Tuesday, August 30, 2016

3 Things A Tough Person Does To Make It In Tough Times

For exactly two years, I have been saying those very words to myself.

Two years.

733 days to be exact.

But you know what has propelled me forward during this still very tough tough season?


While inspirational words and memes are very good to soothe you in a moment, action is the only real anecdote for tough times. Here are three actions I've taken that have helped me in my seemingly never ending "tough season."


I have stopped resisting all the turmoil. Early in this season, I'd fight fiercely to move forward and "be done" with all that is going on around me. Ironically, personally speaking it's not let up one bit. My avoidance and fighting has not changed any circumstance or outcome. And while I'd love to tell you I believe my season is due for a change, I don't. I have accepted that this season could very well be my new normal and that I need to get some better coping mechanisms in place.  I have also accepted that looking for "relief" from the onslaught of difficulty was not helping.  Breathing and learning to face what was and continues to happen to me and around me has helped me tremendously. The energy I use to use to fight or resist has been redirected to my work and my relationships. My first reaction to difficulty now is to sit and marinate in it. Allow myself to feel it. And whatever comes next, roll with it. Meaning if I need to cry and check out of life for an hour - so be it. If I have to take a walk and call my BFF to vent. So be it. If I fill 10 journal pages processing it out of my mind so I can get back to work. On it. But resisting or fighting is no longer an option.

Manage Energy

Time has started to blur for me. In the past I would take pride on my time management skills and how efficient I believed myself to be with my time.  With the onslaught of complexity in my life and one difficulty after another, I realized that it was not my time that needed managing, it was my energy. Really getting judicious around what, how and who I spent energy on would prove to be one of the biggest actions to help me during my tough time. Work tasks have become more organized and intentional. Personal interactions have really focused on people who lift me and feed my soul. I have not been the friend I used to be in this season because I have very little margin. Replenishment activities have been come very important.  My energy now is almost this imaginary tank next to me and I can look at it and see when it's running low. Yoga and Pilates fuel me. Radical self care trips out of town fuel me. Self care rituals locally fuel me. I now actively seek out conversations that raise my energy and refill the tank before it empties. I also allow others to help me. 

Enlist Help

I struggle asking for help. It is has never been a strong suit of mine and this prolonged tough season is the thing that finally broke me. This is a new thing for me in the last 30 days. The 703 days of this tough season found me pushing through exhausted, irritable and feeling alone even with people literally begging me to help.

What can I do?

Most days, I dread that question. I don't need anyone to help me. I'm an oldest child. I run my own business. I help people run their businesses. Stopping to think about how people could help me was literally freezing me up; rendering me immobile. Local friends asked. Friends from across the country asked. Most often I brushed folks off with - "you can pray, thanks." But then I realized how lazy that was of me. I am separating and moving forward as a single mom after 16 years in a couple. There is a SHIT ton of stuff people can do. I just needed to get out of my head and stop the jerk reactions. As the new month started, I vowed not to answer right away - because I'd found that every time someone asked me to help, within a day or two afterwards something did come up that I could use extra hands or brain power around. The pause.

Instead of my usual retort - I thanked people and said, "there is nothing now but I will keep you in mind if something comes up." Not only did "something come up", I also started to notice things I just did unconsciously that others could help me with. So I got help moving a couch. Picking peaches. Making meals. Rides for my kids.  Many people offer and are willing to help. Most often it's us that stand in the way.

I have come to believe that my "tough season" is no longer a "tough season" but my new normal. And I know the action I am taking is equipping to be successful in this new era of my life.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Quadrennial Reminder of My Own Quest For Excellence

With just 5 days left of competitions for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, I am already dreading the the end of the Summer Games. I love the Olympics. Ever since I can remember, I have loved the games. I remember vividly watching over the years and this year marks the 20th anniversary of my special accomplishment of working at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. This year also reminded me of something I'm not so sure I'd recognized before... my absolute love of excellence on display.

I was a tomboy jock girl for as long as I can remember. I loved all sports and all things about sports - playing, watching, coaching. I was a competitive tennis player from age 10 - college. I played other intramural sports at two universities. I've coached a sport I love and know well but could not play very well. I've coached other sports because there was a need. I started my career in sports marketing before it was a "thing" and major college track in the early 90s. I watch sports from around the world and have for many years now. I am a sports fanatic and I partially blame that on losing my mom and female influence early in life and growing up in a sports town like Chicago.

It make sense that a woman like me would love the Olympics. And I never questioned or thought much of my love of the Olympics as it just seemed natural for someone who loved sports as I do.

Until now.

This year, as I am recalibrating my life and examining EVERYTHING I ever thought about myself - I came to a new and exciting discovery. It is not only sports that attracted me to the Olympic Games all these years. It is the quest for excellence.

Mark Spitz
Serena Williams
Mary Lou Retton
Greg Louganis
Dominique Dawes
Michael Johnson
Usain Bolt
Marion Jones
Bruce Jenner
Carl Lewis
Nadia Comenci
Michael Phelps
Simone Biles
Simone Manuel

Those names ring in my ears long after I've been exposed to their excellence because seeing them on the world stage is a reminder of what happens when you excel at your craft. When all the years of practice come down to that moment in time when you exceed even your own expectations - it is glorious. It is inspirational. It's also been my main attraction to the games even beyond my love of sports.  

From a very young age, I have had an insatiable thirst for excellence and the Olympics was one of my quadrennial and tangible reminders of that. Of course, we get to view excellence in many ways, shapes and forms but not quite in the same way as the Olympics. Literally, the whole world stops to celebrate the individual and collective accomplishments of these athletes and their drive for excellence in their respective crafts. And while, I never believed in my own sports abilities enough to pursue excellence there - I have pursued excellence in my work throughout my life.

And at the tender age of 44, I'm starting to see the results of that pursuit manifesting in my business and the work we are doing to change the world, one relationship at a time.

Thank you Rio 2016 for that great reminder and new found inspiration for excellence.