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Negative thoughts were not anything I prepared for after an incredible European vacation. 

Are Your Reinforcing Negative Thoughts

I knew coming back from a 24 day trip around Europe with my daughter as a way to celebrate her college graduation even through her battle with MS was going to take a bit of adjustment time.

My mind was still on the other side of the world jumping off cliffs in Croatia, or tasting wines while listening to traditional music in Hungary,  lifting a stein yelling “Prost” at Oktoberfest in Germany or savoring every single bite of pasta in Italy.

After being home for three days, the jet lag was subsiding by Sunday.  But my mindset was still experiencing a little turbulence.  Multiple times that day I found myself saying, “I am dreading tomorrow.”

Tomorrow was back to the office.  Back to demands and deadlines and high heels.  It was traffic and chatter, the hustle and the bills.  It was catching up, hoping no one was upset I was gone for so long and could not perform and produce content at the pace I normally do because wifi was spotty all over Europe.  For an entire day, I was stuck there.

By Monday morning I was shuffling my feet down the hall to get ready saying the same thing to myself in my head… ”I am dreading this.” Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I stood there and in one split second caught myself mid thought.  I could almost hear screeching breaks of negativity coming to halt.  The next thought was , “What the hell are you doing?! Are you really going to keep reinforcing negative thoughts, literally reinforcing dread?”

I am one of the most positive people I know.  It is rare that I get stuck in negative thinking patterns that effect my behavior or my goals let alone steal an entire day from me that could have been spent celebrating.  Celebrating what? Well, life in general to start with.

I marched straight to my bathroom, looked myself square in the eyes and swapped out the word dread with excited.

“I am excited about today.”

Then I continued…

“I am excited to be a woman business owner.”

“I am excited that I am smart.”

“I am excited that I have the opportunities that I do.”

“I am excited to be able to earn a living doing what I love.”

I am excited that I get to travel the world on the income I make.”

“I am excited I have a car to drive, a home to live in, an office to go to that I decorated and pay for.”

“I am excited about life, and being who I am.”

“Michelle, you are blessed.  Live in gratitude every single day, be excited and go out there and kick some ass. You got this!”

Everything shifted. 

By choosing to reset my mindset, focus on being positive, recognizing all that I have in my life to be excited about, I began, in an instant, reinforcing all that is good.  My meetings went incredibly well.  I felt so much love going back into my office and seeing everyone, sharing stories of our travels.  I realized I missed being in my office space that reflects so much of the hard work my business partner and I have done to grow our business.  From gripping the wheel driving down the freeway to editing videos for hours, I was back on track and not a single thought of dread entered my mind that day or since.

Is it normal to feel overwhelmed, get behind and think of something being dreadful to face? Yes.  The difference between success and failure, however, is how long you allow yourself to stay in that space and if you choose to dig deep enough to gain value, knowledge, and insight to take with you as you move forward and through it.

How long do you stay stuck in a negative mindset?

My advice:  Fine tune your listening skills.  Not listening to other people, but listening to yourself so you can stop negative self-talk before it stops you from being the best version of yourself every day.

Want more VERB inspiration?

Check out these other V Blogs:

3 Tips For Becoming A Better Tweeter

Take Your Personal Sanctuary Seriously

 

Michelle Renee

VERB Media Group

Founder | CEO

Michelle@VERBMediaGroup.com

 

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3 Tips to Be A Better Tweeter

 

If you are not tweeting for your business, you are missing the mark.

We’ve discussed the importance of incorporating social media into your businesses marketing strategy.  Today we’ll dive deeper into the subject with the world of Twitter.  Twitter is a wonderful social media platform with over 300 million active users daily.

For those of you looking to boost your engagement with your brand followers on Twitter here are ‘3 Tips For Becoming A Better Tweeter’.

1. Tweet Frequently

Twitter Tips for Businesses

 

Stay active with your followers on Twitter.  

Statistics show that businesses who tweet as often as possible have higher engagements with their followers.  Be sure to respond to followers who directly tweet your or send you a personal DM on Twitter.  This is a great way to build relationships with customers.

2. Use Trending Hashtags

3 Tips for Better Tweets

 

Twitter allows users to view what hashtags and topics are trending on the platform at any time in any location worldwide.  Trending topics have a large amount of people viewing what’s being tweeted about them.

