Setting Goals and Achieving Success Series

In the comments section I welcome you to share: what has been your most rewarding achievement.

Part 3: Reaching your Goal & Feeling Good About It

Baby Steps

Everyone loves instant gratification, especially me!  But that is simply not how goals are achieved. If you start slow and keep it simple, you will make small but incremental strides towards your goal.  You will be surprised how the little successes will make you smile. When you smile it will make you feel better about yourself and your progress. You’ll find yourself wanting to set more goals to make you feel even better.  In no time at all you will be setting harder goals.

Some of your aspirations may take longer. Yes, you will have too many moments that you doubt yourself. However, there are the rare, but fulfilling, times where you are reminded why you are on the path you chose.  I often surprise myself that I have been able to achieve some of my most challenging goals. Those moments are wonderful and made me feel super special and outweigh all of my bouts of insecurity. What I’m most proud of is, I haven’t given up; nor should you.

How will that End Result Make you Feel IMG_1314

It doesn’t matter if your goals are big or small, it’s more important that at the end you feel like you have achieved something. Visualize what you think that moment will feel like when you achieve your goal- reflect on this when you are in a negative space, it will help get you through some tantrums.

IMG_1259Whether your goal is a weekend away, because you need a timeout, or that dress that went on sale that you will look amazing in… It’s important to know the end result will make you feel good. When you feel good you become more confident.  Confidence has a way of making you glow from within. Trust me, you will achieve your goals; the world is yours!

Setting Goals and Achieving Success

There are goals in my life I would like to achieve. Some of my goals are small and others require a bit of a leap. The Setting Goals and Achieving Success series will offer my approach towards achieving goals and show support to other goal setters.  I hope you enjoy. Stay tuned for Setting Goals and Achieving Success Part 2…

 Setting Goals and Achieving Success

 What goals you are working on right now? Sharing is an important part of goals setting.  Somehow, when you share with others, it becomes real.  In the comments section I welcome you to share  the goals you are working and your strategies for success.

Part 1: Set Yourself up to Succeed

It doesn’t matter what you want: asking your boss for a raise, asking someone for a favor, or figuring out how to buy that something you have been wanting. When you set goals you need to know what you want in the end and if you can achieve it.  Make sure your goals are tangible, attainable and realistic.IMG_0339

Too often we set goals that we know will never happen or we are not willing to put the needed effort to make it a reality. Then you spend too much time focusing on what you couldn’t do rather than what you can achieve. It changes the playing field. Don’t set yourself up for failure, set realistic and attainable goals.  This doesn’t mean you should set your sights low and let negativity shape your goals.  Instead, rationally assess your skill set, network of support and available time you can dedicate to your goals.

Go into it with Eyes Wide Open.  

Asking your boss for a raise when your company just laid off 10 employees, is bad timing. But, in the interim, you can, take the lead and show what a real asset you are to the company.  In six months, after your help gets the company back on track, you will not have to ask for that raise. Your company may even give you more than you were initially thinking because you rolled up your sleeves and did what was needed. By going into goal setting with eyes wide open, I am referring to assessing all the outside elements that may inhibit your success.  After looking into these variables further, you can adjust your goal and proceed accordingly.

In the comments section don’t forget to share your goals and strategies for success.

 Stay tuned for Setting Goals and Achieving Success Part 2…

 


“A Thanks to Those Who Came Before Helen Gurley Brown

“In Search of Love Update” On-line Dating“In Search of Love Update” On-line Dating! Published August August 6th 2012 Create A New Life With Susanne.com….Advise from one on-line dater to another….“No sex before the third date,” Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmo, a great rule about not rushing into anything. I agree never rush into anything.

Just last week I was reflecting on the wisdom of Ms. Gurley Brown

I had the honor of meeting Helen Gurley Brown on a snowy, February day, in 2005 at my late husband’s office.

I pride myself on being able to act proper at all times, not that day. The only words that came out of my mouth were “you are my hero” and a whole lot of blah blah…. What do you say to the woman who made being a woman so “right”. Yes, Helen Gurley Brown you are my hero.

Helen raised me, just like generations of other women. I wanted to be like her, smart, beautiful, the type of liberated woman I fanaticized I could be. She wrote the book on how to be sexy and smart. She was an extraordinary human. Helen paved the way, so women “can have it all” and still be feminine.  She made it cool to be a woman in the business world- instead of a woman trying to be a man in the business world. Since I started reading 32 years ago, I have aspired to be a Cosmo Girl- the perfect balance of smart, savvy and sexy.

