When Did Social Media Become The Jerry Springer Show?

Ok ,soooo the title is a tad bit exaggerated but it got your attention, didn’t it?

I have no shame in admitting I love social media. For the most part.  Although, with social media being a quick and easy way to reach many people, there has become this acceptance or license to use it for a few different things that really, in my humble opinion, are beyond what the boundaries should be.

 

  1. Being overtly sexual.

Ok so just don’t do it. People generally do not want unsolicited comments and messages that are sexual. I wrote a whole post on that which is here.

 

  1. Medical diagnosis/advice.

It is one thing to ask for suggestions on things like what stretches to do for a tight hip flexor or asking if anyone has a recommendation for knee sleeves. It is another to detail symptoms of extreme pain in your back expecting someone to give a medical diagnosis. OVER SOCIAL MEDIA. What happened to calling our doctors and scheduling an appointment?

 

Comparing one’s symptoms to someone who comments is not exactly an approved way to diagnose. Just because someone has similar pains or symptoms does not mean their diagnosis are identical.

 

And I know people have the best of intentions in their comments, but they are not medical professionals. Go find out what is going on with you so you can heal and back to your regularly scheduled programming.

 

  1. Aggressively pushing your beliefs onto your followers.

I see a lot of posts about important topics that 100% should be socialized.  Often though, the commentary that someone posts along with it is this sort of “you are stupid if you do not agree with me” kind of mentality. (Politics and gun bans immediately come to mind). It is admirable to be passionate about a cause, but insulting one’s followers’ intelligence in an attempt to persuade them is 1) not effective 2) puts them on the defense and 3) is disrespectful.

 

Take vaccinations for example. I see a lot of posts from both camps: anti-vaccinations and pro-vaccinations for children. I personally, for the record as someone who has no kids, have no opinion on the matter which is why I am using this as an example.  If someone wants to sway people in the other camp, do so with kindness and education. Do not do it by telling them they are terrible parents if they do or do not vaccinate. Because again, 1) it is insulting 2) it is not effective and 3) it is disrespectful. Nobody wants to be told they are a bad parent and they are not likely to be open to considering anything after a comment like that.

 

  1. Publically bashing people.

There is this thing called diplomacy. It is ok to tell a story and give perception and insight, when done respectfully. I do this as much as I humanly can when I blog (because believe me, there are times I reference personal stories that it takes every ounce of my being to not let the New Jersey come out of me).

 

It is another thing to air dirty laundry, spew just pure hatred directed at someone and play the victim with the right to say anything and everything without a filter.

 

I for one do not want to see a public feud between supposed friends/family on Facebook (and sadly I have seen this many times). If someone has an issue with someone else, but cannot exercise diplomacy when in a public venue (because Facebook is public any way you look at it. It is not a conversation between 2 people when you have even just 1 follower).  Take it offline.  End of story.

 

 

  1. Rewarding bad behavior.

 

On Social media, often what happens in the case where someone, for example, publically bashes someone else, people who think it is a little crazy town most likely are just going to scroll right past it without commenting.  The people who do take the time to comment are buying into whatever the person is selling. Perhaps the person posting felt someone said something really rude to them or they had a big fight with their parent or friend or whatever it is. Again, if they are not telling a story or making a point respectfully and with diplomacy, they are likely victimizing themselves. And so people comment like “You are inspiring! The other person is the devil!” or “OMG you are so great! You are sooooo right to be sooooooooooo upset!”

 

They are not challenging them for the other details (aka the other side of the story and or the details that perhaps were conveniently left out). Nor are they saying, “Hey, maybe you should take that post down and go talk directly to your friend.” They are just validating whatever the person is saying and feeling. They are essentially rewarding bad behavior. And all that it does is make the person feel righteous.

 

I can totally go down a rabbit hole with this one. And I will.

 

It perpetuates the problem that people think it is ok to be unfiltered, hateful and acting victimized. We obviously cannot prevent people from posting such things. We can though opt to NOT comment on them. People posting like that WANT the attention. So duh, if they are not given attention, maybe they will stop posting.

 

 

There are always boundaries. There are things that make sense to do on social media and then there are things that cross the line into perverse, ignorance, hate, and lack of sensibility. I try to govern my life outside of social media by all that is good. Good energy, good people, good discussion and just plain old respect. Facebook can go so far past what is good that perhaps it can be reined back in a smidge or so.

 

 

 

 

Think You are a Leader? 5 Things You Ought To Check Yourself On

Foreword: I am using the word “leader” quite loosely in this post. I have very strong opinions of what a GREAT leader is. I also know that many people are self-proclaimed leaders when in actuality they do not know the first thing about being a leader. So when I have references in the negative about a
“leader” in this post, please know it is that latter group that I am referring to. I also do not mean to insinuate that any one of my readers is a bad leader

I also apologize in advance for the rants (they are too good to omit though right?)

The other night when I was hanging out with friends, the topic of zodiac signs came up. A friend said to me, “Oh you are a Leo. You must be stubborn.” I laughed and said, “so they say”. Because really, do stubborn people ever admit they are stubborn? I followed up with this though, “I am definitely stubborn when it comes to the principle of things and being ethical.  I have a hard time letting go of something when I do not agree with it.” Which is where this post came from. Leadership is something I take oh so seriously and it drives me insane knowing there are people in this world running around proclaiming to be leaders. They mistake their rank or title for leadership. They mistake teaching the ropes on social media as coaching. They mistake publicly bashing people (on their team!) over Facebook with “being organic.”  Ok, I digress a little bit. But the point of that last statement is that being a leader means knowing the difference between being diplomatic yet honest with being disrespectful and malevolent.

