Old Dogs and New Tricks

“You gotta be kidding”.
That’s what my previous old dogs were surely thinking when I commanded a new behavior, presented different food, and especially when introducing a new canine companion. “She’s gotta be kidding, right?.”

Reminds me of my own reactions when something new (scary/unfamiliar) comes along. “You want me to do… what? You gotta be kidding. There’s no way. I can’t do that.”

“You can’t teach old dogs new tricks” – an old adage we tend to believe as true.

But is it? True about your old dog? Possibly true about you?
NOT that you’re an old dog, but I bet you’ll agree that sometimes there seems to be no room or desire to learn anything new.

I think you CAN teach old dogs new tricks anytime, anywhere, if you offer them…

…treats! (brownies always work for me)
More importantly, treats like freedom to adjust, time to adapt, opportunity to ask questions and speak up, unlimited support AND permission to make mistakes.
When something new to do is introduced with goodies, most old dogs will surely give it a try.

Do you ever feel like you can’t take on one more software program or app, policy or procedure, one more rule, how-to, or piece of advice? That brain periodically feels filled up with no room for anything new, doesn’t it?

But when someone comes along offering the aforementioned goodies, “well maybe I can fit one more thing in there”, you might say.

Here’s an example:
I recently joined a team of webinar presenters and had to learn a new presentation platform. I’m familiar with 2 others and funny enough, had very little training on them, and whiz right through with no problems. Here comes this new fancy one with structured training sessions, practice time and a manual even! “This must be a big deal! Yikes! Can I handle this? I’m feeling a little scared! Bawww.”

I must say though, with each goodie – training sessions with a live trainer, feedback, practice time and manual, I got to feeling much more confident. “This is pretty easy and straight forward! I CAN do this!”

The icing on the proverbial brownies, the real goodie for me, was the team leader’s support and accessibility and this comment: “Debbie, give yourself permission to make a mistake. You’ll learn and get better with time.”

His support, belief in my ability, and that comment in particular made a world of difference. “I CAN do this, for cryin’ out loud!”
Permission. To make a mistake. To learn from and go on. What a concept!
And I don’t need HIS permission. I need my OWN permission.

SO… what new thing will you tackle this week/month/year?
Tap dancing, PowerPoint, Public speaking, Money management, Getting along with so and so, Pottery, Home maintenance, Cheese soufflé, Twitter?

Learning new things creates a stronger brain, they say. Creating new pathways and connections, helping us be healthier and more resilient. Continuing to learn and grow helps us to move onward and upward with our lives.

SO…let down your guard, be a little vulnerable, throw caution to the wind even. Give yourself permission to try something new AND not be perfect at it! Make mistakes, learn from them and try again. Baby steps matter. It’s all a process, this thing called Life.

Teaching old dogs new tricks

An old dog named Sam

Choose to have a great week!

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How Tall was Your Grandfather?

Well, it really doesn’t matter because as President Abe Lincoln said,
“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

“Bummer. Can’t I just get to a certain point and stop? Can’t I just coast for a while and stay the same?”

Nope. You can’t. You gotta keep growing, moving, living.

And you know one of the best keys for growth? To get you and me heading toward being better and better?

Good old inevitable, uncomfortable, and mostly unwelcome… CHANGE.

It happens with or without us – CHANGE, that is. The weather, seasons, relationships, work situations, personal upheavals, families, and on goes the list. Change happens anyway. Ready or not, here it comes.

We realize at some point that we can’t avoid this unwelcome guest, so we learn to adapt (sometimes kicking and screaming) and adjust (sometimes not too prettily) and go on with life (sometimes hanging on tighter hoping the next change won’t happen). It will. We might as well accept that it is a permanent resident.

What if we let go a little and stop resisting? Maybe even open the door a crack and welcome it? “Come on in, Change! …I think.”

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? From teaching workplace Change Management and experiencing many changes myself over the years, I get loud and clear, that the majority of us do not like it at all, especially when it happens without our consent! We hate that! We just want to stay status quo.

… sometimes you gotta shake things up in order to grow and improve your life. And that means opening up to Change, if even a small bit.

Ever felt bored, stagnant, and unexcited about most anything? A little Change can… change all that and for the better.

