looking for friends

Looking for Friends Gets Harder In Life, But It’s OK.

I bet, if I asked, you could tell me about your best friend in elementary school. You could tell me all about this person, and why the two of you were close. I’d most likely hear about fun times you had, and many things you did together. Are you still close to this person, though? Are you still connected? Possibly, but more likely than not,  memories are all you have, not a current friendship. Sadly, I’ve found that looking for friends becomes becomes harder to do as life goes on.

chalk

 

My first best friend when I was younger was  named Leslie. She lived around the corner, and we had countless sleepovers and play dates. Then she moved, and we lost touch. Life continued on, and while in high school I picked up many of the friendships I maintain to this day. During the chaos of recent months, I’ve found myself leaning more heavily on my high school friendships. This is a good thing though, and here’s why.

Your chances to connect with people on a personal level are harder to find as you adopt more responsibility in life.

Once you become an adult, you spend more time at work than anyplace else. It becomes easy to let people in your office setting fill your natural need for friendship. They may or may not share personal interests with you, but since you’re surrounded by them all day, they become your friends.

This isn’t always a good idea.

Boundaries easily get blurred at work. Your workmates might hear about your family dramas, snark sessions regarding the boss, complaints about terrible customers–all sorts of things you should probably leave unsaid. People get confused, though. By spending so much time together, it’s easy to spill your guts, and feel  a false sense of intimacy with each other.

Oversharing leaves you vulnerable to office politics, changes in leadership and jealousy from coworkers. Regrettably, our workplaces are becoming more and more competitive, so keeping your personal life more private is a wiser business movoffice friendse.

 

Be kind, be friendly, be helpful and resourceful at work–but don’t be the one without boundaries. Don’t be fooled into a false sense of friendship with the people you work with, because things could easily change.

By investing too heavily in work relationships, you could be left without friends if things ever evolve in your employment status.

This is something I noticed in my own life.

I’ve been pretty public about my transition out of the traditional work force. I used to have a solid core of people I considered to be  friends, but when I left my workplace, I stopped hearing from any of them. 

This was a painful transition, to be honest. I was startled by how little these people seemed to care about me, when for years, our daily interactions seemed to be so solid.  Their lack of interest was painful, since we had been so connected when sitting by side by side.

Many of these were friendships, it turns out, were friendships of convenience.

They were relationships based upon proximity, just like my relationship with Leslie was all of those years ago. Once I left the geography of our workplace, I wasn’t part of the stream that connected all of us, so I became irrelevant.

Gently examine your own list of friends, and see if they come from your job, or your life. You know–your real life–the one that doesn’t change once your paycheck does.

 One of the changes you’ll discover as you age is that fewer people matter to you. 

Getting older has helped me crystallize what really matters most. People now matter to me more than things, and the friendships from my past have become incredibly important. These friendships were formed before my days in the cubicle, and came out of my passions, not my work. So the girls I played high school tennis with, the kids I spent hours with in the auditorium during play rehearsal–these are the friendships I now cherish, because they are based upon my passions.

As my long-term friends and I age together, we enjoy a common bond based upon our hearts–not our paychecks. Our shared memories connect us into a solid community of people. 

old friends

We cheer each other on through health issues, job losses, the deaths of our spouses and children–all the things that affect us as human beings, not corporate workers.

Because my friendship circle is becoming smaller, it’s becoming stronger. As I drop the people from my life who are part of my ‘geographical friendship’ list, I’m bringing closer the people who know me for my soul, not my earning power.

This is a refreshing change for me, and very liberating.

I’m not the only person who thinks this way.

Sharon Greenthal, a fellow blogger I’ve discovered, did a post called ‘What Does Midlife Really Mean’. Here’s a sentence from her article that really caught my attention: “For many at midlife, being part of a crowd isn’t nearly as important as having a few meaningful, deep relationships to sustain them.”

Yes. This is exactly what I’m talking about.

During midlife, we decide the people around us must be good people. We’re tired of fake, we’re tired of backstabbing and we’re tired of office politics. We recognize our friends must be closely aligned to what we want in life, because our time has become more limited.

Midlifers recognize conversations of the heart are more important than gossip sessions in the break room. We treasure the people who remember our young ambitions, and offer only polite nods to those more interested in our resume.

Looking for friends as we get older may be as simple as looking back, not just ahead.

No matter where you are in life, I encourage you to tenderly examine your list of friends.

Stop thinking your solid friendships are with the people you work with. Seek instead people who love you for your heart’s desires, no matter your age. Join book clubs, or adult sports teams. Volunteer for issues you care about about. Track down people on Facebook you haven’t spoken to in years. Yes, I agree–you may find a true friend in your office, but chances are–that relationship will go away once the job does.

Look instead, for people outside of the office, who really love you for you. Reignite some of your old relationships. Connect with people who share some of your personal history. Then– tell me all about it. I’d love to hear you tracked down an old friend, or even renewed a romantic relationship.

There’s room below to leave your note, and please remember to subscribe, so we can stay connected.

Blessings!

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

 

 

survival guide

Survival Guide for Our Changing World

It’s happened again. Another police shooting. So the headlines are screaming, the nation is in mourning, the fear is intensifying and everything around us continues to unwind. Both our nation and our world are dangerously turbulent. It’s scary, Friend. For all of us. Because there seem to be no rules anymore, and no one is sure what’s ahead. We all assume it’s more violence and chaos, and that’s horrifying, since we are better than this. Genuinely, Friend–we are better than this. In response, I’ve created a survival guide for our changing world. Not the kind that tells you how to live in the mountains somewhere, off the grid. This survival guide will tell you how to stay firmly a part of things, because we need you, right here. Making a positive difference.

First things first: cut down on screen time.

Whether its social media, or big media, most of what’s being published right now is inflammatory. People are afraid, so rumors are spreading, and emotions are being widely shared. Rants, fights, videos of violence–all of this is zipping across our universe with incredible ease. People who feel angry and victimized are shouting through their fingertips, and arguments are starting among strangers. These arguments are getting shared and commented upon by thousands. As if that weren’t enough, extreme views are now easily broadcast through things like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. So an obscure nutjob can gain not only credibility but exposure, which starts the cycle all over again.

Here’s the answer: cut down on your screen time, Friends. Turn it off. Tune it out. Stop clicking, sharing and commenting. Unfollow people who incite any kind of anxiety or anger in you. Whether they are national figures or your neighbor next door–stop listening to the things that upset you.

Selectively choose a minimum number of news sources to stay posted on necessary updates, and ignore the rest.

I am not telling you to completely unplug. Our world has become incredibly electronic and interconnected, so staying part of the feed is necessary. You just have to find a balance. Find news sources you trust, which align to your world view, and then just scan headlines. You’ll know what’s going on, you’ll  be made aware of major events, but you won’t be dragged into the minutiae. News outlets make money based upon how long you’re on their site. This is a metric they share with their advertisers, to determine advertising rates. The longer a viewer is on their site, the more money they can charge. So they will do anything they can to draw you in, and keep you online. Watching, listening or whatever it is–they want to keep you there. Stop giving them this power over you. Learn enough to empower you and the decisions you make for your family, but not so much that you are overwhelmed or weakened by the things you learn.

Stop over sharing.

Whether it’s information about your family’s activities, location, photos or everyday life–pay attention to your boundaries. Yes–it’s great to connect with people. That’s one of the beauties of our modern world. Not everyone is so user-friendly, however. Don’t be paranoid, be aware.

 Do whatever makes sense, in your situation, to help your family feel safe.

This will vary widely among families. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but it’s a critical step. Some families might want to change locks and take self-defense courses. Others might want to set up regular family prayer times. Still others might want to have Disney marathons with pizza, and everyone cuddling on the couch. There are no limits, because every family is unique. Just do something that fits your family’s situation to establish a sense of unity, safety and cohesiveness. Keep connected as a unit, know you’re a team, and feel the safety you offer each other through both physical and emotional support.

Reach out to the people you love.

We should never be too busy for the people who matter most to us, but many times–we are. Our digital world has taken over so thoroughly, that many times–we don’t connect in a real way. Use your voice, Friend–your real voice. Pick up the phone, meet in person for a coffee–make time to look the person you love in the eye. It’s become incredibly easy to feel isolated, because we lack a great deal of genuine interaction in today’s world. You have to make genuine connection a priority. This will help you feel stronger and safer, and is a powerful part of a successful survival guide.

Stop reacting to everything.

Remember–those sneaky advertising rates are lurking in the background–so headlines are designed to draw you in, and keep you there. By reacting, to anything, you’re giving yourself the chance to get wrapped up emotionally in something that really has nothing to do with you. Every time you react, you’re taking the focus off of the things in your life that genuinely matter, and giving it to the things that don’t. Stop buying in to the panic, the manufactured celebrity dramas, the situations taking place thousands of miles away from you and the things over which you have no control. These things will corrode your soul like battery acid. Instead, reduce your focus, reduce your concerns and let go of the things that don’t genuinely concern you.

Pause. Always–pause.

Pause before you speak. Pause before you click. Pause before you react. Decide, before it comes out of your mouth or your fingers, if it will help. If it won’t–don’t share it. Whatever it is, just pause, and let it go. If every single one of us committed to being more responsible about the things that we say and share, we’d have a great start to cleaning up the mess that is our current world. We no longer seem to have either filters or boundaries, and to have lost a great deal of respect for each other. This has to change. So pause. Before everything–pause. Evaluate what you want to say or do, and then proceed with the gentle conviction that what you are contributing will help create positive change. If it’s not going to help in some way, then stop.

Remember what your mama said? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

Let’s all start that back up, shall we?

Be aware but not paranoid.

Shootings are happening in random places, terrorist attacks are happening all over the world and everywhere you look–you see mayhem.

Stop looking so intently, Friend. Yes–be aware of what is happening around the world. Yes, understand that the world has changed significantly over the years, and things are dangerous in ways they never were before.

