By Guest Blogger Kelly Duffy

“When you go through life, so sure of where you’re headin’, and you wind up lost, it’s the best thing that could have happened”

-Brad Paisley, “Find Your Self”

You may find this odd, but I wasn’t really a Brad Paisley fan until this morning. I found myself returning from the two hour marathon that is the morning drop off ritual (the two older to one school, the little guy to pre-school) and listening to the closing credits for Pixar’s’ “Cars”. Despite the fact that I’ve seen this movie close to a thousand times the song I quoted previously really jumped out at me. As a matter of fact the lesson of the entire film hit me powerfully right between the eyes. Who among us hasn’t veered off course because of detour signs somewhere in life?

One of the things I miss the most in life (besides a firm backside and my natural hair color) is the crystal clear vision I had of what I wanted for myself in the future. I was rock steady, unshakable in my convictions.  It was almost as if it was predetermined and nothing could get in the way. There was no self doubt, I was positively fearless. I can picture that young gal with her Pollyannish bravado just waiting to jump out into the world with her equally enthusiastic friends. “Here we go!” they all shout, knowing that with hard work and determination they would all arrive at their destination.

Cut to twenty years later and take a look at how many of us stuck to the original plan. Some of us are close, several are right on the mark, and most of us aimed high but didn’t hit the target. Let me preface this by letting you know that most of the women I spoke to were very honest about what they really wanted deep in their hearts. Even if that wish were as kooky as wanting to be a fairy princess, I let them run with it. How far away from the prize did we find ourselves? Let’s see.

I landed so far away from what I originally imagined that it could be said that I’m residing in a completely different universe. The plan I deviated from was not a realistic blue print by which to live a life.  When I was four, I desperately wanted to be a “drawer.” No, not the place you fold and place your socks, but someone who draws for a living. My mother was a frustrated artist (far more naturally talented than I’ll ever be) who chose motherhood and housewife duties over pursuing any kind of dreams she may have had.  When it came time to test my meddle, I gathered my best stuff, compiled a decent portfolio and prepared to submit it to the list of art schools my teachers had given me. Aghast, my parents discouraged this avenue and begged me to reconsider a four year liberal arts university. It was an easy choice given my expertise at quitting and the powerful influence of an overbearing mom and dad.  I still draw, but not with the passion I used to have. However I’ve gained some things I never imagined would be mine, a funny creative husband, a charming but sometimes challenging old house, three delightful (sometimes) kids, and two dogs and a guinea pig that screams. I feel happy, satisfied on most days and thankful that I have a life this full.

My friend, let’s call her Vicky, lived in a number of big cites after graduating from her very high falutin’ university. It was assumed she would go on and take the world of academia by storm, but she was presented with a whole host of issues that don’t usually plague the big brains. She was pregnant by her less than worthy boyfriend of two months.  Shocked we wondered how someone this smart, who was due to go to law school right after getting her master’s degree could have let this happen? I remember saying, “wow, if this can happen to her, then there really is no hope for the rest of us shmucks.” Last week I got a hold of her and posed the same question. Were there any regrets? Was she happy with what she had made of her life? The most surprising response came out of her mouth. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing, this is how it was meant to be and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Wow.

My other friend, who we’ll call Barb, has had her future in her apparel since the first day of high school. It was going to be fashion or nothing at all. She made all the right career moves and was even able to dance around a high profile layoff and turn it around into an advantage. She never had time for a serious relationship and instead went through a series of men as quickly as she changed outfits. Later on, however she turned around and realized she was sneaking up on forty and there was no one to share all this blinding greatness with. In a year she managed to get herself fired again (sort of on purpose), dive headfirst into a relationship with a great guy, spend time enjoying herself and finally get married.  I asked her about regrets and she took a moment to think back over her life and finally said “I’m sorry we never got to start that girl band in high school”. Hmmm, okay.

