Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category


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!


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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A friend on Facebook recently posted the following image:

Although the message is humorous and one that is sure to be liberally passed around to friends, family members, and office colleagues alike, there is a lot of truth behind it.

There are people in our lives–whether intimates or casual acquaintances–who are haters. For whatever reason they choose to focus on the differences rather than the similarities. They prefer to hoard offenses, point out deficiencies, and recall failures.

Who knows why? More importantly, who cares?

There are individuals who revel in generating poison and being bossy, and no amount of your trying to clean up their outlook or reset their attitude or change their point of view is going to have lasting effect.

Good News: Your job is not to win over the haters. You are not the Jerk Whisperer.

Think about it for a second.  What are you trying to win them over to? Your point of view? Your ideas? Your ideal? And while certain things may work fabulously for you, obviously it is not the philosophy they have chosen for their own life.

Who’s to say you are exactly right and the other person is so wrong anyway? Frankly, your consistent nagging and criticizing and quarreling (trying to win them over) creates a strong argument for your being labeled a hater. >Ouch<

How about a little more kindness and flexibility in your approach? Why not give the other person the benefit of the doubt now and again?

What would happen if you would agree to disagree (without serving up a side dish of malice)? What would it take for you to find some common ground to build upon?

Remember, “the ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands” (unknown).

Whatever you are, don’t be a hater (or a jerk whisperer),


Stevens Creative Consulting

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Be fabulous and don’t let any one thing ruin your life.”
~ Kylee Halko,

Awesome advice, don’t you think?  Especially when you consider it was offered by a seven-year-old who suffers with Progeria.


Kylee with her parents and Barbara Walters.

For those who might not know, Progeria is a rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging in children. Signs include growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, generalized atherosclerosis, cardiovascular (heart) disease and stroke. Children with Progeria die of atherosclerosis (heart disease) at an average age of thirteen years.

Kylee’s life is certainly not what most of us would consider the optimal circumstances to be fabulous.  Most of us encounter far fewer obstacles and look forward to a much brighter future. Yet too often we are unable to muster the energy to be fabulous. Why is that?

How many times do we unnecessarily allow one failure, one disappointment, or one unexpected detour ruin our entire life?

Well, maybe not our entire life, but certainly affect things for far too long of a stretch. We moan and complain and exclaim to anyone who will listen how “Life’s Not Fair!”  Okay, I’ll give you that — life isn’t fair. So what?

Why do we let the negativity and stress and ugliness take control? Why do we feel compelled to become just another victim of random circumstances?

If you don’t like what you’ve been handed, why not recycle it into something else? You can if you want to — changing your present starts with changing your attitude.

How about just being fabulous regardless of the madness swirling around you?  Determine to rise above and be your very best self — in spite of what is being thrown your way, or what the future looks like, or what the doctors say. Why not embrace an attitude that is exceptionally good, marvelous, and superb? Laugh at your unfair life.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you . . . we are in charge of our attitudes.”
[Charles Swindoll].

Whatever life hands you, be fabulous in spite of it!


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The name we give something
shapes our attitude to it.
~ Katherine Patterson

My cousin (in-law) Shelly recently posted the following message on Facebook:

Group with no name is CANCELLED FOR TONIGHT.
We will reschedule for another day. Pass it on.

I was amused and intrigued.  I mean, who has a group and then not only doesn’t name it, but advertises this group is nameless?  I was hooked.

I didn’t know anything about anything that was going on, but I was curious to know when the group would be rescheduled. (And, truth be told, the more pressing priority was that I wanted to know what was up with this group!)

Well, apparently I wasn’t the only one watching the Group with No Name updates.

The following day, Shelly posted this message:

Tuesday, July 13th @

Hillbilly Slip & Slide, Barrel Bull and of course,
Julia from Germany 

That was it. No address. No idea who was invited. No explanation of who this Julia from Germany was and why she would be in attendance. Hopefully, the members knew the details, because those of us on the outside looking in didn’t have a clue.

And then, finally, someone asked the question I had been waiting on:

“Shell, what’s the group with no name?
Whatever they do sounds fun!”

Shelly graciously responded that the group consists of teens and young adults who used to be members of a particular youth group.

But that’s not the point — not even close.

In a later post, Shelly expounded on the name. “We are a lot of characters so we are not an easily defined group.”

And there you have it.

Groups with names exclude, they set apart, they symbolize something (correctly or incorrectly). They say my members are this . . . or my members are not that. Because you are like us you are welcome to join our ranks . . . or because you are different, don’t even think about it.

You’re either in or you’re out.  And it’s generally determined pretty early in the process which side of the acceptance line you land.

But a group without a label is welcoming, friendly, hospitable. You can’t automatically exclude yourself based on the group name. You don’t have to be any one particular thing to be accepted. You’re not denied because you don’t meet the criteria. You are welcome.

