Writer’s Block? Psshh

Writer’s Block: The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

My blog posts have been sparse this summer and I thought it was writer’s block.  I have been thinking about my blog and have had little inspiration to write.  I suppose it could be called writer’s block or maybe writing is like the weather.  You have a string of beautiful days and then a week of rain and clouds.  Go with it when inspiration strikes and when inspiration is low, focus elsewhere.  Writer’s block seems like a lot of pressure that only creates more of block.  Why can’t I write?  What’s wrong with me?  Why can I only get one sentence down on paper?  Writer’s block seems more like a vicious cycle of overthinking – in my opinion.  I have been inspired by many things this summer – just not necessarily writing.

I tackled my fear of homemade pie crust in the form of cupcake size peach pies (did you know you can use a muffin tin to create mini pies?).  I was under the assumption making a pie crust was impossible till a family friend told me it is easy as…pie.   As it happens with the right recipe , any baker can make a homemade pie.  Souffle is my next kitchen challenge.

I painted a lot of tomatoes.  I do not even like to eat tomatoes – raw tomatoes totally gross me out.  However, I was inspired to paint cherry tomatoes in watercolor.  I find any artistic outlet to be therapeutic though I am hardly an artist. When the mood strikes me, I like to get my paints out and try my hand at something that interests me. Last summer it was palm trees or any kind of tree.  This summer I choose tomatoes for no reason I can explain.  I am now the proud owner of several sheets of watercolor tomatoes in different sizes and color variations.

I have been spending a lot of time reading about and talking about problems of the thyroid with people I know (this blog will give you information about thyroid issues).  A very important friend of mine has a giant thyroid.  After tests and biopsies and various scans, it is more or less confirmed she is not gravely ill.  Though she needs a thyroidectomy, all signs point to full recovery.  I learned when a person receives a diagnosis, it is an overwhelming process to navigate scheduling with doctors and surgeons, understanding a condition, treatment and all of the questions to ask.  It is a crash course in becoming a quasi medical expert and your own advocate.  I also learned when you are a patient, you need people around you who can be objective and help you see your way through to the end of the medical road.  Watching my friend and supporting my friend made me realize it is hard work to be a patient of any kind and a support system is very important medically, emotionally and for a sanity check.

Yoga happened this summer and with yoga I discovered all yoga pants are not black – sorry LuLu Lemon, we are breaking up (that is an entire blog post of its own).  There so many colorful and  interesting options in the marketplace in spite of my 20 pairs of black workout/yoga pants.  I discovered a company called Liquido Active by way of my yoga instructor.  I am a big fan and the customer service is fantastic.  I have gotten some funny looks as a result of the crazy pants I have been wearing and that works for me.

That’s all I have for now.  Thank you for reading my blog!


Name Your Journey

“Purpose is a journey.  It doesn’t come as a revelation from above but from living life awake and seeking new experiences”  Aaron Hurst

What is purpose? What is the purpose of each person this earth? Before I read Aaron Hurst’s book The Purpose Economy, my definition of purpose was very basic – something you are meant to do.  I have heard people say they want to find their purpose or others who say they have always known their purpose. I guess I figured either you are born knowing your purpose or eventually your purpose becomes obvious like a great epiphany.  I thought purpose was very specific, however, it may never be specific and is different for everyone.  Aaron Hurst describes purpose as a journey.  It is about finding direction, not a destination.  Purpose may not be one true calling but the approach we take to shaping a meaningful career and life.  He quoted Marcel Proust in his book to reinforce the concept of purpose as a journey:  We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

If purpose is a journey then so is life.  Maybe purpose is the compass to help us figure out where to go in life.  The choices we make in our lives will either direct us to our purpose or drive us away from it.  Life is full of opportunities and choices. How we act on our choices will influence where we end up.  Perhaps we do not always make conscious choices and instead follow a feeling whether it be intuitive or fear based.  Fear is probably the biggest obstacle any human will encounter and fear is the link to resistance.  Which to choose: “This is the right thing for me”
or “I know I should be doing this but (insert excuses here).”  It is up the individual to identify the journey, pay attention to signs and to trust instinct as a guide.  When fear plays into a decision, anyone will likely intentionally or inadvertently resist an opportunity.  There is always choice in any situation. Run in the opposite direction.  Play out the worse case scenario and move forward anyway.  Brush fear aside and head in the direction you know is right for you.  When I think of people who have started careers in traditional corporate environments and end up on a detour with a start up business they never believed possible, I believe choice, purpose, and destiny are involved.  Any journey is a process – step by step, piece by piece, like building a puzzle. In some situations, resistance may be futile and in some situations it may stymie success.  Whatever the case, when the inclination to let fear and resistance rule is pushed aside, grabbing a parachute for the leap of faith will result in growth, change, perspective and more insight into purpose.  A journey is about reaching the milestones to begin the next leg and less about a specific end result.

