Acknowledgement


“If given a choice do what is right.  Do what may push you along.  Choose that thing that is outside your grasp and then work hard for it….’Or’ don’t and live to whine another day.” – Bob Perks

Welcome back  —  I’ve missed you! As you know, I took two weeks off from writing the blog to prepare for and then enjoy a one-week vacation to Oregon over the Fourth of July weekend with my wonderful husband, Rick. We had a perfect trip.

The weather was perfect – in the mid-seventies with blue skies the whole time.

The food was perfect. Portland, where we spent half the time, is a Foodie’s paradise.  We followed recommendations from friends and clients and enjoyed several wonderful restaurants and wineries. We also had some great food during the second half of our trip to Cottage Grove, in southern Oregon, to visit my only sibling’s family.  My nephew smoked four whole chickens, and we had one of the best lasagnas ever, courtesy of my nephew-in-law, Don. He even made one pan with turkey sausage, since I don’t eat anything with four feet.

The scenery was perfect.  While staying in Portland, we spent the better part of a day driving through the nearby Columbia Gorge, which is nature on steroids.  The winding road through the tall pine trees reminded me of Yosemite, but with many more waterfalls (although smaller), which were all an easy walk from the road.

Aside from all the food, fun and scenery, the MOST significant thing about the trip for me was seeing my extended family again.  All but one of my older brother’s kids and grand kids reside in Oregon or Washington, so we all congregated at the home of my niece Ann and her husband Don, an acre-plus spread right next to the Row River. My brother and sister-in-law, four of my six nieces and nephews and four of my five great-nieces and great nephews joined us, as well as my brother’s ex-wife (the mother of three of his children) and her husband. It is truly one BIG, happy family, who all get along great.

We spent time looking at old photo albums and marveling that 10 years had passed since we last got together for a Parker Family Reunion.  It seemed to all except the youngest ones that those 10 years had zoomed by in the blink of an eye. Some of the memories were still vivid, while others made us shake our heads, not believing the photographic evidence that we really DID wear that hairdo or clothing back then. And the more “seasoned” among us could count new wrinkles and grey hairs (and maybe a couple of new belt notches) that weren’t there last time.

That made me realize that life truly does go by SO fast.  I am sad to admit that I have made the choice year after year not to make the effort to get us all together again…Not a conscious choice, but a choice of omission. Rick and I simply chose to do other things with the little time off we took from making a living.

That may end up being one of my few life regrets because this reunion made me realize that as far as I am concerned, there are really only TWO important questions to ask ourselves when we come to the end of our earthly life:

  • Did I SHOW the people I love how much I love them?
  • What Big Dreams did I pursue (or let die without ever being born)?

Our lives are built on a series of many little decisions made day by day in each of these two categories.  Each day is a new chance to take time to pay attention to those we love and demonstrate to them that we really do value them.  And each day is a chance to pursue our heartfelt dreams with everything we’ve got, or let them slide in favor of what is easier, more comfortable, less scary.

Within a day of arriving home, I received yet another amazing, thought-provoking post from my friend and fellow-coach/writer/speaker/workshop leader, Bob Perks. (See blog #230 “Listen with Your Heart” if you missed his earlier post that I re-published.)

Bob perfectly expresses that it is all the little daily choices we make to be loving, to be generous, to be in integrity, to stand up for our beliefs and values, and to either pursue our dreams or sell out that REALLY matter.  It’s not the few big life choices we make, but the many little ones that steadily add up day by day, year by year to create the picture that our life ultimately ends up looking like.

Here, with permission, are Bob’s own thoughts.  I hope they make as big an impression on you as they did on me. And I hope they move you to take ACTION and make the right daily choices for YOU, so that the next decade of YOUR life fulfills and empowers you. Because one thing I can guarantee: It’s going to feel like it zoomed by in the blink of an eye.

P.S. If you find Bob’s words inspiring and the spirit moves you, you can make a small or large donation at the end, as I did, to help him keep on sharing his love and wisdom with the world.

