As we bring this year to a close, there is excitement in the air. Everyone is hoping to capture a magical moment. If you’ve forgotten what that delight looks like, spend some time with a child and they will remind you – decorations, parties, seasonal food and for some families, a very special person visits their house on the eve of the 24th.
Magical Moment or Business Consultation?
As much fun and joyful this time of the year can be, for some it invokes a lot of stress. The reasons for the stress are discussed on radio shows, online articles and in conversations with friends. This year, I decided the month prior to December I would have a theme, a mental approach so-to-speak, about the holiday season. The experiment’s theme is “Calm and Bright.” I was inspired by a friend’s artwork where she printed “All is Calm, All is Bright” on one of her pieces, and every time I looked at it, a big smile spread across my face. Then I thought, what would if look like to embrace ‘calm’ and ‘bright’?
For someone who started a new business originally focused on inspiring women entrepreneurs and has transformed the mission into helping girls find their voice, you may be wondering if I am capable of upholding “calm and bright” with so much change in such a short period of time.
From my perspective, your mindset is key to everything you do and is part of your sense of wellness or well-being, which is one of the values of my company. Maintaining a positive mindset is key to everything I take on especially in the midst of great change.
As the days of the final calendar month of the year are passing, each day someone I know is catching a cold, growing stressed or running into obstacles for upholding their most treasured family traditions. I’ve tried to spread CALM or BRIGHT thoughts and intentions their way, even if it’s just a few words of encouragement. This theme reminded me of the years I spent studying and practicing mindfulness, and I’ve settled on a handful of ways to help have an easy transition into the new year. Any of these tips could literally be implemented any day, starting now. Explore which tips below work for you.
5 Tips for a Mindful Year End
Despite how busy you may be, especially with all the additional events scheduled this time of the year, you can spare five minutes. If possible, a space of your own is ideal, even if it’s the closet! Try inhaling on a count of five, then exhaling to a count of five. The count ideally is counting in your head - you don’t want anyone to over hear you and ask what you’re doing. This is a few minutes of peace for yourself. Do this process a few times, then after the inhale on the five count, hold for a five count, then exhale for a 5 count. Set a timer if you need to, you may be surprised how relaxing this process can be.
You’ve just given yourself a gift. Perhaps even a reset in case your day was growing increasingly hectic. Do this every day leading up to the new year and try to continue it once the new year begins.
Extra Travel Time
You may have a big road trip planned or a trip to the airport on the horizon. Guess what? So do a lot of other people…give yourself the time you need with a bit of a buffer to account for the unexpected. For those staying put in their own homes this year, you will still have special events to attend or the typical grocery shopping (when everyone else is shopping for themselves as well as guests.) It can be off putting to go to your neighborhood grocery store and find a line of traffic just to get a parking space, a jam in the parking lot and then no carts to carry your groceries while shopping around.
Believe me, I know, it has happened to me. Remember my theme – stay calm. There may be a different time that you can run errands or a different route to get to your destination, however plan for extra travel time regardless. In case you hit a traffic jam, you will still be able to make it to those special events on time and find a parking space. No need to create undue stress if you can avoid it.
A Cup of Tea
The act of making a cup of tea can be relaxing in and of itself. Boiling the water, selecting the flavor you want, smelling its aroma and waiting for the tea to steep. The warmth of the mug as your hands hold it.
Ah, deep breath, relax.
During this season, people sometimes forget to take care of themselves.
A little act of self-care and slowing down, even for a few minutes, can go a long way. Please, treat yourself to this little oasis of an experience. Several teas have health perks and contain antioxidants – choose those if you think it will keep you in a healthy state.
Have you ever experienced that boost in mood when someone thanks you for something or tells you how much they appreciate you? I hope so. It’s your turn to do that for someone if you’re not in the regular habit of doing so. When you show someone appreciation there is an exchange that occurs, it deepens your connection. People can lose sight of things this time of the year due to the consumerism our culture prioritizes, however things cannot replace relationships. Relationships are key to a good life, just look at the people living in the blue zones of our world. A little show of appreciation can go a long way. Take time out to do this for someone you value.
Wherever you are in life, whatever phase is manifesting, you can give. My definition of giving is similar to many non-profits I’ve been involved with over the years: give through time, treasure and/or talent. Your efforts on any level can truly make a difference to a person, a small group of people or an organization.
Many years ago my father gifted me a quote to hang in my room:
“The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
At that time in my life, I had decided to become a teacher and was about to start working in the public school system. During that time, I did not have treasure (money) to give, however I could give my time and talent. I continued to do so for years. Every year, I find some way to give, and not only during the holiday season; however, if your year has flown by, and you’ve needed to focus on other things, take a moment and decide how you are going to give something to someone before the year ends.
