Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tempus Fugit

Unaccustomed as I am to speaking in Latin this is an unusual title for a post (but hey, these days every post is unusual so what the heck!!) anyway back to Tempus Fugit or when translated into English "Time Flies" - today was one of those days where it stopped for a moment just to let me notice its passage.

Today I celebrated two years working with The Best Coffee Company On The Planet, and what a fabulous two years it's been. Full of ups and downs, ins and outs, stops & goes but mostly some good solid progress getting from where we were to where we are going. It's all good.

My job (ODD) is one where progress is measured in months and years rather than hours and days; the changes are often marked by refusal, rebuttal, resistance, reticence and then perhaps some grudging acceptance leading to accommodation and then adoption. Man is it a test of character to see who wins!

Probably as a result of my infinitesimally small measurements of work progress I just LOVE pretty much all celebratory events that mark the passage of time or other significant outcomes. Birthdays, Anniversary's, New Years, New Babies, New Jobs, New Outfits - you name it and I could probably find a reason to celebrate it and why not?

This is what Wikipedia says about Tempus Fugit so clearly it must be right..."The expression was first recorded in the poem Georgics written by Roman poet VirgilSed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore, which means, "But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail."

I really think Virgil was onto something when he wrote this poem, conscious that as we focus on the minute details of every day TIME IS FLYING, IRRETRIEVABLY! will never come back and as a result we must cherish each moment, each event, each breakthrough; if we don't do it now we'll never get the opportunity to do it again.

I'm so thrilled that I got to spend the last two years of my Fugit-ing Tempus where I was at with the folks I was with doing the things we did. We've toiled, learned, laughed, cried and my how we've grown. Thank you God.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thank you for being a friend

Tonight I had the enormous privilege of getting together with fabulous folks I used to work with in what now seems like a previous life, but in fact was just another job.

Conversation flowed, our interest in each other was both real and palpable and time just flew past. Laughter, celebration, curiosity and just plain old listening were all there in spades; there just wasn't enough time to get all the catching up, brainstorming, plotting and scheming done. We all wanted more and were sad when the evening ended.

And why is that?

I know when I'm in the fray of a job, project or work challenge I rarely feel like stopping to make it a 'Kodak Moment'* in fact the very opposite is often true, often I just put my head down and power through whatever is the particular 'problem d'jour'.

But on the inside something very different is happening, the folks who are in the same boat with me are by some strange mystical force branded with the same iron; we may have different actual memories but our solidarity and commitment to each other remains the intact. We remember that at one (or more) times in the past is was 'Us Against' whatever foe might have been besetting us at the time - internal or external  - and the fact that we lived to tell the tales is what matters.

These shared experiences force us to learn about each other really fast, we see how each other handles stress, life, relationships, values and oh yes not

I'm so thankful for my work-friends both present and past; we share a rich heritage of secrets, language, learning and achievement that is impossible to replicate and frankly why would you even try?

Friends at Work = Joy & Love

*If you don't understand what a Kodak Moment is your are either Julie Drogemueller or Mandi Torrenga; please access Personal Electronic Device for the answer :-)

...anybody there?

Sorry to have left you languishing for so long - I was stuck in a moment and I couldn't get out of it!

For those of you who are my Facebook Friends, you'll know that for the last three weeks I've been being stalked...not by a person but by a song!!

The song is 'Stuck in a Moment' by U2 and it goes like this...
"I'm not afraid of anything in this world, There's nothing you can throw at me that I haven't already heard, I'm just trying to find a decent melody, A song that I can sing in my own company.I never thought you were a fool, but darling, look at you; You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight, These tears are going nowhere, baby.You've got to get yourself together, You've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it, don't say that later will be better, now you're stuck in a moment and you can't get out of it.I will not forsake the colours that you bring, the nights you filled with fireworks, they left you with nothing. I am still enchanted by the light you brought to me, I listen through your ears, through your eyes I can see.And you are such a fool to worry like you do,  I know it's tough and you can never get enough of what you don't really need now, my, oh my.I was unconscious, half asleep, The water is warm till you discover how deep,  I wasn't jumping, for me it was a fall It's a long way down to nothing at all.And if the night runs over, and if the day won't last, and if our way should falter along the stony pass.It's just a moment, this time will pass."
I've never been stalked by a song before, and its been quite an experience! It's been playing on the radio many times just as I switched it on or walked back into a room. Bono and The Edge appeared on David Letterman's show and just burst into it, and it's constantly rumbling round in my head and so I'm getting more and more curious.

As a Christian I've become very aware of patterns that appear in my life, as I've discovered that If I pay attention they often lead me towards or away from things or people that are either helpful or harmful for me. Things happen that only me and God could know about or appreciate and I choose to look at them as messages from him to me. It's awesome and I'm humbled and amazed each time it happens.

I'm not sure what the full intent of my 'stalker song' is just yet although it has caused me to think...what am I stuck in, what can't I get out of and what am I putting off till later. They're great deep questions and I'm glad they are mine for the moment.

Because as the very talented Bono & The Edge know "It's just a moment, this time will pass"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

All up in the air

Halooooooo from 30,000 ft! Thanks to the wonders of high altitude wifi I can blog and fly at the same time - Wooo Hooooo!

This week I've been at summer school in Cape Cod, learning from Chris Worley - one of the 'greats' in the field of OD (organization/al development) about sustainable management organizations. It was awesome.