The journey through life towards purpose is an exercise in patience.  Timeline is unknown.  Obstacles unknown.  Opportunities may or may not be predictable.  As we figure out what we want in life, we weed out those things that fail to aid in growth and new perspective.  We were put on this earth for a reason. For some, knowing purpose from day one means the journey may have fewer milestones.  For others, it may mean overcoming hurdles and doing things that may require time before the picture becomes clear.  How many people say (or have said), “I am just going to do this and see where it leads me.”  If you feel passionate about something or feel something is truly important – even without a cogent explanation – grab your parachute.  You could fail or you could find yourself exactly where you belong or you could find yourself somewhere you never expected.

Thank you for reading this blog!

Should Have….Yoga?

Should: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.  I have been thinking about the obligation we place upon ourselves when we say things like “I should” versus “I want”.  I often use I should when I am resisting or avoiding something.  I should turns into I had to.  I want turns into I wanted to.  The latter sounds so much better.  Until should turns into “I want to”, it is hard to move forward willingly.

For years I have said I should start going to yoga classes.  I was reluctant to make the effort even though I knew there would be benefit.  I had a lot of excuses as to why I kept putting off the inevitable.  There have been many days following a tough workout at the gym when I have thought, “Boy I bet this would be a good day for yoga.”  When I finally got tired of persistent back problems and muscle aches and the fear of falling on my face, I took the advice of friends and my orthopedist and took the plunge. I signed up for some private yoga sessions to start off on the right foot.  The instructor I am working with owns her own studio and is incredibly knowledgeable.  She was a nurse and a gym rat and took a yoga class one day years ago.  She told me she “totally sucked at it” – and kept with it. Even the most graceful can have a rough beginning which is reassuring to know.  Yoga is a learning process.  Learning is what inspires me and changes my ‘should’ to ‘want to.’  I find working with someone who has a great knowledge of the history, the practice, and the muscle groups associated with poses means there is much to be gained from every class. Self awareness, mindfulness, strength, knowledge, courage, grace are just a handful of things.

After a recent session, I went to Starbucks and one of the Baristas asked where I had been before my latte stop.  When I shared I had come from yoga, she said, “I should do that.  I should go to yoga.”  I explained I took up classes because of annoying back problems.  She said, “That is what I need! I should really get into yoga.”  When a friend of mine recently asked, “What’s new?” I replied, “Yoga is new for me.”  He said, “I should try yoga. My Dad has been telling me I should try it for years.” It makes me wonder how many people want to try yoga and have yet to do so for no good reason?  My friends who have been too busy for yoga tell me how much they miss it.  It seems to me most people may benefit from a little yoga.  Chances are quite a few people have thought about it yet resist, do not want to or maybe feel uncomfortable or embarrassed?  I think learning to enjoy embarrassment is part of yoga. Wobbling, shaking, losing balance, sweating your brains out are all just part of the practice. I am discovering it is a learning experience each time I roll out my mat.

The interesting thing about yoga that had never really clicked for me is: you can practice anywhere, anytime! I never realized how easy it is or why it is often called a ‘personal practice’.  The mat, the studio and the instructor are nice to haves. If you are without those things – have yoga, will travel. I now add a little yoga to the end of my gym workout every time I go.  Today at the gym, I was unable to find a space for a little yoga so I left before I finished my workout. I came home and threw down on my porch.  Why not?

I tend to promote things I really enjoy or really believe in or from which I see benefit.  I am still a newbie yet have already given thought to people I know who would benefit from yoga.  There is so much to learn whether physically, mentally or spiritually.  Yoga has something for everyone regardless of age.  It can be as challenging or as relaxing as you wish.  If you want to get started, talk to someone you know who practices yoga. I feel it is worth investing in a lesson or two with a good instructor to learn technique but a class is a good start too.  There are many ways to investigate yoga including instructional videos on Youtube to see how it works.  It is worth trying without a doubt – only if you want to though!

Thank you for reading this blog!

Mercury is to Blame

I have been averse to writing on my blog for nearly the entire month of June.  There is no logical explanation that I am able to drum up.  Just utter lack of inspiration and apathy for some unknown reason. At first I thought it was writer’s block and then I realized, I just did not have it in me.  I have been blaming everything on the fact that Mercury is in retrograde since I have been unable to come up with a better explanation. This phenomenon supposedly sets many things in reverse and a lot of things have been out of whack for me.

