Posts Tagged ‘women’

Step Away From the Hamster Wheel!

April 3, 2016

hamter-wheelI just heard someone say that she is just too exhausted to continue to compete in the rat race. I get that! Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed, I feel like dropping out of not only the rat race, but also the human race! And I think there are very few people who are past puberty and have never felt that way at some point in their lives. The world is full of people who are running as fast as they can like little hamsters on their exercise wheels; running faster and faster and never getting anywhere. It works for pet hamsters…not so much for people!

So many of us get up every morning, put on our Super Hero capes, and set out to do the nearly impossible! We juggle work, social and family lives and then take on extra responsibilities which pretty much assure that we will not have even a minute of relaxation time. This often ends badly. Our super-hero capes end up being our shrouds! OK, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.

So why do we do it? Some feel that their value is measured by how busy they are. If a person is running in all different directions and constantly taking on more responsibilities, he or she certainly must be very important, right? It seems as if people participate in stress competitions, because they think the more stressed you are, the more official and professional you appear. I have even heard people arguing with each other about who is the more stressed…kind of an “America’s Got Stress” show.

Of course, there are some situations in which it is difficult to lighten your load; it’s not easy to tell your boss thanks but no thanks to a new assignment. But when it comes to other people, it is possible that some of us take on more than we can handle because we just can’t say no. Maybe we’re afraid that people will be offended or even dislike us if we turn down their requests. The reasons are many and different for each one of us, but the bottom line is that after we wear ourselves out trying to be everything to everybody, what then?  Here are some of my personal rules for you adapt to your specific situation, the next time someone asks you step onto that hamster wheel:

  • Whether you are living in my house or a guest therein, please understand that sometimes I choose to put my sanity above having a living room out of a decorating magazine. If you see dust on my table and cannot restrain yourself from writing your name in it, feel free to do so but please do not date it. If the “protective coating” of dust really offends you, you are welcome to fetch a can of Pledge and a cloth and go for it. And if you should see a really large dust ball roll by, please humor me and play along if I call it by name and try to pass it off as a pet.
  • If you are absolutely swamped and just can’t fit one more thing into your busy schedule, please do not automatically assume that I have more time on my hands than you do.  If I can help you, I will. But, if I can’t sew, shop, host, volunteer, or bake, please do not groan, whine, roll your eyes or sign heavily and hold your back in pain.
  • To my family: acknowledge and accept the concept that although it may not be your favorite thing to do, you ARE perfectly capable of picking up your belongings from the floor, tossing your dirty laundry into the hamper rather than flinging it across the room, rinsing off your dirty dishes, escorting the trash out to be collected, and flushing the toilet. These are basic skills that can be taught to a chimpanzee. Do not take this to mean that you are off the hook if you find a chimp to fill in for you.

I hope you find these useful and once again, if you begin to feel tense, I’d like to remind you to hang up your Super Hero cape, move away from the hamster wheel, rediscover the joy and peace of living simply, and resign as understudy for one of the Guardians of the Universe!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life-mapping coach who encourages people to get off their hamster wheels!

Metal Chains Aren’t as Restrictive as Mental Chains!

August 18, 2013

Most people probably wouldn’t find the idea of being locked up in a prison very desirable. Given the choice, we would rather be free to roam and romp and do whatever we like to do. It is ironic, then, that we often lock chains on ourselves which make us feel trapped and powerless.

Of course, these aren’t physical chains. They are chains made of thoughts and habits which can restrict you as much as any metal restraint. Each link is made of a counterproductive belief about yourself. It can take the form of negative self-talk, self-sabotage, feelings of unworthiness, false ideas about your abilities and talents….and the list goes on.

Every time you allow your mind to spend time on these thoughts, you are tightening the grip of your shackles, and you’re putting one more lock on the door of your self-made jail cell. You will eventually find it more difficult to even ponder finding joy, success or freedom to live the life you desire.

Each one of us has a choice. The only guard at the prison door is yourself and you carry the key! You can sit on your pile of chains and mournfully sing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” or simply claim your “pardon” and step out into freedom. The key is in your pocket. It is your ability to love and accept who you are, as you are. It is your willingness to turn your back on old fears, worries, doubts and resentments and speak to yourself kindly, with affirmations of your value.

The path may not always be easy, but it sure beats sitting chained up in a prison!

