A Brief Point of View – Bring Back Our Girls

“We don’t learn the importance of anything till it is snatched from our hands.”  Malala Yousafzai

Have you read about or seen Malala Yousafzai speak?  She is the young Pakistani activist shot in the head on her school bus because of her views on the rights to education for women.  She survived the ordeal and ended up with a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize with her determined activism.  Malala Yousafzai’s story is what comes to mind when I think of the Nigerian women who have been taken from their school by ruthless, misogynistic, education hating militants. To paraphrase Malala, “Education is very important.  Education is the power for women and that is why terrorists are afraid of education. They do not want women to get education because then women will become more powerful.”  Take hundreds young women out of school and force them into marriage and slavery in 2014? Completely unfathomable.  Imagine how the world of these militants would crumble  if their “culture” was taken over by open-minded, educated women.  Women with the ability to challenge cruel and demented belief systems and social norms so abnormal they have no place on this earth.  I have no idea what makes terrorists tick.  They are clearly ignorant, subhuman, fearful, cowards.  If violence and atrocities are the way to impart a twisted misogynistic belief system, those who follow this are trying way too hard to prove nothing of value. I truly find human beings can be a complete disappointment.

NPR highlighted the 276 Nigerian women are only 1 group of recent victims of this kidnapping trend.  25 girls were taken two weeks ago and another 11 were taken this week from different parts of Nigeria. I would guess those are the counts publicized and likely there many stories similar to these in Africa and other places in the world.  It is incredibly disturbing and I am unsure what can be done about it since it is far bigger than me.   I realize it is not my job to come up with all of the answers; however, I have been asking myself for a week what those of us in the United State can do.  How do you protect people trying to live their lives in a world of terrorist and violence?  Awareness was the answer to my “what can I do question?”  I live on the same planet as the women fighting for education and their rights; yet my world is completely different.  It is difficult to comprehend a world in which a person has to fear their desires for education and live in fear if they are anything but a subservient woman.

Here is a link to the Malala Yousafazi’s inspiring, moxie filled interview with John Stewart on the Daily Show:


Here is the link to the NPR story referenced above:


Thank you for reading this blog!

Amp Up The Childlike Wonder

Finish what you started or drop it like a rock.  Life is about choice and subject to change.   After attending a meditation class last week, I spent the last two days debating my return.  Do I have better things to do with 90 minutes on Sunday? Is it worth the time?  I decided to go back to class and there was a substitute teacher who  made a world of difference. The purpose of meditation is to still mind and be present in the moment i.e. do not let your brain hijack everything with to do lists and anxiety about your appointments on Monday. Given all that happened in class #2, my mind was quite active. When the teacher suggested we deal with thoughts like watching a movie – let them sail on by vs grabbing onto them – I figured putting them on mental post it notes would help me later on.

Today’s class was about awareness of sound, the responses sound evokes, and how to quiet your brain when sound triggers a response.  When the class began, there were a variety of musical instruments on the floor and a feeling of anxiety crept up on me. Alert!  Alert!  Outside the comfort zone!  My first feeling with tambourine in hand was the angst I used to feel before music recitals many years ago.  My first thought as I held the tambourine was, “Will I make a mistake?”  The answer?  NO!  There were no rules except to make it up as we went along.  I imagined what it would be like to play tambourine if I were part of the E Street Band.  Running out of the room was the irrational Plan B.

When the teacher asked the class to approach music and sound with child-like wonder, I realized it can be quite difficult to turn on that skill when you are out of practice. How many adults can just turn on child-like wonder on cue?  I found myself trying to remember what it was like to feel a sense of childlike wonder.  Step 1: Remove the literal, practical adult approach to observation and listening. Step 2: Focus on sounds and vibrations with a sense adventure and curiosity.  It became clear to me that it is far easier  for children to sit in a group and shake  tambourines and bang on drums with reckless abandon. Adults likely have a more fearful response.  Will I look stupid?  Do I have rhythm? Am I sweating? Where are the mimosas?

Do you remember the horrid sound produced when you played the recorder in elementary school? Neither do I.  Creating music was such a wonderful break from grammar lessons and arithmetic.  Squawk on the recorder and forget everything else is how it went.  Children innately know how to enjoy each moment, in my opinion.  Their lives revolve around activities and lessons requiring an open mind, wonder, and creativity. Many adult lives revolve around pragmatic activities, rules, processes and doing things the way others want it done.  (Flip charts and white boards are about as creative as many of us get; though I often leave a doodle on conference room whiteboards if I have the opportunity).   It might benefit executive teams to have advisory boards comprised of young people.  Imagine the logic and creativity youth would bring to problem solving and personnel issues to counterbalance the worry,ego, and stress adults often bring to the table.