Incorporating trending topics into your tweets occasionally is a great way to put your brand in front of more people and build your following.   Also, be sure to keep some of your tweets sounding personal so that people can easily relate to your brand.

3. Use Photos When Possible

Tips for Successful Tweeting

 

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  

Nothing is truer than this.  Bright high quality photos that tell a story help your tweets to catch eyes and stand out.

Standing out of course is vital for businesses in a day and age where the majority of markets are flooded and oversaturated.

Thanks for reading our blog, be sure to join our newsletter too.  You can do that by clicking here.  Please share this post if you found it useful.  If you’d like more tips on how to be a better tweeter leave a comment below or send us a tweet here.  

 

Have a great day Verbies!

 

Tyler Matl

Creative Content Specialist

VERB Media Group

 

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Create Your Personal Sanctuary

Juggling family, career, friends, and just plain daily stress?

You need to create a personal sanctuary.

I had the best time hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve yesterday and in the midst of all that natural beauty and calming space a topic came up. My single mom friend and I began discussing the importance of making our homes our personal sanctuaries.

Making personal space a sanctuary when it comes to creating a relaxing, self-loving environment for me and my daughter is so important. But what about when it comes to dating? That to me is when creating a sanctuary becomes more important than ever.

My home is a place of safety for me and my daughter. When I bring in different people (whose energy and agendas may or may not be in line with mine), when we create expectations and forge bonds, we are setting ourselves and our kids up for disappointment if we allow bonds to form too quickly or do so without careful thought.

With this in mind, I never allow dates to pick me up at home, invite them over, or allow anyone in my home that I know is toxic to our sanctuary.

Relax - VERB

I take it even a step further…

…by not having my mail delivered to my home, ever. I choose to get my mail elsewhere. When I sit somewhere and open my mail it is away from home, so that if there is anything that may cause me stress, like bills, I am dealing with it in my car or in the Postal Annex and not bringing it into my personal sanctuary.

When I sit somewhere and open my mail it is away from home, so that if there is anything that may cause me stress, like bills, I am dealing with it in my car or in the Postal Annex and not bringing it into my personal sanctuary.

To take your personal space seriously means creating an environment where you can rejuvenate from the stresses of life outside of those doors and walls.  That means get and stay organized, set boundaries, and surround yourself with the things you love.

It is up to you to create a place you can feel resiliency take hold in, inhaling scents that make you feel relaxed, or lighting candles and sipping wine or tea as you relax.

It is up to you to create a place you can feel resiliency take hold in, inhaling scents that make you feel relaxed, or lighting candles and sipping wine or tea as you relax away the stress of life.  Even with kids at home, take the time to create a sanctuary with bubbles and light music when the house is quiet as your skin sinks into warm water.

Create Your Sanctuary - VERB

Make the time.  

Back in the days before computers, people went to work and came home, leaving all things related to their job back at the office. Now is it front and center in our sanctuary all the time. TV, computers and video games all bring a different energy into

Now is it front and center in our sanctuary all the time. TV, computers and video games all bring a different energy into the space and I am as careful as I can be, as sensitive as possible, to that disrupting the entire way I want my sanctuary to feel.

Bottom line…

Create Your Sanctuary

Creating a space that supports love, warmth, security, peace, joy and caring is a big part of living a resilient life.

Are you treating your home like a personal sanctuary?

Are you taking it seriously? If not, maybe it is time you change that.

Cheers to your success, and your relaxation!

Michelle Renee-Founding Partner

Michelle Renee

Founding Partner

VERB Media Group

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15 Ways A Dog Can Improve Your Life

dog

That soft fur, those floppy ears, that quizzical look, how could you not fall in love?

1. Dogs increase your mood dramatically! 

Playing with your dog

Spending just 15-30 minutes with your dog can help you feel more calm and relaxed, reducing stress and increasing happiness.

Playing with your pup increases your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and tranquility. So the next time you’re feeling down, grab a toy and spend some time with your pup! That wagging tail will be sure to put a smile on your face.

2. Having a dog may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

Studies show that talking to and petting your pooches are often accompanied by lower blood pressure, and that means a lowered risk for a myriad of different illnesses.

3. Step aside, kitties! Dogs protect children from skin conditions and allergies.

Puppies can improve your life

Children who grow up with dogs have a lower risk of developing eczema than those who have cats or no dogs at all. Yes, it’s true! In addition, children also develop fewer pet allergies if they grow up with a dog.

