Mental Outlook

Beating the Blues – 10 Ways to Have a Joyful New Year

When the glitter settles and the holidays bustle is finally over, many of us sink into sadness and feel blue and let down. Whether the causes lie inside, outside, or both, you can take a deep breath, refuse to feel bad, and get serious about taking control of your life and your emotions. Here are 10 proven strategies that will help you beat the blues and get your life back on a happy track.

  1. Grieve the loss. If past losses have caused your holiday blues, take time to finish grieving over your loss. It’s important to feel the sadness and grief and get clear about the reality of the loss. With acceptance, the intensity of the blues will lessen and a normal pleasure in life will return.
  2. Seek serenity. Many losses can be addressed through the principles of the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Learning to identify which is which is a key to happiness after the holidays and all year round.
  3. Practice self-forgiveness. Repeat these messages:
    • “I deserve to be happy.”
    • “I am lovable.”
    • “I am valuable.”
  4. Stop obsessive thinking. Thoughts such as “I didn’t do it right, my gifts were lousy gifts, I said the wrong thing, it’s my fault, I woulda-shoulda-coulda,” can be stopped with a strategy of prayer or meditation.
  5. Avoid the ambush. Do not get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, which can lead to poor judgment, bad decisions and regret. Stay away from substances and behaviors often used to numb pain, including alcohol, excessive spending or sexual relationships.
  6. Flee toxic people. Stay away even (or especially) if they are relatives. Increase time with people and environments of calm and good humor. Let go of resentments related to holidays past and declare an amnesty in family feuds.
  7. Take off the target. Some people’s families are downright predatory, turning as a group against one member. Being the target feels terrible, but don’t give credence to the criticism. Bring it into perspective by making a list of who was the target at the last six family gatherings.
  8. Practice extreme self-care. Manage stress by getting back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. Restore a balance of sleep, healthy eating, exercise and other activities. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, so claim time for aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, spiritual practices or other calming activities.
  9. Reach out to other people. The blues naturally make a person withdraw,  instead seek out friendly nonjudgmental company.
  10. Volunteer. Helping someone in need will highlight the many reasons a person has for feeling gratitude despite the pain.

Is It More Than The Blues?

Depression can have many different causes and help is available. Please consult a mental health professional if three of these symptoms of real depression last more than a couple of weeks:

  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Dulled emotions, irritability, explosive anger
  • No enjoyment for usual activities
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts or gestures
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unresolved grief issues
  • Hallucinations or delusions

Thoughts of suicide should never be taken lightly. Instead, dial 911 in the USA or Canada or go to a hospital emergency room.

Know that happiness is your choice to make.  Focusing on loss and regret brings sorrow; focusing on gratitude and hope brings joy. Use your gratitude journal to get you started. Write down six things at the end of the day you are grateful for. You can start small and build from there. You’ll find when you turn the page and start being grateful for what you have that’s healthy and supports your happiness, more things, people, activities come your way.

 

How to Create Your Wonderful Holidays and Life

How have the holidays been going for you so far this year? Several years ago, divorce turned me back into a single woman after many years of marriage, and I’m happy to say my holidays these days feel just fine. The adjustment was challenging, and I confess I had some blue days, but by now I’ve learned that the secret to creating a wonderful holiday is to make my own choices and not allow other people’s stereotyped ideas to define me. Each of us has the right to spend the holidays the way we want to, right? Yes, you do, too. Yet, too often we let others dictate what we do, for our holidays and for our entire lives.

Women are doing that much less today than we used to because we are gaining more confidence in our own rights and abilities. We can learn a lot about this from single women because they build their lives outside the traditional stereotyped wife-and-mother roles for women. They may be single parents, or happily childfree, and heads of their own households. They pursue meaningful careers, and enjoy a rich social life, a strong and supportive circle of friends and family, are important to a lot of people and spread joy and good works throughout their communities.

During the holidays do your expectations keep you from seeing your circumstances for what they really are? Do you wear rose-colored glasses or focus on ways you fall short and feel depressed? One stereotype is that of the unhappy spinster alone at the holidays, but read on.

