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Put The Roller Down

I’ve heard a lot of disrespectful conversations lately. From the evening news to the high school parking lot, there is no shortage of people who do not like the way others are doing their jobs and who are very vocal about it.

Fullscreencapture923201092157PM1-580x360Almost 30 years ago I was working with a mentor who called me up and  fired me. She didn’t think I was taking the mentorship seriously enough. I did not put the phone down before calling someone else to mentor me. I am forever grateful to Sharon Andrews for not only answering her phone when I called but for agreeing to take me on.  Sharon was a very active woman and I knew I could learn a lot from her. The lesson that stands out the most vivid for me happened one day while we were painting an office. Sharon was the head of the women volunteers working on our new church building. We had gotten to the point of painting offices. Sharon and I had just finished putting the first coat of paint on the room that would be the staff break room when a gentleman I had never seen before came in and said “You missed a spot.” Sharon handed him her paint roller and said “Go for it”. She winked at me. I put down my roller and we went to lunch. When we had come back the man had found so many spots that he had completely painted the second coat of paint on the whole room!

We had every intention of painting a second coat but because he interjected himself into the situation before we were done several things happened. He unexpectedly found a paint roller in his hand and the authority to fix the situation himself. We were relieved of our task. The room got painted. Sharon taught me a great deal by handing off that paint roller. She knew the goal was to get it painted. She was not locked into painting it herself and was able to delegate it to someone who saw the job needed work. Then she was able to walk away and let him do it.

This week I walked away from a situation. I put my roller down and walked out. I don’t expect this particular room to look any different for my absence. There were plenty of people arguing about how to finish painting it and while leadership was noticeably lacking opinions were not.  I have no doubt the room will be finished. I just don’t need to be there or be part of the process. They are in the middle. I’m sure it will all be fine when they are done.

Thanks, Sharon, for teaching me how to let go. We need to get together for lunch soon.

 

Change Your Day in 3 Easy Steps

How many times have you read this promise? More than you can count, I’m sure. Each writer has a couple of ideas they believe will improve your day if you just follow instructions.

And the reason they keep writing simple steps and the reason people keep reading simple steps is because we think simple is what will fix it.

decision qualityIf the instructions said “The 1,500 things needed to improve your quality of life 10%” you wouldn’t even open the email. Nope. 1,500 is just more than most are willing to commit to. But the truth is every day you make more than 1,500 decisions. Each one has the power to alter not only the course of your life but those you love and even those you do not know.

So here are my “3 Easy Steps”.

1. Be aware of your decision making process.

2. Make the best possible decision with the information and values you have at that moment.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 consistently.

I didn’t promise what kind of changes but it will change your day.

Quick Fix

It started out as a simple mistake. The nail tech filed too much on the side and the plastic tip cracked. Filing it down so it was straight across made the nail 1/4 inch shorter than the same nail on the other hand. Unfortunately the nails were on the hands of a woman who had made up her mind to be deeply offended by the mistake.

false-nails-460x276Sitting two chairs over I had a ring side seat for the facial expressions, the deep sighs, the eye rolling and the squirming that went on for the next half hour. The whole time the tech worked patiently to fix the nail and build it up to the same length as the others. The owner stopped by every 10 minutes to check on the client and the progress. Each time the client rudely told how the tech had screwed up her nail and that it better be fixed to her satisfaction.

As I listened, I felt sorry for the two women holding hands across the workstation from each other. I felt sorry for the patient tech who was able to correct a simple mistake but in order to fix it had to sit within arms length of the one offended.

I felt sorry for the woman who was so worked up over 1/4 inch of plastic finger nail. Even after it was fixed she still was visibly agitated.  What was going on in her heart, mind and life that would cause this kind of behavior over a finger nail? As she paid for her services she informed the owner that she would not be returning. I have to think the owner and the tech were both relieved to hear that.

Fixing the original problem wasn’t really a problem at all. After hearing “It’s your attitude” for the better part of 40 years I finally got it yesterday. I saw it in action. The focus on the offense even after it’s been made whole is more of a problem than the original problem ever was.

So many lessons learned yesterday.

Money and Feet

A wise man once said “People vote with their money and their feet”. I agree with him.

votePutting your money into the people, projects and things that resonate with your values is one of the quickest ways to show your agreement and support. Politicians know donors are more important than registered voters. Kickstarter is based on strangers believing in the vision of others and making them reality. Marketing and Advertising are a multi billion dollar industry built on nothing but creating desire and filling it with the item de jour.

Everyday there are hundred of opportunities to join in or be part of something bigger than yourself. It may be as simple as meeting a friend for a walk or a cup of coffee. It may be sitting by the bed of a sick relative, helpless to change or heal them but simply offering comfort by your presence. It may be standing up for someone or sitting down beside them. It may be lending a hand or picking up a hammer. It may be cheering the one in the arena or it may be stepping onto the battle field yourself.

