Derby Fever

My bucket ran over last year when by husband presented me with Derby tickets for the 143rd Running of the Roses at Churchill Downs. The race has been nicknamed the “Run for the Roses” because the winner is given a garland of more than 400 red roses sewn together, a tradition that dates back to 1932. There is a reason they call it “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports,” as frivolous as it sounds those two minutes didn’t disappoint. Growing up I loved everything to do with horses. I rode and competed in English Style in upstate New York for many years.

The Kentucky Derby held May 5th is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, and is followed by the Preakness Stakes on May 19 and the Belmont Stakes on June 9. The 1 1/4-mile race runs on a dirt racetrack at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Last year the dirt turned into mud after a morning deluge but that didn’t stop our fun.

Twenty horses enter the Derby, which is one of the largest fields in horse racing. To qualify for the Derby, horses and their jockeys travel on the road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races featuring a point system. The top four finishers of those races earn points and the top 20 horses from the 35 races earn a spot in the starting post in the Kentucky Derby race.

Churchill Downs is packed with over 150,000 fans all dressed to the nines with hats and sipping mint juleps hoping for their pick to be the one lucky windfall of the race. In fact, Always Dreaming, last year’s winner, did provide a little pay day for us helping me to recoup the cost of my dress and hat. The whole weekend was a lovely experience full of southern charm and hospitality. You should plan on spending a good amount of money to check this bucket list item off.

Places to Stay

During the Derby you have hotels that are high-end and make their year during Derby weekend and a selection of very nice Bed & Breakfast establishments. The B & B options were less pricey but not by much.

We stayed at a charming bed & breakfast close to Churchill Downs called The Samuel Culbertson Mansion. This was a good plan because the day of the race it rained and we were able to take a quick rickshaw ride right into the stadium. Many visitors were traipsing through the mud, dresses and white slacks ruined and splattered as they fought their way into the Downs. 

Places to Go & Things to See

Louisville can be summed up in three words, bourbon, horses & history. Before the Derby went off, we had a drink at the historic Brown Hotel and toured a couple of the distilleries in downtown Louisville. The Galt House is another well-known stop for a drink or a bite. The Louisville Slugger Museum was a fun and interactive stop. You get to make a bat and take a few swings in a cage. When planning your trip reserve your dinner reservations ahead of time. Most of the restaurants are booked out months in advance. We ate at Bucks and 610 Magnolia.

Expert Insight

I don’t like to be negative but there was one area of dissatisfaction during our visit. Churchill Downs has very poor signage and flow. When we and the other 150,000 people were departing it was a sea of crushing bodies pushing and trampling one another to get out. For a world-class sporting venue like the Derby, I was shocked and disappointed by the experience. People were pinned against the tunnel walls and it was very uncomfortable. There were handicapped people who couldn’t get through and no one was around from the stadium to direct the flow or help. This needs to be improved or someone will get hurt.

The Race

Who will it be this year? The odds makers are abuzz with speculations. Betting is complicated. You have to take into consideration so many details including the horses’ pedigree, breeder, trainer, jockey, race position and past wins. Last year it rained a good amount and some horse are considered good “mudders” while others are not so great. The process of dissecting and selecting can be overwhelming and exhilarating. We were in section 113, Row 3 by the finish line and just under cover enough so we didn’t get wet when the relentless rain kept coming all day. The pomp and circumstance was rich, the Juleps were flowing and they were off. You’re out of your seat cheering as the blaze of horse’s race by. As the field narrows you can barely control your excitement as you see your horse, Always Dreaming, clomping his way to first place. You never know when another Secretariat or American Pharaoh is just around the corner.

Dreams do come true! This year, we’ll be watching from our living room but our memories will keep us smiling for years to come.

Here is to the field for 2018 and it’s off to the races on May 5th at 6:34 post time!

Are You For Real?

Crosstalk new


Do you ever feel like you are living someone else’s life? Turns out this phenomenon has a name and is prevalent in 70% of high-functioning women in today’s society. Men, I don’t mean to exclude you as there are indications that you too suffer from impostor syndrome.

What is Impostor syndrome, also known as fraud syndrome?

According to Wikipedia, in 1978 two clinical psychologists named Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the phrase while referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to accept their accomplishments as true and had a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Despite evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. They see proof of success but dismiss it as luck or timing. They attribute success as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. People with impostor syndrome tend to be perfectionists, which means they’re likely to spend hours working overtime to make sure they excel in every single field.

