Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Fluid New World

Complex fluid/Complex flow
Years ago, someone told me  that my personality was more fluid than linear.

At the time, I have to admit I had little idea what it really meant but liked knowing it and kept the concept.

As I've grown older, I've learned quite a bit more about the concept and without question, I am much more fluid that linear in most instances while in other cases, I am extremely linear. It really all depends what the challenge is. This is especially true for me now as a business owner.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the two as I am utilizing them below:

Fluid:   subject to change or movement

Linear: of, relating to, or based or depending on sequential development 

That stated, one thing I know for sure - regardless of where you are on this axiom - the world is more fluid than it has ever been. Concepts, ideas and actions move at a lightening fast pace versus 30 or 40 years ago. People have to adapt and then adapt again so much now that the only certainty is uncertainty itself. 

How do you react to this?

Does this freak you out?

Are you defiant in "sticking with what works"?

Do you just go with the flow?

Your quality of life depends on how you answer those questions.

This will seem trivial but should illustrate my point well. I have lived most of my life in the Chicago area. Before the last few years, it was pretty predictable how our seasons go. Winter was simple. Cold. Frigid. Colder. Fridger. We rarely had spring as it would often be very cold into April and early May and by June we'd all be complaining about the heat. Fall was always my favorite season because Chicago often had Indian Summers that one day in December (sometimes November) just give way to the aforementioned Winter pattern. 

Not so much anymore. 

It is January and yesterday it was hovering around freezing with sheets of ice covering my porch and sidewalk when I went out to walk my dog for the last time at 8 pm. This morning, on that same walk,  on that same walkway - it was a balmy 51 degrees. We had a weather prediction that we'd see 50s on Wed. I looked right before I slept only to look now and see that it has changed again and we can expect it be 18 degrees on Thursday.

Who knows what will actually happen, the point is this. We must be fluid in our responses to this fluid weather situation. We must bundle up when it is cold. We must lighten the layers when it is not. That can sometimes occur in the same 24 hours - no matter. In order to navigate Chicago, you have to adapt to our new fluid weather pattern.

Same goes with other areas of life. Our work. Our recreation. Our relationships.

We must come at them with an open mind for change. We must equip ourselves with tools to handle whatever comes our way. We must embrace the change with flexible arms to let it go, should it be necessary.

Think about all the "systems" you belong to... church, political, community, work, family etc etc. When was the last time things consistently stayed the same in those arenas? Of course, your answer was never. People change. Things change. Situations change. 

Whether you lean toward more linear thinking or are super fluid in your patterns - our fluid new world offers us the chance to practice moving through change frequently. Your quality of life depends on your adapting skills to all this change.

What are other thoughts on this topic? Let me hear yours!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Epitome of Hope

My whirlwind trip to DC to attend the 57th Inauguration Ceremonies for President Obama was spectacular. I cannot tell you exactly how many precious moments I experienced. I am still walking in clouds having had the opportunity to go at the last minute.

Several people have already asked me to distill it - what was my favorite moment or memory? With so many to choose from, you'd think it would be hard but it was not. Without question, hearing from the widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers was the best moment of the entire trip.  When I was boarding my flight back - I kept remembering her words.

"As we sing the words of belief, ‘this is my country,’ let us act upon the meaning that everyone is included. May the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of every woman, man, boy and girl be honored. May all your people, especially the least of these, flourish in our blessed nation. One hundred fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors, which has allowed us to move from a nation of unborn hopes and a history of disenfranchised [votes] to today’s expression of a more perfect union.”

Her country. My country. Your country. Our country.

This, from a woman  who in her younger years witnessed her young husband gunned down in their carport with their 3 young children nearby. I bristled, not at the cold wind that blew after hours of standing outside, no. I bristled thinking that many people NEVER come back from what she experienced. Their lives get torn apart by something or someone beyond their own control and they never recover. Never.

Yet, before me - before the world, this woman, Myrlie Evers-Williams took an extraordinarily difficult and painful situation and converted it to her own triumph. To mine. To ours.

