Dealing With Disappointment in Elections and Life

I was determined last night to not watch the election returns. To be honest…I didn’t want to know! It wasn’t that I was invested in any candidate or was apathetic. Mostly, I just wanted to relish the fact that we could get back to normal conversation, interesting and fun tweets and facebook posts. Let’s face it, the things that bring us together are far more fun and interesting than political banter or differing philosophies! I’d much rather read jokes, see cute pictures or well just about anything other than divisive rhetoric.

However, how did I spend my evening last night? Incessantly refreshing my twitter and impatiently searching for the election results even as my ‘planned distraction’ – – television, played on in the background.

Have you ever seen an accident happening?

You want to look away.

You don’t want to know what happens.

Yet, you are drawn to it and can’t help but watch.

That is how I felt last night!

Please don’t misconstrue, I’m not saying the election was a train wreck. What I am saying is that the feeling of wanting to turn away yet being unable to stop myself was the same.

This morning I have again watched my social media sites with a mix of horror and fascination. The cries and lamentations of those who were not victorious interspersed with the taunts of those who were.

Watching the process has made me think about ways we deal with life’s disappointments. And sadly, there are far too many in most of our lives. From job disappoints to family; from economic to social disappointment; from being disappointed with yourself to being disappointed in others.

Helen Keller said “We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.”

Here are my three four steps for dealing with post-election disappointment (and other of life’s disappointments):

1.  ACCEPT: I get it we all want to rail against the machine! We want to buy “I didn’t vote for __________” bumper-stickers and refuse to be an active participant. But the reality is that this action does nothing for your mental health. The healthier approach is to accept the situation and if possible find the commonalty and move forward.

2.  PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE: My friend Tony Mellencamp won his bid for Adams County Council last night, but as you’ll read in this article his win is but a footnote to his life. He almost lost his wife on the day of the primary. His wife Kaye shouldn’t be here (according to the experts)…..perspective!

It is easy with any disappointment to feel so overwhelmed that it seems as if the world might end. Yet, the reality is nothing is permanent. The sun will come out again.

3.  GET BUSY: The longer you dwell on the disappointment the larger it seems. Get your hands working and your mind engaged. I recommend doing something for someone else…you really will feel better!

4. BE THANKFUL: The majority of the world doesn’t have the ability to go and vote. (I don’t feel the need to expound on this, but if you feel the need leave me a comment or offer to buy me coffee).

Whether your candidate won or lost last night, I still think you are awesome!

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You Have More Time than You Think

I want to write today about time management. Mostly because I suck at it! I spin my wheels; I spend my day daydreaming and pontificating and then complain that ‘I JUST DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME’! This morning, I decided I needed real world solutions to my real world problem.

Let me begin by saying, I like to think I know a lot about time management (I also believe that about exercise and diet) and I just don’t put what I know into practice. However, you and I both know that a guy who knew how to cure cancer but never shared it would just be some unknown smuck. An expert that can not put the knowledge to practical use isn’t really an expert (maybe that’s just my opinion).

My biggest complaint about time is that I have little free time. However, after putting into practice, what I consider my best way for understanding my time and how I spend my time:

I take a sheet of paper. I draw in seven days. I divide each day in to 24 hour increments. I color code blocks of daily activities (sleep, exercise, eating, work, repetitive leisure activities, etc) then I look at the time left (the white space). I then spend real time pondering the white space and how I want that time to be spent.

I have come to realize I have plenty of free time; I just am choosing to spend the time in ways that are less than satisfying.

As is my practice when I begin to write on a topic I do a little internet research. Today my research revealed a book I am very interested to read: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think(affiliate link). Every review says the book is chock-full of good tips and tricks for accomplishing more every day and therefore every week. I did read criticism that the author suggests delegating and outsourcing many regular tasks (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc) and we all can’t afford to pay to have those takes performed for us; but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve actually read the book. (You can read an excerpt here).

I realize I am rambling a bit, and I apologize, but here’s my point:

You have more free time than you think – the real question is how do you spend it?

