Monday, July 31, 2017

Lucky or Prepared?

"Being deeply learned and skilled, being well trained and using well spoken words; this is good luck."
~ Buddha
Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was an ascetic and sage, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

While it is tempting to think of others as lucky and you, personally, as unlucky, it really just is not the case. Unless someone was walking down the street and found $50, it is typically insulting to call someone lucky...especially when you do not know the background and efforts that got someone where she or he is today.

When I was in high school, subsequently taking courses at the local campus of the University of Michigan preparing to go "away" to school in Ann Arbor, MI, one of my friends and I made plans for where we were going to live in Ann Arbor, and we imagined how much fun it was going to be living together. We had everything all figured out...or so I thought. One day, my friend came to me and said she was not going "away". She wanted to stay close to home (read as "close to her boyfriend" at the time), and said that I was going to have to either stay home too, or go "away" by myself. At the time, the University of Michigan had about 43,000 students, so I knew I would not be "by myself", and since I had prepared for it, and being on campus would be a wonderful opportunity, I went.

My grandfather died unexpectedly the summer before I was planning to move to Ann Arbor, and since the day of his funeral was the same day I scheduled to meet my prospective new roommate, I left after the funeral to drive, heavy-hearted, in hopes of meeting a new, normal, somewhat-friendly person with whom I would spend day and night sharing a small space. I drove on I-69 to US-23 to 14 crying intermittently over the loss of my grandfather and the disappointment in my friend's decision to bail on me. When I met my future roommate, she couldn't have been nicer, kinder or more willing to show me around campus, and even share a fourth-floor room.

Years later, after growing my education, exposure and friendships in Ann Arbor, I returned to where I grew up and began working. My friend whom had not gone away to school with me was still in school, not with her boyfriend of years past, still living with her mom, and wondering what she wanted to do with her future. She came over to my 650 sq. ft. apartment where I had decorated it with new furniture from my earnings as an intern and my first new "real job".

I was proud of how my work had paid off. She was sitting on my loveseat and she casually looked around for a bit and proclaimed, "you're so lucky!" Almost instantly, I smiled and insisted "I'm a lot of things, but please, if you still want to be friends, do not ever call me lucky again." I shared with her "I did not feel lucky when you backed out on me. I did not feel lucky to leave my grandfather's wake to drive in hopes a stranger would meet me like she said she would, and be a good roommate. I was not feeling lucky when I had surgery at the University without family because something was found that had to be addressed immediately. I did not feel lucky wandering around thinking how much fun we'd have in Ann Arbor. I wasn't lucky to be driving in snow to get to my parents' home to do my laundry. And, definitely getting a job over so many other qualified people wasn't lucky!"

Luck is when you don't know and either don't deserve or care about the outcome. I was prepared...even for the worst with my adventurous, positive attitude, drive and focus. When the opportunity came to capitalize and embrace the timing and the education/experience, I did not rely on luck...I relied on to say yes, me to take the first step, me to take the next step and every step there after to get from point A to point B. I love that I still have a good relationship with my friend from high school when I see her...and I'd confidently lay money on the table to bet anyone that she would never call me lucky again!

The same is true for you...respect where people are, ask if they like how they got there, and appreciate their efforts. No matter how lucky someone may appear, there was preparation and opportunity mixed in at different percentages, but it is highly unlikely that it was just luck!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ABCs of Your Style

People often ask about style, image and how they are presenting on a daily basis, and if you are thinking about that, or you know someone who is, please consider the ABCs of your style before buying anything to wear, and when purging your closet to donate:

A - Appearance - what does the initial look of an item say, does it appear to be good quality and a texture that works for the event/your skin type, and more? If so, it's a yes, and if not, it's a no! (This "A" can also be about your attitude when you have it on - does your attitude seem confident and happy?)
B - Brand - what is your brand? Does the item fit your brand? It is not that you have to be repetitive or predictable, and yet there is an intent to being consistent with what you want people to see and think about you. Does the item fit your brand? If yes, it's a yes, and if no, it is a no-go!
C - Color - what is the color, and does the color work well on you? You may love the color, and yet it may not be complementary to your skin, hair or undertones. If it is a pop of color that livens you, then it's good to go, and if not, it is either a no, or a not-on-it's-own, meaning a scarf or something to make it look different is needed with it.

With the ABCs in mind, shopping, and buying become much more direct and fun...leading to more things to confidently wear and less things that make you ponder "what was I thinking when I bought this?"!