Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Christmas Music Saved My Relationship With Target!

I love Christmas music. I am always saddened that I only have a few weeks to enjoy it. Now that we are fews days past my ability to enjoy it without scorn, I wanted to share my favorite Christmas music story of 2010.

An unlikely friend re-entered my life this year - all on the power of music. Target.

I had not really shopped Target in the last 4 or 5 years and I cannot tell you why. But the 2010 Holiday ad campaign complete with a fabulous soundtrack sucked me in and I stepped into Target twice this holiday season. I enjoyed the reunion and am certain I'll be going back in the coming year. So how is it possible that having Christmas music at the center of the marketing campaign saved my relationship with this brand?

To me it's as simple as this...

Music connects us.

We hear a song and it grips us and pulls us into a moment - sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good but either way we are MOVED by music. It pierces our soul and changes us.

This year, Target accomplished that with our family as we were introduced to new groups and new songs. Our personal favorites were "Toy Jackpot" by Blackalicious, "Electronic Santa Claus" by Blazer Force, "Tiny Tree Christmas" by Guster

Our Christmas soundtrack just got a little bigger. And think, 5, 10, 15 years from now when our family convenes for Christmas and one of those songs starts, we are always going to remember Christmas 2010. Thanks, Target.

In case you have not had the chance to download any of the free holiday music from Target - follow this link to get it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Be Fearless

Love how this image captures my view of FEARLESS

This year, the theme of the Willowcreek Community Church Christmas Production - was "Do Not Be Afraid."

The phrase, which is ordered repeatedly throughout the Bible, struck me right in the heart.

Mostly because  it was right on time. No phrase could better send out 2010 for me than “do not be afraid."

Or better stated, BE FEARLESS

Dictionary says fearless is unafraid: oblivious of dangers or perils or calmly resolute in facing them.

The final definition, “calmly resolute in facing them (dangers or perils)” is my favorite.

Holidays have been a work in progress for me all my life. First, shortly before my fifth birthday and the start of the 1976 holiday season–I lost my mom, Betty Jean Jackson. I can't say that that was the defining event in my holiday malaise but it definitely set the tone for my childhood.  Funny,  one of the only photos I have of me and my mom is in front of a Christmas tree.  Second,  birthdays really were made big by my dad in the years he was a single guy. I remember birthdays and gifts from birthdays much more than any holiday. So I spent my 20s trying to make myself happy during the holidays.

All that changed in 2000.  Holiday season 2000 was my first with  sael Barreto who end up being the love of my life.  Holidays seem to bring out the best in him. He was so totally at ease as we spent our first holiday together in Spain far away from all his friends or family.  He was “fearless” as we navigated this new territory as a unit. Then came the Barreto kids, first Emma and then later Evan, and we've been weaving holiday traditions ever since. I can almost say it's my favorite time of year. But it was practically 20 years in the making. I had to convert my "fear" of the holidays and all the emotions they awakened each year to energy to build a new holiday mold.

This year, it's not the "normal holiday perils" that had me with a tinge of fear before seeing the program. It's the upcoming year with the next phase of my adventure as an entrepreneur.

Will my arm recover 100% from the nerve issue that (although repaired surgically in December) kept me one armed for half 2010?

Can I  build my human capital and marketing services company to a size to replace my income by Q3 in 2011?

When will I sign that elusive first contract?

These among many questions have kept me from sleeping soundly the last few weeks. Then I saw the program at Willow. And it was clear.

You see, when you know what you are called to do - just as Mary was, just as I am - you must walk FEARLESSLY into the future trusting that the path you need will rise to meet your feet. You must trust the One who gives you your mission to equip you with what you need to fulfill it. Now, while those questions remain - the tinge of fear that was creeping in is no longer there.

What are you "fearing" as we close this year?

The holiday gatherings?

A troubled marriage?

Financial strain?

A dream crushed?

Take heart and "do not be afraid." For I overcame one big "fear" and am equipped to face the new one.

So can you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Best Gift Ever: FORGIVENESS

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With the holidays upon us, often times we are forced to interact with people we'd otherwise avoid; simultaneously, we are also bombarded by messages of "gifting". It occurred to me that the combination of these two phenomenons could actually be the solve for a happy, healthy holiday season. Give the greatest gift you can give– forgiveness.

Two years ago, just before the full push of the holidays in 2008, I gave the greatest gift you can give to someone (and yourself), forgiveness. It was a situation where I would've been fully within my rights not to forgive. (Aren't they all?)This person had wronged me and my family. Trust had been violated in the most egregious way. The pain of the situation was so intense that there were moments when I physically felt like I could not breathe.

Yet, my first reaction to this was to forgive. Not the knee-jerk, Christian cliché "I forgive you" sort of forgiveness, but the brokenhearted, "what else will bring me peace" brand of forgiveness.

I was angry, hurt and broken down in spirit just as “the most wonderful time of the year” was starting. How could I possibly face the holidays in my brokenness? and How was I going to live in the same community with this person? were a few of the questions that swirled in my head almost constantly. And all the while, my heart was telling me to reach out to this person and offer forgiveness. I was even moved to invite this person to my house for Thanksgiving dessert. I remember it like it just happened. The few weeks leading up to the invitation - I was certain would be declined - were strangely calm. Our marriage and family counselor advised me that I could rescind the offer because I had "nothing to prove." I tripled checked with my husband that he was comfortable with my decision, which he was although it was clear that he did not understand it.

Finally, the doorbell rang on Thanksgiving day just after we'd finished eating and right on time for dessert. With no hesitation, I answered the door and invited the person who wronged me and their family into my house. As I greeted them with a hug, I felt an immediate relief and peace come over me.

Not because I was some “saint” who'd done that person a "favor" forgiving them and inviting them to my home after they'd wronged me. Nor was I relieved at the obvious shame and brokenness I felt in their embrace.

I was at peace in the depths of my soul because I'd put action to my forgiveness. I had not only “told” them they were forgiven but I'd displayed my forgiveness in a very real way. Did I instantly forget the damage this person had inflicted? No, of course not. Did we rekindle our friendship and resume where we'd left off before the problem? Not at all, that was actually the last time I saw them in a social setting. We are no longer in contact. That is not the point.

To this day, I am still amazed at how that act of obedience and true forgiveness set the tone for what ended up being a wonderful holiday season and has benefited me over and over again. I am not recommending everyone do what I did, however I throw out the challenge to consider giving someone in your life the gift of forgiveness.  It is truly the best gift you could ever give.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Stretched: Why We Are Worth The Extra Push

Kermit stretched out is a great depiction of how I feel after my first therapy session.

That's how I feel after my first therapy session post surgery on my right arm. I don't know about you, but “stretched” isn't exactly my favorite place to be. And I've been there many times...

stretched at work
stretched in my marriage
stretched in my faith
stretched mentally, and most recently
stretched physically
My tolerance for "stretching" has increased over the past few years particularly because of the incredible growth that occurs during these seasons of life. As uncomfortable as it is, I've come to look forward to the "stretching" times in my life.
When we stretch - we push ourselves beyond our current position. We reach for what, at the moment, feels impossible. We make ourselves more flexible for what is waiting around the next corner. We exercise "muscles" that we sometimes didn't even know we had. We gain confidence in areas where there was fear. We feel pain and joy - in explicably together in the same moment. Most importantly, we transform, little-by-little, each time we stretch. And before you know it we are not only growing ourselves, but we are pushing others to stretch as well.
So the next time you're faced with a "stretching" season - don't whine, complain or deny - just lean in and warm up up those "muscles" you rarely use and STRETCH with all you've got. 
You won't be sorry.