dare to be different, inspire

New Year, New Decade, New Opportunities

I think I will start with writing something profound or brilliant in my mind.

2020 is upon us and like many I have goals to write, tackle and conquer but this year is different. It’s the start of a new decade and thus the magnitude of go bigger is something I want to do in many areas of my life. I want to escape the ordinary. Of course, my 2020 journal (pictured below) is perfect for cataloging my ebbs and flows of the year. #2020hereIcome

Lucky for me I have an amazing tribe around me willing to jump in on adventures, shenanigans and overall badass challenges I find intriguing. Some are extreme while others just take time.

Time is valuable to me. One of my most precious commodities. Where to use it? Who gets my time? What’s the value of my time and so on. Keeping this in mind I will share a few tidbits about my year of awesome!

It started in December of 2019 when I decided on a 2020 theme of me. What can I do 2,020 of to level up my fitness, for example.

Goal one was finalized: run, walk, jog, crawl, bike, row or ski erg 2,020 extra miles in 2020. This is in addition to any other regular daily workouts which is the kicker. It’s extra time. Who can commit? Who will commit? Who will cross the finish line?

Today I have about 10-15 willing participants tracking their miles along side me. Each for different reasons and each have their own path. Some have daily goals of extra miles, some weekly, some monthly and some want to count backwards. Whatever the method the miles add up to the same total of 2,020 miles. 365 opportunities await each participant. Each individual has to make a choice to put in work today, tomorrow and the the next day and stay the course of time.

Some will need a fixed routine to succeed. Others may need variety. Some may take big bites out of miles while others may take smaller steps. The power of choice. The power of self will and desire. The strength required to commit long term.

I started my first four days of the year with 7 miles a day and then jumped up to 10 miles and 9 miles respectively. Most of which I completed on my bike erg, which I love. (Thank you concept2). 47 miles down and 1,973 to go for those who like to count down. I may not keep this pace but as the hype is fresh I will bank those extra miles for the days I am traveling, sick or unable to hit my strides.

I’m pretty excited about this challenge. Will I finish? Will my friends finish? Will anyone join me virtually? Will I be able to push myself when times are tough? Can I manage my time? Basically this is a solo task. Only I can make it happen. Only I can decide if I finish. But as a bonus I have a tribe willing to attempt it with me. How lucky am I?

I am lucky, loved, blessed and all so appreciative of the opportunities I have and the memories I can make. You are also lucky as you have a front row seat to my adventures. This could be good or bad. I have not only set a lofty goal, I actually shared it with the world in this blog. How about that for a massive accountability partner?

This is not my only goal, rather one of many. Many more than others I know but for me this is a year of me. A way to launch into the new decade and see what I can really accomplish if I focus and prioritize. Dreaming big in most areas which will test me, but of course I’m ready.

What makes me ready? To start, I was invited to a vision board party. What in the heck is that? It’s a gathering of key influencers in your life who you feel inspired by. People you like to spend time with vs. those people you have to spend time with (or coworkers). You write your story so to speak on a poster board using words, pictures, objects and whatever other flair you can put your hands on. This was so in my wheelhouse. Why did I never do this before? Who cares, I’m doing it now. It’s a new decade and a new opportunity!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I learned a ton about myself and those around me. It was empowering to say the least and fun. I don’t think I’ve used a glue stick, scissors and tape like I did that day for a long time. Talk about the memories of the good old school days before the internet became front and center.

One pal even bought magazines for the first time in ages and couldn’t believe how much they cost nowadays. See how old I am!

I will leave you with this glimpse of the sparkle we all shared that day. No need to name who did what rather it’s meant to provide a visual inspiration for others. Maybe one of my readers will feel motivated to host a vision board party.

Some chose to fill the board up while others left room to grow. Captivating just to see how folks approached the task and invested themselves into the outcome. Mine is posted prominently in a space where I can see it and be reminded of the mindset I had when I made it.

What will you do to make your decade launch special in 2020?

perspective

Soaking Up the Rays

It seems like it’s been raining for days and days. The days turn into weeks. The yard is muddy. There are puddles in the distance from every window.

Rain, rain go away. Come back another day. The childhood song plays in my head over and over again. The dog doesn’t want to go outside to play. The sky is grey. The wind is howling. The days seem long.

