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.


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!


You Know You’re Old When . . .

So a few events lately make me think I might actually be becoming “old.” I refuse that position, but the signs are there. Here are some that I know of:

You're Old

  1. You go to the movies and qualify for the senior discount. If it is more than $.50, I might even admit that I qualify, but for a small amount, that admission is totally not worth it.
  2. You see those “Who Remembers” and “Share if you know what this is” posts on Facebook and you actually do remember and actually did own those things. All of them!
  3. You realize that you were raised without lots of things people take for granted these days, including:
    • No cordless phones, in fact, it was kind of cool to have a really long cord so you could go into the pantry or a close room with a door so you could have a “private” conversation.
    • No party lines. We had a party line when I was growing up. That meant that you had to pick up the phone and listen to see if another household was using the shared line. I feel sorry for the people who were on our party line. There were five of us kids and once we were in junior high and high school, one of us was on the phone all the time.
    • No phone numbers with letters. I vaguely remember when I was young giving your phone number as Woodman 4-1234 (or whatever your phone number was). The “Woodman” were the numbers associated with the “W” and the “O,” which were “9” and “6.”
    • No remote control–like at all–no remote. The only “remote” control was your parents making you get up to turn the channels–all 5 of them (if you count the UHF channels)–with a dial that clicked through one at a time, because if you went too fast, your dad would surely be yelling at you that  you were going to “break the damn TV.”
    • No rabbit ears. When all the TV you had was airwaves, you had to have a set of “rabbit ears” that were inside antennas that you could adjust, put aluminum foil on, and adjust again to get a good picture. Unfortunately, we couldn’t talk my little brother into holding them juuuust so and standing there so they didn’t move and we had a perfect picture, so we usually watched a less than perfect picture.
    • No device to be in contact with your parents. We actually went to school without any contact with our parents (or anyone else) unless we were in the principal’s office or with the school nurse and they called your parents. Then once we got home, we dropped our stuff, did homework if we had it, and ran outside to play. Usually you were expected back home either when you heard your mom yelling your name out the door or when the street lights came on (the universal signal to “get your butt home”).
    • No research materials at home. We had to go to the library to do research for school work. If you had encyclopedias at home, they didn’t include accurate information for very long, so most families did not bother.
  4. You remember riding in cars with no seat belts, including lying down in the back of the station wagon or on the shelf in the back window.

But the inspiration for this list was when I was at Disneyland recently and we were waiting in a very full waiting area for our dinner reservations, a younger (probably in her 30s) woman asked me if I wanted her seat. I declined and looked at my daughter, who was doing her best to stifle a laugh. This was a real dose of reality for me. I like to think I don’t look my age, so when someone obviously thinks I do, it was really painful for me. But at least she had good manners. I’ll have to focus on that.

This list is my no means complete. Another problem with getting older is that your memory really does go. All those years and all those people saying it and I did not believe it, until I started forgetting things. Like a LOT! So I’m sure I’ve forgotten some major signs of getting old. What are the things that make you feel like you’re old? Please list those in the comments.

Disney Love

I just returned from three days in Disneyland with my third set of grandchildren. I take a pair to Disneyland as the oldest of the pair turns 13. It’s worked out to be every other year. The eldest granddaughters kind of actually got screwed because I didn’t have nearly as much Disneyland experience as I have now. It helps to have Disney fanatics as friends. So this trip was with my turning-13-on-July-4th and just-turned-10 granddaughters. We stayed on property at Paradise Pier (because it was the least expensive of the choices). My thinking with staying on property was (a) we were going on a holiday; (b) I wanted extra magic mornings so they could be assured of riding the most popular rides; (c) I didn’t want to drive and pay parking fees every day; and (d) I wanted walking distance so we could go back to the hotel in the middle of the day if it was hot and/or crowded. By the time I added in the costs and value of parking, magic mornings, and distance, it just made sense.Disney Love

We started our trip with a character dinner at the Disneyland Resort in Goofy’s Kitchen. The chef took us around to show us what the gluten free and dairy allergies should avoid. Everyone got enough to eat, and my dairy-free granddaughter even got special raspberry sorbet for dessert. They had autograph ears I purchased on Etsy and I had Sharpies for the autographs. It worked really well and although the glue on the ears stopped working on Day 2, we continued to carry them around and get autographs and when we returned home, I hot glued the ears back on.

