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fit-just-go-run

Last year I committed to “running” a 5K in August to support the shelter that took great care of Dewey until we found each other. My sister recommended a handy little app called the C25K (Couch to 5K) which takes the would-be runner (me) through a series of 9 weeks of training — 3 days a week for 30 minutes each session. On the last day of the 9th week I was commanded to “Go Run A 5K.”

Sure. Except that I still couldn’t really “run” a 5K, but I could do much more than before starting the training. I jogged part of it and then I needed to walk a bit to catch my breath until I could jog some more. I finished my first 5K at just under 41 minutes, at age 47, and I was very proud.

This year I have committed to “running” two 5K races. One in August for the pet shelter, and one in September to support Ovarian Cancer Research as a tribute to my mother. So, I dusted off my C25K app and started again with a goal to run more than I was able to last year and finish sooner, even if only by a minute.

Let me explain something — with the exception of playing as a child, I have never run. Running is really difficult for me. I don’t look forward to it. I never participated in team sports in school. And, after a painful introduction to running last year, I discovered I can’t just hop out my front door and start running like when I was nine. NO WAY! You have to KNOW things like the correct way to run and breathe and stretch.

So, you may be asking, why run at all? I run because it’s difficult. Because when I make my body keep moving when I feel like stopping, I feel empowered.

As an adult, I’ve discovered it’s easy to create a routine that’s complacent, easy, mindless. A life where I’m not forced to eat my vegetables, observe a curfew, or step out of my comfort zone. Where I’m allowed to . . . because I want to. And in the process, I’ve become lazy.

That’s why I run . . . because it’s hard and I don’t want to. It doesn’t come naturally. Because it makes me feel alive and in control. Because when my muscles hurt and scream “NO!” my mind screams back, “Oh, YES YOU WILL!” Because when I’ve been jogging 20 minutes and sweat is pouring down my face I cheer myself on, “You can do this!” Because it’s proof I believe in my ability to overcome. Because I’m filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment when I’ve conquered the training which will enable me to finish the race. Because I will finish.

Whatever you are, reignite your passion by doing something difficult —

Deanna

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Lilly of the Valley blooms from my garden.

Lilly of the Valley blooms from my garden.

 

Last week, something happened — and I don’t even recall the events any longer — but I do remember saying to my colleague at the time, “Well, that certainly could make you feel invisible.”  And then I stopped and thought about that for a second. Feeling invisible. Like what you say or do or think or contribute is of absolutely no consequence. Meaningless. Life can go on and on and on without your leaving a mark of any significance.

When I dug a little deeper, I heard it this way: Your contribution is so meaningless, that you should stop whatever you are doing to tend to whatever I need. And, before I could allow an oversight to become an offense, I stopped and realized this is what women sign up for when they become mothers.

  • Cooking dinner? Stop it immediately to comfort a crying baby.
  • Balancing the checkbook? That can wait, a diaper needs changing.
  • Enjoying a quiet moment at the end of the day? Investigate the patter of feet in the hallway.
  • Planning for an important meeting? Reschedule because of a conflict with the recital.
  • And on, and on, and on.

In life, as in motherhood, there is always a conflict — competing priorities and limited resources. On a daily basis (and usually much more often), your influence, voice, desires, and activities take a back seat — often without acknowledgment or appreciation — to attend to the needs of another.

But make no mistake, your presence is quietly influencing, adjusting, correcting, encouraging and changing the future. I was reminded of this when I stepped into my garden on Friday and was delighted with a sweet aroma. After looking around to discover the source, I found that our Lily of the Valley had come into bloom.

Their blooms are tiny in contrast to other flowers that easily catch your eye. Their white bonnets are quietly tucked away between leaves instead of loudly announcing their arrival at the top of tall stems. Basically, unless you are looking specifically for them, they are invisible. No worries — they influence not necessarily through sight, but through an amazing smell that belies their smallness.

Influence doesn’t always stir the crowd by shouting from the pulpit. Often it is the quite, unrelenting, “invisible” consistency that comes simply because you are present.

So, the next time you feel invisible, take heart in knowing that you are influencing in ways you can’t even see.

Whatever you are, don’t worry about being invisible!

Deanna

PS: A very Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who have encouraged, corrected, listened, and influenced me in ways that may have seemed invisible at the time.

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Image

 

I snapped this photo while out walking Dewey this morning. Today is the first full day of spring and Mother Nature is bursting with pride in Central Ohio.

The bright yellow blooms inspired me with their bravado. In spite of being surrounded by dead leaves, sad-looking grass, and reminders of our long cruel winter, they just did their thing. Blooming where they were planted, without a thought to what their friends and neighbors were doing.

