Tag Archive: self-awareness


Without your stuff, who are you?

stuffimagesI recently saw a commercial for Norton protection services and while it absolutely offers a good reminder to back-up important things saved on your computer, I found its message a bit unsettling. In case you’d like to follow along, here is the commercial.

Norton suggests that you should protect the items saved on your computer because, “what are you without your stuff?” Better yet, “without your stuff, who are you?” The commercial seriously implies that if you lose your stuff, you lose your identity. It plays on our cultural fear of not having a tangible representation of how cool we are individually. I think the reason the message in the commercial bothered me is because it was probably very effective.

In the commercial, the two “stuff creatures” were attracted to one another because of the other’s stuff. My cultural studies education forces me to interpret that Norton is suggesting that your stuff is what attracts others to you and if you don’t have stuff, you’ll be lonely! So now we are afraid that if we don’t buy Norton, we could end up unvaried and alone forever. How much!?

It’s a strange notion that we’re all so obsessed with our “stuff” and hold the belief that our stuff defines who we are. Yet, as a society, it’s common to collect things in hopes of defining personal value. One article suggests that, “we grow up in a world where our self-worth is based upon the material possessions that we acquire. From the schoolyard to our office cubicles, we spend our lives desperately trying to prove our existence through the cheap, mass-produced, disposable and completely worthless things we own.”

The idea of “stuff” seems to now be going a step further. We attain this “stuff” and then store the proof on our computers or on the web so we have online confirmation of our identity as well. On our computers and online, we house our photos, interests, friends, and activities. Without them, we must have no distinctness from anyone else, right? Norton saw this as an opportunity.

It is so ingrained in our culture and society to feel this impulse to buy, to own, and especially to display possessions or things we think define us. However, my aversion to this commercial reminded me that our possessions do little to prove our self-worth or display our personality. It is so important to our well being to truly believe that who we are is contained in ourselves, and not our things.



Time to get your groove on

grroveimagesWhat is your celebration groove?

Dance, move, jump, twirl – allow the laughter of being youthful to enter your day. Whether 17 or 87, let the wonders of your existence be filled with joy. Whether physically challenged or strong and empowered, allow the glory of YOU to be seen. Your body is a vessel to fulfill your life purpose. Care for it, appreciate it, most certainly love it; allow whatever body you dwell in to be celebrated. Dance, move, jump, and twirl – allow the energy of life to fill you completely.

What authentic step of celebration will you experience today?


fear of embarassmentimages

Laugh at yourself and let others do it too – fear begone!

fear of embarassmentimagesNot so recently my husband of 21 years and I decided to shake it up and choose a new activity to share instead of dinner or a movie. We love comedy shows so we decided to sign up for an improv class at Stevie Ray’s Comedy Club.

To give you a little perspective, I wouldn’t call myself extremely funny or extroverted especially when comparing myself to my gregarious spouse or some of the other members of the class. Regardless it felt like a big leap for both of us. Not only did we grow in our ability to communicate, to think quickly on our feet, and to be flexible and spontaneous. We learned how to apply these new skills in our daily lives. We learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable and vulnerable. We learned quickly that we were all in the same boat . We dropped our guard and when we were willing to do that we were more real and had more fun!

When I would tell people of our newest endeavor they would usually say “Oh, I could never do that!” It wasn’t until the show that I understood where the fear originated.

The last requirement was a show performed by the class, using our new found skills, before an audience of invited family and friends. My spouse and I agreed to perform and we also agreed NOT to invite anyone to the performance for fear of humiliation.

Pre show jitters aside we thoroughly enjoyed our performance and the celebration of each persons individual growth and that of the class as a whole. What we quickly realized was our disappointment for not having the courage to ask our friends and family to celebrate with us. We robbed them of some laughter and we robbed ourselves of the opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments with them.

My realization was that most people said they couldn’t for fear of judgment by themselves or by others. I likely would have asked others had I realized earlier that if we don’t judge ourselves how can others judge us?

So whether you are celebrating your graduation from college, having a birthday or that new promotion be sure to have a party or do something special for you to commemorate your growth. Celebrating brings the energy forward for continued growth and is just plain FUN!


The buzzing in my brain

Icreativity saw a t-shirt in a Bayfield, WI store window this past summer that made me laugh out loud. It said: “I don’t have ADHD, I just—hey, look at that squirrel!”

