Monday, July 25, 2011

Who Stole The Smile From America's Youth?

How do kids with joyful hearts turn into brooding smile-less teens?
credit @ucla_pucla fotolia

The last few weeks of dropping my kids at summer day camp have been more harried than before. You see, we drop them at a middle school and there have been young people gathered lately for drivers' ed and other summer classes.

I am not one of those adults intimidated by the judging eyes of young people as you pass them. I don't care what they think of me or my outfit. I happen to know that for a 39 year old - I rock it.

What has bothered me is how few of them actually smile.

At each other.

At little kids walking by.

At me. When I am smiling at them.

What is up with that? Who stole the smile from today's kids?

Now I am sure there are many reading who will say..."Denise, c'mon. You remember being a brooding youth, don't you?"

My answer to that is no. I don't. I remember being awkward. In-secure. Feeling "uncool" and ugly. But I was not without joy. I welcome anyone from jr. high or high school to dispute this if I'm rewriting history.

Even with my dad's second marriage imploding and the strict rules they made live by that should have made me buck crazy wild - I was a content adolescent. I remember people writing big lips (making fun of my full luscious lips) on my campaign posters in high school and lots of other hurtful episodes but I still got up everyday and found a reason to smile.

Did I smile all the time? Doubtful.

But I never remember not returning a smile.

When people smile at you - it's contagious - most people smile back. Not so with these kids. I have watched and picked out several to smile at repeatedly and I get nothing. I've held the door open and smiled. Nada.  I've said "Good morning" with a big smile. Zilch.  I've practically run into some of these young people with a huge, warm smile and got blank stares in return.

I get that life is hard. I know some of them are hurting because they are facing rejection, abandonment, broken connections with family, abuse. Statistically speaking - all of the aforementioned calamities are touching at least one of the kids I pass every morning. But I'm here to tell them it's OK.

I smile to reassure them that whatever life is handing you - you can fight back with a small gesture of kindness. I smile to give them the hug they may have missed from a loved one. I smile to let them know they are "cool" "cute" "popular" and whatever other adjective they are looking for that day.

I smile at today's young people to show them that we have a choice in how we move through our lives. Regardless of what you are facing - you can make a choice.

A simple choice to smile. Smile in the mirror. Smile at your friends. Smile at the weird woman with a flower in her afro who smiles at you.

Can I ask my tribe to do something, too? It is my experience that kids don't just "turn out" a certain way - they learn behaviors. So can we all smile? Next time you see a bunch of young people - especially the ones with their hair not combed or their pants hanging off their butts or the ones with the shorts shorter than you'd like  - take a moment and SMILE at those kids.

They need it. Perhaps more than you know.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Will YOU Carry Nelson Mandela's Torch?

Nelson Mandela drawn by Josephine Death
While I am certain we will never see "another Nelson Mandela", I can't help but hope his life will inspire others to take up his legacy of unabashed forgiveness and self-accountability.

Today as he celebrates 93 years young, I continue to be in awe of Nelson Mandela and all he stand for...





Relationship with self.

Relationship with family.

Relationship with country.

Relationship with your enemy.

It is his imperfect authenticity in all the above areas that continue to intrigue me. Several times a year - I find myself obsessed with his story, his work and now, thanks to the film,  Invictus - I take refuge for a few hours in a movie that so eloquently walks us through one of his most public (and triumphant) relationship lessons.

I, for one, am picking up the torch of Nelson Mandela's life and work in my world.

Will you do it in your world as well?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The High Cost of Denial

Yeah - hot oil and skin don't mix

So the little blister you can barely see on the edge of my fingernail is what I'm now calling the High Cost of Denial.

Not mine. But that of the medical team treating me.

I know that my right arm and digits are not well and one full year after the issue with my radial nerve began -  a summer saute tells the story.

As I was cooking last night with my right hand - turning meat pieces in a pan with hot oil - I did not "feel" the heat of the pan until it was too late. Literally, I saw my hand with the blister and hot oil BEFORE I felt it and it was then that I felt the pain and pulled my hand back.


