September 25, 2012 in Blog, Motivation/ Go. Be. Do!

The Park Ranger pointed North, “Two miles up the path you will see the trail branch off up to The Waterfall.  The final mile up you will notice a slight increase in difficulty.”  (Slight increase was more than a slight understatement.)

After a grueling hour scrambling over rocks and roots we reach the top of The Waterfall.  And an enormous sign warning of DANGER and potential loss of life if you even CONSIDER swimming in The Waterfall.

…And two boys SWIMMING in The Waterfall!

“What was it like?” we ask as they come dripping up the path.

“COLD!” and they are off on their way.

Honestly, I don’t think I need a sign.  I am almost certain that happening upon a 125 foot waterfall on a three mile hike into the mountains, I would not even contemplate splashing around at the top of it!

I, however, may be in the minority here.  It is clear that those boys were not the first, nor will be the last, to take the Dip of Danger – There is a huge steel ladder permanently installed at the mouth of the waterfall just at the point where the pool starts it’s descent down the rocks.

Would you swim in it?

A similar question always pops into my head when I watch Project Runway.  At the end of each episode the design contestants are lined up and the judges call a small handful forward and tell them their scores have kept them safe.  They wait backstage.  The remaining contestants have the highest and lowest scores… Someone will be the Winner and someone will be Out.

Backstage you are safe but mediocre.  On-Stage you have the potential for being the winner – But equal potential of being eliminated.

Where would you rather be standing?

In a baseball game, knowing you could be The Hero and win the game – or just as easily get out and lose it all – would you attempt to Steal Home?

Taking Risks is Trickly business.  Yes, I said Trickly.  (tricky + prickly)

But Risks are the stuff that creates growth, and depth and breadth.  Risk = Life.

If you are considering taking a risk, first ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I certain it will not cause great injury to myself or others?
  2. Is there a chance I could improve my life?
  3. Is there a chance I could help my family, team, organization, etc. reach a new and better level?

Followed by this question:

4. What will happen if I choose not to take this risk?

For most people, a list of regrets contain the risks they chose to NOT take rather than those they went for.

If 1, 2 & 3 are YES – then I say TAKE THE RISK!

If you are still feeling uncertain, look at 4.  If your answer is “Nothing” – TAKE THE RISK!

Status Quo is fine for picnicking at the top of waterfalls.  But if you see an opportunity to Steal Home… Take a deep breath, focus on the plate, and run like hell!

 

September 11, 2012 in Blog, Embrace Your Dork

Walking home the first day of school, Becket stopped and slumped on the edge of the curb.  “I don’t like it here.”

*Oh, that sound you just heard like thunder ripping through the mountains during a summer storm?  Yeah, that was my heart breaking.*

As is my wont, I probed for more info.  “Lunchtime is horrible!”  This was not what I was expecting to hear, as lunch has always been one of the highlights of his day.

“There are so many people, but I am all alone.”  After asking a few veteran moms for the down-low, I discovered that all the kids pile into the large echo-y auditorium and are allowed to sit with whomever they choose.

Before at lunch, his small class sat round a table in their room together and chatted about Pokemon and ice cream flavors, then excused themselves to go climb a tree in the forest playground outside the door.  I can see him standing wide-eyed  in the doorway of this new lunchroom shrill with shrieks and squeals, as his classmates jostle past him to meet up with their besties from other classrooms.  The tables fill and he ends up sitting utterly alone.

For the first time ever, his lunch came home unfinished.

When it comes to meeting new people, Becket is exactly like me; outwardly confident / paralyzingly shy at the core.

Two days later I couldn’t take it anymore.  I asked in the office to have someone look out for him (As I am not allowed to join my son for lunch at school.  Not.  Allowed.   But that is another story.)  They were very kind and promised to assign him buddies for a few days and make things better.  And things did get a bit better.  A shrug, “A girl asked me to sit with her today.  It was ok.”

Then yesterday it happened.  The storm broke.  A beaming smile, “Mama!  Mama!  Gideon and Daniel ASKED ME to sit with them at lunch today!!!”  (loosely translated he just won the  Mini-Cooper in the Cherry Festival raffle.)  His lunchbox came home empty.  Two seven year-old boys will never know the power they had to light up my son’s life.

