Friday, May 20, 2016

Awesome motivational speakers visit Michiana


Well Michiana, if you were one of the lucky ones sitting in the Century Center this morning listening to the speakers at the Lead Michiana conference, you are probably thinking about work and life a little differently this afternoon.

I consider myself very lucky to have been able to attend the conference this morning, because I got to hear several great speakers including Darren Hardy and Les Brown.  These are motivational speakers who travel all over inspiring professionals to be great and they were right here speaking in Michiana. How exciting is that!?!?

Justin Maust, host and founder of Lead Michiana, is an inspirational speaker and trainer, team-builder and coach in the area. Many of you may be familiar with his company, Leader Legacy, or his involvement with 5Star.  I believe one of his goals today was to get across the message that, “Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown.” And I think there was a lot of growth within the approximately 1,000+ attendees.

Several years ago, I read the book, “The Compound Effect,” by Darren Hardy.  It was a great book that made me think about how making small changes over time can have a great impact.  It was shortly before that or shortly after that I began subscribing to the magazine, “Success.”  It’s a monthly magazine that was brought back to life by Hardy, with inspiring messages about entrepreneurs and tidbits and reminders of how we can improve ourselves.   I highly recommend it. 

He was one of the speakers today.  His words and messages did a great job of keeping my interest for the time that he was up on stage, encouraging listeners to become, “stunningly successful SuperAchievers.” This can be done by finding the kryptonite that threatens our productive futures. Basically, what hinders our productivity? These are mainly distractions including friends stopping by, emails chiming in, phones ringing, etc.

He encouraged us to be world-class at a few things instead of mediocre at many and gave us some suggestions on how to accomplish that task. Did you know that for every distraction we have, it takes us about 23 minutes to get refocused? For those of you who attended, I’m sure you have come to appreciate the new thought of sprint/ recovery!

Les Brown’s message came with moments of contagious laughter; and I couldn’t help but smile when he laughed! He’s one of a kind. His style of mentoring comes in the form of stories, some with a bit of mixed in religion. His message can be wrapped in to two words that when I hear the name Les Brown, I’ll automatically think, “It’s possible.”  After all, born in an abandoned building in Miami and growing up in poverty, he’s decided to create his success instead of blaming his circumstances.

But one of the things that will probably always stick in mind and one that I will probably share with students I work with from now on, is this phrase, “someone’s opinion of you does not have to be your reality.” Wow, what powerful words.  How often do we give others the power to allow their opinions to become our beliefs?

It’s possible to live your dream. It’s a simple message from a man who touched many today.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend the 2nd Lead Michiana event, you won’t want to miss it next year. After all, how many leaders in Michiana like Justin Maust have the vision to bring these great influential people to the area?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April is Financial Literacy Month...where did you learn to be financially savvy?


Have you ever made a poor financial decision? Do you wish that at some times in your life you had more guidance on the fundamentals of financial literacy?

Well, I can say yes to both of those questions, but for the most part, I’d say overall I’ve been rather lucky as far as my financial upbringing.

As a child, my parents gave me an allowance for completing assigned chores.  My brother and I were taught to save up for items that we wanted, but we were also given the occasional toy if we were out shopping with our parents. 

When I was in high school, I worked several nights a week at LaPorte Hospital in the kitchen, delivering trays to patients and scrubbing pots and pans, along with patient trays.  Glamourous work? I’d say not… but it did teach me great work ethic, teamwork and probably most importantly, how to manage money.

My parents were very generous and paid for my car insurance and gas as long as the car was used to get to work and to school.  My part of the bargain was that I agreed to save at least 60% of each paycheck and I could spend 40% for going out with friends, etc. It seemed very fair and by the time I was ready to start college, I had a pretty good amount saved up.  I was proud of the money I had saved.

Not all kids have parents who teach their children about saving money and budgeting for needs and wants. Not all parents were ever taught how to succeed at this, themselves!

The month of April is Financial Literacy month and it really got me thinking about what that means, especially since I accepted the position as Program Manager at Junior Achievement.  My goal will always be to help students learn about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and job readiness.  I feel as though we owe that to each student in the area.

As the JA Program Manager for St. Joseph and Marshall Counties, I recruit volunteers to enter the classrooms in these counties and teach curriculum that has been developed to help students learn how to save money, how to determine the different between wants and needs, how to start a business and how to know which career is something he or she might be interested, among other things.