It occurred to me the other day that all adults need to keep coloring books handy as a diversion of our adult lives; or any medium of creativity from years ago. Pick up a paint brush or your tinker toys or your clarinet or your crayons. The Google Doodle Contest is the very thing that gave me the idea. Every year Google has a themed contest and K-12 students from all over the U.S. can submit their interpretation of the contest theme inclusive of the Google logo.  This year the theme was “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place.”  Check it out for some really creative ideas and illustrations.  It is really fascinating what young minds can create.

I often have experiences that leave me asking why I let go of my childlike wonder.  When did it happen and why didn’t anyone tell me to hold onto it?  Generally, it seems children are in a fortunate state of worry-free openness and without the tendency to relate an activity or event to a past life experience. Adults fill up their pockets with life experiences and let the the bad ones encroach up on new experiences.  Spring Cleaning is here!  Clear your clutter! Mental and emotional clutter that is – why am I still living with pre-music recital anxiety at my age with a tambourine in hand, in a meditation class?  Oh, yes – if I make a mistake it will mess up the whole performance even though no one would care!  It would be so much more interesting to pick up a musical instrument and think, “WHOA!  What kind of sound can I create with this!”

What triggers your creativity and sense of wonder?  Figure it out!  You may have to do something you normally would avoid or dismiss (like meditation class?). It will likely help you discover new things about yourself.  If I fail to talk myself out of next week’s meditation class, I can only imagine what might happen to again push me out of my comfort zone.

Thank you for reading this blog!

So That Happened – Random Thoughts

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like you might be from another planet because you are unable to believe what is happening?  Several times today I figured there must be something wrong with me because I found myself thinking, “So is this happening…right now.”

Is George Clooney really engaged to be married?  The entire planet must know George Clooney’s marital status and he is now engaged? I feel like George Clooney is playing a joke on the media.  In the big picture it has no bearing on my life at all and I have never had an opinion about George Clooney’s marital status. I am not really even a fan though I really liked the Ocean’s movies.  George Clooney getting married is like a press release that Jane Goodall has developed a severe allergy and aversion to primates.  Could that really be possible?  I have checked multiple websites to see if it is true and it seems to be true (Clooney, not Goodall).  I have contacted friends who have confirmed they have seen this news.  I am really unable to explain my disbelief.  It just goes to show everything is subject to change.  Maybe George Clooney finally met a women who did not set out to change him or convince him to get married or maybe he has been taken by body snatchers or maybe this is a Danny Ocean move of some kind.  Does anyone have Julia Roberts’ phone number? She will be able to confirm the news reports.  George Clooney: a case study in anything is possible even if it seems really, really unlikely (because the media said so).

I got roped into a meditation class. I say roped in because class for meditation seems counterintuitive. Meditation is something that is supposed to take you inward.  A class seems very, well, “get it all out there and let’s talk about our feelings.”   And it was. What I also found amusing is a person who witnessed me getting roped in later sent me a text and said something along the lines of, “I am so sorry you got roped into that”  as if she knew this might not be the best thing for me.  I rationalized the class as a good way to validate I am meditating correctly.  My questions about whether meditation class is for me when the instructor shared he is a psychotherapist and uses meditation for his depressed patients, troubled teenagers and patients who are recovering addicts.  I am none of those things so wondered why the person who roped me in thought this class would be good for me?  When I overheard a participant touting her budding abilities as a medium (not quite like the Long Island Medium, she said), I wondered, “Wait, did I just overhear that?” And also I realized I recognized the voice of the aspiring medium – a coworker who probably wants to keep her side career a secret?  Or not?  That happened and I pretended I heard nothing.  Another deal breaker was when the meditation class leader told us to envision a happy place.  A what?  One of the participants said her happy place is sitting on the beach with her cat….and that was enough for me.  I was sure I had been beamed to another planet at that point.   There are some things about people that I  just never want to know.  To quote Russell Simmons, “Meditation lets your thinking mind take a break from itself.”  There was too much happening in this class to halt any thinking – people never cease to amaze me.  I may be better off on my own with meditation practice.

