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Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Hole in the Wall

A lot of us pride ourselves on being good advice-givers. A friend’s marital woes, a co-worker’s difficulties with the boss, your brother’s issues with his neighbors, the answers are obvious! Yet, when it comes to taking our own good advice, something happens. There is a disconnect. We know what we should do but …

It’s hard to take our own advice – but why is it so difficult to do what we know we should do? In getting Get It Together Girl ready, I had a heck of a time. Monday, the day I was planning to release the program, everything that could have gone wrong did. The PayPal buttons stopped working. All the sudden, I couldn’t pull up the Media Kit on-line. E-Book didn’t want to work. And, before noon about 10 other ugly issues reared their nasty little heads. Keep in mind, all of this was happening after I had gotten less than 8 hours of sleep over the entire weekend.

I called a friend in tears. As our call ended, another friend called and I cried on her shoulder too. Both of them gave me the same advice. Step away for a minute. Take a break. If I had been on the other end of the line, I would have given myself the exact same advice. Do you think I took it?

No. I kept going, calling help desks and trying to figure it out on my own, frustration continuing to mount. In fact, after one fruitless help desk call, I actually kicked the wall and made a hole in it!

Why didn’t I take what was clearly good and timely advice?

For one, emotion. My emotions were running high and, at that time, my emotions were actually more in control of me than my rational mind was. I was frustrated. I was upset. I was a little angry. I was on an emotional white water raft, careening over the fast and bubbling emotional rapids. I heard their words but I didn’t hear them.

Another reason it was hard to heed their advice was that I was the one with the investment. Sure they can tell me to take a break. What’s a break to them? I was the one who had written the eBook. I was the one who had developed the website and the media kit and the flier and the media list. This was me. It was an investment of my time, money and effort. And now, as all of this is about to come to fruition, you want me to take a break. I can’t break. I’m too close. Not now!

The hole in my wall stopped me. It stopped me cold. It made me realize how intense I’d become. I needed to break. And I did.

I went out and got something to eat. Being out of the house and away from my desk made a difference. It was only a half hour but my perspective changed. It was while I was away that I came up with a reason why all the website problems might have been happening. And, it worked. When I got back and implemented that one change, about 8 of those 10 problems were resolved. And getting that book out on time became a reality.

I worked the rest of the afternoon and resolved those last few problems and by early evening, I was sending out emails announcing the Get It Together Girl program.

Now, I also have, in that hole in my wall, a very real reminder of the importance of taking my own advice.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Get It Together Girl!

Maybe it’s the Virgo in me but I love to be organized. Love it! Love it! Love it! I don’t expect everyone to go overboard with it like I do, but a little organization can go a long way.

Imagine not having to rush though a Monday morning (only to get to work to realize that you left your earrings and cell phone at home). Picture a day where you don’t have to hunt for your keys. See yourself getting into a car or sitting at a desk that is clutter-free. It can happen and I can help!

Today I am officially releasing a new program to help whip you into organizational shape. Get It Together Girl: A 28-Day Guide to Practical Not Perfect Home Organization. The heart of the program is completing daily tasks Monday – Friday in 15 minutes a day!

The program is based around the concept of a Focused Fifteen. You commit to spending 15 minutes on a particular task. However, you are spending that 15 minutes on this tasks and this task alone. No multi-tasking.

Here’s how it works.

Get It Together (GIT) Tasks: Each day, Monday through Friday you are expected to spend 15 minutes on a daily assignment.

Weekend Accelerators: Weekends in this program are optional. You don’t have to do a thing if you don’t want to. However, should you decide you want to do something over the weekend, there are a variety of tasks, that take a little longer, for you to do.

Keep It Together (KIT) Tasks: These are little things you can do to maintain your level of organization. The best part about the KITS is that most are easy enough to do in a minute or less. They are so easy that you can share them with the hubs and the kids.

In addition to the workbook, you will also have access to the Get It Together Girl audio archive. Listen to 1 – 2 minute clips each day for some extra motivation or an added tip or two.

Finally, you will also get access to the Get It Together Girl message board. Share your experiences with others who are also on the road organization. Ask questions. Exchange your own tips. I will be actively participating as well, answering questions and giving you encouragement!

You get the workbook, the audio clips and the message board for $29.95. That’s just over a dollar a day. Less stress, less mess and more success. For details ...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Your Words, Part 2: Impacting Others

Anyone who’s been bullied on the playground, gossiped about or berated by a mate or even boss can tell you that words hurt. They matter. Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can hurt you.

Words have hurt me. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t. Being called “black and ugly” in middle school caused a shame and inferiority that stayed with me long into adulthood. I don’t think the boys that did that to me intended to cause me lasting psychological or emotional harm but they did.

