Sunday, January 31, 2010

Remember to say Thanks

Well I am in Orlando now until Wednesday. I am here for a work event and wanted to share a thought from flying here from Minneapolis through Atlanta.

The flights were relatively uneventful. The planes weren’t real full to Atlanta or Orlando and the flights seemed to be very quick. Landing in Atlanta it was raining out and very cloudy. All in all it was boring and I caught myself thinking about the blog and what I was going to write today.

As I was walking through the Atlanta Airport, one of the worlds busiest airports, I begin to notice a large number of service men and women. All of a sudden everywhere I looked there were military personnel waiting for flights. I started to wonder if they were coming or going.

As I sat and waited for my flight from Atlanta to Orlando I watched the reaction of people as they came across one of these fine men and women. Some just stared and others seem to just pass by without even noticing them.

My flight was called and I got up to stand in line to board the plane. There were 5 or 6 service men standing against the wall and I heard one of them say “I head over on June 13th”. The others seem to understand exactly what that meant and as the line slowly moved the young man, maybe 20, in line ahead of me went up to the military guys, tapped him on the arm and said “Thanks”. The military guy looked at him and said “thanks, we appreciate that”. No other words were exchanged, just a simple “thanks”.

The flight from Atlanta to Orlando was even less full and after an hour the plane was already on the tarmac. As we approached the gate one of the flight attendant’s came on to tell everyone to wait until we get to the gate until you get up and all the other general announcements and at the end she said “you all may have noticed our service men and women on this flight, we just want to say thanks”. A round of applause came next.

I have a friend at work that when she sees me she says “Thanks for coming to work today”. We laugh a bit about it, but it now brings on new meaning as all of us go to work and do something for someone else. We are service people. Now granted most of us do not serve knowing our lives are in jeopardy of losing our life, but I think the message is still the same. Stand up and applaud and say thanks for people coming to work. If you go to the bank, the store, the park, or your gym, remember to say “thanks for coming to work today”. My learning: show your appreciation every day not just on a flight to Orlando.

One simple word “thanks” means so much. So as you go about your day today, please remember to say thanks to those that live their lives in services to us and others.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The First 30 days

My Reflection

I am elated today as my dedication to this blog has lasted 31 days! Yes! This is the 31st day and 29th post, so I am on track and feeling good. I thought it would be good to reflect at the end of each month to summarize my thoughts as well as evaluate my work and provide you with my goals are for the next month.

In the Beginning

I had the idea of this blog after watching the movie “Julie and Julia”. It inspired me to think of how maybe I could dedicate myself for a full year around an idea. For Julie it was to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. Not an easy task with over 500 recipes, but she did it and blogged about her experience and life during this time.

Well I love Julia Child, which is why I saw the movie, and was inspired to do ‘something’ as well. My goal was and continues to be to record my thoughts and insights around 365 days of positive and purposeful living. I could have never imagined how much work it takes to actually do this, but I also never imagined the kind of satisfaction I have from doing it. My dedication is stronger than ever and the thoughts continue to come around how and what I will say.

My Mission

One of my goals for this blog was to help others learn about me as well as about my beliefs and personal goal of helping others live positive and purposeful lives. From the comments I have had from many of you, I have started to do just that. From helping you figure out goals, values, and strengths to reminding you to pay attention, giggle, be giddy, and breathe I love the fact that I have impacted you and in the process impacted myself.

My February Goals

I have a few things that I want to finish up from January as well as move forward with in February. I will start this weekend to finish up my thoughts on strengths. In February I will talk about personal ROI and planning, getting out of your own way, how to put action to your plans, and always keep it real with pictures and stories from my life.

My hope is that you continue to hang in there with me as well as share this site with your friends and family. I would love to have more comments and interact as we continue, but that is my want and may not be your need, so we will just have to see what happens.

So, there you have it – how I started, why I started, what I have done, and what I am planning on doing.

As you read my reflection, I hope it inspires you to sit back and reflect on your last 30 days. What have you learned about yourself? What do you want to know more about?

Have a wonderful Saturday. I will be flying to Orlando Florida for a work meeting and I can’t wait. The temperature when I land will be 60 degrees warmer than Minnesota right now; where are my shorts!

Friday, January 29, 2010

VIA-IS Strengths Assessment Overview

I am finding it amazing that many of you asked me yesterday “are you going to post today?” It is such a reward to hear from you and that you are looking forward to the next day to read the next post. Sorry to say I needed a day off from thinking. I find it interesting the emotions I feel when I do not post, especially knowing there are people out there looking forward to this blog. I won’t bore you with the details of my day and evening, but let’s just say I have had better days and nights and the reason I get through is that I know to relax, think about how I live my values, and how my character strengths will lead me through. Bottom line: Breathe. In and out, in and out, breathe.

Great! Now I am set. Did you take the time yesterday, while I was breathing, to take the via strengths assessment? I will have to do it this weekend, but I did get some insight into this from one of the followers. Yep, at least one of you took the assessment, wahoo! I won’t use names or point people out that do not give me permission to do so, but I do want to share with you a summary of the types of character strengths this assessment will produce for you.

The assessment gives you your top 5 strengths and talks about what that means. Reading them I keep thinking I am reading horoscopes as the descriptions are written kind of that way. I know though that putting concepts into a language that we can all understand is more serving than using big words that intimate or depress some of us.

After the top 5 strengths, the assessment shares with you 18 other strengths. Now I do not know if they are in any particular order, so this weekend when I take the time to complete this I will do more research on how it is all structured. For now, look at the list below and see if you can identify your strengths and then take the assessment this weekend and see how close your thoughts are to your assessment.

The list of VIA Character Strengths

Leadership – You encouraging groups to get things done, preserve harmony, organize activities, and follow through

Citizenship, Teamwork, and Loyalty – You excel as a member of a group, loyal and dedicated, do your share and work for the success of your group.

Capacity to love and be loved – You value close relations with others is mutual.

Fairness, equity, and justice – You treat people fairly and give everyone a chance

Humor and playfulness – You like to laugh and tease, bring smiles to others, and you try and see the lighter side of life.

Gratitude – You are aware of the good things that happen to you and do not take them for granted. You say thanks and mean it.

Kindness and generosity – You are never too busy to do a favor, you enjoy doing things for others even if you don’t know them well.

Industry, diligence, and perseverance – You are a hard worker, you finishes what you start, you do not get distracted while in the task, and your satisfaction comes from completing the job.

Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness – The way you speak and live your life is in a genuine and authentic way, you are down to earth and are a ‘real’ person.

Caution, prudence, and discretion – You are a careful person and you do not say or do things you may later regret.

Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness – You think through and examine things from all sides. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely on evidence to make decisions.

Perspective (Wisdom) – You may not think you are wise, but those around you hold this view. They value your perspective and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

Modesty and Humility – You do not seek attention and prefer to let your accomplishments speak for you. You do not regard yourself as special, but others appreciate your humility.

Self-control and self-regulation – You self-consciously regulate what you feel and do. You are disciplines and in control of your emotions.

Zest, enthusiasm, and energy – You approach everything with excitement and energy. You always do things wholeheartedly. You live for adventure.

Bravery and valor – You are courageous and do not back down from threats, challenges, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even in the face of opposition.

Social Intelligence – You are aware of the motives and feelings of others. You know what do to and how to act in different social situations and you know how to put others at ease.

Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness – You expect the best in the future and work to achieve it. You believe the future is something we can control.

Love of learning – You love learning new things in many forms. You love to read and enjoy going to museums or other institutions as they are an opportunity to learn.

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality – You need to think outside the box. You are never content doing things the same way and look for a better way if possible.

Forgiveness and mercy – You forgive those who have done you wrong and give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy not revenge.

Curiosity and interest in the world – You are curious about everything. You ask questions and find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like to explore and discover.

Appreciation of beauty and excellence – From nature to art to everyday experience and people, you notice the beauty, excellence, and skills of all that is around you.

Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith – You have strong beliefs about a higher purpose and meaning. You know where you fit in the larger scheme and your beliefs shape your actions as well as serve as your comfort.

There you have it. The 24 character strengths from VIA Survey. Do you see yourself in 4 or 5 of these? Take the assessment. How close are you to what you think you are? Look at people you know around you, can you tell what their character strengths are?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More on Character Strengths

Okay, we have had a day to think about what character strengths mean to us. I am going to go through the exercise as an example of how you can hone in on what your true character strengths are. Remember when I discussed the book Strength Finders 2.0(Review on post Growing Your Strengths).

