Archive for the ‘Self-Perception’ Category

Kiss My Talented Putt

Is there something that you’re really good at doing? 

Compared to the population at-large, are you a great dancer, artist, writer, singer, scientist, or athlete?

Pick one thing….anything that you’re good at doing…and then read on.

Did you pick something?  I didn’t.  I can’t.  I don’t think I’m great at anything in particular…for two specific reasons.  1) I don’t practice and, 2) I don’t focus.  I do a little of this…a little of that…and have so many different interests that I’ve never focused on anything long enough or hard enough to be considered well above average. 

I’m in awe of people who have mastered a talent or a sport. 

Mr. Backbone is a great golfer.  He can’t dance, but he can sure shake things up on a golf course.

BurghGolferIn the Hole

I don’t play with him very often because I ah hem, suck at golf.  But, today I found my balls and went.  He took me to couples-golf.  It’s kind of like couples therapy, except there’s no therapist, no zone of emotional safety, and plenty of fuel for hot arguments.

On the Green 

By some divine intervention, I made one better shot than he did on the green.  And that, my friends, gave me the honor of telling him to KISS MY PUTT.  Wow…this couples-golf  idea really was better than therapy.

   Kiss my putt

Don't Brag

I’ve always wondered if I could be really good at something if I practiced.  In high-school I played 3 sports, but could never pick one that I liked more than the other. There were music  lessons, dancing lessons, and even a cooking class or two.  The more activities I tried, the more I liked, and never found one single calling or passion.

Fast forward 20 years and I’m still the same way.  My talent is diversity.  I’m a chameleon. 

Each person has been given specific talents and abilities that make them unique.  Your own talents may be obvious, or you might be like me and have to dig a little deeper to identify them.  Simply being a friendly and happy person, a good listener, a compassionate soul, or a dedicated mother, father, or grandparent can be abilities that other people envy. 

People have so many amazing talents and abilities.  What are yours?

Z: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

(c) Walt Disney Music Company, 1945

That tune makes me feel so happy!  …like there’s a bluebird on my shoulder…

After reading my own post from yesterday, I decided that it’s time to take some immediate action to rise out of this midlife-induced mental fog that’s been clouding up my days.

I’m attacking this thing from both ends…from the inside out…and…from the outside in.

Let’s start with the outside.  We all need a little physical maintenance once in a while.  Lately, I haven’t recognized the person staring back at me in the mirror.  Her Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah was dull.  So, flipping though a magazine, this ad caught my eye…

Instruction to my hairdresser as I shoved the magazine page into her hand… “make me look like this.”     A few zip, zip, zips..and I have a new doo-dah!  Now, if I could only get her model body, too.  Gotta start somewhere!

On to the insides.  Now that I’m not spending every weekend at my parents’ house, I definitely need to re-connect with some people and talk about subjects unrelated to my mom and my job.  Tonight, I’m headed over to my sister’s house and we’re both going to hit the town for a little Zip-A-Dee-Ay.  Both of us need it!

What are you doing this weekend? 

And with that, my friends, this A-Z Challenge concludes.

The Review of You

It’s late December, which at my company means…annual performance reviews.  Blahhh!  I know.  It’s dreadful.  And, my company does it right before Christmas.  Total bummer, unless you’re expecting a juicy raise and glowing admiration from your boss. 

No matter which side of the table you sit on, there are several words that likely do not describe the experience…

  • Enjoyable
  • Fun
  • Exciting; or
  • Delightful

Usually, the mood is dispassionate.  I always try to lighten the air, but telling a joke at the beginning of a performance meeting isn’t usually a smart move.  Hey, before we get down to business, did you hear the one about the priest and the chicken? 

Once, just once, I dream of the day when an employee will enter the room for their review totally pumped up, like Dwight from The Office:

No, it never happens like that.  Trust me.

One thing I’ve learned from giving and receiving reviews (and from life experience in general) is that it can be very hard to see yourself as others see you.  There may be room for improvement that you didn’t recognize.  Or, maybe others see fabulous traits and strengths in you that you didn’t know were there.

When it comes to job performance, you’ve gotta know if you’re doing a good job and how your work is being rated.  But, the question is…in life outside of Business-land, is it equally valuable to know how you are perceived by others?  Or, is it okay to be unaware?

