Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Authentic Reflection - Adios 2008!

Tonight, as we close the door on 2008 - I can honestly say, as challenging as it was, this has been a phenomenal year for me. There were many triumphs and many more tears but through it all... I would not change a thing.

Let me quickly recap the high and low lights of 2008 for me personally - I'll leave something to your imagination and not point out which were highs and which were lows.

1. Started the year leaving a job that I'd outgrown without the safety net of another job

2. Started a new job in April

3. Abruptly stopped constant travel in April after 5 straight years

4. Discovered that my marriage had hit a major roadblock when I was most attentive to it in the late summer

5. Enjoyed a 7-day Mexican Riviera Disney Cruise vacation the week after my discovery

6. Learned what it REALLY means to rely on the Lord for your very next breath this fall

7. Met a wonderful warrior princess simply asking my church for prayer via the website

8. Touched the surface of unbearable pain through the loss of a child via a co-worker and I was torn up for days - weeks. Cannot imagine what she does...

9. Went totally unaffected (ok yeah my 401K died like everyone else's) by the economic crisis due to our downsizing and path to debt free living we chose almost 18 months ago (Thanks Dave Ramsey) - we had no changes in our lifestyle and we are blessed!

10. Realized my true values and put myself on a path to honor them daily

11. Started this blog and have touched at least two lives positively in the last few months - making one of them a friend..

12. Engaged an executive/ life coach

13. Scheduled and conducted a motivational talk

14. Declared myself a candidate for local public office

15. Started a couples program with my husband and a wonderful counselor

16. Intensively studied the lives of Jesus (simultaneously as I ran into number 4 - what an amazing lesson in grace that I could immediately use) and King David.

Wow - that was quite a year. Through it all - I would not change a thing! In fact - I am thankful for each and every item on the list.

I grew tremendously this year - personally, professionally and most of all spiritually.

Adios 2008. I can't wait to start 2009.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Authentic Endorsement - Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell

I spent a great part of my recent vacation to Mexico completely absorbed in the latest work of one of my favorite authors.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell is an excellent read and I suggest that anyone who is interested in success read this book.

I do not say that to say that if you read it, you will be successful - it is just a great look at all the factors that contribute to success that are not always apparent in the sound-bite society we live in today. It had me on my toes the entire 320 pages.

Interestingly - it challenged me to look at my life and the many "breaks" and "opportunities" that I had (and continue to have) that contribute to my success.

It is a very sensitive topic to deep dive into here without possibly hurting others but I can't get my mind off all the seemingly little differences that have been there for me and not others.

Yes - I am a type-A, choleric, extrovert blah, blah blah. Basically - I am self-motivated and very little stands in my way when I want something.

Yes - I believe it working smart vs. working hard

In the book - Malcolm Gladwell asserts that whatever cliches we seek to attach to our success - there are outside factors that contribute heavily to whether or not we are successful. He says - yes - there are brilliant people but even for all their brilliance there are a series of variables that also impact their ability to "make it."

I agree wholeheartedly and this book has only kindled my fire for my current journey. Why?

The current climate we live in is completely self-serving. People are not really concerned with others unless it somehow benefits them also. There is a lack of community in our country and in our world right now.

The idea of genuinely caring and putting yourself out there for the benefit of others is such a foreign concept. I am certain that my ideas, which all center around uplifting others - especially young people, will catch hold. The time is now and in classic marketing style - I will seize the moment to continue to tell my story and expand my reach and influence and I know that many will benefit.

Many already have.

The one absent thought in the book was faith - which is a huge centering beacon for me. Without it, I would be lost, bitter and possible not here to share. My faith in and relationship with Christ is the rock from which I draw my motivation. Yes - I am all those things I stated above but only because He made me that way. And for that I am grateful, every day, every minute.

I agree with Malcolm on all points and hope you will read the book and come and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not So Authentic Break

Merry Christmas ALL!

I am suppossed to be chillin in Mexico with my husband´s family and letting it all go.

I could not resist to opportunity to encourage everyone to enjoy Christmas day and make it a break. Almost everyone gets this day off from work so be sure and use it wisely.

Don´t check email

Don´t talk to anyone unless it´s someone you ENJOY talking to them

Tell someone you love them

Give someone a hug

Do something special for someone who needs it - if that person is you, EVEN BETTER (by the way, one of my anonymous commentators inspired me for this one- THANK YOU)

Above all - relax and eat well.

