It's a Dogs Life

AdNet has implemented a “bring your dog to work day” that allows us to bring our dogs in occasionally on a Friday. Sometimes it can get a little chaotic at first, but once the dogs calm down there is so much laughter and joy they bring to the workday. There are so many benefits to having an animal, even though the beginning stages can be a little tough, you quickly realize how worth it these animals are. From the loyalty, to how genuinely happy they are see you walk through the door, it really makes coming home from a long day at work that much more enjoyable. I truly believe that dogs were put on this earth to provide companionship and inner healing for humans.

Most people have that undeniable bond with their dogs because they give us the unconditional love and friendship that sometimes you cannot get from humans. It really is amazing to thing how compatible humans and dogs are. Between therapy dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, and other service dogs, it is amazing to see how much both human and dog rely on each other.

Today, I am going to talk about 3 life lessons that everyone can learn from their dog:
1. Practicing Happiness: There is the common phrase “Think Happy, Be Happy”. Sometimes, when you are feeling unhappy, just changing your attitude or the thoughts in your head can do wonders. Dogs exude happiness by wagging their tails, fetch toys, and give us kisses and affection.

2. Be Proud of your Accomplishments: Dogs are constantly seeking out praise and approval from their owners. I know my dog gets so happy and proud when I give her praise that her tail is wagging so much she just exudes being proud. This practice can be tough, but it is OK to give yourself and big pat on the back from time to time. At the end of the day, if you are not proud of yourself, how can you expect anyone else to be?

3. Listen: Dogs are some of the best listeners. They may not understand exactly what we are telling them, but they always provide that patient attention. Sometimes, when people are venting or talking about something, the immediate reaction is to give them advice on what YOU think is right. While this can be beneficial, sometimes it can help even more to just listen and not give any advice at all.

Even though dogs cannot communicate with words, it is amazing that we can still share that strong bond. There is so much to take away from how dogs live their daily life. Dogs live such a simple life and with the chaotic and faced paced society we live in today, sometimes it helps to take a step back and really be present . Dogs never worry about things that have happened in the past or what is coming up in the future, and I truly believe that having your mindset and thoughts in the present goes hand and hand with the happiness we feel.

Overcoming Obstacles

This week Nyle DiMarco won the Dancing with the Stars Mirror Ball Trophy. I have been a huge fan of this show since its inception. This season the winner had one of those special somethings that guided him to victory. Nyle is deaf and has used visual cues and taps from his dancing partner to guide him through the dance routines.

Watching Nyle is like watching a professional dancer who is fully cognizant of each beat of the music. Yet, this amazing man can’t hear a thing. Nyle teaches us to dream big and to overcome obstacles when life puts them in front of you. Nyle originally wanted to be a math teacher yet with his good looks, he was pointed to America’s Top Model and became the first deaf contestant who won the season.

Nyle looked at his disadvantage as an advantage to help the deaf community. The words he used were “redemption, fearless and working hard”. This win was for the deaf community, not him. His intention is to inspire us all to take whatever disadvantage we have which sometimes can be the disadvantage called fear and work towards the goal/dream while having the fear.

I can hear 100% and I am inspired today to relook at some of the things in my life that have held me back. Sometimes that’s as simple as balancing out stress to make sure that one is grounded to allow all that is good in life to come to us. I wonder sometimes if I did something like Dancing with the Stars, what I would be like on the other side. My life would be transformed, I’m sure way beyond being a better dancer. It’s all about the journey.

Leadership is a dance that includes many components similar to an athletic competition. We need the speed to win the short race and the endurance to win the marathon that business often presents. We need to learn new steps, pivot, change routines and always give 100% of ourselves even when our bodies are worn out.

The best leaders learn how to operate at the speed of light while knowing when to be slow and steady. It’s balance yet at no turn can we ever not practice or take a day off because leadership is everywhere in life. We have to be mindful and present every day even when the fear is very much at the forefront. Just like with dancing, one must have trust in their partner to be able to move together effortlessly and as leaders, we must trust our intuition and choices so our teams can be their best and feel like they get to bring home a Mirror Ball Trophy most of the time.

Thanks, Nyle, for showing me that I can still dream big and overcome my fears.

Baby I’m a Star

A few days ago the news came over of the death of the iconic performer, Prince. He was one of my favorite performers and days later, I am still in shock of his loss. It is tragic that in 2016 so many incredible musicians have passed away so young. Many memories are evoked when a major contributor in the music industry leaves us. We can clearly recall where we were when specific albums (yes, I am dating myself) hit #1 or an event in our life where a song was part of the memory. Needless to say, Prince’s sudden death brought back many great memories of the 1980’s when he was rising in popularity.

One of my favorite songs was Baby I’m a Star which blended in after I Would Die 4 You on the Purple Rain soundtrack. At the time of its popularity, I had started a job that was the beginning of my career in recruiting. It was commission driven and one where I had to be motivated each day. Once I heard this song, it was my torch song each morning when I got behind the wheel to drive an hour to work. I would set the cassette player (yes, dating myself yet again) to replay, and for an hour, Baby I’m a Star would blast over and over again. I was young and starting out so didn’t have a lot of extra money. It was my personality and ability to influence that was going to have me be successful. As the song went “I ain’t got no money, but I’m rich in personality”. It was my mantra and definitely impacted me on my road to success.

