In My Opinion – December 2009

Once again here I am about to tell you what I think.

I just read the In My Opinion I sent out last year and I suppose most of us can say it has been challenging times.  How we survive these times may be where the most interesting stories develop.

I shared with you last year that staying out of the “fear” arena was critical for me to survive and even thrive.  For retailers it was a horrible feeling from one day to the next.  The phones, email, and walk in traffic seemed to come to a  stand still.  Until it picked up again it was a huge lesson in trust.

What I learned about myself and others was nothing short of profound.  I think many of us may have experienced a shift in attitude and in our behaviour over this past year.  I learned to do without many things I thought were a must in my life.  I learned to be more grateful for the things I have and for so many intangibles.  I learned that gifts of all kinds come when you least expect them.  I also learned that finding ways to feel good helped me to see things in a more positive light.  I strive for that always, the real lesson is to achieve it when you are truly “up against it all”.  I learned that I am really quite happy with the smallest of things and experiences.

I set about this last year to find out what exactly made me happy.  I highly recommend this.  I have little doubt that you will surprise yourself if you have not ever really thought about this.  I will share a few of my revelations.  I just love the quest to find a great cup of coffee.  It truly does make me happy, even more so when I succeed and share the time with someone I enjoy.  I like flowers, they make me happy and I buy myself just one sometimes.  I like to talk, and to discuss, and to engage with others.  I also like to be alone, especially if it is a choice.  I like food, it makes me happy.  Don’t laugh, what other audience would appreciate this without judgment?  Aside from liking food in general I love to find new small indulgences and share the new find with friends.  At one time I recall having huge expectations about what should make me happy.

I have shared this because we can all know more about understanding that expectations can affect performance and outcome, whether in a positive or negative way.   Let me put this in another light.  What if we believed all the negative assumptions and stigmas we hear about people of size?  What if we bought the concept that thin is beautiful and fat is unattractive?  It would just be so easy to fall in that trap of accepting such stereotypes, in fact many people do.  I know it is important to challenge ourselves and understand that there are so many people of size who are brilliant, beautiful, accomplished and so much more.  If we don’t then we buy into exactly what some media, the diet industry and others want us to think.  I remember when I went to elementary school we “knew” that girls were not good in math and science.  Many years ago Claude Steel and Joshua Aronson used the term “Stereotype threat”.  According to these psychologists the mere knowledge of expectations affected performance.  Taking that back to the fat issue why not carry the knowledge that we are great, have equal opportunity and we love ourselves.  Pipe dream?  Not to me, it gives me purpose!!!

I leave you this year with the last verse of one of my favorite poems.  It is by William Ernest Henley, called Invictus.  The last two lines have spoken to me for years.

It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

You tell me that what I say affects you.  Thank you for that.

Looking to 2010 we welcome the “wide world” to our doorstep and we hope to see you personally or virtually soon.