Perks Pearl of Wisdom

“I have lived to see another day for nearly 66 years.  I have been given more second chances than I deserved.  Still, I often feel unfulfilled.  Why?  Because there are greater things for me to accomplish.  Things I can’t even imagine at this moment.  For He has plans.”  Bob Perks

“Today’s message:

“Or”

By Bob Perks

Life is full of choices.  The truth is every choice we make ripples like a stone dropped in a still pond.

Even not choosing is a choice.

I could start writing that book or I could go back and edit a few older projects I once started.

I could call my friend or wait until she calls me.  Why should I be the one?

I could look for some healthy recipes and then go shopping for the food I’ll need or I could finish all the junk food up instead of wasting it.

I could update my resume and start looking for a better job or I could wait until after vacation.

I could study more for that test on Monday or go celebrate with the girls. I’ll pass it I’m sure.

I could save this extra money I got or maybe double it at the casino.

I could or I couldn’t.

I should join that civic club and get involved or stay at home and mind my own business.

I should go for a walk after dinner or at least sit on the porch for a while.

I should tell him now how much he means to me, how much I love him, how blessed my life has been having him in it.

Or wait until morning when he has rested awhile.

I should or I shouldn’t

I could have, I should have.

I didn’t and I regret it deeply.

I could tell you that I really care about you, my friend.

I should say thanks for always being there for me.

I will…”I love you, my friend.  I depend on you being there.  Thanks.”

Bob Perks

My messages are sent free. 

The services I use to send them aren’t.

Thanks for any support you can provide.”

www.PayPal.me/GiftBobPerks

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.

Happy Father’s Day in the USAI gratefully acknowledge everyone who is a father or who acts as a role model/mentor for someone else. The influence of a strong, positive role model is a priceless gift in a young child’s life.

I was originally planning to take this week off from writing the blog, to give me time to celebrate my birthday on the 23rd and prepare for a trip to Oregon with my wonderful husband Rick for a Parker family reunion over the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. The last time my brother’s family and I were all together was about 10 years ago for my Mom’s memorial celebration and I am very much looking forward to spending time with my brother and sister-in-law and my many nieces, nephews and great nieces and great nephews!

But since today is Father’s Day, I decided to re-post my 2015 tribute to fathers everywhere and share with my many new readers the important life lessons that my own wonderful father taught me.

 “Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got.  Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.” – Maya Angelou

This quote from the late, great writer and poet, Maya Angelou, perfectly describes the way my Dad lived his life.  Although his years on earth were far too short, he lived each of them with maximum gusto and I am quite sure he had no regrets when he died suddenly at age 57, right at the beginning of my senior year of High School.

My Mom was my source of unconditional love, whatever minor discipline I needed, and the usual “always wear clean underwear for the ambulance” practical advice. My Dad was my Playmate, Teacher, Walking Thesaurus/Dictionary/Encyclopedia, and my #1 Role Model.  I don’t remember him talking to me directly about rules to live by. Instead, he just lived his life on his own terms and I learned how I wanted to live mine by observing how he did it.

Here are the key guidelines for abundant living that I got from observing the happiness and fulfillment my Dad derived from living by them himself:

