Looking Back and Moving Forward

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Sometimes you have to look back in order to move forward. I have been doing a lot of looking back in the almost three years we have been in Seattle. At first, my looking back was because I was lonely and homesick, which I still feel at times. Now, with year-end upon us, I am looking back to better understand why I am where I am and to determine what I should do next.

There is a lot about life that does not make sense. We have seen a lot of chaos, heartbreak and disaster this year, more than I recall in my lifetime: hurricanes, wildfires, wars, bombings and the threat of nuclear attack are daily topics of conversation, real occurrences in our lives or in the lives of those we hold dear.

We imagine our life will go a certain way, and it rarely, if ever, plays out the way we pictured it. Why? Because that is life. Life cannot be pinned down, and it cannot be predicted. In the end, life is a compilation of one unexpected moment after another. You can fight against it, or you can work with it. Over and over life is teaching me this.

I am a reformed people-pleaser and a reformed planner. As for the former, I still like people to like me, and I work a bit too diligently at it at times. However, I do accept that some people will like me and others will not, and there is nothing I can do to change their minds. As for the latter, I feel the pendulum has swung too far the other direction. Much to the dismay of my data-driven, super plan-y husband, I plan and prepare for almost nothing. I let the day take me where it will. I do not make New Year’s resolutions, I do not make a to-do list for the day or the week, and I do not write down personal goals or goals for my business. Now, I am the last-minute girl who is always 5-10 minutes late to her engagement, under-prepared and slightly frazzled. There must be a happy medium, don’t you think?

I was telling a trusted colleague about this swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, and she observed that I needed to give myself permission to let my hair down. A great deal has occurred in my life, in the last seven years especially, that were far beyond my control: giving birth to twins at 32 weeks, my mom’s diagnosis of a non-curable blood cancer (she has been in remission for five years), and our move to Seattle, Washington from Dallas, Texas, where I had spent 21 years building my social and professional life. So, yes, I needed to stop planning for a while, and just be in the moment.

future and pastBut I don’t like the feeling of not being prepared, so, for the first time in a long time, I am going to make a list of 2018 personal goals, as well as a list of goals for my business. I have always feared writing goals because I felt I was setting myself up for failure. On the contrary, written goals are guideposts designed to help me succeed. I may not meet them all, but at least I know the direction I am heading. One thing my younger brother said a few years ago that stays with me, “An anxious mind is an unfocused mind.” If I want less anxiety in 2018, I have to create focus for myself. While I still want to flex and bend as life throws me curve balls, I need tangible goals to keep me moving forward and to keep me grounded.

I have shared a lot of my heart with you this year: a day of heartbreak, a big change for my daughter and my insight regarding social media. You have been very kind to read these posts and to offer wisdom and encouragement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I will leave you with a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which gives me comfort: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.”

Black and white photo of me by Christina Childress.

2016 – What’s New with You?

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I honestly have been avoiding the “New Year” topic for several weeks to give you an opportunity to recover from the barrage of “New Year New You” e-mails and product endorsements.  I find it very tiresome.  It is the same story each year.  What will I do differently this year?  What improvements will I make?  And more importantly, though cynically, how long can I keep these promises before abandoning them altogether?  We have the best of intentions.

I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  Rather, I like to take a personal inventory.  I like to look at how I improved (or did not improve) over the past year.  And then I like to look forward, both personally and professionally.  What are some things I would like to learn this year and what are the steps I can take to do that?  How can I positively impact the lives of others?  What do I love to do and how can I make time for those things?

Rather than making resolutions, just take a little time to plan for good things for yourself in the New Year.  What did you find yourself missing last year?  Maybe you wished for more time to yourself.  If so, sit down and plan a few outings for yourself or for yourself and a few friends.  If you do not plan it, it will not happen.  Maybe you would like to feel better.  If so, visit your doctor, a dietitian and a personal trainer who can give you a plan of action.  You get the idea.  Planning is the key.  With no plan, there is no change.

Do not sit there and wait for whatever life will throw at you.  And believe me, it will.  Make a few plans and steer the ship for yourself.  Of course your plans may sometimes be thwarted.  That’s life.  But if you do not have a plan to thwart, isn’t that worse?

Make a few new things happen this year.  Happy 2016, everyone!