I’m not going to lie, it was H O T! Even for an Arizona native. Sweat was dripping down my back, my front, my face, everywhere. Our first ride was on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride in California Adventure. The 10-year-old was nervous because she didn’t know what to expect, but they both loved it! Then we did Radiator Racers, which they also liked. Once the parks opened to the public, we went to Disneyland and they wanted to go on Splash Mountain (since we were all sweaty). I checked my app (a MUST have!) and saw that it said there was a 5 minute wait. We started that direction while I explained that that could be wrong because I had never seen a 5 minute wait. Usually about an hour is the norm for me. But we could have gotten a fast pass if the app was wrong. As we got closer and I saw no line around the attraction, I was getting excited. There was no line! We got on right away and they both loved it. They loved it so much we immediately got in the nonexistent line and rode it again. Apparently one of the Disney Cast Members told us before noon is pretty dead, but after noon was really crowded. They were correct! By late morning/early afternoon we learned the beauty of fast passes. For most of the rides we were looking at, the standby time was something like 35-45 minutes and the fast pass was good for an hour starting in 5 minutes from the current time. So we pulled fast passes, stood at the ride for 5 minutes, and then got in the fast pass line and got right on. Why anyone would stand in the standby line in those circumstances is beyond me.

As my daughter is a celiac (gluten intolerance) and my granddaughter has a milk protein allergy, I knew eating at the park would be an adventure. So we got hungry Day 1 at about 12:30 and headed to Carnation Cafe, one of the places my celiac restaurant app said got good reviews for accommodating celiac customers. They, of course, only had room for reservations, so we were turned away and they suggested the Plaza, which allows walk ins. So we went to the Plaza and had to stand in a special place to get the allergy menu, order, and pick up the food. My daughter was really impressed with the baked chicken she got and my granddaughter loved her spaghetti.

We stayed in the park for a little while, but lines were longer and fast passes were hours away, so we went back to the hotel so the girls could test out the slide and the pool. My daughter relaxed in the room while I went down with the girls.

We ended up going back and wandering around for a little while and then went to dinner in Downtown Disney at Tortilla Joes. My daughter was super excited to have the quesadilla that was gluten free and delicious. My granddaughter had a steak salad, from which she ate all the steak and little of the salad (and all of the dressings had dairy) but she ate it dry.

Day 2 was the 4th of July holiday and my granddaughter’s actual birthday. It was magic morning in Disneyland, and we started (a little later than the day before), at Space Mountain. Then we wandered around getting on rides with a short line or a short wait on a fast pass. We made a lunch reservation at Carnation Cafe and ate another meal that everyone enjoyed and didn’t have a reaction to. We continued riding rides and visiting characters. Since it was Abriana’s birthday, we enjoyed dinner at Blue Bayou, again with no food reactions. We then enjoyed a Dole whip float, which I think was a bit much as Abriana got sick and we headed back to the room. I think it was too much food as she doesn’t have a food allergy, but the Dole whip is gluten free and dairy free so everyone got to have one. We missed the Disney fireworks, but could see lots of them in the distance from our room.

Our last day in the parks started later than the day before and then we got in the wrong line for Guardians of the Galaxy until I figured out we missed the entrance for magic morning. Once we got through, we decided to get a fast pass for Guardians and then got in line and rode it, waited about 10 minutes and got on it again with our fast pass (they loved that ride!). The rest of the day was riding the favorites Grizzly River Run, Splash Mountain, and a few others. We lunched (with reservations) at Wine Country Trattoria. It may have been the best meal we had. They had gluten free noodles, so everyone could enjoy their meals. Then everyone was pooped out so we went back to the room. I gave the girls the option of going back to the parks, going to the movies and dinner, or staying in the room. They chose the option of going to the movies. We saw Despicable Me 3! I didn’t fall asleep and they enjoyed it. We had a very late dinner that I didn’t think they would make it through and then off to bed.