However.

The world is still beautiful.

There are still many, many good people among us.

The sun still arches overhead every morning, and not a single star in the sky has moved.

Here’s a little trick I have when things become overwhelming: I look at the moon. I’ve been all over the world–literally–even to Africa–but the moon has always looked exactly the same, no matter where I’ve been.

So tonight, go look at the moon. It’s exactly the same moon you looked at when you were a child. Then remember this: every single person alive sees the same moon you do, no matter who they are, or where they live on our beautiful planet.

We are all connected by our humanity, despite everything that’s going on.

Isn’t that amazing perspective?

Actively fight your feelings of fear.

Draw close the people around you who matter. Speak, often and lovingly, to the people who are good. Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep–do all of the things you know to do to stay healthy. You are an important, vital part of our world, and we need you. You have to take care of yourself physically if you are going to survive the stress that has become part of modern life. We are on high alert more often than not, and making sure you are physically healthy is an important part of any survival guide. If it all gets to be too much, ask for help. Seek a counselor, pastor or doctor if necessary–there’s no shame in taking care of yourself in our world gone mad.

Look at it from another point of view.

Our world, and our nation, is splintering. Everyone is shouting their own point of view. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone feels they are right. Here’s the thing: some part of almost every argument is right. Even the most outlandish viewpoint has to start from a basic that is shared by many. So work to find that starting point, and try to see it from the other side’s point of view. Try to understand the other person’s perspective. Agree to disagree, respect the differences that add vibrant texture to the beauty of our world, and operate from a place of gratitude instead of anger. Understand we will never all think the same way, and that’s okay. We don’t need to. We just need to treat one another with courtesy, grace and respect.

Be grateful.

Be thankful for the good you see around you. Some of it is big–you have a roof over your head, you have money to feed your family with and you have people who love you. These things are of epic importance, and not to be taken lightly. There’s more, though. The way the light shines on a child’s hair. The way your loved one silently sits next to you in the quiet of the evening, as the day is winding down. The way the breeze feels on your cheek. These are all tiny blessings, and we forget them.

We shouldn’t. Instead, we should celebrate them. We should magnify their importance. We should pay attention to them, instead of the poison and fear we are surrounded by.

Be thankful, deeply thankful, for what is good in the world. Whether it is big or small, any light in this broken world is a gift, and needs to be celebrated. Too many people miss the beauty because their complaints are too loud.

So be still. Be quiet. And be thankful.

This survival guide is just a start.

A tiny start, to address a huge problem.

And it’s not comprehensive, because there’s no way it could be.

I hope, in this broken world, it has given you a moment’s pause. A bit of comfort, re-orientation and renewed perspective.

Every single one of us has more control than we feel. Each one of us can affect the people around us in positive ways, and individually make a tiny difference in the world.

That is my challenge to you, Friend.

Go forth with gentle courage, fearless kindness and tender optimism.

Be a light in the darkness, and a voice to the powerless.

I’d love to hear your suggestions to add to this survival guide. Please feel free to comment below, and please remember to subscribe, so we can stay connected.

Be well, Friend. We’re going to make it.

Blessings.

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

 

 

 

 

 

goal setter quiet introvert happy birthday

Goal Setter & Quiet Introvert: Happy Birthday to Me

 

Hello, Friends. What a year it’s been. I started this journey exactly a year ago today, when I released my tiny book, The Little Bottle: A Bedtime Story for Grownups”.  In the year since, I’ve gone viral on the Huffington Post, been featured on the BlogHer network, developed a crew of small but fiercely devoted readers and taught myself an entirely new industry. Not bad. It’s not enough, though. For a goal setter and quiet introvert such as myself, there are so many more things I want to accomplish.

I can’t help, on this anniversary of my birth, to look back at how far I’ve come. 

Normally I look forward, because setting goals is pretty much what keeps me going. I love having things to look forward to, and tangible milestones that measure my time spent on the planet. Because of my introversion though, I’m usually very quiet about what those goals are. I’ll have a template in my mind for what success will look like to me, and then I’ll figure out how to make it happen. When my goal is met, I’ll quietly check it off in my mind, and then move on to the next thing. Being on Huffington was a big goal for me; going viral was an unexpected and very welcome bonus.

Are you ready for some candor? My life has been extraordinarily difficult. I’ve had to overcome many things that others couldn’t imagine. I’m not complaining about this though, or denying that you have suffered, too–I’m just quietly observing the path I’ve traveled. Over the past several weeks, memories have quietly slipped into my mind of things I’ve survived. People I’ve met, places I’ve lived–the past has gently invaded my present, to remind me of things from long ago. I’ve remembered times of fear, of loneliness, of loss–opportunities to get swamped by the horrors of our broken world. I’ve made it, though. Not sure why, but I’ve made it. So today, on the 51st anniversary of my entry into the world, I allow myself to look at the overall picture, and not just the goals I have for the future. Here are some truth bombs.

Being a goal setter can be exhausting.

People sometimes don’t understand the focus necessary. They sometimes don’t ‘get’ the devotion, the work, the behind-the-scenes stuff that is required to make your goals happen. Or–they mistake your dedication for something else, because they don’t understand what you’re doing. Tough. We need your magic, Friend. You were created for something specific. You have gifts, you have talents, you have passions–you are a unique individual with something to share. So whatever it is–share it. Make it happen. Turn off the noise, turn away from the distractions–show us why you’re here. We need you.

Being an introvert is a mixed blessing.

I have trouble speaking out loud. Not because of any physiological deficit–my vocal chords work just fine. I just…don’t like to talk. I prefer to listen. I prefer to observe. I prefer to sit quietly, and think. This doesn’t make sense in our world. Our world, especially now, is based upon input and attention. People are rewarded for being noticed. People are expected to not only have an opinion, but to share it–frequently and loudly. I prefer to not say anything around others, and my ‘voice’ comes out of my fingers,instead of my mouth. This imbalance is difficult though, for those who are around me in real life. It’s really only a reward for those who know me solely through my essays and articles.

We mostly suck as people.

In my year of writing, I’ve worked like mad to change things. I’ve written thousands of words to encourage, to inspire and to change. Obviously, we’re still terrible to each other, and most likely always will be. I avoid the news as much as possible, because I’m frequently torn down emotionally by reports of abuse, violence, downright stupidity and excess. I find our media makes it easy to lose faith in both our systems and people, and narrowing my focus is necessary to keep my voice pure. My goal is to develop kindness and encouragement in the world, and it’s hard to do if I listen to the garbage around me. So I don’t. You shouldn’t either. Turn off the news, Friend. Shut down the drama. They’re just trying to reach into your wallet with all that crap anyway–you know that, right?

I’m disappointed.

I’m disappointed in my life, in my career, in our nation and in our world. As a child, I had an extremely vivid imagination. I spent hours alone, telling myself stories about the trees and animals around me. I named the birds I saw, I read everything I could get my hands on, and had a vivid play life with dolls. I had an inherent appreciation for the magic in the world around me, and a strong belief that it was a beautiful place. I still operate this way, but it’s getting harder. I require time alone, especially outside, to recapture this sense of balance, and sometimes fight to retain my childish optimism. I’m often disappointed that we are so ugly to one another on such a regular basis, because our beautiful world doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment.

I don’t like how our world is changing.

I don’t like that we send thousands of our best young men and women to foreign lands, where they are blown to pieces, and then often ignored once they come back home to us. I don’t like that politicians from every side shout at each other for media attention, and then lie to us on a regular basis. I don’t like that many young people today look for the easiest ways to make the most money, and don’t find merit in jobs that aren’t glamorous, or based upon social media. I don’t like that my value as a worker or as a woman declines each day that I live, because youth is considered a virtue instead of a circumstance. I don’t like that respect, for anything, is out of favor. Respect for flag, uniform, authority, institution, experience–respect is an old school virtue, and I’m starting to miss it in our world.

I often struggle more than you know.

I regularly hide my personal struggles in my work, because the world has enough sadness. My goal in carving out this space is to provide you, My Beloved Reader, with an oasis of encouragement and tranquility. A place to bring me your own difficult experiences and disappointments, and leave our time together uplifted. In real life, though–I need the encouragement I provide as much as you do. Funny, huh?

And now the swing–we’re somehow gonna make it.

Human nature is resilient, and things going wrong in your personal life are not often not as bad as they seem. To survive, you must intentionally gather people close around you. People who love you, people who ‘get’ you, and people who are also having a tough time. To survive, you must create a community of people to share things with, both good and bad. You have to dive deep into your heart, and figure out what really matters most to you. Then you have to focus on that. 

You have a limited time on the planet Friend, so stop wasting it on crap.

Put down the remote, open the window and look outside. There are trees, birds, clouds–an entire galaxy is waiting beyond the Kardashian’s yoga pants, but you have to be willing to see them. Take it from a goal setter and quiet introvert–the outside noise can kill you, so you must stop listening.

I’m proud of me.

Others may be not be though, because I’ve often been told my potential has been wasted. I’ve been told that I could have been more, done more or reached higher levels of success. It hurts to hear those things, and even more sadly– I’ve sometimes thought them myself. (You know–that whole goal setter thing). However–I’m here. I’ve made it. I’m standing, when many others around me have fallen.

I’m unhappy with our new world, but I’m figuring it out.

Yes–I’m working three menial part-time jobs. My heart aches every moment I’m clocked in at them. I’m spoken to rudely by people half my age in real life, and treated in ways that are completely demeaning. Both by my coworkers, and the general public.

All of this hurts, and sometimes I cry. However, the words silently streaming from my fingers when I’m home are being read, and then shared, across continents.  This has to matter. Somehow, this has to matter.

