Murphy Brown: A Role Model Whose Time Has Come…Again

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 10.56.11 AMThey say that timing is everything in life. With the return of Emmy Award winning TV sitcom Murphy Brown, we will have to see. The revival of Murphy Brown, 2018 style, premieres on Thursday, September 27, on CBS-TV, at 9:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. CT.

The original iconic TV program ran ten years from 1988-1998 and featured lead character, television journalist Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen). It became a must-watch for young women launching their careers and for aspiring professional women who wanted to break through the glass (or plexiglas) ceiling.

That was then. This is now. What has changed since then?

Well, if you ask many women today, they will say “Very little.”

When you review the broad spectrum of the women’s movement from the 1960s to today, you will notice that Murphy Brown is conveniently tucked between those two bookends of time. 1968-1988. 1988-1998 (Murphy Brown). 1998-2018. 20/10/20.

The early days of the 1960s women’s movement gained momentum with the hopes of passing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which is still incomplete. Today’s women’s movement is still fighting for those original demands, like equal rights and equal pay for women, human rights, and peace, as well as adding other important topics like embracing differences, equality and rights of voters, and exposing sexual harassment, to name a few.

When I was a college student in the 1970s, I remember admiring a T-shirt that a fellow classmate was wearing. It was such a novel idea at the time. It read:

“A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate”

How interesting that in 2018, that T-shirt today is still selling. In fact, I found this exact quote on a current tee at a cool website, Teespring, offering timely tees that are designed, shipped, and printed in the USA. (I get nothing for mentioning this, by the way…I’m simply a fan of American entrepreneurism).

What is different today than in the 1970s is that women running for political office, whether local, state, or national, is at an all-time high. That’s just one example of the impact of today’s current women’s movement.

The timing certainly is right for Murphy Brown creator Diane English. She said in an interview that once she began writing the test script, the words began flowing. There is no shortage of hot topics (including politics) in the daily news feed. I will be watching and learning on Thursday nights to see how Murphy Brown does this time around. We know that she is feisty, opinionated, hard working, demanding, and a trendsetter and positive role model.

With just 13 episodes filmed for this first season, let’s hope, as women, that a bright light will shine on issues that are important to all of us. And if we disagree with Murphy’s perspective, well, it’s time to have the conversation one on one to listen to each other’s opinions. And when we’re finished agreeing or even disagreeing, then we’ll go enjoy a beer, or grab a game of golf and call it a day.

Are You True to Your Personal Brand?

Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 8.28.42 AM

There is a saying, “Your brand is what people say about you after you have left the room.”

Two great American icons left us recently, and they leave behind a legacy etched into our national psyche forever.

Over the weekend, the life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was celebrated in high style in Detroit, her adopted city. At the same time, the life of one of America’s greatest public servants and statesmen, Senator John McCain, was being celebrated. How interesting that the lives of two people who were so different in career choice and personal style yet similar in the fullness of their lives, should pass and be celebrated simultaneously. Looking at their lives inspires us to look at our own.

As friends, colleagues, and relatives honored these two gifted professionals, I listened carefully to the words that they chose to describe two lives well lived.

Aretha Franklin’s interpretation of a song came from her heart and soul, deeply expressing the emotion behind the melody and the words. Yes, she knew how to rock steady. Her music appealed to international, intercultural, and intergenerational audiences. As her friends and family members celebrated her life, these are the words that stood out:

  • Talented
  • Soulful
  • Gifted
  • Treasure
  • Friend
  • Diva
  • Professional
  • Love
  • Devoted
  • Perfection

John McCain’s life story is an American story. He first chose a military life, then one of public service, working hard for the American people. He was admired and respected by colleagues from across the political spectrum. With John McCain, the theme that ran through his life’s celebration was pure American. Here are the words that reflect his life:

  • Patriot
  • Statesman
  • Public servant
  • Loyal
  • Values-driven
  • Integrity
  • Love
  • Funny
  • Dedicated
  • Friend
  • Hero

What did these two American icons have in common? Passion for their work. Love of people. Service to others. Authenticity. They each had an uncanny ability to bring people together – one through music, one through public service.

The American songbook would be incomplete without Aretha Franklin’s incredibly rich, diverse range. Her music stirred our souls. She could sing any genre of music and effortlessly switch from one to another. Aretha’s brand image was the Queen of Soul.