I recently took my car into the shop for an oil change and a major transmission repair was revealed.  My car is 2 years old so that is really awesome (warranties for the win).  At the same time, my horoscope indicated an upcoming trip would probably get cancelled or have some major delays and to stay home. Who lives by their horoscope?  I left my car at the shop and took a road trip that weekend to visit my nephew with my Mom’s car.  Flat tire on the way home, 2 ½ hours from home – on a highway, with a car full of a stuff, and a large canine in tow. My father taught me how to change tires, however, none of my lessons involved also handling a large dog while working with a tire iron. Hooray for mobile phones, roadside assistance, and thank heavens it was neither raining or Sunday.  My 4 hour drive home resulted in a visit to a tire place, a return trip the tire place and 8 hours total to get myself, a car full of stuff and a large canine home.  Alrighty then.

In seeking the service of others, weeks have gone by with or without responses of any great help.  I am trying to buy something from you, please response to my email?  I have also found myself educating some coworkers on how to better communicate with clients (what?). Not rocket science but ok, I am happy to help?  I am hoping July will bring improved responsiveness and better communication across the board.

Today my garage door started opening and closing on its own.  I was in my house and wondered why my neighbor kept opening and closing her garage door.  When I went to my garage, it was, in fact, my Poltergeist Powered garage door opener hard at work.  I employed my garage door skills and tried to fix the matter myself and finally just unplugged the opener and gave up.  Though I did learn how to reprogram my key pad and door openers, I decided I need a professional.  According to what I have read online the motor in my Liftmaster is likely toast.  Good times.  And finally we may have a tropical storm just in time for the July 4th weekend.  Sweet.  That said, it could be worse.  Nothing horrible is happening in my life, in fact, there are many good things happening.  Technology and machinery are just giving me a headache.  I am reticent to type that because I do not want my laptop to stage any type of revolt.

On that note, here is something fun and light – a commercial starring lion cubs by GoPro. I find it amusing because 1.  I would like to put GoPro cameras on the heads of my nephews 2. Meeting a large cat in person is one of the things on my life To Do list.  C lick here: GoPro Lion Roar Commercial you will not be disappointed.

Thank you for reading this blog!

Mindful Cookies

How to meditate.  After attending a meditation class a few weeks back, I have continued to explore what it is to mediate.  Any given teacher will share a point of view and I tend to explore other avenues anytime I learn something.  I never follow one recipe for anything.  I generally read and try many different recipes to come up my way of getting to my desired end result. Meditation is stillness of the mind.  It is practice to focus the brain on the present moment instead of what you need to do tomorrow and what you forgot to do yesterday.  Another popular description is the practice of mindfulness.  I looked up the definition of mindfulness via my friend Google and found:




  1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Meditation is becoming more mainstream as research continues to show palpable benefits to physical health and well being.  I would venture to say it is as beneficial as exercise.  It is really western culture that is realizing the benefits of meditation as it has been popular in eastern cultures for more years than the U.S. has been in existence.  Common descriptions of meditation lean toward sitting still first thing in the morning and focusing on being mindful.   As a very general statement, with practice, good things will happen – this is how I understand the benefit of meditation.  It is meant to help clear the clutter, manage stress, and open channels of your mind.  A breathing exercise can help in a stressful, angst filled situation without a doubt. I find a guided meditation helps me fall asleep when my brain is overactive and I wake up in the morning without a task list running through my brain.  Getting into the habit of waking up before the sun to meditate is utterly unappealing to me.  My brain neither functions in my favor nor against me in the morning.  It works on autopilot and helps me walk and sustain bodily function until about 9am or when I get coffee.  In all my years, nothing about me has ever been a morning person. At this juncture, I am not forcing the issue since there is an alternative for everything.

Do you remember the stream of consciousness writing exercises in elementary school or at any point in your education?   I had no idea why my teachers made this part of classroom curriculum or what purpose it served.  In retrospect I feel it happens to be a good practice and wish I had kept up with it.  I recently started reading a book called The Artist’s Way.  One of the concepts covered in the book is a daily practice of stream of consciousness writing – 3 pages, no more, no less.  The book likens this practice to meditation.  You simply start writing and rather than focusing on or judging any thought, just let it flow from your brain through your pen to paper – and then put your notebook away.  Very similar to mediation in that you just let things float on by in your head while in your zone – without grabbing onto a thought and letting to steer your mind. I decided my writing exercise is as good as a traditional meditation.  It helps me focus to work through whatever is on my mind and uncovers thoughts in the back of my mind and I actually look forward to it every day.  Meditation opens the channels and creative pathways in your mind – as does writing in a carefree manner.