May these five tips assist you in having a smooth transition into the new year! Stay calm, be bright, remember to breathe and spread good cheer.
May there be many moments of tremendous joy and fulfillment for you now and in the new year. Best wishes.
Have you ever thought about that question? If not, take a few minutes right now to consider it. Seriously, stop reading this, look away from the screen and turn your attention towards your thoughts.
I have a clear vision of where I will be six months from now; however, I know that the vision will only come to fruition through my actions.
If you are someone who has ever found themselves in a situation thinking, “Why does this stuff always happen to me? Why do others have it so easy?” Know other people who achieve their goals are striving to reach them daily. You cannot expect things to spontaneously happen to you, you have to make effort for the things you want in your life to come to fruition. Everything you do, starts in the mind. Then you have to take daily steps to see the vision through to the end.
Unlike the world of Harry Potter, things will not magically occur with the wave of a wand. (Although if I could be a student at Hogwarts I would absolutely go!)
As I mentioned above, if you too are a person who believes that everything starts in the mind, think about how we could positively impact our youth with the right opportunities and messaging. The influence adults have on kids starts at an incredibly early age. Research from the Child Mind Institute suggests starting at the age of eight, kids start to question their self - worth, compare themselves to others and start to experience rejection from peers. Eight years old. I don’t know about you, however, that seems awfully young to me to have self-esteem issues arise.
Although I started this by asking where YOU will be six months from now, where will the children and teenagers in your life be six months from now? What are you doing to help them learn, explore and connect with others? I believe as an adult in a community we have responsibilities to our youth.
If you’ve read any of my other communications (blogs, emails), you know I think life is short and we need to make every moment count. Sometimes easier said than done especially if something goes off course in a given day, yet we can literally at any time, change our mindset.
4 Tips to Change Your Mindset When A Negative Situation Occurs
4. Be open, look for and recognize positive moments within the same day
That’s being in the moment, making the most of any day and not dwelling on that which can drain you. Our mindset is so powerful and can be the determining factor that helps us reach our goals. It’s an active effort to bring vision to life, not something that happens as an innocent bystander.
Since my online course enrollment closes in 48 hours, I wanted to mention that if you know of any girls who may need a little extra support to create a vision of where they want to be, have them explore the Launch to Freedom series. The online course or workbook may be the catalyst to help them realize what is possible. It could actually change their life in a short period of time. Now wouldn’t that feel good to know you helped instigate positive change in a girl’s life?
Six months from now, I’ll be working with girls to foster confidence - I will be helping girls find their voice. Where will you be?
Let me know how you make a difference in this world whether it is with your family, friends, at a job, volunteer work or a community organization. Life is short, we’re all in this together, let’s make our time here count.
Success is defined in a variety of ways and although there are cultural and societal standards, I believe we define success for ourselves. Reaching some level of success feels good, right? Depending on the stage in life it could translate as finishing college, landing our first job, running a marathon, purchasing a home, starting a family, and the list goes on and on. We enjoy sharing our successes especially when someone else brings them up in conversation – people notice. However, what we don’t tend to share so often is our failures.
Growing up as a teen whose majority of extra- curricular time was spent with speech and drama, via the public school team or being part of the local children’s theatre acting company for teens, I was introduced to failure at an early age. This ‘failure’ was in the form of not getting cast in a show or not being cast in the role I wanted. It was my first experience of rejection as well. However, I loved the performing arts so much, I continued to go back and audition and remained a part of that world for an entire decade.
The culminating successful experience of all those years of auditioning was two fold – being cast in a commercial and in Shakespeare in the Park, a revered community experience in my home town. At least, it was revered in my eyes because I attended summer performances during my teenage years through adulthood and only stopped attending because I moved away.
However, the above early stages of ‘failure’ is not the main experience I wanted to share with you today. The failure in which I refer to was the first company I co-founded at the age of 18, Chance Theater. It was formed with three other peers and the common element is that we were all passionate about theater. We did everything to include:
We ended up producing three plays during one summer. It was one of the most challenging and invigorating summers of my life, and we all learned so much that we would not have learned in the classroom.
So how was this a failure? We couldn’t sustain the company because although we were passionate, we had no business skills. We didn’t have any plan beyond the three plays we had identified that we wanted to do that particular summer. We didn’t know how to market what we were doing “Bringing different, modern theatrical experiences to our city.” We were taking a chance to try something new…hence the name, Chance Theater.
Also, we had no financial plan, no fundraising experience – all we knew about was selling tickets and nothing beyond that aspect of a financial plan. This is what I learned at the age of 18:
Passion alone is not enough.