I´ll be back in the saddle in a few days.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Authentic Gratitude

I am a very thankful person with a truly grateful heart. Some days I wake up with my heart full of thanks just for being alive again. As  motherless daughter since I was 4 - I have a different perspective on being "grateful for another day"

My mom - Betty Jean (Jackson)  Wilmer died four months shy of her 25th birthday back in 1976. This past Friday after I blogged about my hair - it hit me that she would have been 57 on that day - December 12. It is such a mixed feeling to think that I have lived longer than she did. It is mind boggling to know that she has been dead longer than she was alive.  When I think of her - I am grateful. For everything.

I am certain that my personality today was directly affected by her absence. The  trajectory of my life is forever changed by events that took place back on August 19, 1976 and I am forever grateful.

Authentic gratitude is not flimsy - it really looking at a person, an event, a situation - fill in the blank and seeing past the immediate view and understanding the how all things contribute to our lives.  The dictionary definition of gratitude is "the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful".  

There are obvious positive connotations to that but I assert that we also have to be grateful for the tragedies.  

I have no idea why my mom was allowed so little time on this earth but I am grateful that she was here - even for that ever so brief moment.

I am thankful for my life. I am thankful that Betty Jean Jackson met Albert Wilmer.

I am grateful for my family.

I am grateful for my career and all the new twists and turns it is taking.

In the holiday period - we all reflect on gratefulness a bit more - I challenge you in the new year to be grateful always. 

Make it a habit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Natural Hair = More Natural Through and Through

Back in April - after a few salon mishaps and a general MUST DO SOMETHING NEW with my hair feeling - I decided to "go natural". You can see the photos before and now - it is quite a transformation! The transformation is not only on the top of my head. I assert tonight that it is much deeper than that... read on.

For black women - you hair is your crown. It is a generalization that is pretty on target. (take a look at the black women in your life or just black women you see at work or on the street or on TV over the next few days - you will see what I mean, if you don't already know)

As a professional black woman - the decision to go natural came only after I'd recently changed jobs so the "fear" of my natural hair (kinky tight little curls on their way to a beautiful full afro) would not hinder my confidence. It also must be noted that my entire life - I've treated my hair - either straightened it or had some kind of chemical in it to control it and make it look "presentable." 

I spent many weeks online looking to others who been on the journey before... my favorite was TraceMa - who made a rap about "going nappy" and I highly recommend it for a good laugh and inspiration to do anything radical in your life

Through this process - I noticed that "going natural" REALLY meant more than just the follicles on my head and I challenge you to do the same.  This is NOT a case for "natural hair" but a chat on what "letting go" can truly mean.

Look at these statements about my hair and see how they are parallel to life in general:

My hair was and is a representation of who I am - taking off the "mask" of chemically treating it really altered my view of myself for the better. 

When I look in the mirror - I fall in love with the inconsistencies I see in my hair. The funky grays are wild but not like before - now all the hair around the gray is wild too! My new hair has a life of its own.  I let go of control over the "outcome" of my hair on a daily basis and I like what is happening.

A bad hair day is really insignificant because I no longer take time to control the "outcome"

In the early days - when people were reacting to my natural hair - there were times when I was very uncomfortable but the longer I am natural - I barely notice reactions anymore. They may still be there but they don't matter to me.

Some people outright told me they liked it and others were very critical (what did you do to your hair? Shock look with "you got a hair cut") - neither comment matters - I am not overly flattered with the validation nor does the criticism shake my resolve to have natural hair

I have tried many "products" to help enhance the curls or nurture the style. It is fun to try them but only my precious care routine really makes the difference.

Ultimately - my natural hair has freed up time and caused me to rely on my instincts- a picked out fro today or a headband  tomorrow or just curly, curly - no nothing.

Do you see a pattern? All these statements could be applied to a career choice, accepting yourself at your current weight or size or those relationship woes that seem to linger with your loved ones.

I spent many years trying to control my hair and in the end  - it really controlled me. Now my hair is just a "part" of my identity  - and the place that it once held for me is now reserved for bigger more important issues.

Did I mention that I love my new nappy hair?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Week - New Era

This Sunday morning I wake up in a new era of my career. I am officially a motivational speaker and teacher.

Last week - I started the week as a corporate marketer with a ton of plans, dreams and aspirations of bigger, better things.

What a difference a week makes? I even feel different. Let me catch you up on things....

