I’m Number 2!

#2My grandson recently participated in his state wrestling championship. He was #1 in his weight class last year. He was District Champion in his weight class this year. He was #1 seed for the state championship this year. But he lost the championship in the title match, making him #2 in the state of New Mexico for his high school group and weight class. Number 2. Not number 1. Number 2. And he was really disappointed in himself. But if you think about it, he is number 2! He is just one person away from being the best in the state! And he is better than a whole bunch of other people.

Honestly, coming in number 2 in a field of wrestlers in the entire state of New Mexico for his weight class and high school group is amazing. But we have put so much emphasis on winning that we all think that being number 2 is not good enough. And that is really disappointing. Number 2 is not the same as a participation trophy–it is number 2!

There is only one number 1. And there is only one number 2. While it is always preferable to win when you’re been spending so much time preparing and working and psyching yourself up to win, there is no shame in coming in number 2. You’ve still done better than all of the rest of the people in your group–except one. One person managed to do some piece of what you were doing just a little bit better, knew a little bit more, or got just a little bit luckier than you did.

I have been a “runner up” many times in this lifetime. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. Did I start judging myself with all the things I could have done better? You bet. Did I think about pouting in the corner and never participating again? Yes, I did. But I was number 2 and eventually remembered that even being eligible for number 1 was pretty damn special and was something I should be proud of.

So we should all try our best, work really hard to be the best we can be, strive to be number 1, and be happy with number 2. Number 2 is still a hell of a lot better than being number 45 and it usually takes the focus and expectation off of you while you’re working hard to be number 1 the next time. So I’m ridiculously proud of Jasper for being #2 and I know it will be additional motivation to him to work even harder to go through the process again to be number 1 next year . . . or number 2 . . . or wherever his passion and drive leads him. He’s still better than so many others and he’s the best HE can be. And that’s what’s really important.

 

Busy Is As Busy Does . . . Or Not?

Busy Is As Busy DoesI have seen and heard a lot lately about everyone always answering “So busy” when you ask them how they are. Like it’s a badge of honor or a status symbol. Like they are trying to one-up the person who asked them. Kind of a “Don’t even ask because I’m obviously busier in my life then you could ever be” response.

I find that I answer “Busy” a lot when someone asks me how I am doing. And I think for me it has been a badge of honor. A sign that my life has meaning. A sign that I’ve developed into someone who is depended on a lot. A sign that that I volunteer far too much and fill my plate at the life buffet (see Step Away From The Buffet Line!) to overflowing. A sign that while I’m busy, it’s something that I’ve done to myself.

I don’t really think it is a badge of honor. It is an easy answer to a polite question that tends to stop conversation cold. No one wants to hear the details about how busy you are. I’ve been trying really hard lately to respond with “fine” or “fantastic” or some like superlative because that is honestly how I am. The “busy” is the label I’m giving myself to make me feel important. I don’t think it impresses anyone to try to say I’m busier than anyone else they know–including them. I know busy people. My best friends are some of the busiest people I know. Well, maybe not “busy,” but definitely involved, depended on, and in demand. As they say “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” There is so much truth in that statement. But while it makes us busier, being busy is not how we are, it is not what we are, it is simply a description of our to do lists (which is, by the way, completely my doing and has nothing to do with the person asking me how I am).

Being busy is definitely not a badge of honor. It robs us of precious time with family and friends. It robs us of time to accomplish goals and dreams. It robs us of self love. And as much as I think I’m busy, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my butt on my couch with a laptop in my lap. Time I could spend on the treadmill or doing the training I’ve already paid for or sending handwritten notes to people who have impacted my life or even cooking dinners for my parents. But I’m “busy” watching meaningless shows, playing stupid Facebook games, and calling it “unwinding.” I must–and WILL–stop and focus on being busy living my life and not frittering that precious time away. So wish me luck, give me support, and if you have any ideas for making it easier, please share. Because from now on, I want to be busy living life and not busy avoiding it.

