What makes you extraordinary?

I had the privilege to speak at the AFA Leaders Conference for the second time! This session, based off of Franklin Covey’s 5 Choices for Extraordinary Productivity was titled, Balancing Your Priorities.

From the start of the trip, it was bound to be something special. David accompanied me and we would be flying out the night before my presentation. I accidentally put E85 gas in my car, thinking it was FlexFuel when in reality, it was only Eco system. Therefore, David and I pushed our boundaries to get to the airport on time for our flight. We made it with a half hour of chill time before boarding! The uneventful flight was nice, and caught a Lyft ride to the Sheraton Crown Plaza. It was midnight central time when we checked in and as you can imagine, I was ready for bed. Unfortunately, sleep did not come easily. I’m always nervous before a speaking event. I had prepared as much as I could and know now I could have tweaked and polished some things. Nonetheless, it was what I hoped for, planned for and more!

The organization and people are extraordinary. And they inspire me to do the same. Throughout the presentation, I caught myself reflecting a lot on my own productivity or lack of. My own goals and ones that I was performing or underperforming. I also thought about my current primary roles that I can enhance and improve.

I’m not simply a presenter, speaker or facilitator. I am a strong woman, caretaker, lover, writer, athlete, influencer, adventurer, cook and more! All of these roles can be used to describe me. This is part of what I helped these college freshmen evaluate for themselves.

Strong Sweet Caroline - Extraordinary

I gave them a new perspective. They can become extraordinary. We all can! It’s just a matter of the amount of time, dedication and effort put into your craft. A real life example I used was Steve Jobs. He was wildly successful because he dedicated his life to his passion and interest and did not let anyone stop him. To be extraordinary, we first identify our beliefs and values. The passions and interests stem from there. We cannot divert from our deepest beliefs and values. If that happens, and it happens to all of us at some point, we hit a plateau, a “mid-life crisis” if you will.

The extraordinary lead from unwavering beliefs and values. 

Caroline Weihl

It was beautiful seeing and working with these bright students. They were receptive to learning how to be extraordinary. They were even more intrigued by my transformation within my career, my passions in health and bodybuilding, and David and I’s relationship.

This event revitalized me to continue extending my reach to share my gifts and become a master of my trade. I will help women find feminine strength through health and healing. I also aspire to share relationship advice. David and I are not perfect. But we have invested in one another to sculpt our relationship for the future.

After the event, David and I got some Kansas City barbecue and spent the evening in Power and Light District with some old friends. It was well worth the little sleep. It also shed light for David from the presentation and friends to an underlying health issue we were not aware of before.

After we got back, we focused on realignment and our routines. David’s now healing what a doctor discovered is an esophagus ulcer. And I’m working on healing my energy from within. In order to reach our extraordinary goals and extraordinary life, we must take new actions and set those new habits daily. 

What makes you extraordinary? Believe it, act it, become it! 

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Reflection: A Tribe Called Bliss

Close your eyes. Prepare to set your intentions. Breathe in through your nose the desires you have for the day. Breathe out the preconceived notions and expectations. It’s time to create your tribe.

I have followed Lori Harder for the past four years. Between living in Nebraska, Ohio and Georgia, she has been a part of my transformation and journey. She does not know it, but she has had a direct impact on my development as a woman. Through her podcast called Earn Your Happy, and Instagram, I’ve felt like I’m right alongside her, in her growth, her challenges and her successes.

We have a lot in common. We both grew up the Midwest, her a Michigan gal, me from Ohio. We were raised in a conservative rural communities, hers a bit moreso. We have competed in bodybuilding competitions. We both have larger-than-life goals! These commonalities helped me connect and want to learn with and from her. I also had set in my mind that one day, I would meet her and work with her.

About one month ago, the opportunity arose! Lori has been promoting her new book, A Tribe Called Bliss, which I heard a bit about on another podcast, and discovered she was doing a book tour around the country. Atlanta had made the list! I asked David if it was OK and fit our budget and he knew I’d been talking about her forever and said “Go for it!”. So then and there, I reserved my ticket.

I experienced a crazy day before the event. A lot of stress at work, followed by trying to get to a gym to train and go straight to the event. I got in a half hour chest and shoulder workout with an insane pump and started towards the venue near Midtown.

I wasn’t sure its location and on the way, my GPS navigation tried to turn me on a closed road and I was almost T-boned when en route. But I made it, early, in once piece, wearing a new sweater dress and boots to stay warm in this brisk fall weather on Thursday night.

I approached the small venue and opened the door to a vibrant energy. Women [and men] gathered around the chairs set before Lori’s presentation began. I had never been to a “book tour” so it was neat to be a part of one I could deeply connect with. And, most importantly, start to connect with the women there to build a tribe.