I started this blog in late October, in preparation of my new career. At the time - I'd started down a path to schedule one motivational talk within six weeks. Well I made two calls that week and tentatively scheduled FOUR TALKS. All different audiences but a very common similarity - people who could possibly be touched by my knowledge and my gift. No solid dates were booked and no outlines were written. One of the talks was a class I dreamed up for our park district in an effort to reach the busy adults in our community that spend 98% of their time "developing" their offspring through activity. Honestly - I had no idea where all this would net out. I am an eternal optimist and knew that a positive outcome was in store but no one could have told me that this transformation week would come less than two months into my quest.

This past week - SEVEN WEEKS from when I decided to pursue my new career - I had my first motivational talk. The same day - I got home and the  2009 Winter/Spring Activities Brochure from the Lake in the Hills Park District Parks and Recreation was in my mailbox with my class on page 27.

Tuesday night I spoke at my alma mater, Judson University to a group of sophomore young ladies about integrating your faith into your daily life - "Living What You Believe" - was the title.  My class for LITH is called "Expert You! - Discover Your Inner Passion and Put It To Work Today!" I am speaking to a group of McHenry County moms the third week in January.

Did I mention that I am also running for an elected Trustee position for my village? The other thing that happened this week to confirm the transformation was the fact that at an event for my daughter - a fellow mom - introduced me to someone not only as Emma's mom but as a candidate for Village Trustee.

All my thoughts, day dreams and planning are bearing fruit and much sooner than I'd expected. 

The message to you today? - Go get it! Whatever "IT " is  - go and start doing "IT" today! 

I'd been in planning mode for my future career since the spring and really had no progress other than some notes in lots of places. It was not until I made the first call in late October did it become a reality.

You will be surprised at what just a few steps (even baby ones) in the direction you want will deliver towards your goals.

I am and continue to be... join me on the journey!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Authentic Connections - In Honor of My New West Coast Buddy!

This past weekend, I sent a pal of mine off to start a new life on the West Coast. You can see us here at the party.

At the farewell soiree, I met other folks equally sad to see him go. The common thread in the room was this person who has an amazing gift of connecting with people - almost instantly.

Much to my surprise - I was one of the most recent folks "smitten" with Phil and, in contrast to almost everyone else in the room, I'd met him online.

After telling a few people our amazing "connection story" - it hit me just how unique it was.

You see - I met Phil on LinkedIn in June 2007. From shortly thereafter, we began this whirlwind friendship where we really only saw each other a few times in person but OH did we connect. Whether it was the formation of our trademark organization, S.N.B.P. or our marathon chats about everything from politics to our common interest of everything sports, we truly connected and have an extraordinary friendship.

As always, I spent the last few days unpacking my thoughts about Phil, his move, our friendship and this amazing thing... the authentic connection with another human being.

Here are a few things I imagine when I think of authentic connections with other people:

One - There is no "right place" for a good connection, only an open heart and mind.

Two - Authentic connections have no time issues. You know you've connected with someone authentically when the space between your last contact does not diminish the depth of your sharing.

Three - Man or woman - gender really doesn't matter. There was time when I'd say "Oh, I connect more easily with guys" That was so far from the truth - see addendum to point one

Four - Mutual respect makes every topic a relevant one - people who are authentically connected can talk to each other about all topics - regardless of whether they agree or not - the respect for one another fuels the spirited discussion that always ends with "Thanks, I never thought it that way."

Five - Authentic connections are never broken. This is a bold one but one I stand by. Neither time, nor distance or the most common connection breaker - conflicts, can keep people who are authentically connected apart. It is through our conflicts that we grow with one another. This will start a controversy but I believe that folks who have drifted completely out of my life - never to be heard from again were never authentically connected to me, nor I to them. How do I know this is true - FACEBOOK. Man, I have re-kindled connections dating back to high school, my first job - people I met traveling in Europe - there is a person I cherish from every era of my life within my 197 connections. Are all 197 connections authentic? I would say 90% are. There is the 10% of folks who I knew only in passing but I would argue that if I did not feel connected to them - they must have felt connected to me to even ask me to be their FB friend.

So - now I push it to you...

What (in your mind) makes an authentic connection possible with another person?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Authentic Bargain Hunters

I was at the mall today before 5 am and I saw hundreds - no THOUSANDS of people there. Some waiting outside in 27 degree temps to enter Sears while others packed Kohls, Walmart and JC Penneys. I was there because I work for a retailer - so I HAD to be there.

I love to make my money go farther - just like the next person, but I can honestly say - I am not an "authentic" bargain hunter.

