What’s In A Name?

Seven Ways to Help You Remember Them

Hello Name Tag

When I was about 15 years old, I went to the hardware store with my father. As we were checking out, I took note of my dad’s farewell, “Thank you Joe. Have a great day!” As we walked away, I asked, “Dad, do you know him?” “No.” “Then how do you know his name?” I asked the question with the annoyance of the teenager who thinks everything her father does is another attempt to embarrass her personally. And my dad spoke to EVERYONE. BY NAME. ALL THE TIME. ARG! I had had enough. He needed to know how ridiculous and unnecessary his behavior was. It was my turn to school him.

My dad’s answer to my question? “It was on his name tag. And it feels good to be called by name. Like we really matter.” Bam! Pivotal life moment.

I realized that my dad was right. Being called by our name holds more power than we can explain. In the past 30 years I have experienced it’s power over and over again: from the high school counselor who regularly announced my name at awards programs as ERN, to the doctor who had his nurse rewrite my chart because he noticed I had spelled it differently. I have a hard name. People have been mispronouncing and misspelling it my entire life. Erin is not well known as a girl’s name and therefore difficult to pronounce, spell and identify gender. And Robison really does people in. Even when someone recognizes it doesn’t have an “n” in the middle, they can’t seem to wrap their head around correct pronunciation. So the person who gets it right, wins major points with me.

That day in the hardware store, my father’s words hit a nerve. Not the annoyed “nobody ever gets my name right” kind of nerve, but the, “hey, that really is true” kind. It was the spark that would eventually change the way I interact with people.

Fast forward to college. At a school of 45,000 students, involvement is what keeps you from being just a number. So making my first student organization one with over 300 members was an exciting but daunting experience. However, when Greg Flynn greeted me by name, I fully grasped the power of his words. Greg was a name guy. He met hundreds of people every month and knew their names forever. It is what made him like-able, approachable and kind. I can close my eyes and experience that moment like it was yesterday. “Hey Erin! So glad you are here!” My intimidating new world just got a lot smaller. And when he continued to do the same for EVERY member he encountered, I remembered, and most importantly, experienced my dad’s words. And their power.

The third, and ultimately life changing, event happened a year later. Our application for Orientation Leaders included a recent picture. I don’t remember if we were interviewed or not. But when I was accepted and attended the first mixer to meet the other members, every Exec welcomed me by name. I discovered later that they had spent the semester memorizing our names and faces using those pictures. All 350 of us. That was the lynch pin for me.

I have carried each of those experiences with me for the past 25+ years. But more than that, I have incorporated the lesson into the way I live my life. In doing so, I have continued to see first hand the power of being called by name. The number of times a cashier has looked at me with surprise and curiosity, when greeted by name, is too many to count. And the looks of pleasure and affirmation that replaced the surprise are equally numerous.

I have discovered that to call someone by their name creates a connection in a unique way. The customer service representative who changes their tone and goes the extra mile, simply because I humanized them and made them feel important. The child who is amazed that I can remember their name out of 800, when I all I did was surreptitiously read the tag hanging from their shirt. The homeless man on the corner whose eyes light up when I, probably the first person in hundreds, ask his name. These people are forever changed by such a simple thing. I know because I have experienced it. By my own right and in their presence.

Shakespeare says, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, suggesting it matters not that Romeo is a Montague and Juliet a Capulet. While that may be true for his purposes of star-crossed love, I think that names are of the utmost importance.

Roses with Isaiah 43:1The scriptures say, “I have called you by name. You are mine.” ~ Isaiah 43:1 The Redeemer of Israel, the One who created us, who knew us before the world was made, knows our name. He calls it. We are His children.

When I was working in the schools, I would say to my students, “If I call you “kid” or “student”, how does that feel?” You can imagine the giggling responses. “Ms. Robison, you wouldn’t do that!” Taking the time to learn and remember someone’s name is one of the greatest kindnesses we can pay.

So, I’m a name guy, er, gal. I am blessed with a good memory, but I have also learned how to do this well. What about someone who has a hard time remembering names? Notice, I didn’t say can’t. That word doesn’t apply. We can and do things that matter. Just because it is important to me and I teach it and I have a pretty good memory doesn’t mean I am perfect. But I have found ways to help, because I think it makes a difference.

1. Visualize their name when they say it. I’m a visual learner. And I find that if I know how to spell a name, I am much more likely to remember it. “But what if his name is John?” Hello, we live in a world FULL of creative spellings. So, said with genuine interest, the following always works: “How do you spell your name? Oh, the traditional way! (insert chuckle) Does anyone ever spell it wrong or just me? You never know anymore with so many creative parents out there….” See how such a simple question turns into a fun conversation? That alone will help you the next time you see John. By the way, I know someone named Mykl (Michael). #creative

2. Write it down. If you know you will run into this person later, take a minute to write down their name. With a smart phone at hand, you don’t even have to carry a pen. I have a list inside my kitchen cupboard with all the apartment numbers in my stairwell. When I meet a new neighbor, I simply write their name next to their number. And periodically I reference my list. Its amazing how quickly you can break through barriers by greeting your neighbor by name.