This past summer during a gab session with my girlfriends, I asked them straight up how they perceived me.  I asked them to remove their filters.  Most of what they said matched up with what I think about myself, Funny, yes.  Caring, yes.  Fashionable, not really.  Loyal, absolutely.  Athletic, kind of. 

But, a few things were eye-opening.  Like, I thought my directness was appreciated, until they said it sometimes comes out as cold-hearted and insensitive.  The Review of Me, in retrospect, was enlightening.

The best part about it was the nice things that were said.  If you ever need a pick-me-up, don’t be shy about asking people to say something nice about you.  “Girl, what do you like about me?”  Or, when your man says “I love you” respond by asking “Why?”  I ask my husband why he loves me all the time.  Hearing someone sing your praises is a total boost to the ol’ self confidence. 

Imagine that you can see yourself through other people’s eyes.  Do you think it matches up with how you see yourself?

Only a few days left until Christmas!  Ho! Ho! Ho! and jolly good cheer from The Chameleon’s Backbone.


 About  six hours ago I was getting ready to head into Business Land to give a public presentation.  I understand that public speaking terrifies some people.  It doesn’t scare me, but I’ll admit that I feel more confident when:

  1. I’m well-prepared on the material; and
  2. I think I look good.

#2 may sound silly.  Regardless, my confidence level always feels stronger when I believe that I look good.

Today there was a slight problem with #2.  My hair was an absolute wreck.  Ya see, my hairdresser had shoulder surgery last month.  Need I say more?  Who knew that she’d be gone for months!  So, my locks are much longer than I like and require much more time to deal with. 

I spent the early part of today working from home.  After lunch I took a quick shower.  Then, I got sucked into a 2-hour conference call.  During which my hair dried.  My two-months too long hair.  On its own. 

Illustration (c) Jenny Solomon

Using a blow dryer while placing important conference calls on mute not advised.  No one wants to hear Warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr when you accidentally hit unmute while trying to hold the phone and your curling brush in the same hand.  “Oops; sorry about that Mr. Businessmen.  I was drying my hair.”  With my luck, that would happen.  Trust me – it really would.

When the call ended I had less than 10 minutes to finish getting ready.  No time to deal with a bad hair moment.  So, up it went with one quick mirror check in the car.  Not bad, huh?


Is looking good worth the effort?

Yesterday’s newspaper said YES.  The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that a new book by Princeton University Press will be released next spring called “Beauty Pays.”  It links physical attractiveness and income earnings.  I usually don’t read the daily paper, but this article caught my eye.  To quote the article:

After adjusting for all the other factors that can affect earnings . . . women in the bottom third of looks are paid about 4 percent less than average-looking employees, and men in that group are paid 13 percent less.

If we accept that these findings are accurate, the questions then become — does it matter, and should we do anything about it?

Okay, so….with all the issues that are out there to deal with…now we have to combat Lookism?  The concept that unattractive people are discriminated against. 

This goes beyond dressing appropriately and presenting yourself positively.  It’s about natural beauty.   I personally think that attaching the word discrimination to general attractiveness is going a little too far.  I’ve been in business a long time and have had business relationships with people of many different levels of physical attractiveness.  I don’t recall ever relating their natural-born appearance with their business ability or success.  So, I suppose that I’m not a Look-ism-ist when it comes to business.

However, I have passed judgement based on dress and grooming.  I once interacted with a colleague who wore leggings to a professional meeting.  Public service announcement: leggings are not pants.  I judged.  I didn’t take her work seriously.  All because of the leggings. 

What do you think about Lookism?  Does it exist?  

If you haven’t already entered this week’s giveaway, enter a comment on this post.  The winner will be selected at random and announced on Friday.  Good luck!

Picture Your Future Self

Do you know your true inner self?  Do you strive to be the best version of you?

A few months ago when I was searching for the answers to these questions, I found myself frequently looking through years of photos…remembering everything I had done, all the places I had lived, and the various people who had entered and exited my life.  I began to realize that no matter how many times I shed my skin and changed my colors in a day…or a week…or a year…or a lifetime…it was still the same me in those pictures, regardless of the setting.  After a few trips down memory lane, I identified a collection of pictures that showed the essence of me at various points in my life.  Those were the pictures that I kept flipping back to, over and over again. 

