Friday, December 31, 2010

Winding Down

I wish that I knew how to wind down.  I've visited with so many relatives, friends and colleages who have been winding down their year since December 1 and I'm jealous. I think that the coroner is the only one who can bring a stop to my never-ending "to do list".  Since winding down isn't an option for my personality type, I've chosen to change my perspective and be grateful for my many responsibilities and interests.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I am ever so grateful that family, friends and neighbors choose to let us know that we are important.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Find It!

One of our Christmas presents is a family game, Find It!  It's a self-contained scavenger hunt concealing 47 different objects.  As promised, it enterained all ages for days.  And it is a reminder that we don't always see the things we know are there.  It encourages patience, persistence, experimenting with different techniques and the pursuit of group goals.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Babies

With no disrespect intended for Jesus, I now have 3 Christmas babies.  Of course, Jesus is the reason for the season.  My beloved nephew, Michael, is now 25.  He was born on Christmas Eve and we just celebrated his 25th birthday.  We've had the distinct privilege to celebrate his birthday each year.  Each year the family gathers for Michael's birthday.  Our celebratory feast marks his special occasion.  After dinner, birthday cake and birthday wrapped presents are opened, we move to our Christmas celebration.

My third Christmas baby is Jax.  Though his birthday is not in the Christmas season, this was his first Christmas and he enchanted 12 adults aged 18 to 79.

Monday, December 27, 2010

World's Longest Sudoku

One of my gifts is the World's Longest Sudoku by Frank Longo.  It is nearly 22 feet long (21'9 3/4") and has 167 puzzles with 8,929 empty squares.  I know I can rise to the challenge and plan to complete it by August 15, 2011.  I thought 33 weeks (5 puzzles per week) was a very reasonable goal - then I saw a review on Amazon by someone who completed it in 12 days.

I still think mine is a very reasonable goal for me.  This stark contrast in expectations was a helpful reminder that we all need to set goals that are 3M:  meaningful, measurable and meetable.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The gifts of Christmas are abundant!  They include love, family, time, kindness, anticipation, joy, laughter, tradition, food and surprise.  May we remember that these gifts should infuse the coming year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Starting the Day

Our family has different ways of waking up.  Some pop up ready to tackle whatever the day holds.  Others cling to the covers until the last moment.  The way we start the day is soon forgotten as we fully engage in the day's activities.  This is just another reminder to me that there are myriad ways to get things done.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Collection

I never dreamed when I received my first Santas many years ago that my collection would grow and grow.  It has become a treasured part of our Christmas decorations and a fun conversation element. No two Santas are alike. They represent the friendships and memories I cherish with the givers. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cherished Friends

The gifts of friendship, laughter and saying whatever comes to mind are among the many things I cherish this Christmas! My family seemed astonished, when I said, "Yes, I've been at lunch all afternoon!" They had no way of knowing that it seemed like only 30 minutes. Through good times, tragedies and everything in between, it's lovely to know that I have friends who will laugh, cry, applaud, advise, listen and counsel. And above all: they will understand that we are all doing the absolute best that we can with each situation that evolves.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Week

As impossible as it seems, it's already Christmas week.  In the midst of the scurrying to finish shopping, baking and decorating, we owe it to ourselves to pause each day to remember the reason for the season. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Julia and I just got manicures and pedicures.  We both had the same reaction to two women who came in after us.  They were wearing their team's NFL jerseys.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that both were articulate professionals with highly responsible careers.  It made no difference in this setting what our expectations were, but it was a two-fold reminder:
  • dress for the role you have or aspire to have
  • don't let initial assumptions based upon appearance preclude learning what an individual has to offer

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bizarre Dream

I rarely remember my dreams.  Recently my vividly recalled dream challenged geography, time, reality and the compassion of others.  My take-aways are:
  • Everything matters - though we may not think of the significance, others might
  • Everyone matters - I'd not seen the only person I recognized in one segment since I graduated
  • Every idea matters - context and content are crucial

Friday, December 17, 2010

Love is Forever

Yesterday brought front and center for me how precious and fragile life is. December 16 would have been my brother Mark's 52nd birthday, if not for Hodgkin's Disease.  And yesterday we received one of the most memorable Christmas cards ever.  Our dear friends lost their precious son this year. Their most special card reminded us that impact is not measured in years lived, rather in love infused. 

In loving memory of Mark, Sean and all others I've loved and lost, I thank you for reminding us all that life is fleeting, but love is forever.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I've finally realized that I must always achieve optimal results to be satisfied. I've frequently observed that if I happened to be a Wal-Mart greeter, I'd organize the shopping carts for optimal shopper and enterprise success and propose options for increased efficiency.  I share that observation to make the point that much of my stress is self-imposed. 