In that book you took an online assessment and it spit out a list of values/characteristics/strengths. This is what mine said:

“Chances are good that you distinguish the fine points of each person’s contribution to a conversation. You guide exchange of information and draw out perspectives of everyone involved. You help individuals bring forth their viewpoints. You honor the uniqueness of each human being, and can have a dialogue with nearly anyone you meet. Driven by your talents, you sense people appreciate the advise you give. You believe that you can help people deal with problems by helping them identify their personal strengths, limitations, ideas, goals and experiences. You are someone people can trust and are a desired friend. You make a good partner at home, work, school and community because you thrive to make the world around you better. You tend to do more than is expected of you because you worry about wasting time. You consistently ask and volunteer for projects and duties as you are a high achiever."

From that description what would my character strengths be? I think the first could be the strength of humanity. Humanity means I have the capacity to love and be loved, I have a great passion for charity, giving, and humankind. I care more about making the world better than myself better.

Another character strength I see from this is transcendence. Don’t worry, I am not coming up with these all by myself, I will share more “big words” in a moment. Transcendence means to have a connection with a larger whole and extending beyond the limits of ordinary being and/or material existence. I have the character strength to see how things fit together and I show gratitude and hope for a better tomorrow. I surround myself with humor and I appreciate excellence as well as have a deep spiritual drive.

So my two main strengths are humanity and transcendence. Now those I can build on! Are they true? For those of you who know me, do you think of me when you read about these words?

So where did I get these words? Well a number of places. This first is in the Positive Psychology book. They list a number of classifications of strengths and virtues. I will explain the ones I can find and let you work your own thoughts into what your true character strengths. (See pages 124 and 129)

Knowledge – Related to acquiring and using new information. Some values and views you may have include creativity, curiosity, the love of learning, perspective, wisdom, and open-mindedness.

Courage – Related to maintaining willpower in the face of opposition. Some values and views you may have include bravery, persistence, integrity, and vitality.

Humanity – Those that center around relationships with others. Some values and views you may have include the capacity to love, capacity to receive love, kindness and social intelligence.

Justice – Those that support the best possible interaction among a group. Some values and views you may have include citizenship, fairness and leadership.

Temperance – Those that protect from excess. Some values and views you may have include forgiveness/mercy, modesty/humility, prudence, and self-

Transcendence – Those that form connections with a larger whole. Some values and views you may have include appreciation of excellence and beauty, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality.

Another assessment for understanding your strengths can be found at http://www.viastrengths.orgThis is the VIA-IS Assessment which stands for Values in Action Inventory of Strengths. In this assessment you work through 240 items that look at 24 different character strengths. IT IS FREE, so try it. It takes about 45 minutes to complete, so allow yourself some time. I will take it this week and see if I am on target with the Strength Finders 2.0 ones as well.

The VIA-IS assessment categorizes the strengths into four spectrums: Strengths of the Hearth, Strengths of the Mind, Self Focused and Other focused. From the look of the plot chart (page 129 in Positive Psychology book) I would see myself as more in the strengths of the heart and other focused areas. In there the characteristics are humor, leadership, teamwork, forgiveness, gratitude, love and kindness. I will see if I can find this plot map on line and link to it tomorrow.

So, your task today is to begin to think about your character strengths. Take the VIA-IS assessment if you can and start formulating what your true strengths are.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Defining Character Strengths

After two weeks I am getting back into the book Positive Psychology. Remember my post about the two focus areas of positive psychology? If not, let me refresh your memory. The two focus areas are; clarifying your values and growing your character strengths.

By now you should have a very clear vision of your values. You have written them down and confirmed them by asking your friends, family and enemies; you have thought about the three or four rubber bands you would keep or wear around your wrist and what they would say about you, and you have taken a look around your home, office, life and determined what your signs say about you. All three of these activities should have made you confident that the values you hold true are your reality. So, now what?

The second focus area in positive psychology is determining your character strengths. Notice the word character before strengths. Biswas-Diener and Dean, the authors of this book, describe the science behind this statement. Two research psychologists, Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman, have studied what character strengths are and mean. Sorry to say being good at fishing, or lifting a lot of weight, or being able to work on pivot tables are not character strengths and although I may still try and improve these skills, character strengths go much deeper.

Peterson and Seligman established seven criteria that will help us determine and discriminate our strengths.
1.Strengths need to be manifest in a range of individual thoughts, action, or feelings
2.Strengths contribute to the good life, for the self or others
3.Strengths are morally valued in their own right in addition to the desirable outcomes they produce
4.The display of a strength by an individual does not diminish other people in the vicinity, but rather elevates them
5.Societies provide institutions and rituals for cultivating strengths
6.There are consensually recognized paragons of strengths – people can think of examples of virtuous individuals who seem to embody these traits
7.Strengths cannot be decomposed into other strengths

Well that makes sense, right? I will spend some time on this concept, the rest of this week, as I believe it is important for all of us to understand. First, let me put the seven into terms we can really understand from my interpretation.

1.Strengths are more than skills and abilities, they are part of your inner being, so again fishing, weight lifting and pivot tables are not character strengths.
2.Strengths cannot produce a negative outcome to you or others around you. “Stirring the pot” or putting yourself or others down are not character strengths.
3.Strengths must have a larger vision than a task or skill. They have an outcome. I have the strength of lifelong learning and want to continue to use knowledge to meet a higher vision.
4.Strengths are personally and society positive and work to build yourself and others up. The strength of civic involvement comes to mind here as it builds up others.
5.Strengths can be worked on through education, service, or other social events and actions. If you cannot grow and learn more about a strength, it is most likely not a true character strength.
6.You can think of people’s name that fit character strengths. If I say the strength of justice that means to support interactions among groups centered around citizenship, fairness, and leadership what names come to mind? Obama, Sandra Day O’Connor, Martin Luther King?
7.Strengths are larger than tasks, abilities, or values. A character strength is a summary of abilities, tasks and values. So I am creative, open minded, and curious, but those aren’t character strengths. The character strength would be centered in gaining knowledge. One of my character strengths is knowledge. I want to know why, how, when, what, and where. Always learning, questioning, growing in my knowledge – that is what a character strength is.

Okay, a lot to think about in one day so I am going to end here. Tomorrow I will share more “classifications” of strengths to further gain an understanding of how deep character strengths really are.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What I learned from the Vikings

So, how many of us are emotionally exhausted from watching the Vikings vs. Saints game last night? The emotions of watching the home town boys gets to be to much some days. So many chances, so many opportunities, so many what if’s. Did you scream and yell and question why? Why didn’t Favre run out of bounds? Why did Peterson Fumble on the 3 yard line? What if the Vikings would have tried for a field goal? What if the coin toss would have been heads rather than tails? Why’s and what if’s galore last night.

The bus ride was quiet coming in and I had time to write down my thoughts about the whys and what ifs of last night. Here is what I came up with.

First, I think the Vikings did outstanding this year. I was disappointed last night and even a little emotionally spent, but I still slept well. I slept well because I know this is just a game to many of us and it was a fun season of watching a team become a formidable opponent in their league. I watched as an older than average man took a chance at trying to reach his goal one more time. I saw a team that played with confidence and conviction and even when the ball didn’t go their way, or was dropped by one of the members there was no getting down on them and telling them how ‘terrible’ he was. What happen? There was a leader or two that said “it’s over, forget about it and do better next time”. They kept trying and coming back.

The second thing I learned from the Vikings is that if you never take chances you may never know how far you can go. Really, think about it. How many chances have been taken during the season and the game last night. What was their goal? To win! To move on! To live their personal dreams! Now the outcome may not have been reached but I do think there are a few lessons that can be learned from this.

Never feel you are to old to try. If a 40 year old man can have the best season of his 20 year career, so can you!

Never quit! There were 18 games for the Vikings. 18 opportunities to live their dream. To the end they never quit. Never gave up and never stopped believing they could do it!

Never wait for an opportunity to come to you, you have to take chances and go for it. Failure IS an option and should be fully embraced. If you never try you will never succeed. Part of success is going through the failures, so embrace the failures, learn from them, and put them behind you.

When you get a chance, take it. Unlike football, sometimes chances at life do not come around every year in September. When you are given a chance you must take it. Success or failure is not the goal, taking the chance is!

At the end of the day, celebrate and be humble. Even in the greatest of failures, there is something to celebrate—do it with humility and poise.