Fraud syndrome is also an equal opportunity employer. From Broadway stars to Silicone Valley boardrooms to the Supreme Court, no one is immune. Stars like Michelle Pfeifer, business tycoon Sherly Sandberg and even Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayer are all afraid that one of these days they will be found out.

I recall some simple advice given to me way back in the day when I started my career. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Could that have been the start of my journey as a phony? Once you start to buy into the self-doubt, the cycle becomes a slippery slope of inauthenticity creating a drive to be perfect followed by a fear of being exposed. Then one day you wake up and realize nobody’s perfect!

Here are my top five tips on how to stop fraud syndrome in its tracks.

Embrace and accept yourself.

Claim your success and own it. I have a dear friend who built a successful business and sold it for millions of dollars. The selling part didn’t go off a smoothly as it could have, but nonetheless she built the company from nothing and made a major impact on people’s lives along the way. One day I brought this up to her and she just shrugged. I looked at her and said, “You don’t think you are successful business women do you?” She said, “No, I just lucked into it.” You have to be able to accept the success you have and embrace the fact that you deserve some of the opportunities provided to you.

Being perfect is impossible.

Admit you’re not perfect. No one is and there is no shame in admitting it. Sometimes we win in life and sometimes we lose. Being wrong on an issue or losing a job doesn’t make you a phony it makes you human.

Don’t take shortcuts because they only derail your long-term confidence.

One of the roots of my fraud stem from grade school. I have a math phobia. My teacher was a yeller. Every time I asked a question or didn’t understand something he would yell at us. Thus, I stopped asking. As a result I never properly learned my multiplication tables. I would carry a laminated times table grid around in my pocket in case I was picked on to answer a question. If I didn’t have the grid I would be overcome at the thought of being exposed. Instead of using this little short cut, the laminated grid, I should have addressed the issue with tutors and extra help. This issue festered well into my college years.

Be authentic!

I am a little quirky! There I said it. Some people will like me and some people won’t, that’s life! If you walk around being the shell of the person you could be your cheating yourself and the world out of the true you!

Shift from self-focused to others focused.

When you remove the self-focus and begin to serve others, you will find you can’t continue to wallow in impostor syndrome. By serving or helping others, you are moving into action and it becomes virtually impossible to keep up the novella of comparisons, worries about measuring up and fears of unequal social status. Stop comparing yourself to others, your uniquely-made quirks and all.

As it turns out, you’re not an impostor after all. You are a brave risk taker who may fail on occasion but you always get back up and can fake it ‘til you make it one more time, and make you will!

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at

[1] Wikipedia, the Definition of Imposter Syndrome, 1978. “The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention.”. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice by Clance, P.R, Imes, S.A.

No More Grousing


I stumbled across a new movement taking hold on the Internet. Check out this link to learn more about the specifics: Complaint Restraint Project. The initiative was established by Thierry Blancpain and Pieter Pelgrims,  to create a more positive life by eliminating negative statements for 30-days.

“There’s no secret sauce,” the website says. “Simply stop complaining.”

Unfortunately misery just loves company doesn’t it?

I thought I would give it a whirl, so I enlisted some of my inner circle for a team style project. My sister said it sounded interesting but she couldn’t commit to starting until after the 19th of month. Huh? Can it really be that difficult to stop grousing?

Fast Company picked up the battalion and even wrote a post that lists ways to make not complaining a realistic goal: 

Start by defining what a complaint is:

Turns out there is a difference between an observation and a complaint. Maybe I just tend to be very observant in my daily life. Especially when I notice coffee dribbled on the floor or laundry piled up. Perhaps people in my house just aren’t as observant as I am. Is that possible? Or did I just slip back into complaining? Seriously, a complaint brings about a negative undertone and makes the energy drain out of you.

Track how often you complain and what about:

This opens the mindfulness cavern and really gets your brain tuned into how habitually you fall into a pattern of complaining. One morning while watching the news I had 5 slips in a matter of minutes. Yikes, turn the television off, light candle and tune into some spa music.

Don’t engage:

Skip grousing fests and avoid friends who tend to over-grouse.  If you have to attend a meeting or event, try to stay on the fringe or add something positive. Just last week, I opened my mouth to say something and a certain person pounced on me like Tigger in Pooh. The rant of expletives, and “that is the stupidest thing I ever heard,” followed. Ouch!

Use the “but-positive” technique:

We all know this little trick helps you turn a negative into a positive. Another way to phrase things is by turning a “but” into a “get.”  Try turning, I have to pick up the dry cleaning, into, I get to pick up the dry cleaning, which happens to be right across the street from my favorite store. I have to go up north in the middle of a storm… but I get to spend time with my parents.

