Reading too Fast

dreamstime_xs_72535759I’m a fast reader; I always have been.  There are good aspects to this.  I can read many books in a short period of time and I can grasp the overall stories well.  The drawback is that I miss many of the details.  I don’t pick up on all the subtleties of the book.

Sometimes I think we do this with life.  We go too fast.  We rush through to see what happens, to get to the end.  In the process, we miss out on the little things, the details, that make life worthwhile.

At least with books, we can go back and re-read them to experience the things we missed the first time.  We can’t do that with life.  Once an experience is over, it’s over.  We can remember it, but we can’t relive it.

Would your life be richer if you slowed down a bit and savored all that was happening in the moment?

Choices and Who We Are

dreamstime_xs_103257574My husband (Rick), granddaughter (Cassie), and I were in New York City recently.  While there, we took the subway to the Bronx Zoo.  We live in Wisconsin so taking the subway was an interesting experience.  As with most things, it made me think.

On the return trip Rick and I were sitting in the middle of one bench with Cassie between us.  A little further down from my husband was a young man.  There were several people sitting on the bench opposite us.  At one stop a woman with five young children boarded.  She told some of them to sit next to me and some next to Rick.  Rick and I both got up so that they could sit together.  I sat next to the young man on the end, Cassie slid down to sit next to me, and Rick remained standing.

As each child sat, he or she said, very politely, “Thank you.”  The woman thanked us.  I had the impression that she did not expect us to make accommodations for her and her family, but that she appreciated it.

Rick, who is in his 60’s, remained standing because there was not room for him to sit.  The young man remained sitting.

I couldn’t help wondering why this young man, apparently in good health, remained seated rather than offering his seat to the woman and her children or to Rick, who was much older than him.  In my mind, it would be the courteous thing to do.  Of course, there might be a good reason.  Maybe he had recently had surgery and was not supposed to stand for long period of time.  Or perhaps he just did not care about other people, or at least not about strangers.

Think about the choices different people made in this situation (including how the woman choose to teach her children courtesy).  What might that indicate about the people involved?

We make numerous choices every day, including choices on how we treat people.  Those choices are instrumental in determining who we become.  What choices are you making in how you treat people?  Are those choices helping you become the person you want?

Thoughts from New York City

dreamstime_xs_53797736My husband and I took our 13-year-old granddaughter to New York City in June.  It was a wonderful time.  It also gave me a great deal to think about.  These are just a few initial thoughts.  I plan to reflect upon them more in the days and weeks to come.  I hope it will provide things for you to think about as well.

When we were riding the subway I realized viscerally that everyone has a story, just like I do.  I don’t know their stories, and they don’t know mine.  Even with our friends, we rarely tell our complete story.  I think it’s important to respect that their stories are just as important to them as ours are to us.

We visited Ellis Island.  It was very moving.  It took a great deal of courage to leave everything, and sometimes everyone, to start a new life in a new land.  Many things have changed since then, and many have not.  It also made me realize how much we have to be grateful for.  I packed more for a one-week vacation than many of the immigrants brought with them to start a new life.

It’s important to keep children safe.  It’s also important to let them have age-appropriate experiences.  One way a child gains self-confidence is through new experiences, experiences that challenge her to a certain extent.  Although you want her to be cautious enough that she won’t run into a dangerous situation, you don’t want her to be fearful of everything, you want her to enjoy new experiences.  It’s a difficult balance.  And we only had responsibility for our granddaughter for a week!

We planned to take an evening tour on an open, double-deck bus.  When it came time to leave the hotel for the tour, I did not feel well.  All I wanted to do was lie down.  I knew it wasn’t anything serious–I had just been eating way too much rich food and my system was rebelling.  I thought about telling my husband and granddaughter to go without me, but I didn’t want to miss sharing this experience with them.  I decided to go.  Every time I started to focus on the negative–that I didn’t feel well–I made a conscious decision to focus on something positive.  I focused what my husband and granddaughter were saying, I focused on what the tour guide was saying, I focused on the sights, I focused on how good the breeze felt after a hot day.  Each time I focused on something positive, I forgot that I felt bad.  Our focus creates our world, our life.

We took a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park one evening.  Initially, I felt a little sorry for the horses.  In thinking further, however, I realized that if they weren’t pulling carriages, they probably would not be alive.  Not many people can afford horses as pets.  These are working animals, and probably not working as hard as they would have been 100-plus years ago working in farm fields or hauling wagons in the city streets.  At least today there are more regulations regarding humane treatment of animals.  Sometimes we need to look beyond our initial thoughts.