I discovered my friend has recently turned into a Mom Zombie when I  saw her at a party tonight.  I am not sure when this zombie thing happened exactly and wondered if anyone else noticed, thought did not broach the subject.   She recently had a second baby. Her previous abilities to have adult conversations while caring for a baby have gone goo-goo ga-ga on her and I felt kind of weird about it. Ok I realize I may sound unfeeling.  I have never had a baby so am unaware of the life changing effects of a baby.  However, this friend, pre-baby #2, would have told me to take action if she spent two hours at a dinner table talking to a 5 month old and trying to make everyone talk to the 5 month old as if she may respond.  Again I am likely unfeeling and insensitive yet I had to ask myself, “Who body snatched my friend? A pre-teething little baby gnawing on her fists has no idea something just dribbled on her pants.”  I sent my friend a text after dinner and told her we really need to get pedicures next weekend to see if she would understand the SOS.  She agreed and told me she has had way too much baby time.  Maybe not body snatched afterall, just needs a breather.  Note: I really have no idea how mothers work full time and take care of their children and everything else.  It is never ceases to amaze me.

I am sure something else happened today, however, these were the things I was compelled to write.  Yes this blog post happened and you must have read it.  I am not sure what the lesson is in all this – perhaps body snatchers do not actually exist?

Another side note:  my brother thinks I need more bullet points in my blog posts because I am so verbose.  I told him when I get an editor, I will add some bullets and interesting punctuation.  In the meantime, I will try to be less wordy…but so much happens every day it is tough for me!

Thank you for reading my random blog post!

Part Two: What is Success?

Reading Thrive sent my brain in a new direction.  Success has to be something other than earning money, a grander title, a nicer office and dining on a lot of stress sandwiches.  Thrive describes success as having a balanced life. One point that really resonated with me – success is achieved by building memories in every life you touch. Leave a lasting impression, make a difference in someone’s life, or maybe help someone else find their way.  I have always been on board with this in my personal life and now to translate “humane” elements into career is compelling to me. Do I do that in my job today?  Unlikely.  Do I know people with the opportunity in their jobs today?  I certainly do.  I have a friend who is an oncology nurse.  I know there are families who will always remember her kindness and bedside manner while helping patients and the families.  I have another friend who is a health coach and has begun to do speaking engagements to promote a healthy lifestyle.  Without a doubt there will be people along the way who will benefit and remember the person who served as their guide to a healthier way of living.  I saw a Facebook “friend” was recently named teacher of the year at her school.  I truly believe her students will look back and remember the support and encouragement she provided wherever they end up.  There are careers paths that enable selfless giving with a two way reward.  Some will say “well how do you make any money doing those things”.  There are many ways of earning a living; though it likely requires a big mindset shift about career and rewards associated with success.  The rewards may include your salary and intangibles such as humane treatment of…humans.  To paraphrase Thrive,  no one will be raving about the ability to perfect a power point presentation and praising ability to work 20 hour days at funeral. One’s positive impact on others serves a greater purpose and will surely be remembered more so than any administrative skills. People who understand their purpose and find their passion have a different point of view than those of us who are drones in corporate life (no offense to anyone who loves cubicle life and conference calls).

What if success means taking an alternative path versus a cookie cutter corporate career?  Many people have amazing talents and gifts that are likely untapped while sitting in a cubicle or office, working in front of a computer all day.  How many people actually use their strengths vs forced to develop a weakness. How can natural ability and skills be preserved in an unnatural environment?  My strength is hardly crunching numbers in any capacity, however, I am required to do it at every week. I find it excessively time consuming and tedious. I have told my boss I am not a revenue analyst and that newsflash  falls on deaf ears so I plug away at my spreadsheets anyway. Do people in management positions really know how to identify and cultivate talent?  Do we as individuals know how to develop our own talents?  We apply and interview for jobs and get hired according to job specifications, based on self promotion whether or not it is a perfect fit.  There are people who are well suited for corporate life. There are people who can fit into corporate life and would thrive elsewhere. There are people who will never thrive in a corporate environment whether they have tried it or not.  I will say, working for a large corporation can be a good place to develop knowledge and skills for use somewhere else along the line.  I find it fascinating to hear stories about people who leave their suits and laptops behind to take an alternate path.  I think most say what they were doing helped them understand how to get to where they really wanted to be.

I wonder how many people realize there are more options than a corporate ladder and are unsure of how to make it happen.  How do you climb your own ladder?  How do you bypass the ladder and take the stairs to achieve your desired success?  How do you ensure what you get in return for your effort is acceptable and rewarding?  From my point of view, it is daunting to leave the security of a corporate job and move into something that may  involve an unfamiliar level of uncertainty.  I would imagine there are many people out there who place limitations upon their own success because it is challenging to step outside the comfort zone.  Conversely, there are people who are forced outside the comfort zone and end up on their own path based on fate or circumstance.  Maybe it just time for those who need to, to take time to decide what success means and find the inspiration to take a leap of faith and do something new or different.  Just a thought.