Enjoy the moment even if it is painful. So many of us forget that the opportunities we are given will be full of passion and emotions. Be okay with feeling them and learning from them.

And finally, remember that a life is not measured by 1 day, rather each day is a measure of life. Live the moment and each day with passion and conviction.

How will we live today?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Social Signs

Title: Social Signs
Part of positive and purposeful living is to pay attention. Pay attention to the details of your life as well as the lives around you. When I wrote the personal signs post yesterday, I began to pay attention of the social signs around me. Okay, maybe not social signs, but maybe signs other people want us to see.

I began to think “what does the sign say about our society, the company, or the person?” Let me give you some examples of what I have seen just riding the bus home from work as well as our drive south about 30 minutes when we went out to dinner with birthday boy Christian last night. What do you think they say about our society?

•Picture of Desmond Tutu on a billboard with the statement: His Moral compass points towards equality
•Billboard with no company listed that reads: Recession 101: Self worth is more important than net worth
•Sign on a paint manufacturing sign: Psalms 40:16 –This verse is “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted!”
•Bumper Stickers: Free Tibet, My other kid is German Sheppard, Wall Drug, Ex-wife in trunk, and Obama
•Ad on the bus: Metro Transit – Powered by Minnesota Agriculture
•Healthcare Partners Billboard: Sleep. Health should be that easy and Vaccinate: Health should be that easy
•Salvation Army Sign: Volunteers Welcomed!
•The Gold Guys: Our Prices will NOT be beat!
•TGiF - Everyday is Friday at TGiF's!

Take a look around today and notice the signs. They are out there for all to see. What do they say about your neighborhood, your state, a company, our society, our world? By paying attention and noticing these details of life, we can continue to solidify the values that are important to each of us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's Your Sign?

I have a bumper sticker I received from my brother that says “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite”. It makes me smile every morning when I am getting ready for work, not because it is at all true, but because it reminds me to calm down and live life. It’s maybe a sick sense of humor my brother and I share, but more it is a common practice we share of keeping it real.

I thought today I would continue on the value statement views by sharing one more personal example of putting your values to the test. You have now confirmed your values with your brutally honest friends, family, and enemies. You have asked yourself about the rubber bands you would wear, so next take a look at your space around you and see if your personal signs match your values, goals, and life.

Here are 10 signs you would see of me if you came to my house, saw my car, or visited my office at work.

1.Strikemaster – Sign in my garage above the door that shows my passion and enjoyment for being outdoors, especially ice fishing.

2.First Place Winner, Women Angler’s of Minnesota – Trophy I received for winning a fishing tournament a few years ago that again shows my passion for fishing as well as competitive nature.

3.Capella University – Window cling on my car that shows my commitment to my employer as well as the value they have of quality education.

4.Start Seeing Motorcycles – A small yellow window cling on my car that signifies that we need to start watching out for those that may not be as visible as well as my new hobby of riding.

5.How Old Would You Be, If You Didn’t Know How Old You Were? – Saying that is framed and hanging in my home that reminds me of the need to have a positive attitude.

6.Happiness is not always measured in smiles – Saying on a picture of a clown with a tear in his eye that I painted in high school and now hangs in my home. It reminds me that feelings run deep and strong and should be always present.

7.STAR Award – Plaque in my office at work that recognized me as an outstanding performer of a project team. It reminds me that teamwork IS a way of getting recognized.

8.PhD Diploma – This hangs front and center in my office in full view of my computer and reminds me of my ability to dedicate myself to goals that others (and myself) may never believe I can reach.

9.Coffee Matters – Logo on my sweatshirts at home. Reminds me of my commitment to my entrepreneur passion of making what matters in people’s lives front and center and something they are not afraid to wear openly for others to see.

10.Celebrate Diversity – A table stand card that I have in my office that reminds me that the value of each of us is the diversity we bring to each other and this should be celebrated.

Look around your areas at home, work, and life. What are your signs? What do they say about you? Are they saying the right things?

Friday, January 22, 2010


NO, Not "What Would Janice Do!"

We have all seen these letters, WWJD, in fact about 15-20 years ago there was a trend to wear a rubber band around your wrist with those exact letters on them. But what did it mean to wear one? For me it was a reminder that helped me think about the actions, words, and deeds I did on a daily basis. A reminder to live the values of being “Christ Like”.

After this came out it seem like every place and purpose had a band and kids were seen with 5, 10, 20 of them all around their wrists. It became a collection fad, more than a meaningful and purposeful statement. Then came “Live Strong”. Lance Armstrong’s push to inform men to get the checkups they need to be health and live a long life. I started seeing men at work, on the street, at the bus stop, everywhere wearing a bright yellow rubber band as their statement of dedication towards healthy living.

Women started wearing pink ones for support of breast cancer checkups, and soon the trend became less of a fashion statement and more now of purposeful statements. Did you ever have one of these? What did they say? What did they mean for you? Was it in line with your values?

I have kept three of these since I first started to see these. They are: WWJD, GIVE, and Work for Equality. I would like to spend this post on describing what each of these mean to me and how they show my values.

WWJD – What would Jesus Do. I have this one because of my belief system. I do believe not only in a Higher Power, but also in the idea that I must live my life in a way that is pleasing to my God. When I look at my belief system I want to see a story of living “Christ Like” and every day I want to be reminded that this is a true direction for me. This band helps remind me that when life throws me lemons I will make lemonade, and when life isn’t fair, I will fight for equality, and when those around me suffer I will answer the call and help. I want to be someone who models my actions, thoughts, and deeds from a spiritual power.

The second band I received a few years ago after hurricane Katrina hit. It was from the American Red Cross and simply said “GIVE”. What a powerful statement. One word that can take on such a profound meaning. GIVE. Give blood, money, energy, time – whatever you can the idea is simple – GIVE. It is one of my values and I hold it close to me. The challenge I put on myself is to not wait for a big disaster to GIVE, rather find ways each day to give of myself, my talents, resources, abilities, time, and energy to something worthwhile. GIVE.

The third band I have had says “Work for Equality”. Equality – a statement alone, but than add the word WORK in front of it and it takes on a whole new meaning. Work for Equality. It doesn’t say hope for or pray for or wait for, it says WORK FOR.
What this means to me is that I must be constantly aware that equality is not a given for many people. It is usually the reason so many darn laws are made in this country. IF equality was a given we wouldn’t have to worry about equal pay for equal work, or voting rights, or rights to choose, or rights to get married, or civil rights. All of those would be standard, but that isn’t the case. We must WORK for equality.

So these are my bands. These are the bands that prove me with a direction as well as tell others who I am. Remember that elevator speak on your values; “If you had 20 seconds to tell me your story in an elevator, what would you say?”

Here are the next questions: “If you could wear only 3 rubber bands on your wrist, what would they say and why?” What would people say your values were by wearing these three bands? Does that statement match who you really are?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choose your Friends Wisely

Okay folks, back to work on the values now.

I know that you have all done the hard work of determining your values, right? If not, go back to start and do them.

For those of you who are ready to test your values, here are a few “Janiceism’s” to help you confirm that your values are true, honest, and really who you are.

Janiceism 1: Choose your friends wisely as they are an extension of who you really are.

That’s right. What do they tell you about yourself? Are they health to be around? Would your folks say “whoa you really have great friends”, do they do things that you are embarrassed about? Who are your friends?

Janiceism 2: If you want to know who you really are do not look yourself in the mirror, rather look at the friends you keep.

It’s true! A mirror will only show you your outside character and usually you will only see the person you want to see. Now put each of your friends in that same mirror. Now what do you see? That is the real you.

As you look at purposeful living and how that relates to your personal values, you must choose your friends wisely.

One way to see if your values really are true for you is to first ask your friends for brutal honesty. If they are true friends they can provide just that, brutal honesty. Ask them to describe you in three words. Get this from 3, 4, 6 people you consider friends.

Next, ask some of your family members! Yep, may not be who you want to ask about yourself as many of us swear to never be “like them”, but ask them. What do they say, again 3 or 4 words that describe you.

Finally, ask one or two people that you either don’t think like you or you know you just don’t get along well with. Why them? Well how you treat them is an extension of who you are, so ask them. These folks don’t have to be your hated enemies or anything, just people that you may not consider a friend but have some interaction with.

Once you are done with this exercise you should have 8 opinions of who you are. Do those opinions match what your values are? Do you need to change your actions to really live your values? What do others say, think and believe you are?