Yes–I have more goals. Lots of them. I won’t list them here, because that’s not my style. I’m afraid though, that I will be stuck in this hell of crappy part-time jobs for the rest of my life. I’m afraid I will age in place as children continue to yell at me. I’m afraid my goals won’t be reached, and my voice won’t make a difference, after all. I want to continue offering you loving truth, positive encouragement and the oasis of tranquility we talked about a minute ago.

I want to reach even more people, and further develop our TeamJeffers community. My hope is that you find merit in my work, and will continue to share it, and then invite others to subscribe, because this site part of my community to draw upon, for support and encouragement. Thank you in advance for helping me further develop TeamJeffers.

Being a goal setter and quiet introvert is really all I know how to do.

So…I will continue to do it, to the best of my ability. I will enter my 51st year with a strong appreciation of my broken and battered past. I will open my heart and mind to the possibilities for my tomorrows, and hope for more of the magic I believe is possible in the world. I will recognize I can’t fix everything, but still try to fix some of it. I will try to keep for myself some of the gentleness and love I regularly give out to others, because I need these things more than you know. I will continue to believe in the future I can see for me and my family, and put in the hard and necessary work required to get us there.

I will try to stand strong in the face of criticism about me and the things I hold dear, knowing that I’m doing the best I can in a world where rules no longer apply. I will continue to offer love to those who are bullied, lonely or sad, knowing that they also have value in our world that values appearance over substance. I will continue to appreciate the invisible more than the things that can be seen, and offer gentleness to all, despite how much it hurts when someone responds to me with force.

Finally–softly, quietly and tenderly–I will marvel at the incredible site I have created out of nothing.

I will gently wonder at the changes made all around the globe, because of words I have quietly crafted. I will recall the hours I’ve spent hiding behind my locked door, as I silently typed out words of strength and love to those who might not otherwise get them. And finally–I will continue to believe. In myself, in you, and in us.

Yes. Indeed, World.

Happy Birthday to me.

You haven’t broken me, yet.

Blessings. xo

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

motherhood

Motherhood Won’t Go Away, Even When the Child Does

 

“Mama– I’m sleeping” came my daughter’s voice through the telephone. I accidentally woke her up the other morning, and magically–I was transported to an earlier time in my life. In that inexplicable moment, I felt my daughter’s tiny head tucked under my chin. Somehow I felt her little arms wrapped around me. I felt the silkiness of her hair against my neck, and the weight of her tiny body in my arms. And somehow I smelled her–that indefinable and extraordinarily beautiful mark of the child I created. She’s an adult now, but motherhood is still part of my DNA.

How do we do it, Friend? How do we create, from nothing, a vibrant human being, and then tenderly let that magnificent creature go? Once it’s time, how do we gently allow motherhood to take second place, and pick back up other pieces of our identity that have been slumbering over the years?

It’s hard to do, isn’t it? Motherhood somehow doesn’t go away, even when the child does.

I confess I sometimes struggle with this balance. Now that my child is an adult, I find myself gasping at moments of unexpected pain, when a memory, or a longing for some kind of do-over jumps out at me. Motherhood is one of the most powerful parts of my identity. I will never be able to let it go, even though it’s sometimes dormant. I will never be able to ignore the pull of my child’s voice, no matter how old she becomes. I will never stop being her mom, even though she has grown up.

Do you remember bringing your baby home, Friend? How terrifying it was? We drive away from our birthing experience without being given any kind of manual, instructions or warranty. We watch our partner as he silently bites the inside of his lip, constantly checking the mirror as he drives his new family home. Then we look back at the new human that came out of us, nestled like some sleepy little raisin in the car seat. Quietly, we wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Once we’re home, we read, and re-read the instructions on everything baby-related, because we’re terrified of making a mistake. Suddenly–everyone’s schedules revolve around the sleepy raisin.

Then somehow the years race by, in an endless stream of demands and decisions. The profound is hidden by the relentless volume of life. One day we look up, and with a start–realize a beautiful adult is staring back at us. How does this happen? Where does the time go? What happened to our sleepy little raisin? I don’t know, Friend. I don’t know.

Right now, I find myself in the middle of things, because motherhood is no longer my primary role. I’ve realized it’s time for me to start changing my self-image, because I have to survive this new place in my life.

My baby is now managing the big and scary world on her own, and only occasionally asks for advice or guidance. My career has stalled,  and I am occasionally startled by sharp regrets about choices, decisions or unmet desires for my life. I recognize there’s now more time behind me than there is ahead, and it’s time to start prioritizing the things I want to accomplish. I find myself wanting to stay relevant, but unwilling to waste time on things that don’t matter. Painfully, I’m discovering I have fewer friends than I thought. It turns out I have plenty of acquaintances, but fewer friends. There’s a difference, and I’m learning that I have somehow surrounded myself with many people who care less about me than I care about them.

I’m learning our world values immediacy, youth and speed. There’s less respect now, for relationship, and more demand for results. My personal value of person over profit seems quaint by today’s standards, and I sometimes fight to feel a sense of worth  in today’s new marketplace. My accomplishments, all noble and legitimate, are now held up against my age and gender, and somehow aren’t enough to overcome the barriers I meet.

I struggle, in this new world, to find a place I am comfortable.

I fight to feel a sense of value and relevancy. My heart and mind compete with the lessons I was taught  as a young woman, and the messages I am now being given as an older one. I’m neither emotionally nor financially ready to retire into a rocking chair and watch the sunset, but confess that many days–doing so sounds delightful, simply because of how tired I am from fighting these battles.

I can’t find anyone to hire me full-time, and so instead–have three menial part-time jobs. Jobs where I come home bruised, exhausted and sad, because I know I am capable of more, and am spoken to by the public in ways that wound. My writing is my passion, and what keeps me going, but sadly–it hasn’t taken off the way I’d hoped. I continue to pour my heart and soul into it, though–because I can’t help but feel it must resonate with someone who has a path similar to mine. Someone who has different gifts, and can’t express him- or herself as easily, and could find comfort from reading my thoughts.

So I keep going.

I keep facing each morning with hope. I keep praying that I have mattered during the days I’ve lived, and gently wipe away tears on those that I want to quit. I wash my many uniforms, praying I won’t see someone I used to work with while clocked in at one of my menial jobs, and take it on the chin when someone I love causes me pain. I keep fighting for other women in my position, who also find themselves straddling the economy, motherhood and self-image, and like me, don’t know how to come out ahead.

I try hard not to compare my youthful expectations against my reality, because women my age were promised a great deal. Sadly, it seems that many of us put in all of the work, but haven’t been able to reap the rewards we were told would be waiting. We’re still fighting hard, but many of us are tiring.

Is there an answer to all of this? I hope so. In my own world, I will continue to write. I will continue to believe. I will continue to pause, reflect and pray for us all. I will draw my circle tighter, continue to treat all with respect and kindness, and face each day with optimism. I’m going to let myself feel the pain of my broken situation, though. My distress is both genuine and deserved. I won’t let it be silenced.

What about You, Friend?

Are you in a similar place? Have you recognized that things in your life are not as you might wish? I’m sorry. Will you please tell me your story? Each of us has our own beautiful journey, and it’s by drawing together we can find strength. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, and then remember to subscribe, so we can stay connected. Do one of your friends a favor, and share this post, so others can benefit from the encouragement, too. We all have so much to learn from one another, and I’m willing to start the discussion, but people have to know this resource is available to them. Thank you in advance for making them aware.

And before you go, there’s one more important thing, Beautiful:

Life is tough. But you’re tougher.

Never forget it. 

Okay?…

Blessings.

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

You may also enjoy:

“And Just Like That, They’re Gone”

“10 Ways to Survive Your Empty Nest”

“Do You Believe a Happiness Lie?”

 

 

 

3 Reasons Meg Ryan's Face is None of Our Business

3 Reasons Meg Ryan’s Face Is None of Our Business

Poor Meg Ryan. The other night, she did her hair, put on some lipstick, and went to a party. As a result, the internet blew up. Twitter went crazy with snarky comments about her appearance, and now there are lots of articles shouting, “What happened to Meg Ryan?”  People, really. Is this the best we can do? See…hours before Ms. Ryan destroyed Twitter simply by smiling, forty-nine people were shot to death at a nightclub.  Human beings suffered and died because of yet another act of terrorism on American soil, and our best response at the time seemed to be commenting about someone’s face, simply because the face in question didn’t look the way we wanted it to.

Are you kidding me, ‘Murica? I find three things madly objectionable about this entire situation, and I’m rolling up my sleeves, so get ready.

First. Meg Ryan’s Face is None of Our Business.

Just like anybody else’s face is none of our business. Especially in our current ‘do anything you like’ culture, where we’re told that people are allowed to pierce themselves, tattoo themselves, and otherwise modify themselves however they’d like. And it’s all cool. (You know–self-expression and all that). So a kid can wear jeans that drag on the ground, (so I can even see his underwear), and it’s okay. I’m supposed to accept it. A young woman can dye her hair green, ram a piece of metal through her lip, and it’s okay. I’m supposed to accept it. Ms. Ryan might have worked up the nerve to see a medical professional for some help against gravity, (although she says she hasn’t, so whatever) and all of a sudden, it’s the end of the world. Suddenly, everyone is allowed to bully her.

That’s wrong. We’re not allowed to bully Meg Ryan just because she is a famous woman who is getting older, any more than we are allowed to bully anyone else.

Online bullying is something everyone gets crazy about when you’re talking about high schoolers, but it seems to be okay when you’re talking about celebrities just going through life. But it’s not. Bullying is bullying. I don’t care your age, orientation, gender, whether you have droopy pants and green hair–whatever. That famous person you’re shredding online is still a human being, with deep value and genuine emotions. Sitting anonymously behind a computer screen in your underpants with chips and a beverage doesn’t give you the right to tear anyone else’s self-image down, simply because you think you’re being funny. You’re not. You’re being a harmful cyberbully, and you must stop. This is probably a good time to bring up Carrie Fisher, isn’t it? She had the nerve to age, too. When the last Star Wars movie came out, she also blew up the internet, and her haters pulled out bikini shots that were decades old from her first appearance as Princess Leia. This leads me to point two.

