The Failure Files: The Power of A Negative Mindset

a negative mindset will prevent growth--image from freedigitalimages.netBad things happen. We lose a job. A loved one dies. We divorce. We suffer a health issue. A natural disaster occurs. When disaster surrounds us, how is your mindset? Do you cuss and cry and wallow in pity, or do you regroup and step forward with determination? If you slip into a negative mindset, it can quickly lead to other or contribute to existing failures.

2009 was the year disaster came my way. It started by quitting my job to be salvage a marriage of 19 years. By midyear I divorced, left the state, and had half the assets my husband and I stringently built, never expecting to divorce. My grandfather died in July. I suffered a health issue Thanksgiving Day. My father suffered an injury that left him severely brain damaged. Let’s not forget the economic turmoil and I was 45 years old, unemployed, and in a new state (geographical as well as mental mindset).

It was tough to bounce back after the last half of 2009. While I did everything right on the outside to deal with the loss, inside was where the storm raged.

For 3 years.

During those years, I battled what I thought was the biggest obstacle to my success: introversion. I attended up to 5 networking events per week, within a 150 mile radius to build awareness for my business.

Growth occurred externally, but internally, I continued to grieve all I lost in 2009. While I blamed myself for much of the sorrow, I was also guilty of waiting for things to improve on their own.

It wasn’t until my mother, still grieving the loss of her husband (who was in a semi-vegetative state) said, “Nothing every goes right for our little family.”

“That’s not true!” I insisted. When she asked me to prove it, however, I couldn’t. We had been so locked in our negative mindset that growth and peace continued to evade us. The dark clouds still hovered and I was appalled by my negativity. I could have done something to end the storm.

Blowing the Clouds AwayRebuilding begins with a smile--from KRE archives

It started with a smile. A soul-deep smile that radiated throughout the body. A smile that would attract people rather than keep them at a distance. (I won a contest based on this picture.)

Next, I sought positivity in the past tragedies and applied it to the growth and opportunity in the present. With these tools, smiling became easier and I didn’t feel so mentally weighed down.

Glimpses of Light

The Universe observed my activity. It wasn’t going to immediately give me a thumbs-up and lay out a shiny red carpet in front of me. Nope. It tested me. A new lead backed out at the last minute. A client wasn’t pleased with my services. I got bronchitis. Twice. My laptop died. I was tempted to slip back into the storm, but moved forward instead.

Then tiny things happened. I slept better. Clients sent referrals. Migraines diminished. My blog took on new life as I focused on entrepreneurship and life after 50.

My rebrand progressed until Dad died November 2015. There were a few related setbacks but they didn’t hold me for long.

Until June 2017. I lost my two largest clients due to budget cuts and suddenly had no money coming in. This was a huge trial for me, but I kept going.

The Results of a Positive Mindset

  • The gloom faded quickly.
  • The storm didn’t infect other aspects of life.
  • Opportunities were easier to identify.
  • Additionally, I could dedicate myself fully to my rebrand without other projects competing for my time and attention.

Armed with these super powers, I got back to business with fire and determination. In under 2 months I got published in 6 online publications and was ASKED to become associate editor for Boomalally magazine.

Lessons learned:

  • Blow the clouds away.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Test your limits and push past them.
  • Take risks.
  • Ignore the naysayers
  • Abandon the self-pity. It only gives others the opportunity to race past you.
  • Don’t waste another minute. Too much has already been wasted.
  • Make every moment count.
  • Furthermore, SMILE!

Recently, my mother sent a text message saying she’s having a burst of happiness. When I encouraged her to have more, she said, “I’m not normally a positive person, so I’m sure you have something to do with it.”

That certainly made me smile.

Are you ready to smile again? You’ll quickly discover that a positive mindset is contagious.

Kristen

Life Lessons from a High School Reunion

high school reunion nametag: life lessonsDid you enjoy high school? Were you one of the Jocks or the Brains or the Hotsy-Totsies? Or were you one of the Nerds or the Hoods or the Bums? Perhaps you were like me and didn’t fall into either category.

High school was not fun for me—and I had the undesirable experience of attending 2 high schools. It was difficult to be my own person with everyone attempting to place a label on me. As a result, I had no interest in attending reunions.

Until recently. I attended as my partner’s guest to his 40th high school reunion. As we drove to the reunion, I asked him how many true friends he had. His reply: very few. I asked: how many have you kept in touch with over the years? His reply: even fewer.

Upon attending the reunion, the crowded room of 100+ from a class of 320 now wrinkled, gray-haired, and slightly overweight men and women struggled more to recognize classmates than remembering which clique everyone belonged to. Back in the day, fraternizing with the wrong clique meant doom. Now the goal was to flashback to a perceived easier time of life.