Meeting Ms. Gurley Brown, was an amazing experience for me.  I found that, in person she was just like I has envisioned.  Her mission was the same on and off the Cosmo pages- a staunch supporter of women empowerment.  Surprisingly, she was open to pushback and was very approachable. During one visit, she said to me, “You know, it’s amazing what a single woman can do.” I asked her respectfully if it would be ok to revise that to, “It’s amazing what a woman can do.” She went silent took my hand in a loving motherly way. Asked me, “why”? Silly me, I responded, “I believe women need to feel incredible no matter what their status single or married. I boldly said that women “can have it all” while still being feminine whether they are single, a wife, or a mother; even launch successful careers after being a stay at home mom. She smiled, and said “You are right. Pussycat, do not let anything stop you”. And gave me a hug “I did do an amazing job raising you”. Then, she proceeded to give me the most amazing compliment of my life. “Your hair is beautiful”.  From the queen of Cosmo- not a bad compliment.

I am proud to say, I am a true Cosmo Girl, still an active subscriber of the magazine! Just last Sunday, I handed 8 months of Cosmopolitan Magazines to my girlfriend to read.  It’s still “the bible” for woman- even at my age….Cosmo is what I read to help keep that “womanly groove” that something special inside that makes me sparkle… makes me that sexy, amazing, woman Ms. Helen Gurley Brown taught me to be.. Thank you Helen Gurley Brown, for all that you did for me and all women! You raised me to be the woman I am today, Thank you!

 

 

“In Search of Love Update” On-line Dating!

Objective: Find Mr. Perfect..
Way back in January I made some lofty goals when I announced that I was ready for a new relationship in my life. I had my laundry list of key items. Someone who can make me smile, who appreciates my interests, my dog Monty and my children. To be swept off my feet by a handsome man who appreciates me, and who appreciates life. Likes my friends, I’m looking for a partner who can turn off his thoughts about work and simply focus on the joy of being together. Someone who is truly “present” for me. Who appreciates life and wants to embrace it as much as I do.  I want a man who is comfortable in his own skin and truly able to connect, to let down his “Berlin wall” when it comes to his emotions.  A man like that is able to express and experience love, and understands the importance of commitment. Also, I love music and I love to dance, and I want a partner who shares those pleasures too.

I was well aware that relationships don’t happen overnight, of course. My friends told me how hard to find someone. I needed to lower my expectations. I was prepared.  Let’s “get real” when you reach this point in life if you don’t have any baggage — previous marriages or relationships, children, and so on — then you haven’t lived much of a life. I heard too many horror stories.  I knew a large percentage of the men were looking for a good time, a physical relationship with no strings attached. I really didn’t want to do it. Was convinced that it would not be a good experience. I was NOT going to meet any one.

On-line Dating the New Blind Date! Why not?

First profile pictureMy first step was to sign up with Match.com for only one month and Jdate.com 6-months – it was the best bang for my dollar. Set up a profile on OkCupid, which is a free dating site. I didn’t devote attention to that site, I wanted to get the full value out of the sites I paid for. All my profiles and pictures were the same. I had no idea how it worked.  (Important tip for first timers: make sure you check the unsubscribe box.  If you don’t you are locked in at the price you paid for a year.)

Can people see my profile?

How I thought it would work is that guys would do the “department store” thing” and reach out asking me for my number. Duck soup from there it would be like back to the old fashion traditional way. Didn’t think I would have a problem. How wrong was I? That month my conversion rate Match.com 28% and JDate.com 23%. To calculate conversion, add all contacts like Emails, Winks, IM’s favorites divided by the total number of views. Match.com site boys appeared to like me more.  All of those contacts were not Jewish. That didn’t surprise me because I was never a big hit with the Jewish boys. Some things never change I guess.

What amazed me was the quality of the contacts on both sites. I was not prepared for an over alarming number of “Yummy”, “I know, I know, I’m too young. Still can’t help but stop by to say that you are absolutely gorgeous.” Please it baffled me why someone similar in age to my children would be remotely interested in someone my age. “How would you like to come to PHL for lunch say Thurs? I love the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons. After lunch it will be easy”. For the first time, I felt like a piece of meat. I thought that was not acceptable behavior; I didn’t like the way it made me feel.

So this is where I discovered I’m not popular on-line!

The first month on on-line dating sites was an eye opener. Everyone I knew on the dating sites was doing much better than me. They were getting nice emails from boys and actually talking on the phone. Getting asked out on dates. I came to the conclusion that I was just not popular or the type of girl you wanted to take out based on on-line dating standards.  I needed help. With my BFF’s support and encouragement I took a different approach. Only having to focus on one site JDate.com was less overwhelming. 5 months to go. Back in high school my friends and me would take out the yearbook and pick out the boy we liked. The new updated grown up 2012 version “dinner and a bottle of wine” going on-line and check out boys on JDate.com with your friends. I have nothing to say and failed at flirting. My BFF became my Cyrano de Bergerac emailing the cute boys. Everyone I knew had luck doing this. None of those boys respond to my emails. Who cared we had blast doing it!

My profile is not working. Why not stretch the truth?

A year, 2, ok 4!

