Thursday, December 31, 2009

Things that Magically Multiply

It seems that some things magically multiply when we aren't looking:
  • wire coat hangers
  • junk mail
  • wrinkles in linen
  • lint
  • dust
  • leaves
  • trash
  • dirty clothes
And others only magically multiply when we are paying attention:
  • smiles
  • laughter
  • positive feedback
  • memories
  • friendships
  • joy
  • love

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - My Way

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a loving hug and a kiss.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me 2 helping hands.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me 3 errands run.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 4 home for dinner.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 5 more minutes.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 6 great ideas.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 7 knowing glances.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 8 more strings of lights.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 9 tins of goodies.
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 10 ones for tipping.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 hundred miles.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 gifts delivered.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pretty Woman Syndrome

One of my favorite movie scenes is the reappearance of Julia Roberts in the snooty Rodeo Drive stores when she has unlimited purchasing power. 

When one makes purchasing assumptions based upon the buyer's appearance or knowledge rather than treating every interested party as a valued prospect, major opportunities are lost.

I was privileged to grow up in an unpretentious small town. My family had the chance to build businesses beginning with heavy construction. I vividly remember two stories of overalls-clad individuals being approached. In the first, my Dad asked a farmer on a tractor to whom he should present a bill for work they had completed. Surprisingly, this affluent farmer was working his own field and paid cash from his bib pocket for a sizeable invoice.

Another overalls-clad farmer appeared in an equipment dealership inquiring about a particular tractor. Because of his appearance as a man of meager means, he was not treated well. He subsequently purchased a large fleet elsewhere.

Years ago, I called a specialty car dealership on behalf of an out-of-state "cash-in-hand" buyer for an in-demand vehicle.  Because I wasn't on a waiting list or knowledgeable about the vehicle, I didn't even receive the courtesy of a follow-up call.   Bet if I called today, I'd be treated as royalty!

I wish everyone treated others as they wish to be treated. More friendships, business relationships and pleasant interactions would result.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I am a Blogger!

When does one admit that they are an accomplished athlete, public speaker, musician, consultant, subject matter expert...?  We often need acknowledgement from others to realize that we are actually what we are aspiring to be.  Among my other roles, I am a blogger.  Though my # of posts confirms this, my lunchtime experience provided unsolicited, unexpected confirmation that I have a wonderfully diverse array of readers. A friend from 3 jobs ago, stopped by our table to say hello and say how much she enjoys my blog. Though I have no clue who my readers are, I am so very grateful that lovely individuals from 123 cities in 12 countries have chosen to view my articles.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oh No, My Toe

There's nothing like a deadline to make me realize that I can only control so many elements, and ultimately I'm not in charge.  

I woke up early on 12/23. Every minute was pre-allocated.  There were many presents to wrap and deliver, plus some yet to acquire.  I was looking forward to making treats for our neighbors.  The Mistletoe Ball was scheduled for 8:00 p.m.  And our Arkansas departure was set for 4:00 a.m. on 12/24. There were also a couple of work deadlines to cram into my vacation schedule.

My perfectly crafted plan did not allow for 3 1/2 hours at Baylor Family Medicine.  My little toe lost a battle with Julia's suitcase and looked like it was taking a permanent left turn.  All personal attempts to put it back in place were futile, and the swelling added to the sense of emergency.  Thankfully, x-rays confirmed my guess that it was dislocated rather than broken.

After realigning my toe, the medical staff seemed surprised when I asked how soon I could wear heels.  Their 3-4 week timeline didn't match my 3-4 hour requirement. 

Though the day went haywire, enough was accomplished.  I like to celebrate at least 12 days of Christmas. Hope my neighbors will too!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas

This is my most ambitious needlework project ever undertaken.  It began with a blank piece of fabric and evolved one tiny cross-stitch at a time.

May your 12 Days of Christmas be Merry and Bright!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas season is filled with excitement, anticipation and traditions.  So many marvelous sights, sounds and tastes are associated with Christmas.  It's always wonderful to experience the heightened friendliness that is prevalent in most communications.  It's a celebration of the birth of Christ.  And it's a season to spend time with family and friends.

May the love and joy of the Christmas season fill your New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Fire!

A set of circumstances gone awry led to votive candles being set and lit on the balustrade of Houston's loveliest ballroom.  I happened to be the victim of a fire that ignited my ball gown.  My precious son was at my side.  When I said, "stomp me", he did.  Fortunately, he only had to stomp my ball gown. The candles were removed before the receiving line opened, so the only casualty of the evening was a sizable hole at the bottom of my dress. 

