Friday, December 16, 2011
While my reasons for believing so may have nothing to do with the need for B12 and everything to do with my need for a shot of humility, I still think it's a story worth sharing.
Booking an acting job can sometimes feel like winning the lottery. You spend hours mentally preparing, going through several different call backs and then await the results. As an actor (I use the term loosely since I am not of the DiCaprio caliber of course), you constantly second guess your ability and your intuition. Even if you are told that you have done a wonderful job, you still have a sneaking suspicion that the shoot date for said job will come and go without so much as a nod in your direction.
The process sounds much more dramatic (no pun intended) than it actually is. But for a SAHM, local acting gigs are rare and beautiful gifts of creativity. I can step outside the title of mommy for a few hours and revisit a passion I still love. And most importantly, this particular job taught me a valuable lesson that applies to nice girls everywhere.
You are only as valuable as you are humble.
When the day came for me to find out if I had booked the job or not, I checked my phone incessantly and had butterflies all day. As 8 am turned to noon and then dwindled to 8pm, I knew the handwriting was on the wall. But still holding onto a shred of hope, I emailed my contact to get the official dismissal.
Within minutes I got a "regret-to-inform-you" email. I had lost this job, and it was painful because it was just between myself and one other girl. An ego bruising coupled with a loss of funds I could have desperately used, I drew a hot bath, poured a glass of red wine and cried. Yep, I cried.
So how in the world did I go from the tub of tears to the set of the Zipfizz commercial? I had what I now affectionately call, a Lazarus Leap.
A few days after I had let it go and allowed the disappointment to die an honorable yet mopey death, I got a call from my father. "Some woman from this media group is trying to get a hold of you."
Could it be?
I called the woman back and lo and behold they offered the job to me, instead. Why? The number one girl had tried to negotiate for more money. So as a result of her, dare I say, greed and pride- I was able to safely slide into the number-two-is-as-good-as-number-one-in-my-book spot.
The truth is that I learned more from the girl who didn't get the job, ultimately, than I learned from myself. Yes, I can honestly admit there was some pride to be swallowed and a sliver of embarrassment to be banished, but it was worth it.
I was chosen because I honored the agreement that I entered into when I saw the financial and time commitments for the project the first day of auditions. I was chosen because some girl out there decided to kick humility to the curb and try to up her worth on paper- in dollars and nonsense. I was chosen because God wanted to give me a gift that mattered to me and He wanted to let me know that prayers (even silly, first-world problem ones) get heard.
So my fellow nice girls here's your take away. Honor your commitments. Don't ever give up on a job well done. Don't be too prideful to gracefully accept second place. And don't ever think that a prayer-soaked hope is gone, ever. The impossible can happen.
In my book, Zipfizz has some dang good energy and will always be my go-to drink when I need a little pick-me-up. Besides, it tastes good too.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Today my son discovered light switches.
We spent upwards of ten minutes going from room to room turning the lights on and off (don't tell my husband as he is the electric bill gestapo).
Each successful flip would result in fits of laughter and an accomplished smile that only conquering a new frontier can generate. As I stood there watching his own proverbial light bulb go on, I couldn't help but reflect on the way he has opened up my own eyes to the true light of life.
Before my son came along I was an overachiever. A perfectionist. A do-it-all-or-don't-bother-playing-the-game type of girl.
From pageants to acting and getting married at 24, I went on to compete in fitness competitions and move to three different states. I was working full time while I recorded and promoted an album. I got a book published and found it amazing that I still found a crumpled sliver of time to limp my way through some kind of threadbare prayer life and spotty church attendance.
In truth, I was exhausted. In my mind, I was accomplished.
I remember feeling as if I was running down the dawn. If there were hours left in a day I needed to be somebody. Do something of note. Burn off some calories. Make another salad. Drink another glass of water. Dream about French fires. Indulge in a sweet potato. Dream of sleeping in, but get to work early- again. Write a song. Write a paragraph. Make a dollar. Spend a dollar.
And then as if there was a electric surge that blew a breaker. It went dark.
The world became quiet. I relapsed into a cocoon of hibernation. I found out I was pregnant.
From the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test it was if my heart started beating at an entirely different rate. I noticed sunsets. I took long leisurely naps. I spent time really praying about this huge responsibility. I stopped promoting myself and I started entertaining the idea of what it would like to divide myself.
Being pregnant and being a mom pose two entirely different states of being. One is preparation, the other is segregation. While it may not be popular, I don't believe in super moms. I don't believe you can do it all. You can do a lot- some more than others, but trying to do it all is just an on-ramp to burning out.
In all honesty, I still struggle with turning it off. I still have this gold-medal-or-bust attitude about me- but instead of trying to break Billboards Top 100 I am trying to break my sons habit of throwing his dinner all over the wall. For some women they can balance motherhood and work beautifully. I realized very quickly that I can only whole-heartedly commit myself to one thing at a time. Its the way I am wired.
This was proven to be true as I spent years spinning my wheels in the mire of getting nowhere in a hurry. Like Josh Billings said, Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.
That has always been my problem. I have been nothing like postage stamp or a light switch.
Before baby, I would constantly flicker one way or the other making it impossible to see where I was going. But now, I have decided to shut it all down for a time. I am going to stick to one thing. Being a mom. No distractions. No illusions. No pause button or dimmer switch. I am going to attempt to be fully on; all the time. Well, not all the time- everyone needs a date night and that odd weekend away here and there.
My point is this. For a woman who never wanted to slow down, motherhood has forced my hand. The beauty of my newfound on-and-off switch is that I never realized how rewarding it can be to turn off the noise of my own ego and turn on the light of letting go.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Yes, my fellow nice girls. You read that right. Believe it or not, I've been thinking about the connection between Michael Vick and the success of nice girls worldwide for a few weeks now. What's the correlation? Well, it has something to do with mountains, money, and morals.
Whether you follow sports or not, the roller-coaster ride that is Michael Vick’s career has been falling and rising since he hit the Atlanta Falcons field early in his career.
