Tag Archives: Happiness



For years when I was a little girl and twirling around and around fast and furiously with my arms outstretched, I remember my mom saying “Enough!” Then as I continued what was deemed to be an unruly behavior, she would sternly offer, “Enough is enough!”  Unfortunately my mom and I did not share the same definition of the word enough. Mom really just didn’t like my ongoing twirling at all, feeling one twirl was enough.  I wanted to twirl enough times so that when I stopped I would feel like the world was still spinning and taking me someplace special. Clearly,  my mothers “enough” was not my “enough.”

Twirling till I was dizzy was just the beginning of a behavior that would both delight me and haunt me as I grew older.  As an adult,  always searching for another great pair of shoes, or another Santa for my collection, I never seemed to have enough. I remember far too often returning from grocery shopping and while putting away four large cans of crushed tomatoes I would discover I already had 5 large cans in the pantry. I could almost hear my mother say “Enough is enough.”  When  I was moving to a smaller condo a few years ago I knew I had to give away my  20 pairs of tennis sneakers, again, I heard my mother loud and clear, “Enough is enough”.

Once again, I have moved and downsized and rid myself of the clothes I did not wear, the basket full of flip-flops, and kept only one of the 18 brightly colored spatulas on my kitchen counter.  This time I heard myself say,”enough is enough.” I supposed I always knew that happiness isn’t in the accumulated things, and that less is more, but somehow today I am more aware than every before of the beauty of “enough.” Having just enough of what I need is freeing.  I have the absence of clutter, no more collections and 1 can of crushed tomatoes in my pantry. I feel blessed that I “have enough”.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women know the concept of enough well, they know where their happiness comes from, and they need not surround themselves with more than enough of any one thing. The lack of clutter becomes order, both physically and mentally.

So if I see you on the street and I am wishing you well, you will now hear me say, “I wish you enough” because that is truly what I want for everyone I care about, enough, no more, no less.  I wish you enough so that you realize more quickly than I did, that enough is truly enough.

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?

One Small Carry On

dreamstime_s_23213484 I recently flew to Chevy Chase to visit my granddaughter, Calla.  Prior to take off, a flight attendant announced that passengers were  “…permitted a carry-on bag and one small personal item which can fit neatly under the seat…” I, a seasoned traveller, was familiar with the script and had already stowed my regulation-sized carry-on in the overhead bin, and after removing my iPad, stored my small personal item under my seat.

Across the isle a woman was sweating profusely as she tried to jam her large bag in the overhead bin.   The flight attendant tried several ways to convince the traveler to check her bag. The traveler’s “punishment” for trying to sneak the larger bag on board was that her bag would  be checked all the way to the dreaded baggage claim. The woman argued that it should be gate checked, saving her time upon arrival, but this was a battle the flight attendant would win. The passenger carried on about the declining customer service trend throughout the airlines industry, the poor design of the planes, and whatever else she could think of, but to no avail.  Her bag was tagged for baggage claim. The irony here is that the traveler’s apparent over-reaction to the incident, was likely tied to another kind of baggage, her “emotional baggage (EB).”

Emotional baggage is the negative stuff we just can’t let go of. It is that stuff that lingers and continues to bother us and haunt us, things we keep going over and over in our heads, never resolving.   We all have it.   I am  sure that those of us who are truly happy have the least amount of emotional baggage. What we have could fit in a small carry-on bag.

Those of us who have a large suitcase of EB, continue to apply it to our present life, allowing it to cloud our judgement, and make poor decisions. We far too easily recall what our mothers did to make our lives difficult, or what our former husband did that was unfair.  The more we talk about what wasn’t good and allow that to interfere in our being at our personal best,  the bigger the piece of luggage. The bigger the luggage, the more difficult it is for us to travel about our world with ease, to find real happiness.

Somehow those of us with the least amount of EB found a way to “move on”, to forgive, to learn from the experience, and put that old stuff behind us.  I will put myself in the “small carry on  EB category”. I often story tell about a negative experience from my childhood or early adulthood, but it is usually to indicate how I have changed my life so that does not reoccur.  My parents were good parents, they did what they could with what they had.  What I loved about their parenting (worth ethic, organized home, emphasis on education) I made sure I  brought into my life as I was raising a family.  What I did not like (lack of physical touching, never saying “I love you, prejudice”) I made a conscious effort to change so as to create our world as I thought it should be.