Bella de Paulo noted in Psychology Today that articles about making your unmarried life work focus almost exclusively on single women. Why? Because stereotypes assume women would rather be married and mothers, but the reality is quite different. Even more women than men said they thought being single helped them by allowing them to focus more on their work, or their studies, on making more friends, or on prioritizing their own needs. They said that being single makes them feel empowered, and able to enjoy the adventure and journey of their lives.

Many women who feel trapped by their choices imagine that becoming single is the only way to gain control of their lives. But what if you could ask for the support and assistance you want for your holidays rather than feeling trapped in impossible expectations? What if you could skip the parts of the holidays you hate and create new traditions? Guess what! You can. Go for it!

When women learn that I’m divorced, they say, “Well, you don’t have someone at home that controls your money.” I reply, “That’s right. Why do you?” It’s a worthy question. If you were in charge of YOUR life, what would you want your holidays – and your coming year — to look like?

Many women have never allowed themselves to ask such questions and feel like they have no choices. That’s not true at all. We learned a lot about stereotyped gender roles while working on my new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other in Work and Life. It takes focused attention to change our holiday experiences, just as it takes work to change other parts of our lives. I’m convinced the best way to handle such discomfort is in solidarity with our women friends. Together, we can laugh at ourselves, create a vision for our futures, and find the courage to ask for what we want.

Here’s to creating the best holidays – and the best lives – that we can imagine for ourselves.

World Change Begins in Your Heart

Author, Speaker, Humanitarian

Dr. Paula Fellingham

Humanitarian and global women’s movement leader, Dr. Paula Fellingham continues to point her light toward spreading world peace and women’s empowerment for every woman on the planet. As an author of seven books, a teacher, musician, grandmother and winner of both the “Outstanding Leadership and Service” award from President Obama and the “Points of Light” award from President George W. Bush, Paula is propelling her social profit foundation, The Global Prosperity and Peace Initiative, to reach more people than any such endeavor ever has in the history of the world. Paula says each individual must see and accept peace within themselves before we can change the world. Therefore, her peace lessons begin within the heart, and she then shows how to share them in the home, and finally expand into humanity.

Target Date: International Women’s Day, March 3, 2019

Building on the landmark celebration in the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day in 2011, Paula is collaborating with organizations all over the world to launch a program developed by women for women celebrating all we have done, and providing a platform for women to help one another around the world. Using the video conference technology of Zoom, Paula is working to  produce a program that will reach 400 Million people 36,000 live events in every nation on the planet. This massive collaboration will also be available for download on Hulu.

Become a National Peace Ambassador

Paula invites everyone listening to become a National Peace Ambassador. You can sign up on PeaceandProsperityInitiative.org. It’s free and completely volunteer. You can participate as much as you want, but she has made it easy through the peace lessons, called “Peace Is Possible” which she developed for people to give in their own home. The lessons are adaptable to every age group and address problems people have every day.
Originally developed as a program for Rotary International, Paula’s “Peace is Possible” lessons teach participants how to be kind and loving to themselves, their children, brothers, sisters, classmates. She advises how to resolve conflicts in concrete practical ways, how to combat bullying and many more daily life issues. Her focus is on prevention and letting each human being know how precious they are, focusing on the fact that everyone matters and needs to believe that about themselves and everyone they meet.
Listen to more words of wisdom and inspiring projects from these two dedicated humanitarians, Dr. Nancy and Dr. Paula. Hear true stories about how women working together are making the world a far better place to live in. Check out Paula’s website, PaulaFellingham.com, and learn more about her women’s organizations that are founded on the same principles of women helping women as WomenConnect4Good, Inc.

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Political Activist for Women

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive was raised to work hard, get educated and in turn, teach others. Most of all she was raised by parents who thought it was important to advocate for democratic values and help get people elected to create equal opportunities and fairness for all. Since the 2016 election, and the subsequent Women’s March, Rebecca has been inspired to increase her advocacy for women and write her newest book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.