  • Be happy – Other than the day President Kennedy was assassinated, when I saw  him cry for the first time, Dad was invariably optimistic, cheerful and humorous. He loved to laugh at and tell jokes (especially bad puns), watched all the 60s comedy TV shows with me, and could find the hidden humor or irony in any problem. From him, I decided that hanging out with happy, positive people is the only way to go!  While I got my inclination to worry from my mother, I got my sense of humor from my father.  Guess which trait has helped me more in life?
  • Be curious – My Dad was the most insatiable life-long learner I’ve ever known. He never passed a used bookstore without buying something.  He left behind boxes of notebooks and reading materials on everything from Elizabethan poetry to paranormal science.  It’s too bad he didn’t live into the Internet Age because he would have spent hours Googling everything.  He taught me how great it could be to know a little bit about a lot of things (which led a High School English teacher to dub me a “Renaissance Woman”). Dad never pontificated about his own views, but sought to learn from others’ opinions. His attitude set me up for career success because coaching requires more listening than talking, being curious instead of judgmental, and having a wide variety of resources at my fingertips to support my clients’ needs.
  • Be creative – My Dad was one of the most creative problem-solvers I’ve ever known. He was an amateur inventor who came up with what he believed was a breakthrough system for teaching reading that was better than phonics. Unfortunately, he died before he got to finish it. He taught me to stretch my imagination and ingenuity with his creative inventions, like a teeter-totter I could play on all by myself, consisting of a long board balanced on an old oil drum and weighted on the other side with bricks that were equal to my weight. (This was in the days before “helicopter parenting” and Cal OSHA, you understand.)
  • Be of service – By Dad’s example, I learned that while life can be enjoyable when we meet our own needs, it can be truly fulfilling only when we help others meet theirs.   He voluntarily gave up a lucrative professorship at the University of California to teach at a community college where he felt he made a bigger difference teaching remedial English to working adults striving to improve their lives. Dad took a personal interest in Mrs. Edwards, an elderly woman in his night school class who wanted to improve her English. One day he hitched a trailer to our station wagon and filled it with boxes of hand me down clothes and a used refrigerator. Then my parents, Mrs. Edwards and I drove from Orange County,CA to Tecate, Mexico to give her extended family these precious gifts.  I was just eight, but I still remember what their dirt-floored, one-room adobe home smelled like and all the flies buzzing about. I am certain those strangers never forgot my Dad’s generosity.

Looking back, our relationship reminds me a lot of the bond between Atticus Finch and his young daughter, Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Like Atticus, my Dad was older when I was born, so we didn’t do much physical play together; our father-daughter bond was more spiritual and mental. And luckily for me, like Atticus, my father demonstrated by his daily life exactly how to be self-confident and stand up for one’s principles, while remaining respectful of the different abilities, lifestyles and opinions of others.

In short, Prof. Harbison Parker was my #1 Role Model for how to “love life, engage in it and give it all you’ve got.” And I feel extremely blessed to be his daughter.

PLEASE NOTE: The blog will be taking the next TWO Sundays off.  A Cup of Caroll will return on Sunday, July 10.  In the meantime, I wish my readers in the USA a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend!

****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make this the BEST year yet, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call toll-free 888-503-8145.

 

 

“Each day when I awake I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone’s life.” – James Mann

Last week’s blog (“Light Their Fire” #235) garnered more response than almost any other.   Many of my readers told me they forwarded it to other individuals and groups. It contained a powerful message about the difference that teachers – and really ALL of us – can make in the life of someone else, just by seeing through their current lackluster or upsetting behavior and seeing the greatness that lies within each of us – the special gift, as one teacher put it, that we each open at different times in our lives.

I’m sure you, too, can name at least one person who was instrumental in helping you to discover your special passion and talent through their belief in you. Often, that person was a teacher.  This is the perfect time of year to thank a teacher for their service.  Older children spend more waking hours at school than they do with their parents, and their teachers have a tremendous influence on them.

In addition to teaching their subjects, teachers are called upon to help their students learn to reason, form intelligent opinions, respect others’ opinions that differ from theirs, and learn that their words and actions have an impact on others — for good and for bad. And teachers are expected to do it all with infinite patience, grace and energy!  They absolutely deserve all the appreciation, support and acknowledgment we can shower upon them.

It’s sometimes quite challenging to see the greatness in one who is misbehaving, acting out, pouting, crying, blaming others, or refusing to do what they know they should do.  These behaviors aren’t limited to the young, of course. At times, we ALL say and do things we wish we hadn’t.