4. Having a dog improves your physical wellbeing and encourages a healthy fitness routine.

Of course! Your dog requires daily exercise, and so do you! Dog owners carry the responsibility of playing with and working their dogs, so it only makes sense that dog people tend to be more active.

5. Humans with dogs recover more quickly from illnesses.

dogs improve your life

Dog owners have a much higher rate of recovery from being sick than non-dog owners. In fact, humans with pooches who suffered from heart attacks were twice as likely to fully recover than those without!

6. Dogs make excellent service and alert animals. 

how-a-dog-can-improve-your-life-service-dog

Canines make excellent service companions when trained properly for people with disabilities. They can be trained to bring medication, alleviate a stressful situation for their human, and even detect an approaching epileptic seizure.

7. Children with dogs in their household miss less school.

Yes, it’s true. We all know that children absolutely adore pups, but research has shown that children from dog-owning families have better school attendance due to better overall health and less sickness from having a pup at home.

8. But wait, there’s more (for your kids)!

Dogs and puppies

Having dogs has actually been shown to improve a child’s self-esteem, and makes issues that cause stress easier to handle.

9. Simply put, they are a human’s best friend.

Dogs are mans best friend

Because of their heightened sense of smell, sight, and hearing, dogs are extremely intelligent creatures with a loyalty to their humans that is unexpectedly strong. Those with dogs will know–your pups can sense human body language, emotions, and feelings, and this paves the way for an unbreakable bond.

10. They make excellent watchdogs.

How dogs can improve your life

From puppyhood, dogs innately learn to watch and be aware of anything rotten coming your way. Potential burglars are put off by a barking or watching dog in the window. Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Scottish Terriers are among the top watchdog breeds, but even my fluffy American Eskimo dog is known to be great at alerting families of anything odd or suspicious!

11. Dogs help increase social interactions.

Yes, not only do dogs need care and playtime with their humans, but they need time to socialize with other pups too! This means that their humans will have a chance to socialize while they oversee the puppy playdates. Those of you with pups know that even going on a walk in the neighborhood can bring many friends and start many conversations!

12. There’s never a dull or boring moment.

how-a-dog-can-improve-your-life

Have you ever found yourself sitting at home, wondering what to do today? There are so many things you can do with your dog, whether that be taking a trip to the park, training, playing, running, or just watching them chew a toy. It’s all fun, for both of you.

13. Dogs may save your life.

Our lovely canine friends seem to be able to detect the smell of cancer in human bodies. There have been stories of pups who continued to lick and sniff at moles or lumps on their human’s bodies, who eventually found out that those skin conditions were cancerous. In fact, since humans made this discovery, dogs have even been trained in just 3 hours to detect cancer!

Dogs can change your life

14. Stressed at work? Let me prescribe you one adorable puppy.

Notice the increasing trend in workplaces allowing dogs to come to work with their humans? There’s a reason for that! Studies have shown that people who take their dogs to work have lower stress levels during the workday.

15. Having a dog makes YOU a better person!

Dogs and humans

The responsibility, patience, selflessness, and commitment that comes with having a dog makes us stronger, all-around better people.

The dog-human relationship is a two-way street. We’ve heard the phrase, “Who rescued who?” and it’s certainly something to consider. Dogs have proven that they improve our physical and mental health, as well as the health of those around us.

Want to learn more about VERB and how we can help you blog your way to success?

Visit us at www.VERBMediaGroup.com or call 616.913.7020

VERBalize your life!

Team VERB

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WHO ARE YOU?

How to Brand Your Company

Many new companies fail because they really have no idea how they fit into the marketplace – because they don’t have a clearly defined brand.

They just don’t know WHO THEY ARE.

We are going to take a little journey into Tim Burtons, Alice in Wonderland to help explain the importance of Branding.

Let’s take Alice for example. A very confused, curious, smart Alice chases a white rabbit and falls down a rabbit hole, landing in Wonderland. To achieve her goal of getting home, she must first present herself to the Blue Caterpillar.

However, by the time she met the Blue Caterpillar to inquire about her goals, she was more confused than she was when she started.  She was tall, then small, then tall again… She knew she was Alice, but she didn’t know WHO she really was. She had no idea of her purpose in Wonderland. She didn’t understand the world around her or how she fit into it. Without this information, she was never going to achieve her goal of getting home.