#VOTEHERIN

Convinced that the time is now, Rebecca points out that a woman already got elected to the presidency by the popular vote. A fact she uses to make the case that the American people, both men and women, are ready for a woman president. In Vote Her In, she helps women – especially those who did not vote for the woman for president – see how they actually voted against their own interests.
Rebecca explains that the road to better health care, improved child care and education for all is by electing a woman president. Women understand the need for these things, which is why it just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone who does not address the issues in their policies. She also explains the ways that a woman president would help women reach parity sooner, first by demonstrating the ways that women make great leaders, and second through policies to promote equal pay and status in the workplace.

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

Women are proving that they can lead every day. In fact, as a result of their leadership, companies are more profitable, and policies are more beneficial to all. When Dr. Nancy asked Rebecca who might run for president, Rebecca pointed out that women have been running and winning for years. Although only one-fifth of the Senate are women and there are only six governors, there are a number of women who have executive experience. She predicted that after the 2018 mid-terms, a pool of women would start to throw their hats into the ring. Early next year, they will begin fundraising and announcing their intentions for 2020. She predicted that regardless of where you stand ideologically or politically, you will have a choice and begin to see women leaders speaking out.
In the second part of Vote Her In Rebecca encourages women to get behind the woman they choose and help her get elected. This how-to section of the book gives readers advice and direction for how to engage with the political process and push that deserving woman toward the presidency. Rebecca says women do it all the time. We lift each other up and help one another achieve our goals. We can elect a woman president and the country is very ready for it.
Listen to this interview for more inspiring comments and insights. Check out Rebecca’s website and get her book—ready for pre-order right now. Use #VOTEHERIN whenever possible and get this movement moving. If all of us push together we can Vote Her In!

Who Are You, As An Individual?

Author, Speaker, Coach

Elizabeth Suarez

Who are you is the first question coach and author Elizabeth Suarez asks her clients. She said that women almost always answer in terms of who they are married to, or who their children are. Elizabeth said the key is you can’t have what you want until you decide who you are as an individual. Yes, you have relationships with those other people, but who you are, what your interests are and how you feel about your family all combine to unleash your negotiation potential for yourself.
Elizabeth praised her mother for not giving up after her father died. Her mother was a tremendous negotiator for everyone else, but not for herself. Elizabeth worked her way up the corporate ladder in the days when she was told to keep her place and put in her time. She was told when she reached a certain level, people would listen to her ideas. Today’s world is changing and she feels that we all have the right and responsibility to contribute, but first you have to figure out who you are.

Key to Getting Everything

Elizabeth’s new book, The Art of Getting Everything, looks at our personal talents and traits as “net worth.” We all have it, but we must assess it honestly and identify how we contribute to the greater good in our careers and elsewhere in life. She compared it to navigating the New York subway, which is necessary to survive and get around in NYC. There are three major lines in life that may intersect anywhere:

  • Your career
  • Your family
  • Your interests

The foundation of getting everything is figuring out how to navigate the intersections. Elizabeth encourages her clients to get outside of their bubble and network with others to get help negotiating these intersections. In this interview, she used the example of someone who is expecting a baby and was just asked to be the CEO of a major company branch. This woman doubted her ability to do it all when she remembered meeting another woman who had twins while launching a new international division that moved several million dollars in revenue.  Elizabeth advised us to learn from other people’s stories, to reach out and listen to those stories and share ours as much as possible. You never know when you need that valuable lesson or that intersection of abilities to help you through a difficult time. It’s important to remember that you can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time.

Put Your Own Face Mask on First

Since Elizabeth spends a lot of time flying, she used the instructions from the flight attendant as the most crucial bit of career advice. Take care of yourself and the rest will fall into place. Start by doing this one thing for yourself–listen to this podcast. Then go to Elizabeth’s website and download the free “Negotiation Unleashed” Workbook to think through the key pieces to your net worth. Buy her book, and get started developing your skills in a new art form, The Art of Getting Everything.

