Tag Archives: inspirational message

The Junk Drawer

My friend just stopped by to drop off a NY Times article she thought I would enjoy. She said she didn’t have time to chat because today was the day she was going to clean out her junk drawer. The door no sooner closed behind her and I found myself standing in front of my junk drawer, aghast! It appeared that everything I ever owned had found its way to the perfect hiding place.  Surely  if I had found any one of these items on my coffee table or my precious new, navy-laminated desk, I would have tossed it out.

A junk drawer? In my very neat and well-organized apartment?  Heavens! Years ago I always had a junk drawer but back then there were way too many kids, a husband, a business to run, and a tennis competition to get to. Back then there was no time to clean out a junk drawer, as a matter of fact, I think I had several!

But today, I am retired, by myself, and I have all the time in the world to make sure a junk drawer never occurds. My OCD about keeping order just doesn’t allow for a junk drawer! Right now, it you were to open my refrigerator you would see all my water bottles, neatly in rows like soldiers, one behind another, labels to the front. The same is true of my yogurt containers, all in neat rows, like flavors with like flavors, allowing one to easily select the flavor of the moment.  Further, my socks are all paired and neatly arranged in my sock drawer, my shoes are organized by type (heels, clogs, sneakers, Jack Rogers, and the like. So how is it that a pizza cutter, an old sales receipt, post it pads, two screws,  pens, an outdated coupon, a UND laminated name card, scissors, a paper clip, and broken rosary beads  all gravitated together in one drawer.

And so the project of organizing the junk drawer began.  The first few items were easy throw away decisions: an outdated coupon,  a used theater ticket, an old sales receipt from Pottery Barn for furniture I purchased when I moved here to Bethesda. But then I came upon the broken Rosary beads from my visit to Philadelphia with Helen and Leah to see the Pope. With tears in my eyes I recalled a very meaningful and faith-driven weekend. I miss Helen and Leah and thought about planning some sort of weekend reunion with those women who were once part of my daily life.  My Notre Dame lanyard reminded me of a workshop I delivered there for Catholic school coaches, as well as the football games we enjoyed while Michael Jr, was a UND student. Again, more tears. A theater ticket from Thurgood, an incredible look into the mind of Thurgood Marshall, a ribbon left behind by my granddaughter, and a photo of Michael, my former spouse had also made their way to the drawer.  How did these very special things end up here in a so-called junk drawer?

I couldn’t throw out the photo, the Rosary beads, the lanyard, or the theater ticket…they weren’t junk, they were…um, uh,…they were part of my story. So what am I to do with them? I looked around my small apartment and could not find a suitable place for any one of them. And then the only logical thing came to my mind: rename my junk drawer.  I went to the trash and retrieved the furniture sales receipt, the theater ticket that led me to better understand a very conservative mind.  I left the  old screws right there in the trash because I could not remember their significance.  My new “Special Things” drawer looks the same as its predecessor, but now the things that are in there belong there and nowhere else. As I closed the drawer, I realized how much pleasure opening the Special Things drawer brought me, I will have to do so more often.

Women with High SUCCESSTROGEN are organized because they need to be in order to do all that they do.  But they, too, allow themselves the luxury of a Special Things Drawer where stuff just lands, not junk , but really good stuff that is part of their story. The stuff in this draw  cannot be organized or labeled, nor can it be discarded. But it can bring them back in time occasionally, to recall parts of their story that reminds them of how they got to today.

Have you thought about taking a trip down memory lane lately and reviewed the contents of your junk drawer?

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.






?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????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.





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.




The Message of a Glow Stick


One of my favorite family traditions occurs during Easter break in Sarasota. Numbering 22 in all,  we pack a lot of activity into a few days.  We spend most of the time  in the pool and on the beach, and count on a random dolphin showing at the water’s edge.  Another high light of the week is  the  “Pink Surprise Box”, a bright pink trunk that is brought out right after dinner each night.  Inside are toys and treats for  the children.  On Saturday evening, we gather together poolside for a barbecue and games,  and the famous pink surprise box always presents Glow sticks.