American society would not be as good and decent without John McCain’s political leadership. His work improved our lives. John’s brand image was American statesman.

Though physically gone, their life’s work lives on. Their names will be remembered, their voices will be heard, and their stories will be told for generations to come.

Those who spoke at both memorial services mentioned what a privilege it was for all of us to have lived at the same time as these two great American icons. Every now and then, we are reminded that we choose how to live our lives. To take the high road or the low road. To move forward or stay stuck. To live life fully or just skim the surface. To be positive or negative. To make friends or enemies. To share our gifts with the world or keep them hidden.

The next time someone introduces you to another person, listen to the words that person uses to describe you. You might learn something new about yourself. What will people say about you when you’re gone? What legacy will you leave?

Wimbledon 2018 Inspires Professionalism In Action

Photo credit: rawpixel for unsplash.com

Photo credit: rawpixel for unsplash.com

Beyond the athletic feats, moments of tension, and unexpected twists and turns throughout the Wimbledon 2018 tennis championship games, one thing stood out most prominently to me: The level of professionalism presented by the players.

We all know what it takes to be a professional, yet, sometimes we need to be reminded of (or even share an article or blog post on the topic) what it takes to be a professional, and what it looks like when you see it in action.

And there was a lot of action in this year’s tournament. A lot of slipping and sliding on the grass in Centre Court. Many audible gasps from the crowd. Every step of the way, professionalism was there.

Let Wimbledon 2018 inspire you to push your level of professionalism. Here’s what I noticed:

Focus. One look into the eyes of any professional player, and you could see that look of deep focus and determination. While players experienced being down…sometimes in points or in games, they persevered and remained focused. How do you remain focused when you are under tremendous pressure?

Grace. There was no stomping off the court, huffing, puffing, swearing, or racket smashing. Those days (hopefully) are over in professional tennis. Instead, there was an intensity of intention. Winners and losers exhibited great grace. When Serena Williams was asked about her finals match with Angelique Kerber of Germany, she spoke of her opponent with grace and true admiration. As they embraced on Centre Court after Kerber’s win of the ladies’ singles title, you could see that the two players admire and respect each other. During interviews, they spoke of their respect for one another. How do you demonstrate grace?

Self-motivation. The key phrase that many tennis players repeat after executing an exceptionally fine play is “Come on!” It becomes a mantra to push them through to the next play and hopefully a win. When you find yourself faced with what may seem like insurmountable challenges, push yourself by silently saying “Come on!” Your motivation may inspire others.

Mastery. Those professionals who reach the top of their game are those who have put in tens of thousands of hours to master their skill. Seeing Wimbledon’s players in action, they remind us of what it takes to reach the master level. What else do you need to do to continue improving your mastery?

Match-Up. No matter the sport, the true mettle isn’t tested until the match-up occurs. It takes a while to figure out what the other person’s or other team’s strengths are. Then you have to decide on how to play to those strengths. We saw it at Wimbledon this year. Some of the matches were brutal, like the match between John Isner and Kevin Anderson, which lasted nearly seven hours. Anderson went on to compete in the men’s singles final and lost to Novak Djokovic. Consider your own match-ups through your work team, project teams, or special committees. What adjustments must be made to improve performance? Are there better match-ups ahead for you?

While your daily challenges and pressures in the workplace may pale by comparison to those of Wimbledon, let the championship game inspire you to stretch your potential as a professional. With proper focus, grace, self-motivation, mastery, and match-up, you can experience your own version of a Centre Court victory.

Value and Appreciate Face-to-Face Communication

Photo credit: Abdullah Oguk for unsplash.com

Photo credit: Abdullah Oguk for unsplash.com

I had an experience recently that reinforced my belief that nothing can replace or duplicate face-to-face communication. Not a real time video connection. Not a real time phone conversation. Not any form of technology. Face-to-face communication continues to be the most intimate form of communication, hands down, for two reasons:

First, nonverbal cues are a necessary component of communication. Face-to-face communication allows you to check the other person’s nonverbal cues to see if they support or detract from the message. Eye behavior, facial expressions, gestures, body movement, posture, appearance, and silence offer valuable clues to the meaning behind the message.

Second, face-to-face communication allows for the “dance” of going back and forth during the exchange, in what communication scholars call turn-taking. Each person takes a turn at sending and receiving information, of asking for clarification, and responding.