I find myself in a little rut once in a while, peeking up and out wondering “now what? It’s kinda boring down here.” After the flurry of the holidays and family visits and year-end activities for instance, some days can feel a little blah. Time for one of those Changes, an opportunity for some growing.

Nothing too dramatic is required. Start out slow and comfortable, then push out a little further to where it feels new, and yes, even exciting and fun. Here are some ideas:

• Take a class
• Add something new to your morning routine
• Find new people to hang with
• Read a DIY book
• Take up a hobby
• Volunteer
• Visit a new place
• Meditate and listen
• Decide firmly on a new approach
• Ask lots of questions about an unexpected change until you better understand it

Welcome Change!

Welcome Change!

Change your thinking. Discover how small changes can change your life. A little change can lead to somewhere incredible you’ve not yet imagined!

Thank you Abe Lincoln, for that quote and reminder that we’re in charge of our own growing, regardless of our grandfather’s height, and the best way to do that is to put ourselves squarely in the path of CHANGE.

Choose to have a great week!

Got some ideas on implementing little changes, shaking things up and growing? Please share them in the comments below!

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Take Care

I sign off from emails, phone calls and handwritten notes with that saying all the time.
I frequently use it like others use Fondly, Best, Warmly, Sincerely, Cheers. It’s symbolic of sending good wishes to my recipients.
It’s also a gentle command.

“Take good care of yourself throughout the day” or
“Watch out! For those doorknobs and sharp corners in your office or home “or
“Pay attention! To those other drivers who may not be as alert as you” or
“Wash your hands! In case your fellow gym goers didn’t wipe down the ab cruncher handles”.

In other words…
Take care of YOU.

I was laid up with a horrendous cold last week and spent practically all week inside the house reading, watching, sleeping, coughing… As each day passed, I begrudgingly cancelled appointments and lunch dates knowing full well staying inside and keeping my germs to myself was the right thing to do. After a few days of this, I realized I was actually heeding my own gentle sign-off, “Take Care”.

I was finally taking care of myself, after all these years of soldiering on through the work weeks not feeling 100%. Finally. Taking my own advice. Finally. Taking care of me.

Along with all the coughing, sneezing and napping, I also did some reflecting:
Being sick should NOT be the only cue for taking care of oneself! We should be doing this all the time, with absolutely no guilt and not even a special reason. We each have one life, one body, and one chance to take good care of this very special vehicle we move around in all day, every day. Take care of it. Take care of YOU!

Changes of plans, busy days, mean people, accidents, sad news, not enough, too much… can get overwhelming and prompt wallowing. Feeling good, balanced, excited, joyful, in love… can overflow us and prompt forgetting to do the maintenance.

We easily take care of others without a second thought. How about putting yourself up there on the priority list more often? For no special reason, other than that you require it on a daily basis, make a choice to do something gentle and caring for yourself. We can best care for others by first caring for ourselves.

Maintain that very special vehicle, the YOU model, and do some self-care each day:
Read good words, watch uplifting shows, be inspired by positive people, nap, eat and drink good stuff, slow down and enjoy, and by all means… think good thoughts. They’ll make you feel better, I guarantee it. Count your blessings, appreciate your friends and loved ones, remember your achievements, wonder about the magnificence of life…the magnificence of YOU.Take care of you so you can better care for others

Whatever little act of self-care you can do today, go ahead and do it. No cost, little time, alone, together… as simple as a walk, a laugh, a cup of tea, a conscious moment to notice something new.

Be nice to YOU today.
Take care. Take GOOD care and choose to have a GREAT week!

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If You’re So Smart…

… Why aren’t You Happy?

A good question for all of us to ponder.

It’s also the name of a book coming out in a few months written by a marketing professor who’s done lots of research on, you guessed it…happiness.

He asks his readers and students to 1) Define what happiness means to them, then 2) List 3 or 4 activities that make them happy, supporting that definition they just created.

So take a minute right now and define happiness…whatever it is that makes YOU happy. Then write down actions you take to keep that happiness… happening.

I just love that Happiness and Positive Psychology are topics of research and publications at major universities these days. It’s about time! Many of us have known for years that the power of positive thinking is real and helps to create success and fulfilling lives. No longer is it a “fluffy” subject to be “poo-poo’d” out of academics or the business world. No sir-ee! It belongs smack in the middle of every single day, any location, and every person.