Everyday your money and your feet go somewhere at your direction. Choose wisely. Your vote matters.

What did you support today?

Who did you support today?

What values did you support today?

What are you going to do tomorrow?

 

Some Assembly Required

Do those words make you shutter?

446f87299cecabd15e216efd4bdf3f56_254920-700xDo you have the patience to assembly an Ikea bookcase?

Have you been training with Legos since you were a child?

If they put all the pieces in a box, give you instructions in pictures and include the only tools you need, can you do it?

Or do you think outside the delivery box?

Do you have a few tools that are old friends, feeling natural in your hand?

Is there a project you envisioned, planned out, gather supplies and created all on your own?

Have you stood by watching a skilled craftsman or the rare master craftsman as they explained the nuance of a technique or the secret of a process?

Everyday we are offered the opportunity to put together lives and people and memories.

Everyday we have the choice to just slap together the bookcase, grab a cold drink and pat ourselves on the back.

Everyday we have the chance to take the time to learn and think and feel and craft for ourselves.

Everyday some assembly is required.

Priority Mail or Slow Boat

Yesterday I mailed three boxes.

uspsThe first box contained a Christmas gift. I purchased the gift in July, wrapped it in September and mailed it in October. I have notified the recipient not to open it when it arrives but to wait until December.

The second box contained a blessing. On Saturday a very colorful garage sale sign caught my eye and I followed the bright arrows. Driving past the address I got a quick look at the merchandise being offered. It looked like it was mostly used clothes. After making a u-turn I was able to pull in front of the garage and see the owner had laid out a king sized sheet to display over sized books. Treasure was waiting and very reasonably priced.  Scooping up four art books and getting change back for a five dollar bill I was on my way again. Fitting nicely in a free USPS Priority Mail box these happy gifts will arrive in a week or so.

The third box contained memories in the form of foot long sections of madrone and olive tree. The Madrone tree was felled on our property in the Santa Cruz mountains. It grew behind the family log cabin and was harvested last year for fire wood. The olive wood was harvested just last week from the tree my husband planted in our back yard for my birthday 5 years ago. The sections are on their way to a master craftsman to be made into custom pens for me. They will be number six and seven in my collection of handcrafted writing instruments.

At the post office counter the patient government employee asked me the standard questions.

“Anything fragile, liquid, hazardous or explosive?”  ”No,” I answered.

“How would you like to send these?” “Slow boat”, I said. “No hurry.”

As he finished weighing and stamping the first box and reached for the second he told me it was cheaper to send it Priority than it would be in a normal category. Surprise treasure can be heavy.

The third box contents shifted as he put it on the scales. But he never questioned it’s size or the odd distribution of weight. Stamped, paid and tossed into the big bin behind the counter the boxes are headed south, east and north.

There are so many options at the post office counter. Priority…Express…2 Day…Next Day…Air Mail…Special Delivery…Insured…Certified…Return Receipt Requested…

The faster the service the more it costs. Having plenty of time or no deadline at all made it less expensive to send these boxes. Do you have time to save money? Or do you pay a premium for last minute transactions?

An old adage says “haste makes waste”. It also costs extra.

 

 

 

Living in Oz

Symbols-of-Virtues

Today I was thinking about the Wizard of Oz. Mainly I was considering what each main character desired and how those desires were already met within themselves. Each one was looking to someone else to give them something they didn’t think they had but desperately wanted. They were willing to face their fears, vanquish their foe and go long distances to satisfy someone else’s plans in search of their hearts desires.

Dorothy’s journey led her full circle to realize the place she was running from was actually where she wanted to be the most.

The scarecrow was already smart but without a diploma he didn’t believe it. How many people have been widely successful without a college degree and how many college grads are deeply in debt flipping burgers, making coffee or running a photocopy machine?

The Lion was brave but without the acknowledgement of someone else didn’t trust his strength was real. If we wait for someone else to give us a medal or to recognize our courage how many battles will we loose? How many rotten apples will be thrown at us before we learn how to roar?

The heart of Tin Man rested in the praise of others. The Wizard gave him a testimonial. Other people’s words opened him up to risk having his heart broken but he felt it was worth it. Do you wait for other people’s words of acclaim and praise before risking being generous or loving again? Do you feel it is worth the risk?

It seems like everyone was looking for something from someone outside themselves to see they already had it all along. “Oz never did give nothing to the Tinman….”

 

Due Diligence

Due-DiligenceThere is an old adage about looking before you leap. In this era of information overload and quick access it hold even more true than ever. How many of your friends, because I’m sure you would never do this, post alarmist reports or warnings without checking the facts?

