Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Feel Empowered to Use the Word "NO"

I can't tell you how many times I have agreed to attend meetings, cocktail parties, etc and then immediately regret the decision knowing that I was over committing myself and would probably end up simply exhausted at the end of the day.  I hate to use the word 'NO' for fear that it presents myself as a negative person.  As you well know by now, I strive to maintain positive energy in my life and am influenced by the idea that I must be a 'YES!' person.  This is often a excellent philosophy, but sometimes the word NO is just plain necessary.

I began a whirlwind journey last week as I prepared to fly to San Francisco for a long weekend immediately following a week of many late nights at the office and a handful of business dinners.  I returned late Sunday night only to unpack and repack a suitcase Monday morning for two back-to-back conferences located a few hours away.  All events had been on the calendar for at least a month and I had been bracing for this 10 day marathon of planes, trains, and automobiles.

While in San Francisco, I met a very charming and attractive young man who happens to live in Westwood.  A couple of drinks and weekend of texting later, he asks me to dinner.  Any night of the week will work for him -- I just have to pick one.  I look at my calendar, cringe, and realize that I have to simply say NO.  Technically, I could have squeezed this date night in at some point on Monday evening between my commute back from the office and repacking a suitcase for another 4 day trip.  The mere thought of it made me hold my breath for fear of the dark circles that would begin to build under my eyes.  There isn't enough eye cream in the world to solve that kind of puffiness and I was already feeling an eye twitch coming on induced by stress and lack of sleep. 

Without knowing what the reaction might be, I had to employ the "Thanks, but I can't..." statement so rarely used by those of us that personify the latest Tweener catch phrase abbreviated as FOMO (fear of missing out).  Earlier in the week I had made the personal commitment to say No Thanks to all socializing offers presented for the weekend immediately following my return home knowing that, for the sake of my mental and physical health, I would need some 'Me Time' filled with a mix of personal To Do's and loose ends with work.

Do you ever find yourself afraid to use the word 'NO' because it is often easier to just say 'YES'?  We might be saying YES to appease others or avoid a conversation filled with explanations and pressure to change our response.  I challenge you to use the word NO more often in your life and see how people respond.  You might be pleasantly surprised to find that they respect your decision and you get the satisfaction of doing exactly what is necessary and right for YOU.

As for me, Mr. San Fran has offered to keep his calendar open for the following week which will give me at least a handful of days to sleep off the dark circles and eye twitch.  Thank goodness -- because nobody likes feeling anything less than their best when they step out for a date night.


Do you ever find yourself planning to incorporate a workout into the day and then get sidetracked by the commitments on your calendar?  Say NO to that last minute Happy Hour offer or volunteer luncheon and make your physical health a priority.  There will always be another time order that martini or sit in on a PTA meeting.

Often times we don't take the time to acknowledge our priorities and we let life carry us away so quickly that we look back with a tinge of regret about not achieving certain personal goals.  Take a moment to write down the things that you desire for your life.  Goals, priorities, bucket list items...whatever it is that holds importance with you.  Then try to make conscious decisions to allow those priorities to be a part of your life.  You will most likely have to say NO to a few things.  Do it.  You won't regret it.

As women, we are literally wired to be nurturing and selfless.  The maternal tendencies to take care of others often places our own needs at the bottom of the list...if on the list at all!  We must take a moment to realize that we too deserve time and attention.  Emotionally connect with this concept to the best of your abilities before employing changes in decision making.  It simply goes back to one of my favorite mantras...'Where thoughts go, energy flows." 

Tips and Reminders
Studies show that you will sleep better if you remove the electronic devices (including iPads, iPhones, and TV!) from your life at least 30 minutes before bed.  Grab a book or magazine to unwind or perhaps use the time for some pillow talk with your partner.  Your body and mind will thank you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Where Thoughts Go...Energy Flows

The Challenge started at the end of 2011 and I made it about 60% of the way before deciding to focus on other topics of discussion.  I would now like to take the opportunity to revisit The Challenge and finish the 30 days in which we create a moment to look inward and improve our Physical, Spiritual, and Personal 'Self'. 

I started the week excited to prepare for the final 10 episodes of The Challenge and then, essentially, 'Life Happened'.  I phrase it this way because I have come to realize that the cerebral place of positive energy is a world that I choose to visit with my mind's eye and it is not always the most accurate picture of the reality that exists around me.  In the past, I have written about the downside to such a habit and I must now be aware of the cautionary tales that can result from such behavior. 

However, as the reality of life unfolded right before my eyes this week I found myself flustered with a friendship wrought with tension, stressed about various work projects that all had overlapping deadlines, and discouraged by the unexpected financial burden of a repair cost on my less than budget-friendly German-made automobile (at least two pairs of Louboutins worth of repairs).  I woke up on Monday morning with energy and spunk, but returned to my bed by Tuesday night with a heavy heart and slightly red eyes affected by the lack of sleep and increase of stress in my life.  I have no doubt that, on some level, you can relate to the feeling of a fresh start being clouded by the needs of the world pounding at your door.

