Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Or do you?

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Choice. Life Choices. Options.

Choice. Options.

The Serenity Prayer says, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have choices, but in truth we almost always do.

A friend of mine named Lara was laid off from her job of 15 years. She was a loyal employee and was confident her employer would reward her faithfulness with interrupted employment and an occasional thank you. So, when she was laid off, she was devastated. “How could this happen to me,” she cried, “I’ve given the company the best years of my life and this is the thanks I get.” Lara had a right to be upset. She had a right to be angry. And although she had no choice in being terminated, she did have a choice in how she handled it.

She took control of her life. She allowed herself time to be angry. Then, instead of moping around feeling sorry for herself for weeks and months, she took this seemingly bad situation and turn it into an opportunity to receive training in an area she was interested in.

She also used the unscheduled break in employment as a respite, a time for a much-needed vacation. Lara chose to work her situation to her advantage.

In a journal, identify a situation in which you feel you didn’t have a choice. Explain why you thought you didn’t have a choice. Now, go back and think about what you could have done differently. In hindsight, where they are other options he could’ve explored? Is this something you can do now?

Join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Speak Up In The Moment

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portrait of middle aged woman shouting with megaphone over grey background

Did you know that speaking up in the moment is a positive step toward real and lasting self-love? It keeps us from holding on to grudges that eventually eat away at us, because our anger at others eventually turns into anger at ourselves for not taking better care of us.

Sometimes we’re afraid to speak up because we don’t think we have anything important to say. Sometimes we’re afraid no one will want to hear what we have to say. Sometimes we’re afraid of being judged, and sometimes we’re afraid of the conflict that is sure to arise when we say what we feel.

But if you don’t speak up when you have something of value to contribute, you do yourself and the problem-solving process a disservice. Troubles are resolved when there is a diversity of thinking, and sometimes that means having the courage to be one to speak up with a new or different idea. It’s an esteemable act to speak up in the moment.

One thing to remember about speaking up: The way you say something is as important as what you say. Most often people will respond positively to thoughtful words rather than words that irritate. So, choose your words carefully. It can make the difference between someone hearing and understanding what you’re trying to say and someone disregarding you.

Today I invite you to take out your journal and jot down five things you wish you had said in the moment over the last three weeks. As you go through this day, make a note of the times you didn’t say something you really wanted to say. While you can’t go back and change the past, you can make an effort to take better care of yourself in the future by speaking up in the moment.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

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Bucket List.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to publish this post, but it has.  Some might call it lazy, but lazy I’m not.  Some might say, I was too busy to focus on it. But if the truth be known, I was not too busy; I was just a procrastinator. In any event, here we go!

A few months ago, I was watching a segment of Sunday 60 Minutes called, the Children’s Village. I was touched by the humanity of India Howell and her business partner, Peter Leon Massy.  Their love of and desire to help children was heart-touching. It also reminded me of my recent adventure in Peru.

Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

Machu Picchu was never on my bucket list.  No, I was not jumping for joy at the opportunity to travel 12,000 feet above sea level—in hiking boots.  I mean the truth is, I’m a high heel kind of girl—5 inches high, I might add.  Yet, much to my surprise, when given the chance to journey to Peru in July, I was willing and able to show up.  That’s how life works. When we are open to the endless possibilities presented to us, we get so much more than we planned. At least that’s my experience.

12,000 Feet Above Sea Level.

Because I had never ventured to such a high altitude, I was a bit concerned. So, I prepared myself for the journey. I spoke with several friends who had trekked up the mountain, and had a conversation with my doctor about appropriate actions to take.  But the interesting and most telling thing is that I took the suggestions offered to me. What a novel concept. That single action allowed me to avoid the sickness often visited upon high altitude hikers.

First Class Travel, not so shabby!

The actual flight to Peru was delightful. Because I travel a lot, I’m an elite flyer on American Airlines and a lifetime member of the Admirals Club. Being an Executive Platinum has its perks, and there is something to be said for first class accommodations.  It makes a difference. So even though I arrived into Cusco at 5am Sunday morning, I felt rested.

The Bread House.

