Monthly Archives: September 2012

Bright-Side of the Web: Matt Cutts, 30-Day Challenge

I am in love with TED!

When I am with TED, I am inspired, educated, entertained and enlightened.

I am of course talking about, the place that shares innovative ideas, original thinkers and accomplished speakers. Their tag line, Ideas Worth Spreading, says it all and I am thankful that they do.  It is definitely a bright-side of the web and one which I am likely to share with you frequently, as I have already done – fair warning.

Today’s Bright-Side is a 3 minute and 27 second tidbit from Matt Cutts, a Google engineer who has made a habit of 30-day challenges, and he challenges you too.

October is the perfect month to begin a 30-day challenge. The month starts on a Monday so you can begin the week and month off on a roll without any excuses for delay.

And 30 days isn’t so long.  It’s only:
two 15-day increments
three 10-day stints
4-1/2 weeks
5 Mondays to count
4 Fridays to check off

I have purposely posted this item today since we are approaching the end of September.  Take the weekend to think it over carefully, then on Monday, jump in with both feet.

What would you challenge yourself to do
for the next 30 days?

Let’s keep each other accountable.
On Monday, I’ll share what I will do and keep you posted on my progress and I’d love you to do the same.

Will you take the challenge? What will you try?

Watch Matt Cutts TED talk here.

photo credit:

Should We Still Teach Our Boys To Be Gentlemen?

As wonderful and as necessary as the feminist movement has been, I often wonder how men feel about the change to their roles.  I’m not talking about how they feel about feminism and women’s rights – I think most men are generally fine with that. (Obviously I am referring to westernized society. This discussion has not even begun in much of the third world. Don’t get me started on that!) – What I am talking about is how men have adjusted to the little things.

Do they struggle with how to treat a female colleague?

Do they constantly feel that they are walking on eggshells, wondering if a sexual harassment lawsuit is looming around the corner if they pulled a chair out for their female boss?

As a female, I am proud of the strides my sex has made in the equality of gender roles. I feel empowered that young women today have the option of post-secondary education; the choice of any career; the option to excel in that career while at the same time raising a family (or not) or the option to stay at home and raise their children (however economically, many families can’t afford the last option but that is another discussion).

Women are just as capable as men to hold corporate careers, own businesses and make a living in every field, however women are still fighting the battle for pay equity and equal representation from the lowest to the highest levels in roles traditionally thought of as male. There is still much work to do but in most sectors, the divide is gradually becoming narrower.

Did the rules need to change? Of course they did.

Feminism isn’t just for the boardroom though. Women expect to be treated with respect and equality in all aspects of their lives but do we want the same treatment from our life-mates as our cubicle-mates? If not, do men know that?

As we have marched ahead to our revised tune, the gents sometimes seem to struggle to keep in step, try though they might.

Take dating for instance; do men know how to act anymore? In a new relationship today, should a man pay the entire bill for a dinner out with his date? If he does pay, will she think he’s domineering and trying to take care of her because she is incapable of taking care of herself or will she think he is sweet and romantic? What about holding the door for her? Should he or shouldn’t he? Pulling out her chair? Standing when she enters the room? – does anyone do that anymore?

I feel sorry for men at times like these.  They must feel like they are walking a tightrope of etiquette.  Do the wrong thing and you are thought of as rude and insensitive – a Neanderthal of cultural behaviour.

But who determines what is right and wrong?

Some women would be offended if a man opened the car door for them and others would be offended if he did not.

What’s a boy to do?

Which brings up the question: Should we still teach our boys to be gentlemen?

I will generalize and say that we all teach our boys – and girls – basic manners: saying please and thank you; pardon me/excuse me; not interrupting etc, but what will the next generation of young women expect their young men to do beyond the basic niceties?

Will men stop walking on the outside of the sidewalk and offering their arm to a lady? Many already have.

Will holding a door go by the way of a kiss on the hand? 

Some might argue that many of these gestures are fine in personal relationships but should not be brought into the workplace.  Is that where the line should be drawn? Offering your arm to a female colleague in my mind would be an error for the man, but yet I would expect him to hold the door for her.

Learning to make the distinction between what is acceptable and what is not must have to be learned by trial and error; or trial by fire depending on the recipient. 

The other day, as I was approaching a store, I witnessed a young boy of about five years of age struggle to hold a heavy door open for a ‘mature’ lady who with a smile thanked the young lad for being “quite a gentleman”. The boy beamed with pride, and his father did too.