Lori came on stage in a full length, long sleeve dress, looking stunning. The thing that caught my eye most: her iconic braid and a stunning quartz ring on her right middle finger. I’ve been researching more about crystals and seeing hers, that is a symbol for clarity and a few other things, was just another indicator I was in the right place.

She began with meditation. This is how I knew I was in the right room! We each set our intention for the evening. Mine?

Embrace likemindedness and new relationships.

Lori shared with us her two intentions: make it fun and share her tools to deeper connection. Immediately after, we spent the next four minutes to meet four new people! Nothing says networking like working a room of excited women.

As Lori continued the event, she shared the 7 Sacred Commitments to having real, authentic relationships. A lot of it I have already known and no, I won’t spoil it for anyone wanting to read the book! But, nonetheless, she had quite a few mindblowing quotes.

When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

Wayne Dyer

After her speech, photo opportunity and autographs were a must. A few ladies like Ashley and Stormy I am definitely going to keep in touch with! Some others, I did not get to meet very long but this is the chance to use social media for GOOD and send a quick follow up DM on IG or Facebook.

Sometimes, things happen if they are not meant to be on our path.

Lori Harder

Finding a tribe to flourish with has been difficult. But, I believe my tribe will continue to strengthen and evolve. I know it’s just a matter of time and energy. Give and you will receive.

Lori Harder a Tribe Called Bliss

My current tribe is spread across the country. They are still amazing, wonderful women! And I’ve made it a goal to not lose touch with those in my court. Now, I set course to create another tribe, but locally. I guess that is the give and take of moving around for different jobs and life opportunities.

If it scares me, I need to do it. Grow through it!

Lori Harder
Lori Harder a Tribe Called Bliss

This reflection is not just about the amazing event, but to turning a page into my authentic self. I really resonated with Lori’s philosophy about our true self.

Lori Harder personal definition of authenticity: Give yourself the freedom and grace to show up completely different than you did yesterday.

Going into the end of the year and 2019, you can bet I’m making my tribe a priority. Want to join me in reading the book? Send me an email at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com and I’d LOVE to start up a little book club.

The best leaders are tailored communicators

You’re walking into a networking event. People have cocktails, evening attire, big smiles and excited eyes. It’s a time for mingling, gathering and learning. You know that in this situation, your best foot forward is usually to initiate conversation, listen intentionally and walk away with a new business card in your wallet or a contact in your smart phone.

The next day, you connect with that person over lunch. You get to know him or her a bit better. As you are having conversation, you learn that they REALLY like to send messages over Instagram. Frankly, that is their most responsive form of communication. You want to continue building a friendship with him or her so you shoot them a DM later that afternoon.

As the week progresses, you make a phone call to try and see what they have planned this weekend. No response.

A few days go by, you send a text message. You get a short response a few hours later. The following day, you send a meme over IG and they respond immediately.

What have you learned?

You need to meet on their side. Tailor your communication methods.

This is the case for business relationships and personal connections. Crystal Clear Communication (CCC), a term I’m taking from Melissa Ambrosini, means that in any relationship, you are straight forward, clear and succinct. No stone unturned. No vague replies. When you do this, you can meet on someone’s side.

I had a recent conversation with a friend on the phone. Usually, she is slow to respond via text messages. But, if I send a quick text to see if she is free for a call, she will usually be prompt to answer and we schedule an hour long phone call almost every time! I might not prefer a call, but that’s what SHE prefers.

In life, there is compromise. We sometimes must compromise our preferences to be better at serving others. The best situations are those when we can communicate evenly and collaborate. We can then know what works best for one another, set a plan and stick to it to succeed.

The best leaders are strong communicators. Take time to learn about someone’s preferred communication methods. Be observant! As you lead by example, hopefully, they will do the same for you! That’s ultimately what helps us collaborate, develop strong relationships and businesses.

What examples do you have of tailored communication? How do you introduce those to the people in your life or new networks?

Join the conversation here at strongsweetcaroline.com and thanks for reading or watching!

How do you protect your time?

Do you ever feel like time FLIES BY or TAKES FOREVER?

Perhaps you are doing something you LOVE! For me, that is baking or making healthy desserts. I can be in the kitchen making a few recipes and before I know it, I have been there for 2 hours. Oops!

Like this lemon poppyseed recipe I created took WAYYYY too long but it was fun 🙂 And it will be in my new dessert e-cookbook launching this next week!

Protect Your Time by Strong Sweet Caroline - Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

On the other end of the spectrum, I might be stuck working on a freelance article that I’m struggling to get the right feel and language. And that severe writers block is beating me… time is dragging and I need to pick it up. This essence of time is important for everyone and is my topic today. Watch this video or read below about protecting your time.