Without further delay, let’s get into what a good leader is NOT.

  1. A good leader never wants someone on their team who does not want to be there.
    I have never believed in holding anyone back or preventing someone from pursuing other options or doing anything to advance their career. Sometimes being a leader means accepting that you will be a stepping stone. People change and morph as do their needs. Just because someone does not need us anymore, does not mean we did a terrible job leading and coaching. It just means we gave them what they need to keep moving. Keeping anyone who wants to be there creates resentment and imbalance in a team. If someone finds another opportunity that aligns with their goals, a good leader supports that. It is not a personal attack necessarily. And if it is, then that leads me to the next point.
  1. A good leader recognizes a learning opportunity when they see one.
    Deflecting or projecting an issue that someone brings to a leader’s attention is most likely indicative of an insecurity, arrogance and just being stupidly lacking in self- awareness. There are moments that come our way that are blessings not punishments. Having someone express a concern, even if it IS directly targeted at you, is your chance to rise above it. There may just be some truth to what they are saying and if you are a good, solid leader, you will think about it from another perspective.If someone cannot handle feedback, to be totally blunt, they have no business being in a position of leadership. Period.And furthermore (oh snap I used “furthermore”), if someone cannot handle feedback from a manager, a peer, a subordinate, anyone in the workplace, chances are they cannot handle it anywhere else in life. Which I will say for the millionth time, that is indicative of immaturity and a lack of self- awareness. I have zero patience for people who are always the victim. It is never them.
  1. A good leader does not dismiss someone’s opinion or feelings.
    Anytime we communicate with someone, whether it’s a boss, a peer, a friend, a spouse, a customer service rep (seriously, who likes being told as a customer you are wrong?), we want to at a minimum feel validated. Whether you agree or not is beside the point. People want to feel heard. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to have a conversation and have your points completely not understood and ignored. Literally it is like talking to a wall. A wall that you probably want to punch. So, if a “leader” is completely missing your points, know when to take that battle up with someone else who can influence them or merely just walk away (and plan your escape route. Seriously). Some battles are better left untouched.
  1. A good leader does not manipulate.
    Manipulation can come in many forms and pretty much every time it is a control thing. To my first point earlier, keeping someone on a team when you are the only person who has the power to relinquish them is straight up manipulation. Telling someone how much you have done for them and how much they owe you is manipulation.  Telling someone in one breath how highly you think of them and in the next how much they have disrespected you is also manipulation. Be honest and be real. People think they are sugar coating things when really they are trying to either confuse the hell out of someone else or manipulate a situation to make them feel like they are back in control (which for real, who wants to deal with that?)
  1. A good leader does not have an attitude of entitlement when someone wants to leave.
    Warning: This one gets me especially fired up.
    Sure, there is going to be disappointment at losing a good resource, but good leaders do not harbor resentment about it. A good leader knows that people will move on at some point and no matter how much they may have done for that person, they have the right to move on.Putting in a few days or a few months or a few years training someone does not make them yours. They are not indebted to you.

    And having someone leave is not even always a bad thing. It could be opening an opportunity for you or someone else. Because often you have to let go of something to get what you really need.

    Really though, I am calling bull shit on anyone who feels that they cannot release you because releasing YOU is DISRESPECTFUL to THEM. Putting in time training is part of the job description and it is not wasted time (for anyone). I get so fired up because I once had someone who refused to release me because she felt like she put in months of her time training me which is time lost that SHE will never get back. (Those were her words, not mine).

    Case and point. That shows immaturity and spite, which again, are not exactly cornerstones of being a leader.

    Being a leader is not an easy thing even for those who have that gift innately. It takes cultivating, training, real life experience and most importantly a whole lot of humility (and a whole lot less of ego). I am grateful, truly, for my past corporate life. I was given an opportunity to lead and it is something I have always taken seriously.

    Leading is not about me. It is about other people.  It is about inspiring others around me and not draining them. The main common theme of every single example above is that it shows a mentality of only thinking about oneself instead of others.

    Having a “me me me” attitude is the antithesis of a leader.

    There are a lot of things you can fix in this world when it comes to issues with people, but you cannot fix  those who are ignorant or irrational, especially when they are in the height of their “it is all about me” way of thinking.

    Perhaps for some of these “leaders” they will have that “Oh snap” moment and have some over due self-reflection. I just know for myself, I cannot stick it out around those types waiting for them to figure out. And neither should you. It is okay to walk away from a “leader” when they are downright irrational and overly emotional. As the kids say today, you do you.

Being on a New Journey Gives New Perspective: 8 Liberating Lessons

I thought moving across country would be the biggest change of my life, but that is peanuts compared to taking the most gigantic leap of faith ever to pursue a new career. These last few months have been full of more highs than lows. I may be a little too excited as my colleagues told me, “You are so happy, it’s actually annoying.” It all is reminding me though of how important it is to do the following to truly reach a place of change and happiness.

