Mad in America

Mad in America

CoffeeIf we are going to make America great again shouldn’t we figure out what is making us so angry? What is really behind all this anger in America?  When you ask people it varies a great deal by demographic, age and political party. For the last 8 years, Republicans were angry about Obama, now Democrats are angry with Trump. Politics aside, everyone seems angry about government overreach, greed, school shootings, terrorism in America and unfair practices which put hard working Americans at a disadvantage. The problem with all this anger is no one is willing to listen to one another without a shouting match.

When you unpack the emotional side of anger you realize it’s just a mask. Anger is a way of dealing with a situation without addressing the feelings behind the emotion. Anger covers up fear, jealousy, frustration and feelings of powerlessness from a given situation. Angry people tend to be poor communicators and worse listeners.

One of the key storylines of our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead. I know a lot of people who have worked hard their entire life, myself included. If I ask my husband what angers him, it is the notion that he has played by the rules, paying taxes and giving back while others don’t play by the same rules. Deep down we feel a sense of struggle for trying to live out our own personal version of the American dream. 

When you do a google search you can find angry people in all categories. There are the obvious results, “activists outraged,” or “angry conservatives”. But you may be surprised to find “angry vegans,” who are upset over the owners of a chain of plant-based restaurants who have taken to eating meat—on their own farm and their own time. There is a group blaming coffee called “caffeine rage,” where people are angry about coffee, both not having enough and having too much. And here is a strange one, “Angry Knitters” (something about the U.S. Olympic Committee not letting them use the term “knitters’ Olympics,” but people with large needles that can poke your eyes out should be paid attention to.) If we are looking for a culprit, maybe Starbucks is to blame for providing too much access to caffeine.

As we turn the page on a tumultuous year, let’s all try to unite for a common cause, America the great and powerful nation we call home. I have always found by showing people courtesy, respect and dignity you open the channels of communication. We need open channels if we are going to get things accomplished. There is a quote from Martin Luther King which summarizes our conundrum in a positive way. We are all individuals and we can live, work and play in harmony through respect. “If I wish to compose or write or pray or preach well, I must be angry,” Martin Luther King once said. “Then all the blood in my veins is stirred, and my understanding is sharpened.”

Let us be stirred in a positive way and our senses be sharpened for the common good of all.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and freelance writer and blogger. She may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .


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Goal Keeper Tim Howard was featured on the CBS Series Note to Self where he wrote about his personal journey and the things he learned along the way.  Tim mentioned the different roles self-belief and self-confidence played in his life. Many people use self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably but they are quite different. Self-confidence can depend […]

What Matters Most is How you See Yourself

Goal Keeper Tim Howard was featured on the CBS Series Note to Self where he wrote about his personal journey and the things he learned along the way.  Tim mentioned the different roles self-belief and self-confidence played in his life. Many people use self-esteem and self-confidence interchangeably but they are quite different. Self-confidence can depend on performance, whereas self-belief comes from a nurturing place inside you which encourages and keeps you striving for greatness.

Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall and how much positive self-love you have. Your esteem develops from experiences and situations which have shaped how you view yourself in the world. Self-confidence is how you feel about your abilities and can vary from situation to situation. I may have healthy self-esteem, but low confidence about situations involving my math skills (this is true).

When you hold yourself in high regard, your belief in yourself improves, which makes you more confident. When you are confident in areas of your life, you begin to increase your overall sense of worth. There were many lessons I learned in my twenties which have shaped me today and strengthened my self-belief. These lessons, although painful at times, proved critical for developing coping skills later in life.

Your self-esteem can wane when you start to compare yourself with others. You feel great until you sit next to a super model then a critical spirit takes hold and you spiral into self-doubt. Embracing your authentic self means you trust yourself. The difference between our belief and confidence hinges on how much faith we have in ourselves and our abilities.

It makes sense that if we have a realistic internal rating of ourselves and see ourselves as equally competent, intelligent and attractive as others, we will feel confident in what we can do as well. However, there are times when we lack confidence and our ego takes hold to cover up a short coming. We have all heard the saying, “Fake it until you make it”. I have had to deploy this tactic before.  In my experience, you should always circle back and shore up the short coming so it doesn’t come back to bite you later on.

Inside each one of us resides a little voice, a spark of belief, who knows what we are capable of and has faith in our abilities. We just need to ignite the spark and let it shine! I like what Tim said, “Never lose the underlying belief in yourself”. Anything is possible if we have faith and believe in ourselves!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .

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What Are You Setting Your Sights On This Year

Goalimage

“My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose – somehow we always win out.” ~ Ronald Reagan

Happy New Year! We are all wondering what 2017 will bring. There has been a lot of talk about winning of late. As I reflect on 2016, I feel the need for a reboot. Generally each year I set goals for myself and check in around the mid-year mark to see if I have made any progress. Somewhere during the past year I lost my way.

Recently, I came across a new technique to establish some benchmarks. The format allows for reflection, action, accountability and my favorite part, celebration. I invite you to join me in this simple eight step process of setting your sights higher and vigorously taking action to accomplish your professional best in 2017.

Step 1-Reflect back on 2016 and ask yourself four questions.

  1. What have you enjoyed most?
  2. What have you been able to make a difference in? (This is a tough one as it relates to how you address your purpose in life)
  3. What were you most surprised by?
  4. What did you not feel prepared for?

Step 2-Determine what goals you accomplished in the past year and jot down how you celebrated the accomplishment. The celebration part is noteworthy, many times we work hard only to move on to the next thing without stopping to take an account of what we accomplished. Life is about savoring the sweetness of those special moments with friends and family.

Now you are ready to move on to 2017.

Step 3-What is important to you at the present moment? Think about 2017 priorities as everything is constantly shifting and changing in life.

Step 4-Detail out the things you want to: preserve, change or strive for in the coming year.

Step 5-Outline specific goals in the following areas. (These areas are subject to your interpretation and can be substituted for other priorities if you feel there is something more pressing on your agenda)

  1. Process Improvements
  2. Technology
  3. Growth or new business development
  4. Organizational aptitude or improvements
  5. Personal Development

Step 6-Once you determined your key areas of focus. Narrow down the list to the top three goals for 2017. 

Step 7-Determine how will you measure success and celebrate your accomplishments?

Step 8-How will you hold yourself accountable to do what you say you will do? What will the consequences be if you don’t take action?

Let’s see what we can all accomplish in the coming year. Wishing you much success.  

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .

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Choose Happiness This Holiday Season

Happy Holiday


Choose Happiness This Holiday Season

This year has been a tumultuous year for our country. There have been upsets in elections, hurricanes and protests. As we head into the holiday season, I hope we can all turn a page on the things we don’t have in common and focus on being happy. So many people DREAD the holidays! There are many reasons such as; extra work, shopping, cooking, entertaining, family obligations and let’s not forget strife. Family strife comes in all shapes and sizes just like the ghosts of Christmas’s past and it can rob you of a happy and joyous holiday season.

This year let’s set aside the strife and focus on harmony, happiness and being kinder to one another. The holiday’s are about family, friendship and spending time together. If you’re travelling this year, bring your patience and try smiling at the people you meet. By keeping a positive attitude you can elevate stress and make someone else’s day.

Positivity outweighs negativity five to one, conversely negativity sucks the life out of relationships. Lucky for us we get to choose our attitude. Here are some other notable stress buster to keep you in your happy place;

  • Keep an exercise routine, don’t overeat, and plan ahead. I love to go for a nice walk on Christmas morning once the turkey’s in and cooking. Remember that just because there is a huge meal on the table there is no need to overindulge.
  • If shopping fills you with anxiety try drawing names or giving everyone gift cards. People really like to buy their own gifts anyway.
  • If baking or extra cooking puts you in a bad mood, try a cookie exchange or catering a meal. Last year, I made two-three dozen cookies and I ended up with 6-7 different types with an exchange group.

Let happiness rule your holiday season, trust me it will be contagious. May Peace and Harmony be with you this season and in the New Year!

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, writer and blogger. She can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

 

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Give Thanks & Honor to a Veteran This Month

Military Shields

November 11th is Veterans Day, a day when Americans celebrate the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. Yet, for many of us, the day passes with little thought or opportunity to honor our veterans.  For many veterans, the most powerful thanks you can give is to simply understand why they served and what this nation stands for because of their service.  

It’s easy to think we know what being in the military is like. My grandson just joined the Army and we couldn’t be prouder of him. My husband served in the Navy and my niece and nephew are both in the Army. We see movies about instilling discipline and teamwork, following orders and being tough. The news shows us all the scary stuff: land mines, gun battles and enemy combatants lurking around every corner. Our soldiers train for those situations. However, sometimes the toughest parts aren’t the life-threatening predicaments, they are the absent from life moments they miss the most. Birthday parties, graduations, baby’s births, illness and so much more. Serving in the military comes with its own set of challenges for both the veteran and their families. Sometimes, those that served us so honorably and made sacrifices, feel abandoned, misunderstood or ignored.

