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.


Make It YOUR Birthday

The little things in life go a long way.  It really is true.  I usually try to take the day off on my birthday and this year I had to work.  Client meetings from 8:30am-4:30pm.  I was grumbling to myself about it all day yesterday as I really prefer to do what I want to do on my birthday.  However, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  I woke up this morning less grumbly and decided I better find a way to take birthday on the road.  I did not plan ahead so did not have a special lunch to make or a cupcake to take to work so needed a plan B. I never open birthday cards or gifts before my birthday, so I gathered up the cards I received in the mail and put them in my laptop bag.  I figured I would bring my birthday to work even if I had to attend client meetings all day.

It was actually quite an enjoyable treat to read birthday cards between meetings throughout the day!  My friend from California sent me a card with a letter enclosed which was a nice surprise (handwriting – how novel!).  My uncle sent me a very funny card.  My Mom sent me cards full of various commentary and doodles of things (as she usually does).  My friend from Chicago sent me her usual classy card with her kind words…and so on.  It is just really nice to be remembered and acknowledged on my birthday. I cannot lie!  It was a nice change to carry my birthday wishes in my bag. I came out of meeting and opened a card.  I was on a pretty uneventful conference call and opened another card. Rationed birthday cards go a long way.

I  heard from so many of my friends all throughout the day.  I think the birthday wish from Mumbai traveled the furthest (via text) and the message from my next door neighbor the shortest distance.  Wherever you are and whomever you hear from, birthdays are fun.  I find it funny when someone says, “Oh I do not care about my birthday.”  Or something along those lines.  I find that really hard to believe under normal circumstances.  Even the crabbiest person has to smile on their birthday!  It is totally awesome (yeah I said it like that) when someone you have not heard from in awhile or someone you hear from every day remembers your birthday.  A few of my friends sent me email messages instead of text or social media wishes so I just finished replying to those emails.  My brother tried to get my 19 month old nephew to say Happy Birthday Alexis.  I think he was confused as to how to make his face and mouth form those words!  Nephew videos are pretty awesome nonetheless.

I guess I really look at my birthday as a “I wonder what surprises will pop up today” kind of day. Whatever happens on my birthday or around my birthday makes me happy (except for back to back meetings all day long = less exciting). I am actually surprised on my birthday more often than not. Friends, flowers, cards, balloons, messages.  I went out for Greek food for dinner with one my friends who is half Greek.  We have been talking about going to an authentic Greek restaurant for awhile (usually while eating sushi). It was such a great meal, no idea why has it taken me so long to try authentic Greek food! Baffling and fabulous. I guess taking it all in is the important part of a birthday celebration.  If you can enjoy the moment and enjoy whatever comes your way, it will always be a great day.  A great birthday is a great start to a new year – it is just too bad it only happens once a year!

Thank you for reading this blog!

Bungalow Blogspot

My friend is keeping a blog to track a big home renovation project. Admittedly I pressured her into it because it just seemed like a great way to keep her friends and family up to date! We have been friends since we met freshman year in college and I think as the years have passed we have developed a great friendship.  She is a very successful business woman who has an amazing eye for interior decorating.  I often tell her I cannot wait to see where her design career takes her.  I believe she will do something more than side projects – interior design consultant or contractor?  She has a passion that could really turn into something great, I believe.  She has a knack for color, fabric, and furniture coordination that I find to be enviable.  She has lived in many different places and one thing is for sure, she always finds just the right space to impart impeccable taste and creative ideas.  A few years ago, while she was preparing to move from New York City to London, she was creating her interior design plan.  She had a ziploc bag of fabric swatches which amazed me as this was all she needed to style her new flat.  She took the swatches everywhere in New York City as she shopped for all the furniture and accents for her London home.   She finds inspiration for design so easily.  I would need full on home decorating magazine.  I had the chance to visit her London flat and it was a fantastic.  She worked with white, shades of grey and shades of purple.  I posted a picture at the end of this post .  She recently set up some Pinterest boards with so many great ideas that I think I will fly her to New Jersey when the day comes that I buy a bigger home.  I can always use help with the color coordination and furniture ideas.  Anyway, here is a link to Kim’s blog to see what is happening today with her new home.

Thank you for reading this blog and my friend’s blog!