It’s been an eye opening experience for me and a very rewarding one, as well. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and please consider how you can impact someone else’s life as far as financial literacy is concerned. A little bit of your time volunteering or a few dollars donated for classes in this area can mean a lot to students who might not otherwise be introduced to this type of learning.

If nothing else, think about your own financial well-being and how you can make well informed decisions! Happy Financial Literacy month… for a few more days J Let's make sure that students today learn how to become financially savvy tomorrow!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Today marks a day of change!


A few years ago I began reading Success magazine and the writings of Jim Rohn, DenisWaitley, Brendon Burchard and others.

When I read their thoughts, it became clearer to me that I was just floating through life.  I decided that I needed to change some things in my personal life and I lost some weight and started exercising each day.  I started my 50 state, 50 half marathon by age 50 walking challenge and made small changes that have made differences over time. After about two years, I felt back in control of my personal life and felt good about the goals I was working on.  These continue to be things I work on today.

Once I got my personal goals established, I realized I was floating through my work life.  The passion I once had for my job just wasn’t there anymore and I realized that I just wasn’t being my best self. The motivated, happy person I had been when I accepted my position at the Foundation had disappeared and I no longer felt like I was doing my job the way I once had.  So, I decided it was time to work on my work life. After all, I spend more time at work than almost anywhere else. The only thing that beats the amount of hours spent at work is time spent sleeping!

I sat down and really thought about what type of job I wanted to get.  What could I be passionate about?  There were several questions I asked myself and I came up with the following list of things that I’d like in my next job:

1) It has to have something to do with building relationships or partnerships

2) I’d like to work with kids if possible  (For the last four years, I have been volunteering at Wilson Primary Center in South Bend for Boys & Girls Club.  I work with students from K-4 every Tuesday and it’s been a blast.  They are quite often the highlight of my week.)

3) It has to have some fun

4) It has to make a difference in the lives of others

So I started looking for jobs that I believed were a good fit for me and I’m happy to say that Junior Achievement is just that.  I will be working primarily in St. Joseph and Marshall Counties recruiting volunteers to work with students and teach them about entrepreneurship and economics. I’ll be doing some training and some actual classroom work and I am really psyched about this new challenge.

Today marks my last day of employment at The Medical Foundation. I’m thankful for the last seven years there and all the things that I have learned. Most importantly, I’m thankful for all my co-workers (yes, all!) because I have learned something from all of them during my seven year journey there.

So as I begin another chapter in my life, I am looking forward to the changes that are about to happen, but I won’t forget the people and experiences that have brought me to this point. Thanks ya’ll, it’s been an awesome ride J and I’m sure many of us will keep in touch!

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Can Breathe...I Obey the Law

I believe in the Freedom of Speech. It is what allows me to formulate my opinion and to make it public just as I am doing in this blog.

With that said, I happen to disagree with many of the public opinions I have seen following the Michael Brown case and most recently the case of Eric Garner.

I was raised to respect authority and to obey the law. For this reason, I can honestly say that I have never had an unpleasant run-in with police.

Had Eric Garner not resisted arrest, police would never have had to use additional force. Mind you, I’m not giving police officers the green light to use excessive force, but life is made up of choices. Eric Garner chose to break the law, he chose to resist arrest.

This weekend in South Bend, Indiana, the Women’s Basketball team chose to wear shirts supporting Eric Garner.  The shirts read, “I can’t breathe.”

While it is their right to express their Freedom of Speech, I am disappointed in their choice to do so on this topic.

December 13th was the 11th anniversary of the death of two local Mishawaka Police Officers, Brian Verkler and Thomas Roberts. The basketball team claims they didn’t realize the coincidence, I don’t think it matters.

Police officers should be respected and appreciated for putting their lives on the line each day.  Only they know how it feels to have a split second to react to a suspected criminal. Hindsight is 20/20 and the media and public can rehash and scrutinize the actions of police repeatedly.  If only officers had the luxury of taking a few minutes to really study the situation and ask questions before they have time to react. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.

In the case of Michael Brown, I can’t even begin to believe the backlash from the whole situation. It saddens me to see what they are doing to their town.  Because a young man was shot, a young man who was believed to be making poor choices, hard-working residents have lost their businesses due to looting. 

I’ll never understand how that makes sense. People are outraged at what they consider the “wrong doing” of one person, so they continue to wrong others.

I haven’t blogged on this topic because I’m so tired of hearing about it that I could scream.