  1. Be honest with yourself.Know what your skills are and know when you feel like you are “faking” it. It’s cool to do that short term. I have done it, but it has left me feeling a bit like an imposter though. Like I could be an Implementation Analyst or an Associate Director but at what point are people going to realize I am not meant for these jobs?  It is not that I am incapable of them. It is just that it is not where my heart is. When those feelings became harder to ignore, that’s when you know something has to change.
  2. If something peaks your interest, no matter what it is, investigate it. It may lead you to something you want to do or it may be part of an elimination tactic. Either way, it is to your benefit to at least learn more about something before ruling it or out or pursuing it.I know I have met health coaches of different sorts over the years, and every time, something inside me lit up like oh maybe I want to do that. But of course, as you know by now, I ignored that for years. And here I am, almost two decades into my “career” that I finally feel ready to acknowledge them.
  1. We worry so much about going into financial debt to pursue a dream that instead we go into emotional debt. (C­­heesy I know but stay with me here). We fear the financial and believe me, I COMPLETELY understand that.  We stay at a job or a career because the thought of either spending money on more schooling (or to get a business going) or taking a pay cut stresses us out more than the possibility of what we could have. We keep our cushy job or paycheck, but slowly, our mental state and happiness deteriorates. We check in each day to a job physically, but mentally we are checked out. It just is not sustainable. At some point, when we are ready, the fear of the unknown actually becomes enticing and freeing. Honor that.

    4.You are never going to be 100% ready to make a transition
    . I am certain if I waited for that to happen, I would never be able to leave my current job or company. The decision to leave may be the hardest pill to swallow, but once that decision has been made, it is liberating. You actually can devote 100% of your time and efforts to pursuing what your heart desires.5. We are greeted with opportunities that seem to make no sense or do not fit in to what our “plan is” yet they seem like they are meant for us to take. It is often hard to accept these opportunities and for many of us, we don’t. We have no idea what we are missing out on. When I joined Pruvit, it did not make any “sense” to me rationally at all at the time, but emotionally or mentally, I knew it was something I should be doing. I had no experience doing any kind of community based marketing nor did I even think I would be any good at it. Yet, I just felt a strong attraction to it. And so when I decided to pursue it, despite how challenging it has been, I have not doubted that it is part of my journey.And really, what “plan” did I have that even made sense anymore? I was at a point in my career where I maybe could have stayed at it and been successful, but then again, to my 1st point earlier, how long would I really be able to fake it and sustain it?

    So yeah, signing up to be an Independent Promoter on the outside seemed ridiculous or crazy, but in actuality it has been another one of my best decisions ever. It is guiding me to my ultimate destiny of coaching.

    6. When it comes to who you surround yourself with, know there is a difference between those who want to help you and those who want to sabotage you.


    I realize that may sound extreme so let me explain. I do not mean that people will deliberately try to kill your spark or idea. I just mean that people often react based on their own fears. Many people come from a place of practicality where your plan seems outrageous (and nothing they would ever do). So they may advise you against it or give you all the reasons why you should not pursue your plan.

    Versus people who believe in you and your talents and your dreams and they whole heartedly support you. They want you to find that passion and happiness. Many of them have walked in your shoes before and will even advise you on how to prepare for your journey. I have gotten far more of this type of reaction than the former, fortunately.

    You want to find the people who give you reasons and guidance to follow your dreams and not those who will find every argument for why you should not. (Maybe this is what all the kids mean by finding your tribe).

  1. No matter what job we have, we learn transferable skills. They may show themselves in different forms or different scenarios, but the skills are the same. Learning how to communicate whether it is with peers or subordinates, those are the same skills you need for clients or customers or patients. Time management, project management, analysis, coaching. They are all transferrable.
  2. If you are passionate about something, TALK ABOUT IT. I feel like ever since it has been announced that I will be leaving my job, I have had more conversations about my passion and business ideas than ever before. I used to always worry that if I talked too much about it, I would put my job at jeopardy. People would see me light up and realize that was missing when I talked about work. And there is truth in that, but the reality is, people can still do a job and have interests elsewhere. The point is though, we should be proud of the many facets we have. Our jobs do not always define us so we do not need to downplay our interests.The unexpected thing is, I actually feel more bonded to many people than I did before because it’s like I am being far more authentic. People are learning more about me and likewise, I am learning about them. How many times do we get on calls or join meetings with people and we know virtually nothing about them? We do not know that a woman is a 17 year cancer survivor. Or that another woman started a walking club in the basement of an office which lead to one of its members losing 100 lbs.

 

For me, realizing all these important lessons over the last few months has been the validation I have needed. It is so easy to get comfortable or just content in life. And maybe that is ok. Maybe for some that is enough. For me though, it no longer is. I am grateful for everything that has led me to this moment as it has given me such new perspective, and I am humbled to be able to share that with you.

 

4 Things an MLM Is Teaching Me That Has Nothing To Do With Money

Have you ever done something hoping for one thing and then you walk away with something completely amazingly different? You know, maybe you go shopping for new sandals but you exit the store with the most beautiful pair of boots. EVER?! Ok I am kidding. Maybe. I do love shoes. I want to talk about how possible it is to sign up for something with a specific desired outcome, yet walk away with so much more.

For me, it has been my experience in my first business venture. Before you assume this is a post about MLM’s, please know it is not. I want to share what I am learning about myself as a result of being someone new to having her own business (and new to the MLM world). And just how powerful that all can be. I promise you do not even need to have your own business to have this post resonate with you. Trust.  And read on.

 

  1. People are watching.

Working in corporate America, I find that my brand is someone who can get shit done but also who strives to inspire others. I would say this is true in my business with one exception. When I leave the office, I can pretty much leave my work there until I return the next day.  The majority of my networking and success at my current job happens in a set environment. It reduces anxiety quite a bit because I can unplug when my work day ends.

