But out?

But out?

I find that I often sabotage a good thing with the word “but”.  I always seemed to find fault with something.  It was part of my negative cycle.  I’ve decided rather than ban the word from vocabulary entirely, I’d switch it up.  When ever I find myself thinking something negative I use “but” to find a silver lining.

I HATE winter.  It’s not the cold so much.  It is the dark!  I don’t like waking up and it is dark for hours and then I leave work and it is nearly dark already.  I work in an office all day and though I have a window I almost always have to keep the blinds closed because of glare.  By the time the sun comes up, I don’t have enough time for a walk and I don’t want to leave my house in the evenings.  So being that we are in dead of winter, I’ve been a bit more negative than usual.

After a particularly long stretch of rainy, cold days (we don’t get much snow here), I was gripeing again about the weather – it was bitterly cold that day. But the sun was out!  But the forecast for tomorrow was warmer! But the heat pump didn’t freeze up now that we built the cover.  But my car starts up right away even in this bitter cold.  But now I can eat stew!

My guy is starting school again this week.  Four days a week and then weekends will be homework time.  And he is already putting in longer hours at the new job.  We will have much less time together.  But we can eat dinner together most of those nights.  But I can go to the gym without feeling that I’m not home enough. But now I can take those classes at Michaels.

It’s about looking on the brighter side.  It’s about looking for opportunities instead of loss.

“But” is like a fork in the road.  You can be on a good path and “but” yourself right down the negative road.  You can be on a rocky path and use it to take a higher road.  “But” really is all in your head!



Gossip, Gossip

Gossip, Gossip

On the way home from the grocery store Sunday, I noticed something on the sign outside the middle school near my house. I pass this school dozens of times each week and since I no longer have school-age children, I usually ignore it. This time this caught my eye.

PracticePositive Gossip

Stand in the grocery store line and you’ll see a row of magazines that cover “celebrity gossip”. The “mean girl” epidemic is one based on gossip. One of the most popular TV shows among teen/young adult girls is Gossip Girl.  People like Perez Hilton, who make a living off celebrity gossip, are celebrities themselves. Spreading gossip about others is a common way for people to feel better about themselves.

What happened to “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? A recent study even says that gossip may be good for us. Really? I don’t buy it.

Lets look at the definition of gossip – “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.” Here are a few synonyms:  hearsay, slander, defamation.
Frankly, I don’t think we can eliminate gossip altogether but if we are going to share some buzz, news or chatter (also synonyms for gossip) why not make it positive?  Keep the sour grapes, speculation and back-biting out of it.  Susie got a promotion.  Share it and how you think she deserved it and worked hard for it.  A friend tells you Janie broke up with her boyfriend, say “Wow that is hard. That’s happened to me too.  I’m going to call her and take her to lunch.”  Just refuse to wallow in the mud with your friend and spread a little kindness.
Dishing dirt on other people may make you feel like the “better” person, but it won’t make you a better person.  Practice Positive Gossip


An Optimistic View of Failure

An Optimistic View of Failure

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new project. I’m getting back to my creative side and working with some new mediums.  Taking the idea from my head to a finished piece is both exhilarating and frustrating. Sometimes a technique works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes a color or finish is just what I envisioned and sometimes it is less than pleasing. Sometimes it isn’t what I anticipated and is even better. As I struggle with the right amount of material and the right choices, I find I am disappointing in the results – it’s like making a recipe that sounds delicious, but ends up not so good.

But I haven’t thrown in the towel! As tempting as it might be to pack away my supplies and move on to something “safe”, I’m soldiering on with an optimistic attitude. Each less than perfect attempt is a learning experience. It is one more piece of the puzzle that will result in success. Persistence pays off. I am learning about technique and tools and process. I’m growing and I will bloom.

Did you ever meet someone who if they aren’t the best at something, they won’t do it again? Or someone who won’t play a game or sport if they don’t win the first time they play? I think they lose twice – and the loss of the opportunity to  learn and grow and achieve is far worse than the first loss.

“Failure” has so much to teach us if we rise to the challenge and see it as a positive things – a motivational thing. Failure can spur us to learn, re-evaluate, problem-solve. Sometimes the biggest lesson from failure is to show what we don’t want. (I think this is particularly true of relationships). Sometimes in overcoming a failure we encounter someone or something that adds an extra layer of richness to our lives – a coach, a mentor, a new friend, a new direction, a new insight.

