What Are You Reading? (and is it a clue?)

The Author Brand. I don’t know if there is any other phrase that can be both motivating and terrifying at the same time. For those of you who are not writers or aspiring writers, you might not be familiar with the phrase, but you are familiar with the principle. Branding is about marketing. It’s about putting forth your image, your ideas, your themes, your views, and your work, tweaking and twerking (really?) all of it into something with a goal as clear as glass, both accessible and inviting to your target audience. Then you stamp it into the world, usually through an online presence, with the hopes that your brand is unique enough to make it in a market crowded with thousands of other people trying to do the same thing.

I read a great article about branding in Writer’s Digest, Up Close and Personal: The Author Brand, by Drew Becker while my youngest daughter was at her cheerleading class. The cheerleading class is relevant because with my kids, I could easily define their brands. I could see their websites now. My youngest’s would be sweet and childlike, pink and orange, cheer and gymnastics. My middle daughter’s would be artistic and beautiful, name brand labels, white and pastels. And my oldest (who has an Instagram account for her brand) would be Superheroes and Disney, creative sewing projects with every color. But me? I have no idea. I’m all over the place.

Continue reading

Having Time to Manage Time

I attended a Zoom meeting on Saturday about time management, a part of my sister’s life coaching series (https://passionforliving.blog/). The presentation included valuable info about prioritizing and how to think about time and changing negative thoughts (I don’t have time for ________!). How many of us think we don’t have time for (blank)? All the time! Every day! Right now! I don’t even know why I thought I had time to write this blog!

The message we get in society, at schools and work and get-togethers, is that there is not enough time to go around. We tend to operate from a sense of time deprivation, much like sleep deprivation (which we also have, sadly). From about fifth grade until retirement, we expect “not enough time” to do things we want to do or accomplish. For just one day, open your ears and listen to people talking, and you will probably hear someone lamenting their time constraints. You may hear not enough time to exercise, plan meals, study, get ahead, read for pleasure, clean the house, be ready for the holidays, write in a journal, pray, make home cooked food, give the dog a bath, make an appointment, go to church, eat dinner together, etc. At work, I am genuinely so busy with day-to-day priorities (and phone interruptions) that I don’t have enough time for the meaningful health-promotion tasks that I would love to have time to do with my patients, not to mention looking up education or best practice in the midst of it. There’s not enough time!

Continue reading

A Lesson Thanks to Seagulls

The other day I went running outdoors. The temperature was somewhere in the 30’s with wind gusts of 20-30 mph; the windchill reminded me that (duh) it’s January, so no complaining. As I came around a small lake along the running trail, I headed into the wind. I had to put my head down to protect my eyes from getting blasted like an optometrist’s glaucoma test. On the trail up ahead stood a flock of seagulls. When I came nearer, they all reacted, naturally. Normally birds take off together, swooping away gracefully, sometimes noisily. But this time was different. Because of the wind, they rose up in the air but they couldn’t fly forward. They hovered like a fleet of UFOs, soundlessly, trying to get away from the crazy lady out running on a day like this. I laughed out loud. It was terribly amusing. I had never seen anything like it. Finally, the wind abated enough so that they could fly, and we all went our separate ways.

Continue reading

When Your Avatar Kicks Your Own Butt

I read about an interesting phenomenon regarding social media’s affects on human psyche. We all know that people are no longer limited to comparing themselves to the neighbors next door; we can now compare ourselves to hundreds of friends and families and celebrities and influencers because of social media. And, with some exceptions, we see the highlights of people’s lives—the sweet, happy family, the new car, the new house, the promotions, the babies, the celebrations, the weight loss successes, etc. And if you use Instagram and SnapChat, you see everyone’s beautifying, slimming filters too. But besides the comparisons to other people possibly shredding our self esteem, we are now in the situation where we are competing with our own best selves, our own highlights that we post on these platforms.

Think about it, we usually post the best of ourselves. We post the best of the holiday pictures, our kids when we’ve gotten them to behave, the highlights of our own vacations, and perhaps we use a filtered, thinner face as we stand beside a smiling spouse who we’ve titled “the best husband anyone could ask for!” We post pictures after we’ve gotten dressed up—makeup and hair in check and at the best angle and lighting. We post pictures of our cooking successes—the cookies that came out perfect, the vegetables from our gardens at the peak of freshness. We post about our career highlights, our weight loss success, and the funny, laughable moments with our loved ones. We make it look like we got it together, and we are always this way.

Continue reading

A Lesson for Everyone (thanks Disney!)

My family and I just got back from seeing Frozen 2 in the comfy theater with reclining seats. I don’t get out the movies very often, so experiencing one is always a treat. Usually, though, I feel like the messages in kid movies are pretty obvious and simple, after all they all have to teach kids a lesson, don’t they? Good always wins; you have to stick together; don’t be too quick to judge; follow your heart; true love breaks spells–come on, you know it does! I was really happy about one of the themes of this Frozen 2 movie for being a little less cliche. The lesson was about when you don’t know what to do, when all seems lost or overwhelming, you do the “next right thing.”

Here are some lines from Ana’s song, The Next Right Thing.

Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take . . .

Isn’t that a great lesson? When we consider how often in our lives we feel overwhelmed and sometimes a brilliant way out of a situation or that miracle we prayed for isn’t happening right away, so what is there to do? Giving up is the worst decision. Going out for a smoke or drink or overeating or complaining to friends or telling someone off isn’t the answer either. The answer is to do the next right thing. The next right thing doesn’t have to be a big gesture. The next right thing might just be very simple: to take a step, start cleaning up, make a phone call, say a prayer, apologize, get some fresh air, get a good night sleep. The next right thing might surprise you; it might be what you’ve actually known all along.

This would also work when confronted with too many options as opposed to having no ideas. I’m often overwhelmed by the amount of goals and steps I’d like to get done. In this case, the “next right thing” concept might help decide the best thing to pursue to avoid decision paralysis.

So, readers, New Years is always a good time to be starting on goals and dreams. Have you asked yourself what’s the next right thing to do?

Happy 2020!

What Teenage Boys Can Learn From Teenage Girls

I learn so much from my daughters. I am glad they are constantly sharing with me, from the youngest telling me what happened at school, what this kid said, what that kid did, what this kid’s elf-on-the-shelf did this morning, to my oldest who gives me “tea”—who’s going out with whom, who’s got a crush, what teachers are unfair, the funny things that happened on the bus (bus rides are always interesting), who supposedly vapes and who brought alcohol to a party before, etc. I am blessed that my girls feel comfortable sharing these details.

One day I gleaned a super fascinating tidbit of info from my oldest. The girls and I were walking into Walmart when my oldest saw a teenage boy exiting with his family. “He’s cute,” she said because she always tells me her opinion about these things. “Oh, never mind; he’s wearing Uggs.”

The boy walked to his vehicle.

I laughed. “What’s wrong with Uggs?”

“Guys just can’t wear Uggs. Yuck.”

My thirteen-year-old agreed. And apparently Crocs are okay, but not Uggs. Who knew?

Continue reading