The most jolting aspect of his rise to notoriety? Just two years ago he was released from jail on dog-fighting charges, and now he just signed a $100 million dollar 6-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles- $40 million of which is guaranteed.
So what does this have to do with today’s woman? Well, it poses a question that seems to contradict my methodology for life: do nice girls/guys finish last? While, the concept isn’t new, it is something that seems to radiate throughout the ages- especially in the wake of seemingly corrupt individuals succeeding.
As women in today’s professional climate we have several choices to make on a daily basis. Aside from multitasking, climbing corporate ladders, and somehow carving out some time for ourselves to relax- we are faced with moral and ethical decisions every day. Depending on where you benchmark your success, either dollar signs or peace signs- the nice girl is sometimes left in the stiletto dust of her more outspoken and less ethical counterpart. Does this make her any less successful? And if so, is the finish line the most important destination- or perhaps could the mile markers in-between be the real measures of her success?
Mt. Kilimanjaro may be where we find the answer.
Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain at 19,340 feet. There is not one way up this mountain. Like most climbs, there are many different routes depending on what suits your climbing style best. When climbing Kilimanjaro you have 6 different routes to choose from. The Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide describes each like this:
The Marangu Route: the only Kilimanjaro climb route that offers hut accommodation.
The Machame Route: the most popular climbing route up Kilimanjaro.
The Rongai Route: the easiest climb route on Kilimanjaro.
The Umbwe Route: the most difficult and demanding climb route on Kilimanjaro, and the most spectacular.
I don’t claim to be a climber, but what stands out most to me in these route descriptions is that the easiest and the most popular routes are simply known for being so. The most comfortable route offer huts for rest and and the most uncomfortable offers the highest first-day altitude. The most beautiful and the most spectacular routes are also the most expensive and the most demanding.
My point is this. We all choose which route we take in this life. And whatever route we choose will dictate the quality of our climb.
For some, like Vick, we are choosing to rely on talent to get us to the heights we want to go. Vick wanted to get where he was going quickly despite the poor choices he would ultimately make in his haste to get to the top. The same is true of us as women navigating our careers. When trying to manage our own personal climbs we need to be intentional about the routes we go.
Don’t choose the easiest or the most popular- you will be bored. Don’t choose the most comfortable or quickest way- you will miss out on the precious middle moments. Instead, consider taking those routes that are the hardest to take but offer you the most personal reward at the end.
If there is one thing we can learn from Vick it should be that success shouldn’t be measured in dollar signs- although our culture tells us differently. Personal integrity, moral conviction, and selfless love are such rare and valuable assets to have. And when the sun sets on your final play, you will have so much more than money to show for yourself. You will have immeasurable value.
Talk about a breathtaking view from the top.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
According to a recent article by ABC News, it was reported that, “12 percent of the executive offices of America” are occupied by women. They went on to say that “most of them got there by being tough, forceful and direct.”
However, Elle Magazine recently capitalized on this interesting tidbit of information by highlighting an unusual, yet equally effective anti-assertiveness training program called “Bully Broads”, whose goal is to help highly qualified women get to the top rung by being kind instead of bristly.
Have you hit a plateau in your career? For some of us being the tough girl has worked out thus far, however when it comes to managing a core group of employees or gaining that corner office, we’re hitting a wall. It could be because we need a lesson in anti-assertiveness. However, you may be thinking that seems counter-intuitive, especially when you’ve gotten so far being the feared female in the room.
The truth is that when it comes to getting that coveted executive position, playing hard ball may cause the higher-ups, as well as associates, to fear you instead of revere you.This can get in the way of any further promotion. So how do prove that you can handle more work with grace as well as gall? To boost productivity it has been shown that encouraging one to do better work instead of demeaning co-workers for lackluster performance is the most effective way to increase revenue and in-office camaraderie.
What is known as The Hawthorne Effect, simply states that “productivity gain occurred because the workers were impacted by the motivational effect of the interest being shown in them.”
Human nature remains the same, showing interest in someone motivates them. Negative interest doesn’t count. Bully Broads founder, Jean Hollands has many excellent tips on how to reposition your strong personality to accommodate for all types of employees putting you right where you want to be: in the CEO’s highest graces.
She suggests many steps in the work place, but a few that seem to be the easiest to apply?
1. Talking slowly so other people can listen and respond.
2. Give feedback to others in a constructive way.
3. Walking slowly so people don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated.
4. Cry at work. (She claims it shows humanity as well as passion)
5. Smile often.
6. Talk softer when reprimanding.
7. Use self-deprecation to appear relate-able.
Whether you feel like you are ready to go to the next level but are being held back by your inability to play nice with others or are simply wanting to be more kind to people to rack up Karma points, Hollands anti-assertiveness advice is practical, useful knowledge that all women should take into consideration.
Besides, how does that saying go? Sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same? Looks like being nice may pay big dividends after all.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Nice Girls 60-Day Challenge Day 46: Embrace Your "Seasons"
All of us go through different seasons in life. The most graceful way to handle each of these is to embrace where you find yourself no matter the circumstances. Some of us are in hard seasons, joyful seasons, boring seasons, and exhausted seasons. All of these serve a purpose in developing who we will become as mature and kind women.
I can tell you first hand how frustrated I can get with the mundane, I find that my season in life is more Groundhog Day then anything else, but as a new mom with a new priority, I can tell you that I will look back on this season will teary eyes, and wish I could play one more game of peek-a-boo with my energetic son.
Don't let the "grass is always greener" mentality steal your current joy. No matter if you are on top of the world or at the end of your rope, try to find the essential learning lessons in this season and utilize those gems of wisdom in the future.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Nice Girls 60-Day Challenge, Day 45: Enjoy Yourself!
Summer is here! And there is nothing more fun than hanging out with close friends and family. Whether its at a BBQ in the backyard or boating on a lake, so today's challenge is to take the time to truly enjoy yourself. Far too often nice girls will forget that being nice isn't hard work- nor should it be- but rather an extension of the way you treat yourself.