Though my intention was not to share the news beyond those who observed the incident, news spread like quiet wildfire through the event.  The puns were prevalent -you're hot; you're on fire; you know how to spark a party...

Despite a startling beginning, the party was lovely.  My early crisis prevented a potentially wide-spread set of casualties.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Nothing conveys interest more easily and convincingly than a smile.  Babies instinctively return smiles at an early age. Strangers become a bit more familiar when smiles are exchanged.   Just thinking of friends and loved ones evokes smiles. 

A smile is a picture that can convey a thousand words and emotions - love, affection, familiarity, approachability, glee, joy, pride, acknowledgement, humor, connectivity...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Our daughter was presented at the second of her debutante balls this week.  It's a lovely time of tradition, friendship and excitement.  In honor of her presentation, she chose to cut her hair and donate the locks for a wig to assist someone undergoing medical treatment. 

What a beautiful transformative act!  She has a stylish new look, an unknown beneficiary will have one less worry in the struggle to get well and all of us who love Julia were once again touched by her generous spirit.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where Did You Buy That Coat?

One of my friends from Houston bought a lovely mink coat in Dallas.  Fifteen years later, she and her husband were visiting Park City, Utah.  A man approached her in a store and asked if she'd purchased her coat from a store that he named in Dallas.  When she quizzically affirmed that she had, he proceeded to tell her that he remembered making the coat in New York. 

Though time and distance intervene, I'm continually amazed at how very connected we all are.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


So often when I'm driving, I am thrilled to notice the many shades of green that our subtropical climate provides year-round.  And it's delightful to see seasonal blooms throughout the year.  Our normally sunny clime highlights so many lovely attributes.

On my way to church on Sunday, uncharacteristically heavy fog blanketed my trek.  Rice Boulevard's marvelous canopy of trees provided a special tunnel leading me to my destination.

We usually think of fog negatively.  When we're in a fog, we're not thinking as clearly as we'd hope.  Fog can cause countless transportation delays.

However, today's fog made me appreciate anew the fabulous canopy of trees surrounding Rice University.  Thank you, Grandfather Lovett, for your enduring vision.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


We can't impose our dreams on another. 
They must be allowed to find and follow their own dreams.
We can and must, however, nurture dreams - our own and those of others.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Do You Have in Abundance?

Yes, you can think about tangible assets! And, I applaud you if you have abundant fiscal resources!  In some way, you have maximized your tangible assets.  Congratulations!

But, when I penned the question, I had other assets in mind. 

What practical, readily transferable human assets do you have in abundance?
  • Common sense
  • Creativity
  • Logic
  • Successful ventures
  • Lessons learned from failed ventures
  • Relationships
  • Compassion
  • Passion
  • Intelligence
  • Tenacity
We all have abundant gifts.  Sometimes the challenge is realizing what we easily do that can provide benefit to others.  Human assets are like a candle flame, the more we share the more we gain.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Live the Life You Have!

I always benefit when I attend our Sunday church service, and this week was no exception.  The lesson conveyed from the Gospel applies to all of us regardless of beliefs - "Live the life you have with integrity."

We can all wish for, dream about, anticipate or prepare for another reality.  But, we all have the hand that we were most currently dealt.  Those of us who choose to love the life we have can positively impact ourselves, our families and those with whom we interact.

Regardless of our jobs, we should do them to the best of our abilities.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blank Sheet

All options are open when we grab a blank sheet of paper.  I find this extremely liberating.  Especially when I give myself permission to create as I go rather than tackling the blank sheet as a finished product in the making.  Capturing ideas, editing, inserting additional thoughts, striking unwanted statements as a better option emerges... This allows me to see an article or slogan evolve.

All these years later, I now clearly know why I always provided the required outline after I'd written a paper.  I needed to see what would develop rather than treat it as a finished project at the outset.

We all have different ways of learning, processing information and seeing the world.  Embracing our most comfortable style allows our creativity to flow.

Do you find a blank sheet of paper liberating or intimidating?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What's Your Advice for 2010?