  • Are you watching NCIS (or fill in the blank for whatever show is your time waster) reruns?
  • Are you playing on Facebook (or twitter)?
  • Are you pretending to work?
  • Are you doing something you really want to do?

Try for this week to actually track your hours for a full week.

It won’t be easy.

You may become disgusted with yourself (and how much time you are losing to frivolous and inane activities) – I fully expect I will. But just like in business, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

It is time for me to measure and manage my time – what about you?

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The Most Effective Yes is NO

This morning I noticed that my blotter paper was beginning to look ragged. Over the years I have used many different types of blotters, some have calendars, some have cute pictures, and this one is plain paper. I use it to write myself notes. I use it to doodle. But the most important thing I do is write my words of encouragement.

Out with the old blotter paper

For 2012, I deviated from my usual three words to only choose one word – YES!

I have been pleased with the places YES has taken me in 2013 – ziplining, competitive dining, concerts, woodworking, parties, shooting range, and most recently marathon training <eeek>. The list is far too long to share here of all the things YES has made (allowed) me do! There is not one I regret giving up laying on the couch for (except maybe marathon training <grin>).

As I was replacing my blotter with a nice new clean sheet, and writing YES! In large letters on the new one, I began to think of the opposite side of yes – NO. I occurred to me that saying no is just as important to my successful yes campaign as saying yes.

Effectively saying no is difficult. Especially when you know you have the ability and possibly even the desire. You, nor I, can be all things to all people. Like a lot of people I struggle with being overextended. I see things that I want to do. I belong to organizations where I want to give more.

We must be ever mindful of the finite amount of time available to us.

That annoying law of nature that makes time a fixed amount each day will not allow us to do all the things we want to do. It is a constant struggle for me. When the civic organizations I belong to say they need something I know I can do well, it is hard for me to not say yes. When my church needs people to do things I know I would enjoy it is hard for me to not say yes. When I am asked to participate in an event, it is hard for me to not say yes.

So how do we cope with the ever-increasing demands on our time?

First, accept the fact that you can’t do it all. WOW, is that hard for me!

Second, know what you really want to do with your life and time.

And lastly, develop strategies for saying no.

Here is a excerpt from a great article I found ‘Five Ways to Say ‘No’ Effectively

It may surprise you to learn that the most frequently used and most ineffective way to say “no” is to declare, “I don’t have time to get involved.” Nobody cares if you don’t have time because they don’t have time either. So what happens? You allow yourself to be persuaded (out of guilt) to accept the assignment. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s more than one way to say “no” effectively. The next time Tom Jones, chair of the “Run for Healthy Hearts,” asks you to “just show up for a few short meetings,” take advantage of one of the following techniques to protect your time and still preserve the relationship.

The pleasant no

“Tom, the run sounds a lot more fun than what I’m going to be doing at that time, but I’m going to have to say ‘no.’ Thanks.” Said sincerely, this response upholds the value of the other person and the request. It is a kinder, gentler no — but still a no.

The conditional no

“Tom, I can’t be at the meetings, but I’ll be glad to help set things up the night before the run and be in charge of registration the day of the event.” Often overlooked, this is one of the most versatile and valuable ways of saying no. You’ve set conditions for saying “yes” without giving up your higher priorities.

If Tom counters that he needs you to stay for the complete event and help clean up at the end of the day, be sure to weigh your priorities before reacting. Remember you are still the one in control of your response.

The sleep-on-it no

“Tom, let me think about your request.” Often a quick “yes” is a reflex reaction to feelings of guilt, fear of hurting someone or the strong desire to serve or have fun. Giving yourself time to assess your priorities ensures a sincere response on your part. To assuage the person’s legitimate fear (based on past experience with others) that you might never get back with an answer, add these words: “… and I’ll let you know by noon tomorrow, Tom, if that’s not too late for you.” If, after thinking about it, you deliver a negative reply on schedule the next day, Tom will know at least that you’ve given his request serious consideration.

