ponder and muse

words, words, all kinds of words... i put my thing down, flip it & reverse it

Ok, so I realize that those are the lyrics from 2 different Missy Elliott songs, but whatever, it got your attention, didn't it?

I love words. It seems weird to me that we don't pay more attention to words in our every day lives. Words change, explain,  comfort and at times even confuse but at the end of the day our lives are surrounding by words. Many use words to tear down and destroy people, places and things, which is very unfortunate. On the other hand, some people use words to lift up other people and bring positivity where there otherwise may not have been any.

It is because of this that I believe in borrowing a few words for yourself that you can lean on, words that can inspire you...

words you can live by.

It is because of this that years ago I decided to choose a few words that best represented me as a person. I called the exercise "5 words". The words change from time to time as I change, which is what should happen. So here they are as of today...

my 5 words...

Art work provided by:    Ponder and Muse (Kristin Crocker)

Art work provided by: Ponder and Muse (Kristin Crocker)

Here's the thing, it isn't always easy to "live life in an exclamation point". You need help. Having words that remind me of who I am and what I want out of life, keeps me in the exclamation point.

Check out below to hear more about the concept of 5 words and then tell me...

what are your 5 words?

tell me in the comments below...

where does it all come from?

I grew up in a single-parent household. That particular single parent changed a time or two but alas, most of my life I lived and primarily dealt with one of my biological parents. I was and still am the oldest of 6 children as the result of 3 marriages. I fall in to all of the typical birth order statistics. I tend to lead my siblings around, sometimes dragging them against their will. I want everyone to get along and I try to help everyone even when they aren't asking for my help and yes at times I think I know better than they do. I have that personality trait that thinks I have to make everything better or at the very least okay. I always believed that if people left a place, time or thing with a great feeling that everything else in life would be great too. So, as I grew up, I took charge of things. I was/am stubborn, opinionated, driven, loud, inpatient, anxious,  empathetic and I expect a lot from just about everyone and everything which means I am often disappointed.

It is with all of these attributed that I attacked life. From the earliest memories I have, I wanted to be a part of the action. My partner in crime, was my slightly younger brother (17 months apart) and if he was going to do it, then so was I. I drove big wheels, played in the mud, told wild and crazy stories and as some family members love to remind me, I even talked FOR my brother as his "official advocate". 

I do not know where these personality traits come from. If I look at my parents, sure I suppose they have one or two of the traits between them but neither manifest in quite the same way that I do. It is because of these traits that I always thought I would be more. I don't know if I had identified what more meant but I just knew it was more than what others expected from me and I always felt the need to prove people wrong in how they saw me. Oh yeah, I was that kid.

As I got older, you couldn't tell me nothing. I was head strong, independent and looking for something. In hindsight I realize that I was looking for me. Corny? Maybe, but I was looking for what my purpose was. Some may have said I was a little lost and at times I won't lie, I felt that way but it really was all in search of that purpose, that reason for being.

My path to purpose had a lot of bumps and bruises that we will save for another post. (yikes) The reason I mention this journey and these personality traits is because of an article I read today. The article posed the question "are you holding your daughter back; 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders". I want to spend the next few days discussing this idea. In order to do that I have to tell some of my story.

Let's all admit that in the late 70's and early 80"s there wasn't a whole lot of discussion about raising daughters to be leaders. Yes there was a lot of bra burning or just going bra-less but it was more about the women themselves seeking something for themselves. Today we live in this whole "save our girls" world, which don't get me wrong is great and I am a part of it, no if's and's or but's about it but back then it was just different. (I say this because I want it to be known that there is no judgement in what I am writing about today. They were different times.) Saying all that, I will tell you that I do not ever remember a time in my life where an adult told me "that I wouldn't do something because I was a girl". I was told I couldn't do things because I was ugly or dumb but never because I was a girl. (yes I realize the other ones are horrendous too, but that is a whole other post too.)