Bitchy McGrumperson Is Not Welcome Here

bitchyIt’s been a very rough holiday season for me. Not only was I completely overwhelmed with new work responsibilities, but part of getting older is that your kids are also older and have their own lives and traditions. This year, and for I think the first time in my adult life, neither of them was able to share Christmas with me. We are doing a late Christmas celebration with my son and his family this weekend, so I’m feeling better about it.

In the meantime, I feel like I have been Bitchy McGrumperson. And that made me think about how some conversations I have with friends are all me complaining. While I feel like I need to release that somewhere, holding conversations with friends that are full of my complaints isn’t fair to them or to me. I would love to have positive, uplifting conversations with my friends. And I will.

Another piece of getting older that has been really hard for me is that my husband has been going through his hunting and fishing stuff (and trust me, there is a TON of it) and getting rid of a lot of it because he physically can’t do it anymore. He’s been hunting and fishing since he was a teenager and it has been difficult for both of us to face the fact that there are things we are just not able to do anymore. Some of us haven’t admitted it yet and are doing everything possible to continue to be able to do it all but realistically there are limitations.

I don’t want to be old. It has been more obvious to me lately that I am getting there. Sharing television shows that I grew up with with friends who have never seen them (like who has never seen The Partridge Family??), hearing music by groups that younger people don’t even know, looking at a Christmas tree (or two) full of ornaments from the last 43 years that bring back a rush of wonderful memories, but remind me that I’ve been decorating a tree for 43 years. It all has come crashing down on me this holiday season.

But the new year is a chance to check in and make changes to things that make you unhappy. I just this week found a new song on my iPod that I hadn’t paid attention to before–A Beautiful Day by India Arie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZNavhGrzJ4). If you listen to the lyrics, it is an amazing message. In fact, I think it will be my 2018 anthem that I will listen to every morning on the way to work to get my head in the right place. Work should calm down some, my kids will continue to get older and have their own life traditions, my grandkids will continue to grow and start new traditions in their lives, friends will come and go, and life will go on. I fully intend to be part of my family’s traditions (by force if necessary) and I have promises of continuing with old family Christmas traditions this next year because my kids were unhappy to miss out on them, so 2018 promises to be another amazing year.

Age is something that I have no control over, but how I treat people, how I allow others to treat me, and how I treat myself are all in my control. I will make a real effort to take charge of my own life and be happy where I am. Bitchy McGrumperson can take a hike. Life is far too short to spend it bitching and complaining and feeling  like others are in control of my life. Here’s to an absolutely remarkable 2018!

Step Away From The Buffet Line!

Buffet LineI heard something recently that spoke to me. It was about competition. I am pretty competitive. I want to be the best, the most available, the first one with my hand up, everybody’s friend. So what has that attitude done for me so far? It has exhausted me. I have spent my whole life being a people pleaser. I want everyone to like me. When I turned 40, I did change that attitude just a little bit and I became a little tiny bit less eager to be everyone’s best friend.

Competition is good for one thing–it makes me try harder. It made me study so that I could pass the certification exams the first time; it made me finish walking a 5K even though I had done nothing to prepare; it makes me say yes to work projects that someone else could do just as well as I can because I want to always be the one who saves the day; and it keeps me up late at night finishing tasks that I have promised to get done in the many ancillary personal projects I have undertaken–all in my quest to be the best.

I heard somewhere once that if you always say yes and you always are the first to volunteer, you’re cheating someone else out of the chance to do that job. Perhaps they’re scared, perhaps they’re waiting to see if you volunteer AGAIN, perhaps they are nervous that they can’t do as good a job as you’ve been doing. But honestly they probably can do it just as well as you can and maybe, just maybe, they can do it better than you can. They probably won’t do it the exact same way, but it will get done. I’m trying to do this now, but also don’t want to quit doing everything so people forget that I can do some of those things. I guess I’m afraid of everyone retiring me because I’m old even though I still feel like I have things to offer. But that’s not happening today, so I will work to make sure people know when I’m willing to take things on.