With promoting, I have realized I need to be ‘on’ a lot more of the time, even in my personal life. I never know who is watching nor do I ever want to miss a chance to have a ketone conversation. It forces me for the better to be very cognizant of what vibes and energy I am giving off to other people.  It is forcing me to smile more, to engage in conversation more, and just really make a concerted effort to ask how other people are doing.  This is so important and eye opening to me not just from a business perspective but from just being a better human being. We all are a work in progress, and for me, this experience is truly helping me blossom. I feel more alive almost because I am not just going through the motions.  I am putting emotion into it. Not to mention, the better my energy, the better the energy is around me. It’s absolutely and positively infectious.

 

  1. Life can be so much more fulfilling when you let people in.

Similar to #1, as someone who is extremely introverted and shy, having my own business is forcing me to overcome that. I find life richer and more fulfilling when I get to chat with other people, whether it’s about ketones or not. It’s giving me a reason to reconnect with friends and acquaintenances. I ­know this will sound contradictory as I am introverted… but I am a social person. I love being ­­­able to interact but typically it is intimidating for me when I am in unfamiliar settings or around unfamiliar people. I am overcoming this as I realize how much there is to gain by talking and learning from others.

 

There is no shortage of like-minded people and that is what gets me truly amped up. My client base and network base potential is endless, which really means that I have endless chances to meet amazing people.  Yes, my initial motivation may be to share the ketone experience but there are so many other gains. I never know who I am going to connect with that perhaps will teach me something. Or perhaps I will teach or inspire them. It gives me renewed hope in a time where there is so much baffling madness around us. It reinforces how kind and good people can be. I know I digress on this point often in blogs, but it nurtures my spiritual side.

 

  1. Branding is so important.
    A huge part of having a business is my social media presence. With that comes a responsibility. People can build whatever persona they want to whether it’s true to form or not. I never want to be anything but authentic and relatable. If I post how hard a CrossFit workout is, it is because I suffered through it. If I post a ­­before and after picture or a photo of my abs, it’s 100% real. I want people to see me for who I am. It is important for me that if I inspire someone to try ketones, that I am not falsely advertising. Being real is what we all are drawn to.

 

  1. I am my own worst obstacle yet my biggest opportunity.
    The only thing that would ever prevent me from being successful is myself and being in my own way. As an introvert, it is not easy for me to strike up conversations with people I do not know, but I am doing more of it (and every time I actually do, it’s remarkably easier).  We all have seen quotes about fear being in the way or on the other side of fear lives happiness.  It is so true. The only thing that separates me from those in the business killing it is myself. There is no reason I can’t be successful (and I whole heartedly believe I will) once I get out of my own way.

 

 

Which also means that I am my biggest opportunity. I have so much to share and teach and inspire that as I do more and more of it, the more happiness and success I will derive. The sky is the limit isn’t it?

 

When you find something that just makes sense, almost like it’s the missing piece to a puzzle, things just organically start to fall into place. Yes you should put in the time and the effort, but when positive intent is there, you become so much more open to things that you may not have ever imagined. There is so much to gain from believing in new opportunities (and I am not talking financial).  We should strive to grow and constantly evolve. We never ever should stop evolving.

I Love “This Is Us” as Much as Pittsburgh Loves the Steelers

Foreword: Wiki sums up what the premise of This Is Us (more details  here):

The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall as their lives intertwine. Kate and Kevin were originally part of a triplet pregnancy, conceived in the bathroom of Froggy’s, a bar, during Super Bowl XIV.[4] However, their biological brother was stillborn. While their due date was October 12, 1980, they were born six weeks early on August 31.[5] Their parents, Jack and Rebecca, intent on bringing home three babies, decide to adopt another newborn (Randall), a black child who was born on the same day and brought to the same hospital after his biological father abandoned him at a fire station.[6]

Episodes weave through the stories of the past and present of the characters, with most scenes taking place in 1980, 1989–1990, and the present day (2016–2017). Flashback scenes take place in Pittsburgh, while current scenes are typically split between Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York City.

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I tend to be drawn to movies, television shows and books that keep me thinking even after the story ends. I am drawn in because they leave me wanting to understand the characters or think about how I may be similar (or not) to them. They force me to put my own judgments to the side and really look through the lens of others. Given that, it is no wonder that I have been hooked on the television show, This Is Us, from the first few minutes into the first episode. I love how every character in the show could have its own episode where you almost forget there are other kids or parents involved. It is because they all have their own identities, their own struggles. The show has so many basic (but complex) and simple (yet powerful) messages that resonate.

As a 1970’s baby, my generation was raised to pick colleges, majors and jobs that would provide money and stability. I wanted to major in writing but I remember being advised against that. After all, what could I do with a risky and noN lucrative major like that? I settled on minoring in it and majoring in Child Development and Child Care, which might I add I never pursued professionally. And here I am, years later, working for the man but often wondering what life would be like had I followed my passion, my talent. Now as we are well into the 21st century, that kind of thinking has changed.  We are realizing that life is short, life can be stressful and life is definitely not meant to be indebted to jobs we do not love. This is why so many people have career changes and the norm of working for the same company for 30 plus years is a dying ideal.