BITE Through the Chains That Bind You

July 29, 2013

It is a sad truth that many people just don’t like themselves. This is a sad state of affairs because you really can’t get away from yourself. Imagine spending time in a room with someone that you really just can’t stand…at least you can eventually leave the room to get away from that person, but you can’t get away from yourself because wherever you go….there you are!
I recently realized this while talking to someone who seemed quite negative about everything and everybody. It finally occurred to me that this person was disagreeable and critical of other people because she didn’t really like herself very much! Many of us are bound up in these chains of low self-esteem and self-loathing; and those feelings of disappointment in ourselves affect the way we look at other people. We can become judgmental and snarky. When we are chained by negativity and feelings of inferiority, we can’t be free to reach our potential or even have any fun! Chains bind us and keep us in darkness.
Unfortunately, we tend to judge ourselves a tad too harshly at times. We compare ourselves to other people when there is no need for that, because we all have our own special talents, opinions and personalities. So what if you don’t look like a model or sing like a rock star or have as much money as someone else? You have gifts that others probably admire or even wish they had, so focus on being the best YOU that you can be because nobody else can be you the way you can.
Believe in your value and don’t worry about fitting into anyone else’s mold. I offer these suggestions to help your BITE through the chains that are binding you and are preventing you from loving yourself and loving your life:
• Believe in yourself, your uniqueness and your value. Be glad you aren’t a carbon copy of everyone else.
• Invest in yourself. Take time to develop and use your own special gifts. You can’t give away what you don’t have, so put yourself on your “To Do” list. Relax, rejuvenate and rejoice!
• Thank your Maker for your life! Develop it, nurture it and enjoy it!
• Encourage others….and yourself! Rather than to compare yourself to others or envy their good fortune, be supportive of their endeavors and know that someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your own. Talk to yourself as if you were your best friend and encourage yourself to be thankful, proud and joyful about being who you are!

Don’t Let Trolls Block Your Goals!

January 29, 2013

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there, who insist upon telling you things “for your own good.” I have found that whenever someone begins a comment with, “I don’t want to discourage you, but I feel that for your own good; before you attempt this, I need to tell you something”… I am about to have a pitchfork pop my happy bubble.

I’m not really sure why it seems to be in some people’s nature to want to derail another person’s dreams, but I’m guessing there are a few reasons. It is possible that a warning is issued out of genuine concern, which is probably the case when a parent sees a child heading in a dangerous direction. But, as for the rest of the “goal trolls” out there who just seem to want to burst balloons….maybe it is because of jealousy, or fear that another person will do something that they want to do, or maybe they are just trolls. Who knows?

If you have ever had a passion to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, you may have heard some of these Troll “buts”:

“You can try, BUT only a very few people ever make it!” Well, that is probably because those are the ones who got off of their “buts” and tried it!

“You can try it, BUT I’d hate to see you fail!”  You can tell the troll that he or she needn’t worry about you failing because you know that the only way you would feel like a failure is to stay stagnant and never try to get out of your box!

“You can try if you want someday, BUT don’t you think you should be more careful now?” This is an interesting one because it means that the issuer of this question has put himself in the lofty position of knowing what is best for you. It is an assumption that you are not wise enough to weigh the pros and cons of a decision and be smart about it. Besides, when is “someday?” It isn’t even a day of the week!

The world is full of dream stealers who may not even realize what they are doing when they offer misguided advice. They just may be frightened and sad that they don’t have the courage to step out and dare to follow their own dreams. Whatever the case, each of us has the ability and the personal responsibility to make the most out of every day with which we have been blessed.  We can listen to the words of the naysayers and then make our own decisions. I love this quote by Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuitions.”

If you have a dream, decide whether you want to keep it in your own head or make it a reality. If you choose the latter….claim this triumphant victory call: “Goal Trolls…. be Gone!”


Are You a Who or a What?

July 23, 2012

I just had a thought.  Since that doesn’t happen very often, I would like to keep it in my head and run with it! So here it is: I think it is possible to spend too much time being concerned about WHAT you are, and not enough time nurturing WHO you are. Whoa…..…that is deep……..for me.

