Home

New Motivation in Seven minutes, 52 seconds

Mark Romney on his bike.Two hours, 27 minutes and 52 seconds is a long time to spend swimming. It also was the start to my first attempt at an Ironman Triathlon race on Nov. 17, 2013, in Arizona.

Unfortunately, that extra seven minutes, 52 seconds doomed the rest of my race. To continue the triathlon, I had to finish the 2.4-mile swim in two hours and 20 minutes or less.

Ever since my grandmother and I watched Julie Moss crawl across the finish line in 1982 at the Ironman World Championships, I’ve been intrigued by the race. It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. There are races held around the world, and the one in Arizona was the day after my birthday, so, in my mind, it was the logical one to train for.

I started slowly by swimming a bit and riding a trainer in my basement. I also broke three treadmills. Just bad luck, I hoped. I bought all the right equipment, read the books and prepared as well as I could. I enlisted a trainer and a swim coach for a while, but later did it on my own.

My training went well. But I could have done more. There were opportunities I missed and I thought I had done enough. That, and a vacation just three weeks before the race kept me preoccupied. But I still believed I was ready. I believed I would finish right before the midnight cutoff.

On the day of the race I felt pretty good. The water was about 65 degrees and 2,500 strangers were in it with me. The gun sounded, and suddenly I felt like I was in a high-powered washing machine. I was kicked, swam over and jostled by every one of those other swimmers. I lost focus, rhythm and some confidence. But I was determined. I couldn’t get my stroke back, so I swam breaststroke instead of freestyle. It was tough. I was behind, but had a volunteer in a kayak encouraging me the entire way.

I swam farther than I ever had in my life, but still just missed the cutoff.  The extra seven minutes and 52 seconds was my undoing.

At the time, I was upset. I was even more upset the next morning, when I saw a finisher hobbling around the hotel lobby.

Then, my anger turned into determination and resolve.

If he could do it, so could I. I had the knowledge, I had the training, I had the support – all I needed was the speed. I could fix that.

Training for the Ironman is like the obstacles we face every day. We can try, and we can fail, but most important, we can overcome our challenges. It’s in each of us to make the effort if we so choose.

I know I’ll sign up for another Ironman, and I will finish. To me, it’s about the challenge and the effort and when it is done, the finish line.

My next Ironman, I expect to hear at the finish line, “Mark Romney, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

Oh, and I’ll get the tattoo.

#FirstAidFriday: Preparing You for Life’s Scrapes and Scratches

#FirstAidFridayWhen I was about 10, my dad snagged his hand with a fishhook while we were angling at a local pond. We sure could have used a first aid kit. 

As a college student clearing rubble from an old warehouse, I had an unfortunate encounter with an errant nail. A first aid kit definitely would have come in handy.

In more recent years, my wife and I have witnessed plenty of bumps, scrapes and bruises as our children learned to walk, went to camp, played with friends and participated in sports. Each mishap was a clear reminder of why it’s always important to have basic medical supplies nearby.

I bet you have your own “accident list,” don’t you? Here’s a more important question: Do you keep a first aid kit nearby – like in the kitchen or inside your car or next to your workbench?

#FirstAidFriday sweepstakes prizeTweet for a chance to win an American Family first aid kit
To help you prepare for life’s scrapes and scratches, American Family is holding a drawing on Twitter. On each of four consecutive Fridays – March 28 through April 18 – we’ll post safety-related questions. To enter, follow American Family on Twitter and reply to the questions with the hashtag #FirstAidFriday. Every week, we’ll choose 25 lucky winners of our first aid kits. Check out the photo and see our official rules for more information.

It’s a simple, social way to help protect the people you love.

And here are a couple more ways American Family can help you prepare for the unexpected circumstances life throws your way.

Take a few minutes now to protect your family, and you’ll be we’ll prepared for your next adventure.