Pigs in a barn3. Associate. My little nephew thought Ms. Peggy said “oink, oink”. No, IP, not Ms. Piggy. But you can guarantee my sister will never forget Ms. Peggy’s name! Or, Lisa Marie, “thank you! thank you very much!” Elvis never goes out of style. Create associations for names you need to remember.

4. Use the alphabet. Remember the spelling visualization tip I mentioned? When I’m having trouble remembering a name, I simply focus and work through the alphabet. This is a fool proof trick. You have to concentrate on each letter and allow your brain to tell you if that letter feels right or not. If I get to the right letter and can’t remember the name, I start thinking of names that begin with that letter. You can train your brain to do this. “A? B? C?…”

What about those dreaded moments when you can’t remember the name of someone you have already met? Try these tips.

1. Introduce yourself, again. Chances are they don’t remember your name either. “Hey, my name’s Erin, by the way. I know it’s hard to remember everyone you meet.” Nine times out of 10, you will see a relieved expression and they will tell you their name again, too. And if they don’t, just graciously ask. Don’t be the guy on the 6th floor calling Chandler “Toby” for three years because you were too embarrassed to get the facts straight. That never ends well. #alwaysarelevantFRIENDSreference

2. Enlist your wingman. If you forget the guy’s name, introduce your friend first. “Hi! This is my friend, Emily.” Sometimes there will be an awkward pause before said guy will then follow suit and introduce himself. If that’s the case, you apologize for being so rude, “Oh goodness, I’m so sorry! Where are my manners?!” But usually they will swiftly make the introduction and you have covered your own forgetfulness.

3. Create a plan beforehand. My friends with whom I wander about town have been instructed that if I don’t introduce them to a new person, that ALWAYS means I’ve forgotten their name. This is their cue to introduce themselves and let me take the fall for being so gauche. “I’m sorry, I thought you knew each other” or “Good grief, what is the matter with me?!” Which is another point – ALWAYS introduce people to each other. Don’t assume they have met OR they remember each others names. Miss Manners wrote the book on this necessary and oft forgotten social grace.

Years ago I knew a guy. I hung out with him at work events and through a close mutual friend, over the course of several years. After not having seen him for a few years we ran into each other again. “Hey Jeff! How are you? What have you been up to?” At the end of the conversation he said, “I’m sorry. What’s your name again?” Not cool, dude. This is when you wait and ask the mutual friend, who happens to be standing nearby, what my name is. I would have done better never knowing he had forgotten my name. What it communicated to me was that I wasn’t important. I’m sure that’s not what he intended, but nevertheless, that was the result.

We do what is important. We make time for things we value. None of us is perfect. But we all have the capacity to learn new things and treat others with kindness.

What little ways have you been impacted by others, as I have by names? What habit have you adopted because you see how much it blesses other people? When did someone remember you name and it has stayed with you since? 

Love My Enemies?!?

What does that REALLY mean?

Goldfish and Black Cat

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a special event for work – something I have wanted to go to for several years but couldn’t ever make it to. But, this year the stars aligned. Man, was I excited! All the way up until five minutes before curtain. As I was engaged in catching up with an old work friend, my colleague, who had been mysteriously absent from the seat next to me, called to me to join her in the aisle. “This can’t be good”, I thought. It wasn’t.

A Board Member who hadn’t confirmed tickets for the event had arrived. They, obviously thinking they were supposed to be in attendance, convinced Will Call to write them a temporary ticket to get in the door and find their seats. But there were no seats to be found. Except for mine. And so mine it was.

As I stood at the back for the entire two hour event, I seethed. “What numbskull shows up to an event without tickets!?!” “What idiot lets them in on their word that they are supposed to be there!?!” “How entitled do you have to be to not ask why you haven’t received the tickets you thought you were getting and then just show up and convince someone to let you in!?!” “How clueless are you to not realize two obviously lesser people have given up their seats to accommodate your ridiculousness!?!” Ah… the list could go on to infinity. I had two hours to think about it.

I also had two hours to fight the conviction that I am called to love these people. And fight it I did. “They are stupid! I’m the innocent victim! I don’t wanna forgive them! Vindication is what I deserve!” And I wrestled with reality. “They are on the Board of Directors. I simply work for the company. I know my role. Even if I put company politics aside, I know what respect is supposed to look like. I can’t control their behavior, but I can be responsible for my own. I have to take the hit – cheerfully. Or at least with a smile on my face.” And so the war continued. “I don’t wanna.”

In that moment, those people were my enemies. They had interrupted my delight, thwarted my blissful evening, rained on my parade. I wanted to hate them. But the Spirit who lives in me had another plan. He gently whispered, “Love them, as I have loved you.” “The second greatest commandment is this, that you shall love your neighbors as yourself.” “Lay down your life.” “Love your enemies.” And I said, “but I don’t wanna.”