I changed my profile description several times. Boys don’t like to Moving the tree from Harlem to UWSread too much – less is more is a much better approach. Changed the pictures and added a few. You need to be on the site all the time, be an active participate. I couldn’t and did not do that. Discovered my age was a problem too. NO one is looking for someone my age 55. Except the young boys that think women my age are interested. It did not matter how good I presented myself they were not looking for me. I lowered my age to 51 to see if that helped. Come to find out everyone does it. Don’t be surprised if the guy you are dating is actually 6 years older than he says he is.  Pictures are never as current as they say. Wish the whole on-line experience was more honest and real.  Think the actually success rate would be greater. Michael Buble “Haven’t met you yet” became my theme song.

To my surprise I developed some email friendships with a few nice boys: all geographically undesirable not romantic just flirtatious friends. I started to enjoy talking to boys again via email. I never was good at it and needed to not let my shyness get in the way. I’ve been married with children so long I guess I stopped having funny silly flirtatious conversations. I learned to talk about simple things like movies or favorite food, to exercise schedules, and baseball. Their emails made me smile and blush in a good way.  Like when I was a teenager.  That is when I started to notice the change in me.

I fell in love with ME………

I was clueless and understood something was missing in me. What was missing? More important can I get it back?  I wanted it back! I asked all my dearest friends to help. I had a village… The past few summers I spent in Europe. I really never embraced New York. I have been hiding, afraid, delaying re-entering the world as long as I could. My world was safe, I was protected from being hurt. I was so busy focusing on work and finding me. Yes, healing too. I needed to start being single in New York City. I was so ready to have fun. Life is too short, fun and happiness are just too important. This summer I promised myself that I would stay in New York and look for romance.  Making New York City home my priority. I started playing a lot of tennis at Central Park actively expanded the people I play tennis with. I started playing doubles, which I had not done since I starting playing back in June of 2010. Biking, hanging with friends. Working hard to have a nice healthy balanced life. Laughing a lot. Started dressing like I did in Europe. We always wore sundresses. Even got heals! Dressing like a girl again. I made Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe” my new theme song. Boy! It gave me courage. I started to have fun! I made sure I took pictures everywhere I went. You could see me transform. Finally, I had the perfect profile picture. From the instant I posted that picture I became much more popular. The perfect profile picture!Regretfully, the contacts are still discouraging but I have met some nice, interesting boys.  Yes, I have even had some really great dates.

Advice from one on-line dater to another….

I have come to the end of the JDate.com subscription. I will not be renewing my subscription. Why? It’s not for me. I learned a lot in the last 6 months.  I have changed.  What was missing was my “groove”.  That something special inside that makes me sparkle.

Glad I did it though.  It was a very positive experience.  I recommend that others try online dating too.  It takes 6 plus months. Don’t get discouraged. Do it with someone if you can.  Share because it makes it fun! When you give them your number, like in the old days, they don’t always call. It has nothing to do with you. Don’t worry, there are some really nice guys too.

“No sex before the third date,” Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmo, a great rule about not rushing into anything. I agree never rush into anything. Dating at this stage of my life is completely different. Recently, a male friend talked to me about how men envision the natural stages of dating.
Meet…. Get to Know…. Do you like?…. Pleasure…. Key love each other do or dead..  Guess that means you’re going to see where it goes..

On-line dating was a huge help in understanding the male perspective, I realized there is a miscommunication between men and women. This miscommunication causes unease in the beginning of relationships. With the women I know the order of the natural stages of dating is different. Pleasure is last… Pleasure for most women is for committed relationships only.

It’s important for you to remember the man sitting next to you at that moment may not have your best interest at heart. Especially when you’re not together. The only thing they really want is physical relationship. You really don’t know him.  DO NOT EVER do anything that you would not be able to look your self in the mirror the next day.  Nothing is worth that.

Be prepared to go on a lot of first dates. There is nothing wrong in ending a date early if it’s not working for you.  Be nice and kind but if doesn’t work don’t try. Go with your gut instincts it’s always right.  Have fun! No expectations.

Who will be the next Mr. Perfect?

My friends were right it hard to find someone. No never lower your expectations. That laundry list of key items is “must”. I like to believe that there is special someone. I’m going to continue enjoying my adventure; now open to trust and believe in falling in love. Romance … Happy ever after… Mr. Perfect will make sure I notice him.. I have a feeling he will be able to swept me off my feet… it’s still all about that special chemistry between two people that make it perfect magic….. A bonus, like the icing on the cake.
At this stage of my life that would be amazing!

!

“Health for a Lifetime” Part III

In the first two parts of this essay, I wrote about a new Harvard essay offering scientific proof for what many of us have known for years – that eating in a nutritious way and getting regular exercise can prolong your life.  After looking at why it’s so easy to resist this common sense approach to life, I explained how keeping a journal in which you record everything you eat and drink and the activity you engage in each day can help you make small changes that will enhance your health, energy and lifespan.