Another “free the mind” activity for me is baking – or cooking.  I have always found a kitchen project involving preparation of food to be a stress relief.  When I approach a recipe with focus, all goes well – things  just flow.  When I am distracted and unfocused, I usually end up burning myself or something (ever had a smoldering pot holder in your kitchen drawer?), spilling something (once a full jar of spaghetti sauce across the kitchen, all over the walls) or cutting myself .  In those situations, I have to stop myself and consciously shift my attention (to avoid disaster) and redirect my attention away from whatever thoughts are causing a distraction.   Recently my job was giving me anxiety on a Friday night, long after work hours. I decided to try out a recipe I had been thinking about for some time (from the cookbook called Paris Sweets). When I was done, whatever was bothering me was purged from my brain and remember thinking, “Wow I feel so much better!” (The cookies were pretty amazing if you like chocolate and do use the fleur de sel noted in the recipe).  There is something in the process of measuring and mixing and whipping things up that gives me great focus and calms my mind.  It occurred to me I have had some meditative practice all my life and never realized it.   I had this conversation with my Dad while we were painting my bedroom a few months ago.  He shared that feels painting is very therapeutic and calming which I translate into a meditative activity.   A focused, repetitive action that requires focus on the task at hand.

I do not discount the recommended approaches of the many gurus who have years (or generations) of meditation experience.  It was just a realization that there really are many ways to achieve a meditative-like mindset with activities that create a state of mindfulness.  It is my interpretation and may be a meditation expert would dispute my point of view but it works for me.  If there is something you enjoy that lowers your blood pressure and helps you shut down the hamster wheel in your mind, then you have found a very valuable tool.

Thank you for reading this blog!

Go Simple, It’s Better

Simplicity.  We get tied up in the trials and tribulations of life and tend to forget to pay attention to the simple things.  It is so easy to let stress or worry take over our brains and wander down a rabbit hole that is far from beneficial or helpful.  When I woke up this morning, my brain was sifting  through work tasks that need to be completed which lead to the to dos in my life that need attention. It does amaze me that I am my toughest critic and my harshest task master.  Sometimes I really annoy myself.  I feel like a one of those illustrations of a person with a miniature version of herself on each shoulder saying, “Get to work!” and the other “Go do something you enjoy.”  Balance such always one of life’s challenges.

While I was out walking my dog this morning, I actually considered spending the day on a proposal I have been discussing with my boss and colleagues.  Gross! It is a holiday weekend and I was actually thinking about spending my day on a powerpoint presentation! While I was away last weekend, I bought a gift for my nephew and needed to make time to drop it off to him.  My better judgement sent me off to make a special delivery and all motivation to work on a powerpoint deck dissipated.  My nephew is a toddler and loves to be outside and loves vehicles of any kind. He pretended to drive my car and we watched cars drive past his house.  Then I showed him how to flip the helicopters that fall from maple trees so they spin and fly around and then watched for airplanes in the sky.  It is so easy to enjoy the simple things and really satisfying to see how much children appreciate the gift of time.  My nephew reminded me that simple things are far more rewarding than a powerpoint deck or the worries or stresses we create for ourselves.  The taskmaster in my head was muted and my focus was on the moment in time.  Childlike wonder is necessary in every day life and it is easy to forget to employ it.  My other nephew, who lives many miles away, was found balancing a fork on his head instead of eating dinner the other night.  Who balances a fork on their head?  I have found the thought amusing all week because it is creative and entertaining and I have never thought of doing such a thing myself.  If you have no interest in your dinner, have fun anyway.  It goes for everything else, have fun doing things that would otherwise seem boring or obligatory.

Why is there so much obligation and pressure in life?  Why are humans so inclined to take time and focus away from awareness of the present moment.  Stress and worry take the brain to some place in the past or in the future or to a pile of worst  case scenarios and a mountain of what ifs.  We inadvertently stifle the childlike wonder required to stimulate mindfulness.  Awareness of who and what is in our presence goes out the window and stress or worry result in wasted time.  We lose out on the simple things that are fulfilling and meaningful by opting for entanglement in angst and concern about things likely unworthy of time and attention.  Funny how the mind works and how necessary it is remind ourselves to get off the runaway train and stop and smell the roses.

Thank you for reading this blog!

The Huffington Post Good News Delivery

It is fair to say many of us spend a great deal of time in front of the computer.  It is probably also reasonable to assume there are times when we all need a distraction and head to the internet.  I recently came across the Good News section of the Huffington Post and thought it was genius.  Personally, I get tired of the doom and gloom in the world and avoid the news more often than not.   This section of the Huffington Post resonated with me because Good News shows there are many good things in the world that are off the major headline radar.  It also highlights the kind things humans do for animals and each other; which is a nice change from other current events.  The stories run the gamut from a 9 year old boy who built a no-kill animal shelter out of his garage to videos showing how much fun a bucket can be .  I particularly like this flash mob .  Good news reminds me that it is easy to be kind and amazing to see what happens when we enable joy in another living being’s life – humans and animals alike.  If you have a chance to check out Good News, you will likely see something that makes you say, “Now that was awesome.”

Thank you for reading this blog!

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!

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 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