How many times in a week does this happen? We are offended, hurt, wounded. And if we listen to the Truth, we know we are to forgive those who hurt us. But the real Enemy is just as convincing when he whispers in our other ear, “but you deserve better.” His sole purpose in life is to sew discord, discontent and division between us and our Creator. And when we listen to him, that is exactly what happens.

We are surrounded by enemies: the manipulative mother, the abusive father, the slandering co-worker, the guy who cuts us off on the freeway, the terrorist, the corrupt leader who is out for his own gain, the child who screams how much she hates us, the thief, the murderer, the selfish stranger who is consumed with their own needs. We are surrounded. And we are called to love them. To forgive them. Because He first loved us.

When we know Love, the author of Love, the One who created it, only then can we truly love our enemies. Even when the pain remains, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can attempt that gut-wrenching, unimaginable, self-sacrificing kind of act. But He promises us that we can do all things because He will give us the strength we need.

Love your enemies Matt 5:44

So, when I relented and accepted that loving my enemy meant smiling and offering them my ticket for dinner, all the while nursing the wounds of disappointment and feelings of not mattering, I was able to experience a glimpse of His love for me. He gives me the power to do this, simply because He knows that holding on to my hate will be my end. And He loves me too much to allow that to happen.

When it’s all said and done, it’s very little skin off my nose to offer grace. It’s more about my pride than my nose. So, I try to remember that. When I offer love instead of hate everyone wins. And that everyday enemy? Maybe what I offer them will make the difference they are looking for.

Who is your enemy? How do you love them well? Is it easier for you than it is for me?

Three MORE Tips to Nailing the Interview

Hammer and Nail

In the last post about interviewing well, I laid out the first three plays to creating a successful meeting. But there’s more!

In that post, I wrote about that time I smelled a little too good. But what about the one when I told the interviewer that I wasn’t sure I would take the job if it was offered? Say it isn’t so!! I was being honest. But sometimes it’s not the best policy. My own turmoil over wanting to both find a new job and be loyal to my current employer caused me to lose my mind. I would never recommend saying something like that to a potential employer – at least not if you really want the job. #epicinterviewfail

However, I have lots of experience with successfully navigating interview waters – as both the interviewee and the interviewer. Here are three more points that could mean the difference between you and the next applicant.

1. Ask great questions. Show that you have done your research on the company by asking insightful, relevant questions. This will communicate a spirit of initiative, enthusiasm and attention to detail. Their answers will also give you insight into whether or not they are someone with whom you want to be involved. Try some of these:

  • Question WordsAsk about what they do, their processes and expectations.
  • Ask about the team climate. Do employees/members collaborate or work independently? How does the boss like employees to handle conflicts that arise? What is done in the company to promote morale and team building?
  • Spend time before the interview writing out relevant questions to take with you. Even if all your questions are answered during the interview, refer to your list and let them know they hit all your highlights. Ask for elaboration if applicable. This shows them that you really did do your homework and paid attention during the interview.
  • Consider what values need to met for the organization to be a great fit for you. Ask questions that address these values. This tells the interviewers that you are serious about, not just being a great addition, but also finding a place that promotes that ability.

5. Don’t over share. Inevitably the interviewer will ask what your strengths and weaknesses are. They are looking for a perfect candidate. Hopefully they are wise enough to realize that person doesn’t exist. It’s important to be honest with people, but that doesn’t mean airing all your dirty laundry. Remember my disastrous attempt at honesty? Try thinking about it this way.

  • Be prepared to share three areas of strength. Be specific about things you do well and are passionate about, as well as, how those qualities will help the organization to meet their goals. Remember, it’s all about meeting their goals!
  • Be prepared to share UP TO three areas of improvement. Be relevant to the situation. And share how you are working to make those improvements – this is paramount. Give three IF they ask for three, or two if they just ask for some.
  • Remember that you are working to prove why they SHOULD hire you, not why they SHOULDN’T.
  • Have integrity. If the offer is on the table and you know you really don’t have what it takes, respectfully decline. Choosing a job that isn’t the right fit for you creates more stress in your life. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Bird eating prickly pear6. Remember Who is in control. When I applied for one of my first jobs in college, my dear friend gave me words of wisdom I’ve never forgotten. She said, “If God wants you to have the job, you’ll have the job.” The Lord asks us to be good stewards of what he has given us ~ 1 Peter 4:10-11. He also promises to care for us, as he does for the birds of the sky ~ Matthew 6:26. When we do the best we can, to use the talents we have been given and then trust Him for the final outcome, that is better than the best we can hope for. #teameffort

Remember that epic fail I mentioned earlier? It turned out to be God’s providence. He was saving me for the best situation. I did give more information than I should have, but He could have redeemed that if He chose to. I knew in that moment that I would just have to trust Him and believe His goodness. History proves to me that He will never fail.