A recent study conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looked into suicides of military veterans. In 2014, an average of 22 veterans die from suicide each day. Six out of 20 were users of Veterans Administration services. Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, there are over 67,000 homeless veterans in the US today.

So what can you do to honor and thank a Veteran this year? Start by showing some appreciation. Fly your flag. Visit a VA Hospital or veteran’s cemetery and decorate a grave. There are many public events and parades for honoring our service men and women. Look for charities to donate to veteran’s causes.

You may have seen the recent #22pushups campaign on social media. This stems from the #22KILL movement started in 2013 after the VA released the staggering statistic that an average of 22 veterans are killed by suicide every day. 22KILL has committed to researching and understanding the genesis of this epidemic, and educating the general public on the issues of suicide and mental health issues that can lead to suicide. These issues can stem from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, or the struggles and stresses of transitioning from military to civilian life.

If you can’t afford to make a donation at this time you can go to amillionthanks.org and send a letter of appreciation to a veteran. This non-profit doesn’t cost you anything but your time.

American’s Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. I hope you’ll consider showing your appreciation to all of those who have served and are serving our country, no matter how you do it. I like to re-read In Flanders’ Fields which always provides a poignant reminder of our soldier’s brave sacrifices.

Happy Veterans Day!

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CT Takes Off -Destination Key Largo

Keys4     Key Largo’s Newest Hotel

It’s just a Flip Flop Away From Miami

Where to Stay

Discover Playa Largo, Key Largo’s newest destination resort perched on the Bay in the Florida Keys. We recently made an impromptu getaway and our GPS was set on Key Largo’s newest resort, Playa Largo. This mini-sanctuary is just a short jog from the mainland but you feel like you’ve left the hustle and bustle behind; the local’s call it Key’s Time. The resort offers a unique vantage point from the lobby with a glimpse of the pool and bay beckoning you in.  Ah, a deep breath and a rush of relaxation flowed over us as we are met with warm hospitality and a resort associate who remotely checks us in with iPads. Libations are offered as we assess our surroundings. Keys6

Playa Largo was once a pineapple plantation and the resort gives a nod to its history with fresh pineapple water in the lobby and bright colors throughout. If you feel the need for some pampering, Ocean Spa offers a citrus twist on services and the therapists couldn’t be more welcoming. The lobby has a swanky feel with a Ceviche Bar, hanging swings and blown glass fixtures, dangling about catching the suns rays.

Playa Largo Pool

Playa Largo Pool

We decided to head to the pool and enjoy a frozen drink and some light cuisine. The pool is a playground for guests in need of relaxation. There are numbers of cabanas and beach side hammocks to help you fully relax, Keys’ style. This Florida paradise atop a vibrant archipelago awakens your senses to become present in the moment. As we sway carelessly in the hammock overlooking the bay we spot jumping fish. The sky turns orange then a deep red as natures masterpiece unfolds before our eyes and we realize why we’ve come to this serene spot in Florida.

Where to Play

Keys7While in Keys, immerse yourself in the local culture, in particular the underwater playground is not to be missed. The Florida Keys offers world-class snorkeling, diving, deep sea fishing and many other water sports all set upon a canopy of a sapphire blue water. Exploring in John Pennekamp State Park reveals the iconic underwater Christ Statue, an awe inspiring moment to be remembered along with more than 23 other man made and artificial reefs. If you feel lazy, which does happen in the Keys, you can opt to just lounge about in a hammock or hang out in a pool cabana. Key Largo is the longest key with 30 + miles to explore. You’ll find kitschy T-shirt shops and restaurants serving all varieties of fresh seafood, along with Artisan Villages selling local bounty.

There is so much more than just T-shirt shops and key lime pie stands. Playa Largo is a much needed haven and an upscale alternative to the sometimes scruffy Keys experience. This is one secret you won’t want to keep to yourself. Learn more www.playalargoresort.com.Keys8

Expert Tip

Take the road less traveled by driving Card Sound instead of US 1. There are only two ways to get in and out of the Keys, the traffic can be brutal especially on holiday weekends.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, travel blogger and speaker and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com



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Show Law Enforcement A little Love Today!