Part One – Set Boundaries, Define Success, and Thrive

Disconnected and it feels so good! Vacation.  A sure fire way to get your priorities straight until you return to work.  Normally I hem and haw about disconnecting before I leave for vacation.  Take the work phone?  Pack the laptop? This time I decided to leave my phone and all my work angst behind.  I let work consume my free time quite often and have been working on myself to stop allowing that. In today’s world, vacation should be void of phones, power cords, and social media.  I used my travel time to start reading Thrive – The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post) in real book form.  Arianna Huffington was inspired to write this book based on her own experience with exhaustion and burn out and the need to live a balanced life to be successful.  The value of personal time, putting all devices away, and evaluating the true meaning of success were some of the topics that grabbed me.  I am only half way through the book and have so much to say so I am breaking my post up into two parts.

Today’s corporate culture will drive most people into the ground.  The demands and pressure placed upon all of us to perform continue to grow. Work creeps into our personal time and disrupts our down time when we allow it.  We are motivated by stress and this is becoming more apparent as as I listen to colleagues and friends, and read blogs, articles and books. The onus is on the individual to create boundaries between work time and personal time. I do believe executives need to be cognizant of burnout and the habits developed by diligent employees working to stay on top of all tasks, while dodging curve balls.  Personally, I question my team when I see weekend and late night email messages.  If you take a vacation day I really do not want to hear from you because it is your time not work time.  How can anyone be effective if overtired and burned out?  How can anyone thrive in today’s corporate environment without a well balanced lifestyle?  Thrive addresses this and has compelled me to add thrive to my vocabulary because that is what we all need to do.   Will this behavior help me thrive?  Will I thrive in this environment?  I read this book in a little bit of awe as I felt like several parts were written specifically for me. I have failed to set work boundaries for myself over and over.  I know what conference calls at 11pm are like (a zero on the fun meter).  I have fallen asleep behind the wheel of my car after months of burning the midnight oil.  I have had fuzzy decision making situations because of lack of sleep. Arianna Huffington has made me stop and look at what I need to do to truly thrive, whatever I am doing.

Though I realize one book is one perspective, I found it so interesting to read about women who left their executive suite jobs because they felt the “reward” for getting to the top of the corporate ladder was unacceptable.  I would say many people view success as something based on title, salary and job responsibility.  Is that really success? You did a great job so here is more work which means more hours, less sleep and conference calls with Asia at 3am?  Success linked to title and salary seems like an illusion for high stress, high demand and high pressure. I agree anyone should get paid a lot of money for high stress levels and crazy hours but is that really acceptable? Without question, some people are driven by pressure and stress, however, no matter who you are, at some point, it takes its toll on a person’s life and health. Thrive highlights some interesting case studies and statistics related to heart disease, obesity and other medical conditions linked to stress, the failure to disconnect, and live a balanced life. Nothing is served on a silver platter but to digest massive stress levels and spend the majority of awake hours tied to a phone or laptop seems less like success and more like a big picture exercise in futility.  As I turned the pages, I thought about two friends of mine who dedicated all their years since college to their former companies. One was on the fast track in a behemoth company, the other was a vice president in a PR firm.  Both are dedicated and driven and both sacrificed a great deal for their jobs in spite of mountains of stress.  Both ended up getting laid off in graceless, illogical ways (by my assessment, the decision makers were total weenies).  Squeeze every last ounce out of good people and then tell them to leave?  It is kind of like blowing out a candle.  Here today, gone tomorrow in spite of talent, knowledge, and capability. Thrive made me realize it is really important for each person to define personal success and to keep a balance between dedication to job and dedication to self.  I think I have been floating along with the “corporate” definition of success for too long and need a new state of balance in my own life.

To be continued – part two of this post will be available soon!  Thank you for reading!

If you want to read the book,  here is a link to Amazon.com:  Thrive – The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Keep Reading

Are you reading this blog http://meganmcgrane.com/ ?  Megan has a great post this week and it inspired me to write today. If you choose to subscribe to Megan’s blog, her posts will be delivered to your inbox.  I enjoy Megan’s posts and follow her because she is building a career and will have more and more to share as her experiences expand and evolve.