Thinking that passion alone will result in a successful company that is scalable and sustainable is a common mistake. Don’t get me wrong, founders need to have passion and passion persuades. Passion can ignite a team; however, you need to know a lot more to run a healthy business.
What do I wish I would have known then that I know now?
Business skills. As a teenager I was not exposed to business on any level. In today’s world, there are some business classes for teens at some schools, however they are primarily at the high school level. It cannot hurt to give our young people exposure to basic business skills building at an earlier age. Then if any of them want to try to start their own company, if the skills set can be matched with the passion, then perhaps they can really make a go of it.
As an adult, I want our young people to have opportunities. In case you didn’t know it by now, I’m especially passionate about our girls having opportunities to have more choices in the future. If you want to see what is possible, see the stories below:
Zollipops - teeth cleaning candy
Sisterpreneurs - da bomb bath fizzers
To help a girl learn basic business skills, be sure to see the Launch to Freedom Girls program and workbook made available through Escape Velocity. Although passion is important to reach business goals, remember
passion alone is not enough.
Let’s help our young girls build a bright future together by being a community who supports their growth through experiential learning.
Your comments are most welcome.
Recently I was listening to the Tilted podcast produced by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In organization and the topic was “Raising Confident Girls.” I highly recommend listening to it. Based on research, our young girls’ confidence declines year over year between middle school and high school. So much so, that it can take them three to four times longer to raise their hand in class if they happened to previously give a wrong answer in response to a question. Compared to boys at the same age who will turn around the next day after giving a wrong response and try again.
Why are our girls so afraid of being wrong? No one is perfect, nor does anyone have all the right answers, yet at a very early age they think they are failing or feel embarrassed and start to refrain from even trying. This behavior pattern can become detrimental to their growth and sense of self - worth.
Now, I wasn’t always a confident person, in fact I was an incredibly shy child. To make matters worse, I was overweight and had a PE teacher who called me “hopeless.” True story. Let me tell you, that had a major impact on my self-esteem and self-worth, starting at the age of eight and since that same teacher continued to be the PE teacher at my elementary school, I endured it until I left for middle school at the age of 11 (at the time they were called Junior High School and started at 7th grade.) Also, it was socially acceptable in his class for other kids to call me by that “nickname” and laugh. I’m not making this up, it’s one of the chapters in my life story.
So, what helped me crawl out of my shell? A friend. It was a friend’s suggestion to try something new. I did it and wanted to do more of it. My parents supported it and the next thing you knew I was on the speech and drama team at my middle school.
She helped me take a chance, to try something new, and my parents fully backed the idea. Thank goodness since they had no idea the P.E. teacher called me “hopeless.” See I was so shy, that I didn’t speak up, not even to tell my parents a teacher was verbally hurting my emotional well-being (granted at the time I didn’t even know what well-being meant!)
As a mother, I am horrified at my own childhood experience in a public school. Last year I mentioned something to my mother about this and she was absolutely shocked and asked why I never told her. I was so shy, I didn’t know how to speak up for myself and also assumed since this happened in school, with a teacher, that somehow it must have been okay or otherwise it wouldn’t have happened. Our kids are supposed to be safe in school, right? Physically and mentally. My mother insisted if she would have known she would have said something to that teacher and the school administration. Instead, upholding my silence, the verbal insults went on for four years without intervention until I ‘graduated’ and moved onto middle school.
Whether you’re a parent or not, we can all participate to encourage our girls to speak up for themselves and to keep trying even when they are wrong, because they will become more confident if they keep trying things and practicing until they become proficient. Also, when they speak up for themselves it helps them experience a level of confidence. If a girl is wrong about something and completely shuts down, how long will it take for her to get speak up again, if ever? Think about it. Why do we fall? To learn how to pick ourselves back up. If a girl has a little stumble, we as adults need to first have the awareness that it has happened, help her and encourage her to try to pick herself up.
How can we help our girls be more confident? I have a few tips to share.
3 Ways to Help Girls be More Confident
What does it mean to be a safe person? A person that will actively listen, without judgement while keeping reactions in check. I think this can be challenging for some parents, since it can be common practice for parents to project onto their kids. Take a moment when a young person is trying to tell you something, if you need to, take a breath and wait before you respond. Ask questions, encourage dialogue. By having at least one adult a girl feels like she can really talk to about anything could make a huge difference in her life. Someone values her, believes in her and that can surely help produce a confident feeling.
How can we provide opportunities for girls to speak up? We need to ask them more open ended questions and not assume what they think, feel or want. Give them time to respond if they don’t want to supply all the information at once. Seek their opinion on topics, give them choices and let them weigh in on discussions whether it’s at home, with friends or a community group. Find opportunities where you as an adult may make a choice that affects a girl and instead let her make a choice.
