Sunday, December 30, 2007

It All Comes Down to Love

My excuse was the holidays. With all of the hustle bustle , I just didn’t notice. Throwing cookie parties, shopping, going to the post office, waiting for news about my sister in laws baby delivery, buying birthday gifts + tons of Christmas gifts, finding clothes for mass, seeing friends, etc.. I just didn’t notice.

“She’s just getting old”, I thought.. “it’s typical for her age.”

Whatever my excuse, I finally realized, my dog Mallory wasn’t quite right. I’ve probably known intuitively for a long time. Her breath remained bad even though she’s on a good diet, and her hind legs began to shake a few months ago. She did appear to be losing weight and her food stayed there often but she always had a ton of energy when we came home and when it was time for her daily walk.

But I should have known. She’s got a liver disease. It’s the same one her mom, brother and sister died from within the past few years. When I got her weighed at the vet, I was surprised to find out she'd lost over 10 lbs. Her long hair hid it for so long.

When I finally got the test results back, the vet told me to come right in and we’d start the IV. I dropped everything, got dressed and came in. I couldn’t even cry because she hates stress and can’t stand anyone yelling or crying. I promised I’d remain strong for her.

Friends responded quickly to my urgent plea for prayers and asking support for Mallory. We spent two days between my husband and me, at the Vet while she got the IV. She came home with us at night with it, because I didn’t think she’d make it without us. She gets terribly depressed when we’re not around.

I brought my books, my blackberry and my journal and Sway had his computer when it was his turn. But, Mallory liked it best when I sang to her and hugged her and pet her. I sang her a song I made up, “Jesus loves the little doggies”. I think she particularly liked that one. I had to continue to reassure her when she tried to pull out the IV with her teeth.

The technicians and the staff said we were troopers for camping out. But I have no idea what other people would do? Would they leave their dog there? A hospital is a lonely place. I know, I’ve stayed in one for a month when I had my baby. (Truth be known, I got a ton of work done, watched a lot of great movies and enjoyed my time there with the exception of all of the tubes and such!)

But being with Mallory, sitting, laying on a bean bag trying to get comfortable with my pinched nerve in my back, there wasn’t anywhere else that we’d rather be. Love is love. It doesn’t matter if its your dog or a baby or a friend. If you love someone, you’ll do what you can to help them feel better and survive whatever they’re doing through.

Mallory will be on her 3rd day of an IV today at home. We'll take turns. The vet is a personal friend so she'll probably come over and deliver more fluids for us. My mom came over at 5am this morning to help us change the bad but for some reason it wouldn't work.

We'll do what we can do for Mallory to make her comfortable and to give her the best chance at a good life. If it becomes unbearable for her, I'd rather have her out of her misery. I can't stand to see her suffer. I want her to have a good quality of life and not one where she's in pain. I only want the best for her because I love her.

It all comes down to love.

Mary's comment:
Sadly, Mallory died about a week after this post. Sway and I worked hard to keep her alive. We consulted with a homeopathic doctor, and our vet. We administered IV's to her for 5 days 24/7. We sat with her at the vet and at home and when she stopped eating, we syringed fed her for about a week both day and night. We were mentally and physically exhausted. When we realized that nothing was going to cure her, we decided to have her put to sleep. We did it because she no longer wanted to be around anyone and she no longer wanted to eat.

We cried and criedd and didn't tell our son for a full day so we could be more controlled. When we told him he said that his "heart was cracking." I think we all felt like that.

We will always fondly remember Mallory - "Clew Bay Key West Wind" Our darling wonderful pet and friend.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fun Christmas Activity

Do you remember how it was when we were all growing up in our neighborhoods? Remember running to each others house, or being outside and playing one of the many games like kick ball, mother may I, Red light, Green light, or pickle, with the tons of kids who lived in the neighborhood? Remember staying outside until the street lights came on and then coming in for dinner and then going right back out after dinner was over?

Times have changed of course. People say that kids are all inside watching TV and on the computers but what they forget is that the moms are having to work and can’t sit outside to make sure their kids aren’t being kidnapped or molested. We are living in a different day and time, but that doesn’t prohibit us from dreaming that our kids will somehow get to experience the fun times that we experienced when we were kids.

Well, yesterday, they did get to experience it. And what a ball it was!

I happened to make about 6 batches of sugar cookies and had a lot of cookie decorating sprinkles left over from last years TV tour. So, I called some of the parents and invited them over yesterday afternoon and spontaneously asked some of the other kids walking by if they could come over for a little cookie decorating party. By 5PM we had about 10 kids and 3 other adults. One of my gal friends brought some snacks while I provided the beer, and everyone had a great time decorating the cookies. The mounds of icing that was piled up on the cookies was a bit gross, but the kids never tired of eating the cookies, the icing and then running throughout the house and front and back yard, chasing each other and having a great time.

It was fun for all of us parents to see our kids have so much fun together. The kids were enjoying being kids and getting to have a party of their own. I kept the cookies churning out and the adults with drinks, and had lots of help from my friends who monitored the cookie decorating. We took lots of pictures and had Christmas music in the background. A perfect afternoon!

Some times, we just have to recreate what we remembered what was so fun for all of us as kids. It’s like that story of living in the dash. When a person dies, they have the years they lived from their birth date until the date that they die. In between those two dates is a dash. And it’s that dash that is the most important… how they lived every day.

Yesterday was a dream come true for me. I was able to create a day of carefree fun for my child and all of his neighborhood friends. It wasn’t packed full of activities that they had to do, nor were we running from place to place trying to fill our schedule. We had a simple day at home, with a bunch of cookies, some sprinkles and lots of kids.

I always wanted to be the fun mom when I grew up.. the one who had everyone over and had the fun house. And yesterday I was that mom. It was a perfect day of laughter and friendship and creativity. And I know we need more days just like that one.

My mind is now spinning with the possibilities with art projects, craft projects, cooking afternoons, or even having a neighborhood play. I have dozens of Halloween costumes, and I can just see it now… with all of the kids dressing up!!

The fun times.. we just have to let them happen sometimes. Give the kids some tools and let them get involved with it. These are the memories that they’ll bring into the future, and try to recreate for their children one day. And the most interesting thing, is that these memories the kids are getting, gives such satisfaction to the parents.

Time to create more memories… the bus is almost here!

The Walk

Sway and I have started a ritual that we’ve done before and now is a valued part of our day and our life. We take a morning walk.

I have to admit, this is the time of year that we’re so eternally grateful to be living in Central Florida. It’s about 65 degrees in the morning and just blue, blue skies. We take the dog and we walk about the 2 small lakes that are near our house and we run into neighbors and say hello to other couples who are taking their morning walk.

When we lived in Princeton, NJ, we’d walk along Lake Carnegie and we’d both take the time to coach one another. One would talk on the way up the lake and the other would listen and then we’d switch and let the other talk while the other coached and listened. It was so great to just process the day before and to plan the day ahead. For many years then, we walked in Central Park in NYC and now, we walk the beautiful neighborhoods in Winter Park, where we now live.

I find that in today’s world, which is so crazy busy all of the time, that it’s hard to take the time to connect with my husband. When we’re home, I’m usually doing laundry, or cleaning something or making dinner or putting Jeremy in the tub or to bed. Sway is usually doing something on the “honey do” list or at his computer, returning emails that are urgent from one of his companies. Every morning, one of us is up and at the YMCA at 5:30 to meet our work out partners, and Sunday, is really the only day we get to sleep in. We’re both working hard to maintain a balanced lifestyle, and that means that we HAD to find time to connect with one another.

The walks have now become something we both look forward to. On days that he has an early morning meeting or has to interview someone, he can’t go on the walk, but our dog Mallory is forever faithful and will start barking at me to take her. If I have an early morning client, then Mallory usually gives up and heads to the back to hang out on her favorite chair. But nothing takes the place of a walk for her. That is “it” for her.

Today we said hi to a gal who I’ve met a few times on my walks and we talked about the differences of the prep schools versus the Catholic school versus the public schools here in Winter Park. It was a great perspective that we hadn’t heard before. So, I’m guessing that on our next walk, we might discuss that as an option for our child one day. Today we discussed what to do over the holiday and who we need to buy gifts for. It is usually simple conversation, but so very important to our lives.

For those of us who work, and get those 2 minute conversations with our mate throughout the day, taking time to walk is a great addition to the day. Not only are we getting a bit more exercise than normal, but we’re connecting as friends. I’ve found that that is so important during our busy lives, which are filled with stressful moments.

Try the walk. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Family Matters

We just arrived home from a delightful absolutely perfect Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It’s been a busy month with lots of travel for work but this was all play and no work. We spent the time with my brother and his family in Easton Maryland.

It was beautiful. The first few days were warm weather and then the cold hit in the middle of the day on Thanksgiving. My family and my brothers family traveled an hour and a half to Ocean City Maryland to spend the day with my sister in law’s brother and his family. Their home is like a bed and breakfast on the water and with about 10 kids under the age of 8 running around, the day was full of activity. We had dozens of dishes to choose from along with all of the traditional holiday fare.

Just being with my brother and his family was such a great time. Each of us must have had about 5 super long, ridiculous belly laughs a day. We laughed at the stupid inside jokes that were from years past and silly things we did and said to each other that no one else in the world would get. We talked about serious things such as raising children and how to keep a marriage alive and well. We shared our opinions and our beliefs, and we tried to find solutions to any of the problems that we were facing. We shared business ideas and successes along with our failures.

