I’m ‘Her Person’

The first show I binge watched on NetFlix was Grey’s Anatomy. It was a winter day and I was snowed in. That’s when I decided I was going to watch that show I’d heard so much about – Grey’s Anatomy. I loved the fact there were no commercials plus I could watch show after show without having to wait weeks between.

One of the most memorable episodes was when Christina explained to Meredith that Meredith was ‘her person’. myperson

What Christina meant was Meredith was her safe place, the person she could turn to at any moment, the person she could count on, the person who wouldn’t judge her, the person that would just be with her when she needed someone and the person she could dance with in the moments when life was hard.

Three weeks ago my sister made a hard decision. She decided to stop the chemotherapy and to let the cancer run it’s course in her body. You see she has stage 4 colon cancer and has been fighting it for six years. When she told me of this decision, she said that I was ‘her person’. She needs me to be there with her till the end, she needs me to be strong for her, she needs me to take care of her, she needs me to help with the difficult decisions that are before her, she needs me to be there as she enters hospice, she needs me to make her last wish of going to Lake Winnipesaukee happen. lake winnipesaukee

She squeezed my hand when we’ve visited the oncologist together and told him of her decision. She squeezed my hand when we had the family meeting when she shared her decision with the rest of the family. hand sqeezingShe squeezed my hand when the hospice nurse was taking her vitals. Each hand squeeze reminds me that, I’m ‘her person’.

Being ‘her person’ was not something I saw coming and it’s scarey to me. Somedays I don’t feel like I have enough strength for myself, let alone for someone who is dying. However, I don’t let on to those feelings. You see, I’m the big sister. I’m the one who has to be strong. It’s my job to be stronger and to protect and to fight for my sister. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. It’s the role of my birth order – first born. I’ve been able to fulfill that role really well, until this thing called cancer arrived. This was a battle I couldn’t fight for my sister. I still remember the phone call she made to me the day she found out.

I remember where I was and what I was doing and how I stayed strong on the phone for her and how I lost it once I hung up. That was the beginning of many moments of being strong for her in front of her and then losing it when I was alone. That pattern continued for the six years of this battle, but now things are changing. My sister is telling me to ‘stay strong’. I think she knows. She’s onto me. She knows how my heart is aching for her and it’s hard for me cause I can’t fight this cancer for her. I’m letting her see the tears now. We’re crying together now.

The doctors have given her three months – till July. That’s when the tumors will have taken over her liver and then the rest of her organs. God has just allowed my world to be turned upside down. My days are different. I cry more than ever, at random times and I surrender to the tears when they hit me. By evening time I’m so exhausted my body just collapses and I’m forced to bed early. I wake ready to face the day, and never know what it’s going to hold. This is a journey I didn’t sign up for, but I know God wants to me to travel. He is my source of strength.

I love my sister, and I’m going to be ‘her person’ all the way to the moment she leaves this earth and enters Jesus’ arms.

jesus hugging

Approach to a Difficult Conversation – Part 2

 

This post is the second part to the original post of Approach to a Difficult Conversation – Part 1.

Once you have determined the method of this conversation (see previous blog post) the message is the next thing to consider.

Message

The message is comprised of your body language, tone of speech and vocabulary. All three are part of your message. The recipient will be listening to your verbal and watching your non-verbal communication. Remember non-verbal communication says more than verbal. It’s important that the verbal and non-verbal convey the same message.

Body Language  crossed arms

How you present yourself physically matters. A firm handshake, good eye contact and steady tone of voice will start your conversation off on a positive note. Avoid crossing your arms. Keep an open posture. You want to convey that you care about the person and are there to work through the situation. The recipient needs to feel they matter and are being listened to.

Tone of Speech  speech bubbles

The tone you use to deliver the message should be your normal speaking tone. The pace you speak should be your normal cadence as well. No need to speak loudly or speak too softly. The recipient should feel this is a normal conversation between the two of you.

vocabulary

Vocabulary

Your word choice should be one the recipient is able to understand. Be careful to avoid words that come across as to snobby or words that are patronizing. Being honest in your message and forthright is the best. No need to puff up the message or water it down.  You’ll be respectful if you are polite and direct with your message.

Choosing the right method and presenting the message respectfully will be huge in having a successful conversation. This will show the other person you were thoughtful in your approach. They may have a difficult time with the message being shared, but they’ll feel listened to when you deliver the message considerately. There maybe more conversations to follow because of the message, but you will be looked upon favorably because of the courage you displayed in initiating.

