Our boy John is a really wonderful boy and he has a great saying –“Do Over.” John has some concerns with anxiety and we have learned a lot over the years about how to cope well with those anxieties.  If he is having a rough day he always needs a bit of time alone to sort out how he is feeling. As I tell him, “it is great to know when you need to be alone, if you know that at 11 years old that is a gift. I know grown-ups who don’t know when they need be alone.”  So John will take his time alone in a quiet room to sort through his thoughts.

He will then join the family again with these words, “Ok, let’s have a do-over.”  A “do-over” is a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean and forgive and move on.

We use it a lot in our house to get our family back on track.

Growing ‘List-less’

After one of my presentations, Caryl emailed me this story and I thought it would be a great reminder to appreciate what you have so close to Valentine’s Day.

“We met and fell in love while still in our teens; I was his first love, and he mine. Four years later we were married and set up our first home in a modest, sparsely furnished two-bedroom apartment. My husband was in sales and frequently traveled out of town for weeks at a time. We had no children at the time and I was not working so I focused on keeping our little love nest neat and tidy- which wasn’t hard to do with no one there to mess it up. Yes, neat as a pin, it was!

It was wonderful when he finally came home after one of his many extended business trips. After a warm greeting and chat about his trip, I began my routine of picking up his shoes, coat, briefcase, suitcases and multiple boxes of sales materials-all dumped unceremoniously throughout our small abode. I enjoyed having him around, even the messes that followed him!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before my penchant for neatness put me on a collision course with his obvious preference for a more ‘relaxed’ ambiance for our home.
   It was the little things that started to bother me; like the three boxes of cereal left open on the counter every morning, the layer of hair lining the bathtub after he showered, the uncapped toothpaste and the underwear dropped on the floor-six inches away from the laundry basket!
One evening, when I saw his necktie adorning the fridge door, I lectured him about his sloppiness. He and looked at me nonchalantly and said, “Well, you’re not so perfect yourself!” I was floored-of course I was perfect! And to prove it, I challenged him to a test; we would both write a list of our partner’s faults. We would then exchange the lists and discuss each concern; getting them out in the open so we could agree to make changes, and thereby, improve our relationship. By this, I meant that we would list his shortcomings, and discuss ways that he would clean up his act.
Armed with pads of paper and pens, we sat across from each other in the living room and began detailing what we perceived to be our better half’s deficiencies. I quickly listed what I considered major flaws in my man but after about five minutes I ran out of steam. While I strained to think of anything else list-worthy, I glanced over at my beloved who was still furiously writing. He would pause only briefly, look thoughtfully up at the ceiling, and then quickly resume his writing with a renewed fervor for another few minutes.
I was infuriated! Okay, I may not be perfect , but I am not that defective! Not to be outdone, I turned my attention back to my unexpectedly short list, while he grinned ear to ear with smug delight as he added item after item to his growing catalogue of my apparent flaws.

Another five minutes passed and I had had enough; he was still on a roll while I was straining to think of anything other than the pettiest of criticisms. “Time’s up!” I announced. He was still writing when I snatched his multi-paged list from him and handed him mine. I retreated back to my seat and declared that we would now read the other’s list, and after careful consideration of each and every point we would discuss the findings.

I sat back in my chair and quickly scanned the first few pages of his seemingly endless list and became very red. Every single line of his list contained only three words-‘I love you’-repeated again and again, page after page. A thousand ‘I love you’s!’
We have been happily together for thirty-eight years. We never did discuss my list for him.

A heart for you

I received this from one of my audience members recently:

I attended the “Focus on the 90%” inspirational talk you spoke at this afternoon.  As my colleague and I were walking out of the building back to our office building, we came across this snow formation on the sidewalk. 

Heart in the Sidewalk

We could have focused on the crack in the sidewalk but instead we saw the “heart on the sidewalk”  It was perfectly shaped.  A message from the universe … we are loved and truly blessed to have such opportunities presented to us.  The trick is to open our ears/eyes and see and hear the message.


