Archive for the ‘adversity’ Category
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
A close friend of mine, Joe (not his real name) recently returned from an eating disorder residential treatment facility. He finally admitted himself (at the advice of his therapist) for a compulsive eating problem that’s plagued him for over 20 years. Joe’s not a small guy but he’s not as large as you might expect because he’s also a compulsive exerciser…his solution to all that eating. During a typical day he’d eat like everyone else until he got home in the evening. Then, from 6-10 PM he’d spend most of his time in and out of the kitchen. After a restless night’s sleep, he’d get up at 4:30 so he could spend an hour and a half in the gym before heading to work.
Unfortunately, weight and age caught up to Joe. The calories burned were no longer keeping up with the calories consumed. As his waistline grew, he found himself medicated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He also started suffering from sleep apnea. It seemed like his life was falling apart and he was motivated to change the pattern but whenever he tried to eat less, he got anxious…unbearably anxious. He once confessed to me, “Food is my mistress. I love her. I can’t wait to get home to see her. She makes me so happy. I can’t break up with her. It’s impossible. I can’t.”
Well, 28 days of residential treatment later, Joe’s a very different guy. We went to lunch yesterday and he asked for a “to go” box when his giant sandwich arrived. Before eating, he put half of it in the box explaining to me that restaurants generally give us 2 to 3 times more than a healthy portion so he brings half of it home. For the first time in his entire life, Joe knows what portion sizes are supposed to look like. Four weeks of being forced to eat and exercise normally has also helped him break away from his addictions. He explained that for the first time since he can remember his mind is free to think of something other than food. He feels empowered. He’s happy.
He said, “Wendy, there’s a big difference between can’t and haven’t yet. I learned that I can.”
So can you.
Saturday, April 27th, 2013
The journey is tough…often messy…sometimes unbelievably cruel. Everyone has experienced variations on that theme. No one escapes the “unfairness factor” of life. When you’re young and struggling, you think you’re the only one. But with age comes the realization that life is a two sided coin…happy/sad, success/failure, easy/hard. Just as you need two sides to even have a coin, you need the ups and downs to have a life.
However, those ups and downs aren’t an excuse to “settle” in life. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Oh, my life’s good enough. It could be a lot worse. At least I’m not_________?”
I know you can fill in that blank. There’s always someone dealing with things worse than what you’re going through, someone who weighs more, someone with a worse marriage, someone with more health issues, etc… You’re supposed to appreciate what you have, right? Okay, but be careful:
Happiness doesn’t come from measuring yourself against a standard of misery. That kind of thinking just lowers the bar and keeps you from reaching your potential.
I think you should love, not like, love your life, in spite of the hardships that cross your path.
Here are three things you can do to get more excited about your amazing life:
1. Build a great support team
Humans are incredibly social creatures. We have built in mimic and acceptance tendencies. In other words, you are who you hang out with so hang out with people you admire, people who are a great influence on you, people who believe in you. Friendship is a privilege not a right.
2. Don’t judge yourself by your past
Mistakes are tests. You can learn as much from things that go wrong as from things that go right. It’s important to treat yesterday as homework. Those lessons can set the stage for a great future. They give you wisdom…UNLESS you judge yourself by them. Babe Ruth had way more strike-outs than home runs. If he focused on the strike-outs, he never would’ve hit the home runs.
3. Have at least one “happy” goal.
What would make you happy, really happy? Build a goal around that with tons of detail so you can take little steps toward it every day. Focus on the things you CAN do. With persistence, tiny steps eventually turn into success. You deserve that.
The challenges we face are like mountains we have to climb. It might seem like your mountain is steeper and higher than anyone else’s, but keep climbing because the higher the mountain, the better the view from the top.
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Do you love your life? Are you excited to get out of bed in the morning? Are you thriving in your current situation or just surviving?
Several years ago, I woke up one day, wishing I was somewhere else. I guess I was so caught up in the routine of getting through my days that I lost sight of the bigger picture. Instead of being proactive, I was re-acting to the things going on around me. That’s not to say my life was bad. It wasn’t, but it wasn’t great either. It was “good enough.”
There’s no passion in “good enough.” It’s safe and it comes with sympathy from the rest of the “good enough” people in the world. For example: “Oh, so what your boss micro-manages you; at least you have a pay check. You should be grateful for that.”