This week, I witnessed an adult behaving very badly. As I entered the grocery store, a disheveled-looking woman riding an adult scooter was exiting the checkout line empty-handed. I could tell by her unkempt appearance that she was probably living in less than ideal conditions. The woman was extremely angry, shouting at the clerk that she was going to call the head of the grocery chain and report him.  There were children present and she yelled a number of profanities you would not have wanted your children to hear, believe me.

As I passed by her, I was tempted to frown at her and judge her for being rude to someone who was undoubtedly just doing their job, plus being so crude and uncaring about the impact she was having on everyone around her.  But with the last blog clear in my mind, I reminded myself that I needed to focus on seeing her “greatness” instead of her behavior. I honestly couldn’t see it at that moment, but I did at least do my best not to judge her. Instead, I sent up a silent prayer on her behalf, asking God to richly bless her with love, health and prosperity.

As I left the store moments later, I passed a clerk talking to a woman who was wearing some type of name badge.  She was calmly explaining to the clerk that the angry woman was “self-medicating” because she couldn’t afford her meds. Suddenly, I saw the truth and felt such compassion for her and relief that I didn’t let myself judge her.  The signs were all there that she had some sort of mental or emotional issue and was doing the best she could with what she had in her life at the moment.  Whatever frustrated her,  she lacked the tools to cope with and so acted out.  It was a dramatic reminder that we can’t know what is REALLY going on in someone else’s life and that we must not judge them if we want to help them.

Later that day, my spirits were lifted during a coaching session with a client who is an elementary school teacher.  She said the last blog made a big impression on her about teachers having a life-changing influence on their students by recognizing and nurturing their gifts. That awareness caused her to handle a tough classroom situation differently than she otherwise might have.

In a class designed for students learning English as a second language, one boy had been acting out all year, refusing to do his assignments and disrupting the class so the other students had trouble concentrating.  On this day, when he complained that he didn’t understand the assignment, she decided to try a new approach.

While the other students were absorbed with their assignments, she sat down next to him.  “I wanted to be at his level, not towering over him like an authority figure,” she explained. “I spoke to him quietly and calmly and he began to calm down, too. I told him we would work on the question sheet together.  I didn’t give him the answers, but I guided him and he began to understand it.”

Soon, he had finished almost the entire assignment in one period, which was not the norm.  With just one question left, he began to get ready to leave.  But she encouraged him with, “We still have four minutes. Why don’t you see if you can finish it?  I know you can do it!” 

And he did. “He was beaming,” she told me. “He practically danced up to my desk to put it in the in-basket for one of the first times this year.  He proved to himself that he IS smart, and he was so proud.”

My prediction is that years from now, that boy will still remember how his teacher saw his greatness and believed in him.  That seemingly ordinary day may well mark the moment when he began to open his own special gift.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session. 

“You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” – Bob Nelson

I had an extraordinary experience this past week, attending the annual “Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony” at my alma mater, Newport Harbor High School. (Go, Sailors!)

The purpose of this annual ceremony is to honor past graduates and faculty members of the renowned secondary school (founded in 1930) who have found outstanding success in their own lives and made a big difference in the lives of others.  A few of the honorees were deceased or incapacitated, and were represented by family members who spoke for and about them.

All of them are amazing citizens, leaders and teachers who have made a profound and lasting impact in a variety of fields.  The graduate honorees included two respected actors (Stuart Cooper and Ted McGinley), Greg Laurie, pastor and founder of one of the largest Christian churches in the USA, David Thompson, a respected California Court of Appeals Judge, Dr. Sandi Smith, a lauded Communications Professor at Michigan State, Marshall Duffield, inventor of the beloved little “Duffy” electric boats that now number 14,000 and counting, and Dr. Mahlon DeLong, a noted scientist whose work has bettered the lives of thousands of people suffering from neurological diseases. The latter couldn’t be with us that night because he was giving a lecture at the Harvard Medical School!

The theme that was consistently repeated by all of these accomplished, humble and witty honorees was this: Most were lucky to be called “mediocre” during their high school years.   None of them imagined they were destined for greatness.  The spark that took hold inside of them and enabled them to excel was lit when one of their teachers focused attention on them and expressed belief in them, even when they didn’t yet believe in themselves.