Is it napping season? Well, it seems like nap time comes with the rain days. Can the weather really impact your day? I think so. And when it rains over and over again the rut seems to get bigger.

Finally the sun peeks through the clouds. A small glimmer of hope. The grass starts to dry. The wind dies down. The dog gets to play in the yard. Stress level is down. Energy is abundant. I sit on the back porch to soak up the rays of sunshine.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Another childhood song full of memories pops into my head. The squirrels are running through the trees, rattling the branches. The puppy is attempting to chase endlessly. The birds are chirping away.

How today that song has so much meaning. My dad is ill. He is in the hospital. As I soak up the rays sunbathing I find the song soothing. I reflect on the memories of the good times. I feel the warmth of the sun. I feel the companionship of my dog as she lay along side me.

It’s not a spring day. Rather it’s a winter day in which I was able to feel the warmth during stressful times or worry. The weather indeed impacted my day, my mood, my environment. I’m soaking it all in.

Porch sitting. Sun bathing. Relaxing and reflecting. 1 hour today. No technology. Just a break from the ordinary. It wasn’t planned. It was whimsical. It became magical.

The sunshine made my day. The heat gave me reminders. The calmness that came with it all was heavenly. Sometimes we just need to slow our roll and enjoy life’s little gifts.

As my dear friend would say:

Looks like you enjoyed a sweet slice of life today. Or maybe it would be you found the magic in the mundane today. No wait, I think it’s the effervescence in everyday that came to light.

Enjoy today. Take a deep breath. You never know when it will be your last.

perspective

Skinny

Words have power. For good or for bad, they are powerful.

Throughout our lives words pick up nuances.  Some might say they carry baggage. Words are weighted down with history, and these can be different from person to person. It reminds me of deciding on a name for a child, looking through the books and lists…  Names evoke memories of the Jacobs, the Maxes, the Jennifers I once knew.  Some leave a bad taste simply because of the scowl across the playground one boy gave me in second grade, or the girl who taunted me in seventh.

With that in mind, I’ll share a word that has pulled the rug from under me for a while now. A word I never thought I’d hear anyone say about me.  A word that, as an adult, I honestly never wanted to hear.

Skinny.

But now I hear it pretty often. It jars me when someone says it.  Could be just me, but it never comes across as a compliment. It carries a reproach. Maybe it’s the words that often come before it:  too skinny, so skinny.  They always sound like it’s something extreme.  Like I’ve gone too far.

You’re starting to get too skinny, Beth.

When are you going to stop?  When are you at your goal?

You’re so skinny.  Do you eat anything?

(Reminder, I want to say…you are speaking to a person who has weighed more than 300 pounds.)

In high school, even college and beyond, I used to look at the skinny girls with envy.  I longed to be them.  I didn’t think about healthy or unhealthy.  I just knew skinny was a good thing to be.  It’s what people liked and wanted. Skinny meant pretty.  Desirable.  Choose-able.  Worthy.

Now, when someone says I am skinny, it makes me think I am slight.  I am weak.  I am a pushover. In my mind, I’ve traded my fat for muscle, not just a lower number on the scale. I work hard for how I look, and I choose it in many different ways every day.  I’d like to think what I’ve lost in fat I’ve also gained in confidence, but words like skinny set me back on my heels.

I’d rather hear someone say she is so lean.  She is so strong.  So fit.  So healthy.  Skinny, in my mind, doesn’t cover any of those things.

Stepping back, I think about the people saying these words.  Do they mean to hurt my feelings? Do they know the word stings?  Probably not. Are some speaking out of concern? Do they worry for my health?  Maybe. Are they speaking out of jealousy, as some close to me have suggested?  Perhaps.  For all I know, some may see it as a compliment, but I don’t hear it that way.  Such is the way of words.  Sometimes what we mean gets lost in translation, even when we think we are speaking the same language.

In the end, it doesn’t matter much.  I have learned in recent years that I can’t control other people’s actions, including what they say.  I can only control my reaction to them.  So I feel the sting, step back, then let it go and move on.

I’m the one who has to live in my body for as long as it lasts.  There are a handful of trusted people that I listen to in earnest. Their thoughts matter to me and I take them seriously.  Everyone else may either be speaking from their own agenda or may not know me well enough to have an informed opinion. So, they are taken with a grain of salt and the benefit of the doubt.