There are lessons to be learned everywhere, if we just open our minds and think.  An aspect of self-empowerment is giving ourselves permission to do so.

Options Change Everything

dreamstime_xs_37903913I grew up knowing that I had options.  I also knew that choosing certain options would require work, but I had options.  I had the option of working to put myself through college.  I had the option of working hard to gain promotions.  I had options on where I lived, what I did, and how I lived my life.

Recently I have realized that I have a new set of options.  My husband has been retired for a couple of years.  This has created time to do many things that we never could before or could not do very often.  Financially, I could retire, too.  This realization that I have new options has changed the way I view everything, especially on how I want to spend my time.

Professionally, there are many things that I still enjoy doing.  But do I enjoy them more than the things I could do personally?  The answer for many items has been, “No.”  I’m working on finding a new balance between professional and personal.  I’m not ready to completely retire but cutting back on some professional items has worked well.

What this has made me realize more than anything is the importance of knowing that we have options.  If we don’t know we have options, we will never even investigate them, let alone do them.  Knowing that we have options creates our future.  Knowing that we can create options might be the first step in creating the life we want.

Are you aware of all the options open to you?  Do you look for options or do you do what you have always done without even considering that something else might be possible?

Facts and False Conclusions

dreamstime_xs_83110761Just because we have a fact, or facts, does not mean that we (or other people) connect them correctly to form accurate conclusions.

Let’s use the following as an example:                           FACT:  All people born before 1880 and ate apples are dead. CONCLUSION:  Apples cause death.

If we were to read or hear this, rather than automatically believing it, we should ask ourselves some questions.  These could include:

  • Are the people born before 1880 and who did not eat apples also dead?
  • What other things could cause death in the people who were born before 1880 and ate apples?
  • What about the people who are currently alive and eat apples, who have perhaps eaten apples for decades? Do they show any signs of imminent death not related to acute illness, chronic disease, injury, advanced age, or other factors?

We live in an era where information is abundant and easily accessible.  Unfortunately, misinformation is also abundant and easily accessible.  It is our responsibility to question what we read and hear, to think about it, to determine if the conclusions drawn are accurate.  We cannot simply accept everything that is out there.

This applies to what we read and hear related to health, medicine, business, the economy, politics, society, the world, everything.  It also applies to what we read and hear about people, both individuals and groups.

An important question to ask is, “What is the source of this information and is the source knowledgeable, credible, reliable?”

The follow-up question is “What is the purpose, or why is this source disseminating this information?”

It is all too easy to take facts and twist them to serve a purpose other than promoting the truth.  Sometimes all it takes is to omit certain facts.  Sometimes there aren’t even any facts involved, just assumptions, or even lies.

Or, the person might not be trying to intentionally deceive anyone.  She might truly believe what she states, but that does not mean that she has all the facts and is a credible source of information.

I urge you to empower yourself to question what you read and hear rather than blindly believing it.

We See What We Expect to See

dreamstime_xs_58215442If you have done any proofreading, especially if it’s your own written material, you know how difficult it can be.  We don’t see the errors because we know what we meant to write.  We see what we intended to write, not what we wrote.  (Thank goodness for spellchecking—at least it catches some of the errors.)

We can use this concept in a broader sense.  How much do we see because we expect to see it?  As a simple example, I was at an expo selling my books.  Someone bought a book for $10.00.  She gave me a twenty and I gave her back a ten.  A little while later, she came back and said she had given me a fifty.  I didn’t think she had, but I looked in my change anyway.  Tucked in with the twenties was a fifty.  It had to be hers because I only take fives and tens to expos to make change.  No one had ever given me a fifty before, and I was not expecting it.  I was expecting a twenty and so I saw a twenty.  (I was grateful she noticed and said something.)

How many times do we interpret events based on what we expect to see, hear, or feel rather than what is really happening?  How many times do we judge people and/or their actions based on what we expect rather than what is real?  It is important to keep an open mind and to focus on what is truly happening.

 

The Importance of Connections

dreamstime_xs_62253992At the WAND conference I spoke on Self-Empowerment for Dietitians.  One aspect of my presentation was on the importance of networking and making professional connections, both internal and external.  This applies to all professions.

Although networking is necessary, we need to do more than simply give out business cards.  We need to connect with the people we are meeting.  People like to do business with people they know, like, and respect.  This article focuses on the why and where of making connections with people so that they know at least a little bit about us and we know a little bit about them.  And, of course, these need to be positive connections.

It is necessary to make internal connections if we are to succeed and advance within our company.  If people do not know who we are, what we do, or how good we are at what we do, we won’t be considered for promotions and advancement.  Of course, we need a connection with our supervisor.  We also need connections with our supervisor’s supervisors.  We need connections with our co-workers.  We need connections with people in other departments.  We might also be in the situation where we need connections with the company’s customers and suppliers.