This stayed with me as I finished my coaching week, listening to a number of my clients complain about their family members, team members and friends not behaving the way they wanted them to – in other words, “under-performing” according to their standards.

What if, I wondered, instead of focusing on their shortcomings, my clients focused on their potential for greatness, just as the wise faculty members had focused on these honorees’ potential, even when the honorees themselves were behaving in less than stellar ways and had no clue as to the spark of greatness that lay within them?

One of my clients lamented in a text that “[My teammate] will take zero coaching/help/suggestions from me.” Meaning, I guess, that her teammate wouldn’t do what SHE wanted her to do in the way SHE wanted it done.  My client said she felt exhausted and overwhelmed with the responsibility for her growing team, and just wanted them to step up and “be Leaders.”  But her message suggested that she wasn’t really viewing them as “Leaders” who could be trusted to lead, but more like “staff” who needed to be supervised and told what to do.

Contrast her approach of trying to push someone to be their BEST with the way the late Robert Wentz, a noted actor and Newport Harbor High’s revered longtime drama teacher, chose to gently inspire someone in whom he recognized potential greatness.  Popular TV and movie actor Ted McGinley (Class of ‘76), shared how Mr. Wentz craftily lured him into taking his first taste of acting.

Mr. Wentz had asked him to try out many times, but being a “jock,” Ted thought that acting in school plays would make him a laughingstock with his teammates, and adamantly refused.  So one day, just before English class, Mr. Wentz pulled Ted aside and told him, “Here’s what we’re going to do.  I am going to pretend to bate you and disrespect you. You are going to pretend to get angry. We’re going to have a heated argument in front of the class. Then you are going to storm out of the room.  Make it real. Ok, let’s go.”

Not having a clue what it was all about, but wanting to please the teacher he loved and respected, Ted did as instructed.  A convincing mock fight ensued and Ted gave it his all to make it “real.” Finally, he stormed out of the room and waited outside. Through the door, he heard Mr. Wentz tell the stunned class to write an essay about what they had just witnessed.  “And I didn’t have to write one! I was hooked on acting from that moment,” Ted laughed.

That small incident changed the course of Ted’s life and gave millions of viewers (including me) of hit TV shows like Happy Days, Married with Children, The West Wing, and Mad Men, as well as many movies, the pleasure of watching him do what he loves for a living.

Who do YOU know who is not performing up to their capability?  Who has untapped potential for greatness that YOU can see?

What are you doing about it? Are you nagging them, criticizing them and letting them know they are falling short of YOUR expectations? Or are you encouraging them with, “I see greatness in you.  I believe in you!”

Psychological studies have proven time and again that people usually live up to or down to our expectations of them.  We have to EXPECT THE BEST if we want them to be able to bring out the best in themselves.

One graduate honoree shared a memorable quote from a favorite teacher: “Everyone on earth has a gift. They just open their gifts at different times.” 

Be patient. Hang in there with them as they struggle to find their footing. Help them pick themselves up and dust themselves off when they have a defeat. Cheer them on when they have a small victory.  Allow them to build a fire from within and share their special gift with the world whenever they are ready. Then stand back and prepare to be amazed!

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie 

Gratitude is THE most powerful positive emotion to attract all the wonderful things you desire into your life…We can never feel or express TOO MUCH gratitude for all the good already present in our lives. Here is an updated version of one of my favorite past blogs about Gratitude. I hope you enjoy it! 

As you know, tomorrow is Memorial Day in the U.S.A.  This holiday — originally called Decoration Day — began in 1868, as a time set aside to commemorate those who died fighting in the Civil War by decorating their graves with flags and flowers.