They didn’t ask permission to take action or require the leaves to blow away before making an appearance. The flowers weren’t waiting on someone or something else or for the conditions to be perfect.

I like that tenacity. It gives new meaning to the well-worn adage “Bloom where you’re planted.” Don’t miss the window of opportunity to fulfill your destiny. Regardless of what it looks like in your corner of the neighborhood, stick your neck out and bloom like it’s nobody’s business.

Whatever you are, be a good one —

Deanna

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I tore a page from a Town & Country magazine a few weeks back and I’ve been carrying it around with me ever since.

It wasn’t colorful or clever or cute. It was a simple one-page ad, on a mostly white background, for Outward Bound. I can’t help but wonder how many times I’ve overlooked it in previous issues as I hurriedly flipped from one slick photo to the next interesting article, approving and disapproving of people I don’t know and lifestyles I can’t fathom.

But this time the message beckoned to me like a whisper of encouragement. And as I’ve reread it during the past few weeks, the hint of a suggestion has transformed into a shout of declaration:

A Farewell to CAN’T

This goodbye does not make me sad. I will not miss you.

I have discovered what it feels like to do the unthinkable.

The hard. The long. The challenging.

You have no business here anymore.

From now on, difficult will seem doable.

I will see the impossible as simply not-yet-conquered.

Farewell, Can’t. You will haunt me never again.

Hello, Can.

Welcome to my world.

Regardless of what person or circumstance or decision you’re facing, I encourage you to say your own farewell to Can’t, and a warm welcome to Can.

As Michael Jordan said, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Whatever you are, bid farewell to Can’t,

Deanna

Stevens Creative Consulting

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Time is the longest distance between two places.”
~Tennessee Williams

Did you happen to see the story about the teacher from New Hampshire who was awarded her degree the day before she passed away?

Harriet Ames earned a two-year teaching certificate in 1931, but her ultimate goal had been to achieve a Bachelor degree.  She had been taking classes until she retired in 1971 and her health began failing. Recently, the school reviewed her coursework and determined she had enough credits to award the long-sought degree.

Ames was waiting nearly 40 years.

Think about this story for a minute.  Nothing changed during the past four decades; Ames had already fulfilled the requirements to reach her goal. With a little action and perseverance, she could have proudly displayed her framed diploma on a wall in her home.

I know a lot of people who are waiting.  They’ve done the work, made the calls, completed the course work, been patient, diligent, faithful.

Waiting to finish this season of their life.

Waiting for the next big thing.

Waiting to see if the shoe will drop.

Waiting for an answer.

Waiting for the future to come into focus.

Waiting for the check to come in, for the tide to change, the pieces to fall in place, for the opportunity to present itself.

Yes, there is a season to wait  But don’t confuse waiting for something to happen as approval to do nothing.  Waiting is not some “no man’s land.”

What are doing while you’re waiting in the “right now” — the mundane, slogging through the motions, living the day-to-day, fulfilling the obligations life of yours?

Don’t become discouraged. Don’t quit. Don’t turn around and go home.

Keep dreaming. Keep working. Keep the attitude and confidence levels high. Seek out opportunity. Stay calm. Continue to be a person of character. Help others. Remain faithful.

“None of us knows what the next change is going to be,
what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner,
waiting a few months or a few years
to change all the tenor of our lives.”
[Kathleen Norris]

Hang in there.  Be patient. You can get through this season of your life. Your today is not the final answer for your tomorrow.

Whatever you are, your future is coming!

Deanna

*Just had to share another serving of one of my favorite posts.*

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It’s not enough to rage against the lie . . .
you’ve got to replace it with the truth.”
[Bono]

Look at the person sitting across the lunch table today. If you’re in Ohio, chances are one of you didn’t vote.

In case you have missed the avalanche of political ads that have blazed across our televisions screens the last few weeks . . . or  avoided the talking heads discussing the candidates and issues and parties . . . or still think Tea Party only refers to an event in Boston Harbor we studied in History Class, today marks election day across the country.

People are angry. They’re fed up with no jobs and high taxes. A national government filled with people who pass bills without reading them and from which they, themselves, are exempt. Some constituents are even threatening to unseat the ?&*#! incumbents and put the President on a Performance Improvement Plan. We’ve drawn a line in the sand and said enough is enough.

But not everyone.

In fact, barely a majority of Ohioans are expected to put forth the effort to vote today. Only 52% of registered voters care enough about the future to take the time to do a little research about the candidates and issues, and then actually cast their ballot. Seriously?