Dance Like No One Is Watching

womanheadphonesLast summer my then 2-1/2 year old son Nathan was standing beside his twin sister Vivien as she rode on the mechanical horse at a local Mexican restaurant.  As the horse began to move and the music started to play, Nathan bobbed his head and gyrated to the tune unaware of and unaffected by others around him.  Behind Nathan was a young boy older than Nathan who was waiting with his family for their table.  He gave Nathan an odd look as if he were thinking, “What are you doing?”  Nathan never saw him, and I wished with all my heart he would never know the scrutiny of others and never feel like he had to conform to what was expected or “normal.”

Eventually, all of us become aware of how we look to others, and we make adjustments to fit in.  In the process, we often lose a bit of ourselves in an attempt to be like everyone else.  The problem is, none of us is like anyone else, and we were not created to be like anyone else.  Even identical twins have physical differences and each twin has a unique personality. My wish for you and for myself in the New Year is to better connect with who we are and then present ourselves in a way that is an authentic reflection of it, regardless of others’ opinions (good and bad).  Let’s stop making adjustments to our personalities, our manners and our dress that are not genuinely reflective of our values and our core being.

Let’s make a pact.  You be you, and I’ll be me.  No questions asked, no judgment.  Deal?  Happy New Year!  Here’s to much joy, success, happiness and a lot less judgment of ourselves and of others in 2014.  Much love to you all!

Build Up or Tear Down?

woman hugDallas, Texas has a bad reputation for tearing down its older buildings and building new ones rather than saving the historic structures and thus maintaining a semblance of the city’s history.  I am no architect or structural engineer, but I imagine it is sometimes much easier to level something and start again.  How about gossip?  Do you find it easier to speak about the bad things than the good things?  I just enjoyed a viewing of the Golden Globes last night with a dear friend, and we had a great time talking about the fashion hits and misses.  Admittedly, it was more fun to talk about the misses than the hits.  Why is that?  Does it make us feel better about ourselves to see someone else struggling or to see someone making a mistake?  We giggle to ourselves and pat ourselves on the back because we would surely never make such a mistake.  Right?

Let’s drink a big glass of reality and remember no one is perfect (ourselves, included).  We are all fighting a battle of one kind or another.  So, here is another challenge for the New Year, on top of the one I already gave you in my previous post:  choose to build up rather than tear down this year.  Don’t get pulled into negative talk (i.e. gossip).  It may seem innocuous to participate in an occasional “catty” conversation, but ultimately that kind of talk tears you down, as well as the person about whom you are speaking.  Negativity has a way of creeping into your life quite innocently, and before you know it you are looking at everything from a negative viewpoint rather than a positive one.

We look at the people who have more than we have, and we assume they live a happier, more comfortable life.  Those people may be the most unhappy people in our circle of acquaintances.  My point is to build up everyone, even those who seem to not need it in our eyes as you may be surprised to learn they crave it the most.  A simple compliment or word of gratitude is all you need to do.  You may never learn the impact your act of kindness has on their life.  That’s okay.  That isn’t why you are doing it.  The world has enough detractors and desperately needs more encouragers.  Are you with me?  Let’s build this year!

I’ll Have What She’s Having

day dreamAlas, we are rarely happy with our lot in life.  Never has this been more evident to me as when I observed my now two-year old twins as babies looking to see what the other one had, wishing to trade for the other’s toy.  It is true a certain amount of discontent keeps us moving forward, striving to better ourselves and our lives.  However, a bit too much malaise breeds a deeper, unfounded depression.  When a reporter asked John D. Rockefeller, “How much money is enough?” Mr. Rockefeller, America’s first billionaire (and still considered the richest man in modern history) replied, “Just a little bit more.”

So, don’t look around at others and think to yourself, if my hair were as thick as hers, if my hips were as slim as hers, if I drove her car or had her shoes, I’d be happy.  No, you wouldn’t.  You’d find something else to wish for.  My challenge to you in this New Year is to look at all that you do have, open your eyes to your enormous privilege, freedom and comfort.  I want you to see the beautiful things about yourself, focus on the good and push aside those negative thoughts that creep in telling you that you are not good enough or that you don’t have enough.  You were designed exactly as you are on purpose.  You were purposefully designed to serve certain people in your own special way with your God-given talents.  To wish to be different is to boldly tell God He made a mistake, which He certainly never does.

If you need help seeing yourself in the positive way others see you, call me.  I consider it a privilege and an honor to show others how fabulous they truly are.  Happy New Year!