But I find it equally appropriate to celebrate Memorial Day by taking a moment to remember with gratitude ALL those who have gone before you who have contributed to making you who are today:

  • All the strangers, friends and loved ones who served in the armed forces to preserve your precious freedom.
  • Your parents, grandparents and other dear ones who raised you and helped you determine the values you choose to live by.
  • All the mentors and teachers who freely gave of their precious time to help guide you along your purposeful path.
  • Everyone who has ever showed you the encouragement and love that nurtured your spirit and helped you grow into your authentic Self.
  • Yes, and even those who disagreed with you honorably or sought to undermine you dishonorably — because they, too, had a hand in strengthening your character and determination to succeed against all odds.

Let us today transform our sadness at the loss of those who contributed so much to our lives into abundant GRATITUDE for all they have contributed to us.  While sadness and regret are negative emotions that attract more pain, gratitude is one of the most powerful positive emotions there is.

Gratitude can help you put the Law of Attraction to work to make your most heartfelt dreams and ambitious intentions a reality.  If “energy attracts like energy,” as the Law of Attraction states, then feeling GRATEFUL for all those who have blessed your life with their presence can only attract more good to bless you.

And because an abundantly prosperous life involves so much more than just money, I want to close with something profoundly simple, yet powerful, that I learned from a wise minister, Rev. Margaret Melanie.

These are the Four Spiritual Truths to live by, which can help you create a life that is truly abundant and prosperous in every way. (I love them so much, I had them made into a plaque for my office.)

  • Breathe deeply. Breathing slowly and deeply nourishes your body with oxygen, makes you more alert to new ideas, and settles you down.  It makes you aware of being in the NOW and living fully in the present moment — which is really the only time that you have available to you.
  • Live Fully. Go out and make a miracle today.  God is busy and needs your help.
  • Kiss slowly. Appreciate all the love in your life – in ALL the forms it may take.  Don’t give your dearest loved ones just a hasty peck on the cheek as you bolt out the door.  Take time to really appreciate them and show them your love.
  • Love wastefully. Don’t hold back.  Spread your love around lavishly, so there isn’t a drop left at the end of your life.  Love can’t be hoarded; it must be spent to be enjoyed!

I hope you enjoy a gratitude-filled Memorial Day weekend with those you love (two-footed and/or four-footed)! 

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!) 

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

Happy Mother’s Day!  I salute everyone who is a mother (I’m not) or acts as a mother-figure for someone who needs one. (I have done that.)  Whether you were lucky enough to grow up with an unconditionally-loving “June Cleaver” mother like I did or struggled to cope with someone who fell far short of the ideal, we have all been deeply affected by a mother or mother-figure in our lives.

Many of my readers have joined me since today’s blog was first published two years ago, so I want to share again my Mom’s “best practices” for living a life of joy, integrity and fulfillment.

May 11, 2014

“Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:8, The Bible.

My mother passed away in 2006, just shy of her 92nd birthday, on the very night that my wonderful husband Rick and I were supposed to have our first date. I’m sorry they never got to meet because with a similar playful, gentle sense of humor, they would have thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

Mom was always very spiritual, if not religious, and as soon as I married and left home at 19, she began sending me a subscription to the little booklet of daily inspirational thoughts put out by Unity, the Christian denomination that she grew up in.  She would be delighted to know that it still makes me feel connected to her every morning when I read the daily message.

Interestingly, the Daily Word topic for today is exactly what I had already decided to write about. I quote here as background for what I want to share with you on Mother’s Day:

“A mother’s love is strong.  It protects and comforts, nurtures and forgives. It is uplifting, supportive and unconditional.  A mother’s love begins before birth and continues without end. It is an expression of the Divine.

 Today I honor and appreciate my mother or anyone who may have filled the role of mother in my life.  I bring to mind the wisdom she has shared, the stories she has told, and the mannerisms and characteristics that are uniquely hers.

 I am grateful for all she has given to our family. The greatest thank-you I can offer is to share with others the best of what my mother taught me.

 With gratitude, I bless and celebrate all mothers and the love they share.”