Today, enjoy being who you are. You are unique, loved and have a specific design to fill a certain void during this time in history. Laugh, love and sip a glass of chilled wine- there is no better time than the present to be truly content in your own skin.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
(Warning: Biblical perspective below : )
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Have you ever had one of those conversations that stick out in your mind for years after it takes place?
You can be in the middle of a grocery store pinching a cantaloupe and all of a sudden you remember a certain exchange? For me, these conversations usually revolve around an echo that was whispered into the canyon of my soul- one that God decided should be the introduction to my life’s anthem.
When soul-sticking words are spoken, it means that someone has struck a chord inside your heart, and no matter how much time marches by it will always ring true. I have found that it is usually an issue that God is still working with me on and so He has chosen to use that previous whisper as a collective yell from His throne to my doorstep.
I have taken to calling these human, err-filled conversations glorious gifts of grace. One memory in particular was a conversation that I had with the wife of my husband’s dearest friend.
Libby is the type of woman that you can tell spends hours with God. Not bent over her Bible with a highlighter all hours of the day, but she is a woman who constantly talks to God while she is peeling potatoes or sings to him while she is on the stair stepper. She is someone who should remind us that there is no place too mundane for miracles or too commonplace for confession.
After Libby and I had begun having babies we would try to be in the habit of seeing each other every few months. On one such occasion we were talking about our church communities, and she had asked if I was ever interested in leading worship at church? At the time, I had just moved back from Nashville and my singing “career” was at an impasse, I understood the naturalness of the question.
I shook my head and bold-facedly answered, halo intact, “I haven’t. Mainly, it is because I don’t like singing in front of other people about God. I hate feeling like I am saying, ‘look at me, look at me’ while the words are clearly about Him. I would rather just blend into the crowd and sing a hymn or two to Him in my heart of hearts.”
Libby’s eyes sparkled as she responded, “Are you sure that’s not false humility?”
And her truthful comment still echoes today, because it is a message that I wrestle with. As Christian women sometimes we don’t think we deal with pride like our husbands might- isn’t that a guy thing? But what if our pride is just wrapped up in the linens of false humility? Our gifts are not our own, and yet we lay claim to them. Deciding how and whom we will share them with. For some of us, we go even as far as to not dare call ourselves “gifted”- if we do then we are tooting our own horn and blowing our own confetti.
However- God clearly talks about giving gifts to his children. Romans chapter 12: 6-8 speaks of specific gifting, such as serving, teaching, public speaking, contributing, giving, leading, and charity work.
The Message translation reveals Romans 12: 9-10 this way, Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
I love this illustration. Practice playing second fiddle.
We live in a culture of first place obsession. Sayings like, second place is the first loser have developed in each of us a determination to win, to be better, and ultimately to be the best at whatever hand we have been dealt. Jesus however was a master at playing second fiddle as should 'nice girls' in this culture.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
This may seem like a strange challenge for today, but it is something that I have always struggled with. People pleasing, agreeing just to be agreeable, and going along with something even if you don't believe in it- are not "nice" ways to behave. In fact, being dishonest about your convictions is simply lying.
Nice Girls Challenge Day 42: Be Righteously Offensive
The word "offensive" has such a negative connotation to it. Images of explicit graffiti, violent TV shows, and lewd photographs (Anthony Weiner anyone?) seem to shuttle across our minds. But have you ever been righteously offensive?
The word righteous is straight from the Bible and another word that we tend to shy away from- but did you know that nice girls must be offensive to those who think that behaving badly is their right? It may seem ambiguous- since your definition of right and offense may be drastically different from the girl in the next cubicle, but don't shy away from doing the right thing if you feel convicted to do so.
Someone cut in front of the woman in the wheelchair? Be an advocate for them and notify them of their mistake.
Someone is degrading your belief system? Speak up about your convictions without faltering.
Someone is cussing in front of your child? Politely ask them to be more considerate.
Now don't go all "Housewives of New Jersey" on people you don't know very well or go looking for fights to pick with randoms at the mall- this is simply a reminder to be well versed in your beliefs, speak openly about why you live your life the way you do, and remember that being nice isn't simply being a pushover- it means to stand up for what you believe in.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
This morning, I was reading Facebook feeds and I came across this post from Latashja Hanson who is an On-Air Personality for KW3 Morning Show, 97.7 KYSN Mid Days and PROMOTIONS at Cherry Creek Radio in Wenatchee, Washington. And I thought it was the perfect premise for today's challenge:
"Never hate those people who are jealous of you but respect their jealousy because they are the ones who think that you are better than them"
Nice Girls Challenge Day 40: Welcome Jealousy
This perspective is a fresh take on dealing with those in your life that just can't seem to be happy for you no matter how nice you are to them. From women who want to tear you down for the successes you have found, the relationships you are in, or simply the way you look- take it as a compliment because as Latashja posted, it is just confirmation that they think you are better than them- and if you adhere to a life dedicated towards kindness instead of hatred, you are making this world a better place than your envious counterparts.
The truth is that if there is a bitter person in your life, don't allow them to steal your joy. Jealousy doesn't have to be a negative thing, if we just change the way respond to it.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Today's guest blogger is an amazing woman and friend that has some very sound advice for the 9-5 nice girl. A southern belle without the saccharine-sweetness (she'll never talk behind your back and "bless your heart" in public), Laura Bliss Morris is a strong minded, inspirational, and successful corporate queen who has an amazing design sensibility and a solid work ethic. Aside from her career clout, she also fosters dogs in her spare time with Agape Animal Rescue www.agaperescue.org and could have her own show on HGTV with some of her home renovation ideas.
This the girl you want to learn lessons from, have a glass of wine with, or simply read a few paragraphs from- so I encourage you to take Laura's challenge, its a GREAT one!
Nice Girls Challenge Day 40: Climb the Corporate Ladder Without Clawing Your Way to the Top
I must admit when Megan asked me if I’d do a guest post on rules for nice girls in the workplace, I was flattered.
Megan and I first met a few years ago when we worked together as literary publicists. Since then we’veboth moved on to other careers, major life changes and different states but we’ve remained strongfriends. I attribute the bond we formed as friends to the strong foundation we first built as co-workers.
