Welcome to Bringing Back Awesome, where we hope to enrich your life every single day with a dash of excitement and a punch of awesomeness!

Nobody said it would be easy

not so easy buttonIf there’s anything that I’ve learned over the last year or two, it’s that life is not always easy. In fact, frequently it’s not easy. But I’ve also learned that I’m strong enough to get through just about anything. At least anything I’ve experienced to date.

I don’t exactly know where I got the idea that life should be easy. Where did any of us come up with this concept? But no matter where it came from, it’s an idea that I had in my head. That somehow this should be an easy path. Free of struggles and problems. Smooth sailing.

That, however, it a fairy tale.

The best that we can hope for is problems we can solve and good people to spend our time with who will help us through the hard times. And the strength of will and courage of character to pursue changes in our life when things aren’t going the way we wanted them to go.

Now you may think that this a rather grim view of things, given that we’re always preaching self-empowerment here. I like to think of it more as managing expectations.

If we accept that life will throw a certain number of curve balls our way, we will understand that our job is to problem-solve to the best of our ability while still enjoying what’s good in our lives and living life to the fullest, despite our hardships.

If we believe in the idea that life should always be smooth sailing, then we’re going to be prone to anger and bitterness and resentment when things don’t go our way. It’s not to say that it’s wrong to feel these feelings. We’re human. We all experience them from time to time.

But if we can look at our hardships as just another bump in the road – terrain that can be navigated and conquered – then we will build an inner strength that will help us get through not only that hardship, but the next ones as well. Because let’s face it…problems keep on coming.

This is also not to meant to diminish the importance or the depth of pain that some life circumstances can bring. Because there are some life events that will knock you down so hard, you won’t know what hit you. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

This is where perspective becomes important. It’s critical to recognize which problems are not super critical or life threatening. Because those shouldn’t be given the same weight just because you don’t like the direction that life has taken. Yes, it may be a bitter pill to swallow, but remind yourself of all that’s good in your life and see if it doesn’t take away some of the sting. And even if it doesn’t, nobody said it would be easy.

But the good news is that this, too, shall pass.

Creating a nectar list

nectarUntil today, I’d never heard of a nectar list*. In case you haven’t either, it’s the antithesis of a bucket list. While a bucket list details the things we want to do before we kick the bucket, a nectar list tells the story of the things that have been the nectar of our existence so far.

Sounds pretty sweet if you ask me!

So of course I had to start one right away, and will share that with you here, in no particular order…

  • Drove across this fine country not once, but twice
  • Lived in New York City
  • Skinny dipped
  • Sang in front of an audience more times than I can count
  • Traveled alone on a plane many times as a child
  • Had the pleasure and privilege of living with all of my grandparents as a child
  • Spent a summer at music camp at Tanglewood
  • Lived in sunny southern California
  • Experienced the amazing gift of two babies taking their first breaths and have been granted the privilege of being their mother. Held another baby in my arms who never took a single breath. I was her mother too.
  • Fell in love with the desert
  • Got married and didn’t tell a single soul until afterwards
  • Got drunk with a dear friend and cut holes in our jeans with a pocket knife on High Street while I was in college at Ohio State
  • Laughed until I cried with so many people so many times in my life
  • Watched 4th of July fireworks over the East River from Manhattan
  • Stood in an elevator with Sting
  • Stayed for one very creepy overnight visit at the Ryde Hotel (think “The Shining“)
  • At 19 drove my 14-year-old sister and 12-year-old cousin around San Francisco with no directions. Somehow we landed at Fisherman’s Wharf. Got mooned by a carload of boys that same day.
  • Slept under the stars at a rest area when I went on a school trip the summer after 6th grade
  • Heard Rudolf Serkin play at Tanglewood when he was 81 years old. His beautiful playing was brilliant and magical and included some dings, making me realize that even the greats aren’t perfect. Also sat a couple tables away from him one afternoon on the grounds.
  • Got seasick riding the Staten Island ferry
  • Gone for ice cream in my pajamas more than once
  • Got a dog because I thought I would need one when driving to Alaska. Never drove to Alaska. (But it’s on my bucket list!)
  • Got soaked to the bone in a downpour watching opera in Central Park
  • Talked on the phone with Carly Simon
  • Watched 7 seasons of Doctor Who in one summer with my son to get caught up for the start of season 8
  • Heard Itzhak Perlman play the sweetest, most amazing violin at the Hollywood Bowl
  • Gotten out of bed to go for a burger at 4 in the morning
  • Asked the Novogratz for an interview and they did it

That’s all I can think of for now. What’s on your nectar list? Share your list in the comments if you’d like.

*Seems that the brilliant nectar list concept was created by blogger Sierra Vandervort. Let’s run with her beautiful idea and share it across the globe!