Reunion Results–life lessons emerge

  • Graduates barely recognized each other—by face or by name. They relied more on where they lived in town, what grade school they attended, and what classes they possibly shared.
  • There were the occasional, “Oh, I remember you!” followed by, “Let’s connect on Facebook.”
  • Some admitted to avoiding those they hated in high school, but couldn’t remember why.
  • Most found high school to be highly stressful.
  • Upon graduation, everyone went their own way toward living their vision of the American Dream.
  • Many were happy with life. Those I spoke with admitted to be comfortable with who they were, preferring their current life with gray hair, wrinkles, and arthritis to puberty, acne, and peer pressure.
  • Cliques no longer mattered. We were all in our 50s, hoping to have enough money for retirement. None I spoke with were living or planning to live the dreamy retirement vision we were raised to strive for. What mattered most was to stay close to their roots and to enjoy their family.

Retirement Revelations

There were 3 types of current retirees:

  • Retired due to health issues, or
  • Age discrimination, or
  • Career limitations.

Given the choice, these graduates would have kept working. Because of where they find themselves now, many are uncertain what’s next for them. They all feel they are too young to ‘kick the bucket’. One graduate ‘fills his time’ restoring motorcycles and cars. Another graduate volunteers until she can find a job—in anything, she admits. My partner, disabled since 2015, enjoys tutoring, helping others organize their lives, and conducting administrative tasks, but doubts this is a viable money-making option for him.

Those that are working toward retirement want to ensure their future is secure in the midst of all the unknowns. Everyone I spoke with feared how long their health will hold up.

Quite a difference from our high school years!

While this reunion is one of thousands that occur across the country, we all share the same hopes, dreams, and fears. The peer pressure and cliques from the past no longer matter. What matters is that we are happy as we continue to live and to share our life with those we love.

How will you grow and live?

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

An Eye for Safety: Helping a Parent Age in Place

using stairlift The stairs in my childhood home had been a source of fun for my brothers and me. We enjoyed rushing down to breakfast bumping down the stairs on our bottoms then hopping up to join our parents. To my mother, however, the stairs were a constant state of stress. She daily warned us to be careful, don’t play around the stairs, and ALWAYS reminded us to hold the railing. Each night she would drape a flimsy net across the top of the stairway to protect us from falling to our deaths.

She should have continued that habit for her and Dad. I became concerned when I noticed her constantly climbing the stairs on hands and knees—while wearing her robe and carrying a glass of water! In June 2009, I secretly suggested to Dad to get a stair lift for her. He agreed but didn’t find it to be an immediate necessity. A few days later, Dad slipped down the last two steps and landed on his backside with a painful ‘ooph’! Doubly concerned, I reiterated the need for the stair lift for both of them. Dad immediately went on the defensive and harshly lectured me on respect, ageism, and minding my own damn business.

Then on December 8, 2009, at age 72, Dad fell down the stairs and suffered extreme brain damage and paralysis, eventually dying from his injuries six years later.

Needless to say, I am sensitive to the probability of falls. I rarely hesitate to act on a safety improvement for my mother or my loved ones, even if it must come from my own finances.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
  • Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.

Further data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

Soon after Dad’s fall, Mom and I ordered the stair lift, refraining from the ‘closing the barn door after the horse escaped’ reality. Mom still needed several safety measures and I planned to get them done! Other immediate activities included:

  • Removing trip hazards, especially loose rugs.
  • Purchasing slippers or socks that were anti-slip.
  • Hiring a handyman to repair loose floorboards or uneven treads.
  • Purchasing a Personal Emergency Response System such as Great Call or First Alert.
  • Moving most used items within reach.

While my mother still lives 500 miles away, I make frequent visits to help with general care, providing companionship, and to maintain the safety watch. During my latest visit, I installed grab bars in risky areas (bathtub, shower, toilet) and anti-slip strips on tub and shower floors after observing some unsteady habits. When I stated my concern to my mother, she attempted to comfort me by saying, “I’ll get to it soon. It’s been on my mind too”. Then a few sentences later she admitted, “I’m getting so forgetful.” I was at the store purchasing equipment lessinstalling shower handle for safety than an hour later!

If you are providing long-distant care for a parent or are close enough to visit on a daily basis, use these tips to maintain household safety as your parent ages in place:

  • Check established safety measures to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Replace, upgrade, or improve safety measures as needed.
  • Observe your parent’s activities: does she lean more? Is she unsteady? Is it tougher for her to accomplish tasks? Implement safety measures to accommodate these changes.
  • Listen to your parent! Comments like, “I’m unsteady when I get out of bed” or “I’m afraid I’ll slip getting out of the shower” are warning signs. Take swift action on these hints.
  • Keep an open communication with your parent. Request to attend occasional doctor visits to be part of the conversation but to also report observations and progress.

It’s tough to lose a parent to something so common, but it’s also harder to know that simple safety measures could have prevented these injuries. As your parent ages—in place or at a facility—be their guardian and take the action they are reluctant or forgetful to do themselves. If they fuss, tell them it’s because you love them and don’t want to lose them.

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

What to Know as POA for Multiple Family Members

family members discuss POA wishesAre you prepared medically and financially if something unfortunate happens to you and you could not make a critical decision for yourself? What about a parent, spouse, or adult child? Why wait a moment longer? Get your POA (power of attorney) in order now!

I am not an attorney, a financial advisor, a wealth advisor, or an estate planner. What I am, however, is a mother, a daughter, a partner, a sister, and a grandmother. I’m also the power of attorney (POA) for 5 family members.