When it comes to This Is Us, we see so much of this theme play out. Jack, the show’s family patriarch, did take the path of stability and money to work for his friend, Miguel, abandoning his own dream of starting his own business. Not that I can blame him (after all he had 3 kids and a wife who depended on him). But that was in the 80’s.  Look at his son, Kevin: an LA actor, age 36 in our modern world.  Sure we can mock him for having high class problems where he walked out on his demoralizing, unfulfilling acting gig as The Manny and decided to pursue a career as a serious stage actor. While his circumstance may not be completely relatable, his reasons and emotions are.  Kevin struggles with not wanting to feel like a sellout (Sound familiar? How many of us feel like we have sold our souls to big corporations for a cushy pay check, a 401k and a slew of vacation days?) He also struggles with confidence issues, which is crazy when you look at him. I mean the man is incredibly, ahem, HOT and he exudes ego. Yet, he questions his abilities and if he will even be taken seriously in his new career venture. He is taking a major leap of faith, which to his credit, is something that I dare say most of us shy away from.

While we are on the topic of Kevin, this brings me to the next important theme and message of this show.  He seems like a guy who has it all right? Good lucks, money, charisma, no shortage of women and amazing biceps. Same as his brother, Randall, who has the picture perfect family, career and house. He’s got a smart, savvy, beautiful wife and two adorable, charming, endearing daughters who live in an upper class NJ suburb. On the surface, like Kevin, we would believe he has it all.

These characters remind me of also growing up in the 80’s and into the 90’s, coincidentally in a middle-upper class NJ suburb. We judge people often by how things look on the outside: well landscaped front lawns, fancy cars, designer clothes. We assume their biggest problems in life are which Ivy League college to go to or which European country should be their next vacation destination. We assume people in these situations have everything handed to them, that they do not have to work for any of it. It just is not true. Behind closed doors, there are harrowing stories of abuse, eating disorders and financial ruins. Randall may have the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect family with his wife and two daughters, but that does not mean that he is immune from real problems. He has struggled with finding his biological identify, of growing up an African American child in a predominantly white populated school. He is a perfectionist to a fault. I actually admire a bit that his character struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. It shows that 1) he is human and 2) even someone as tough as nails as he is has limits.

I am a strong believer that timing is everything. We see implied scenarios of this throughout the show. Randall had searched for his biological father and when he finally did find him, he discovered that he had only months to live. This seems like a horrible twist of fate but in reality, Randall met him when he really needed him the most and was open to learning what William had to instill in him. William taught him in a short time to let loose, not always be so rigid.  He taught him that not every risk in life can be mitigated, and you certainly cannot always avoid taking them. William reminds us that sometimes we need to venture to the unconventional.

William’s character is also another reminder of nothing is ever as it seems on the surface.  We may have judged William from abandoning his newborn son or for fighting his demon, drugs. It would be easy to dismiss him and label him as someone not worth knowing. Yet as his core, William I a wonderful, strong man who experienced his own hardships. He did what he thought was best at that moment, and not without regrets.  I like to think that had  Randall met William as a 9 year old or as a 16 year old or even as a 30 year old, that his story line would have been drastically different and maybe not for the best.

Like her brothers, Kate has her own demons. She struggles with insecurities and weight issues. While she is on the extreme end of the spectrum of this, it is something that is so prominent in many of us. I am by no means overweight, but I completely understand what it is like to be consumed with body image issues. Many of us do. Have you ever counted the number of decisions you make a day that tie to weight or body image? Think about it. On any given day, I may choose to wear my beloved LuLaRoe leggings over jeans because I feel a tad bit pudgy. I may refrain from eating that taunting bagel at a work breakfast in fear that the carbs will go straight to my thighs. The amount of time I spend a day willing myself to go back to CrossFit for a second workout that day is ridiculous. Yes it is neurotic, but it is a reality that I know I am not alone in. So imagine someone like Kate, who has real health threats of being overweight (much like her fiancé who had an unexpected heart attack). Imagine the struggle of making choices every minute of the day to break habits and a lifestyle that has been with you for over 30 years. Imagine constantly comparing yourself to others (Kate does this with her beautiful, thin mother and even her fiancé’s ex-wife). This is an exhausting and stressful way to live and takes a toll on us just as much emotionally as it does physically.

One of reasons I feel America has fallen in love with This Is Us is that we feel connected to the characters, even those that perhaps we had different struggles than. It reminds us of  allbeit obvious reality that at the end of the day, all of us have one thing in common no matter what our circumstance is: We are human.  We all have limits to what we can take on without cracking. It is totally normal yet people feel shame when they are in a situation where they just do not feel like they can get through it independently. It is fascinating to follow the lives of 3 siblings who grew up with the same family, the same environment, the same opportunities yet they all evolved into 3 very different adults. It reminds us that we all have our own identities, our own complexities, our own struggles and our own triumphs.

Friendly Public Service Announcements for the Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, that means we are all indulging in a few extra cookies, attending ugly sweater parties and jamming out to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. It is a joyous time of year for sure in which we are all perfect angels who spread nothing but cheer. <Insert sarcastic emoji here>

While the holidays do truly inspire us to be kind, decent humans, it also can bring out the worst in us. It is not possible  to go to a mall right not without either fighting for a parking spot or swearing up a  storm. If you have ever had the honor of flying this time of year, you will see the worst specimens imaginable in full force. You know the ones. They bum rush you to get on the plane. They smack you with their bags as they board. They put their laptops and jackets in the overhead leaving you no room to stow your efficiently packed tiny as tiny can be roller board (in which you have sacrificed wardrobe options to wear two pairs of leggings and 1 pair of jeans with the same 4 shirts for a week’s visit. Ok fine, this is me every Thanksgiving break, and yes I am bitter over it. I digress though).

