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!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Assassins of Joy: UNDER-GIVING

Morning Chaps!

Today let's start with a word of wisdom from an extraordinary 14 year old... 

"No one has ever become poor by giving."
Anne Frank
What amazing insight.

Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you give? whether it's time, money, attention, love, care, whatever currency we choose the internal rate of return is enormous, it's almost as though there is a unique dividend we can only earn from giving generously, nothing else quite matches up to the joy of giving - this might be why Christmas is such a great time of year.

Often when we think about giving we limit our thoughts to money, and indeed many of us are fortunate enough to be able to share financially, but that's not the only way to give. Everything we have ownership and accountability for is something we could give away; we could use it to bless others and bring joy.

Today's society often stresses security in favor of giving, that we must save, set-aside, protect and insulate, and I believe those things are all somewhat important. But even after we've made adequate provision for the future I bet we still have plenty left over that we could share with others.

The Bible tells us that "God loves a cheerful giver" and something about this makes me smile, because from what I've seen of people who are serious about giving, the more they give the more joyful they are; miserable folks tend to not give much and burn themselves out in no time at all!

So as an easy remedy for a lack of joy I suggest a quick dose of giving. To sustain joy over time give regularly and to experience tremendous joy become a tremendous giver! I mean, what's the worse that could happen - the creator and sustainer of the universe would fail to provide for you whilst you provide for others? No, Anne Frank didn't think so and neither do I.

Lets go give and be cheerful!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wooo Hoooo!

Today we've reached 2,000 Joy, Love and Work pageviews and viewers from 20 different countries!

So a big 'Halloooooooooo' to everyone in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Mexico, Belgium, Vietnam, Netherlands, Brazil, France, China, Hungary, Philippines, Russia, India, Slovakia, Malaysia, Israel and Indonesia!

It's GREAT to have you here! Get your white shoes on and Let's celebrate!

Assassins of Joy: COMPARISON

Morning Fabulous Folk!

WARNING! Stay away from the Joneses; keeping up with them is a surefire joy stealer!

What is so alluring about comparing ourselves with others? They have a bigger house, she's smarter, he's more athletic, they cook better, she's thinner, he's got a better lawn, they've just bought the newer version of my phone, she got a bigger tax return, he drives a faster car...THAN ME...Oh Woe Is Me. Poor Me :-(

So why, oh why, oh why, oh why, do we do this to ourselves?

1. Is it fun? No
2. Does it make us feel better? Often not
3. Does it help others? No
4. Is it productive? No

Regardless of all the above, comparing ourselves to others is a national, cultural and perhaps even a human pastime. Comparison is generally played in a 'northerly direction' meaning we look UP towards people who we perceive have more, do better, and generally inhabit the life we want.

'Southerly facing' comparison where we look DOWN on others who have less than us is much less common, because heaven forbid we should actually find out that we are comparatively affluent, healthy, smart and well blessed! Whatever would we have to complain about then?

Comparison starts early when we're compared with other babies in terms of our ability to grow sprout teeth, grow hair, walk, play nicely with others; it continues all through kindergarden, school, college, work and permeates every facet of life. Advertising is based on comparison, reality TV is based on comparison, it's pervasive and it's not healthy.

Joy is a gift of the moment. It can't be planned for, scheduled or allocated - it just shows up, you have to be present to experience joy. Comparison by its very nature makes us leave the present behind and instead focus on what could be, what might have been and what won't be. In order to compare ourselves with others we have to leave the present which is where joy hangs out.

Comparison is also a breeding ground for things like envy, obsession, greed, destructive competition and other socially isolating traits.

So let's not do it.

Today let's try and focus on the present and seek out JOY, if we find ourselves comparing in a 'northerly direction' lets immediately flip it and look at the 'southerly direction' too; how could we help others who don't have it as good as we do?

Let's be all that God created us to be today, knowing that who we are, where we are and what we have is enough. And that's all there is to it.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Daily dose of Joy, Love and Work delivered DIRECT to your inbox!

Woooo Hooooo!

By the marvels of modern technology it's now possible to get Joy, Love and Work delivered direct to your inbox! Isn't that what you've always dreamed of? That perpetually perky, helplessly hopeful little voice to start your day off right :-)

Just enter your e-mail address into the space on the left that cunningly says "Follow by Email" hit the submit button and et voila! you'll never miss another post...until you unsubscribe at which time you'll miss them all!

Keep joyful y'all :-)

Assassins of Joy: FEAR

Morning all :-)

I decided to take a completely different tack today and have a look at one of the things that stands in the way of joy (love & work) FEAR...arghhhhhhhh!