We watched the kids enjoy hours upon hours of playtime together and we pulled them apart when they had melt downs. We got to go see the cousins at swim practice and run in a 5K the day after Thanksgiving. We went shopping for Black Friday at 5am at Walmart, and we fell asleep while watching silly movies in front of the TV and the warm fire. We opened presents and saw the joy that the little ones felt at their new gifts. The older kids, the teens, contained their enthusiasm, but were equally thrilled with receiving early Christmas gifts. I made sure the whole family was outfitted in Auburn University wear, and that their two teens, who are swimmers, now own Auburn Swimming wear.

Over the week, We cooked together, we laughed together, and we shared. It was a week of lots of down time, and lots of issues were discussed and solved. Together in each of our own way, we touched each others lives, hopefully for the better.

Each time we spend time with our relatives, memories are created. They’ll last a lifetime, and the discussions and decisions that are made as a result, will have life time implications.

I’m so grateful that we have a place to go where drama is nil, and the fun is a priority. It’s a blast to not have to put on airs and to talk about what really matters most in life. It’s comforting to know that if there are problems and concerns that there is a place to really talk to figure it out.

It’s important to nurture relationships like these. It’s expensive to make the effort but costly not to. These relationships make life solid and grounded. It’s family that have known you for your whole life and who know the good and the bad parts of you, and who accept you anyway. Even when there is friction, there is comfort to know that it can be gotten through without any long term damage.

Family matters; especially in this very busy life that we all lead. It’ nice to slow down and to just “be” and to be accepted and to accept others just as they are.

I’m so glad we made the investment because truly, Family does matter!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nurture Your Soul.. and Go Outside!

Yesterday, I was one with nature! And what a feeling it was.

A few weeks ago some good friends, Bruce and Ellen Fagan asked us to join them for a picnic and some horseback riding in Geneva Florida scheduled for Sat. Oct. 27. They invited another super fun couple and their kids as well, Chad and Christy Crawford. We all planned on meeting up around 1 and having a day in the sun.

Unfortunately for us, the sunny Florida day was more like a typical day in Seattle. It was rainy and cloudy and a bit chilly. Still, we got a bit of riding in after our delicious lunch of Sloppy Joes and fruit salad. Everyone got a turn in the ring with the owner Renee teaching and coaching.

The kids were walked around in a small corral and most everyone got on one docile white horse that didn't t have a lot of "kick". She was tame and sweet and it took everything for the adults to get her to get up to a trot. She was perfect for a first time rider.

(Of course, when I arrived, I had on my “Coyote Ugly” tank shirt, jeans and my cutest cowboy boots. I walked and talked like I was some sort of western wrangler and told Renee, the owner that I had ridden a lot in my life but I still needed some direction. Okay, I have to say, that I FEEL like I’m a cowgirl inside.. I KNOW I love and relate to animals and they mostly love me, and I know that I ADORE being in the wild outdoors more than anything besides being in NYC. But the REALITY is.. is that I’ve been stuck in the “BURBS” for the past 7 years and haven’t explored much of the outdoors besides my own back yard, and a few parks here and there. And, those cute cowboy boots? Well, they’re about 15 years old and look like they’re brand new. So, while I know who I am on the inside, the reality hasn’t fit that picture for many years. But, after yesterday, I’m bound and determined to get back to my true, authentic self, and get back to riding and being comfortable on a feisty horse.)

So, Renee, seeing my ol’ comfortable horsy looking self, she saddled up JACK, a beautiful chestnut horse, with the most beautiful brown eyes. I told Jack that I was just getting comfortable again and to be easy on me, but he decided to test me anyway. I did a few boring circles around the small corral and then took it out to the larger ring. That’s where we did a little trotting, some cantering..and wwwwwhhhhhhhooooooaaa…. Oh my gosh.. some very intense galloping for about 5.2 seconds before I told ol’ Jack to HOE.

Which he did. Whew. I survived that little intense gallop that Jack threw at me to test my will to stay on him while he exploded in a fast gallop underneath me.

Okay, so I was a tad bit nervous, but I also felt the saddle under my legs, and the rain pouring on my wet jeans and water rolling down my face and bare arms and I felt FREE, FREE, FREE. It was the most incredible knowing that I just have to be out with the animals. I love rubbing them down and talking with them and telling them how beautiful they are. I love looking in their eyes and seeing them talk back to me through their eyes and how they respond to me.

Then, I loved seeing my son play in the dirt with the other kids, and climb the fence to pet the horses. He loves the animals too and feels 100% comfortable in their presence. I know that I have to get him out there more, and let him roam around and feel the breeze and the dirt and what it feels like to be one with a horse when you’re riding and you move together as you roam the countryside. Ahhhh.. it’s a beautiful experience.

No wonder I always loved cowboy movies! They’re doing what I want to do!

After we all brought the horses in because of the rain, I set myself up on an old tractor acting like I owned the place. I kicked back and relaxed and looked around the barn and thought, I am at home. I love it here. This is apart of who I am, and a part of me that I want to see more of. I want to nurture that ol’ wild girl in me… the one who wants to go on trail rides and explore the earth up close. This is a part of old Florida, and not one this suburban mommy gets to explore often. It was just incredible and I expect to be there more especially since Renee has tempted me with the thought of some off country trial rides!

Renee’s place is Court Ranch in Geneva Florida, next to Sanford. It’s straight up 17-92, and then East on 46 until Cochran road. Then it’s 1 ½ miles of paved road and 1 ½ miles of a dirt road until you arrive. She boards horses and she has room for 21 horses. She’s got 10 of her own and will board more horses now that she’s sold some. She’ll take couples on romantic trail rides and entertain kids in smaller birthday parties. Her favorite is to host adults who want to get back to nature a bit and just want to be around horses. Ranches like hers always need ranch hands, so helping out is also a fun way to be around the horses.

Boarding a horse is about $500 a month and Renee says that the horses “get fed before she does”. She’s been known to stay up all night taking care of a sick horse, and she treats them just like family. Her stables are beautiful and there are incredible trails available to go out and explore. Renee, who is Kansas born and bred, is a lot of fun and was incredibly patient with each of us, even me.. as we got reacquainted with the horses. She showed me how to take off the bridle and put on the one for the stall. She was great to hang with, and I believe, is sitting on a gold mine. I’d love to share this experience with my friends.

For more information about her ranch and boarding a horse or weekend daily riding fees with Renee, contact her at (407)468-2783 or email her at She’s 560 S. Cochran Road, Geneva, FL, or “God’s country” as I call it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do One Thing Right

Yesterday I was driving in the car with my 7 year old son. These are the times when we have some of the most interesting conversations. He comes up with such richness that sometimes I am just blown away. Are all kids this smart? Where does he get this stuff? Are kids naturally wired to have wisdom and the world somehow takes it away as they grow older?

Yesterday I was talking with Jeremy and we got onto the topic of success. We discussed how he was “naturally gifted” at several things. I shared with him what I knew about him. I do it to naturally reinforce his strengths, and to show him areas where he needs work. I told him that he is naturally a good builder and a good designer. He’s good with coloring and with drawing and creating things. He’s a great communicator and has a lot of friends, both boys and girls. He’s a really good athlete and can do every sport well such as golf, soccer, swimming, basketball, skateboarding and probably every other sport he’ll try. I told him that he’s really smart in math, and a really good writer and he’s becoming a good reader. He’s a really great cleaner and makes his bed better than I could ever dream of doing. Things like that.

Then I said that he needed work on a few areas. Like when it’s time to finish something, he needs to get better at putting it away immediately and coming back to it later. He needs to work on obeying his mom and dad better when we ask him to do something. And he needs to work on healthy eating again like he used to do.

Then I said that he’s really fortunate that he’s naturally good at things, but what is really important is that when he’s NOT good at something, that he needs to work to try to do better. That might be frustrating and he might want to give up, but that the harder he works, the better he’ll get at it. I told him that being smart is good, but that it doesn’t mean ANYTHING if he’s not able to work hard on things.

And what Jeremy said surprised me. He said.. right mom. It’s important that you work hard, and only on one thing. Because if you work on this and this and this and this and this, than nothing is going to be very good. But if you work on one thing and keep working on it, you’ll make that one thing good and then you can go on to the next thing that you want to work on.

BINGO. He got a huge high five from me.. and although I know that I need to focus on one thing, it’s increasingly hard in these days where there are so many distractions. But out of the mouths of babes!!! He is absolutely right. Pick out a priority and keep working at it until it’s done.

Back to my ONE THING. But this was so special, I had to post it. Hope it is a good reminder to you today as well.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Finding your Purpose will Light you Up

This week I had a coaching client who called me about helping him get direction in his career, and to figure out a strategy to market his business. He just sent his son off to college and was now redirecting his energies from the constant role of father to the role of entrepreneur. This individual has great opportunities as a high level professional, however, every single time he talked about it, it was if the light in his face went out.

In my program, the Intensive Executive Workout, I spend several hours with my client hearing about their career and their vast experience. We identify their strengths and their weaknesses through assessment tests before hand, and set a goal of what we’d like to accomplish. When we talk, I ask questions that open up a lot of discussion around topics that really seem to light up the client. In this particular case, the client had spent many years traveling in a network marketing company as an executive. He was able to deliver speeches all over about the company and loved the aspect of sharing the message of the company.

Constantly, he’d come back to stories about his son or about things he learned about being a father. Throughout the day, we bounced around from professional marketing plans, to public relations to his experience. It was so evident by the end of the day, that the best way for him to increase his business was through speaking. I helped him identify some of his values that were consistent throughout his life of teaching, inspiring, learning, motivating and transformation. We then applied these values to different groups that he could inspire from kids to church to professional. The last idea that I had that came at the very end of the day, was that he’d be a great leader to other fathers, to teach them about how to be a dad.