This is my life. Filled to the brim, and then some.

I’m trying to get a handle on it, but—hey, was that my email dinging? My cell phone ringing? The door maybe? Geez, I better log on to Facebook. I wouldn’t want to miss anything.

This is a problem. It’s impossible to turn off all the access points without feeling cut off. But it’s getting harder to get anything done. We used to seek out information; now it’s thrust at us in a continuous stream. There’s an app for that. There’s a wiki for that. No? Then just google it, for godsakes.

In one of my favorite novels, “Easy Travel to Other Planets,” author Ted Mooney describes a malady called “information sickness” that plagues people in the future (the book was written in 1981). I think we’re there, and that information sickness is real, though we may not recognize it yet.

I can’t help wonder what all the buzz is doing to my attention span, our collective attention spans—and brains. And we just can’t seem to get enough. Even in the car, we’re talking and texting, while the kids in the back are doing the same.

I diagnosed myself with ADD several years ago, but so many of my friends feel the same that now I wonder if it’s not just life in the 21st century. There’s some relief in the discovery that we’re not crazy – the world is.

Getting older may also play a role. A lot of what I’ve read about menopause reports that an inability to focus is a common complaint. I wish there was some way to compare women’s experiences now with our grandmothers’, to determine if there is an “environmental” cause, but no one was thinking about menopause, or researching it, 50+ years ago.

For now, I’ll just keep on creating little blocks of ‘quiet time’ in which I’ll try to find that sweet spot of concentration. But when I look at my nieces and the many other teens and 20-somethings I know, I’ll also be wondering where their brains will be in 30 years’ time. Maybe by then we’ll know everything..



Feel the power

 5-handling-successDefined as: great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force

Feel the POWER.

Personal power is what we use to make a change. Personal power is what we use to bring others along. Our personal power is the combination of our talents, passions, expertise and strengths. Understand what motivates you to be your best. Understand what drives you to make the difference that only you can. Use this to inspire the world around you. Use this to bring enthusiasm to those in need. Know it, own it, harness it and use it; share your power for the greater good of all. 

How will you define your POWER today

candle one endimages

Burning the candle at only one end

candle one endimagesUs women are amazing. We really try to do it all….at least I sure do! And I pay the price. I’m fried, overwhelmed, exhausted, and miserable! And I keep lying to myself that I will slow down. Despite the hetic pace I maintain, I have found a way to keep from frying to a crisp. I take advantage of those little pieces of free time. Think of those chunks of 10 or 15 minutes that happen daily, and let’s put them to good use.

First, make it simple. In other words: NO MULTI-TASKING! Just read, or just listen to music, or just chat with a friend on the phone. I used to chew dark chocolate while cleaning. (Burn the calories before they stick to my butt, right?) Now, I SIT, close my eyes, and let the chocolate MELT on my tongue. When I do this, my whole body slows down to analyze the flavor. Now it takes a few moments for chocolate to melt, so that’s a few moments I’m not doing three things at once. And I avoid burning out.  

Second, make it something you can do at home. If you don’t have to leave the house, chances are you’ll find more time to indulge! No hunting for car keys or fighting traffic. Just pick up that book for another chapter, or add more stitches to your knitting/sewing.

Third, be prepared. Have all the stuff you need for your next project, or the next book you want to read, or a stash of chocolate in cupboard. Can you remember having chunk of free time fall into your lap and you had no idea what to do with it? Frustrating, isn’t it? Be prepared and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s been a few months of treating myself in those little pockets of down time, and I’m happy to report I’m liking the result. I’m not so exhausted at the end of the day anymore. Tired, yes. Exhausted, not anymore. Who knew? I CAN stop burning the candle at both ends! Can you?


40 Something surprises

40imagesMy 40′s did not begin with a surprise. Yep, NO surprise party. [Yes, dear husband, you were supposed to plan that one. But you are right, I would have gotten upset when I discovered your plans prematurely and subsequently found out that you ordered a cake without my input on filling flavor. Well, there’s always my 50th. Hint: cheesecake filling.]

Though there was no surprise party, there hasn’t been a shortage of surprises since turning 40. In fact, a variety of health care professionals have provided me with what seems like an onslaught of 40-something surprises [mostly unpleasant and unwelcome].