Just Because Meg Ryan is a Woman Doesn’t Mean She Can’t Age Like the Rest of Us.

Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher and many other female celebrities magnify for us one of the double standards we not-famous women also have to wrestle with: women are penalized for the aging process. As we age, we find it harder to land jobs, while our male counterparts are not only recruited, but paid more as a reward for their ‘experience’. We have entire segments of the beauty industry dedicated to deny our aging process, while men are told they are becoming more ‘rugged’. The standard understanding is that women are replaced with ‘trophy wives’ as part of a man’s midlife crisis, because our sex appeal has gone away, not because he’s flaking out on a commitment he made years ago when our body parts were still perky. Listen here, Sparky–all of this is insulting. What this does is give  a women a shelf-life as a valuable human being, because she is suddenly being defined, essentially, by her skin. Whether it sags, whether it wrinkles, whether it’s bumpy with the stretch marks she earned by creating another human being–we as women get to a point where we are essentially defined simply by the appearance of our skin.

Ummmm….I thought you weren’t allowed to do that, right?… I thought we’re not supposed to define someone by the appearance of their skin?…

A woman’s skin, whether it’s droopy, wrinkled or dewy fresh as a newborn, simply encases the magic, the beauty and power of the individual woman living and breathing inside of it. Whether she has had a career, raised a family, or a combination of the two, the older woman you see has made an incredible impact upon the world, and defining her by crow’s-feet or laugh lines is terrible. IF a woman, (any woman, not just Meg Ryan), chooses to do anything with her skin–that’s her business. She can put cream into it, she can prevent it from tanning, she can see a medical professional and have it lifted–it’s her skin. Ideally, she will do these things because she wants to, not because our culture tells her she must. Which is where the bullying comes back in. Women are held to higher beauty standards, by both genders, and I’m saying we should know better. There’s so much more that we should focus on in the world than someone’s skin, and whether it’s wrinkled or not. Which leads me to point three.

Why Were You Worried About Meg Ryan’s Face While People Were Dying?

No lie. As Meg Ryan’s face was taking over Twitter, 49 members of the LGBT community were being slaughtered in an Orlando night club. Lemme say that again: people were dying from what has now been determined to be a domestic terror attack, and the biggest thing we could talk about at the time was Meg Ryan’s lips. AND–it wasn’t just the standard internet haters who regularly complain about everything who were commenting that night. I actually saw a comment that said, “I gay-gasped” in reference to Ms. Ryan’s face. Huh? This young fellow is part of the community being slaughtered while he typed, but he was more horrified by Meg Ryan’s appearance than by the shooting?…Seriously. This is messed up.

Listen ,’Murica–we must refocus on the things that matter.

We must buckle down as a nation, and figure things out. We are currently in the middle of a Presidential election that gives me complete gastric distress, and is the laughingstock of the world. We currently seem to be more interested in someone’s face than in human lives, and we currently seem to be more distracted by crap than we are in figuring out the substantial parts of being a decent human being. I have never met Meg Ryan, so I can’t speak for her, but if I were in her shoes, I’d not only be angry about the unnecessary bullying, I’d be seriously p.o.’d that it was taking over the seriousness of what happened in Orlando.

So What’s the Answer?

Same things as I always say. Operate out of a place of kindness–and show it to all people. Whatever a person looks like is just that–what the person looks like. Someone’s looks do not define their soul, their spirit or their intention. The biggest, scariest guy you could ever see may have a truly tender heart, and the dainty young lady you see could have a personality made of ice. It’s the inside of a person that matters–not the outside. A person who is aging has the same value as a person who is still young. A person who is female has the same value as the person who is male. A person who is famous has the same value as the person who is not. What matters is the inside, Friend.

So stop being bullies, and start paying attention to the important stuff. Start trying to make your mama proud (because she already taught you all of this–I know she did) instead of trying to be funny online. Start trying to be kind, instead of getting ‘like’ notifications from people you will never, ever meet.

This stuff matters, Friend.

It really matters. So please figure it out, okay?…

Blessings.

 

You may also enjoy:

‘I Don’t Have the Answers. But We Can Start With This’.

‘Why Coffee Creamer and Black Socks Made Me Cry

‘Turning Fifty as a Woman–What Wasn’t Meant to Be’

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

 

 

Two women in medicine share wisdom on career choices, life transitions and balancing innate talent against the requirements of their job.

Voices of Power–Women in Medicine

In this Voices of Power piece, we’re going to hear from some women in medicine. I find people who practice medicine to be fascinating, because this career choice nurtures both the mind and the soul. Mathematics and science dominate this field, but you still need compassion and empathy for the moments of suffering and loss you’ll see everyday. Old-school thinking says men are better with the math and science angle, and women are better with the nurturing part, but the truth is that both genders need to be very strong with each element in order to succeed. So what about the modern-day woman in medicine? How does she overcome any lingering stereotypes, and balance her personal demands within such a complex profession? To find out, we’re going to meet an emergency room nurse and then a physician’s assistant. Please remember I’ve conducted these interviews by email, in order to get the true personalities and honest feedback from these great women, without the danger of any misquotes.

I asked Christine Manget to share her official job title, which she described as RN III; Registered Nurse who has worked to be a resource, subject expert and leader in the unit (Clinical Ladder track). Then I asked her to explain her main responsibilities at work. Here’s her answer:

“Bedside care in a 31 bed Level I trauma center Pediatric Emergency room, that sees in excess of 6000 visits per month” .

Christine Manget, pediatric emergency room nurse during a recent holiday.
Christine Manget, pediatric emergency room nurse during a recent holiday.

Can you imagine, Friend? Being a pediatric emergency room nurse with over 6,000 patients per month? Can you imagine the suffering? Can you imagine the fear of the parents she must deal with? Can you imagine the noise?…Jeepers. Who would willingly choose all of that? So I asked. Specifically, I asked how she positioned herself as a young person for her current success. Here’s what she said:

“Growing up all I ever wanted to be (aside from a 6 month obsession with flight attendants until I found out how much money they made) was a veterinarian. Unfortunately, my inability to focus on my first year of college (read too much fun at parties here) and an inability to grasp calculus, despite 3 tries at it, put a kibosh on those plans. I then set my mind on banking and in the process of taking business classes decided that I needed some extracurricular activities, so I joined a business fraternity–a marketing business fraternity. I hate selling things, so I decided I needed to run the fraternity so that no one would expect me to sell anything, and that is how I became co-president of Pi Sigma Epsilon. About this time, our faculty adviser brought me into his office and asked me when I planned to graduate. I was on the 4.5 year plan! He and I examined my options. It was not planned but I worked for Toys R Us, and at the time they had one of the best management training programs in any industry. Really, it was one of the only jobs that would have me with my GPA upon graduating college. But the conscious way I positioned myself was when I was looking for a job in nursing school that would get me a job as a nurse. I applied for and obtained a position as a unit secretary on the unit I would work for as a nurse”. 

So…just a note here…this showed huge resiliency. Ms. Manget had lifelong plans that didn’t work out because….well….let’s trace it back to Calculus and personality, to be honest. Yes–she could have drilled down and focused more stringently on grades, and higher grades could have opened more doors. That would have gone against her social, people-driven personality though. This is an example of accepting who she is as a person, and still making it work. Since she’s showing herself to be a bit of a rebel, I wanted to know her biggest professional challenge so far, and how she ended up creating success. I’m really glad I asked. First, because she’s had more than one challenge. Second, because her answer is so insightful:

“I have had 2 major challenges: this first was at Toys R Us. I was sabotaged by someone I hired and that led to my leaving the company. I went to work for a couple of smaller companies after that, but I wasn’t happy, I was actually bored. I felt the need to help people and after a soul-searching conversation with my college roommate, I went back to school and got my AS and then my BS in nursing.

The second challenge was the elimination of my management position 4 years ago. I had spent the previous 15 years working towards being a manager or director (after starting as the unit secretary while in nursing school) and it was taken away on a technicality–the other person in the same position had been with the hospital district 11 months longer than I. (Side note–this restructuring was because of budget cuts). It was a blessing in disguise because my job was killing me. I was stressed, overweight and miserable, but unable to admit it to myself. My friends were very relieved and they helped me see the window opening and took my focus off the door closing. Now, I enjoy being an informal leader on my unit. I get just the right mix of management without being in charge and I still get to take care of patients (the reason I got into nursing); I work 3 twelve-hour shifts, am able to leave work at work, and no one calls me on my days off to problem solve”.

I asked Ms. Manget what specific tool or training she would recommend to anyone interested in her demanding field:

“I would recommend volunteering in order to get a real understanding of what nurses do and the pace at which they are expected to do it”.

Then I wanted to know how she inspires people around her in the workplace, which is filled with stress, sorrow and fear. What a simple, and effective answer she gave me–we can all do this, Friends:

“I always made sure I never asked anyone to do anything I couldn’t do myself. In fact, I always made to sure to show my people I was willing and able to be in the trenches, working alongside them when the proverbial poopy hit the fan.  And I’ve always made a point to smile and engage every one on the team, even if I wasn’t their supervisor, i.e. housekeeping, registration, radiology, etc”. 

In other words–just be nice, everyone. Do your job, and be nice while you’re doing it.