There will always be room for you on that barrel bull.

So, hat’s off to Shelly and the Group with No Name!  Corporate America could learn a thing or two from you:

  • Sometimes no name is the best name of all.
  • Make an effort not to exclude people.
  • Celebrate diversity.
  • Stop taking yourself so seriously — take a turn on the Hillbilly Slip & Slide every once in a while.

And, oh yeah, Julia (whoever you are) — I hope you’re having a great time in the States!

Whatever you are, have a blast!


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As I sit here writing, I, along with my fellow citizens throughout Ohio are suffering through day five of a sweltering heat wave. Record high temperatures have been documented all over the country, and the oppressive inferno has caused regular air quality alerts.

People are advised to stay indoors when possible, as day after day our meteorologists are delighted to show off the high pressure system that’s keeping us miserable.

Radio talk-show hosts are encouraging folks to call in with “heat-related stories,” and newspaper stories remind us of ways to treat a heat-related illness.

Our power grid is suffering under extremely high usage causing electricity outages around the country affecting thousands.

Daily life slows down a little more each day, and I’ve gained a new appreciation for the unhurried, easy pace of those who live in the Sun Belt. Let’s be frank — it’s not just hot — with 90% humidity, it’s dreadfully uncomfortable.

People are grumbly and sweaty. Tempers are short and patience has evaporated.

Unlike my husband, I’ve never been a big fan of the heat; summer is not my favorite season. (Spring & Fall vie for the top spot.) I mean, come on — in winter you can pile on an insane number of layers to keep warm and no one gives you a second glance. In summer, there are only so many pieces of clothing you can discard to keep cool before society frowns on your behavior.

Sure, I’m hot and miserable and there’s a lot to complain about.  But in the grand scheme of things, it’s really nothing but a minor inconvenience. Let’s put it in proper perspective:

Take a minute to think about the men and women protecting our freedom by serving in the Middle East.

As I enjoy an iced tea and slice of watermelon, “hot and miserable” is what our soldiers eat for breakfast.

While I relax in my kitchen, with the ceiling fan pushing a cool breeze around the room, they face upwards of 120 degrees in the desert, dressed head to toe in camo and protective gear — with not an air conditioner in sight.

As I limit my outdoor exposure, rushing from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned house, every day our soldiers lives are in danger. Separated from friends and loved ones, and the conveniences of home, they are sweaty and dirty and hot and uncomfortable for long stretches of time.

The next time you feel the need to complain about the heat this summer, I hope you will step back from the situation and think about our soldiers, and the extreme conditions they endure on our behalf . . . and say a prayer for their safety and comfort.

Whatever you are, complain less and be grateful more often.


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Just remember that you don’t have to be what they want you to be.
Muhammad Ali

Who is this “they” that keep trying to set your standards and control your behavior?

And why is it that “they” feel empowered to control your destiny?

Who is it that you’re looking toward to provide the map for your life?

Why are you waiting for them to decide?

Be courageous. Dream the dream. Take the risk. Live the life. On your terms.

But be prepared.

They have a tendency to scoff at what they don’t understand.

Mock the actions they are fearful to take.

Sabotage convictions that make them uncomfortable.

Bravely take a stand. Declare your intentions. Follow your star.

For at the end of your journey, they won’t be around to blame or congratulate — at that point you stand on your own.

As Dag Hammarskjold said, “Never for the sake of ‘peace and quiet’ deny your own experience or convictions.

Whatever you are, live your own life!


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Life is what you make it.
Always has been, always will be.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Opportunities evaporate.

Leaders are duplicitous.

“Misrepresentations” are peddled as truth.

Rumors are started.

Rights are demanded.

Relationships crumble.

Promises are broken.

Fears run rampant.

Trust is extinct.

So what?! As we’ve been told a million times — life’s not fair.

I could sit around and lament my situation, wallow in my circumstances, and play the part of a victim, or I could plan for today to be the best day of my life!

I choose “best day!”  (The better choice by far — wouldn’t you agree?)

So, for today, regardless of the insanity swirling around me . . .

I will look for love and kindness, gentleness and generosity.

I will strive to behave in a way that sows seeds of courtesy and positivity, consideration and encouragement, thoughtfulness and respect.

I will remember that I don’t know everything, all the facts aren’t in, and there are three sides to every story (yours, mine, and the truth).

I will realize  that a person, like a dog, can “bite” out of fear, and do my best to remember that sometimes it’s just your insecurities talking — your comments really don’t have anything to do with me.

I’ll be quick to include your ideas, listen, and understand your story for I do not have all the answers nor am I the final authority or judge.

I’ll encourage others to dream the dream, take the risk, and live the life — their life — and do everything within my power to help make this happen.