I’m fed up with the whole ball of political whacks, too. Is one party any better than the other? Well, it depends on who you ask.  However, I’m probably speaking for a majority of citizens who are just sick and tired with the entire system and especially with the people who keep it running.

But I’m not about to let political foolishness silence my voice.

Every election is my chance to hit it out of the park by participating in one of the coolest gigs anywhere — helping choose who will hold positions of power in our government. Every time I vote I feel blessed and honored to have been born in a country where I’m given this right and allowed to safely exercise it.

In a lot of ways, though, politics is like life. How many times do we fail to take action, speak up, or do the research because we feel hopeless? We convince ourselves it’s too much energy, it doesn’t matter, things will always stay the same, what we want doesn’t count.

And in the end, what we get is a future looks surprisingly like our present, but not quite as glamorous (and usually with higher taxes).

Is that what you want?  More of the same?  Because that’s what will happen if  you are content with sitting around complaining while refusing to take action — whether in the political arena or in your own life.

Whatever you are, step up to the plate and be one of the 52% who are willing to put in the effort and make a difference.

Deanna

www.StevensCreativeConsulting.com

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I hold myself to a high standard. You have to.
You have to aim for perfection.”
~ James Laurinaitis

Except for cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team, I must admit that I’m not much of a sports fan.  So, I’m not sure what prompted me to flip through the sports section of USA Today recently.  Perhaps it was the headline that included the name “James Laurinaitis.” For those who may not know, Laurinaitis served as a team captain at OSU in 2007-2008, the seventh member of the Buckeyes to be elected captain twice in a career.

After OSU, the linebacker was drafted by the St. Louis Rams where he started all 16 games and set a franchise record for a first year player by making 146 tackles (98 unassisted), two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and breaking up seven passes. Obviously, this guy is a playmaker.

What is his secret?  It’s simple — be in the right position to make the play.  You thought it would be more than that?  Nope. That’s it.

“Laurinaitis understands the link between preparation and performance. He might not always make the play, but he is intent on being in position to make it [Pedulla].”

Laurinaitis says, ” You are going to make mistakes. That is part of the game. I was crazy out of position sometimes. It happens.”

And I started thinking how many times in my life I missed an opportunity simply because I was out of position. Maybe not in the literal sense of being on a “playing field,” but mentally I was somewhere else. I wasn’t in the moment as they like to say.

Thinking about the future, or the past, or someone or something else, but failing to recognize the great thing that was staring at me — begging me to open the door.

Or, I discounted the opportunity because it wasn’t flashy or exciting or fun or didn’t look profitable.

Or, I suffered through a difficult situation, grumbling and complaining — calling it a waste of time or a set-back, when in actuality it was a time of preparation, something to help me conquer a not-yet-revealed possibility.

I think the idea of “being in position” is about doing the work so you know what position to be in, when to be there, and how to proactively take control of events.

It’s about being prepared to turn the tables on unfortunate or unexpected situations.

Taking advantage of every encounter — whether standing in line at the grocery or standing on stage in front of a large crowd.

Putting your best foot forward and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Not letting the actions or apathy or accusations of others force you out of where you’re supposed to be.

Want to be a playmaker? Ask yourself where you are in relation to where you need to be and then get moving.  What are you waiting for?

Whatever you are, make sure you’re in the right position to make the play!

Deanna

Stevens Creative Consulting

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One thing I hate:  the overuse of the word hero.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rules, a hero is not a musician or entertainer or sports figure simply because her music is awesome or his dance moves are amazing or the score was record-breaking — those are idols.

A hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.  Think of soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, social policy game changers, and many others whose names history records but the public forgets. They are rarely promoted by glitzy ads or high-priced marketing firms. Their acts speak for themselves and validate the title of hero.  Like the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who thwarted a fourth attack targeted for the White House.

One thing I love: reading magazine interviews. It’s not necessary for me to know the person being interviewed (and often I do not). I find the simple back and forth rhythm of question and response intoxicating. Without a writer to misinterpret or mold the responses into a clever piece of prose, the simple or ranting or complicated answers provide a rare and honest look into the psyche of the interviewee.

And the more clever the question and original the response, the more enjoyable the interview.

So, it was with great delight that I came across an interview conducted by dwell magazine with Mexico-City based industrial designer Emilano Godoy, during which Godoy was asked to name his antihero.

His response?  “Lee Iacocca.”

Immediately I stopped reading.  Here was an answer I was not expecting! Twenty years later, what in the world could this Mexico-based designer still have against a former leader of the Chrysler Corporation?