an actual junior high yearbook picture...circa 1988 - Whitford Junior High

an actual junior high yearbook picture...circa 1988 - Whitford Junior High

I tried out for just about every sport, club or organization in junior high, all in search of my purpose, I never thought about whether or not I could or couldn't because of my gender. I actually tried to be on the wrestling team and now that I think about it, I was told I couldn't do that one because I was a girl and there weren't any other girls for me to compete with which I thought was lame but didn't really give it any thought beyond that. I started work at an early age and always had a very easy time getting jobs, they were all basically awful teenage jobs but they were jobs. In every single job I ever had, I wanted to do more, make more and rise in ranks. It had nothing to do with whether or not I liked the job. It had everything to do with the fact that I just knew I was meant for more. More of what, was really still the question. In the process of this I didn't pay gender any mind. I just kept working and trying to do more, make more and be more. 

When my career finally took off is when I started to see it. The quiet comments about a girls attire in the office. The mumbling about a woman in the office who said too much too loudly or "aggressively". I started to pay attention to where people say, what they wore, how they were talked about, promoted and/or rewarded and that is when my eyes opened up. I was hitting a lot of road blocks and suddenly I saw one of the reasons why. 


Before you go getting bent out of shape because you think I am blaming all of life's problems on gender bias, I beg you to stop. 

that is not what i am saying.

I am simply saying that for the first time in my entire life I noticed gender and the way in which it was dealt with. I still had this mindset that it had nothing to do with me. I would coach my little sisters or the girls and women who worked with and for me what to "look out for" and to be careful about "what they said or did" around certain members of the team and I actually though I was helping them, I thought I was doing a good thing.

Nobody was going to tell me what I could and couldn't do with my career because I was a female, it was me after all, BUT I was ignorant enough to think it applied to other's and that by telling them what to look out for I had done my due diligence.

boy was i wrong.

You see gender bias and sexual harassment, unfair treatment because of gender, race or anything else isn't something we should be "warning people about". It is something we should be speaking up about, talking about and eradicating from our workplaces but so many of us think it has nothing to do with us until...

that one day it happens to you. 

to be continued...

Read what happened on that day for me this Friday In the meantime check out the source articles below for some great reading on gender in the workplace.

junior high year book.jpg

maybe it's time to crush on an idea.

Remember as a kid that feeling of having your first crush? It was both awful and exhilarating all at the same time. Where has that feeling gone? I realize part of the rush of the experience is that it was new when we were young but I feel like many people chase that feeling throughout life. It is almost like being an addict and chasing down that first hit and the euphoria it gave you. 

Since the social world has deemed today, "#WCW or Woman Crush Wednesday" it started to think about the idea of having a crush and how we interact with that concept as adults. As we age and get married etc, having a crush on someone can get a little sticky. How can we get the same feeling with out crushing on some cute gal/guy? I was thinking, why not have a crush on an idea instead?  

We could crush on what we want to do next, where you would like to go, someone you would like to meet, something you want to learn etc. When we had those crushes as kids, don't you remember how we acted? We wrote their name down in our notebooks, we day-dreamed about them, wondered if they were thinking about us.

We started doing things out of character like pretending we know how to bake, and maybe get so caught up in the day dream that we forgot that something was in the oven and maybe we burned it.

i mean, i've heard that happens to some people, not me but...

Basically we all created a back story and future story for ourselves where we live happily ever after. What if that same effort were directed at ideas for you and your future? Couldn't that turn into something pretty substantial? All those minutes and hours spent thinking about the what if's of life only now we have the means to do something about it. We know how to put things into action. 

For many years, people used to tell me that I should write a book or a blog. I used to always think they were crazy and then one day I got a crush on the idea.

No joke. I started to ask myself what if and once I did that I thought about it all the time. What would I write about? Who would actually read it? Why would they read it? Would it be any good? After some time having a crush on this idea, it dawned on me that there was no reason I couldn't go after my crush. The only person stopping me was me, so I did it. Small at first of course. I am a walk before I run kinda girl.

It's been a few months and believe or not my crush has gotten stronger. It's what I think about at all hours of the day and night. I've even been known to wake up in the middle of the night freaking out with an idea of something to change or add or even delete. I start thinking that I forgot to say exactly what I meant or maybe I wrote something that could be misinterpreted. 