So exactly who am I in competition with? And what was it I heard that started this post? It was “Look in the mirror. THAT is your only competition.” That was a zinger right in my heart. I am my only competition. And my only goal should be to be better tomorrow than I am today. To do that, I need to heed the advice I have often given others (and others have given me back)–step away from the buffet line. I think life is like a buffet. You have a plate and as you go through life, you take spoonfuls of things you’re interested in, things you do–work, volunteering, passion projects, family, church, and on and on. Sometimes, you’ve piled so many spoonfuls of these things on your plate that you spend all your time trying not to let important things slip off the plate. Sometimes, we just need to step away from that buffet to catch our breath, get rid of some of the stuff on our plate, and get ourselves in a place so we are ready to go back to the buffet line.

They say life is a race and if we’re running the race while we’re juggling our buffet plate, things will spill, we will fall, and we will get up again–plate and all–to continue our race. But this race doesn’t have other runners. The only competition we have is ourselves. We are the only one carrying that plate everywhere we go. Are you carrying it as a badge of honor? Do you want everyone to see your messy, overfull, drippy mess of a plate and be envious of all the things you can do at one time? Are you doing all of them well? Are you doing ANY of them well?

As I’ve gotten further into this post, I see that I’m using “you” when this is really “me.” I’ve been there and done that and am there and doing that, so I think this is a message from my heart to my head and maybe it will help someone else come to grips with that damn buffet line. I guess I need to look again at my competition in this race called life and give her a chance to take a breath and run with a plate under control. We’ll see how the next lap goes.

The Line

I’ve heard, more than once, the phrase to help someone behind you on the line. In fact, I think Tim McGraw said it best in his song “Humble and Kind”:

Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin’
Don’t forget turn back around
Help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Someone, somewhere along your journey, probably reached back to help bring you up a ladder–whether personally, professionally, athletically, musically, whatever your interests and passions were–you probably didn’t do it all by yourself.

The proverbial “line” is the measure you inch along as you get more experience and become a more valuable member of whatever “team” you’re involved in. There are lots of people all along your line. Some have much more experience than you do, and some are just starting out along your line.

You may have had a mentor–whether you knew it or not–someone who was there to answer questions, give you instructions, help you find your way. Now that you’ve been doing it long enough that you’re mentoring others–whether you call it that or not–it is your turn to help someone else along that line.

Personally, I feel that it is my duty to help others in my chosen profession. Although I refuse to admit it, I won’t be doing this profession forever and it’s important to me that others love it as much as I do. It’s not a job. It’s my career–one I chose, one I studied for, one I took multiple certification exams for, one that I love. There is no more fulfilling feeling than watching someone that I have mentored bloom in this profession, pass certification exams, and mentor others.

Well that’s just on my profession line. I have a blogging line, a direct sales line, a grandmother line, a mother line, a wife line, basically a spiderweb of life lines. On some of them I’ve pretty far along, but on others, I’m just hugging the bottom–for now.

So check to see where you are on your many lines and how you can reach back and help someone to move up the line behind you. And then do that!

 

Step Back and Regroup

Step Back and RegroupAs I was sitting in the dentist’s chair recently getting a root canal (aren’t you jealous of all the early morning fun I’m having?) and he started working on drilling the tooth, my mouth wasn’t completely numb. The second jump made him stop, give me more numbing medicine, and give my mouth a few minutes to numb up. I was thinking how that is just like life. Sometimes the things we start to do don’t work the way we want them to. When that happens, we need to take a step back and regroup. Try a new way of doing things. Go a different route. Bring in different people. 

