Real life foursquare alliances

In eighth grade, I was the new kid in town. One of my most vivid memories from that whole year was the incessant amount of very serious foursquare competition. I’m not talking about the location-based social media app. I’m talking about the ole schoolyard game in four squares chalked out on pavement played with a bouncy kickball and four youngsters in squares A through D.

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My classmates took foursquare very seriously. We played every day at recess (RIP) and discussed strategy in the halls between classes. The line to play was always quite long, with only the best of the best maintaining squares A through C on a consistent basis.

Foursquare is not a team sport but soon enough, alliances formed. Forming a secret pact with classmates via whispers before lunchtime meant that once in the squares, you’d have someone on your side. Someone to team up with against the others. If you stepped in square D without an alliance, you’d be a goner in no time.

Alliances came and went but the best became legends of sorts. I still smile when I think about some of the unruly alliances of our class – power duos and trios with sick moves, wicked skill and undying determination to take everyone else down.

I haven’t played foursquare since 8th grade, but just today I realized, life is like one big foursquare game. Maybe the real world is just a lesson in foursquare alliances.

How do you become successful? The same way you get to square A. Hard work, determination and a few damn good alliances on your way up the ladder.

If you want to make it past square D, you rely on alliances to have your back and help bounce the others out.

If you want to be a badass, you surround yourself with fellow badasses.

Life is navigating one big giant network, building alliances and support systems as you go. If we’re smart, we find partners/co-workers/friends/mentors who excel in all the areas we lack. Just like in foursquare.

Whether it’s career-related or personal, alliances are the only way to make it through this crazy thing called life. At the end of any day, good or bad, we all need someone on our side who has our back and can mitigate our obstacles with a soft little bounce-out in the outside corner.

Here’s to strong, wonderful, badass alliances.

 

 

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La gratitud

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have seen, heard or pinned something related to gratitude. Whether it’s advice pointing out that grateful people are happier people, an article listing everyday things we should be thankful for, or just a simple reminder to consider gratitude more frequently in our own lives.

I’ve pinned quotes out the wazoo, keep a jar of things I’m thankful for, and try my best not to take too much for granted. It wasn’t until recently though that gratitude took a new (awe-inspiring) role in my life.

About a month ago, I was sitting in a regular ole Toastmasters meeting (If you’ve never heard of Toastmasters, look it up. Or let’s talk more. It’s awesome. I’m kind of a super fan.) when one of my fellow members whom I’d never met before stepped up to perform his 10th speech, known to dedicated Toastmasters as the Inspirational Speech. In this case, his speech was titled “Attitude of Gratitude” and was not nearly as cheesy as I expected.

He began by challenging the audience to stop every time we say “I have to do something…” and change it to “I get to do something…” For example, “I have to go to work” becomes “I get to go to work because I have a cool job that pays me to do cool things” and “I have to work-out” becomes “I get to work-out because I’m a healthy human who has the luxury of being able to participate in physical activity.” “I have to pay my bills” becomes “I get to pay my bills because I’m a fully functioning adult who can afford to pay Time Warner for an obscene amount of sports channels…” and, well you get the point.

I was intrigued. At the end of his speech, the speaker asked if anyone would be his gratitude partner for one week, a commitment that would include communicating three things you’re grateful for to each other every single day for seven days.

Needless to say, by the end of that day, I was in. And now here we are, a month later, and I’ve been texting my deepest, darkest gratitudes to someone who was nearly a perfect stranger every single day for the past month. I’m addicted.

Considering what I’m grateful for has become a habitual part of my life and I love it. I stop and think about it often and I couldn’t imagine falling asleep without sending that quick text of three things I’m grateful for that day. Lately, gratitude has become my solace for the not-so-awesome parts of life. I’ve caught myself thinking “I’m grateful for getting stuck behind this school bus because it reminded me I shouldn’t always be in such a hurry.” Or “I’m grateful for over-sleeping because it motivated me not to hit snooze tomorrow!”

And the cool part? Despite naming three things every day, I don’t think I’ve ever repeated a single thing I’m grateful for more than once in the past month. THAT’s how much I have to be thankful for. So cool.

I know we’ve all heard it. But seriously, be grateful. Say it out loud. Tell your mom, friend, neighbor, new plant named Bella, whomever. It will change you, I promise.

I’m grateful for heated blankets. I’m grateful for the cute old lady working at GNC today who was hilarious and also let me sample half the gummy vitamins. I’m grateful for Toastmasters, and also for strangers that change our lives.

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On feeling the love and living the dream

 

Truth be told, I love Valentine’s Day. But this year (and every other year), I was appalled at the extent of bitterness the average person I know feels toward this innocent Hallmark holiday. In fact, I’ve seen quite a bit of hater-ade on the topic of love in general over the past month. So much so that I’ve been tempted to shout “LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL, YOU GUYS!” from the rooftops on more than one occasion. Love is quite literally all around us in one form or another. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, heartbroken, married, building your empire, too busy eating cheese fries to date anyone or otherwise, get over yourself and appreciate the love that is around you. (Disclaimer: I’m allowed to say this because I’m as single as single gets and proud of it.) 

This past Valentine’s weekend, I spent time with different friends all from different aspects of my life, all whom I’ve known for varying lengths of time and in varying ways. I had an amazing time with all of them and made memories I’ll remember forever. I received Valentine’s mail from my wonderful family and I teared up at Kroger when I witnessed an elderly man picking out flowers for his gal. Let’s just say I was feeling the love this year. You can, too. The mushy stuff doesn’t have to come from a significant other. Take a good look around and appreciate all the people that care about you. Hallmark’s right, that’s something to celebrate, people.

In the same vein as love, it’s easy to be bitter that you’re not “living the dream” when it seems like everyone you know has it all together. Well first of all, nobody has it together. And second of all, let’s redefine “living the dream”…

The other day I was pondering the quintessence of life while trying for the umpteenth time to successfully make an omelet when it hit me. I am a fully functional grown-ass woman (sorry, mom) with a job who mostly pays bills on time, usually gets enough sleep and generally succeeds at other adult tasks such as laundry, ironing, grocery shopping and not burning the house down. I AM LIVING THE DREAM.

But seriously, you don’t have to be CEO of a well-known company, the founder of a wickedly successful start-up, the wife of last year’s World Series MVP or any other possibly unattainable, probably over-rated, superbly ambitious thing in order to be living the dream.

We live in a world where we watch everyone we know have their biggest moments on social media. We drown in a sea of Facebook posts about what cool thing everyone else is doing next. We see our friends and loved ones attain life milestones through Instagram filters and 10-second snaps.

In 2016, it’s easy to feel like our little moments pale in comparison to everyone’s big moments. Stop it. We can choose to go through life feeling the love and living the dream. I know I am.