Branding your business is not at all different.

The clock is ticking on getting your brand defined. So, before you let your company fall down the Rabbit Hole of brand identity, let’s discuss HOW to define your brand.

alice-following-rabbit

There are five main questions to answer before you can clarify WHO YOU ARE.

What product or service does your company offer?

To begin to understand how you fit into the marketplace, you must first understand what products and services your offer.

If you have seen Alice in Wonderland you know that Alice has a purpose. She goes to Wonderland to offer a service to the people of Wonderland. The Blue Caterpillar helps her to see that her purpose in Wonderland, or the service she is going to offer Wonderland, is to defeat the Red Queen and the Jabberwocky. Even with this knowledge, it takes Alice some time to finally understand WHO SHE IS. She must answer several questions about herself before she finally realizes that this is her purpose.

To begin branding your company clearly define, in writing, exactly what products or services your company offers. How many different products or services do you have? What is different about each product or service.

What are your company’s core values?

Understanding what values are important to you and your company will help guide you in understanding your company brand.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Let’s take poor Alice. Knowing that she was supposed to defeat the Red Queen and the Jabberwocky, did not make her ready to do so.  She didn’t see herself as brave like the Alice in the Oraculum (Calendar). She did know that she wanted to support the people of Wonderland and didn’t like the way they were being treated. It had taken a lot of self-examination before she had a clear definition of the values that made her who she was. Before she found her “Muchiness,” as the Mad Hatter explained it, and before realized she was the brave, caring and heroic Alice!

Just like Alice, you must examine your team and company atmosphere to truly grasp the values you have. Do you regularly work together as a team? Are you a big company or a boutique company? Do you believe that each employee’s opinions are important? Is having fun important to your company?

What problem does your company solve for your customers?

Not only must you know what products and services you offer, especially in marketing, but you must also understand what problems you solve for your clients and customers. When your customer feels like their problems are being solved, that makes them happy. Therefore, more willing to purchase your product or use your service.
cheshire-cat

In Wonderland, Alice spends time with the Mad Hatter while he explains what problems the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen had imposed on Wonderland. He explained that by slaying the creature, Wonderland would turn back into the beautiful, colorful, happy place it once was. After hearing about all of the horrible things that the Mad Hatter and Wonderland had been put through, she then understood what the problem was she had to solve.

Knowing what problems you solve creates a whole other level of motivation for both your company and your customers. What is currently the problem? How is that problem affecting the customer? What will fixing that problem do to improve your customer’s way of life?

Do you know your competition?

Next, to know WHO YOU ARE, you need to know who your competition is.

It isn’t until Alice meets the Mad Hatter that she starts to understand who her competition is. Make your competition feel FREAKED OUT when they see your name!

Scare away the competition

She learns of the evil Red Queen, and of her big head complex. She learns that she is impulsive and violent. She also learns that she has a pet Jabberwocky that she uses to keep Wonderland under her rule.  The more Alice learns about her competition, the better equipped she becomes to win the competition.

Just as Alice needed to know who her competition is, so do you. You must understand what products and services they offer. What is it that the audience likes and doesn’t like about the competition. What are their strengths and weaknesses?

How do you set yourself apart from your competition?

Knowing what your niche is in the market will help you set yourself apart from your completion?

Alice understands that she must defeat the Jabberwocky. What Alice didn’t know was what were the jabberwocky’s weaknesses.  What was it that she had that was different? It was not until she understood the Jabberwocky’s weakness was the Vorpal Sword and that her inner bravery made her different from everyone else, that she was equipped to take on the Jabberwocky and win.

As a company, you must understand what sets you apart. What are the weaknesses of your competitions? What is it that your company does better than your competition?

Understanding these five points will help you clearly define your brand. Understanding your brand will give you a clear picture of how you fit into the market.

Alice spends the entire movie, examining who she is, what her values are, what the problem is in Wonderland, who her competition is and what makes her better than her competition.

By the end of the movie Alice knows she is THE ALICE. The brave, strong, curious, and caring Alice that has come back to Wonderland to defeat the red queen and to slay the Jabberwocky with the Vorpal sword. She know she can save the people of Wonderland and returning the rule to the rightful heir, the White Queen.

white-queen-2

Before you begin marketing your company, you must define your company brand. You must understand your position in the market to determine the best strategy for marketing your brand.