At that moment, this man’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. He grinned so big and said, “I’m just a dad who loves his son.” His words were so sincere and so beautiful and I could just see him at that moment on stage ready to deliver a message to thousands of people and how they’d love him for his humbleness and his pure and authentic heart. At that moment, I got tears in my eyes and knew, that we were on to something special.

Since our coaching, my client has said that he hasn’t had this much hope in his career for the past many years. He’s excited about the opportunities for what lies ahead. I’m so thrilled that together, we partnered to find a new purpose for his life, and one that lights him up.

What about you, does your purpose get you out of bed early in the morning and ever keep your head buzzing? Do you know that you’d do this even if you couldn’t make money at it, that you know that you have a special gift to share with the world?

My client admitted he could go get a job making great money, but inside he’d be dead. He knew that he was here to do something different but just didn’t know what it was. He’s now on his way. Are you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Taking a Leap of Faith into Entrepreneurship!

Anyone who has watched the hit show The Big Idea by Donnie Deutch, has to have stayed up wondering, “What is my big idea? What am I going to do to really make an impact on the world to make it a better place and to help my family in the process?” It’s an exciting show that is full of practical advice from people who have reached success as an entrepreneur.

Today I met entrepreneur who kind of stood out from the usual looking lawn maintenance man. His truck was clean, new and white, and his equipment in the back looked like it was all carefully taken care of and well maintenanced. His clothes were that of a high end athlete and from looking at him, the guy had a confidence in him that shined from the inside.

After calling over this man who was busy trimming hedges to ask for his business card, we struck up a conversation. The man, Chad Bell, is living his dream. He’s a former successful college track coach who spent 20 years coaching all over the country at major universities. Then, after he decided to get out of that, he moved to Boise Idaho and became a stock broker working for Morgan Stanley. He did so well as a novice, they moved him out of the pit that they put all of the new hires in to see if they can make it dialing 100 potential customers a day, that he was given a corner office with a great view. He overlooked the Greenway, which is a place where people are running and riding bikes and enjoying the beautiful weather. That alone was getting him thinking about how he could transition out of an office environment to the outdoors and then one day, something dramatic happened that changed his life! He saw a guy mowing a lawn for his job and he had the biggest smile on his face. Chad stared at that guy and all of a sudden something clicked inside of him. He went home that night and told his wife that he knew he had to change, and that he had been enjoying working in his own yard so much, that now he wanted to do it for other people.

After speaking with him for just a few minutes, it was clear that he had made the right decision. The yard in front of me was beautiful, and this guy who took care of it seemed genuinely happy. I shared with him that I’m also following my dream and my passion of hosting a TV show and he encouraged me as well.

It’s such a pleasure meeting someone who has found his own definition of success. It’s clear that he has made good money, but he hasn’t made that his internal focus. He knew that for him, he loved being outdoors, and he loves helping people make their yards look great.

Ask any older person how quickly life passes you by. There are songs written about it and commercials that say that ‘life comes at you fast’. We should all know that by now. But the question is, are we making the most of our lives? Are we suffering in silence and putting up with things in our lives that aren’t good for us? Are we living in a relationship or a job that isn’t holding us to the highest standards? Or are we living the life that we were meant to live, and living our bliss every day?

I’m voting for living my bliss. I may not be there every day, but I’m working hard to do that. I want healthy relationships that are fun and encouraging, and I want to work with clients who challenge me and that I like.

Life is too short not to enjoy it. Go ahead. Take the leap of faith…whatever that is.. to follow your bliss. And remember: “sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and build your wings on the way down.” (Kobi Yahama)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Try Something New

Traveling to different cities is an opportunity to see how others live their daily lives. Anywhere you go people are busily conducting their daily activities that make up the bulk of their lives. They hustle to work, pick up kids from day care, rush to dance or karate class and then pick up groceries at the store and head home to put dinner on the table. After dinner and baths and homework, the TV is a common companion and a welcome relief to those who have been working all day. That is when it’s time to kick back and not have to think, and just enjoy the process of being entertained.

This week while in NYC visiting one of my regular clients, I was invited to travel to Brooklyn to meet a new associate. She had a few hours and traveling into the city wasn’t likely to happen for her. I had more time on my hands that day so I offered to take the train ride to Brooklyn and visit her.

I had been to Brooklyn once before when my husband took me there to visit his childhood home. But it wasn’t the Brooklyn that I visited this week or had heard about for years before. He showed me parks and beautiful row homes and his elementary school. No, this Brooklyn was a whole new experience from the second I arrived!

The train took about an hour to reach the end of the B line, and then I departed at Brighten Beach. It was the home of the movie Brighten Beach and the home of Coney Island. When I departed from the B train, and walked down the stairs I was greeted by tons of new sights and sounds. It was different from Manhattan, although there were clearly similarities because it also had a variety of stores lining the streets. But right over head, is the train that rumbles through the whole city every few minutes. The sound is deafening and you either have to yell or stop talking when the train is overhead.

Both sides of the streets were lined with dozens of stores that had everything you could imagine in them. Jewelry, purses, clothes, toys and electronics! There were street vendors with home made Danishes and Russian delectable’s. Upon entering the store, the first thing you notice is that the prices were shockingly cheap. The selections were 100x more than what you’d find at stores in the suburbs. The first store I went in was a combination of a department store and a discount store. I noticed every color of female under garments lining the wall. I have never seen such a selection with such a variety of colors! There were about 10 shades of different colored pink, green, purple, blue, tan, cream, orange, aqua, yellow, orange and red bras in every size. The quality wasn’t at all bad but the prices were $3-$5 when most stores might sell the same item for 5x as much! The pajamas were darling and colorful and prices beat any Marshals, TJ Max or Target anywhere in the US. For $6.99 you could purchase the pants and top with different colors, designs and patterns.

Everything everywhere was cheap! The water bottles were less than a buck and the street vendors were selling their items all for about $1-$2.

I arrived a few minutes before my friend so I had a few minutes to browse around and then went to the assigned corner to wait for her. I informed her that I was wearing a red top and black pants. I realized that I stuck out like a sore thumb. Not many people wear that bright of colors in NY which I forgot when I was packing my bag early on the morning that I left town. As I stood there, a myriad of people walked by and were conducting their lives as they do every day.

A group of young guys were standing a few feet from me. It was obvious that their favorite past time was hanging and watching the girls walk by. Each time one that caught their attention walked by, the whole group stopped their conversation and followed her with their eyes while she continued down the street. Then, one of the guys started clapping to the beat that was apparently only in his head and started dancing to the beat of his hands. He grooved to his own music for a few minutes while the other guys kept up their exchange with one another. Another group of ladies were consumed with their own conversation and standing in the middle of the sidewalk and even blocking traffic. I had been standing their first but I ended up moving because people had to walk around them and the back pack that hung on one of the gals backs.

While I was standing on the corner, looking up and down the street trying to find my new friend who was coming back from a funeral and wearing all black, some young guys in a car sitting at the light about 8 feet from where I stood blared out using a megaphone: YOU LOOK LOST. I looked at them and started laughing at them and said, “I’m looking for my friend and I don’t know what she looks like. Can you yell for Marianna?” So without missing a beat, all of a sudden, in a booming voice, I hear, “MARIANNA, YOUR FRIEND IS LOOKING FOR YOU, MARIANNA, YOUR FRIEND IS LOOKING FOR YOU.” I laughed and they laughed as they drove away and then I was back with all of the people who were surrounding me, lost in their own conversations and enjoying the beautiful day in Brooklyn.

On the corner was an ice cream truck with the soft ice cream cones which can get dipped in delicious chocolate and toppings for an extra 50 cents. When my friend arrived, we indulged in an ice cream cone and started on our walk towards the boardwalk.

We walked a couple of blocks to the beach and boardwalk, took off our shoes and walked on the sandy beach. We sat down right on the sand and ended up talking and sharing for the next hour or so. The beach was full of people laying in the sun with a few people swimming in the mild surf. There were quite a lot of people with incredible bodies and it was evident that it was a cool place to show off your wears.

Through talking, we discovered that although she was of Russian descent, and I was a pure mixed American, we found so many similarities in our personalities, and life ambitions. We talked and talked and finally got up to go and search for the perfect gift for my son.

We walked around and did some window shopping, I saw items that I’d never seen anywhere. There was a flower store that had hundreds of beautiful dolls in the windows and the one that struck me as the one that was a “fairy” with beautiful shiny wings. I thought about my sister in law who collects fairies and thought that one day, that’d be the perfect gift for her. I found a gift for my son, a Batman car that has something that shoots out of it, and felt it was nearly perfect. We then walked her to the YMCA where she was conducting an acting class for a bunch of teenagers.

Everywhere around me people spoke in Russian. It’s a huge Russian community and I met many people who spoke no English whatsoever. When I asked for a bathroom, I had to speak with several people because no one knew that word. Finally, after pointing downwards, one gal asked, “Restroom?” I don’t know. I found that shocking.. with the thousands of people who walk up and down that block every day, she didn’t know where a ladies room was located. I ended up buying a cheese Danish from her and found a Walgreens with a ladies room and then headed to the train to head back to NYC.

What a fun trip it was! I was there for about 3 hours, but in that time, I was able to take a tiny peek into a whole new world of how these thousands and thousands of people live. It didn’t even seem like the U.S because hardly anyone spoke pure English. The food, the merchandise, and the culture all seemed so entirely different from what I’d experienced before. The women even looked different from American Women. They were fair skinned, with petite faces. They were very feminine and girlish which seemed different to me as well. It clearly had a very strong culture attached to this town, and it was such a joy to experience it and I felt alive with gratitude for the chance to be able to share a part of their lives for the short time that I did.