Just remember, ridding yourself of negativity takes work. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Slips happen, just keep trying to find the rainbow in the midst of the storm. I am working on taking the challenge one day at a time. Won’t you join me?


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at or

Lean In or Bend and Flow?

Could Life’s Perfect Formula Be Mirrored By Trees? 

The wind picked up during my morning walk and I noticed a sudden shift in the air. As I looked around I could see the palm trees swaying and bowing as the wind slapped at their branches. The mighty oaks seemed to lean in deliberately taunting the wind as it challenged their aged sturdy canopy. Living in Florida we often see heavy winds, hurricanes and an occasional tornado. After the storms pass the debris can be seen for miles. Isn’t this just an analogy for our life? We hit a rough patch, a Tsunami of sorts, we get hurt, broken and the debris of our lives spreads out for months and sometimes decades.  

Is it better to be like a palm tree or an oak?  Turns out a palm tree is more like a flowering plant, a monocot. The center is made up of cells, a watery flexible sheath like substance which allows for nearly a 90 degree bend. At the base is a root ball system that teeters and tauter’s with pliable roots that rebuild after a storm.  The oak on the other hand is a dicot, a heavily rooted hardwood, which grows massive roots and elaborate canopy systems providing shade and light to pass through similar to an umbrella. I love Oaks, they are confident and respected, but I am not sure I want to be like one when the storms of life hit.

Growing up I would have sworn that the sturdier and tougher you were the better chances you had to weather the storms. As they say, the older you get the more you know. There are powerful forces and seasons in life that require flexibility rather than rigidity. In some cases you must bend or you will break under the pressure. The palm tree’s greatest strength lies in their ability to be pliable when storms come and to regrow and rebuild when they pass. The oak can dig deep, cling on and grow to a massive girth, yet if pushed too hard the tree will uproot and fall.

The winds of change are ever present and my first inclination is always to lean in, pull from my roots and hold steadfast. But life has a way of teaching us lessons and sometimes we learn by toppling over leaving a wake of mass destruction with an empty hole left for weeds to fill. I will never forget one poignant message a friend of mine shared after her husband had passed away. Her biggest regret was that she spent her time scurrying around researching, trying to solve the problem and getting multiple opinions for the cancer that was eating away at her husband. In the end, she had wished she had just been still, sat with him and honored the time they had left together.

When the storms of life hit you, I think the perfect formula may be to rely on your roots, turn to God for comfort and gracefully sway, bow and dance so you can be the thing left standing when the sun shines again.

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and writer and can be reached at

Patience Pays

Patience Pays

By: Jodi Cross

I am not a patient person. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. Being patient has never come easy to me. In fact, the world we live in today likely makes it harder for many people to be patient when everything is an instant mouse click away.

During a recent visit to Muir Woods outside of San Francisco I learned a valuable lesson about patience. With over 1.5 million visitors a year my husband and I learned quickly that the park may have been big enough to handle that kind of crowd but the parking lot certainly wasn’t. After our third go around, I was growing impatient when we came upon a car sitting and blocking the backside of the parking ring. The gentlemen appeared to be waiting for someone to pull out. Just as I was about to lay on the horn my husband snatched my arm away from the steering wheel sternly stating, “Don’t, just wait”!

As you can surmise my husband is a steady, even- tempered kind of man. Which happens to compliment my intolerant, in a rush, always running late ways. A couple of minutes went by and sure enough a car pulled out and zip the car in front of us moved into the spot. After our third go around, perhaps waiting wasn’t such a bad strategy. Within a few moments, out came another couple and in we went to their spot.

As we were walking toward the park entrance the man in the car in front of us said hello. I may have sneered inadvertently still stinging from my frustration of wanting to get in and take a picture and move on. My husband, however, acknowledged the man and said hello. The fellow outdoor enthusiast proceeded to thank us for our patience and offered to pay our way into the park. Wow, what a great lesson this was for me! I started to think about all the other kind gestures I may have missed out on simply because of my hurried nature and impatience. As I was researching my article I came across an interesting statistic and quote that I thought I would share with you.

Apparently doctor’s research shows that every minute you are angry causes you to lose 60 seconds of happiness. I especially liked this quote from James Clavell’s novel, Shogun: “Karma is the beginning of knowledge. Next is patience. Patience is very important. The strong are the patient ones. Patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: Hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don’t give way to the seven, you’re patient, then you’ll soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with eternity.”

Next time you have an inclination to become annoyed or frustrated about a situation try relaxing and focusing on the big picture. Let it go and see if positive Karma comes back to you. ©