There are limits for me.

There are temperatures and lines that I just won't deal with.

So today - I came to the realization that as much as I like the hunt and love to save money (anyone who knows me knows if you compliment me on something I have on - I'll quote you the great deal - I got, when and where)  - I am just a lukewarm bargain hunter.

I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Authentic Belief

Everyday we live - we all make choices about what we believe.  In those times when we think we are not making a choice, we are especially making choices.

Today - I ask you to choose wisely.

Do you believe in a Higher Power?

Do you believe in yourself? Your abilities and skills? Are you making choices that affirm your beliefs as it relates to your job or career?

Do you believe in the brands you align yourself with on a daily, hourly basis?

In my constant effort to challenge myself to be my best - every day - I thoughtfully choose to align myself with my beliefs as much as possible. Do I succeed every time? Not even close. 

However - I've found that acknowledging and honoring my beliefs is a daily exercise. It is second nature to me now and I am succeeding in the long term proposition.

How are you doing?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Authentic Ownership of My Crap

This was a fun weekend overall. However, there were moments  - beyond my control - that just blew.  I did fine for the first of these moments but failed miserably on the last one. Why?

Because I lost it.

Yep, full on yelling, angry frothing mad - loud Denise appeared tonight and just ruined the ending to our otherwise happy weekend. Now - something you must know about me - I am one to right the wrongs and right away. I have apologized and vowed to work on it - again - not an empty promise. I will immediately add it to my ever growing list of the self-development issues to work on starting now.

Now as I decompress and start to prepare for my week - a few things came to mind:

One  - "You were provoked"
Two - "My goodness - how much more could you actually take......"
Three - "You did well on the first five crappy things that happened - give yourself a break..."
Four -" ________ deserved it, after all ___ has not done _______ or ________ and you have been _________.

All of the above may be true but each statement is an excuse for me not being my best tonight. Who ever wants to be almost good enough? We want to be our best as often as possible and I was not earlier and guess whose fault that is?

Mine and mine alone.

SO - the next time you fail to be your best (whether it be at work with that annoying person who speaks to you in the condescending voice or when you are with  your significant other who is  just clueless  at times ) - do me and everyone around you a favor - own it and move on.

Don't waste one minute rationalizing less than stellar behavior - own it. Apologize. And most importantly  - understand why you go there -  to that nasty place and figure out how to return less often.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Name the Tune that Moves You

Since it is Friday and I will be in the city with the family this weekend with little time to post - I thought I'd leave you with a fun nugget for the weekend!

What is your theme song?

For me there are two - the first is "Baby, I'm a Star!" by Prince. This song is from his Purple Rain album and it rocks. Sure it's upbeat and make you want to move - but I LOVE the lyrics. My favorite line being "HEY! I ain't got no money but honey I'm rich on personality." That is so on point for me. This has been my theme song for many years now - whenever I hear it - I perk up and sometimes I play it to cheer myself up on a dull day!

My other theme song is "Better is One Day" by Matt Redman. This is a newer theme song for me - only about 7 or 8 months but also on point for me. The refrain is "Better is one day in Your courts , Better is one day in Your house, Better is one day in Your courts Than thousands elsewhere." This song really ministered to me this past year as I faced so serious trials in my personal and professional life. The amazing part- is this - I agree 100% with each word in this song and that is a rare thing. No matter where I am (on the mountaintop or deep in the valley) as long as God is with me (and believe me - he is ALWAYS with me) I'd rather be there than anywhere else.

So now I throw it to you - what is your theme song? What song picks you up like no other? Don't leave me hanging!

Enjoy your weekend!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Priorities - Does your activity reflect yours?

This has been a busy week.

As I unpack all the "activity", I am challenged with making sure that it is activity that adds value to my life and goals. So let's take a look:

Monday night, I had my first campaign strategy meeting with  a few advisors. Exciting!

Tuesday night, Isael and I had our periodic couples night together - enlightening and hard work

Tonight -  After the kids sleep, I will be preparing publicity and an outline for my first motivational talk, Dec 2

Tomorrow - I will be bonding with some co-workers whom I committed to hanging out with over a month ago

Friday - OPEN

Saturday - Family Day and night in the city for the light the night festival on Michigan Avenue and a Cheetah Girls concert and fireworks show

All activity honors my core values. All activity is value add to my long term goals. 

Suddenly, I don't feel "busy".   All is right and balanced in my world.