For many women, the workplace can be like high school all over again. Cliques pop up, gossip runs rampant, and everything is laced with an air of competitiveness. But what makes the workplace so much more devious, is that the stakes are higher. You aren’t competing for vice president of the senior class, you’re competing for vice president, senior partner, manager, or any other upper level position that will not only make you the envy of all your “friends” but pay you more money, give you better perks, and so on.
This can be a slippery slope. Trust me I know. A few years ago, as a mid- twenty-something trying tomake it in a new city, I went from an entry level position to manager of the department in the matterof a few months. At the time, all I saw was the title and pay upgrade. I didn’t take a realistic look back to say, “HEY! This is a great thing but are you ready for this? Do you know the industry well enough? Do you have a big long list of contacts?” instead I just went with it.
I’m a quick learner and for what I lacked in experience, I made up for in dedication to learning the things I didn’t know. But as the first-time manager of a department of three, ambitious and competitive women—this added a whole new layer and I knew I had my work cut out for me. Playing nice wasn’t always the easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do for the company (and my sanity). In the end, we all made it through—some of us with stronger bonds than others but at the end of the day I’d say we could all enjoy a nice long chat and a cold cocktail should our paths cross again.
Here are some tried and true rules to help Nice Girls climb their way to the top:
1. Gossip Girls:
There’s a reason that show’s for high schoolers: As the clock drags on and you’re stuck between lunch and punching the clock, it’s easy to get caught up dishing about the what-if’s and the hushed whispering of who did what but gossip is a very nasty thing. Just because you interpret something one way doesn’t mean that’s the correct context. Your incorrect interpretation could be damaging not only to your co-worker but your future as well. As my mother always says, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
2. Look the Part:
This isn’t a critique about your fashion sense—rather more about your fashion IQ. Animals survive and thrive in the wild because they camouflage themselves. If you want your nice girl persona to be taken seriously, now is not the time to go all ‘Sex & The City’ if you work at a conservative law firm. Expression is a big part of who we are so stifling our fashion creativity isn’t what I’m recommending. Simply become aware of your surroundings and learn to camouflage without sacrificing who you are. A crisp, clean black suite with a rockin’ pair of pink heels or other standout accessory is a great way to get the best of both worlds. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb but you also don’t want to blend in to the background. Using fashion to get noticed the right way takes some practice but trust me that micro mini is going to do about as much for your career as braces did for your first kiss.
3. Kitty’s Got Claws:
Competition can make us do crazy things. As a former collegiate athlete, the greatest thing I’ve learned about competition is to ALWAYS respect your opponent. You don’t have to like, approve or replicate everything your co-workers do but you should always respect them as co-workers. You’re not a teenager anymore and this isn’t your mom telling you that you can’t go to the prom. This is your peer—someone who doesn’t have to love you because you’re their kid. If you break out those cat claws and draw first blood, you can kiss your nice girl reputation goodbye. The gossip mills will be running at full steam and those cliques will be un-cliquing you post-haste.
4. Passing Notes:
Listen, if you don’t want the teacher to read to the class about your new obsession with Tommy or how you can’t stand the captain of the cheerleading squad, don’t write it in the note that you just passed to your bestie! Same thing goes for work e-mail. Come on ladies, how many times have we written something only to then accidentally forward it on to someone who wasn’t supposed to see it—a client who is driving you particularly crazy, a co-worker who is wearing an outfit that’s well—interesting, or a boss you caught picking his nose. E-mail has made modern day business communication a breeze but when used incorrectly it can also be a dangerous tool. So keep it classy. If you aren’t comfortable saying it out loud to a co-worker, maybe you shouldn’t be saying it at all.
5. The Corner Office:
Regardless of who sits in the corner office, we all want to be there at some point in our lives. If you’re new to a company take some time to get settled in and absorb the corporate environment before you start speaking up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong, outspoken woman myself—just ask Megan, my husband or even my boss—but I’ve learned to bury my feet in the sand before the tide comes rushing in. The best way to get to the corner office one day is to become invested in the company. How does this make you a nice girl? Well it means that you’re learning your role, your place in the company and then you can recognize your niche—the place where your talents fit in—without stepping on your co-workers on the way to the top.
All in all, climbing the corporate ladder without clawing your way to the top and remaining a nice girl in the corporate world isn’t easy. Whether you’re just starting your first big job or are a veteran employee,I hope these simple tips help you continue the good fight. Cheers to the nice girls, who make going to work every day a pleasure!
Laura Bliss Morris is a senior, public relations practitioner for a Nashville-based non-profit. After years of competing at cut-throat for-profit corporations, she recently retracted her claws and returned to her first love—the non-profit sector. An avid DIY’er, she can often be found up to her elbows in a home renovation project with her husband and two dogs. To read more from Laura visit her blog: Bungalow Bliss
Monday, May 16, 2011
A quick departure from my normal Nice Girls Challenge I wanted to post a little celebratory shimmy- as my mother-in-law and I are featured on the home page of The Today Show!
A bricks-and-mortar pitch that I formulated myself was able to land me an interview with a Today Show correspondent. This just goes to show that no matter what it is you want, if you believe in yourself enough and treat others with mutual respect and love- great things can happen. They plugged my author website and also shed some much needed light on healthy female relationships- especially when it comes to our mother-in-laws.
Contention isn't cute, so let your blood mother or mother-in-law know how much you appreciate them everyday.
To read the complete story: The Today Show Story Featuring "Bitch? Please!"
Friday, May 13, 2011
GUEST BLOG Nice Girls Challenge Day 39: Hand Out "Happy-Hearted Fits of Smiling" with Reckless Abandon
Today's guest blogger is an amazing woman or tryst and trade. Having lived in New York City for several years, Corinne Kalasky worked as an associate publicist for Harper Collins and also worked as an international rights associate for Thomas Nelson. Working with some of the most renowned authors like Star Jones, Nina Garcia, and Marilu Henner she has had her fair share of having to work with high-powered women.