And I can watch my own words more carefully when it comes to the bodies, minds, and health of others.  How do I know what others are going through?  How can I keep from stinging them, wherever they may be on their path?  Words have a power.  Speak carefully.  Speak generously.  Ask questions.  Watch my mouth as much as I can. Who knows how often I hurt people with my words without even meaning to?

You can imagine my smile when I opened this gift from my daughter at Christmas.  She has seen me at my heaviest.  She has seen me do the work transform myself mentally and physically.  She took such care to make personal gifts for so many in our family.  She texted me about a month ago to ask me for a photo of my first tattoo.  She chose one word for me, and it is one that makes me proud, and makes me want to keep going.

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Choose your words to build people up, to make them feel brave.  Capable.  Strong.

health

Who’s Got Time for Sick Days?

It’s the final days of December which means 1099s, W2s and a million other time-sensitive duties for a roll-your-sleeves-up kinda girl boss who gets shit done daily. All of which causes friction with overlapping sports and holiday break time for the teen. Chaos ensues around scheduling on the home front. Add in a new puppy with training needs and you get a full plate. A very full plate that requires careful planning and execution daily.

That means every minute, every hour and every day is pretty much scheduled, leaving no down time. Enter the flu and strep going around your community and the feeling of “oh no, I’m gonna get sick” eating away at your mind!

Weather changes from below freezing one week to 70 degrees the next. Cold mornings, warm afternoons, and then bone-chilling cold when the sun drops. All perfect backdrops for getting sick. Boy, I sure don’t have time for a set back like being sick.

Getting sick means changing my routine. Missing the gym in the morning or not eating perfectly. When sickness hits so does a case of crankiness, and nobody likes a cranky person around them!

I managed to survive strep thanks to a shot in the buttocks and some antibiotics. I then dodged the flu bullet for now despite a few close to me getting sick.

Packing up the holiday decorations. Restocking the pantry and fridge with healthy eats that are macro-friendly. Getting my goals set for 2020, this year being a big year for many reasons. ‘Tis the season to not be sneezing because there is just to much to be done personally and professionally. Can you relate?

I didn’t even add in the fact that during the holidays you spend extra time with family that can in some ways cause a different kind of stress. Time to get my mind right to tackle 2020 with vim and vigor.

It was not at all fun playing catch up during such a critical time of the year. Let this be a lesson learned to everyone that self-care is very important. Keeping a routine schedule of sleep, healthy eating, good hydration and physical fitness can be a great first defense against the flu as that time of year approaches when germs are airborne. A good winter coat for the climate you are in is a good second defense, along with some vitamin C. And for you clean freaks, don’t forget Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and good old Lysol.

On a side note, I am a big baby and could have had it a whole lot worse this winter but I will plan better next time. Maybe only travel to warm climates in the winter and maybe schedule some days off to have a cushion for the crazy January brings each year. Days off is self-care, right?

On the business side it was a record-breaking year amidst the chaos. I guess it’s true I thrive under pressure. Nasal pressure or board room pressure? I guess it’s all the same. Girl bossin’ and hustlin’ 2020 away.

perspective

Never Say Never

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“I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch every day at work for the last eighteen months,” I told her.

“You mean you eat one thing for a week, then switch to something else?”

“No, I’ve eaten the same thing every single day, week after week after week, 99 percent of the time.”

“Oh, I could NEVER do that!” she responded, in a mix of disbelief and exasperation.

Hm.

Well, I thought, this is a person who appears to be healthy and fit.  Maybe she can eat different things all the time and maintain her health.  Maybe she doesn’t struggle with using food as entertainment / food as comforter / food as problem solver like I do.  If not, good for her.  For me, what has worked with sorting out my nutrition is basically monotony.

I figured out what seems to work and for the most part I stick with it.  Fat-free higher-protein yogurt and coffee with measured creamer for breakfast, chicken Mike Nuggets and protein chips for lunch with lots of infused water. A handful of beef jerky if I am really hungry between meals.  Dinner has a little more flexibility but I prep protein each weekend and choose from there.  If I keep to this all week and don’t go insane over the weekend, my energy, my strength, and the scale number tend to stay in the range where I feel good.  What works for me won’t work for everyone.  Maybe it won’t work for anyone else at all, and that’s fine.  Not a big revelation there, really.