If you are looking for more in depth help with career direction, check out career coach Dan Miller’s blog and podcast at 48 Days to the Work You Love. He’s the go-to guy!

Have you ever been on the other side of the table? What tips do you have for interviewees? What great question do you always ask an interviewer? Is it as hard for you as it is for me to trust God to bring you the right job?

Three Tips to Nail Your Best Ever Interview

Woman Applicant Giving Thumbs Up

I was working with a young client this week on his interview skills. This young man has never had a job, struggles with social cues and was going on his second-ever interview. He was worried that this interview would make or break his chances. What is true is that he has wonderful qualities to offer an employer and just needed a little help highlighting them. And some confidence that he could do that. As we talked about what he needed to remember during the interview, I realized that even the most experienced interviewees sometimes forget the basics.

One of the worst mistakes I made in an interview was years ago when I was applying for a school counselor position. I had driven in from out of town and was staying with a friend. In my haste to get out the door on time, I sprayed on too much perfume. I nearly made myself sick being cooped up in the car on the drive over. When I arrived, I made a beeline for the bathroom and scrubbed myself down as best I could. But I’m not sure it made a difference. Whether it was the perfume or not, I did not get that job.

Whether you are interviewing for a job, graduate school, Junior League, a volunteer position or even meeting a potential romantic partner, here are three things to remember as you give it your better-than-best shot!

1. Make a great first impression! The adage is true, You never have a second chance to make a great first impression. Simple but profound. Here are some things to pay special attention to:

  • Be well-dressed, paying equal attention to your shoes that they are clean and polished. Your shoes will be the second thing the interviewer notices, according to research. Your attention to them will communicate that you pay attention to details.
  • Be overdressed rather than under-dressed. But be sure your attire is in keeping with the organization for which you are applying. If they are a casual group, be smart casual. A more formal organization needs a suit or comparable dress. And basic navy isn’t necessarily the way to go anymore. Throw in a tasteful splash of color or accessory that shows you have personality.
  • Be comfortable in your attire. Walking in like a new fawn on wobbly high heels won’t make the impression you are looking for. Choose something that allows you to convey confidence and looks like it belongs on you.
  • Shaking HandsOffer a firm handshake. Whether you are a man or a woman, you need to have mastered the art of the confident handshake. This requires full palm-to-palm contact, a firm grip, and direct eye contact. This will be one of the first things your interviewer notices. A wimpy or bone-crushing shake will not communicate the confidence you are hoping to exude.
  • Smile, say “hello” and make eye contact. Although your heart may be in your throat, smiling, greeting them and making direct eye-contact will score you major points on a subconscious level. Meaning, if you fail to do those things you will certainly be marked down. Communicate that you are a friendly, personable applicant.
  • Avoid good smell-ums. Many people are allergic or just don’t like the smell. AND that way you will avoid the accidental overdose, as in my case!

2. Speak clearly and communicate well. When we get nervous our natural tendencies are magnified. It’s important to be aware of how our delivery can affect our overall presentation. If you tend to mumble, speak softly, speak fast, or use lots of garbage words (i.e. uhh, umm, like, etc.) you will do that more when you are nervous. Practice speaking clearly all the time. And remind yourself to slow down and pause periodically during the interview. Here are some more points to remember:

  • Speak clearly, slowly and make sure you are loud enough to be heard by everyone in the room.
  • When you get nervous, take deep breaths and slow down.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t really understand the question.
  • Ask for a minute to think about the question if you need it (i.e. “That’s a great question. Let me think about that for a minute.”)
  • Give thoughtful answers to each question – don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Use words that genuinely reflect your thoughts and feelings. Some great ones to include are: valuable addition (aka value add), goals, efficient and effective, resonates, excited, enthusiastic, systems, procedures, culture and climate, initiative, complement, congruent, etc.

3. Sell yourself. Everyone is selling something. Be sure to show the interviewers that you really do have what it takes to improve their organization. Remember that choosing to work for or be a part of something means you believe in their mission and goals. Keep the following in mind to stay on track with communicating just that.

  • Be confident that you are a valuable addition to the team. Even if you aren’t sure this is the right fit for you, be confident that you have what it takes to add value to the organization.
  • Be clear about how you are going to work to help them achieve their goals. This is crucial! That’s why they are hiring you, after all. Address your specific skills that will meet that end.
  • Make frequent eye contact and smile.  Let them know you would be a pleasant and friendly person to work with.
  • Show some personality. Let them have a little glimpse of what a great person you are. Be personable and real.
  • Businessman SweatingLet them know if you are feeling nervous and know it’s affecting your interview. Being honest and helping them to understand how your nerves might be overshadowing the real you could swing the vote back to your favor. Try saying something like, “I’m really excited about working with your organization. But I’m also really nervous. When I get nervous I sometimes talk faster, sweat, shake, etc.” Then smile, take a deep breath and move on. Unless you are on The Apprentice. You have to have nerves of steel there – never let THEM see you sweat!


