Rock What You Got!

Rock What You Got - Blog Branding

My girlfriends and I took a road trip to Kansas City over the Labor Day Weekend for some R&R and to spend time with my family.  Late Saturday night, we were sprawled out on the bed and floor, talking, reading, and looking up new recipes.  I had found a box of papers from my childhood and was curiously reconnecting with my younger self.  I discovered various journal entries that expressed my love for pizza, sheet music and lyrics that warned of acid rain and global warming, and a remixed poem of people at a mall working together to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  My favorite was a letter than we were asked to write in the 4th grade (I think) to our parents regarding what they could expect when they attended parent-teacher conferences the next day.

So, what was my take away from all of this?

Sometimes, life feels very big to me.  I can get overloaded with information and overwhelmed with decisions about who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do at any given moment.  These readings reminded me that I have cared about certain things and operated in certain ways for my entire life.  These are the characteristics that make me…me.  Of course, I want to stay open-minded to how other people experience this life.  However, I have the tendency to lose myself in the land of infinite possibilities (podcasts, Pinterest, social media, recommended readings, etc.)  At the end of the day, I have to connect with and contend with the passions, quirks, ideas, expressions, obstacles, family systems, geographical settings, and culture that I embody.  My experiences are no more important nor insignificant when compared to my fellow human.

As my friend Aja Owens proclaims so wholeheartedly, it is our right and responsibility on this earth to, “Rock What You Got!”

Take time this week to think about the characteristics that make you – you! u.

Write down 30 facts about yourself and see what surfaces. 

Ask friends to describe you in one word. I wonder what sticks out to others that you are not giving yourself credit for.  It is easy to dismiss the attributes that come most naturally because we don’t have to work for them.  We have trouble recognizing our strengths because they come easy to us and we just assume they come easy to others as well…and therefore are not deserving of a pat on the back.

Wouldn’t it be wild if we took a month off of self-improvement and spent that time just noticing how freaking unbelievable we already are?!?

Ya’ll are amazing and are positive forces for good in this world.  Even on your worst day, we all benefit from your presence.

 

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.

 

Women Serving On Boards

This morning while reading through my daily dose of eNewsletters I came across this article about California requiring women on Boards of Directors.  I would like to know how my readers feel about a law requiring publicly traded companies to include women on their boards of directors.  The measure requires at least one female director on the board of each California-based public corporation by the end of 2019.

A fourth of publicly held corporations with headquarters in California don’t have any women on their boards of directors. These companies have not done enough to increase the number of women on their boards despite the Legislature’s urging, making government intervention necessary, Jackson said

I have been researching the topic since I started writing my book, and I have been experiencing this for decades.  I am seeing some change where I live locally, and while you would like to think it happens organically to place women on the boards – it does not.  It is most often mandated, whether officially or unofficially, to change the demographics of the board.

Some of the repetition (same ole’ white guys) is simply because that is who their natural network is both professionally and personally.  Some times it is fear of change or opposing views assumed by anyone NOT in your inner circle.  But the truth is that change on boards will result in changes in practice and direction and men have had decades to figure out how to do it differently and they HAVE NOT figured it out so now the law must intervene, if even only for a short time period.

There will be wins and their will be woes, but I believe this unnecessary law (because we should be able to figure this out as smart people running major public corporations) is a good thing.  I believe it is needed at this time and place, when equal candidates are available and ready to serve on these boards.  I am open to hear your opinion for or against, but I believe this is good.  I give the #win2California  #MoreWomenInHighPlaces

3 Adjustments You Can Make To Shred Stress

Throughout my life people have always told me, “Wow, you sure have a lot of things going on.”  I heard it my sophomore year before I caught pneumonia from overexerting myself with school activities and depleting my immune system.  I heard it when I was teaching six Zumba classes per week and crashing from too many caffeine supplements and not enough rest.  I heard it when I was working 12+ hour days, mindlessly shoveling Van’s burgers down my throat, and experiencing intense, regular headaches and near blindness in my left eye.  I heard it when I was juggling work, fitness classes, a new business, band rehearsal, and play practice.