Some of the awesomeness was due to my learning buddies Chickeee & Elsie; we used to work together in what now seems like a previous life, but now have moved onto new and exciting things and my how we've grown! We all have so much common experience and understanding but our most recent experiences have given us different perspectives and edges that make us look the same on the outside but different underneath. It was a fascinating week.

Awesomeness factor 2 came from the whole 'summer school' concept. The cape cod institute is thirty two years old and provides summer classes for mental health & OD professionals at the Nauset high school in cape cod. As a grown up it's really cool to step back in time to high school (actually my UK version was called secondary school) but the concepts are similar, classrooms, common areas, dodgy loo's and plenty of space to saunter round trying to look cool! What REALLY surprised me is how insular some of my fellow students were. I get that an 11-18 year old may be 'too cool' to engage with others, but really 45 year olds??? Perhaps I'm too intimidating or expect too much but I could have used a bit more engagement people!!!

The third awesome was provided by Cape Cod itself, its BEAUTIFUl. Wild flowers, dense woodland, cute cottages and a laid back attitude provide the perfect get-away to sit back, relax and open up to new ways of thinking. As a Brit I feel very comfortable on the cape with all it's English place names and small stature, it reminds me of being in Devon or Cornwall and somehow it's a bit like going home.

Finally the very last awesomeness was our Prof Chris Worley. What a groove ball! Quite apart from heading one of the most prestigious OD programs and working with some of the most amazing corporations on the planet...this bloke is a devoted family man, humorist and general good egg. He responded to every raised hand & shouted comment with a "yes please" and even threw in the odd swear word - probably just to put me at ease!

So after all that awesomeness why am I up in the air? Well it's simply this...once your mind is stretched in new directions it never regains it's former shape; now I have to DO something with what I've experienced and learned or else it will wither, die and be for nought and I won't let that happen.

I'm so thankful for my summer school experience, for things learned, questions formed, experiences shared and perspectives expanded, let's hope my 30,000 ft perspective will help me see wood from the trees and make the most of all the awesomeness.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pre-jollyday mayhem!

I've noticed a strange and unnatural phenomenon...weeks, days, hours and minutes get shorter and speed up in direct correlation to the proximity of a vacation/holiday/jollyday.

It's really bizarre. Life can be zippin' along at a regular pace and all of a sudden 'Whoa Nelly!' the to-do list gets bigger (and more complex) the bi-partisan collaboration from family, friends and colleagues appears to get strained and things that are ordinarily easily accomplished take on a life of their own...and not in a good way.

Does this happen to you too, or is it just me?

I always like to leave my house clean and tidy for my return, this often means getting it to a far heightened state of cleanliness than I typically live in! Great logic Alison, those gleaming floors and faucets will be admired by precisely no one!

The garden too has to be virtually weed free, because as we all know, weeds instinctively know when you are traveling and grow much quicker in your absence! If i didn't get them all out before I go, they would probably invade the house while I'm away!

Work too seems to do funny things too, dormant projects spring to life, the calendar fills up fast with not a small micro-space between meetings and previously undemanding customers start getting cranky.

AND last but not least the social calendar which may have been a barren wasteland for weeks in advance gets on a real, breakfasts, lunches, cocktails, dinners just burst forth in an array of social frivolity worthy of a bygone age. It's incredible.

But you know what, I wouldn't trade pre-jollyday mayhem for anything, it's the thrill of the chase, the lure of 'lets just get one more thing accomplished' and the anticipation that at some fairly near time in the future when the boarding doors close and the portable electronic devices are turned off you can luxuriate in knowing that it's all done, what wasn't done will still be there when you get back, but for now just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Going with the FLOW

This statement doesn't have a good rap, going with the flow can sometimes be seen as acquiescence, not being able to make a choice or stand up for yourself.

But it has another meaning too

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (pronounced MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-ma-HY-ee!) is a Hungarian psychology professor who came up with another idea of flow, MEE-hy noticed that people are most happy when they are in a FLOW state - described as a state of concentration or complete absorption with whatever they are doing, where they are so involved with a particular activity that nothing else seems to matter very much.*

People describe FLOW state as being 'in the groove or the zone' and its a fabulous place to be. Time seems to fly by and you lose track of all normally scheduled activities such as eating or sleeping.

When are you in FLOW?

Today I had the great good fortune of watching JO in flow. JO is a process consultant with many years experience in IT and associated fields, his speciality is working with individuals and teams to help them better understand their processes and he is GREAT at it. JO's approach is very different from other facilitators and process consultants I've worked with in the past, because he almost disappears into the group he's facilitating and creates an environment where they are so relaxed and comfortable they can't help but engage. It was magical to watch.

After the session I spoke to JO about his experience facilitating the group and he told me he feels its similar to an athletic or musical performance. Wow! From my chair it certainly looked very masterful but at the same time effortless. I'm sure he was in a FLOW state.

This reminds me of the #1 question to determine how much you are using your unique talents at work "At work, do you get to do what you do best everyday?" unfortunately many people answer this question with a resounding no, and that's so sad.

Just imagine what work would be like, if just 10% of us were in a FLOW state more often, imagine the productivity, the breakthroughs, the innovation and the creativity that would ensue.

I'm here to say that going with the FLOW as described by my buddy MEE-hy is a good thing, and I hope we all get to spend some time there soon.

* If you want to read more about FLOW here's MEE-hy's book details...
Csikszentmihaly, Mihaly (1990) Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday morning

Monday Morning Poem

I was happy this morning when I woke up in bed,
Then realized it was Monday and I faced the day with dread, 
For somehow, whatever comes my way, my temper is displayed, 
Just mentioning 'it's Monday', my nerves, they become frayed.

