Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Lifestyle

I used to believe that in order to make a difference one had to make a grand gesture. With time I have come to understand that the smallest gestures can have the biggest impact. Little deeds can make a major difference

Since my mother’s death, I have been sorting through her documents and papers. As I’ve been trawling through years of bank statements and receipts I have been overwhelmed by her lifelong consistency in supporting charities and aid organisations.

My mother was raised to give to those in need. As a child she would put 10 cents – 1/5 of her weekly allowance – into the collection plate at church. As she grew older, she continued donating to her church, the Red Cross and the United Way, as well as a scattering of local museums and arts organisations. Most of the organisations my mother contributed to weren’t ‘high profile’ and all contributions made a significant difference to the balance sheet.

Not a wealthy woman, Mom managed her finances with care. While many of her friends gave thousands of dollars to support their chosen charities, ensuring them a place at the top table, autographed photographs of world leaders, and their names emblazoned in gold on donors’ plaques, Mom would send cheques for $10 and $20 which earned her pads of paper and gummed labels with her name and address on them. (I treasure those pads of paper and think of my mother whenever I write myself a note.) For Mom, it wasn’t about the recognition. Or even the tax deduction. My mother contributed what she could because she wanted to make a difference to people in need.

Remember: A small contribution is better than none at all.

Tip: Making a difference can take many forms. Fix a meal for someone who’s feeling poorly. Help a child with homework. Take the garbage out. Say a kind word to your partner or child before going to sleep. Smile.

Anecdote: A few years ago I had an operation and had to stay in bed for several weeks. One day my friends Belinda and Nicky came to visit. While Nicky helped me bathe and put on a fresh nightgown, Belinda replaced the rumpled sheets on my bed with freshly laundered linens and laid out a picnic lunch for the three of us to enjoy. I felt loved and nurtured. Belinda and Nicky continue to make a difference in my life.

Try This: The next time you notice someone in need, consider how you could make a difference to that person’s life and act upon your thought.

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When my mother died, she willed me one of her charm bracelets. On this bracelet is a charm that says: Live, Love, Laugh. When I think of my mother, these are the words that come to mind.

My mother died 3 ½ years ago after a 7 year battle with cancer. She was 83 and lived her life with dignity, courage and determination. In addition to cancer, my mother suffered from schizophrenia throughout her life.

I recently came across one of my mother’s journals written in the 1970s in which she documented her breakdowns and feelings about her mental illness. Without complaining or playing for pity, Mom spoke of her life with gratitude. In spite of her condition, she felt fortunate to have been financially astute so that she could provide for her daughters and afford treatment for her disease. (Mom and my father divorced when I was nine, and she raised my sister and me mostly on her own.)

In contrast to her mental frailty, Mom was physically fit. A club champion golfer, tennis player and swimmer and the first woman to be invited to join the USA Olympic Equestrian Team, she excelled at sport. Only in terms of her sense of self was she a fragile flower who struggled with life’s challenges. Friends and family would step in when Mom’s illness rendered her incapable, filling our house with love and laughter during times of stress and sadness. The tough times didn’t last long, and although Mom would come out of an episode feeling weak and embarrassed by her behaviour, she was able to laugh at her antics and express thanks for the love in her life. Frank Sinatra’s song, Nancy With the Laughing Face, could have been written for Mom.

Several days before my mother died she asked me to publicise her mental illness in order to enlighten people about what continues to be a taboo topic. This, in spite of mental illness – in its varying forms – affecting millions of families across the globe. I have yet to speak with anyone who doesn’t have some form of mental illness in their DNA. My current aim – in honour of my mother – is to build awareness and eliminate fear and prejudice around the subject. If I can contribute to ridding the world of mental disease, so much the better.

I leave you with this final thought: My mother exemplified fortitude, faith and fun. She would often say, “I know that if I can laugh at it I can live with it.” She did. I wish you a life filled with love and laughter.