Can you say the same?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Authentic Appreciation

On this blessed day - my 37th birthday (exclusive scoop as I only reference anniversaries to my 29th birthday) I am reflecting on the things I appreciate:

I appreciate the very breath I am breathing today.

I appreciate my fabulous family:

Isael - my loving, funny, intelligent husband who's had a rough year but is stepping up to the challenge of taking our marriage to the next level. 

Emma - my first born - delicate little lady who inspires me to be pretty - the best shopping partner EVER, sensitive, tender-hearted doll whom I enjoy more everyday.

Evan - my rebellious, witty, adventurous little boy who loves to punch me as much as he  loves to kiss me who is the glue that keeps our family together

I appreciate the brains, talent and strong will that God gave me that will propel me in the coming year (tune in - I know that this will be a big year!)

I appreciate all the wonderful supporters in all areas of my life - you know who you are and there are too many to name here - I appreciate you all!

I appreciate the close set of friends I have - you have SO been there for me -  some for 18 + years and some only becoming close since 2008 started - regardless - you rock!!

I appreciate this great nation I live in.

I appreciate the freedom to start my own gig.

I appreciate the opportunity to run for public office.

I appreciate the fact that I have this forum to express.

Thanks for tuning in!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Campaign is SO ON!

Tonight - I spoke with a friend who just happened to be a regional captain for Barack Obama's campaign in the midwest. We like to say that she personally helped deliver the state of Ohio and she lives in Huntley, IL.

She reached out to me because she'd heard that I was "taking Paula's seat" on the Village Board.

Of course, I corrected her and said "Well, actually, I am mounting a campaign for her seat" She corrected me and stated, "No, I said what I meant. There is no one better suited for this post and we need to speak what we want to be - now"

She proceeded to offer me her help and said that I could count on her for anything.


Unfocused and proud of it!

I am in a season of my life that is unpredictable and I can honestly say I love it!

As a life-long planner of all things - heck we cleaned up last weekend for Thanksgiving guests that are not going to arrive for two more weeks - it is fun to be flying by the seat of my pants in a very important area of my life - my vocational/career future.

Let me summarize what's going on so you follow:

Remember, when I started this blog what my deal was....

I want to start my own company - not sure exactly what it will revolve around - I wanted to take some of my knowledge about marketing and leadership, combine it with personal branding and  help people go after their dreams. Write books - conduct workshops - get invited to keynote conferences on marketing, leadership  - Faith in the Workplace - build an EMPIRE!!!

So - at the prompting of my life coach - I actually pitched this idea to a few entities and now have scheduled a talk for a community group and another for university dorm program. I've got two pending talks to schedule and I've only made two sales calls - 4 for 2 is definitely good odds. Imagine what could happen if I devoted more time!

I started a blog - which took an extremely personal turn in the last few weeks but serves as my central hub for communicating with those who want to observe this journey. 

THEN - a local political leader has agreed to help me explore my potential as a public servant - serving our little village. I picked the packet and Monday night we are strategizing my candidacy for Trustee of our village. I am SO in the race and I want to win!

M. Denise 5 months ago - would have said "whoa, whoa, whoa - I did not plan this so I need to step back and think about it... yadda yadda yadda"

Today  - I was reminded of the last time I let go of control and went with the flow. 

It was August of 2000.  In a Best Buy - I met a cute Mexican guy who would join me on the journey I was planning to Spain to find true love (ironic isn't), have an international work adventure and generally pursue my dreams of big things that were not happening for me here in the US.

I remember vividly thinking that fall - that settling down was SO NOT in the plan.

Meeting a guy in the US was SO NOT in the plan.

Coming home after 7 months overseas was SO NOT in the plan.

Well I love how things turned out the last time I let go.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Authentic Obedience = Blessings

Today - I had the chance to be obedient to God and I took it.  I was blessed tremendously in the process. 

Ok so that is way oversimplifying the situation. In actuality - God asked me to do something a few months back. It was sort of frightening and sobering all at once but very clear,  his instruction: the reason you are thinking and praying so much for this person is because they need your forgiveness. You have forgiven them and so it should be no big deal to reach out to them, He seemed to say to me in my daily quiet time at 5:10 am. Because of the hour - I'd seriously been thinking I was delusional and imagining His request. But then it came at other times of the day when I stopped to give Him space and pray.

He was telling me to reach out to someone who'd recently hurt me. Someone who had betrayed my friendship and trust and  I am not going to lie - I flat out did not want to do it.  I rationalized at every point, reasons why that could not possibly be God's will.