Megan’s recent post is about moderation  – as in “I do this or that in moderation” or “Everything in moderation!”.  I found it to be really entertaining  (in my own way) and decided “in moderation” is pretty lame as an approach to many things (I tend to say what I think and do apologize for sounding judgmental)!   Megan was more eloquent about the topic. Why do things in moderation?  As I thought about it, I failed to come up with a good reason to do things in moderation.  It just feels like a way to sit on the fence or  avoid taking a plunge.  For example, I am an unbeliever (is that a word) in moderation as a way of eating.  If I eat cookies in moderation, it is likely a minimum of 6 per day; thus I never say I eat cookies in moderation.  I am more likely to admit cookies are part of every meal of the day, breakfast included, when I have them in the house.  If you tell me I can eat 1 cookie, I guarantee I will eat 6 because is anyone really satisfied with 1 cookie? I have no idea how to eat cookies in moderation so my house has been void of my favorite food for a couple months!

About 1o years ago, my doctor and physical therapist told me I had to stop running due to back pain/issues.  My doctor told me my back issues were unusual for my age and would only advise me to stop running and whatever I did was my decision.  I figured I could run…in moderation.  I was unable to wrap my head around a workout if I was unable run outside for 2 hours. Elliptical machines were barely a workout in my mind!  I tried to run several days a week for 1 hour instead of 2.  Then I tried to decrease the time to 30 minutes – yet I was still in pain and the pain repeatedly disrupted my sleep. I am not a quitter but moderation was not cutting it.  My choices were:  live with pain and possibly bigger issues or change my workout completely.  Begrudgingly, I hung up my running shoes and learned to appreciate low impact cardio options like the elliptical machine and walking outside with my dog and picked up weights and high intensity workouts.  Another bonus (though I have previously written I am largely anti-social at the gym), I have made several new friends by way of changing my workout.

Very recently I was again guilty of trying to workout in moderation. New back problems popped up and I kept working out in spite of discomfort – when will I ever learn?  I then decided I could just workout less (in moderation!) and I would feel better.  I cut back to 2 days a week and spent 5 days recovering with ice and Aleve.  I woke up one morning in such pain that I had to lie on the floor because I felt like I was going to get sick.  I went to see my orthopedist and he prescribed physical therapy and also had the nerve to suggest I add pilates or yoga to my workout routine.  Thereafter, though I do believe in the benefits of those forms of exercise, I actually had the nerve to drive home thinking my life is officially over.  Am I so decrepit that I will eventually only be able to workout on a mat??  My brother took my feedback and threw this at me, “It’s not like your doctor said you need your foot amputated.”   Oh yeah..perspective….there are people I know with horrible medical conditions and I am whining about having to do some sort of core focused workout?  My physical therapist told me to go back to the gym and also suggested pilates.  She even recanted and said I can learn the right exercises without having to take a pilates class since I like going to the gym and am active.  Pilates is derived from methods used by physical therapists.  Moderation = fail.  Take the bull by the horns = success.

Moderation is a comfort zone and a way of avoiding change and reality.   Moderation is easier than transformation and taking the bull by the horns.  I believe humans struggle to change for a variety of reasons.  Change can cause discomfort and moderation lets you dabble and never actually commit yourself to anything.  Sometimes it is really hard to look at yourself in the mirror.  We do things in moderation because we are afraid to fail.     Change can be scary and resistance is easy (I was actually going to describe resistance with the word comfortable, however, I find resistance is usually really uncomfortable).  Sometimes we are unsure how to change so do things in moderation till we can find a way or till we can find someone who knows the way.  What are you doing in moderation today because change would be uncomfortable and take effort?  We all have to discover change on our own whether through experience, self awareness or the lessons life bestows upon us…and then we have to  actually leave the comfort zone and plunge into new things.

Thank you for reading this blog and thank you Megan for all the food for thought (no pun intended)!


Truth Be Told

I came across a Gloria Steinem quote the other day and it started the wheels turning.  “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.”  How true is that statement?  Until the age of 30 (or thereabouts) the truth was usually something I tried to avoid in certain situations. Facing the truth was usually a SMACK – right in the center of my pride.  It was just impossible for me to face some things head on when I was called to the carpet. I ran away or avoided or denied.  In fact, I can think of many situations in which the truth would have gotten me out of pickle.  There have also been situations when too much truth may have hurt me by my own design.

