Category Archives: Work Life Balance

Teach Your Children Well: They Might Be Listening!

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My Birthday and Mother’s Day gifts did not come this year in beautiful boxes with lovely ribbons.  They did not come in the form of a bouquet or in breathtaking flats of flowers carefully chosen by my family to lovingly plant in my garden.  Nor in a carefully prepared meal of multiple fresh organic vegetables shipped in from out East, (am accused of being high- maintenance), prepared especially for me and served at my farm table fondly considered my home’s mission control.  My gifts this year came in the form of startling realizations, ah ha moments, repeated theme questions from multiple mentees, and a chance meeting at 7-11.  All compelling me to write this blog.

It started with a phone call home from my son, because sadly he did not come home for Mother’s Day this year. Do not shed a tear for me dear readers. That is because I completed my job. He left the nest.

Up until this moment I have shied away from writing a blog solely about my children, but alas the time has come.  Yes, I have sprinkled them in here and there through anecdotes and references but never as the main event. That is because this is mainly a business blog, but you will ultimately see the connections.  For those who know me personally this is by no means because my children took a back seat to my career, in fact it is just the opposite. They are my inspiration. The reason I have the strength to do all I do. The impetus behind all I have accomplished. You see ours has always been a story of survival of the fittest.  Eat or be eaten.  In retrospect my children are the wind in my sails. The energy that fuels my soul. My talisman enabling me to face another day, weather life’s storms, ebbs, flows and challenges.

They say it takes a village to raise a family, for us it took a small country.  So this blog will not only be for parents.  It is for anyone who dares to love, mentor, shape and mold a child, young adult or influence a life. This may ultimately be a story of happily ever after, but it was no fairy tale in the making.  Ours is a story of steps, rotating family members, friends and neighbors. We needed to throw convention out the window to cross the finish line.  It was by no means a graceful relay race; it was an obstacle course, a tough mudder at that, navigating all of the personalities. There was no baton to pass. It was more a struggle of wills carried out through passed backpacks and winter coats through car windows. Happy meals and sports equipment dropped over little league fences. Disputes, disagreements, negotiations, and resolutions conveyed via email and text.  Nevertheless, we made it through!

We had three rules, 1. Be a good Person (Pay it Forward, Equity, Inclusion) 2. Do Your Homework (Accountability) 3. Make something of your life, case closed! The rest was up for interpretation. Making it out the other end was the top line, bottom line, end game, daily goal, and a struggle at that.

The phone call:

If your life is anything like mine from the time you give birth you will never have another sip of any liquid or bite into any form of solid food (even if you are thousands of miles away from home) that is not interrupted or without one of your family members having a burning desire to tell you something.  This Friday night was no different. Feet up, finally relaxed, ready for that first sip of (very good) Cabernet, Boom! My son was ready to download his first week of work. Boy, I am lucky I answered the phone.  He was calling to tell me with a voice full of pride that he joined the Women’s Initiative at work.  I was speechless something you might imagine does not come up often.  He went on to explain that by example I taught him the importance of diverse teams and inclusion. This he felt joining the group was the best way to meet the managers that supported these Initiatives.  Wow, I was blown away!

HE WAS LISTENING

I had a similar experience with my daughter weeks earlier; suddenly I was beginning to connect the dots.  While conducting a lunch and learn at Love and Quiches Gourmet on the subject of Time Management, I looked out into the audience and my daughter was sitting in the front row. It was both shocking and daunting. Truth be told, I did not think she would even show up because it was not mandatory, I assumed she would take a pass.  I had under estimated this young adult. Low and behold there she was, pen and paper in hand. The moment turned out to be magical. The lunch and learn progressed and every time I asked a question or for audience participation my daughter chimed in or raised her hand with the answer.  Finally I had to say ENOUGH!  Secretly, I was beaming.

Ah Ha Moment:

THEY WERE LISTENING

Over the years I have mentored countless scores of men and women. My mentees know I take calls at all hours.  My heart and line are always open. I am always a text, e-mail or phone call away. What I realized that day is the impact this made on my children.

The whole time, THEY WERE LISTENING!

For you see, my children were raised amongst a backdrop of mentoring advice.  For every one of you out there that I have talked off the ledge while making a pot of meatballs, whose resume I have reviewed while proofing a college essay, or mock interview I have conducted while making a Paper Mache volcano (with real lava I might add).