The day will be just a ' write off', it's no good me trying to do
Any sort of reasonable job, things won't go right. It's true! 
It's like a 'cloud' which hangs around and never let's you be, 
Whatever I attempt to do, disaster follows me.

If I could sleep through Mondays, then that would be just bliss! 
Then Mondays wouldn't have happened, I'd have given them a miss! 

By Ernestine Northover

Poor Ernestine, Sorry but I don't share your hatred of Mondays, just think what opportunity today brings! more growth, more accomplishment, more learning, more fun and more...

sausage dogs!

Happy Monday Y'all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Action Stations!

Early summer in Minnesota always makes me chuckle - not in a bad way you understand, but just because of the sheer energetic-ness of it all!

Yes we finally see signs of coming out of the no-doubt-too-long-and-cold winter, but more importantly than that just the speed that everything and everyone moves from lock down hibernation into full-on living mode!

I first noticed the phenomena in the garden, let me explain... In England where I come from we have 'rolling seasons' they gradually roll from one to another. Spring arrives gradually and stays for a while, daffodils, bluebells and tulips seem in no hurry to bloom, and when they do finally arrive they hang a round a while to be enjoyed!

By contrast in Minnesota as soon as the snow disappears all the little greenies just seem to hurl themselves out of the ground, they grow at an alarming rate and then poof! they're all over.

Lake life also starts moving faster, the water and the paths surrounding lakes seem to fill to capacity almost overnight, people increase their pace going from a gentle stroll with two or four legged friends to brisk paced, high octane working out no doubt trying to get in shape for summer clothes.

Then of course there are the graduation ceremonies, little peanuts graduate from kindergarden, high school students are finally done with school-school, and 'the learned' leave university to find there place in the world. It's all go!

Lastly the Friday afternoon exodus north 'to the cabin' on a lake begins. Folks plan ahead, leave work earlier in order to avoid the worst of the traffic and to spend more precious time with families and friends on the water. Only to reverse the whole process on Sunday evening to be back in time for work on Monday!

See what I mean? Minnesota summers are all action, don't take no for an answer, full on fun fests!

Yeah for the sheer energy and enthusiasm of Minnesotan summers!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Five More Minutes...

I really like my work.

No that's not right, I really, REALLY like my why is it soooo harrrrrd on the first day back after a holiday?

And it wasn't like my holiday was extensive or exotic, instead it was just four days at home doing lots of gardening and household jobs and spending 'quality time' with my small sausage dog; but nevertheless getting up this morning was an effort equivalent of scaling everest and at 8:46pm I'm ready for bed.

Perhaps I'm just getting old?

Well of that there is absolutely no doubt! but it's probably not age that causes my problems getting back in the swing of things, it's habit.

Scientific evidence proves that difficult things are hard to do, especially when we find them physically, mentally or emotionally challenging. If we had to muster equivalent effort to do the difficult things we do every day we would fail all the time.

So how do we get anything done?

Difficult things aren't achieved with extraordinary efforts in one foul swoop. Instead they are achieved by small habitual efforts over time. Habit causes the body and brain to almost disregard the effort being expended, instead just seeing the habitual activity as an everyday part of life.

This is why marathon runners can run marathons, why E.R Doctors and Nurses can work at such high levels of stress over such long periods of time and why Parents can operate 24/7, 365 for 18 plus years; its all a matter of habit.

So when my 5am alarm doesn't go off, my body is active vs. sedentary and my mind is focused on things other than organizational design and development, my ingrained habits start eroding and the question of 'do I REALLY need to get up ' surfaces.

The answer is YES.

The reason is because I Love my work.

But I Love my holidays too :-)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Messing around in the dirt

My Mum & Dad are awesome gardeners, here they are showcasing some of the fabulous sunflowers they grew for my brother & sister-in-law's wedding, truly they are talented in all matters horticultural!
Consequently I was blessed to grow up in the Hertfordshire equivalent of the Garden of Eden! we had lovely spring daffodils, crocuses, tulips, moving on to summer roses, hollyhocks and honeysuckle and then in the Autumn my Dad's piece d' resistance - the chrysanthemums. In addition to all the floral stuff we had beans, potatoes, tomatoes and carrots; as you do and of course I took it all completely for granted, clearly that was just the way gardens happen right?

Errr wrong!

When I moved into Smith Towers almost eight years ago, I looked with ignorant shame at the miserly flowerbeds not more than a foot wide at any point they were filled with 'cheaters' plants - hostas & day lillies - in my foolish dreams I thought it would take no more than a few weekends 'messing around in the dirt' to recreate my parents idyllic garden paradise in Minnesota.

Of course Mum & Dad helped; Dad dug (actually he double dug in the rain!) two great 'rose' beds leading up my front path, and Mum planted hundreds of bulbs, and it all looked so lovely, perfect and weed free...
 ...and then they left.

Not content with at least 50% more flower beds in my wisdom I widened borders, added a soaker system with automatic timers, and attempted to replicate the lush, colorful English garden of my childhood.

In no particular order here are the lessons I learned:
1. My tolerance for working hard in the heat is very low, so there are two optimal weekends for me to work in the garden; Memorial day weekend & Labor day weekend. If it can't be accomplished in these times I shouldn't even think about it!
2. Mowing the lawn is gardening too...just not the exciting, fulfilling, productive kind. Because Tipsy-sausage is unable to use the mower I need to get mowing hired in!
3. Regardless of how many times you replant expensive roses in lovingly dug flower beds, if they are fighting for survival with 40 year old maple tree roots its a recipe for disaster/frustration/loss of cash!
4. Soaker hoses need pulling up each year, so if you don't want to have to do that don't put them down in the first place!
5. Things that grow in England don't necessarily grow in Minnesota!
6. Green fingers, thumbs or other body parts are not necessarily genetic and in fact may well skip whole generations!