How To Not Be An Adult

What to write. What to write.  That keeps happening to me.  What to write.  I have ideas and nothing seems compelling to me.  In fact, I have started a few things and returned a day later and found what I wrote was less than inspiring to me!  I have a hard time posting something unless I feel it is “right”.  I guess I am having a lot of that right now.  I have been working hard on designing a new project and am finding graphic/creative design is quite challenging.  I think I need to go watch some episodes of The Magic Garden or Reading Rainbow to regenerate the imaginative part of my brain.  It may sound odd but when I was a kid I never ran into any creative blocks and wonder when that started to happen to me.  I used to write and illustrate stories, paint, and draw whenever I had a chance.  I used to doodle on everything and I made cards for people and decorated letters I wrote. When I was younger I spent so much time using my imagination and doing things that were creative outlets – why back then did I lack the cognizance to keep that going?  I even used to read books and then imagine what it would be like to fly or to read minds because I found the stories other people created so interesting.

I had a paper route when I was in elementary school and as I rode around the neighborhood flinging papers, I would occupy my time imagining what it would it be like to create a machine that would produce any food item you wanted.  I delivered papers around dinnertime so my stomach was usually grumbling and I consistently started with orange soda and chocolate mousse as the first creations from this machine (I still live by dessert first, less keen on orange soda).  I remember thinking Future World in Epcot Center was the coolest thing I had ever seen because the futuristic displays were unlike anything I had ever seen.  I even wrote a book about it for my 4th grade class – I have to go dig that up because I know it is in a box somewhere.  It is really interesting to reflect on how I used my brain as a kid and how I use my brain today.  I still love food and I love to read about food and even find cooking to be a very therapeutic activity when my brain needs a rest..from me.  I was thinking I need to be more creative but the creativity is probably already there, it just needs to be unclogged, further.  I say further because I have gotten to a certain point and now I need something new to open up in the pathways of my brain to help my vision for my project and other things to come.

I am sure not all people lose the creative imagination we develop as children, though I wonder how we lose it or stuff it away in a box or drawer of our mind?  It is almost a shame because as I sit here, I wonder how corporate America, the government, education, all the foundational elements of society would be different if everyone had a teaspoon of sparkly stuff or elements of childlike wonder in every day activities.  Mandate: every person must take 10 minutes out of their day to sit in childlike wonder.  Take out your colorful pencils or model trains or look up in the sky.  Perhaps everything would be less serious and also covered in bright colors? Or maybe there would be more amazing, new ideas brought to light.  I have two 1 year old nephews and you can see their wonder in everything they do.  One loves airplanes and when he hears an airplane above, everything stops, and he strains his neck to see it.  It is awesome to watch.  To me, that is chidlike wonder that many of us take for granted.  The other nephew is an explorer, he likes to stand on top of tables and run around because everything is an adventure to him.  I hope from today forward they keep their sense of wonder and adventure as I know I will do my best to encourage it.  When they are my age, my hope is they will have all those creative pathways open in their minds and have ways to use them; unlike their Aunt who is working to find the keys to doors to all those pathways that somehow were shut along the way.

I may go find this book that my Mom had when I was growing up, How To Eat Like a Child.  I never appreciated the irony of it till now, sitting here typing.  It is about revisiting the joys and ploys of childhood.  A guide for adults!  As an aside, I was listening to an NPR interview with Delia Ephron this morning and low and behold this book came to mind just now and she is the author. An odd coincidence. Ok I digress.

Out of the blue I have finally written a blog post that feels right after several attempts in the last few days.  Pathway open though we will see about creative design ideas.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Words of Wisdom - Hand-Cut Silhouette Papercut

Self-Doubt Chirping

Working past self doubt is a challenge.  I have this plan for a new blog.  I will be running two, actually.  You are reading my skirt and high heels blog (in need of a make over).  My new blog will be my running shoes and kick up my feet blog.  I am working on a plan to invest money into the appearance and the design of both of my creations versus my usual method of throw the spaghetti up on the wall.  I guess it could be called an investment in my future in spite of the little voice in my head saying, “the future of what?”  Thank you Self-Doubt for chiming in and trying to squish my idea, is all I have to say about that.  This is one of those things that came to me and I felt like running with it; yet Self-Doubt chirps away.

