Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cancer in the Rearview Mirror

Recently someone  commented on a blog on optimism I wrote in April 2014,
What struck me as a re-read my blog post is that I had no idea my life was about to change in a big way--just a few weeks later, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Talk about putting optimism to the test.

My blog post today is a link to my essay about Cancer in the Rearview Mirror, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I hope you'll follow the link and let me know your thoughts.

Friday, October 16, 2015


While cleaning out a file drawer, I found an assessment from when I worked full-time. Unlike a typical performance evaluation, this was a “360” where you get feedback from colleagues at different levels—your boss, peers, people you manage or mentor.  
At first, I didn’t want to look at it because I remember being disappointed in the results.
I looked at it anyway. To my surprise, my performance was rated in “excellent shape.”
So why had “excellent shape” disappointed me?
In a few areas, one or two people disagreed with the majority—16 people said I was a very good or excellent listener, encouraging and sensitive to others’ needs, fair and consistent.
Two said I was not.
Because Excellent isn’t Perfect, my over-active perfectionist gene zeroed-in on the negative feedback and the positive got blotted out.
Does that ever happen to you?
Like many things in life, perfectionism in moderation can be beneficial. It helps me to set high standards, reach for goals, and be true to my values.
What’s not beneficial is perfectionism on steroids that obsesses about the expectations of others and fixates on failings and mistakes. I've worked on modulating hyper-active perfectionism most of my adult life.
It helps me to refocus on Progress not Perfection. Today, I know I’m making progress and growing, because I look at that old “360” and instead of the negative it's the positive that stands out.  
So what do you think, is Progress not Perfection what hope and growth are all about?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Are You Living Your Life on Purpose?

Are you living your life on purpose?

I was twenty-something when my career in Human Resources started—around that same time I began saying I wanted to write a book.
By my mid-thirties, I already knew there were parts of Human Resources work I loved and parts I didn’t love at all. My job required both parts, and I did them because that’s what you do when you have a family, mortgage, other bills, and want to get ahead and climb the corporate ladder. 
I didn't realize back then that in the midst of that juggling act, I had already started taking steps towards living my life on purpose.
To progress in my, I needed a Master’s degree. As an H. R. Executive, the logical degree was a Master’s in Business Administration. MBA meant statistics, accounting, and finance, the parts of H.R. I didn’t love. I wanted to excel in coaching, counselling, and training—the work I found most meaningful. In spite of colleagues telling me the “wrong” degree might derail my career, I followed my heart—and my purpose—and earned my Masters in Health Education and Employee Counseling.
Shortly after, I accepted an HR Executive position that meant moving from Philly to the Jersey Shore. Living “down the shore” had been one of my dreams since I was twenty-something. Achieving that dream when we moved to Cape May reminded me I had been carrying another dream around since my twenties—the dream about writing a book.
I joined my first creative writing group. At my second meeting, I read three hand-scribbled pages that had taken hours to write. I didn’t know it then, but those pages were the beginning of my first novel, PEACE BY PIECE.
Three scribbly pages for my book--a huge step towards life on purpose.
That writing group led to more steps—writing workshops, conferences, and eventually earning my Masters of Fine Arts/MFA in Creative Writing.
By then, I was fifty-something and determined to finally stop doing the parts of HR I didn’t love. With the support of my boss, I set a goal to not be in my job by the end of the year. Months later, I was happily coaching and training--the meaningful work that, along with writing, I know is my work life’s purpose.
So I ask again. Are you living your life on purpose?
And, just how do you discover your life’s purpose?
If you had asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said, a nurse, teacher, or librarian. I  spent my career in healthcare, teach adults, and devote a load of my time to writing and books.
My child-self was pretty close. I knew my purpose as a child. I’m betting you did too.

Want to live life on purpose? Ask yourself:

·         What have you loved since you were a child?

·         What gives you meaning and joy?

·         How can you bring more of that into your life?

Take one step in that direction, and then take another. 
With each step, you will live your life on purpose.