What tips do you remember when you interview? What is one of your worst interview stories?

For three more tips on nailing the interview, check out my next blog on the subject!

6 Beauty Secrets I Would Share With My Younger Self

Girl with Green Face Masque

There’s nothing like another birthday to make you think of your mortality. The wrinkles, the stiff joints, the gray hair, the progressive lenses, the middle of the night trips to the bathroom. Sigh. The body deteriorates just as the heart of a person really wakes up! How is that fair? What I wouldn’t do to have my 29-year-old body and 44-year-old heart and mind! Sure would make getting up off the floor unassisted possible a lot easier.

Birthday cake, candles and balloonsThe good news is with age comes a confidence most 29-year-olds don’t have. And I really wouldn’t trade that. Except for the floor thing. Age also brings wisdom. We know that from all the fairy tales and wag-the-finger-at-you lectures we hear as children. But it really is true. So, as I consider my 44-year-old self, I evaluate how I’m aging. What does the mirror of my life tell me? What have I done well and what should I have done better? What would I beat into that 29-year-old head, if I had the chance to do it again?

1. Wash your face. Every night. When it comes to complexion, I drew the short straw. My preteen, teenage, early adult, and even middle adult years have been fraught with acne. I used every medication and product on the market to try to manage the scourge.

Woman Washing Her FaceAnd all those years I read articles that said, wash your face every morning and night…every night that you don’t wash your makeup off adds another 100 years to your face…take care of your skin and it will take care of you…blah, blah, blah. But most nights after I rallied the energy to brush my teeth and change into my jammies, I was too tired to wash my face. Seriously?!

Several years ago, I decided to believe the hype and give the practice a try. Goodbye makeup, grime and smog! And what do you know? Washing your face every night REALLY DOES HELP. My skin is clearer, blemish free and brighter, most days. What I wish I knew believed back then…

2. Moisturize. In my mid-twenties, I chose some extreme medical treatments for my acne that kept my body from producing any oil. So, for the first time in my life, I had a need to use moisturizer on my face. Use it?!? I bathed in it. Drank it. Slept in a vat full of it.

For someone with radically oily skin, this was heresy. The LAST thing I ever thought I would need was moisturizer! I then learned that whether you have oily, normal or dry skin, if you don’t get enough moisture in your beauty routine, your body will produce more. Pore clogging here we come! So, even after I finished my acne treatment, I used moisturizer. And every day since then. Almost 20 years now. I can attest to the fact that skin that is moisturized, doesn’t wrinkle like skin that isn’t. Score!

3. Sunscreen up. I’m not a vampire. Or a ghost – contrary to my scary white legs! I do go out in the sun. I even show some skin. But try as I might, I don’t tan. I learned that many years and many more terrible sunburns ago. And years of watching my sweet Daddy be tortured treated every three months at the dermatologist for skin cancers have proven that the sun is not the friend we once believed him to be. Well, not to our skin, at least.

Girl in the sunBeyond the fatal effects of sun damage, the sun also ages us. I’ve seen many a high school beauty, who applied Crisco before her sun-bathing afternoon, become a woman who looked twice her 35 years. #maybeiexaggeratealittle The first place a woman begins to show age is her décolletage. And then her hands. And her face. And the back of her neck. And her arms. And… What woman wants to look older than she is? #notmema’am

Pretty Painted Toes4. Take care of your feet. I’ve never been a shoe horse, but I love pretty feet. Taking care of our feet isn’t just about keeping ’em pretty, though. I don’t pretend to understand all the laws of physics, but I do know that between gravity and pounds per square inch of some kind of force jibber-jabber, our feet take a lot of stress just transporting our little bodies every day.

When we cram them into shoes that don’t fit, pointy toes, or heels that could kill, day in and day out, we are restructuring our little friends. And not in a Fortune 500 kind of way. Between bunions, hammer toes, dislocated ankles and a myriad of other maladies, our feet are really cruisin’ for a bruisin’. So, take care of those guys. Choose leather that gives and conforms to your feet, check your size yearly (feet do grow as we age), wear shoes that actually support those ankles and save the stilettos for the special occasions.

5. Stand up straight. God made you who you are. On purpose. Short, tall or in-between. How many times have you seen someone who slouches, rolls their shoulders forward or stands sway backed and thought, Does she feel okay?… She doesn’t seem very confident… She must want to be alone… Our posture not only affects everything in our body – circulation, digestion, skeletal alignment, muscle strain, breathing – but also, the image we present to others. So, roll those shoulders back, pull in your belly, hold your chin up and get your head on straight. The Lord made you in HIS image. Show the world His glory!

Smiling Woman6. Smile. A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears. ~ Anne Roiphe

Beyond any natural symmetry or anything you may put on to become more beautiful, the power of a smile to draw another to you is unparalleled. So, increase the real estate of that beautiful face and smile! At friends. Strangers. The new boss. The man on the corner.