________________________________________

 

Remember: There’s a lot of sadness, loss and strife floating in the universe. Counterbalance the negative effects by bringing love and laughter to your life and those of others. Find the beauty. Seek the good. You’ll feel better for doing so as will the people whose lives you touch.

Tip: When all else fails, find the humour in life. A bit of verve and vivacity goes a long way in helping you tackle life’s challenges.

Remember: If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.

Anecdote: Shortly before my mother died we invited a group of her friends to the house for chocolates, champagne and conversation. At a time when most people in her position would have preferred to be alone, Mom wanted to surround herself with people she cared about and who cared about her. At one point during the evening, Mom, who was seated in her easy chair with her friends surrounding her said, “It’s so nice to be at my own wake!” and burst into laughter, in which her friends joined. Mom could find happiness in the most unlikely events. As one of her friends wrote to me, shortly after she died, “Your mother laughed like she meant it and loved her friends and family. She lived her life with bonhomie and good will and people left her company feeling upbeat and good about themselves.” Another friend said, “You mother always made me feel welcomed and valued. I valued her enormously..”

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1. Deal in Specifics not generalities

2. Nothing is ever all bad. Look for the positives.

3. How have you coped in the past?

4. What can I do to make things better?

5. Focus on outcomes

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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If you’re the kind of person who complains about not having enough time, quit your complaining and make better use of what you’ve got. 

Everyone has 24 hours in their day.  No more, no less.  If you want to round off your day with a feeling of pride and accomplishment, knowing that you’ve completed your tasks and are ready to take on the next lot,  get rid of your physical and mental clutter. Time is a precious commodity.  All too often people give away this limited resource to people, tasks, and possessions which drain their energy leaving them depleted and in despair. Personal preoccupations and self-imposed obligations can hold you back from pursuing your real passions. If you find yourself caught in the rat’s nest of meaningless matters, follow the tips below.   By banish ing your accumulated physical, mental and emotional clutter you’ll find yourself with more time, space and energy to enjoy life.

  • Audit your physical space.  Rid yourself of unwanted items.  If you have paraphernalia that you neither use nor enjoy, let them go. , Need a little money?  Sell them.  Want to make a charitable donation?  Give your things away.  No one else would want your tat either?  Throw it out.  You’ll notice a feeling of lightness in your life when you do.  . By clearing and organising your physical space you’re granting yourself the room to breathe.
  • Determine what’s vital to you for achieving your goals and what an attention distractor is.  Information overload, unrealistic aspirations and busyness are like addictive drugs.  They take up a lot of time and energy and keep you from focusing on what matters.
  • Let go of social obligations that you don’t enjoy.  Be clear in what you want from a relationship and let go of the barriers that keep you from achieving your goals.  Realise that putting up with things is a trap that consumes energy.
  • Say good-bye to guilt.

If you want to feel light, energised and open to new experiences drop the burdens that are holding you back. Every day life throws you many balls – choosing which ones to catch is the secret of a streamlined life.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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While you’re already well into 2011, it’s not too late to turn this year into your year of achievement.  Face your fears, expand your horizons and make things happen. 

If you’re voicing the same wishes, hopes and fears that you have in years gone by, change the record.  Read our guide to banishing the monotony of negativity by  breaking out of your comfort zone, exploring new opportunities and making the most of life’s experiences .

  • Think big.  Banish the Uninvited Guest in your brain who’s holding you back with pessimistic and unconstructive thoughts. If you feel bored and stuck, do something different.  You could go out for a walk.  The change in scenery, the fresh air and putting one foot in front of the other will help you out of your rut.
  • Write down your rainy-day fantasies, own up to your secret hopes and dreams.  By identifying what you want, you’ve taken the first step toward achievement.
  • Pinpoint the bugbears in your daily life to help you create the life you’d love to have.  Eliminate what you can’t stand at present so you can fill the space with what you want in the future. Team up with a buddy; be that person a friend, a colleague or a coach.   Having someone providing support along your journey helps get you there…
  • Look before you leap. You don’t want to take the plunge only to find out there was no water in the pool. Explore possibilities step by step. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.  You’ll feel a great sense of satisfaction taking the steps that lead to your goal.
  • Finally, avoid falling into guilt traps and people pleasing.  This is your life.  Just live it.  

