Confidence Booster from Robin Roberts

“When I started I was 19 and scared. Today, I am 44 and….Fierce!”

Photo Credits: ABC John LeMay

Wow! What a statement. The sentiment that has taken me 25 blog posts to try to convey, Faith Hill summed up the story with a Finish this Sentence interview question posed by Robin Roberts.

This dynamic 44-year-old country singer and mega-star has evolved into a person who can feel comfortable in her own skin. To me, that is the most admirable trait about her. Yes, she has sold over a gazillion albums. Sure, she has managed an endearing character or two on the big screen. Definitely, she found her own devastatingly handsome PC. They seem to have a family life that we all would hope to emulate. But, WOW, she is comfortable in her own skin – greatest accomplishment to date.

Photo by Donna Svennevik, courtesy of ABC.

Last night, PC and I watched In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts where she interviewed several of Country Music’s biggest stars. For me, Faith was clearly the one to watch. I wouldn’t normally blog about celebrity gossip – I have no interest in Baby Bieber’s possible baby. But when someone stands up and says something so seemingly honest, I take notice. Faith’s statement took guts, but the words came so naturally to her. I want that feeling for myself, and I wish that type of confidence for each of you as well.

With that being said Ms. Roberts, may I borrow your interview question and ask my friends to complete this sentence? Your interview inspired me. I’d say this particular sentence is a strong Confidence Booster without needing any additional props.

Ladies and gentlemen, please complete this sentence:

When I started I was 19 and scared. Today I am (age) and _________! I’ll start.

When I started, I was 19 and scared. Today I am 41 and Formidable!

Photo courtesy of My Mom! MBA Graduation

Ok, everybody. Your turn! Let’s see what you’ve got.

Kind Regards,

Heidi Lee

Avoiding Warts at Work: How to Kiss an Office Toad

Well hello, and Happy Story Tuesday to all of my Dear Friends.

Yes – You can Order this MousePad 🙂

Today, I hope to introduce to you the Other Heidi Lee who you have not yet met. This Heidi Lee is the ass-kicking dynamo who takes Business and Industry by the horns. She is as comfortable running the show in the Board Room as she is fighting the lady in the shoe store who just grabbed the LAST pair of Sz 7 Red Kitten Heels during the Midnight Madness sale at the local DSW. She can do it all, and what she can’t – she learns. That is how Heidi Lee is seen in her professional life – TODAY.

It took me years of Toad Kissing to earn that badge, so I wear it with pride.

Until now, you’ve seen my romantic yet realistic outlook on happiness within personal relationships. I hope you’ve enjoyed my somewhat purist views on love, dating and romance. I, however, have been described as quite the Dichotomy – sort of a “Touched by an Angel meets Red Shoe Diaries” personality. Today, I write to you as my alter-ego, a Business Sophisticate who happens to be proud to have been called, “One Smart Broad” by more than a couple; A professionally savvy women who has jumped in bed with many amphibious critters to get ahead of the rest of the pack.

Ok, ok…. I know where your sordid minds went right away. You may be thinking, “Oh cool, Office Smut and Sleeping your way to the Top”. Come on, raise your hands if slinked into that gutter….its ok, we all do.

On the contrary, Professional Toad Kissing actually has a very different meaning – one with which we can all relate. We have all worked or reported to people who wanted to hold us back. We’ve been in situations where people with more power than we had actually had control of our destinies. We’ve buried our tears into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio because someone less qualified got the promotion that we felt we deserved. And we’ve had to bend over and smile right through it…without the Toad even having the courtesy of giving us a reach-around.

Sound familiar? I’ve lived each of these scenarios – many times over – so I’ve learned to plant wet, juicy smooches dead center on the Lips of the Toads who I described above. Remember, kissing toads is a necessary learning process that we all go through to find our Happily Ever After. Mastering the Art means that you have become Confident with who you are – that you may be happy on your own or with another person. You don’t rely on another man or woman to complete you. So of course, kissing toads also applies professionally. And professionally, you have to be able to live with the decisions you make.