You HAVE that power.  Do you know it?

Professionally:  If you have a business, organization or group that occasionally has newcomers – Plan for it.  Make it a serious part of your system to assign a “lunchroom buddy” to each new person, and make them feel like a VIP rather than a stranger.  That one simple step can change the entire future of your relationship.  What an enormous difference that small act of kindness would have made to Becket.  And to me.

Personally:  The next time you are in a large group situation where you feel uncomfortable, insecure, and shy (although no one is paying me one jot of attention, I still feel like I am standing in the middle of the room,  naked and covered in day-glo body paint… is it just me?)  Look around.  Among the cliques of people chatting comfortably and catching up with one another, I’m pretty certain there is someone else who feels exactly like you.  Assign YOURSELF “lunchroom buddy.”   Walk over to THAT person and say, “Hi, I’m new.  Nice lunchbox.”

 

September 3, 2012 in Blog, Motivation/ Go. Be. Do!

After several months of intense denial, several weeks of sorting, culling and packing, and several days of actually “doing the thing” – I can say, officially, that Becket and I have relocated to Millburn, New Jersey.

We have spent the past two weeks settling-in and sight-seeing.  We are tourists in our new town, and thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of having a look around.

Tomorrow we become “locals.”  Tomorrow is the first day of school.  Tomorrow it is FOR REAL.  Tomorrow I may puke from the ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.

Fall is my favorite season, hands down.  In large part, BECAUSE of “The First Day of School!”  I was one of those annoying nerdettes who could not WAIT for school to start, and prepped my first week “wardrobe” weeks in advance.  Back-to-School  always feels full of potential, full of promise, full of “the best is yet to come!”   Yet, today, the simple question of “what to wear” tomorrow has me full of angst.

I should point out that tomorrow is not even MY first day of school.  Becket seems fine… more than fine… he is downright blasé about it all.  When I displayed the piles (and piles) of required school supplies, I had color coordinated and labeled with his name and subject (see “nerdette” above) he was all “Ok, thanks.  Can we play Beyblades now?”   He DIDN’T EVEN LOOK at them

Becket WILL be fine.  And so will I.

But at this moment, today… thinking about that moment, tomorrow… I am as close to running away back home as I have ever been.  Back to familiar and family and friends and a school we love and nary a thought in the world about what the hell I am GOING TO WEAR.

I am physically ill with worry and I wanted to share that, because I know I am not alone.  I know many of you will be walking through strange new doors.  Maybe it is a small person entering a new school or team or club – or maybe it is a big person summoning courage to answer that knock of opportunity that just happens to be tapping on a door far far away from where you are right now.

All I can say for us both… for us all… is, open the door.  Get some sleep if you can.  Load up your supplies.  Wear black.  Breathe deep, swallow hard.  Open the door.

See you on the other side.

 

May 10, 2012 in Blog, Career

We stood on the corner of 53rd and Columbus, after a super swell summer night of inner-city rambling.  “Ok, well…  Night!” Ross tossed me his Leading Man grin and turned to head back to his Hell’s Kitchen apartment.

“Night then.”  I said through a tight “everything-is-just-fine” grin.  I turned north toward my studio shoebox on the Upper West Side.

Ross and I had been dating about a year.  He was the lead actor in a big musical that was touring the country.  When he was in town we would have a great time walking for hours though Central Park or some new un-explored neighborhood – each excursion ending with our continued search for the city’s best margarita.   It was light and fun.

And arbitrary.

I wanted more.  Not more time, more connection.  After several attempts at expressing my needs, I still felt less a partner and more a neighbor’s Labrador Pup.

On this night, at this street corner I was hit with a miraculous moment of clarity and realization.  “Hey!”  I called to his retreating back.   He turned.  I let all pretense drop, and said evenly, “You are not really. totally. crazy for me.  are you?”

I could have remained silent and spent many more months playing out scenarios in my mind that usually involved me fictitiously playing his leading lady in the RomCom called “Life.”  Instead, I had thrown my question over the edge and stood waiting for the sound of the lonely “plink” as the pebble of truth hit cool hard reality below.

In an act that I (now) view as transcendent benevolence, he let out a big sigh, flashed that smile and said simply, “No.  I guess.  Not really.”