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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Developing Resilience

Demonstrating strength and composure in the face of adversity enriches your life and enhances the lives of others you engage with…

Disappointments, challenges and even rejection are unavoidable in life. It is how you respond and handle these situations that are important. Whether the stresses are around work, health, relationships or finances acting with resilience – with grace and buoyancy – will see you through the tough times. 3 keys to resiliency are:

  1. Maintaining Emotional Control. Staying calm in a crisis is vital. Express your feelings without acting out your emotions. Not only is this method more elegant than losing your temper, it allows you to take in the situation fully and find a way to move forward.
  2. Being open to new experiences.  – One way of rebuilding your life after a shattering experience   is by doing. Something new that pushes you out of your comfort zone.  By challenging your beliefs and assumptions you may find out that you’re hardier than you thought.
  3. Learning to solve problems. Often in the face of despair you may find yourself struggling to figure out what to do.  Take small steps.   Start by listing the easy wins and how you can achieve them.  By accepting upset as a natural part of life and facing your issues head on with honesty and flexibility, your confidence will increase and your perspective will clear.

Thinking optimistically improves your performance and produces positive results.  Three simple tips for thinking optimistically are

  • expect good things to happen to you
  • visualise what you want
  • respond to setbacks with grace, humour, and courage.

Finally, follow these pointers to ensure you bounce back from whatever’s troubling you:

  • Ask for and accept support from those who care about you
  • Take personal  responsibility for your feelings and behaviour
  • View each trial as an opportunity to build resilience
  • Manage your emotions
  • See problems as challenges, not impossibilities
  • Maintain perspective
  • Focus on positive outcomes

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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I’ve come up with a new mantra: Following through is fun! That being said, if you are inspired, energised and excited by beginning projects rather than completing them, following through may feel foreign, uncomfortable, or just plain difficult. Whether you find following through challenging or easy, read on.

In golf as in life, it’s the follow through that makes the difference.
Anon

A golfer lines up the ball, makes contact, and follows through the swing long after the ball’s in flight. Without this follow through the ball veers off in a haphazard direction rather than the one intended. It’s the same in business. It’s not uncommon for people to become distracted by the pursuit of the next big thing before finishing what was started. Then what? Not much. Failing to follow through can result in inconsistency, poor results, and ruined reputations [for more information about following through, visit the Myers Briggs Type Indicator section on our website].

Anecdote: As a young girl at the swimming club competitions, Judy was known for being first off the blocks, leaving her rivals in her wake. But then something would change. With spectators cheering her on, willing her to win, Judy’s focus would fade and her challengers would forge ahead. Who took home the trophies? Not Judy. What can be learned from Judy’s story? While the beginning of a project can be fun and exciting, without following through little is accomplished leaving you, and those around you, saying “So what?”

If you struggle with following through these tips might help.

       Focus. Be crystal clear about your goal. Is it the sense of power and precision that comes with a hole in one? Is it the accolades of the admiring crowds? Is it the gold cup/champion’s pay cheque/photo in the paper? Being clear about what you want will help you follow through.

       Passion. Following through requires vision, endurance and the passion to succeed. Without the passion, what’s the point?

       Fun. Following through is fun. And it feels good, too. You can count on a good night’s sleep when you go to bed having followed through on your day’s promises, tasks and commitments.

Remember: Without following through nothing gets completed.

Tip: Keeping the benefits of following through at the forefront of your mind maintains momentum and motivation.

Technical: Are you a person who follows through naturally or do you struggle to complete? The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) identifies personality preferences on four dichotomies, including how you like to live your life when it comes to following through.

Caution: Failing to follow through leaves you with only possibilities and no results.

Finally: Following through ensures a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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