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A Better To-Do List

My daughter’s school participates in a program called The Positivity Project. Every week there is a new theme, and a recent one, “Cheering Others’ Success”, really caught my eye. The messaging was, “when other people succeed, you are happy for them and cheer them on. Making a commitment towards cheering on other people’s success can be a great way to improve our own health, happiness, and relationships.”

When I read that blurb in the school newsletter, I considered how many people had cheered my success, and wondered if I had demonstrated that same behavior. I started to think about all the women who had cheered not only my successes, but applauded the growth that came from struggle, and bolstered me when I felt like I was failing.

There are so many mompreneurs I look up to because they cheered me on even when they needed support themselves.

One of these spectacular women is Laura Jane Cohen. LJ co-founded and runs her business, Belle Jar Designs, but has also decided to run for FCPS school board so she can continue to improve the lives of all of our children. How amazing is that?

Have I shown LJ the support she’s shown me? Have I relished her success as if it was my own? If I haven’t, I’m starting here, right now.

LJ is so successful because she is a great listener– to her customers, coworkers, and to her friends and fellow business owners. She is generous, hard-working and creative. Her business has grown and prospered, and I couldn’t be happier for her!

It’s true: devoting time – and blog space – to extolling LJ does make me feel happy. In my relentless pursuit of being the perfect mom, and the perfect wife and the perfect business owner, acknowledging someone else’s success makes me feel more relaxed and happier. It alleviates stress–I’m not alone. There are others like me! And, their success is my success!

We can so easily get caught up in crossing things off our to-do list that we can forget to congratulate each other. But maybe what we should be doing is adding things to our lists that will actually improve our lives.

I would like each of us right now to add “Congratulate a friend on her success” to your to-do list. That means you’re going to call, text, email, or send a letter to your friend to tell them how happy you are for them. Be sincere. Their happiness IS your happiness.

Here’s mine:

  1. Text Rachel Kraft and tell her how unbelievable she is at her job (‘cause it’s true!)
  2. Call Nicole Dash to support her in her new endeavors
  3. Send Marcia Sheehan an email, congratulating her on a successful Connector Conference.

Whose success will you cheer? Let me know!!

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From Blah Into Bliss

February in Washington is often a very bleak time. Winter feels like it will never end. And, spring seems like something you read about once, but can’t really picture for yourself. It’s easy to feel more than a little dispirited.

Petrik Kids eating ice cream with friendI myself was definitely feeling downcast (and a little put off by how dry and pale my skin had become!), and so I took my kids and went to see some very special friends in Florida

I say ‘very special’ because I often have a tough time describing our relationship. I think of them as being something between a second set of parents and my retired best friends.

How it all began

I met David and Sandy when they were referred to me by Real Estate Agent Jay D’Alessandro, who was helping them sell their house. My business helping people downsize their homes was thriving, but I had been casual, with only verbal contracts and informal pamphlets. I decided to invest in myself and my business by writing formal contracts and developing professional presentation materials. I pitched my business in this new way to Sandy and David, and, while I wasn’t nervous, per se, it is a hard thing to take yourself seriously and to be open to new people and opportunities. I wondered what they would make of me.

As soon as I finished the presentation, David smacked his hand on the table and yelled, “Sold!” They were overwhelmed with ‘stuff’, and didn’t know where to begin. They couldn’t believe a business existed that so perfectly met their need.

A Match Made in Heaven

As we began to work together, I found out a lot about them. When you dig through someone’s house where they’ve lived for 30 years, you can’t help but understand what they’re about. You learn the story of their marriage, the way they raised their children, about the holidays they celebrated. The things we have in our homes not only tell other people your story, but they remind us of good times, of babies who grew into children, and all the times in between. So when you are faced with the task of eliminating these reminders from your life it can be pretty scary.

I knew that I needed to earn Sandy and David’s trust so that they’d be comfortable letting me come in and sort through their story with them. Sandy and David were embarking on a new chapter of their lives and retiring to Naples, Florida. And even though that chapter was exciting, Sandy still clung to the things that had meant so much during the previous chapters.

I respected what she was going through, but I also had to give them realistic expectations. They had to know they could not fit even half of their old home into their new house. It wasn’t possible. Hard choices were going to have to be made. I also told them that once they had made those choices, once they had let go of those endearing objects and “stuff”, they would be happier for it. In the meantime, though, that old rocking chair where Sandy had rocked her babies was filed under “KEEP AT ALL COSTS”. To keep it, though, I explained that Sandy would have to forego a couch in the Naples apartment. After much deliberation, Sandy agreed I could sell the chair, thinking that it would at least bring someone else the joy it had brought her. That sale may not have made them a ton of money, but Sandy earned the love of the chair’s new owner, and the freedom of knowing that those memories went with her to Florida. They did not live within the chair.

Relationships Mean the World to Me!

When I look back, their sale was okay. It wasn’t an amazing, massive sale, but I spent so much time with Sandy and David that I didn’t think about my commission. I loved chatting with them, and our meetings always took longer than we planned.  I started to think of them more as friends than clients. Sometimes Sandy would come over to my house, and if I was on the phone with another client, she would start weeding my garden. We were that comfortable with each other! When it was finally time for them to move to Florida I actually cried. Sandy had become my confidante and ally, and she and David were always there for me and my family.

Sandy at the Beach

Since then, we have been to visit them in Florida several times. They love my kids, and get right down on the floor to play with them as if they were their grandchildren. They say you can’t pick your family, but with Sandy and David I sort of think I did add them to mine.

This business has brought so many incredible people into my life. Even my house used to belong to a client! We had such a great connection that she sold her house to me. We still keep in touch! Every day that I wake up there, I’m reminded that if you treat people well you will be rewarded for it. I also know that when I’m open to meeting new people, it almost always results in something positive.

So if February’s got you down, and you can’t get away to somewhere warm, slap on some self-tanner and give me a call. I’m always open.