I recently attended a workshop entitled, Aging in America,  in which financial and legal issues for family members and caregivers were addressed. Individuals of all ages tend to wait until an unfortunate event to begin thinking about ‘what ifs’. Furthermore, many family members ignore reality and postpone taking action, as it happened with my family. Due to the cost and time-consuming options available after the fact, it is advised we obtain, at a minimum, a financial and medical durable power of attorney now.

This seems easy enough but the challenge is to get everyone onboard. According to AARP, the following age groups lack a will or other estate planning documents:

  • 19% of those 72+
  • 42% of Boomers (ages 53 to 71)
  • 64% of Gen Xers (ages 37 to 52)
  • 78% of Millennials (ages 18 to 36)

Regardless of where you or your loved ones fit into the family tree, it is vital to initiate the conversation to spare cost, delay, and emotional stress. Use these prompts to start the conversation.

The family talk

First of all, let your family know that it’s important to establish their powers of attorney. Ask them how theyman in therapy after debilitating injury want their decisions handled should they become incapacitated. Use current events, a terminal illness, death, or this article to start the discussion. Providing free POA forms (see Where to Find Documents) can help move the process forward. Your goal isn’t to frighten them, but to ensure they are protected financially and medically. As a result, you may have more success taking this approach.

Address the facts

Because each of us must choose an agent to handle our requests, it’s important this person is:

  • Up to the task
  • Readily available
  • Willing to meet the needs of the individual
  • Trustworthy and reliable
  • Able to make decisions while dealing with their own emotions

Choosing an Agent

  • If the medical POA and financial POA are different people, ensure that they will work well together.
  • Review the POA with the family member every 3 to 5 years. Sometimes a listed agent becomes unwilling, unable, or estranged from the family member. Furthermore, a periodic review will ensure that the documents are up to date and the agent(s) wish to continue their duties.

Where to Find Documents

The documents are easy to create, but requires each individual to make their wishes known and to name their agents. Contact an estate planning attorney or search online for medical or financial POA forms within your state. There are many free and paying sites available, or you can contact a local attorney to create the forms for you.

The Agent

  • As the agent, keep the documents (preferably 2 original copies) in a safe, readily available location.
  • Additionally, if you are the agent for several people, keep all records in the same safe place. Let your principles (the people who named you as POA) know where you have their documents but also let your agents know the location.
  • Be the one to follow up every 3 to 5 years with each principal. People forget, life changes fast, and people come and go. You may wish to be removed as the agent for unknown reasons.

While we all want to live a long, healthy life, things happen. Be the proactive family member and start the process. Taking the extra measure to protect the desires of your loved ones and your own will help make the tough decisions easier.

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

The Wrong Kind of Busy: Conquering Social Media and Family Distractions

A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part
— Anonymous

Wrong Kind of Busy BlogFamily and social media: we love them but…they can easily suck our time away.  For several years, my day would begin by checking my inbox and social media feeds before my 10am business day began. What was intended as engagement with my online community unknowingly merged into online and offline play time. I justified my behavior by eating breakfast, chatting with family members, or snuggling with my kitties, labeling my actions as effective multi-tasking. It didn’t take long to realize (and deny) I was using prime business-building time to putz.

Not pleased with my discoveries, I sought out a solution. After some hard introspection
and consulting with my virtual assistant and social media expert, I’m actively
diminishing my online distract-ability habits. Here are 2 simple exercises to help you
limit the wrong kind of busy:

Identify your habits: which is your greatest weakness? Email? Facebook? Twitter? Pay
attention to your habits and the time engaged with each. How much is dedicated to
business? How much can you honestly count as non-business?

Limit your online time: from the discoveries above, set a specific time every day to
check email and social media feeds. Make your business activity the priority. Can you
accomplish your social media activity in under 45 minutes? Set a timer and stick to it.
OR, if you find yourself drifting toward distraction, move on to another business task.
Set your fun-time online activity for an end-of- day reward. It’s a tough pattern to break,
and doesn’t happen overnight, but will result in higher productivity in a short amount of
time.

Family is a different matter. Many of us pursued entrepreneurship for the benefit of
ourselves and our family. We chose this path to be closer physically and emotionally to
our children, but that proximity leads to high distract-ability. It requires new habits for
everyone, but the best progress starts with ourselves:

Discipline: identify your most productive times and set that as business time only! I
used to modify my work day around everyone else’s schedules and disasters but ended
up playing business catch-up more than moving forward. Avoid that trap and schedule
each day with your professional priorities.

Determine your work week: Many of us become entrepreneurs for the flexibility, so
be flexible for your business opportunities and emergencies: business projects,
outsourcing activities, technical issues, missed appointments, illness, new clients, and
more. Maintaining a schedule, flexibility within your schedule, and preparedness for the
unexpected will keep you on track for growth and for family intervention.

A lot of our busy-ness comes from the distractions we know and love most: family and
social media. It takes some practice to break an old habit in favor of another, but with
persistence, it can happen. For more insight into distractions, visit What are Your
Distraction Risk Factors?

What are your tips for managing social media and family? Comment below and share
with others who may need support and guidance.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business