MY CHILDREN WERE LISTENING.

My son still to this day thinks I could not hear him in the back seat while I was driving carpool when he would say to his friends.  “Ask my mom, she knows stuff”.

So full circle, why is this story so important and how does it tie into raising children and ultimately business success? Doesn’t mentoring really start in childhood?  Isn’t mentoring crucial to personal development and building confidence which is vital to success? Look at the impact it has had on my children’s success. Think of the lives YOU can impact by becoming a mentor!

Who are your childhood mentors?   Who has helped shape your career?  Who have you helped influence and pushed up the corporate ladder?

The questions and the recurring theme:

If I were to do a retrospective; a greatest hits album of sorts, of mentoring conversations or most frequently asked questions and recurring themes, the two that instantly come to mind are,  drumroll please …..

Will I be able to maintain balance while working and raising a family?

 Will it be alright in the end?

After all, these are the same two questions I have been pondering myself since I gave birth 26 years ago. Patience please, I will circle back in the end, promise.

A Chance Meeting, The catalyst for writing this blog:

(A true story)

 As you all know I am a collector of people. An attractor of odd happenstances.  A relisher of consideration if life is made up of coincidence or sheer will!  As I often say, I do not write my blogs, my blogs write me. They come to life through a series of circumstances, conversations, meetings and happenings compelling me to put pen to paper. This blog is no different.

From the time my children were toddlers, my calendar has been filled to the brim and my to do list wants to fight back and say “are you kidding me?” Instead of my hotel loyalty program sending me a congratulations letter each year they should have been apologizing, and sending my family a fruit basket! You can be rest assured I was always forgetting, running out of, or leaving something to the very, I mean very last minute. 7-Eleven became an oasis in the storm. It was where we went for the forgotten milk. The last ingredient for the cookies we were baking for class. Where I comforted an inconsolable child with slurpies and other unsavory items I would not allow at home. Hate to admit, it was where dinner was served for back to back games and nights on the field!

As we all know the more things change the more they stay the same.  Two weeks ago when I finally cleared my schedule to visit my son’s his new apartment in Philly, (more excited than you could possibly imagine), the week leading to the visit was overflowing to the brim with meetings, clients, workshops, you know the drill.  I found myself at 10 PM the night before unpacked, on the way home from a sales dinner with nothing to bring as a house warming gift.  Then I saw a sign, or actually THE sign, 7-Eleven. Not sure what I thought I would find inside but again there are no coincidences!

As I opened the door there in the aisles was a beautiful woman in a business suit, milk carton in hand, with two adorable children in tow.  My life flashed before my eyes and suddenly I knew what I would give.  I taught my kids to give first for if you pay it forward you will always be successful.  That is true in life and in business.

I tapped this woman on the shoulder, handed her my card, told her of my children, life, balance (or lack there-of), and that I was going to tell my story in a blog for her and as a gift for my son.

Much to my delight I received this e-mail the very next morning.

Hi Joan,

Nice meeting you at 7-11 last night and reminding me there is no such thing as balance and I will survive motherhood ha ha.

Please do let me know when you write your blog would love to read it.

Thanks!

 

My son thought it was cool but was a little less juiced as you could imagine after 23 years of similar stories and happenstance. He was hoping for a flat screen.

So, what is the net long term effect of nights on the road, running out of milk and serving cornflakes with orange juice?  Will your children be permanently scarred from screamed lullabies due to frustration, cold pizza for breakfast or heaven forbid Pork Fried Rice? Can you truly make the right choice between a board meeting and a track meet? Did the world come to an end because I missed a business opportunity or two or let my kids turn in assignment late because being together for whatever reason that day was the better option?

There actually was no long term net effect.

This week I will make my pilgrimage to see my youngest child graduate, a miss-matched army in tow. My job is done, my heart is full, and I could not be more proud.

So, what is the answer to those two burning questions my inquisitive readers?

Will you be able to maintain balance while working and raising a family?

Probably not, I never did. You will make choices, some good, and some bad. Through those choices you will ALL grow and learn, after all, isn’t that the point of this blog.

