Saturday, May 15, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Turn Here - by Kathy Kinney & Cindy Ratzlaff, authors, Queen of Your Own life

Wouldn't it be interesting to look back at the experiences you've had in your life without judgment and without labeling them good or bad?

From this lofty place at the midpoint in our lives, we've noticed in looking back that ironically, good things often came from "bad" experiences and sometimes, bad things from "good." It really seemed to us that the road we're on in life can end very suddenly, and as we come smack up against a bright new yellow road sign there is often no other choice but to "turn here." We would be foolish to label these detours good or bad. In the end, our experience has been that we are the women we are today because we'd been forced to make these turns onto new and better paths.

Cindy had a "turn here" moment when the economic downturn caused her industry to lay off nearly 1,000 people in a six-month period. There had been lots of hints that something like this might happen at her company, but she thought if she just kept her head down and continued to work hard she would somehow survive. Her fear over losing the job completely blocked out the fact that she hadn't been happy there for some time. Working hard and being good at her job didn't help and through no fault of her own, she found herself hurt, angry and unemployed.

After the initial shock of being let go wore off, she began to realize that there might never be another job for her in the profession she'd worked in for more than 20years. Casting around for a way to replace the income she'd lost, she soon came to the conclusion that she'd need to retool. Walking through her fear that she might not be capable of learning something new, she signed up for a six-month course in social media marketing and merged her background in marketing and branding with these new tools and techniques.

In those six months, she went from not even having a Facebook profile to teaching others how to brand themselves and their business. There were days when she thought her head would explode as she struggled to overcome the handicap of being a digital immigrant, but as the rusty parts of her brain became more accustomed to learning something new everyday, she soon came to love this fast-paced new industry. Cindy now blogs, tweets, posts and Vlogs multiple times everyday and trains others to do the same thing. She's energized by learning new things and now realizes that turning left at this roadblock opened up a new, different and equally beautiful path.

So, when we find a road sign in our path and we know we have to "turn here," we take a deep breath and get ready to walk through our fear. We now understand that this is simply a new opportunity on our adventure to being the best women we can be.

We'd like to offer you these steps that helped us walk through the fear of taking that new path.

• Stop and assess the current situation.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself on the top of a high mountain and the wind is blowing. Look back over the first half of your life and without over thinking it, choose a moment in your life that you've come to think of as particularly difficult or that most altered the course of your life. Now, letting go of the "could've, would've, should'ves" of that situation, try to image that moment as a large boulder blocking your path and a bright yellow road sign that says, "DETOUR. " With your eyes still closed, turn your gaze to the left and envision a new path that you hadn't noticed before. Allow yourself to feel curious and excited about where it might lead. As you leave the original path and follow the new path let yourself feel joyful about the adventure ahead.

• Identify qualities that you admire.

Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the names of the ten women you admire most. Again, don't ponder this. Write down your first thoughts. Then write down the qualities or traits you most admire in these women. Read the list aloud. It might help you to look into a mirror while reading this list. Put a check mark or star next to the qualities that resonate most with you as you read them.

• What kind of woman do you want to be?
Now you knew this was coming. What qualities do you like best about yourself. Don't be shy. We've been told not to brag about ourselves since we were young girls. This isn't bragging. This is a conversation between you and you alone. So, go for it. Are there any words on the list of qualities you admire in other women that match the words you've used to describe yourself? If there are, chances are good that these words are core values for you. If none of them match, don't worry. This is a process and in the end, you get to choose the words that you want to represent your core values. We recommend that you pick the four to six words that mean the most to you right now. At different times in your life, these words might change. That's ok. Don't get hung up on creating the perfect list. Just pick four to six words that you think are important to have with you on the next part of your journey.

• Create your Coat of Arms and Motto.
We like a good art project and think that the act of writing things down, creating a visual representation of our goals and speaking them out loud helps new ideas and new habits take root in our brains. We've created a blank template for a Coat of Arms and Motto that you can download for free at

Add the four to six words you've chosen to identify your core values to the coat of arms template. Feel free to use markers, glitter pens, ribbon or whatever speaks to you. Have fun with this. When you've finished your project, sum it up with a Motto. Ours is "Because We Say So." To us that means the way we live our lives is a conscious choice we make everyday. Now pretending you're still atop that windy mountain, read your words aloud. At the bottom of the page, add "I admire this woman. I admire me." Then sign your name. We admire you too.

© 2010 Kathy Kinney & Cindy Ratzlaff, authors of Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman's Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve

Kathy Kinney is best known for her iconic role as Mimi Bobeck on The Drew Carey Show. She has acted in over a dozen films, guest-starred on numerous television shows and has toured worldwide with Drew Carey and the Improv All-Stars. Kathy may also be seen in the title role of Mrs. Pat, a web site for children aimed at keeping alive the joy of books and reading.

A veteran publishing executive, Cindy Ratzlaff created marketing campaigns for more than 100 New York Times bestselling books, including The South Beach Diet. She is president of Brand New Brand You, which specializes in using new social media platforms to increase brand awareness, and is a co-founder of the online publishing company Supreme Social Media.

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