What does the girl like to do and what does she excel at? Encourage the further development of her strengths, everyone has strengths regardless of age or gender. Help her focus on her strengths, these are things she is naturally good at and most likely spends some of her free time engaged doing. I wish someone would have told me to focus on my strengths at an early age. How much time would have been saved? I wasn’t exposed to the idea of my “strengths” until I was in my thirties!
To wrap up this story, what changed my life was a friend recommending I try something with her – speech and drama. Getting involved with drama truly changed the trajectory of my life and remember, I was in middle school. What if we as a community, as individuals, as parents, as an aunt, an uncle or friendly neighbor, made suggestions to our girls that could make a radical difference in their lives, having a positive impact and potentially to set them up for success?
When it comes to inspiring girls, there is no “best time” other than now.
Who inspired you when you were younger? Think back, reflect and share it. Who was it and what happened? Feel free to share you story on the Comments.
To stay in touch, visit the Escape Velocity website.
I love this time of the year due to fond memories of family traditions from years past that bring a smile to my face.
Also, this time of the year I grow increasingly reflective with each passing week and often wonder if other people experience the same. Do you spend time in reflection during the end of a calendar year?
The new year is an opportunity to have a fresh start, try new things, have a renewed sense of energy. Since my car accident in the winter of 2018, I remind myself that life is short. I think this time of the year is a great time to be thinking about new things we want to try or new challenges we want to take on, and supporting our youth to do the same.
With the new year around the corner, do you know any girl who needs to be empowered?
Parents, extended family members and friends want to support girls they care about, especially girls in developmental stages. Transition can look different for every girl whether it is from:
This moment is all we really ever have.
Is there a young girl you know who could use a little more support, a little encouragement or some words of affirmation? Reach out to her today and let her know you've got her back.
Share your story through the comments and please include:
Small steps will create a path to help girls realize their full potential. See website for more details.
Recently while having a cup of coffee with a friend, who also happens to be a high growth woman entrepreneur, we were sharing the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey. She commented that there was no one ah-ha moment for her, that influenced her decision to start her own company but rather a compilation of experiences. In that moment, I realized I had a very poignant moment that changed the course of my life. I have not shared this story with many people, however it was the catalyst for change and reveals my why.
In February 2018 on a snowy Saturday morning, I headed out to take my then 4 year old son to Japanese school which is a weekly ritual continued to this day. This routine trip typically takes an hour on any normal Saturday, I did not check the road conditions prior to getting on the highway however I soon realized this was no typical winter day, this was hazardous conditions. I grew increasingly uncomfortable being on the road. About half way to the destination, I lost control of the car. In a series of attempts to regain control of the car, we were t-boned and spun off the highway, landing in the ditch between the highways.
It was seriously one of the scariest moments of my life and I have three incredibly distinct memories of that moment:
I was then questioned by my 4 year old who I was talking to, and I told him myself.
That was the moment I decided I would not continue another year working at the hi-tech startup company I was working for at that time and that it was time for me to take my career into my own hands. Life is short; it can literally change in a matter of seconds. I had plenty of time to mull this over while recovering from whiplash. It was a sobering weekend and I’m not sure anyone really understood the impact of that event on my life and how it changed my perspective. That was the beginning of a major shift for me.
That experience served as a catalyst for me to start taking daily steps to change my life. For years I’ve been telling myself that I want to be a positive influence in the world and inspire others to reach their full potential. I love to learn, share experiences and get to know diverse people and what they care about.
I decided to take all I had learned from advising startup companies in Seattle to being in startups and having my own company to create unique education programs and resources for women willing and interested in starting their own businesses. My intention was to inspire women to reach their aspirations. Women in transition, working moms, work at home moms (WAHMs) were going to be my target market.
However through a lot of conversations, observations and research I noticed a few themes surfacing:
This learning made me pause, reflect and change the direction in which I was headed. I realized there is tremendous potential to change the trajectory of these patterns by working with women at a younger age. Working with girls, to be exact. I believe this holds the key to changing self-perception, cultivating potential and a mindset of what is possible. I’m no stranger to working with young people; I’ve served as a middle school teacher, a coach of speech and drama, a private tutor and an Executive Director of a non-profit that worked with high school aged girls. If I really want to be a positive influence in the world, why wouldn’t I use my experience and insight to inspire girls?
I remember what it was like. These are three characteristics of my tween profile:
I needed more positive role models around me and adults to show they cared about my personal development.
It’s been an amazing journey so far, with still more ground to cover and I cannot wait to see what positive change I can inspire. My journey is one of personal development and I want to continue it with others. I am at my best and in my flow when inspiring others.
That is my why. What’s yours?