When seeking a motivating reason to improve their health, many people say “I’ll do it for my children.”  I’m not sure that this is such a good idea, however.  You really need to make these changes for you – and not someone else.  It’s great to be a role model for your children, to encourage them to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime – but be sure to take these actions for yourself, not your children.  Do it because you acknowledge that you are important.  A lot of people – especially women – sometimes feel guilty if they spend even a moment doing something for themselves.  It’s time to get over that.

Also, support groups like Weight Watchers and A.A. can be helpful, of course, but I strongly encourage you to make sure that you’re making the changes in your life because you know that you deserve it and because you feel the results, not because – as part of a group – you’re “supposed” to be doing these things.  If you quit smoking for the benefit of your children, once they’re grown and out of the house, you may easily pick up those cigarettes once again.  If you’ve curbed your eating because you’re a member of a diet club, once your friend drops out of the club, there’s a great risk that you’ll fall right off the wagon yourself.

If you just look around, you can easily find plenty of reasons to motivate yourself to take action.  You can easily see what happens when people don’t limit the amount they eat each day, and you can see what happens when they don’t make exercise a regular habit.  You can also see medical photographs of the diseased lungs of lifelong smokers.  These are all compelling reasons to embrace a healthy lifestyle.  Also, if you’re not taking action for yourself, it can be very easy to join a friend in overindulging when life feels stressful – whether that means digging into a big carton of ice cream, or some other destructive behavior.  Misery loves company.

You need to step into these changes with strength and determination, and in a way that will last.  In the past, you may have told your friends that you were skipping dessert “because I’m on a diet.”  Chances are good that your friends were not surprised to hear this, because they fully expected that within just a few weeks you’d be back off your diet and joining them for dessert once again.  It’s time to stop this “yo-yo” behavior, and make a permanent change in your behavior instead.  Don’t “diet” because you want to fit into that special dress.  Instead, adjust the way that you eat on an ongoing basis, so that you can literally add years to your life.  Don’t experiment with “juicing” as a fad, but instead create meals that include plenty of fruits and vegetables with the intention that you’ll be doing this for years to come.  Embracing these new habits with the right attitude means that you won’t be slipping easily back into your old habits.

This is a “back to basics” plan for health and fitness.  I’m not asking you to run a marathon.  I’m asking you to walk up and down a few flights of stairs.  I’m asking you to be observant, not in denial.  Pay attention to the number of calories that you’re consuming at each meal, and be honest with yourself about how they add up.  I’m also not asking you to deprive yourself of the things that make life joyful.  In fact, I think you’ll find that by making a few simple changes, you’re actually adding more joy to your life.

I use the word “joy” because attitude and emotion are important ingredients if this plan is going to work for you.  Just as you’re making careful notes in your journal, notice if you tend to complain a lot.  Complaining often leads to the behavior we’re trying to address here – overeating, drinking too much, and indulging in other bad habits.  Instead, tell people what you love about your life and what you’re grateful for.  You may find that this takes a little effort at first, but soon it will come easily and naturally.

For those of you worried that I’m asking you to make big changes in your life, I have some good news for you.  I’m actually opposed to making drastic changes that are big.  Those who are passionate about running know that it can be dangerous to overdo it.  Making little changes, however, can put you on a great path.

Like the mice in the Harvard study, it’s time for us all to start adding years to our lives – and adding joy and energy.  As I’m sure you’ve concluded, the most important ingredient to making this plan work is you.  I believe you’re capable of great things, and I look forward to hearing your story, and to celebrating your new life!

 

 

 

“Health for a Lifetime” Part II

In Part I of this essay, I wrote about a new Harvard essay offering scientific proof for what many of us have known for years – that eating in a nutritious way and getting regular exercise can prolong your life.  After looking at why it’s so easy to resist this common sense approach to life, I suggested that starting a journal in which you record everything you eat and drink and the activity you engage in each day can provide a framework for the small changes that will enhance your health, energy and lifespan.

One small change you might make in your daily routine is to take the stairs at work, rather than the elevator.  You may notice a few people looking at you a bit quizzically.  Oddly, some people look down on those who walk rather than drive.  After all, they must be thinking, if you’re wealthy enough to own a car, why not use it?  If there’s a perfectly good elevator in our office building, why the heck are you using the stairs?  Years ago, when I first moved to New York, I used to walk everywhere and many people thought I was crazy.  They thought that perhaps I couldn’t afford a car.  It’s amazing how creative some people can be when coming up with excuses to avoid exercise!

At this point, if you’ve taken the bold step of avoiding the elevator and doing a bit more walking, it’s time to start measuring your distance.  When my son and daughter were young, and it felt like I was constantly running after them, I bought a pedometer.  With this handy and inexpensive device, you can see how far you’ve walked each day.  The next step, of course, is to increase that distance.  Stepping into health is all about making small, incremental changes and then taking it a bit further each week.