In fact, my therapist confirmed that I am better at “doing” instead of “being.”  For the most part, I am okay with this part of myself.  My energy, ideas, and work ethic have me floating on cloud nine most days.  Even when I do have time to relax, my mind and body fight it.  It seems like I am calibrated to a frequency where “calming down” is what requires the most work.

So why do it?  Well, because no matter how unnatural downshifting is to me, it’s going to happen one way or another.  I can mindfully pump the brakes slowly throughout the day or my keen biology will slam my butt into park until further notice.  According to research developed through the Blue Zones Project, communities that take time to downshift or shred the stress of the day live longer, healthier lives. 

So after learning everything the hard way, here are 3 adjustments that I’ve made to my routine to slow my roll:

1.  I have priorities… and no, not everything is a priority.  When reading the book, You Are Not Your Brain, I was encouraged to make a list of my priorities.  Webster’s Dictionary defines priority as “something that is more important than other things and needs to be done or dealt with first.”  So tell me why by the time I was finished, I had filled two pages.  Needless to say, when everything was a priority, my life was like the Tetris video game…eventually the pieces came too fast, piling on top of one another, until it was GAME OVER.  Today, one of my top values is MY Wellness.  Each day, I put items on the schedule that support this value and place all other demands, expectations, and obligations around it.  Balls are going to drop.  This time, it won’t be me.   

2.  My calendar has blank spots.  Just because I can say yes to something on the weekends, doesn’t mean that I should.  Sleeping in, cooking healthy food, talking with people that I love, and taking my time at the gym all have their rightful spot in my life today.  Sure, it sounds like I am still “doing”, but the pace isn’t harried or forced.  I experience peace and contentment.  It is not a check on my To-do list.

3.  I eat food that I have to cook.  Recently, I found myself very anxious in the evening.  With all of this “extra” time on my hands, I was restless and would wind up in the kitchen looking for something accessible to munch on.  This would turn into making poor choices and eventually getting down on myself.  I also realized that I wasn’t respecting the process of what it takes to harvest, ship, purchase, cook, and consume healthy food.  Therefore, I connected with individuals in my community that support a Plant-Based Whole Food way of life.  The process of chopping vegetables clears my mind and the end result nourishes my soul.  Sharing recipes and experiences connects me to a healthy tribe and makes me feel settled.

Honestly, There is never a good time to downshift.  You will most likely feel guilty and the people around you will get annoyed.  Things are never going to slow down.  The break is never going to come.  The light is not at the end of the tunnel.  No amount of better preparation or organization will keep the pieces from coming…faster.  The world will continue to take as long as you are offering.  Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to another.  You can’t have it all.  What are you sacrificing… and is it worth it? Only you can make the change.

 

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.

 

She Has a Really Big….

Rolodex.  Of course.  A rolodex.  For those of you under the age of 30 you may not even know what a rolodex is, but way back in the time of paper we had these things that sat on our desks called a rolodex.  The rolodex was a desktop card index used to record names, addresses, and telephone numbers, (or business cards) in a rotating spindle or a small tray to which removable cards are attached.

 

Nowadays we call them phones.  🙂 . But in a recent retreat I participated we were asked to describe our self with one word and the first letter of that word had to be the first letter of our name.  So going with “R” I used the word relational.  I believe that I am a relational personal who builds long-lasting relationships.  I value my relationships with friends, business acquaintances and family a great deal.

I confess I am not the quickest to build the relationship.  I think I have mentioned before that I don’t make very good small talk.   But if we get past the small talk in our conversation then I dig in – I really get to know you.  I have known this about myself and I have a few close friends who know this about me, but honestly when the Mayor of our City described me to a consultant as having a really big rolodex, I was kind of shocked.

Should I be shocked that he thought of me as having a big rolodex? I guess I kind of thought that was my little secret.  Isn’t that kind of weird that I felt exposed and kind of “found out” when I was described as having a big rolodex.  You know, I know people.  haha

After weirding out about it just a little, I have come to take great pride in my rolodex.  I believe the people in my rolodex (or phone) are one of my greatest prized possessions.  I know people.  I know people who know people and everyday I love expanding my network of people.