The alternative-solution no

“Tom, I can’t help out with the heart run, but I know Dr. Markus will be glad to assist you.” This tells the person with the request that you value him or her and the investment of time he or she is making. It also shows your willingness to help solve the problem. Obviously, any time you volunteer someone else, you should check with that individual first.

The secret-weapon no

“Tom, I’m not able to make the heart run a priority right now.” That’s all you say. Tom will probably expect you to explain and may even say, “Well, what are you doing instead?” No explanation is needed. It’s really not anybody’s place to ask you to defend your priorities. So, if you really know what your priorities are and you want to protect them at all costs, this no is for you.

I also really enjoyed the article ‘Seven Ways to Say ‘NO’ and Keep Good Relations‘ in Psychology Today. The most effective way I have found to say yes, to thing I want to do and be, is to learn to say no to the things that distract me or take time away from my goals. What about you? Are you saying yes to things that get you closer to YOUR goal? Or are you saying yes to things that distract you from reaching your goal?

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Be kind to one another…forgiving each other…do do doodlie do

Do you ever sit in Church on Sunday and think…’WOW! Has the preacher been peaking in my windows? or is he mind-melding my thoughts?’ Yesterday was one of those days for me. If you read my blog often, you’ll know that I rarely speak on religion but this blog is burning in me. So, bear with me.

The sermon started with a cute ditty I learned in Church camp at Christian Acres a life-time ago. It’s the words to Ephesians 4:32 set to a cute tune that includes do do doodlie do (maybe you remember it too). But yesterday the words to the scripture really resonated with me: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

You see, forgiveness it NOT my strong suit!

I have been struggling to write a blog post for weeks. I have many starts – but no finished posts. Yesterday, sitting in Church I realized, I can’t write because I am angry! It is nothing specific and maybe it is just a WHOLE LOT of little things all strung together.

Yesterday Curtis (he’s the preacher) talked about anger….slow burning anger. I realized that I suffer from slow burning anger. Anger is my default emotion! I’m worried about paying my vet bill = I’m angry. I am angry some one ran-over my cat and killed her = I’m angry. My business was approved into Whole Foods and I must figure out bar coding and potentially large scale sales = I’m angry. I just passed the 15th anniversary of my daddy dying in a car wreck = I’m angry.

I don’t often use the word angry (although I do on occasion). However, the word “irritated’ is often on my lips. For variety I may change it to exasperated, annoyed, peeved, bothered or aggravated. When what I really mean is I AM ANGRY!

At the root of anger is self-doubt little things don’t throw you into a rage unless you’re feeling helpless, harried, overextended, or otherwise victimized—says Steven Stosny, PhD, a Maryland anger specialist who has treated more than 6,000 people and written  You Don’t Have to Take it Anymore (affiliate link). I believe this is true for me.  It’s the small things that may cause an erupt but it is the feelings of being helpless, harried, or overextended that are the root of my anger.

One key to letting the anger go is to practice forgiveness. I wrote about this back in January in my post Forgiveness is not an Occasional Act. True forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when it comes to forgiving yourself! If you are like me, you remember all the hurtful things you said. You dwell on your shortcomings (real or perceived) and you hold a lifetime of missteps against yourself. You coddle them and cherish them until they have taken over and your self doubt is all you have left and then you are angry. Angry for what you should have done but didn’t. Angry for what you did but shouldn’t. Angry for the words you wish you had forced your mouth to express but waited a day too long. Angry for the words you wish you could suck back into your mouth and stop from passing your lips.

Start now, work on forgiving yourself!

Also decide today to start living more in the moment. Stop wishing you could change the past and start living right now. Here are 8 tips to get you started. I’d also love to hear things that have worked for you or about how these tips or ideas may resonate with you or maybe you just want to say ‘Hi Gayle’ (just leave me a comment).

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You are NOT the Energizer Bunny

I read a blog post a few days ago that was extolling the virtues of taking time off! The concept is not news to me, just as I am sure it’s not news to you. While I believe it is important to carve out time to take several days off in a row because of the therapeutic value of truly being away; it is also beneficial to take a few hours off.

