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Work smarter not harder

Year In Review and Looking to 2019

Year In Review posts are popular right now. I love reading about how others sum up their year and give serious consideration to the year ahead. I have been using The 12 Week Year for much of 2018, so I have a few “years” within 2018, each with its own successes and shortcomings. It is helpful, too, to have an overarching review of the entire 2018 year and think about how I can be better in the next year. Overall, 2018 was a mental and emotional transition year for me. Turning 50 was harder emotionally than I expected it to be. I travelled a lot this year, including a few WordCamps, visits to help my extended family in South Carolina, a trip to Japan to visit my BFF from high school, a trip to Iceland with my family at the end of the summer, and most recently a weekend in Montreal with a dear friend and Christmas in the Dominican Republic with my extended family. Lucky me! And I got a tattoo! Our whole family participated, and while it has taken some adjustment to the idea of this old lady having “ink,” I embrace it and am glad we all…

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Count your blessings

Counting Your Blessings

I have recently been reminded how lucky I am. It is pretty easy for me to say that – I have food on the table, a roof over my head, a healthy family and good friends … and many, many blessings. Yet, sometimes, I feel sorry for myself when things don’t go the way I planned, when my feelings are hurt or some obstacle seems to be in my way. It is ok to focus on our problems – however large or small – and to be sad about them. It is also possible to feel guilty about that sadness when our problems are so small compared to the “Third World Problems” or bigger issues faced by others we know and love. This begins a spiral of sadness – the original problem, combined with the sadness from judging ourselves for feeling sad! My kids like to remind me that I need to let them feel sad. Our natural instinct is to try to cheer people up when they are sad – to “look at the bright side.” This is a caring and helpful response. But it is also OK to feel sad, as long as the goal is to eventually work through…

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This is an image of a pier

Great Expectations

“You might not need eyes to see!” Last week’s episode of This American Life, entitled “Batman,” is about how expectations affect the way people live their lives. It focuses on the story of Daniel Kish, who is blind, but can navigate the world around him by clicking with his tongue, or “echolocation,” like bats do. He has, by all accounts, exceeded expectations society has of blind people, and he attributes this to the fact that his mother never set low or limited expectations for him, so he never set them for himself. Are expectations good or bad? There are lots of reasons given for not having expectations, or for not having high expectations to avoid disappointment, stress and increase happiness. Expectations can get in the way of great life experiences if we are constantly trying to “live up to” other’s expectations of us. But there is a difference between living UP to expectations and living DOWN to expectations. If we never set a high expectation, or if we are constantly reminded of low expectations others have for us, it is impossible to grow. Our culture seems to prefer HOPE over EXPECTATION. What is the difference between Expectation and Hope? “Expectation influences our behavior and attitudes. It affects how…

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Asking for Help

The sermon at church yesterday focused on the 3 Wise Men … and how even they had to ask for directions when they lost track of the North Star (insert joke about the husband not stopping to ask for directions here). Surely, if Wise Men can ask for help, we can too. Why is asking for help a hard thing to do? It may be a blow to our ego, or embarrassing to admit we don’t know everything. We may not want to impose on someone, or feel indebted to them, needing to return a favor. We may not realize we need help, or think we can solve our problem alone. Our culture promotes self-reliance. While we joke that men don’t ask for directions, women are known to avoid asking for help when they need it. Life coach M. Nora Klaver, author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need writes, “Being on the receiving end of a helping hand seems harder for women because we’re raised to be caregivers … Asking for care ourselves feels like a personal failure.” And yet, a series of studies show that people tend to underestimate how likely others are to help them in a time of…

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