Balance is like one of those jig saw puzzles we all have stored high up on a closet shelf. When you finally do take it down that boring rainy day and decide to put it together as a family activity, inevitably there is a piece or two missing. Nevertheless, you have spent so much time working on it you just squint your eyes and make it work. Mentally you refuse to see what is missing. That’s how you make it out the other end!  Each day you show up fully and do the best you can.That might not make you balanced but it makes you whole.

Dear 7-Eleven mom and countless others reading this blog.

Will it be alright in the end?

That depends on your definition.

I say ABSOLUTELY!

In Case of Emergency Break Glass

 

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I sleep at night with the security of knowing that there is a box of Snowcaps in my night-table. This box of Snowcaps has remained in my night-table unopened for over twenty years. It has accompanied me through multiple moves, various trials and tribulations, and a multiple of life changes, players and personal iterations.

For those who know me personally, I live on carrot sticks and hummus. I rarely even eat chocolate. So why the Snow Caps? The answer is quite simple; it’s symbolic and synonymous for comfort. It is for the same reason that when I was preparing for Hurricane Sandy I bought water, gas, flashlights and five boxes of Snowcaps. After all, if life was going to become challenging, I wanted to make sure I had my comforts available!

I have spent the past month, as I do the open of each year, cleaning (well organizing), purging, and setting the stage for the upcoming year. While cleaning my night-table I came across this ancient box, smiled, and began to contemplate the other “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” habits I have adopted over the years. Further I pondered how important these survival habits, safe guards and rituals have become to my well being and survival in today’s crazy, surprise laden, 24-7 world.

Looking back on simpler times, before the age of cell phones and constant internet contact, having and emergency contact list really had meaning. When leaving the house as a teen and young adult one was told to be home before dark and handed a couple of quarters so you could call someone ”In case of an emergency”. We all instinctively knew just who to call. For me it was my Grandma Fanny. She would get you anywhere, anytime, no questions, no judgment. Who is that person or those people for you? Who will you call when the stakes are high and the chips are down?

It’s wonderful when your children become adults and you can have really honest conversations about what kind of parent you were when they were growing up, and how you continue to support them today. I have come to learn that I am an “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” Mom. What does that mean I asked? Apparently, when it came to the simply day to day stuff like teaching them how to change light bulbs, do laundry, boiling eggs and making beds neatly I failed my kids miserably. After all we were always in survival mode, who could be bothered! Thankfully, everyone turned out great in the end. We skipped egg boiling and went right to omelets. We would be appalled if we got less than A’s in any of our classes, a project (present company included) or showed up late or unprepared to a game or practice! We lived by the golden rule, “Do on to others as you want to be treated yourself”. Most importantly, if you dropped any of us on the set of survivor I am sure we would all make it off the island.

Here are my favorite in case of emergency break glass habits and rituals:

1. Stop!

I used to be the queen of running away from my issues. NO MORE!
In fact I was so skilled at the art of self-deception that I have multiple degrees, a wall of certifications, a laundry list of accomplishments and success beyond my humblest comprehension, all to cover up for problems neglected.
Consequently, I have left shipwrecks of astonished people and boat loads of unanswered questions in my wake. Those days are over.
You can mask running with productivity all you want, but in the end you will need to face your demons and issues head on. Today is as good a day as any.
Slow down, dive in and face the music. This too shall pass!

2. Empty Not Fill

As an ex-chronic runner, filler, busy making problem avoider, and collector of both people and things, I have actually made this one of my New Year Resolutions!
There is nothing better in times of stress, trial & tribulation, and deep contemplation to go on a Personal Purge.
What does this mean? If you need to ask yourself more than once, “Should I hold on to this? The answer is NO. This includes people places and things!

3 Don’t isolate:

Chances are if you run, you also hide. Waiting till you feel better to contact your friends make no sense and defeats the purpose of having them?
Misery does require company. There are others that have walked in your shoes, find them and they will comfort you. Open up to the people you trust. You will be amazed to learn you are not as unique as you think.