Become the woman others are drawn to simply because you invite them in with your kindness. Let the heart you have for good show in your face. Forget about the aching joints, the wrinkles around your eyes and the next laser hair appointment and smile. Tell people you care. Show those you love how excited you are to be with them! Share the joy of the Lord with the world. That’s the power of a smile.

Everyone wants to be attractive. Whatever your style, whatever your definition of beauty, we all want it. There is something in us that wants to be seen as valuable. And our culture tells us that what is on the outside determines that value. However, our Heavenly Father has created us in His image. He delights in us. We are his children. And He has made each of us unique. Like none other. The beauty of Him in our hearts is what draws us to each other.

When we love as He first loved us, we are forever changed, as is the world around us. Therein lies our value. Click To Tweet

When we love as He first loved us, we are forever changed, as is the world around us. Therein lies our value. And we are His temple. As a city on a hillside, we are to let our light shine. Be the vessel of the ONE who attracts the world to Himself. Care for your body as if caring for the Lord, knowing that the real value is in the heart beneath. There is no greater beauty.

Girl Spreading Her Arms to the Sea

What does beauty mean to you? What is one of your favorite secrets? Do you have a favorite product or routine that makes you feel more beautiful?

Eight Things to Do When You Are Feeling Blue

Young Girl on Bridge Feeling Blue

Have you ever had those times in your life when you were overcome with extreme thinking? You know, when it seemed like everything was going wrong and nothing was going well? That’s been my struggle for the past couple of weeks.

The reality is that things are fine. And not fine in the I’m just saying fine because I don’t want to talk about it way. But really ok. Sure, I’m busy. And of course, I have more to do than could ever get done. But life is actually really going well. How’s that for a well written sentence?

Then, why am I struggling with feeling so down and what can I do to cheer up? I talk to clients about this very issue all. the. time. And yet, I often have to have a session with myself to really make a difference in my own mood. Let me share some ways I conquer the blues.

The first step is to recognize that what you are experiencing is extreme or fatalistic thinking. Ask yourself, “is it really true that nothing is going well/everything is going wrong”? It’s true that very bad things happen and tragedies strike and surviving those things deserves another post. But, most of the time it’s the little things that pile up and feel overwhelming to our everyday lives.

The best way to refute this thinking is to recognize the good things that are happening in our lives. Make a list of what you are grateful for. Start small and you will see how the list grows. When we feel overwhelmed, our brain can go into fight/flight/freeze mode which results in the primal instinct to protect ourselves. And usually in non-productive, lonely ways. What we need to do is reactivate our frontal lobe so we can begin to think clearly again. Sometimes just forcing ourself to focus on a list of gratitudes will do just that.

Now, ask yourself what is going on to cause you to think so tragically? When I was a little girl, my mother used to say, “Erin, you are overtired. It’s time to go to bed/take a nap.” I always hated that. And as a child, I didn’t really believe her. However, when I was in my 20’s I was visiting my mom and must have been having a particularly emotional time. I remember her saying, “Baby, I think you are overtired. Why don’t you take a little nap. I’m sure you will feel better when you wake up.” And I did. That was the first time I recognized what sleep deprivation does to me.

When you find yourself struggling with feeling like the sky is falling, think about what is happening in your life that feels so overwhelming. Are you anxious? Sad? Tired? Under pressure at work? What about hungry? Could your hormones be out of whack? Do you feel a cold coming on? Maybe it’s the gray, gloomy weather that’s been plaguing you for weeks on end? Spend some time getting to the root of the matter. Your thinking is a response to something deeper happening in your life.

Once you have recognized that your thinking is extreme and not reality and, then, identified what is causing that sense of overwhelming, you are ready to climb out of the pit. Here are some ways to start the journey.

1. Listen to your favorite music. When I was in college, I found an instrumental cd (yes, those did exist back then) that I found to be very soothing. It became my go-to for relaxation. So much so, that my roommate and, now my sisters, know that if the Comfort cd is on, tread lightly. The magical part is how quickly the world turns right side up when the music starts. As David tells us in the Psalms, music is a balm to the soul. So, whether you need a calm and peaceful interlude or something that pumps you up and energizes you, play the tunes!

2. Phone a friend. You don’t have to be a millionaire to know how much a friend is worth. The new social technologies that are designed to keep us more connected often do just the opposite. When was the last time you picked up the phone, dialed and actually spoke to your friend? Are you continuously reminded, like I am, of how wonderful the experience is and marvel at why you don’t do it more often? When you feel down, call someone you know loves you. Share your struggles and invite them to do the same. This is where real connection happens. And so much of our blue moods are connected to feeling lonely in our big world.

3. Take a little nap. More and more research is proving how sleep, and it’s lack, affects our bodies and brains. Power naps of 20-40 minutes are often all we need to feel recharged and ready to tackle the tough stuff. That being said, its also important that we get enough sleep at night. Gone is the myth that adults can survive on less sleep. What’s true is that adults need 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to function as we are designed. Experts recommend having a consistent sleeping and waking time so that our bodies are optimally regulated. It’s all about those circadian rhythms, you know.