I’d like to start our journey into the pond of professional toads with an important lesson that I used to guide my communications, my actions and my interactions throughout my career. My professional journey began working in Retail, and I take you back to a time where I worked my way up to the management levels of a retail giant.

Professional Lesson #1: Yes, you CAN learn from every kind of leader – even poor leaders teach lessons.

What? How can I learn anything from a bad leader Heidi Lee? What could he or she possibly teach me? I know the business better, and I know my project like the back of my hand. This person simply doesn’t have a clue. His/Her leadership is taking us down a bad path….. What do you mean by suck it up and learn?

Thank you, I’m glad you asked. Let me share a story…..

Long ago, and far-away, there was a small village where incompetence had overshadowed productivity. There was no longer color or creativity. The villagers had fallen slave to Princess Melissa the Inept, and they were sad.

Princess Melissa was a new Princess who took over our village as a gift from her betrothed. Princess Melissa sat on her throne day after day, and she issued orders on how to sow her land. She never took the time to learn our climate, our growing seasons or our rocky patches. The Princess did not value ideas from her people, and we villagers were often punished for trying to speak up when the tools she gave us did not allow us to produce enough grain to feed her Court.

All of the Kings and Queens watched the young princess, and they thought how pretty she looked sitting in the monarchy. They loved how she was able to control the masses, and they saw that her people did exactly as they were told. They also saw that Melissa had plenty of grain to make cakes and breads and other foods, so they assumed Princess Melissa’s bounty was plentiful.

Meanwhile, in the fields….Heidi Lee of the House of Hood was the most tenured indentured servant in the village. She had seen locals tried, imprisoned and even beheaded for speaking against the Monarchy. Yet somehow, she survived. And while she didn’t prosper, she had enough grain to feed her own family while sometimes giving a hungry neighbor a morsel or two of bread.

Heidi Lee of the Hood was a wise young surf. Cunning and bright, and believed that helping her village meant also helping herself. While not all of her thoughts we pure and right – some maybe even slightly selfish – she seemed to always have the right answers on how to survive.

Heidi Lee of the Hood would often protect the younger, more vulnerable peasants and help them to become more productive. She would teach them ways to grow more grain with less land, and her creative ideas for getting wheat to grow often worked even in barren lands. Our young Hood would figure out how to make the tools work that she was given – teaching herself and others new ways to turn a butter knife into a shovel during the Harvest.

And over time, Heidi Lee of the Hood gained the respect of the feeble-minded Princess Inept. The Princess saw that when Heidi Lee was around, work got done. She even began to allow Heidi Lee into the castle for private meetings about how tilling the land really worked.

Princess Melissa noticed that publicly, Heidi Lee never spoke against the Princess or the Kings and Queens. She noticed that Heidi Lee would speak to her quietly behind the castle walls. With the draw bridge lifted so no one could cross the moat to overhear, Heidi Lee of the Hood would teach Princess Melissa about the land, the seasons, and why the tools that the peasants were forced to use did not deliver the abundance the Kingdom could really have. Heidi Lee helped Princess Melissa learn that her village could be wealthier than All of the other lands if only Princess Melissa would lead her people by listening to their needs and ideas.

And Heidi Lee of the Hood learned from Princess Melissa as well. Heidi Lee learned that Princesses may be put into positions that they aren’t ready to take on – whether from Bedding a Dozen princes or by inheriting Dear Daddy’s kingdom. She understood that just because one is a Monarch does not mean that they understand how to lead a kingdom. Sometimes even, a spoiled princess may be given a village just to stop her whiny and naughty behavior.

And Heidi Lee learned that publicly supporting the Monarchy while showing the peasants how to be successful helped our heroine to earn the respect from above as well as below. She learned that she could build teams around her by earning the respect of the peasants. And she understood that her ability to lead was powerful – strong enough if she needed to lead a revolution.