Today the gardens at Smith Towers are marvels of self sufficiency and resilience in the face of wonton neglect and sporadic attention. I've discovered the miracle of hostas & day lilies, become eternally grateful for self-set peonies, wild daisies and raspberries that won't take no for an answer.

 And finally I appreciate all the imagination, planning, hard work, and never ending devotion that leads to a beautiful garden. It's truly a Labor of Love.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Accentuate the Positive...

...Eliminate the Negative.

These are the words of an old song that was popular in the 40's - I bet my Dad knows every word!

I LOVE the message in this song and believe it speaks SO strongly to things that make folks joyful in work and life. Here are a few of the links I see:

1. STRENGTHS! Everyone has unique strengths, things that only they are able to do brilliantly. Often these strengths are overlooked or missed completely because we are too busy trying to be like someone else. If only we could accentuate our positives (strengths) and eliminate our negatives (weaknesses) I think the world of work would be a MUCH better place. Do you know what your strengths are and are you using them everyday?

2. WHO'S ON THE BUS? In the world of work we get to interact with a whole array of different folk, some we are immediately drawn to and some we're not. But regardless of our personal preference, in order for organizations (buses) to be successful we have to give them a fighting chance, we have to believe that we are making a difference, that our efforts are worthwhile and 'Keep Hope Alive' as my good friend JM would say.  If we can't do that and find ourselves in a reoccurring negative state about our work, we should think carefully about whether we are on the right bus or not. Buses can't get far with some people on the gas and others on the brake. Are you on the right bus?

3. YOU CAN DO IT! "No News is Good News" NO! at work "No News" is a TERRIBLE, CRUEL AND ABUSIVE state! As human beings we crave connection and feedback, even the most self motivated person needs feedback and encouragement from others some time. Catching people doing things right (recognition) is the EASIEST thing in the whole world to do, but the infrequency with which it happens you would think we have to barter our firstborn to give it out! Conversely criticism flourishes in the workplace, often it flourishes behind the 'target's' back, so they never get the benefits of the feedback, but we do a great job of instilling doubt in others minds and creating mistrust where it never should be. Lets change this right now! Catch someone doing something right and be lavish in our praise!

4. ELIMINATE! Do you have piles of UFO's (Un-Finished-Objectives) following you around at work? If you do, the chances are that they are weighing you down, making you feel burdened and ill at ease. Perhaps you start early, work late and never take vacation because of these UFO's. And guess what? If you keep them they will always be yours. Watching professional organizers is an interesting lesson for Longtime-UFO-Carriers; professional organizers are RUTHLESS in what they throw-out, recycle, re-purpose, sell or gift to others. What UFO's do you need to eliminate in order to accentuate the positive at work?

So starting today let's ACCENTUATE the :-) and ELIMINATE the :-(

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Rest

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. 
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Falling off the Wagon...

Does that ever happen to you? You get all excited about something - literally hitch yourself to a new wagon - perhaps even buy new equipment, clothing, shoes and accessories then all of a sudden you find the wagon has left but you're still where you were - with a whole bunch of new stuff - clearly the hitching came undone somewhere along the trail!

Well it appears that's what may have happened with me and my poor sweet blog :-( I started with a great RUSH of enthusiasm, fueled by my desire to write a book, blogging seemed like a lovely simple 'warm-up' exercise. I got into a great routine blogging daily or thereabouts and became completely hooked on the stats page which let me know who was reading the blog from where in the world, and then...

.............nothing, nada, zip

And I missed you!

But I'm back, well at least for today!!

'Falling off the wagon' has some dubious connotations often relating to drinking or other addictive habits, but for me being on and off wagons is really a way of life.

Like you I have many influences and choices in my life all representing different wagons, some of which appear to be traveling in vastly different directions. In order to make any progress in life, we have to choose which wagon(s) we're going to jump on and which we're going to let pass us by. We can't ride all the wagons all the time, there just isn't enough of us to go round.

Some wagons we ride we have no choice about, we may have been born into them or have them foisted upon us as a result of circumstance, but other wagons we can choose. We can choose to get on AND we can choose to get off.

Today I'm choosing to get back on my Joy, Love and Work blog wagon, and if you choose it too lets strap ourselves in and get ready for another GREAT adventure on this wagon of words!

Yeeee Haaaa!

Friends @ Work

Apart from the wonderful clump of church friends I grew up with back in my home town of Ware, where? yes exactly! Almost all of my best friends are people I've worked with at one time or another.

I know some people shy away from getting 'too close' to folks at work and I somewhat understand that; after all it is tricky to challenge a 'friend' about performance related issues or even worse having to lay a friend off from a job. But I have experienced both ends of that scale, I've laid off friends and been laid off by a friend and our friendships still work, even though we don't get to see each other as often as we would like.

My Dad is a great example for me of managing friendships with people at work, he's a very outgoing, jovial kind of chap and has many 'friends' but his very best work friend is Uncle Ken. Interestingly they did not like each other at first, but then worked together for many years, went through trials, hopeless bosses, organizational changes, power shifts and everything else that happens everyday at work, and throughout it all their friendship grew and strengthened.