Bull’s-Eye Courage

Guest Post by Sandra Walston, Courage Expert

Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

Hitting the bull’s-eye means being on target. English longbow yeomen in small hamlets often held archery practice after church services, the only time when many of them could gather. A common target was the white skull of a bull, and the greatest skill was illustrated by getting a bull’s eye.
Before practicing the skills needed to hit the bull’s-eye in your life and work, you need to know that you’re aiming at the right target—and then act with courage.
Acting with courage is about acting from the heart, from the center of your being. The word courage comes from French corage, meaning “heart and spirit.” The bull’s eye that you must learn to hit consistently is your heart. Everything outside the bull’s-eye represents a different aspect of the false self-stories, such as “I could never be like that”! By accessing your courage, you take aim at the true target of your life’s work.

Are You On Target?

It may take years for you to find the courage to act from your heart—the place where self-acceptance lives—and express your true identity, thus revealing your authenticity. Your courage is alive and well in your original self. The word “authentic” is derived from Greek authentikos, meaning “original.” Learn to live from the inside—the bull’s-eye of your true being. The skilled archer pauses breathing before releasing the arrow. The pause or reflection enables you to have goals yet stay present to adapt as needed. You become courageous by being courageous, hitting the bull’s-eye more often.

Three Strategies for Hitting the Bull’s-Eye

How can you increase your accuracy? Here are three bull’s-eye strategies:

  1. Determine why you are living off target. If you seldom hit the bull’s-eye, you may be focusing on negative external factors rather than listening to the affirmation of your heart. As you gain a healthier perspective about who you are, you limit the off-target shots that keep you from leading with your courage.
  2. Enhance your accuracy with meditation. 
    Courage-centering begins with learning to reflect so that you live from the core of your true being. Meditation can reveal your motivations and awaken your courage.
  3.  Start to underscore your bull’s eyes.
    Underscore your hits—your defined behavioral competencies, the times when you feel energized about your life and work. Discover the joy of living in the present and from your courage.

ACTION: Instill individual courage leadership.

 ~

About the Author/Presenter:
Global speaker Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert is a human potential consultant who studies courage. She has 23 years of original research on everyday courage, feminine courage and organizational courage. She is certified coach, certified in the Enneagram and the MBTI®.
Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has sparked positive change in the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra is the internationally published author of bestseller, COURAGE: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman/Reclaiming the Forgotten Virtue (endorsed by Marianne Williamson and Jack Canfield) along with the follow-up book for women, The COURAGE Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women and FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond.
Sign up for her free monthly courage newsletter or please visit www.sandrawalston.com

Kindness Equals Love in Action

Dr. Tara Cousineau

Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Tara Cousineau reacted to the cruelty of mean girls by becoming a kindness warrior and set out to make the world a kinder place. Dr. Cousineau maintains that kindness is a natural human action. We all start out being kind and compassionate to other people, then life happens. We may experience war, trauma, poverty, or other hardships and survival takes over. She maintains that because of our basic need to survive, the initial purity of thought and kindness for others is diminished, or even buried beneath our more urgent needs. However, she urges everyone to work at kindness. Whatever we feel and express is contagious. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want to share: meanness, which is an expression of hate, or kindness–an expression of love. Dr. Cousineau advises that we intentionally choose kindness for ourselves and others.

Kindness Is the Energy of Healing

When Dr. Cousineau talks to people about kindness, it is often dismissed as a soft, unimportant skill. But as a kindness warrior, she has the research to prove that it’s not only beneficial for us to express kindness, it’s a healthy choice. She calls it “the energy of healing.”  When confronted with a daily bombardment of negativity in the world, she uses kindness and compassion as a heart, mind, body remedy to stay happy and healthy. Her new book, The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World, shares the science and the technique for creating compassion for yourself and for others.
Dr. Nancy shares her experience watching caregivers burn out and become unable  to help the people they serve with compassion. Dr. Cousineau says that it’s actually “empathy-fatigue” that makes them unable to continue to relate to the pain and suffering of those they care for. Empathy is the emotion where we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Caregivers’ stress response is to shut down when they can no longer tolerate another person’s pain. She says that’s especially true for caregivers of elderly parents with Alzheimer’s.  That’s when it’s important to create boundaries and care for and be kind to yourself.  Kindness and compassion is an uplifting experience, a tender loving emotion, not a negative one. Saying no, setting boundaries and caring for oneself in these instances, is an expression of kindness for yourself.