Help – Take It

learning-to-accept-helpToday at the gym, I hit a wall. I was completely wiped out by the end of my workout. So much so that I could not do the last 5 exercises I was given to do.

But I did one…and then two. I laid on the floor for a minute, and did three, and laid on the floor again. Everyone at the gym was encouraging, trying to get me to keep going. I got the 4th out, and that’s when it felt like I had nothing left. No way in hell I was going to do another. I couldn’t.

And then…I had a breakthrough.

My trainer said he’d do the last one with me, and he recruited someone else to do it as well. And I said, “No, it’s ok! Don’t!”

He replied, “When you say you don’t need help, you know what that means don’t you?” Of course I didn’t know what it meant. He said, “It means you really do want the help!”

Whoa! He was right. I really did want the help, but I didn’t want to seem like the only person who was asking for help in the class.

So later that day, I started to wonder, “Why do I not ask for help?”  “Why do I think it’s a sign of weakness if I ask for help?” “Why not accept someones help when they offer it?”

I don’t want to seem vulnerable and needy. I don’t want it to seem like I’m not strong.

Well guess what, it’s ok to ask for help and just accept it when someone offers it to you. It doesn’t mean you are any less stronger than you were before. Why should I care if anyone thinks I’m needy, vulnerable, and maybe weak in some areas of my life? I shouldn’t. Accepting help is pretty damned brave!

It’s clear at this gym and in this environment people want me to succeed. Total strangers want me to cross the finish line, and some will wait for me until I have crossed. They want me to reach that goal. But what’s more profound to me, is that these people who I barely know are willing to offer their help to a me, total stranger, totally giving of themselves. And from now on, to show my appreciation of that, I will gladly accept their help. Not just in this situation, but in many life situations.

So next time someone offers you help, go ahead, take it. I dare you.

 

A new mantra

just keep working on you

Denise and I have a new mantra. To be used whenever you experience a hurt or disappointment, or if someone lets you down or pisses you off. Or any other negative situation.

“Just keep working on yourself.”

It doesn’t mean that you won’t hurt or you won’t cry or you won’t feel disappointed or sad or whatever you’re feeling. Nope. You’ll still probably go through those emotions.

But.

It’s like the grown-up version of picking yourself up and brushing yourself off after you’ve fallen off your bike as a kid. You might still be sniveling and snarfing, but you pick yourself up and brush off the hurt as best as you can and keep on keeping on.

Just keep working on yourself.

Because when you keep working on yourself, you do become stronger over time and even when things hurt, you learn to pick yourself up a little bit faster and with a little less pain and resistance to moving on. It becomes easier to accept the things that others dole out, and to let things roll off your back like butter on a hot teflon pan. Plus it helps you to focus on you and your growth and what you need, not to the offending party who may have done you wrong.

When people disappoint or when life in general kinda blows, just keep working on yourself.

Say it to yourself like a mantra.

Just keep working on yourself. Just keep working on yourself. Just keep working on yourself.

Trust me…it helps. Give it a try.

Let’s talk about beauty

Gibourney SidibeFrom the first moment I saw Gabourney Sidibe, I’ve thought she was beautiful. I found her captivating. And interesting. Despite knowing nothing about her. And despite the fact that she defies our society’s standard of beauty.

So when I saw this quote, it all made sense to me. She finds herself beautiful and that shines outward from her soul, emanating her beauty from within. Shining her light outward on those of us who look at her and feel her confidence and her beauty, filling her aura with golden light.

But what about the rest of us? Do you see your own beauty? Or are you hung up on society’s definition of beauty, as pictured on screen or in fashion mags? I sure hope not, because while actors and actresses and models are indeed beautiful, they are helped along with makeup artists and stylists and photoshopping and trainers and chefs and who knows what else. So let’s not let them be our guide to real beauty. Let’s start with ourselves.

Recently a friend and I were talking about attractiveness and she said something along the lines of, “Aren’t we all average?” I quickly corrected her and told her that there’s nothing average about us!

And I believe that. I’m not willing to relegate myself to being average in any area of my life. Not for one single moment. Because there’s nothing average about me. Or about you. Neither about beauty nor anything else. We are each such unique and gorgeous human beings with our quirks and talents and individualnesses.

But what about beauty? So many of us were raised to think that we shouldn’t relish in our own beauty, because it’s conceited or narcissistic. Or arrogant. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here. If you don’t appreciate your own beauty – both inner and outer – who will? Accept your own awesomeness – and this includes seeing your own physical beauty.