Too often people think their way is the only way to do something. That is never correct. This happens a lot in organizations and businesses. Just because something is done the way it’s always been done, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. Someone else may have a much different—and probably better—way to do it. They have traveled a very different path than you have, they have different life experiences than you do, they have learned differently than you have. Usually, as long as the thing gets done, does it REALLY matter HOW it is done? Or is it sufficient that it IS done?

Let people experiment. Things don’t always need to be done the same way. And if their way doesn’t work? Step back and regroup. Then you can either do it your way (without the “I told you so”) or try a totally different way.

Be open, be kind, and be productive. Those things will all happen if you are willing to let others do the job they have agreed to do without you hovering or micromanaging them. Just step back, take a breath, and regroup.

 

Most Motivational Statement Ever!

I’ve been listening to a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcasts. He is no nonsense and has great marketing and motivational ideas. Note, however, that he uses the swears–A LOT–so if you are offended, skip his podcasts.

One of his statements hit me hard. Gary said when asked by a young lady how to keep motivated, he told her “You will die.” He believes that is his most motivational statement ever.

It is also true. You will die and you don’t know when. So don’t wait to go for your dream. Don’t wait to have kids until you’ve traveled, bought cars and houses, and have the job of your dreams, just have the damn kids before you’re too old to enjoy them and your grandchildren. Don’t wait to do something your heart is telling you to do until you finish school, have a new job, or have time. You will never feel like you have enough of whatever it is you’re waiting for to make a move. And I guarantee you will NEVER feel like you have enough time to do anything. But you do!

For a week or so, keep track of every minute of your “free” time. How much are you spending doing things that aren’t useful or aren’t helping you reach for your dreams. Are you being sucked into the Facebook chasm? Are you signing up for more newsletters and other emails than you can read? Are you going out with the boys or girls a night or two a week? Are you zombie watching TV for hours on end? Once you know where your time is going, you can work to get it under control and spend your time doing things to get you to your goal.

One of my favorite concepts is that we all have 24 hours in a day, the same as Beyonce, the same as Elon Musk, the same as all those people you see killing it and say you want to be just like them. How you use it will determine your success in seeing your dreams come true.

Just remember–you will die. So until then, quit putting things off and use your time wisely to make your life better, happier, and more fulfilling. Life is too short for anything else.

5-4-3-2-1-GO!

I just finished one of the most amazing books yet. Right now, if you haven’t read it already, go and get Mel Robbins’ book “The 5 Second Rule.” Like NOW! Go ahead, I’ll wait . . . The audio version is great because it is Mel reading the book – her passion and dedication to the 5 Second Rule absolutely come through in the audio book. So go ahead. I’ll wait . . .

There were many parts of the book that spoke to me, but one hit me square in the gut. Mel says when you wake up looking at Facebook and other stuff on your phone, you are starting your day with other people’s drama. You really don’t need to look at that first thing in the morning. Take time to wake up, plan your day, enjoy your first cup of coffee, and take time for you (exercise, read, etc.) In fact, she leaves her phone in the bathroom where it stays overnight. My phone sits on my nightstand and is my alarm, but I don’t usually lay in bed and read email or Facebook. No, I wait until I am in the bathroom and spend a ridiculous amount of time reading Facebook. Do I get anything out of spending 30 or 45 or 60 minutes scrolling Facebook? Not really. Some days it lifts me up because I see posts from friends who are doing something good or making a difference, and some days it makes me angry because of pity posts where people hint at things but don’t come right out and say it looking for some kind of validation, and some days it puts me in a really bad mood when I see how people are treating other people. So really, starting my day on Facebook isn’t doing a lot of good for me. I typically start my day checking for birthdays so I can wish my friends a happy birthday and then looking at my “On This Day” history. Those things give me the good feels, so I may keep up with that. But after that? I really don’t need to scroll, scroll, scroll through all the drama. I have so many things on my plate that my time is far better spent finishing some of those things. So today, for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t read Facebook’s feed first thing this morning. Instead, I spent 20 minutes working on a PowerPoint I need to use in a couple of weeks for a class and 5 minutes planning my to do tasks for this evening. And you know what? My ride to work was really better. I felt more awake (even though I did not get more sleep than usual –that’s next), more accomplished, and more ready for my day. You can bet I will try that again tomorrow.