"there is a huge responsibility that comes along with putting your thoughts out into the universe." - me

In other words I am driving myself crazy. But...it is that good, butterflies in the stomach, dizzy lightheaded feeling you get when your crush looks back at you and for a split second you think "oh my gosh, he just looked at me". I want to pass notes to my friends and readers that say "do you like what I am posting? check the box that applies". Basically I feel like a kid again but in a good way. It is almost like being able to go back in time knowing what I know now and belong able to apply it. It's really exciting.

My guess is that you are now wondering what my point is. The point is that a "crush" can be a lot of different things and it's a good idea to find one. They get endorphin's pumping, make you giggle to yourself sometimes and smile. We all now how powerful a smile is. 

what do you have a crush on? what will you do about it?

gender equality, it just makes sense.

Women account for close to 80% of all purchases. This statistic is used a lot in the media. In full disclosure, I have used the statistic a number of times in presentations. There is nothing wrong with using the statistic as a matter of fact it is a very useful one in the business and marketing world. It is all the more powerful when you consider that this statistic has changed culture.

Lately it seems that the media is glorifying this statistic behind a stereotype. I have done presentations where people are shocked to learn this number and what it represents but I have also watched people learn this and heard them say things like "well, yeah...women love to shop". You may think this isn't a big deal, but it marginalizes the weight behind the numbers.

These stats don't seem to be talked about quite as much as the other one. They should be though. It is these numbers that actually tell a larger story, a story of how powerful women are, a story of how much women are needed. It's quite simple really.

Don't believe me? Think about this, women are the fastest growing consumer group in the world. That means something. It means the types of products and services that are sold are different than they once were. It means looking at the world from different perspectives. The problem however, is that with all of the growth in education, salary and work for women the spoils of those riches aren't quite growing at the same clip. Consider this...

So how is it that all of these hard working women who invest in their families and produce our food live in poverty? How is it that they only own 1% of the world's property?

It is a problem because not enough of us are speaking out. I know, you have enough to worry about right? We live in a world where hashtags like #feminismisawful and #womenagainstfeminism exist. As a woman this baffles me. How can anyone, especially women believe that fighting for equality is something awful to be against? Rather than give that negative perspective too much time I have some questions for you.

  • How much do you really know about women in our country and beyond?
  • Are we making noise about the topics that matter to us?
  • Do you talk about the gender wage gap?
  • Do you feel limited at work, school or home because you are a woman?
  • Have you ever been cat called on the street, been the target of inappropriate jokes in the office or blamed for something simply because you are a woman?

It's not all doom and gloom by the way. There are a ton of groups and organizations out there now working hard to educate and make a difference for women here in the U.S. and beyond. From advertising campaigns, non-profit's, social media groups, networking groups etc. there is a push towards giving women a seat at the table. Is your voice part of the movement?

Below is an example of a brand working to empower women and create dialogue and discourse. Unilever who has been involved in a number of positive campaigns lately released this new video called Empowering Women. Kudos to Unilever, check it out.

In reading this back, I realize it might be a little bit of a soap box but I am okay with that. At the end of the day, if nothing else happens from my blog, my speaking, my events or my coaching I hope that people will be inspired to get up on their own soap box an stand up for something positive. There's enough negativity out there for 10 lifetimes, why not add something different?

What do we do in our every day lives to speak and build up the women around us? Tell me in the comments below.

Let's start a movement for change.

to help I made this quick reference guide of some of the quotes you read here. It is a quick little thing to post on your instagram, facebook, even pinterest. The more people who know the real deal, the more chance we have at change...so share away.