What method do you find affective with people?

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Approach to a Difficult Conversation – Part 1

Difficult conversations, we have them throughout our lives and many of them. Sometimes we start the conversation and other times we are on the receiving end. These conversations we’d really rather avoid, yet we know they are necessary. It takes courage to start these conversations.

The difficult conversations can happen in our work life or our personal life. These are opportunities for us to grow personally and professionally. Making it through a tough conversation can draw us closer personally or help us meet our goals professionally. This is all good. The hard part is beginning the conversation.

There are two factors to consider when you are initiating these conversations: the method and the message.

The Method

The method is all about the environment and the timing of the delivery. The better you know the person the easier the method will be. Choosing where to have this conversation sets the tone. Knowing what time of day this person is at the top of their game is best. You don’t want to catch him when he’s exhausted from a long day or starving and irritable.

Environmentcup

First question to ask yourself is what level of privacy is necessary. Should this conversation be behind closed doors or could this just be a private conversation over a cup of coffee. Talking outside the office is neutral ground and could be a better choice than an office. Both are good choices.

clockTiming

Consider the other person and when they are at their best. Are they a morning person or an afternoon person? Approach them when they are most receptive. Be sure to take the day of the week into consideration as well. Choose a day without many meetings and when the workload is not overwhelming. A Monday is probably not a good day to have this conversation. Avoid a week where the deadlines are heavy. Be careful of the time of day. Avoid the lunch hours.  People who are hungry are irritable. A full stomach puts a person in a better frame of mind.

Come back next week to read about the message.

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My Think Tank

Who would have thought my early morning swim workout would be a place of clarity for me. I’ve been swimming for a while now just to mix up my workouts and give my body a break from the pounding of a treadmill. I have discovered these workouts are inspirational.

No diving allowed

When I Jump (diving is not allowed) in the water my body goes into a bit of a shock as I adjust to the water temperature. The adjustment is relatively short – a few minutes. After adjusting to the temperature my body takes another few minutes to adjust to the movement of the stroke and breathing. The whole adjustment time takes me 5 minutes. At the 5 minute mark is when it starts – the rhythm. It’s a crazy thing. The rhythm of the stroke takes over my body and that frees up my mind. I feel myself enter this underwater world of inspiration and clarity. Continue reading

A Word to Remove from My Vocabulary

I’ve decided to remove a word from my vocabulary. There are multiple ways to say this word that are much more affective. I only need to give a few moments of thought before I speak to get the same message across.

I’ve started experimenting with not using this word. It wasn’t easy at first because after all habits are hard to break. I still have to work on this and to some extent I probably always will.

And the word is…..

The word I’m eliminating is ‘no’. I found the moment I said that word I was shut out from explaining anything more to the person I was speaking to. It’s like an automatic wall was erected with sound barriers. They would hear ‘no’ and then turn off their hearing.

Now that I’m using different wording I’m being received in a much more positive way. Sometimes I make an observation. Sometimes I suggest a different solution. Sometimes I point out a different approach. All of my responses convey ‘no’ in a different way.

Takes Courage

It is difficult to say ‘no’ when asked to do something. Often when I’m asked I let the person know I’ll consider their request and get back to them. I’ve learned to never respond to someone the same day. Taking time to sleep on the request is always best. Often times I can’t see the whole picture in the moment I’m asked.

Talking over the request with others has always been helpful. Another person can point out something that I’m not able to see. Just knowing that information is valuable in considering my response. They help me see the big picture.

Delivering the same message a different way.

My decision to remove ‘no’ from my vocabulary has been quite affective. I am able to give the negative reply in a different way and be received positively. I’m turning a negative into a positive. This has been a good word to remove from my vocabulary.

Have you eliminated any words from your vocabulary? What were they?

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My Word for 2015

A word for a whole year! That’s a long time. How do I pick one? Should I try it? I decided to give it some thought and prayer. I was lead to :

Mind-set

Merriam-Webster defines Mind-set as:  a fixed state of mind

This year holds so much promise for me and the right mind-set will help. I know that when I’m able to fix my mind on a task I will be able to be much more productive.

When I think about mind-set I think of being “all in” with what I’m doing at the moment. The “all in” means that I am focused on what I’m doing and not allowing distractions to interfere. This is a challenge for me.