The team at VERB Media Group understands Branding! We understand how to position a company in their market to maximize marketing efforts for the best return on you marketing investment, however small or large it is.

who-are-you-button

Contact us today for a free consultation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was driving down Interstate 5 over the weekend.

I looked over to my left and flying by me was a sexy, beautiful jet black Maserati. I grew up with four brothers as a complete tomboy fascinated by cars, engines, and craftsmanship of everything from furniture to architecture.

When that Maserati flew by, I was absorbed in the thought of the engineering it took to get that beast of a car on the road.

Then I got to thinking about my business. In terms of engineering, it took years of hard work, engineering on so many levels, to get VERB Media Group to where it is today. Lately, we are in overdrive.

This led me to ponder the idea of how I would take care of that car if I owned it. That led my mind to wonder further and ask myself why not take care of everything that I own, including my business, the same way.

What would happen if we began, and continued, treating our business like that brand new dream car that we are so pumped about driving?

You will get way more mileage out of your business.

Drive your business to success

Here is how you keep your business purring like a brand new Maserati.

Three Ways to Keep Your Business On the Road of Success

1. Keep it Shiny on the Outside

People can see your business in more ways than ever today.

Social media is a MUST for businesses to reach the broadest audience possible and disseminate information to the masses. What I mean by keeping it glossy and fresh on the outside like a brand new dream car is that you have to maintain an image of your brand.

That means top to bottom, inside and out, branded with messaging that speaks clearly to your audience. Your cover photos, Instagram posts, newsletters, logo, and anything else with your company’s name on it has to shine.

2. Keep it Clutter Free on the Inside

Don’t be that person who invites someone to get into their new ride and has to say, “Oh, sorry about the mess.”

You leave your possible passenger (AKA customer) standing there as you scramble to throw stuff in the back seat so they have a place to sit. It is the same for your business.

Presentation is everything! When someone walks through your door make sure they look inside and are in awe with the well thought out engineered details. You want your clients to be excited about the bells and whistles, as well as the people, the product and service you provide.

You want them to remember the “feeling” they get sitting down as you rev up your relationship building skills and get ready for the closing pitch!

3. Schedule Regular Business Tune Ups

Like a car that never gets a tune up or is always late getting oil changes, and is just plain neglected overall engine TLC department, your business will not run smooth or last as long without regular maintenance.

You need to be vigilant about this and look deep within the engine that keeps your business going. Ask yourself what does your business need for top performance? What do you need to change out to make sure your business is firing on ALL cylinders?

Ask others if they can see that you are doing all you can to ensure ROI is above expectation? Sometimes we, as big thinking entrepreneurs, are hyper focused and need some outside feedback from people we love and trust.

How often does your business need a tune up? Quarterly, at least.

Do yourself a favor and treat your business like it is your brand spanking new dream car that you want to drive every second of every day because you are so excited about it.

Drive your business to success.

Michelle Renee is the Founding Partner of VERB Media Group, a speaker, and published author. She lives in Southern California.

www.VERBMediaGroup.com

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Hello from Barcelona!

I turn 50 this week. I remember being in my 30’s thinking, wow, my 40’s are going to be amazing. I find myself saying the exact same thing but with a different number just up ahead of me. There was talk of a party. Yes, I will admit there was even a thought of crawling under a rock and dwelling on the idea of being “middle aged” a few months back. Thank God that thought came and left in about 60 seconds flat. The only thing that seemed to make sense for me was an adventure.

Since my daughter’s diagnosis and severe onset of Multiple Sclerosis nearly four years ago my life has been all about being her caregiver. My usual adventurous self gladly took a back seat to be totally and utterly present for who I needed to be for her, her recovery, and really overwhelming life transition. I became a caregiver for others organically from my experience helping to rehabilitate her and referrals from her neurologist started pouring in. But my career before all of this is still my passion so I decided it was time to go back to school to complete degree courses that I started years ago. With work, school, and helping my daughter, life became “nose to the grindstone” day in and day out.

As she began to walk again I felt the heaviness of the intense responsibility my life had become. My gypsy spirit was craving an adventure and when my tax return was received in late March of this year I made a decision. For my 50th birthday I was going to travel abroad. But how? Since my daughters MS and having to walk away from my old life to care for her and begin anew, finances were lean to put it mildly. But I knew there was a way if I was smart, planned way ahead, and stayed open to new ways of traveling.