Most importantly, Heidi Lee learned that she never wanted to be a Leader like Princess Melissa the Inept. Our fine Ms. Hood studied closely what NOT to do so she could learn what should be done. After all, Heidi Lee of the Hood met her friend Cinderella at a local tavern one day and found out that some princes really do fall in love and give kingdoms to slave girls.

Ok, so in this situation, Melissa is the Toad. We had to kiss her. She has the power whether we like it or not. So how did we start to win her over while helping the poor peasants who needed their own Robin Hood? We taught the people who looked up to us how to be good followers while we respectfully and privately helped the inept leader to understand the true possibilities – when finally she was willing to listen.

The most important thing for me was that I kept my dignity and maintained personal integrity. I never sought to hurt people to get ahead, and I tried to speak up for what was right. Sure, that mentality didn’t fast track me by any means, but I like who I have become because of it. And I rose up – slowly but surely – while curiously managing to avoid the raging case of warts I secretly suspect kept Princess Inept so unhappy for so many years.

The rest of the story….

Over time, all of the Kings and Queens envied Princess Melissa and they exhalted her to Queen of all the Land, and Heidi Lee of the Hood was still a peasant………

Ok, so not the Happily Ever After you expected, right? Nope, not yet – still plenty of toads hopping around that need a little tongue…But don’t you worry – I get to visit Cinderella in her castle often over my years. And if you’ve ever seen #EverAfter with Drew Barrymore as Cinderella, you know what kind of kick ass broad our Fairy Tale Princess really was.

Hope you enjoyed story time. I’d love to hear from any of my other peasant friends out here if you’ve ever worked for Princess Inept. What did you learn from her? Post your comments, please.

Your Friend,

Hood!

Love through Vicodin Colored Glasses

Hey there! Please let me beg your forgiveness today and possibly for the next few days. My wonderful doctor just performed surgery on my poor little arthritic foot so that one day I can get back into my Stilettos and Slingbacks. While I am comfortably recovering, that’s because I’m simply doped-up, my friends. God forbid this Vicodin wears off and I actually feel my mangled, rheumatic limb.

Yesterday afternoon in the recovery room, I had quite the Epiphany about love and my Prince Charming. Having recently read Deanna Fry’s love-related-tales, a stunning lady with similar romantic challenges (and a new favorite blog) helped me to firm up my  analysis. As a result, I’m even more excited about the man who I chose to share my life with – my handsome, witty, and considerate Prince Charming.

The truth is, I was frightened about the looming surgical redesign of my slowly deforming foot. Not only was I freaking out about potentially crippling long-term complications from my Rheumatoid A.,I was also fixating on Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) from poor aseptic technique. (Fact: Over 50% of hospital related illnesses are preventable when a health care worker properly washes his or her hands the Right way – but that is a whole other blogging experience.)

Needless to say, taking care and keeping me calm was no picnic. My PC mastered it with graceful aplomb.

To explain, let me take you back to 2006. I spent the majority of my 30’s dating and eventually being engaged to The Wrong Man. We’ll call him Tom. Tom was a divorced dad who had both of his teenage girls living with him (and eventually with us).

He had established his beliefs, behaviors, and bad habits – I certainly wasn’t going to change him. His daughters were his princesses, and I, as their stepmother, did the work of Cinderella – backwards did you say? Where is that Fairy Godmother when you need her?

These girls got to stay home from school for 3 days a month when they had their periods, and he would stay home from work with them to bring them chicken soup. Sweet girls, but they clearly played their best Daddy-take-care-of-me Card when they didn’t want to take a test.

When I was 36, my loving doctors finally decided that I should stop suffering from one of my many ailments – my feminine curse. I’d had several surgeries over the years for cysts and for endometriosis – in short, my reproductive system was the Devil incarnate and Lucifer saw to it that I suffered regularly. In the worst of my monthly demonic sufferings, Tom would find me curled into the fetal position, perhaps weeping with a glass of red to ease the affliction.

