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???
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 :-)
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.
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!
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?