4. Know when to let go

Knowing when to let go is always a challenge and often what brings us to our “In Case of Emergency” state.
It is helpful to remember that
“Some people and circumstances present themselves for a reason, some for a season and some to stay.”
I have used this phrase to comfort myself, my clients, my children, and many a saddened friend when they did not get or lost their job, gone through a horrible break up, divorce or life just did not live up to their expectation.
Should I stay or go? Hold on or cut bait?
Knowing the difference is crucial and knowing when to let go is critical!
It helps to remember that life and relationships are dynamic, cyclical and fluid. Be open to all possibilities, and keep your eyes open and learn to read the signs. The right people will actually seem to appear out of thin air.
Trying to make a situation work when it shouldn’t is futile, staying too long may be counterproductive and often destructive. Trust and move on.
The people and things that are supposed to be there will. The ones that aren’t won’t.
Definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!

5. Break the rules:

I am a definite do gooder, non-corner cutter, live by the golden rule type of girl, but desperate time may call for desperate measures. In times of emergencies you just might be forced to cut a corner or two. Step out of your comfort zone or just push boundaries a bit to experiment with what is possible. Hey you never know? You could stumble into something positive. Just be mindful that you don’t push too far and that you can live with the consequences of your actions.

6. Sweat the Big Stuff!

I am a firm believer that there isn’t an issue or problem that cannot be worked out through with good old fashion sweat and a pair of sneakers, bicycle, yoga mat, weights or whatever physical activity floats your boat. Once a gym rat always a gym rat. I started my Entrepreneurial track as a personal trainer 25 years ago and have always kept a gym membership since, even though I prefer outside workouts (even in the dead of winter). I suggest you do the same. The point is not to isolate. Get up, get out, sweat and start your day right. If you prefer working out at night then go straight to the gym not to your couch. Not to sound unoriginal. JUST DO IT!
I have recently developed a love hate relationship with Hot Yoga. Seriously, who comes up with these things? As if balancing all of your body weight on one leg while holding perfectly still for 60 seconds is not bad enough, now add the element of 104 degrees. Sheer insanity! Yet I show up every Sunday. Why you ask? Discipline? It’s good for me? I’m nuts? My logic, it is mental conditioning. If I can do an hour of yoga each week while being roasted alive everything else that is going to happen to me will be uphill from there.

7. Adventures

Along with my gym rat mentality is my zest for adventure. I am a definite Adrenalin junkie and know this has served me well to help me through many rough patches. For me stepping out of my comfort zone is most often around trying new kinds of physical activity. Parachute Yoga (I know who thinks of these things, but my favorite!), Mountain Biking (15 years ago before it was cool), Rollerblading (when they first came out) to name a few. My son is still traumatized from when I would blade past his bus in middle school and people would say, “Isn’t that your mom”. He would say no, as if there were many other rollerblading moms in the neighborhood.
Bottom line is pick your poison. Live on the edge just long enough to get out of your head for a bit of a break.

8. Fun & Laughter

As hard as I work is as hard as I play. If you read my blogs, or perhaps know me personally, you know that I find the humor in even the most awful situations and topics.
I am a survivor but aren’t we all, we could not have gotten to where we are today without a few bumps or bruises.
I have surrounded myself with some of the best people in the world. Trust me; we have had no shortage of fun. I have laughed at myself, we have laughed at each other, but most importantly we have never stopped showing up for life, and having fun fun fun.
I recently described a best friend of mine as a “Party in a Bag”. This is such a great description of many of my closest friendships. Many of us don’t live in the same state. Our relationships take extra work. So we put in the time and the effort, schedule phone calls, we drive in traffic to see each other, we get on planes and when we arrive we make it count! We laugh, we cry (if necessary) and we have FUN.
LAUGHTER, FUN, CONNECTION truly the best medicine.

9. Calling all contacts

So this will sound like such a contradiction to so much of what I have preached, but I used to be in the habit of waiting till I fixed my problems and the reporting my progress back to my friends. This is absurd!
I am happy to report that I am over this. I will admit that I have had to call myself out to my friends on this habit and they know to reach out if they do not hear from me.
I recommend having regularly scheduled times to speak to out of town friends and specific times you meet your local friends and actually put it in your calendar. This way it actually happens!!
10. Comfort Food

Surrounding yourself with creature comforts in times of trouble is a great thing to do but remember when you popped that last Snowcap, finished the bag of potato chips, and drowned your sorrows in a pint of rocky road you will feel no better about yourself the next day. News flash, your problems are still going to be there.
Remember Rome was not built on Fast Food and French Fries! Think “Brain Fuel” and make healthy choices especially when the chips are down. My rules of thumb, “If it does not fly, swim, grow or have a mother, don’t eat it.” In other words, stay away from anything processed if you want to think clearly to work through your rough patches.
Do treat yourself but make healthy choices. Like one glass of heart healthy Red Wine (good red wine of course!), or a square or two of dark chocolate.

