Posts Tagged Life Advice

Maybe Adversity Isn’t So Bad After All

I’m reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s an excellent book about what really makes people successful (it isn’t what you think).

He tells the story of Jewish lawyers in New York in the 1950s.

Basically, if you were a graduate from a law school and you weren’t a WASP (white Anglo Saxon Protestant), you weren’t going to get hired by the exclusive New York firms. It didn’t matter how smart you were or where you went to law school, a Jew would NOT get hired.

So what was a Jewish lawyer to do? They started their own firms and did the work that was beneath the “white shoe” law firms — namely litigation and hostile corporate takeovers. These two types of law were far too adversarial for the genteel white shoe law firms.

Gladwell tells the story of one lawyer in particular, Joe Flom, who graduated at the top of his Harvard Law School class, practically without studying. He was interviewed by the most exclusive law firm in New York which told him, honestly, they were just meeting him on a lark. There was no way someone with his “antecedents” would be hired at their firm. Seriously, “antecedents” was the word they used.

Joe met up with four other Jewish lawyers who were starting their own firm. It was a huge risk because they had nary a client among them.

Joe joined them and became an expert in hostile takeovers. If you wanted to take over a corporation and you had the money for the best in the business, you hired Flom.   He didn’t care if such adversarial work was “beneath him”.  He had drive and desire and didn’t care what it took to succeed.

Fast forward 20 years. Suddenly, attorneys who did hostile takeovers were no longer looked down upon. In fact, they were in high demand. The white shoe law firms tried to jump on the bandwagon, but it was too late. Flom, and attorneys like him, alread had the experience and the reputation for being the best. The old school attorneys couldn’t catch up. Nowadays, Flom’s firm employs almost 2,000 attorneys in 23 offices around the world and earns well over $1 billion a year.

Gladwell writes, “[Flom] didn’t triumph over adversity. Instead, what started out as adversity ended up being an opportunity.”

Those words resonated in my head and heart and spirit last night. I’ve been discouraged and depressed because of my seemingly intolerable circumstances. What I needed to remember is that God often disguises our greatest opportunities as insurmountable problems. Of course, I knew that, but knowing something in your head and knowing in your spirit are two different things. I guess my spirit needed to be reminded!

Have a great weekend. Another book giveaway starts next week. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions has anything to do with diet, exercise and weight loss, you won’t want to miss Monday’s review.


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You Do Not Have Because You Do Not Ask

I mentioned yesterday I was feeling lost and forlorn, but that I had a “glimmer” of hope and motivation when I awoke yesterday. I must admit I had a little voice inside me saying, “God, is that you?” and my big, booming psyche saying, “Probably not.”

Imagine my surprise when I awoke (or was awakened) early again this morning and, try as I might, was unable to go back to sleep. The feelings of hope and motivation burned a tiny bit brighter. So, again, I got some exercise, spent some time praying and am beginning to wonder if this hopeless-for-so-long feeling might not lift after all.

You do not have because you do not ask. Yep, that would be me!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out and give me feedback on the new blog format. Unless I hear a major outcry, this blog address will be defunct by the end of this week.

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Resolutions for 2009


I hope the New Year finds my readers healthy, happy and progressing merrily on keeping their resolutions.  Check out .  It’s a site where you can post your resolutions and get encouragement from other readers.

I promised I would let you in on my “areas for change”. I didn’t actually make “resolutions” and haven’t attempted any improvements, so I guess at this point, I’d call them “hopeful intentions for future change”.

One is physical, one is emotional and one is spiritual.

The physical change is, not surprising, to eat healthier and get back into an exercise routine. I thought when I became a vegan it would be difficult to keep eating junk food and abusing my body. Not so! The abusive foods are different, but it’s still quite easy to be malnourished as a vegan! At least I’m only hurting myself and not the beautiful four legged creatures in the world who deserve so much better than they get.

The spiritual change I need to make is to rededicate my time to prayer. I have been feeling forsaken and alone lately. This is not surprising since my prayer life has been all but nonexistent. God never goes anywhere. We humans, on the other hand, move close to Him and far away depending on our moods, discipline and circumstances. I have walked away and then wonder why He doesn’t care. How screwed up is that?!

The emotional change I need is to shake this feeling of depression and despair. To be honest, I could easily sleep 18 hours a day just so I wouldn’t have to face life.  There are real reasons for this — none of which I can change — so I have no choice but to change my reactions to my circumstances.  This is really all any of us can do in most instances anyway!

I realize all three areas for change are interconnected. Research shows that exercise is as effective at treating depression as medications and I know if I spent more time talking with God, my funk would lift as well. I also realize that I need God’s help to make physical and emotional changes which is an incentive to work on the spiritual changes I need to make. I know if I were eating healthier and exercising more, I wouldn’t be so tired when it comes to praying.

Now, what I don’t know is what it will take for me to get beyond the knowledge of what needs to be done and actually make a commitment to DO IT. I can’t seem to psych myself up to break out of a paper bag and I know I need a lot more “oomph” to make these changes. Although I desire the results such changes would bring, I honestly don’t care enough to lift a finger to change any of it. But I’m not content by any means, so accepting the status quo isn’t a workable solution either.

If anyone knows of a motivational technique to shake me out of my apathy, I’d be grateful to hear it.   By the way, I did wake up this morning with the tiniest bit of hope and motivation.  I got a little exercise and re-introduced myself to God.  Hopefully one baby step will build on another.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out and give me feedback on the new blog format. Unless I hear a major outcry, this blog address will be defunct in another week or so.