For all of you men (and women) who are taking the time to teach your boys the traditional approach to the decorum of gentlemanly behaviour, I applaud you. In my opinion, etiquette should never go out of style and every gesture toward that end should be received in the manner in which it is bestowed.

For all of the strides my sisters before me and my daughters after have made and will make, I thank them for their struggles. It is in part because of them that I am respected for my intelligence, appreciated for my contribution and seen as an equal in my role.

And for all of the men in my life who have treated me with respect, appreciation and equality, I thank you too for your part and appreciate your efforts.

And for the record, I think there is a line and the office is where it should be defined. For me, it looks like this:

  • At work: hold the door, and if you would like a coffee, make it yourself.
  • Personally: pull out my chair, offer your arm, walk on the outside of the sidewalk, help me on with my coat, pay the bill, and hold the door. Oh, and if you’re getting yourself a coffee, I’d like mine double-double, please.

…Because for all of our advancements, I for one still enjoy and appreciate being made to feel like a lady, when it’s appropriate. After all, isn’t having the best of both worlds part of what the battle has been about?

Good luck, men. Keep up the good work.

Do you have anything to add to this conversation? Share it below.


Quotes That Make You Go Hmmm…

How To See Yourself Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Why do we place such importance on how others perceive us? 

We all go through life thinking we know what other people think of us.  Our own self-perception has us making assumptions that ‘so-and-so must think that I’m blank’ when in fact so-and-so is actually thinking the opposite.  Or, they aren’t thinking about you at all.   As Eleanor Roosevelt said:

 “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you
if you realized how seldom they do.” 

We all want to be liked, by someone.  But are you showing your true colours or are you pretending to be something you are not so a specific person will find you attractive and want to be with you?

What if they are doing the same thing to impress you?

How do you know who they really are? How do they know you?

Too much energy, in my opinion, is going into our perceived persona.  Social media sites encourage teens to ‘friend’ everyone they remotely know or who remotely knows someone they sort of know, or people they have never met, only to have a multitude of ‘friends’ and appear popular.

Is it that they want to feel popular themselves or do they want others, even the ones they have never met, to think they are popular?

Isn’t it better to have a few close friends who really know you, who get who you are, who know what you’re about, with whom you can share your deepest thoughts and aspirations and who like you for who you are – warts and all?  Your true honest-to-goodness BFF’s.

There is an exercise called the Appreciation Circle.  A group of friends/colleagues/people who know one another sit in a circle so each can see the other.  Starting with one person as the subject, each person in the circle says one thing that they really like or love about that person, then they go onto the next the person and so on.

Seeing ourselves through the love and appreciation of others is a mirror in which we should all gaze. 

Imagine if the Appreciation Circle was done in schools from Kindergarten through to high school graduation.
Do you think that would have made a difference in the way you see yourself?

Positive Ponderings: The Roses of Success

The other day I watched the 1968 classic movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

What a fun movie full of wonderful songs and production numbers. (I am purposely blocking out the memories of ‘The Child Catcher’ – remember him? SHIVER!)

Amongst all of the wonderful toe-tapping, sing-along ditties, there was one particular song that made me think of this blog and its purpose of posing positive ponderings.

It was performed by a group of aged inventors and the grandfather character, portrayed by actor Lionel Jeffries, when he was taken into custody at Baron Bomburst’s castle in Vulgaria and told that he must make a flying car. Not even knowing how begin to produce such a vehicle, the inventors offer Grandpa Potts the following advice:

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you’ll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!

If you’d like to have a song to hum as you turn ashes to roses, follow this link to the full lyrics of the song and watch a video of the performance on the right of the page. Happy gardening: The Roses of Success.

In the meantime…
what failures have fertilized your successes?
Share them below.

photo credit:

The Bright-Side of the Web: Tenzin Palmo

In the one minute excerpt below from the film Cave in the Snow, Tenzin Palmo, a Tibetan Buddhist nun, discusses how she chose which road to take: the easy road or the hard road.

The advice she received can be used by all who are wrestling to smooth the bumps in their own journey to the brighter-side – which is not always an easy path.

Watch the one minute clip here: Gaiam Life

Have you had experience taking the hard road? Share your experiences below.

How To Combat The Negative Messages Your Teen Hears

A friend of mine, one who also wrestles with her inner Pollyanna, is one of the best mothers that I know.  Not only is she an inspiration to her children for her strength, courage, caring, compassion and hearing (not just listening, but hearing), she is an inspiration to me.

Recently she shared something with me that I would like to share with you (with her permission of course).