Listening to them sharing stories of working together is hilarious, it's amazing that any work ever got done with all the practical jokes, teasing and general hilarity that went on, but I think those memories are what bonds them together, and it's bond that's lasted over forty years.

Anyway back to friends @ work.  Some folks would have you believe that you can just come in to work, glide through your inbox, your patient rosta, your mis-en-place or whatever it is you do on a daily basis and so long as you 'get the job done' you really don't need anyone else. 

I think that's a sad way to work and a sad way to live and here's why...

1. We spend approximately a third of our adult lives at work and as humans we crave connection with others. Do we really think we can live as islands at work and leave the connecting to the other third of our life? (the third third we're sleeping!)

2. Work is hard, even work that isn't physically or mentally hard gets hard over time because of repetition, working conditions, work load and a thousand other reasons. Just doing hard work on our own is exhausting, but having a friend to carry the load or just raise a smile makes even the hardest work feel a little better.

3.  You never know where a work friendship will take you. It may take you to foreign lands, to experience different cultures, to look at life from another perspective or like my Dad and Uncle Ken it may take you way past that job, through the rest of your life and well into retirement. 

So I say, GO MAKE FRIENDS with the people you work with! Obviously not all of them will be the right kind of friends for you but some will, and those friendships will make all the difference.

As for me, I'm SO grateful for my friends @ work, for Debbie, Ruth, Joanna, Emma, Trent, Paul, Paula, Sue, Karla, Kevin, Amy, Jennifer, Judy, John, Lynette, Bob, Trudy, Kristin, Yvonne, Kathy, John, Laura, Karen, Brandi, Wendy, Stephanie, Pam, Paula, Shelly, Judy, Barrrb and SO many more.

I have no idea what my work and life would be like without them and I'm very glad I don't have to find out :-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chunk it Down Baby, Chunk it Down!


Apologies for the radio silence, but hopefully you'll be impressed that in addition to the forty-something birthday I also managed to fit in a pilot program, royal wedding celebrations (complete with cucumber sandwiches, bunting and BIG hats) and MULTIPLE birthday celebrations, so it's not that I've been idle or ignoring you without due cause!

But back to Joy, Love and Work...

Question: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time :-)

I LOVE this quote because it makes really big, scary, intimidating things much more do-able, chunking big stuff down is the universal answer that makes exceptional results possible; often it's what separates the winners from the losers.

What's a BIG elephant to you? what could you never imagine being able to achieve? what are those things that you REALLY want to do but just don't think it will ever happen?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

What logical or illogical pieces could your BIG elephant be broken down into?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

What piece needs to happen first? what next, and next, then what?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

Who can support you in getting each of the pieces done?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

What's your first step? when will you do it?

Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk...

Get the idea?

If it's BIG and important to get done then Chunk it down baby, chunk it down!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Bottom Line

During his life on earth Jesus worked for our salvation, yours and mine. 

He died an agonizing death on the cross so that every single one of our sins would be forgiven by God, and so that we have the chance to live forever.

Jesus is at work today, he speaks on our behalf to God.

He invites us to accept his offer of salvation and join him in his Work of Love by letting others know. It's a choice each one of us make.

There has never been and will never be a greater example of Love at Work than Jesus.

There is no greater reason for Joy.

Sunday Rest

"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said"
Matthew 28:6

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bunny @ Work!

Once upon a time, in a land far far away from here, there lived the President of a huge company with branches across the globe. The President spent much of his time traveling around the world attending big and important events and meeting lots of interesting people. Every year The President would attend The Biggest Meeting where he would make speeches and everyone from near and far would gather to hear the glad tidings of great joy. One year at such an event The President made a big speech wearing a bunny costume. The speech went very well, people laughed and clapped and listened.

And when it was over the bunny costume sat in a closet, lonely and unloved.

Until one day when The President was doing his annual spring clean and decided the bunny costume had to go, but it would be sad to throw it away; so The President looked near and far across all the world to find a suitable home for the bunny costume...AND HE CHOSE ME!!

Of course I was a good candidate having worn a vast array of bunny ears and other festive headbands for many years, often whilst facilitating important meetings that The President had attended, but Oh The JOY! My very own Easter Bunny costume :-)

Now, many years later I still LOVE to wear my bunny costume, typically it gets its airing at Easter and in all kinds of weather The Easter Bunny is a hit with everyone...

Easter Bunny with Carrie Bou (she loves chocolate eggs with a little caffeinated kick!)
Easter Bunny with Little Miss A (she LOVES pink chocolate eggs!)

Easter Bunny with her BFF@W Barrrrrb Bunny

Being the Easter Bunny is SUCH a treat - especially if you have a basket of the finest Cadburys chocolate eggs with you! People's faces just light up, they say all kinds of funny things and actually smile real smiles. It's AMAZING to me how much Joy you can spread in a bunny costume!

I LOVE being the Easter Bunny. I LOVE being the Easter Bunny at Work, at Target, at Restaurants (Yeah Jen & Miss A!), at the Pub (lovely to see you Pimp and Rocket!) it's ALL good :-)

And finally I know the question you are longing to ask... If the devil wears Prada what kind of shoes does the Easter Bunny wear???
...she wears Asics!

Happy Easter Y'all

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fun @ work...tee hee hee hee hee hee snort!

Have you ever worked so hard you snorted?
Yep me too!

Sometimes work gets SO hard, pressure gets SO intense and deadlines get SO fast - all you can do is laugh till you snort. After all, what is a good laugh without a snort?