Sitting on the plane next to me is a lady of Russian descent who shrugged when I said how great Brooklyn was. She said, “naw.. it’s okay.” She said, it’s unique to you because you haven’t lived there for 27 years and I agreed. She’s on the way to Florida to pick up her 10 year old daughter who stayed with the grandmother for the summer. She’s excited with anticipation upon seeing her daughter so both of us held excitement in our attitude when we talked after sitting down. Me about her home town, and her about going to my home state!

What an advantage to be able to experience other cultures right here in the good ol’ U.S of A. I got a little taste of a bustling Russian community and enjoyed it very much. I realize that so often, I just go about in my daily life, visiting the same stores, and traveling the same path to my daily activities day after day. I listen to the same few radio stations, talk with most of the same people, and meet my associates at one of the 3 Starbucks in town. Most of us do the same, and every day that we do that, we’re living our lives. The days stacked together turn into weeks, the weeks into months, the months turn into years, and very rarely do we step out and drive intentionally out of our comfort zone and experience something new.

It was a wake up call to me. There are probably new places to visit within driving distance of my home. Perhaps this weekend, we’ll go somewhere new for the weekend instead of the usual beach we frequent. Perhaps we’ll attempt to do a new activity or try some different foods. Perhaps I’ll turn on some jazz instead of popular easy listening music and go to a different grocery store from my usual shopping stop. I want to live, and to explore the world, to keep my mind fresh with ideas, and open for opportunities of new experiences.

Brooklyn. The home town of my husband, now takes on new meaning. Now I have an experience of Brooklyn and that memory now lives in me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Are you Being the Best You?

I recently spent some time reading a good friend, Simon T. Bailey’s book, “Releasing Your Brilliance” ( last night and it got me thinking along that path. Although I am a coach and work with individuals daily to find their inner wisdom, and to always build on their strengths, I often fail at reaching my own inner brilliance.

A visit to my mentor coach, Dwight Bain, ( usually cures that. Dwight is working with me to focus on my strengths and not what drains me. My coaching session with Dwight made fireworks go off, and he challenged me to write the titles of my next 10 books. I’m happy to say that that exercise is done and I’m thrilled with what has developed.

I learned that we all have a fishing net that helps us capture opportunities or sales for our business. If there are holes in the fishing net, where systems aren’t set up, then you’re missing opportunities. I’ve got a few holes in my net, and part of that is wasting times on projects that aren’t profitable.

What I’ve been learning is that when you play many roles in many peoples lives, there are times that you just have to take a breath, slow down, and regroup. Sometimes, there are going to be moments of question in your mind, moments of doubt and moments where you think, is it all really worth it and is this what I really want anyway? Other times, you’ll think: “why did I just spend all that time doing that and it did absolutely nothing beneficial for me whatsoever”.

Sometimes, the roles we play will take on more importance and we have to walk away or say, “not now” to the other roles we take an active role in during part of our lives. For instance, for the past 2 weeks and this coming week, I’ve been letting the role of mom dominate my time. I’ve been school shopping, and reading to my son, and visiting the library and squeezing in last minute play dates and fun times so he has fond memories of this summer. As a result, I haven’t finished a few projects sitting on my desk, and have had to turn down some work that has come my way during this time. Do I want the money? Who doesn’t? But my “role” this week is to be the best mom I can, so the money coming in doesn’t make me a better mom.

I have other projects that are in the gestation stage and my partners’ excitement is fun but again, I have to evaluate it and ask myself: “does this fit in to my life right now and is it a priority for me”? My coach asked me to use the word: WIIFM – What’s In it For Me? He determined that I am a giver and often times give more than I’ve received. I have to agree that’s been true. As a result, I’ve been able to step away and look at the energy and time that will be given to that project, and what profit will it bring and will it feed my values? If not, then I have to say no, or not now to the project. If it does work in, then I can set up my systems so it benefits my business.

So now, I ask myself the question: “does this fill part of my net? Is this activity furthering my values or a project that I hope to finish?” If not, then I have to put the activity in my social time, or exercise or another value driven activity. If it fits nowhere, I have to ask, is this the right thing for me to do at this time in my life?

What about you? Are you spending time doing things that don’t fill your net? Are you wasting time or allowing it to drain away? Or are you spending time being with the people that fill you and doing activities that will aid you or others close to you in some way?

The challenge is to figure out what you want to accomplish. Is it to be the best mom in the world to your kids? What does that look like to you? If you were that, then what activities would you and your kids be doing? Would they be vegging out in front of the TV or computer, or would they be with you at the pool or exploring or learning a new activity? Do you want to be the top sales performer this quarter? How are you going to get there? Will it be by reading every single email that comes in your box or will it be to spend more time listening to motivational tapes?

This week, I’m being mom. I’m cooking, I’m nurturing, I’m reading, I’m exercising, and I’m shopping. I still have work to do, but I’ll be doing it after hours. Next week, I’ll be working on my products, and finding editors and writing and editing my book. I’ll start to set up meetings with potential business partners and alliances.

Next Saturday, August 18, 2007, I’ll be giving one of my favorite workshops: “Developing Your Inner Charisma” at The Knowledge Shop in Winter Park. ( It’s Saturday from 1-4PM. When you see me there, I’ll be The Charisma Coach! I’ll be cheering the participants on, and helping them to see where their special brilliance is located. And I will know that I will be experiencing mine: helping others find what works for them. I will feel that special feeling of loving being a coach, and know, that I was the best mom that I could be all week, and that’s the best feeling to know… that I can do both!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


This was part of a letter that I wrote to a good friend who is entering 10th grade in high school this year. He shared with me that he has a “thing” for a gal and he’s not sure if she feels the same. I remembered all of those feelings of uncertainty and realized that as I aged, I looked back and wished I would have known a few things. That’s when I decided to write him and share some of my “wisdom” with him.

“Believe me.. you'll fall for so many people over the course of the next few years. And it's funny b/c the time goes SO slow when you're your age.. and if you date someone for 2-3 months it seems like an eternity.. but when you look back after you graduate from college or whatever.. when you're 25 years old.. you'll think.. oh my gosh.. where did the time go? You'll be 25 before you know it! And you're not going to change really from who you are now.. you are who you are... I still feel the same as when I was 15.. but I'm SO much wiser now... I wish I knew now what I knew then..

Stuff like: all of the kids are scared and nervous.. just the same as you.. and feel great some days.. horrible others... and to feel good is a choice.. that you have to choose every day to put on a good attitude.

That working hard will NOT kill you.. physically.. it won't kill you.. and mentally.. it wont' kill you.. and it feels GREAT to really, really work hard and do a job well done.

I wish I would have known that if a teacher sees you trying really hard and working hard.. they'll sometimes bump your grade up for the effort you put in.

I wish I would have shared my feelings with more people... and told them they were special to me..

I wish I could have known that you can divert your love feelings and pour your energy into friendships and doing productive things instead of day dreaming all of the time.

I wish I would have known that falling in love can hurt like nothing you’ve experienced before

I wish I would have found an older mentor to talk to about all of the confusing things in life

I wish that I would have studied harder.. not just crammed for tests, and have gone for a masters degree early on...

I wish I would have known that many of those guys I had a crush on.. had a crush on me too but no one had the guts to say anything..

I wish I would have branched out and done more stuff in high school... and held more leadership positions.

I wish I would have never been intimidated by anyone.. and if someone acted ugly to me.. I could just feel sorry for them.

I wish I would have known that if I would have taken the initiative to talk with people and made them feel comfortable, they would have been nice to me.

I wish I could have had the guts to not be embarrassed about my parents.. and that I could have thanked them for all they did for me instead of feeling like they were out to get me or make my life miserable.

I wish I would have gotten along better with my siblings.. instead of trying to get rid of them all of the time.

I’m glad I:
Chose good friends, those who didn’t drink or do drugs

I’m glad I had parents who cared to know who I was with and where I was at all times

I’m glad I hung around people who were creative in our outings – like playing hide and seek in the grave yard, and box sliding down the hills on the opposite side of the highway.

I’m glad I went on church retreats, and shared my heart and explored my relationship with God.

I’m glad I was on the swim team and competed and did well at the state level and won an All American award for the relay.

I'm glad my parents woke me up for 5:30am swim practice and drove me for 2 years straight

I’m glad I took home economics and learned how to cook and sew

I’m glad had the summers off and joined the local swim teams.

I’m glad I got extra tutoring in Algebra and Economics

I’m glad I met kids from other high schools so I wasn’t completely dependent upon socializing with the kids at my high school.

I’m glad I studied hard in my hardest classes and realized that I was pretty smart when I put forth the effort.

I’m glad I had a car my senior year

I’m glad my best friend had a car our Junior year!

I'm glad my best friend's brother had a car our sophomore year!

I’m glad I went away to college and went to a school where they have great school traditions.

I’m glad I’ve mostly had the courage to be myself and that I’ve always had the desire to improve and get better.

I’m glad I’ve always valued the most important thing in the world which are the relationships in your life.

Anyway.. always feel free to bounce things off of me.. I've been there.. I remember… and I’m always glad to help!”

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Throw a Reunion for those you Care About

Thirty years ago, I felt like a ROCK STAR!!! I had fans, friends and admirers. I was the queen of the ball, and the talk of the town. Okay, not really, but I was on a summer swim team where I felt incredibly loved and successful and from there, it was from there that I launched myself into the world.