Sweepstakes Official Rules – 2014 American Family Insurance #FirstAidFriday Twitter Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes Official Rules – 2014 American Family Insurance #FirstAidFriday Twitter Sweepstakes

SWEEPSTAKES OFFICIAL RULES

**NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT OF ANY KIND, OR INSURANCE QUOTE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE, PAYMENT, OR QUOTE WILL NOT IMPROVE THE CHANCES OF WINNING. REQUESTING INFORMATION ABOUT INSURANCE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES WILL NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING. **

OPTIONAL COMMERCIAL COMMUNICATIONS

Entrants have the option on the entry form to receive commercial communications from Sponsor and/or American Family Mutual Insurance Company (“American Family”); however, choosing to receive such communications is not necessary to enter or win. If, at any time, you no longer wish to receive promotional emails from American Family please go to American Family’s privacy policy posted at located at http://www.amfam.com/security/privacy.asp. and follow the procedures indicated. 

SPONSOR

American Family Mutual Insurance Company and its Subsidiaries, 6000 American Parkway, Madison, WI 53783

ADMINISTRATOR

This Sweepstakes is administered by American Family Insurance. The Administrator is responsible for the collection, submission and processing of entries and the overall administration and execution of the Sweepstakes. Entrants should look solely to Administrator with any problems related to the Sweepstakes. To contact the Administrator please e-mail your questions or comments to: twelp@amfam.com. To help us properly identify your email please enter: 2014 American Family Insurance #FirstAidFriday Sweepstakes in the Subject line.

ELIGIBILITY

This Sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of all 50 states. The following are not eligible: employees, contractors, directors and officers of American Family and each of their respective parent, subsidiaries and affiliated companies, distributors, web design, advertising, and the immediate family members of each (spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, and spouse or "step" of each) and those living in their same households (those persons whether related or not who live in the same residence for at least three months during the twelve-month period preceding the start date of the competition).

METHOD OF ENTRY & ENTRY PERIOD

To enter the Sweepstakes:

-          “Follow” American Family Insurance on Twitter (www.twitter.com/amfam) using a valid Twitter account.

-          Using that valid Twitter account, reply to the designated American Family Insurance (www.twitter.com/amfam) #FirstAidFriday tweets (3 each) on any of the following dates: March 28, 2014; April 4, 2014; April 11, 2014, April 18, 2014.

-          All entries must be tweets that include @amfam and #FirstAidFriday.

The Sweepstakes commences four times:  

-          Beginning at 12:00:01 AM (CST) on March 28, 2014 and ending at 11:59:59 PM (CST) on March 28, 2014. Entries must be received by no later than 11:59:59 PM (CST) on March 28, 2014.

-          Beginning at 12:00:01 AM (CST) on April 4, 2014 and ending at 11:59:59 PM (CST) on April 4, 2014. Entries must be received by no later than 11:59:59 PM (CST) on April 4, 2014.

-          Beginning at 12:00:01 AM (CST) on April 11, 2014 and ending at 11:59:59 PM (CST) on April 11, 2014. Entries must be received by no later than 11:59:59 PM (CST) on April 11, 2014.

-          Beginning at 12:00:01 AM (CST) on April 18, 2014 and ending at 11:59:59 PM (CST) on April 18, 2014. Entries must be received by no later than 11:59:59 PM (CST) on April 18, 2014.

No substitutes for the official entry form may be used to enter the Sweepstakes, and Sponsor will not accept entries by U.S. Mailemailfax, or any other way other than the method listed above. All entries are the property of Sponsor.

The Sponsor, Twitter, Internet server(s), Internet and cellular telephone access provider(s), and each of their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, parent corporations and advertising and promotional agencies, and all of their officers, directors, shareholders, employees and agents (collectively, “Releases”) are not responsible for: any incorrect or inaccurate text messaging or entry information; human error; technical malfunctions; failures, omission, interruption, deletion, or defect of any telephone network, computer online systems, computer equipment, servers, providers, or software, including any injury or damage to participant's or any other person's cell phone device relating to or resulting from participation in this Sweepstakes; inability to submit or access any text message; theft, tampering, destruction, or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries; entries that are processed late or incorrectly or are incomplete or lost due to cellular device, computer or electronic malfunction or traffic congestion on the Internet or on any web site, and/or cellular telephone lines; printing or other errors; or theft or destruction or corruption of entries. Proof of submitting a Text Message Entry, Device Entry or Telephone Entry is not considered proof of delivery or receipt. Illegible and incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries become property of Sponsor and will not be returned. False and/or deceptive entries or acts shall render entrants ineligible including but not limited to the creation of multiple Twitter accounts for the same entrant.