She believes in the power of words and is determined to make the ones that she says to her children (who are now young adults) meaningful and positive.

The words she hopes will be the tapes that play in their heads.

On many mornings, upon entering their bathroom to begin their day, her children are greeted with a positive message written on the mirror with a dry-erase marker:

“You are the sunshine that brightens my day.” 

“I love your laugh.” 

“You make the world a better place.” 

Not only would these message make you feel good but written by the hand of a parent or loved one, the messages would uplift and resonate deep within your heart and soul because they also say:

“You are worthy.” 

“You are valued.” 

And there is no better message than that.

Share the ways you uplift your children.

photo credit: Carolin Grandin, copyright

Quotes That Make You Go Hmmm…

Would you agree?

8 Reasons To Start Meditating Now

     At the age of sixteen, my interest in meditation began. I must have read about it somewhere or seen something on television.  So, like a curious teen, I tried it. I did not have formal instruction.  I felt self-conscious and was always thinking that I would ‘get caught’ and be embarrassed about doing it so I tried to do in secret. As you might guess, I was not successful and soon gave up but I never lost my curiosity about it.

Over the years, my interest has drawn me back time and again so in my quest to wrestle with negativity and pull Pollyanna to the surface, I decided to give it a dedicated go.

For 30 days, I attempted to meditate 20 minutes per day, twice a day.

     I set aside time in the morning then again before bed. I also kept a journal noting how much I had slept the night before, any significant activity in my life, and my key thoughts during the meditation process (written from memory once the time was up).

 This is what I learned:

8. It’s hard to keep a routine but not impossible. There were days when I did not make time to meditate twice a day (and I say ‘make time’ because isn’t that how all change comes about?), and days when I didn’t fit it in even once.

7. Twenty minutes is a loooong time. I decided that I would not set a timer as I had read in a few online “how to meditate” guides. I felt that I would be too focussed on the time ticking and chose instead to follow my natural rhythm. I rarely made it past eleven minutes and felt especially proud of myself the few times I hit the fifteen minute mark.

6. I slept better when I made time for meditation right before retiring for the night. The chance to let my thoughts flow and the slowed breathing helped relax me and allowed for a deeper sleep.

5. Where my mind was at. My “how to” readings suggested that you should focus on your breaths as a means of blocking out thoughts thereby allowing yourself to enter into an altered state of consciousness. If thoughts filter in, acknowledge them then focus again on your inhalations and exhalations. I must admit that the more I practiced, the easier this became but I don’t think that I ever entered the altered state; I could see the off-ramp but was unable to cross the bridge – there wasn’t a long enough break in the traffic. Perhaps if I had regularly reached the twenty minute mark, I would have been successful. What I did see on the journey though was where my thoughts were focussed. There seemed a recurring theme and I was thankful to have the time to address the issues, uninterrupted.

4. It forced alone time. Making time for meditation means that you are carving out alone time – time for just you – remember those days? You are taking the time to relax and giving yourself the time and permission to think about things that you otherwise “don’t have time to deal with”.  Not only will you be able to deal with them, you may actually come up with solutions for issues in other areas of your life. By clearing your mind, you are opening up space for other solutions to filter in.

3. Studies have shown that meditation can lower your blood pressure.  I felt this. Not just during the time I sat meditating, but throughout the day.  And if I felt stress building up, I could quickly return to a calmer state by ‘going within’ and breathing deep.

2. Meditation opened myself up for possibilities. You’ve acknowledged recurring thoughts. You’ve devised solutions for problems. You’ve lowered your blood pressure. You’ve had a better night’s sleep. Now you are available for the possibilities that await you and are in a calmer and more open state to receive them when they do.

The biggest benefit that I gained from this rudimentary attempt at enlightenment is: 

1. I gave myself permission to take the time to listen to me. It allowed my voice to be the voice in my head.

Perhaps one day, I will reach the twenty minute mark. But that is not my goal. I am more interested in actually crossing the bridge and seeing what’s on the other side – however long it takes. Then Pollyanna will have won the championship fight.

     In the meantime, she is still a contender.

Have you had experience with meditation? How did it work for you?

photo credit: Carolin Grandin

Positive Ponderings: Life Regrets

Here is something to ponder as we begin the week:

What are your life’s biggest regrets?

Narrow it down to three.

…to one.

What did you do or where did you go instead?

How was that?

What did you learn?

What did you gain?

What would you have missed out on had you done it?

What will be your next big regret?

Are you going to let that happen? 

Share your life lessons below.

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Iyanla Vanzant

photo credit: Carolin Grandin, copyright