Today I wrote a sentimental letter to about 10 people who I considered my closest friends from when I was a little kid. I reminded them of the fun relays we used to have, and the swim meets where we spent time unified as a team, and reminded my first boyfriend of our childhood dates to McDonalds. It was a simpler time then, when as 8 and 10 year olds, we could ride our bikes a couple of miles to the pool by ourselves, spend the whole day and come home for dinner. We’d stay and play after swim practice and our parents didn’t have a care in the world because they knew who everyone was and that all of us were being taken care of by the other parents.

Thinking back to the old times and to the people that we were has been a wonderful experience for me. None of us had really gone through any awkward social times by that time, and all of the boys and girls hung out with each other with no expectations and no agendas. I remember years later when my first boyfriend from 7th grade made fun of me in front of others in high school and I remember thinking that he had changed somehow, and that he was no longer the boy who I knew “way back then.” I publicly ignored his taunting, but it did hurt to know that we didn’t share that special friendship any more.

Then, he grew up and became a very successful and powerful professional in the Orlando area and someone I’d probably never have the chance to meet as an adult. But today in an email, I reminded him of whom he was when he was 9 years old, and who I was and I know that he smiled when he clicked the “send” button to let me know that he’d love to come to a swim team reunion.

Our coach was one of the most important people in my life. He believed in me and told me on the side of the pool one day that I could be anybody I wanted to be in life.. He told me that if I worked hard, if I wanted to swim in the Olympics, that I had the talent to do so. While that never came true, I still remember feeling special, and often credited him as the person who gave me that extra push in life.

Last night when I was reminiscing due to spending time at the “old” pool, but not seeing anyone have NEAR as much fun as we used to have, I decided to throw an old reunion for my former team members. So this morning I wrote to as many people as possible from the old team and reminded them of the good ol’ days. I wrote about the pizza parties, the relays, the late summer nights, the slumber parties, the swim meets and the pranks we pulled on each other. Then I told them that they were all very special to me, and that I’d love to see them again and suggested we have a reunion. I shared with them that I’ve been to too many funerals lately, and it seems that too many people share the same thought: “I wish I would have told him how special he was to me.”

So now, I sit at my computer anxiously awaiting the response. Will they think I’m incredibly corny? Will they be embarrassed for the stories I told? Will they want to forget those ol’ Happy Days and not live in the past? Or will they chuckle and for a moment, revert back to being a kid in their minds, and remember the great times we all shared and know that they wouldn’t miss this reunion for the world?

I’ll take a risk to be corny, and to be called mushy or whatever else they come up with for me after reading my invitation. I just feel content that I’m not waiting to let these people know how special they are, before it’s too late.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Lazy Days of Summer???

Ahhhh…the Lazy days of summer… I remember them well. I remember getting up when the mood hit, lounging around until lunch time when finally everyone gets dressed, eats and then jumps on the bikes to go to the neighborhood pool. We’d stay there all day and then when it hit 6PM we knew dad was on the way home, so we’d jump on our bikes and head home for dinner. The pool was open until 9PM so we’d eat and then go back to the pool to hang with our friends.

Remember the days?

Okay, anyone who is talking about being lazy during the summer these days isn’t raising kids. Or, perhaps they’ve rented a beach condo for the whole summer and trust all of the other people in their condo will look after their kids! And I’ve heard so many TV news anchors complain that we’re so lazy that we let our kids stay inside all day and watch video games and TV. They act as if we’re the ones who changed. Perhaps they’re right on some accounts, but not all.

Anyone who is raising kids these days has developed an eagle eye. We watch our kids like a hawk, in the stores, at the pool, and at the beach. No one would dare let their little boy go into a public bathroom anymore.. for fear of some crazy wacko who might be hiding in there to molest some innocent little kid for kicks. These weirdo’s might be hiding out anywhere, and as a mom to a 7 year old, we talk about the seriousness of keeping a very close eye on our kids. You have to know where they are at all times, and who they’re with. Even some of the people you know might be suspect. One of my friends’ daughters isn’t allowed to baby sit for one particular family any more because the father came on to her. She was 15. He was 38.

As a result of the current scary conditions of predators in our midst, the best alternative to kids sitting around at home is to put them in summer camp. Camp used to be just for rich kids, and lots of fun activities like horseback riding, water skiing and free swim time. But now, the camps are mini boot camps for serious athletes. My son has gone to two separate basketball camps and now he’s announced to me that he doesn’t want to play basketball any more. He’s in karate camp now and will receive his next belt by participating all week. That usually takes 2 months of practice 2x a week. I can imagine how difficult it’s going to be for me to get him to go back to karate!!!

I don’t have a judgment as to whether we had it better as kids or whether these kids do. Certainly the children now have more offered to them at an earlier age and they’re able to try many more sports and activities these days than we did. I’m a firm believer that kids should try everything and find something that suits their personalities. Also, then they’ve done it and don’t have a fear about trying it when they’re older. But I don’t think they have enough down time to run around and get into mischief like we did. We have to keep such a close eye on them at all times, that they’re constantly under the gun.

Last week, we visited a college roommate of mine who lives near the beach in north Florida. The kids all romped around their gated community like they owned the place. It was great to know that they were totally protected while we could just relax inside and not have to check in every few minutes. But alas, a gated community is no where to be found in these parts, and it doesn't quite fit our current lifestyle anyway.

I continue to hunt for that perfect summer routine. I may have to go to Michigan to find it, but one of these days, I’ll be sitting somewhere near a lake or beach, with my child somewhere that I don’t know, and I’ll feel 100% comfortable. I dream of the day!

Until then, it’s 7am wake up calls for 8am summer camps. No more lazy days for us!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Joy of Helping Others

One of my clients is getting successful, I mean really, really successful. He’s starting to get the hang of things that we are coaching about and people are starting to respond to him more and more. They’re not only responding to him, they’re actually cheering him on and trying to help him. These aren’t just typical clients either, they’re big, big clients.

When this sort of thing happens, it’s exciting and rewarding. As a coach, it’s the feeling that you always want to get, and when you do, you feel like a proud mama! It’s so cool to see that the strengths that you have, being played out in another person’s life.

Here is what happened. This particular client lives in the Midwest and is a really talented person at his job. He’s in the field of law and is the type who knows every statute and every resource that is available in his particular subject. He’s the “go to guy” when anyone else has a question and he’s always quick to help. The one problem however, is that he wasn’t bringing in the big clients. He was accustomed to helping his clients when they were there, but didn’t know how to go out and “attract” the clients for his firm.

Once working together and we started assessing where he had gotten all of the clients he currently had. Most of them came through other sources at the firm and the few that he did bring in, were referrals or were preexisting customers in other departments. We started looking at what sorts of customers were going to be long term clients and what sort of person and professional he needed to be in order to have the clients calling HIM instead of his customer.

Together, he outlined five clients who were big money makers for his firm. Then we created a strategy to develop them into RAVING FANS. (That’s one of my favorite sayings… because it completely causes a chuckle and also implies that work needs to be done, and great service given before any client becomes one of these) He reviewed each client representative and outlined their personalities and their hobbies, and went to work, getting to know each of them as people, not just as customers. We worked together to develop good coaching questions, and strategies to bring value to each of his clients as HUMAN beings, and things started to click with my client.

For one, he found a vacation spot suggestion that the client’s wife was seeking. For another, he created a solution to a business problem in the other firm by finding resources. One by one, my client began to listen to his clients about their “needs” as people, and he began to serve them as “people”.

The crazy thing is how fast things have turned around. Just by focusing on the PERSON instead of the business, my client was able to forge closer relationships with his clients. Now, it seems that he’s getting all sorts of invitations, from business to personal, and honestly, he’s jumping out of his shoes! (Okay, he’s not that type of person, but I know that inside, he’s really excited when we talk!) And now, other partners at his firm are taking notice. He’s getting more respect in meetings he feels and whether it’s because he has more confidence, or that he’s being noticed more, he doesn’t care. He’s happy with how things are going.

Every time I get off a call with him, I feel elated. It’s just so exciting to help another human being reach their potential and to celebrate their success with them. I want everyone to feel this great about their work, and to feel what it feels like to help others.

I read recently that the people that are most satisfied with their work are in professions that are in the “helping professions”. Physical therapists, psychologists, ministers and the like are among the happiest in their professions. They far outrank other professions that are higher paying, but have much more stress attached, including the law, and medical professions.

If each of us made it a goal to help someone else every single day, where would we all be? Hopefully in our jobs, we can strive to serve others to the best of our ability, but even in our daily jaunts to the store or to working out, we can look for opportunities to open the door for others, or to save them a trip inside by taking their shopping cart for them. These little things can add up to a life that is serving others continually.

And when we review our lives, even if we didn’t get the chance to be on Oprah, or to make a million dollars, we can feel confident that our lives mattered. They mattered because we were able to help others, and that’s the greatest feeling of all.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Each Decision Alters Your Life

Have you ever gone back to your past and wondered, “what if I never left this place?” or “what if I would have married this guy or this girl… how would my life be different?”

This past weekend I went with my mom to her childhood ‘romping ground’ and met the relatives I hadn’t seen in 30 years. We flew to Kansas for my mom’s cousin’s 50th anniversary of being a priest and spent the weekend driving all over Kansas seeing my child hood home, seeing and meeting cousins, going to a nursing home to see an aunt, and even going through a grave yard to see the gravesites of relatives from long ago.

Much to my surprise, Kansas was lush and hilly and beautiful. It wasn’t the flat lands of corn fields like I imagined. It was a beautiful green country side, with rolling hills, lots of trees, charming houses and lots of land. My relatives, many who live out in the country, are wonderful people who are caring and just good and honest people. Their lives revolve around the church and they go to daily mass. They are the type of people who will help others at the drop of a hat and with whom you can sit around for hours and shoot the breeze.