There's something cathartic and refreshing about fun @ work; as the legendary English Nanny Mary Poppins once said 'a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down' and isn't that the truth for helping us get through work days that are hard and seemingly never ending?

The idea of fun @ work isn't new; in medieval times Court Jesters played a vital role in the life of European monarchs, they were fools, tension lifters and truth tellers - because especially in those times when life was cheap, the stress could become unbearable if not lightened, sweetened or delivered with a giggle or a snort!

Of course the folks we work with make all the difference to our fun @ work. At 'The Greatest Coffee Company in the World' where I'm blessed to work, we have a FINE crop of funsters; from the quiet, mischievous ones to the louder more extraverted varietals - we know how to have a good time and that having a good time is OK.

I've worked in other environments where fun wasn't encouraged, but instead was viewed as time wasting, trivial and distracting. Big mistake. No, HUGE mistake.

Fun @ work builds bridges of trust and respect that logic can never match. It reveals character and ingenuity that powerpoint can't hope to portray and helps us demonstrate our humanity and connectedness in a way that no personality profile, team building exercise or intervention will ever hold a candle to. Quite simply fun @ work is good!

And don't get me started on the impact of fun @ work on productivity, creativity and problem solving. When we have fun @ work we immediately enter the realm of possibility and 'other-ness', even for a short time we exit our work-constraints and instead push back the boundaries of our minds to make way for more of the ridiculous. These very acts of 'exiting and pushing back' are the little windows through which imagination and innovation can enter the scene, and enter they will if we let them.

So when did you last have SO much fun @ work you snorted?

Is today your time?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Rest

"Hosanna to the Son of David"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"
"Hosanna in the highest"
Matthew 2:9

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Today whilst walking Tipsy-sausage around Lake Calhoun in January temperatures, we kept coming across people picking up litter and putting it in distinctive yellow bags.

These folks looked like fairly normal - albeit freezing cold - types, but they had turned up on the kind of Saturday that would make most folks hit the snooze buttons to do something that most people wouldn't even notice because it mattered to them. I LOVE that.

Volunteers are an unusual breed. They are fueled by something you often can't see, they pour pour enormous amounts of time, energy and sometimes cold hard cash into the object of their devotion and many times are virtually un-stopable.

Many volunteers get involved because a cause suddenly affects them or someone they love. That was certainly the case with me when my Aunt Audrey contracted breast cancer and so I formed a team 'The Wild Women' and we walked sixty miles in three days to raise money for breast cancer research. It was hard work, but we felt we were making a difference and $23,000 later we knew we had.

But all along the sixty mile walk there were hundreds and perhaps even thousands of others who cheered us, fed & watered us, lanced and bandaged our blisters and did many other unglamorous and overlooked jobs. Just so the show could stay on the road.

As many of you will know I'm not one for routine, to get even the simplest of things done routinely is a huge challenge to me, so the volunteers I most admire are the ones that show up at nursing homes, at homeless shelters, at animal rescue centers, at kids sports activities - EVERY WEEK or WHENEVER THEY ARE NEEDED. They can be counted on week in and week out to be there and volunteer when I am 'out at happy hour' or 'up north at the cabin'. I heart serial volunteers.

I feel very blessed to have come from a family of volunteers, we have various branches including the 'IT service desk', the 'Organization (of anything) center', the 'Looking after old people squad' and last but not least 'Cupcake central'.

Whatever your gift or talent, I know others will be blessed if you volunteer it.

HUG a volunteer TODAY!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tipsy-Sausage got a job!!

Meet Tipsy-Sausage.

Today Tipsy is 7lbs of pure, delightfully stubborn Dachshund joy and we've been together since last July when I adopted her from Underdog Rescue. They are heroes who liberated Tipsy from a puppy mill, where at the age of two and at that point weighing barely 5lbs, she had already given birth to two litters of puppies.

Tipsy-Sausage is a great little dog, she's friendly, outgoing, smart and generally cheerful but she does have some residual puppy mill scars like being terribly afraid of men, having a huge aversion to her crate and barking when she's afraid or when her world is even slightly disrupted. These things aren't huge problems but they are annoying and I've been trying to read as much as I can and learn from others who have successfully got their own rescue dogs through similar issues. So far, not much progress :-(

Until I started reading The Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan's book 'Cesar's Way'
which seems to intuitively make sense to me. He talks about the fact that animals and humans share an important connective tissue - energy. We all have different levels of energy and we sense energy levels in others. Cesar tells me that my job as a responsible dog owner is to ensure that my energy is calm-assertive, which in turn will lead Tipsy's to be calm-responsive.

Cesar also points out that WORK which depletes energy is important especially for young dogs like Tipsy. She & I have always had one or two walks a day, but now I'm learning that walking with me is WORK for Tipsy, it's her JOB to walk beside or behind me and do the right thing - not sniffing around, wriggling in smelly things and chasing every squirrel that crosses our path! Instead she must be singularly focused on her job of walking with me. After that we can play, she can sniff and wriggle to her heart's content. But her job at least three times a day is to walk and walk well.

So we're on day two and a number of interesting things have happened already:
1. She's already adjusted her stride to walk beside me (she used to be waaaaay out in front!)
2. She's started eating immediately upon her return to the house (she has always been indifferent about food)
3. She didn't pee or poop in her crate yesterday (highly unusual)
4. She slept through the night (we didn't have to come downstairs for a pee at 2pm in the morning)
I consider all of this GREAT progress :-)

Cesar also says that dogs love to carry things especially in backpacks as they consider this WORK too! I'm going to check with my vet to see if that's OK for Tipsy's delicate sausage-dog spine but I think it would be great to get her a little working pack that she wears when we do our work-walks!