Google her. She talks about very openly about the years she spent many years in the wake of her tragedy hopeless, bitter and vengeful. But alas she forgave. Not for Byron De la Beckwith, the white supremacist  who took her husband's life. She forgave for herself, her kids and even for me. Any other path she may have chosen would not have enabled her to have the impact she's had on our country's comeback. And the comeback is still happening. People like Myrlie are reminder of our broken and bitter past that we must face in order to truly move our country forward to the future we all say we want  - peace, justice and equality for all.

Myrlie Evers-Williams made history at the 57th Inauguration being the first woman and first layperson to deliver the inaugural invocation. I am so proud of her and humbled to have been in the same space she occupied, even for a moment. Her struggle and triumph is fuel for me and my endeavors. Her husband literally gave his life so that I can do what I am doing today,  in this great country - pursuing my dream.

Thanks Ms. Evers-Williams, I am so grateful for all you've done and continue to do. You are the epitome of hope for the United States of America

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Audacious Faith: Dr King Had It - Do You?

Another rare photo of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King smiling.

For the second year in a row, I've intentionally sought out a photo of Dr. King smiling. Today on what would have been his 84th birthday, I am remembering him for something I am channeling in my life this year:

Audacious Faith

Dr. King is known worldwide for having audacious faith in the face of circumstantial hopelessness. It appeared to everyone else that "things were not gonna change for a long while." If you listen to his last speech - you hear it. Defending the sanitation workers in Memphis on a stormy night, you can hear his resolve. You can hear his immovable, unshakable faith in his movement. Until the day he died, he believed wholeheartedly in himself, his convictions.

Dr. King was in rare air. Uncharted territory. Yet he still said, faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

Today, I am uplifted paralleling my journey to his.

My quest to revolutionize relationships on planet Earth is in full force. I am privileged to build on the mission every day by spreading the word as a strategic business partner helping organizations and agencies reach their goals by igniting the people who will carry out the plans.

Is it scary? Definitely.

But if Dr. King can press forward in the face of the 1960s and all that  - then the least I can do is have that same faith in my mission and keep at it.

Thanks Dr. King.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Me! Me! Me! January is All About Me!

Every January, people all over the world come out of their holiday, year end festivity comas to self-reflect.

Like clockwork, all the imagery is about improving ourselves, we are encouraged to "turn over a new leaf" and get "back in shape!"

That is all fine except one thing. Self-reflecting, self-nurturing, taking stock should not be an annual ritual. It should not be a novelty that follows a time when we are universally encouraged to think more of others. Isn't brilliant marketing to quickly shift from the holidays when we think almost exclusively of others to focusing solely on ourselves - and especially our appearance? Brilliant and toxic - all at once. We are much more than how we look. We are spiritual beings and taking time to spend time thinking about and nurturing ourselves should not be annual pass time. We need to make self-reflection a regular pass time. Here are the reasons why:

What We Think About, We Care About

Have you ever noticed where you spend your time? It is super, no make that uber important to be mindful of how we spend our time.  Where we spend our time and energy reflects what important to us. Now, if you spend almost no time thinking about yourself, your actions, your needs - how likely do you believe it is that you will be able to move the needle in your life.  We have to give ourselves time and space to think about us - think all about me. What I love? What I hate? Where do I want to be someday? What am I doing to get there? We must think of ourselves and this is especially true for moms who tend to be among the most selfless folks on the planet. Thinking of and caring for yourself is not selfish, it is essential - especially if you intend to care for others.

Caring For Ourselves Makes Us Care Better For Others

This is a fact. I remember early in my motherhood, I had a martyr like view of being a mom. "If I can do everything for Emma, show her how much I love her, all will be well," was the chief deception I held in the early days. This was also present within my marriage. "I will do anything to show Isael that I appreciate him, his family,  his culture so he knows I love him," was the place I operated from. Then the demands of a second child arrived with sweet Evan and work pressures pressed in and one day I noticed how I'd skip a hair appointment or not make time for myself on a regular basis.  I got a glance of myself in the mirror and I was a hot mess. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked liked hell and felt worse. What did I have to give to my sweet young family? Nothing and I stopped that practice in its tracks.  Today, I am stingy about daily quiet time in the morning. I make time to run weekly. Monthly I get a manicure. I feel fantastic and that flows over into my roles as a wife and mom. I care for myself so THAT I can care for others.