 Today, as a heartfelt thank-you to her, I want to share with you the best of what Charlene Turner Parker taught me by her words and actions. Here are the Top Five Life Lessons I learned from my Mom:

  • Make everyone feel included. When I was in elementary and middle school, my mother invited a distantly-connected family of immigrants to Sunday dinner at our house about once a month.  The working-class parents spoke broken English and I felt it was a pain to have to entertain their son who was several years younger than I.  But my mother was adamant that we must make them feel welcome and give them a good meal. “Little Carlos” grew up to be a handsome, intelligent young man who graduated from college and became a successful professional. After his parents had both passed, he continued to bring his little sister to visit my Mom on her birthday and holidays. At her funeral, he cried harder than everyone and told me he considered Charlene a second mother and would never forget her kindness as long as he lived.
  • Speak only kind words. When I was a teenager, I went through a “smart mouth” (OK, and a “foul mouth”) stage. Copying my peers and the media, I thought sarcasm, irony and scathing criticism were the height of sophisticated communication. My mother set me straight very quickly: There would be no trash talk or gossip in HER house.  I rolled my eyes and thought she was hopelessly square. When I got a little older, I realized how badly I had behaved and was deeply appreciative of her frequent reminder: “People will eventually forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them FEEL.”
  •  Listen deeply, without judging. My mother listened to EVERYONE – whether a three-year-old grandchild, a school Principal or a supermarket clerk — as if what they had to say were the most fascinating and important thing in the world. When she worked as an elementary school secretary, a dozen kids would hang out in her office at lunch time just to bask in the attention she paid them.  Yes, people always remember how we make them FEEL.  And feeling “heard” is one of the best feelings in the world.
  • Always send a hand-written note. My mother always nagged me mercilessly until I had mailed a thank you note to anyone who gave me the smallest gift, had me over to their house for dinner or came to my birthday party, graduation, wedding etc. Now, it seems archaic, but Mom sent me real paper birthday and thank you cards until the end, and I still strive to do the same. I wouldn’t have shoeboxes full of her loving memories if she had texted me. I advise my job-seeking clients to immediately mail a hand-written thank you note to EVERYONE who interviewers them. Nothing is as sincere and classy as acknowledging someone with a hand-written note. You would be surprised how many successful careers have started that way!
  • Help everyone you can in every way you can. Sometimes it annoyed me how much my mother gave away from her little pension — sending $10 a month to dozens of charities, paying family members’ college tuitions so they could become successful, hiring down-and-out folks to do odd jobs and errands that she really could have managed herself.  But even more than financially, she helped others with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love.  Nobody who came in contact with Charlene Turner Parker ever forgot her patience, kindness and generosity.  That is a legacy we can all aspire to.

PLEASE NOTE: My wonderful husband Rick and I will be in Yosemite National Park this week, celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary.  The blog will return on Sunday May 22. 

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!) 

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” – Marian Wright Edelman

I sincerely hope you got a chance to read last week’s blog, which touched a chord in many of my readers. My guest columnist and fellow coach, Bob Perks, movingly shared his personal experiences with depression – his own and others’ — and offered us sound advice on how to listen to someone suffering with depression, sadness or disappointment in a way that will make a real difference for them.

I am very grateful to those who took the time to send Bob a message of thanks, forward the blog to others, purchase his wonderful book “I Wish You Enough” on Amazon.com or visit his website (www.BobPerks.com) and follow him on Facebook. To those “Earth Angels” who sent him a monetary gift of appreciation at www.PayPal.me/GiftBobPerks, know that Bob is incredibly grateful for your support and validation, as am I. (And if you didn’t take any of these steps to show your gratitude, it’s never too late!)

One of the most memorable lines in Bob’s powerful column was “Don’t be a good listener.  Be a great one.” During our coaching sessions this week, several of my clients who read Bob’s column related their own stories that validate just how powerfully GREAT listening can change a life. Here are two of my favorites:

One client told me about her elderly mother, who several months ago began sharing her home with her adult grandchildren and their two kids, plus their dogs. At first, “Nana” was very happy to have all that youthful energy swirling around her and loved helping with the after-school babysitting, which gave her a renewed sense of purpose.