Then, (and this is always my favorite part in these leadership profiles) I wanted her to explain something special. I asked her to share some wisdom that I wouldn’t know to ask for on my own, that was unique to her life’s experience. Here’s her response:

“Being a leader takes a lot of courage–I know that sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. The courage comes when you try something and end up looking like a fool; you have to be able to laugh at yourself–it keeps people from laughing at you. This works with staff and families. It takes courage to care about your staff, you’ll have your heart-broken, but your people will follow you into a war zone and ‘die’ for you, protecting you when they know you care about them. It takes courage to smile and nod and even hug a parent who is reaming you out because they are terrified of losing their child and are yelling at you because it’s easier to yell at a person than it is to yell at God or whatever higher power they believe in. It takes courage to not take the death, dying and suffering home to your families, courage to leave that negativity in the car and courage to get up the next day (night), pull on your scrubs and go do it all again. It takes courage to be fair and treat every one of your staff equally,because they deserve your fairness. I mentor by being encouraging to someone about making mistakes (as long as no one is endangered by them) and then getting them to explain what the mistake was. We truly do learn from our mistakes. I am tough and have high expectations, but if the bar isn’t raised occasionally, how will you grow?”

So here’s what we’ve learned in a nutshell. Be flexible, because what you always dreamed of doing might not be a good fit for your personality, skills or desired life style. Be nice, work hard, roll with the punches, and perhaps most importantly: being a leader isn’t defined by your title–it’s defined by your behavior.

Kelly Smith, a physician’s assistant, has similar wisdom to share. She works in a busy dermatological practice in Connecticut, and says this about her position:

“I treat 20-25 patients per day with a variety of skin issues from acne to rashes to skin cancer. A small portion of my time is spent on cosmetic skin issues such as skin care and anti aging”.

Kelly Smith, physicians assistant.
Kelly Smith, physicians assistant.

I wanted to know how she positioned herself for success as a younger person, and love how she answered me. It’s a good balance of sharing credit, and then something a lot of women struggle with–giving themselves credit:

“I was lucky enough to be born in the United States.  Other than that stroke of luck, most of my accomplishments are the end product of discipline, hard work and not being afraid to ask a lot of questions.  This is not to suggest that I haven’t benefited from the insight and efforts of many people. There are several teachers, family members and business associates that were instrumental in shaping my path both personally and professionally”.

So how about challenges? What has she found to be her biggest challenge, and what did she do to achieve a sense of victory?

“The toughest professional challenge for me was the 3+ years I spent in primary care. I was fortunate to work for an extremely smart and kind boss who valued patient care over bottom line.  He also valued family above all else.  Even working in that kind of ideal environment, the challenge of primary care was quite often overwhelming. The patients are often very complicated. The life and death nature of the work left me with many sleepless nights. The paperwork courtesy of the government and insurance industry is completely out of control and getting worse by the day. It is getting harder and harder to attract providers to primary care for these reasons.  I did not overcome the challenge. Instead I recognized that it was not a good fit for me. I eventually moved in to dermatology where I sleep better but am still able to make a difference for patients by providing quality medical care”.

How beautiful is that, Friend? Mrs. Smith recognized the challenge for what it was–unsolvable. Due to her personality, due to the nature of the changing industry and due to the requirements of the job itself–she recognized it would never get better and left before it overcame her. Isn’t that wise? So many people never figure that out. They will suffer for years, trying to make a situation better, instead of realizing that they can’t.  Not because of a personal shortcoming, but because of the nature of the challenge itself. Kindness is lacking in our world, especially self-kindness. Ms. Smith recognized that fighting a losing battle was doing her no good whatsoever, and wisely chose a different battle. She picked one she could win, and then hit it, full force.

I wanted to know what Mrs. Smith would suggest to someone interested in becoming physician’s assistant, or even just pursuing medicine in the first place. Here’s how she responded:

“The one thing I didn’t fully appreciate when I pursued a career in medicine (and I was almost 40 when I decided to go down this road) was how my personality was somewhat at odds with modern medicine. I am thoughtful and methodical and detail oriented and a perfectionist. Medicine is fast paced with a new problem to solve every 10-20 minutes.  So I would encourage people to take a good inventory of their strengths and weaknesses as they contemplate a career in medicine”.

Whoa. Hold the phone. Two thoughts here. She was almost 40 years old when she entered the medical field. You caught that, right?

This very moment, every single excuse you have for not pursuing your dream, Beloved Reader, has just flown out the window. So whatever that dream is, get to it.  Pronto. Quit whining, quit complaining, quit making excuses. Sign up, sign in, and get busy. Even if it’s medicine.

 

Okay, next–we’re right back to the point we learned with Ms. Manget–how important personality is in determining your best career path. Ms. Manget’s personality is more social, and Mrs. Smith’s more analytical. Over time, they both learned not only to recognize their individual strengths, but to then use them to their advantage in finding work-life balance. Ms. Manget’s exit from management allowed for more patient care, and Mrs. Smith’s exit from primary medicine freed her from an environment where she couldn’t perform with the level of focused precision she treasures.

So how does Mrs. Smith inspire the people around her? More easy, doable stuff, Friends:

“Inspiring people I work with?  Hmmm. I guess it’s as simple as providing compassionate quality care. I try very hard to listen to my patients, to educate them and to treat them with respect“.

Again–doing your job, and being a nice person. Why do people try to make this so complicated, when it’s not?

Reflecting on these two interviews, I come away with these primary thoughts:

  • Personality is more important than you may realize in your career choice, so don’t forget to seriously examine your own when considering a good work fit.
  • Recognizing, and accepting failure, is one of the wisest things you can do. Whether it’s your GPA or a work environment you can’t overcome–it’s okay to accept defeat, and then move on to another place where you will succeed.
  • Your personal time matters a great deal, and you will have to work hard to figure out a way to preserve it. Many people, women especially, are told that they can (and should) have it all, but they’re not really taught how to make that happen. Here’s how to start: respect your time away from your work setting. Ms. Manget values not being called on her days off. Mrs. Smith values being able to sleep better. They have both recognized that time away from the office is valuable, and then made adjustments to honor that space in their lives.

 

How about YOU, Friend?

Let’s examine you, for a moment. Let’s talk about your work environment. Are you working against your inherent strengths and inclinations? Are you being asked to do tasks that go against your natural wiring? How about your free time? Is it consumed with work, or the stress created by your professional position?

These may be tough questions for you to face, but they matter a great deal. I encourage you to create a quiet time in your schedule. Take a walk, close your office door, leave the ear buds out when you’re at the gym–intentionally create a quiet space, and critically examine how your work life balances with your home life. Brutally look at your goals. Are they in line with who you are as a person? Do they align with your natural talents?

It’s okay if this examination reveals flaws, either in you or your mindset. Life– beautiful, messy and imperfect– is all about change. Our world is complicated and always moving, so it’s okay to recognize that it might be time to switch lanes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, Friend. Have these two women, generous with their time and insights, inspired you to take a hard look at yourself? Have they challenged you to embrace change? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below, and then make sure to subscribe, so we can stay connected.

Blessings!

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

 

goals

Examples of Tiny Goals to Help Make a Better Life

 

Do you have any goals, Friend? Do you have some defined things you want to accomplish, or are you just floating along, day after day? Goals are important, because they serve as milestones for the time that passes in our lives. We set goals to improve who we are as people, and stretch us beyond what we think we can do. Ideally, we’ll set goals for both our personal and work lives, to help us achieve a sense of balance. Many people set their goals incorrectly, though. They think goal setting means saying things like, “I want to finish medical school and be a successful physician”, but they don’t recognize that successful goal setting comes from setting up tiny action steps beforehand. It’s the tiny things we do day after day that lead us to success in the long-term. Here are examples of small goals you can make that will help you create big changes for a higher quality of life.

Your Goal is “To Have a Better Work Life”. Here are Five Small Action Steps to Help Get You There.
  1.  Arrive fifteen minutes earlier than necessary so you can gracefully enter the workday. Who needs that frantic rush?
  2. Dedicate one afternoon to clearing away clutter and dealing with things you’ve been putting off.
  3. Ask your boss for feedback on your performance. Gather this information now, and follow-up on any recommendations. Don’t wait for a bad review–set yourself up for success, instead.
  4. Bring in new photos of your loved ones. Updated pictures will remind you of their love, since you’re probably tuning out the old images you’ve had for months, or even years.
  5. Invite a different coworker to lunch. Learn more about them, and develop that friendship.
Your Goal is “To Have a More Satisfying Personal Life”. Here are Five Easy Action Steps to Help Get You There.
  1. Cut down screen time. Whether it’s a TV or your phone, reduce your use by thirty minutes each day, and spend those thirty minutes outside.
  2. Go through your list of friends. Decide which ones are good for you, and which ones aren’t. Phone the ones who are good for you, and schedule a time to visit. Delete the ones from your phone or Facebook account who aren’t good for you. Seriously. I dare you. It feels great.
  3. Apologize to someone you’ve hurt.
  4. Ask someone you trust for feedback about yourself. Do they feel you have a quick temper, don’t take compliments well, or are stubborn? Look at yourself from an outsider’s perspective. Do you like what you see?
  5. Schedule a consistent time to spend with your significant other. For my husband and me, it’s Sunday mornings. You can read more about ways we put our relationship first here. (And here’s why I call it ‘TeamJeffers” in the first place. It’s because we’re a team).
Your Goal is “To Be More Healthy”. Here Are Five Small Action Steps to Help Get You There.
  1. Drink more water. Take your body weight, divide by two, and drink that many ounces per day.
  2. Go to bed at least 30 minutes earlier each night.
  3. Get a step counter, and aim for 10,000 steps per day.
  4. Take a multivitamin appropriate for your stage of life.
  5. Start using sunscreen daily, no matter the season.
What about it, Friend? Achieving goals feels great, and it’s one way to ensure that we use the time we’re given in good ways.

We get one shot at this thing called life. Do you want to look back and regret the time you wasted, or do you want to look back and admire the beautiful things you did while you were here?  My goal in this piece is to help you refocus, and take at least one small action to re-steer your life’s path. So feel free to drop me a note. I’m here on Facebook, or you can use the hashtag #TeamJeffersGoals on Twitter. I’d love to be a source of encouragement and praise for you. You can also leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe for more updates.

