spouse or partner.  Moms would read a list of what to do when and it would all work out perfectly.  Relationships would last forever because we would all follow the rules.  Entrepreneurs would know how their product would get to market when they followed the carefully scripted plan.  But we are not all the same, not even close! As a result, there are no rule books, only a few guidelines, and we have to learn by doing, every step of the way.  We continue moving when things are working, and we alter what we are doing when it is not working.  It’s called “learn by doing”.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women enjoy the freedom to learn by doing, not being controlled by boundaries telling them what, when, where and how. They rely on their confidence and their innate abilities to move through life in a way that is enjoyable, challenging, productive., and rewarding.

Some women have put their lives on hold a bit, unsure or unwilling to fail. Perhaps they are still waiting for the “how to”book. There will never be a rule book on how to become YOU. You have to learn who you are by doing, by taking chances, and using your best judgement.  You learn by doing, observing, and listening, and yes, by failing occasionally along the way.

If you have put your next steps on hold, because you are unsure how to move forward or away, you might start with downloading the “Jump Car” app and learn by playing. And after that, take charge of your life. Go and do, and learn by doing.  Enjoy the freedom to move from where you are and create your life according to you.

It’s Not About the Shoes




I agreed to meet  friends  last night for a quick “Hello, What’s Up?”.  I walked up the street and paused on the corner to make sure the approaching driver was aware I was about to cross.  A women stepped alongside of me. “Great shoes!” she said as she pointed to my feet. I looked down to remind myself which pair I had selected and smiled. I was wearing my  favorite bright red, patent leather, strappy shoes.   I responded, “Thanks. Nordstrom.”   My comments were short and to the point, after all I was about to cross the street, and I knew she didn’t saddle up to me to chat about the 2016 Presidential Election.   She just wanted to know where she could get the same shoes. She actually took a photo of them and I suspect by now she has a pair of her own.

When I arrived at the restaurant, my favorite waitress greeted me whispering,  “I want those shoes!” I hugged her and then hugged my two friends already settled in a booth with a glass of wine.   “Love your shoes, Mary Ann!”  they said almost in unison. Again, I noted “Nordstrom”.  I could see they both made a mental note of it and now there would be at least four pair of these same shoes in town.

I like it when others notice my shoes, new hair style, or dress. We all like compliments. But I remember well  when compliments on what I was wearing were meaningless to me.   When I was studying for my doctoral degree, I spent two weeks every summer in Atlanta with my cohort working on our research projects. I worked hard.  I received too many compliments from both the students and my professors about the dress I was wearing or the shoes that “brought the whole look together.”   Here I was at 62 years old struggling to get through this difficult program, especially learning how to conduct research. I would have welcomed recognition of my contributions in class, my writing capability, or how well I facilitated  a team  project.  The compliments about my wardrobe fell way short of what was important to me. Finally  one professor used my written work as an example of good academic writing, and that one compliment gave me the incentive to continue the academic challenge ahead of me.

If I could choose the  compliments coming my way today. they  would not be about my appearance. It isn’t how we look that defines us as women with high SUCCESSTROGEN.  It is about what we do , how we make the world a little better. I like the wise words from one of the greatest athletes of our time,

“It’s not about the shoes, it’s what you do in them”. (Michael Jordan)

Shoes….in their simplest form, they are a nice alternative to the hazards of walking in bare feet. But the impact you have on the world  is a direct result of your decision to help others everyday in those shoes.

What do you do to serve and help others?  How do you make others feel? Why is the world a better place with you in it?

Gotta go, I’ve got a meeting to attend.  I will probably notice what the other women are wearing, and surely check out their shoes, but  if I offer a compliment, I am going to focus on their behavior, what they do. This is perhaps another way I can make a difference.  Care to join me?

Two Under Par


The early morning TV weather man warned me that there would be scattered thunderstorms throughout the day. But I had an 8:12 tee time at The Meadows, my new country club, so I continued to dress for golf.  As the valet brought my car around,  Martin commented, “Gee Ms. O’Neil, I think your game may be rained out!”  “But I have an 8:12 tee time”, I noted. When I got to the golf shop, Rob, the manager, told me that since “everyone else had cancelled” I could tee off earlier if I wished.  He seemed to hesitate expecting me to also cancel, but that thought had not occurred to me, after all “I had an 8:12…..”  Being a routine kind of gal, I stuck with my 8:12 time and headed out to the driving range.

After whacking just three golf balls as well as I ever had, the very dark grey clouds gave me a hint that the weather man, Martin, and all the golfers who cancelled earlier this morning might have been more realistic.  I quickly headed toward the first tee.  I noted it was a par 4.  Again, I whacked the ball, far and straight, and my second shot wasn’t too shabby either…and then it happened. The skies opened up wide! Oh my goodness, it was clear that I was going to need an ARK with little time to build one much less gather all the animals!!!!! The rain came down hard and fast and within moments I was soaked all the way through to my undies–after just two strokes.