But Saturday’s display by the Lady Irish was somewhat upsetting. Over the years I have gotten to know several of the surviving family members of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty and no one seems to be outraged about the violence shown to them. Where was the outrage when they couldn’t breathe? They weren’t breaking the law. They were trying to serve and protect….

These recent stories and the decisions of both grand juries not to indict have tarnished the thousands of police officers who help others on a daily basis.  Remember, we don’t know the whole story of what happened.  We only know what the media has focused on.  The grand jury has the most information, much of what is not made public.

It’s not about hiring more minority police officers, it’s about respecting authority and making choices that are good and honorable. These two cases could have totally been avoided had better choices been made.

I hope you will consider joining me to support our local police officers on Sunday, December 21st at Eddy Street Commons between Noon and 3pm. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/956417591055115/?sid_reminder=6571633308176744448

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Pamster...




34 houses and apartments, 42 vehicles, and 29 couches. You might be wondering what those numbers signify. Those numbers signify change, something Pam Russell didn’t mind.  Most of us resist, back away and struggle to accept change, fighting it every step of the way. But that wasn’t the Pamster.  She loved change. (ok those numbers might be a little high!!! :))

Pamster’s passing is a big change for us, the ones she left behind. And how we choose to handle that change as we move forward is something each of us has to work on. I remember when she was first diagnosed with cancer and after our family knew, she posted something on facebook about it at the end of January 2010.  She wrote that the cancerman had gotten her, but she thought it would be ok. She was ready to beat it. The Pamster truly was a trooper, not only with her dealings with cancer, but also her other numerous procedures including her beloved Twila and Trudy Titanium… which is what she referred to her knee replacements.

She continued her treatments with optimism and humor, often referring to her breast cancer as taking Mavis and Martha, the “mamms” away.  She went through surgeries, several rounds of chemotherapy and several bouts of radiation.  Throughout the last 4 years, the Pamster fought hard against the cancerman, but it was a battle she just wasn’t able to overcome.  

On Friday, she lost her battle with cancer, leaving behind her three daughters, Tearsa, Katie and Beth, and their families, Rob, Jack and Ella, Matt, Joey and Lauren.  If you’ve ever been around the Pamster, you know that she loved her grandkids very much, always wanting smooches from the kids. I remember walking into her house one afternoon and there was a tent in the living room. It seemed a little odd to me, but it was nothing of the sort to her, she was simply getting ready for camping out with Jack and Ella. I believe they had plans to roast marshmallows over the stove and tell stories before bed.

A few summers ago, I stopped by at lunch time and she was outside in the pool, measuring cups all over the deck, because of course Joey and Lauren were coming to swim and they loved to pour water from the pool into the buckets.

It’s these stories that we’ll have to do our best to keep alive, because if there is one thing that’s for sure, it was that Pam loved her kids and her grandkids.

Tearsa, when I think of you, I think of the strength that your mom represents.  As you continue to get your principal’s license, it reminds me of the work your mom did while raising the three of you.  She attended school to become a teacher, and I am sure it was hard to balance school and home, but she did it.  Your mom had several students whom she formed special relationships with, because she knew that those kids needed someone to believe in them.  For those of you who don’t know, Pamster was an alternative education teacher at Penn High School for many years. She saw potential in her students and encouraged them to succeed, something you do with your students, Tearsa.

Katie, your initiative to return to school was something that made the Pamster very happy.  I think she saw a lot of herself in you.  She thought your studies in New York were fabulous. And while you don’t knit or sew, your creative side is a lot like your mothers. Your knack for making jewelry and for seeing things with a creative eye, very much comes from your mother.

Beth, what I remember most about you growing up, was the Kingsbury house.  I’m not sure exactly how old you were when you lived there, but I’m thinking you were around 6th grade.  You were so tall and we used to watch out the window as you flipped around doing gymnastics in the front yard for hours. Your mom, your sisters and I were amazed at your determination.  No one could tell you that you couldn’t something, you were out to prove them wrong! You were a huge support to your mom during the last few years, and if you didn’t already know it, your phone calls made her day. She loved your goofy stories or just your quick recaps of the day.

The Pamster always called me “Weensie” and at times it would embarrass me to be out in public with her yelling across the aisle, “Weensie, look at this…” It makes me a little sad today to think that won’t happen again.

As the holidays draw closer, it’s another change our family will face. But we’ve got a strong, close knit family and I know that although it’ll be different, we’ll embrace this change like the Pamster would.