But the real fun began on Monday, which was our humanitarian day.  We left Cusco at 6am headed for the Azul Wasi Orphanage.  But let me step back. On the way to the orphanage, we stopped by a bread house.  Peru is a relatively poor country, so folks make money in whatever way they can.  Many bake and sell bread in their homes, hence bread house. The bread was so delicious that I took several wheel-shaped loaves home.  Perhaps because I love bread, but also because it was my small way of supporting the economy in this poor village. Three months later, I’m still eating bread.

Azul Wasi Orphanage.

From the time we arrived at the orphanage, I felt like I was steeped into a magical experience.  Nineteen kids greeted my small group with bear hugs and kisses. Wow! What a sweet and pleasant surprise.  They were so happy to see us, and made sure we knew it.  From that moment until we left the orphanage hours later, my heart was cracked wide open. Had I returned to San Francisco after that day, I would have felt fulfilled.  But there was more to come.  It was the start of an affair to remember.

On one hand, being with the kids was joyful. But on the other hand, it was sad. For most of these children, being at this orphanage was a place filled with more love than they have ever known.  Most of them had lived on the streets since they were barely able to walk. Their ages ranged from 3 to 19-years old, yet you could see in their little faces that they were old beyond their years.  Drugs, alcohol, and the streets were all some of them knew.  It was sad to hear their stories, and for the most part, we couldn’t discuss it with them. The memories were too fresh and painful.

I, more than anyone in my group, understood their plight. While not an orphan, my childhood was lost to drugs, alcohol, and a sordid lifestyle.  I lived homeless on the streets of New York at 18 surviving in whatever way I could.  I know all too well what one must do to survive.  Yet, I was granted a reprieve, an opportunity to turn the tide. There were angels in my midst.  So for me, this trip was not just a trip to Peru, but one more opportunity for me to say thank you and give back. And as in my life, there was an angel for these kids, and his name was Alcides.

A police chief for 30-years, he got tired of seeing these street kids come through his station. So he saved and saved and vowed when he retired from the police force, he would buy land and build a place where these kids could come live, grow, get an education, and become productive members of society.  A place where they could feel safe and loved.  Alcides has obviously succeeded, as evidence by the fact that while the kids are free to leave at any time, not one has chosen to do so.  How lucky they are and how blessed I was to get to speak with Alcides.

Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

The next day we were off to the Sacred Valley, and then Machu Picchu. What I can say most about the Sacred Valley and then Machu Picchu is how awestruck I was with what the Incas accomplished. We often like to think we are superior to other people and cultures. Yet, when one is able to witness firsthand what these courageous people created, we think twice about our assumption that we are better than most. Like the Romans, the Incas built structures that are still standing.

The most exhilarating part of the Machu Picchu day trip was that I became willing to do something I was afraid to do.  In anticipation of a bumpy upward climb, I gave myself permission not to go to the top. Once there, I allowed myself to take one baby step at a time, and before I knew it, I was on top. Being atop Machu Picchu was wonderful, but being willing to get there was awesome!

Someone asked, what was my favorite part of the trip? My answer was – the entire trip!  From the first day at the orphanage with the kids, to interviewing Alcides, to interviewing two of the children (Alfredo and Dante), to visiting a bread house, to visiting the Sacred Valley, to climbing Machu Picchu, every step of the way was a piece of the puzzle that made for a beautiful picture.  The final piece, bringing the puzzle all together, was the group itself.  I went to Peru, primarily, to support a friend’s charity (Legacies in Motion), engage in humanitarian work, and visit one of the NEW 7 wonders of the world. What I got was so much more. Yes, the actual act of climbing Machu Picchu was awe inspiring, but what impacted me was the fact that I was even willing to go.

A Life Filled With Endless Possibilities.

Today my life is filled with endless possibilities, and I am grateful to be alive and fully present enough to participate in this, my journey.  There was a time when I sat on the sidelines judging those who showed up for life.  People who, even if afraid, had the courage to take risks, go for their dreams, and possibly fail.  I was always afraid to fail, so I made safe choices.  Making safe choices keeps you protected and out of harm’s way, but also keeps you and your life small.