Words matter. And we can’t take them back. Things we say out of hurt, anger and frustration, linger. They make lasting impressions and we usually lash out verbally at those who are closest to us and who mean the most – our words ringing in their heads for days, weeks, months and even years.

Truthfully, we have all said things we have regretted. We’ve also been on the receiving end of those same kinds of words. Knowing how it feels to have hurtful words hurled at us should make us even more vigilant and determined not use those kinds of words with the ones we love and care about.

In the heat of the moment, when emotions are running high, sometimes it’s best to take a time out. A boxing round lasts for three minutes, and then both fighters retreat to their respective corners. When you feel yourself reaching that emotional crescendo, take a time out. Agree to pick up the discussion later. Walk away.

When you walk away, you have time to cool down and choose your words. Choose words that objectively state your feelings about the situation but stop short of name-calling, accusing and cursing.

When all else fails, and you react with cruel or unkind words, an apology helps. It won’t take back what you said, but showing that you realized that you overstepped a boundary can make a difference. Delivered with sincerity an apology can go a long way to showing that you really do care even though you let your emotions get the best of you.

Words are powerful. Let’s do our best to use our words to uplift and encourage those around us.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Live to Learn

It probably started early for me. After all, as the only child of a mother who taught junior high and high school (history and social studies) and a father who was an elementary school principal, I love learning. As an adult, I think the reason I first pursued journalism, and then training, and now coaching is because of that passion.

When I talk about learning, I’m not talking necessarily about pursuing a degree or a formal education although that is definitely one way to go about it. I’m talking about fanning the flames of curiosity that keep you wondering, how, what, who and why?

I love watching the History Channel or A&E the National Geographic Channel. The Internet has now replaced my childhood set of encyclopedias. I love the fact that any information I care to know about I can access. With my keyboard, a world of information is actually at my fingertips!

As I coach, I love helping people learn more about the most fascinating topic of all: themselves. What motivates them? What do they want most and why? What are their roadblocks and obstacles? If you approach life as one large learning experience then things like ‘failure’ or ‘frustration’ or ‘disappointment’ aren’t the end of the line. They become lessons you learn from and use as you move forward.

Indulge your sense of fascination. Dare to ask ‘why?’ Life is about learning and unlike grade school, you control the subjects you learn about and how deeply you delve into them. Never be afraid to learn more about yourself. Encourage your kids to learn. Be patient with their questions.

When you stop learning, you stop growing and when you stop growing, you start dying – maybe not today or tomorrow but a little bit at a time.

Dare to live! Live to learn!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Your Words, Part 1: Speaking Your Own Reality

There is a whole lot of truth to the adage that actions speak louder than words. They do. But that doesn’t mean that your words don’t carry a lot of weight. What you speak matters. Your words are based on your thoughts and your thoughts and words determine your actions.

Recently, I was challenged to change some of the words I use. I was challenged to ‘speak words of victory’ because although I try to be positive, in some areas of my life, it’s habitual to speak words of defeat.

I talk about what ‘will never happen’ for me and what seems ‘a million miles away.’ The truth of the matter is that whatever we do, there is a reason and usually a benefit for it. In my distorted way of thinking, if I spoke negatively about the things I want most, and then I won’t be disappointed when they don’t come to pass.

When I stopped and really gave it some thought, when I speak negatively, I am creating that reality for myself. I am living the disappointment in that instant, in that moment. More than anything, I am making it real. It’s no wonder that those words had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Funny, the areas where I tended to speak more positively – training, coaching, friends, my writing – I tend to have had more success. However, the areas where I had tended to focus on defeat – finance and romance – I’ve experienced the least amount of success.

As soon as I began to speak differently about those things I noticed several changes. First, I didn’t feel as bad about them. I stopped feeling hopeless and began to feel like I was in control. I felt like I could have success. Second, I began to feel good about situation. I started to feel as if financial and romantic success were real possibilities for me.

My words changed. My thoughts changed and then, my actions changed. I've started acting in ways that aremore aligned with romantic and financial success. Are things perfect? No. But they are much better and getting better with every passing day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

To the Black Sheeps and the Square Pegs

I have a much younger sister. In fact, she recently just turned 16, I remember her, as a child, getting mad at me about something and shouting, “You’re not my friend!” I guess it was designed to hurt my feelings; but it didn’t. Ever the coach (even before I was a coach), I felt this was a great opportunity to teach a life lesson. I smiled broadly and calmly told her, “No, I’m not your friend. I’m your family. You get to choose your friends. You don’t get to choose your family.”