Before offering advice or jumping to conclusions, how much research or just old fashioned listening do you do?

Are your words considered and ponder or do they just escape your fingers and mouth without a second consideration?

I must confess, I am too quick to offer opinion or my observations when they have not been requested. And I get frustrated with those who would rather be spoon fed information instead of making the effort to education themselves.

What if, just for one day, we only answered the questions that were directly asked and found the answers to our own questions without asking someone else?

Tomorrow I will make this attempt. I’ll let you know how it goes, but only if you ask.

Personal ROI

ROIInvestments are something we generally associate with money. But everyday we make decisions on where to invest our time, strength and attention. Some decisions are a combination of all three with the end result being money. Many are habitual investments. Same use of time day in and day out. Same strengths being drawn upon time and time again.

Large investments of our time and money could look like college. Four or more years dedicated to learning something, a skill, an area of expertise. It comes with a high price tag these days. Even at a public university it can cost $80,000 or more. Then there is the cost of those years, the end of your teens and the first few of your twenties if you are fortunate enough to go straight from high school. Formative years full of energy and uncertainty.

The night before you sign the papers buying your first home is one of restless sleep if any. Depending on where you purchase that home could cost anywhere from $100,000 for a small fixer-upper to $500,000 for a slightly larger fixer-uper. Taxes, maintenance, insurance, job security and the stress of can you make the mortgage payments. 15 years or 30 years is a long time to commit to making that payment but at the end the house will be all yours. Well, as long as you keep paying the property taxes.

How about the people in your life. They take time and strength and often money not just attention. I’ve always found it interesting that attention is coupled with pay. The notes home from the teacher…”Your child doesn’t pay attention in class”….”Pay attention to your driving”….”You screwed up because you didn’t pay attention”…. Attention costs. It costs those who give it and those who receive it. Ever been under the scrutiny of someone who has decided to focus all their attention on you? I can get my Boradors undivided attention simply by picking up a certain squeaky ball. I don’t even have to squeak it. Just pick it up. They don’t have to be in the same room as I am when this happens. Their squeaky ball radar kicks in and they know it has moved from it’s resting place to my hand.

You are an investor. You have invested heavily in some areas of your life either by conscious or passive choice. How are those investments paying off? Are you enjoying or even working in the field you studied for in college? Was it money and time well spent?  Did you skip college and head straight to the work world? Have the years of on the job experience brought you what you expected? Would more education be worth the investment?

Is your house a house or is it home? Whether you own it or rent it it is the place you decided to unpack your stuff. Are you still investing in making it your own? Are people comfortable when they enter your front door?

Those people and pastimes…good investments? Rewarding? Mutually beneficial?

What is the Return On Your investment?

These are not new concepts. They go way back. “You reap what you sow”….”My word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent.” Sound familiar?

Maybe today is the day you need to take a look at your investment portfolio.
Maybe it’s time to redistribute some of your assets.
Maybe it’s time to unload some that just don’t pay dividends.
Maybe it’s time to double down on some that you have undervalued.

You decide. Everyday. What will you invest in today?

Digital Detox

I wish I could tell you where the idea of Digital Detox started. I picked it up somewhere on line and have adopted it as my own.

The idea is pretty simple. Turn off electronic media for a self determined amount of time. If you are suffering from serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) this can be a very difficult thing to do.

images (3)My first digital detoxes were not deliberate at all. Our family has an old log cabin in the mountains and there is no wifi or cell signal up there. I love going up on Friday evening in time to grill dinner, start a nice fire and be sitting with a glass of wine as the darkness and silence falls around us. It makes it easy to turn off my cell phone. Even taking my ipad or laptop to read or write didn’t feel right. Pulling out my thick leather bound journal and my hand crafted fountain pen at the big picnic table did feel right. The heft of a book in my hand and the motion of turning pages felt right. There is a special magic at the cabin that makes time slow down.

But going to the cabin every weekend isn’t possible. So I decided to try to get the same effect by turning off the electronics at home. The first couple of tries were not successful. My home office computer is usually on 24/7 with the sleep mode set to kick in if I am away from the keyboard for more than an hour. I use the television as a timer. It runs in the background all day and I know what time it is just by listening. Turning everything off is easy. Leaving it off is hard.

This week I have been part of a daily blogging challenge a friend of mine put out to her blogging community. Everyday for a week. Consistency and deliberate effort on our sites being the common goal. Reading the other bloggers has been inspiring and encouraging. Sharing the struggle of writing daily and meeting the midnight deadline brings us together. I am lucky. Because of the way my site is set up I can schedule my blogs to post while I am offline.

So this will show up, Friday July 26th while my computer is off and my phone is off and I am off line.

How do you take a break? Do you take a break? What are you deliberate about?

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