At one point, I sat there and looked at all of these beautiful people sitting around the big table who were all happily talking with each other and wondered what my life would have been like had my parents not left Kansas when I was a little girl? I would have grown up in Kansas instead of in Florida. Would I have been a competitive swimmer? Certainly I still would have been athletic, but would I have found basketball or volleyball more my style in the Midwest than joining the swim team? Would I have gone to the University of Kansas instead of Auburn in Alabama? Would I be a die hard Kansas City Chiefs fan? Who would I have married? Who would my friends be? How would my life be different if I would have had such a close connection to my roots when I was growing up? Would I even look the same?

I contemplated this for a time, and spoke with my mom about this. We discussed that even in her life, her parents made decisions that altered her life and those of her brothers and sisters. We discussed that each time a person moves from one house to another, it brings new friends and neighbors, new jobs bring relocations, and decisions about school and career bring new people, places and attitudes to a person’s life. We finally concluded that every person’s life will be altered numerous times based on the decisions of parents, grandparents, friends and relatives as well as our own decisions.

When I mentioned that I was sad that I hadn’t grown up around relatives that were close to me, one of the cousin’s wives said something I found interesting. She said that when you grow up around relatives who are so close, you don’t develop that as many friends who are really close.

I found that very interesting because my husband and I have such great friends in all of the many places where we’ve lived. We’ve spent holidays with friends more than we did relatives and have always enjoyed getting to see how different families spend the holidays. Since I was away from my family for 20+ years of my adult life, we always spent holidays such as Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving away. Thinking of it in a positive instead of a negative, I decided that it was right for us.

But still, the game I’ve played is “what if” and I’d take my life down a certain path in my imagination. What if I played basketball instead of swimming competitively? What if I grew up going to a Catholic high school instead of public? What if I would have had so many close relatives and not as many close friends? Would my life be different spending more time in the country than in the suburbs or the city? Would I be a different person growing up around my mothers’ relatives instead of my fathers’? What if I had never gone and lived in Washington DC and become a lecture agent? What if I would have never lived in NYC? What if I would have never even gone away to school? What sort of person would I be instead of the person that I am today?

I’ve concluded that while I’m not perfect, that my life has been perfect. Even all of the struggles that I’ve faced, decisions I’ve made, people I’ve met, and even with the things that I would like to change about my circumstances, I don’t think I’d change a thing. All of the experiences that I’ve had, has made me into the person I am today. I am a combination of all of the people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve had, the attitudes I’ve formed through the experiences that I’ve had, And, I have to say, I like who I am today. I’m an open minded, intellectually curious person, who is open to meeting and getting to know people from all walks of life. I’m not one to sit in the corner just with the people I know, but the one who will branch out and welcome others into the mix. I like people with different backgrounds than mine, and I like learning from them.

What I do know, is that I’m grateful that I come from such great “stock” as my mother says. I’m grateful that I have such amazing people to call “relatives” and happy that I felt a connection with these people who I have rarely seen in my life. I hope that I will maintain the relationships and stay in touch with them and make them apart of my life today.

And if I am to take away one thing from this experience, it’s that each one of us, regardless of where we come from, that we ultimately gets to chose who we become.

And I can feel grateful, my parents gave me roots, and then gave me wings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Greatest Lesson Often comes from the Smallest Among Us

This morning and every morning, my 7 year old son and I hold hands while I’m driving him to school and we say our prayers. Every morning, I’ll pray for God to protect us, to bless us, to provide us wisdom to live as we should and for everyone in our lives including our friends and families.

This morning I got learned a lesson from my son. When it was his turn, he said in earnest, “I pray for the people in Georgia with the fires, for the people in ‘upper Florida’ and the fires, and for all of the animals who might be in the fires. I pray for all animals everywhere, and the ones that are sick and paralyzed. I pray for all of the people in hospitals, those who are in wheelchairs, and for the poor. “

At that moment, I couldn’t contain my tears. I realized that my prayers are for us, and for my family and friends. But I learned that my son, prays for animals and people that we don’t know. He’s sincerely asking God to take care of the weak in our world. I started asking myself, ‘who else is praying for these among us and how did my little boy become so compassionate towards these individuals who he doesn’t know, but who probably need more prayer than my immediate family?’

I learned a valuable lesson today. I learned that that there are people praying for us who we don’t even know. There are people like my son all over the world, praying for the weak, the sick and the hungry and these people don’t even ask a thing for themselves.

I thanked God that I saw how special my son is and that I saw inside his heart and realized that he’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. I learned that in the quiet moments that he has a special gift to care for others in a way that I never have but that I want to try to achieve. My son was my greatest teacher this morning, and so today, if I start to worry about my life, or about the things on my to do list, I’ll reflect on my son and his prayer, and I’ll turn my thoughts to others and not to myself. And I will thank God that the smallest among us can be our greatest teachers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Desiring the Old Time Summer

School is almost over and it’s time to get ready for summer camps. I think about when I was a kid and how every day was spent at the local swimming pool. We’d ride our bikes back and forth by ourselves from age 7 on up, we were independent and basically showed up for dinner when the street lights came on.

These days, in order to keep the kids busy, the alternative is summer camp. They get some sort of freedom, but they’re being watched over by older kids. They’re learning art, basketball or horseback riding, or learning about bugs or science. Kids these days have hundreds of options for a summer packed with exciting learning experiences.

But last night after watching a movie on TV last night called Sweet Home Alabama staring Reese Witherspoon, I was reminded of small town America and how simple life can really be. I started thinking about having a simple summer, somewhere in a small town, were my son can wonder up to the local store or local library or lake and go fishing or out to play where I wouldn’t be concerned. I started wondering if this life is available anymore in the state of Florida? I want him to have exciting learning experiences of course, but I also want him to enjoy out the outdoors and to find out about animals and nature outside of so much structure.

So I went on the hunt. It appears that there are many small towns in Florida that have small lake communities. The problem I find though is that they’re not sophisticated enough to write about it or perhaps they’re trying to keep the small town feel under wraps so others like me aren’t seeking refuge in a place of yesteryear. And if I’m seeking this small town existence, where the car you drive doesn’t matter, and the label on your shoes don’t matter, then how many others are seeking this sort of refuge too?

Do others get tired of the keeping up with the Joneses typical game that occurs in the suburbs? As I walk by the luxurious houses in our neighborhood that have exotic tropical plants that are neatly arranged, I start to stress about the professional landscaping that is lacking from my own yard. I have the plans to do it, and slowly we’re putting it together, but in the meantime, when it’s not as manicured as the two lawns on either side of us, I silently wonder what the neighbors are thinking about us? What about the cars? We’re not now driving our old cool SC 400 Lexus that we had before we had a child. We’re driving Mommy and daddy vans, a couple of SUVs that get us around town, but aren’t the chic glamour car of our past. That puts stress on me, because I want to appear that we’re smart and concerned about our outward image. But, we’ve been investing in our businesses, so we’ve put new cars on the back burner.

Ahh, the old days of summer… and the desire just to hide away to forget about the modern day stresses and to get rejuvenated for a few months. To get to sit by the lake, to fry up some fish, to drink a beer with friends and have the kids swim all day and come in just enough to eat and to plop in bed, tired and happy.

I long for those days, and I’m now completely obsessed with finding this life for us to enjoy for weekends and summers. Perhaps it’s at the beach, or perhaps a lake town, but now that I’m desiring it, I’ll have to find this old time place that’s in my mind.

Summer daze…. The wave of the future… of going back to how it used to be.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How Coaching Works in an Organization

In my work as a coach, I’ve worked with nearly every level of employee from new hire to CEO and CFO. In nearly every case, I’ve found the people to be hard working and eager to improve. They all want respect for a job well done and they desire to get along well with the other employees and their customers.

I’ve found that the role of coach can serve in many capacities and that there are definite ways to be more successful. If the coach is an outside consultant, they have many advantages. They don’t have to answer to anyone within the company and so they are more than likely going to be honest about their feedback. If they’re employed by the company, they still have to play the political game that goes on in some companies. If a coach is employed by the company, then often times the coach is employed by the leader instead of being a partner to them. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, and I’ve decided that it’s far better to be hired as a consultant than as a long term employee.

I’ve also found that a combination of working in person and on the phone is more of an advantage. Even after working on the phone for years with people on and off, there is always an advantage of meeting face to face. So much about a person shows up in their body language, and in their mannerisms. The clients have a better idea of who the coach is and the coach has a better understanding of the client. After the face to face initial meeting, regular phone calls are great to keep the relationship going.

The coach can service their client in many ways. If a coach has an expertise in business, then writing articles and sending information on that particular subject is always of help to the clients. The role of mentor does happen within the context of the coaching relationship sometimes, because the client often does ask for advice or help. Some coaches state clearly that they don’t give advice whatsoever. As an expert in the field, I don’t think that is reasonable, or always the best answer. I’ve seen coaches ask clients the same question dozens of ways, and if the client doesn’t know the answer and wants the quick one, some advice from the coach is truly appreciated. Additionally, sometimes the brainstorm process between the coach and client helps stimulate other thought from the client. I never hesitate to offer suggestions, advice or ideas if the time is right.

In order to keep the busy client engaged, regular email check in’s work wonders. They might be on the road traveling but a quick line of encouragement is always appreciated by the client. I’ve sent cards, books, motivational quotes, articles, business leads, ideas for projects, or quick brainstorms I had outside of the calls or meetings. I’ve always been thanked for these additional items that I’ve added to my coaching.