We woke to no alarm that last day, showered, and left the hotel. Even though we checked the room pretty thoroughly, I left my Fitbit there. Luckily, they called me a couple of days later and asked if I had left it there and they mailed it back to me. That was great customer service!

All in all I think the girls had a great time, although I would have liked to have spent more time on rides. It was hot and it was crowded and that was getting to everyone, so I understood their schedule. One more grandchild gets the 13th birthday trip in a few years (although I might move his up just in case I’m not able to take him because I’m as old and infirm as my family thinks I will be).

In the meantime, I need to start thinking about special gifts for high school and college graduations. When do they stop growing?

Suggestions for a successful Disney trip:

  • Get the app and check for wait times and ride accordingly
  • Go before noon FOR SURE
  • Check the fast pass times because it may be faster than waiting in the standby line
  • Make lunch reservations in the app for every day you will be there or eat at the Plaza or in Downtown Disney
  • Do the character meal if you want to get autographs. It’s a good chance to get a lot of them with good pictures all at once.
  • If you want pictures, buy the PhotoPass. It’s a little pricey, but if you want to get pictures from the rides and with characters around the park, it is worth it. Ask for “magic” in the scenery pictures. We got one with Tinkerbell in our hands that they staged perfectly for the “magic.”
  • If you are in a wheelchair or have a stroller, please pull over if you want to stop. Stopping in the middle of the road is frustrating for the people behind you trying to get around you through oncoming traffic.
  • Don’t get frustrated and have a great time.

What suggestions do you have for a great time at Disneyland? Add them to the comments!




Complainer I Am

I was recently given the opportunity to participate in a No Complaining challenge. There was an app we could use (and I’m all about tracking things with apps) and the object was if you complained, you had to go back to day 1. The goal was to not complain for 31 days. Easy peasy, right? I am not a chronic complainer, so I was sure this would be a piece of cake. And then it was Day 2 . . .

Complainer I AmOn Day 2, I found myself complaining in my head about annoyances at the office. At least I was cognizant of the challenge on other topics on which I could have complained and stopped myself. But that damn voice in my head did complain, so back to Day 1 we go.

Day 1, Attempt 2. Again I complained in my head in response to a sticky note left for me on my desk. I call my inner voice Lucy. She is my inner child (not the fun one, but the sarcastic, sometimes mean, and obviously professional complainer child). She is named after Lucy from the Peanuts cartoon because that’s how I see my inside voice. Sweet and helpful on the outside, but would just as soon pull the football away just as you’re about to kick it as take your nickel to tell you how dumb you are to fall for that again.

Day 1, Attempt 3. Lots of internal complaining again. Damn it, Lucy, shut the hell up!

I have since lost count. I still use the app, but every single day I press the “I complained” button so it goes back to Day 1. This shouldn’t be this hard. There were several days when I actually complained out loud. But I also think sometimes you have to vent to someone. Otherwise, it will build up inside you until every single thing that person or that environment does irks you no end. So, yes, I have vented to friends–and complained.

Another thing I found myself doing was once I clicked on Day 1, it was a free for all. I complained like my life depended on it. I was getting the full advantage of starting all over again. And trust me, I know how awful that is to do to yourself. That’s like slipping on your diet for one meal and spending the rest of the day with the “What the hell, I’ll start again tomorrow” attitude and eating everything in sight. Ah . . . I know that stinking thinking well.

I swear I did not see myself as a chronic complainer–and then I started listening to Lucy. Lucy is really not a nice person. She says things she shouldn’t to me about me, things I should ignore, things that make me feel bad about myself, things that may be true but honestly don’t matter. So instead of a No Complaining Challenge, I think I will take the Shut Lucy Up Challenge. I need to learn to calm Lucy down and teach her to say good things. I hope she’s up for it!