What if it didn’t have to be difficult?
January 4, 2015
You may have noticed some not-so-veiled references in the blog to what I think will be a new job. I have one to replace “mom” -- but, as I’ve mentioned, there’s some ramping up involved.
I love that! Not only do I have the fun of creating what I hope will be a new business, but there’s time to process what I’m learning along the way.
The other day I realized how little angst there is this time around. No second guessing the project, wondering if it's worth my time. No second guessing myself, wondering if I’m up to it.
The work will be challenging enough to keep me interested, but not so challenging I’ve lost a minute of sleep over it.
This is foreign territory. I like it! I can’t get over the ease with which the next step appears. I feel like I’m taking a casual stroll straight into Oz. Most amazing? I’m not even worried I jinxed it by saying as much as I did.
What the heck’s going on?
Is this what it’s like to believe all the inspiration I’ve shared here?
Where do you go from here?
January 3, 2015
‘Tis the season of reflection, heartfelt talks with people you love -- and a renewed determination to make the most of the time you have, here.
I am one introspective gal, but nothing could’ve prepared me for just how much reflection and how many heartfelt talks I’ve had with my sweethearts lately. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the warmth. I didn’t see this coming, this feeling. Nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to defend. It was like being born.
It’ll be interesting to see what I can make happen now.
I know one thing. I want to live a long, long time. Life holds only promise, and I don’t want to miss it.
Do you have a vision to live into?
January 2, 2015
I worked in Minneapolis the year after I graduated from college. One night toward the end of my assignment, when I’d just been promoted to a new position in Kansas City, I stayed at the office until the wee hours of the morning to finish a few projects.
On my way back to my apartment near Lake Calhoun, nestled in arguably one of the prettiest neighborhoods in all the world, I spotted it. Moonlight on the lake, shimmery and spellbinding.
In a burst of impetuousness I stopped. I parked the car and just stopped. I sat there gazing at the shimmer. How was it possible I’d passed this very same sight -- what? -- dozens of times and had never, until then, stopped to take it in?
I thought about all the fun I’d had in Minneapolis and how much I’d miss the people I worked with. I thought about how much my promotion terrified me. I’d have so many more responsibilities when I was just starting to feel like I knew enough to contribute where I was. Plus Kansas City, the fountains and the cool baseball stadium notwithstanding, had nothing on Minneapolis for beauty.
I realized if I didn’t slow down more often and savor the view I was going to miss my life. I vowed to appreciate where I was at least as much as where I was headed.
Only weeks later I approached the customer service desk of a fancy department store in Kansas City and that’s when I spotted it again. Moonlight on the water! It was a huge painting of a sailboat in the San Francisco Bay. It was the first painting I’d ever felt compelled to buy because it so thoroughly called up that moonlit shimmery feeling of peace.
The painting wasn’t for sale, but someone at the store sold it to me anyway. Talk about customer service! I love it. I love it more than anything I own. It’s a stunning reminder to stop more often and appreciate my lovely life.
It’s also a good reminder to live into the vision of what I want my life to be.
I aspire to be the person who keeps asking that question, and adjusts her sails accordingly.
photo courtesy of Katie Anderson
What are you going to do fun today?
January 1, 2015
It’s as if it happened this morning. Eight little kids swirling around our mom on another endless summer day. I couldn’t imagine keeping up with the laundry back then, let alone designing a day we’d -- all of us -- find fun.
But there Mom was, explaining some game she’d invented that included prizes. I wasn’t very old, but I was old enough to be touched by the gesture -- and determined, apparently, to weave that into my own mothering.
Katie’s kindergarten teacher was another fountain of inspiration. When I found out a leprechaun had been running through the halls at school making mischief, I made sure the same thing happened at home -- except our leprechaun not only made messes but hid presents under those piles. Have I mentioned how much Katie looked forward to St. Patrick’s Day from then on?
Circle time in kindergarten included a discussion of what was going to happen the rest of the day. Oh sure, you had to power through naptime -- for example -- but with playtime and snacktime to look forward to, you thought you might survive.
So when Katie woke up on summer mornings she’d scan the office for her calendar for the day. Maybe she’d do some worksheets -- which she loved -- while I transcribed interviews, but then there’d be a treasure hunt downtown and the playground after lunch.
It wasn’t so much what was on the schedule as the thought I’d put into it. A summer day to a kid is endless, as I mentioned, and Katie had enough structure to be reassured it would also be fun.