In the event of a dispute over who submitted a winning text entry or online entry, the authorized subscriber of the mobile phone or e-mail account, as applicable, used to participate in the Sweepstakes at the actual time of entry, will be deemed to be the entrant. The authorized account subscriber is defined for mobile phone entries as the natural person whose name the mobile phone was issued to and to whom the services are billed, and the authorized account subscriber is defined for online entries as the natural person who is assigned an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g. business, education, institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address.

By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants affirm that they have read and accepted these Official Rules.

CONDITIONS 

The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state, local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor’s decisions are final and binding on all matters relating to Sweepstakes. By participating in this Sweepstakes, entrants: (a) agree to be bound by these Official Rules and by the interpretations of these Official Rules by the Sponsor and by the decisions of the Sponsor which are final in all matters relating to the Sweepstakes; and (b) release from liability, indemnify, defend and hold harmless each of the Sweepstakes Entities and each of their respective agents, employees, officers, directors, successors and assigns, against any and all claims, injury or damage arising out of or relating to such entrant’s participation or inability to participate in this Sweepstakes and/or use or misuse, or redemption of or inability to redeem a Prize Each winner hereby expressly grants to the Sponsor and its respective designees all rights to use and publish his/her name, likeness (photographic or simulated), and city and state of residence for solely advertising, marketing, promotional and publicity purposes in connection with this Sweepstakes ("Advertising"), in any and all media now or hereafter devised, worldwide in perpetuity, without any form of notice or any amount or kind of compensation or permission, except where prohibited by applicable law. Please read the Privacy Policy for more information about information collection and use practices found at http://www.amfam.com/security/privacy.asp.

WINNER SELECTION/NOTIFICATION

There will be twenty-five (25) prize winners (the "Winners") during each of the sweepstakes entry periods.

The Winners of the American Family Insurance #FirstAidFriday prizes will be selected by random drawings on or about:

-          March 31, 2014

-          April 7, 2014

-          April 14, 2014

-          April 21, 2014

from all eligible entries received. The Winners need not be present to win. Limit one prize per person, family, or household.

The Sponsor will make up to two (2) attempts over the twenty four (24) hour period following the Winners’ selection to contact the potential Winners by email or Twitter Direct Message. If a potential Winner cannot be reached during the twenty-four (24) hour period in which he/she is emailed and/or direct messaged, if any prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable or, if any winner rejects his/her prize, or in the event of non-compliance with these rules, such prize will be forfeited and an alternate Winner will be selected at random from among all remaining applicable Eligible Entries received if time permits in Sponsor’s sole discretion. Upon prize forfeiture, no compensation will be given.

PRIZE(S) WILL BE AWARDED AS FOLLOWS

One-hundred (100) first-aid kits, distributed in four (4) equal installments of 25 kits as outlined above.

Estimated Value: $7.00 (each prize)

Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received. The EV/RV is subject to change based on current market conditions at time of Prize fulfillment. Any difference between the EV/RV and the actual value, if any, will not be awarded. Arrangements for the fulfillment of the Prizes will be made by the Sponsor. The dates for the fulfillment of the Prizes will be on or around April 21, 2014 and subject to programming requirements or scheduling and such dates are subject to change in the Sponsor’s sole discretion.

GENERAL PRIZE TERMS

Upon entry into the Sweepstakes, the Winners (as well as all other entrants) are required to comply with any and all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations. All federal, state and local taxes, and any other costs not specifically provided for in these Official Rules are solely the each Winners’ responsibility. The Sponsor shall have no responsibility or obligation to a Winner or potential Winner who is unable or unavailable to accept or utilize Prize as described herein. All prizes are non-transferable and non-assignable, with no cash redemptions or substitutions except at Sponsor’s sole discretion. There will be no substitutions for the Prize except due to unavailability, in which case a prize of equal value to the face value of the Prize will be awarded at the exclusive discretion of the Sponsor.