Aside from her stellar resume, she is also the funniest, most laid back lady I know. With an amazing literary sense, she just may be the next big thing so keep your eye out for her soon-to-be blog. She can make even the biggest of B's laugh her pants off. Without further ado, try your hand at her challenge of the day!
Corinne's Thought of the day: Someone once told me about an idea for a children’s book called “Nice is Nice,” which I recall thinking at the time was one of the best titles – not to mention concepts -- I’d ever heard. I also recall thinking that an adult companion volume was at least as necessary, given that simple expressions of thoughtfulness seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird these days. I think we have the increasingly frenetic pace of modern life to blame. Now that everything’s become digitized, we can be everywhere and standing in one place at the same time, but sometimes I think that that convenience has come with a pretty steep price tag; we’ve forgotten how much the little things mean.
I’m one of those people who live by the maxim that little things mean a lot. And by a lot, I mean everything. It’s borderline ridiculous how thrilled I get when I receive a card from a faraway friend letting me know that they’re thinking of me, or a phone call right out of the blue from someone I haven’t talked to in months.
Thoughtful text messages, even, are enough to send me into fits of happy-hearted smiling for entire afternoons, not to mention emails or ecards or any number of YouTube videos featuring animals playing instruments. All these actions, most of which take no longer than a few minutes, make me happy because they let me know that I am loved. That somewhere out there, some friend of mine took a few minutes out of her day to do something that she knew would make me smile.
Today, steal a few minutes from your day for the express purpose of making someone else smile. Send a card, send an email, send a text. Just let someone know that you’re thinking of them. Sometimes clichés exist for a reason. The smallest things make the biggest difference.
Photo Courtesy of Simply GEO
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Thought of the day: OK, so you may be wondering what "taking your time" has to do with empowering nice girls everywhere- well it has a lot to do with it. From exercising patience in the drive-thru, to letting someone cut in on you in bad traffic, time seems to be one major reason that so many of us treat others poorly. Thoughts like these run through our minds:
"I don't have the time to listen to your problems."
"I don't have the time to donate my time to your cause."
"I don't have the time to help you fix your broken sink." (Ok, no amount of time could ever help me fix someone's sink- but you get the idea)
I challenge you to take the time you have and give it away. Believe me, I know this is a tough one. With a young son, a part-time job, dinners to make and errands to run, I understand that getting time to yourself is a luxury. But even if you just commit one Saturday a month to doing something for someone else, I think you may find that your nice girl muscles are only as big as your heart is.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 37: Start a Fan Club (For Yourself!)
Thought of the Day: Blame it on my perfectionism, my sad taste in music (Tori Amos and Jeff Buckley), or my failed attempts at managing expectations to thwart disappointment, but I constantly find myself second guessing my efforts. Whether the issue is my parenting, writing, exercising, or even dinner choices, there are negative voices in my head telling me that my black bean soup is lousy or that I shouldn't be feeding my son spinach that isn't picked from my own backyard.
These voices are not the ones that I enroll in my fan club. Yes, that's right I have a fan club for myself- that only elite members can be a part of. My members so far? Positivity, Pat-on-the-back, and Forgiveness for Failing.
Creating a mental fan club for yourself and only allowing the voices of encouragement and inspiration to feed your passion for life is a wonderful way to keep your "nice girl" niceness protected and fueled. There is a lot to get down about, so dedicate yourself to starting up your own fan club and enrolling members of your personality that won't kick you when your down.
No need to print t-shirts. That's a little much.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 35: Walk Between Raindrops
Thought of the day: Years ago, a young man told me that I walked between raindrops. It may have been the most flattering thing I had ever heard. He basically told me that I had such an honest outlook on life that even the rainiest of days couldn't get me wet. Since, I live in the Northwest I've had to withstand a lot of rain- however this is a saying that can apply to anyone, anywhere. Walking between raindrops is a mentality. It is a commitment to being optimistic even on the darkest of days. Don't get me wrong, there are times, weeks, days and even months to grieve, work through your emotions and deal with the fire fall that life sometimes gives, but for those day to day moments, nice girls commit themselves to looking for the good. Not letting the voice of insecurity and anger rule them, and instead focus on harnessing the optimistic side of themselves whenever the weather may call for a little rain.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Thought of the day: One of my favorite quotes is from an obscure Keanu Reeves movie back in 2001. If you blinked you may have missed, Hard Ball, a film about a coach teaching inner city kids how to play baseball and of course, teaching the odd life lesson- but there is one scene in that move that I think of often.
He has gathered the kids together and gives this speech, "I want you guys to take a good look at yourselves and feel proud. We made it here. We're here. What I've learned from you is that really one of the most important things in life is showing up. I'm blown away by your ability to show up..."
It is one of the those things that you don't ever read in a 10-step program, but nice girls everywhere understand the importance of "showing up". Showing up can seem so small. A girlfriend is having a hard time at work, so you show up with her favorite shake. Your grandmother is grieving the loss of her husband and your grandpa and so you show up everyday for a month to bring her flowers, or just to have tea.
Showing up unexpectedly, showing up as promised, or showing up when you didn't think you had the time or energy to do so- those 3 scenarios are true tests of your character. So the next time you are vegging out in front of the TV but know you should be out there "showing up" for someone, made the extra effort to go out of your way.
If you keep missing opportunities to help, love or support others, pretty soon there won't be much of a life or friends to show up for.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I am fortunate enough to have another guest blogger for today's challenge! Australian born writer living in China with her fiance, Jen Saunders founded My Smiling Heart and is a writer committed to spreading happiness. However, it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies for Jen at first. After moving across the world to Northern China for an English teaching position, she was unfairly fired and had her passports withheld until the Chinese policed helped her retrieve them. Shortly after that, she became so sick that she was bed ridden for a month.
It was during this time that Jen made a conscious decision to look on the bright side of things. She chose to dedicate herself and her writing to being happy and searching out and focusing on those things that made her so. She started her blog, My Smiling Heart, and has been sharing her smile ever since.
