WHAT COBRA KAI TAUGHT ME

I'm training for my second half marathon which happens this Saturday and the only way to get through it is to binge watch TV series on my treadmill.

So, being the biggest Karate Kid fan ever, I delighted in the fact that they just launched a reboot decades later called Cobra Kai, which is sort of like the whole story told from villain Johnny Lawrence's perspective.

He was a jerk in the movie and still is a jerk, but there's a realness about him and a vulnerability and he said today that "In the real world, people don't do what you expect them to do"

I paused and thought about that because especially this week, that has never rang  more true. At age 43, I have never been more dumbfounded by human behavior at a business level and I have to remind myself, and those around me all the time that we are only in control of ourselves. Nobody else. How we handle things and how we react to things are entirely ours- so do the right thing, keep cool and keep being YOU.

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GET OFF THE FLIPPIN' PHONE

TIME IS PRECIOUS, DON'T WASTE IT ON SCREEN TIME

I'm writing this in the middle of international transit, where I'm waiting on the last flight leg of a very long journey.  Here I sit, in a café where I should be working but instead, I am doing what I usually do...people watching.

Next to me sits a young couple.  Now, I've been here for over an hour and so have they. Not one word apart from when they got settled and sat down. Not one real lifting of their heads or eyes, both of which are pointed downward toward the table where their phones are, in their hands. Barely a look up, let alone at each other and zero conversation.  Now, even if they're in a fight, or they've been traveling together for hours and perhaps need a little solitude, it just still doesn't seem right.

I see this continuously when I'm out to eat and it upsets me.  I don't have a ton of spare time, so the people I choose to invest my time in mean a lot to me and I can't imagine spending those precious moments not engaging in a conversation. Not finding a laugh. Not discussing what we're eating, or our days, or our lives... I eat with my daughter way more than any other friend or family member and I treasure those times where we can laugh, share stories, hear about each other's days and so on. When I am out with my friends, we want to pay attention to one another, that's the whole reason we're out.

Time is precious, minutes fleet by and before we know it, it's gone so don't waste what could be connection time on screen time.  You've got other minutes and hours to do that...

WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK?

WHEN WE TRY TO FIGURE PEOPLE OUT, WE GET NOWHERE

I had an instance yesterday that just made me take a pause and remember a sort of "resolution" that I made to myself on the 1st of the year. After being hit with a few strange behaviors by people all in a row, I just committed to not trying to delve into people's heads. I used to do it often, try to get to the root of someone's actions and understand why they would have done what they've done (which is usually something to hurt me when I've done nothing to them). And you know what?  I got my answer. IT'S NOT ME, IT'S THEM.

What I have come to realize that is when you are a good person and you show loyalty, you care, you help, and you show up, you are doing all the right things. You are thriving, growing, dreaming and achieving. So many of you are rocking it in business or are just on the cusp of doing something new and great and that's what counts- being present, being a great friend, partner, mom and otherwise.

What you do says everything about you, and what someone else does only says everything about them. Remember that.  Please.

So there you go. Print it out if you have to and recall it whenever you have one of those "what the heck" moments. Breathe it in and move on- you've got too much to do.

ADJUSTING TO A NEW NORMAL

Life shifts. Things change. Usually I am OK with traveling with the flow but to be perfectly honest, I never saw a divorce coming my way.  Yet, here I sit, about 17 months through it since I got separated and as of late December, I was officially divorced. At 43, it is thoroughly scary and although I wanted it and it was really all me driving the process, there are moments where I am absolutely terrified. Why? A few reasons.

First off, I am now a single mom. I never saw that coming either- I have the most amazing 9 year old daughter and through the whole process she was really all I ever worried about. Thankfully she’s sailed through this just fine and has adjusted really well to the schedule. Things with my ex-husband weren’t such smooth sailing, in fact most of the time it was huge amounts of stress but it has subsided.  I’ve always been financially strong and independent so I didn’t worry about money, until I wound up on the wrong side of the equation and actually had to be the one to pay out, and now I do worry about it.

What scares me now is what’s next? I feel beautifully liberated now which is great, but there’s an entire other side of me that wonders what will happen. Will someone love me again?  Can I go through all of this again? Or what if I don’t, will I be OK just being ME with my friends and loved ones for which I am extremely grateful.  At the end of the day, none of us have those answers but this is what we call life, the roller coaster ride in the dark that keeps us guessing, anticipating and surrendering to what IS. That’s what I’ve learned the most.