When Tom saw me this way, he saw me only as a burden: He had to do the dishes and cook dinner. He couldn’t understand why I would cry while folding laundry when my feminine cramps or my Rheumatoid or other medical challenges acted up.

Momma always said I was a walking Medical Dictionary. I always said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother <wink>.” Love ya, Ma!

I felt like a burden even asking for a glass of water. You can imagine, then, the trouble that brewed when my doctors advised me to undergo a total hysterectomy. Not only would I lose the works that the Good Lord gave me, but I would also be thrown into menopausal trauma far too early in my ongoing battle against sanity.

I was to be laid up for 6 – 8 weeks. I begged Tom to stay with me and my son, Cole (age 8 at the time), while his daughters stayed with their mother. He agreed but … only …after … a … lot … of … hesitation. He finally admitted that didn’t want the extra drive time to work – roughly 20 minutes more one way. And, he didn’t want to do “your housework.” He thought that if I was able to walk, well,  I should be just fine to carry the laundry up 2 flights of stairs.

What a burden you are, Heidi Lee, I told myself. But I was his burden, and he was going to marry this burden – and I carried a kingdom of guilt. My health has never been stellar, but I am ambitious, motivated, and active in spite of it. I don’t let my physical challenges own me. Occasionally, it would have been nice to feel supported by the man in my life, but something even better happened, dear reader. Tom did me the favor of dumping me for an Online Affair when I was 38. Talk about the other glass slipper dropping! Wow.

Yesterday, many of those old Tom-like feelings resurfaced as I waited with my Prince Charming in the hospital room. I was a basket case by the time the nurse wheeled me away to the OR, and I hesitantly looked to PC for an unfamiliar hint of moral support. He squeezed my hand and leaned in for a kiss.

“Will you be here when I wake up?” I managed to whisper.

“Of course, Dear. I’m right where I am supposed to be today.”

“I’m sorry that you have to go through this, PC.”

“Heidi Lee, will you get into that room and get your foot fixed already? I want to take
ballroom dancing.”

After I woke up, he was waiting in my post-op room to dress me and carry me home.He never left my side, and he’s still home with me today – helping me to shower and bringing me soup and cookies. His only complaint last night: “Heidi Lee, you’re not in your spot tonight. Hurry up and heal up so I can sleep with my arms around you again.”

Now that we’ve got a bit of background, it’s time to share my Relationship Epiphany. Is there only one person, a Soul-Mate for each of us? I think we need to break this
question down more accurately. Can we be happy with more than one man or woman
for the rest of our lives? I think some of us can. Does this mean that he or she is the person we are meant to be with? No – that’s  something more special, and we can’t know It unless we are lucky enough to find It.

I think I could have been happy with Tom for several reasons. Although I’ve described him as being an insensitive and unsupportive jerk, he did have many good qualities. We were friends. And we could have been relatively happy – but I would have been
settling for less than I deserved.

Do I think that many happy marriages /relationships exist without the head-over-heels love factor? You bet! Do I think it’s possible to marry your best friend and be content? Of course.

But … Do I think optimistically that there’s another level of love that transcends so many of us? Do I believe that we miss out on It because we lose patience or settle for what is quite clearly not in our best interest? Absolutely! Do I think that certain marriages are bad or doomed because of this? Not at all.

Picture by Sara Hendrix

I believe now, as I miss my “spot” curled up in the nook of PC’s arms feeling cherished and protected, that there is one perfect person. I am simply very lucky to have found mine. I witness PC’s parents as they grow old together – and they are perfect together. They laugh together, play football pools, and they sneak away to gamble at the Casinos nearby. They know each other’s best and worst, and they love each other more for their eccentricities. They are what I call Legacy Toad Kissers.