Confidentiality is key within the coaching relationship. Often times, the client uses the coach to brainstorm ideas that they want to use at the company, and they practice with the coach before hand. I’ve coached numerous clients before they’ve entered big meetings or before they’ve spoken before their companies. It’s good to remind the client that all of the conversations are 100% confidential. This way, they’ll continue to open up as the relationship progresses.

I’ve worked with my clients in the areas of self esteem, leadership, branding themselves within the organization, becoming bolder, public relations in their industries, creating raving fans out of their clients, increasing their client base, creating ideas of projects to pitch, their image, their clothes, conversation skills, and maneuvering their way politically in their company. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t want to be secure in their job and well liked. It’s key to every human being. And the key for the coach is to continually express to their clients, the strengths that the coach identifies and reminds him or her to be authentic to who they are as a person.

The role of coach is an honor. You get to know the clients incredibly well and it’s a thrill to see them develop professionally and personally. And when others in the organization start to see the growth and the changes in the client, that’s when they start taking notice. And that’s usually when other clients come knocking at the door!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Oprah Highlights Autism

Yesterday on Oprah, they did a show highlighting Autism. The statistics are staggering. 1 in every 150 children is now struck with Autism.

The symptoms are that there are language delays, odd behaviors and inability to communicate normally. Many of the children reached early milestones and then at age 2 starting losing their language skills and changed into a child they didn’t know. This was horrible for the parents to witness and even worse when the doctors told the parents they were overly concerned or too worried. It was clear throughout the show that doctors need to be better educated about the early warning signs of autism.

Many of these kids are lost in their own world. They make noises but don’t respond like normal children do to conversation. Some of them can skate and play ball, but they have no ability to talk. The show highlighted some siblings of these children who feel a great sense of loss as well. They also see their autistic brother or sister getting all of the attention from the parents, and feel left out. The parents have no choice but to care for their autistic child. The children require hours and hours of therapy every day. The good news is that some of these children are being helped by the therapy.

The most shocking part of the show was that a medical doctor made an appearance on the show and explained how they believe autism is being spread. She has two sons with autism, and therefore is an expert. She mentioned that it’s genetic, and there “might be environmental factors involved”. When Oprah mentioned that perhaps it was the immunization shots that the babies are given, the doctor said that’s very controversial and that it has been proven that that is NOT the case.

Oprah encouraged one of the moms to disagree because Oprah told her she’d regret it if she didn’t disagree on the show. The mom “vehemently disagreed with that assessment” stating that there have been studies to show that the shots WERE the cause.

At this point, I reviewed the tape and watched the doctor’s face several times. Was she lying? Does she know beyond the shadow of a doubt it’s not the shots? Is she being paid by a pharmaceutical company to say those things? Are her sons being treated by the best of the best so she stays quiet about it? No one will ever know. But in my gut, I felt she knew SHE couldn’t say it, but she was pleased that she was refuted.

Who is shutting the people up? Why is this happening? If there is even a small chance that the immunizations are causing autism, then why is it illegal NOT to get them? Who is making up these rules? Why can’t that be stopped? Why aren’t doctors taking stand against this practice? Why aren’t other people taking a stand? Are we all so afraid as to what can happen to us by speaking up? If there are people who start to speak up, are the pharmaceutical companies getting them to be quiet somehow? What are they doing?

Is it true that there have been cures to numerous diseases but because it’s not beneficial financially to find a cure for the Big Pharm companies, that they run the doctor or scientist out of business? Is it that ruthless? Who are the people behind the scenes who are making these decisions?

Oprah learned not to criticize big business years ago when she was dragged into court by a bunch of cattle ranchers who claimed that she harmed their business when she said on TV that she wasn’t going to eat beef. Apparently, after she said that, sales dipped and the cattle ranchers sued her as a result. Oprah won in court, and met Dr. Phil as a bonus who coached her through her court appearance, but she learned a valuable lesson: Let the guests complain, but she can not.

Parents who are dealing with Autism right now struggle every day to manage their families, their kids and their jobs. But somehow, the laws of the immunizations need to be changed. People need to fight and to stand up. I know it’s not so easy and the repercussions are immense. If a child does not have an immunization, that child can NOT be registered in school. Those are the laws. So the only other alternative is to home school your child for 18 years.

When parents are preparing for a baby, they’re not considering these things and mostly because Autism has been a silent issue, they have no idea what the statistics are, so they get the immunizations as their doctors recommend. Two years later, 1 in ever 150 of those kids, turns into a shell of his or her former self.

This is a serious epidemic in our country. For those having babies, if you research, you’d be crazy and you shouldn’t in good conscious give all of those shots to your baby. Did you know that they give tiny babies up to 5-6 shots at one time? Their tiny bodies are filled with medicine. It’s nothing short of cruel, and it’s damaging our whole society.

We need people to fight before congress to change the immunization laws.
We also need to make sure that the law makers in our country aren’t being swayed by the big political contributions that are made by the pharmaceutical companies to their campaigns. We need to stand up and fight against the big business conglomerate, which is possibly causing our children and millions of families to suffer. And if we can find out if these executive’s children and grandchildren are or are NOT receiving all of their immunizations, we’d be getting somewhere. My guess is that they’re not. They know the damage being done, and they’d never subject their own family to this torture.

Thank you Oprah for hosting this show on Autism. You were brave to stand up to it, and I hope that you’ve stimulated a lot of conversation. I pray that we all remain safe as we push to expose this possible corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and government. They have answers, and we deserve to know.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Power of Forgiveness: The Movie

Last night I saw a life changing movie. Not only for me, but can change the consciousness of the world. It’s about the Power of Forgiveness.

This documentary outlined several stories of individuals who have had dramatic incidences happen to them by others in their lives, and shares their path towards healing. The stories of the people shared their struggle with the act of forgiveness but also shared their difficult paths.

Elie Wiesel, the author and humanitarian, shared his story of losing his family and millions of the Jews throughout the concentration camps of Germany during the war. The movie showed photos of Wiesel and the thousands of others living in the concentration camp. Their faces were sallow and sad, and filled with despair. By some amazing miracle, he was able to get out and later become a journalist and author, and ultimately a voice for the millions who were exterminated and killed during that time. Internationally, he has been a catalyst to help people move beyond that horrible place in our history.

Another story highlighted the 5 Amish girls who were gunned down in their school house and their community. The Amish people already live lives of forgiveness and even though it was difficult, they believe the bible when Jesus taught to forgive 70X7 times. Their act of forgiveness inspired the world over. The Amish even went so far as to seek out the family of the killer to let them know that they were forgiven.

Then there are three tireless activists who lost family in the WTC during 9/11. They were able to forgive the terrorists, but they were unable to forgive the people who buried all of the debris, including massive amounts of personal items, bones and the dead in a dump on Stanton Island, NY. They’re incensed that their loved ones grave site is a dump. So they traveled to Israel to bury their prayer cards of their family under a new olive tree in a forgiveness garden. They traveled 6000 miles to be there, but for them it was worth it. They lived with so much regret and so much pain, that for them, it was a way to let go of their anguish.

The movie outlined more stories, like the Protestants and Catholics in a 30 year battle in Ireland, and those from Buddhist communities and perhaps the most touching story was from a father and a granddad, who met and came together to teach forgiveness to children. Their story was one of tragedy when 4 14 year old boys partied all day and then ordered a pizza and decided to demand to receive the pizza for free from the delivery guy. He refused and was shot and killed on the spot. The boy who shot and killed the other was a product of a broken home and was being raised by his grandfather. The 21 year old who was shot and killed was from a Muslim family whose tradition told them to grieve for 40 days and then forgive and move on. At the end of the 40 days, the father of the boy who was shot down, contacted the grandfather of the other boy and that began a healing process that lead them to speak to students around the country on the topic of forgiveness.
The movie shows scientists researching the negative physical effects of hurtful emotions on the body. As subjects described their painful experiences dealing with another, their blood pressure became increasingly elevated to dangerous levels. Some personalities, who are “forgiving”, have the ability to return to a normal blood pressure. But those people who still struggled with unforgiveness, continued to have an elevated blood pressure. This proves that unforgiveness harms our body; therefore it’s physically beneficial to forgive in order to protect our health over the long term.

The producer Martin Doblmeier, is sharing this ground breaking movie with 25 cities before its release in October of this year. He said that the producers of Oprah have called, which is a great sign. If the movie is featured on Oprah, it’ll show the effects around the world.

Imagine a day where forgiveness is taught in schools around the globe and the children grow up knowing how bad harboring ill will is for your health and will have the tools to develop into people who have personalities that can easily forgive. The results of this would have a dramatic impact that could be felt world wide.

If you get the chance to see this movie on PBS later this year, don’t miss it. It’s one that will sink into your consciousness and allow you to alter your way of being. Our world needs this movie. We all need this movie. If we all practiced what it teaches, we could elevate our society to a new level of peace.

And to borrow from the movie “Miss Congeniality”, what do we all want? World Peace!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Working with New Yorkers

I just got back from a quick trip to NYC the other day where I’m coaching in a large financial institution. The company that I’m working with has been able to create a warm and family atmosphere even though they’re in a cut throat sort of industry. These people were all incredibly likeable people and I enjoyed seeing a company be able to create this sort of atmosphere in the middle of the hustle bustle of the city.

Each time in NY, I’m inspired to meet the quality of people that I do. It’s nothing like what most people think when they think of New Yorkers. They see them as too rushed, impolite or not friendly. Nothing could be further from the truth. The absolute truth is, is that the more successful people are in organizations, the nicer they are when you get to know them. But, to get in the door, it’s not so easy. They’re tough and they require the people they associate with to have the highest of standards. If you’re able to prove that you have the same set of standards, they let their guard down and welcome you into a working relationship. That relationship is personal and direct, open and real. It happens more quickly than many other working relationships. New Yorkers are great at seeing past the glossy exterior and peering into the real substance of a person or a company. The bottom line is, that if you have the goods to deliver and you have the highest standards and ethics in your business, then New York is a great place to work.