I’ve also learned, and I want to share, that if there is anything in your life that you don’t feel highly satisfied in, it’s never too late to change it.  I’m not advocating splitting up! This could be with a friend who is dragging you down, or a job that you just cannot stand any longer, or any sort of situation that prevents you from living your most authentic life.  We only get one shot, change is highly uncomfortable and as it happens, also very scary but if you hold on through the worst waters, the calm seas do come and you wind up on a completely different side of it than you ever could have predicted.  Be bold and make the changes you know you need to make, whatever they are, to keep you at your highest self.

For anyone out there struggling with divorce, reach out to me at any time- gabriella@themogulmom.com  - venting and sharing stories truly does help through this difficult period and I’m here.

SITTING ALONE AT THE LUNCH TABLE

A few days back, I put out a post about a particularly sad morning I had. My daughter who is 9, extremely outgoing and very vibrant, was sitting in a very nervous state at the breakfast table which is rare. She's a super confident kid but she was off and I asked what was wrong. She was so worried about school that day because she didn't think she was going to have anyone to sit with at lunch. She usually sits with one of her best friends and 2 other girls, and for some reason none of them were going to be there that day. Moving tables isn't permitted so after I went that route on suggestions, I sat with her, held her hand and told her it was going to be OK. First, she always had the option to slide down to the other side and maybe start chatting with people she doesn't normally get to eat with, who are assigned to her table.  Or, she could always bring a book or a craft and do that while she ate.  When she left, I didn't know what she had decided on, she still seemed nervous, and I broke down and cried. All morning- in the kitchen cleaning up, while working, in between phone calls and such.

Why? Because I remember how that felt back in school.  And I know how it feels now- I have to attend a ton of events, conferences, etc and I'm fine sitting next to a stranger and striking up a conversation (in fact I'm usually the one who is hyper-conscious of people sitting alone and I try to be the person that won't let that happen) but there's always that little inner child voice that remembers those days and how it feels to wonder if anyone will speak to you.

She was fine fortunately, handled it like a pro- better than I probably would have and I worried over nothing that day but it was real because this happens. And it likely will happen to her again, and all of our kids at some point. It's something we have to be so conscious of...remembering that kids go through this daily. We may not know that there are days that there wasn't anyone that played with them that day at recess, or that they weren't picked first (or even 10th) for a gym class team, or that nobody wanted to partner with them for a project so its our job to continue to reinforce that A) when you like yourself and are confident, you are never alone and B) when you see someone struggling, give them a hand and say hello. 

Being a mom is hard, being a working mom is harder but it makes us stronger and by nature, our children as well.  But, there are those moments that knock us off kilter.  We're here to support you with anything, don't forget that.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS...an excerpt from my book

I’m an entrepreneur. I create things, I build situations, I control my little world and I have mad respect for anyone else who does it too. It isn’t easy, it’s a long road, and as long as you can stay on your toes no matter what may try to knock you down, you’ve got an edge.  But, most of all, you have to be creative and you have to be able to see opportunity.  Sometimes when it seems like there isn’t one, the best ones look harder and create it.   I saw one of the greatest examples ever in my life in the unlikeliest of places, 2 days into a hiking trip in the Cinque Terre.

You can’t not fall impossibly, madly, gorgeously in love with this place. It’s the cruel pain and torture of the hikes that you come there to do, mixed with the drop dead natural beauty of the hills, the colors of the buildings, the crystalline waters and the incredible food. It’s one of those awesome trips where you work your ass off during the day on your treks, only to massively indulge in gluttonous gorgeousness in the form of pizza, pasta, and gelato in a vicious cycle, day after day and it’s beautiful.  For me, it’s like living a dream.

Credit where credit is due. And this one deserves it all.  Now, let me step back a bit first because these aren’t your grandma’s hikes.   I’ve never seen anything like it- five towns connected by a network of hills and nailbiting cliffs just wide enough for someone with narrow feet to pass through. It’s an impossibly curious landscape where you climb endless stairs, mostly carved into the hillsides, yet when you think you’re descending on the other side, there still somehow are more stairs to climb. It makes no sense, it’s grueling, it pushes you to the brink. The only thing that makes it tougher is that since you’re clinging to the hillside for dear life for most of the series, there’s absolutely nowhere to stop to refresh until you somehow descend down to sea level and find the next town miles away.