Janiceism 3: Those you call your friends may very well be the worst part of you. Choose your friends wisely.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dense Fog

Well I am back and just in time to share a few more pictures of this morning’s ride to the Cities. These were taken in my folk’s backyard before I left around 8:30am.

It is about the most beautiful thing ever and gives meaning to the lyrics “Walking in a winter wonderland”. Had my doctor’s appointment yesterday and after x-rays and messing with it the doctor wants to try exercise and cortisone so 90 minutes later I nearly pass out from the cortisone shot in the knee and remember the pain of having such a large needle enter below a bone.

I wanted to share some pictures for this morning’s positive and purposeful living post! Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recipe for: Ice Fishing on Lake of the Woods Minnesota

Take two parents in their 70’s – one who recently had hernia surgery and isn’t suppose to lift more than 20 pounds and a Mom who wants to help so bad but doesn’t know what to do to help. Add in that both have been ice fishing once maybe twice in their lives with me.

Add one fishing buddy who lives next door, age 60, who after 40 years as a plumber can’t raise his arms about his chest because his shoulders and elbows on both arms have terrible arthritis from all the pipe lifting and fitting he did in those 40 years and now has to be taped up just to be able to use them.

Load Pickup the night before with: Two fish houses, 9 poles, 2 heaters, 1 large propane tank, 3 small propane tanks, 4 chairs, 2 ice scoops, 2 minnow buckets, 4 pails (for fish and well… bathroom breaks), a 5 foot ice pick, and a 10” ice Auger. Tie down well with 40 feet of rope because you don't have anything smaller.

Have your mother prepare lunch for 4 to include: a dozen salami and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, 4 apples, 4 oranges, and just in case someone gets hungry after that 3 dozen slow baked chicken wings. Also include 4 cans of diet coke and make 2 pots of coffee. Let sit overnight.

Next day get up at 4:45am because your fishing buddy is up and waving good morning to one of your parents. Dress accordingly for northern MN weather to include: 2 pairs of socks, boots, long underwear, insulated pants, long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, a goose down Jacket, a hat and 2 pairs of gloves.

Load pickup with people and all the clothes that fit in between the two women and drive north 62 miles. Listen closely to all the local news of who had a baby, who died, who is going to get pregnant, and who is dying or should be dead for the next 2 hours. Drive north until you get to a sign that says, “US Border Patrol – Canada Entrance 300 Feet” turn right. Drive another 45 miles along the Canadian Border watching for moose, deer, elk, fox, lynx, cougar, buffalo, snowshoe hares and Amish Buggies.

Once in “Marvin Windows Town” formerly known as Warroad stop at “My gas and bait”. Use restroom and buy 6 dozen minnows and gold jigs with red eyes. Turn left out of gas station and go until you see the Dunspors farm that is next to the railroad. Take a left and go around the bend. Take another left at “the road that looks like the right one” and go approximately 1 mile until you see the “Old Arneson House”. Turn right were the street light is (only one for miles) and pay $7 at the little 2 x 4 shed. This will allow you to use the Arneson’s access to the lake. Travel north through the Arneson’s property until you come to Lake of the Woods.

Once on the lake, take a deep breath and drive on to the ice. Follow the plowed ice road approximately 6.3 miles and look for a blue ice house. Remember there will be around 400 ice houses on the lake that far out so make sure you go to the blue ice house with the name Punky Ostenaa on it. Look north and see Canada approximately 3 miles away by ice.

Once you find the house go 30 yards north to northwest of house and dig through the 24” of snow until you see the ice. Continue to shovel a space 5 feet x 9 feet. Have parents unload the truck and wait. Once ice is clear, check depth and make sure you are between 30 – 32 feet. Place ice house on cleared area and using 5 foot pick, stab the ice where the holes in the house are. Move house off of ice and on to the snow and using ice auger drill four 10” holes.

Don’t worry if the water comes up from the holes and floods your new floor in 3 inches of water, you can throw snow back on to the spot to ‘soak’ up the water. Again, shovel off the water heavy snow.

Move house back over the holes and clean out holes with ice scoop. Put 2 chairs, a heater, 2 dozen minnows in bucket and 4 poles in the house. Set up mother and father to start fishing. Repeat at next location, but this time without added help. Listen for your fishing buddy give your Mom a hard time for already losing a fish as she couldn’t see the line in the ice.

Set up second house by repeating the same process and go tell your dad to go hang out with your fishing buddy. After dropping lines in the water to the bottom of the lake catch first fish. Return him to water if too small. Listen for your father to hauler, “I want bobbers on my lines ‘cause I can’t see those damn red things”. Add bobbers to all lines and go back to your house and sit.

After a few minutes pull in your second fish and a few minutes after that your third fish. Hope and pray your folks do the same. Turn on fish finder.

Run to the other house when you hear your father say “Janice, I need a bucket”! Run to house and see one walleye in the snow. Go back to original house and giggle with your mother for approximately 3 hours with NO bites and wait for your father to say “Janice, I lost one because of this leader thing”. Go over to the house and see what is up and do not be disappointed when you are told the leader caught on the bottom of the hole and a very nice fish got away because your father had reeled the bobber up into the pole.

Go back to house and giggle some more with mother and again pray for her to catch a fish. Wait 3 more hours and if no additional bites, reverse the whole truck unpacking process and drive slowly off the ice.

Stop for gas and a bathroom break and take the back roads all the way home making sure to pay attention to who lives at each corner, how many snowshoe hares were seen in the field, and how many deer and elk were standing at the tree line. Watch again for Amish Buggies. Give father a hard time about the $200 fish he almost caught (4 fish at a total of $200 gas and supplies). Have your father tell you that you better drink champagne like the big shots for what has turned out to be a $50-75 meal per person.

Arrive home around 6:30pm and do NOT unpack the truck, rather bring food inside, heat the 3 dozen chicken wings in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve with egg noodles and biscuits. After eating have a scoop of vanilla ice cream with caramel, chocolate, peanut butter, and walnuts. Be in bed by 8:30pm.

Next morning wake up at 6:30, unload truck and hear your father tell you that “there is no chance in hell he will ever do that again”. At 7:30am go to fishing buddies sons house and look at portable ice house to use on the next trip to Lake of the Woods.

In 30 days repeat the whole process. Next time I will take pictures!

Minnows: $7.50 for 2 dozen
Poles you forgot at home: $20
Fishing adventure with parents and Mike – Priceless!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is it worth all the work?

Oh the excitement! Ice Fishing for the first time this season. I brought my ice fishing bin with and auger, ready to go. Dad and I were going to go out this morning to a local lake to catch a few crappies before the Vikings game. I went out in to the garage, got the auger going and grabbed the ice sled from the shop that Dad has has for years and never used. Got that set up and ready, ice auger running and got ready to put the auger motor to the actual blade shaft, and NO bolt to hold the two together. Ah, that's right I took it out and put it on the other blade shaft when we planted some lilac's last spring.

Here is the conversation my line is first, Dad's response:

"DAD", "What Now"
"I need a bolt for the auger", "What size"
"I don't know one that fits", "No shit Sherlock, probably a 5/16th--does it fit?"
"yep, perfect", "anything else"
"I don't think so, but I better put the poles together--CRAP", "Now what"
"I have all the reels but I don't have any poles with", "you dumb shit, where are they"
"Right where I left them", "No shit Sherlock",
"Where can I get poles", "Nothing open on Sunday, we will have to go to Bemidji"
"What time do you think L and M opens", "When they unlock the doors?"
"No shit Sherlock"..Dad gives me his little grin. "I need to go to L and M anyway, let's go"

So, off we go to get poles and jigs and wheels for the log splitter (Dad needed those).

Two and a half hours later we are on our way back, listening to the Vikings on the radio and talking about the weather, crops, Brett Favre, gas mileage, and how to catch walleye with a jig rather than a slip bobber. Awesome 2 and a half hour of hanging with Dad!

Get back, poles are done, truck is loaded with houses and all the supplies, 5:30am we leave and hopefully catch our limit by noon! As Dad said "all of this monkey business we better catch some fish". I pray for a lot of fish on Dad's line tomorrow!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Be giddy!

I am finally getting around to today's post. I spent the day driving north to see my folks. Actually to go fishing, but seeing the folks is a must when I heard this way. We are ALL going fishing this weekend to the Lake of the Woods un even farther north about 100 miles or so. I can’t wait! I haven't been all winter with the rain and snow in the Twin Cities, but the farther north you go the better the ice and thus the better the fishing.