Now that we’ve made a small change to the amount of exercise you get each day, it’s time to look at what you’re eating.  Once again, let’s start with making one small change.  If you want to start eating healthier meals, the best thing to do is to make these meals yourself at home.  Many people imagine that cooking in their very own kitchen will be infinitely more complicated than going to a restaurant or – horrors! – stopping for a quick, fast food meal.  Cooking at home doesn’t need to be complicated, however.  There are many wonderful cookbooks and recipes that you can find online that consist of three simple ingredients.  It’s time to disengage from a life of “Super-Sizing” your meal and instead find how enjoyable it can be to prepare your own healthy meals.  This is also the only way that you can accurately keep track of calories, and that’s important.

Once you’ve started to make these simple changes in your daily routine, you’re going to start feeling proud of yourself – and you should.  But it’s not yet time to make bold announcements about the amazing way that you’ve reshaped your life.  Keep making notes in your journal about how you’re spending your day, but be patient about sharing your excitement.  You want to savor the rewards of increased energy and a noticeable change in your weight and fitness level.  I suggest that you wait for friends and family to start noticing the “new you” – and believe me, it won’t take long for this to happen.

If you’re a smoker, you may be hoping that I’d forget to address this important subject.  Sorry, but I’m here to tell you what you surely already know.  It’s time for you to kick the habit – and I know it’s not easy to do that.  I was a smoker too, and there was one day that was the turning point for me.  I didn’t try to taper off, but instead I realized that it was time to stop smoking once and for all.  I made a long list of reasons why it was “a must” for me to quit, and I did.  Just like the notes you’ve been taking in your journal, it’s time to take an honest and accurate look at what it means to be a smoker – from the smell of your clothes and the people who avoid you, to the harsh fact that you’re choosing to take years off your life because of this destructive habit.  It’s time to stop – and the benefits that you’ll experience (increased energy, the joy of rediscovering tastes and smells that seemed lost forever) will make you glad you did.

What’s required in order to make these gradual changes is nothing less than a shift in how you look at life.  There can be no doubt that we live in an age of instant gratification.  Infomercials promise us that we can develop “six-pack abs in only 15 minutes,” and commercials for fast food skillfully avoid the subject of nutrition.  If you’re really going to embrace a healthier way of living, however, you’re going to need to start thinking about the long-term effects of what you put into your body as well as the consequences of successfully avoiding exercise.  Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll start feeling the benefits of your efforts sooner than you might expect – and once you reach that point, it will be much easier to stay on track.

Needless to say – whether it’s eating nutritious meals or taking steps to have a happier relationship with loved ones — you’re the one who needs to take action to create a better life.  No one can do it for you.

It’s tempting to seek the help and support of doctors when we’re thinking about moving our life in a more positive direction – and there’s no doubt that there are times when medical treatment is vital – but I’d like to discourage you from seeking out a “diet pill” in order to lose weight or “a patch” to help you quit smoking.  Personally, unless you’re in a very delicate state, I’m convinced that we can each reclaim and improve our health through the kind of small, incremental steps I’ve been telling you about.  Instead of pills, we need decisions.  You need to decide that you’re going to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and that you’ll have water with your meal instead of that “Big Gulp”soft drink.

In Part III of this essay, I’ll focus on why attitude is so important to successfully adopting new, healthier habits – and how these changes can bring a new, joyous edge to your daily life.

 

“Health for a Lifetime” Part I

Unless you subscribe to the scientific journal “Nature,” chances are that you may have missed the announcement of one of the biggest breakthroughs of our age.  Scientists at Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have concluded that it’s actually possible to reverse the aging process.  True, this breakthrough was discovered in a study involving mice — not human beings — but the finding is reason for all of us to be excited nonetheless!  The study echoes common sense, of course — because I think we’ve all known for many years now that if we quit smoking, get plenty of exercise, and eat in a healthy way, we’ll maintain a high level of energy and remain relatively disease free well into our later years.  What I find most remarkable, however, is not this dramatic news from the medical research community that it’s actually possible to “turn the clock back” and reclaim our health, but the fact that so many of us have been ignoring this common sense advice for years, sometimes decades.

Why, then, don’t we live our lives in a way that supports our health and wellbeing?  The simple and frustratingly illogical answer is because “it’s not cool.”  For several generations now, it has been “cool” to embrace a lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking and sometimes even (legal and illegal) drugs.  Most of us went through one or more of these phases too, so we’re not in a position to claim that we were immune from this pressure ourselves during our younger years.  The problem, of course, is that many young men and women who neglect and even assault their health during their younger years never change their ways.  They continue these destructive habits into their college years and beyond.

A lot of these bad habits offer us a much-needed escape from life’s pressures.  Young mothers often are embarrassed about the changes their bodies are (quite naturally) going through during this phase of life, and taking a cigarette break or joining the girls to enjoy a cocktail often seems to make it all easier to take.  Young men, facing the pressures of building new careers and still adjusting to the new demands of family life, succumb to the desire to escape too.  When it comes to over-eating, still an epidemic in this country, many of the so-called solutions turn out to be totally ineffective, with the result that millions of men and women are engaged in a lifelong pattern of frustrating “yo-yo dieting.”  As the mice in the Harvard study would tell you if they could, this kind of lifestyle is not one to aspire to.