Even in women with High SUCCESSTROGEN who have only a small carry on bag of emotional stuff, occasionally the EB expands because something has  shifted and caused pain, confusion, and disappointment.  While that happened recently to me,  fearing I would need to go to a larger bag for storage, I developed a strategy:  I allowed myself three days of sadness and feeling sorry for myself, and then literally drafted a plan to move on with NO ANGER, NO BLAMING. As a matter of fact I will work hard to redesign this incredible friendship that is too important  to discard.

Check your emotional baggage. Does it fit in a small carry on bag? Good,  keep it that way. But do you have to sit on the carry on to zip it closed?  Then it is getting out of control,  sort out what you can “leave home”–keep the bag as light as you can.

Picnic Simple


“I would like to take you on a picnic to Myakka Park.”  That’s what he said. He said it in his usual determined voice, rather matter-of-factly, just as I have written it. It was a simple statement expressing a simple idea. My initial reaction was “a Picnic!!! Wow!” I wanted to jump up and down, clap my hands  and screech with delight, but I did none of those things.  Instead I replied in kind, very calmly….”Yeah, that would be fun.”

Jim and I are active, very active, attending many live theater productions, concerts, lectures and movies. We  play golf and exercise.  We even went to an NHL playoff game  (Go Lightening!)…..you get the picture….”crazy active”. As I began telling friends that we were going on a picnic, they seemed surprised, with not a soul thinking a picnic was any big deal.  Personally, it was a big deal. I believe picnics  are grossly under-rated. There is something  very  “exciting” about the idea of  a simple picnic.

I woke up early on the morning of our picnic in anticipation of a wonderful day, and the delicious gazpacho Jim made to accompany our barbecued chicken kabobs.  Our local weather report indicated the possibility of rain,  but that didn’t scare us off one bit.  You and I both know,

“You bring your own weather to a picnic.”

Myakka Park is one of the oldest and largest of the Florida state parks. It is 58 square miles of  calm, 58 square miles of quiet wildlife, beautiful trees, and romantic trails.   Make no mistake, the Park belongs to the alligators, birds, and other wild life who live there. We were mere guests, catching a glimpse of how the “residents” of the Park live. The environment is ever so quiet, interrupted only occasionally by the mating sound of an alligator or the call of a loon.

Binoculars in hand, we watched wildlife from a board walk over the Myakka River and from the top of a tall structure on Canopy trail.   We saw alligators, Ibis, Wood Storks and turkey vultures, and many birds I had never heard.  The inhabitants of the Park seem to lead a “picnic simple” life, hardly giving notice to any of us from outside their community. Jim and I walked for miles and did little talking.  There was no need to talk, this was about the quiet and enjoying nature. We didn’t need to discuss the new business on Main Street,  the construction project next door, or a movie  we “really should see”. We didn’t review our calendars or discuss our poor golf round played day before. We just walked, observed and enjoyed our “picnic simple” day.

“Picnic simple”, that was the allure for this day.  We do not lead simple lives, but the picnic reminded me that life isn’t always about being on the go, about rushing from one event to another. Life is sometimes just about the simple, about getting in touch with our inner selves and the world around us. I need to train myself on picnic simple so it becomes a bigger part of my life.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN know the value of simple and while their lives get hectic at times, they find “picnic simple” to unwind and get grounded in what’s most important.  My younger life as a mom/business woman was hectic and far from picnic simple.  Today, I have to make a conscious effort to kick back.  Dialing it down, letting go of the need to always be in the thick of things, that is what I need and want to do–perhaps one of the most difficult habits I will have to break.

I suspect you discovered “picnic simple” well before me, so good for you. But if you haven’t, please consider it, and by all means, begin with a drive out to Myakka Park.







Construction Sites

dreamstime_s_902901 Construction.  I am not sure it is happening in your city, but it is happening here in Sarasota, big time! At the present moment, I can look out my balcony in any direction and see cranes moving large, heavy objects from one place to another. I see work crews in hard hats on scaffolds, on the ground, and even on the very top of an 18-story crane. Never mind looking out my balcony, I can hear the construction from early morning till late day, six days a week. We are building hotels, condos, homes, and parking garages throughout the city.  Merchants are happy because added housing will attract more down town residents, and more residents means more business. Current residents are concerned because more residents means more traffic congestion, longer waits in restaurants, and the loss of some of the old character of our city.

Conversation among downtown residents focuses on all the construction projects, particularly the noise and dust.  Temporary detours and blocked sidewalks add to the complaints. “When will this all be done?” is a question often asked and accompanied by the side-to-side shake of the head.

Construction is a sign of progress.  Developers  look at a city’s  demographics and design what they believe will attract more residents. In Sarasota,  I assume they hope to also appeal to a younger affluent population planning their retirement much earlier than I was ever able to do.