Flipping through the news channels, I see this same sort of love in the eyes of #MarkKelly as he watches the graceful and formidable #GabrielleGifford come back stronger than ever. I envy their love story, and I admire them both personally as well as a couple. She is not, and never will be, his burden. His love helped her through, and he was right where he was supposed to be – with her. When you are truly with the one you are meant to find, you know you are in your “spot.”

Wow, this Love-Drug retelling of yesterday makes me feel like I don’t need another Vicodin – well, almost. PC, Honey – will you please bring me my medication?

He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me – oh look, a Vicodin. He loves me. Time to sleep.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

My Relationship with a Married Man

Good morning to all, and thanks to everyone who posted to Sunday’s poll about where you may have met your Prince or Princess Charming. The poll is not the first bit of research into Online dating that I’ve done. Most of you know that I’ve dated digitally myself.

This morning I’d love to share some of my earliest introductions to the intrigue of the Internet Romance. In my early days as a “single-again” woman, I had been fortunate to hear more of the good than the bad when it came to Internet dating. I seemed to go against the consensus and trust the idea of hiding behind my keyboard to create a social life. After all, technology was taking over everywhere else, right?

This morning I would love to share one of the stories that gave me hope through the dine-and-dash relationship failures of those earliest days.

I have a dear friend at the office named Scott who I met a few years back. I knew him through Happy Hours, office lunches, and the coffee pots. I knew he was handsome and smart, but I also knew he was married. Often I thought to myself – what a lucky lady she must be as I would twist under my breath that it should have been me.

Over time, Scott became a fantastic sounding board for my dating dilemmas. He always gave me the man’s view. He helped me see when I was being stupid. He praised my virtuous ways. He guided me when I was confused. In short, he acted as my therapist.

Now, friends, if you don’t have a “Scott” of the opposite gender – get one. This role is an essential friendship if you need someone to slap you across the face with the ugliest of truths. Believe me; you’ll be grateful for the honesty from a friend rather than the heartache from yet another dirt bag.

At the same time when Scott and I were evolving as friends, I had a physical therapist from a shoulder injury – Jen. She had one of the gentlest smiles I had ever encountered (Even if I did call her Attila the Hun). During our sessions, Jen would ask all about my dating life and my adventures with men. She was always so curious about the guy I was seeing at that moment in time….Did I meet him at a party? What about the guy my friend set me up with? How is that man from back home I was seeing? Jen loved the stories, and I loved her opinions.

Jen would also mention to me bits here and there about her beau. She was a young bride with a darling infant, and she seemed to have a magical relationship. I was jealous to say the least. However, I never really asked Jen how she and hubby had met. To me, it just seemed that they had always been. She seemed so naturally connected. Maybe inside I was jealous of Jen – ok, so no maybe about it. I wanted what she had.

During one of my appointments, Jen saw my office badge.

“Oh, Heidi Lee, you work at West?” How did I never know that?”

I suppose my tales of men and romance had always been more interesting than my work life. She and I spent over 2 hours a week of muscle-managing with me, and we had rarely talked about anything other than my men.

“Heidi Lee, maybe you know my husband. His name is Scott.” And the light went on in her eyes. “Oh, Heidi, I never made the connection. You’re Scott’s Heidi from the office. I feel like I already know you.”

Jen, you see, never brought work home with her. She was truly a professional, so they never came together to compare notes on me. She kept our discussions as well as my treatment completely confidential.

We laughed through the irony and talked a little bit more intimately about our lives from that point forward. With this new level of comfort, I asked Jen, “Where did you and Scott meet?”

Jen’s smile brightened and she got a tingle in her eye remembering her first encounters. And she beamed, “We met Online. Match. He winked; I winked back. The rest is history. He is simply wonderful.”

I returned to work following my physical torture and I marched right into Scott’s office. “You could have told me your wife was a Physical Therapist. I’ve been seeing her for weeks now since the accident. She is adorable – lovely. Hell, you really did well, buddy. I love her”.

