Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013, hello 2014

First off, I confess to being one of the most boring people you could meet.
I am not a party-er or dare devil.
When I drink alcohol I get horribly sleepy.
And as an early riser it takes a really good football or basketball game to keep me awake late at night.
Bottom line? I am not "a blast" on New Year's Eve.
Besides for some reason I spend more time reflecting on the year gone by than on the year ahead.
So, 2013.
Like every year, it was an interesting one.
Personally I had a roller coaster year. I was in a low as a professional, business was flat, I am too darn honest to 'sell' myself, so I mired in a funk, doing all that presented itself with my absolute most. Upset that we live in a world in which BS is so highly valued, I wasn't really sure of my next move.
And then out of the blue an opportunity arose, with minor trepidation I jumped on it.
Life from that point - August 14, 2013- has been a blur.
I jumped into a firestorm.
Four and a half months later it is still raging and I am still working ridiculous hours on major projects.
It has fascinated me that I am physically tired but I am not stressed or 'freaking' out, it is as if someone has thrown down a challenge and I am thrilled to accept it.
Bring it on baby, I've got this!
I am energized and excited. And tired :)
I can't say how long I can do this at this pace or how long they will keep me, but it has been a great experience & opportunity both professionally & financially.
2013 has been a difficult year for my boy, this time last year I felt hopeless about his front leg injury. 
It got worse. When in a fit of happiness he went three-legged and I learned later he had snapped a piece if his elbow off.
And then even worse, with a failed surgery and complications.
And then we found a surgeon who listened and did what he could to help him.
Rehab went well, but then he didn't get any better.
I cried. I must say, more than once.
We were told to have him swim.
I religiously took him to the lake and he swam next to my kayak.
At first he was one of the most awkward swimmers you could imagine.
He got better & better, and stronger & stronger.
He loved it in a way that filled my heart.
My elbows however both developed tendinitis but we kept going.
He swam over a mile and a half but he couldn't comfortably walk two miles.
I was at a loss.
Eventually I took him to a rehab specialist and she gave me news that hit me hard. He was in constant pain & was physically compromised. 
I cried.
Sigh. I felt distraught. I have done all that I could for all his life to keep him healthy and had failed. 
This crazy, hyper, lovable beast needs to run and be active or his brain explodes. Now what?
So we started some new treatments.
I think they help but his behavior will never say. He is happy. He is always happy.
He isn't pleased with my work schedule but golly he is happy when I get home.
I mean REAL happy.
2013 had some significant lows and some highs.  I can say that I am riding a high as it comes to a close. Nothing super exciting happened but nothing tragic either. Thinking about January 2013 and December 2013 I assure you the latter is a better place.
So here we are heading into 2014 & Bugsy is still kind of gimpy, some days he's real gimpy but otherwise he is healthy. For that I am very grateful.
I have my health, as does my husband and all my family members.
I even have a beautiful new granddaughter to go with three fabulous grandsons.
I mostly love where I live, I have few worries heading into 2014, I haven't said that moving into most new years.
I have a few things on my wish lost for 2014 and I intend to be a more generous person this year.  If I could fulfill a dream it would be to be a philanthropist, lol, an itty bitty one but you get the idea.
I hope to have the energy and vision to actively make the world a little bit better for some.
I am thankful that my personal needs are modest and that instead of 'rewarding' myself for hard work I would rather help the less fortunate, human & canine.
Well I have rambled on long enough.
A huge thanks to all the friends & family in my life - I am blessed and I know it.
Raise your glass, be it filled with water, milk, champagne or koolaid and toast to a new year.
We each have a blank slate starting tomorrow, make the most of it. 
You are responsible for making your life what you want, don't look to others, grab the reins and enjoy the ride!
Happy New Year!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The US government and leadership

I desperately try to avoid politics.
I do study leadership from many angles.
The other night I was watching the news and Scott Pelley of CBS was interviewing John Boehner, current Speaker of the House and as Scott Pelley stated, "the highest ranking Republican in government."
The conversation was around the 'sequestering' that will occur after tomorrow if no deal is struck. These 11th hour deals are getting really old for the American public which in some ways is helping, as people are so tired of them, they are mad at all politicians instead of the hatred for the 'other side' that has become too common.

So Pelley asked him, as "the highest ranking Republican", if he felt an obligation to lead his side (why does it always sound like a bunch of children taking sides?) in coming to a compromise.
Boehner's response was that "we elect a President to lead".

Hmm so he is supposedly a leader, Boehner that is, which is why he is Speaker of the House - clearly a leadership position - and in a very serious moment, begging for leadership, he's playing games of finger pointing and refusing to a) accept responsibility to lead and b)to work to achieve the compromise the American people want and deserve!

I can tell you, politics aside, this man is not a leader. And he surely doesn't have the American public's best interest at heart.
He is an appointed leader refusing to lead.