As poetic as she is poignant, here is Jen's challenge for you today:
Nice Girls Challenge Day 34: Fall in Love With Yourself
Love yourself so much that all you ever want to do is follow your heart. Love yourself so much that you are so overflowing with love that it spills onto others. Love yourself so much that the words and opinions of others fade into the background.
Embrace your whole self, the light and the dark, just as you embrace the day and the night, the sun and the moon. Our light helps us shine, and our dark helps us grow.
By recognising and celebrating your own light, your own magnificent power, and by nurturing and accepting your own darkness, you become more attuned to what you really want in life, your purpose is clearer, and you will have the courage you need to create your own path in life.
Loving yourself isn’t the same as being conceited. People who truly love themselves do not put others down or spread negativity. Putting others down is a sign of weakness, not strength. People who truly love themselves and believe in their own power are known to lift others up, not push them down.
Make loving yourself your top priority, and everything else will fall into place.
Blog: My Smiling Heart http://jensmilingheart.
Twitter: @smiling_heart http://twitter.com/#!/smiling_
Monday, April 25, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 33: Treasure the Little Things in Order to Appreciate the Bigger Things
Thought of the Day: I just moved into a new house. Prior to that I had been living in a studio above my parents garage with my infant son and my husband. Having recently moved and had a baby, our new life had become quite different than what it was just mere months ago when we both worked full time and had loads of free time and date nights.
For the last 10 months of my life, I was living in a constant state of perpetual humbling. Granted, I was blessed to have parents that so graciously gave us a place to stay, but I felt like I had a big sticker on my forehead whenever I went anywhere that said, "homeless in Seattle". This is a total "Americanism"- where we think we have to have certain things to be successful. For me, I had serious house envy. I just wanted a place to call my own and a nursery for my son.
And now that I have those things, I realize that the time I had to spend in a state of limbo, where I wasn't certain what our future held or when we would finally have some semblance of a schedule and security, I learned that you don't need those things to be successful- and instead it is the lack of material things that enable us to treasure what we do have If you are "going without" (which is a term I use loosely, since no one in our country is truly without)- look for the opportunity to be humbled and for the beauty in the simple things.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 32: Lose Yourself
Thought of the Day:It is important to look out for number one sometimes. If you are walking in a dark alley, see a car about to swerve in your lane, or are being harassed at work- those are perfect examples of needing to put your foot down, and put yourself and those needs first.
However, far too often we take too much liberty in the name of self. In a world that advertises about all the things we "deserve" its easy to forget how much we already have. So today try to lose yourself for the sake of someone else. Let someone else go first in the grocery line. Let someone in front of you in bad traffic (even if you are running late), or simply let someone else talk about themselves without interjecting a tidbit about you.
This simple act of denying yourself privileges, is a single step towards embracing everyone around you and the important role that each of us play in this crazy world.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 31: Invest in Others
Thought of the Day: Whether in business or friendships it is important to invest in others without expecting to get anything back. There are women out there that believe in the beauty of their dreams and see the importance in partnering with those who have like dreams and goals. All nice girls should see the value of other women's gifts and abilities.
My book launch is happening in a week and a half, and I can not say enough about these amazing "glambitious" entrepreneurs that donated their awesome and unique items to the 40 swag bags that will be given to "first comers" at my Seattle B&N book launch. Here is a shout out to all of the amazing women and companies who have supported the Nice Girls Rule Movement one product at a time!
Thank you so very much!
Hangers Couture | http://www.hangerscouture.com/
Sensible Source | www.sensiblesource.com
Queen Latifah/ LSZ Communications
Poetic Soul Gifts | www.poeticsoulgifts.com
Two Poodle Press | www.etsy.com/shop/
Toni Love Hair Cleansing System www.tonilove.com
Musselman’s Online Publishing | www.wedding-favor-bookmarks.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 30: Don't Be a "Half-Way Hattie"
Thought of the Day: Today's challenge marks the half-way point in the Nice Girls Rule 60-Day Challenge, so to stay in step with our half point, I wanted to challenge you to do everything to completion. This is a tough one for those of us who don't have a lot of time or get easily distracted. Far too often, we set out to do something only to leave it half-way done.
To finish what you start is not only a good way to conduct business it is always an important step in validating your character. If we want to be a force in our world for the better than we must take on projects until completion.
For example, when I was in the studio recording One More Broken String, there were many times that I wanted to quit. I was tired, couldn't get into the groove, and quite frankly was sick of messing up. However, with a few attitude adjustments and a couple more glasses of hot tea I pushed through until completion and now have a collection of songs that have completely encapsulated that time in my life.
Don't walk away from something- whether a relationship, a job, or a dream in the middle of pursuing it. Half way is not a destination.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I am happy to say that today's nice girl challenge is offered by the founder of IWantHerJob.com, Brianne Burrowes. Her website is dedicated to encouraging women to chase after their dream job and not settle for less than that. Her writing has appeared in Seventeen and CosmoGIRL, and now on Nice Girls Rule. Welcome Brianne- this challenge is a great one!
Nice Girls Challenge Day 29: Remember the Art of a “Thank You”
Thought of the day: I can’t tell you how many times someone has surprised me with an unexpected “thank you.” In fact, I’m happy to share that it happens quite often. Yes, I’m incredibly blessed to have the people that I do in my life, but that feeling of appreciation never goes unnoticed.
Lately I’ve had a friend say “thank you” for staying at my house by buying me something I’ve wanted since, get this, high school! I’ve had a girl I met at an event introduce me to her boss for a feature on my website, I Want Her Job. And I’ve even received a gorgeous Papyrus card in the mail from my friend “just because.”
Whenever someone does something nice for me it makes me feel so appreciated that I want to do three more nice things for others (and one nice thing for that person) to keep spreading the love. And I’ve found so much joy in this, that I want you to give it a try.
So today, I urge you to thank three people. It doesn’t have to be something big or extraordinary. A thoughtful card, $7 hydrangeas from Trader Joe’s or a nice comment on Facebook will suffice. But no matter what you do, make sure you tell someone how much you appreciate them.