So, being all high-techy like, I loaded all of my favorite essence of me pictures onto a digital photo frame.  By looking at this collection pictures as they rotated in the frame, I began to see a vision of my future self.  It was of a happy, healthy, confident, fun-loving, self-driven woman and wife who firmly stands by her convictions.  Sadly, I wasn’t seeing that person when I looked in the mirror.  There was internal confusion.  I needed to “see” my vision to know that it was possible to achieve. 

When a recent opportunity arose to capture a current essence of me photo, I jumped at the chance.


[A shout-out to Dobrick Photography & Design in Indiana, PA.  If you’re a local, Jim is a great photographer.]

If you can’t seem to visualize your future self, take the time to do it.  We spend so much of our time planning our finances, our careers, the lives of our children, and so on, that we often don’t make a plan for our inner self.  But, when you think about it, a self plan is the most important plan that you can make.

To get the process started, find a current picture of yourself that epitomizes happiness.  Make sure that feeling of happiness is showing through in your eyes and is felt in your heart when you look at the picture.  (This is important because so much our ourselves cannot be seen on the outside.)   If you can’t find such a photo, have a picture taken in a scene that shows the essence of you.  For me, it was looking straight ahead, entangled with my husband.  Take as many photos as needed to get the right shot. 

Look at the picture often.  Think about your future self.  Project that person in your daily life.  Know that you are empowered to make any changes that might be needed to be that person, inside and out.  Having a vision and being able to see it in a photo can completely change your outlook and perspective.

What does the picture of your future self look like?

 My future self is_______________________. 

I encourage you to find your own essence of me picture and reflect on it daily.  If you have your own blog and post your picture, send me a link and I will advertise your post!

If you liked this post, you may also like Funny Mirrors.

Lessons from The Breakfast Club

Do you know where your VHS tapes are hiding?  Well, go and find them my friends…because this week marks the 25th anniversary of The Breakfast Club.     

At my house I have my own Saturday morning Breakfast Club ritual.  It consists of me…in my jammies…watching morning news…sipping coffee…and fighting for couch space with a lazy cat named Buster.     


Because my Saturdays aren’t typically screenplay worthy, let’s cut back to the movie.  The Breakfast Club was one of those movies that captivated teens not only for its humor, but also for the deepness of its message.  If you haven’t seen the film, think of a 1980’s version of a modern-day reality show.  Trap five high school students from different social clicks in Saturday detention, assign them a task to complete, and watch the drama unfold.     

Mr. Vernon:  Well, well. Here we are. You have exactly eight hours and fifty-four minutes to think about why you’re here. You may not talk.  You will not move from these seats.  Any questions?      

Bender:  Yeah. Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?    



As five kids sit around teasing each other and delving into their teenage thoughts on life (dating, sex, drugs, parents, school, etc.), they discover that they are more similar than different.  Over the course of the day, they learn about each other’s personalities that are hidden beneath their looks and social circle stereotypes.      

The movie doesn’t have great cinematography.  Its stars were not accomplished actors.  It didn’t win any awards.  So, why is this movie memorable enough to celebrate a 25th anniversary with a New York City screening and spots on the national news?     

I think it’s because there is a moral to the story, and one that’s rarely told from the teenage point-of-view.  To have a meaningful relationship with another person, you need to take the time to know the person that lies beneath the exterior, because what lies on the outside only tells a very small part of the story.    

 Dear Mr. Vernon:     

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.     

 But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…Does that answer your question?    

 Sincerely yours,    

The Breakfast Club    

Have you ever judged someone before you really knew them?

Balancing Act

 Did you ever say or do something dumb?  Not just dumb, I mean really dumb.  Dumb to the point that someone asked “Is your head screwed on straight?”  That’s a funny saying because I can’t even imagine someone’s head being placed on their body wrong.  Too far forward and you’d be staring at your shoes.  To far back and you’d be gazing at the sky…and, it would be kinda hard to swallow.  

Emotionally, I think we all want to be level-headed.  Physically, however, our spines won’t allow it.  The cervical spine curves inward so that our heads can balance on our necks.  Without the curve, it wouldn’t balance.   

© Chrisharvey

I’ll bet you never thought about how your head balances on your neck before.  Or maybe you have…if you were a wannabe runway model or pageant winner (…cue the Miss America hand wave) and walked around with books balanced on your cranium.  I could never do it well.  Balance books that is.  Okay, the hand wave either – it always looks like I have the Girl Scouts Promise sign rockin’.  See….   