Time is a commodity. I think it is the MOST important commodity in a person’s life. Why? Many reasons. But if you think about time, we never really know how much time we have on this planet.

We can track and target time. But, it is often immeasurable.

We each can use time however we like. But, if we do not allot it appropriately, what happens? We lose it, people steal it, it gets wasted. Not just like having too much alcohol to drink and time slips by wasted…. like you can never ever get it back and have regret wasted!

Let’s prevent that. Over the past few years, this has been a priority for me. My time is valuable. And I recognize that in the lives of others I surround myself with. Whether it is for business, personal life or any goal, you need to protect your time.

I think there are three vital factors to protecting your time.

Three steps to protect your time

1 – Schedule in your priority time

We all have different priorities in life. I might like to bake and cook for 4 hours per week. Someone else might want to research engines and cars. You may also have a goal to start a new hobby, take a college class or start up a new business. Schedule windows in your day, week and month and prioritize those things. I’ve found that I am more likely to accomplish a large goal if I actually put it on my calendar and protect that time.

Think about the top one or two priorities that already, no matter what, you make sure to accomplish it. For me, one of those is going to the gym to train. I still compete in bodybuilding and it is a large part of my life. I protect that time and schedule it in after my day job to go push myself and enjoy it. Once it is scheduled, that block of time is set and nothing else can touch it.

Protect Your Time by Strong Sweet Caroline

 

2 – Identify distractions and disruptions

People, habits, natural tendencies, social media, and electronics are just a few examples of distractions. Have you ever spent 10-20 minutes just scrolling on Instagram or Pinterest? What could you be doing if you protected that valuable time?

In my life, I had a Pinterest obsession at one point… particularly looking at recipes. Ooops! What did that help me accomplish? Typically nothing. Maybe a few new pins of recipes for later but not really helpful now. It’s similar to going to the grocery store without a shopping list. Unless you schedule it in as a priority, DON’T DO IT!

3 – Share your priorities

Do the people closest to you know your priorities? Maybe you want to start a side business or create a new hobby. Start scheduling it in, get the distractions out of the way and share with others what you are working at! They can help you stay focused and keep priorities in check. This is a sacred moment for you. EMBRACE IT!

These are the three that have worked for me. Scheduling in your priorities, identifying distractions and sharing the priorities are key to success! What’s been valuable for you?

Interested to learn more? Comment below! I’m starting a new e-newsletter and creating a free guide for time management and would LOVE for you to join!

5 minutes a day can improve your life

It’s only five minutes. You can do it. Just five minutes of your day.

I started meditating in 2017. It was a stressful planting season. Working in corn and soybean sales is no easy job. And I was wearing myself thin. I already worked out, went to bed early, ate a balanced diet and drank water. My sleep habits were OK but can always improve. What else could I possibly work on? That’s when I discovered meditation.

I think I had just finished reading 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris. At first, I was a skeptic myself. But I decided to start with a little goal. 1 minute.

How 5 minutes per day can improve your life by Strong Sweet Caroline

If I could clear my head and mind for one minute each day, that was the start. So, I did that for one week. Easy peasy. I advanced to three-minute sessions. That became more challenging. But, after about a month, I worked myself up to five minutes a day.

Those 5-minute daily meditations changed my life. It was not just a way to clear my mind and open my head space. It empowered me. Here’s how it empowered me and might have a similar effect for you.

  1. I created a rhythm and routine. Each day, I would wake up at the same time, start with drinking a big glass of water and sitting down to meditate. Some might find it odd I meditate in the morning. However, I found that gave me a clearer vision for the day ahead. Others might enjoy meditating over lunch break or before bed. I like consistency and most humans do well with schedule. Otherwise, just make sure to include it DAILY.
  2. Improved focus. It might seem weird, but the attempt to clear your mind and focus on absolutely nothing is pretty refreshing. And I realized that by doing it, I was able to focus better on tasks and projects at hand. There are hundreds of thoughts, images, ideas, people, memories and senses that flood our brains. It’s actually quite remarkable if you can clear your mind for a few moments. By practicing meditation, you practice improved focus. And in your day to day life, it will become less likely you will get distracted.
  3. A method of stress relief. Have you ever felt overwhelmed or in a crisis situation? What did you do to overcome it? You may have heard of people taking deep breaths, counting to 10, etc.? What about spending 5 minutes to close your eyes, level your breathing and focus on NOTHING? It works wonders. Studies also find that practicing daily meditation will lower cortisol and increase mood over time.

How 5 minutes per day can improve your life by Strong Sweet Caroline

These are just three reasons I meditate. Try it out yourself! Once you start the habit, don’t stop. Let your breathing methods grow and improve over time. You can be in complete silence, ambient music, guided meditation video or use the song I do, “Weightless” by Marconi Union. At the end of the day, that’s all we can do. Focus on continued self improvement. For five minutes a day, your personal bliss is worth it.