Recently, I made an email request to someone. The email was perfectly outlined, easy to understand, and all of the main points appeared with bullet points. As emails go, it was an effective email. The email response took me aback when my request was denied. The person recommended that we continue the conversation if I wanted to chat more.

As luck would have it, I saw this woman at an event. This, I thought, was the perfect opportunity to reinforce my request in person. Within just a few minutes, I offered her additional information, answered questions, and expanded on several ideas. As she began to learn more, her nonverbal cues relaxed, which revealed that she was warming up to the idea of granting my request. She even suggested a potential win-win solution.

It’s easy in a busy work environment to quickly send emails because emails are effective communication tools. Yet sometimes when we have experiences like the one I had, we remind ourselves that sometimes in-person communication is simply better. In my case, my request was better met by investing a few minutes in face-to-face communication.

What’s on your communication “to do” list that would be served best with a face-to-face encounter?

Professionalism Is No Laughing Matter

laugh-a-day-gives-results-that-pay-the-power-of-humor-in-the-workplaceActor Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” I completely agree. Where does laughter fit into the workplace? Is it appropriate? Is it annoying? Does it depend on the situation?

While facilitating a presentation skills program recently, I noticed a “quirk” in one of the participants. Laughter. She was using laughter as a coping mechanism to offset her nervousness. The result: Her behavioral quirk detracted from her message.

Every time I called on her for input, she laughed. When she delivered a sample two-minute presentation, she giggled several times. As we met in a one-on-one evaluation session that afternoon, I shared my observation with her. I asked, “Is crying in the workplace acceptable and appropriate?” She immediately answered, “No.” I then asked, “What about laughter?” She replied, “Not really.” At that moment, I shared my perspective with her.

I explained to her that, as a young woman, she could be sending the wrong message by tagging a giggle or a laugh onto her comments as a coping mechanism. People may not be taking her as seriously. Instead of thinking of her as a professional, they may think that she’s a little goofy, or that she may not represent the company in the most favorable light when interacting with customers, or that she doesn’t have the maturity for that next promotion. “You could be sabotaging your own success as a professional,” I told her. She then explained that her husband had talked to her about the exact same issue. “How do I change that?” she asked me. The solution is simple: Change begins with self-awareness. Now that she is aware of this nervous habit, she can catch herself and begin changing. After a while, she will no longer tag a giggle onto the end of a sentence.

Let’s be clear: Laughter is good. Laughter in the workplace is good. Repetitive nervous laughter that detracts from your message is not good.

Do you have a behavioral quirk that – if done repeatedly – could be diminishing your professionalism? Do a quick scan of your behavior. Check for any nervous habits that are detracting from your message or distracting others. Once you become aware, you can and will change.

Will Wardrobe Engineering Save Mark Zuckerberg?

The world waited with great anticipation: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Congressional Commerce and Judiciary Committee was finally beginning on April 10, 2018. Zuckerberg was summoned to discuss Facebook’s “privacy” policy and data breaches, which left millions of Facebook users’ personal data exposed to global trolls.

Rather than focusing on what Zuckerberg was saying, the media and late night pundits focused on something quite different: The Suit. Zuckerberg had traded in his signature gray tee shirt, blue jeans and sneakers for a more corporate look. Headlines focused on The Suit. The Washington Post headline read: Mark Zuckerberg is one of the suits. Now he’d better learn to get comfortable in one.

As the news media clamored to get the best shot of the “new and improved” Zuckerberg, I expected a reporter from E News to pop up ala runway style and ask, “Who are you wearing today, Mark?” To which Zuckerberg would confidently reply, “Marc Jacobs. That’s Marc with a c.” The brilliance of his dazzling smile would shatter the camera lens as he continued walking to the hearing.

But I digress.

What the media is paying such close attention to is known as Wardrobe Engineering. Defined as “how clothing and accessories are used to create a certain image,” what image do you think Zuckerberg was going for? The “I’m not guilty” image? The “I’m a successful, responsible American entrepreneur” image? The “You can trust me” image? The “I’m just like you” image? The New York Times called it the “I’m sorry suit.” The Times even created a “greatest suits appearances” slide show just for The Suit. Only time will tell how The Suit is ultimately interpreted by Congress.

