Archives for November 2010

Busting the Holiday Illusion

xmasgirlboxingglovesI’m about to reveal one of the biggest secrets around.

Are you ready?

Everybody doesn’t look forward to the holidays with glee.

It’s true.

Are you one who secretly dreads the nonstop music piped through the mall, the extra demand on your time spent shopping and cooking, the social expectations, the strain on your budget, and the clashing of personalities and unresolved hurts called “family holiday dinner?” If you are without a mate or any remaining relatives, the holidays may even promise loneliness.

I’m reminded of one Thanksgiving many years ago.

It was after dinner and I quietly observed my family hurling talk at each other as I carried the dirty dishes from the dining room to the kitchen.

My 82-year-old mother had finished her dessert and was ready to go home. She wasn’t interested in playing games, having friendly conversation nor watching a holiday movie on TV. She couldn’t be consoled.

My niece, who had brought my mother to my house for the dinner, was letting my mother and every else in earshot know that she was not leaving until she was ready to leave.

While this clash of wills was going on, my 10 year old grandson was chasing his 9 year old brother through the house squealing, barely missing a collision with my teapot collection.

My mother paused her appeals to my niece to turn on my daughter, their mom, “Why don’t you control your children!”

In the meantime, my sister had gone out on the patio to have a cigarette, but was standing right on the other side of the screendoor. Her smoke was wafting into the house, triggering complaints from the unwilling recipients of her secondary smoke.

As I watched these encounters and longing for one of those Disney holiday scenes, I thought to myself, “Why can’t we have a normal Thanksgiving?”

Then I realized, sadly, that this was our “normal” Thanksgiving.

If you’ve been trying unsuccesssfully for years to create the holidays you’ve seen in movies, you know what I mean.

Those movie holiday celebrations are fictional.

Your life is real.

Even trying to recreate your childhood Christmases is fraught with problems since your family goals and lifestyle are probably very different from what they were when you were growing up.

Setting out to create a fictional holiday only sets you up for disappointment.

But all is not lost.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could look forward to the holidays with joy, knowing that it was going to be exactly the wonderful occasion you wanted it to be?

My friend and colleague, Monick Halm, and I have learned over the years a terrific set of tips and strategies that will help you do just that.

They’re part of our December 7th teleclass on “How to Make Your Holiday Merry, not Scary: Stress-reducing, Sanity-saving Tips that Work Year-Round.”

You’ll be familiar with some of the tips on our list, but some of them will be new to you. (Sorry, not one of them recommends decking relatives instead of halls.)

And by the time we’re done, you’ll have a checklist of tips that have worked for us and many others. And best of all you
will now be able to enjoy your holidays in ways you never thought were possible.

Register at

P.S. If you can’t attend on December 7th at 5:30 PM PST, go ahead and register anyway because we’ll send you the link to the replay.

What are You Thankful For?

Hey, here’s what I’m thankful for in my business in 2010.

Hey, here’s what I’m thankful for in my business in 2010.

We can so easily slip into longing for what we don’t have, neglecting to notice the riches we enjoy. I hear people around me complaining about the smallest things while partaking of luscious meals, traveling freely to places they want to go and passing displays of Nature’s magnificence everyday.

“I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man who had no feet.”

This Indian quote always pulls me back from taking my blessings for granted.

I made a promise to myself this year to start each day being thankful.

And so each morning when my feet hit the floor I say” Thank you God for this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It’s a slight variation on the scripture, but I don’t think that diminishes its power.

Starting my day in this way helps me keep uppermost in my mind the tremendous number of things around me that I could so easily take for granted.

When Justin Premick of Aweber, set up a social experiment asking his readers to post a photo holding up a sign about what we are thankful for in our businesses, I jumped at it.

We were to take a photo holding up a sign that says “I’m thankful for. . .” and list the things we were most grateful for in our businesses.

I listed health first because it is my physical and mental well-being that allow me the energy, flexibility and stamina to create and conduct my business. I don’t take my health for granted.

