Tag Archives: Personal Growth

Tu No Estas Sola

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When I lived in Sarasota, my neighbor, Carole, and I walked many evenings as an end-of-day last attempt at working off calories.  Our conversations covered just about everything:  downtown  happenings, our kids, diet and exercise, and  sharing still another untold story of our personal lives.

As part of her life story, Carole shared a time in her life when she lived  in Mexico. Her voice softened as she referenced a fond memory.  She  said  when something is troubling you in Mexico, a friend immediately responds, “Tu no estas sola”, or “You are not alone.”  Wow, I thought, I like that.  Accustomed to the usual “Oh, I’m sorry…”, I prefer the message Carol’s former Mexican neighbors sent….”Tu no estas sola…You are not alone.”

When we are struggling, we feel alone. Our sense is that no one “gets it”…no one fully understands what we are going through. The very thought of hearing someone remind us that we are not alone adds comfort well beyond those “I’m sorry” words. I like the meaning as well as the sound and rhythm of the Spanish words.

“Tu no estas sola”

Four simple words that mean so much more than their literal meaning. You are not alone means I will be there with you through this, I will stand by your side, and I will provide the support you need until you no longer need to lean on me.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN assure others that they will lend support and see them through their challenge.  They say words of support and act accordingly demonstrating their commitment to their friend so that she does not feel alone.   Women are much more demonstrative in their support of other women than I recall earlier in my life.   Hundreds of thousands of us march for a cause, organizations and neighborhoods  fund raise for someone in need, and we proudly hold hands with our sisters who need to know they are not alone. We don’t want our friends to feel alone.

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My Postage Stamp Process

I was sending a card to a friend this morning to make her day just a tad brighter. I pulled the stamp from the roll, placed it  in the upper right hand corner of the envelope, and ran my thumb from left to right. I paused and smiled. How many times had I done this same thing, exactly this way?–Thousands of times.  The exact number is not important, but the fact is that every time I apply the stamp, following the same process, I have confidence that the US Post Office will do its job and the letter will arrive to the intended person, on time.  Every time.  My process and that of the Post Office are tight processes: I prepare the envelope correctly with a stamp (and the thumb left to right action) and the post office sorts the incoming mail, routes it, and delivers it, every time, on time.

I worked as a consultant in a variety of large corporations in the 80’s and 90’s taking  organizations through a movement called Total Quality. TQM as it was referred to, was all about having clearly defined processes across an organization that connected one department to another, getting the final product eventually  to the end-user, be that an internal or external user. We referred to each department we were handing off work to as an “internal customer”, the next person in line to receive our work.  We fully understood the needs and requirements of the next customer or user, and took responsibility for making sure we were delivering a quality product to them.  The movement with its emphasis on redefining cumbersome processes was embraced fully and it was remarkable to see the reduction of unnecessary steps, the reduction of work errors, and most important, the improvement in the final product or outcome.

Like my application of the postage stamp,  I have several processes that I followed religiously because they give me my desired outcome,  every single time.  My morning routine is one of those processes:  I shower, do hair/makeu[, ask Alexa for the forecast, dress, eat breakfast and review my gratitude list.  That  gets me out the door, on time, looking and feeling as good as a 70-something woman can. When I am planning a Social Committee event for my condo, I  complete a prioritized list of all that has to be done with a by whom and by when notation after each item. This  makes planning simultaneous events manageable, and one that consistently results in a well-organized event. When friends ask me how I do all that I do, I know the answer lies in my clearly defined processes.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women have developed processes that work for them in their busy work and personal lives. Their consistency works well for those with whom they live and work, delivers what they need, and eliminates much stress in their lives.  Sometimes  processes need to be tweaked to accommodate changes because they no longer deliver the product we or the next user needs. High SUCCESSTROGEN women take the time to redesign a broken process so they continue to deliver their best.

I am not sure I did this well enough with my children years ago, but if I were parenting today I would focus on processes, helping my children understand how some routines in their lives will eliminate stress for them, keep them organized, and serve them well throughout their lives.  As you know I also enjoy the spontaneous side of my life, where I pull some fun happening together based on a spur of the moment whim. I am able to do that  because of a few, well  organized processes in my day that allow me time and energy to respond to a sudden whim.