Every politician, titan of industry and celebrity knows how to effectively wardrobe engineer. We all know that color plays an important role when you represent a certain political party, like how often Republicans wear red and Democrats wear blue. It’s no accident. And red, white and blue, well, that is just so absolutely, positively American, and safe. Then everyone will love you and vote for you, right?

Will wardrobe engineering save Mark Zuckerberg, though? It will take a lot more than a stylish suit to convince Congress. Or will it?

Watching this event unfold in the national news, I was reminded of my favorite graduate-level course on rhetorical criticism. The course’s book, Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, was written by an academic communication scholar and rhetorical criticism expert, Dr. Sonja K. Foss. She defines rhetorical criticism as “a process of thinking about symbols, discovering how they work, why they affect us, and choosing to communicate in particular ways as a result of the options they present.” I remember vividly the moment when I understood the process of rhetorical criticism. It was as if a magic force cleansed my eyes so I could see more clearly and completely. When you look at the world and major events as they unfold, through the lens of rhetorical criticism, every piece of the picture – verbal and nonverbal communication, physical objects, and symbols – all take on a whole new meaning.

In her book, Foss emphasizes that rhetoric goes beyond just written and spoken discourse. According to Foss, symbolism is found in all forms of communication, such as “speeches, essays, conversations, poetry, novels, stories, television programs, films, art, architecture, plays, music, dance, advertisements, furniture, public demonstrations, and dress.” And I would add public hearings. In graduate-level rhetorical criticism classes right now, even though it’s nearing the end of the semester, students are sinking their teeth into this juicy news story and extracting meaning from every blink, gesture, vocal nuance, physical stance, room set-up, and yes, attire.

Professional image icon John T. Molloy wrote in his 1975 seminal book, Dress for Success, “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.” In Zuckerberg’s case, we’ll see where his wardrobe engineering leads him.

What professionals can learn from this very public hearing is that when it comes to telling your part of the story, it’s not just what The Suit looks like, it’s the meaning behind The Suit. A bigger question to ask is: What captures the essential, most important element: The truth?

Photo credit: Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash.com

Repositioning a Generation: How March for Our Lives Elevated Generation Z’s Image

ThankYouthPosterWhat has happened since the tragic February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is truly remarkable. In just five short weeks, Stoneman Douglas students ignited a nationwide youth movement #NeverAgain to speak out against gun violence, encouraging participation in the March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. and cities around the world. The result: Their generation, Generation Z, has elevated its position in our American psyche, shifting older generations’ views of them from “entitled” or “lazy” to now a generation of doers, thought leaders, and change-makers.

These youth elevated their image in several simple yet powerful ways:

Determination. The Parkland students were determined to give voice to an issue that has plagued our country for decades. They succeeded in setting themselves apart in the March for Our Lives and changing how others saw their generation.

Inclusion. Students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the general public were invited to participate in the March for Our Lives. Just two weeks after the Parkland shooting, students from Chicago were invited to Parkland to share their experiences. Two days before the March, Parkland students met with students from Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C., to discuss their experiences with gun violence.

Organization. What the Parkland students were able to accomplish in just five short weeks is incredible. Students accepted full responsibility for getting their tasks done, and they achieved them.

Eloquence. The memorable presentation by Emma Gonzalez, and her powerful use of silence, has people talking about how she may become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Emma and other Parkland students appeared on the national platform for the first time in their lives. Each student spoke with such deep emotion, compassion, and eloquence.

Positive Messaging. Filled with passion and emotion, students’ messages remained positive, clear and consistent throughout the speaker program as well as media interviews. Presenters focused on telling their own stories with insight and great maturity.

All of that hard work created a new statistic: The March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives represents the largest youth demonstration since the Vietnam War (reminder: that was more than a half century ago).

When asked by a reporter “What’s next?,” without hesitation, Stoneman Douglas high school student David Hogg quickly and succinctly outlined what those specific next steps are:

* Reach out to eligible youth across the country, encouraging them to register to vote, and then vote in the next election.

* Host Town Hall meetings in every Congressional District across the country, inviting sitting Congressional representatives to meet and discuss gun legislation.

* Encourage participation in an April 20 nationwide student walkout, the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.

* March on all State Capitols and meet with elected officials.

The level of planning and organization of these high school students is truly remarkable.