Starting with a visual plan of what is to be and  transferring that idea to renderings for city approvals and financing,  a construction project takes a long time to become a reality.   My personal development plan is much like a construction project. It started with a visual plan, a rendering if you will, of what I want to do with the rest of my life so that I am happy and healthy.  Some of my personal project comes easy, like living my values, tapping into my spiritual side, and healthy eating  and daily exercise choices.  My plan to make a positive impact is happening  as I see it in my teaching at USF and amongst my family and friends.

But some of my personal project is more difficult, perhaps the renderings are not nearly as clear and marketable as the artists rendering of a construction site. My plans lacks clarity of what’s next.  I wanted to begin the next chapter of my story in a new city, Bethesda perhaps, but somehow the inability to sell my condo right now has gotten in the way.  The construction all over the city may not be in my personal best interest right now. Perhaps I need to readjust my plan, start the new chapter but start it from here where I live. I can do that.

I  think as women we each  have a personal construction plan, one that focuses on happiness and being “at home” with ourselves.  For me that happiness is found in positively impacting others, but that is not to say that every one has to find happiness in that way. High Successtrogen women define their own happiness and go after that. Some women are happy with painting, playing tennis, writing, or traveling . Other enjoy being in the work force. The key is to find what gives us meaning and  then go for it.  Don’t worry if your renderings aren’t clear yet for your project, obviously mine aren’t either! Continue to revise your plan and test out parts of it, and know in time, it will come together for you.

I hope you are in the process of finding meaning, your WHY! And  if you already found it, as I truly have as well, keep your mind open to new ways to live your WHY.


Seeking Exit

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? As a young child I often wished for a crystal ball.  At seven years old, I wanted to know if I would travel the world, marry, and have kids.   In high school I would have put my hands tightly around the Crystal Ball and asked  if  I would become a famous writer. In my thirties I would have asked if I would ever  teach at a university. It is probably good that I never found a crystal ball because  I would have learned that I would not become a famous anything and that my marriage would fail.  In my “Pollyanna” state I think I would have believed the good predictions but scoffed at anything I didn’t want to hear–Take care of my former husband after we divorced, are you serious?????

Throughout my life, I have made quick decisions without the help of a fortune-telling  device.  My decisions were based on what I thought was the right thing to do.  When my children’s dad from who I was divorced for 12 years became ill, I decided to take on the responsibility of over seeing his  medical care, because it was the right thing for me to do.   Stricken with Parkinson’s Disease, and its related dementia, it was obvious that Mike needed an advocate to help him make decision, ensure he was safe and had good medical care, and most recently, to literally make decisions for him.

Recently I was  told Mike was “seeking exit.” Interesting term, I thought to myself, “You mean he is escaping, trying to run away?” I asked. Yes, seeking exit meant exactly that. Mike was seeking exit, he didn’t like his loss of independence. He wanted O-U-T.

As women, perhaps we all “seek exit” from time to time.  Sometimes we need a temporary escape from household chaos, a leaky roof, or laundry that never ends.  Of more significance, we sometimes want O-U-T of an abusive relationship,  a stressful job,  or boredom. High SUCCESSTROGEN women seek exit but they do so not because they are running away from something,  but rather they seek exit towards something better, more challenging.  They take the experience and knowledge from their previous situation, and apply it to the new. My friend Pat just started a new business, “seeking exit” from a wonderful retired life by most people’s standards but one that lacked purpose for her.  She didn’t move away from anything, but rather toward a place where she could put her interior design skills and experience to work and find purpose again.

When we find ourselves “seeking exit” we need to ask why as well as where we are going.  If we do not carefully examine the reasons behind our desire for flight, chances are we may end up in a new place but with the same old familiar feeling of “seeking exit.”  When the  feelings of seeking exit haunt us, we need to confront the feeling and make the best possible decision. It may be to adjust our own behavior  that is contributing to our feeling unsettled.  It may mean to confront others who contribute to our difficult personal or work situation  with the intent of agreeing on a  plan to improve the situation. Finally, it may mean, it is time to exit toward something that will bring us happiness and a feeling of personal fulfillment.

I am certain that as women we need to feel loved, valued and happy. We do not need anyone to tell us if we are happy and fulfilled, nor do we need a crystal ball to predict our future. We do need to periodically assess where we are and determine if it is where we want to be,  or ask if it is time to move toward some place else.

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. I need to get better at those kinds of inside-out things.  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.

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 happy others, gravitate towards them, and often wish to be more like them. We can be.

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.