That isn't what today’s post is about though. Today I was giddy. Yep, all and all giddy. I think everyone should spend time alone from time to time and just giddy.
I had 5 hours in the car driving up here and the whole way I was listening to some of my favorite old songs and singing to heart’s content. No one around to tell me I was off key or playing it to loud. Lots of people passed me (I drive slow) and I could see them look and then crack a little smile. You know those people, I know I am sometimes that person wondering what the heck they are doing, but then I see them smiling and singing and I get giddy for them.

I forget sometimes to stop thinking and talking and just enjoy. Play those Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers songs. Sing along with Brittney Spears. Pretend you know the words to all those old hits. It lifts the soul and makes you giddy!

One thing I love from the Jay Leno Show is when he does the "earn your plug" and one of the questions is "What would we be surprised to know about what you have on your ipod?" I love it! Of course these are all celebrities on this show but you hear a little about what makes them giddy!

What makes you giddy? Take a chance and be giddy tonight! Listen to music, play a game, watch your favorite movie or watch mine (Grumpy Old Men). Be giddy folks!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Be Proactive in your Happiness Journey

Now that we all know that the ultimate goal in life is happiness, the question is how do we achieve it?

The good news is that it IS achievable, very much achievable! The not so good news is that it will not and does not happen by accident or by chance. If you really want to have happiness you must work at it, every day and in every way. This may not be what you wanted to hear, but everything worth getting in life is worth the work you have to put into it. Right! A hard day of work makes a relaxing evening even more enjoyable. This is the same for happiness. By working hard to get to your view of happiness, it will truly be the best feeling ever.

Let’s think about the steps it takes to get there. It is no different than any other goal. You have to set goals and objectives. You have to be proactive and positive. You have to want it and it has to relate to your personal values. Whew, a lot of work, but again the rewards can be amazing.

Be proactive in this journey. Do not wait for happiness to come, rather make a plan. First ask yourself; what does happiness look like? What is your ideal state of happiness? By answering these questions you can begin to see what goals you will need to make for yourself. Of course you need to write all of this down. Write it down and make it real.

Next, take your happiness view and compare it to your values. Do they match? Can you see the connections between them? If not, you need to go back to either your values or be more honest about what happiness really looks like to you. If they do match up you are on the right path in your happiness journey.

Let’s say for the sake of moving forward that your ideal state of happiness and values match up and you can see the connections, now what?

The process is really a three step process. The first part of the process is to take responsibility for your life, for your goals, for your journey to happiness. Taking responsibility for your life means no blaming of events, circumstances, thoughts, feelings, or decisions on anyone or anything other than you. That’s right you are responsible for it all. If you don’t like something that is happening it is yours to change and not someone else’s to fix. Yep, you must change yourself as others will not and should not change for you. It won’t work.

The second part of the process is to explore further your view of happiness as well as your values. It involves asking hard questions of yourself. What areas can you improve? What am I willing to put into my journey? How much energy, time, and commitment do I have in each goal? What are the positive and negative consequences of my actions? Remember there may be negative consequences to the change, so be honest.

The three step of the process is to start planning out the activities that will make your goals come to life. These activities must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. SMART! One of your goals should be to revisit this process every two weeks or so to make sure you are on track!

This is not going to be easy, but it will be rewarding, I guarantee it! Happiness is an ultimate goal and one that we can all attain with a little hard work and dedication. Take control and be proactive in your happiness journey!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happiness is....

A few of you have asked me to elaborate on my last post on happiness. Is it directly related to satisfaction and how do you know if you have really achieved true happiness? So, let’s look at this more. First, we should explore the meaning and use of the word ‘happiness’. No I am not going to go in to a detailed view, but do want to set some context of the word.

We have all heard of the line from the United States Declaration of Independence “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but what did Thomas Jefferson mean when he wrote this into the declaration? Many have made interpretations of what they believe it means, but the interpretation I like is from the historical perspective that describes that from that era the pursuit of happiness would have been grounded in the ‘goal of human virtue’. It is a basic goal of each individual as well as gives each person a purposeful meaning to life. This did not mean material goods or money, but a state of being based on your virtues.

Looking further at the word we can look back to the origin of the word.

The word happiness comes from the Greek work eudaimonia. From what I can tell on readings of this eudaimonia is the sense of ethics and virtues. It is related to understanding that there is an overall measurement of the quality of life—what I see as life satisfaction and there is a measurement of desirable life—what I see as happiness. What is interesting is both of these descriptions of happiness are grounded in the virtues and ethics of an individual. Does that sound familiar? Remember the discussion on values? happiness is grounded in virtues or ethics, or values.

Well enough of the history and word lesson, I know there are many others that could do more to describe it academically, spiritually, and even mentally, but I don’t think going into that deep of a conversation is necessary right now. I am going with these two descriptions and say that happiness is based on your virtues or values.

My thoughts, first happiness comes from how close your actions, words and deeds match to your values. It does not mean satisfaction. You can be satisfied in a task or accomplishment, but that doesn’t always mean you are happy. An example would be that I get very satisfied when I eat. I love to eat so a big meal of all the things I love really satisfies me, but does that make me happy? NO! My values and goals do not match up with me not being hungry. So, the task of eating is very satisfying but my happiness will come when I achieve my goal of feeling healthy.

Happiness flows from my values.

So, again I have to go back to the point that you must understand your values in order to truly be happy. Without that first step you may be satisfied and you may find short bouts of happiness, but it will be empty. Understand your values, and live them. The pursuit of happiness is living your values. Once you do that, then you will be truly happy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

The theory of positive psychology has two foundational parts. The first is that people really do desire to have deep and meaningful happiness based on positive goals, events and actions. The second is focusing your mind, body and action on positive character strengths. I talked a little about this yesterday with the “tell yourself how good you really are” and will touch more on this later this week.
Today I want to talk about the Pursuit of Happiness. I will not spell it Happyness as the movie with Will Smith did, but the message in that movie is a nice connection to this post. The Pursuit of Happiness; what does that mean? We all have the right to pursue happiness, but how many of us actually achieve this in our lives? A more interesting question is how many of us actually set a goal for ourselves of being happy?

If you remember in the fact based movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” Chris Gardner was a single Dad with no job, no income, and no hope. One day he was offered a non-paying position at a brokerage firm. He worked hard every day and did the best he could to not only care for his son, but to show him how to persevere in even the hardest of times. This movie is one of my all time favorites because this guy never gives up and always goes back to his values and beliefs. His pursuit of happiness comes not from a dream of being happy, but by every day, even when the day was the worst ever, telling himself that he could do it and he would make it and he was good at what he did.

The pursuit or goal of happiness is not some pie in the sky feeling; rather it is an action of taking what you have, what you believe, and what you dream of being and putting measurable steps behind the goal. It is telling yourself every morning and evening that no matter what, you are going to keep to your goal of being happy. It is grounding your future in your values. It is finding the strengths you have and growing them. Remember, it is a pursuit not a given. Remind yourself what pursuit means. It is to obtain, practice, be driven to and achieve your goal. It is real and it is obtainable.

Do you live with a pursuit of happiness? It is the first foundation of positive psychology. It is one of the first steps in goal setting. It can be the first action that solidifies your value. The Pursuit of Happiness, do you have it and how are you doing to achieve it?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tell yourself - I am a wonderful person

Growing your strengths may be a new concept for many. Once you hear about it though it seems to make sense. It is a new and growing realm in the world of coaching called Positive Psychology. If you are into life or personal coaching you will enjoy my next book. It is called Positive Psychology Coaching: Putting the Science of Happiness to Work for Your Clients, by Robert Biswas-Diener and Ben Dean (2007).
It is more of a research and practical book on coaching and consulting through positive psychology, but for those out there that want to learn more about strategies to create happiness as well as coaching personal and social strengths, this is a book for you. If you do not want to buy the book let me give you some highlights to think about.

The main idea behind positive psychology is that it can answer the question of what is going right in a person’s life, rather than looking at only what is going wrong in someone’s life. Why look at the right vs. the wrong? Well think about it. If you always concentrate on what is wrong in your world, what happens? You get depressed, tired, frustrated, moody…all of those negative feelings come into play. In short, concentrating on what is going wrong eats away at your personal self-esteem!

So what happens if you change the question from what is going wrong to what is going right? What kind of mood and attitude do you bring to the table when you concentrate on what is going right? You have a good job, you have positive relationships with your partner and friends, you live each day to the fullest, you look for continuous learning, you like where you live, you work out, and you are good at ‘x’. Now what happens to your attitude? Even reading the last two paragraphs how did you feel by reading them? I know for me reading all the negative thoughts I get anxious and down, but this paragraph I feel energized and ready. I get a ‘bring it on’ attitude rather than a ‘now what’ attitude.