First, I started looking for airfare months in advance. Everyday I would get alerts to different places I wanted to go and would hop on Google Flights for unbeatable rates. I landed round trip tickets from LAX to Barcelona for $575 and that was with all taxes included. I knew I wanted to travel from place to place in Europe and began the next phase of my 50th birthday adventure: quick and cheap flights around Europe. I found plenty from city to city one way for under $50 each and booked them far in advance as well. Next was the sleeping arrangements.

Hotels can be crazy on the wallet. There was no way we could afford it. I began to seek an alternative and found VRBO and AirBNB. Comparing the two I discovered that we could stay in AirBNB locations with locals in each city, in their homes with them and sometimes even an entire apartment by ourselves, for under $60 a night. Most of the time it was less than $50 and their identification is verified, plus you can read all of the reviews from others who have stayed with them. I found AirBNB much less expensive than VRBO and staying with someone from the part of the world we were strangers in was so appealing to me. I woke up this morning to the most lovely note from our AirBNB host here in Barcelona with a map of the city and suggested activities. Her mom also greeted us and is the sweetest lady making sure our every need is met.

I booked nearly everything way in advance and mapped out our trip from Spain to France; France to Ireland; Ireland to Poland; Poland to Prague; Prague to London where our flight back to the US is direct to LAX. Add in the cost of food ($10 or less per meal which is totally doable with my daughter and I sharing all meals), drinks, cab fares and transfers, tolls and absolutely no shopping (who wants to shop on an adventure anyway). Our trip total for two people, 15 days, 5 countries…wait for it… $2500 (give or take a cocktail or two).

My brothers girlfriend told me tonight over Facetime that I should definitely write a blog to show others just how easy it really is to travel the way I truly love to travel. We did this exact same thing for my daughters 16th birthday and headed to Australia. We packed up a backpack and went down under for an adventure we will never forget. Her MS has kept us from traveling abroad since her onset at 18. She is now 22, walking again with a leg/ankle brace and we know exactly how to manage MS symptoms and fatigue on the go. Frequent breaks, staying hydrated, less walking and more cabs or renting cars, and a good nights sleep are staples of this trip. The other is traveling light.

Packing only what you really need is essential. You can find blow up neck pillows for the flight that deflate and take up far less room in your luggage. Choose outfits that you can mix and match. Roll them instead of folding them and remember, with AirBNB locations you have access to a washer and dryer most of the time. Europe is full of challenging cobblestone streets and stairs to climb. Sure a rolling suitcase is great fro airports but once you land rolling that thing around is a hassle. I learned this the hard way traveling to Italy several years back before I discovered a much better way and much less expensive way to travel through Europe. Strapping a backpack on to get from gate to gate, place to place, in and out of cabs and cars is incredibly easy, fast and efficient, not to mention no extra fees for checked bags for international travel. Another great tip is to convert dollars to Euro anywhere but the airport. We managed to save $80 by going to an exchange in town instead of at the airport, but I did discover that it is better to order foreign money from my bank before I left. This is a “next time” item for sure!

We leave tomorrow to drive up the coast from Barcelona to Monaco. It’s a manual shift car so the comedy and tears from laughter are sure to be many, but the price for a manual car is far less than an automatic and I learned to drive when stick shifts were everywhere. You know…like 35 years ago!

Turning 50 is an adventure in more ways than one. Actually, I feel that way about life in general. If you are about to hit any milestone, do yourself a favor and make it one you will never forget. Plan ahead. Don’t spend a fortune when you don’t have to and get ready to laugh and smile so much you just might get one more wrinkle that is totally worth it. If you really want something enough don’t sit back and simply dream about it. Dreams only come true if you take action to make it happen. So do it. Make it happen.

Cheers to 50. Cheers adventure and curiosity no matter what your budget is, or your age. Cheers to making it happen!

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I could hear her crying from her bedroom. By the time I entered her room, she was saying, “No, this isn’t happening. This can’t be real.” Her face was soaked in tears. Her boyfriend of nearly four years, her high school sweetheart who had just left for his senior year of college a week earlier, called and broke up with her over the phone. Her agony was palpable. He had just shattered her heart. Her world was in a million pieces on her bedroom floor and I had no idea how to help her make sense of it all. I held her, cried with her and began to think about how to best help her pick up the pieces.