Last Sunday - I stopped fighting and embraced this destiny and today chose His way instead of my own. In fact - I prayed constantly that He'd join us for lunch and that He'd speak more than me, that He'd show up and give grace if the person wanted forgiveness. Funny - they did not actually say they were sorry nor did they own completely their error - but the sheer humility and sorrow for what they'd done was clear and I extended the grace.

Obviously - I will never know what Jesus feels when we come to Him  - broken and afraid, empty and sorrowful but I do know how I felt when I reached across the table and extended myself to comfort the person who had hurt me so just a few months back. 

I felt whole. I felt as though the work that God has been doing to help me move on and be stronger was a little more complete because I listened to Him.

All parties involved in this situation felt the same relief today - freedom from the bondage of unforgiveness and conflict - all because I listened to Him.

I love that.

If God is calling you to something today - do not wait - do it immediately  and if you feel you can't do it immediately - ask Him to strengthen you to do it sooner, rather than later. 

You will not regret it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Humble Monday

Good Monday to all.

What a Monday it was... a little trying, very tiring but most of all very tough as I was thinking ever constantly about my friend who buried her 3 year old today.

Regardless of what is going on - nothing in my world could come close to the heartbreak that she must be experiencing now and I am continuing my prayers for her comfort.

I got a comment to my post from Friday that struck me rather odd..

The comment said, "You mention that you pray with your children. Where is the father figure? A family that prays together stays together. Amen"

Wow - does that strike anyone else as slightly harsh? I'm only a few weeks into blogging and love the open forum of it all but MAN - that seems extremely judgmental.

Since you asked, soccermom - I'll gladly tell you.  The "father figure" is not a figure at all, he is here with us.  (he is in the photo above with us) We have been married almost 8 years and we are very thankful for our family. Interesting that you picked up on the fact that I did not mention him praying with us on that occasion.  It is really immaterial to the story in the blog.   I racked my brain to think of what positive point you could have been making and came up with nothing.  Luckily - my husband is not a regular reader to the blog just yet. Otherwise - he might be inclined to remind me of why he is not as far on his spiritual journey as I am on mine. You see - my husband is slowly getting his head around grace and mercy from Christ but does not believe it exists between humans. A comment like yours would surely have confirmed to him that Christians sit around waiting to pounce on an opportunity to judge - point out where others fall short and generally remind everyone else of the cliches that many cling to instead of the verses that inspired the cliche to begin with.

Maybe you meant nothing by the comment (and I truly hope that is the case) but it came across negatively. Thought you'd like to know that.

SO - that brings me to my big thought of the day... humility. So many times today - I found myself in the most humble of positions - whether it be during  my quiet time contemplating the greatness of the God I serve or at work when asked to do tasks that are certainly well below my expertise - it is in those moments that we should look at ourselves and remember to 

Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly

That's the bright blue bracelet in the photo - my daily reminder of this from Micah 6:8

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hope in the midst of devastation: In Honor of Bryson Alexander Lightfoot

Today - I got news that rocked my world. A former co-worker and friend's three year old son suddenly passed away on Wednesday night.

This reverberated with me all day. You see my son Evan is the exact same age and was in a class that recessed with little Bryson's class. I could not stop myself from crying at the thought of his little face smiling at me daily as we passed one another on the way in and out of the Sears Child Development Center.  I thought of his mom, Monica who sat next to me and helped me laugh at every Tuesday's  buyer meeting from March until she left us to pursue unknown adventures in Sept. I thought of the last thing I said to her before she left - "I'm going to miss you but this is not goodbye. We will get the boys together when you come to town to move home." "You got it" she agreed.

Well since she asked that we not call her during this time, I want to send her this message in case she stumbles upon this on one of the nights in the future when she can't sleep or think of anything except her little cherub.

Monica,  I love you and ache for you now. Although I cannot even imagine the pain that must be piercing your heart at this time - I can tell you this. God loves you and he loves your family. He does not make mistakes and nothing happens that he does not allow.

I don't know why Bryson was called home after such a short time on this earth but I know that his life inspired many people already. Remember Ang from the daycare? When I shared the news with her today - she wept and spoke of how much she loved him and was so deeply hurt for you and your husband. She went on to say how she must do something positive to honor his life.  Tonight at home when I share with my seven year old why I was so sad and had the blood red eyes - she said, "Mom, I am so sorry. I say we hug and cherish our Evan more" and promptly hugged me and went to hug her brother. Additionally, as we prayed tonight before bed - she comforted me as I wept for you by saying - "Mom, you know that Bryson is with Jesus now." She is 100% right.  It inspired me to pray a prayer I used to pray often..