9 things you should know about women and why they matter


4.Unilver: Empowering Women - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O71k6-_59rQ
5.Academia and Education.” Women Moving Millions. (2012).
6.“More Working Women Than Men Have College Degrees.” U.S. Census Bureau (2011).
“Women in America: Indicators of Social and Econ“Academia and Education.” Women Moving Millions. (2012).
“More Working Women Than Men Have College Degrees.” U.S. Census Bureau (2011).
“Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.” U.S. Department of Commerce and Economics and Statistics Administration (2011).
Parker, Kim and Eileen Patten. “A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations.” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends (2012).
Anderson, Doug. “Below the Topline Women’s Growing Economic Power.” Nielsen (2009).
Holt, Lester. “Men Falling Behind Women.” NBC News (2011).
“Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race.” National Center for Education Statistics (2012
1.omic Well-Being.” U.S. Department of Commerce and Economics and Statistics Administration (2011).
2.Parker, Kim and Eileen Patten. “A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations.” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends (2012).
3.Anderson, Doug. “Below the Topline Women’s Growing Economic Power.” Nielsen (2009).
4.Holt, Lester. “Men Falling Behind Women.” NBC News (2011).
5.“Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race.” National Center for Education Statistics (2012)

conquering negative bias

I pride myself on being a curator of positive content both online and off. It is for this reason that I like to share and promote other people, brands and organizations that are doing the same.

Let's face it, the world seems pretty hell bent on shouting out the negative and only whispering the positive. With the intrusion of social media and internet, this type of negativity becomes easier to spread and it spreads fast. So how do we keep our head up and see all of the amazing things that are happening around us. Because I am here to tell you,


So why do we shout negativity so loud? My original assumption is that we are hardwired to be negative. And guess what? It is true. During my research I discovered something that researchers call the "negative bias". Turns out we are hardwired for negativity. Our brains actually respond to negative situations  as much as three times more than positive situations. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we had to respond to negative stimuli in a quicker way in order to stay alive. It was the ability to respond to negativity that kept our ancestors positively alive. So if we have evolved in other areas why not in this one?

I could not find a specific answer to this in my research but in reading how to tackle it I think the answer is related to the fact that we respond to the negative bias instead of trying to correct for it.  We accept negativity in our lives and don't demand something more productive. We glorify being busy, dismissive, aloof and sarcasm, all of which actually begat negativity, Why do we think this is so cool?

The other thing that isn't working in our favor is the fact that we think everything is equal, that we respond to emotions the same but we don't. As I mentioned it takes 3x the amount of positivity to impact us. So how do we keep the negative out and invite the positive in?

Research gives a few options that I am going to simplify for us all.

Pay attention to positive things. Did you read a feel good story on your Facebook feed? Did you just read the first paragraph or did you read the whole story? 

We can register negativity right away, which makes sense because feeling bad sucks. With positive emotions/events it takes 5-20 seconds. You know all those diets that tell you to savor your food by chewing each bite multiple times to make the flavor linger and slow down your eating, which in turn allows your brain to get the message of fullness? This is the same concept. Let positive things linger in your life.

Seek out positivity. Too often than not we turn on the news, radio, or read online about all of the tragedies in the world. I am not saying we should ignore what is happening around us but the problem is we don't balance the coverage. Not only do we not give equal time to the negative and the positive, we actually give so little time to positive forces that we have an even bigger hill to climb to feel positive emotions. So watch a video of a baby or kid laughing and hit repeat. There really is no better sound in the world. Don't believe me?

Lastly, be still. You read that right. Be still, and give your brain time to appreciate all that is happening around you. There are so many beautiful things that happen to us every single day but we are rushing through our lives focused on the things we have to fix instead of things we should be enjoying. Many suggest things like gratitude journals to help create this focus.

I am sure there are other ways to combat negativity from other researchers. In the end though I think it is really simple. We have to work to create and accept positivity. Before you let that bum you out and go negative. Take it in, because the research actually proves that working at it works. Watch this amazing Ted Talk called The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance which explains how you can re-wire your brain to be more positive.

At the end, the speakers offers up a 21 day challenge. 21 days is nothing. I'm putting it in the universe right now. Let's do it together. Tell me in the comments below if you are in and let's spread the positivity around. 