After 37 years of trying new things, I take a stand for those who are courageous enough to show up for their lives, try new things, meet new people, and live a life of limitless expansion. Life is so short; don’t waste it. Before you now it, it’s over.

Here’s to you!   Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter

 

 

You are in a relationship with your body

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Health. Healthy Living. Research. Body.

Relationships work best when we respect one another, and respect is an action. Listening to your body when it says its needs something and giving it what it asks for – such as rest and relaxation when it’s tired, water when it’s thirsty, nutritious food when it’s hungry and pampering all the time – are behaviors that demonstrate respect. It’s not enough to say you love your body, and then abuse it. Forcing yourself to stay awake past your body’s bedtime is not a respectful act, particularly if it’s done on a regular basis. Stuff yourself with more food when your body says “I’ve had enough” is not a good thing either.

The relationship between you and your body will improve when you take responsibility for your actions. It’s easy to use your past or your environment or even your feelings as excuses for not taking care of yourself, but to have and maintain good health, you must take responsibility for what you have  done and continue to do to your body. What excuses are you making? Who are you blaming for the condition your body is in? How can you start taking responsibility now?

Taking responsibility begins with gathering information. Read up on health matters in your favorite magazine. Most have a column or a regular department addressing health issues. Go to the library, look on the Internet, and ask questions of health care professionals. Gather information about your body. When was the last time you had a regular physical? Do you know what’s going on with your body? Are you confused about which medical exams/screenings you should have and when? While identifying which exams you need can be overwhelming and frightening, it’s worth the effort. Ask your doctor which tests are appropriate for someone of your gender, race, and age. There may even be specific tests given to people who live in certain geographical regions. Look into it.

Another step in the process of self-care is being proactive, that is, taking positive action before there is a problem. The opposite of proactive is reactive, when you wait until your body, in desperation, cries out for help. And sometimes you wait until great damage is already done.

Thus, the more you know, the more you can help yourself. The Internet is a wonderful resource. This is an important step in taking care of your health. Here is a short alphabetical list of screenings you might want to consider: AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, blood pressure, bone density, breast exam, cholesterol, fecal occult blood test, glucose, hearing, mammogram, PAP smear, problem-drinking assessment, prostate-specific antigen test, thyroid-stimulating hormone measurement, and vision. Find out which ones you need, and take them.

Don’t wait and see.

Find out now. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed, take care of it immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

It’s an Esteemable Act to Just Walk Away 

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Walk AwayWhen we don’t like ourselves, we settle for seconds in jobs and relationships. Outwardly we say “I matter, I’m important,” yet when we look at our lives we see ourselves stuck in jobs we hate and relationships that are abusive. And abuse is not just physical. Often it’s easy to become accustomed to emotional and mental abuse, because we don’t see the lingering physical scars, but the effects of emotional and mental abuse are just as damaging in the long run.

Mental, emotional, and physical abuse eats away at your self-esteem. And if you’re living a lie, not only is there abuse, but there is guilt and shame, too. Allowing people to speak to you in a way that is inappropriate (whether in public or at home), turning the other cheek when your spouse or companion has an affair, or allowing someone to take advantage of your in business because you’re afraid to speak up are all forms of abuse.

How can you love yourself when you tolerate such behavior? There are always excuses for staying in unhealthy relationships and jobs, but after a while the excuses stop working and you’re challenged to take action on your own behalf. It’s an esteemable act to walk away from unhealthy jobs and relationships.

So what can you start to do today to turn things around? Take out a journal and make a list of the jobs you’ve had over the last five years. What did you like about each one? What did you not like? What about your present job? Do you enjoy what you do? Why? If not, why not? Why do you stay in a job you hate, what’s the payoff? How does staying in a job you don’t like move you further away from self-love?

Now turn your attention to you relationship and make a list of the most important ones in your life today – for instance, your list might include your spouse, mother, father, teacher, manager, and sibling. Answer the following questions: Describe the kind of relationship you have with each of them. Want do you like most about them? What annoys you the most? How does each relationship make you feel good about yourself? How does each relationship make you feel bad about yourself?

Self-esteem is contingent on what you are willing to do to nurture it. How are you demonstrating self-love in your life?

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.