11. Self Care

Times of trouble are no times to let yourself go. In fact you should step up your game even more. My sister and law and I have a running joke. She will always say to me in my darkest hours. “You look fabulous, how can I help”?
If you are a girl, don’t leave the house without make up, if you are a guy shave for heaven sake.
Keep up with manicures and pedicures, dye and cut your hair, schedule a massage, update your wardrobe.
This too shall pass and the last things you are going to want to do when the dust settles is not personal triage, nor should you require a full make-over once things have settled down.
Your grandmother was only partly right. You should never leave the house without a nice clean pair of matching underwear, only you should not do this in case you get in an accident. You should do this because it makes you feel good about yourself!

12. Spoil yourself to a little retail therapy.

Last but surely not least, retail therapy. For me there isn’t a problem in the world that cannot be solved when I have found the perfect pair of new boots and a matching handbag. This I know might not work for everyone. I also don’t recommend retail therapy if your problem is in relation to finances!
Retail therapy comes in all forms and defined is purchasing anything large or small that makes you feel good about yourself, if even for a moment.
Truth be told my favorite retail therapy is gift giving. I love buying gifts and sending my friends random things in the mail spontaneously. No occasion required. I do this out of the blue when I come across something I think will be helpful, or just because it reminds me of them. I do this a lot so they no longer think it’s strange. I highly recommend it. Definitely gets you out of negative thinking for a while.

13. Adopt an attitude of Gratitude:

Every night before I go to sleep I write down at least three good things that happened to me that day and/or three things that I have to be grateful for. It does not matter what is going on in your life, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for at the end of the day. As you start doing this, the positive things will out way the negative things and before your know it the tide will turn.

14. Contemplation

“What brings me to the mat can most often be worked out on the mat”
Translation:
For those of you who have not read my blog the “The Finish Line is a Dotted Line” please do.
Your face down in the ring moment is when your face is on the mat and you are down for the count. The crowd is waiting. What are you going to do? Stay down or get up? Let the other win or claim your rightful victory? This moment is golden; however, it is important to remember this moment is yours to claim and choose alone.
That is where the other mat has always come in for me, the yoga mat that is. Here I can strip down the noise, Adrenalin, anxiety, outside influences, and conventional wisdom to decide what I really want.
Find your means of peaceful contemplation. Then ask yourself what you really want? What is your gut telling you? It is in those quite moments of peaceful contemplation that the healing takes place and the answers come. Follow your voice.  Do the next right thing.

So in conclusion dear reader I wish you neither malice nor harm. I do hope that you read this blog and file it someplace safe and never need to use this list of “In Case of Emergency” tactics. My list is safely nestled next to my Snowcaps as you conclude. It is however an uncertain world and life will continue to throw us surprises and curves balls. Today I do hope you wake up emergency free; nevertheless, just “In Case of Emergency” my list of tactics is my gift to you as you never know, “Maybe one will come up?”

Happiness Is ……

“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”.
I recently came across this quote by Helen Keller that gave me reason for pause. It made me contemplate whether life had become so complicated that we have raised the bar too high on how we measure happiness? When we finally do get what we want in life do we stop to savor the moment? Do we move right on to the next big thing? Do we ever slow down long enough to appreciate the little things that bring us happiness every day?
When I was growing up I loved the Peanuts’ song, “Happiness is………..”. I know it was a simpler time, but they were really on to something. They based happiness on uncomplicated principles like, “Two kinds of Ice cream”, “Finding a firefly” and “Tying a shoe for the very first time”.

 

Happiness is 2
One can also learn a thing or two from to the Vantrap family during “The Sound of Music.” Talk about setting a positive example; while escaping occupation, Maria counseled the children to focus on a “Few of their favorite things”! Again, she based happiness on simpler things like “Raindrops on roses” and “Whiskers on kittens”. She further instructed them about the power of positive thinking by prompting them that when “the dog bites” and the “bee stings” that if they simply remembered their favorite things then they won’t feel so bad.