By Wednesday, I was what you might call a 'Head Case'.  Luckily, the car trouble had required me to visit LA bright and early to retrieve my vehicle and I then had to drive from West LA to San Clemente for a meeting.  For those not familiar with SoCal geography, at the time of day that I was traveling this was easily a 2 hour drive.  Those two hours became an unexpected time of self reflection and rebuilding.  I realized that while my life was busy and demanding, it was certainly still filled with blessings and opportunity.  I also realized that much of my downfall on Tuesday was a function of my mind circling the tragic to-do list that was weighing me down.  I had become engulfed in it all and the road trip was pulling me off of this slippery slope.  It was, literally, a moment to get a grip! 

This unexpected opportunity of dedicated personal time allowed me to clear my mind of all the circular, and frantic, thoughts so that by the time I returned to the office I was in a much better place.  The experience reminded me of one of my favorite sayings that I find to be incredibly true:  'Where thoughts go, energy flows'. 

Don't underestimate the power of your mind.  If you resign to negative thinking and circling your mind around the stress of life then it will carry into every detail of your day.  In contrast, if you do your best to maintain a positive and productive frame of mind then you will be better equipped to take the bad in stride with the good. You will probably find life to be significantly more manageable. 


When was the last time you made time for physical activity that also overlapped as alone time?  Go for a walk/jog/swim today and be alone with your thoughts.  The physical activity will get the blood flowing and the fresh oxygen will improve your mental well being.  We all love to socialize and make working out fun, but go it alone this time.  You won't regret it!

The power of positive thinking has numerous writers, speakers, and bloggers (!) talking.  Personally, I find that the most influential noise on my train of thought can be music.  If you want to really condense this challenge then you can work on the physical and personal well being at the same time by selecting a soundtrack that will bring a smile to your face and peace to your eyes.  The mind will quickly follow suit.

Nothing encourages positivity quite like gratitude.  Whether you prefer to journal, pray, or simply take a moment to 'think', spend just 5 minutes today reflecting and meditating on all that you have to be grateful for in your life.  Don't be afraid to get detailed and personal.  For example, instead of being grateful for a loving family be grateful for the smile on that special person that greets you when you walk in the door (four legged friends count!) or the phone call that you can count on every week from that caring family member.

Tips and Reminders:  Hot tea soothes the body from the inside out.  Chamomile, Peppermint, or Lavender are all personal favorites.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The coming and going of Labor Day represents a variety of annual milestones.  It tells me that the summer season of pool parties and beach days are about to quickly wind down, my white pants will soon be out of fashion, and October 1st is around the corner.  What's the big deal about October 1st?  Well, it is the commencement of the Fourth Quarter. 

The end of year, or 4th Qtr, is an incredibly busy and often stressful time of year for business operations.  We have one last calendar quarter to showcase our earnings, accomplish or perhaps outperform our projected numbers, and then prepare budgets for the year ahead based on the current year-to-date performance. 

I hate budget season.  I have to create and/or approve budgets for nearly a dozen commercial properties and the majority of our forecasting is a function of looking in the rear view mirror.  Sometimes the rearview mirror is a glamorous and exciting window filled with outperformance and a pat on the back.  Other times the images in the rearview mirror cause me to slump my shoulders, hang my head, and simply let out a sigh hoping that that year ahead will be better.  By now, you have probably figured out that I work in commercial real estate and if you have read a headline or two in the last five years then you can probably guess which rearview mirror images have appeared most frequently.  Needless to say, I am in need of a serious spa day come end of December every year to relieve the tension in my shoulders. 

This past weekend I was reflecting upon the stream of consciousness that the '4th Qtr' brings about and I started to reflect upon my personal progress through the year thus far.  I started writing these articles nearly a year ago and around the holiday season had started a conversation about establishing goals and working through your own 30 Day Challenge to create new habits.  Admittedly, I didn't even finish writing the 30 Challenge series so I was pretty terrified to attempt to measure my success in other goal setting areas of my life. 

There are so many life events that happen throughout the year and it is easy to get pulled 'off course'.  The common conversation in the fall tends to be about how the summer time flew by, the holidays are around the corner, and the next thing you know it will be 2013.  I am guilty of this mentality and can be found eagerly nodding my head in agreement with such statements in conversation, but today I am going to pulled the E-break and ask you to SLOW DOWN, take a breath, and check in with yourself. 

The 30 Day Challenge presented the opportunity to focus on improving your physical, spiritual, and personal well being.  What goals did you set?  What habits were you hoping to build?  What sort of things did you start to make time for and then slowly find yourself losing the dedication towards your own self-improvement?

In simply re-reading my posts from December 2011 and January 2012, I will be the first to admit that the 4th Qtr Check-In is entirely necessary for me to start steering this ship back on course.  I will be bringing the 30 Day Challenge back to Stillettos in the Boardroom so that I can finish what I started -- I encourage you to do the same!  The year isn't over yet so as my soccer coaches over the years used to yell throughout the 4th Qtr of each game, "C'mon girls!! Finish Strong!!"