In the interest of diffusing the holiday stress and staying kind, check out the following.

  1. There is no need to be an asshole, even if someone else is being one first. We know there are a lot of horrible drivers out there (especially in LA) but there is no need to join them. There is no need to run people down in malls because they aren’t walking fast enough. I know, a lot of them are texting and walking and it is SO ANNOYING, but regardless, use your manners. The lines will be outlandish (so accept it) and you may not get to that last pair of boots in time. It is ok. (If that last marble rye is taken by a sweet old lady, let her have it. #Seinfeld).
  2. Don’t assume that people who are not into the holidays are Scrooges. For some people, the holidays drudge up unpleasant associations or feelings of sadness. You never know what someone else is going through. Maybe they lost a loved one or are going through a financial hardship. Show them kindness and compassion rather than outrage that they do not want to partake in the office potluck.
  3. Be extra kind to others. This time of year, we are inspired by the holiday spirit. We leave a little extra when we tip our servers. We bond more with our teams at work. We donate toys to children in need. We serve food to the homeless. We send children to sing cute and endearing songs to the elderly in nursing homes. These are all lovely and remind us of how great humanity can be, but why do we tend to do this only during the holidays? There are just as many people in need in August and February as there are in December.
  4. Gifts do not need to be extravagant. I used to ask for things like jewelry, designer clothes and fancy vacations (for the record, i never got them). These days, I am delighted by things that keep on giving, like the abdominal mat I received through a Secret Santa. I rather work on getting great abs than sport a stupidly expensive sweater. Try getting people practical things that ­­­may not get themselves but once they have them, they can’t imagine life without them. (Note, gentleman, by practical, I do not mean get your girlfriend jumper cables). Not that I am trying to sway anyone but…a CrossFit fundies membership for a newbie would be a great present. Just sayin’.
  5. Gifts do not need to be tangible. I know, we all love the suspense and excitement of unwrapping presents but there are so many other things that are just as thoughtful that we can give. Make a friend date to workout. Take your sister ice skating. Take your mom to the movies.  We do not always need to break the bank to tell someone we care. Give experiences instead.

I truly love this time of year. I love those few extra days off from work. I love being able to unwind. I love the excuse holidays bring to get together and reconnect with friends and family. I love being able to watch Elf on television at any given time. I love the spirit that it can invoke in all of us. I do not love the negativity though that it can also invoke. So please please please. Go forth and follow these 5 really easy, basic things and I promise that you will spread the essence of holiday cheer.

Super Aunt’s Observations on How Kids Get it Right

 After a week with my family over Thanksgiving week and being a self proclaimed Super Aunt, I feel so much love and gratitude for the innocence and wisdom of kids. Seriously. I found myself marveling at rather basic thing they do that are in actuality rather symbolic of wisdom that adults should take note of. Here are just a few.

  1. Kids have no problem saying when they don’t want something or don’t like something. My 4 year old niece did not want me to tickle her (or take selfies with her, the audacity!) I respect that she set her boundaries. Adults should do more of this (when appropriate) as opposed to being polite on the surface and seething on the inside.
  2. Kids show remarkable sportsmanship. I was playing checkers with my 7 year old nephew when his 8 year old sister (my niece) wanted to get in on the action. My nephew was gracious enough to let us explain strategy to her as she was new to the game. We would have her move one of her checkers so that we could visually show her what the outcome would be. We had so much fun playing, interacting, bantering and coming up with strategies. My niece and nephew understand the simple concept that it is not always about winning (which makes for a proud auntie).  I always maintain that we should surround ourselves by solid people who challenge us. Besides, easy wins are not nearly as fun or fulfilling than ones you have to work for.
  3. Kids read actual books. Not social media feeds or text messages. Old fashioned books that have characters, plots, beginnings and endings. It expands their minds, thinking and creativity. The last few months I have made it a point to get lost in my kindle before bed as opposed to seeing what everyone else in the world is doing. It is nice to escape reality, well if you consider social media to be reality (and have Jamie Fraser be the last thing on my mind instead of some god awful Trump update before I drift off to la la land).
  4. Kids take quiet time. They go in their rooms and read or play quietly on their own. They get down time. Granted, I have no clue what kids are thinking during this time. Are they pondering recent recess drama? Or perhaps fantasizing about an ice cream treat? Maybe they just get lost in their own imaginations. Whatever it may be, they take some time each day to themselves and check out from the rest of the world. As adults, we tend to feel like we always have somewhere to be or something to do or someone else to do something for. Take a few minutes to clear your head in whatever form works for you. Revel in your own thoughts and see where they take you.

  With the fun filled yet hectic holiday season upon us, it is so important to slow down when we can and take stock of all the important and fulfilling things around us. I vote to get lost in our families, friends and relationships and ourselves. Dare I say take a break from the political madness around us and recruit a child to play checkers with instead.

8 Lessons the Election Teaches Us that Have Nothing To Do With Politics

Like so many Americans, this election had me in tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of frustration. Tears of bitterness. Tears of what could have been. My brain literally has been unable to comprehend how I live in a country where the majority of my fellow citizens are standing behind someone who is the antithesis of goodness and logic. I have stopped trying to understand it (at least for the time being), and instead am using it as a time of reflection on the themes and lessons of this election that apply to other areas of life beyond politics.