Lord - I thank you for my children. I thank you that you have entrusted me with them - because they are not mine, they are yours. 

Whenever I prayed that in the past - I could hardly say it without choking up. With the news of the loss of Bryson - I will renew that prayer and learn to really mean it because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

When you are ready - Monica, please know I am here. I will be praying without ceasing for you and your family.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Authentic Contemplation

Of course this post is going to seem manufactured but bear with me.

I am exploring an opportunity to run for local office here in Lake in the Hills, IL. 

This journey started many years ago in high school when I was fascinated with politics. Student government was in my blood throughout high school and college. As an adult - first, I worked on the late John Stroger's first campaign for Cook County board in 1993/4. He won. Then I worked on John Nordquist's mayoral re-election campaign when I lived in Milwaukee in the mid 90s. He won and I was hooked.

Local politics has always captivated me. This year it took a much more personal tone. A local LITH village trustee decided to challenge the McHenry County board incumbents who had run UNOPPOSED for the last 20-30 years. She invited me to a fundraiser in Feb at her house and I really felt that I'd connected with her and we kept in touch. In September, she called me to canvass door-to-door with her. I did it for four weekends and at the tail end of one of our joint outings - the candidate's husband Mike said to me. "You're a natural at this and now you've introduced yourself to everyone in the neighborhood. If Paula wins - you should think about running for her seat on the village board"

I laughed and said I'd consider it.

Well - Paula Yensen won a seat on the county board last night and pledged her support to me if I truly want to run.

Public service is so much apart of me. Funny - I have practically been begging God to reveal to me where I can best leverage my talents and I started this blog and moved down a path to motivational speaking. Could this be the answer?

It certainly honors three of my most cherished values - recognition (your friends and neighbors voting for you is the ultimate recognition) - compassion for others (it is truly a sacrifice to put yourself out there and you must really love your community, village city , COUNTRY to go in to public service) and pioneering/trailblazing (the challenge to manage a city, state etc.etc is constantly changing and in need of new and innovative ideas and people with the resilience to lead)

Now - the day after Barack Obama has accomplished something many thought they'd never see - this may  seems manufactured. It is not. In honor of the spirit by which I started this blog - it is an authentic part of me and just as I SO HAPPENED to meet LL Cool J the day after I started the blog - the candidate I helped propel into office offered her full support of my candidacy to replace her on our city board.

There are no coincidences in life. Only God's plan for us that was written before we were born.

I am in authentic contemplation. The election is in early March and deadlines are looming.

I'll keep you posted on my decision. 

I told you this would be a journey. 

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lighter Fare on Halloween

This is a holiday that I've been conflicted by for most of my life.

You see I don't like being scared nor do I really dig the whole getting dressed up thing.

Candy and trick-o-treating was always the draw for me. Thank God I became a mom 7 years ago so now I get to participate in the only ways I love.

I would love for my peeps (that's you) to tell me their thoughts about Halloween.

Enjoy the day and I'll post pictures of my costumed cherubs tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Authentic Demotivation

In case you were wondering...

Something that sucks the life from you or causes you to question yourself and your abilities constantly is my definition of demotivation.

Any person, company or situation you find yourself in contact with that causes the above reaction requires you to move on. Run the other way. Fast.


Demotivation kills. It kills the spirit. It kills ideas and it kills hope.

Without hope - we have nothing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Authentic Motivation


What a powerful word. If you have it - great. 

If you don't, then what?

I'll tell you what - you have some work to do. 

I define motivation as "that which moves us". With that basic definition - motivation can be positive or negative.  We have all been exposed to this... when one says "She is self-motivated" they are saying that that person needs no motivation - she is literally moving herself. Conversely, when we hear some say "She is just not motivated" - they are literally saying - she is not moving.

So where are you?

Today, I can say I am moving forward with my plans. I know precisely what moves me and I am honoring that now. It does not hurt that fear of getting older and missing my goals is motivating me  - I say - whatever it takes to keep us moving forward.

 I challenge everyone to stop and think about what moves you... if it is not working - you need to go back to the drawing board.

Authentic motivation knows no fear. Authentic motivation moves forward in any economy under all circumstances.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today I met LL Cool J. How's that for God confirming my step of faith launching this blog

Is there anyone out there in celebrity land that personifies authenticity more than James Todd Smith aka LL Cool J? I think not. Especially after today. 