Living a healthy lifestyle is easy for some of us, and harder for others.  When I was in my thirties, many of my friends were starting to get sick from neglecting and abusing their bodies and I didn’t want to fall into the same trap.  Around this time, I also began to notice that having a healthy state of mind could make a major difference too.  A number of my friends were good about exercising, but they were highly stressed and didn’t feel good about themselves – and they were getting sick as often as those who didn’t exercise at all.  They all had plenty of excuses, of course, but this didn’t really matter.  Many of these friends were suddenly showing their age, and even in my thirties I was determined to remain as youthful and energetic as possible.  I also believe that it’s easier to get on the right track earlier in life when it comes to taking care of yourself rather than trying to undo years of damage and neglect later in life.

Many of these friends frequently complained that exercising and sticking to a healthy diet is difficult, but I disagree.  The truth is that staying healthy is a simple matter of common sense.  As St. Augustine wisely advised nearly two thousand years ago, “everything in moderation” is the secret to a wonderful life.  My friends who frequently indulged in smoking, drinking too much and overeating – and those who did nothing to reduce the stress in their lives — continued to deteriorate.  Many of them developed arthritis, diabetes and a variety of other health problems – and they’re well on their way, of course, to paying the “ultimate” price for this kind of abuse and neglect.  It’s time for all of us to understand the consequences of too much sugar, too much alcohol, and too many calories – because failure to understand how the various pieces of “the health puzzle” fit together can literally be fatal.  On the other hand, taking action to incorporate this knowledge into your daily life can reverse the damage.  All it takes is simply being conscious.

If I’ve inspired you to ask what you can do to start reclaiming your health, the answer is simple.  Make a list.  For seven days, write down absolutely everything you eat and drink, and also make careful note of your activity – walking, using the stairs, sitting in front of your television for three hours, and so on.  During this week, don’t do anything differently because the idea is to take an accurate look at the way you’re living your life right now – and this assessment will probably shock you.

Now that you have your list, as you start your second week, it’s time to make one small change in your normal routine.  Remove one thing that is bad for you – something you eat or drink, or some way that you avoid exercise – and replace it with something that is good for you.  (Be sure to continue making notes each day just as you did during week number one.)

For example, if you’re in the habit of using the elevator at work, it’s time to start using the stairs.  Even if your office is only on the fourth floor, this simple change is an improvement over a daily routine that is completely sedentary.  You may be surprised to find other people doing the same thing, and you’ll start to notice that you have more energy at work.  With this new burst of energy, you’ll find that you’re more productive – and even your boss will be impressed.  This all comes from making one simple change in your daily routine.

In the next two parts of this essay, I’ll focus on why it’s so important to make these changes for you – not for your children or your friends, and not because you’ve been told that you “should” make these changes to your lifestyle.  I’ll also discuss why attitude is so important to successfully adopting new, healthier habits – and how these changes can bring a new, joyous edge to your daily life.

 

 

 

 

“Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence”

For the past few months, I’ve enjoyed contributing to a wonderful website called HereWomenTalk.com.  When I learned recently of the horrific murder of a member of that online community – a beautiful, sensitive woman and loving mother whose life was brutally cut short by her ex-husband – my immediate reaction was anger.  More specifically, I find it disturbing and outrageous that over the past several decades we haven’t made more progress in taking a “Zero Tolerance” stand against domestic violence or abuse of any kind.

images-2During her 25-year run, Oprah brought a fair amount of attention to this issue, and way back in 1984 the courageous Farrah Fawcett starred in disturbing made-for-TV movie about domestic violence, “The Burning Bed.”  Now, it’s more than 25 years later, and not enough has changed.

The statistics regarding this kind of abuse are truly disturbing.  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.  The National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention report that an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year.  Further, a recent study by the CDC reveals that here in the US, 24 people per minute are the victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.  That’s 12 million individuals – mostly women – every year, and this is simply unacceptable.

If we ourselves are fortunate enough to be free from this kind of terrible abuse, the odds are good are we have a friend, relative or co-worker who is caught in this terrible situation right now.  We need to open our eyes and look for the warning signs, and when we see them, we must get involved.  More than perhaps any other situation in which lives are in jeopardy, we seem to be blind to the warning signs – black eyes, bruises, burns, frequent visits to the emergency room.

The fact that one human being would cruelly inflict physical harm on another, when they have entered into what was thought to be a loving and supportive relationship is disturbing enough – but perhaps the worst aspect of a situation like this is when children witness this kind of abuse.