I loved how Prince pushed the envelope with his lyrics. He was ahead of his time yet when he dropped an inappropriate word, it was alluring, not anger filled as are many of the lyrics in today’s music. Prince had people take notice to the point where his CD’s were labeled with “explicit language”. He opened the door for free expression and he was one of the most talented guitarist in the world. And his wardrobe blended both genders in a smooth way. Perhaps he was the original example of gender fluid. Prince was noted for his “swagger”. No one could imitate him because there was truly one Prince. There was really no drama about him in the newspapers, no inappropriate behaviors, no bad stuff.; just a wild showman and ultra creative artist. How refreshing!!
After his death, we now find out how generous Prince gave of his time, talent and treasures to helping the disadvantaged. He was not one for fanfare and public display of his generosity. He was a stealth behind the scenes using his influence to do good.

A short time ago when David Bowie died in January, I felt the same pang in my heart. These men expressed themselves as artists to the point where people felt uncomfortable because they were different. Yet, in the end, they helped open our minds to appreciating differences and creativity. We may not have dressed like either one of them (oh do I still love purple) but we jammed along to some of their biggest hits. And they gave so much of themselves to do good in the world.

So in honor of Prince, I am blasting Baby I’m a Star again and reminding myself that everyday I’m the star of my own destiny. Thank you Prince for nudging us to Let’s Go Crazy!!

TransGreat

Words like Transformation, Transition, Transport, Transfer are really all about some type of journey or path taken. Transgender is now a very prominent word in our language today. Yet it seems to be conjuring up fear and hate. A transgender person is also on a journey and probably the most important journey of their life to truly be who their soul is calling them to be. It’s not a choice because not honoring “the call” leaves that person much less of who they really want to be in this world. As far as I’m concerned, they are TransGreat!!!

Over the past weeks we have seen the states of Mississippi and North Carolina shun the LGBT and Transgender communities whether it’s in workplace or bathroom rights. Are they really serious that now legislation is taking up tax payers money on where someone can go to the bathroom? How have we become so insensitive and frightened? The unsettling behaviors of politicians are attempting to undo the work that was done during the 1960’s to fight for Civil Rights. I guess we have not finished doing our work because here we are again.
The commentary I am hearing is that the new laws protect people from predators coming into their bathroom. There is plenty of documented evidence about predators in the religious faiths, in youth locker rooms, Congress & Senate, and shall I continue?!!! These categories have been trusted with the care of children and women yet they use their power to violate them. That is a far more urgent issue than bathroom rights.

I have shared such rich interactions with many transgender people and my life is better for it. We are all the same and I am in awe of the trans community’s courage for taking such a stand to be who they are. And I thought my journey was a challenge; well, it’s minor.

We need to take care of each other and not follow the opinions of the fearful and ignorant. You don’t have to be an activist or advocate and you don’t have to join along in conversations that belittle other human beings. You can graciously disagree and not participate. When the fire of hate gets fueled, the flames get larger and larger. If you want to douse the flame, don’t fan it and don’t feed it. Eventually, it will go out. And in this case, it will help those of us who are fighting for LGBT rights know that we are supported by your quiet strength.

To those who are afraid of diversity, I pray that your heart will open and your fear will change to compassion.

New Beginnings

The Easter Season has always been a time of new beginnings and new life. We celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. It’s a sacred day as well as the beginning of Spring with flowers and trees budding around us eager to burst with color. As we prepare for this day with whatever tradition we practice, let’s remember all those who have lost loved ones in the Brussels attacks. It’s easy to get so caught up in getting ready for Easter that we don’t even think about what people like us are experiencing in parts of the world where war is commonplace each day.

I am visiting my mom this Easter week. We have talked about Easters from years ago and how wonderful the day was for our family. She and my grandmother cooked and baked all week, the house was blessed on Holy Saturday and we attended all the church services. I whined having to sit through such long services yet now I find any long service to be a time of mediation and prayer. How I have come full circle!!

Easter Sunday was always joyful with amazing food and lots of family around the table. No one was pressured with a work deadline and everyone was fully present. There were no cell phones causing distraction and the food was prepared with healthy ingredients and especially made with so much love. I can remember Easter night when everyone went home, we had The Ten Commandments playing on the television as my mom cleaned up. She loved this time because it was quiet and years later she said that it was her mediation and down time to take in the events of the day. Sometimes, at night you would hear one of us sneaking downstairs to dive into the left overs, especially the Icebox Cake. It was a special time; a simple time.

The Easter vacation break typically was spending a few nights at my grandparents’ house which was a time of being totally spoiled. My grandmother had Captain Crunch cereal waiting for me at the breakfast table each morning and we went into town (Cranford, NJ) to shop which usually ended with an ice cream cone. The big night was Thursday as that was my Nan’s bowling night and it was so exciting to head to Garwood Lanes. Nanny bowled well into her 80’s!! These were the simple things that made the Easter holiday really special growing up.

Today, as I reminisce with my 91-year-old mom while holding her hand, I remind myself that these simple things are treasured times. Though we can’t ever go back, we can bring these traditions to our present life and keep it simple as we embrace the season of new beginning.