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These examples of course are not based on reality. They were not working toward their next big promotion, saving for their dream homes, dealing with work life balance issues or recovering from the recession. Nevertheless, the antidotes they offer may be just what we all need?
I decided to take their advice and create a list of my own to keep handy during challenging times. Just thinking about the my favorite things made me smile and lifted my spirits immediately. I suggest you make a list of your own.
Here are a few of my favorite things. Happiness is:
1. The first sip of coffee in the morning.
2. The first crisp fall morning that requires me to run back in and grab a sweater.
3. A clean new note book and any kind of new office supply.
4. A book that is so good that I lose all sense and time. When I turn the last page I am actually bereaved because I will miss the characters.
5. Drinking a bottle of wine that I have saved for many years that it is well worth the wait!
6. Sitting around my farm table with my whole family talking long after we have finished the last bites of dinner.
7. French fries, pizza and ice cream with mix- ins.
8. A great sale!
9. Boots, jackets and hand bags!
10. Getting an A in school.
11. Stretching past my comfort zone and learning a new skill.
12. Date night with my husband.
13. A great meal and cool new restaurant.
14. Walks with my girlfriends, long talks on the phone, and Sunday movie dates.
15. Helping anyone.
16. Time with my family (bears repeating).

Now I am not suggesting for one minute that you stop striving for greatness or that we should not set the bar high to reach our goals and ambitions; I am however suggesting that we take some time to enjoy and notice the things that bring us happiness along the way.
What is on the top of your list? I would love to know.

Your presence is a present

In today’s crazy 24/7, cell phone, social media, multi-tasking, and over scheduled worlds, are we truly listening to our spouse, children, co-workers and friends when they are talking to us?

 I profess to be guilty as charged.   Recently I made a vow to be “Present when I am Present”.  This sounds easy in theory but not as easy in practice.

 Interestingly, this request came for my husband.  My husband makes no other demands on me whatsoever; no cooking, no cleaning, no scheduling activities.  I mean nothing!   One would think that fully listening was an easy request.  Well, let me tell you, it took work!

 The bottom line is we are programmed to multi-task and many of us have made listening to one another just another item on our to do lists.  What I have learned through this experience is that even if you are listening while doing the laundry, paying the bills and unloading the dishwasher; you may be taking in the information, but does the person you are listening to feel like they are being heard?

 I have started to examine this behavior to see where else in life I am making the same mistake. 

 At work, how many of you have said to a co-worker, while typing and e-mail, “Go on, I am listening”?  Meanwhile, you never look up from your computer screens. How many of you are on conference calls with people in the same office on separate phones, while continuing to do your e-mails?  Not to mention the remote attendants who are doing g-d knows what?! Come on raise your hands, we are all guilty.  Are we really taking in all the information being said?  Are we making our co-workers feel heard?

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 Now that my children are grown, out of the house (well kind of) and have their own lives, what I would not do to have the time back that I wasted doing my chores instead of sitting down on the couch and really listening to what they had to say!

This behavior also affects our friendships.  Texts and e-mails are just no substitute for a good old fashion girls’ nights out, walk on the trail, movie date, glass of wine or cup of coffee!

 I now take my vow to be present when I am present very seriously.  I come home from work, throw down my briefcase and enjoy a nice glass of wine and great conversation with my husband.  I schedule one on one time with my son when he is in from college and continue to have Saturday nail dates with my daughter.  Weekly, I schedule phone calls with my remote team.  I do this when I am not in the office, so I can give them my 100% undivided attention.  I now never miss a weekend without at least one opportunity to spend time with a girlfriend.

Wine Drinking

 I must admit that my life is a lot fuller and the world has not come to an end having not sent out one e-mail or failed to fold my laundry before going to bed. 

 I hope you have learned something from my experience.  Thank you for listening!

 

“Roll with It” – Tips for Embracing Life’s Ups and Downs

   At the risk of sounding cliché, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”

 I used to spend a lot of time and energy trying to reach equilibrium in life and chasing the status quo.  I have now learned to live in a world of uncertainty and embrace “peaceful connected moments” as they arise.

 What is a “peaceful connected moment” you ask?