Fear comes in all shapes and sizes from mild worry to wild panic, sometimes it's predictable and other times it just creeps up on us unannounced, either way it's usually no fun and is an assassin of joy. Where fear is present joy is absent.
Fear has some peculiarly debilitating physical effects, dryness of mouth and loss for words, mental fog, shortness of breath, and sometimes a heaviness of limbs. It's difficult to be joyful when fear is around.

But what is fear?

I heard an explanation once that explained it like this. Fear is...
F alse 
E xpectations
A ppearing
R eal

I like that. From my own experience I know that my fear level often rises when I have less than complete information or when I'm speculating about what could happen in a future situation. Nine times out of ten the reality is never as bad as I'd feared.

So what do we do about fear? how can we lose the fear and gain more JOY? Here are a few ideas
1. Work out what's true and focus on it (what we know for sure)
2. Work out what's false and let it go (what we know isn't true
3. Work out what we don't know and commit to find answers (what we are unclear about)

If we commit to work with the truth, let go of what's not true and search for answers about what we don't know, hopefully this will keep us grounded in the present rather than the future or past, which is the only place we can actually do anything with anyway.

So where are the joy-less bits of your day today? are they joy-less because of fear? what are you going to do about that?

Banish fear & live JOY-FULL-Y today!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Rest

It's a sausage-dog's life!

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

If a picture paints a thousand words...

...how many does a wordle paint?

Click above left for the answer and see Jennifer flying high over this week's wordle!

Happy Saturday y'all!

Friday, March 18, 2011

All that glitters...

...is not gold!

Last night this came true before my very eyes as my fabulous friend Jennifer transformed from her usual smart, high energy, well put together self into an amazing glittery joy giving machine!

Let me explain... a few weeks ago I confessed my weakness for Stella and Dot jewelry, well this weakness is in large part attributable to Jennifer, who caught the bug earlier than me and has been going rapidly uphill ever since!

I met Jennifer about nine years ago when we worked together in the HR team of a large global hotel company, we had SO much fun together, did great work and from early on realized that we were kindred spirits, born on two different continents to two different sets of parents but definitely sisters at heart.

Jennifer's career has gone from strength to strength ever since, she worked at a wonderful stylish furniture company and now juggles being a wife & mummy with a successful role as an HR consultant, professional coach and an active Church volunteer. She's busy!

But even in the midst of all of that busyness, the siren call of Stella and Dot Jewels was something she could resist no longer! After two years of loving them from afar she finally took the plunge, became a Stella & Dot Stylist and last night I was privileged to host her inaugural trunk show at my home :-)

Have you ever watched anyone who is REALLY good at what they do? Their work seems effortless, they speak in ways you may never have heard them speak before, their actions become very deliberate but with no wasted effort and they constantly innovate without appearing to struggle. This was the Jennifer I saw last night. She was poetry in motion.

Now remember I've seen Jennifer work for many years doing things she's very successful at, but I've never seen her sparkle and glitter as much as she did last night - it was just awesome to behold.

I have no doubt in my mind that Jennifer has found work that's perfectly designed for her talents, skills and passions, work she LOVES and will be very successful at. Her love of this new work brings JOY to others as they experience Stella and Dot magic with a unique Jennifer twist!

My prayer today and always is that YOU are in a place perfectly designed for your skills, talents and passions; a place you LOVE that brings you and others much JOY.

Ooooh and if you want you want to find out more about Stella and Dot Jewelry and meet Jennifer in person, just click here http://www.stelladot.com/sites/jenallen

Have a FABULOUS Friday y'all

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Great expectations...or not?

Haloooooo Joy, Love and Work-ers!

I had an interesting chat with my buddy D-Mac yesterday about expectations. D-Mac is a very successful business owner, speaker, philanthropist and all-round nice bloke whose comment was that he often sets expectations low so he won't be disappointed.

I have to say I was a bit taken aback, because I expected him (ha ha) to say something very different.

I know from my own experience that expectations shape and drive performance in all areas of life and it starts early with stories like The Little Train That Could' his mantra was "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." and we all know what happened after that (click here if you don't!)

I've also noticed that people's expectations of me definitely influence my results. I once worked for a leader who thought I was hopeless and wasn't afraid to share his opinion with me and others; the result on my performance was terrible, my typically confident and optimistic attitude was replaced by fear and second guessing. It was a horrible situation to be in.

Thankfully my next leader realized I was a 'hurting unit' and helped me restore my former confidence and optimism by holding higher expectations of me than I had of myself, he was the one saying "I think you can, I think you can, I think you can" and as if by magic - I did!

Having said this, I think I know what D-Mac was saying. Yes we need to have high expectations for ourselves, and Yes we need to have high expectations of the people we love, care for and work with because our attitude directly affects performance - ours and theirs, BUT if we can't directly influence somebody or something (like an organization, airline company or even the weather!) we need to temper our expectations and base them on actual performance vs. how we think they 'should be' - because should-ing on ourselves or others is never helpful! (source: the fabulous Sue Gordon)

D-Mac said I should write a blog about our conversation, I said I wouldn't and of course here it is!