But, what really stayed with me was the word NEVER.

I could NEVER do that.

What would I say I could NEVER do?

There are the nevers I just don’t like.  For example, I could never eat shrimp for breakfast.  I could never own an orange car.  I could never be a school bus driver.  Never is really too strong for all of these…If I had to do any of these things, I would.  But I’d really *really* rather not.  Maybe this is the type of never my friend was mentioning when it comes to my monotonous lunches.

But then I also think about other nevers I have said in the past.  I could *never* do CrossFit.  I could *never* run a half-marathon.  I could *never* weigh under 200 pounds again. All of these nevers have now gone from to-do to ta-da! All of them took effort.  All of them took facing fears.  All of them took questioning myself and the limits I place on me.  These are not just preferences.  They are self-doubts.  Limits.  Roadblocks by choice.

Some of these once-upon-a-time nevers have become among my proudest accomplishments.

As George Addair said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

As I think about my goals for 2020, I’m listening for the nevers in my self-talk.  Are my nevers “I don’t wannas?” Are they “I’m scared to try”?  Are they “I’m scared to fail”?  And if they are fears, maybe that’s a sign I need to put them toward the top of my to-do list?

What are your nevers?  And what are they holding you back from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

perspective

Giving is Not the Same as Expecting

There are so many givers in this world. Those who give their time to others. Those who give care to those in need. Those who offer love and hope to others. The list could go on and on. If you fall into the giver category, thank you. The world needs more of you.

Giving isn’t always a gift that is tangible. One can give love. One can give inspiration. One can give a shoulder to lean on. One can give hope. Whatever one gives, it is a choice. A desire to serve others in some way.

Life isn’t fair. I can’t catch a break. Poor me. If you fall into this category, suck it up. Find resources to help you get over the hump you are in. Start to pay your way little by little. Set a budget and work hard for what you need / want. Do not expect others to do for you and don’t be a mooch. Not much in life is free these days and if you take advantage of kindness in any form you will soon find yourself abandoned and alone. Eventually the givers lose interest in takers.

Expecting is different. Expecting mom and dad to pay for a cell phone until the you turn 30. Expecting the latest and greatest iPhone vs the one that works fine but is a model year behind the latest release. Expecting a brand new car as a teen. Expecting to have access to unlimited funds when one is capable of working. Expecting a car or car service to promote your independence without any contributions to gas. These are just some common teenage / young adult expectations I see over and over.

Expecting is annoying to say the least. One should never expect anything. One should expect to put forth work or effort to earn things that matter. There is definitely a benefit to learning this early on in life. If your teen expects things on the home front, they turn into employees that expect things. They turn into spouses who contribute less. They turn into lazy adults.

As I wrote this, I could feel the negative vibe in the post. For those of you who may follow my writing you may know that I am not the Negative Nelly type of writer. However, when the giver and taker scenarios arrive in my real world, I can be frustrated.

The same level of frustration appears when I see entitlement. Scenarios could include my own children acting entitled or it could be just the world around me. It could be an employee feeling entitled to a raise despite minimal efforts on their part. It could be a vendor feeling entitled to contract or a loved one feeling entitled to something. Even the customer who feels entitled to a discount for reasons that would put you below your operational costs.

In life we should think fair and consistent. Is this scenario fair for all parties? Are my actions consistent with my behaviors? Am I doing the right thing?

Earn your keep. Earn your value. In today’s competitive world you need to see what sets you apart from others and springboard off of those strengths. Nobody ever gets anywhere riding the coattails of others.

Make giving part of your motto in 2020 and see how life favors you. Remember giving is free on most accounts. You just may need to get creative.

January can be give smiles month.
February may be give compliments month.
March may be give time month.
April may be give your listening ear month.

With the above samples in hand, you can get creative and find what works for your lifestyle. I do promise you that if you adapt giving into your life you will receive far more in return. I’m not promising money, fame or fortune. I am promising a refreshed look at the world if you give a little.

hustle, working women

Million Dollar Milestone

Less than 2% of women-owned businesses hit the 1 million dollar revenue mark in a calendar year.

I wondered why this was the case. Most women-owned entities start as hobbies like pillow making or other grass-roots favored businesses. They sell to friends or have a limited online presence. Despite the success one may have it takes a lot of sales to hit the million dollar milestone with low cost items with no real volume sales in sight.