One final observation: Kudos to MSNBC, who devoted an entire 24-hour news cycle to live coverage of the March for Our Lives. Top MSNBC news anchors shared the role of anchoring throughout the day, inserting live interviews in Washington, D.C. and in cities around the country. What also impressed me was MSNBC’s dedication to including a diverse group of reporters, including a number of young reporters. I especially appreciated that MSNBC did not repeat the same story multiple times; rather, they provided fresh interviews throughout the day.

Th poster that I carried (seen above) during the Saturday, March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives in Cleveland, Ohio (one of hundreds of participating cities) represents a clear message: Focus on today’s youth because they have a voice that needs to be heard, they rallied others to participate in this march, and they deserve our support and recognition.

The March for Our Lives was truly an historic event, one that we will be talking about for years – and generations – to come. For anyone who wonders what the future will be like for the next generations, the message is emphatically clear: They are in good hands.

Consider Protocol Before Communicating

social-media-integrationWith dozens of communication methods available to us today, it’s necessary to consider the protocol. As information generators and consumers, we have many more options for getting our voices heard, our opinions shared, and our thoughts expressed.

Beyond the more traditional forms of communication, like face-to-face, telephone, and written, we now have other, more creative communication forms available to us. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few, offer us ways to communicate our message to hundreds or thousands of followers. Each form of communication follows certain protocol.

Before you speak it or push Send, ask yourself an important question, “If I were on the receiving end of this message, how would I like to receive it?” Here are a few examples:

Let’s start with a big one. Firing someone. What’s the best method of communication when you have to let someone go? Face to face, of course. Why? Difficult as it may be, it’s personal. Sharing this news in person allows the recipient to process the information, ask questions if needed, and receive any other instructions. People who dislike sharing bad news often resort to an electronic medium because they think it’s easier or more efficient. Could you imagine receiving this news via e-mail, text, or worse yet, Twitter? Don’t do it. It will label you as heartless, cold, and unprofessional.

Sharing personal opinions. Countless stories about employees “behaving badly” through electronic communication have made the national news, like the new employee who complained about her boss on Facebook, or the employer who discovered inappropriate employees’ posts on Twitter. It’s difficult to retract a public message. Scrutinize every post by asking the question, “Is this appropriate?” If a “no” or “probably not” crosses your mind, resist the temptation to rant or do something you may regret. It could cost you your job. Instead, say nothing and punch a pillow. Just don’t kick the cat.

Sharing confidential news. The most discreet form of communication is face-to-face, live and in person. Runner-up is a real time telephone call (make sure you are not on speaker phone). These types of conversations usually begin with “I wanted you to be among the first to know that…” “…I am being promoted to…” “…you are being promoted to…” “…I have just accepted a position at the XYZ Company, and I would like you to join me as…” And so it goes. This type of conversation is worthy of face-to-face communication. When that is not available to you, then phone is an appropriate alternative. What’s most important is the real time connection.

Confirming or rescheduling an appointment. Whoever you are meeting, wherever you are meeting, reconfirm your appointment a day or two in advance. Also, make sure you have the person’s mobile phone number in your address book. It comes in handy if you get lost, are running late, or need to reschedule. If you do need to reschedule, and it’s the day of a meeting, call or text. Ask for confirmation. Do not send an e-mail. If the person you are meeting is on the road or in a meeting, calling and texting are the quickest forms of communication for any last-minute changes. Nothing is worse than sitting, waiting for an appointment, only to receive the message, “Didn’t you receive my e-mail? I’m slammed today so I need to reschedule.”

Being overly efficient. I have heard this complaint many times in my communication workshops. Team members who work in the same building, on the same floor, schedule a conference call. Really? You can’t walk 30 steps to meet face-to-face? Sometimes we work so hard at being efficient, we become inefficient. A short face-to-face meeting allows you to reconnect with team members, and even get messy with flip charts and markers if you need to. That whole kinesthetic experience is lost because you were trying to be too efficient.

Within your organization or your work team, openly share appropriate communication methods for specific tasks. Discuss what’s appropriate and what’s not, and how those behaviors can impact your relationships with major stakeholders.

What Every Presenter Can Learn From Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Speech

75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Season 75At this year’s Golden Globe Awards event, which was held on January 7, 2018, Oprah Winfrey delivered the speech of a lifetime, as the recipient of the Cecile B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement for her accomplished career in television and movies.