Her kindergarten teacher paid us a visit one summer afternoon and saw some of my handiwork. She saw the worksheets. She saw the layout for the day. And she exclaimed, “Oh, you are such a good mom.”
“Well, of course,” I hope I said, “because I had such great teachers.”
How do you power down?
December 12, 2014
When Katie left for college again in August I kept a tiny package of her tea. It’s in front of me as I type, and the variety of this particular tea is “Bedtime.” The tagline? “Promotes restful sleep.” The reason it’s front and center on my desk? To remind me to stop working at some point.
It sounds silly, I know. But it isn’t. I used to go-go-go until I hit the pillow, then wonder why I couldn’t fall asleep right away -- the same way I used to go-go-go the minute I woke up, then wonder why I felt out of sorts all day.
You need time to power down the same way you need to breathe out after breathing in. You need to rest. Not as a reward for working, as a career consultant once shared, but because it’s part of the deal.
So in the early evening I turn the lights down in the office, at which point Darrell and I keep working. But there’s a little power cue, so to speak, the day’s a waning. Later I back up all my files -- I’m so proud of that! -- and shut my computers down. Then I read for a little while. I’m partial to The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which practically guarantees -- if not sweet dreams -- sweet insights.
Still later, in bed, I think about something good that happened to Darrell and to Katie and to me. Then I think about why they happened. Then I replay my favorite fifteen minutes of the day. Well, not always. I don’t know if I could even count it as “often.” Because I’m usually asleep!
Is it going to be a good day or a bad day? Well, that depends. If I’ve had enough sleep -- good sleep, lots of dreaming -- I’ve exponentially increased my chances it’ll be a great day. Which all starts by working backwards from bedtime, so I’m ready to sleep when it’s time.
I think that’s what Stephen Covey -- and Katie! -- would call beginning with the end in mind.
Whatever. It works!
How do you power up?
December 11, 2014
“Sleep in your running clothes,” someone once suggested, “and keep your tennis shoes on the floor next to your bed. That way when you wake up you can lace up your shoes and head out for a run before you have time to talk yourself out of it.”
The trick, I decided, would be getting out of bed.
I mean, really. If the first thing I had to face in the morning was a run -- without that first delicious and oh-so-critical hit of caffeine -- I wouldn’t look forward to going to sleep because I wouldn’t look forward to waking up.
I’ll stay with the routine I have, thank you very much. I toss the cup of coffee that’s already made into the microwave and by the time I’ve splashed some icy water on my face and run a brush through my hair the coffee’s ready. I sink into a comfortable chair -- the only comfortable chair in the house -- and I sit. I sit, I sip, I power up.
My computer lets me know how unhappy it is when I start giving it commands before it’s had time to power up. Why shouldn’t I extend myself the same courtesy?
How do you spend your time?
December 10, 2014
When Katie was in high school she was so busy we didn’t see her all that much in the course of a day. Now that she’s in college we can go up to a couple of months without seeing her, but when we’re together it’s total focus on each other -- so it’s just a different rhythm. When she’s away, we work. When we’re together, we play.
On a normal day, now, I spend more time working and less time doing laundry. So her absence is, as she says, not only awful.
If there’s anything more productive than spending your time wisely it’s deciding what the word “wisely” means to you.
I’ve practically made a career out of asking people what they want to be when they grow up. Emphasis on the word be. Not do. Though that’s a useful question, too. What do you want to do when you grow up? Do you want to be a lawyer because you’d enjoy what a lawyer does at, say, ten o’clock on a Tuesday morning? Do you even know what that is?
I’ve done it. I’ve gotten my heart set on a job title that looks mighty impressive on a business card, only to find it mighty depressing in the course of an actual workweek.
Your dream job will likely have elements that aren’t dreamy. I can’t think of much I love about the talk show other than the two hours a week we spend recording. But I love those two hours so much it makes the many more hours -- over and over again, every week -- more than worth it.
Everything has a price.
What are you willing to pay?
Would you rather complain about a problem than solve it?
December 9, 2014
If you’re serious about solving a problem you’ll discuss it with the person involved.
Sometimes it’s helpful to vent with someone else, first -- someone safe. But confiding in that person, even in the interest of clarity, is only the first step.
There’s a word for talking with everyone except the person you’re tangling with. Gossip.
Gossip makes you feel like you’re addressing a problem when really you’re just postponing it.
Might as well get it over with, eh?