Stop thinking that way! You weren’t born to acquiesce your way through life. Here’s what you need turn it around:
1. RIGHT PEOPLE:
- Personally – Who do you spend the majority of your time with? Who are the major influencers in your life? Regardless of your age, you’re a reflection of the company you keep so choose to spend time with people you admire, people who love their lives, people who are always looking forward. Remember, friendship is a privilege not an obligation.
- Professionally – Who do you align yourself with in the office? These relationships need to be strategic. Negativity and gossip can derail your career. It’s important to build relationships with co-workers who support the vision of the organization.
2. RIGHT GOALS:
- What would you do professionally if money was no object?
- What could you change about your personal life that would make you happier?
Be specific. Paint a clear picture of what your life would look like in five years if you accomplished that goal. Is it different than your current path? If it is, CHANGE your current path! Start taking small steps that move you in a direction you love. Dream about it. Visualize it. It’s never too late to create something that excites you.
3. RIGHT THINKING:
Believe in yourself. Change, adversity and roadblocks are part of everyone’s journey. You might even be victimized but being victimized isn’t the same as being a victim.
- When you carry yesterday with you, it turns into baggage. It becomes a self-limiting excuse and you become a victim.
- When you treat yesterday as an event, separate from who you are, you can let it go. You can even use it to build a stronger foundation for tomorrow.
Bottom line: Expect to struggle but remember, you’re not defined by the challenges you face. You’re defined by how you face those challenges. Life is a gift. How you travel through life is a choice. With right people, right goals, and right thinking you’ll never wake up wishing you were somewhere else.
You’ll love your life.
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
My friend Ellen just suffered a major stroke. As she fights for her life, her husband writes these important words in a Facebook post:
“No news just some ramblings. Ellen and I have been married almost 30 years. While that may seem long by some standards, the thing I’ve learned in the last two days is that 30 years in not long enough, Another 30 years wouldn’t be long enough. While we love love each other deeply I wish I had packed more hugs, kisses and loving into those years. I should have been trying to get 30 years worth of loving into those years.
So as you read this, if your are anywhere near someone you love, go give them a hug and a kiss like you haven’t done in a long time. Make it a priority to double up on hugging, loving and kissing. You will never regret doing it. The only downside it that it will still never be enough.”
Bottom line: Love the people you love. NOW!
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
There’s a difference between being victimized and being a victim. You’re victimized when something bad happens to you. You’re a victim when you let your past define your future.
When I was 15, I was victimized by a rape. I didn’t talk about it at the time. Instead, I handled it alone. At some point I decided your opinion of me determined my value. As a result, I became a victim. The choices I made in an attempt to be “good enough” led to eating disorders and failed marriages. Somewhere in my head was a little voice that kept saying, “I can’t…I’m not…If only…” Maybe it’s easier to live the life of a victim because as a victim you always have an excuse.
I have a close friend who recently made a New Year’s Resolution. She vowed to start an exercise program and eat healthier. Her goal was to lose the 20 lbs that we’ve listened to her complain about for years. She did several things in preparation. First, she joined a health club. Then she cleaned all the junk food out of her kitchen, putting the ice cream and fudge (left over from Christmas) in the basement freezer so the kids could still have it. She even bought a journal to record her eating habits. On New Year’s Eve we went out to for one final night of gluttony. She bragged about the great things she would accomplish next year and we were ready to support her efforts.
The next morning, January 1, she got out of bed, went to the basement, got out the fudge and the ice cream and took them up to the kitchen. She carefully warmed the fudge in the microwave and then topped it with ice cream, caramel sauce and nuts. She ate it. When she was done, she called me and confessed.
“What are you thinking?!” I asked.
“It was too much pressure. I needed to end it. I’d only fail anyway. I couldn’t deal with it and truthfully, I’m relieved.”
So that’s that. She’s done. She quit before she started. My friend is another great example of living life as a victim. She has failed before so of course, she will fail again; at least that’s the convenient line of thought.
Unfortunately, it gets you nowhere. Her sources of happiness are external. They come from the things her kids do, the shows she watches on TV or the short-term reward she gets from some kind of comfort food.
Don’t do that! Stop being a victim and become a champion. You’re not defined by your past, you’re defined by the way you move forward. Make this year different. Fight for change. I promise you, through the struggle, you’ll find self-esteem, confidence and joy.
Happy New Year.