I think the human skeleton is super cool.  Not because I have an iota of interest in the medical profession (I black out at the sight of blood), but I do like skeletons.  In particular, I think the human spine is absolutely fascinating.     

© Chrisharvey

Caring about posture and spinal alignment is not something that most people worry about.  But, I must.  I’ve had a lot of problems with my back over the years including back surgery in 2005.  From my personal experience let me just tell ya that the spine is nothing to fool around with.  It supports your entire body and if something isn’t right, it lets you know…screams it, actually.     

 Every time I have a painful episode or blowout with my back, it’s always the result of not enough exercise + too much sitting at my desk + too busy of a schedule + stress.  In fact, my doctor said that if I don’t get with the program by doing sit ups and stretches every day, I’ll have back problems my entire lifetime.    

(c) Chrisharvey

I submit to you a theory.  Just like our real backs, we need to take care of our symbolic BACKBONES that I talk about all the time…all of those intangible traits and characteristics that make us who we are and define us as unique individuals.  What happens when there are pressures on your symbolic BACKBONE?  When it’s not balanced?  When you try to “correct” its natural curves?  When it’s not getting enough exercise?     

Are there episodes?  Are there blowouts?  Is there pain?  In my life, the answer is yes.    

Think about all of those qualities that make you…you.  Not one other person on Earth is put together exactly like you are, either physically or characteristically.  Celebrate your uniqueness.  Embrace  your quirks.  Take care of both of your backbones.    

Do you take better care of your physical health or your mental and emotional health?  How do you know if you’ve struck a good balance?

Taking a Compliment

I’ll bet everyone out there knows someone who is not sincere.   I looooath people like that – people who are hypocritical (say one thing but think the opposite), or who embellish or exaggerate the truth.
Recently, I heard a guy compliment a lady’s accent.  “That’s a cool accent, where are you from?”  She answered honestly and sincerely, “It’s not an accent, I have a speech impediment.”  The guy responded, “Oh, well, I think it’s kind of SEXY.” Strange exchange, but true story – I couldn’t make something like that up.
She was sincere in her response.  Was he?  We’ll never know, but it did get me to ponder the topic of Compliments.  When I give a compliment, it’s usually very sincere and heartfelt.  This meal is wonderful.  Your new haircut looks great.  You look nice today.  I love your outfit.    

(c) Geraktv

Look at yourself right now.  No need for a mirror, just look down at yourself.   What would you say if, this very second, I sincerely said to you “You look really nice.”    

Possible Answers:    

  1.  No I don’t.  I look horrible.
  2. Why thank you, I’m flattered.
  3. Thanks, but I got this outfit on the clearance rack for $5.99 years ago.
  4. Who, me?  Nah, you’re the one who looks nice.
  5. Awe honey, you’re so sweet, so do you, where did you get that purse, it’s just divine!

When I give compliments to my girlfriends, most often, I get response #1- negative backlash.  Coming in a close second is response #3 – sucker punch.   Both of those make me feel really bad, and I wish I hadn’t given the compliment at all.  When the compliment is turned on me (like #4 or #5) – counter-compliment, it’s usually dripping in insincerity.    

As a compliment receiver, I usually do #3.  Darn!  As a compliment giver, what I want to hear is #2.  Hearing #2 doesn’t deny what I’ve said, it doesn’t poo-poo my thoughts, it doesn’t disrespect my kindness.    

I obviously need to change my ways as a receiver.  The next time I’m given a sincere compliment, this is what I plan to do:  

  • Let the words sink in
  • Mentally and emotionally believe the compliment is true.
  • Respond positively, not negatively.
  • If I’m caught off guard, know that a simple “thank you” is enough.
  • Don’t mindlessly and immediately counter-compliment, but remember to return the kindness later, when I really mean it.  


The next time kind words are said to you…believe them…think about your response…pass along the kindness.     

How do you respond to compliments?  When you give compliments, are you sincere?   


Happy Labor Day Weekend

Boxing a Chameleon, Part 1

If you’ve read my About page, then you know that I don’t like it when people try to put me in a box.  Does it look like I could fit into a box?  I warn you not to try. I aint gonna fit

You know the scene.  You’re at a dinner party and meet someone new.  Within the first five minutes they ask The Question or pose The Statement.  If you’re new to the blog ,what I’m saying is that people want your stats.  That’s the info that would flash across the TV screen and under your head shot when the sports reporter is talking about your performance in the game of life.  The usual…

Name, occupation, age, marital status, hometown, income bracket, religion, political party, education, and a few little fun facts. 