 

  1. We are far too passive. We talk about needing change and wanting to change, but what do we actually do to make that happen? We want new jobs. We want new career opportunities. We want more social opportunities. We want to get healthy. We want to lose weight. We want to save money. If you want it, go get it. Stop waiting for someone else to do it for you.
  2. The universe has a way of giving us things at the right time. Sometimes things are meant to happen despite what we really, really REALLY want, for reasons that we are not supposed to understand at that moment in time. If we got everything we wanted when we wanted, we would never evolve. I strongly believe life is about timing and being patient for what is meant to be. (For the record, I am not a particularly patient person and it has taken me a long time to understand that great things can happen with patience). There is more to learn from events and relationships that do not always come easily. Challenges and failures are what make us better, more evolved.
  3. Speaking of evolving, we never stop. As much progress as we make, there is always more to be done. There is no cap nor timeline on being open-minded, caring, kind and selfless. No matter how great or ideal anything may seem, it is naive to ever think it is perfected or ends there. Whether it is acing an exam or running your first mile or spending a day feeding the homeless, it does not end there.
  4. We need to adapt our communication styles to appeal to the other side or the messages, no matter how dire or important, will be lost. Hear what they are saying and find ways to address them on their terms. Let them feel like you are speaking to them, not at them. Let them know you are taking the time to understand them. (Spewing hate or calling someone ignorant is probably not going to motivate them to ever be open to a different perspective).
  5. Always strive to understand the other perspective whether you agree with it or not.It is impossible to get past differences and step outside of yourself if there is blatant reluctance or refusal to even understand the other side.
  6. Know when to walk away and know when to fight. I know that I have walked away from people, places and situations sooner than I should have. I also know there were times I did not walk away soon enough. Sometimes we walk away because it just seems easier or that staying means we have to face some possible ugly things, which could be in others and could be in ourselves. Sometimes walking away is the right thing to do (we would never encourage a friend to stay with an abusive partner). Yet, lets never lose sight of what is worth fighting for. Choosing to fight or not fight should not be based on the challenge of it.There are things worth fighting for in this world and chances are, they will knock us down before we get back up. Fight for your loved ones. Fight for your beliefs. Fight for those who can’t do it themselves.  (And for heaven’s sake, fight for your country! #shamelessplug)
  7. We should not allow one event to define us. My life, my character, my beliefs are not based on any one thing. I am who I am for an ongoing lifelong compilation of events, feelings, choices and people. Bad and good, they make me who I am. I refuse to be considered any less American today than I was one week ago.
  8. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back (ok and in some cases, hundreds) to take one step forward.

 

Think of these lessons and reminders not just in terms of this election or our country. Think of yourself. Think of your interactions with others. Think of your wants, your ambitions, your goals. Think of your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and even strangers. Think of how you fit into the grand scheme of things.  Think of each of us as having our own individual obligations to live up to while still being part of a bigger, more powerful collective responsibility. We are part of one universe, one space. Let us all learn to respect what it does for us, even if we cannot always see what we want to see.

The 5 Things That Make Physical Therapy More Than Just Fixing Stuff

With recently wrapping up the last of Physical Therapy/Personal Training, I leave with understanding so much more about myself in terms of how to train smart  and all that goes into being healthy when it comes to fitness.  (A side note and added bonus is it has taught me what sets a great therapist/trainer/coach apart from the rest).

  1. Seeing is just as important as feeling. (As a CrossFit enthusiast, I do strongly believe that one of the things missing from boxes are mirrors). There is a lot of benefit in actually watching ourselves work out. (I’m not talking about giving yourself a gun show although there’s no shame in that). It is seeing the details and breaking down a movement where you can actually pinpoint what you are doing right and wrong. At Physical Therapy, there are mirrors everywhere, and as much as I dislike seeing the agony on my face while I struggle through a workout, I do appreciate being able to see what my body is actual doing versus what I think it is doing. I tend to base how well I am doing a movement off of how it feels, which is important; however sometimes I can’t feel everything my body is doing at one time. Seeing gives insight into being able to correct form. For instance, I used to feel like I was off balance when I squatted after surgery, but I did not really understand why. When I was able to actually see myself squatting, it was obvious I was favoring my right side. My trainer (BJ) was able to give me physical queues while I was squatting to correct form.
  2. Form is more important than lifting heavy or getting a faster time. After having 1:1 PT sessions, I was lucky to have the chance to not be distracted by anything else. I solely focused on what I was doing which meant dissecting movements. (Seeing a theme here based on #1 as well?) It taught me that it’s ok at times when my body feels fatigued or something just feels wrong, to not worry about adding weight to the barbell or trying to power through to get a faster time or score. I had quite a few strength portions where I would lift very light weight to get in the habit of good form. I also had more than a few instances where BJ had me scale down mid workout when my body was fatiguing resulting in bad form.
  3. Get mobilizing! I spent a lot of time stretching out before a workout as well as having a pro stretch me out after. It’s painful. It’s grueling. It’s time consuming. It’s worth it. Often when form is off or something feels wrong, it could be your body’s way of telling you to stretch out. I am not an expert in stretching and mobility so I won’t spend much time on this point. I just want to say in my humble opinion, everyone would benefit for spending more time doing this, whether it is on your own, in a mobility or yoga class, via massage or one of my personal favorites, the hot tub. For those of us who CrossFit and do other equally aggressive workouts, our bodies need reprieve. We need time to recover and loosen all the muscles and tendons and whatever else we have to avoid injury (and to just feel good!)
  4. It is important that your coach/trainer is supporting your goals.  *I am putting a disclaimer that this is personally important to me, and so I am assuming it is to others. If it isn’t, well then I owe you burpees. One of the key factors that has gone into my recovery and getting stronger by the day is that I had a team backing up my goals and being just as vested in them as I am. When it comes to my own health and fitness, I am always working towards something. I am a woman who likes a plan, even if it’s a plan that someone else is putting together for me. It is no secret that plans are only as effective as whether they coincide with goals. Having people who understand you and your goals is fundamental.
  5. Have a connection to your coach/trainer. This is more like #4 part 2, so really the same disclaimer applies. (I have a lot more to say relating to the importance of connecting that is for a blog to come soon. Stay tuned). It can really take your fitness journey and goals to the next level when you truly feel like the person training understands you. They know your weaknesses and your strengths. They know your goals.