Many of us fight the good fight day in and day out. We take charge of our family and in the workplace as appropriate, yet the highest ranking Republican flat-out refuses to lead because its hard? its not fair? he doesn't want to play?

Imagine if our leaders in Afghanistan chose to not lead because they didn't agree with the directions, orders or the war in general.

Boehner is supposed to lead. Some might argue that by not trying to work things out he is leading. You will never convince me. He is refusing to do the job he is appointed to do and WE the American public are impotent to enact change or create the necessary agreements.

A leader that refuses to lead just isn't a leader. Think of your worst boss. Think of that time you really needed a decision and you got nothing.

I will admit that my internal radar has never felt comfortable with Boehner, the crying attacks in public have always felt concerning, but this interview was the final nail in the coffin.
Politics aside the guy isn't a leader and clearly doesn't understand the position he is in.
Sadly it isn't him or any other member of Congress that will suffer. It is you and I.

Perhaps I should pursue a career in politics, they seem to be the only people that escape the impact of their folly.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's all about perception, really

I know you've heard this before and certainly I have been promoting this concept of late because I have vowed to make 2013 a positive year.
To do this, each time I find myself thinking negative thoughts or flat out being negative I do my best to spin it around and come up with some positive thoughts to replace the negative thoughts.
Not always easy, but surprisingly not as difficult as you might imagine.
However, I doubt I will ever be as capable of being positive in my outlook as my crazy mutt. He is permanently happy and positive.
For instance, this morning it is once again gray, dreary, raining and cold.
This weather pattern has been very common of late.
I heard the rain last night and by the time morning arrived I was already depressed that it was another miserable day.

I was settling into some work when the permanently happy mutt was being a silly nuisance and I realized he hadn't had much activity this week.
Reluctantly I told him we'd go for a SHORT walk.
With a grimace I selected wet weather gear and got dressed, meanwhile the mutt was wiggling and dancing and galloping with excitement.

When we stepped outside it was even worse than I expected.
The mutt pranced down the street enjoying the exercise and lovely day.

I spent the first 1/2 mile or so with my head down, wishing I wasn't out in 40* and rain.
The mutt was trotting along unaware that it was awful weather.
He was just doing what he normally does while out. The water was literally rolling off him - physically and emotionally - like water off a duck's back.

He was splashing through puddles and pretending that the water running in the culvert was the New River (a favorite spot of ours).

I allowed myself to be sucked in by his joy.
A smile came across my face as I recalled some childhood memories of playing in the rain.
I took in the scent of the rain, the quietness of the morning and that it felt good to be on the move.

The only thing that changed was my perception of the gray, cool, rainy weather.
My mood went from bah humbug to feeling energized.

How your perceive things is entirely up to you.
Will you be positive or will you be negative?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolve to add something this year

Each year at this time my most frequent request from clients and others is the topic of resolutions.
How to make them, how to keep them, who to tell, etc.
This year I starting thinking about resolutions in November. I was looking at all the stuff going on in the world and watching the media focus on food and drink for the holidays and of course the month-long shopping rush that begins around Thanksgiving.  Juxtaposing this eating/drinking/spending with the standard resolutions of losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption, getting finances under control, left me shaking my head.
So I decided to focus on changing the type of resolution rather than rehashing the standard ones.
I propose that this year, when you make your resolution, make it a positive one; one that adds something to your life, rather than focusing on removing something or reducing something.
Here are some of the ideas I had:

Learn a language
Volunteer work
Take a course, learn something
Start a new family tradition (or re-ignite an old one)
Have a reading hour (or half hour) with the whole family
Try new foods (especially healthy foods!)
Reconnect with people you've lost contact with
Re-engage with a passion you've left behind
Pursue a new interest
Set aside time for yourself
Reconnect with your religion or spirituality

I am sure you can think of many more. Once you decide on your resolution I do recommend writing it down and making it SMART.
Time bound

Here's a short piece I did on the local news the other day. (Three days post flu!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Conflict, Change and Stagnation

Last week I asked what people's perception of these three terms were. (I asked my followers on Facebook - join the conversation here)
Overwhelmingly the response was that all three: conflict, change, and stagnation, were negative.
I completely understand why the perception is that they are negative but let's delve a bit further.

Conflict is essentially about opposition. It might be conflict in the Middle East that is war or it might be trying to decide between two apples in the grocery store; which apple is better?
Conflict in the workplace may be as simple as a difference of opinion on what coffee to buy or as complex as what the organization is doing right or wrong.

Many years ago conflict was presented to me as the motivation for learning.
In these terms conflict is internal for each of us.
What inspires you to go look something up?..........for me I'd say it is because I find it unsettling to not know (this is my conflict), so I go find out. Once I find the indisputable information I can relax - I have no conflict (well about that particular issue).

