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.