WINNERS VERIFICATION

Each Winner must prove eligibility, including, without limitation, proof of age and residence within three (3) days of being notified as a potential Winner.  In the event of non-compliance by a potential Winner, if he/she is found to be ineligible, if he/she cannot or does not comply with these Official Rules or if his/her Prize (hereinafter defined) or Prize notification is returned as undeliverable, such potential Winner shall be disqualified and all privileges otherwise due as a Winner shall be terminated and an alternative potential Winner may be chosen from among all of the remaining Eligible Entries received if time permits in the Sponsor’s sole discretion.  Each potential Winner must sign within three (3) days of receipt of such documents from the Sponsor: 

(a)          an affidavit of eligibility and release of the Sweepstakes Entities and their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, members, affiliated companies and subsidiaries, from any and all liability, loss, claims, demands, and causes of action for personal injury and/or damage, theft, loss, or any other harm suffered in connection with this Sweepstakes or the use/misuse or acceptance of any prize or any portion thereof to be eligible for a Prize; and

(b)          All individuals who are accompanying the Winner will be required to execute and return a Release of Liability to the Sponsor prior to ticketing.

(c)           except where prohibited by law, a promotional release granting Sponsors the right to use their name and likeness, photograph, picture, portrait, voice, biographical information, and/or any statements made by each Winner regarding the Sweepstakes, Sponsor, or American Family for advertising or promotional purposes without notice or additional compensation. 

Entry into this Sweepstakes constitutes agreement to sign such releases. Each potential Winner also Each potential Winner must also complete any additional legal documents provided by the Sponsor (or third party on its behalf, if applicable) with respect to the Prize and return them as instructed within the timeframe specified by the Sponsor or the potential Winner may forfeit Prize at the Sponsor’s sole discretion.  The Sponsor expressly reserves the right to delay the announcement of the Winners for creative or technical reasons or for any other reason the Sponsor deems necessary.

PUBLICITY

All copyright, trademark or other intellectual property rights in such Advertising shall be owned by Sponsor or its licensors and winning participants hereby disclaim and waive any claim of right to such Advertising. Such Advertising shall be solely under control of Sponsor or its licensors, and winning recipients hereby waive any claim of control over the Advertising content as well as any possible claims of misuse of winning recipient’s name, likeness or voice under contract, tort or any other theory of law. Winners also agree that, upon reasonable notice, they will use good faith efforts to be available to travel for the promotional purposes of Sponsor for a period of one (1) year from the end of this Sweepstakes. In the event any winner is required to travel, Sponsor agrees to pay all costs associated therewith. This Sweepstakes is conducted in English (which will be given its everyday ordinary meaning), and any and all disputes will be resolved in accordance with the laws of the state of Wisconsin without regard for conflict of laws principles.