But recently, my client noticed that her mother seemed uncharacteristically sad and upset. One day, Nana blurted out, “I am so unhappy.  I want to sell the house and move back to Chicago.”  My client was taken aback, but with Bob Perk’s “great listening” advice fresh in her mind, she was able to respond differently than she ordinarily might have.

Resisting the urge to point out that Nana’s idea was unworkable for many reasons, my client chose instead to be a curious, non-judgmental Active Listener. She calmly and gently questioned her mother in order to find out what was really bothering her. Nana admitted that the unaccustomed noise and activity were wearing on her.  My client acknowledged that she would feel the same way, and volunteered to talk to her adult children and remind them of the “house rules” their family had been breaking lately.  Nana seemed to brighten at that, but my client could sense there was something still deeper beneath the surface.

When my client asked what else might be on her mind, Nana confessed that she was afraid she wouldn’t have enough money to continue to live on. My client had recently helped her mother apply for a refinance of her mortgage, which should give her a nice nest egg on which she could live comfortably for many years.  But being 83, Nana didn’t quite understand the ins and outs of today’s long and complicated mortgage process, and thought something must be wrong. My client was able to reassure her that the process was going smoothly and would soon be completed and said she was confident that Nana’s finances would be in good shape for the rest of her life.

Then Nana’s energy completely shifted and my client realized that the stress and worry that she had kept under wraps must have been taking a real toll on her mother. If she had not given Nana the chance to express her fears with active, non-judgmental listening, Nana’s long-term mental and physical health might well have been affected. Today, their multi-generational household is back to normal and Nana eagerly looks forward to her great-grandkids’ return from school each day.

My second client’s story proves that simply giving a little attention and kindness to others can have a lasting impact, even if we don’t realize their true circumstances.

A high school drama teacher, she recently attended an after-party for a successful school production. Unexpectedly, two seniors got up to speak. Both these young men are among the most popular students in the school and both appear quite well-adjusted, successful and confident.

To her shock, in front of their peers, parents and faculty members, each student thanked her for turning their lives around. Both revealed that, as freshmen, they had been badly bullied and felt like outcasts. One confessed to being so despondent, he had even contemplated suicide.

These two well-liked and respected young men told my client that her class had changed their lives by making them feel understood, worthwhile and appreciated.  My client had simply done with them what she strives to do with all her students — she listened, validated and encouraged them to believe in themselves.

She told me in amazement, “Never in a million years would I have guessed what they were going through back then.  It taught me that being kind and positive really makes a difference for others.” Indeed it does!

I’d like to close by adding to Bob Perk’s words of wisdom a few of my own “best practices” for listening in a way that can make a profound difference for others:

  • Stay open: Listen without prejudgment or attachment to how YOU want the conversation to go or the outcome YOU want to see. You might be surprised to discover an EVEN better possible outcome than you imagined — if you can truly listen for it with an open mind.
  • Be an Active Listener – Pay attention. Don’t just wait for the other person to stop talking so YOU can speak. Your Inner Wisdom will give you the perfect words to say in response if you listen carefully to what they are saying all the way through to the end.
  • Ask permission before offering advice – Even a professional coach needs to distinguish whether advice is really what they want from you – or do they just need you to listen with a compassionate heart and help them to feel worthwhile, understood and validated? If you believe you have some helpful advice to impart, first ask, “Are you open to hearing my thoughts?” And then abide by their wishes.
  • Be a Connector – When I actively listen to my clients and friends, I find that I instantly recall the needs and desires they shared with me whenever a resource pops up that I recognize might help them. If you listen actively, you could become the answer to someone’s heartfelt dream by connecting them to the people and resources that can help them achieve it.

And as the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) and The Bible both remind us, the Good you do for others inevitably will be done unto YOU, too!

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

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