You In?

now what? step 2 of writing your manifesto

5 test.jpg

Happy Friday everyone. I heard from quite a few of you that you are especially liking the manifesto series. Thank you. Don't forget you can comment below on things you like, or even questions.

So, today we head into the weekend with Step 2. We have spent a week brainstorming, so...

now what?

Well, if you are anything like me, you first have to clean up the gigantic mess you made in your mother's family room. (as evident by the above picture) Oh wait, is that just me? Please tell me you made a mess too. If you don't my Mom will be vindicated after all of these years and I am just not ready for that yet.

i digress.

I have included some pictures to display the progress I made so far as proof that I am not just making this stuff up, I am actually going through the process with you.

Solidarity People!

I have paper cuts and ink all over my hands to prove it. I would not typically fancy myself an artist. I write things down and my doodling leaves little to be desired but a friend of mine from Ponder and Muse is a big doodler and I love her stuff. (she did my logo). We were talking and she said how doodling relaxes her and calms her mind so I said, what the heck and gave it a shot. I can tell you that my doodles are NOT what she does, but I guess doodle has a pretty loose definition.

Gosh, blogs are supposed to be short. Even in the written form I love to talk. ANYWAY...based on the emails I received many people felt they needed more time to brainstorm so I am sharing this post to help get some creative juices going.

Step 2 is all about organization of thoughts anyway. This means that as you are organizing what you want the manifesto to represent that you can still be brainstorming too.

Organize: verb used with object
”to form as or into a whole consisting of interdependent or coordinated parts, especially for united action:”
— dictionary.com

HUH? This definition is awful. Sorry dictionary, but it is true When I say organize here is what I mean in a few simple steps.

1. Take everything you have saved or written down and lay it out on a table, desk or other work surface. 

2. Group like things together. This could be similar sayings, quotes, actions, images etc.

3. Is anything missing? If so, examine what it is. Did you include all aspects of what you want in life ie. health, happiness, family, money etc. if there is something missing, write down what subject it is referring to.

4. Now you have another week to collect any other thoughts, or missing pieces.  For example, as I was putting together this post, I saw this on Instagram and absolutey felt inclined to put some of this stuff into my final project, though as of yet, I'm not sure what.  How great is this though?

5. This time can also be used to trim the fat. Do you have too much? Can some of the things you have collected be combined. 

Remember, this manifesto is all about you. It will be your guidepost and therefore must truly represent who you are, what you want and where you are going. Be honest with yourself. Make the tough calls and be vulnerable enough to put it all out there. In the end, it is up to you if you want to share it with others. There is no reason you have to. This is about and for YOU and only you. If you decide to share it, all the better. Sharing makes you accountable. 

Ok....enough blabbing. Week 2 and step 2 begins now so get organizing, collection and pulling things together. Next week, we prioritize and get ready to put it all together. YIKES! we are moving fast.

Have a great week. Leave comments below with any questions you may have, general statements, or even funny stories about the process. This is a community for sharing so I want to encourage that we all share our experience.

personal manifesto writing part 1

We all have a dream. Some of us have lots of them. We may not always realize that is what they are. We may avoid the work to make them come true. We may be lost as to how to make them a reality. Maybe you haven't unearthed what it is yet. But we all have a dream.

Dreams are what I focus on because it seems the only way to truly connect with people. Once you discover and chase your dream, you start to know more about who you really are and who you want to be. This in turn makes it easier to see who other people are, thus making connection simpler.

Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.
— Larry Winget

It is for that reason I continue to focus on creating a manifesto. Like any journey, it is crucial to have a plan, even a rough one. Let me be clear, having a plan does NOT mean that you will follow it to the letter. Oh gosh, the most fun things in life happen when the plan falls through. That being said though, having a general direction or map you can refer to along the way helps you make not only the right turns but the left ones that actually turn out to be right all along.

If “Plan” A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters? Stay Cool
— Author Unknown

So what is supposed to go in to a manifesto?

That is the beautiful part. They can be short or long. They can be targeted to one particular thing or encompass all that you believe. They can change an infinite amount of times as you change and grow.  There is really only one rule to building a manifesto...