Positive psychology is just that easy. Concentrate on the positive strengths and the not so positive stuff gets left by the side where it belongs! I will talk more about this as this week goes by and about this book, but let’s take our time with this one. So, what are your positive statements, your positive strengths? List them out, not in your head rather write them down! Yes, write them down! Then read them out loud to yourself today. Yep, 3 or 4 times today, read your strengths out loud to yourself! How does it make you feel when you concentrate on your strengths? Do you sit up a bit; do you smile; do you feel confident to face anything that comes your way? I want to know what happens. Three times today tell yourself out loud your strengths!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Growing your Strengths

One of the books I have on my shelf that is an amazingly easy read, yet very informative personally is called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I have set up links to the right for those of you interested in ordering these books so you don’t need to go far to get a copy of this one. One word of caution is buy new on this one as there is an online assessment that you have to take and if the ‘used’ copy code is already used, you will have spent money that will get you nothing.

So what is this book, Strengths Finder 2.0, about? One of my values is achievement, mainly helping others achieve all they can be. In order to do this you have to start by understanding what you are good at and what you are not so good at. This book gives you one set of criteria in which to begin your personal exploration.
Why start with strengths? There use to be a lot of emphasis placed on ‘fixing your improvement areas’ even if those areas were the hardest and nastiest ones imaginable to you. These areas are probably the ones you hated in high school, still hated in college, and now dread them as a grown up. Some typical areas are finance, budgeting, management, people supervising, office work, and project management.
How hard has it been to ‘fix’ these in you? It is like hating to play basketball in high school but thinking now that if you were only better at shooting a basketball you would enjoy it more! It has nothing to do with shooting a basketball but more to do with playing that game. If you don’t have a passion for it or consider it part of your values, why put energy into it!

So if you don’t have to ‘fix’ what is nasty to you, where do you or should you put your energies? The answer is in your strengths. They are things you are good at, know you can do, have a passion for, and most of the time will fall in line with your values. Let me share with you my strengths and how this all works.
First my values are giving, achieving, and believing. My passions are to improve my quality of life, assist others at achieving more, assisting others at growing their strengths, finding innovative and new ways of solving problems and leading people and projects.

Here is my summary of what the assessment said about me: Chances are good that you distinguish the fine points of each person’s contribution to a conversation. You guide exchange of information and draw out perspectives of everyone involved. You help individuals bring forth their viewpoints. You honor the uniqueness of each human being, and can have a dialogue with nearly anyone you meet. Driven by your talents, you sense people appreciate the advise you give. You believe that you can help people deal with problems by helping them identify their personal strengths, limitations, ideas, goals and experiences. You are someone people can trust and are a desired friend. You make a good partner at home, work, school and community because you thrive to make the world around you better. You tend to do more than is expected of you because you worry about wasting time. You consistently ask and volunteer for projects and duties as you are a high achiever.

For those who know me, I hope you agree that this description fits me pretty well. How did this summary come together? Through my strengths!

When I completed my Strength Finder 2.0 the strengths/themes that were recorded from my personal assessment were: Individualization, restorative, positivity, arranger, and ideation.

1.Individualization – Your ability to see people as unique individuals is a special talent. Your talents would serve well in counseling, supervising, teaching, writing human interest articles, or selling.
2.Restorative – You have a good ability at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it. You would enjoy customer service areas, medicine, consulting or management.
3.Positivity – You will excel in any role in which you are paid to highlight the positive. You tend to be more enthusiastic and energetic than most people and you prefer to focus on the good things, while never na├»ve about the negative.
4.Arranger – You are good at helping others learn about their goals and strengths and then setting them up for success. You intuitively sense how very different people can work together. You track deadlines of multiple tasks and have a way of getting many projects and tasks completed in short timelines.
5.Ideation – You are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena and are fascinated by ideas. You excel at creating innovative ideas and experiences from raw materials and events. You have a mindset of visionaries and dreamers and enjoy spending time putting together things, projects, tasks, or events.

So, these are my strengths. I will ask you the question “how am I doing”? What do you see in the strengths above that I do or have done? Here are some thoughts from my view. Planning a cruise, financial budget plans, reorganizing work and employees.

I use my strengths and increase my overall personal and professional value by improving my strengths. Now that is something to celebrate.

Take the assessment and see what it says about you. The book takes 30 minutes to read, the assessment 30 minutes to take, but what you learn can fill a lifetime!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Survival of the Fittest Mind!

What a glorious morning. It’s 6:30 in the morning, stars are still out, a good night sleep, the dog is eating, cats are fed, and I am having my coffee, what a glorious morning. This blog has created a lot of energy for me, especially Sunday mornings. Not sure why, but the past two Sundays I have woken up with a writing idea, that is glorious.

As I was falling asleep last night I had the TV on watching Man vs Wild. This is one of my favorite shows where this guy named “Baer” gets dropped in the middle of unforgiving areas and tried to survive and get out alive. He does have help if needed, but it really is quite interesting watching these types of shows as it excites me to think that in survival situations ordinary people can and do extraordinary things. Now yes I understand this guy is a professional and not real ordinary for the situation, but he does it. Over and over again he challenges his body, mind, faith and soul to do unbelievable things.

After I turned the TV off I started wondering what if I was ‘dropped’ into a survival situation. Not so much death defying, but something way outside each of my comfort zones. Do I have the mental, physical, emotional fitness to survive? How about you? Do you have the fitness to survive? It got me thinking that survival of the fittest isn’t about physical as even Baer will say “it is your mind that will make you crazy not your body”.

It is now January 10th and my New Year’s Resolution of losing weight is going okay. I have been to the gym 6 times, worked out with a trainer 3 times and have been watching what I eat. Physically I am doing okay and think I can survive, but what about mentally and emotionally? What challenges have I given myself to become more mentally and emotionally stable? What challenges have I given myself that would allow me to survive any situation?

Maybe this blog is one way to challenge my mental capacity, but it really isn’t outside of my comfort zone. My thoughts on paper are not outside of anything. Maybe the spelling is a challenge as that has always been an issue for me, but Word takes care of most of that, so what am I doing to challenge my mind or my emotions?
These were my thoughts last night and after finally falling asleep I woke up with my challenge. As I sit here writing I see 50 or so self help and coaching books that I used for writing my dissertation. None of which I have opened in the two years since I completed that. None which I have even referenced in my daily life or in planning my life, but all that have important and meaningful messages.

My purposeful challenge is to get back into an uncomfortable state of learning by revisiting the books on the bookshelf. They should not be there to collect dust, rather clear a mind. A challenge to go outside of my box and read, study, learn more about mind and emotional survival. Let’s see where this takes me.

Do you have a mental and/or emotional challenge?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hooters in my Backyard!

No, not ‘that’ kind of hooters, real ones! I let the dog out last night and as I stepped outside to see how the temperature of -14 felt the first thing I notices is how quiet -14 degrees is! No one on the road at 10:30 at night when it is this cold, no kids playing basketball in the street or riding bikes across lawns screaming, no dogs outside just barking, nothing but quiet. In the quiet of -14 all I heard was “whoo whoo who whoooooo”. I wasn’t sure I heard it as I have never heard an owl in the neighborhood, but as I stayed still there it was again, “whoo, whoo who whoooo”.

I did my best owl imitation and did “whoo, whoo, who whooo” back and waited. Yes, I do owl calls as well as a darn good moose call as well (you can ask my brother). Again I heard the big bird sing. Whoa. 10:30 at night, -14 degrees, clear skies, stars shining bright, moon at half crescent and hooters.

It reminds me of something I am trying to do more of and that is listen, well more like shut up so I can hear others, but I like the positive way of saying it. Yes I am trying to “listen” more and talk less. Not even just talk, but be quiet, be still in body mind and voice. My head goes a million miles an hour and sometimes my body does the same, and I know I am never short on words.

This new habit is completely outside of my comfort zone. I love to talk, I love to think, I love to challenge, I don’t really enjoy quiet –it bores me. So that is one of my purposeful living adventures this year is to find enjoyment in quiet. Last night I was shown the value of quiet. I was shown that in the busiest of lives a moment of silence can create a memory. I have hooters in the backyard!

What memories does your silence bring?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Great Way to Start Your Morning!