How to transform what you are feeling to what you are choosing to feel

It’s inside your head. Those negative, degrading, life-sapping thoughts. How did they get there? You claim a bunch of things. Stress is building, your emotions are all over the place and you are having trouble processing what’s true progress. How do you transform what you are feeling to what you are choosing to feel? In as little as 10 minutes, here is how you can make that transformation yourself.

This week started off like many. Working part time at the bakery, following up with meal prep clients and delivering meals, spending time writing for my consulting work and enjoying quality time with my boyfriend while he is working remotely for the week. A few factors were different.

Transform what you are feeling to what you are choosing to feel | Strong Sweet Caroline

I’ve gotten less sleep, I’ve been doing more self-analysis for me and my businesses and I am in a new workout training protocol and believe I injured my shoulder and/or trap muscle from over training and not stretching and recovering like I should. I was not letting it get to me and felt like I was doing a good job mitigating that stress and channeling it to my work and being more productive each day. Until Wednesday.

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How to choose and live your theme

It’s a new year and I have been extremely busy. My priorities are focused on my goals. I’ve laid out daily action plans and tactics. And I get done what I can.

Last year, you might remember I chose my word/theme for the year as moxie. And I certainly lived it out! The decision was not taken lightly but just came to me.

This year, I took time to analyze myself as a person, what I’ve learned, what I strive to accomplish this year and how I can do that.

You may or may not have done this yourself. Here is the process for how I choose my theme for the year and live it out DAILY.

word of the year (1)

Step 1: Review last year

I take at least one full hour before year end to evaluate my year. Whether you have a paper or electronic calendar, go through each month and see what happened. It’s funny, sometimes we forget about the little things that happened unless we write them down! For example, I forgot I completed two new books the month of March and that was while traveling to Texas for a fitness camp!

While reviewing, take in some key mental (or written) notes of happy, exciting experiences, experiences that were difficult or sad, things you learned, things you maybe did not grow as much as you wanted and any additional indicators of success or weaknesses.

Last year, I had a lot of change because I followed through and lived my word of the year, moxie. I described it as having vigor, courage and determination. And that seems to be what I did. In difficult times and amazing, wonderful successes, I had moxie. I sat down in Miami Beach, FL and reviewed the year and what things happened as planned, what did and looked at the why behind everything.

Step 2: Identify your vision for the new year

After you have reviewed the previous year, you can step forward into the new one. Identify a vision for the year. What are your big goals? What do you want to learn? Where do you want to travel? How can all of these pieces fit together?

Sometimes, I get too many thoughts into my vision. Therefore, I break it down into distinct categories:

  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional/Intellectual
  • Financial
  • Social/Family
  • Career

If I pick three to six vision points underneath each category, I can stay better focused throughout the year and not feel overwhelmed. Some are large goals and some are small. Nonetheless, I write down options and select only a handful for the one year. Save the others in your notebook for later down the road or to review and possibly add in next year.

Step 3:  Select your theme

When you know where you were last year and identify where you want to go for the new year, options for your theme will become more clear. Think about who you are.

What are some common characteristics of you? What words would your best friends use to describe you?

Now, take it one step further.

If you can live out who you are through thoughts and actions, how would you do it? What words might describe that? Maybe you are not quite to the level you want to be yet. That’s OK. This is the process to help you see yourself in the future.

Close your eyes and see yourself achieving this year’s goals. You see yourself successful, happy and amazing.

Open your eyes. Choose the word that if you wrote it down or saw it daily, it would take you back to that vision and motivate you to act towards your new goals.

This led me to choose my theme of vitality. To me (and the dictionary), this means

  • physical strength
  • mental vigor
  • continuation of meaningful, purposeful existence

This was a great over-arching theme for the goals I had in mind with my current meal prep company and new business ventures I’m planning for the new year. So now what?

Step 4: Live it

It’s easy to write down a word or theme. The real challenge is execution. What will you do daily to live it?

vitality

I have a daily mantra I read aloud to remind me of specific things I want to do or do not want to do that align with my theme. Then, I take time weekly and daily to review things each day, make top three items to complete in one day.

Only choose three!

We always have to-do lists. But what three items will progress you towards your bigger theme and yearly goals?

Set time in your day to work on those. Fill in the rest with errands, other action items, family time and more. This balance and accomplishing three main things will take stress off your back and help you stay focused on what you can truly do within 24 hours.

What is the theme you choose and how will you live it? Would love to hear how you are doing it in the comments or send me an email (strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com). Look forward to helping more people with my businesses this year.