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Book Giveaway Winners!

only-nuns-cover2Congratulations to Trudi of Foley, Alabama, and Karin of Tenstrike, Minnesota, the winners of the Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight book giveaway. 

Only two people told me their New Year’s resolutions:

  • Physical exercise!!   Spiritual – write in my prayer journal at least a couple of times a week.  Emotional- Stay in contact with my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins).
  • Looking for an opportunity in every difficulty!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  Keep watching over the next couple of weeks for more book reviews and giveaways. 

I’ll share with you my resolutions/areas for improvement next week!

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The Pain of Change

newyearYesterday I talked about the fact that we usually don’t change until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of maintaining the status quo. As luck would have it, Mark Batterson recently blogged about the same topic. Below is an excerpt from his post:

A couple decades ago, a pair of psychologists named William Samuelson and Richard Zeckhauser discovered a phenomenon they dubbed the status quo bias. Simply put: most of us have a tendency to keep doing what we’ve been doing without giving it much thought. . . . We are simply creatures of habit. But maintaining the status quo can become detrimental.

For example, a study was done on college professors who were part of a pension plan. And the researchers discovered that the professors picked a plan upon entering the program, and while they had the freedom to change plans based on life circumstances or market conditions or even the size of their portfolio, the median numbers of changes in their asset allocation was zero! In other words, most of them picked a plan and forgot about it. They stopped evaluating. By the way, what was even more telling is that many of the married participants who joined the program when they were single still had their mothers listed as their beneficiaries.

Have you have ever been offered a free subscription to a magazine for the first year? Why would we be offered something for free? It’s because magazine companies understand the status quo bias. Most of us will forget to cancel. And it’s not really that we’ve forgotten. We’re just too lazy to make a simple phone call or write a simple letter. Right? That is human nature! We tend to keep doing what we’ve been doing. And the problem with that is this: if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

I couldn’t say it better myself!  May you all be richly blessed in 2009.

Reminder: I have two copies of Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen to give away. To enter the random drawing, please e-mail your name and mailing address to I’ll double your chances to win if you tell me your #1 New Year’s Resolution — the one thing you really WANT to change; I’ll post the answers I receive anonymously. The drawing will take place this Friday, January 2, 2009. Good luck!

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Change is Painful or Pain is Needed to Change?

newI’ve been thinking a lot about the changes I want to make in my life: one change is physical, one is emotional and one is spiritual.

I know a lot of the steps that need to be taken to make these changes, but I’m having a hard time making the commitment to put forth the effort. Even though I really. really, really want the results, I’m having a hard time deciding to put in the work needed to achieve those results.

Recently, a co-worker reminded me of how much she hates change. Really, I’ve never met anyone who despises change more than she! Change is painful for her.

But for me, and most people, pain is required to achieve change. In other words, people don’t change until the PAIN of staying the same is greater than the PAIN of change.

Al-Anon principles teach family members of alcoholics to stop enabling their loved ones by helping them function and minimizing the consequences of their destructive actions. Why? Because an alcoholic will never want to change until (hopefully) the consequences of drinking outweigh the pleasure — until the pain of staying a drunk is greater than the pain involved in becoming and staying sober.

The dieter doesn’t diet until the pain of being overweight (physical pain, emotional pain) is greater than the pain of diet and exercise.

So, I find myself DESIRING PAIN to motivate me to commit to the changes I need to make to reach my desired goals.  How screwed up is that?!

Speaking of making changes, remember that I have two copies of Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight to give awway this week. To enter the random drawing for a free copy of this book by Karen Scalf Linamen, please e-mail your name and mailing address to I’ll double your chances to win if you tell me your #1 New Year’s Resolution — the one thing you really WANT to change; I’ll post the answers I receive anonymously. The drawing will take place this Friday, January 2, 2009. Good luck!

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Book Review and Giveaway: Real Help for Your New Year’s Resolutions

only-nuns-coverKaren Scalf Linamen says she writes humor and self-help – together, not separately. To really understand that description, you have to read one of her books. Luckily, I recently got the chance to do just that.

In light of the quickly approaching New Year and our propensity for resolutions, this week’s book review features Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen. Her advice is sound, but her delivery is hilarious. Check out some of these chapter titles:

Does the Name Pavlov Ring a Bell?

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Skydiving Is Not for You.

The Next Time You Come to the End of Your Rope, Start Flapping Your Arms

Very Funny, Scotty. Now Beam Up My Clothes

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins at the Fuel Pump

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight will give you advice on how to make ANY change you desire. It doesn’t matter if your desired change is simple (stop losing my car keys) or difficult (learn how to manage my temper), short term (organize my spice cabinet) or long term (lose 75 pounds). This book will help you identify the areas of your life you want to improve, set specific goals, motivate you to get started and encourage you to persist until you’re successful. Karen gives the reader 52 tips, detailed instructions, examples, and anecdotal stories funny enough to make you wet yourself as you nod and think, “Yep, I’ve done that!” Of course, just as many times you’ll say to yourself, “At least I’m not that bad!”

If you desire to make any lasting change in your life, Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight is the book you need to truly believe, “Yes, I can!”

GIVEAWAY: I have two copies of this book to give away. To enter the random drawing for a free copy of Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen, please e-mail your name and mailing address to  I’ll double your chances to win if you tell me your #1 New Year’s Resolution — the one thing you really WANT to change; I’ll post the answers I receive anonymously.  The drawing will take place this Friday, January 2, 2009. Good luck!

If you don’t win, you can purchase this book on and other favorite booksellers.

Here is the book summary from the publisher and information about the author:

Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately, fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.
In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life.
Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!
only-nuns-authorAuthor Bio: Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her website at

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