A goal is that if anyone at your company were to ask, “Who would be good at/for….” someone in the room would think of you and offer your name for consideration.

We also need to make external connections, connections outside of our company.  One example is professional connections.  A great way to do this is to become involved in local, state, and/or national associations related to our profession.  Many of us have more than one profession.  For example, professional associations that have reflected my career over the years include dietetics and nutrition, healthcare foodservice, speaking, and writing.

The more people that you have a connection with in associations that reflect your profession or professions, the more likely that your name will come up when there are opportunities outside of your company.

Another consideration for many is to go to where your customers, your potential customers, and people who know your potential customers are and make connections.  This might be outside of your profession.  It can be advantageous to join professional associations that are not directly related to your profession.  Who are your customers?  What associations do they belong to?  Can you join?  If your customers are primarily women, are there women’s associations or groups that you could join?

The old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts” has some truth in it.  The good news is that you have control over who you know, who you have a connection with.  Take the initiative and make the internal and external connections you need to succeed.

We Are More Than Our Relationship Status

dreamstime_xs_59800043, croppedI am very pleased to have a guest blogger today.  Jennie is a bright, successful young woman.  After almost four years in other states for college and internships, she is happy to be back home in Wisconsin with family and friends.  She works helping farmers sign up for programs that might provide financial assistance.  Her housemate is a fluffy cat named Binx.

I know Jennie because she is my cousin.  When she wrote the following on Facebook, I asked if I could use it in my blog.  It states eloquently what I have tried to say before.  I am proud of her for many things, but especially for being wise enough to recognize that our value is not dependent upon our relationship status.  Here are Jennie’s thoughts:

“I’m not quite sure when it started. Perhaps it was Disney’s happily-ever-afters? The first Valentine’s Day at elementary school? My imagination? Regardless of the starting point, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching for “my person.”

He was always in the back of my mind: from elementary school, through college, and into my adult life. But, no matter how patient I was, how kind, how hard-working, how musical, how funny, how sincere…he never showed up.

Only recently have I realized that I’ve been waiting on the wrong person. Just because he decided to push the definition of “fashionably late,” doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the party.  For perhaps the first time since my youth, I am sincerely content to be single. Sure, some days are easier than others, but on the tough days I just remind myself of my faith, friends, family, and one very fluffy fur-baby.

I hope every person who reads this knows that they are enough, regardless of their relationship status. In my opinion, God wouldn’t have made any of us if He didn’t think we were worthy all on our own.”

Thank you, Jennie, for sharing this inspiring message!

Special Offer! 50% Off EBooks!

raew+2018+-+8My eBooks, Don’t Act Like Prey! A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment and 52 Weeks of Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment are available from Smashwords for 50% off ($2.50 each) this week only (March 4-10).

To order, and for additional information, go to my Smashwords page.  A quick synopsis of each book follows.

Don’t Act Like Prey!  From birth, women are taught to be nice, be liked, and avoid conflict. We’re taught the alternative is unlikeable aggression. There’s a third option available: respectful assertiveness.

52 Weeks of Wisdom.  This motivational book offers fifty-two pieces of wisdom—one for each week of the year—to help women succeed in the workplace and in other aspects of their lives.

For those of you not familiar with Smashwords, it’s a one-stop venue for all forms of eBooks.  For example, from Smashwords my eBooks are available as an .epub file which can be downloaded to Nook, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Aldiko, and Sony.  (If you want my eBooks for Kindle, you need to go to Amazon.  The files I have for Kindle do not upload to Smashwords.)  It’s a great way for readers to purchase eBooks in a variety of formats from numerous authors.  The advantage to authors is that they can offer their eBooks in different formats from one distributor.  For more information on Smashwords go to the FAQ page.

Don’t wait!  Prices have never been this low.  After you order Don’t Act Like Prey! go to my website to download the free bonus chapter and PDF tables.

Thank you!

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“Small as Your Dreams”

dreamstime_xs_81901484My husband and I saw the movie Peter Rabbit recently.  At the beginning is the song “Small as Your Dreams.”

This phrase is worth thought.  Are we as small as our dreams?  Or as large as our dreams?  Maybe so.  How much do our dreams make us who we are?

I don’t think that we should let our perception of our small “size” (I’m not big enough, strong enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough) to stop us from dreaming bigger than we think we are.  From there, we can determine how to turn those big dreams into reality.  But if we don’t dream it first, we can’t make it happen.