So whaddya think? Get to it, Friend–make something good happen, because life is short.

Let’s live it well, okay?

Blessings!

Psst–you may also enjoy these related posts:

Making a Difference Isn’t That Hard

Creating a Work Life Balance

Bonus Post For Your Bonus Day

 

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

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difference

Making a Difference Isn’t That Hard

 

I recently posted something funny on my personal Facebook page. Just kind of an aside, really, like we all do. I didn’t put much thought into the post, but it generated a profound response. A friend of mine read it, and in a comment, referred to something I had written for her ages ago, as a goodbye gift when she left a job we shared. To be honest? I had no idea what she was talking about. Genuinely–I had no recollection of what I had written for her, and felt kind of bad that I couldn’t remember something that seemed to have touched her so deeply. That’s how it is though, in life. Many times, we’re under the assumption that  making a difference in the world requires big effort, or big action. We look for ways to volunteer in heroic organizations because we think that making the difference in someone’s life requires an epic undertaking. Nope. Big actions are great, but you can make a difference in someone’s life without realizing it. Sometimes, it’s the small things we say or do that can make a change in the life of another. Want to hear more?…

Here’s a list of 50 ways for you to make a difference by spreading quiet kindness throughout the world.
  1.   Go through your bookshelves, and donate any unwanted books to your local literacy association.
  2.   Pay for the next person’s coffee when you’re in line.
  3.   The next time you’re grocery shopping, dedicate ten dollars to purchasing something specifically for a donation. As examples, get pet food for an animal shelter or cleaning products for your local domestic violence shelter.
  4. Compliment someone you don’t know when you’re in a public setting, such as a store or restaurant. Tell them something positive about how they look, or admire something they are wearing.
  5. Hold the door open for someone you don’t know.
  6. Send a surprise note or gift card to somebody you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
  7. Offer to babysit a friend’s child, for free. (Just because you know your friend needs a break).
  8. Leave a bowl of water by your front door, for any of your neighborhood pets that are out and about.
  9. Offer to drive an older person to the store, library or movies, because you know they don’t get out much.
  10. Leave a crazy-big tip for your server the next time you get great service, instead of the standard twenty percent.
  11. Intentionally don’t respond when someone says or does something that makes you angry. Just gently smile, and let the moment go.
  12.  Bring in your neighbor’s trash can, too.
  13. While you’re at it, thank the person who is loading all of the garbage and taking it away in those big trucks in the first place. (You think your job is bad?…)
  14. Drop off a batch of cookies, or maybe a fruit basket, to your doctor’s office, with a note thanking the staff for helping to keep you healthy.
  15. Phone your mom.
  16. Greet the person who rings you up at the grocery store–by name. It’s right there on the tag pinned to his or her shirt.
  17. Ask an older person to tell you about their happiest day on Earth so far, and then listen–really listen–to what they share.
  18. Intentionally don’t honk back.
  19. Make a point at smiling at every single person you see today–no matter what they look like.
  20. Phone an old boss, and tell them how they helped you develop into the business person you are today.
  21. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Intentionally go beyond the house or apartment on either side of you, and meet those neighbors, too.
  22. Refer that friend of yours who has started their own business to three of your contacts.
  23. Go alphabetically through the people saved in your phone, and call one person each day, to just catch up with those who matter to you.
  24. Thank a police officer, military service member, firefighter or EMT the next time you see one. Their work keeps you safe.
  25. Track down your favorite teacher on Facebook, and send them a note to tell them know important they were to you.
  26. Grab a bunch of inexpensive flowers from the store, and drop them off at a nearby nursing home for their community room.
  27. Offer to wheel an older person’s shopping cart to their car for them, and unload their groceries.
  28. Don’t roll your eyes the next time you see a mom trying to manage her unruly children in public. Offer a smile, instead.
  29. Make a point to say ‘thank you’ to people who have helped you.
  30. Intentionally think, ‘how can I make a difference’ when you are with people, and look for quiet ways to offer kindness, no matter your setting. Then do it. Don’t just think about it–do it.
  31. Phone your spouse/significant other during the workday, and thank them for their labor, just because of the difference it makes in your lives together.
  32. Leave a thank you card for the anonymous person who cleans your work station after you go home each day.
  33. Invite the new person at work out to lunch on their first day, since they won’t know anyone, and will be unsure what happens at lunch time.
  34. Ask to speak to the manager, and tell them what fantastic service you received from the person who helped you, instead of just driving away from a good experience.
  35. Let someone go ahead of you in line, just because.
  36. Email your favorite band, actor or author, and let them know how their work inspires you.
  37. See if you can get through an entire day without using the word “I”, so instead, you can really listen out for the needs of others.
  38. Take ten minutes to meditate, pray or reflect, and quietly request more kindness for our world.
  39. Put down your phone. Look at the world, and the people within it, the next time you have to wait somewhere. Smile. Listen. See.
  40. The next time you’re at the store, take 15 minutes and browse through the gift card section. When a card makes you think of someone specific, buy it for them, and then send it, to let that person know they crossed your mind.
  41. Tell someone you don’t know personally that they’re doing a good job, when you see them hustling in their work environment.
  42. Pick up trash that isn’t yours.
  43. Say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘you did a great job today’ to the people you work with.
  44. Tuck a note into your loved one’s purse, wallet or lunch, and let them know they are loved.
  45. Stand up for someone who needs it.
  46. Don’t comment on a viral thread, post or meme that is based on anger. Just let it go.
  47. Go at least one day without eating any meat.
  48. Realize your own frame of mind is the starting point in how you make the difference to those lives around you. If you recognize you’ve gotten out of the wrong side of bed, get back in and start over.
  49. Ask for permission, if you’re unsure, instead of just crashing along. Whatever the circumstance, it’s easier to ask for permission than forgiveness.
  50. Say ‘I love you’, out loud, to someone who needs to hear it today.

It’s easy, in this crazy world, to feel as though you don’t matter. Genuinely though–through your choices, you can make the difference in someone’s life without even realizing it. I encourage you to not buy in to our current world view of looking out only for yourself, and instead, approach each setting with one thought in mind: ‘how can I make a difference’.

It’s easier thank you think, Friend.

So go. Make a difference.

Blessings!

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

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Encouragement

10 Encouragement Ideas For Your Workplace

Yup. We’re all different, for sure, and the modern workplace can no longer be easily defined. Millennials and Baby Boomers now work side by side, and technology has not only replaced living people, but also increased the speed of our workplace deadlines. Workers are now expected to do more with less, and positive encouragement is in short supply as everyone rushes to fill their quotas. Balancing work and family becomes harder as our availability increases because of mobile devices, and many of us are having to work more years than we expected due to changes in the economy. Doesn’t all of this sound terrible? Well…yes, it is. The world is shifting, and knowing how to encourage your employees is critical. Here are ten ways to make sure your office is a place of encouragement in a world gone mad.

  1.  Meet For Ten Minutes Each Day With Your Team.

    This doesn’t need to be a big deal. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, and you don’t have to outline a specific agenda. It’s just a way to offer a bit of encouragement for the day. I recommend you meet first thing in the morning, as a sort of team huddle. As a leader, you need to show that you are available, and expect a positive tone in your workplace. This should be a jovial, encouraging and supportive time together–not a time of accountability or correction. Your goal here is to show that you are not only approachable, but also in tune with the sleepy heads facing you as they approach their mountains of work. (P.S.–silent bonus points–you’ll easily be able to track those employees who are ten minutes late each day and think you don’t notice).

  2. Set Up an ‘Inspiration Station’ By Your Office as a Source of Visual Encouragement.

    I used one wall outside of my office for this. I privately emailed each member of my team, and asked them what personally inspired them. Some of the things they responded with were funny (animals dressed as people) some of them were pretty standard (sunsets at the beach) and some of the things they said didn’t make a lot of sense to me (but that didn’t matter–this wasn’t done for me).  All of the answers I received were both personal and significant. Then I found pictures online of the things my staff told me they found to be encouraging, and made a collage of them on my wall. I put up all of the inspirational pictures I’d found, and added words of encouragement, including jokes that were private to my team from projects we’d had together. Then I told my staff that this was their Inspiration Station. When they needed some positive encouragement, they’d be welcome to get up from their desk and hang out for a  moment or two, and get recharged. This not only let them know I was approachable (to head off any problems) but also let them know I was on their side, and expecting a positive work environment. (P.S.–You can do this even if you’re not the official boss. If you have a cubicle wall, call this workplace decoration. Let people know its not an invitation to socialize or distract you, but instead stop by for a quick moment of encouragement as they head to the restroom or whatever).

  3. Make sure to acknowledge individual effort.

    Whether you are the boss, or whether you are a teammate, every single one of us can give a quick shout out to someone we work with. Try something like, “Hey, you sounded great on the phone just then. Good job”. Or, “Whoa. The way you handled that nasty customer was fab. Way to go”. Or, “What? You finished that task early? You are a ROCK STAR!” Five seconds is all it takes, and the mood around you will skyrocket. (Invisible bonus point–staff around you will up their game, because they will want to get in on these moments of staff encouragement, too).

  4. Allow People to Fail.

    Remember the old rule–praise in public, correct in private. Many times, this doesn’t get done anymore. Workplaces are so frantic that leaders often feel okay blasting out whenever, and that it’s okay to correct in a group environment. It’s not. Really–it’s not. Public correction demoralizes your staff, especially if it’s done in front of a customer. (Seriously–why do people do this?  But they do…) Whether it’s a new employee with a learning curve, an older employee who doesn’t move as quickly as that 21-year-old they work next to, any employee managing a new process that’s come down from corporate–people are human, and will make mistakes. Expecting perfection each and every moment of each and every day will cause serious resentment and burnout. Encouragement for employees during moments of failure are critical, so make sure to be kind and supportive when someone makes a mistake. This will go further than criticism in correcting problems, I promise.