I drove the golf cart faster than it is supposed to go drying to avoid some of the rain.  I returned to the pro shop and announced, “I just got my lowest score ever on the first hole!!!!!! The head pro, the shop manager, and Frank, the starter who had come in out of the rainstorm, all laughed out loud and frankly I think they may still be laughing.  On my way home I couldn’t help but delight in the fact that I shot two under par on the first hole!!

Upon reading this blog, you want to tell me I had all the warnings and was unrealistic in my expectations.  You are correct.  But here is my point and for better or worse, here is the essence of me.  I could have let the weather man change my plan, I could have let Martin’s warning do the same., and I could have heeded Rob’s hint in the pro shop. But you know what?  I had a great “almost golf game”,   a good hard laugh in the pro shop, and a good story to post on Successtrogen.  This was one of those times when I stayed in the moment, right where I was supposed to be, and frankly, I am glad I did. My initial plan to play 18 holes changed fast without my consent and I chose to see where the change would take me.  My golf today, albeit a very short game, was a great game, and I will forever talk about the day that I shot two under par.

This is one of my high SUCCESSTROGEN areas–where I stay with the moment, taking life as it unfolds.  Call it “glass half full”, the “power of positive thinking”, or call it whatever you like. For me,  it is staying in the moment and letting the moment unfold to something unexpected.  This story preceded my arrival at the membership office to complete the paperwork for my membership.  There is no question in my mind that my story was repeated, influencing that meeting in a most positive way.  I became instantly connected to Rob in the pro shop, to Frank, the starter, and Glenda in the office,  and already, on day one, I feel at home at The Meadows.


In the Moment


Old teddy bear isolated on a white background with clipping path.

“Come on Mary Beth. It’s time to go! Your brother will be home from  camp soon.”, the woman said in a tone that indicated she had said it several times before. Her words distracted me from my mindlessness that took me miles away as I worried about how to schedule the surgery needed on my right thumb.

“But mommm-eeee”, Mary Beth said.  With her arms outstretched so her mom could have a direct view of her bear. She asked, “Can’t you see my bear is sad? He needs a hug.”  At that point she pulled the tattered looking bear to herself, and hugged him with all her might, turning her body side to side, as the bears arms and legs flailed left and right.    For a moment there,  I feared she would squeeze the stuffing out of him.   I couldn’t help but feel envious of the bear and the enormous, warm hug he was getting.    I smiled at the little girl and then nodded to her mom as if to say, “Nice work, mom.  You have taught her to be caring and loving.” The mother smiled at me, gratefully, as though  she is often unsure of her parenting skills.  It was in the language of moms, one mom to another. In this very moment, the mom received a compliment that she needed, Mary Beth got the extra moments she needed to care for her bear, the bear received the hug he needed, and I became mindful of the moment, something I needed.   We were all fortunate to be there at that moment to get what we needed.

And just then, the little girl took a half step towards me.”Do you need a hug too?”, she asked.  I glanced at her mom and quickly added, “No thank you, I’m fine.”   I knew I had  bailed her mom out of an awkward moment (the “mom-to-mom” thing again).  And I added, “Watching you give your bear a big hug made me feel good.  He is a well-loved  bear, I can see that!”

Her mom nodded ever so slightly, again both saying a lot while not saying anything.  And at that very moment  I realized I was right there in the moment, taking it all in.  So this is what being in the moment means.  Women of high SUCCESSTROGEN work at being mindful, of staying in the moment and capturing the learning that is there for them.  I am working hard at being mindful, of staying right in a moment in time, but it doesn’t come easy to a high energy woman like me.  This moment in time was  a tender moment between a child and her bear, a child and her mom, and two moms. The moment was sweet and loving and my worry about whatever I was worrying about disappeared, at least for now.  I found that when I am in the moment, gratitude comes easy to me.  I am so grateful I didn’t miss this moment.

“Ready mommy!” Mary Beth said as she took her mom’s hand and wrapped her other arm tightly around the bear.  Somehow the bear didn’t look quite so tattered as he had a few minutes ago.  She glanced back over her shoulder at me and waved.  The world was good.

I sat for quite a while after that experience, being in the moment, enjoying the view, the warmth of the sun, and the warm of the almost hug.  I watched  a gecko climb over my large purse to the other side and had the strangest feeling he smiled at me.  I listened to the boat captain welcoming his passengers as they boarded and had a feeling that I, too, was  welcomed to the moment.  What a nice morning…..I am grateful for the moment and ready to start my day!