AND when we are in the REM stage of sleep, our brains take everything we have learned and experienced that day and move it from short term to long term memory. Without enough REM cycles, we aren’t able to remember most of what we do and see long term. Remember what a struggle college was? Too bad we didn’t know most of this then!

Crying Child4. Have a good cry.

“Crying is good. It lets the boo-hoos out.”                                                   ~ Sandy the male nanny, FRIENDS

There’s something magical about crying. The Lord gave us tears so that we could express those overwhelming emotions, as well as, to show our compassion for others. Having a good cry does a body good. So, take a hot shower and cry away. Or lean on the shoulder of a friend who knows how to simply sit and weather the storm with you. Then, take some deep breaths and see if things look brighter.

There will be times in our lives when we can’t seem to stop crying. This is an indication of something deeper and a need to rally the troops. Finding a good counselor who can help you discover the deep pain that is oozing out of every pore will be a saving grace.

Laughing Child5. Laugh! Laughing produces all those feel good chemicals in our bodies we call endorphins. And when we are sad, sometimes we just need a good laugh. If you know me, you know that half of the sentences that come out of my mouth were stolen from FRIENDS. It’s my favorite show. I play it in the background of my life, for company. And when I’m feeling down, I put on an episode. It makes me laugh. And it encourages me. As I watch THE friends love and support each other, I am reminded of people who do that for me. And I learn how to do it for others. Another show I love is The Big Bang Theory. It’s hysterical. And all about community.

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” ~ Mark Twain

So, go find a funny show, or You Tube channel, or crazy friend and spend some time laughing. It really does turn a frown upside down! LOL! Check out this article for more information on the amazing benefits of laughing, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

6. Pray. As a Christian, I believe two things about prayer and how it relates to the overwhelming times in our lives. The first is that the Lord promises to never leave us. “As I was with Moses, I will never leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 He is always there for those who believe in and call on Him. Especially when things are hard. Even if I can’t sense His presence, I cling to this promise. And it brings me peace.

But the second thing I believe about prayer is the power it has over darkness. The scriptures are clear about the reality of spiritual warfare. When we are seeking Him and striving to love others well, so that they may know Him, Satan gets his feathers ruffled. And he comes after us with a vengeance. See, he doesn’t want us to love the Lord or other people. He wants to diminish the army of the Lord. So, he brings doubt and fear and confusion and anxiety and a load of other hard things into our lives to weaken our grasp on the hand of our Heavenly Father.

But the truth is that he has been defeated. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground…” Ephesians 6:12-13 We have the power to send him running when we call on Jesus to intervene on our behalf. And the Holy Spirit brings us the comfort we need in times of trial. These things happen when we pray.

I find the following verse brings me strength and peace when I am at war with the world of my life.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

7. Move your body. When I was teaching a class one summer, I had a new first grader who didn’t speak much English. He came to class one day singing, “I like to move it, move it!” Cracked me up! I had no idea it was from a popular movie, but I’ve never forgotten that. Moving our body has a direct impact on our emotions. It’s all about those amazing endorphins again! Whether we choose to go for a run, do yoga, bounce the ball or dance around, when we move our body we are powering it up against fatigue and despair. The next time you are feeling down, pop in the ear buds, turn on your favorite music and go for a walk around the block. Twenty minutes is enough to recharge you and make you feel ready to move ahead.

8. Don’t eat. What? Lemme ‘splain. This isn’t one of those times to disregard a truly hungry tummy or legitimately low blood sugar. This is to all of those people who, like me, give food power. I eat my feelings. I’ve struggled with it all of my life, I think. And it’s not good. I do it when I’ve bypassed every other step I’ve written in this post. It’s a way to feed the monster. But it never works. So, if this is you, when you are struggling, go back to the top and start at the beginning. We have too many food and body issues in our culture to perpetuate. Let’s agree to get to the deeper issues and use better ways to combat all those icky feelings. Deal?

There are tons of other ways to respond when we feel like we are sliding down into the pit of despair. I’d love to know what the things are that work for you! Who is the encouraging person in your life who listens and loves you well? Is there something on this list you love? Or something you’ve never tried that is intriguing? Am I the only one who forgets to do the good things I know to do when I feel this way?

The Three C’s of Cruising

Erin and Colleen Onboard

My sister and I just took our first cruise ever! I’ve traveled all over the world and never had the desire to go on a cruise until a few years ago. Then, two things happened: 1. More and more of my friends started recommending them and 2. I got a taste for the Caribbean. Who knows what I mean?!

Colleen and Dan Miller

Colleen is officially a Dan Miller fan!

So, when my coach, Dan Miller, announced his bi-annual cruise for our 48 Days Network, I twisted my sister’s arm and signed us up. Let me just say – it was one of the best trips of my life! I’m sure it didn’t hurt that we started on one of the top cruising lines or that we cruised with a wonderful, like-minded group, or that we visited beautiful tropical places. (I know, my diamond shoes are too tight and my wallet’s too small for my fifties. It’s a tough life!)