Think about it; we all tend to play different roles in life, depending upon situations and the company we are keeping. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us can remember times during which we “morphed” or changed personalities in order to impress, compete or possibly fit in. Consider how we behave in new relationships; we seemingly know exactly who we are when we first meet someone, but we may find that soon we are altering that authentic self a bit; to be what the other person seems to want us to be. If our behavior is at odds with our deepest values, we become a WHAT rather than a WHO.  Why does this happen and is it a natural part of relating to others, or do we not fully comprehend the benefits of maintaining the integrity of our authenticity? I think it is perfectly natural and healthy to be flexible and willing to compromise on some things. And certainly, when we are in relationships with other people, we want to please them, …and we should. It is also good to expand our horizons and possibly adopt new attitudes. But if we become like quick-change artists and hop from one set of values to another, we run the risk of losing who we really are. It’s like an actor trying to play all of the parts in a play; sooner or later, he’’s going to get confused and forget which costume he should be wearing or which accent he should be using when he speaks!  It might be entertaining to see a six foot tall man with a beard wearing a frilly dress and talking like a southern belle, but he woul’d lose his credibility. This is assuming the play wasn’’t supposed to be a comedy!

What does it mean to be authentic, anyway? The word is defined as “being worthy of acceptance based on who one is; being true to one’’s own personality, spirit and character.” In other words, it is the “you” that can be found at your deepest core, when everything else is stripped away, is your authentic self. It is not defined by your job and the roles you play to live up to other people’s expectations.  It is honoring the gifts you were given and the person you were designed to be. My daughter calls it “your default character.” By that, she means that your authentic self is the one to which you revert when the other personalities you have tried don’t work …because they aren’’t truly you. The interesting thing is that if you will pay attention, you will hear your authentic self; your WHO, if you will….whispering to you.  If you are becoming a WHAT, and spending all of your energy trying to fit into someone else’’s value system; one that is not allowing you to be true to yourself, that whisper may get louder. When the whisper becomes a yell, it is a good indication that you are not honoring your authenticity.

We just need to make sure that we understand the difference between authenticity and justification for unwise decisions or inappropriate behavior.  (Imagine the little cartoon angel and devil perched on your shoulders. If you’’re being poked by a pitchfork, …you may be on the wrong track.)  Being true to yourself doesn’’t diminish the opinions of others and it doesn’t mean that you should just accept your flaws and not try to improve yourself or ignore another person’’s needs. But think of how much more you can offer if you allow yourself to be aligned with your life’’s purpose.

So there you have my opinion about Who and What. Possibly, I will address the When, Where and Whys of life next time. Ha!

Behave As If This Is The Day You Will Be Remembered

June 21, 2012

I often quote Dr. Seuss because I think he was a great educator and an amazing philosopher. I also like the way he rhymed. I like his writing in a boat. I like his writing with a goat.  One of my favorite “Seuss-a-quotes” is this one: “Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.”

This is an affirmation that could go a long way toward improving people’s attitudes and enhance relationships, if we would only consider the impact of the words and the thought behind them. What if every day, we all behaved as if our actions were going to be our legacy?  What if we acted as if every interaction we had with another person was going to be recorded for all eternity? Yikes…scary stuff!!

However, sometimes the things that we say and do in a snapshot moment ARE the things for which we will be remembered.  A remark or an action could possibly make an indelible impression on someone else’s life. If you are being unkind, it might be just a “bad mood” moment for you; but if it causes harm to another person, that could be the impression of you that they will carry with them forever. On the other hand, the kind word or gesture that you offer might just make someone else’s day; giving them the boost they need, and they will remember that, as well!

Most of us have heard the question, “What would you want people to say about you at your funeral?” Personally, I would like them to remark about how long I managed to stay alive! Then, I’d like them to remember that I always tried to be kind and helpful. I would hate to think that someone’s last memory of me would be that I growled, snarled or hissed at them! I’m not always successful, but whenever I think of Dr. Seuss’ quote, I try to pull in my troll horns and neutralize any negativity that might be radiating from me.

I think it is about trying to do the right thing in all situations. If someone drops a stack of papers, even if you are having a bad day and feel like kicking them out of the way….helping to pick them up is the right thing to do. When everyone is in a mad rush to get into an elevator; it is usually polite to refrain from knocking down and/or stepping on weaker people. And if someone is being mean to you, it is difficult to refrain from matching their snarkiness; but in doing so, you are elevating yourself above the venomous pool of negativity and that is the better choice.

Why should we care how we are remembered? Not for our own glory, but because we all live on this planet together and the more we enhance and help each other; the better off we are. And because we can find more joy in life if we don’t devote too much time to getting even or making sure we always win. And because if we live that message, and people remember how nice it feels to be treated kindly….maybe they will continue to pay it forward and pass it on! There are no guarantees…but it’s worth a try.