  5. Find a Way to Highlight Your Staff as Individual People, Not Just as Employees

    Acknowledging workplace achievement is critical. Remember though–those achievements are being done by living and breathing human beings, not robots, so make sure to highlight your staff as people. Try coming up with a quick newsletter and interview one staff person per issue. Introduce them to the rest of the team, and ask them wacky questions to allow their individual life experiences to stand out (What was your worst date? What was your best vacation?) Doing this will help your team feel importance and value as individuals, not just for the workload they produce for you. If a newsletter isn’t realistic, take turns during your morning ten minute get-together we talked about. Have a question and answer session once a week, and take turns getting to know your staff as people. Or set up a bulletin board with pictures your staff submits of them with their families outside of the office. Do something–anything–that shows you recognize your people are people, and working to balance work and family as they accelerate the growth of your business.

  6. Shut Down Office Cliques. Pronto.

    I’m not unrealistic. I know office politics better than many, and understand you’ll have the cool people and the not-so-cool people all working together in the same environment. This dynamic goes all the way back to first grade, when some poor kid ended up on a bench by himself as others whispered behind their hands about him. So I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. What I am saying is its essential. You must establish a ‘no gossip, no bullying, no leaving-each-other-out’ environment. Yes–people are allowed to have individual friends at work. Yes–it’s okay for people not to like each other personally, but still get along as office mates. Yes–it’s okay if people pair off for friendly lunch dates. But no–it’s not okay if people are feeling either ignored or actively excluded. It’s not okay if people are being gossiped and whispered about. It’s not okay when people realize they are being left out of group invitations or Facebook conversations that everyone else seems to be a part of. Cliques can kill the soul of an organization, and people who feel they can never get ‘in’ will stop trying. First they will shut down, and then they will leave. Your workforce could then consist of catty, selfish people who only want people just like them. Is this what you want? Nah. Didn’t think so.

  7. Surprise People With Thank You’s.

    In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a trend to all of these ideas team encouragement ideas: developing relationships with the people around you. If people feel as though they have a relationship with the people they work with, they tend to give more, and will be more willing to survive the rough times in the workplace. If workers feel that no one cares about them personally, it’s easier for them to move on and find another job when things get tough. So whether you are the boss or a worker, it’s okay and even fantastic to surprise your co-workers with tokens that show you value your time together, and the effort they bring to their job is appreciated. These things can take the form of food, low-dollar gift cards for stores you know they like, greeting cards with a personalized message highlighting something special about that person–the list is almost endless.  The key here is that whatever you give them is something tangible. They can hold it, save it, look at it later–whatever this thing is has substance. And–it’s unexpected. Yes–this sort of activity should originate with the leadership. But if it’s not happening, a teammate can step in to start turning the tide. (P.S. You can always start with something super simple like cupcakes. I’m not sure you can trust someone who doesn’t like cupcakes, to be honest).

    Don’t Turn Away From Negative Feedback.

    No matter the source. If someone comes to you upset, angry or concerned about something–listen. Listen hard. That feedback, as unpleasant as it will be to receive, is crucial. It will allow you to know what is broken in your workplace, and give you the tools to fix it. I can give you hundreds of employee encouragement ideas, but if you are ignoring the things your own staff is telling you they find to be negative at work, you’re doomed. Negative feedback is actually workplace gold, whether it comes from your staff or your customers. It shows the person speaking out cares, and wants to make things better. It also gives you a perspective you don’t already have, so the worst thing you can do is brush that person off, or listen to them without hearing.

  8. Stop Nattering On About the Losses, and Start Celebrating the Wins.

    I’ve been there. Sales quotas weren’t met. Customer feedback was terrible. Employee retention was abysmal, promotions didn’t go through as promised–there are daily disappointments and failures in our hyper-competitive work environments. Stop bringing them up, okay? Any time there is a failure, everyone already feels it, I promise. Our culture tells us that our self-worth is tied in to our workplace identity, so if we bomb at work, it’s easy to own that sense of failure in a personal way. If you want to offer positive encouragement in your workplace, you need to focus on the wins. Yes–acknowledge that something didn’t work out the way everyone wanted it to, but don’t dwell on the failure. Instead, focus on the positive. It will take five seconds, and can truly make a difference. Say something like, “Ya know…we didn’t make the sales goal this time. But I sure am proud of the effort everyone put in, and really appreciate the hard work. I’m especially proud of how welcoming everyone was to our new staff member Amber, and the fact that we were still seventeen percent ahead of last month. Great job, Team. Let’s hit ’em again hard this month”. Then give them a huge smile, and let everyone head back out there with your praise echoing in their head, not your warnings of future cutbacks if people don’t tighten up. Unless that’s really the case. Don’t cry wolf, because people will start looking for the door. Instead, acknowledge the near misses, refine your strategy, and keep cheering your team on.

  9. Be Consistent.

    Changing the rules and expectations is one of the easiest ways to prevent anyone from feeling encouragement in the workplace. Here’s why: no matter what someone does, it won’t be right, because you’ve changed the rules of the game along the way. This can happen in any number of ways, but here’s an example, from real life. I once had a job where corporate got uptight about labor costs. They suddenly got all hot around the collar about how many hours people were working, but at the same time, didn’t cut back on any labor expectations. In other words, they wanted the same amount of work done in less time. Already, this is a no-win for the worker. So one night, the team was thrilled to be done by a certain time, because the goal had been met. Labor cost win, which is what we had been told was the big deal for corporate. Then we were criticized by our local manager. We were told we should be ashamed of the quality of our work, because it was clear we had rushed to get done on time. Do you see the problem here? Inconsistency. In the no-win situation  we had, we focused on the goal we had been told was the most important. Then the rules changed. We all left silently that night, feeling terrible about our jobs. Surprised?

  10. Greet Your Staff and Fellow Co-Workers.

    Make sure you say ‘good morning’ when you get there, ‘have a great night’ when you leave, and other things that display common courtesy and good manners when you’re at work. Whether you’re the boss or staff, setting up an environment where everyone feels respected and noticed is vital. Part of this happens simply by acknowledging the people around you. I once worked with people who wouldn’t acknowledge others when they were addressed, because they felt their position was superior to everyone else’s, and they didn’t ‘rate’ for a ‘good morning’. You can guess how much I loved being in that environment, right?

It’s no secret we spend a great deal of time in our workplaces, and our personal identity so easily gets wrapped up in our business life. As we struggle to balance work and family in a rapidly changing world, it’s important to feel that what we do at work matters. We need to feel the encouragement and support of our managers and team mates. How about you, Friend? Do you have any examples of things you found helpful at your workplace? Do you have any ways to spread Optimism, Encouragement and Inspiration at your job? If so, please comment below with your ideas!

Blessings!

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

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survival guide

Survival Guide–10 Ways to Cope With An Empty Nest

Hey, Beautiful. I hear you’re lonely. Seems your child, the person you have poured so much of yourself into, is gone, and you now have an empty nest. I’m sorry–that’s a really tough place to be,  especially if you don’t fit the stereotype. Sounds like you need a survival guide.

In my opinion, many people assign too small a definition to ’empty nest’.

They behave as though it only refers to those children who have moved on to college.  At this very moment though, all around us, parents grieve not being with their child for any number of reasons.  Lots of parents have an empty nest when their child visits their other parent. Others find their nest empty because their child has died, and still others are  having to mourn a child who never made it to a full term delivery.

So yes–while the technical definition for an empty nest means they’ve moved on to college, the loss of  your child, no matter how natural or unnatural the circumstances, is a profoundly painful experience.

Others can look in on you and witness your pain, even understand it to a degree, but they will never really know your individual heart, or the particular circumstances that trigger your moments of sadness. So my list, while meaning to be helpful and loving, could never be comprehensive, because there’s simply too much ground to cover. Instead, it’s meant to be a gentle starting point, designed to both acknowledge and soothe your wounded soul. Let’s get started.

 1.  Survival Guide Basic–Acknowledge Your Loss.

Please don’t gloss over this loss, no matter how it’s evolved. Don’t pretend you are fine, think you will always need to be strong, or refuse to adjust your mindset. There are different reasons your child may not be living with you any longer, and each of them is going to feel extremely unnatural. You know why? Because they are. (Unless your kid is peeling out in the station wagon to college, in which congratulations are in order, because you raised a smart kid). Whatever the reason your child is no longer living with you, it’s time to recognize–officially–that your life circumstances have changed. Denial only works for a while, and then things will start crashing around you if you’re not careful, so it’s time to stare this beast in the face to start some healing.

2. Be Ready For Random, and Unexpected Crying Sessions.

I don’t care your gender, job title or pay grade. You can be a complete boss about everything else, and that’s fine. The first time you catch yourself unnecessarily setting your child’s place at the dinner table it’s going to be a significant gut punch. Life is often tough, unfair and unpredictable, so sneaky moments will be waiting to hammer you. You may see a teenager with his mom, or see a DVD in the store your daughter used to watch as a baby. Out of the blue, you’re suddenly going to be a mess, and the people around you may or may not understand what’s going on. I don’t care about them. Forget about them. We’re talking about you.

3.  Allow Yourself to Love on Y-O-U.

Remember how much care you lavished on your child? Now it’s your turn. Good food, good rest, hydration, exercise–you need to make sure you’re paying attention to your own physical needs. Sure–staying up all night eating crappy food in front of the television and crying where no one can see you may sound like a good plan, but it’s not. I promise–it’s just not. Surviving an empty nest starts with meeting your own personal needs, because having an empty nest AND depression is not something you want to play around with. Don’t set yourself up for failure–you need to take care of your body, as well as your mind. Get a massage, have wine and chocolate for dinner, treat your spouse to a weekend away–indulge a bit with something that seems unnecessary, because right now you need to be very kind to yourself.