Then I listed family and friends next because they create the context from which I run my business.

And finally, I’m thankful for my clients who seek, value and willingly pay for receiving my products and services.

Take a look at the video in this post and reflect on what you’re thankful for as we enter this holiday season.

When Will Your New Year Begin?

timeforchangeThis is an article from one issue of my Color Your Life Happy newsletter. If you aren’t getting your own weekly encouragement, now is a good time to subscribe. In addition, when you subscribe, check out the bonus you will receive.
Sign up now here or at the top of the column on the left of this article.

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~Confucius


Making New Year’s resolutions is a custom for many. The fitness salons are crowded at the beginning of the year with eager patrons trying to undo years of neglect and bad habits.

Did you ever think about the fact that you can change whenver you wish. The beginning of your new year is not restricted by a calendar. You can change whenever you decide to do so.

I remember one October when I decided to change my eating habits, start exercising and lost in 20 lbs in a few months. Within 6 months I was able to fit into my ideal size again, and felt so good about myself.

Another year, I decided to follow my childhood dream to get a doctorate. I didn’t even know the full import of that degree when I was a child but I just knew I wanted to get one. When I decided to follow that childhood dream it was March. My first step was to inquire about details of a grant program I saw on a bulletin board.

What is it you want to do that you’ve neglected too long?

You don’t have to wait until January 1st or any other calendar date. Whenever you’re ready and your consciousness has the go-ahead, your new year begins.

What will it be?

Do you have some goal to pursue? This day is a good day to get started. It doesn’t have to be a big start. Start with just the commitment to follow your dream, your goal.

Then do one thing.

That’s all.

One thing.

It might be a phone call to get information. Or an email to submit an application.

Whatever your goal, don’t wait until the end of the year on the calendar. Any day can be the end of your old year and the start of your new year.

Were you waiting for permission?


I hereby grant you permission to start your new year today.

Where Do You Draw the Line between Personal and Professional Life?

laughter by tompalumbo on flickrA Wall Street Journal article I read recently brought back memories and brought up questions.

The article, When It’s Hard to Hide Your Personal Life at Work, shared situations from hiding the fact that they had downed a three-martini lunch (how do you hide that?) to women who hide their breast pumps.

The article went on to point out that some parents call in sick when it’s really the child who is sick, and others who unashamedly use the office phone to interview a clown to appear at a child’s birthday in listening distance of surrounding cubicle dwellers.

Then there are the workers who can’t bear another hour at work and make up an excuse to leave early, sometimes asking coworkers to clock out for them. I must caution you about this, however, because if you do this routinely you are stealing time from your boss and after $5,000 worth of time could be charged with grand theft.

Oh, and your helpful coworker would be aiding and abetting.

When I began teaching in the late 60’s, the line between personal and professional life was so blurred that it was barely visible. Administrators treated teachers like children, and expected obedience and conformity to some guidelines that are unbelievable today.

During the interview for my first teaching job, for example, the principal asked if I was married, and since I was single wanted to know if I had a boyfriend or had plans to get married soon. I almost missed getting that job because administrators feared that females would quit their jobs once they got married. (Talk about antiquated thinking!)

When teachers called in sick, the principal would call us during the day to see if we were home. (We could really have used caller ID and cell phones then.)

I don’t remember a teacher getting fired for any of these infractions, but it certainly made for uncomfortable working conditions.

By contrast, there was a teacher who was caught dealing drugs. I heard that she lost her job and her credential, but later I learned she was teaching again, at a different school.

It was tough to hide extramarital affairs if you have the misfortune to have a heart attack during climax in a motel room with your lover. That happened to one teacher, or should I say to his family since his death meant he wouldn’t have to face the aftermath (I wouldn’t want to have had to made that 911 call.)

So where is the line between professional and personal life?

Are employers entitled to check your Facebook or My Space pages to see what you’re up to and use that to make decisions about keeping you on the job?

Should you be able to check personal email or make personal calls while on the job?

Let me hear from you. Where do you draw the line or do you?