Thursday, December 22, 2011

Overcoming Obstacles

We deal with various obstacles every day.  The evening and morning thunderstorms that threatened to cancel my morning walk reminded me that we often gain by dealing effectively with obstacles.

Delaying my start time by 30 minutes provided a chance for a rain-free window to begin my walk.  My nylon jacket repelled the short sprinkles that fell for a few moments as I reached the point furthest from home. And my hood diverted the drops falling intermittently from rain-soaked branches.  Constantly zig-zagging around deep puddles provided a new view of my familiar route and added 5 minutes to my journey.  Five more minutes is a 20% increase in my normal 30 minute walk time.

It would have been easy to rationalize aborting my exercise routine this morning.  By dealing with these minor obstacles, I have the satisfaction of completing an important task, increased health benefits from more time in motion and another reminder that even when we're prepared things often take longer than we anticipate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Buffalo Nickel in Circulation

I recently presented a $5 bill at checkout and received 7 cents in change.  Surprisingly, the nickel was a Buffalo nickel. The Indian Head and Buffalo images on the front and reverse are clear but the date is not.  These coins were minted from 1913-1938.  It's amazing that a coin that was produced 73 - 98 years ago was still in circulation. 

We never know what tiny treasures we may overlook when we fail to be observant.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who Do You Know?

A dear friend recently asked if I knew anyone at an organization with a job opening that looked interesting to her.  I do know current employees at the organization, including the person to whom she would report. However, I chose to connect her with another special friend who recently left the organization.  A short and meaningful conversation quickly led to the assessment that this job would not be a good fit.  Had she visited with the hiring manager, she might have ultimately come to the same conclusion.  Or she might have made a career move that would have been disappointing and unfulfilling. 

We need to consider what we are seeking when we ask for connections.  I knew that she needed to determine if this was a possibility that she should pursue.  Someone else might have provided exactly what she asked, a connection to the organization.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Data Dumps and Deficits

We are all so inundated with information that it's easy to feel that we're being buried by bytes.  With the abundance of available data we are often left with a usable information deficit. 

We all process information differently.  I often refer to myself as queen of cliff notes because I like to get quickly to the options and decision.  Others want to comb through every piece of information.  Analysis paralysis and firing before ready both have consequences.  Regardless of our decision making process and preference, we all benefit from an assessment of what the data means. 

Sharing summary information turns data dumps into data driven decisions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life Tips from Christmas Carols

I love Christmas music!  One of Houston's radio stations plays non-stop Christmas music during December, allowing easy access to a variety of tunes.  The lyrics convey a range of messages from the true meaning of Christmas to merely upbeat seasonal cheer.  Regardless of the messages contained in the songs, some of the titles provide reminders of things we can do throughout the year to improve our relationships, effectiveness and impact.
  • Joy to the World - With an attitude of gratitude and willingness to help, we can each bring more joy to the world.
  • Silent Night - We all need time to think, plan and reflect without human and technological interruptions.
  • Deck the Halls - Celebrate everything! 
  • Do You Hear What I Hear? - Listening is one of the most critical communications skills.  Both the message sender and receiver have a responsibility to determine that what was said was actually heard in the way intended.
  • Go Tell It On a Mountain - Sharing our tips, knowledge, experiences and contacts expands opportunities and enhances relationships.
  • Jingle Bells - Celebrate successes!  Ring the bell frequently for small and large accomplishments.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lost and Found

We all know the frustration of losing an object and retracing our steps as we frantically try to find it. Yesterday, on my morning walk, I had the unbelievable opportunity to find an item no one knew was missing.  Four blocks from home I spotted a rectangular object in the street that reminded me of the size, color and shape of the children's old Kinkaid student IDs.  Imagine how stunned I was when I picked it up and discovered my son Gar's 11th grade Kinkaid ID.  A million thoughts raced through my mind and I was thrilled to find that Gar's wallet was intact.  My college freshman has no clue how his high school junior year ID was lost and appeared in a very random location. 

When we're always observant, we never know what we will find in our daily journeys.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Great Day!

Today was many degrees warmer than the rest of the week (yeah - cold isn't in my vocabulary) and I decided to alter my normal walking route to walk to the polls for the Houston City Council run-off elections.  So glad that I did!  If I hadn't voted then, as I feared, I would have missed this important civic opportunity.  And, this adjustment to my walking route afforded me the opportunity to enjoy two visits with friends I'd not recently seen. 

There was just enough time to finish my coffee table Christmas decorations before my much anticipated Saturday call with my precious Mama.

A fabulous birthday/Christmas celebration with dear 30+ year friends provided much love and laughter and many more cherished memories and physical gifts.

Then, my best friend and I had the opportunity to enjoy a long fireside chat in the shadow of our Christmas tree.

She left moments before Gar and his pledge brother completed their 10 hour road trip, arriving at our doorstep.

Christmas began today!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stopping to Smell a Rose

Each morning I walk briskly through the neighborhood, rarely stopping, unless there's a chance to catch up briefly with friend.  However, when I spotted the neighborhood's one perfect yellow rose in full bloom, I was compelled to stop and enjoy its fragrance.  This unexpected beautiful blossom was my vivid reminder that it only takes a moment to brighten a day - our own or another's.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stuff that Causes Angst

One of my time-saving tips of emailing my notes from a presentation to myself backfired.  An awesome speaker had so much to share.  As is my practice, I captured her remarks in an email to myself.  I loved her presentation. Though her comments were memorable, when I tried to send the summary to my personal email, it was blocked.  Because I initially took her remarks in context, I then discovered that she'd used a four letter word for stuff starter (that also begins with s) and thought that was the problem. 

When I still got blocked I realized that she'd also used another donkeyish name at the end of her speech in place of "horse whisperer".

Colorful language creates a laugh.  As was the speaker's goal, she got my attention and I gleaned her take-aways. Until my overly sensitive company filter intervened, I took her remarks in the appropriate context intended.  However, I recognize that other listeners might be as sensitive as my email filter.

Though I only use the PG version of stuff starter and horse whisperer in my blog, this experience has caused me to remember that when we want to create a connection, we need to be especially cautious in communicating with those we don't know well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Digitally Connected to Another Generation

I'm convinced that my maternal grandparents' 7 children and 18 grandchildren all thought they were the favorite child of one of these lovely folks.  In my case, it seemed that I was Grandpappy's favorite grandchild.  It was to him that I made the promise as a 9 year old, that my daughter would be named, Julia, in honor and memory of his beloved mother, whom I never knew.  And he did live long enough to know my precious Julia.

Grandpappy loved word search puzzles.  Little did I know that this was a great memory boosting tool.  When I discovered an electronic version of word searches positioned to keep the brain young, I was immediately transported back in time with vivid memories of Grandpappy and his word search books.  Each time I complete a memory boosting puzzle, I'm instantly connected to my dear grandfather. 

A technology he never knew provides a memory enhancing connection to him that I treasure.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Unbelievably Close

Two of my friends who had worked together for years recently discovered how very connected our worlds are.  He mentioned his ex-brother-in-law by name in a derogatory context.  As she asked him to repeat the name, she revealed that this man was her first husband, and agreed with his assessment.  This unbelievable coincidence blew me away and vividly illustrated that we never know how close we are to making desired connections or unintentionally sharing a harmful assessment.