Cop hugThere is a standing saying around our house when someone is feeling blue, we hold our arms open and say “Does someone need a hug?” It seems like the law enforcement folks in our country could use a big hug. In fact, that was what 12 year old Devonte Hart of Portland, Oregon thought when he stood in front of a police blockade holding a sign that read Free Hugs!! Devonte’s message wasn’t directed specifically towards the police as much as it was to the crowd in an attempt to ease tensions. He ended up getting more than he bargained for from his Free Hug sign. The photo went viral on social media and CNN even picked up the story. Turns out, Devonte is not alone, there seems to be a movement afoot to support our men and women in blue. After the recent bad press and hostility directed towards the police I too feel like giving them a hug.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average starting salary for police officers is $33,030. The highest wages are paid in States like New Jersey and California where some police officers make around $42 per hour or $87,000 per year with an average salary coming in at approximately $56,000. When you think about someone making $33,000 a year, you wonder why they would put their life on the line every day. Obviously, it isn’t about the money.

Clearly, it must be a calling of the highest order. The widely used oath embraced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police reads, “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the Constitution, my community, and the agency I serve.” Policebadge

Police officers are dealing with drug overdoses, mental illness, domestic violence, street gangs and a multitude of other crimes all in a day’s work. Add to this the pressure of making a split second decision when you are uncertain what lies behind a closed door. You have to respect them for what they do and appreciate their commitment to our safety and protection. I don’t know about you but I freak out and start swatting when a spider crawls on me let alone someone in a dark alley with his/her hand in their pockets.

So to all you police officers out there, I salute you! Give an Officer a HUG today is a movement and I can get on board with it how about you? #hugacop  Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

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Have You Lost Your Why?

Have You Lost Your Why?

Are you making a difference in life? What will your legacy be? Living intentionally and with a purpose takes sacrifice and hard work. Recently, a friend of mine was describing a mission trip to Africa and how she spent three months working in a remote village. Her goal was to help the village people by contributing to their vision. Like many why experiences in life, those three months ended up transforming her from the inside out. After my recent birthday, I started thinking about what I wanted for the next half of my life. We are each the navigator of our own destiny and are therefore responsible for what path we take. For me a resounding voice kept repeating a desire to create deeper and more meaningful fulfillment. But how?

Finding your purpose or your why has to do with making an impact, tapping into something deeper inside and recalibrating your passion. Ultimately your why is not about you, it is about making a difference in the world. And no that doesn’t include surfing Facebook and making random comments to distant friends. Think about your life, what does it say about you? By aligning yourself with your passions you will tap into your greater purpose. Passions are the result of taking action and doing something that moves you.

For example, I didn’t know I loved to travel until I took my first trip. Then I was hooked on seeing the world and learning about other cultures. When it comes to finding your purpose you need to get out of your head and into your heart.

There are common themes around finding your why, they include:

  • Contributing to a bigger dream or mission through sacrifice
  • Pushing past fear and allowing yourself to become vulnerable and living outside your comfort zone
  • Finding a greater good beyond your individual selfish interests or limitations
  • Finding a problem and trying to solve it
  • Getting out of your head and turning your passion into action

We only have a set number of days on this planet, what will your epithet be? If we all just take a small step out of our comfort zone and get involved with something we feel passionate about, miracles could happen.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at Jcross@crossnm.com.


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Have We Become Comfortably Numb?

Heart In Rocks

As we all watch the news in horror I can’t help but wonder if we are growing numb to the evil in the world. It is easy to change the channel but with 49 dead and 53 wounded in Orlando in June and 84 dead and 202 wounded in Nice in July how can we continue to look away? It seems like every month there is another terrorist attack and they are getting closer and closer. According to Wikipedia, as of July 15, 2016 there have been 922 incidents of terrorism reported in the world.  Many of the attacks don’t make the news in remote places such as the outskirts of Egypt, small towns in Syria or women being stoned to death in Iraq.

June was one of the most deadly months so far this year, with 218 incidents and over 1822 deaths including the attack at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. So far July has seen over 84 incidents reported including both Dallas and Nice. It was shocking to see not even 24-hours after the Nice attack, Wikipedia chronicled two more incidents, tagging them to the bottom of their ongoing list. Wikipedia notes the type of attack, location, death toll, injury statistics, details and perpetrators. You can see the rankings and incidences by country. Not surprising Iraq ranks number one with over 2,714 incidences of terrorism in 2014, while the USA hoovers at 38 incidents for the same period. While that might sound like good news for us we still hold the number one spot for the worst terrorist attack in history on 911, when we lost 2996 souls.  Unfortunately, our friends in France are ascending the dubious ranks from the middle of the list climbing rapidly up to the top tier. The disturbing facts go on to show everything from car bombings to mass shootings. According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism 2014 showed a spike in deaths (43,550) and injuries (40,989).