The unfortunate thing is that once someone has your stats, they’ll pair that info with assumptions they’ve made based on your looks and Bam!, they think they know you.  They’ve built your box.  Do this to me and I’ll quickly sound the game show buzzer for a wrong answer.  Errrrr…. Try AgainYou can’t box a chameleon.

I have a lot of different interests and find myself in different settings all the time.  Maybe it comes from growing up in a middle-lower class working family and climbing clawing my way up the corporate ladder, but I’m at ease and comfortable in very diverse environments.  And, it’s a genuine feeling of ease. 

You could meet me on the street…

in a crowd…

dropping from the sky…

at work in a man’s world…at home being a wife…or even at an elegant black tie affair…

So, where do I fit in?  If you met me in any one of those situations, you would make assumptions.  You would box me.  That’s human nature.  We crave definition. 

A few ex-friends have dropped me like a hot potato when they discovered that I no longer fit into the box they designed for me.  That caused a lot of confusion in my life.  I was always questioning who I was and trying to define myself – trying to squeeze into a box.  Any box. 

So, I picked a nice sturdy box and lived in it for a while.  Let’s call it the Upper-Middle Class (Boring) Lifestyle Box.  I stopped doing things that didn’t fit the mold.  It was dark in that box.  There wasn’t enough air.  And, my back ached…all the time.

Enter stage right – early onset of a mid-life crisis.  I wanted needed out of that  box.  I had been in there too long.  That’s when I began some soul searching and the idea for The Chameleon’s Backbone sprung to life.  The box didn’t define me.  It confined me.

[Sidebar to guys in the audience – most of us face mid-life identity issues.  Buying a corvette, shaving your head, and ditching your wife for a 23-year old chick named Candi is not a productive use of this time.  Geesh – get a grip!]

So, here I am…heading full steam ahead to my 40th birthday.  My box is gone – thank God.  So far, I’ve come to the conclusion that regardless of what I’m doing, how I’m dressed, or what group of people I happen to be with, I am still the same me, carried around in the same body, having the same values, supported by the same BACKBONE.  My environment can change all it wants, but it doesnt mean I have to change to fit in.  My chameleon nature is genuine and is only happening on the outside.  Inside, I am solidly me.  It took a long time for me to figure that out.  No more play-acting.  No more boxes.

Have you ever felt limited because people put you in a box?

Funny Mirrors

When I was a kid, l loved going to this pizza place that had the “funny mirrors.”   My sister and I would stand in front of them until we got dizzy.  The first one would make us look short and wide.  We would giggle, point at our reflections, and call each other silly names like wide-o and shorty.   The other mirror would make us look tall and thin, with our legs stretching 5 feet right into our armpits.   She instantly became Miss Toothpick and I, birdy legs.  

We looked odd, different, and thought it was a hoot!  Not to mention, the pizza was great and we could watch the pizza  man toss dough in the air from behind a glass window.  Kid paradise. 

Fast forward 10 years, 20, 30.  As we grew older, looking odd and different in a mirror was no laughing matter.  Do I really look like that?  Why is my hair so frizzy today?  Make-up will never cover that up.  Did mom and dad replace our bathroom mirror with one from the Pizza Palace?  And speaking of pizza, well, we thought twice before sinking our teeth into those melty, cheesy pies.   

Talking about the topic of Body Image can be difficult.  Not enough people look into a mirror and like what they see.  Too often, they see a distorted view.

In honor of the Operation Beautiful book release, I spent some time staring at myself in the mirror, looking into my own eyes, trying to see past the face that was reflecting back at me.  I looked long and hard for the real me.  But, no matter how long I stood there, I couldn’t see her.

Then, in a moment of frustration, I closed my eyes.  There I was standing in front of a mirror with my eyes closed.  To be honest, it felt kind of ridiculous.  For just a minute I kept those lids down and thought about who I am and what can’t possibly be seen in that mirror.  And then……like magic……I found her.  To really see myself, I didn’t need a mirror after all.  So very little of our true selves lies on the outside.

Love the real you!  Do you need to change the way you see yourself?  Are you only looking at the outside?