You just have to look at Tipsy when she's walking to see that she loves it, her ears are back, her tail is up and wagging and often her mouth is a little open in a sausage-smile! They say dogs and their owners are similar and she's obviously a joyous worker who loves what she does!
Now if only we could just get her paid...!

PS. If you want to come and see Tipsy-sausage WALK! We're doing the Humane Society Walk for Animals on 30th April in Golden Valley, and we'd LOVE to see you! Click here for details. our team name is 'Tipsy's Trotters!'

Monday, April 11, 2011

Transformation and a Life's Work of Joy & Love

Happy Monday Joy, Love & Workers!

I hope you all had a lovely springy weekend :-)

My weekend was filled with all kinds of things that started me thinking about transformation. The first thing was a charity walk on Saturday in support of Alexandra House, a shelter for battered women in Blaine. We walked alongside harrowing stories of everyday folks whose lives have been forever transformed by the presence of someone whose purpose was to harm and destroy; who used cruelty rather than kindness, inflicted pain instead of comfort and ultimately who took a precious life. It was horrific.

I can't imagine what it's like to be a victim of this kind of abuse but I'm told that the transformation in the victim is astounding. From outgoing to reserved, from cheerful to depressed and from trusting to terrified. It breaks my heart.

I'm always so amazed by the work that staff at places like Alexandra House do in the world, the positive transformations they make in the lives of hurting and broken people and their families. If the presence of earthly angels is ever questioned, I'd wager that a high proportion of them would be found there.

On Saturday we heard from an impassioned Mother and Grandmother who lost her twenty two year old Daughter at the hands of an obsessed killer. This amazing woman's life work is to share with other teenagers the truth about the dangers of abusive relationships; time and time again she stands up and tells her dreadful story in order that others may be alerted to these dangers and make different choices or get the help they need. I cannot imagine the toll it takes each time she tells the story, but she does it over and over again.

It's her work of Joy and Love in memory of her Daughter and I for one am humbled by her work.

My other big transforming moment happened overnight on Saturday, we had all gone to bed with the surrounding landscape looking bleak as befits grass that has been snow covered for many months, but overnight a huge storm blew in featuring thunder & lightening, wind and RAIN, lots of rain!

In the morning the transformation was amazing, it's was like someone had taken a paintbrush and just painted green on every patch of grass. What an amazing transformation.

I know my transformational experiences this weekend were linked, I need to noodle exactly how that might be the case but I don't believe in coincidences, just God-instances; I see him at work and am so very thankful.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Springy Wordle

Click on the delightful word cloud above left and get a whole week of Joy, Love and Work in s single literary lump!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Waxing lyrical about Friday :-)

Friday is most certainly the greatest of days.
The reasons it’s great are too many to say.
But with that said, I’ll try to explain
Why Friday is better than a day without rain.

You see on Friday, you can work with a smile.
You need only work, for a little while.
For the weekend is near and then you can play.
Much fun to be brought by the most generous of days.

And generous it is, as morning treats can attest.
The cream filled donuts are definitely the best.
But don’t dare forget, the bagels are good too.
If there’s none in your office, that’s too bad for you.

Friday isn’t all treats and happy things.
There is but one obstacle the day does bring.
And that, my friend, is the slowing of time.
But if you can bare it, you’ll do just fine.

So join with me and laugh and cheer.
The work week’s end is drawing near.
Join with me and praise this day.
I’ve said what I’ve said, and I’ve nothing more to say.

(Author unknown but much admired!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Already Know How To Be Great

This is the title of a new bestselling book (wooo hoooo!) written by a Buddy of mine Alan Fine.

Alan started life in Wales (which explains a lot!) as a tennis coach, whilst coaching he realized that often the stuff he was telling people to do was making their performance worse nor better, as it created 'interference' which literally got in the way of them playing good tennis.

After many years of research working with athletes and business people alike, Alan discovered that the key to breakthrough performance in work and life is to reduce interference and enable people to use what they already know as opposed to keep throwing new stuff at them. Hence the title of the book :-)

There's something so intuitive and so right about Alan's message. It liberates us from the feeling that "I'm not good enough" and "what I need to be better is to learn new stuff" and instead says "I AM good enough, now let me remove the barriers that get in the way of me being my very best and let's see what can happen"

I don't know about you but I've learned a lot in my forty-plus years, some of it I've completely forgotten already but some of it is in constant use. Wouldn't it be incredible if we could get a good return on everything we've learned so far in our lives by actually applying it rather than let it just sit in our heads taking up space?

I thoroughly recommend this book to you; it's full of stories, practical advice and wisdom about how to access 'What We Already Know' in the pursuit of Greatness. Also click here for Alan's blog and see the link to his website on the left under the 'Really Useful People' tab.

Let's use What We already Know About Being Great to bring more Joy and Love to our Work and lives :-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring has sprung...

The grass is ris'
I wonder where the birdies is?

This is one of my Mum's classic poems which always appears around this time of year, I know it has additional lines but the first two are enough for me!

Is it just me or does anyone else notice a completely different feeling about spring to any other time of the year; it just seems so blooming hopeful and energetic!

Even the birdies seem perkier in the spring, they make much more noise and get going a lot earlier each day.

Of course spring brings with it all kinds of work including the big garden clean-up, raking all those leaves that should have been raked up last autumn but the snow came too fast, cleaning out the gutters, cutting back plants that look unruly and in my case spraying every energetic little green shoot with 'Deer Off' to prevent the hoards of killer bunnies from devouring every single living thing in the garden!