I will assume your intentions are good — it is just the plan that failed.

I will not let the negativity of others seep into my life and muddy up my attitude.

I will make my life today . . . and do it all again tomorrow!

Be careful how you interpret the world:
It is like that.

~Erich Heller

Whatever you are, the choice is yours!


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Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.

Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real.

It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.

~Natalie Goldberg

I once read a quote that stated “It’s the beginnings and ends of things that can be messy.”

So true!

Life doesn’t arrive in neat chapters with a well-defined beginning and conclusion.  We don’t always see the cues that signify we’re moving out of one thing and into something else.

In life, it’s often difficult to see the starting gate or hear the starter’s pistol.  And it’s just as unlikely to know exactly when you’ve crossed the finish line.  Many times, it is only when looking back through the wisdom of time that one can discern the beginning and ending of various stages of life.

One thing of which we can be certain is this:  Each day is a new beginning. You need to treat it like the incredible opportunity that it is!  Yesterday is complete, finished, done — use it as a springboard to the future today holds, not as an anchor to keep you tied to the past.

Remember today,
for it is the beginning of always.

Today marks the start of a brave new future
filled with all your dreams can hold.

Think truly to the future and make those dreams come true.
~ Unknown

Don’t think of it as crossing the finish line, think of it as starting a brand new race.

Whatever you are, you’re at the edge of the beginning!


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We had assumed or hoped for today to be so much more than yesterday. Isn’t it strange how we do nothing and expect different outcomes?”  [James I. Dyer]

Who did you think was going to arrive on a white horse, clean up the mess, and save the day?

Did you think your amazing life was going to arrive like a lottery check — with little effort?

That the “Future Fairy” was going to sneak into your room, while you were sleeping last night, and exchange your wearisome reality for something extraordinary?

That a call was coming that would change everything?

Were you hoping that a brightly-wrapped “surprise life” would be waiting at the breakfast table this morning?

Sorry to disappoint.
It doesn’t really work that way.

The days of childish fairy tales and happy endings and magical powers are behind us.  We are no longer banished to our castles, pretending to be powerless, forced to await rescue.

We are in control of us . . . our today . . . our tomorrows . . . our destiny.

We decide the action to take, the road to travel, the adventures to chase, the monsters to chase down.

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence.
Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear.
Perhaps the action you take will be successful,
perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow.
But any action is better than no action at all.”
[Norman Vincent Peale]

When the ugly dragons arrive unexpectedly, with smoke bellowing and eyes glaring, we can allow fear and insecurity and the unknown to paralyze us, or we can march confidently out to engage the adversary in battle.

It’s a mistake to wait until you feel strong, powerful, and courageous to take action.  If you do, you’ll be waiting for a long time. As Mack R. Douglas correctly observed, “Courage follows action.”

Hope for your tomorrow springs from the action you take today. Stop hiding out, wishing for a better tomorrow.

Get up off the sofa. Step out of the routine. Fight some dragons. Make the call. Ask the question. Ask again. Plant some seeds. Show some kindness. Take action. Be courageous!

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask.
Everything you want also wants you.
But you have to take action to get it.”
[Jack Canfield]

Whatever you are, it’s time for action!


~ This is a repeat performance of a favorite post originally written September 17, 2009. I know I could use another “shot in the attitude” and thought you might, too!

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The Beginning is often the end.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.

~ T. S. Eliot

We are in the season of endings.

Winter has ended. School years are ending. And with June being the month of weddings, many single lives are ending.  And those are just the big things.

You’re probably dealing with other endings in your own life. Perhaps a job is ending or a relationship (as you know it) is ending.  A project may be coming to a conclusion. Hopefully, the rainy days of spring are ending soon.

It is a conflicted time of sadness for what we’re losing and joy as we anticipate what the future holds for us — or at least it should be.

To the pessimist it is The End. To the optimist it is The Beginning.  Same event — two different view points.

As Jim Rohn asks, why is it that the same measure affects people so differently?

It all depends on how you look at it. Our lives are mostly affected by the way we think things are. Not the way things are. The way we think they are affects us most.

Your life is like a closet filled to the brim.  If you want to add one more item, something else has got to go!  Stop thinking of the End as a loss, and instead look at is as a necessary exercise to make room for the amazing things waiting for you in your future. I guarantee your outlook will change.

“There are things that we never want to let go of,
people we never want to leave behind.
But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world,
it’s the beginning of a new life.”
~ Unknown

Whatever “End” sits on your calendar, don’t stare at it too long or you’ll miss the possibilities that are waiting your arrival. Take what you’ve learned — all the experiences and lessons —  and use them to create a fabulous new beginning for yourself.

Whatever you are, it’s time to get started — your beginning is waiting!


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