Distractions to my mind-set:

Multi-tasking

Part of my challenge is due to my gender – female. Women are known and proud of the fact that we can multi-task. This multi-tasking ability comes in very handy when we are juggling many things in a day. However, it’s a big distraction when I’m trying to focus on just one thing. I have to fight the tendency to do more than one thing at a time.

Interruptions

Types of interruptions:

  • a phone call
  • a text message
  • the internet
  • a person walking into the room
  • a delivery
  • an alarm/notification
  • facebook
  • email

I realize I can’t eliminate all distractions, but I definitely can make choices to reduce them. I can choose to silence my cell phone and get it out of sight. I can choose to turn off all alarms. I can choose to not open any tabs like facebook or twitter to be distracted by the notifications. I can choose to not open my email. The choices go on and on.

Environment

Where I am affects my focus. If I’m in a place with environmental distractions then I lose my focus. When I need quiet the library is the place to go. When I need inspiration then a public coffee shop works. When I’m pressed for time and need to crank through a lot of work an office is the place. When I need deep thinking focus being outside and walking on a trail is the place.

Being aware of the types of distractions that affect me and knowing what type of focus I need is very important to my mind-set. This is the year I am going to work hard at reducing my distractions. I’m also going to take into consideration the types of focus I need to keep my mind-set in the right place.

I’m looking forward to improving my mind-set. Do you have a word for 2015? What is it?

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Dream Time 2015

A new year has begun. The month of January is the time to make resolutions and set goals for the year. It’s time to dream! Dream of what you’d like to accomplish in the next 365 days; these next three years; these next five years. Depends how BIG you want to go with your dream.

Taking the time to dream will have a huge impact on your year. Deciding what you want to accomplish will have a major affect on how you spend your time. Where do you want to be this time next year? The way to get there is to plan.

I decided to be purposeful in my Dream Time this year. First thing I did was find a place to dream and second thing I did was set aside the time. I had to find a place away from home and away from the office. I was looking for a distraction free place that was comfortable. I also needed to schedule it in my calendar. I set aside a day. I chose a day between the holidays.

When thinking of where to begin in my Dream Time I realized looking back over 2014 and listing my accomplishments would be a great beginning. I took time to think back and write down everything I did. This was an effective exercise. It helped me realize I really did accomplish a lot. It made me feel good about my 2014. This gave me good momentum.

Capitalizing on the momentum I started listing things I wanted to accomplish in 2015. After awhile of brainstorming I decided to categorized the list. The categories I came up with were:

  • Business
    • certifications
    • marketing
    • speaking
    • software
    • business development
    • social media
  • Personal
    • spiritual
    • marriage/family
    • financial
    • social
    • physical
    • intellectual

I then took it a step further and set some dates to the things I wanted to accomplish. I quantified some items as well. This will help with tracking numbers from year to year.

This whole process took hours and was extremely rewarding. I decided to take another half day a few days later to refine and finalize my dreams for 2015. Taking days in between allowed me more thinking and praying time. I made my changes and finalized my list.

I’m taking my Dream Time setting a step further and planning another day  halfway through the year to check in on my goals. This will be a good time frame to see how I’m doing. I’ll do some revising of my goals at that point based on my experience and circumstances.

One thing is for sure. I’m not going to beat myself up at my halfway checkup if I haven’t done as well as I hoped. I will use that time to review and revise. I want this year to be focused and successful and my Dream Time has set me up for just that.

How do you plan for 2015?

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Most Productive Two Work Weeks Coming Up!

The holiday work weeks are upon us. These next two weeks contain Christmas and New Years! Are you working? Taking vacation? Or a combination of both?

There are definite advantages to working over the holidays. I know that sounds crazy, but after spending 20 plus years in corporate I’ve experienced it firsthand.