Someone recently observed I fear things and I probably have no idea what it is I am afraid of.  I found that to be a fair assessment as the unknown is a source of fear for me and something about the unknown rattles my confidence.  I have no idea what the unknown holds and that is my own obstacle.  Who cares what the unknown holds?  I am reminding myself to shape the unknown as I want it to be and to allow changes and shifts as things reveal themselves.  I have to remind myself to just take a little leap of faith every now and then, as there is really nothing to lose in pursuing an idea.   I need to focus on what I want to do now and how I want the “now” to unfold.  Self-Doubt needs a mute button.

Taking an idea and allowing it to come to fruition can be a revealing way to let others see your point of view or perspective and to hear your voice (literally or figuratively).  You may learn something new about yourself and others may learn something new about you.  In my case, Self-Doubt can be an annoyance and an idea stopper.   Self-Doubt feeds fear…or does fear feed Self-Doubt?  Chicken or the egg?  Needless to say, the combination can be the source of self imposed obstacles that can stop creativity or progress in its tracks, if allowed.  I suppose it is  natural to hear the chirping of Self-Doubt in any venture or process and it is a lesson in will, I think.  Mute Self-Doubt and carry on.

It’s Poetic

Sometimes when I think about something, I notice things around me that relate to my thoughts.   I suppose it is as if when something is on my mind, the answers present themselves in unusual ways.  Tonight I was pondering what to do with my life as I often do and was thinking about the obstacles we all create for ourselves in one way or another.  I had a college professor who advised me to declare the major of interest to me when we were discussing my course of study.  I conveyed my fear of two classes others told me were impossible to pass.  My professor suggested if my fear of two classes were to stop me from declaring my major, then I would likely have regrets later on in life.  I passed the two classes with A’s and can say, even after all these years, I am happy I removed the obstacles I had created for myself in that situation.

One of my biggest learnings from that professor is my understanding of fear.  I have always felt fear stops us and is what makes us create obstacles for ourselves.  It can be paralyzing, distracting, confusing, and misleading.  While I was pondering this evening, I came across a TED Talk about overcoming fears (among other things) which I will write about later and a quote from E.E. Cummings (his full name Edward Estlin Cummings, I never knew). “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings.  For some reason this quote just bounced all around my brain like in a pinball machine (bing).  It made me think of people I know and myself and what it takes to change or why a person would find it difficult to change and why (bing).   I thought it can be pretty scary to leave things behind (bing), change things about yourself (bing), or do something unfamiliar (bing).  Leaving your comfort zone takes courage because it can be uncomfortable (bing bing bing).   It also reminded me of this post I recently wrote and as change occurs, it is good to have the right people around you.  It also reminded me of the blue dragon fly I saw today.  It landed near my foot while I was outside an office building talking to a colleague.  I found it to be an unusual location for a dragon fly and actually researched the symbolism of a dragon fly because it seemed odd to see such a critter where I did.  Dragon flies represent the symbolic meaning of transformation, change, and adaptability.  Things happen for a reason, you meet people for a reason, sometimes you read things for a reason….you catch my drift.

Time to Wake Up!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?  A simple thing running across my mind of late.

There are two things that get me out of bed: my alarm clock or my dog Andy and his excitement for kibble.  It is a wake up and go to work routine Monday through Friday.  As time goes on, my attitude of going with the flow in life has actually guided me to start thinking about my purpose and what truly inspires me.  I would love to say my day job is truly inspiring, however, its true purpose is more in line with ensuring I can pay my bills and support my Starbucks habit.

There are definitely people who wake up every day with enthusiasm and see every day as different and anything but routine. It is a goal of mine to exit the ranks of daily alarm clock risers and join the group of purpose driven people who are earning their income by doing what comes naturally.  I often wonder how many people know their purpose and passion yet hold back from doing anything about it due to fear or lack of belief in what could be? It would be fabulous to finish up the work day and look forward to what the next day will bring.  I know people who enjoy what they do for a living every day in spite of challenges or obstacles they face.  When I ask what that is like, often the response is, “It feels more like a hobby than a job and I get paid for it.” Sounds inspiring to me!  

That which is purposeful or motivates you seems like the logical impetus to get out of bed in the morning rather an alarm clock. Please note, I do condone sleeping in and lazy days!.  It is highly probable many of us have yet to identify our purpose in life and thus getting out of bed Monday through Friday is more mundane than motivating.  I am now on a mission myself.

Are you passionate about your work?  What motivates you each day?