Raj Raghunathan, a marketing professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business in Austin says that the first of the “7 Deadly Happiness Sins” is devaluing it and that people regularly sacrifice happiness for money, fame/success, and relationships.

(I’m taking his class, “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment, a MOOC through Coursera** and will be sharing more information in the coming weeks!)

The reasons people devalue happiness?
His research shows there are common negative beliefs about it. For instance:
It leads to laziness
It makes people selfish
It’s fleeting so not worth the effort

Can you believe that??
I can. It’s in our culture, in our homes and families, that we must strive, keep up with the Jones’, be productive, and busy contributors to society. Who’s got time for happiness?

We have to MAKE time. We have to move it up on the priority list and here’s why:
Happy people are healthier, more sociable, do better at work, and are better citizens.

Anyone see anything lazy, selfish, or short-lived about those characteristics?? Hmmm??

We can’t take care of our lives, let alone others’ lives, our work and volunteer activities unless we are in a good head space. Happiness is crucial to us all.

Back to your definition of happiness:
Maybe you wrote things like Joy, an Abundance of everything you need, Serenity, Curiosity/Interest, or Fun/Laughter. Maybe Authenticity, or Love and Connection with others. Maybe any number of things. It’s very personal to YOU.
(Heres’s mine: Peace of mind and detachment from worry)

Then there’s your list of happiness activities:
Whatever they are, do them. Regularly. Consistently.
(Here are mine: being outdoors, a daily spiritual practice, creating/writing/making stuff, and a cup of my favorite tea)

Haven’t done this little exercise yet? Take time now. Write it in a special place where you’ll see it often. Brush it up and fine tune it here and there and keep including it in your daily life. Make it happen.

There you go. A little KICK to remind you of the importance of happiness in your life, in the world, AND the importance of defining it, and then doing those things that bring it on.Happiness

So bring it on…happiness in loads and more than you can imagine. YOU deserve it. YOU can create it right here, right now.

Choose to have a great, very happy week!

**MOOC – Massive Open Online Course, classes in a wide variety of subjects offered through companies such as Coursera, edX and others, and taught by major university professors; many are free of charge!

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Save the Drama

It can happen to the most relaxed, controlled, and calm-exteriored of us.

A meltdown… an emotional blowup… a hissy fit…a full out temper tantrum… a little drama.

We’ve all got those hot buttons, those things or people who cause us to blow our tops.
But wait. It’s not those things or people that cause that upheaval. It’s our own little selves, our own little minds that create all that drama. It’s how we respond to life’s upsets. And those upsets? They are a fact of life.

Let me tell you about my own little dramatic incident from just this past weekend.

So, I’d transferred my Driver’s License, Credit Card and some Ca$h to a small handy lighter purse. We went about our Saturday errands then out to dinner. Nice and easy. No drama there.

The next day as I prepared to leave for a meeting, that DL, CC and $ were missing! Nowhere to be found! Handy purse dumped, steps retraced, restaurant revisited. Nothing. Poof. Gone. It was all I could do to keep my mind on the meeting, let alone safe driving. Where oh where could my dear little important items be??? I racked my brain, but to no avail.

Oh, well. Maybe they’ll turn up, someone will return them, and I can start the replacement process on Monday.
OH WELL???? Not so quick, Miss Positivity! Time for a bit of a FIT!

Why did this happen to me??!@& What scoundrel stole my stuff and is out charging up the world with my CC and using my DL?? What was I thinking with that stupid purse??@$* Things like this don’t happen to me!!*&% Surely other people throw hissy fits like this too…don’t they?? Wahhhhh.

And then I was done. Sorry for myself and practically exhausted. Forlorn and yet somehow calmer. I plopped down from performing this little drama (mostly in my head – good thing for my husband) and emptied the mental trash I’d just collected. And then, with just a small mental space cleared, a flash of insight struck.

One place I hadn’t thought about. The checkbook. That forgotten pad of paper I’d stuck in my little purse for some bank business. And there they were. My precious little DL, CC and $ had fallen into the pages of the checkbook.

Disaster averted! The world again is a beautiful place! Butterflies, flowers and bunnies! Bliss returned. All is well!

Was that Drama really necessary? Did my meltdown help me find those lost items? Did a temporary loss of sanity and kindness and positive thoughts, words and deeds help at all?
NO. Not one bit. It tired me out and raised my blood pressure.