 

Injury recovery and working out can be just as mentally and emotionally trying as it is physically challenging.  I had many moments throughout PT of feeling utterly discouraged. I got through them because I had the best Physical Therapist and trainer who talked me through it, without judgment. I was able to be open and express what was going on in my head as much as what was going on with my body. It is normal and par for the course to have a therapist ask how your body/injury is doing. It is not as common but possibly more important that they ask how YOU are doing.  To this point, here is a perfect example. After I did my most recent body scan, I was completely crushed by the weight I had gained. I told them about it and they gave me solid advice (like reevaluate my diet and throw in extra cardio) as well as just gave me a pep talk. They did not discount what I was feeling nor did they make me feel crazy about it. They continued to be supportive throughout my dieting journey by checking in and asking how I was doing with it.  What was working? What wasn’t working?  They paid attention and it made a difference. (I would be a total liar if I did not admit to thoroughly being pleased with the compliments they gave me as the pounds started coming off. I will never grow tired of hearing about any muscle definition someone else sees in me!)

As much as I do not like to admit, I have gone to physical therapy quite a few times over the years. For many of those instances, I went really to just fix whatever was broken or not working right. I wanted to get in and get out so I could get back to my regularly scheduled programming. The last year and a half though that I have spent in PT has been life changing for me. Seriously.  It is why I strongly believe this time around departing from PT will end the long reigning slew of injuries.  It is because of all these 5 lessons I have learned that are setting up me for success and a healthy journey here on out. It has taught me how to train smarter and how to take everything I learned at PT with me in my journey.

 

 

 

The Gifts of Lake Atitlan

My day to day life tends to have me feeling like I am rushing off to my next destination, whether it’s to CrossFit or work or to a doctor’s appointment or to meet up with a friend. I always feel like there is somewhere I am supposed to be. I do not know if it is a societal standard or my own self- inflicted standard, but it is as if I am supposed to fill every waking minute with something. (FOMO  anyone?) I will have moments of being at home, just relaxing on a Saturday with a nagging sense like I need to get off my couch and be out and about (even if every fiber of my being just wants to unwind and do NOTHING).

Recently, being on a retreat at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I was able to really slow down and disengage from most of the world, without guilt I might add.  Two of the biggest lessons that this trip affirmed for me are:

  1. It is life’s simplest pleasures that matter the most.
  2. I have the ability within myself to find happiness and contentment.

By not getting much of a signal on my phone at the lake (I will thank the portal for that!), it really allowed me to enjoy my surroundings and get lost in the moment. Some of my most treasured memories are the moments where I truly appreciated nature. Being immersed in it gave me such a constant feeling of gratification. I appreciated the simplicity of being able to just lay out on the dock, listening to the water rustling and swooshing around me  which magically managed to silence my typically very busy, obsessive brain. To be able to wake up for a sunrise boat ride was happiness a thousand times over. To be able to witness the lake, the mountains and the volcanoes come to life before my very own eyes was indescribable. To watch the sky change from black to a radiant blue with pops of yellow, orange, and pink is something that is forever engrained in my mind.

sunrise.jpg

When you remove all the noise and distractions from the world, you appreciate what is around you allowing yourself to truly be lost in those moments. It definitely helped me be more centered, and I came to understand something important about myself.  At my core, I really do not require much nor am I very fancy. (I will put this disclaimer in: I do not mean to say that I would turn down the finer things in life. I do drive a Lexus and I did buy myself diamond stud earrings… once). I just mean when I reflect on the moments when I feel the most at peace, they have very little, if anything, to do with materialism.

Being in nature is known to have a calming effect on people, so it is no wonder that I fell in love with Guatemala. There were no TVs nor was everyone on their phones 24/7. It was the perfect environment to really unwind and disconnect.  I used much of my free time reading (I had to feed my Outlander addiction).  I  wrote in my journal quite a bit, reflecting on all the unique things I experienced, like the Cacao Ceremony, my reading with a Shaman  and the Mayan Fire Ceremony. I did not walk away from these events but rather adopted them into my being. They gave me so many opportunities to really think about myself and my intentions in life. It gifted me the knowing that there is plenty that comes from within me to bring me happiness without having to rely on much.

For a few of us who were on the retreat, we keep saying that we have not left Guatemala. In our own ways, we each took something with us when we waved good-bye to that gorgeous sapphire lake. I am eternally grateful to Lake Atitlan for enabling me to slow down and regain a sort of calmness and contentment that I have not felt in a long time.