Hibernating (from the cold).....What's it good for??

As I travel on my spontaneous journey, I am eager to see the places I am visiting. I have made some sacrifices to take this journey so I want to get all the pleasure from it I can. I am currently in the city I was most looking forward to visiting, Nashville. Not only do I like warm weather, I also like live music (and yes, I'll admit it, country music).

Yet, it's currently in the teens (and for a Florida girl, that's COLD!) after a day of sleet and rain followed by a day of snow. And for my Northern friends, you know what that means...ice. The roads are icy. Many places are closed. Even if they are open, who wants to go out?
Not this warm weather girl!

So as I spend two days in hibernation, I can choose to look at the above situation and be angry and unhappy or I can choose to look at two days of being "home bound" as a blessing. I choose to look at it as a blessing.

Being in hibernation gives me time to reflect, set goals and make sure I stay on track for the ones I've already set, check some assignments off my to-do list, and most importantly, be grateful. Not having anywhere to go or a schedule to keep also gives me time to call friends and family without the pressure of being interrupted.

Practicing the art of gratitude is important. In the solitude and quiet that I am given while hibernating from the cold, I can take the time to thank my Creator for all the abundant blessings I have been given. There are blessings that are clear like our health or a special person in our lives. But, sometimes we have to look at the small blessings of the precious moments and be grateful. Moments where you watch the sunset or enjoy the smell of freshly brewed coffee or a smile as you recall a text from your friend. When you are grateful for what you already have, I believe it opens up doors to receive more. To validate this I found a book in the home where I am staying called "The Art of Gratitude"; how apropos. I am an avid reader and this book continued to remind me to see  and practice gratitude daily...for the obvious blessings and the small, momentary blessings.

In every circumstance I believe we have a choice. A choice to look at the negative and whine about it or a choice to look at the positive and give thanks. What will you do? For the second consecutive day of hibernation I will choose to give thanks!

Opportunity Knocks: Can You Hear It?

Have you ever heard opportunity knock? Are you aware it knocks in large and small ways every day?

I was banging on the door of an organization for about 6 months. Nothing happened. I couldn't even get an email returned. Although I was frustrated, I kept knocking (literally emailing and calling). Oh, and let's not forget social media; I reached out through LinkedIn to several connections. But, to no avail.

As I began what I dubbed #theSpontaneousJourney I sat in Alabama. Visiting a friend, working on my writing assignments, and just relaxing. After all, there isn't much to do as far as networking opportunities in this part of Alabama. Suddenly, I saw a post on social media for an opportunity to attend an event with this organization in Nashville. That just happened to be my next stop on #theSpontaneousJourney and I would be there at the time of this event! How fortuitous.

As I eagerly awaited the day in Nashville I made sure I cleared my calendar for the day after to follow up with any good leads. During the evening of the event, I made a few good connections.

One connection led to a meeting, a story, and then a bigger opportunity. I will be going to Costa Rica to cover a very cool story with another organization next month!

I used airbnb to travel and heard opportunity knock in small ways, too. I spent a few nights with five college students from Brazil and the UK. Two of them missed their dogs and the companionship a dog provides. Because I was traveling with my dog they had the chance to play with mine. The smile that put on their faces was priceless.

I spent the night in the home of someone that housed a foster child. She and I had several hours to talk. I was able to answer "opportunity" by feeding hope into this young life through the conversations we had. She thanked me by bringing me a homemade treat from a celebration she had with friends. That small gesture showed me I impacted her life in a small way just by being available.

Although I am back home, I wouldn't say #theSpontaneousJourney has ended yet. Opportunity knocked several times while on the road. The results of me recognizing when opportunity was knocking are still playing out.

Whether opportunity knocks in a big way such as going to another country to cover a story or in a small way such as spending a few nights in the same house with a foster child and feeding hope into their lives through conversation, opportunity knocks daily. Are you listening for it? Will you answer the door? Are you willing to take the "risk"?

Because I used airbnb to travel, I met people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. I stayed with yoga instructors, world travelers, songwriters, foster children, project managers, salespeople, and so many others. Where can you connect with so many types of people. I have stories to tell for years to come. And, I had opportunities I would never have had sitting on my couch at home.

It's worth it to take risks. Take a leap of faith and open the door to opportunity. I encourage you to recognize opportunity, answer its knock, and take your own journey. It won't look anything like mine because it's yours. Go on, answer the door. Opportunity is knocking.





Lessons in Leadership from Love

Sometimes lessons in leadership come from the most unlikely places; when you look for life's lessons, it's amazing where you will find them. I have found them in the small details, the fleeting moments, and the major life-changing transitions. As Valentine's Day approaches, I want to share some leadership lessons from a love story.

Sometimes your most intimate relationships are a mirror for the other relationships in your life. As our grandmother always told us, you become like the five people you spend most of your time with. If they are angry, you tend to be angry. If they have a positive outlook on life, you probably do, too.

There was a couple who had dated a short time. After the initial "honeymoon" phase ofdating was over, the relationship began to take a drastic turn in the conversations. Over several weeks a pattern emerged. The man was affectionate and inviting the girlfriend to meet him. Once together, the conversation turned toward criticism, anger, and their differences which he viewed with contempt. Afterwards, the texts would read like nothing was awry.

A thought resonates with me from a book I've read and re-read the past few months: your truth is NOT determined by someone else's opinion. Abuse is typically viewed in terms of domestic violence or physical abuse. However, someone that attempts to make you feel inferior is toxic (and if you let it continue, can be emotionally abusive) to you. Whether in business or personal relationships, these people should be removed from or limited in contact.

Maybe you feel this can't or doesn't happen in a business environment. Nevertheless, let me share a personal story from my career. When I worked in a commissioned environment a co-worker approached me and proceeded to berate me for approaching "her" customer. Confronting someone in business is okay, and even necessary; however, it must be done in a respectful manner. I asked my colleagues to come off the selling floor with me, and told her that anytime we had a conflict to settle it must be done in private and with respect for each other. That was the last time we had a problem. Some people just need to know that you know your worth, and that you will not allow them to diminish it.

WE determine our worth by what we are willing to accept. What do you accept at work? In your home? In your relationships? Equally important, how do you make people feel when they are around you?

You determine what you are worth by what you are willing to accept. Walk off the "clearance rack" and put yourself on the shelf where "valuables" are kept. And value others.

As we celebrate Valentine's Day, love yourself enough to evaluate your relationships, remove the toxic ones, and put yourself on the "valuables" shelf. When your truth says you are worthy, you will begin to move in the direction of your goals.