The fact that "stressless" is not a word, actually gives me comfort.  Since a certain amount of stress is always present, our best option is to stress less about the less important elements in order to experience less stress.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jigsaw Puzzle Calendar

Yesterday was the equivalent of working a jigsaw puzzle as I tried to match open dates in multiple cities and venues to accommodate 3 recurring internal meetings, 25 customer events, my outside board commitments, Julia's and Gar's graduations, Alley season performances and Kinkaid varisty lacrosse games.  It's invigorating to already have so many exciting things to anticipate in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Things don't always work out as we hope or intend.  How we deal with disappointment sets the stage for our next success. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

4 Steps of Gift Giving

To encourage myself that I'm making progress in getting ready for Christmas, I've broken gift giving into a four step process:
  • Inspiration
  • Acquisition
  • Preparation
  • Celebration
Gift-giving is joyous when you have inspiration for an appropriate gift.  Sometimes even when we determine what we'd like to give, acquisition is impeded by availability.  When substitution is required, the process starts over.  Creativity or simplicity can mark the preparation phase as we wrap our acquisition.  And my favorite step is celebration.  Though it's not always possible, I love spending time with the recipient as she or he unwraps the gift. 

My Christmas list is in various phases of completion.  And since I've already had the joy of celebrating with a very special group of friends, I have those beautiful memories to add to special gifts I've received.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gift of Time

Many of us are racing against the clock to finish our work year and achieve all the things on our personal agenda.  There are projects, meetings and reports at work.  At home we try to combine Martha Stewart's decorating and entertaining skills with Santa's intuitive ability to create the perfect gifts beautifully delivered. We trust that the U.S. Postal Service will achieve their normal two-day delivery of our Christmas cards once we stamp the final greeting.

In the hustle to accomplish everything, we can lose focus of the joy of spending time with those we cherish.  Dinners, lunches, cocktails, galas, concerts and impromptu visits with neighbors provide the unwrapped gifts of time to enjoy our relationships.  The gift of time is priceless. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When 2 Day Delivery Means 5 Days

This week I ordered a Christmas present that I was excited to give several friends.  My order was placed on Wednesday and I opted for 2 day delivery. It was going to be perfect to receive the order on Friday for presentation on Saturday. I got a call mid-morning on Thursday to confirm my order and was informed that because I'd placed the order after noon on Wednesday, my 2 day order would arrive on Monday.  This was 3 days later than expected and 2 days too late.  Had I been willing to wait 5 days for my delivery, I could have saved premium shipping charges. I had to cancel the order and start the gift search again.

Two days to the company meant, "if ordered on Monday, Tuesday or before noon on Wednesday". To me, two days meant "receipt 2 days after ordered". Clear communication of terminology and expectations is always required for deadlines.

Friday, December 10, 2010

USA State Street Signs by Julia Lovett

Work in Progress, United Streets of America
Work in Progress, United Streets of America

My daughter is determined and creative.  She recently spent a weekend on her bike photographing all 50 state street signs in Washington, D.C. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm My Own Best Friend

Several recent issues with friends and the popular line from a song, "I'm my own grandpa", brought front and center the necessity of loving and respecting ourselves.  We all need loving, supportive and nudging advocates.  However, our best way of maintaining positive equilibrium, is to be the best friend to ourselves that we strive to be for others.  We need to be loving, supportive and instructive, just as we'd be with our other dear friends.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Curiosity Kills Cats

Though Tiger thinks I’m Mom Cat, he’s wrong.  Since curiosity is apparently a cat killer, I’d be long dead if I was a cat.  Curiosity keeps things interesting, alive, vibrant and ever-changing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It Could Happen to Anyone

Edgar has joined the Way Station ministry at our church, Palmer Memorial Episcopal, serving a hot breakfast to hundreds of hungry Houstonians each Friday.  He always comes home so moved by the experience.  Friday was more emotional than ever, as he greeted a well-educated colleague in the line.  The impact of job loss became far more than a statistic when this former classmate shared his story. 