It’s true. The great thing about friendships is that you can make friends with people who share your interests, laugh at the same jokes and basically people who ‘get you.’ Sometimes your family does and other times … well, they mean well.

I am the creative, strong-willed free-spirit of my family. The black sheep. The square peg that will never ever fit into the round hole (or even want to fit for that matter). If it wasn’t for the fact that I look just like them, I’d wonder, if maybe, I’d been switched at birth. My family likes structure, they like the tangible and sticking with what they know. You get a job and you stay there … with any luck until you retire. You do something that can be easily explained in one word: teach, nurse, sell. Me? Well my one words: coach, writer, bon vivant, are inevitably followed by questions. Most commonly, “So what is it exactly that you do?” And the one that comes immediately after that one, “And, you get paid to do that?”

Over the years, I’ve spent sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters and books trying to explain things like, why I felt the need to move to California to pursue a screenwriting dream, or why I didn’t just want to teach or nurse (I had a job in a nursing home one day in college. It lasted one day; I didn’t even take the paperwork back so I could get paid).

I still don’t think they get it. At this point, I don’t think they ever will. But they accept it. And so do I. Last year, we went on a family reunion cruise. I convinced a bunch of relatives to come with me on a horseback riding tour in Cozumel. To my surprise, a lot of my family took me up on that offer (not so much with the parasailing!).

As we rode, my horse, whenever possible, would veer off the path, taking his own little side trips and diversions. My stepmother laughed, “It looks like you got the right horse!”

The great thing about family is that you don’t get to choose them but you love them and hopefully, learn to accept them just as they are, and they do the same for you. Teaching you little lessons about patience and tolerance and appreciation along the way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Own It. Claim It. Proclaim It.

I’m 40 years old and God willing, soon I’ll be 41. I tend to look younger than my age, so on occasion; I’ve been a bit of a fly on the wall when younger people talk about: how ridiculous it is to have a baby after 40 or when they make catty cougar comments about women who enjoy the company of younger men or when they offer their opinions of what clothes women-of-a-certain-age should and should not wear.
As a woman, I know it’s my prerogative not to disclose my age; but I don’t mind it. In fact, I’ve never wanted to be younger or envied younger women. I’ve enjoyed all of my years (except the teen ones) and I don’t feel the need to go back and revisit them. I’m fine where I am right now. I’m okay and I don’t care who knows I’m 40.

Whatever your age, don’t be afraid to claim it. You’ve earned the right to be proud. Your age is one part of who you are and why should you try to hide it? Every experience you have had over the years has contributed to who you are now, and come on, would you really want to be 21 again? I know I wouldn’t.

21 is great, if you are 21, and if you are, be proud. It’s the oldest you’ve ever been! It’s an accomplishment. Have fun. Enjoy your time! But, here’s the kicker, I would give that exact same advice to someone who is 41, 61 or 81 years old.

We are such a youth-obsessed culture. But there is more to life than being wrinkle and stretch mark free. I cringe sometimes when I think of some of the things I used to think or do when I was in my 20’s and even 30’s. I enjoy the fact that I can have a two-page resume that isn’t padded with fluff but is loaded with real and tangible experience.

I like the fact that my insurance is lower just because I’m a little older. I like the fact that I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. Now when I see certain situations arise, I can nip them in the bud before they even start. I like the maturity that comes simply from living and I look forward to living more, learning more and having new experiences.

I’ve heard is said lately that 40 is the new 20. Well, for me 40 is the new 40 and that that's a good thing..

Monday, August 3, 2009

Karyn Cooks - Tilapia and Fresh Spinach

Everybody is busy and everyone’s on a budget. So I’m launching this series called Karyn Cooks to share with you some of my favorite recipes you can make when you are short on time and cash. They are all quick, healthy and absolutely yummy!

Tilapia is a great light fish. I came across this recipe by doing a simple Google search on tilapia recipes. I ended up at Southern Food at This recipe scored high with me because it was: quick, easy, healthy, and tasty and a quick clean-up to boot. It is suggested that you pair it with baked potato or rice pilaf. I used some regular long-grain rice and it was very good!

4 to 6 tilapia filets
cooking spray
8 to 12 ounces baby spinach, cleaned
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper
Creole seasoning blend
1 small tomato, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and add the spinach. If necessary to make the spinach fit it into the baking dish, steam or sauté the spinach for a minute or two to wilt slightly.
Sprinkle spinach with salt and pepper and onion powder; add the chicken broth. Sprinkle tilapia filets lightly with salt, pepper, and Creole seasonings. Arrange the filets over the spinach and sprinkle with chopped tomato and sliced green onion. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.Serves 4.