About 30 hours into my  most recent journey there, after I felt well rested,  I started to climb. And climb. And climb.  Against the hills, against the steps, against the sun. Enter this genius of a man who I credit to saving me and hundreds of people passing out and just giving up. Along one of the paths that’s just a bit wider than the rest, there stood several lemon trees, all in a row. And in between these trees stood a man, strategically placed so that nobody could miss him when they passed. There it was, a little lemonade stand that nature seemed to have provided, and all it needed was a little TLC and a dash of creativity.   It took this man a simple table, a small wagon loaded with tons of bottled water (which he probably filled from his home tap), hundreds of paper cups, a few pounds of sugar, and all the lemons he could ever want, handpicked for free.  Everyone passing near him was thirsty and desperate, and nobody thought a thing about forking over 5 Euro for a cup. And then another 5 for a refill, and so it went and I remember spending a small fortune that one afternoon on the way up and the way down as did so many and I am sure still do.  As an entrepreneur, I sat and marveled. I took a seat and just watched for about 30 minutes (ok, I needed the rest too) but it was fascinating how he found a window of opportunity. I spoke to him and asked if this was what he did, or just a bit of a side hustle and I will never forget how he smiled when he looked at me and asked back something to the effect of “How could I want to do anything more than this? Look at where I am, look at what I get to see, look at the people I get to meet from all over the world”.  He’d arrive, make what he needed for the day (and then some) with just a few hours put in, and the rest of his day to enjoy his quiet life here in this slice of heaven on Earth.  He was creative, motivated, content and balanced and able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, no pun intended, exactly the way he wanted, and he made a lot of people happy too.  For him, it truly was lemons but the lesson here is that we all have a lemon, or an opportunity, around us.  I believe that. For some it comes naturally to find the window, others have to work harder to see it but it’s there. So, pursue it, find it and be happy.  Just like the lemon guy.

More of my stories can be found here, in my most recent book.  Enjoy! https://www.amazon.com/48-Hours-Lessons-Learned-Lifetime/dp/1546925694

OUTSOURCE...MY NEW MANTRA

Control freak. Type A. Or even Type A ++…those might describe me in some way. Actually in most ways.  I don’t like being out of the loop on anything at all.  I don’t like being out on boats because I cannot turn around and get back when I want, I don’t like giving up control of things in most areas of my life generally,  so it took me a lot of work to make certain decisions that I can now look back on and see how they completely changed my life.  There are few that stand out that I’ll share with you but first, I want to dig deeper into this concept.

We’re all doing a lot, we’re all super busy, we consistently hear people sharing their calendars with us, they love to tell us their plans, and they love to complain about things that must be done that we all wish we would rather not have to do. I wonder though, why is it that we take on so much above and beyond the nitty gritty that must be done, only to have ourselves be driven crazy about the lack of time and the fact that we just sometimes cannot get it all done?

One of the best examples of how I decided to conquer my control freak issues was many years ago when my first business was growing. I was ecstatic but also panicked because the workload was expanding more rapidly than I could  have imagined at that stage and I was becoming less and less productive. Why? Because I was doing every single thing I took on- that meant everything from admin, to running to the post office, to taking high level calls, building my website and everything in between that happened on a day to day business. Sure, I had great clients but was I serving them optimally? No. Was the money great? Absolutely but at what cost? I was terrified all the time that I was going to lose them because I wasn’t performing at my best for any of them individually.  I needed help, but I was so adverse to it just because of the way I was wired that it was so difficult to admit.  How could I delegate properly? What about money? I worked so hard, how could I part with what I was earning and how was I going to teach someone quickly what they needed to know? And worst of all for a control freak, how could I take responsibility for someone’s livelihood? What if something happened? What if I lost it all?   All rational questions but they plagued me intensely for a long while until I sat down with a mentor that simply gave me a hard look, cut the conversation and just said “It’s simple. Do you want to grow or not? Yes? Then get the hell over it and make it happen. Stop this nonsense and  F*&K the rest.  You’ll figure it out”

I’ll never forget that lunch where I felt like I got punched in the gut- it hurt for like a few seconds and then it all made sense.  I took a chance and took someone on- without her , who is still with me to this day, and some amazing team members, I never could have achieved half of what I’ve done in business and in life.

I’d been feeling overwhelmed like that lately. Business has grown, life is full, being a mom takes every minute and every bit of energy one has in them on a nonstop basis and truly I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, things started to slip that I couldn’t stand. Laundry wasn’t getting done, food shopping had become a ridiculous chore that I never seemed to have time for, closets felt crowded, things in cabinets felt disorganized and why? Because I opt to do things  with my time that for me, are much more fruitful like spending quality time with my daughter. Like strategizing on a new idea. Like writing. Like building businesses.  The stuff that matters, and things like laundry just simply at this stage, matter not.