This was no ordinary acceptance speech. Her presentation – both in content and delivery – is one that will endure over time as one of the most powerful of its kind, as you can see on video or listen to on Spotify. It was an opportunity for Oprah to use her dedicated time on the platform to share an important message: “Time’s Up,” a movement begun by women in the entertainment industry to draw attention to and give voice to the pervasive societal issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Women attending the Golden Globes event chose to wear black as a visual symbol of their unity and support of Time’s Up. Refreshingly, red carpet interviews with celebrities focused on the Times Up message rather than couture dresses. Time better spent.

Here’s what made Oprah’s speech so successful and why college professors and speech coaches will be referencing it for years to come:

Attention getting. Oprah opened with an anecdote from her childhood. She remembered at that young age watching television, as an Oscar award for best actor was presented to Sidney Poitier, a black man who served as a positive role model for her. Her story tapped into the emotion of the audience.

Clarity of message. In my presentation skills programs, I remind participants to make their message meaningful and memorable through clarity. Oprah’s message did just that. She communicated her intent clearly and concisely.

Relevance. A message must be relevant to the needs of the audience. In this case, an audience of millions, from ordinary everyday people to celebrities. Her powerful message resonated with people across cultures and socio-economic classes because the time had come to speak openly about an otherwise hushed subject.

Intentional intonation. A good orator uses the voice as an instrument and masters vocal variety. Oprah’s words, so eloquently prepared and delivered, were shared with perfect emphasis and volume.

Use of stories. Stories create an emotional connection with the audience. Oprah shared several stories and personal anecdotes, about her childhood, her hard-working mother, and stories of inspirational female luminaries like Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks.

Selfless content. Oprah’s speech wasn’t about her; it was about a critical societal issue far greater. Audiences often complain about self-centered presenters, saying “All he did was talk about himself. Blah, blah, blah.” Oprah gave voice to a persistent problem in our society, and elevated her message to rise above the ordinary.

Inspiration. Her powerful words provided inspiration to millions of women and girls to speak openly and truthfully about sexually harassment and sexual assault. Those words provided inspiration to all who listened, including men who play an important part in making voices heard. To any disenfranchised people whose voices have gone unheard or who have ever been violated, undervalued or under appreciated in any way there was a recognition that their voices too were being heard.

Power-packed ending. The energy in the room exploded when Oprah emphatically began building her closing remarks with the statement, “A new day is on the horizon…”

So many people were openly inspired and motivated that Oprah’s acceptance speech immediately started a speculative buzz about whether she would consider running for President in 2020. To borrow one of Oprah’s signature phrases, “This I know for sure”…Words really do have power, tremendous power. Words can spark curiosity, command attention, and motivate others to take action. Words can take you to places where you never before imagined or dreamed.

Questions:

In what way can you incorporate more power into your presentations?

How can you better motivate and inspire others to take action?

Photo credit: Paul Drinkwater, NBC News

Let Your Daily Routine Begin With Thanks

Photo credit Jessica Bristol on Unsplash

Photo credit: Jessica Bristol on Unsplash

Well, it’s that time of year when we take the time out of one day, Thanksgiving Day, to give thanks.

But what if you gave thanks every day? Instead of giving thanks just once a year, you began every morning with a simple “I am thankful for…”

* Good health

* Love in my life

* Loving family

* Good-paying job

* Dear friends

* Senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch

* Mental faculties (still working!)

* Shelter

* Natural beauty in the world

The list goes on.

Thanksgiving Day becomes so rote, we often forget the real reason we get together with family and friends. Though the day is designed to celebrate the historic moment of the early settlers and Native Americans coming together, throughout the centuries we have derived our own personal meaning from the day. For some,  it’s a day of “obligation” to spend time with both sides of the family, rushing from one home to another. For others, unfortunately, the day can be uncomfortable, frustrating, disappointing, or even depressing. For the rest of us, it allows us an opportunity to spend quality time with the people in our lives who truly matter to us.

Beginning tomorrow morning, take just 30 seconds and fill in that blank statement, “I am thankful for…” and see what comes to mind. Then the day after that, do it again. And the day after that, repeat. By the time Thanksgiving Day arrives, you will be in full thanks-giving mode. You may even be able to find a little more joy with the people sitting around that table with you.