This happened to me a few years ago. I won an interior design contest and the prize was the opportunity to attend a design seminar by a very popular, high-end designer.  It was a fabulous prize and something I could never afford on my own. I traveled on my own for the first time, stayed in  fancy hotel and got to meet not only this designer, but several others as well. The other attendees were all people who shared my passion for interior design. I wouldn’t call the experience a failure but it wasn’t what I envisioned. However I learned so much, mostly about myself and what my true passion is – not designing fancy houses but helping regular folk enrich their homes with their own style with accessories and styling. And so I help my neighbors lay tile floor, pick out paint colors and accessories and rearrange furniture. A disappointment lead to a new insight and direction.

Here is another example. My guy is going back to school to get the degree he needs to advance in his job. With 15 years experience, he really wasn’t too keen on the idea of sitting in intro classes in his field. At first people gave him vague answers or referred him to someone else. He kept getting the run-around. Oh, and it was frustrating. Another person might have just given up and taken the classes, spending time and money. But no, for him, it was a challenge and he prodded, followed up, pushed and demanded answers and in the end was rewarded with credit in several classes, shortening his time in school by at least a semester.

I think it also helps if you go into something expecting to have challenges and problems or roadblocks so that when you encounter them, you are already in an optimistic mindset to see them as a challenge and an opportunity.

Has “failure” ever turned out to be a good thing for you?



Mood Food

Mood Food

I know what foods are good for my body and my health.  I pay attention to what I eat every day, every meal.  I think about what I put in my stomach all the time!

I am not so good at about what I put in my mind.  Too often I feed my brain with sad songs, Facebook drama, TV and Internet news, murder mysteries, true crime and crime drama shows, and other people’s problems. None of these things could be considered uplifting, encouraging, positive or happy!  And lets face it – this stuff gets you riled up – and not in a good way.  And it’s addicting!  These things are nothing more than junk food for my mood.

How much entertainment junk food are you consuming? Imagine if you listened to uplifting, empowering music.  How do you think that would effect your mood?  And if your consumption of TV was a treat rather than a steady diet?  What if your friends made you join in their laughter and fun instead of their anger, complaining and drama?  Would you enjoy your social interactions more?  What if your reading material was about the lives of inspiring people?  Do you think they might inspire you?

If you were committed to being healthier, you would have to analyze your diet and make changes.  I think the same has to apply to your commitment to being happier.  It may be necessary to make changes.  And just like changing your diet, you might have to give up something things.  But don’t think about what you are giving up things.  Think about what you are getting – happiness, peace, contentment, and encouragement.  And really is it so bad to give up drama, anger, stress, sadness and negativity?



Who is at the wheel of your life?

Who is at the wheel of your life?

I just finished reading Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus.  I highly recommend it.

A brief summary

George’s life is not going well.  His marriage and his job are both in jeopardy.  His relationship with his mother, his kids and his co-workers is not going well either.  George’s life is one huge unhappy mess. He feels that he is the victim of bad luck and bad people.  Due to car trouble, George must take the bus to work and he encounters a group of people who give him some advice and rules to follow to turn things around.

The first rule George is given is “You’re the driver of the bus”.  The bus represents his life.

George has become a person who feels that his life is in the hands of others or fate or bad luck.  He has an external locus of control.  Big fancy psychological word but in quite a simple concept.

“A locus of control orientation is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our personal control (external control orientation).” (Zimbardo, 1985)

People with an external locus of control don’t believe their efforts will change a situation. They tend to blame others and feel hopeless or powerless.  Taken to an extreme, they may develop learned helplessness or a victim mentality.

People with an internal locus of control believe that they can change their circumstances and by their own actions or by influencing others.  They generally are more confident, motivated, successful, healthier and happier.  Taken to an extreme, they blame themselves for any negative outcome.

When faced with difficulty, we often fail to grab hold of the steering wheel and drive our own bus – because we are afraid or because we don’t think we can make a difference.  One thing we are always in control of is our attitude – negative or positive – it really makes a difference!  Just ask George!