DISCLAIMER

The Sweepstakes is not endorsed, sponsored, administered, or otherwise associated with Twitter.  Neither the Sponsor nor Twitter assumes any responsibility for incorrect or inaccurate entry information whether caused by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this Sweepstakes or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. The Sponsor and Twitter are not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or players on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any web site, or any combination thereof, including, without limitation, any injury or damage to entrant's or any other person's computer related to or resulting from participation or downloading any materials in this Sweepstakes. The Sponsor and Twitter are not responsible for any typographical or other error in the printing of the offer, promotional materials, the Official Rules, administration of the Sweepstakes, or in the announcement of the Prizes or the Winners. If, for any reason, the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned, including, without limitation, changes in the Sponsor’s on-air programming, infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor which corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Sweepstakes, the Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Should the Sweepstakes be terminated prior to the stated expiration date, notice will be posted on the Web Site and the Prizes may be awarded to potential Winners to be selected from among all applicable Eligible Entries received up until and or after (if applicable) the time of modification, cancellation or termination or in a manner that is fair and equitable as determined by the Sponsor. No software-generated, robotic, programmed, script, macro or other automated online or text message entries are permitted and will result in disqualification of all such entries. The Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to have tampered with the entry process or the operation of this Sweepstakes; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules; or to be acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person or to have provided inaccurate information on any legal documents submitted in connection with this Sweepstakes. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY ANY INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. THE WISCONSIN COURTS (STATE AND FEDERAL) SHALL HAVE SOLE JURISDICTION OF ANY CONTROVERSIES REGARDING THE SWEEPSTAKES AND THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN SHALL GOVERN THE SWEEPSTAKES. EACH ENTRANT WAIVES ANY AND ALL OBJECTIONS TO JURISDICTION AND VENUE IN THESE COURTS AND HEREBY SUBMITS TO THE JURISDICTION OF THOSE COURTS.

DISCLAIMER

ENTRANTS UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT THEY SHALL HAVE NO RIGHT TO ENJOIN OR RESTRAIN THE DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, DISTRIBUTION OR EXPLOITATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES OR SPONSOR. IN NO EVENT WILL TWITTER, SPONSOR, ADMINISTRATOR, OR THEIR PARENTS, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES, AND RELATED COMPANIES, OR THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES, AGENTS, SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS (COLLECTIVELY, THE "RELEASEES") BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY CLAIMS, ACTIONS, DEMANDS, LOSSES, LIABILITIES, DAMAGES, COSTS AND EXPENSES (INCLUDING, ATTORNEYS' FEES) OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES, WHETHER FORESEEABLE OR NOT AND WHETHER BASED ON NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE, ARISING OUT OF YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES, THE ACCEPTANCE, POSSESSION, USE, MISUSE, LOSS OR MISDIRECTION OF THE PRIZE, PARTICIPATION IN ANY SWEEPSTAKES RELATED ACTIVITIES OR ACCESS TO AND USE OF ANY INTERNET SITE, AND YOU AGREE TO RELEASE, DEFEND, INDEMNIFY, DISCHARGE AND HOLD HARMLESS THE RELEASEES FROM ANY SUCH CLAIMS, ACTIONS, DEMANDS, LOSSES, LIABILITIES, DAMAGES, COSTS AND EXPENSES, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION FROM ANY DAMAGE, INJURY, DEATH, LOSS OR OTHER LIABILITY EITHER AT LAW OR EQUITY WHETHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, ASSERTED OR NOT ASSERTED THAT MAY ARISE FROM OR IN ANY WAY RELATE TO YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES OR THE AWARDING, ACCEPTANCE, USE OR MISUSE OF ANY PRIZE. THE SWEEPSTAKES, THE PRIZE AND MATERIALS ARE PROVIDED "AS-IS" WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY OR REPRESENTATION OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. SOME JURISDICTIONS MAY NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES, SO SOME OF THE ABOVE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSIONS MAY NOT APPLY. CHECK LOCAL LAWS FOR ANY RESTRICTIONS OR LIMITATIONS REGARDING THESE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSIONS.

**WINNERS LIST **

For a list of winners, mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to Sponsor at American Family Insurance at:

American Family Insurance Digital Marketing Team RE: American Family Insurance #FirstAidFriday Sweepstakes 6000 American Parkway Madison, WI 53783

How I Learned to Live a More Vibrant Life

Painting classEver get that nagging feeling that you’re not living life to the fullest? I know I do from time to time – especially in the doldrums of wintertime. Here are some ideas that have helped me live life more vibrantly. I hope they inspire you to do the same!

Taste – Nothing awakens the soul more than new flavors – and the transition from winter to spring is the perfect time to revitalize your senses with fresh ingredients or a stroll through the farmer’s market! Pick a theme and organize a potluck with friends for a fun way to taste new dishes and exchange recipes, or take a cooking class to learn the savory secrets of a new cuisine.