“Oh.”

“Ok.  So.  I guess we’re done then?”  I wouldn’t have believed this was coming out of my mouth if you had played me the YouTube of it happening.  Two people, three sidewalk squares apart, mercifully and mutually and excruciatingly euthanizing “Us”, amid the rushing rapids of people, and taxis, and taxis, and taxis.

Recently, as I was interviewing service providers for the many facets of professional expertise I need as I develop my Motivational Speaking Business, It struck me…  That moment of time spent a decade and a half ago was a powerful step in my evaluation process.

Some businesses treat me like they are happy to spend a few moments with me, if it means a sale, but it seems clear they will be off singing and dancing elsewhere as soon as I sign on.

Others truly take the time to discover what I am all about, and how we can best work together.  They connect with me.  These are also usually the folks who offer a few ideas or insights “just because” without ever charging me.  They seem to understand that loyalty and commitment to me means loyalty and commitment for them.

That connection is what I want to spend my pennies on.

Which kinds of business partners do you have?

Which kind of business partner are you?

 

March 21, 2012 in Blog, Embrace Your Dork

The entire arena is filled with throbbing dance music and cheering dancing people, wearing costumes and waving streamers.  The rise and fall of the chants and fight songs is reminiscent of a High School Friday football game against archrivals.

However, this event is louder, more colorful, brighter, sparkly-er somehow, and pulsing with actual brilliance. This is the State Robotics Championships – and the competition is fierce.

Becket is swept up in the swells of excitement and joy, and jumps with glee when “his” team (The Raptors) take the field.  All the members of each team are decked out in matching T-Shirts, beads, buttons, funny hats, hair dye, face paint, crowns, and even a few capes.  The more outrageous the outfit the more confident the wearer.

I could not help but think of David and Tim.  The two smartest and most dorky of the Dorks in my high school.  I was one of the lucky few who managed to mix and mingle with all the facets of my class, and when I hung out with David and Tim, I learned stuff.  Stuff like how to play Dungeons & Dragons, how to write basic code so I could get my name to blink on a computer screen, and that “intellectual humor” was only funny when you actually did your homework and knew what the joke was about – because when you say “Oh, I get it” and pathetic half-laugh, everyone knows you have no idea.  And David and Tim don’t “do” sympathy – they level a hard sardonic stare.

Today, I have no doubt David and Tim are the most successful and wealthiest members of our class, and may have even invented something I use every day.  But back then, they had a social circle of two, very short pants, and no dates to Prom.

Watching the exuberance at the Robotics Competition made me feel such joy for the Uber-Smart kids of this generation.  Not only are these kids celebrated, and rewarded publicly for their brains, these kids in the T-Shirts, and Funny Hats, and Flowing Capes are COO-to-the-OOL!  They are a Tribe, they indentify with one another completely, and they share a common and concrete belief in all things Cerebrum.

And if you told any one of these kids they could trade this Robotics Event for two free tickets to Prom, complete with polyester Tux and convertible Camero?  They would tell you, “Osculate my Gluteus Maximus.”   (google it)

We live in a wonderful age where we can find the people with whom we connect and actually connect with them!

Take a look at the people you interact with every day.  Are you surrounding yourself with people who “get” you?  Are you constantly being elevated as well as challenged by your current Posse?

Figure out what you like to do; grow veggies, turn dryer lint into quilts, rescue Tsetse Flies, lay under the flight path of landing jets, whatever it is, there are others out there who enjoy the same thing – start by looking on the internet.  The relief you feel when you surround yourself with people from your Tribe will be palpable.  And that feeling will allow you to spread you own Dork wings and fly.

So the next time you find yourself feeling like a Square Peg, it might be time to look for a New Tribe, screw the Prom and get yourself a good Cape!

March 13, 2012 in Blog, Relationships

Can I ask a HUGE favor?  If we are ever out together at a Swanky Function, Networking Event or Family Reunion, could you subtly ask the person with whom we are speaking, what is THEIR NAME?

Thanks, I’ll buy you a drink.

I embarrassingly and consistently struggle to remember names.  As a Motivational Speaker, I know this is not OK, and I am working hard at fixing it.