I have tried to give a few examples this week of people who I believe have indulged in purposeful living. One story about a real person making a purposeful commitment and the other from a movie that has truly changed people’s lives. After I wrote last night’s blog posting I did a Google search for “Pay it Forward”. Do you know that there are at least 10 different organizations in different countries that now take this premise/idea and are moving it forward? Now that is purposeful movie making.

I have one more from this morning I would like to share; maybe not so much purposeful living, but positive to say the least and impactful on me as well.

As I was walking into my work building this morning at 7:20am, I noticed a kid – maybe 20 – with a jacket on that had a college logo from a southern state. There are always a host of college and pro players around the building that sits next to two main hotels in Minneapolis, so this isn’t all of that unusual to see kids from other states/countries –never really at 7:30 am though. He was standing outside in the snow/blizzard grinning from ear to ear and I thought to myself what a wonderful smile, but what in the heck are you doing! Are you crazy! As I approached the door he grabbed the handle and opened it for me and said “this is absolutely amazing”.

A young kid, up at 7:20am, watching the snow fly in every direction, no hat just a workout suit and jacket, grinning from ear to ear and saying “this is amazing”.

How can your day NOT be great when it starts out with this!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When life throws you lemons....

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today as work has been crazy and with the workouts at the gym, time becomes short some nights. I was tempted to just put in the header “Not tonight, I have a headache”. It wasn’t until the bus ride home that I knew I had something to say.

For those of you outside of Minneapolis the weather forecast for tonight is snow; 1 to 2 inches of light fluffy snow. South of here maybe 4-6 inches with a few advisories out. I wasn’t really happy about snow because that usually means more cold weather and a little work on shoveling. It wasn’t until the bus ride home that I realized that I was wasting my thoughts about tonight and tomorrow. It wasn’t until I heard others sarcastically complain about the snow that I sat up and stated in my head “whoa, is there nothing positive about 1-2 inches of snow?”

The comments on the bus were;

1. I suppose the plows won’t even worry about this amount so the road will be crappy tomorrow
2. Great, 2 inches of snow on top the ice already
3. Haven’t we had enough snow already!
4. I swear if school is cancelled and the kids have to stay home again I am going to be calling someone.

These are true statements! Within a 20 minute ride four ladies sitting in front of me complained that maybe their kids would be home and safe with them or spend time with their kids, and maybe the earth would gain a quarter inch of water from the snow fall, and maybe the new snow fall would cover up all the grey/black snow banks that we have around here from the last storm. Just maybe there is good in this!

I quickly caught myself thinking that I was as guilty today of making negative statements about something so positive. Yes, it will be a small hassle, yes people need to be careful, yes kids may stay home, but have we become so blind to the good that comes with a weather event that we totally lose sight of positive living?

May each of us find a way to make positive statements about something today! Remember when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pay it Forward

Many of you have probably seen the movie “Pay it Forward” so you may be able to guess what this post is about. For those of you that have not seen this, I recommend it. Not because of the life changing message it may have or the feel good feeling you may have, but for the message of purposeful living.

For those of you who have seen the movie remember the scene where the kid is sitting in the class and the teacher gave an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that would change the world for the better. He states “the realm of possibilities lives in each of you”. (I love this line).Some of the kids went the science way and did recycling projects or a lemonade stand to raise money for a shelter, but one kid (Trevor McKinney in the movie) devised an idea that if he did something good for 3 people and they were told to pay his kindness forward, he could change the world. His idea was that you ask for nothing in return of a gift you give; rather ask that the recipient of the gift give something to a different person in need.

So let’s do the math to see what happens. Three people asked to pay it forward to 3 other people equals 9 people. Nine people asked to pay it forward to 3 other people would add to 27, 27 paying it forward to 3 people is 81, 81 times 3 is 243, 243 x 729 people…you get the picture. By doing one positive purposeful living task this kid changed 100s of 1000s of lives. One kid, one idea, one action.

Now I know we don’t live in the movies, especially because sometimes there are few connections between the movies and reality, but I think this may be one movie we can learn from.

Let’s take the example of the woman who emailed about her purposeful living journey the past year and a half. How many people do you think she has impacted by changing her life, her career, her values, her attitude, her satisfaction? Three, nine, 27, 81, or more? How many people did she help along the way through nursing school? How many people will benefit from her talents and compassion in the future? How many family members are looking at her as a model of purposeful living and taking their next step?

For every act you do, for every statement you make, for every thought you have—are they grounded in your values? Are they positive and purposeful? Live for one day completely aware of your actions, thoughts and deeds. One day and ask yourself – am I living a positive and purposeful life? Am I ‘paying it forward’.

“In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 4, 2010

Purposeful Living

As part of this blog I will make an attempt to provide examples during one week each month of ways people live with purpose. All will be real examples, as I see so many people purposefully living. You will too if you take the time to see, listen, and be silent.

To begin I need to describe what I mean by purposeful living. Maybe the best way to describe what I mean by purposeful living is by saying what it is not. It is not about finding the one thing you do well and that is all you will ever do, it is not about being born to do just one thing – very few have this option and most are religious figures, it is not about being stuck or just dealing with life as that is all you can see. No, purposeful living means that everything you do and everything you are has come from a decision you have personally made that matches to your core values – remember them from a few days ago? A choice, an action, a feeling, an emotion, a word, a job, the list goes on and on. Making each of these decisions fills a purpose and if those decisions are aligned with your values, you are purposeful living.

Have you ever thought to yourself “what am I doing in this job” or “why did I spend money on this” or “what can I do to feel better”? If you have, then you are on your way to understanding not only your values, but how these statements can lead you to a higher level of purposefully living.

I want to share an example that I received from a past collogue of mine that shows how planning, decisions, and action have led to a high level of purposeful living in this person. Here is the email I received on Saturday. Look for how this person is purposefully living by making her life match her values.

Great blog, Janice! I will have to get in there and become a "follower" and sign up, etc.! It is amazing when you stop to think about what you want in life and when things finally fall into place for those things to happen - it gives definition to "meant to be".

1 1/2 years ago, I decided I should look further at what I wanted to do when I "grow up". I spoke with an advisor at a college and realized I could do whatever I wanted to do and that a ton of things sounded interesting to me! A week later, I attended a nursing information session and signed up for 3 classes that I needed to retake since mine were outdated by 1 year. I also knew instinctively that I wanted to work with women in the OB unit for labor & delivery/postpartum care - even though I didn't know entirely what that would entail AND that I wanted to work at North Memorial Hospital.

At the end of that semester, I found out I was pregnant. I quickly made a mental schedule of events that needed to take place for me to keep moving on the RN track. I took Anatomy & Physiology 1 last Jan-May, became certified as a nursing assistant and applied to the RN program in June, took A&P II in July, and finished with 2 weeks to spare before Tyler was born. Since Tyler's lungs weren't quite ready, he spent a week in the NICU. As I was in the hospital with him, I took the opportunity to "interview" every nurse that I came in contact with.

In September, I found out I was accepted for the January start of the RN program at Anoka Ramsey CC. Mid-October, I attended an information session at the Maple Grove (North Memorial) Hospital and made application at the end of October for several CNA positions. Through a series of coincidental events, I established that my cousin's aunt worked at the hospital. In November, it was through her that I found out that there were 8,000 applicants for 175 positions at the new hospital, which opened December 30th, '09. Despite the odds, on Tuesday, December 14th, I had a phone screening with an HR rep at the hospital.

Last Thursday, at 11:00 am, I had an in-person interview with the Nursing Manager for the Women's & Children's Services (Birthing Center) department. I couldn't get a feel for the interview one way or another because the manager sort of indicated that she hadn't hired very many (if any) people without CNA experience and I knew it might be challenging to work with my school schedule. But, at 5:15pm, I received a phone call, and became the newest member of the Maple Grove Hospital team!!

I cannot believe that a vision I put in place a year and a half ago is actually happening!!! I know I did all of the logistical things I needed to do, but I'm still in somewhat disbelief at the opportunities I have been presented with (even with their challenges) and that I am officially starting my healthcare career!!

You have been an excellent mentor for me since you joined Capella back in the day, and your passion for people and life has always been a huge part of that. So, when I do finally get signed up and logged in to blog spot, I will check, "yes, it has inspired me to be more!"

How are you purposefully living? Share your stories and be part of the blog!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Tigers are Coming! The Tigers are Coming!