So give some thought to where a defined process will help you or your children, or consider redesigning a process that no longer delivers your anticipated outcome. The deal is not to become rigid with your life, but rather to select a few key processes that you commit to that will help you manage your day.

 

Taking Inventory as an Order of Business

 

 

Recently in a small local grocery store, I had a flashback of my life as a child. You see, my grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles owned a grocery story, A. Esposito & Son.  We sold the finest of meats, produce, and canned goods. We even had a liquor license with our own brand of wine and liquor.   Once a child in our family became school age, it was expected that she would work after school and weekends. The youngest kids weighed potatoes and washed produce.  The next group took orders on the phone, packed orders and stocked shelves.  I did it all:  I ran a cash register at 7 years old, took phone orders and packed them, helped customers in the store, and even learned to make a fruit basket.  Working in the store was a perfect fit for me, a high energy child who enjoyed feeling productive.  Every year, I was assigned the jelly bean project at Easter time, even though I had given up candy for lent. I weighed literally hundreds of pounds of jelly beans into one pound bags, without eating so much as one jelly bean until Easter Sunday morning.

Our loyal customers became my extended family and were privy to my quarterly grades in school, the progress of my piano lessons, and as a teenager, the names of my boyfriends.  Looking back, it was an incredible training ground for my social skills as I learned to quickly understand the customers’ expectations and exceed them just about every time.  While I did a variety of jobs in the store, my favorite was running a cash register.  As I stood at the register, I had a clear view of what was happening all around the store.  One morning I happened to see  a customer  carefully slip a bottle of scotch into her purse. I knew immediately that she had little intention of paying for the bottle.  I looked around but my dad and aunt were nowhere around to handle the matter. When the woman arrived at my register, I ran each of her items through the register and then before I rang the total, I whispered, “Mrs. T…., would you also like to pay for the bottle in your purse?”  “Oh, silly me!” She said as she sheepishly pulled the bottle from her purse and put it on the counter.  I remember my Aunt saying later on that I handled Mrs Tyson with the utmost aplomb for a child.  I didn’t know what aplomb meant but I knew it was a good thing.

As an order of business, every year on New Year’s Day, all my aunts, uncles and cousins gathered in the store to manually take inventory.  That meant we would count every item on the shelves in the entire store—every bottle of wine, every can of peaches, and every bar of soap. Today, of course, the task is done moment to moment electronically but back then we counted every last item.  The soaps were the least expensive item, and there were hundreds of them, so the youngest of the cousins had the job of counting the bars of soap and calling in the numbers to our Uncle Anthony who recorded them on a large calculator. The job took all day long.  By taking inventory, we learned about our business:  the dollar value of the goods on the shelf, what items sold, and what items were not customer favorites and should be eliminated from the shelves.

The flashback of taking inventory year over year got me thinking.  Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN take stock of who they are and they make changes accordingly. They determine who they want to be and continually assess and reassess themselves to ensure they are headed in the right direction.

Perhaps the idea of taking inventory is one I should consider regarding my personal management.  Just like taking stock of everything on the shelves in the store years ago, I can determine the value of my current behavior, making sure it is as it should be.  I could determine what behaviors are my top items, that is, those that serve me and others well. I could also determine the behaviors that are time wasters and do not add value to my life or that of others and eliminate them.  I will consider taking my personal inventory as an order of doing business and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did taking inventory in the market so many years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mess to Messages

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I am aware that I have often written to you about being mindful of the moment, about letting go of the past, and not worrying about the future.  Generally following the “practice what you preach rule”, that is how I live my life:  I enjoy the moment, I have clearly let go of the past and I rarely worry about tomorrow. Until recently that is—-UGH.

A few weeks ago I had my right thumb operated on to replace the ligaments, reduce the pain, and most important to make my thumb more usable again Today, I curse the day I decided to give up my right hand/arm (living in the past), cannot seem to focus on anything as the frustration level is high (not enjoying the moment) and frankly I only hope that five weeks from now my thumb actually works again,  my flabby arms tighten up again, and these frustrating weeks are erased from my memory (worrying about the future).