In their tender years, children learn so much from what they observe in the household – eating habits, how to manage money, the importance of being respectful of others.  In households where domestic violence takes place, they are very likely to perpetuate it.  (The heartbreaking experience of watching one parent physically abuse the other is bad enough, and the damage resulting from this kind of instability at home can literally last a lifetime.)

The perpetrators of this kind of violence are not always who you might expect.  We read about rap artists and musicians accused of this kind of thing, but a Harvard educated stockbroker can just as easily be guilty of this kind of horrific behavior.  One of Europe’s most esteemed financial leaders became the subject of front-page news last year when he was accused of sexual assault by a maid working in a New York City hotel.  Did the fact that apparently his wife was accepting of his philandering ways make this situation any less disturbing?  We mourn the death of a beloved singer, but when it was clear – years ago – that she was enmeshed in an abusive and controlling relationship, did any of us step up and intervene?  Now, of course, it’s too late.

Stories like these are still far too common.  Whether it’s the death of a talented musician or the abuse suffered by a friend or neighbor, we can no longer turn a blind eye to this kind of cruelty.  After all these years, isn’t it time to finally take a firm stand against domestic violence and abuse?

“Resolutions: Avoiding the Pit Falls & Making Them Work”

As the new year gets underway, the sense of excitement and anticipation we all felt a few weeks ago remains.  When the clock struck midnight on December 31, we all had a blank canvas of 365 fresh new days ahead of us, and we were ready to make 2012 a special year to remember. Now that the holidays are behind us, however, those ambitious dreams seem a bit more out of reach and the challenge of achieving them seems a bit more daunting.

I remain excited about the adventures that will unfold for all of us this year, and I want to share some strategies that have worked for me whenever I get that feeling that perhaps I’ve “bitten off” more than I can chew.”  There are a number of pitfalls and challenges we’re all likely to encounter as we turn our resolutions into reality, and I want to share a few ideas with you that may make the process a bit easier.

Over the years, as I’ve faced a number of challenges and set some major goals, I’ve learned that two things are essential when it comes to achieving goals and dreams – taking action and being honest with ourselves.

By definition, the things we focus on in our resolutions are ambitious and not easy to achieve – so it’s natural to feel that perhaps we’re not really capable of achieving these goals, and this uncertainty and self-doubt can indeed undermine our progress. Often times, the reason that something we claim to want doesn’t work out is that, within our own private thoughts, we really didn’t want it to work out.

Putting ourselves “on the record” in a very public way with our friends and family is a great way to move us away from these doubts and uncertainties, and making a few resolutions on New Year’s Eve is a great first step, but these declarations must be followed up by taking action. Whether we dream of finally losing an unwanted 15 pounds or starting a wonderful new hobby, visualizing those things really happening is exciting, but all too often those wonderful ideas come crashing down to earth before they really have a chance to take flight and become reality.

The excitement and desire we feel regarding these wonderful new goals provides the fuel for our journey, but as the first few weeks of the year unfold we quickly realize that making them happen is like any journey — a step-by-step process, and not something that falls into place easily or overnight.

IMG_0012_2It’s important to remind ourselves, right from the very beginning of this journey, that every road has bumps and “pot holes,” and we must remain determined not to give up when we encounter them. Every road – especially the long and winding ones – also has side streets and detours, and we will almost certainly be drawn to them from time to time.

When unexpected distractions and obstacles appear, and the rapid progress that was so exciting at the start of the year becomes more of a slow crawl, don’t be discouraged – and don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself experiencing doubt and uncertainty.  Everyone who has achieved a great goal, triumphed in sports or business, or come up with an idea that has changed the world has had the moments of doubt too.  It’s all part of the journey.

Also remember that many of the most successful and extraordinary journeys are solitary ones.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy the companionship of friends and loved ones, but at the end of the day, this is your journey – not a shared adventure.  It’s natural for those around you to want you to stay the same, even if they don’t say so.  We all have a tendency to embrace the status quo, and worry that we may lose the connection we currently have with those we’re close to.

Knowing that it’s likely to be a long and challenging road ahead on the way to achieving that goal means that it’s important to strengthen your determination, and take bold action rather than timid little steps.  Rather than simply having “a preference” for making a change in your life, make an ambitious declaration about what you will achieve, and take the uncertainty out of the picture.

“In Search of Love”

It has been said that sharing your life with a partner magnifies the highs and lows, and I really believe that’s true.  After my husband Sid’s passing, I spent a lot of time reflecting and mourning the loss of this extraordinary man, and I now realize that I’m ready for a new relationship in my life.  I’m sure that the last thing Sid would want is for me to be by myself, and I miss that feeling of sharing and togetherness.  Having had two bad marriages and finally a wonderful one, at this point I know a thing or two about relationships.

Keeping those lessons in mind, I’m now looking for a man who’s not afraid of commitment.  I want to feel secure that my partner has my best interest at heart even when we’re not together, and I want to feel the same way about  him.  I know that a relationship like this doesn’t happen overnight, of course.