Have a GREAT day y'all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

When everything falls apart...

...what can we do?

Last week's devastating earthquake & tsunami in Japan has left us all in a state of shock, that such destruction can happen so quickly over such an enormous area, we're speechless.

At times like this many ask the question 'why' and I think that's part of being human to want to know why tragedy happens. People have been asking the question forever and as yet I see no good answer, but I also don't have a good answer as to why I am so richly blessed, why me and you who will read this blog are some of the most fortunate people in the whole of the worlds history in terms of wealth, health, life expectancy and leisure. But I do know who has the answers.

Also at times like this we're at a loss for what we can do to help so many miles away but trust me, there is plenty of joyful work for us to do to show our love for the people of Japan and other areas affected by this terrible disaster. The work isn't hard but it does take effort, thought and commitment, are we ready for it?

1. We can pray...
  • For the injured, homeless, grieving people we can pray for healing, hope, shelter and comfort
  • For the emergency rescue services, armed forces, medical professionals and others coming to their aid we can pray for strength, wisdom, compassion, discernment and protection
  • For governments and aid agencies we can pray for wisdom, compassion, discernment, collaboration and decisiveness
  • For the rest of the world as we look on we can pray for compassion, generosity and unceasing prayer
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" 
1 John 5:14-15

2. We can give to reputable relief organizations such as...
      (Above are links to the Japanese Earthquake relief donation sites)
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:6-7

3. We can promise to not forget...

'Compassion fatigue' is something that we all susceptible to; there are so many needy causes, so many good things we could do with our prayers, money and time. Who will be there for the people of Japan when the earthquake and tsunami are no longer big news? Will it be us?
"All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor..."
Galatians 2:20

I don't know why everything fell apart for the people affected by the events in Japan or anywhere else where tragedy strikes whether at home or far away. What I DO know is that I have a God who listens to my prayers and promises to hear and answer them. I have money, time and resources to help those in need and to quote Bob Pearce the founder of World Vision I too have a desire to "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God" and to bless others as a result.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sunday Rest

...is spring break calling your name?

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, 
the name of the LORD is to be praised"

Psalm 113:3

Friday, March 11, 2011

a wordle to the wise!

Happy Saturday Fabulous Folks

The wordle-of-the-week is looking good - click on the word cloud above left to see it in all it's glory!

Have a WONDERFUL weekend


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keeping score

Morning Joy, Love and Work-ers - Happy Thursday!

Yesterday I was teaching a leadership class in Cleveland and one of the topics we were focused on was measurement of things that are really important and how we keep score.

As homework from a previous class, the participants had prepared fabulous scorecards which we displayed in our scorecard gallery, there were smiley faces, stars, thermometers, traffic lights, you name it and we had it there!

One of the big ah-ha's we had as we were reviewing the gallery is that even though some of the scorecards were very complex and sophisticated, the ones we were drawn to were much more simple and often were humorous too; one scorecard was titled "Are We There Yet?" which made us all chuckle!

Thinking about joy, love and work (as I do!) I feel that keeping score is important, how do we know if our work is making a difference? how do we know if we're getting better? do we love our work more or less? how much joy are we having or creating for others along the way?

These are questions I was wrestling with between 2-4am this morning, so I'm thinking that today's class might be slightly more muted than yesterdays!

How do you keep score? And what are you keeping score of?

Have a GREAT day :-)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Crush!

Morning Joy, Love and Work-ers!

Yesterday I had an EXTRAORDINARY experience at the hands of Southwest Airlines, for me it was life changing and hopefully will be future flight-changing too; I may never subject myself to the ‘D’ word ever again – life is too short - and that makes me super-happy!

I knew things were different with Southwest from across the check-in concourse, their lovely simple wings logo with a heart in the middle is really very appealing. Getting closer to the check-in desk I noticed they have free Hershey’s kisses AND smiling staff; the wonders continued during the boarding process which I was a little worried about as there are no assigned seats; but to my amazement an orderly queue formed, the calm passengers and calm ground crew laughed and joked with each other as boarding took place and we all arrived in our seats relaxed and smiling – WOW!

The in-flight experience was good too, cabin craft were funny, relaxed and attentive; the plane itself was new and the in-flight magazine was well written and full of good stuff. Then I did some work :-)

Landing was HILARIOUS, as soon as we touched down the lead flight bloke commentated as if he was a cowboy steadying a galloping horse “Whoa there horsey” he then proceeded his commentary with his ‘plane-horse’ all the way to the terminal with promises of “nice warm hay in the hanger, carrots in the fuel tank and a swift rub-down by a powerfully built Southwest mechanic!” It was REALLY funny and the whole plane was laughing!
From a business perspective I have studied Southwest,  I've used Southwest as an example to teach about great leadership and guest service and have had the great good fortune of working with some of their most experienced and highly tenured advisors, but I had never flown with them and truly it was everything I could have imagined and more.