If we met prior to 2004 or you are in my life daily, then no problem, you are most likely etched into my cerebral guestbook.  Anyone after 2004… It seems (like the cake) your names were left out in the rain and I sometimes cannot quite make them out until a few minutes later.

I keep trying to remember a traumatic incident that may have caused this phenomenon – Oh wait, Yes!  Thirty-Seven Gallons of hormone bamboozling, memory annihilating, injectible drugs.

But they did lead to the birth of ONE miracle boy – which is TOTALLY worth a few million brain cells, wouldn’t you agree?  Incidentally, as he was born AFTER 2004, even he falls victim to the name game from time to time.

I DO always remember actual PEOPLE with whom I am speaking, along with insanely intimate details down to what is their favorite beverage, the color they just painted their foyer and that they smell like a spring day at my grandparents cottage on an island in Lake Orion

Then there is this insidious little game my mind likes to play.  It remembers the first LETTER of a name!  “Well” you might muse “isn’t that better than not remembering anything at ALL?”  No.  No, dear Poppet, it is not.  Because I cling to that letter with false assurance and call them some OTHER name starting with the same letter – out loud.  This leads to knitted brows and hurt feelings and me visiting my dark place.

Names are not the only victims.  I will find myself mid-step, half-way up the stairs and say (out loud) now WHAT was I going up for?  (I remember about 70% of the time, “Oh yes, I was getting my phone charger.”)  But names are part of my business and making people feel good and welcome in my life is my passion, so it bothers me a great deal.

I suspect I may not be alone in this dilemma, and so, I try at every turn to help others who may also be struggling.  I always wear a Name-Tag if offered.  ALWAYS!  And I write my first name BIG and BOLD and I slap it directly above my right… um… pectoral muscle.  This way when I reach out to shake a hand, the natural eyesight line moves up my arm directly to my name.

If I am in a non-Name-Tag situation (Quelle Horreur) I try to strategically drop my OWN name into the conversation early on, “So I said to myself, Tami do not even think about going near that cheese tray!”    For the sake of Muddle-Heads like me, would you do the same?

While I will continually aim to improve this social deficit of mine, I keep secretly hoping that all this new Social Media and Internet Language I’m learning might kick-start the young spunky parts of my brain, like an intellectual Red Bull.

In the meantime I wanted to hear from YOU – Can you share your favorite way to remember names?

Oh, and do you have any idea where I left my phone charger?

Warmly,   Whatsername

March 10, 2012 in Blog, Motivation/ Go. Be. Do!

I just saw the lovely film “The Artist”, on the big screen of the beautifully renovated classic movie house in my town. (The State Theatre)  No spoilers, but I can safely suggest the main theme revolved around the march of time, and deciding whether or not to get in line or be left on the curb.

I felt this was such poignant metaphor for our technological world!  I mean, every time we turn around there is a new, better, faster, more sexy THING that is on the market or computer screen that we feel we must sign up for.

So my suggestion is this… sign up for it!

Yes, I know it seems it would be easier assert ourselves as Snail Mail Aficionados, unplug our screens and tuck our smart phone into the way back of the sock drawer.  (If you don’t have a smart phone yet, get one – you KNOW who you are.)   But not too terribly long ago, it also seemed easier to keep hooking up a team of horses to clip-clop your way across town.

If you are reading this, you are already using a computer and have stepped through the Door of Tomorrow, so you are well on your way.  Here is the secret to making the whole adventure a lot easier… embrace it!

For instance, get a Facebook page!  (And like it or not, expect it to change completely just when you get the hang of it.  Mandatory Timeline is coming any day now.)  This service is FREE and easy and has the power to connect you with old friends, introduce you to new ones and possibly even secure you a Dream Job or Opportunity for Adventure.  (If you just want to “lurk” awhile first, you can come to “my place” and hang out:  TamiEvans)

It is important to use virtual networking in moderation, but change is good for our brains, it can make our lives better, and Technology IS here to stay.   The sooner you jump on board the easier it will be to embrace the next waiting just around the corner.

And like the charming film I just saw – New is Now Norm and this is no time to stay silent.

My final advice:  If you are ready to participate in progress, but truly have no idea where to begin… simply locate your nearest eighth grader!