Contagious Kindness—3 Degrees of Separation

Dr. Cousineau says that there is a measurable mathematical result from sharing. When we share kindness with a friend, that friend shares it with another friend, who shares it with another friend. When it reaches the third friend of a friend, it mathematically has the capacity to come back to you. She also notes that in the worst of times, her mother told her to look for the helper. It harkens back to “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” but is a life lesson. Everyone who has done anything positive in the world has one person who has helped in some way—shared kindness through appreciation of that person’s talent or simply in their value as a human being. It is beyond being nice and polite, it is being truly compassionate for other people, recognizing kinship and unity with them.
Listen to this interview for more stories about how kindness can generate positive emotions and results in the world. Check out Dr. Cousineau’s website and take the quiz to find out your kindness quotient. Then get the cure with her new book and set your intention to promote kindness. It will literally lighten your day.

Unleashing the Animal Within You!

Life Lessons on Leadership from the Animal Kingdom
By Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik


I have worked with women and for women. I have joined a multitude of women’s groups. I have done extensive research. I have many women friends. I am a woman.  I have spent time researching, interviewing, and observing women trying to understand the female psyche and what makes some productive, happy, and satisfied and others not-so-much. After many years of trying to understand what makes women flourish I have come to the conclusion that there is no magic formula. There is no prototype that dictates success. What I have found, however, is that women can develop certain habits that contribute greatly to their well-being and to their prosperity at work and in life.
These habits can be learned and can greatly impact how a woman navigates the jungle of leadership and life. In my studies I have learned a great deal about how my counterparts function. Here is what I know about women:

  1. Women are strong.
  2. Women are sensitive.
  3. Women rock multitasking.
  4. Women take care of everything: children, home, work, men, aging parents, plants, pets, etc.
  5. Women hold grudges.
  6. Women don’t speak up.
  7. Women are afraid.
  8. Women don’t realize their own strengths.
  9. Women use the wrong measuring stick to judge their own value.
  10. Women lack confidence.