I prefer to think of her today in Heaven with my Grandpa and my Nana and all the others who were welcoming her on Friday. And while we will all miss her here, I take comfort in knowing that she is no longer in the pain she has been.  And I know that I have another caring angel on my side…

Rest in Peace, Pamster…

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Changes in technology...changes in relationships?


My thoughts strayed far from the Bend this week as I cruised to several Caribbean Islands aboard the Celebrity Summit.

I traveled with my mom, Theresa, and we had a great time.  This was our fifth cruise together and I really like to travel with her, we had a lot of fun girl time.

On the way home, I couldn’t help but reflect on our vacations and flash back a little to my adolescent years. At the age of 15, if you would have told me that 22 years later I would choose to vacation with my mother, I would have told you that just wouldn’t happen! Yet, 22-years later, that 15-year-old who used to look at her mother with squinty eyes and an attitude, was having a few cocktails and laughing so hard with her that I had tears streaming down my face.

I’m fortunate to be able to see both of my parents just about every weekend during the warmer seasons in Indiana.  They live on a lake and I like the sun! And of course time at “The Haven Resort” is a lot of fun with other relatives nearby. 

While a short 30 minute drive to LaPorte makes a difference in how often I see my parents, I couldn’t help but think about how technology has changed the way relationships are today.

When I was in college, bag phones were the only cell phones that were somewhat affordable and each call cost a minimum of something like 25 cents a minute.

Long distance was still the way you made out-of-town calls and picking up the phone was something most of us did rather sparingly. I’m starting to feel old as I write this!

Now, with e-mail at the fingertips or most, Skype loaded on tons of computers and cell phones with practically unlimited plans for texting and talking, it’s so easy to pick up the phone and stay in constant contact with friends and family.

I talk to my mom nearly every day and it makes the time she spends in Florida seem almost as if she was just in LaPorte.  It’s nice to keep up with day-to-day happenings and I think it would be weird to go back to the times where long amounts of time went between our calls.

It makes me wonder what they will come up with for future generations… technology gotta love it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two very different situations... both leave behind sadness


I woke up yesterday morning thinking about the family of Jamie Middlebrook, a New Carlisle volunteer firefighter, who died while fighting a fire at a local business.

Yesterday was the celebration of his life, forty-one years which consisted of being a paramedic and 22-years of being a volunteer fireman.  It was in his blood, it seems, since his father and his brother also served many years on the volunteer fire department, as well.

He battled cancer and came back stronger than ever, raising funds in hopes that research could be done so others wouldn’t have to endure the same battle. He was a true HERO, who probably would have given anything to live another day.

Last night, news traveled fast as word spread that Robin Williams had died at the age of 63, taking his own life.

I immediately thought how sad it was that a man with such great talents would choose to take his own life.  Someone with his fame, his fortune, his comedic ability and dramatic flair, it seemed like he had it all.

Snippets of Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, Mrs. Doubtfire, and my personal favorite, Good Will Hunting, flashed in my mind and I couldn’t help but think about how desperate he must have been. 

I’ve seen postings on Facebook calling him a coward and questioning how he could commit suicide and leave his children, etc. Or talking about how he made a choice and got what he wanted. I don’t think he was a coward at all, nor do I think his “right mind” would have wanted him to die.  Instead, I think he must have been so helpless, fighting the demons in his own mind, trying to make sense of things and obviously not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. To him, it was the only way out.

In college, I had a friend who battled depression.  I remember talking to her on the phone one day and she was so down, she mentioned that she couldn’t even get out of bed.  I remember at the time saying something like, “what do you mean, just put your feet on the floor and get out of bed, you have things to do.”

Her response to me, was that I didn’t understand. And I know she was right.  At that moment, I realized that I’ve never felt true depression and that I didn’t understand what it was like to feel the way she was feeling.

I think that’s important for everyone to think about.  We have no idea how Robin Williams was feeling when he decided to end his life. But it must have been pretty awful for him to think that his family would be better off without him. That tomorrow wouldn’t be better than today. That there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

But there’s a stigma attached with mental health and depression. It’s hard for most people to talk about because often times people don’t understand.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include the thoughts about both of these men in the same blog, and maybe it is rather “risky” to do so, but at the end of the day, both men have passed away.  Both men have left members of the community and family members without saying goodbye. And while we may not understand how some people fight so hard to live and would give anything for another day, we shouldn’t pretend to understand the darkness that others feel when they decide not to live another day.