From my gynecologist: Surprise! ACOG guidelines state that you are now eligible for a digital rectal exam at EVERY visit.

From my dentist: Surprise! Your molars are cracked from what appears to be a lifetime of teeth grinding in your sleep.

From my family doctor: Surprise! You have high cholesterol. [Better nix the cheesecake filling] Plus, you’ve been chosen to receive a free preview of menopause–enjoy your hot flashes! And as an added bonus, you now need to work out an hour a day just to maintain your current weight–-double that if you want to reach your goal weight. [Kudos to you, Marie Osmond and Valerie Bertinelli! Looking good after 40...and 50!]

From my dermatologist: Surprise! Here’s a list [totally unsolicited] of procedures from which your face and skin might benefit [dermal fillers are indeed tempting].

From my optometrist: Surprise! You can’t read because you are now farsighted…due to age.

The good news is that studies show our sense of well-being peaks as we reach middle age. [Really? It feels kind of like apathy.] Looks like a barrage of minor ailments is the price we 40-somethings pay for a greater sense of well being. [I’m still not sure if that’s good deal or not.]



Does it seem like everyone wants a “piece” of you?

denial-of-your-potential1How do you find you?

Deadlines, due dates, plans and proposals; the world waits for no one. When others push, when we feel blocked; we need to stand firm. It is up to us to fill our life bucket. It is up to us to replenish the joy that will fill our heart.

Embrace what you know to be true. Embrace the loving connection you have with yourself. Maintain a strong level of compassion for others; uphold your positive way of being. But carve the first moments of each day to enhance your resolve to pursue your life mission. Visualize your life outcome, your driving dream.  Stand ready to serve, but first embrace you.

What loving gesture will you offer to yourself today?


Building invigorating relationships that last

Mentoring relationships through adulthood

08012012_3 ways to replenish your physical and emotional energy_AtkinsonBack in the day, when I was young and just getting started, mentoring wasn’t quite the phenomenon it is now. It hadn’t really entered schools or the workplace yet. I had counselors, teachers, advisers, and assorted higher-ups, but no one I ever really thought of as a mentor.

By the time I was in my 30s, professional mentoring was gaining traction. During my five-year stint as a magazine editor, I had the chance to mentor someone, and it was rewarding for both of us. Now, a decade and a half later, mentoring is commonplace; it seems a rite of passage to have a mentor, and then to mentor someone else in turn.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately because over the past several years I’ve begun to cultivate these relationships again. Not as the mentor, but as the mentee.

Mentors can be helpful at any age. And as I took on new challenges and responsibilities in my 40s, I found myself seeking out individuals I trusted and admired to provide me with seasoned perspectives as well as fresh inspiration.

Today I have several mentors, all women who are a decade or more older than I am, all with something to teach me. They aren’t even necessarily aware of this aspect of our relationship, and might feel self-conscious if they were. Some are mother figures, a couple are the bosses I always wished I’d had, and others are helping me explore new interests. I still have things to learn and they each have important things to teach me from the parallel universes that are their lives.

I value the advice and perspective I receive when I’m facing an ethical or work dilemma. I appreciate the guidance I can count on when I’m doing something completely new and am stuck trying to chart a course. I find such reassurance in the idea that each of these women has been my age and has stood at the same crossroads. Now, from a new vantage point, they can tell it like it is, building me a bridge of their experiences.

Most of you likely also have mentors…coaches, therapists, cheerleaders, advisors, elders. Consider their impact in your life and make a point of paying it forward, as I hope to do as well.. Each of us, wherever we are in our lives, have something to teach others. Keep that cache of knowledge in mind, and be generous with it. It’s how we all evolve on this island we call Earth.




Taking time to smell the roses

roseimagesSmell, defined as: to perceive the odor or scent of through the nose

SMELL the roses.

The sense of smell is an interesting experience. It can bring you back in time; it can cause instant emotion of either good or distress. Push yourself to be aware of the scents around you. Connect with your reaction to understand the effect it has. Daily, we choose the direction we travel; choose to spend yours with scents you embrace. Bake the cookies that remind you of home. Fill the vase with flowers you love to receive. Go for a walk to be a part of the fragrance in nature. Linger when the scent of a loved one moves through a hurried crowd.  Intentionally pause throughout the day to connect to your sense of smell; the affect of its aroma may astound you.

When will you stop and SMELL beauty today?