“Forgive Your Enemies…Nothing Annoys Them as Much!” —Oscar Wilde

May 14, 2012

It happens. Chances are; at least once in your lifetime, someone will betray you. Somewhere along the line, most of us experience the feeling of being let down by someone and we end up feeling sad, mad and most definitely, we feel like we’ve been had!

Since we are human, our emotions play a huge role in who we are. When we put our trust in someone and they don’t live up to our expectations, we get disappointed and hurt, and if we don’t deal with it in a healthy way, that resentment grows into a monster troll that can eat us up. Hanging on to anger and being an active participant in “blamestorming” can cause us to get stuck in a rut of despair.

When we think someone has “done us wrong,” it’s easy to hop onto the revenge train and imagine how we can get even or how we can punish the person responsible for our misery. Little evil gremlins sit on our shoulders and tell us that if we forgive, it is the same thing as giving a “free pass” to the person who hurt us. They tell us that we would feel better if only we could make the other person pay for what he or she has done.  When we listen to the nasty little voices, we are allowing toxic thoughts to poison our minds and our bodies. Negativity turns in to stress. Stress turns into illness. Making another person feel guilty can make us feel like we’re in control, but that’s a convoluted and sick kind of power. The healthier path is to get over yourself and put your ego aside!

The act that hurt you will always remain a part of your history because you can’t go back and erase it. But, choosing to forgive can allow you to focus on other positive parts of your life and even allow you to adopt a new and improved attitude about things. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are justifying the wrong, but it does mean that you are refusing to be a volunteer victim. It means that you are choosing to be bigger than the betrayal!

As a child, when I felt betrayed, I perpetrated my share of revenge acts…none too serious, thank goodness! Okay..I admit to burying Joey’s crayons in his glue bottle after he hurt my feelings, and I will own up to opening Ellen’s lunch box and taking bites out of her sandwich, when I found out she told a lie about me. I grew older and the hurts seemed to run deeper; I learned that I can’t wait until I FEEL like forgiving because that day may never come. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling…it is a choice. And forgiveness is not so much to benefit the other person (who may or may not even realize they have hurt you) as it is for your own benefit! It feels good to release those trolls and gremlins and make space for happier thoughts!

Kickstands, Easels and Friends

March 15, 2012

I realize this is a strange title; but as you read it, think about what these three things have in common.  Kickstands keep your bike from falling over when you stop pedaling it. An easel is an upright frame for displaying or supporting something. And friends….well, they are like kickstands, in that they can keep you from falling over when you feel as if you can no longer pedal through a tough situation. A good friend; just like an easel, will definitely support you and allow you to display your very best side. A friend is someone who makes you believe in yourself and someone who asks you how you are doing….then actually sticks around to hear the answer.

As I go through life; I recognize that whatever I have accomplished, I haven’t done it alone. Somewhere along the way, someone has given me a boost; with a smile, a word of encouragement or some other kind of support. Sometimes, a friend just being there has been enough. It’s not about giving advice or telling me that of course, I’m right and I deserve self-pity…sometimes just listening and not talking is the best support there is! When it hurts to look back and you’re too scared to look ahead, you can always look beside you and find a friend by your side.

Friends will tell you when you have toilet paper trailing from your shoe or spinach stuck in your front teeth. They will either assure you that your new hair color doesn’t really make you look like Bozo the Clown, or they may suggest that perhaps multicolor striping might not be the best look for you….depending on what they think is in your best interest. They will laugh with you and cry with you and then laugh with you again, because you both have mascara stained faces and red noses. If you are a man, you might not get the mascara thing. But everyone can understand that laughter is a very important part of friendship. It’s the glue that holds it together. If you can really laugh with someone, you know that’s a valuable attribute to your relationship.

With each true friendship that is nurtured and valued, the world becomes a stronger place. If you have someone in your life whose friendship you appreciate, I hope you will take a moment to connect with him or her and say “Thank You,” for no reason other than just because they are in your life.

Anais Nin put it beautifully when she said, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

And of course, when people share secrets, they will usually remain friends for a long time, because they each know too much about the other one!

The Invisible Person

December 5, 2011

In the past few days, I have heard two different people say that they feel “invisible.” I know that feeling…when I have an opinion that nobody seems to deem worthy of considering or even hearing, or when I am talking and someone interrupts and talks over me, as if no sound was coming out of my mouth, or when I greet someone who is passing right by me and they don’t even make eye contact with me.