Days passed without her eating. She wasn’t talking, laughing or wanting to do much of anything. She had just lost her best friend and I knew she was in the grips of grieving that loss. I have been there too. Her dad walked away from us and chose a different path that eventually ended his life. The pain of that loss, the what could haves and should haves, still creep in from time to time. But although I have personally experienced heartbreak, even on more than one occasion, I was navigating it for the first time on this level as a mom watching my child curl up in a ball for days desperately searching for answers and understanding. The one thing she wanted was for him to change his mind and that was the one thing I could not give her, or make him do, or fix for her.

How do I help her through this? What can I do to make it even slightly better? What are the right things to say and what should I not say? What are her triggers going to be and how do I process my own feelings about this person no longer being a part of our family?

These and so many other questions bombarded my mind. I began to seek clarity of my own and ask for some divine guidance in order to be there for her in the most positive way I could. By day four I had a plan and knew exactly what I needed to do in order to guide her through this very difficult and emotional time in her life. I put my five-step recovery plan into action!

<strong>1. Be An Amazing Listener</strong>
I knew that when she finally felt like talking about it and about him, I would be there to listen with an open mind and without judgement or heaping phrases on her like <em> I would have</em> or <em>you should have</em>. Pushing my idea of what she should have or could have or what I would have done on her would only do one thing: push her away and make her feel even more alone. I knew I needed to keep that language out of all conversations and instead share my heartbreak stories with her in a way that was not a comparison, yet opened up a dialogue about feelings and emotions that we have in common when it comes matters of the heart.

<strong>2. Read Her Body Language</strong>
Reading her body language was almost a full-time job the first few days. I would say subtle things like “<em>Big Brother</em> is on tonight” and wait for a reaction to gauge where she was at in terms of even being able to watch one of her favorite shows. <em>Start with the small stuff and see how she responds</em> was my strategy. By day three, I said I was going to the store and she finally asked if she could go with me. When she looked at me with those green eyes and sad face asking me if she had to change her clothes, I said ‘no way.’ Her getting out of the house was good enough for me. I looked over at my girl in her sweats, hair in a bun on top of her head with puffy little eyes and to me, she looked like an angel in the passenger seat on her way to first love heartbreak recovery.

<strong>3. No Ex-boyfriend Bashing</strong>
Her ex-boyfriend was a part of our family for almost four years, and we love his family. Just because he chose to move forward in his life in a way that did not include them as a couple does not erase any of the past four years. That is exactly what I wanted her to know. Did he handle it the best possible way? No, not really. But she was his first girlfriend, he is 22 and a senior in college in New York, and definitely enjoys a good party. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out he has very little experience at this sort of thing. Plus, I love this kid too. He is a great guy and someone I will always be grateful for my daughter sharing that time in her life with. They had an incredible first love experience together and even if they didn’t, bashing the ex-boyfriend isn’t an example of class or grace or love. Saying things like <em>his loss</em> would show a lack of emotional intelligence and isn’t going to help anyone and besides, it is a loss for everyone involved. I wish him the best and hurt feelings on my part about him ditching my daughter doesn’t change that. He did what he felt was best for him. Even though that does not make it easier or less painful for my daughter, it was important that I let her know that his decision was all about him, not her, and she needs to cherish the love and friendship they shared as she heals and moves into her own future in a self-loving and love preserving way.

<strong>4. Make Her Something Special</strong>
I knew her appetite was shot with her stomach in a knot and a huge lump of emotions in her throat that would not allow food to pass. But I also know how much she loves chocolate. I went to the store just to search for something special she might be able to tolerate. I settled on an old-fashioned favorite: homemade chocolate pudding. Roaming around the store I had to keep in mind that it had to be something easy to eat and not too heavy or require much effort. Remember, when you have a broken heart that bad, even chewing can be a chore! I saw a glimmer of joy on her face when I got home and showed her what I was going to make for her. An hour later she was checking the fridge to see if it was ready to eat. (My plan was working!)