That is just one simple thing Mel talks about in her book that has already made a huge difference in my life. ONE. THING! She talks about many, many more. Did you get that book yet?

One thing really touched my heart. At the end of the book (and I really hated for it to end!), Mel says “When your heart speaks, honor it. . . . One moment of courage can change your day, one day can change your life, and YOUR life can change the world.” Oh yes it can! What will YOU do today in one moment of courage? 5-4-3-2-1-GO!

Your Highlight Reels

I’ve often heard the saying not to compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel. While this has always been a bit of a problem because people will talk about the best of the best, but won’t talk about the long hard road it took them to get there, Facebook makes this even worse. You have friends that post every day about how wonderful their life is, how happy they are, how much they love their job, kids, spouse, life. That’s their highlight reel. It’s the best things that have and are happening in their lives.

When you’re wondering how your life compares, you cannot compare it to others’ lives. Instead, if you must compare your life, compare it to other points in your life. Do you like your job and wonder if you are doing well enough? Are you doing better than you did yesterday? Are you learning and practicing new skills every day? Have you improved your job skills since you started on that path? Are you happy today? Then you’re doing great. You have no need to compare it to anyone else.

Do you wonder how your kids stack up to others? You can bet that others are not sharing the gory details of why their kid is grounded, why they aren’t using their phone or are changing their passwords or why they are just not posting about their kids at all. Kids aren’t perfect. You can’t compare your “normal” kids to someone else’s “perfect”–or so they seem on social media–kids.

Wondering if your car compares to your friends’ cars? Does yours run? Does it get you where you need to go? Can you afford the payment (or better yet, is it paid for?), insurance, and maintenance? A big fancy car doesn’t make you a better person–it makes you a broke person. As long as it gets you from Point A to Point B, spend the money you’re not spending on a car to go to dinner or do something as a family.

And then, how’s your wardrobe? Is it Nordstrom or Target? Is it Stitch Fix or Goodwill? You can design clothes to make you look great. Of course, it’s easier with good quality clothes, but it is possible with just about anything. And honestly, do you think most people can even tell the difference? They’re not looking at the quality of your clothing, they’re looking at your style.

Just quit comparing. It is exhausting and doesn’t serve any good purpose. It makes you stress out trying to keep up with someone else. You should just be you and work to improve your own life and not worry about others. You have no control over them, so why are you comparing your life to theirs? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Spend your time, money, and energy making you and your life better. Then when you make your own highlight reel, it will mean so much more to you.

Fitting the Mold

I recently saw this employment ad on my LinkedIn page and it hit me hard.

fit the mold

I don’t want to “fit the mold.” I might want to meet those qualifications, but my gut reaction when I read that was that I don’t want to be anywhere near a mold. I want to break out of the mold and be amazing, so I would never apply to a company that has a mold to fit into. It sounds like you will be in a cubicle where few people know your name and your job and skills are fairly robotic. That doesn’t sound like somewhere I want to spend any part of my career. Or maybe it was just the recruiter’s way of trying to phrase things differently. Language is all about the words you use and the way you use them.

Perhaps it’s just me, but anywhere I work, I want to be anywhere but in the “mold.” I want to be the one standing out, going above and beyond, learning, growing, and getting better every. single. day.

If you are in charge of advertisements like the one above, keep your language in mind when wording your request. And if you’re looking for a job and see something like this ad, keep that language in mind and at least ask about it when you respond. I would much rather work at a place where the ad said something like “If you have the amazing skills we’re looking for below” or “If you are a stand out looking for an exciting career and have the skills we’ve looking for below.” Unless, of course, they are looking for a robotic, unthinking, cubicle worker. Then this ad is perfect!

Break-out-of-the-mold