Have you ever been in the wrong relationship for many reasons?  That was me in my 20s.  The people around me could see it was all wrong; yet I insisted I was happy and they had no idea what they were talking about.  It used to irritate me when someone would say, “You can’t stand it when he blinks, why are you dating him?”  The reaction inside my head was something like, “Crap I  have been found out.” Yet my outward response was to deny, deny, deny or to get defensive.  I am not entirely sure why I sat in denial of a relationship that annoyed me.  Why I spent so much time with someone who I really wanted to get away from is baffling.  However, life is about lessons and there have been quite a few on my path. To a point, I refused to accept the truth about about my nowhere fast (or in 6 years) relationship – even though everyone who said anything like, “He annoys you when he blinks” was totally spot on.  Of course, as things happen I was forced to toss denial aside because the subject of marriage eventually came up.  There was no way I would have been happy married to this man (his dream was to put me into a minivan with a bunch of soccer cleat wearing kids – if you know me, that would never suit me).  Thus I had to face the truth and be honest and tell him he would never see me walking down the aisle towards him…in any lifetime.  It took me long time to realize it is better to face the music and be honest with other person and exit gracefully.  Why lie to yourself about your happiness for the sake of a relationship? Faking anything has never been my strength thus the truth always ends up smacking me in the face.

The truth can be difficult to accept, receive, process.  Delivery is important.  How the words are linked together can make a big difference in how someone feels or how they respond to what is shared. I used have a client who treated me like I worked on his team.  We had a very good working relationship.  One day he stopped me during a conversation and said, “Alexis are we friends?” I thought about it and said, “Of course we are!”  My client said, “Then as your friend Alexis, I cannot let you walk around with that booger hanging out of your nose.”  I laugh when I think of story to this day because I appreciated the honesty and who wants to walk around greeting people with a booger?  More importantly, the delivery neither made me feel weird nor uncomfortable. The reassurance and kindness averted any awkwardness.  In the same vein if you have spinach stuck in your teeth or if your fly is down, aren’t you appreciative when you are made aware?  Even when it is a (non creepy) stranger in the line at Starbucks?  I have had people say “I feel weird telling that to someone.”  Tell the truth about the spinach leaf, help a person out. It is surely good karma!

When the light bulb switched on for me about the value of honesty and speaking the truth, it became apparent my ability to deliver the truth often resulted in what I call verbal shrapnel. The truth will set you free and I can really piss people off with it? Delivery was hardly my forte.  It took awhile to understand what I said could be poorly received or  valuable depending on the approach.  For a long time I put up a shield of words if someone hurt my feelings.  It is easy to figure out the person’s weakness and go for the achilles heel (verbally) to put the hurt back on a person.  More often than not, my shield of words would ricochet and leave a mark on the other person and on me. Upsetting a family member, offending a colleague are far from good results.  It took time to learn just expressing how I feel works much better than verbal retaliation (that whole life lesson thing again).   I remember a meeting at work during which a colleague informed me he had no idea how to do his job.  Though the words I used escape me, I probably told him he was an idiot and a waste of my time.  My choice words sent that person directly to my boss’ office at the conclusion of the meeting.  My boss later called me in to tell me my colleague was in fact inept and it was unnecessary to call him an idiot to his face. Oops.  Though my intent was to be honest, my words were quite unrefined and clearly needed a little softening of the edges.  Over time I did develop the ability to say things gently (work in progress) and discovered there are ways to tell the truth without insulting someone’s intelligence and leaving a person lying on the floor, missing a limb.

How the truth is delivered and what you do with it is an art for sure.  Shooting from the hip can be damaging and can go horribly wrong.  A thoughtful approach to words used will go far. It is a constant practice for me to think before speaking.  Though my brain works a mile a minute, stopping, then speaking has been an important lesson in many ways. This has helped me be more sensitive about what I say when providing honest insight or feedback or advice.  You catch more flies with honey as the saying goes. Throw a verbal cinder block at someone and a brick ,may come flying back or immediately or in time you will realize the damage done.  I believe in telling truth and it is something I value in my  relationships.  That said, I keep this in mind: words can be disarming and words can be weapons.  Words must be used wisely as rogue words can leave shrapnel in their wake.

Be honest and be gentle and give what you want to receive.  I agree with Gloria Steinem, the truth will set you free and sometimes it will piss you off.  However, with the right delivery, the recipient will be less likely to shoot the messenger.

Thank you for reading this blog!