I challenge you in the new year to take time for you every day remembering how it will help you and those you do life with. Taking time only once a year to reflect and focus on you is not nearly enough. If the daily ask is too big of a stretch, then I say start with "monthly me times".  Pick a time each month to think and do just for you. Then graduate up to weekly so that by the end of this year you can make your self-reflection and self-nurturing a daily habit.

Come back to our blog throughout this year and we'll give you encouragement in this task often. 

You are worth it!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013: Fearless and Digging Ditches

As 2012 was drawing to to a close, I was desperately looking for a theme and subsequently a "hashtag" for this new year. Last year, the breakout year for Relationships Matter Now, LLC as a full-time venture made the theme and hashtag easy - #2012Rocks.

Even with the year taking off to fast start with a big lucrative project only to come to a complete stop in April (yes barely 90 days later) trickling in very little income regularly again until June, 2012 still rocked. On those most difficult days, I'd look for the lesson and remind myself at the end of most tweets - that  #2012Rocks. It was a great mantra and it kept me going especially on days when fear would creep in and try to convince me otherwise. I would not change one minute of 2012. So finding the right mantra and fit for 2013 was especially important.

Like most social media creatures - I put out cries for help in the usual places, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and got some great feedback but nothing really stuck.

Then it hit me.

New Year's Eve.

I'm celebrating at a party. Lots of live music. Tons of people. Great food. Pure enjoyment. Pure pleasure. Then I glance at Facebook and a friend asked - "What will be your "theme" or goals for 2013?" This friend posted that question after revealing that Simplicity, Security and Dreams would be their family's theme for 2013.  I loved what they'd written and stopped in my tracks to think about mine.

Very little time passed and it came to me in two part harmony... Fearless and Digging Ditches. Right there in the basement in Joliet, I remembered a fantastic talk that closed the first day of the Willowcreek Association 2011 Global Leadership Summit by Steven Furtick entitled Audacious Faith.  Steven is a hot young preacher and I mean preacher not pastor  - google him to see what I mean - from Charlotte NC with one of the fastest growing ministries in the the country. He gave a fantastic but simple talk that came back to me 1 year and 4 months later there in the basement as I closed out 2012.

Humor me for a moment - It's from 2 Kings 3 - synopsis is this  - Elisha the main prophet at that time guiding the Israelites during a drought had some news. Simply put - the people were moaning that they were gonna die, without water and they were vulnerable to their enemies - more so than usual. But God told Elisha that they would all be OK but he needed the Israelites to prepare for the what he was doing by digging ditches. Hungry, thirsty, whiny nation of people needed to start digging ditches. Immediately.

The best part about the story takes place in verse 17 - when he says - "you will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves, your cattle and your other animals. But this is only a simple thing for the Lord...."

Essentially,  the Lord told Elisha that in order to receive what they wanted, needed - they had to do something simple... prepare. Dig the ditches and not worry how it was going to happen but KNOW that it was going to happen.

As an entrepreneur, it has been a bumpy road and cash flow has been nutty. Fear would often cripple me even for a moment.

Am I gonna make enough money?

Will that project happen?

Are they gonna pay my rate?

Will I have to go find a job to have the life I'm used to?

Those questions could ruin a day on a dime if I let them. Going in to 2013, I have so much more runway on work than I had coming into 2012. I've got a published book to build on. More and more of my contacts are aware that I'm doing marketing and strategic planning "for hire." It is now time for me to keep digging the ditches. No fear for what tomorrow brings,  just fearlessness. Reminding myself, that quitting my job to ramp up my "side business" was not a mistake or a passing hobby. It was and continues to be a calling.

I need to keep doing what I'm doing so He can do what he will do...even if I don't see it yet.

I need to move into 2013 being fearless and digging ditches.

#2013Fearless is the hashtag. Join the conversation this year.