In response to another's question I offered these 10 tidbits:
  • Seek to do well every day
  • Listen twice as much as you talk
  • Look for opportunities in the midst of challenges
  • Treat others as they wish to be treated
  • Act with enlightened self-interest
  • Learn from everyone you meet
  • Know when to say "yes" and when to say "no" and do it
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Think creatively
  • Have fun
What are your recommendations?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Don't Bulldoze the Ornaments

Some of my parent's friends were offering items from their attic to their children.  Mrs. P had said that anything that the children didn't want would be thrown away.  After selections were made, Mr. P took the remaining boxes to the dump.  A day or two later, Mrs. P went to the attic to get her Christmas ornaments.  She didn't realize that her ornament boxes had been removed with the other attic contents that the children were evaluating. Her lifetime collection of Christmas ornaments had been delivered to the dump with the unwanted items the children hadn't claimed. 

A quick trip to the dump revealed that the procedure was to bulldoze the grounds each day.  It appeared that a logistical error had cost this family all their prized ornaments.  Further inquiry revealed that the bulldozer was broken.  Thus, recent deliveries hadn't been covered.  Unbelievably all the boxes were recovered and not a single ornament was broken.

At face value, a broken bulldozer wouldn't appear to be anything more than a maintenance issue to be resolved.  As with so many things, one person's challenge creates opportunity for another.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Literally!  So many of us have encountered unexpected questions for which we have no immediate answer, which leave us temporarily speechless.  For the first time in a few years, I've gotten laryngitis.  Because I talk all the time, to so many different constituencies, it is always troubling to me when I am literally - speechless.

So much can be communicated by gestures.  And everyone tries to listen as we whisper our thoughts. I'm always so pleased with how much I can communicate to so many even when my most recognizable communication skill is compromised.

Perhaps I got laryngitis to remind me that vocal communications are just one element of what we convey.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sea of Red Lights

I have all of the advantages of living in a major U.S. city.  We have access to world-class arts, restaurants and medicine and have an economy that has fared far better than the rest of the nation.  Our cost of living is superior to most metro areas.  And generally, though I am out and about a lot, I rarely have traffic problems.  I've always been blessed to live close to work.  In fact, years ago when asked about working for a wonderful company that I admired, my response was that it was "GU".  My definition of GU was geographically undesirable.  Fifteen - twenty minute travel time has been my benchmark, which I've been most fortunate to have experienced during my entire career.  Often, I've enjoyed 5-10 minute commutes, which few expect to find in a major city.

So, when I am caught on a freeway in rush hour traffic, as I was this week, and see only a sea of red tail lights, I experience anxiety.  My assumption is that those who experience daily delays find multiple coping strategies, including books on tape, programmed calls to contacts and self-imposed think time.

A trip that takes me 12 minutes for morning meetings took me 37 minutes this evening. Regardless of the time involved, if you triple the commute, it's significant.

My hat is off to those of you who endure daily seas of red lights.  You are far more patient than I am.  I'd love to know your stress-reducing actions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Share Your Talents

According to Volunteering in America, 61.8 million Americans (26.4% of the adult population) volunteered between 2006 and 2008, and the average time volunteered was 34.7 hours.  Eight billion hours were volunteered, with a value of $162 Billion (using Independent Sector's volunteer rate of $20.25).  Imagine what an enormous difference we could make just by boosting volunteer involvement!

Volunteering has been an expectation for as long as I can remember.  It was role modeled for me as a child.  Though I've put heart and soul into many volunteer activities, I've generally felt that I gained far more than I contributed.  However, positive feedback from beneficiaries has confirmed that it is very much a two-way street.  I've often categorized volunteer involvement and contributions as "enlightened self-interest".  Both are good for the individual/corporation and the non-profit.

Though I've engaged with many fabulous non-profits through the years, I'm currently most engaged as the Vice-Chairman of DePelchin Children's Center, Board Member at Alley TheatreHouston Better Business Bureau and  Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce.  I also love serving as an advisory board member for Junior League of Houston and Houston Technology Center and as the Corporate Advocate for March of Dimes and the corporate host for blood drives at 8 week intervals as a 6+-gallon donor for the Blood Center. I loved my American Leadership Forum experience where I am a Senior Fellow and former board member. I'm also an active advocate for SEARCH, Center for Houston's Future, Girl Scouts and BioHouston. And with my family, we lead an usher team at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church.

Perhaps I'm over-committed to these marvelous organizations, but I only engage with organizations that I believe are making a difference.  My full level of engagement will illuminate for other non-profits who seek my involvement that when I respond, "I cannot take on one more commitment", I am providing a true assessment. 

If you are not currently an engaged volunteer, please find an organization that will value your time, talent and  treasure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Size Do You Wear?

Does vanity sizing confuse anyone else?  I used to know what size I wore.  Now, it depends on the designer.  I most often wear 2s or 4s, but some 6s also fit.  The size on the garment's tag means very little to my ego.  If the item fits and I feel good in it, it doesn't matter to me what the label says. 