I have also learned what women do or can do to ignite their drive and passion and to unleash their inner strengths and improve their over-all life satisfaction. I have found many life lessons by studying the animal kingdom. The symbolism I have found is (at best) startling and (at least) interesting. What follows is a brief synopsis of the life lessons we can learn by looking at the wild things.
The Elephant
I have always loved elephants. They are huge and stately. They have a quiet type of power that has always intrigued me. Of course, I have always cringed at the thought of any animal living in captivity and I believe all should be living free without cages or tethers. BUT, the elephant has taught us something about tethers. When a baby elephant is captive, it is tethered with a rope to a stake in the ground. The baby elephant is kept in its place with this length of rope which allows the elephant a limited amount of space to roam. As the elephant grows it remains tethered by a length of rope to a stake in the ground. It does not try to break free although it obviously could if it tried. The fact is, the elephant learned from an early age that it could not free itself and it has held on to that belief even after it has grown and is highly capable. After all, an elephant never forgets.
In my own life and in the lives of women I now know, I have found that we are often tethered. We are tethered to negative feelings about ourselves, our self-worth and our capabilities that were delivered to us as children. These messages may have been sent by our parents, our teachers, the media, or even fairy tales. Maybe they were delivered in young adulthood through toxic relationships or experiences that challenged us. These messages of helplessness and inability grab on and hold tight. As adults this tether continues to restrain us, to hold us back, as these messages play over and over in our heads and in our hearts. Successful women have identified their tethers and have used their strength to break free from them and to move forward away from that which is holding them back and ‘keeping them in their place’.
 The Giraffe
The giraffe with its long legs and long neck teaches us about the importance of vision. The giraffe’s ability to reach high, to see the layout of the land, and to nourish itself from sustenance that few others can attain is an important lesson. As women   move into the world of entrepreneurism and leadership, they need to see beyond their immediate surroundings. Successful, productive women look at the big picture, see the potential struggles and ready themselves with foresight and knowledge to manage what lies ahead. They reach. They stretch. They stick their neck out!
Another worthy observation about the giraffe is the fact that its strength is also its weakness. The giraffe’s long-leggedness and long neck make drinking water a challenge for the giraffe. She, like us, must learn to accommodate for challenges in life. She doesn’t give up drinking water or she will die. She learns to bend and to find ways to meet this difficult challenge, all the while maintaining her balance and grace.
The giraffe also teaches us about strength. When the mother giraffe gives birth, her baby drops to the ground and immediately struggles to stand. Once standing, it tries to nurse. Instead of feeding her newborn, the giraffe kicks her baby and knocks her down. The baby gets up and gets kicked again. Although this sounds cruel, mom knows better. She is teaching her baby to be strong, to get up, to fight, and to succeed. If she doesn’t do this, she knows her baby will not be strong enough to survive the challenges ahead. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Successful women use their struggles as opportunities to be brave and to grow!
The Owl
When we think of the owl, we immediately think of wisdom. The wise old owl reminds us to think. Along with the habit of thinking things through is another habit that successful women possess. That is trusting intuition. Women have a unique gift called intuition. I have found that women who ‘trust their gut’ and can ‘read between the lines’ have a leg-up over others. If it doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not right. Do your homework but trust your intuition.
The owl also brings to mind the meaning of OWL in our texting world…Obsessed With Learning! Every successful, productive woman must be obsessed with learning. Always be in the know if you want to be on the cutting edge. Read. Read. And read some more. Network. Learn from others. Do your research. Know what is coming. Know your competition.
The Canary
Do your recall why miners took canaries into the mines? The other day I was about to turn on the cleaning cycle in my oven and noticed the manual told me to remove any birds from the environment because the toxic fumes from the stove might kill them! Besides being obviously alarmed at what these fumes might do to me, it brought to light the effects of toxicity in our lives. The canary teaches us the importance of ridding our environments of toxicity. Successful women know the value of surrounding themselves with positive, uplifting, supportive people.  Toxic relationships only hamper our success and our happiness. Strong, successful women do not continue to maintain toxic relationships. They quickly deliver the message to step up or step out! They join networking groups that are supportive and energizing. They socialize with others who are like-minded and respect and encourage them.
The Zebra
Zebras are amazing animals. Along with their obvious beauty is their uniqueness. Did you know that every zebra sports a striped pattern unlike every other? Just like our fingerprints, their stripes set them apart from each other. Although each one is uniquely different, zebras have developed a habit that serves them very well! They huddle together in times of danger to protect themselves from looming harm. They stand close together, leaning on each other to create a pattern of stripes that serve to camouflage them from potential predators. As women, we do best when we bond together. We are most successful when we use our strengths to support one another. We do not alienate each other because it serves only to weaken us. We need each other to increase our strength and our impact and our chance for survival!
The Camel
The camel teaches us about conservation. Her characteristic hump allows her to store fat and water and energy to maintain stamina to take that long trek across the desert. Successful, productive, happy women learn from this spirit animal the importance of caring for our inner selves. As women we often find ourselves running on empty. We multitask as we take care of a throng of things at one time.  The camel teaches us that we need to ready ourselves for the journey of life by taking care of our mind, our body and our spirit. We do this by taking the time to stop, to breathe, to eat right, to exercise, to meditate, to run, to walk, to read, to just be. Our success needs to start from within. Nurturing our inner selves should be our number one priority.
 The Tiger
The tigress is the spirit animal of sensuality and sanctuary. The tigress is a symbol of boldness and fierceness. The tiger tells us to be the master of our domain, to go for what we want. The tiger is in tune with the rhythms and motions of the jungle. When the tiger has something to say it roars! Like the tiger, successful women tread carefully and stealthily to pursue and attain what they want in life. They are deliberate. They think. They plan. They also have a vision. They speak up and they speak out! The tiger is also a creature that enjoys solitude. This solitude allows for time to plan, to review, to regroup, to set new goals, and to tend to the heart.  Be like the tiger.
It IS a jungle out there! As women we face challenges and struggles every day tying to manage multiple things at once. Dealing with family, work, personal issues and a need for maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit can be a daunting task. A successful woman achieves happiness in what she does by developing habits that allow her to flourish and thrive. First and foremost is learning how to take care of her inner self. We can learn a great deal by looking at the habits of the animal kingdom. These life lessons from the wild can help you unleash your inner strengths and give you the ferocity you need to bring you the happiness and the personal success you deserve.