So, I decided to do an experiment and outsource as much as possible.  I soon found out that it’s the best money I could ever spend because I have, over the course of a year, become so much lighter, happier, freer, more creative and most crucially, MORE PRESENT with my daughter.  I use Peapod for my food delivery and they bring it right into my kitchen, cutting down hours per week spent back and forth to the supermarket between shopping, packing and then unloading from the car. I have an amazing dogwalker that I call on when needed to help me with my 2 bulldogs when I can’t get them outside enough.  I have an incredible lady who helps me with everything from deep cleaning to laundry (including putting it away) and she with her professional organizer mind is going through each and every one of my closets and drawers one by one and organizing them with military precision.  I have someone to shovel snow, someone to handle landscaping, the dry cleaning gets delivered and collected and I do most of any other personal shopping online with my favorite stores and tons on Amazon Prime.  Does it all cost more money? Yes, of course some of it does but when you break it down, in some cases it’s pennies on the dollar such as the food shopping.  I pay a small delivery fee but the grocery prices are  exactly the same as they would be if I was in store. Amazon Prime frequently offers free shipping which is rapid as well, the dry cleaning service doesn’t charge any fees to pick up and drop off items and so forth. The cleaning is an indulgence but worth every penny and then some. And the very same with the dog walker, and so forth.  So,  yes, in many cases it’s an investment but to me, the positive effects it’s had on my life and the quality time I can dedicate the most important things in my life are priceless.

Have a look at what’s really slowing you down and measure it all out. Can you afford to have it taken over by someone or something that can free that time up for you to do something more productive? If you can, I know it will be worth the investment.  Because your life deserves it, and so do all of the important people in it.

WHY IMPERFECT IS COOL...

Some people shut down when they are extremely tired. My mind works the complete opposite way, when I am operating on very little to no sleep, I find a unique clarity that only exists when I am operating at a significant sleep deficit.  One of those moments came to me this week in Japan.  It was an easy going trip, busy and crowded but nothing out of the ordinary for my schedule- the only thing missing was some good hard sleep for a consistent few hours. Snoozes came here and there but nowhere at the level I needed so like I always do, I just went with it. I know a person here who thinks very deeply, he asks questions, he’s highly educated and well informed, and he asks questions that really make you think. Perhaps harder than you want to at that time.

So, when he was weaving in and out of Zen concepts and tenets of Buddhism, my tired ears and weary brain were instantly peaked.  Especially when he said something about perfection.  The idea revolved around thinking about what happens when things are “perfect”- where can they go after that but down? They crumble, they disappear, they morph into a different phase that perhaps is no longer as appealing or satisfying and I started to really wonder about this. Most people I know are striving for some perfect moment. The moment where they’ll have the perfect salary, the perfect mate, the perfect, house, the perfect life….but what is perfect, first of all?  Is there any such thing?  Did you ever know anyone that, for example, decided to have a baby once they were PERFECTLY ESTBLISHED? Is there ever enough money in the bank, really, before you embark on that journey?  People say things like that all the time but when is enough? What is the perfect peak and why wait so long when you have a dream that you want to come true?  And, once you achieve this idea of perfect, what happens then? It’s easy to stop striving, or to fall off and not try as hard.  I have been thinking a great deal about this since that conversation and I wonder if we’re all chasing something that doesn’t exist and missing the bigger picture?

Perfect, to me, is right now- great  blessings but with imperfections.  I have everything I need but do I want things still? Yes. Do I ever feel off balance? Absolutely. Do I want to continue to achieve much more in business? You bet your ass.  So, why would I want things to be perfect? It would leave me with no real new level to aspire to.

He said that the Japanese believe that a crystal clear full moon is best viewed under a bit of cloud cover. Think about that and the entire concept…what is it you are striving for, and how do you view your goals and current situation?  There’s no real right or wrong answer here, but it’s certainly something to consider.  Nobody, and nothing, is truly perfect and what I do know for sure is, that’s OK.