As much fun as we had on this new adventure, there are three things that really stuck out to me.


The last night of the cruise, we enjoyed our evening entertainment. And as a recap of the week, our cruise director (cue “The Love Boat” music), said the following, “There are over 4000 people on this boat, representing more than 70 countries, and look at how we can all get along so well.” How is that possible? Our world certainly doesn’t lend itself to the same successes.

You see, what I experienced over and over again, from guests and crew alike, could best be described as consideration. The respect and kindness afforded the guests by the crew was like none other. They truly exemplified the picture of what it means to serve others. And not in a you’re better than me kind of way. But in a we want to make your vacation and time in our home as enjoyable as possible way. The message was, we will treat you well, exhibit a cheerful attitude and express our pleasure of having you aboard. The quintessential hosts.

And all those vacationers from around the globe? We found, time after time, that happiness to be on vacation, enjoying the luxury of the seas makes people friendly and gracious and patient. I mean, that’s got to be the only explanation for why someone will actually make eye contact and speak to you in an elevator, right?!?

That mutual consideration and respect made our time together a wonderful, unparallelled experience.

Erin and Colleen with Bukhari and Dejan

Bukhari is from Indonesia and Dejan is from Serbia and both were so wonderful to us in the Dining Room


What does courage have to do with cruising? Have you heard of the Titanic? Anyone who is willing to get on a ship and travel through the depths of the ocean, without a shred of land in sight HAS to be brave, especially after seeing the movie!

Colleen, Anette and Erin

Our new friend, Anette. We ended up on the same Zipline Excursion!

All kidding aside, I think there is a lot to be said of courage on this trip. One example is found in my new friend, Anette. She has been listening to Dan’s podcasts for a while now, which is a rather ordinary thing to do. What makes Anette extraordinary is that she got on a plane in her native Denmark and embarked with a group of 74 American and 2 German strangers for a week at sea. Her willingness to step way out of her comfort zone inspires me to not let fear keep me from doing the things I desire.

What about the 76 other people who are becoming the masters of their own destinies? Many in our group are coaches. Several are writers. Lots of speakers. Business owners. Bloggers. Entrepreneurs. Highly successful human beings. All are looking for new ways to share their message and pursue their passions. It is inevitable that spending time in their company will inspire the seeker to believe Winston Churchill’s words, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” For, each of those who are experiencing success has stories of failure along the way. The difference is they didn’t give up.


In my work with kids, I teach that a choice is a commitment. The moment we choose to do or not do something is the decision point. We can never take it back. Take the drunk teenager who chooses to get behind the wheel of a car and kills someone when they lose control. A tragic choice forever etched in their hearts and minds.

This construct of commitment rang true for me on our cruise in several ways. In typical risk-taking fashion, Colleen and I decided to pull the trigger and invest in some exciting excursions.

Exhibit A: Zip-lining through the trees of the Puerto Rican tropical rainforest. It’s hard to miss the reality of commitment when you are strapped to a cable 75 feet above the forest floor and getting ready to step off into thin air. Even though I never was able to master the hand break, it was such a thrill to soar through the trees! What a payoff.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Who has time to take pictures when they are trying to not drown?

Exhibit B: Snorkeling in the oceans of St. Maarten. Now, many of you will scoff at the thought that snorkeling takes commitment. I am a strong swimmer, but the thought of fish touching me or the counter-intuitive idea of breathing with my face in the water was quite daunting.

What if I suck in water instead of air? What if I can’t get away from a sea creature that I don’t want to be friends with? What if I become so enamored with the sea that I unknowingly swim off and the boat leaves me? I don’t want to be shark bait. (I really regret watching Open Water.)

So, with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation, I made an impulsive commitment to a young client that I would suit up and at least try. I knew that sharing my own fears and committing to face them could empower him to do the same. ‘Cause he’s a kid who doesn’t really know who he is and gives up before he even tries. Sounds like a lot of us, right?

In the end, it was my promise and the accountability it held, that gave me the courage to stick with the plan. Surprisingly, it was really easy to get used to breathing with the snorkel apparatus – except for that time the guide used me as the beginning of the buffet line and I sucked in water through my nose. It did take me a while to realize that the real snorkelers DON’T swim with their arms in front of them. #dork  And the coolest part – fish are great swimmers. They know how to avoid touching the seal-ish looking creature between them and dinner. Who knew?!

What a ride that little cruise was. So much so, that I might have put down a deposit on the next one.

I have been blessed with lessons learned in some of the most unexpected places. What are yours? Where do you see courage or commitment or consideration play out in your life? Who are the people who have inspired you to try something new?

Here’s a little lagniappe for your viewing pleasure.

Alligator crazy

Not sure Paul is courageous, but he is definitely committed! Gator Boys in action.