I attempted to unravel the mystery. Does Godoy hate American Enterprise? Was he still holding a grudge against the uninspired design of the K-Car? (If true, who could successfully argue against his point?) Was he dumping the effects of global warming at the doorstep of the rust belt?  The explanation wasn’t that pedestrian.

I looked back at the page to find the rest of Godoy’s response, “So much talent going into the wrong industry.”

And there you have it. To Godoy his antihero was identified by an individual who was failing to fully exploit his talent.

And then I started wondering what Iacocca could have accomplished if he had attempted a different challenge. What field might he have selected, and how would history remember this man if he had?

I did some research and discovered that according to dictionary.com, an antihero is not necessarily an enemy, it is a main character who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure.  They are void of such things as nobility of mind and spirit, idealism, courage, or a life marked by action or purpose.

They may have the spotlight,
but they are not living a life fully worthy of the applause.

Perhaps fear or the expectations of others causes them to live far beneath their potential. Maybe they have tried and failed so many times, that their spirit is crippled and their courage has evaporated. Regardless of the reason, there are far too many of us living a life void of action and purpose.

We have become a society of antiheroes. This should not be. We are greater than this!

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark,
in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite,
the not-yet, the not-at-all.
Do not let the hero in your soul perish,
in lonely frustration for the life you deserved,
but have never been able to reach.
Check your road and the nature of your battle.
The world you desired can be won,
it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
~ Ayn Rand

Whatever you are, be a hero!

Deanna

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Over the weekend I was reading a Town & Country interview with Marjorie Gubelmann, founder and CEO of Vie Luxe. Over several glossy magazine pages, Gubelmann was asked dozens of questions.

Tucked near the end of amusing inquiries such as “What was, is, always will be in your handbag?” and “Were you given any great advice today?” was one that caught my attention:

“Any regrets today?”

Gubelmann’s response was a simple, “None.” Not knowing her, I wondered if hers was an honest answer. Or, being near the end of the interview, was she simply tired of answering questions. Perhaps, she does embrace life with gusto and lives without regrets. Maybe, the appointment took place on a rare day where every circumstance had been met with the right answer.  Maybe she did have regrets — she just didn’t want to share them. Who knows?

Nevertheless, I immediately asked myself the question. I had to know. Did I have any regrets today?

At the time — no regrets to report.  To be fair, it was late afternoon as I was reading the article and about five hours remained before bedtime.  So, there was still time to rack up some regrets, I guess.

Essayist Sydney Smith said, “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”

I think he’s right.

There are so many things, if I were to review my past, that I regret. I regret leaving the restaurant without approaching the soldier and telling her how much I appreciate her service. I regret putting my work before my family and missing the chance to support my loved ones. I also regret the occasions I have let pass without speaking up for what is right.

I wish I’d taken more chances, played in the rain, used all the vacation, tried the new restaurant, hiked  the overgrown trail, said, “I love you.”

It’s those missed opportunities that haunt us.  The timidity and fear which create situations where we think, “I should have said . . . I wished I’d acted . . . I can’t believe I didn’t . . .”

And all too often we look back with sadness and regret the time that was wasted and can never be reclaimed. You have the power to influence the present and affect the future, but the past has been written and no revisions are forthcoming.

I think the lesson to learn here is to take advantage of today’s opportunities today!  Even if action means making an uncomfortable decision — make it! Even if the outcome is unsure . . . who cares?

Better to live with a little fear now than a load of regrets later.

Whatever you are, live a life you are proud to own!

Deanna

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So, you think you’re safe where you are.

No risk.

No worries.

No cost.

Think again, my friend. We all know that stepping out into the unknown — the effort it takes to get from here to there — can be fraught with peril. Facing down the future can seem overwhelming and the cost can be enormous.

Don’t think, however, that simply staying put is possible without cost.

There is a price for everything.

“Here” has a price to it.

The journey has a price.

The destination has a price.

~ Delatorro McNeal II

If this is true, and I believe it is, then the question becomes:

Are your current set of circumstances
worth the price you are paying for them?

Make no mistake — it will cost you to make a change.

But you’re also paying a steep price for the life you now live.

It’s just that the costs for our current lives don’t seem as noticeable as those incurred for engaging a dream. We’re used to them. They’ve become common, ordinary, tucked into the routine of our daily lives.

But just like clockwork, the expense is deducted from our account in the form of missed friendships, overlooked opportunities, undiscovered knowledge, wasted time.

As Meister Eckhart said, “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”

It’s time to settle the accounts and reconcile the balance. Audit your decisions. Examine your circumstances. Look at your life and determine if you’re getting enough value for the cost.

Whatever you are, it’s going to cost you!

Deanna

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