So last night - I launched this blog as a step of faith. You see for the last year, I was in this conundrum of not knowing/fully honoring my values in my work life. Well I did know them but not until I engaged with a life coach (that's right, type-A, choleric, control freak me engaged an awesome life coach this past summer), I was not fully focused on how to live them out as much as possible. Now, I am not naive enough to believe that any "job" or corporate career is ever truly going to allow me to honor all of my values - that must be done on my own terms. Since I did not have a clear  business idea or plan and we need to eat,  I was in the familiar circle that many live in all their lives - mediocracy.  (I am aware that this may be harsh but I am going for real, not friendly.) My definition for mediocracy is knowing better and doing nothing more than you have to. I was headed there. Until last week.

Back in July, my life coach and I outlined my core values and I'd danced around the following ideas that I wanted to pursue:

Write a book about marketing
Write a book about overcoming life's difficulties
Becoming a motivational speaker
Start an online silver jewelry business
Start a blog

Last week, she challenged me to do one of the above in the NEXT SIX WEEKS- schedule and conduct a motivational speech. I accepted her challenge and without a solid plan - I made a call to schedule a motivational talk and guess what? They bit. I am conducting a workshop for busy adults who want to capture their value proposition and motivate them to "do something they always wanted to do" in early 2009 through the Village of Lake in the Hills Park District. I am also close to scheduling a talk for a McHenry County Moms Group. 

Last night, while messing around on someone else's blog - I clicked the "Create a blog" link and started this forum. 

Most of today - I just relished in the week's accomplishments and asked God, could this be the start of my empire... I literally asked him to show me that I was on the right path during my 5:15 am daily chat with him.  Here's how the day unfolded:

1. Our speaker at the Marketing Town Hall meeting was Doug Akin from Mr. Youth - a cool marketing agency that specializes and advises companies on how to reach consumers the way they want to be reached. The first point of his talk was Authenticity Trumps Celebrity. 

2. I had no intention of going to a holiday pep rally we had today to gear us up for the holiday season with special guest LL Cool J. I had too much to do and did not want to be part of a mob of screaming grown women to see him. I'd asked to get invited to one of the VIP meet and greet and got the Heisman. As I was walking back to my desk the swell of people had gathered in our company atrium and I decided to participate as a participant. Anyone who knows me (and you will get to as you follow this blog)  KNOWS that I am not a good participant. I lead by nature so it was a little weird to be one of many in the crowd. 

LL started to speak and I smiled as he addressed the crowd - reveling in the fact that I really believed his sincerity about his excitement about the partnership with Sears.  He went on to talk about his desire to help us make a 'comeback' - he kept it real. It was obvious that no one on our marketing team told him what to say and that was refreshing considering Jaclyn Smith had been on campus a few weeks back and was reading from cards. Who know if they were her words or not - doesn't matter - we knew that LL was speaking from his heart and it showed. 

3.  I got the chance to shake his hand and take a picture with LL Cool J and he was absolutely humble, charming and extremely down to earth.  We did not speak long but as God would have it - as I handed the camera to Melissa  - her memory card was full. We are already in position for the photo as I apologized for the delay - he clearly said, "It is no problem. I am here for you guys - don't worry," all while squeezing my shoulder and maintaining the close contact. I thanked him and he flashed the trademark smile. It was real - not rushed or manufactured. He genuinely enjoyed his fans and as I was scooting to a meeting 1 hour and 15 minutes later -he was still in the atrium signing autographs and taking pictures. That is real. 

Without question - my day and the people I encountered were put in my path for me to KNOW that my decision to launch this blog, with this name, at this time was ordained. 

I smell an empire brewing....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here we go!

For months now, I have talked of launching a blog but contemplated the subject. Should it be... leadership related? Possibly. Should I blog about my many adventures (and mis-adventures) as a lifelong marketer and guide others with the wisdom? Maybe.

Since I have not quite decided that leaves me with launching a blog that honors one of my core values... authenticity.

Precisely today - while in a brief but great conversation with a good friend who lives across the country from me, I stressed the importance of authenticity in the people I surround myself with. I pontificated on the importance of being consistent.

So I cannot promise that I will blog every day nor can I guarantee the topic. What I can assure you is the fact that whatever is discussed on these pages will be as real and true to who I am.

Hopefully you'll be interested enough to join me on the journey.