It's do great to be back outside in the fresh air after the six month winter we just had, to feel the sun on your face, smell the lovely spring smells of the garden coming back to life and getting hands in the dirt once more.

Woooo Hooooo I feel like leaping in the air too!

What's your favorite sign of spring?

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool-ish!

HURRAH we're here at last! my favorite month of the year APRIL (my birthday month) I Love everything about April, and this year I Love it even more because it features this both Easter - HE IS RISEN! and the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton - Woooo Hoooo!

As a person who believes life should be full of JOY, Love & Work I'm also a BIG fan of April fools day; I mean what a great idea to have a day devoted to being a bit foolish, letting go of the ultra-serious and raising a little laugh or two. I LOVE IT!

Click on this link for some GREAT April foolery.

The origins of April Fools Day are murky but the latest thought is that it began around 1582 in France and revolved around calendar reform to the Gregorian calendar which has it's New Years Day on January 1st as opposed to the previous calendar which had New Years day on April 1st. Communication in those days was slow and many refused to believe the calendar had changed and thus were labelled 'April Fools!'

For me April Fools Day often features dressing up - because I Love dressing up (once a fashion student always a fashion student!) One of my favorite April Fools Day was the arrival of the Easter Bunny at work - I attended meetings, ate in the cafeteria and worked all day in my Bunny Suit in fact after work I went to meet a friend at a restaurant, but she forgot the date so I was a bounced Easter bunny!

Life is short, some of it is hard, serious and frankly rather unpleasant - so what will YOU do to raise a smile this April Fools Day?

Woooo Hooooo!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The stuff that drives me CRAZY!

Yesterday was unusual, as many of you know I'm not one for details but yesterday it seemed many of them caught up with me. First I lost my work blackberry, then at lunchtime whilst letting the dog out I lost my house and car keys for 50 minutes and had to be rescued by my neighbor, subsequently I missed a lunch meeting with an old friend and new contact, and finally a simple wire transfer to the UK took almost an hour to complete.

I have to say Joy and Love appeared to have deserted me yesterday, I was grumpy, cross and really wanted to get back to Work but events just conspired to make that not happen.

I'm hoping today's going to be better and just had to share this fabulous song by Francesca Battistelli; clearly I'm not alone in having these kind of days!

What drives YOU crazy?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Cake Crusader

I've always loved cake! The picture above is of my brother Paul & me at his third birthday party, I was about about eighteen months at the time but already you can see my keen interest in baked goods and had you been able to hear what I was thinking it would probably been along the lines of "hmmm I wonder what size icing nozzle she used? How does she get her royal icing so smooth?!!"

My Mum is a great baker. She always baked on a Friday for the weekend (Sunday afternoon tea is BIG at the Smithies!) so every week we would have a different variety of yumminess - victoria sandwich, madeira, flapjack, scones, fruitcake - you name it we had it - yum scrum delicious!

Mum was always great about letting us help in the kitchen, she was very encouraging about experimentation and would always be there to help, assist and clear up. It was a terrible shock when I moved out of home to find that house elves only exist in the world of Harry Potter, you do actually have to do your own washing up and it IS possible to run out of utensils at the crucial moment if you don't clear up as you go!

My baking isn't as good as Mum's but my thing is cake decorating; I just love, love, love to make surprise or celebration cakes that make people's hearts sing! And this is where the Cake Crusader comes in, the Cake Crusader is my alter ego (I think thats a nice way of saying I have multiple personalities!)
I can't remember exactly where he or she came from but remember drawing the little logo with my fabulous sister in law Rache, and it's never changed.

The Cake Crusader's motto is...

"Because everyone needs a baked super-hero!"

...and I think that's true.

One of my biggest joys is to come up with a 'cunning plan' for a cake I know someone I love will love!

It could be Marcie & Jude's 50 carrot birthday cake....

Kev's groovy rock & roll guitar...

or Rachie's 40th chocolate explosion

for me 'Cake Crusading' one of the purest forms of Joy, Love and Work...and I LOVE it!

People often tell me I should start a bakery or do this professionally and I think that's very flattering but I don't agree. The whole magic of Cake Crusading is to create something extraordinary for someone I Love; I've tried making cakes for people I don't know but it just becomes a chore...and of course you're less likely to get invited to the party to share in the yumminess!

Have a sweet day!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Rest

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. 
His faithful promises are your armor and protection"
Psalm 91:4

Saturday, March 26, 2011

4th Birthday Wordle

This week to celebrate my little friend Audrey's 4th Birthday our wordle (above left) is wearing her favorite colors - pinkalicious and purplelicious!

Happy Birthday Auders with Joy & Love from me and puppy kisses from Tipsy-sausage

Friday, March 25, 2011


Meet 'Panic Pete' my new best friend at work, generously donated by the lovely, sweet and talented Stephanie :-)

Panic Pete is bloomin' hilarious to be around, he looks like a mild mannered little pet toy but when you apply a little gentle pressure to his tummy his eyes, ears and nose literally jump out of his head. As I mentioned, he is hilarious, but then again I'm easily amused! 

I'm sure Panic Pete has many deep meaningful things to share with me about Joy, Love and Work, but right now he brings me JOY just to look at him, I LOVE how weird he is under pressure and he makes my already fabulous WORK even fabulouser (!) just by being around!

What brings Joy and Love to the work you do?

Have a GREAT weekend y'all and whatever you do DON'T PANIC!