It must reflect who & what you are and challenge you to stretch yourself.

I should clarify, nowhere does it say that in the dictionary of manifesto's or online at some "how to site", Well...I don't think it does, I didn't actually look. So really, this is my belief and I realize some of you have just met me...so let me prove my point here.

Read brand manifesto's, or personal manifesto's from any and everyone. Take note of what is similar and what is different. They all have a call to action for the person(s) that is reading it. They all use positive language. They all aspire to something better. They almost always have a theme or direction even though it isn't always blatant. And they almost always show you what the person(s) ultimately wants to aspire to.

I promised in my previous post: Tips on How & Why Brands Use Manifesto's to Connect with Consumers that I would help us all focus on the steps to writing our own manifesto's and so today we start.

It doesn't need to be in a fancy journal or a perfectly handwritten list. It actually doesn't even have to make sense. But spend a day or better yet a week writing things down. Have scraps of paper or a notebook and a writing tool around at all times and when you have a thought...jot it down. 

I am a firm believer of visual and written goals. YES, I vision board, get over it. I know it works. Why wouldn't I do it? Don't believe me that writing things down helps? Check out the Positivity Blog and their 7 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Write Things Down. By the way, how cool is it that there is something called the POSITIVITY BLOG?

Anyway, if you are not yet comfortable with writing down your thoughts, why not choose visuals to represent them instead? Lots of people have image journals with little to no text because that is the way the learn and see the world. That is totally acceptable as well and if you are visually creative would probably look pretty great too. So search for things in your surroundings that represent what you believe and what you want.

Okay, so this is step one. All we will talk about today is step one because quite frankly it is the foundation for everything else. So spend this week collecting information, words, images and anything else that might help you to create your very own manifesto.

Next week we will address step 2, organizing your thoughts.



all photos provided by AnD Creatives

Friday's Three Things - Speaking Part 3

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
— Mark Twain

How quickly 3 weeks go by. Today we finish the 3 part series on how I found my passion to speak. 

Speaking was part of the job but it quickly morphed into something much more. I actually sought out opportunities to speak. I got excited just thinking about a speech the night before. I prayed that someone would call me and ask me to speak. While this excitement was brewing, something else came to light. I knew the struggle to find your purpose. I also knew that girls and women faced more than their fare share of hurdles to that discovery. (Boys do too but the reality is we fight different battles and many girls are afraid to take what is theirs and go for it.

This is how I made my way to speaking on Purpose, Passion & Drive and how we find them. This happened easier than one might have expected. I reached out to some people I knew and they had opportunities for me. I was able to speak in schools and clubs, small non profit groups etc. all about passion, purpose and how you really find yourself through the journey. I was speaking to kids who were so excited about the future. It almost made me wish I was 16 again

i said almost!

Let me just tell you, KISMET is a beautiful word.

Art work by Ponder & Muse. Click on imageabove to go to store.

: a power that is believed to control what happens in the future
fate; destiny.
— www.merriam-webster.com

Kismet is truly what was happening. Everything was falling into place just the way it was supposed to .Purpose and Passion might be my favorite topic to speak on, mainly because most of the time, I have spoke on this in front of audience that were mostly kids/teens. It is the toughest audience, you could ever imagine, but it is also the most eager audience. Their minds are so open to possibilities and as long as you speak on their level, they stay engaged, they ask questions and they challenge everything you ever thought you knew. When this happens, you learn so much about yourself and about possibilities.

So...why do I tell you all of this? I tell you this because...

this is my passion, this is my purpose

When you finally find your purpose, it really is your responsibility to share with with the world and use it.
— Dawne Hanks

and it is important that I show people what I do. Not just so you might think about me when looking for a speaker / storyteller but so that I get the opportunity to share my passion with others. With that in mind I share a Friday's 3 Things as quotes to close out the week and get you inspired, so take a look below and spend this weekend thinking about your own purpose, or check out the rest of my website and hire me to speak. I am ready to share and spread positivity one opportunity at a tim!

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
— Neil Gaiman

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman

till monday...