So with all this hoopla over the unhappiness rates for women, I wonder to myself how many gals are satisfied with what life has handed them so far. How many obstacles and what appeared to be insurmountable road blocks have you pole vaulted right over to get and keep what you want? Life doesn’t always turn out the way you thought it would, but sometimes having poor aim isn’t such a bad thing.

Kelly Duffy

http://dufmanno.wordpress.com

Readers, tell us, did you stray from your path in life? Are you happy with how things are going? What did you learn?

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Good Morning, m’Ladies. I started writing a book a few years ago. I just found it on my computer today and thought I would share the first page with you. The issues are pertinent today, and it’s what some of you have been stuck on the fence about. I owned a good business at the time, but was deciding if I should sell it or not. Obviously you know the outcome, but here is page 1.

Just so you know, I had two titles.

“If you Can’t Take the Heat, Get out of the Kitchen”

Trading it all in for Sanity

or

Knowing when to pull the plug on your career

MY DECISION ON WHETHER TO STAY IN OR GET OUT

And while my life was just too busy at the time to complete it, I thought I’d share.

Page 1:

“So, you’ve finished years of schooling, graduated with top honors, you’re making a nice salary, you have a few beautiful kids, and things couldn’t be better… right? WRONG. You are overworked, overstressed, and are lacking some serious alone time.The “fine balance theory” of women being able to juggle a career, a home, a husband, and happiness is a very ancient concept. However, the issues arising for young working women today couldn’t be more modern.  It is virtually impossible to have a one-income household today. If you want to be able to give your children what your baby-booming parents gave you… private school, camps, cars and comforts, you’d better be working. So, going to work becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity. And I don’t mean to afford that bigger house or that fancy car… I mean diapers, formula, nursery, groceries… everyday living expenses.

So, here comes the dilemma. Unless you are a trust fund baby, or your husband is earning big dough, you are faced with what many women are faced with today….the exhaustion and stress that result from trying to achieve that fine balance. But, for some women, that struggle for balance is just too much to bear. In my case, that was just the case. It’s the cost / benefit concept for many women– by working you can afford the nicer things, but your body cannot afford the stress. So, you waver, do I give it all up, or do I hang on and hope things get better? Do I give up time with my children to be able to give them the good life, or do I settle for less knowing it brings sanity?

This book is for those female business owners or high powered career women wondering if it’s all worth it. I have documented the feelings and emotions I have been going through over the past while deciding whether or not to stay in or get out. I am hoping it might help other women realize they are not alone. Actually, when I started the book, the end was undetermined. Do I keep something going that has given me passion, self-confidence, and independence, or do I throw in the towel?….”  END OF PAGE 1.

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And so, for all you women wondering whether or not to throw in the towel on your careers, or even to quit the current job you’re in, it’s a process. Here are some deciding factors which I hope will guide you in the right direction:

1) Your job is making you sick. It’s not worth it to get physically or mentally ill over a job. If you are, you have to put your well-being first.

2) You are being marginalized at the office. Your boss has taken away responsibilities, and you are being treated like an invisible woman. You are no longer invited to meetings, and suddenly find yourself on the “outs.” If this is the case, speak to your boss first, but you may have to catch the hint and take a hike. Your work should be a place where you can grow and flourish. Not a place where your wings are being clipped.

3) You’ve outgrown your job. You may have started as a junior, but have gained all the expertise in your field, maybe more than your job requires now. You are feeling under stimulated and bored. A trip to the water machine for a quick chat is more stimulating than the work at hand. You know it’s time, baby! Be courageous. It takes a true woman to move out of a job that has caused you complacency.

4) You receive a better offer somewhere else. If you have been stuck at the same job, for the same pay for a very long time, and what seems like a great offer is blown your way, CONSIDER IT. But beware, the grass often looks greener on the other side of the fence. And only you know if that salary increase means taking on more responsiblity, which you might not be ready for right now. But, if your skills are being underappreciated where you are, it may be worth an interview.