Too often we can get caught up in equally arbitrary definitions in other areas of our lives and miss the opportunity to explore multiple options to find just the right fit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Games We Play

Football, basketball, soccer and lacrosse are all games that our very athletic son plays. He and my husband also hunt, fish and shoot.  Our daughter runs.  I swim.  And we all play spades, gin, Hearts, Scrabble, Monopoly, Taboo, Apples to Apples,  Scattergories and Farkel.  Solitaire, Freecell, Mahjong and Minesweeper offer occassional diversions. 

These are all defined games with rules that are universally understood.  We need to remember that when we're playing other less defined games, we need to share the rules with the other players.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Every Day is Special for Someone

We all have different expectations for every day.  When it's a special day for us, our personal expectations accelerate.  Most people we encounter don't know that a non-holiday is a special day for us, but we can always choose to make every day special for those with whom we interact.

Monday, December 7, 2009

There are Some Things Kindle Can't Do

I know for sure that Kindle won't replace books!  Kindle is a wonderful and cost effective delivery mechanism for much printed media.  Even from one who likes the tactile sensation of hardback books and has no desire for a personal Kindle, I appreciate the technology.  I enjoyed reading a novel on Edgar's Kindle on a road trip, and realize it is the perfect tool for his insatiable reading habits. 

Pop-up books are marvelous, creative joys.  No matter how advanced the technology, digital media can't do justice to a pop-up book! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Friends are one of God's most extraordinary gifts to humans. How fabulous that we can connect in meaningful ways with so many marvelous folks!  I am eternally grateful that I  have friends from birth, kindergarten, Church, elementary school, junior high (yes, that's what it was called when I enjoyed the experience), high school, college, Chi Omega, all of my employers, our neighborhoods, law school, social clubs, Junior League, volunteer activities, our children's preschool, Kinkaid...

Saturday, December 5, 2009


It rarely snows in Houston.  And it never snows this early in the winter.  I took the day off yesterday and had the joy of decorating our Christmas tree with the backdrop of gorgeous falling snow.  We often appreciate the unusual glories of nature. And for Houstonians, this was a special, beautiful day to remember.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's Cold?

I recently attended a breakfast meeting with a speaker from Boston. The morning temperature in Houston was under 50.  For our speaker, this was a heat wave compared to her temperatures, and she was surprised to see attendees arriving in winter coats.  In the most air-conditioned city in the U.S., with a climate where the average temperature in our coldest month of January is 41, this was cold.  My mind and body can't even comprehend the temperatures endured during the winter in cold climates.

We adapt to our environments.  Though we might assume that temperature is a common denominator, what is cold to a southerner may be balmy to a northerner.  Our different climate assessments provide yet another way to highlight that two people can be exposed to the same scenario and have totally different experiences and reactions.

When common understanding is important, we need to ensure that we develop a consensus view of the scenario.  For the particular issue, we need to define what's cold.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Little Things

Little things can brighten our days:
  • an unexpected compliment
  • a note from a friend
  • a call from a loved one
  • a child's laugh
  • a baby's smile
  • a sale at a favorite store
  • sunshine after the rain
  • the first bloom in the garden
  • a hot bath
  • a cold drink
  • the driver who acknowledges your silent plea to change lanes
  • finding the perfect gift
  • generating a great idea in a meeting
  • checking one more item off your to-do list
  • reconnecting with an old friend
  • being recommended by a friend or colleague
  • sitting in front of a cozy fireplace
  • starting a new book
  • a cat's purr
  • solving a puzzle
  • enjoying a great meal
  • coming home
In our haste we can miss some of life's treasured moments.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


In addition to our normal frequent trips to Goodwill, we emptied our storage unit this year.  Our donations reached a new family record.  It always brings me great joy to share things with others that we've enjoyed and no longer need.   It's energizing to care and share.  And, it's liberating to send things on to create additional joys in the lives of others.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


We all have our methods of dealing with the never-ending demands on our time. I can't imagine trying to manage a calendar without an interactive online tool.

Scheduling not only actual external and internal business and personal appointments, but also allocating time to evaluate, prospect, plan, think, advise, exercise, relax and visit would make days more manageable, enjoyable and reflective of reality.  Everything that demands a 30-minute or more block of time deserves an appointment.

When we are committed to success, we juggle time. I manage all of my planned appointments incredibly well, so I need to more effectively utilize my calendar to reflect the balance of my commitments to make juggling life less stressful.