WHAT CRYPTO REMINDED ME ABOUT INVESTING IN PEOPLE

I must have heard the word “cryptocurrency” about 25 times per day for the past few months.  Today is no different- my Facebook feed is flooded with news, my friends give me tips, I obsessively check my balances and what for? Is it only to make money? Yes, that’s part of it but the other part is the emotional side, the gamble, the selection of investment, the careful approach, the highs, the lows and everything else that comes along with it. With so much banter about what one should invest in, I started thinking about how much so many elements reminded me of relationships and how it really applies to people in your life as well.  Here’s what I’ve been reminded of through my crypto-journey, I love the parallels…

THE LONG GAME-  Crypto, like any relationship or friendship, is the long game. For me, at least- I’m not into investing everything into someone (or some sort of currency) for the short play. I don’t have the time, or the emotional bandwith and I would venture to say most of us really are the same in that vain.  If you keep tabs daily, you’ll get significantly happy one minute and then sad the next because life cycles are like that and so are relationships of any level- friendships, business or otherwise. For me, looking at my balance on Coinbase hourly might completely make me frustrated, then elated but it’s the long game.  It’s the back and forth that is the nature of the market, or in this case, life that tests any sort of relationship and there are always going to be ups and downs.  It’s how the long term plays out that really makes the difference so breathe and bask in the good moments, hold on with strength through the worst and if it’s the worthwhile investment you believe it to be, it will hold.

DON’T GET FOOLED BY THE THE BRAND NEW HYPE- Someone, in some way, may come into your life…just like a brand new currency that everyone can’t stop talking about.  Does it look interesting at first glance? Yes. Does everyone seem to love it? Yes. Is it a trend? Yes.  But is it real? Will it sustain? Will it perform well and give back to you what you give into it?  Probably not because it’s  just winning the minute with something slick.  Just because everyone else thinks it’s cool doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you- do your research or in a person’s case, give them a chance, two if you need to but it’s got to be the right fit for you, not for what fits for everyone else. 

YOU KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW-  There is no substitute for intuition, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t go there.  But if it does, pour in everything you can, support it, and keep wishing for the best.

So, invest wisely my friends.  Time is short, emotions are long and strong and you know where to direct them.

HERE'S THE WHAT WHEN YOU CAN'T GET THE WHY

An unanswered question, to me, is pretty much one of the worst things I could ever have to contend with. I’m the girl that will go to the 27th page of a Google search to find what I need, so when I don’t have the WHY, it sits on me like an awful mosquito bite on the middle of your back that will neither go away nor ever be reached to be scratched enough to make it feel better.  It is one of those things that has always stayed with me, sat on my heart like a 50 lb. weight, and lingered in the back of my head no matter how much clarity I had otherwise in every other aspect of my life.

The unknown. Why do we have such a challenge with it? Is it that we need to control situations? Is it that we have such command of everything we do and everything we need, at our fingertips? We are so accustomed to instant gratification that the second something cannot be accessed or figured out, we get irritated. I’m a self-professed control freak so I know that’s my issue…but it’s only recently in my life that I have learned to get better with this and I will tell you what helped.

I was talking to a friend of mine about something challenging that I was dealing with one day a long while back and after listening a bit, he simply said,

“Stop it. Like, now. You’re never going to get the WHY.”

And, another amazing friend of mine more recently told me during a deep conversation about life,

“Sometimes shit just is what it is. That’s all.”

It’s so simple, it’s one of those things that smacks you in the face when you hear it and it’s pretty damn obvious until you repeat it to yourself and actually BELIEVE it. That’s what takes the work. That’s what takes the investment in yourself and that’s what prompts the shift in being able to let the unanswered things go.

Gaining the acceptance of the fact that sometimes you really just are never, ever going to get the WHY is one of the most challenging things ever.  We search, we seek, we try to wrap our minds into an explanation, we pursue, we research, but sometimes there just actually is no answer. Why do people that we love fall ill and pass away?  Why is there inequality?  Why are some amazing people dealt truly shitty situations? Why are families sometimes left with nothing after a natural disaster strikes?   The list goes on.

The truth is, there is no good answer. Sometimes there just is no WHY.  At least no WHY for everything. Sometimes there is and when you get it, it’s great. It’s pure elation when things make sense but there’s also a large portion that goes unexplained and the older we get, the better (I’d like to think) that we get at moving into a quicker acceptance.  Life is short, we don’t have much time and what I have come around to understanding is that time spent pursuing the WHY is time wasted, and time you’ll never get back. I’ve wasted too much of it over my lifetime and I refuse moving forward to let it drain me and I wish the same for you.

It’s not easy, it’s not natural and it shouldn’t be (ok, don’t go there and ask WHY you don’t always get the WHY)…but the next time you find yourself spinning your wheels searching for a higher reason WHY, refer to this and just do your best that day/week/month to accept that “Sometimes shit just is what it is. That’s all”   Your only job is to figure out how to make yourself better from it, and that I know you can figure out.