Here are some of the advantages:

  • the commute into work is fast with fewer cars on the road
  • casual dress is appropriate since client meetings are not happening
  • the break room is still full of holiday treats – leftovers
  • the phone calls are minimal
  • the water cooler conversations are reduced
  • the office is quiet
  • great opportunity to wrap up projects
  • perfect time to purge the files (paper & electronic)
  • plan your 2015 calendar
  • review your 2014 year – what went well; what didn’t
  • set some goals for 2015 based on what you learned in 2014
  • improve your email filing system – delete some emails
  • grab lunch with someone who opted to work over the holidays
  • be intentional with your time – prioritize your workload
  • re-arrange your work space to increase productivity
  • burn more calories – order that standup desk
  • step back and look at the big picture
  • have a 1-on-1 with your boss (if he’s working)
  • make a self-development plan for 2015 (physical & mental)
  • enjoy your time in the office

These next two weeks hold great potential for you. Make the most of your time at work so you can make the most of your vacation time when you do take it.

Personally I like to take my vacation in the summer. Love those hot summer days by the water!!!

How do you make your holiday work week productive?

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Mindset: It determines your success.

I knew there was another factor out on the tennis court with me when I played a match. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was huge because it would play a major role in whether I won or lost.

The first ten minutes of every match was the warm-up or rather size-up period. I’d determine in those ten minutes whether I was better than my opponent. The crazy thing is when I was better than her, she would beat me and visa versa. There was no rhyme or reason to it.

I was playing on the girls high school tennis team at that time, back in the day. It just so happened a book was published around that time called The Inner Game of Tennis.  I read that book of course. What I learned was the unknown factor on the court was within me. It was my mindset. What I was thinking; my opinion; my mental attitude or inclination. It was as easy as thinking I would win and then doing it or thinking I would lose and doing that. Or was it so easy?

Not so easy really, but very powerful when used. I started changing my approach to my matches after reading the book. What I really changed was my mindset. I determined to make up my mind about winning even before I stepped on the court.

Guess what, it worked (most of the time). I could actually will myself sorta speak to win. With my attitude I was able to beat opponents whose skill set was better than mine. Go figure!

I’m not a teenager any more, but I remember that lesson and I hold onto it. I’ve faced many situations in my life where my skill set was not strong enough to get through the situation. That’s when I remembered to exercise my mindset muscle and determine that I’m going to get through that situation no matter what.

Often I need to make that determination – winning mindset – before I get in the situation. I still need to work hard at being prepared for whatever the situation is. Mindset does not negate hard work, it enhances it. They go hand-in-hand.

Hard work and mindset are a winning combination.

What have you learned about mindset?

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The Competitive Self: Let it out or suppress it?

Today I let my competitive self out in a workout on a stationary bike (Expresso.com) against a ghost rider. That’s correct a ghost biker image appears on the screen as the rabbit sorta speak. I decided to let my inner competitor out. I was not going to engage in any conversations with people in the gym.

It felt so good to compete. I went all out and you guessed it. I won!! When I crossed that finish line on the screen I threw my arms up in the air and let out a gasp. Take that ghost biker! I’m sure I drew a number of glances with my expressiveness in the gym.

I am a competitor by nature and I’ve struggled my whole life knowing when to let it out. It’s easy to let my competitor heart out when I’m in an athletic competition because that’s when it’s appropriate. People expect you to try to win.

I’ve played on many sports teams and run in many races and that’s when I for sure am competitive. However there many other times and situations where I’ve had to suppress that competitor within.

As a young mom even when playing games with my kids I’d have that fleeting thought,”Should I go all out or not?” I’m embarrassed to even admit that, but it’s true. Part of me would think well he has to learn how to lose and then the other part of me would think I’m his mother I need to build his self-confidence.

I wonder if men ever struggle with those thoughts. I’m thinking not so much.

Being a competitive woman has not always gone over so well with my girl friends. Women are more inclined to be all inclusive of everyone and not wanting anyone to feel left out.

I grew up in a neighborhood of boys. If I wanted to play I had to compete and prove worthy of being picked on a team. I learned to go all out all the time. We had some serious kickball games and football games. And I wanted to play. And I did.

Over the years I’ve learned to be cautious about letting my competitor out. Board games is an area I’ve had to suppress my competitiveness. If I won I wanted to shout or fist pump or jump up and down. I was told that’s not good sportsmanship and not to do that. I learned not to let my competitor out while playing board games.

Entering the working world was another place where I learned to suppress my competitor within. You bet I wanted to finish the project first, earn the bonus, get the promotion whatever the stakes were. I just had to be careful about how I came across as I was striving for those things.

I did not want to come across as someone willing to step on others while trying to get those things. I’m competitive, but not at the cost of others. I’ve learned that people are more important than any accomplishment.

Do you struggle with the competitor within?

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