5) Work is interfering with home life. If you are being forced to travel weeks on end. Night meetings until 10PM. Your daily lunch hour is as long as a pee break. It may be your time. Naturally, if you are single, and this feels ok, then go for it. Reach for the stars. Save up as much as you can before you settle in matrimony bliss, if that’s your long term goal. But if you’re a mom, and you’re not waking up with your kids, or tucking them in at night, it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities. Just a thought.

So, whether you’re a career woman thinking of “throwing in the towel,” as I did, or just want to change jobs, always think it through. It’s a major decision either way. Whatever you decide, I wish you happiness, peace and success in your next endeavor. And remember, a winner is always a winner. Even if it’s covered in an apron and whole wheat flour!

xoxEDxox

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It’s Saturday morning. Right now, as I’m writing, the Wii is going strong in one room, another child  is climbing on me, and my husband is calling out some order down the hallway. And guess what… I just don’t feel like it all today. I just feel like sitting on a secluded beach, aqua blue water, waves crashing, sun shining, sand and ipod, and me, lovely wonderful me, ALONE. Silencio.

Naturally, I don’t feel like this all the time, but I can be honest with you readers, I do feel like this sometimes. This feeling of needing more alone time came when I sold my business and started a new career as a “full-time mom.” That is actually why I started this blog. I know that, for me, I need something to occupy my mind beyond my children.  I need a purpose to my life beyond my wonderful family. I need to use my brain again. It was starting to go soft on me.

But all back to the point of this blog. Experts do say that for a woman to stay mentally happy and healthy, everyone needs personal time– time just for themselves. I know this. If I go too long without a girls night out, a fast getaway with my hubby, or even a long walk alone, I start to LOSE IT! I mean lose it. I do.

And I know I’m not alone, cuz many of you have written in complaining about the lack of personal time. The inability to even go to the bathroom without a little person at your feet. The laundry, the bills, your work, your children, your responsibilities… it all takes its toll, that by the time the kids finally get to bed, who even can appreciate that alone time? You just wanna kerplunk on the floor.

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In fact, in the book I mentioned a few blogs ago, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” Dr. John Gray explains the notion of men needing time in “caves” in order to relax and cope with stress. His explanation of this concept gives all your husbands, fiancés and boyfriends across the world permission to have time alone to decompress after work. Now, while I agree with Gray that men need time to decompress, my argument is that women need it too. Women need “cave” time too. Most women I know would love to hide out in a cave for “me” time, if not just for a little.

I encourage you, if you are one who is desperately craving for alone time, or even if you’re someone who might feel lonely or bored being alone, take the time! While you’re at work, go for a walk alone on your lunch time. If you’re a stay at home mom, read a book on your porch or balcony while your child naps. Turn off you cell phone. Zone out. Be alone. Close your eyes and meditate. Turn off your ringer in your bedroom. Regroup. Rejuvenate. Reenergize. It often doesn’t take much to recharge the battery during the day if you’re feeling depleted.

And ask your husbands after they have had their cave time, to let you take yours. Be it on a Saturday, like right now for me. Or on any other day. In fact, all hell is breaking loose right outside my door, but I’m off duty right now. I have my coffee, the sun is shining in my office, my cozy bathrobe is on, and I’m recharging. Come to think of it, I’m feeling better than when I started the blog entry!

So, take some “me” time when you can.  I’m telling you, you’d be surprised what a little time alone can do for your spirit.

I gotta run now ladies. I think my “me” time is officially over. My husband is calling. So are the kids.

Till next time,

xoxEDxo

ps – How do you escape for some “me” time? Can you suggest some tips for our readers?

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So, I received a call the other day to teach a weekly course (4 hours a week) on entrepreneurship and mentoring… for free.  Everything I do, by the way, be it giving sales and marketing seminars in October, to the stuff I describe below, I do it all for free. Cuz I love it.