In organizations, conflict can be damaging and it can be beneficial. It all depends on how 'conflict' is treated. I know we have all been in tense situations at work because we don't agree with someone or something, but we must remain silent.  Disagreeing isn't acceptable/tolerated/or allowed.
Clearly in these settings conflict is a negative. It causes internal stress, angst and has no positive value.

However if it was OK to safely discuss ideas - even conflicting ideas - perhaps change could occur, positive change.
Great things are typically born of conflict, it leads to discussion, debate, collaboration and invention.

But wait, you say, everything is just fine as it is.
"Why reinvent the wheel?"
Well because there are new innovations that might be an improvement.
"But it will cause me conflict - I am used to doing things a certain way - I don't want to learn a new way."
We all know people that refuse to move forward, are you one?

Although he isn't as successful as he once was, I am reminded of Tiger Woods who at the peak of his career decided to make a swing change. This is a huge undertaking for a golfer and one that can derail a career. He was asked why he wanted to make a radical change when he was so successful with his current swing. His response was that he was as good as he could be with THAT swing, however he believed he could be better and to be better he had to adopt a new swing.
His conflict was that he believed he had the ability to be better than he was, he wasn't good enough in his eyes. He realized he had reached a plateau, so he changed. Even though his game did suffer initially and it was really hard work he stuck with it. In the end he did emerge better than he had been before.

The concepts of conflict and change apply to businesses, individuals, teams, and relationships. Whether it seems that 'everything is just fine' or it is clear that things aren't fine, having an avenue to safely discuss conflict which creates the opportunity for change (improvement) is a very good thing.

Without conflict there is no change; without change there is stagnation.

To stagnate is to cease motion, activity, or progress; to come to rest; to cease to advance or change; to become idle or cease to flow. Think stagnant pond.

No way that's a good thing, so change must be good :)
And since conflict is the precursor of change, it must be a good thing too!

I hope I have created conflict with regard to your beliefs about conflict and change!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Do you think about the past or the future?

This post is aimed toward individuals 40+ but may have some good thoughts for all. Enjoy!

I was thinking the other day as I was listening to someone talking about events that were 20 years ago, that I rarely hear this person talk about things in the future.
I then started to think about other people in my life that when given an opportunity to take the spotlight or to guide the conversation, they talk about things from decades ago.
I then started to think of people that consistently talk about the things they are going to do.  I am not talking about the person who is always 'going to do' something but never does, I mean the person who has lived a full life and has every intention to keep living a full life.

I can tell you that the people that focused on the past are individuals that one would typically call a pessimist.  Often I sense they feel older than they are, they long for the old days, and don't really look forward to or at least talk about the future.
I am not saying they don't want to have a future, I just mean they don't seem to set goals for the future or dream of things they will do down the road.

On the other hand, the people who seem to have goals and dreams to pursue 'in the future' tend to be optimistic and thankful people. These people will look at the past and appreciate those good times but don't have a desire for it to still be 'those days'. These individuals seem to focus more on today but also have desires and dreams they are pursuing for future good times.

When we are young, the vast majority of us have clear goals and exciting dreams to fulfill, as we age I believe this can slip away as we are busy dealing with life day in and day out. I can't help but believe that having dreams to pursue, regardless of your age, and focusing on future achievements will serve you better than reliving your 'glory days' over and over.

The next time you are in a social gathering with friends or family, think about what you share or talk about.
Is it memories from decades or years ago that you have likely shared before, with the same folks?
Or is the conversation driven by things you hope to do down the road?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Google search tips, that really will help!

Think you're a Google Search power user?

You might not know all the ways to get faster, more focused search results. Here are five tips:

  1. Exclude terms. If you're looking for information on Vikings, the old Norse explorers, you don't want pages on football's Minnesota Vikings. Use a minus sign to tell Google to exclude pages that contain a certain word, like this: Vikings - Minnesota
  2. Site search. Limit your search to a single website or a specific group of sites, by using site: followed by a Web address or ending. For example, type site:latimes.com in your search and you'll get results only from the Los Angeles Times website. To get results only from U.S. government sites — which have Web addresses ending in ".gov" — add site:gov to your search. Use site:edu for colleges or site:mil forU.S. military sites.
  3. Wildcard search. Use the asterisk to substitute for any word in a phrase. This can be handy for identifying a particular fact or finding a missing word in a song lyric. Put phrases in quotes. For instance, "Perris is in * county" or "in Penny Lane there is a * showing photographs."
  4. Math and conversions. Enter a math problem into Google Search and it will give you the answer (use * for multiplication and / for division). It will also convert currencies and temperatures. Enter, for example, $100 in euros or 72 Fahrenheit in Celsius.
  5. More shortcuts. Put "define" before any word (for example, define photobomb), and Google will give you a definition at the top of the results. Similarly, entering "movies" or "weather" before a ZIP Code or a city name will produce a list of films playing nearby or a weather forecast for that area.

originally printed on

April 27, 2012|By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times