If your life is starting to feel like a treadmill, it’s time to hit the stop button. When you’re in the thick of things, it’s hard to get much perspective.

It is an idea I want to embrace, but in reality have a hard time accomplishing! In my case, because I work on Saturday, I really only get Sunday off and a good portion of that day (in my life) is already planned. Over the years, I have tried many things to take time off. A couple of years ago, I went to see a movie every Tuesday afternoon. It was fun. It was time off. But prior to that year, I had seen 3 movies in a theater in 10 years and it didn’t fit with what I would do if I just had a day off and it really does not allow me time to just think (something I enjoy and need).

However busy you are, you can find time for yourself – even if you have to start with just a few minutes each day, or an hour or two every week.

Me on the beach

Yesterday I took a couple of hours to enjoy the place where I live (AKA the beach). There is something very therapeutic about sitting and watching the waves. It is definitely healing to walk along the shore. It was a perfect day also! The surf was relatively calm. The stretch where I sat was not over populated. The temperature was not too hot or too cold. The wind was neither too strong nor too light. The sun was shinning and there were but a few white puff clouds.

You NEED Space

We all need time to recharge our batteries! I enjoy time to sit and contemplate the world around me. It is often during these times when I am able to reach a decision or when I have a major revelation. If you, like me, are engaged in any creative activity – writing, designing, running a business – then down-time is vital to not only your business but your success. You need to be able to get away from the constant activity in order to do your best work. Yesterday offered me neither great revelations, nor grand eye-opening experiences. However, I did enjoy the quiet contemplation of things I already knew.

It is hard to look at a long to-do list and decide, yes, it is a decision to go do nothing for a few hours!

I think that is why going to see a movie once a week was something I could stick to doing. I wasn’t doing nothing! I wasn’t wasting time! However, it did not have the same rejuvenating impact. This year I am trying to remember that while all time off is beneficial, the quality of the time off matters.

Here are a few suggestions for getting a few hours of quiet contemplation:

~ Go out to a coffee shop on your own for a couple of hours;

~ Take a long walk on the beach or in the countryside if you’re landlocked;

~ Get lost in a bookstore;

~ Go for a drive in the country;

~ Find a shade tree and sit.

I would love to hear your ideas for a place / way to steal away for a few hours of quiet. Leave me ideas in the comments.

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Social Media – You get out of it what You put into it

If you are a regular reader, or even just taken a casual glance at my blog, you know I rarely write about business. Not because I am not interested or because I don’t think about it or even because I have nothing to say. I rarely write about business because, well, it is just not as much fun. I would much rather write about how to be happy, or living positive, or even my adventures and photographs. However, there are occasions when I feel the need to share. This is one of those times.

photo via SEO Web Services

Last night I was invited to be a part of a panel discussion. The topic was tips to help small businesses succeed. The first speaker ran long so in order to allow for the question and answer time I cut my comments. I basically relayed the story from my January of 2010 blog post entitled ‘When Social Media Doesn’t Work – How to Avoid the Agony of Defeat”. The long and the short of the story is that I joined a gym and saw no results because I didn’t really go to the gym and workout. I related it to Social Media and how people claim it doesn’t work but really they have joined but don’t participate. They lose interest and say it doesn’t work when really they never did the work to make it work.

At the end of the session one of the panelists (a business coach) turned to me and said: ‘You know I used to encourage social media, I hit it hard, and it didn’t work. If I can’t do it no one can.’


I just nodded and wandered away. But the message he was sending was clear – he had missed my point completely! He had joined the craze but failed to do the work necessary to see results. Then claimed the process did not work! Just to be fair I took the time to look at his Facebook page; since April of last year he has posted nine times – YUP, NINE! I looked at his twitter and since June 2011 he has tweeted ZERO times! I am getting a clear picture of why social media doesn’t work for him.

I’m not here to harp on an old story, but if you want to lose weight by joining a gym you must go and workout. If you want to learn to play the piano, you must practice and if you want social media to work for you, you must participate.

Social Media isn’t magic – it is work! But the return on investments are high, if you put in the time and effort!

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