The intoxicating combination of love, work and joy can be seen, smelt, touched and tasted on Southwest Airlines, what a privilege to see the magic come to life :-)

So there it is, the secret's out my new crush is Southwest Airlines - who are your company/work/brand-crushes?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Psssst! Pass it on...

Morning Joy Love and Work-ers - Happy Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or as we Brits like to call it 'Pancake Day'!

I had an interesting revelation on the way to work yesterday, I was listening to KTIS our local Christian radio station and they were talking about the Drive Through Difference a program they encourage where on the first friday of each month their listeners to do something unexpectedly nice for a stranger like pay for the car behind them at the drive-thru, or the person next in line at the gas (petrol) station.

When this happens, the fortunate recipient is given a little card telling them about KTIS and asking them to call in and tell of their experience. Some of the calls are breathtaking, people who are so down, so discouraged and so burdened with life get a little glimpse of God's goodness through someone else and all of a sudden they feel their burden lifted, discouragement & depression banished if only for a little while.

It seems to me that the Drive Through Difference is really Joy, Love and Work in action...
Firstly someone takes the initiative to "do something differently" WORK
By doing something differently they demonstrate LOVE
And the net result is JOY!

I love that :-)

So why don't we celebrate Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Pancake day a little differently this year by putting our Work & Love into action and see how much JOY we can create?

Wooooo Hooooooo! Let me know how it goes :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Go for it!

Morning Joy, Love and Work-ers! Happy Monday :-)

Yesterday I got home from a WONDERFUL vacation in Alabama, a fabulous escape from the frozen tundra and I'm even more convinced that spring will eventually come!

So we're back at Monday again, the beginning of a new work week for some, a continuation of the work life for others and for pastors & priests, a well deserved day off!

Whatever Monday is for you, I encourage you to 'Go For It' with all that you have today, really show Monday what you are made of and then some! Why do I say this? well it has to do with the feeling you get after accomplishing something really big or doing something really well; that feeling of exhilaration and peace that says 'I did the very best I could and tonight I'll sleep soundly knowing that was the case.'
Some folks think this kind of feeling is reserved only for exercise and physical exertion and whilst those endorphins definitely give you that wonderful rush of well being, they are not exclusively reserved for the physical field. What about getting an endorphin rush from our work? now there's a thought.

So today let's really take the lid off, let's make a plan and then go full throttle, all guns blazing, up-an'-at-em, and let us know what happens, I know we're going to have some great results and stories to share.

Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines please....

And they're off!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

True joy

"This is the true joy in life: The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live,it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die - for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for it's own sake. 
Life is no "brief candle" to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

George Bernard Shaw

How brightly are you burning?

Friday, March 4, 2011


"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." 

Proverbs 15:30

How are you feeling?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


"Joy is the feeling of grinning inside"

Melba Colgrove

Are you grinning on the inside?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


"The LORD is my strength and my shield;  my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. 
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."
Psalm 28:7

When did you last LEAP for joy?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Joy! Joy! Joy!

Welcome to March Fabulous Folk!

It's the first day of a brand new month and the last day of work for me until next week - Yipeeeeee! I'm off for a little trip to the coast of Alabama to escape the frozen tundra and soak in some rays for a few days with some of my favorite peeps. What a JOY!

I'm a big fan of JOY.

It's one of those things that starts deep in your soul and radiates all the way through until it gets to the outside. Joy is often confused with happiness but to me they are very different. Happiness seems to be all about what's going on on the outside, whereas the key to joy is that it's always a choice. You can have a good shot at making someone happy - in my case a well administered dose of chocolate would do the trick! - but you can't make them joyful; joy is a chosen, it's a significant commitment and a very distinct way of showing up in the world.

Don't get me wrong, there's a whole lot that's good about happiness, it's definitely better than many other emotional states! But happiness is reliant on circumstance, comfort and pleasure, joy isn't.

One of my all time favorite Bible verses says this...

"Be Joyful always, pray continually and in all circumstances give thanks,
fo this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ"
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What a wonderful invitation! God wouldn't have made it if we weren't able to achieve it, but I wonder how seriously we take it? And what would happen if we did? If we chose to be joyful, stay in close contact with God in prayer and always being appreciative - how would our lives and the lives of those around us be transformed?

Over the next few days I'm going to leave you with a daily dose of JOY to hopefully lift up your spirits and send you soaring! I'll do it in words and pictures and would LOVE it if you would add your comments about what's bringing you JOY! 

Have a positively JOYOUS day :-)