Women are great multi-taskers. Most manage families, schedules and work as well. When one finds a path to growth, success isn’t far off. Nothing against male counterparts as many earn their way to the board room fairly, but the wow factor is that the table in the board room isn’t always set equally for one reason or another.

One of the women may be in the token woman seat or the token diversity seat in the board room. I hate to address the elephant in the room but it’s true. With my current project I set a lofty goal for myself. I wanted to see if I could do it my way. From the ground up. No board approval. No favors given.

I wanted to be the underdog. The one who rose from nowhere to make a statement. There were many along the way who doubted me. That’s okay. They ironically motivated me. There were some who snubbed me for various reasons. That’s okay too.

I did it. I made my statement, my way. I was never seeking public approval. I was instead challenging myself to chip away at a revenue goal. My revenue goal. The pie in the sky number that many women won’t attempt to tackle. I did it with my small but dynamic team. I am one of the select few who made it to 1 million dollars. I joined the club so to speak in 2019 with one entity. Much earlier in the year due to some good luck and hard work, and I might even hit the multi-million dollar mark which is the gravy on top.

I can actually say hard work pays off and I am ever so proud of the time investment I made to become certified as a women-owned small business. My careful thought and planning afforded me the opportunity to participate in government bidding opportunities set aside for a business classified as women-owned, helping me reach my lofty goals quickly.

Learning how to leverage all tools available to your business is a very important step in business planning. Remember, without a plan you don’t know where your are going or what you are trying to achieve.

Engaging resources is also important. Finding the right business partners. The right vendors. The right social network. It all plays a part of one’s successes or one’s failures.

Be you for you. Don’t let others define your success. Wait for the right time to peak. Take all the lessons you learned in life and apply them to your business plan. Form a great leadership team and move forward. Continue to grow and shift as your market requires. Never stand still. Complacently is the death of struggling businesses.

Add a little luck. Add a little hustle. Add some good timing. And then the magic happens. Opportunity knocks and you have to be ready to take hold of it when it’s available. Don’t hesitate. Take the risk! Fortune favors those who are bold.

Long days. Late nights. Weekends. 24:7 availability means personal sacrifice. Lots of sacrifice. I made it. I made it the to the one million mark and beyond. The numbers scribbled in my Wonder Woman journal as a dream are taking shape.

Remember, I said it’s hard work. There were many bumps along the way. My husband wanted to kill me many days I am sure. It’s time to turn the page and set the next set of challenges. Where will I go? What will I accomplish? Who will I take on my journey? Will I fail? Will I succeed?

I must circle back again to celebrate me. Not only did I hit the number, I reached well beyond. Millions more is in sight but I’m not holding my breath or putting a specific time frame on the number. I am a firm believer that if I put in the work / effort, the rewards will follow. It may not be a revenue number this time around. It may be a strategic account. Or maybe a new connection with a key influencer. Those steps are part of the growth process. Connecting the dots so to speak.

As I reflect on the million-dollar achievement there is so much to be thankful for. All the people in my life who support me. My amazing but small work team. My family who motivates me to be strong and fight through thick and thin. It truly takes a village to be at the top of your game. Whatever your game is, you were inspired by others to seek the higher ground.

Now that I am here, I like to savor the moment and reflect. See what went well but where the opportunities are for improvement. Sometimes making slight modifications in operational efficiencies is far more important than the next revenue milestone!

As I write this post I know some will perceive my celebration as a sign of arrogance. Well, there may be a hint of that but the motivation is to share this with other aspiring business people who are reaching for the stars.

I am a growth coach for those entering entrepreneurship for the first time as well as those trying to find their spot in life. In order to be a good role model for those I mentor, I leave sprinkles or nuggets of my development online for others to read. I don’t need a New York Times Best Sellers list number to validate my growth. I just want one person to be motivated to reach to the stars because my stories inspired them.

Write the lofty goals. Chip away at the goals. You will get there. Hard work pays off. Be consistent. Be confident. Be prepared.

For now I will stay in the moment. I will take great pride in what was accomplished and be ready for what’s next.

And what’s next is part of the #1095 Days project. What’s next is always a new story. Stay tuned for the next chapter.