4. Expect completely random memories to surface that you’ll want to share with everyone.

Like the young mother you see in the grocery line behind you. You’ll notice her brand of diapers. Boom–you’ll suddenly have a picture in your head of your daughter wearing the same brand, shrieking with delight under the garden hose as she sees the tiny rainbows in the falling water. You’ll pause–startled by this beautiful memory–and turn to this stranger with a smile. “My Amber wore that same brand!” you’ll say. This woman will look up from her phone/other child/purse-where-she-can’t-find-her-wallet and give you a bland smile. “Really?” she’ll say politely. You’ll have to decide if you tell this woman about the rainbows or not.

It’s okay if you don’t.

5. Know At Some Point You Will Probably Sit On Their Bed and Cry.

Or wail. I did–I actually wailed. The pain was so intense. I don’t need to say a lot about this one, because it will be a deeply painful and private moment for you, just as it was for me. So be ready for it to happen at some point, and know it’s okay when it does.

6. Recognize You Need to Start Moving On.

Yes–a good cry is necessary. Yes–good food, good sleep–all the stuff we’ve talked about is imperative. But so is the need to move past all of this, and start making plans for your new reality. Otherwise–you can get trapped. Surviving an empty nest is going to take a multi-faceted approach, and starting with the acknowledgement that it’s time to get cracking on Part B Of Your Life is key. Allow yourself a little bit of time to mourn, but then get your sad self moving.

7. Reach Out to Other People

This can be tough. Admitting we’re either weak or wounded goes against everything we’ve been taught.  Men are told things like they can’t cry. The end. They shouldn’t cry. Women are told we’re supposed to have a natural birth.  (Spoiler alert–I didn’t, so don’t feel bad if you took anesthesia, too). And that’s just the beginning of how we’re told we need to behave as parents. So toss any bad templates about parental behavior out the window, (no matter what they are), and let somebody know you’re grieving. Call a friend. Talk to your partner. Join a parenting group, either in real life or in social media. Others further along in this journey may have designed their own survival guide, and can share tips with you. but they have to know you’re hurting. Pick up the phone, send out an email, meet a friend for lunch–something that involves you communicating this message to another human:  “I miss my child”. Let them take over from there. They love you, and want to help. I promise.

8. Think hard–really hard–about something you miss from your life before children, and pick it back up.

Yes–parenthood is wonderful. Let’s all stop for a round of applause since being a parent is so awesome. And then, when that’s over, let’s talk about the slightly darker side of being a parent–the sacrifice involved. Don’t turn away–you know I’m right. Something about you had to wither over the years so you could be a successful parent. What was it? A skill, like playing tennis? Or your education? Did you mean to get another degree? Did you stop something you loved, like playing the piano? Something about you exists, my Friend, that is unique. What is it? Where has it gone? Find it!        

9. Set a New Goal For Yourself.

Train yourself to look ahead, instead of behind. Yes, it’s okay to wallow in this loss every so often–you’re human after all–but remember look forward. Pick a goal that is reasonable, and matters to you. Decide you’re ready to learn Spanish. Decide you want to re-do your kitchen. Decide you want to learn a new sport, read 10 books a month, or be the one asked to perform the next choir solo in church. Find a goal that alights something in you and you alone, and then work to make it happen. Baby steps are okay, just try to grow your self-outlook a bit during this time of transition.

10. Recognize if you need to ask for help.

I’m not going to lie–this is big stuff. Dealing with an empty nest, no matter the cause, it serious life change business, and stumbling along the way is to be expected. So if you realize you are having problems with anger, grief, substance abuse–any of the biggies–ask for help. You can start with your family doctor if you don’t know where to begin, but empty nest and depression is a real thing. No shame here, Friend. I promise. Know when to reach out.

AND–just ‘cuz I love ya–Bonus Item Number 11–stay in touch. I regularly write about life transitions, and empty nest stuff is just one slice of the TeamJeffers pie. As a matter of fact, you may enjoy this earlier piece about acknowledging your empty nest:  ‘And Just Like That, They’re Gone’ Remember to subscribe, send me a note if you want any life coaching, and let’s stay friends. 

You’re gonna make it, Beautiful.

Pinky-Promise.

Blessings!

You may also enjoy:

‘I Give You This Blessing’

‘I Love You, Pa”: When a Caregiver is Unwelcome’

‘Why Coffee Creamer and Black Socks Made Me Cry’

 

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.

 

 

 

rescue dogs

Rescue Dogs–And Gibson, the Wise One We Found

Have I introduced you to Gibson? I can’t remember. Gibson is our rescue dog.

Simply put, rescue dogs are the best.

Gibson is a tiny, yellow plug of unconditional affection and companionship. His primary goal in life is to stay beside his family, and he loves to snuggle beside me as I work. Usually, he sleeps under a throw I spread over the two of us, and his tiny yips and snores entertain me in my solitude while typing, or doing research. Throughout the day, we’ll have walks throughout our neighborhood, which are nice breaks for both of us. Frequently, Gibson will decide he’s too tired from our big safari out in the neighborhood, and ask to be carried back home. He’ll rest his tiny head against my shoulder, and we’ll listen to the birds on our walk back. Then, he promptly expects to burrow back under our throw, made with love by my aunt.

Gibson on safari.
Gibson on safari.
Gibson didn’t always have it so easy.

We’re not sure of Gibson’s background, but his head is covered in scars, and he has a broken tail. The original vet who saw him after rescue felt he may have been a bait dog, both because of the scars and his level of fear when we adopted him. Gibson has come a long way since that initial doctor visit, and he’s now a fully vested member of our family.

On a recent safari of ours, we were outside of a house, enjoying a patch of shade. Gibson had turned, and his tiny nose faced into the wind. His fur streamed behind him, and his nose twitched in the breeze, delighted by the new smells headed his way. The leash loosely connected us. Gibson stayed like that for quite a bit, just enjoying the moment.

What you don’t know yet is this:

behind us was a house. Two dogs were inside, throwing themselves against the windows with such force the glass and screens never stopped rattling. The house’s front door was open, and only the storm door kept these dogs away from us as they slobbered and barked. Meanwhile, Gibson ignored it all, and quietly kept smelling the breeze, secure in his safety.

Why can’t we be this smart, Friend?

I’ve found, both in my life and in the lives of others, we tend to be afraid when we shouldn’t be. We jump in response to our perceptions, without recognizing our realities. The perception was these dogs were about to kill us. The reality was they couldn’t come close. If you look closely, you’ll see we regularly do the same things in many aspects of our lives.

In life, we worry about things that could happen, or might happen, instead of being secure in the realities of or our existence.

We need to stop worry like this, Friend.

Perhaps you’re not satisfied with where you are in life. Maybe you’re unhappy with your job, or your spouse, or whatever your role is in life. You might even be criticizing yourself, or the decisions you’ve made along the way, since they have gently steered you to your immediate reality. Please–this minute–turn your nose towards the breeze, and turn out all of the world’s horrible noise. Stop listening to the barking, and instead–rest in the beauty in the life that is around you.

Because here’s the thing–you need to stop being ashamed of your failures, and start taking pride in your successes.

We all have failures, Friend. We all have bad decisions, roads we should have taken but didn’t, relationships we thought were right for us that really weren’t–each one of us has a stream of brokenness behind us. Sorry. That’s just part of the deal. Every day we get up and leave the house, hoping it will be a ‘good one’, but understanding we have very little control over what the world throws at us. Our hope as we leave is that we’ll respond with courage and decency, but we know deep down that the deck is always stacked against us, and all we can control is our response to the things coming at us. So sometimes we trust when we shouldn’t. Sometimes we believe the lies others tell us. Sometimes we invest in something we think is going to help us, and then find out in the end we’ve been hurt.

Sometimes, despite our research, the referrals we’re given or the reviews we’ve read–we are wrong.

Sometimes the job we think is right for us turns out to be miserable. Sometimes the leader we trust turns out to be a disappointment. Sometimes the person we love is harmful, or the thing we thought was safe for us really wasn’t.

Listen closely, please:  we can’t get bogged down in all of this. We can’t let these mistakes and disappointments overwhelm us. I know:  it’s easy to say, but so hard to do. It’s easy, especially if you are prone to self-reflection, to get overwhelmed by the ‘coulda-woulda-shoulda’s’. Stop–just stop. Each decision you made in your life was made because you thought it was the right one. You took an evaluation, and you responded. And so here you are.

Sure–some of those decisions may have been steered by fear, misinformation, or ego–but you did the best you could at the time, didn’t you? So forgive yourself, Friend.

You may not be where you expected yourself to be at this point in your life. But here’s the secret–the place you are is beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s the sum of your hopes and experiences thus far. Every single one of us has a different path and a different purpose, and we can’t judge our journey against anyone else’s. Especially the journey we’ve created for ourselves that lives only  in our head.

Despite our brokenness, we have to be willing to go on our own safari in this beautiful but broken world, and keep working to become the person we know is hiding inside. We can’t allow time that’s passed, or mistakes we’ve made, to stop us from exploring. Our errors have also created surprise moments of beauty, Dearest–have you forgotten to see them?

I encourage you to take a lesson from Gibson.

Despite his scars, despite the perceived threats that come at him from the world, despite his tiny size–he gently chooses to trust. He stays close to the ones he loves, he steers his nose gently towards the beauty coming his way, and he continues to explore the glorious world around him.

It’s a good plan, isn’t it? So go on, Friend. Enjoy your safari. It will all be okay.

Blessings.

 

Related:

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper

Yeah….But How Bad is it, Really?

Turning 50 as a Woman–What Wasn’t Meant to Be.

***Subscribe to receive your free TeamJeffers Life Balance Wheel, a monthly tool you can download to help manage a healthy work-life balance. ***

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.