“Your strength gives you the ability to stand alone.

Your uniqueness allows you to stand apart.

Your wisdom inspires you to stand together.”

–Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik promotes female strength as an author, inspirational speaker, and leadership mentor for parents, employers, and women of all ages. Her award winning research focusing on  the ecology of female leadership has supported her quest to promote strong women and girls worldwide.  She is a co-author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life. Her resources can be found at www.drjanetrose.com. Email: janet@drjanetrose.com.

Who You ARE Makes a Difference

Founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide

Helise “Sparky” Bridges

Helice “Sparky” Bridges had it all – a big house on the Pacific Ocean, fancy cars, beautiful sons and an emotionally abusive husband – when she hit the wall. She fell to her knees and cried, “Stop the world I want to get off!” and a voice answered,” You can’t end your life because you are going to sing and dance and write.”Later on she also understood that she must also make a difference in the world. The fact that she couldn’t sing, had never danced a step or written much beyond a real estate contract didn’t stop her. She left home with a potted plant and some clothes and did those very things in spite of apparent shortcomings because of what she IS–outrageous.
Sparky realized that everyone just tries to be the best mom or dad or teacher, but what everyone really needs is to be recognized and loved, just like she did.  She created a symbolic hug in the Blue Ribbon ceremony in 1980, now called “Blue Ribbons Worldwide” with a goal of uniting humanity through the power of love and within three months 35,000 people were honored with it. Sparky’s goal is to reach one billion people by 2020. That’s one in seven people in the world, the mathematical tipping point for social change.

“Bing!” is the sound of making dreams come true.

With over 40 million people and counting, Blue Ribbons Worldwide is working hard on its goal to unite the world through the power of love. Sparky calls it the glue that’s missing from our lives. The blue ribbon she created says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference” and the ceremony requires seven steps, beginning with looking the person in the eye and honoring them for the qualities that make them special, asking permission to place the ribbon over their heart and for them to receive the honor, and finally “Bing!” to signify making their dreams come true. Each blue ribbon presented is followed by two more with a request for that person to pay it forward to two others.

Sparky tells her own story and the inspiring stories of how the Blue Ribbon Ceremony made a difference in people’s lives in her book, Who I am Makes a Difference: The Power of Acknowledgement, Stories that Connect People Heart-to-Heart and Ignite the Human Spirit. One story on how the blue ribbon prevented a teen suicide is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. That is at the heart of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to end teen suicide, heal the world by helping one person at a time understand how much she/he matters. Today more than 40 million people have been honored with blue ribbons, but 2020 is only a couple of years away.

#BLUERIBBONCHALLENGE

Sparky says that people need to have personal connections and not be in such a “doing” world, but in a “being” world, where we can see each other’s hearts and the beauty in people. She is inviting others  to join her in becoming sponsors of a new initiative to train 40,000 middle and high school students to discover who they are, why they were born and the difference they make. The students will be honoring each other, honoring their parents and writing stories about it to unite the community in supporting everyone else’s dreams. Besides reducing teen suicides, bullying and the other epidemics that are infecting our teens, Sparky says that it will elevate education in America by developing social and emotional literacy. Instead of concentrating our efforts on conflict resolution, the Blue Ribbon Ceremony will focus on elevating our relationships to a higher bond of respect and love. To learn more about Blue Ribbons Worldwide, contact Sparky directly at her e-mail: sparky@blueribbons.org.
Listen to this conversation for more inspiring stories and to hear the 7-step Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement Ceremony from Sparky to Dr. Nancy. Check out Sparky’s website and ways Blue Ribbons Worldwide is uniting the world through sharing love with 40 million people and counting.Find out how you can help make it One Billion by 2020 at Blue Ribbons Worldwide.