The old me;  “Of course I’ll do it.”

The new me, “No thank you. Not right now.”

I always volunteer. I’m a serial volunteer. I do it because this community supported me many years back when I started my own business. And, I truly believe in giving back. I do. I help out whenever I can. I run to a ton of meetings. I mentor a group of individuals each month who are trying to collectively get a business off the ground. I leave my kids at supper time and homework time to do this, because I believe in charity and I love business. I mentor another woman in my community starting an online business. Besides being on the board of director’s for my son’s school, I just started the school’s marketing committee. I love this stuff. I come alive for this stuff. But, becoming a human pretzel is just not where I’m at these days. I have reached my threshold, my saturation point. And I know it. I’m starting to get short-tempered. I’m starting to lose it. We all know our breaking points, or at least we think we do. It’s that last thing we agree to take on, that is going to make us collapse like a house of cards. So, I decided my new motto is, “not right now.” And it’s a skill, I tell you. It doesn’t feel great to say no. Our egos are attached to the yes, and so saying no, and letting go is difficult. It’s definitely a process I’m getting better at.

And when I say, “no thank you right now is, ” it doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in a couple of weeks, months, or next year. It means for today. And when I keep the door open, I feel good about that. I read somewhere once that “SAYING NO TO SOMEONE, IS SAYING YES TO YOURSELF.” Just let that soak in. It’s really true. Saying no to someone else, means saying yes to yourself. It means freeing yourself up to do more of the things you love… read a book, go for a walk, take a painting class. Whatever.

As working women, as single moms, as wives, as friends, we’re asked and pulled every day in a thousand directions.”Do you think you can do my carpool?” or “Do you think you can stay late tonight at the office to get some extra filing done?” and “Do you think you can just drop off my dry cleaning?” I’m not saying we all don’t have responsibilities we are unable to escape in our daily lives. All I’m saying is, if you feel like your plate is full, it ain’t the time to pack more on it. And saying no takes practice. Saying no to friends, no to husbands, no to charities, no to someone asking you for a loan, no to a bothersome person, no to an incredible opportunity because now just may not be the ideal time for you.

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So, if you feel you’re becoming the human pretzel, just a word of advice. (Now I would like to reiterate, I am not saying you should be selfish and never help people out. However, it’s just that many of us are running around stressed out because we’re saying yes to everyone).

  • We have all been turned down in our lives. Johnny couldn’t come to our son’s birthday party, you were denied a favor, someone didn’t reciprocate your crush, it’s a part of life. So, did you die from it? Of course you survived it! Don’t assume you’re going to inflict serious harm by saying no to someone.
  • Learn to accept no from those you love as well. “No’s” are a part of everyone’s life. Take it all in stride. If you do, you’ll be more easily able to say no to others, which means YES to yourself.
  • Stop being a pleaser. Saying no without any guilt is very common, but say it when you need to say it. To your children, to your spouse, to your boyfriend, to your boss. What’s your human pretzel threshold? Are you there yet?
  • Don’t instinctively say yes. Think it out first. It’s okay to not answer on the spot. How about something like, “can I think it over and get back to you?” If anything, you sound mature, professional, and if it really ends up being no, the “no” will sound like a better no. And may I also note, you don’t have to be rude when you say no either. You should say it politely, thank you very much!
  • Saying no truly does come with confidence. The more confident you are in your abilities, the easier time you will have to say no to people. Sorry, but it’s the truth.
  • And finally, if you do say yes, and then you feel resentment, it means you SHOULD HAVE SAID NO!

So, say NO, and let it be guilt free… except in sex… I say “go for it!”

Oh ya, and by the way, I’m not a night person. So, if the new blogs are not posted at night for early morning viewing, please cut me some slack. I’m learning to say no. Postings will be every day to every second day. I’m aiming for daily! I thank you kindly for reading. I’m writing for you!

xoxEDxox