<strong>5. Heartbreak Road Trip Time</strong>
We have always loved taking road trips together. Even when she was in elementary, middle and high school, we would drive the coast with a smoothie after school to talk about our day. When she was diagnosed with MS, we took her from the hospital on New Years Day to go see the ocean and even though that was not a road trip (unless pushing her wheelchair down the street counts), I knew getting her out to see that there was still beauty in the world, a whole life out there beyond her hospital bed, was going to be a big step in helping her recover in a positive way. This was the same sort of scenario. She was going to head up to Cal Poly in a few weeks to tour the campus for possible transfer next year, so my thought was why not go a few weeks early and take a last minute road trip? Getting her out and showing her that life still can be beautiful, fun and an adventure was the goal. Plus, I selfishly wanted to see her smile again, hear her laugh, and us on the road together usually did the trick. We started out camping in Pismo beach… in a tent… and I forgot the blow up mattress. The comedy of that entire night was priceless. She laughed so hard that I almost cried hearing it. The spark was slowly coming back and by the time we drove the coast up to Pebble Beach, visited Cal Poly, wine tasted in Paso Robles, listened to live music in an old saloon in Cambria, met a sweet old couple that gave her some great advice and ended up back home five days later (no more camping after night one), I could tell she was definitely on the mend.

Love songs come on in the car and I look over and see if she is OK. Sometimes she is just singing along and other times she looks at me like <em>really</em> and changes the station. She is back in the kitchen helping me cook and getting some of her appetite back. She is starting to be stronger about how to deal with communication between them and sees that maybe making her life so much about another person isn’t the best move. She took all online classes to be able to travel to visit him on <em>his</em> schedule. Now she doesn’t have classes to attend to help her engage with others on a collegiate level. She has so much time on her hands without talking to him, texting, Skyping and planning her life around him. So now what?

It is a time of growth and evolution that I remember well. The lessons she is learning and the wisdom and knowledge she is gaining are priceless, even if she doesn’t understand that right now. She has to learn to navigate through her life in a new way, single and confident. It may be difficult right now, but it may also be the best thing to ever happen to her. We can never know what the future holds. They may still end up together, she may find someone that is a much better fit for her personality, she might meet him as she travels to Europe as a single, dynamic young woman in her early 20’s. Who knows. Time, I always tell her, is the great revealer. It will reveal to you all that you need to know.

My final words for her after her first love heartbreak: Love yourself and be patient. It is time for you to live your life for <em>you</em> now. I am right here when you need me as I stand by you and watch you blossom as a single, amazing, loving, fun, smart, compassionate and incredibly lovable young woman.

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Emotional immaturity stemming from past hurt, unresolved anger, or childhood wounds can come on so fast its like a flash flood leaving the adult version of you going under and swept away. By the time you come up for air, finding some sort of branch of reality to cling to, you realize the damage that has already been done.

I am so guilty of relapsing back into old patterns of self destructiveness, pushing people away, or verbally lashing out unconsciously when it feels like my world is crumbling. My flash flood hit this week, and as I sit here going over it all I realize that I am taking on too much, adding too much to my plate trying to please everyone and make as much money as I can so my daughter can get through college. But in the process of doing all that I am neglecting myself in so many ways and blaming others because I am not getting what I need to stay emotionally healthy, present, clam, loved, and centered.

I trust the universe to provide us with all we need to live the life we are meant to live. But sometimes I forget that trust means letting go of control. The more I try to control it by working as much as possible I am depleting my own tank, burying any trust I have with stress and worry, and pretty soon old wounds show up that have nothing to do with the situation or people in it at all. I remember being a young girl working so hard, doing all I could to get good grades, clean the house, help in the kitchen, be a good softball player… it never seemed to be “enough” to get them to be proud of me or even like me that much. As I take on more than I should to help as much as I can to pay for Breea’s college dreams to come true, the bills keep adding up, the fees, the tuition, the sorority dues all keep rolling in and I feel like no matter what I am doing, how much or how hard I work, it is simply not enough. The past comes back and BAM — flash flood.

In order to live a resilient life we have to learn to recognize the warning signs and heed the emotional weather alerts going off inside of us. I felt it coming on a week ago. I ignored the inner voice whispering to me, “Michelle, you are stretching yourself too thin already. Pass on this one and trust that everything will work out in your favor.” I took on that last-minute job that left my sensible, emotionally mature adult self clinging to a branch wondering how I got there.

I have learned just how critical it is to check in with myself daily and ask myself if all I am doing is in balance with you getting all I need to stay emotionally healthy. The formula: Ask and listen and follow inner guidance that will lead you back to TRUST.

Are you giving too much of your time to everything and everyone else and forgetting about your own needs? If so be careful. You may be approaching an emotional flash flood zone.

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