Here’s what I learned though:
1. By sitting down and clearing my mind, the solution came to me.
2. Remember to start with a positive action (see #1) vs. going into exhausting negative drama.
3. There are numerous positive actions I can take when potential disaster appears: exercise, deep breathing, meditation, a positive mantra, supportive reminders from a friend or inspirer, write out my feelings and solutions, be mindful and grateful.
4. Choose. Stop and make a choice about how I want to handle this.
5. It’s always a beautiful place with butterflies and bunnies. It’s what I choose to see that makes it so.

I know this stuff. What happened? In the heat of the moment, I forgot my options and went straight to unnecessary inner turmoil and drama.
Could I have arrived at the solution without the drama? YES. Absolutely.

The next time the world is seemingly falling apart and a temper tantrum is lurking on the edge of my otherwise calm, put-together self, I will take a breath, a really deeeeeep one, and keep the drama out. I choose peace. I choose calm. I choose to know it’s all ok. With each situation, I choose to learn something new and improve my response. Or maybe I’ll choose drama again until I get it.

Save the Drama. Save the Drama for your Mama. (though I’m not sure my own mama really wants to hear my drama) I’ll remember to spend my energy getting to a place of clarity where solutions to any kind or size of problem can make themselves visible. IMG_2224

It’s a process. It’s a journey called Life. With awareness, choices and baby steps, it gets easier and more comfortable all the time.

Care to join me?

Choose to have a great week!

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Dream Big Dreams – Anything Can Happen!

It’s the start of a fresh New Year and I invite you to keep some old friends at bay. That’s right. Shut the door on some well-intentioned buddies and refuse their pleas. Don’t invite them in!

They mean well and have your best interests at heart. They want you to be safe. However, they also want you to stay status quo and warmly nestled inside that comfort zone. They don’t get out much. And they don’t like you to get out there either.

Their names?
Mel Must… Shelly Should… Donny Don’t… Emma Impossible… Willy Won’t… Nat Never.

Next time you hear them knocking, do not answer! Now’s the time to find new friends who encourage you to stretch and grow. Now’s the time to go against the old ways and create a path more to your liking. More like YOU.

Where to start?
With a dream. That’s right. One of those dusty old dreams you’ve been keeping hidden away.

Poet and children’s book author Shel Silverstein had something to say about those hanger-on types of friends, those guys who tend to squelch our dreams:

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child, listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be.”

Last week, I mentioned several ways to KICK start your 2016 goal setting activities. (Missed it? Here it is.) Did you see the one carefully hidden in the list called simply “Dreams”? Those poor dreams seem to get lost on the dusty shelves of time and forgotten as our lives move along in whatever other direction we choose.

This week, I invite you to entertain one of those dreams. Some idea you had years ago… or even a thought that occurred recently… something you’d really love to do.

*Now write it down. Don’t worry what others may think. It’s yours. It came from your mind. It’s precious. Toss it around a bit. Think how it would feel to live it. Refine it if need be.

*Next, what would it take to make it come true? A little research, a class, a book, a mentor?
What steps can you take to make it come alive?

*When you’re ready, share that dream with someone who’s supportive and can help you make it so. Maybe someone who has their own dream itching to come out of hiding. A different type of friend who says “yes!” and “that’s great!” and “you can do this!” Maybe a group of friends, like a Dream Team!

Anything can happen. Any one of your dreams can come to be. All it takes is a fresh perspective and an “Oh Yes I Can”-do attitude.

People bust out of their comfort zones every day. They break away from those old comfortable ways and find new paths and new directions. They follow their dreams – the things they wish they’d done years ago or built their lives around from the very start. It’s never too late. NOW is a great time to start making it happen.

I’ve been reading and playing with a book called 5 Where Will You Be Five Years from Today?
For some mind-opening ideas and ways to follow your own path, I highly recommend it. Its author, Dan Zadra says, “Your resources are always far greater than you imagine them to be. Never ask “CAN I do this?” Ask instead, “HOW can I do this?”

So, how about it? Ready to make that dream become reality?

Supportive friends

New Friends who say “YES!”, “That’s great!”, “YOU can do this!”

Ask HOW, not can, when or if, and go for it.
Anything can happen. 2016 may just be the year of YOU living your dream!

Choose to have a great week!

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