It makes me realize just how very fortunate I am to have a great job that I love. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Great Adventure

Gar told me to be casually dressed for a surprise birthday adventure yesterday afternoon.  We had a great time at Trans-Siberian Orchestra's winter concert tour!  It was 2 1/2 hours of non-stop entertainment.  I loved everything about it - his novel idea, the terrific shared experience and another wonderful memory.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Tree

Our beautiful Christmas tree completed our holiday decorations.  Each ornament has a story.  It's filled with priceless ornaments that Julia and Gar have made through the years.   There are scores of splendid and sentimental ornaments we've received as gifts.  And there are homely ornaments that make us laugh.  It's a fabulous collection that is uniquely ours.  Though a designer wouldn't readily detect a theme for our tree, close examination would reveal that the theme is love.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Double Your Effectiveness at a Networking Event

Networking events provide the chance to meet new people. This won't happen if you spend the event visiting only with those you know.  If you arrive with a friend, separate.  If one of you goes left and the other goes right, you will be able to meet in the middle and connect those you've met.  After the event, take time to compare notes about who you met.
At your next chamber or association meeting consider asking the organizer if you can contact other table hosts and mix your tables for new connections.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Help! My Networking is Not Working!

Here are highlights from my presentation for our Sterling Bank Women’s Business Initiative luncheon in San Antonio this week:

When we find that our networking is not working it’s almost always because we’re not working for our network!  When we work for our network, our network will be effective. We need to create long-term mutually supportive relationships.

We must give before we can expect to get.

We learned the fundamentals of networking in kindergarten:
“Make new friends and keep the old
Some are silver and others are gold.”

Effective networking is a game where everyone wins.  Though our gamesmanship improves from kindergarten through our lives, we learn from each game we play.
Four childhood and one adult game provide networking dos and don’ts:

  1. Tag – It’s quick and brief with no meaningful interaction, but at least we’re in the game. Engagement is necessary.
  2. Barrel of monkeys – Networking is fun! The links can become sizable, but they are quite fragile.  Bigger is just bigger, not necessarily stronger.
  3. Twister - Interconnecting with others reminds us that networking is not an event, but the sum of all of our relationship building activities.
  4. Lego – Building a solid foundation allows us to create a mutually supportive network. When we integrate all of the relationships in our lives we netconnect.
  5. 21 - My Way (see my 12/2 blog) – Changed rules create unlimited winners.
The common theme of these games is that we increase the number of winners when we don’t keep score.  Before moving from kindergarten analogies, it’s helpful to remember that networking is a long-term process.  It’s like the 5-year old who asks in January how long it is until Christmas. She and we are encouraged to keep believing and be good.

And if we spell NETWORKING as a kindergartner might, we get NETWERKING.  Dissecting this word reveals a fun way to remember the mutuality of networking:
Net We R King (done right, we all win).

There are many ways to maintain, strengthen and grow our relationships including:
  • Events
  • Face-to-face one on one or small group meetings
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Notes - Send thank you notes, recognition of accomplishments, congratulatory, sympathy
  • Recommend books
  • Offer time-savers – sending yourself an email with notes from a presentation eliminates the need to transcribe
  • Teach someone else what you know
  • Recurring appointments in outlook
  • Compliment someone in front of others
  • Speak
  • Write
  • Nominate
  • Volunteer – active involvement – board development committee
  • Recommend
  • Ask for advice
  • LinkedIn – easy way to follow-up with those you met during the day – Personalize your messages rather than using the standard ones provided.
  • Blog
  • Share great finds – sales, sites, courses, resources, restaurants, service providers
  • When introducing others capture something meaningful about each party
Here’s my big girl expanded version of the friendship poem:

“Make new friends and keep the old
Some are silver and others are gold
Add new people to the fold
But don’t let relationships grow cold
Share the stories to be told
Let your listening be bold
Share advice when you’re polled
But be wary not to scold

We like to buy – not be sold
So put your sales pitch on hold.

Break the networking mold
Netconnect with young and old”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Game of 21- Everyone Wins

Many adults are familiar with the "21" or Blackjack card game.  I concocted a new version of 21.  As the featured speaker for a Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative luncheon, for one of my exercises, I provided a deck of cards for each table.  My only instructions were to deal all the cards and see how many winners each table could produce.  As I'd hoped, the players shared cards to ensure that everyone was a winner. One of our 10 tables had to overcome a 21 purist.  And we had over-achiever tables that ensured that they had a 21 hand for everyone present and created 21 for as many additional hands as they could muster.

We all have opportunities to change the rules to create more winners.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stamp It

I don't know why I this is the first year I've bought Christmas stamps online, but it's my favorite holiday stress buster of the day.  In 2 minutes I was able to get exactly the quantity and selection of stamps I wanted before I'd even showered.  Unless you feel a need to watch antsy strangers in a long line at the post office before finally settling for a mix of stamps currently in stock, do yourself a favor and order online.