And don’t even bother trying to tell me that you’re unattractive. Because there’s something attractive about just about everyone. And often times it’s more about their inner beauty shining through than it is about their outer beauty anyway. Haven’t you ever met someone who is so very attractive, yet it’s not because their physical beauty is overwhelming? Or conversely, someone who is amazingly physically beautiful, but their beauty fades for you after you get to know them and find that they’re not a very kind person? That’s all about their inner beauty, or unfortunately, a lack thereof.

So once again we come back to our own inner awesomeness and confidence. It’s important to find and believe in your own inner beauty as well as looking yourself in the mirror and believing in your outer beauty.

Bottom line…we need to believe in ourselves. Believe that we are wonderful. Believe that there is something awesome and amazing and unique that makes us each our gorgeous, individual selves. Believe that we are beautiful. And then we need to go look in the mirror and say it to ourselves. And believe it. Then that’s the face and the spirit that we need to show the world.

If we do that, I guarantee that the world will begin to respond to us in a very different way. The world will see our beauty.

Now go get ‘em, gorgeous!

 

What have you done for you lately?

be your own hero fistHere we are, enjoying the last, unofficial weekend of summer, and as we wind down our first annual #SummerOfAwesome, I’m wondering…what have you done for you lately?

Have you started to live by your own standards? Not letting others dictate to you what’s right for you and and you should live?

Have you thought about what you want to accomplish over the next year? Don’t let another year go by without setting and achieving some meaningful goals!

Have you taken the steps to become more confident? We sure hope so! Don’t wait for the planets to align!

We hope that you’ve been present for this wonderful #SummerOfAwesome. And we surely hope that you keep showing up, every single day!

Thank you for joining us on the journey through this #SummerOfAwesome. We hope that you’ve had an amazing summer!

Most of all, don’t forget to be your own hero!

 

Four simple steps to setting small meaningful goals

Goals-and-Goal-Setting-255x164

One of the things we said we would address in our first annual #SummerOfAwesome is setting goals. Or more specifically, setting small, meaningful goals.

Goal setting.

Seems like such simple fare, and yet so few of us set goals and actually follow through with the steps to achieve those goals.

The time for that to end is right now.

Because today is the day to start identifying your dreams, setting goals, and moving ahead toward a most amazing future!

But first, where do we go wrong with goal setting?

mistake-in-goal-setting-smallAs the image above identifies, we often make big sweeping goals – sometimes more than one – and they’re not specific enough. Just a huge gesture. Such as, “By this time next year, I want to be in better shape physically.”

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with that goal. It’s an admirable goal, for sure. But how does one achieve that goal? Because that’s one big idea.

It’s the kind of goal that’s big and amorphous. And frankly easy to forget about on a day-to-day basis. Or to put off taking steps, just keeping the goal “in mind.” This is especially true if you don’t break it down into smaller, more manageable goals.

The first step is to set your overarching goal.

Let’s use my goal of being in better physical shape by this time next year as our example goal.

The second step to setting a goal is to break the larger, longer term goal into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Really small chunks. In other words, what you will do daily to reach that goal. In essence, a small daily goal.

I’ve decided that I am going to do some sort of physical activity every single day (barring illness).

So we’ve gone from this giant, amorphous blob of a goal – getting in better physical shape over the next year – to a specific daily requirement that I’m going to hold myself to.

While I am also going to implement an exercise plan and routine (as separate goals), the reason that I am committing to one form of physical activity every single day is so that I do at least something on days that I might have a genuine reason for missing the planned exercise – had to stay late at work, put my back out, running my kid around on errands for school or activities.

So by committing to do some activity each day, and layering that into a larger, more structured plan, I am not giving myself an out if timing is off for a day or two – on the days that life gets in the way. I must still uphold my commitment to myself, but I have more flexibility, like going for a quick walk around the block or doing some yoga stretches before bed.

While I’m using the example of exercise, this applies to other pursuits as well. If you want to write a book by this time next year, you can commit to writing something every day. You can also build an outline and a plan for how much ground you’d like to cover daily, but for those days when the well runs dry or if you’re very busy, committing to writing something, no matter how little, is better than losing a day entirely.

The next step…write it down.

And don’t just write it down and stuff your daily goal in a drawer somewhere. Nope.

Write it down and post it somewhere.

In fact, post it in 3 places in your home that you will see frequently.

Here’s what I wrote down for my small daily goal…

small daily goal 1…and I posted it in the 3 places I think I’ll hit with the most frequency while I’m home before and after work…the kitchen and 2 bathrooms! (That says a lot about me, I’m sure, but we really don’t need to go there…)

Now, every time I walk past the sign in the kitchen or when I look in the mirror in either of the bathrooms, I see my little reminder. And because I have a visual queue in several locations in my house, I am frequently reminded of my commitment to myself.

The final step is follow-through. And guess what? Posting the small daily goal reminders around my house is working. It’s prompting me to not only remember that I’ve set a goal for myself, but that reminder encourages me to follow through!