 When I first got remarried my husband did not understand what I was talking about when I kept referring to “peaceful connected moments“.  That was before he moved in with my teenagers and we both entered the world of management.

Peaceful connected moments at work are the days you actually finish a project instead putting out fires. You catch up on your e-mails, instead of running from meeting to meeting, or you actually stop to eat lunch, instead of running down the hall while sipping soup out of a mug!

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 Peaceful connected moments at home are weeks in between college and job interviews for your young adults. Nights you go home after work instead of running to sports events, back to school nights or concerts.  Months where you are not moving into or out of dorm rooms or apartments, your kids come home at a decent hour, and no one smashes the car!  

 They also consist of weekends when you have no scheduled plans and you can just lie on the couch in your pajamas reading and catch up on your favorite programs.

 Let’s face it, if you are anything like me these “peaceful connected moments” described above are few and far between, and I only just brushed the surface! 

 So how can one cope with the frantic pace of a busy live?  I suggest you “roll with it.”

 Here are some of my favorite tips for coping with life’s crazy pace:

 1. Embrace it – Life goes by so quickly; what I would not do now to go after work to watch my son run track or go to my daughters art show!

 2. Learn something– often when work is  most challenging  I learn the most.  Maybe you will need to take a stretch assignment, a new system will need to be created and put into place, or an important lesson needs to be learned for the future.

 3.  Reach Out– Find someone who has walked this path before and contact them. We all like to believe we are terminally unique, but chances are if you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed others are feeling the same way.  I always keep my personal network close at hand during these times to give me personal or professional advice, or talk me off the ledge if necessary!

 4. Take a breath– I am a hugely into meditating.  Now I know that this is not for everyone, but surely you can close your eyes and take a couple of breaths to re-center.  Keep in mind that if you practice traditional meditation in a public setting or at the office people may think you are strange.  (Take it from me and just breathe till you get home.)

Yoga at work

 5.  Look your best   My Aunt Phyllis always used to say, “If you can’t play tennis, then get a great outfit and learn how to jump over the net.”  Put your best self on display.  Only you need to know that you feel overwhelmed.  My sister in law always used to say to me, “You look great, what’s wrong?”

woman jumping over the net

 6.  Exercise- this is the best method for keeping stress at bay. My assistant always takes a walk around the block at lunch before we start a new project.

 7.  Eat well   Although chocolate and potato chips (in that order) offer the perfect diet solution for most of what ails us, you will then be dealing with two issues. Better to eat well and look and feel your best, (see # 5).   I highly recommend the running with soup diet. (See #6)

 Woman running with soup

 8.  Read a book– I was raised to believe that this is the solution for everything; in this case it offers a great diversion.  Audiobooks work too if you are too stressed to concentrate.

 10. Sleep   nothing helps you cope better with stress than getting a good night’s sleep.  Naps are also a great way to regroup and gather the energy you needed to go on. (Do not do this at work, it will be seen as counterproductive)

woman sleeping at her desk

 11.  Have Fun– we never laugh harder at work than when we are stressed out! At home I always make sure to have something fun planned on the weekend, especially at the end of a particularly hard week.

 12.  Have Faith– this too shall pass, IT ALWAYS DOES!

   So the next time work and life have got you stressed, grab this list and “Roll with it”!   Whether you decide to take a breath, exercise, call a friend or read a book, it won’t be long before you are creating your own “peaceful connected moments“.

 This to shall pass

 

If you were a superhero who would you be, and why?

Superheroes

These are the questions I posed to my team in preparation for our recent annual planning meeting.

Why superheroes you ask?

When we think about superheroes we think of their strengthens; however, superheroes are so much more multifaceted. Each superhero has a special power or strength as well as a major flaw or weakness. Isn’t it the same for you and me? 

 As we develop throughout our career it is important to continually assess our skills.  What are our core competencies? Where do we excel? What makes each of us stand out from the crowd? 

 On the flip side we must remember to evaluate our weaknesses. What do we still need to learn? What is our Achilles heel? What is standing in the way of getting that next great job or promotion?