Photo Credit: Flickr
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thought of the Day: Everything is so easy these days. With the touch of the button we can send an entire letter, take a job, or make a lunch date. In our cars we can dictate climate control, by simply turning a dial or turning on our heated seats. In an era of convenience, it is good practice to go out of your way to do something for someone else.
Far too often, I find myself planning on doing something nice for someone if it doesn't require too much of me. "I have to drive all the way to where?" "But that's during rush hour!", "Gas is ridiculous right now." And while these are all very valid points, exercise your "not about me" muscle and go out of your way to bring a coffee to a new mom, help someone paint their bedroom, or just grab a drink with a friend who needs you when all you really want to do is go home and relax.
These little things aren't convenient, but you're investing in relationships when it matters most and those who you share your life with won't forget you going the extra mile. Besides when it comes to life, the important things are never easy to do.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 27: Be a "Mary" in a "Martha" World
Thought of the day: It's an ancient parallel, one taken from the Bible, but it has massive modern day application. In the story, Martha is whipping up a last minute meal for Jesus who stopped by unannounced, and while she is slaving away in the kitchen Mary is just sitting on the floor visiting with Jesus.
I don't know about you, but in my family if you just sit on your butt while everyone else helps that's considered rude. But Jesus, one of the only perfect human beings that ever existed, said Mary had chosen the better way to occupy her time. Wait a minute...the lazy girl who didn 't lift a finger to help was being admonished by Jesus? The message is this: far too often we lose ourselves in busyness.
We do too much. We work too hard, and we miss the opportunity to enjoy each other. If you are the type to want to serve up the perfect party and be the ideal hostess, but you miss the jokes in the living room or are absent when your friend's begin telling you of their struggles in their marriage or the loss of their home, you aren't really present at all.
In a world, where we are constantly distracted by email alerts, texts, and social networking, it is becoming an even bigger and more essential necessity to turn off the world and leave your "duties" for a moment to engage with one another.
We have lost a sense of community because we are busy. Don't let busyness rob you of the beauty of investing in relationships.
Photo Credit: Corona, Stock.xchng
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Thought of the day: The original meaning of this phrase remains uncertain, however in the 1785 edition of The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Francis Grose defines it like this, "To mind one's P's and Q's; to be attentive to the main chance."
So how does this apply to you? Well in today's age, when someone says this phrase it is usually referring to minding your manners. And while I am an advocate for manners in a time where it seems they are quickly becoming extinct, I also think that Mr. Grose's estimation of the phrase is profound.
"To be attentive to the main chance"
Far too often, we forget that minding our p's and q's goes much farther than being polite, it is also a way of showing respect to the people we share our lives with. Respecting people, whether we like them or not, should be a rule we abide by. If we don't, the "main chance"- this life we have been given- will be spent chasing after our own desires without regard for those we meet along the way.
So today, I urge you to mind your p's and q's and to be attentive to the way you treat everyone in your life from the barista to your boyfriend.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 25: Be "let-down"able
Thought of the day: O.k., so maybe I made this term up, but it's something that I have learned through a lifetime of dealing with the normal highs and lows that occur when you're human. I am sure we have all had "one of those days", where nothing seems to go right.
We sleep in, we get bad news, we lock ourselves out, we run out of gas, we lost the job, we didn't get the job, we were forgotten, we were singled out....on and on and on. Life has its own way of refining our ability to be patient and optimistic in spite of the ugly days. I tend to get easily run down when one bad day turns into several, and as a result have learned the importance of managing my expectations.
The truth is that we will be let down from time to time. The question is, can we do it gracefully? When our pride is hurt, things go awry, or our feelings are bruised, try to say a little prayer, count your blessings, or let out one big scream and move on.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 24: Let yourself off the hook
Thought of the day: Nice girls tend to be pretty hard on themselves. A lot of us can be perfectionists, or simply caught up in the comparison game. In an economy where money is hard to come by for everyone, it is a perfect time to let go off our predisposed ideas of success and invest in those things that really bring us joy.
Sign up for a free cooking class, re-purpose old furniture in your garage, paint, take some pictures of a garden, read a book, or simply enjoy the beauty of where you live. Far too often we are so busy getting somewhere that we can't enjoy where we are at.
Today, let yourself off the hook. Don't beat yourself up over your weaknesses, and instead do something (or nothing) that will make you feel stronger, more at peace, and more connected to life.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 23: Spring Clean your Credit Cards
Thought of the day: Debt is a common issue. It seems that whether you've always been good with money, or have struggled keeping the checkbook in balance, all of us owe some money to someone. Whether its a mortgage or a dress from Nordstrom's, we have to be careful when it comes to purchasing anything on a borrowed dime.
So since spring cleaning may be on your mind, why not take that motivation to your wallet? Do you really need a credit card at every retail store you shop at? How many running balances do you have? Can you pay one of them off, all of them, or cancel one that you haven't used in ages? Getting rid of those interest payments and buying things cash will not only alleviate some of that pressure surrounding your bottom line it can also help you to buy the things you need instead of want.
Today's Tip: Try out having a cash jar. Take out a certain amount of budgeted funds for coffee, shopping, groceries, etc. and limit yourself to the cash. Once it runs out, so does your spending. This is a surefire way to make sure you stay within your limits.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 22: Have a Naked "Face" Day
I love make-up. Trust me, I have been having make-over parties at my house since I was 8-years old, so this challenge isn't some kind of lose-your-sense-of-style and go Plain Jane sermon. However, it is a challenge that I think you will find empowering.
At least once a week, I will go about my day without any make up on. Since I am a SAHWM (Stay-at-home-working-mom), I understand that it may be easier for me now than when I had a 9-5, however it is still good practice. Sometimes make-up can become a mask that we rely on, and if we don't give ourselves a break every now and then from what we think is our uniform, we won't be able to truly love the skin were in.
If you don't want to go completely make-up free, try one day without heavy eye liner, dark lipstick, or eyeshadow. Being a nice girl in a world where "fake" is something to be proud of, believe in the beauty of your natural self and don't be afraid to let it shine.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 21: Listen up
Thought of the day: One of the quickest ways to identify a nice girl is by her listening skills. While there will always be those moments where you need to speak up, blow off steam, or simply let your guard down- there will always be more opportunities to listen.