Ask – In the age of search engines and instantaneous answers, we often rely on technology to answer our questions. I’ve recently come to realize our incessant Googling can cause us to miss out on the gratifying gifts of human connection and storytelling that naturally occur when people ask one another questions. Whether it’s chatting with your barista about your café’s new coffee blend, or having a family member tell you what it was like growing up in a different era - you’ll enjoy a much richer life experience by taking the time to ask.

Stretch – Take a class. Volunteer. Borrow a book from the library on a topic you’re curious about. Watch online tutorials to teach yourself something new, or improve on a skill you already have. By stepping outside your comfort zone you can gain curiosity, confidence and a better understanding of what makes you, well - YOU.

Remember – “Don’t dwell in the past.” We’ve all been cautioned to look forward – not back, however I’ve found some of my most fulfilling moments have been flipping through old photo albums or watching embarrassing family videos– especially in the company of loved ones. Few things compare to reminiscing over old stories, or sharing a laugh over a dog-eared snap shot – and sometimes a little trip down memory lane is all it takes to inject fresh perspective and energy into your day.

Improvise – Let’s face it – we’re not all comfortable being spontaneous (I know I’m not!) But the fact remains that diverging from your normal schedule and responsibilities can be the ticket to experiencing that heart-pumping, soul-stirring feeling of being truly alive. The best place to start is by setting aside a weekend in which you pledge not to make any plans. Wake up and see where the day takes you. Hungry for a certain food? Follow your stomach to a restaurant that serves it. Try not to look any further than an hour ahead – and practice enjoying the incredible things that are happening in the moment.

Embrace what is special about you

LaTunja and her daughterMore than a year ago, I made the decision to change my hairdo. I never expected that this decision would have impacted my life. I mean, it’s not uncommon that a girl wants to change her look, right? For me, I wanted a change every two years or so. I would go to the salon and say, "I need a change," which meant that I wanted a NEW hair style that would make me look younger, jazzier, or (I'm embarrassed to say) like one of the celebrities.

So what was different with this decision? This decision would force me to embrace a part of me that I had altered for over 30 years… my natural curls. I was faced with this life-changing decision when my five-year-old daughter was learning to swim and she wanted me to practice with her. I couldn't. I would mess up my hair (shallow, right?). Well, I felt silly after a while and took the plunge, starting a journey that would challenge me to confront other areas in my life where I was not being "real" or authentic.

After taking that initial step, I decided to dig deeper and discovered that my life was centered around preserving an "image" on the surface and denying the essence of what made me special. The image of an iceberg is the perfect metaphor for this because all you can see is 10 percent of it (what’s above the water surface or "above the line"). That’s where I was focusing ALL of my attention. The reality is that 90 percent of the iceberg is hidden ("below the line").  Unconsciously, I was also hiding 90 percent of ME because I thought that sharing that part of me would cause people to think less of me at work and in my personal life.

In my career, it was crucial that I managed how others perceived me. Success was about being the best. From my personal appearance to my work – my goal was to be flawless. Failure was not an option.

But life happened! Life has a way of throwing you a curve to help you grow. How you react determines if you grow. For me, it was the premature birth of my daughter, Briana, who was born at 1lb and 10ozs. Welcoming a new baby is a special, life-changing event.  Briana’s immediate medical needs meant more than adjusting to a new schedule. The challenges we faced together helped me focus on the 90 percent – the part of me below the line.

I learned to be present, take risks and embrace who I am!

I also thought how these lessons will impact the future pursuit of my dreams. I can say that my life is richer now that I have changed my focus from myself to others. I now focus on the impact that I make each and every day. Every interaction that I have with another person will have a positive or negative impact; there is no such thing as a "neutral" impact.

So, I challenge you to be present in each moment. Next time you interact with someone — whether it’s in a hall or a meeting — ask yourself if this will result in a positive impact. Are you really listening to the other person, or are you distracted by other noise such as the next item on your to-do list? When you are present in the moment, your listening skills improve, your relationships blossom, and your life is enriched.

Today, I embrace and share who I am — all 100 percent.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9