 Superheroes spend much of their days developing their skills. They gather new tools for their tool belts, create force fields to fight off the competition and stand up to opposing points of view. Above all,   they create coping mechanisms to combat their weaknesses.  Couldn’t we all learn a thing or two from them?

superhero

 When superheroes first discover they have superpowers they are always shocked, amazed and have no idea what to do. In each case they find a guide (or mentor) to help them understand and develop their skills, manage the pitfalls, and grow into the best they can be.  Behavior I would recommend to anyone wanting to excel.

 Superheroes main purpose in life is to fight off villains, save the world and build a better tomorrow. Well that sounds a lot like what we do on a daily basis. We fight off the competition, put out fires, and build a better organization for ourselves and the people who will come after us.

 Show me a great superhero and I will show you a great sidekick.  Where would Batman be without Robin? We are all as good as the people we surround ourselves with.  I for one would want my Sales Support Manager Lisa at my side if I was stuck in a burning building.  Or I would turn to our Marketing Director, JoAnn if I wanted to figure out how to fight off our latest opponent. 

 Superheroes can teach us a lot about team building.  Look at the Avengers!  I always tell my team that they are better together then they are apart. Each of them is superstars and has skills and strengths that they share with each other.  We may have our weakness, but as a team we are unstoppable!

 Superheroes also teach us about focus.  They know why they are here, what needs to get done, and they go for it, no questions asked.

 In the end, they always wind up showing their vulnerability. That is what makes them believable, why we follow them, and ultimately trust them with our fate. They almost always fall in love and often have to make difficult work life balance choices.  Look at Spider-Man; he had to choose between the woman he loved and saving the world.

 In retrospect, the superheroes theme was the perfect choice.  After all as I demonstrated, they are a lot like you and I. We have all learned a thing or two from examining their work ethic. 

 So again I ask, if you were a superhero who would you be?   Reply and let me know.

superhero

 

“Memoir of a Weekend Runway”

Women hard at work

If your life is anything like mine November is a busy month both personally and professionally.

It is trade show season, budget planning, and time to tally up the 3rd Quarter results.  It is do or die time in the world of sales and manufacturing.  Maybe it is like that in your world too.  You are left questioning everything.  Are you on track to make budget?  Will you complete your goals? What still needs to be done?

Summer is also officially over.  If you have not cleaned out your garage or switched out your summer clothes for winter, what are you waiting for?!!

 It can all be quite overwhelming.

Last weekend when panicking over how I would get everything done, I made a bold choice.  I decided to drop everything and grab my last bits of fun before getting down to business.  My husband and I decided to run away from home!

 My daughter looked at us in such shock as we packed our bags, loaded the trunk and got ready to drive away.  “Where are you going ?” she asked in surprise. We are going to check into the Marriott”, I beamed.  (I must confess this is not exotic and is only 5 minutes from my home.) Being a platinum level member, or as we like to joke at work, “The abandon your family level”, we get plenty of free hotel nights.  Why not take advantage?

 Although I am not one to procrastinate, I have to say, I highly recommend this behavior.  Once we settled into our room we had cocktails, swam in the pool, and went out for a great dinner.  I woke up in the morning and read my book, that’s it! No e-mail, no laundry, no food shopping, no drawers to clean!  We then went out to brunch, walked around a quaint town, and returned home relaxed, refreshed and ready to face the week and month ahead.

I have been pondering this topic a lot lately.  As work/life balance becomes more difficult scheduling fun into your calendar should become a must!  Now I am not suggesting you should drop everything and check into a hotel every weekend, but surely you can make time for some fun activities.

I have now added scheduling something fun each weekend to my “can do” list.  (See last week’s blog: https://dessertdivachronicles.com/turn-your-to-do-list-into-a-can-do-list/ ). This gives me something to look forward to as the week’s responsibilities build.  It can be as simple as a movie, a great new restaurant, a walk around a new town, discounted theater tickets, or a local festival.  Fall is a great time for pumpkin picking and wine tasting.  (There is actually no bad season for wine tasting).  Even a walk on the beach or on my favorite trail with my buddies gives me the leverage I need to get through the week.

Add scheduling some fun into your “can do” list.  I promise you will love how you feel each Monday.  As they say,  “in life sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward.”  In the world of work/life balance, sometimes you need to let loose in order to get focused and get down working.

So enjoy your weekend, grab some excitement and by all means HAVE FUN!!!!!

 Fun 4