Practically a 2nd degree burn on one of the fingers where I have been without full sensation since March  - a problem I did NOT have before the surgery.

Yet, the doctors - two of them now - insist that all is normal in my healing from the surgery 6 months ago. I am not scheduled to see anyone until September.

Moral of the story. Keep fighting, folks.

Regardless of what they say - keep voicing your concerns.

Take responsibility for your own care.

Don't let the denial of someone else affect you.

Oh, and don't cook over a hot pan or open fire when half your hand has no feeling.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What This Body Needs More Of....

My two kids doing something I love - SLEEP!
So one full week into my Coach-To-5K training program for the Sunset 5K to kick off the Summer Sunset Festival in Lake in the Hills, Labor Day weekend, I've had an epiphany!

Knocking on the door of 40 years old, having spent the last year with no athletic activity that I'd love to blame on the radial nerve problem in my right arm vs. my own apathy towards my body  - this training program has shed light on something I thought I had under control.

When you exercise more - what do you need more? What does YOUR BODY crave?

For some, it's more nutrition.

Their body needs to eat more and/or better. Someone I know eats almost DOUBLE what they normally eat when they are training for a race (my daughter Emma).

Their body needs more water. The more they workout, the more they need to replenish.

For me, it's SLEEP.

What? This from the woman who intends and is pretty successful at getting at LEAST 7 hours of sleep a day.

Yeah, every run this past week revealed to me the deep need to go back to my body's wiring and get that 8 or more hours of sleep a day.

Now it will be ANOTHER post to figure out how I do that with all my roles - wife, mom to two active kids, full-time marketer/part-time village official AND entrepreneur building a new company.

But I am so glad that my relationship with my body is so much closer that I can immediately sense something I might have missed in the past. As recent past as last year.

You see the issue with my radial nerve in my right arm has brought me in closer relationship with my body.   Therapy, surgery, therapy again and one year later with little improvement has tuned me in to this miracle I walk around in everyday. And IT has spoken.

So don't be surprise if you "see" or "hear" me dozing more like the two cute kids in the photo above.

Sleep is what this body needs more of...and because I love my body and value our relationship. I'm obliging.

Do you know what your body is asking of you?

Are you in tune with your "miracle"?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cool Things Happen When You Listen, Pt 1

Normally, when one of the "kid's songs" somehow penetrates my iPod playlists, I QUICKLY change it back to "my music." But accidentally today, I could not change it quick enough and this is what I heard....

Leave It All To Shine

This song is a mash-up of the theme songs of two the shows I least enjoy on Nickelodeon - iCarly and Victorious. But today, perhaps because of where I am with my Relationships Matter Now biz - which is full ramp up throttle - (hence my sketchiness in posting blogs lately) - this diddy spoke to me...check out the lyrics from the heart of the song...

You don’t have to be afraid to put your dream in action
You’re never gonna fade, you’ll be the main attraction
Wake up the members of my nation
It’s your time to be
Not a fantasy (not a fantasy)
Just remember me (just remember me)
When it turns out right (When it turns out right)

‘Cause there’s no chance unless you take one
And the time see
Now if you live in your imagination
Tomorrow you’ll be everybody’s fascination
You see the brighter side of every situation

In my victory (In my victory)
Just remember me
When I make it shine
Leave it all to me
Leave it all to me
When I make it shine
Just leave it all to me

Yes - it IS up to me. The success of my business is mine to grab and make "it" shine. "It" aka my business will shine. This little section of these songs I hear way more than I'd like to admit actually inspired and fired me up today. I was visualizing progress in my business as I sang along with Miranda Cosgrove and Victoria Justice.

"You don't have to be afraid to put your dream in action.." were never truer words for me. Especially today.

Thanks ladies. And I promise to NEVER give my kids a hard time about your shows again. In fact, I just might start tuning in myself.