Cook For Someone

I love the part in the “Secret” video where they share the story of a depressed man. They told the man that rather than sitting there feeling bad about yourself go and do once nice thing for someone else today. The man was so depressed he couldn’t imagine feeling well enough to do anything. But with encouragement the man went and cleaned the front step of his aging neighbour. It was so small but it made him feel a bit better.

I love that story because one of the best ways to stop complaining about our life is to go and do something special for someone else.casserole

I love to cook for people. I like to involve our children.
I love the surprise of dropping it off. When you are coping, stressed or hurting – food is always the challenge.

Feed someone, if you don’t have time to make it, buy it. I find it is a wonderful way to wrap love around people. And it stops your pity party.

Not So Gorgeous

I treated our girl, Jayda, and her girlfriend for an early birthday supper.

We went to this gorgeous restaurant and we were greeted by an equally gorgeous waitress. She was clearly annoyed that I was in their place with two soon to be, teenage girls. From the look on her face, I could tell she was worried they were going to affect the ambience in the almost empty restaurant. She was making the experience so uncomfortable that I eventually asked, “Are you okay with children in your restaurant?” She rudely announced, “As long as they behave.” Yikes.

They did behave and talked all the way home about how they would never go back there again. They spent a fortune building that beautiful restaurant, hiring beautiful people and then they forgot that my daughter is the future of their business.

Another living example for my girl to learn how “not to” treat people in her own business someday. And that being beautiful comes from within too.

Feel better – do something nice for someone else.

I worked with an exceptional manager and her staff this year. She was so positive and caring and you could tell she was very respected by her staff.

At lunch she was telling me about how she liked to “treat” people. She loved buying little things that she knew her staff would love. I shared that view with her. I love to “treat” people and surprise them with unexpected goodies.present

A great way to make you feel better is to do something nice for someone else. If you are feeling down or overloaded – take a deep breath and think about a small thing you could do for someone that would make them smile. It will reset you.

So Happy

I am a very balanced person when I am at home. I rarely work evenings or weekends. I limit my travel to the average of one night a week. I miss my family too much to be gone more than that. But when I travel I work a lot. I work in airports, while I eat and sit up late in hotel rooms catching up. I max out my time away so when I get home I am “home.”

woman with laptopEvery night at bedtime my family calls me to say good night. One night they called I was working on a writing deadline; I was feeling pretty tired from my travel day and definitely tired of writing.

Our daughter Jayda says, “What ya doin’ Mom?”

I responded with a little sigh, “Writing.”

She says, “Oooh you must be so happy – that is your favourite thing! Are you in your cozy jammies with a tea like you like to do when you write?”

I laughed and looked down and said, “yes indeed, I was in my pajamas and yes, a tea sat by the keyboard.”

She said “That sounds so fun. I’ll let you go Mom so you can get back to what you love doing.”

I wished them all good night and went back to my keyboard with a sense of renewal. She reminded me I did LOVE writing. I needed to reframe my evening, I was so happy.

Sizing Me Up

I walk into a ladies wear store that carries a mix of clothes for young women and “older” Moms like me. The Shawna, the beautiful, young clerk,  bounces over to me and informs me of a sale they are having and very gracefully (and diplomatically) directs me some of the clothes in the “older” section – drawing attention to a blouse she thought would look “great on you!”

As I look around the section, two teenagers come into the store. Shawna approaches them and tells them about a completely different promotion and directs them to their side of the store to show them the “cool new jeans” that just came in.

It was such a small but subtle idea that worked so well. Shawna didn’t sound like she was on “auto pilot” as she announced the exact same promotion to everyone who walked it. She took a second to “size up” her customer and find a way to connect with them.

Awesome Shawna! And yes, I bought the blouse.


I always say the nicest people I meet treat the smallest of the world the kindest. After a health care presentation, an audience member sent me this.

“How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

George Washington Carver