I remember well learning that  Robin Roberts’ mom, upon hearing of her daughter’s  breast cancer diagnosis, wisely advised Robin to “turn your mess into her message.”  Her advice was spot on and Robin did just that inspiring women around the globe.

I would like to do that for you, I would like to turn this thumb mess into a message for you, but I cannot seem to find one! Probably because I am typing this blog with only my left hand and it is taking me forever (still not enjoying the moment!!), or maybe because the present moment is difficult and frustrating (not even close to enjoying the present), or maybe because I am consumed with wondering if my thumb will still hurt a few weeks from now (worry about the future).

Oh, and by the way:  Ellen, thanks for coming with me to Orlando to get this thumb surgery on the calendar. Mara, thank you for driving me to my surgery, Marc and Karen for taking me to get my cast put on, and Carol for taking me to get the cast off  two weeks from now,.  Thank you Dr George White for your expertise as well as your bedside manner.  And Ellen for spending three days with me so that I could learn how to do the most basic of things with my left hand! Thank you Mercedita for grocery shopping, Helen and Leah for wrapping my Christmas gifts, my daughters-in-law for taking on Thanksgiving Dinner, and everyone for the soup, treats, cards and phone calls, and…..oh dear….there it is, the MESSAGE!!!!

The message this time is not for you, but for me–the message is about my family and friends and my gratitude that they jumped in before I asked, to be what I needed them to be, to be the HIGH SUCCESSTROGEN women they are. I am most fortunate. I am reminded to be grateful for my usual agility and speed with which I function, and for all that is good and right in my world. And once again, I am reminded of letting go of past decisions and embracing the moment, and being prepared for whatever lies ahead.

 

 

Googling

 

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I was talking to a friend about my first childhood sweetheart, Randy, when my friend said, “So what’s he doing now?”  I didn’t know as I had not seen him since grammar school.  I did not go with my graduating class to the local high school but went off to a Private Girls school instead.   I don’t even know what made me think of him; he just seemed to pop into my head.  My friend immediately said, “”Let’s Google him.” She immediately found him  and lots of photos.  By Googling we were able to get his current status, a quick summary of  his work history, and a notation about an article he had published.  I had no recollection of his writing ability. As I reviewed the photos, I couldn’t even recognize a bit of the Randy from seventh grade. My friend was thrilled with herself for Googling and finding Randy.  Yet I was left with an entirely different reaction.

“Google me”, I said.  “Huh?” she asked screwing up her face like my request was really the dumbest thing I ever said.  “Google me!” I repeated. And she did. And in an instant a number of things popped up: my linked in profile, my Successtrogen site, an article about me that appeared  in our Local Observer recently when I saw Pope Francis in Philadelphia.  “Wow”, she said, you are all over the place.”

“Hmmm”, I thought. “Interesting…” I mumbled and then got lost in my thoughts.  When you Google someone you get a list of things the person has done, or where you can find her on social media, or the summary of newspaper coverage article, but Googling someone cannot give you a look inside the person. Googling cannot give the essence of a person, and when I connect with people I need to know the essence, not just what they have done professionally.  My first love, Randy, has published an article, has a Linked In Profile, and is divorced, but I have no idea who he is today.  What does he value?  What has he learned about life and how has that changed his behavior over the years? Why does Randy exist, what is his WHY?

Google is helpful to me when I am looking to define a word, find out some general information about the use of cocoanut oil, or research about the history of Sicily before my trip on Wednesday. But if I want to know someone, really know someone, then I have to find out their why and the best way to do that is to meet them, observe their consistent behavior, and see how they behavior aligns with their reported value set.  That information is critical to me and will be the deciding factor in whether or not I wish to open up  my life and share it with someone. No wonder it has taken me this long to find someone special!

Just as a secret between you and me,  I just signed up again for match.com as I do every so often.  But writing tonight reminds me why internet dating doesn’t work well for me, I need the essence. I don’t get much from the profile that is partial truths, outdate photos, and lots of promises about being high energy and honest. I need to know someone’s WHY and I can only get a glimpse of that by asking them.  And I can only get a full, true picture by  observing them over time to see their consistent behavior.

Oh dear, this search may take a while!

By the way, have you thought about your WHY?

 

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!