Over the years, I’ve come to see the importance of having some specific qualities in mind when I’m looking for a relationship.  I’ve tried it the other way — getting into a relationship without much thought — and I’ve suffered the consequences.  I know there are plenty of men out there who are just looking for a good time, a physical relationship with no strings attached, and that’s fine — but that’s not what I’m looking for this time around.  I’m looking for someone who can make me smile, who appreciates my interests, my dog Monty and my children.  They’re grown now, with lives of their own, but this is still important to me. I’d love to be swept off my feet by a handsome man who appreciates me, and who appreciates life.  Life is too short, and fun and happiness are important.  I’m also keeping in mind what I don’t want.  I don’t want a man who doesn’t like my friends, because they’re so precious to me and I can’t imagine a life that doesn’t include them.  I also don’t want someone who wants to change me.  I like who I am, at long last, and I’m not interested in making any changes.

Love biking along the West Side

Love biking along the West Side

I’m also ready to have fun — and that doesn’t mean in big, spectacular and expensive ways, but in comfortable, day-to-day ways.  I like going to the grocery store together and planning a meal, simply enjoying one another’s company.  Also, with so much stress in our lives these days, I’m looking for a partner who can turn off his thoughts about work and simply focus on the joy of being together.  Having overcome so many challenges over the past few decades, I want to be with someone who is truly “present” for me, someone who appreciates life and wants to embrace it as much as I do.  I want a man who is comfortable in his own skin and truly able to connect, to let down his “Berlin wall” when it comes to his emotions.  A man like that is able to express and experience love, and understands the importance of commitment. Also, I love music and I love to dance, and I want a partner who shares those pleasures too.

I hate to say it, but the list of qualities I’m looking for has become rather long.  I want to share my life with a good listener, who’s kind, and takes care of himself.  I’m looking for a man who is cultured and polite, and — most importantly — who appreciates me for who I am and who loves me as much as Sid did.  If I can find someone who loves me that much, it would be like winning the lottery.  Imagine that!  Some friends have told me that I’m limiting myself by being so particular, and that my long list reminds them of that joke about “the department store where women shop for a man.”  The punch line to that joke, of course, is that by “moving from floor to floor,” and being more and more particular about the qualities the ideal man must have, you ultimately reach a floor that’s empty — because there’s no “perfect” man out there.  I believe the man who’s perfect for me is out there, however, and I’ve decided not to settle for less.

This may sound odd coming from a blogger, but I love old-fashioned courtship.  Back in high school, a boy would approach a girl to ask for a date — never the other way around.  As much as I enjoy social networking here on the Internet, I’m not really interested in an “e-courtship.”  I like getting together in person.  Although the way that men and women interact has changed so much over the years — mostly for the better — I think that most men still prefer to be the one asking for a date, and that’s comfortable for me too.

At this point, you may be thinking that I really have my act together, but I must confess that the “dating scene” scares me a bit.  My friends are often telling me how hard it is to find someone they really care about.  They’ve also told me to lower my expectations because a man isn’t going to want a woman who brings “baggage” to the relationship.  My belief, however, is that if you’ve reached this point in life and you don’t have any baggage — previous marriages or relationships, children, and so on — then you haven’t lived much of a life.  A first date is not the right time to talk about my past, of course, and I certainly don’t plan on doing that.  Besides, I’m looking for fun and the joy that comes with getting to know a new friend for the first time.  If we hit it off, and we start spending more time together, there will be plenty of time to talk about all that later.  I don’t want to compare notes on our past relationships, at least not on the first date.  I want to take things slowly, so the relationship has a chance to develop naturally.  Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmo, had a great rule about not rushing into anything.  She said, “no sex before the third date,” and I agree.  As for the baggage, I think you should leave it alone until the fifth date.  If you make it to the fifth date, and you’ve found someone you still want to continue seeing, then I think you can start talking about your past in more detail.  For the time being, all of my baggage is in storage.

If you see the man I’m looking for out there, please let me know.  I’m not anxiously and desperately looking for him, however — and after all these years, I’ve decided not to change who I am in order to accommodate a relationship that’s not quite right.  As much as I’m looking for a new relationship, I’m not willing to make any changes.  In some sense, I think of myself as “starting from zero,” and it’s an exciting feeling!

frog in hand –

I know that there are a lot of women out there looking for a man, and I realize that I’m not the young, sexy girl I once was.  Still, I’m proud of all that I have to offer — including the wisdom I’ve gained from countless challenges, and a determination to make each and every day something special.  I also know that if I don’t find that man I’m looking for, I’ll be okay.  For me to share my life, I need a partner who is just as enthusiastic about engaging with life as I am.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  At this point, finding love would be a bonus, like the icing on the cake.  I’ve finally come to a point my life where I appreciate myself, and I’m enjoying the experiences and people who come into my life every day.  One day, perhaps one of those people will be the man of my dreams!