Generosity, Gratitude and Grace

by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
For my gift to you this holiday season, I want to look closely at the three G’s: generosity, gratitude and grace. Let’s think about what those attributes mean to us and the people around us when we give these precious gifts to ourselves.
This time of year always brings out generosity in people as we rush around trying to figure out the best gifts for family and friends, and I like to think of how giving to others really affects us. Every time I reach out with feelings of generosity to help another woman, I receive far more than I ever give. I never want to take that returned gift for granted. Beyond the rewards I feel for helping someone achieve her purpose or move closer to her dream, I am convinced that each little gesture of giving back gets passed on as that person helps someone else. And they always do—always.
“Pay it forward” has become popular in our society as we pass on the payment for the next cup of coffee to the person behind us. But it has much larger connotations when you think about the energy each gesture of kindness creates as it spreads from one person to the next, and beyond your reach to others in ways that you can’t even imagine. If we remind ourselves as we move through our days that we can affect each person we meet positively or negatively, it helps us choose to be generous with our kindness, our respect and appreciation for other people. When we intentionally choose that course every minute, even when someone pulls out in front of us or makes an unkind remark, we gain the power to over-ride a knee-jerk response and remain calm, forgiving, and even grateful for the challenges we receive.
Speaking of feeling grateful–In our culture, women have trouble simply saying “thank you” and expressing gratitude. For some reason, we don’t feel that we are worthy of receiving compliments or gifts. Why we think we have to be worthy to feel grateful is beyond my understanding, but we’re programmed that way by a lifetime of self-esteem challenges in our society. When someone gives us a compliment, women are too often ready with a, “yes, but…” We need to think of the disservice to the person honoring us when we negate their compliment and instead simply feel grateful. We have to let go of our self-limiting beliefs to do this and that takes practice. We have to compliment ourselves and feel our self-worth, look in the mirror and tell ourselves how good we are, pick out the positive aspects–that kindness you showed someone who needed it, how you finally established healthy boundaries with your family, how you pulled off that negotiation at work—and practice, practice, practice.
A gratitude journal is recommended by many professionals (including me) for working yourself out of a stuck frame of mind. When you’re at a low point, thinking about what you are grateful for and writing it down opens your eyes to the many blessings in your life. Do this every day and you will quickly begin to feel grateful and positive about the future. I have long recommended it in consultation and know from personal experience that it works. I have also worked in crisis response and think it’s interesting that the most resilient people always speak about what they still have when they’ve suffered devastating loss. There is a lot of loss around me right now with the California fires in my back yard, but people are saying, “We’re still alive. My family is safe.” Being grateful helps us to focus on what is important–the people we love–not the stuff that is replaceable. And acknowledgement of our gratitude for their survival makes us strong and affirms our values.
We think of grace as an adjective to describe the way someone moves, like a dancer, with poise and surety. But it’s a magical characteristic with the larger meaning of bestowing love and blessings. Grace defines how you live each day and along with gratitude and generosity helps you live your life’s purpose. This is the most important gift and powerfully shapes every relationship you develop. When you develop grace, you’re acting from your heart without judgment or requirements to earn your love. We accept what makes us different and honor those attributes that help us lift each other up in support of one another.
It’s exciting to spend time with like-minded women who share and support one another with generous kindness for their unique gifts. I recently attended Take the Lead Day in New York City. If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch videos from the event here. At the end of the day, everyone was so excited and charged with energy that we didn’t want it to end. The feeling of so many women feeling positive about themselves, the message and their future of having the power to achieve parity and take their place as leaders in our businesses, communities, and to make a difference in the world is indescribable. But it brought home to me why we need to support one another and try to create that feeling each and every day.
I wish that feeling for you, not just through this holiday, but into next year and the many years ahead. Reach out to your sisters with generosity and feel grateful for all your gifts. Bestow gifts on yourself as you care and honor yourself. You matter and are a powerful woman who has the ability to share your gifts with others. Pass it on, so that we can all experience what it means to live in and with grace.

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