Hello Sunshine---hello -12 below! My positive statement of the day is “at least I don’t live in Northern Minnesota where the low last night was -32 degrees Fahrenheit! Yes, 32 below and that was without wind chill! Burr!

What does this have to do with tigers coming? Well, I was trying to think of what animal can cause fear in an elephant and the only thing I could think of were tigers!

Day 1 of the healthy living and tigers surrounded me this morning. You know the kind, they have little voices that come into your head and make statements like “I can start this exercise stuff tomorrow” or “I think I am getting a headache” or “It is too cold to do anything but eat a big bowl of Mac and Cheese” or “Do you think anyone really would care”? Those tigers! The tigers of doubts and excuses that come after you make a commitment to yourself! We all have them and I am here to say we have a choice, yes a choice to listen to them or battle through their war cries and persevere!

This morning I choose to persevere! Yes it was cold out and yes I wasn’t feeling great, but this is my life and I get to determine how each day will be spent! So, back off tigers I am going to the gym! 45 minutes later I have done a great bicep and triceps workout; as well as walked the treadmill for 20 minutes. May not sound like much, but for me it is the beginning piece of the elephant.

What are your tigers? Listen to them and then decide for yourself that you are in charge!

One of my favorite lines from the movie “The Holiday” is when Kate Winslet says “You should be the leading lady in your own life, for God’s Sake”!

Watch those tigers, they are everywhere and then choose to not ignore them, but tame them. Be the leading lady or man in your own life!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How do you Eat an Elephant?

Today I would like to talk more about resolutions and how we can be more successful at keeping them and not end up in the 88% who never see their resolutions though, or the 48% that don’t even feel they can make it one day!

I am calling this day “How to eat an Elephant”. You’ve all heard this phrase, so you all know the next line right? You eat an elephant, I bite at a time! Here in lies the answer to keeping resolutions. By breaking down the elephant into smaller chunks, maybe I can eat the whole elephant—so much for the diet!

To start this process I want to talk about SMART goal setting. Many of you have heard and used SMART goal setting, but for anyone who needs a refresher SMART stands for: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive. SMART!

Now the first step to the elephant process is to actually describe what the elephant is, if you have a herd of elephants you will need to describe each member of that herd. For me I have two elephants I want to eat one bite at a time this year. The first elephant is called “Becoming Healthy” and the second elephant is “living a positive and purposeful life”. Big elephants I know, but I know I can do both and be very successful if I use SMART to get there.

Elephant/Goal 1: Becoming Healthy

SMART Goal Statement: I will lose 30 pounds by October 2010 by dedicating myself to working out with my personal trainer three times a week and go to the gym at least five times every week.

Elephant/Goal 2: Living a positive and purposeful life

SMART Goal Statement: I will write a blog at least 300 days in 2010 and each day find at least one example of how I or those around me are examples of positive and purposeful living.

Specific, Yes – 30 pounds by October and blog at least 300 days

Measureable, Yes – The scale will not lie, and I can count how many posts I make this year

Attainable, Yes – 30 pounds in 10 months means 3 pounds a month, I have a personal trainer that is paid through next October and I belong to a gym 1 mile away. I have started the blog and so far have more things to say and write about then days.

Relevant, Yes – I need and want to feel better and be able to live a long and healthy life and relevant examples of positive and purposeful living will lead to continuous blog postings.

Time – Sensitive, Yes – I have a timeline of October 2010 for the weight and December 31, 2010 for the end of this blog.

I’m done right? Au contraire my PPL followers this is just the beginning. Just because I have cut the elephant down to smaller sizes, I still have not done enough. Challenge yourself folks, how do we cut this up into bite size pieces? Use my example or come up with your own, how do we get these goals down to a size that we can see results NOT in October or December, but maybe Feb, June, August, and November as well?

We do this by taking our SMART statements and going one step deeper. I will give one example, and then I hope you all do the same with your New Year’s Elephants!

First and foremost I need to answer the question “do my goals match my values”? I say yes by tying directly to the values of Achieving and Believing. I Value achieving what I think is impossible and losing weight and dedicating to writing a blog are both achievable. I also value believing in others and myself, so this is a perfect opportunity to live my values by believing that I can do this, all of this. I have the ability, time, energy, thoughts, and gym membership so I truly believe I can do this.

Second, I need to make these elephants a little smaller so I will make my monthly SMART goal to read: I will lose at least 3 pounds every month by increasing the frequency of working out and using my personal trainer at least twice a week. I will measure my results at the end of each month. Now that is one bit at a time.

How about you? What are your elephants? What are your SMART Goals? How do your goals align with your values? What smaller SMART goals can you work on?

More tomorrow!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The New Years Resolution

Happy New Year!
So did everyone make your New Years Resolution last night? New Years Resolution, now that is a positive topic, or is it? I find it interesting that the majority of people out there will make at least one New Years Resolution, at least one. What I find even more interesting, yet not surprising, is that only about 10% of us actually feel we keep our resolutions. That’s right, only 10%!

I searched the web last night looking for articles on what the most popular resolutions are. Not surprising I found many of my past resolutions on the list; lose weight, exercise more, eat better, get a better job, save money, get organized, be less grumpy, stop smoking, stop drinking, travel more, and visit my parents more. I can honestly say that the only thing I have done on from my last 25 years of resolutions is travel more. 25 years of resolutions and I have taken two vacation trips! Not what I would call real successful. It makes me wonder why? Why can’t I hold myself to the resolutions I make for myself?

There was a study done in the UK on 3000 men and women. Of the 3000 men and women 52% of them felt very confident they could be successful with their goals. Hum…so even before the study really started, 48% of the participants in the study didn’t think they would actually be successful at working even one day at keeping their resolution.

So 48% weren’t confident from the start, but what about the other highly confident 52%. It may not surprise you to read that out of the highly confident men and women only 12% of them actually achieved their goal! Men reported a 22% success rate while women only 10%. ( I question why? Why is it that we can set goals for ourselves, but few of us will ever be successful at achieving these goals?

Let’s start this exploration by first looking at the work ‘resolution’. Webster Dictionary describes resolution as: the act of resolving, the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones, the act of answering, the act of determining, the list of acts goes on. This is my first clue as to why I haven’t been successful at keeping any resolutions. The word ‘act’ has never been part of my resolutions! I haven’t analyzed or answered or determined or put into simpler form anything! I am starting to question how anyone would actually keep a resolution, but then I read this from Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus. The synonyms for the word resolution are: Courage, Determination, and Decision. The description for the word was a “firm or unwavering adherence to one’s purpose”. That’s it! One’s Purpose! I know why I have been resolutionily (yes I know this isn’t a word, yet) challenged for so long, I have never stated a resolution that tied to my purpose! Whoa, positive learning here! So, what does that mean?

The first step in learning about one’s purpose is to start by understanding your personal values. A value is something that comes from within. It is what motivates you to be more. There are many ways to determine your values and one easy way is to start with a list of 100 values and carefully whittle it down to 3 or 4 that really describe you. I will attach a sheet I share with my life coaching clients as a starting spot, but it is in no way an exclusive list. I think it’s important to start with values as they describe your purpose, and if you can describe your purpose, then you can resolve to do and be anything.

For me, my values are giving, achieving and believing. I call it my GAB Matters. I hold them true and close to my heart. I find myself questioning things I do and always go back to the true question of “does ‘this’ fit into my values?” If the answer is yes, I continue and if it doesn’t I stop. I am my values and my values are me. What are your values? If you were to describe yourself in 3 or 4 words what would they be?

Many may ask where am I going with this post. First I am talking about resolutions and the next thing I have homework to do around my values. Well, it’s easy. I think many of us fail at our resolutions because many of our resolutions do not fit into our personal values. An example: I have always had a weight problem, well maybe not a problem, but the scale says I should lose some pounds. I have been on more diets and exercise programs then I can count on many hands and feet, but still I am overweight. I know it, I see it, I live it and you would think that sooner or later I would ‘resolve’ to change.

The problem is that healthy living is NOT one of my values. Not right now at least so I make statements of “I am going to get into shape” and “ I am going to look good by this summer” and my values say giving of yourself is important, achieving more is important, and believing in yourself and others is important. No where is being fit important. My point is that in order for a resolution to really work, it has to be part of your values. I want to talk more about this over this weekend as I think it is important, but I will close today’s post by saying: This Year I resolve to find a way every day to achieve a healthier life style. I will do this by setting small goals that can be measured weekly and be very specific about what actions I can take to achieve each goal! There, my New Years Resolution.

resolution. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved December 31, 2009, from