Closet Anxiety

Have you ever felt like you should be doing something and hesitate because you are unsure of what to do or how to do it?  And until you actually take steps, it will nag you like a gnat zipping around your head?   This weekend I woke up and was unable to determine if I had been thinking half consciously or if my dreams are just turning into the thoughts rumbling around my head. I am going to a Las Vegas wedding soon and in my dream or my half conscious thoughts, what to wear for Las Vegas nightlife was giving me angst.  Do normal people have half conscious thoughts and anxiety dreams about what to wear in Las Vegas?  Anytime wardrobe feels complicated, I get angst because dressing like J.Lo or Beyonce is far from how I operate day to day. This has given me a new dream in life.  How fabulous would it be to get on a plane, fly to a destination (we will go with Las Vegas) and have an entire wardrobe waiting in the hotel room, with accessories, shoes and a stylist at your beckon call?  Add hair and make-up artist to the mix since I can barely apply mascara. Talk about no brainer approach to travel and wardrobe. It would be a far easier approach than shopping and I have to believe that is how J.Lo and Beyonce travel. It is actually horrible to think about shopping for a trip to Las Vegas. When I NEED something (other than jeans or LuLu Lemon pants), I have a hard time finding the right clothes.  When I am shopping for no reason, I usually hit the jackpot.  What is that?  Though I would never do it, I have even gone down the route of cancelling my trip due to wardrobe anxiety.  Oh yeah, my brain – it is constantly in problem solving mode.  Cancel trip over wardrobe – could that be more illogical?  Would J.Lo do that?

It is funny.  I have been going to the same gym for a very long time. I avoid 99% of the other gym members except for a handful of really interesting, kind friends I have met along the way. Those friends know I tend to keep to myself and know I am, in fact, outgoing outside the gym. Some people make comments about my anti social ways during my workouts.  The truth is, I have no interest in socializing at the gym.  I am there to workout and do my thing and am happy in my own world.  I will wave hello and keep walking because who needs to spend 3 hours in the gym talking to random people every day?  How does that relate to Las Vegas and my wardrobe problems? Well it just makes me wonder if anyone calling me anti social would ever believe I am on an elliptical machine wondering how in the world I will outfit myself in Las Vegas?   “So if you had no idea what to wear on a weekend trip, would you cancel the trip?”  I guess I can poll the gym members?  The truth is, I do know the answer.  I will have to start shopping online for ideas and either order a bunch of dresses or go through the insufferable process of trying on clothes under those horrible fluorescent lights in all dressing rooms.

I was sitting here trying to figure out why I felt compelled to write; and the truth is, writing helps me get things out of my head.  I have no better description than sometimes mental constipation strikes (sorry that is just so wrong yet just so apt) and I have to start writing. So many thoughts build up and so much going on in my brain, an outlet is just so necessary to free up space.  I selected my Las Vegas wardrobe angst as my topic because it seems so ridiculous and frivolous (though it is real!!) and it is my reality.  Clothes give me angst (except jeans and LuLu Lemon pants).  Do you think my brain will just quit on me someday due to improper use of a high quality mental capacity and processing ability?  

Thank you for reading this blog!

What’s On The Menu?

I talk about food often.  When I was in high school, during whatever team practice I was involved in, I would talk about what I wanted to eat after practice all through practice. I think I used to do it on bus rides home after games, too.  I always make the reservation when my friends want to get together for dinner.  There is usually a specific menu item at a restaurant that I have been waiting to try.  My family likes to talk about bacon and finding the best bacon ever.  We send food to each other as gifts.   Food is a constant topic of conversation with one of my friends from the gym, it is how we survive out workout, I think.  One of my favorite philanthropic things to do is donate to a food pantry.  When I shop for my bounty, I think about what would make a little kid happy or what would make a parent feel they are putting nutritious food on the table.  I might be a little like the beauty pageant contestant who wants to end world hunger except without glitzy hair, makeup and graceful walk.

I read a lot of blogs and follow a variety of people on Twitter and Instagram. There are so many food trends out there today (for my own lack of a better description). It is rather interesting to see what is popular and surprising how many people post regular pictures of their meals.  I am not one to jump on any type of fad diet or adopt a specific style of eating.  Veganism is the wrong thing for me.  Bacon is too good to never eat again unless the world is forced into a survivalist scenario. Gluten-free would be rough unless medically necessary because cookies, croissants, and bagels are some of my favorite foods. I am hard pressed to believe there is a gluten free croissant on this planet that tastes as good as the real thing. There is a high probability you will find a KIND bar in my purse and laptop bag as my go to snack versus a croissant, however.  I lean towards vegetarian eating though I throw (surprise) bacon in my brussel sprouts now and then so I can never say I am a vegetarian!