There is a song in the musical “Chicago,” titled “Mr. Cellophane.” The words describe the way the character feels when people look right through him and walk right by him, as if he wasn’t even there.  It might be kind of fun to be invisible if you really wanted to be because you could go anywhere you pleased and see things you might not otherwise see.  At least, I used to think that until at eight years of age, I sneaked into my grandmother’s room to raid her hidden candy stash and caught sight of a 92-year-old woman wiggling into a girdle.  It was then that I realized that there are some things that are better left unseen. But, I digress…

The point is that we have become a society that is often insensitive about listening to other people’s concerns and needs. World chaos and economic stress has caused us to sometimes ignore our fellow humans unless they are high profile or we think they can do something for us.  I think what people mean when they say they feel invisible, is that they don’t seem to be important by society’s standards. If you aren’t a celebrity, a politician or the star of a reality TV show, does that mean you deserve less respect than those who are?  One woman recently told me that as she aged, she felt less valuable and almost like she was disappearing. She said, “When I was young and pretty and could afford to buy nice things, people seemed to care more about what I said. Now I feel like I’m turning into a vapor that nobody can see.” Yikes!

Hearing this started me thinking about how often we take our friends and family members for granted because they’re always around, and how many times we walk past someone on the street without smiling or acknowledging that they are even there. Or how we don’t thank the grocery checkout person because we are yakking on our cell phones or don’t listen when a child tries to tell us something because we are too busy talking to “important” adults.

We are all parts of the same puzzle and without each and every one of us who are on this earth, the picture would not be complete… and the pieces aren’t interchangeable!  Each one of us is unique and deserves to be seen and heard, even if we aren’t popular, or attractive, or young, or wealthy, or clever, or any of the things that the world seems to hold so dear.

I think we all should make an effort to really see and listen to each other; not just as Linda (or Joe or Sue or Uncle Albert or whomever) who always is yapping about something and nobody cares, but as a human being who is here for a reason and quite possibly is worth getting to know.



Play it Forward

November 30, 2011

Yikes!  By now, everyone has heard about the strange and disturbing events of Black Friday.  A woman pepper spraying other shoppers in order to get to a video game, riots breaking out over $2.00 waffle irons and people stepping over each other when they fell…all in the name of “competitive shopping.”  I don’t know about you but I’m afraid to go into a store for fear I’ll be conked on the head with a toaster or strangled with an appliance cord! Tis the season to be jolly….and there will be blood!

Obviously, these are tense economic times but some people are really losing it! I think part of the problem is that we are becoming a panic driven society; we are saturated with bad news and impending doom…and we have forgotten how to play nicely with others!

Remember the movie, “Pay it Forward?” the concept was to do a needed favor for three people and ask nothing in return except for those people to do the same for three others. It was the idea of an 11-year-old boy with the hope of making the world a better place.  I think we could use some of that right now and I’d like to adapt it a little and suggest that we “PLAY” it forward, as well.

What if each of us were to make a commitment to laugh with three people every day…or at least smile with one person? What if, instead of leaving our houses every morning expecting to run into problems in traffic or at work, we adopted an attitude of altitude and decided to rise above annoyances and be determined to find some joy in the day? Maybe it would catch on and courtesy, patience and friendliness could make guest appearances!

It makes sense to me that if we were to try very hard to avoid walking in fearstorms and try equally as hard to add some fun and play to our lives, we might be better off, but it’s not always easy! It is difficult to find humor in stressful situations, especially when we’re constantly faced with what’s wrong in the world. People are losing jobs, worrying about money, fearful of their futures and consequently, they are clobbering each other with waffle irons while Holiday shopping during the “most wonderful time of the year!”

To maintain a healthy balance and prevent road rage, shopping rage and general “snarkiness” to others, I think it’s imperative to occasionally shift mental gears and readjust our thinking patterns to include more playing….good, old fashioned silly playing that is accompanied by lots of laughter.  It begins with a daily attitude shift; a personal vow to choose your battles, keep your cool and refuse to be sucked into negativity.   And if you feel like adding some stress-breaking toys into the mix…so much the better! Each of us measures the success of a day in our own way; some by how many battles we win and some by how many people with whom we’ve shared a smile.  If we play it forward and share some fun with others; maybe they’ll be inspired to do the same. Then, maybe we’ll have less people snarling and more people smiling. It’s worth a try and it sure can’t hurt! And if you anger someone because you smiled at them, and they conk you with a toaster….at least you’ll go down with a smile on your face!