Being in NY is always full of surprises. I was eating lunch at the restaurant, Cosi’s and saw that famous “Cat woman” who has had too much plastic surgery on her face. I was so excited to see her I asked the two gals 2 seated 2 inches from my table if they knew who the Cat Woman was and they got as excited to hear about her as I got because of seeing her!

My hotel, which is like finding a gold mine, is the best serviced, most convenient and most comfortable and affordable hotel I’ve stayed at in the past 3 years in any city around the country. It’s the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel. It’s a block from Grand Central on 44th. It’s owned by an Irish family, has 24/7 room service and they will take care of whatever need you have. Last December, I needed to purchase a copy of the new Pirates of the Caribbean for my TV segment and one of the bell men went to the store and bought it for me with his own money! I was floored at the impeccable service. Nino or Susan are both managers and are both terrific. Tell them that Mary Gardner sent you!

Because New Yorkers and those in the big cities start trends, and now I don’t live in NY, I can share a few insights into people and the up and coming work place. It appears to me, that larger companies, have been and will continue to spend money on training their employees to insure a positive work environment. The more successful a company is, it seems that the nicer and more professional the people are. I just met a top level guy from Google and You Tube, and he was one of the sharpest individuals I had met in a long time. Not only was he incredibly intelligent, but extremely, well, nice is the word! He was patient and kind and helpful. No wonder the company is doing so well!!

I believe that companies are going to need to invest more and more money into training their staff. It’s not just the lower and middle level professionals who are coming across as not overly polished or polite any more, it’s even upper level executives. Our culture is all about rushing and getting things done quickly. But many are losing their manners in the meantime. But.. that’s another whole story!

I’ll be headed back to NY in the morning, to meet up with business associates and possibly some friends. I’ll get to stay at the Fitzpatrick again and enjoy their lovely people.

Hopefully this week, the snow will be melted and people will be hanging in Central Park. That might be a few weeks away, but definitely a reason to visit New York in the spring. New Yorkers in the spring are in rare form: skating and running in Central Park, picnicking on the lawn, flea markets every weekend, sidewalk café dining, and late night concerts followed by late night coffee shops and wine bars. It's a great time to visit and a terrific time to create bonds with the people of NYC.

Ahhhh… New York. There is no where like it. And all you have to do is to love it, to be open to it, and you’ll find the people among the nicest and most open in the world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Future of Professional Speakers

More and more people are moving into the direction of pursuing their dreams. Many have gone through incredible hardships and have learned through heart ache and struggle that they’ve learned survival and success techniques that they’re anxious to share with the world.

These people become speakers. And with any luck, hard work and persistence, they become professional speakers!

The path of being a professional speaker up until now has had two distinct career paths. Since the beginning of time, experts, former politicians and business leaders and professional athletes have shared their wisdom from the stage. These people get the big bucks and are now represented by celebrity agencies in the major cities.

The other path, are the speakers and trainers who study personal development, organizational development, sales or customer service and enjoy performing. These speakers write trainings which become books, and usually have a business model that combines speaking, coaching and consulting.

I see a third level of speaker who is about to emerge on the scene and it should scare the current motivational speakers and should leave them shaking in their shoes.

I believe that in the future, actors will replace speakers to deliver the latest content available in the universe. These actors will be trained to retain and deliver dynamic information which is entertaining, funny and interactive. These performers will be paid a day rate, and will be highly specialized speakers yet will not have ever worked in business. Content providers and researchers will hire these actors to present their material.

Speaker bureaus who now work with a barrage of professional speakers, will offer another tier of speaker. Performer to deliver keynote, workshop or Training. Union scale will apply. Ads for actors will read: Multiethnic performer/female, age 30s to deliver motivational speeches of adventure, fulfilling potential and excellence. 30 all expenses paid vacations a year paid by corporations. Spokespeople/models encouraged to apply.

Companies will pay $700 for these actors to deliver a highly motivational and exciting speech. The actors can mingle after or during the reception as the “person who climbed the mountains” and take on the whole persona of an outdoor adventurer. Later that night, she’ll climb back in bed and get up the next morning to shoot a movie or a commercial. She’ll be a speaker for hire. An actor. And she delivers up to date, engaging information.

The speaking business is now highly computerized. Anyone can make themselves out to be an instant celebrity by understanding internet marketing and how to build name recognition as an expert. The information is available on the internet for anyone to sound like an expert with an hour or two of study.

I believe as a result we’re not far away from the Milli Vanilli's lip sync scam from the 80’s who performed on stage in front of thousands around the world who bought the group’s music which earned the group a Grammy. Later, Americans learned they’d been scammed by a record label and that the two in the group couldn’t even sing. They lost their Grammy and their credibility. But the reality was, was that the audience didn’t seem to mind. They loved the music they were hearing, and loved the looks and the moves of the performers. It was entertainment and it was successful.

Will corporate audiences care who delivers the content? Will meeting planners care who researched the material that is delivered? Won’t they care more that their staffs are updated on current information and wouldn’t it be a bonus if the spokesperson on stage is nice to look at? Professional meeting planners won’t have to answer phone calls or even speak with speakers. They’ll just search for an actor who can deliver exactly the message they need at the moment.

Already, companies hire young actors to travel to the high school circuit to deliver inspirational messages. These actors have to be certified and memorize 2-3 speeches but then service their immediate city along with many other actors to reach the masses.

Motivational speakers beware. More and more people are pursing their passion of speaking and this competition is going to drive the price of a no name motivational speaker down. But a notice to all of the up and coming actors: Here is a new gig to consider! So get out your suits, polish your shoes …. You’re now a Motivational speaker who has a live crowd to motivate today!

Written by Mary Gardner, Speaker, Coach and TV professional. She can be located at Send for her 10 ten necessary tips for new speakers or review her new ebook: “Prosperity Journal for Professional Speakers” which provides a system to save speakers hundreds of hours of time in learning the business of professional speaking.

Friday, February 02, 2007


First there is an inner shaking, then the neck and the face start to heat up… rising from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head. Then the voice starts to go weaker and weaker and finally, you’re grasping for breath, you think to yourself: OH MY GOSH.. this is ABSOLUTELY horrifying!!! What has happened to me?

Our body has a natural reaction to stress and to fear, fight or flight. But what do you do when you really NEED to face a terrifying situation but your body doesn’t want to? For instance, public speaking, giving a report at a company, or in my case, pitching a TV show to a TV network?

This week, I’ve been lucky enough to attend a terrific conference called Real Screen. It’s a yearly conference in Washington DC where most of the Directors of Developments of the national TV networks gather to brainstorm, meet the producers and explain what their network is seeking in terms of programming. At the conference, hundreds of TV and film producers from around the world gather, to pitch their TV concepts and seek deals with the networks.

Before I got here, I was completely convinced that the show we’re creating is the next big thing. It’s got heart, its got style and it’s extremely current. Since I’ve been at the conference, I’ve seen that everyone feels the same about their own show and their job is also to convince the same group of people to buy their idea.

In other words, it’s stressful.

Yesterday, I pitched my show concept formally to MSNBC. They’re now accepting new programming and I thought that my show might have an angle that they’d like. The room is set up like speed dating. You get a number if you pre registered, or you hang around to see if there might be room at the end. I was the one getting in under the gun at the end because I was a late register to the conference. They call you over to the mini table where the 3 Development people sit and wait for you to make your pitch. I started off strong by introducing myself, and then I got to work explaining the concept of my show. I could hear my voice be enthusiastic and excited about the show, and then I felt the heat rising. It swarmed over me like a blanket or someone drowning in a pool of water. There was no controlling it. My face went red and my voice went south.

It was horrible.

Luckily, I finished the pitch, provided the information and then got up to run to the next seminar. I was heading to the speech that was to be given by one of the producers I just met from MSNBC so we went to the seminar together. By that time, the energy of the hundreds of people in the hall helped me retrieve my voice and I chatted happily with him all the way to the next session and we had a terrific exchange for about the same amount of time that I sunk in front of him moments before. Within that time, I learned that my show would not be a decent fit for them, as much as he liked the concept.

It was a great experience for me to go through because next time, I’ll be prepared. Its funny how I could stand before a 1000 people and speak, yet speaking to 3 people in the corner of a room at a table terrified me. The difference was in the preparation. I hadn’t prepared to “speed pitch” and did it on the fly.

It gave me a huge appreciation for my clients who go through similar horrifying episodes in business when they have to speak in front of a meeting or group. It literally makes people sick to even think about public speaking so they derail their career by refusing to do it. As a coach, I can teach anyone to get over the nerves, but the best word of advice that I can give is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Do it in front of a mirror and do it over and over until it’s completely natural. Tape yourself giving your message and do it over and over until it sounds lively and fun.

Speed pitching was torture, and although I’m not doing it again today, I’d definitely do it again and sign up early, prepare and then pitch. In the meantime however, I’ve been able to casually meet other networks heads such from Oxygen, WE, TLC, National Geographic, the BBC, Smithsonian Network, among others. In the quick casual conversations, I came across likeable, passionate and had a story to tell that was intriguing. Most liked my concept but it still hasn’t found a home.

Getting over nerves isn’t ever going to happen fully because they’re there to protect and guide us. But learning to anticipate them and prepare for them can hold them at bay.

There’s no doubt that it’s better to prepare and be articulate than wing it and crash and burn. It’s also a heck of a lot more fun.