Skate: Hard Work + Dedication + Belief = Heart

March 9, 2012 in Blog, Relationships

Hockey just made me cry.                

I love this ad so much.  And whilst I was born in Hockeytown USA (Go Wings) it’s not actually the Hockey that made me cry.  I’m not endorsing anything here, but the Budweiser Ad-Folks just found a way to capture “Heart” on film.  They told two small time league teams they were going to shoot some footage of a game for a documentary – but really they bussed in 200 super fans, tricked out the arena, and made the game feel as close to the NHL as possible.

Near the end of the ad is this Guy.

Just a Canadian Guy who plays hockey every week after he finishes his job as a plumber or a teacher or an urban planner.   All things we need desperately in our lives.   None of which are celebrated outside the circles of other plumbers, teachers and planners.   Which is exactly like his hockey hobby.

Hard Work + Dedication + Belief = Heart.   One of the most valuable sums that can never be measured.

There is no room in the “Heart” equation for Celebrity.  People who truly live this equation never expect Celebrity, or they would never, ever take on the job of Plumber or Teacher or Planner… or Parent.   So when Celebrity is secretly thrust upon them…  It.  Is.  Magic.

Look at this guy’s face.  A million words.  Thousands of miles traveled on his own dime.  Hundreds of hours practicing for the sole purpose of getting better for his team.

You don’t do what you do to be a Celebrity.  You would never have embarked upon your journey if Celebrity was your goal.   But to many people, you are the Sun the Moon and the Smiling Face they look forward to every day.  And if you DO happen to be a plumber, teacher, planner or parent, or any other job that is critical to making the world a better place  – then YOU are the person who is making a difference every single day to more people than you could ever imagine.

So today I Celebrate YOU!  And I hope you know deep down you are appreciated.   This week, I will take every opportunity I can to make that clear to the People with Heart in my life.

Won’t you do the same for the people in yours?  Won’t you please spend a few minutes to let people know they are an important part of your happiness?

And if the opportunity ever presents itself, I WILL have a giant Beer Company come to my life and make a beautiful film Celebrating all of them!

Skate on.  With all your Heart!skate-hard-work-dedication-belie-780x300

February 6, 2012 in Blog, Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

I awoke this morning to a full-fledged Media Barrage…   Radio stations blasting about the current situation on the other side of the world, YouTube videos of small freakishly talented children singing Italian arias, TV commercials involving shrieking clowns and small toy unicorns, and the song “It’s gonna be a Good Life!” playing over top it all.

Here is the most worrying thing… I was in my dark bedroom with my eyes closed tight.  All of that electronic insanity was coming from INSIDE my own head!  I didn’t really realize it, however, until I wondered the time and actually looked (in my mind) the upper right hand corner of my vision, where every work-day the time digitally ticks away on my computer screen!

My eyes flung open with the realization that even whilst I sleep, I am still plugged in!

Has this happened to you?   You know that dream where you go to work and bust your butt to finish a huge project just by the hair of your chinny chin chin, then you wake yourself up, use the restroom, and when you fall back asleep the same dream starts all over again?  You are essentially working the whole time you are sleeping.

I sat up and made a conscious choice to TURN OFF THE MEDIA in my head.  I lay back down and visualized actually turning the dial all the way down on the WTAM stations and focused entirely on the image of a blue blue sky reaching down to snuggle onto the crest of a spring fresh green hill of grass, with one or two impossibly puffy clouds dancing above.  It took a considerable amount of effort, but I managed to silence the screech and relax into the stillness.

How can we possibly start our day rejuvenated if our mind has been up all night working?   This was enough to scare me cordless before bed, at least for the last hour of the day.  And I’m going to try the Sky/ Grass/ Cloud thing before I close my eyes and right when I awake.

Once I am certain that I can control the amount of electronic noise filling my mind, and be sure I am able to “unplug” for a good night sleep and a flying dream or two –  Then, and only then I may invite WTAM to play a wake-up song every once in a while.  “It’s gonna be a good life.  A good, good life!!!”

January 31, 2012 in Blog, Motivation/ Go. Be. Do!

Biology Teacher.  That is actually what I wrote on my college applications.  Biology?  Teacher?   What?