Learning about new foods and new ways of eating can be beneficial and informative.  I read recipes and adapt them to suit my preferences.  Nutritional value is becoming more important in this world of mass produced food and lack of visibility into sources of our food.  As the years go by, I am find I am more interested in what I put into my body and  realize there can be upsides and downsides to anything.  The thought of where shrimp come from is quite unappealing and milk skeeves me out sometimes (but I do like my morning latte). Different points of view on food and what to eat usually results in new knowledge or a recipe I can add to my repertoire.  I have always enjoyed guacamole. Until I really understood how GOOD an avocado is in all of its many ways, I never really ate them.  Now I keep them on my kitchen counter.

Here is a blog to which I subscribe for point of view http://meganmcgrane.com/ Megan is someone I met at the gym and she is a genuinely lovely, ambitious person.  I ran into her recently and told her I look forward to seeing where she is in 5 years.  She has the ability to demystify health and medical topics which I find refreshing.  A demystified point of view with medical training to boot means to me ‘she gets it’ when it comes to the whys and hows and what is important to the reader.  

Thank you for reading this blog and Megan’s blog!

What Comes Naturally

What comes naturally is a funny thing.  Normally I think going outside one’s comfort zone is a good idea.  However, sometimes it is better to forget the comfort zone and just do things your way.  My recent bedroom makeover project has reminded me of what comes naturally and what is tedious for me.   I was talking to my Mom about my project and told her decorating is not my thing…and it likely never will be.  She said, “It is not where your passion lies.”  Bingo!  I like the final product yet the process is like trudging through quicksand. My Mom has pointed out that I never get past the paint and she is right.  I have been known to start projects like this and let them fall by the wayside.  I have never felt I have a strong eye for coordination and combinations of fabric, furniture, color, accessories.  I have a really hard time visualizing what furniture looks like in my space based on a picture in a catalog or online.  I never seem to find exactly what I want.  A lack of confidence in my ability to decorate and design, amps up my “it has to be perfect or I cannot move forward with it” mode.  My eye is better suited for spying the best pastry or figuring out the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Shopping for furniture and paint colors makes me wish one of those TV home shows would show up on my doorstep and get to work.

I realized a few years ago more success comes from focusing on what comes naturally.  Doing anything that highlights a weakness can prove to be frustrating and discouraging. It reminds me of high school sports – there is always one kid who joins the team because his/her parents forced the issue.  In reality that kid really would rather be studying chemistry or dancing or playing video games.  I think most people know the feeling of having to do something that is of little interest while feeling some obligation to keep plugging along.  When I work on something that falls outside of my strengths, I have a sense of discomfort and stress that drives me to overcompensate by trying to perfect every element.  I find my perfectionism paralyzes me in my effort to make progress because everything has to be, well, perfect!

A few years ago, I was laboring over a spreadsheet for a contract negotiation with a client.  I was trying to understand every last rounding scenario to calculate things down the decimal place.  One of my colleagues was waiting for me to deliver the spreadsheet and stopped by my cubicle.  He said, “You are STILL working on that thing?  Your perfectionism is driving me crazy!”   I sat back and looked at what I was doing and understood his point.  I was belaboring minute details that were really of little importance and realized it was pointless to try be so meticulous and perfect in the exercise.  I decided I am better off accepting negligible rounding differences and keeping things simple.  It turned out to make my life easier!

I had the same epiphany with my bedroom project.  I had to stop trying to find the perfect everything to get my project rolling.  To make progress, I had no choice but to just make decisions even if I was not 100% certain about my selections.  I picked a paint color after a year of talking about it, yes a year. I forced myself to sit at the paint store till I found options I liked – I think I spent 2 hours looking at paint chips. I never previously considered that I can pick a color and paint over it if necessary (newsflash, paint is not permanent). I was also over-thinking night stands.  My old nightstands were in great need of replacement yet I could not visualize what new ones would look like in my room. To that end, I was unable to find the PERFECT nightstands.  I decided to simplify and bought interim night stands to help me better visualize.  I had to break my own patterns to keep my project moving forward.  Visualizing the final “style” of my bedroom has been too difficult for me so I opted to work on it piece by piece.  I have been asking for help and advice when I needed it. I focus on one thing per week.  I did wall art last week, this week I have been shopping for bedding.  I am not sure what I will focus on next week but piecemeal has helped formulate my vision. I am doing it my way because any other way just gives me angst and self induced pressure to do things perfectly.

In my round about long winded way, what I have been learning is, we all have to find our way of doing things.  Rather than getting caught up in the way something “should” be done, it is likely more beneficial to figure out an approach that comes naturally and with ease.  Why force a square peg into a round hole? Why follow someone else’s rules and why obligate yourself to anything?  Work within your means, ask for help when in need of assistance or advice, and use a process that gets you to your desired result.  

Thank you for reading this blog!