*National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

*National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

On other sites, such as Islam Religion of Peace, there were shocking statistics with eerie benchmarks noting 28,822 attacks since 911. I shudder to think what their ultimate goal might be, mass annihilation or world dominance?  After looking at the statistics you can’t deny the facts. Tensions are rising and we are at a tipping point. We need to wake up, stop changing the channel and figure out what we can all do to diminish the hatred in the world and strive for peace both in our country and in our own communities.

If these statistics aren’t alarming enough, we also appear to be imploding from within. Not only are our enemies out to get us we can’t even seem to get along as a nation. This is an important election year for our country. We need to elect a leader who will address these issues and come up with a plan to keep our country safe and united instead of divided.

Maybe you’re like me, numb to the evil in the world, all the rhetoric and politics. Many of my peers have said they may not even vote this year. The very thought has crossed my mind too. Then I think of the women who were stoned to death or the families suffering with loss after all this senseless violence and I remember how fortunate we are to have the right to vote and make a difference.

Let’s hope it won’t come down to a matter of self-preservation for our way of life, customs and beliefs. I would hate to see a day when we become afraid to travel or have to change the way we live our daily lives as a result of fear. We need all the strength we can muster to defend against the larger threat of terrorism looming at our very doorstep just waiting to claim its next victim. It’s time to take a stand, get out of our comfort zone and come up with real solutions for a broken world.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

 

 

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Summer Camp Provides Life-Long Benefits

Horse camp image

For decades kids have been shuffled off to camp each summer to experience bonding, make new friends and commune with nature. One of the coolest things about camp is being exposed to new experiences which help to develop your self-esteem. Growing up I only went to camp one time and the primary attraction was horseback riding. Little did I know at the time Circle C Ranch in Attica, New York would hold a special place in my life and become an experience I would never forget.

Going to camp has a way of connecting you to nature and drawing you into the physical realm of being present. This was an amazing experience and in today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, getting kids to put down technology and get physical is crucially important.

I was a lonely child growing up with a twelve year span between myself and my oldest sibling. Summer camp allowed me to meet new friends and provided a sense of community. Camp also sparked an interest in hobbies I wasn’t exposed to and taught me how to be more independent.

Summer Camp

What attracted me to camp was the horseback riding program, which Circle C Ranch offered on a daily basis. I can honestly say I was hooked on riding after that summer. A lifelong passion ensued with private lessons, shows and competitions in English riding. As an adult, I still ride and enjoy the sport. Horses are such beautiful and soulful creatures and my love for them has never diminished.  

For decades kids have been shuffled off to camp each summer to experience bonding, make new friends and commune with nature. One of the coolest things about camp is being exposed to new experiences which help to develop your self-esteem. Growing up I only went to camp one time and the primary attraction was horseback riding. Little did I know at the time Circle C Ranch in Attica, New York would hold a special place in my life and become an experience I would never forget.

Going to camp has a way of connecting you to nature and drawing you into the physical realm of being present. This was an amazing experience and in today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, getting kids to put down technology and get physical is crucially important.

I was a lonely child growing up with a twelve year span between myself and my oldest sibling. Summer camp allowed me to meet new friends and provided a sense of community. Camp also sparked an interest in hobbies I wasn’t exposed to and taught me how to be more independent.

What attracted me to camp was the horseback riding program, which Circle C Ranch offered on a daily basis. I can honestly say I was hooked on riding after that summer. A lifelong passion ensued with private lessons, shows and competitions in English riding. As an adult, I still ride and enjoy the sport. Horses are such beautiful and soulful creatures and my love for them has never diminished.  

As much as I love riding there was another gift I received from Circle C Ranch.  Circle C was a mission based camp, something I didn’t realize when I enrolled. After my week was up the real gift appeared and has stayed with me my entire life.  Our family grew up Catholic, we went to church every Sunday and attended Catechism on Thursday nights. All the church going taught me about religion and history but never about having a personal relationship with God. This cataclysmic shift opened up a whole new world for many of us campers. During our week at camp we learned there was not some super being looking down waiting to catch us doing something wrong. Rather a loving father looking to create a relationship and connection with all of mankind. There was something peaceful stirring in my spirit.

This amazing lesson weaved a way into my being. I won’t say the promises and commitments I made didn’t falter through my high school and college years but some piece stuck and a small flame was ignited. The biggest gift of all was the exposure to a new perspectives and a life-long journey of faith resulted.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.


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