John Maxwell once said in a training session that he always asks his new friends or acquaintances, “Who do you know that I should know?”  Maybe that is because he too values his rolodex.  He values the people he knows.  I believe I am in company with the likes of someone like Maxwell who is always focused on building his rolodex to grow and develop as a human, a leader, and a mentor.

#GoGrowYourRolodex

Top of the List

I don’t know about you but many of the expectations I have placed on myself are unrealistic.  They did not take into account an injured knee, an emotional job, or the fact that cleaning ANY dishes will be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.  Also, my judgments have lacked perspective.  I’ve come to conclusions about myself without seeing the big picture.

Specifically, I have always had an eye for what was “wrong” and seemed to skim over the multitude of good deeds and characteristics that I shared with the world every day.  These unrealistic expectations and harsh judgments lead me to feel helpless and “not good enough.”  I might as well have been dodging hammer fist punches while walking a tight rope!

My solution?  Grind a little harder.  Make a better plan.  Be more organized.  Say it in a new way.  Really commit.  Sound familiar?  Now, this extreme way of living required relief.  Yet, a nice cup of tea and yoga session did not do the trick.  No, only a Netflix binge, bottle of wine and package of Oreos relieved the worrisome pressure in my chest.  Yikes, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, but unfortunately it was a train.

After numerous consequences to my mind, body, spirit, relationships, and career, I reluctantly surrendered to the fact that my way was just not working.  To me, this was the toughest blow of all…especially for a person whose main goals had always been to “do well” and “fix it.”  I felt deflated, yet strangely grounded…humbled.  I woke up each day and took a good, honest look at myself.  I wrote in my journal and read my own words.  I cried…a lot…and considered what I actually wanted out of life.   How did I want to exist in this world?  Why did I even want to exist?

Hmmm, I had never asked myself these questions.  How interesting that my whole life I had frantically and ferociously tried to meet and live up to expectations and judgments that weren’t even mine.  If you are nodding along to my words, then we can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone.

Okay, let’s take a collective breath.  We have proved time and time again that we possess creativity, compassion, problem solving skills, and a killer work ethic.  We are not lacking in any way.  Our efforts have simply been divided, interrupted, and unfocused.  We need to take time to consider our values…what is most important to us above anything else…Maybe we step out and put our own well-being at the top of that list.

 

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.

 

 

 

Ep 6: Emma Otto Visits With Rachael about the Art of Negotiating

After listening to the podcast please leave me your comments here.  I would love to hear any of your stories about how you or one of your rockstar girlfriends negotiated creatively.   At every turn of my career I have negotiated a day job that allowed me to take my personal days to officiate basketball.  Your needs may be different – tell me about how you make it happen.

#b2bnetwork #MediaLife #Negotiate4Life #CreativelyNegotiate

WWOD

Anyone remember the wrist bands that us young Christians were wearing in junior high that simply said WWJD? Well today I ask you, WWOD? And not to compare the two religiously at all, but lets be honest we always want to know, “What Would Oprah Do?”

Well I came across a great article this morning about what Oprah did when she found out her male co-worker was making more money even though they were doing the same job. The story is not much different than the one I reference often about Mika Brzezinski on the Morning Joe show.

I believe this is an important article because it goes through two stories for Oprah.  The first demonstrates how she stood up for herself and the second shows how she stood up for other women.  So today I challenge women – stand up for yourself AND stand up for other women. The statistics need to change – we have so far yet to go for equality.  See below an excerpt from the aforementioned article.

While gender equality today has made great strides, women in the workforce are still underrepresented in leadership roles. For example, there are only 24 women helming Fortune 500 companies as CEOs. And in the aggregate, they are paid less than men. Women working full time in the U.S. in 2016 earned $0.80 for every dollar earned by a man, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research (IWPR) and the American University of American Women.

#NotGoodEnough  #KeepAsking4More #SuccessWithoutApology