Friday, December 7th, 2012
I used to think high school boys didn’t talk much about their conquests. I also didn’t think they cared about the amount of sexual experience a girl accumulated. It makes sense that boys who want experience look for girls willing to play the game. I’m sure they’re grateful when they succeed, too. However, I never realized how disrespectful they can be.
Having teenage sons is eye-opening. I’ve overheard some disturbing comments in the past two years but this particular conversation proves how dangerous it is for teenage girls to trust their reputations with teenage boys:
Boy #1 commented on how “hot” a particular girl was.
Boy #2: “Na, you’re better than that. She’s been tapped a few times already.”
Boy #3: “Ya, and so have most of her friends. There’s not much left in that class.”
Boy #4: “That’s why I like Taylor. She’s respectable, not like the overly experienced girls.”
The worst thing about this conversation is that I later learned that boys 1,2,&3 are experienced. They encourage girls to “give it up” and then apparently, they turn around and talk about them like they’re objects.
So ladies, what side of that equation do you want to be on: the respectable side or the overly experienced side?
Here’s a thought. If you think it’s too late…it’s not. You have all the power. You decide how much respect you deserve. Next time you’re dating someone and it quickly goes in a physical direction, shut it down. Be confident enough to say something like, “You know what, I’ve been there, done that and if that’s what you’re about, go somewhere else. I’m not an object. If you want to get to know me, chill.”
If he goes away…lucky you. Over time, you can build any reputation you want. Rock on, Ladies…you’re worth it.
Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Why do you do what you do? Or as my thirteen year old likes to say, “Why are you why you are?” Then he adds, “They’re just letters, Mom.” (YRUYUR).
I’m a professional speaker and author, not because I’m a rape survivor and not because I’m an Ironman. I’m a speaker and author because I want you to become your own champion.
Becoming your own champion is about finding your voice. It’s about being authentic in a world that’s often anything but authentic. It’s about becoming a great student, a great friend, a great employee, a great leader. I want you to love the amazing gift of your own unique life in spite of the pressures you face on a daily basis to meet the expectations of a world that’s constantly bombarding you with messages about how to look, how to act, how to think, how to feel, and what to believe.
I want YOU to own your life, to wake up in the morning excited to seize the day. I want you to fight to become the best possible version of yourself. No excuses, no regrets, no blame on bad luck or misfortune…none of that!
Yes, life can be incredibly unfair. You will struggle. So you have to remember that you’re defined, not by the challenges you face, but by how you face those challenges. When the going gets tough I want you to understand how to rebound because you’re worth it.
I speak and I write because it took me thirty-five years to get it right. I want you to get it right today.
Monday, September 24th, 2012
Disclaimer: I realize I’m working with a stereotype with this analogy but if you have a teenage daughter you may want to share it with her.
If boys were different kinds of boats they’d all start out as row boats. In middle school they evolve into boats with engines. Teenage boys are fascinated with their motors, if you know what I mean. By the time they get into high school many of them continue to evolve, turning into fishing boats, throwing out their lines to see what they can catch. Some boys even subscribe to the catch and release program, hooking up with as many girls as possible. Other boys work on building muscles and turn into speed boats. They expect girls to be impressed with their physical prowess. Be careful ladies, with a speed boat, the relationship is NEVER about you.
The bottom line is boys want experience. The problem is rarely does a boy tell a girl that he just wants experience. Instead, he’ll say whatever he needs to say to score. It’s unfortunate when a girl expects the relationship to last forever.
But all is not lost. As boys get older, some of them continue to evolve. A few boys even turn into yachts. A yacht is a man who treats a woman with respect. He adores her and supports her dreams. Please, ladies, don’t waste your time with fishing boats or speed boats. You are yacht worthy.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
A kid on my son’s basketball team asked, “Why is it harder to succeed than to fail?” The answer seems obvious however the question is valid. Very few people set out to fail. This young man wants to succeed but he’s distracted by negative influences so he struggles to stay on track. He can choose to please the people around him in the short run or struggle to make choices that will lead to happiness in the long run.
His challenge is everyone’s challenge. How many people wish they could lose 10 lbs? How many people wish they had a better relationship? Success requires discipline, determination, perseverance, accountability, and focus. It’s hard to succeed but the reward is increased self-esteem, confidence, and joy. The struggle is what makes the accomplishment so great.
And, by the way, if you think you’ve found success without any challenges along the way, maybe, just maybe, you didn’t set the bar high enough.