So, to recap, here is how to set a meaningful, achievable goal:

  1. Set an overarching goal.
  2. Break the larger goal into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  3. Write down your goal and post it in 3 places in your home.
  4. Follow through!

What kind of goals have you been putting off setting for yourself? Why not start following these steps today? You’ll be glad you did!

 

It’s ok to wonder why

you were given this lifeIt’s ok to wonder why. Why am I here? What’s it all about? What’s the point? When are things going to change?

Sometimes life is hard. Confusing. Scary. Lonely.

Some days maybe you just feel like you can’t handle it all.

Ok, then don’t. Just stop. Sit around and do nothing. Call off sick. Stay in bed. And don’t try to argue with me and say that you can’t stop spinning all of the plates or juggling all of the oranges because then there will just be twice as much to do tomorrow. Perhaps that is so. But perhaps you also just need a break today. And if you take that little break, that peaceful moment in time, maybe tomorrow you can spin the plates and juggle the oranges again just fine.

But always remember one thing. Even if you’re having a bad day, or a rough week, or even a hard couple of months, please remember that you really are strong enough to live the life you’ve been given. Dig deep and find that place of strength within yourself.

Doesn’t mean you won’t collapse in a heap. Doesn’t mean you won’t weep until your eyes are swollen.

But just dig deep.

I promise you that little place of respite exists quietly somewhere deep in your soul. It’s the place where sighs land and dreams begin.

And you’re strong enough to get there, darling.

Set your own standards

dontbeliketherestofthemIf there’s one thing that I’ve learned during this #SummerOfAwesome that’s worth sharing it’s how very important it is to set your own standards.

We say it all the time, to the point of becoming cliche. Live your own life. Be yourself. Do what makes you happy.

That’s all fine and dandy, until your way of being happy and living your own life and being yourself conflicts with someone around you. Until you’ve chosen to do something differently from the way that others around you would chose to do it if they were in the situation themselves.

Now that’s where it get’s tricky, isn’t it?

Because that’s the place where judgment and disdain, and maybe even secret jealousy and other quiet pettinesses come in. Sometimes even from the people closest to us whom we love dearly.

And that’s uncomfortable. Occasionally downright painful.

But.

You know what’s right for you.

Let me repeat that. You know what’s right for you.

Even if you’ve asked for advice and everyone around you thinks it’s better to do it a different way. And even if you initially agreed with them.

Then came that little whisper. That squeaky little voice coming from somewhere deep inside of you, with barely enough courage to be heard. But you heard it. And once you heard it, you couldn’t let it go. And maybe you even obsessed and did a fair amount of hand-wringing about what the right answer is.

And maybe it’s even a little risky what you’re thinking of doing. Maybe they might be wiser, but you just can’t let it go. Because there’s something inside you telling you that you’ve got to live your life the way you want to, doing what feels right to you.

So you forge ahead, risking judgment and maybe even disdain. Or even worse, silent judgment and ridicule behind your back.

Just remember this…you don’t owe your naysayers a goddamned thing.

But you do owe yourself a lot. In fact, you owe yourself everything. Everything you can possibly do in your lifetime. Everything that you can possibly aspire to and make happen.

So put their voices out of your head and stop letting them live your life for you. You know who you are and what you need. And so long as your intentions are good and your motives are pure, fucking go for it!

Set your own standards and live your own life!

Don’t be like the rest of them, darling…

Plus or minus

plus minus 2Sometimes when we see the good things in other people’s lives, it reminds us of what we don’t have in our life. You may look at their life and see something really great in this one snapshot in time. It highlights for us what we don’t have at this one point in time in our lives.

It’s not good or bad, it just is what it is.

So rather than feeling badly or letting it send you into a downward spiral, let’s focus on the pluses in our lives, not the minuses.

It’s human nature to feel a pang of envy when we see someone with something we don’t have in our lives that we feel is missing or is something we really want. And while it is human nature to feel that envy, the healthiest thing to do is to recognize it for what it is – a moment in time in their life that may or may not reflect the whole picture. And while they may have that one thing you’re hoping for, you may also have things that they would like to have in their life. And they may also have some minuses in their life that you might never want to deal with. Nothing is ever as simple as it may appear on the surface.

So once you’ve recognized that this is merely a snapshot,  a moment in time, take a look at the pluses in your life – the good things that you have in your life.

When we focus on the pluses rather than the minuses, it will help us to recognize the goodness and the beauty in our lives, even if we wish some other things could change.

And when we begin to appreciate and feel the joy of the pluses in our lives, it makes this big ordeal of life a whole lot more worth living.

So in this #SummerOfAwesome, let’s focus on the pluses in our lives.

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