While I can’t even remember why I wrote that (ode to my cute high school physics teacher perhaps) it makes me smile, because I know the person who wrote that wanted to be a BIOLOGY TEACHER dammit!  And she is just one tiny rendition of the person I am now… of the person I will become.   Because, if I have learned anything since then, it is that I will forever be “becoming!”

Two generations ago my grandfather worked for Ford Motor Company for his entire life, and when he retired he received an actual gold watch.  My father worked for two companies, because his primary company closed its offices in the USA, and I remember it being unusual but not unheard of that he was starting anew.  Now, among my current colleagues, I know only one person who has not moved companies at least twice.  And whenever someone asks my young son “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I have to repress the urge to dance around with him in my arms singing at the top of my lungs “You can be anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant!”  (I know those are not the true words, but the soundtrack of my youth was rooted in 60’s anti-establishment music so I take liberties.)

I believe we are all on a life long journey.  Whether you collect passport stamps or never leave your zip code, you are a traveler.  We travel a little bit every day, from the beginning to the end of every day.   Some days you may not feel like you are moving at all.  Want proof? Think about the last time you reached the end of a giant box of Q-Tips, or a Value Family Pack of Charmin, or even a gallon of milk… seems like you bought it yesterday, doesn’t it?

I think the secret to getting the most out of this life, is to not be fearful of the road you are traveling, but to understand that your journey will have construction detours, potholes, and most likely a change of vehicle or two.   Embrace the idea that you are not experiencing wrong turns, you are embarking on new adventures.  And get comfortable with the idea that you are actually the one driving.

If I had to fill out those college applications today and write in what I wanted “to be,” I would believe wholeheartedly in whatever I wrote down.  When I looked at it ten or twenty years from now, I would probably smile at how differently, but no less sincerely, I felt.

The university I chose was Central Michigan University, but did not get a degree in Biology.  Or Teaching.  I chose Broadcasting, Theatre and Communications.  Then went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Wayne State University.  I did, in fact, teach at a university, but it was speech and communications, not biology.

I have also been employed as a professional actress, a voice over performer, a fashion designer, the manager of a health club, a weather girl, a newscaster, a producer, a personal assistant to Nell Carter, and the creator of a small greeting card line.  I have been a cocktail waitress, a banquet waitress, a waitress waitress and a stand in for Melanie Griffith.

The only biology I came in contact with in the many years since applying for college was learning how to track every single second of every single ovulatory cycle, and try to time every single “encounter” perfectly – then wish and hope and pray for embryonic confirmation that I had done it RIGHT!  This never did happen, which led me to the highest level of Frankinstein-ian biology, involving many needles and many doctors and a Petri dish or three.  And eventually my son.  Which changed the whole thing from biology to magic.

I digress – TMI – apologies.   Mom.

As I write this, I currently have a public speaking business where I coach people on communication, empowerment, positivity,  how to set and achieve goals, how to speak, how to listen, and how to have a heck of a lot more fun doing it all.   My clients are international executives, stay at home moms, and everyone in-between.  I am also an accidental illustrator with three published books.

But I am nowhere near done “becoming.”  I have no idea what is next.  So am I one thing? A Motivational Speaker,  Soap Opera Actress, Fashion Designer, Illustrator?  Nope, I’m just a Dork with Dreams, trying to figure out how to make the next one come true.

I challenge you to not follow the stream of pre-conceived notions about yourself (don’t Go with the Flow.)  Instead ask yourself the deep questions and listen to the answers.  You already know what those answers are, by the way, they are just buried under societal confines and cultural dogma and a giant pile of should.    The world is changing, and I believe it will be a feminine undercurrent that will be a guiding force as human connection outweighs commerce, gratitude surpasses greed, and Love trumps Lexus.

I hope I’m right.  But in order for this shift to take place, we need to allow our passions and internal instincts to guide us in directions that may feel uncomfortable or frightening at first.  Then the rest of our lives will align to follow along with the way we are leading (Flow with the Go.)

I do now believe in magic, and I believe it is on the horizon of every day.  So if you have been waiting and wishing to “become” another rendition of yourself, do not waste one more moment.

Go!  Be!  Do!

Be doo, be doo, be doo!