When you truly tune in to someone else and their needs, you open yourself up to having a deeper more meaningful relationship with everyone you meet. The next time you set up a coffee date, take the time to truly listen to what she is saying. Being a good listener is more than being able to sit through a conversation, it means actively listening.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 20: Learn from your mistakes
Thought of the day: This one is another gut punch for those who are taking this challenge seriously. My book has subject matter in it whose sole purpose is to encourage nice girls everywhere to stay that way, and how to avoid being ensnared by the b!thch's lifestyle. This has led me into the lion's den in more ways than one.
With such moral high ground as my platform, I have been called a hypocrite a time or two. The truth about being a nice girl in a world where mean is queen, is that we won't always get it right. We will say hurtful things, we will do the opposite of what we want to do, and we may even wear the "B" hat for a short time. Thus is the cycle of life.
Things aren't easy, and all we can do is wake up in the morning and recommit to trying to get it right. If you are a nice girl and have been called a hypocrite by a B, consider the fact that you are still in the process of becoming a better person. Like I say in my book, being human means that we are all made with a faulty wiring system- so allow yourself to make mistakes, just be sure you learn from them. And never let a B tell you that you are not a nice girl because you are not perfect.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 18 & 19: Take Criticism Well and Be Productive with Your Response
Thoughts of the day:
Today's challenge is two fold, and may take more than a couple of days to implement. In my world, reviews are a part of life. My husband and I just had a conversation about how I don't handle criticism very well- some nice girls handle it much better than I! But, the truth is that constructive criticism is essential to becoming a better writer, worker, friend, and overall person.
First challenge: look for the constructive in the criticism - no matter the source there can always be found a little nugget of self-actualization that you can take away to learn and grow from. Focus on that nugget.
Second challenge: Be productive with criticism. Sometimes honesty can be hurtful, because it strikes a raw nerve within ourselves. But if we are truly honest, we should be able to admit that humility also means that we are teachable- and if you spend your life being open to learning new things and stretching yourself to be better, you will succeed at whatever you are brave enough to try.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 17: Do Your Job Well
Thought of the day: This may seem like an obvious one, but lately I have been dealing with some people who could stand to learn a thing or two about today's challenge (myself included).
No matter if you are working your dream job or dreaming about it at your current job, nice girls need to commit to doing their jobs well-- no matter if they love it or not. When I used to answer phones, I made sure I never let the phone ring more than once, took extremely detailed messages, made sure the message was delivered at the earliest possible time, and then made sure the question was answered in a timely fashion.
Is answering phones hard to do? Uh, no.
Is taking messages a complicated process? Nope.
Is it a humbling profession? Uh, yes.
Even though I knew I was capable of more, I gave all I could, so that some day my efforts would pay off. And they did!
If you are at a job that doesn't challenge you, then challenge yourself. Even if you are gifted in other areas, take whatever corner of the world you find yourself in and make it a better position than when you started there. Whether a CEO or a janitor, take pride in your work.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 16: Get a worthy role model
Thought of the day: Far too many nice girls pine for lifestyle's of the rich and famous. With role models in the media like Kim Kardashian- who has sold her identity like a bumper sticker for another fragrance deal or vows to never pose nude again before taking off her clothes yet again for another photo shoot (o.k., so I did see that episode. I'm guilty too of being sucked into reality TV- I call it "research") it can be hard to decipher between worthy role models in reality and fiction in our own lives.
Today's challenge is to look for some worthy role models- and since reality TV isn't offering us any healthy alternatives, why not look to some of literature's most famous "nice girls"? Read my top 10 list on Vampires and Tofu and Divine Caroline!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 15: Clean out your complaint cache
Thought of the day: O.k., so I am writing this one, because I need to hear it. I have been finding myself complaining a lot lately and it is beginning to bug the nice girl inside of me that keeps reminding me that I am practicing big "B" behavior.
So here it goes. What do we really have to complain about?
It is an overdrawn comparison between our lives and third world countries, or the homeless, or the sick and dying- but sometimes we have to make such drastic side-by-side parallels in order to truly see how blessed we are.
I am a new mom and have discovered a little flaw in my personality (o.k., so maybe it is a gaping hole! ha), but I am constantly frustrated. If it isn't that the car won't start, its that the baby is crying and the dishwasher broke. Or that my bank account is looking lean, while I really want to order that adorable hand-knit scarf off Etsy. Let's do a quick break-down of my list of "frustrations".
In all reality- I am lucky I even have a car. I am blessed that I can afford to drive that car and pay for gas. I am lucky that I was able to have a son and that he is healthy and happy and the light of my life. And a dishwasher? I spent my entire college career in a house without one and it was awful. I am so blessed that I have a bank account that is never in the red, even if we get close. I honestly have nothing to complain about!
Cleaning out your complaint cache can reveal that the little things you fume about are really nothing but hot air.
Challenge: Make a little list of your current frustrations and spend some time thinking about how the simple fact that you have those problems makes you a very rich person.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Nice Girls Challenge Day 14: Forgive debts
Thought of the day: Today's challenge isn't an easy one, but it is a lesson we all need to learn.
Over the weekend, Camille a long time friend of mine, told me this ridiculous story about an acquaintance of hers. Camille went to this girl's house for dinner and over casual conversation remembered that she owed her a few dollars. Camille said, "Oh, and I know I still owe you a few dollars. I will be sure to bring in $5 to work, to give you to you on Monday." Instead, of this acquaintance saying, "Great, thank you." She instead said, "Actually, I've done the math. And since I've known you, you owe me a total of $35.25."
Ladies! This is a rule that I have always lived by. If you loan anyone money- a nickel to a fortune- DO NOT EXPECT TO GET IT BACK. If someone, returns your money than that is an added bonus- but when it comes to friend's borrowing money, if you begin to stew over the sum you've lent, you are setting yourself up for a bestie break up.
Give with a joyful heart, and only give what you can afford to not get back.