If you are not familiar with  glow sticks, they are rather uneventful looking when first unwrapped, but once broken, they emit neon-colored light that seems to shine for hours.  When the sky darkens, the kids wear them around their necks, as bracelets, and rings in a variety of colors and  do all sorts of dances and gymnastics  creating a “light show” on the beach.   I remember hearing one of my older grandsons explaining to a younger one who was crying because his glow stick didn’t work,    “It doesn’t just shine! You have to brake it before it can shine!”  He cracked the younger one’s stick, and it in fact did just that! But a while later, to the child’s disappointment, the glow stick faded.

Like the  glow stick, sometimes it takes something eventful to get us to shine, such as a birthday, career success, or a new relationship.  A young child falls several times before she shines riding her bike without training wheels.  An athletic team needs to suffer the loss of a game periodically to see what  needs to be done  differently to win consistently.  An employee works hard at a lower level job to gain experience and then gets promoted to a supervisory position.

And, just as the glow stick doesn’t shine forever, nor do we.   We have to be of healthy mind and spirit to shine.   We have to continually work on our “shine”,  feeding our minds with good material, positive thoughts.  Shining, or being at our best, is our responsibility and one that requires  every day focus.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN keep shining, offering light and hope to others around them.  They know how to keep themselves interested and interesting, how to keep active and healthy.  They know the impact of shining for themselves and all those around them.

You and I shine some times, and other times not as brightly when we fall short of our values or miss an important milestone. The important point is that we have shining moments and are at our best during them.  Let us recognize them and strive to shine more often then not.  Let us be more aware when our shine begins to fade so we can brighten it before it disappears.  During our shining moments we feel good about ourselves and we draw others to us, motivating others to also shine.

I have seen the powerful impact of many glow sticks all shining at the same time on the beach, but imagine the impact of everyone in your family, workplace or neighborhood  all shining at the same time!

The Hourly Worker

Party hat and whistle On a recent trip to Rumson, NJ to celebrate the twins birthday, my daughter-in-law, Stacy, and I went to a Party Store.  Harry requested a fishing theme  and  Mae could only envision her birthday as a  Princess theme.  My suggestion of combining the two separate themes to a more general underwater scene with mermaids was not going to work. No, we had to create two different themes. Off to the Party Store we went.

Party stores are one of my favorite places because I am all about creating a story, or theme, and I got all caught up in the pirate, baseball, Super Hero, and Americana themes displayed.  At one  point, I put on a pirates hat and grabbed a sword and threaten to climb aboard a cardboard display ship and steal the treasures. My silliness got the better of me but I realized quickly that I was the only one in the party store pretending to be anything other than a customer. I love party stores, they just shout CELEBRATE. I think I would be a great party store worker helping people create a party story. I would be running around trying on hats and hula skirts and entertaining customers to broaden their thinking.

At the register, Stacy unloaded several baskets of fish and princess table decorations, plates and napkins, and noise makers. I was sure this was the sale of the week, truly one a small business owner would delight in!  Stacy had done it–it was to be a wonderful Fish-Princess party and I was glad to be on the invite list.

The woman at the register failed to appreciate my excitement over what we found.  She did not smile  once while we were there and certainly NOT when I was pretending to be a pirate! Worse still, when I asked her if she had any fish-shaped balloons she sighed a deep tired-like sigh,  mumbled she doubted it but would “look in the back. ”

“Hmmm.” I thought.  “This woman obviously does not own this shop. She doesn’t love working in a party shop.”  Ten minutes later she came out and just about knocked me over when she shoved the fish balloon at me–lucky for her I did not have my pirate sword nearby!

So here is my thought. This industry likely hires  hourly workers and this woman is missing an important point about jobs that pay an hourly wage. Jim Rohn said it best when he offered,

“You don’t get paid for the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”

The party store woman  is not being paid for the hour she works with customers but rather for the value she brings to the customer during each hour!!!  The value she  could bring is in sharing her knowledge and experience with parties and themes and putting it all together. But she didn’t share and she didn’t seem to care about the party we were planning.

So let’s all get that message clear because it surely goes well beyond one employee in a party store.  We are not recognized for the time we put on this earth, but rather for what value we add while on the earth. Life is not about being, it is about living and giving, sharing and smiling, no matter where you are. It is about the value you bring.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN bring value to the day, everyday. They add value by their knowledge and experience and ability to engage others to share theirs. They create,inspire, and bring value to others.

As I begin my day, I will decide where I can bring value and do it.  Have a great day, bring value!