Scott’s face lit up like a school boy with his first crush as he started to tell me about their courtship. And he told me about his experience on Match, “You know, Heidi Lee, guys don’t get many return winks on Match. Jen had her pick of the litter, and she picked me. Can you imagine?”

Actually, I could. And I had – and it would have been steamy. And I never would again – promise. My sweet and handsome friend met his soul mate in an Internet Catalog. And he was happy. She was happy. And neither of them had any horrifying stories of Internet freaks or psychotics – only stories of a few genuine people all in the same quest for Happily Ever After.

Over the last few years, I’m still surprised when I ask, “How did you two meet?”. Online dating is usually at the top of the responses. People who truly have committed to finding a relationship seem to migrate to the virtual channels with the trust that everyone is there for similar reasons.

The great thing about these sites is that woman and men alike should be able to weed through the catalogs and select the sizes with the most potential to be right. The tip I can give you is to go into Match or eHarmony honestly. Expect to date losers just as you would if you met through another social setting. There is no magic formula, and there are no guarantees. Instead, you get the security of learning about someone from a more harmless location – your own home.

True, any type of dating can be dangerous or disappointing at the least. You have to be smart about it, and you have to watch for inconsistencies in truths. Do it right – you may end up with the romantic side of a Scott of your own.

In my blog, I’ll share some of my lessons learned with you here if you are interested. For today the best lesson I can give you is – keep an open mind and an open heart. That’s it. Don’t judge yourself or others for using Online dating to find a dinner date. After all, if my PC hadn’t wanted someone to take to dinner one Friday night, I would still be single and searching. And Attila wouldn’t have found her Hon.

Warmest Regards

Heidi Lee

Wedding Wisdom – From a Teenaged Boy – Seriously

“I’m supposed to give tips on how to have a long and happy marriage – but honestly I’m too young to know what marriage really is. All I can say is: If my Dad turns out to be as loving and supportive a husband to Pam as he is a father to me, then we will all live a very blessed life” the under-aged Best Man lifted his glass of champagne as a tear welled up in the groom’s eye. The bride stood, stunningly sweet in her exquisitely laced soft pink gown and moved toward her 15 year old new step-son. They hugged. And the wedding guests applauded with sincerity and warmth.

Wow – what a weekend I’ve had. My own Prince Charming and I traveled to New York City this past weekend to attend a wedding of his former submarine buddy. While I did have to bring a little of my day job with me, we still managed to cram in three days full of love and excitement. And the Best Man toast was the most memorable 90 seconds of the trip.

I am so excited to share more of the details of the trip – the Sunday afternoon wedding reception rescheduled after the hurricane; the cab dash to find a Broadway Show; the reunion dinner of sailors who sailed Russian waters during the Cold War; and the hand in hand stroll through New York in the fall.

Can I beg for your patience as I catch up on life? I promise to share a piece of this adventure one NYC sized bite at a time. But today, I have a boss back home nagging to me to close a big deal.

For today, though, pay attention to the kids. They are smarter than we were – of this I am quite certain. I’m beginning to think if we took a little bit more time out of our busy lives to hear them, they may just share a couple of pearls of youthful hope that otherwise is overshadowed by the traditional arrogance found in teenage angst.

And thank you, Jim & Pam Mattiello, for letting us share a moment in time with you and your family.

Loving Regards,

Heidi

Just for Fun!

Good morning everyone! How about a little ego-exercise this morning? I know I could sure use one.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of the lion in the mirror – so this is a thank you to my new friend, ZM who has made this his mission. Aren’t friends fantastic?

Let’s take a page from the brilliance of @StuartSmalley from Saturday Night Live. Let’s pick an affirmation and take it to our mirrors. At the very least, telling yourself something positive in the mirror will break down your personal barriers. Take this as a lesson not to take yourselves so seriously. Life should be Fun!

Have a spectacular day!

Best Regards

Heidi