Archive for the ‘attitude’ Category

Summer Slow Down

July 12, 2017

 

It’s hot and steamy here in Atlanta. Most afternoons we can count on the clouds filling in and then bursting with rain over one part of the city or another. And, did I mention it’s hot. It’s so hot that doing anything outside in the early afternoon is just out of the question.  Early morning and late afternoon (if it’s not raining) are my times to get out in the garden. My dogs, Miles and Josie, agree. They come outside with me but will typically lie outside the door and go back in as soon as I open the door for them. Just so you know, I always have a bowl of fresh, cool water outside for them!

 

These hot summer days make for a bit of a slower pace. It’s a good time to take long walks in the early morning, relax in the shade or inside during the day, and maybe do some grilling in the evening.  Take this time when the pace of life is a bit slower to enjoy. It’s so easy when the pace is fast to scurry from one thing to the next. Practice being truly present while the pace is not so frenetic. You may find that this is the way you want to be. You may find that really engaging in whatever it is you’re doing brings a greater sense of satisfaction. Perhaps you’ll let this feeling carry over when the pace picks up again in a few weeks.

 

It can also be a good time to reflect on our plans and priorities when the pace picks back up. What will be important when volunteer groups get back together? Do you have a project that you’d like to complete this fall? Are these slower days good days to make some initial lists?

 

Where will you record these ideas and thoughts? Consider putting them down on paper. You know, actually using a pen and putting your thoughts on a page. I love journaling. I take a few minutes every morning to write down my thoughts. Sometimes I talk about what happened the day before, sometimes I write about what I’m hoping to accomplish today. This journal helps me to remember my aspirations. And to celebrate those which have come to fruition. Of course, you can also use your computer to keep a document of these ideas.

 

Here in the South many of the schools start back up in late July. We only have a few more short weeks to relish this relaxed, summer slow down.  I’ll be taking my dogs for long morning walks by the river, weeding and pruning my garden, dancing, and organizing clients.

 

Beautiful nature at morning in misty spring forest with sunHow will you spend this time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness is…?

October 19, 2016

2015 05 beautiful roses

At the end of September I had the privilege of attending a conference run by a group to which I belong: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I love this conference. In fact I love it so much that I decided to demonstrate that by chairing the conference in 2017! But I digress.

One of our speakers was a young woman, Ayla Lewis, who spoke to us about the power of positive thinking and happiness. Her presentation was well thought out, fun, and interactive. Ayla had a marvelous way of engaging the audience to teach the concepts she was presenting.

Many of the concepts presented were not new to me and I’m sure not new to many of us there. However; Ayla included scientific information to substantiate these concepts. It was fascinating.  

So, what is happiness? Ayla told us that happiness is a choice. I believe this to be true. I’m one who likes to look at a glass and say that it is half full rather than half empty. I’m always looking for the positive spin and am generally happy. Or should I say content.

We were told that no one is always happy. We have moments of happiness. It’s more important and better for us if we often experience small moments of happiness rather than striving for that one big fleeting moment to be happy. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I’ll be happy after I …’ or perhaps ‘I’ll be truly happy when I’ve …’ I have heard people say things like that and wondered if they ever had those moments of happiness. And how long the happiness lasted.

Ayla advised us to use journaling to record the brief happy moments that occur during the day. She asked us to write down three things daily. If you’re looking for the small things I’m sure any one of us could find way more than three things to write down.

Let me tell you a little story. I attended a wedding last weekend in Connecticut. An adorable three year old little girl was the flower girl.  She made many of us smile as she ran down the aisle in church during the rehearsal. When she got up to the altar she turned around and faced those of us sitting in the pews, sat down, and just started swinging her legs. She looked like she was waiting there to watch the show begin. She was happy in that moment. And those of us watching her chuckled and were happy too!

Ayla encouraged us to take those moments and savor them. This is happiness. It is something that comes and goes. Celebrate – really be happy – live in those moments when they arrive. It’s ok, in fact, natural, not to be happy 24/7. Acknowledge and experience  other emotions. Then welcome the happy moments as they occur.     

I’ll tell you what makes me happy. Working in my garden, successfully completing a series of dance steps with my partner, getting a phone call from one of my children, getting together with a friend, seeing that a client has maintained the organization, making progress on my needlepoint canvas – all these things create moments of happiness for me.

What makes you happy? Write me back and let me know. 

 

 

Pursue Your Hobby to Improve Your Work

June 29, 2016

Do you have a hobby or sport that you love? My brother loves to play golf. I know that several times a year he and his wife travel to play golf. They combine their love for golf with their love for travel. It’s a win/win. Even though he works at this sport – perfecting his swing, strength training and more, I’m sure – he finds this a great distraction from his regular work. Playing golf allows my brother to focus on something else. Interestingly, having this other outlet makes his focus at work that much greater.

I love to dance. I’ve always been involved in one way or another with dance.  For the past four years I’ve been studying ballroom dancing. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, I’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons and learning the intricacies of this beautiful art – which is also a sport.

There is so much to learn. When I first started taking lessons I thought; great! I’m mastering these steps. My instructor started off teaching me what I thought I already knew – the waltz. We moved from there to the foxtrot and the tango. Great! And then I learned that there was more to this than just moving my feet correctly. My instructor taught me about the continuity of the dance, the rise and fall, the sway, the timing, the musicality and the list goes on…

I went from a lesson a week, to several lessons, to where we are now – practicing 10 hours a week. That works out to be five 2 hour sessions.  I also decided to start competing at ballroom dance competitions. This is an amazing experience. I get to dress up in beautiful ball gowns and demonstrate that which I’ve learned on a huge dance floor, dancing with other beautiful dancers and being judged by a panel of professional ballroom dance judges.

In fact, I just came back from a competition in Orlando. It was fabulous! My partner (also my instructor) and I competed in three different styles of dance: American Rhythm (Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo), American Smooth (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz), and Standard (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep).

It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.

I’m telling you about this because I believe that participating in something other than what I do professionally allows me to cultivate different sets of skills. I’ve always had a good memory but learning so many different dances and dance styles requires me to focus and memorize dance positions as well as dance steps.

Pursuing this hobby lets me come back to my work refreshed, refocused, and ready to purse my other passion which is creating organizing solutions which work for my clients.

102, Julio Aguirre_M2016_30322What do you do that is different from your work? Do you have a sport you’re passionate about or another hobby? Write me back and let me know.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

April 27, 2016

It’s not unusual to feel a bit overwhelmed at this time of year. Why? Well, if you have children there are all the end of year school activities. These include awards ceremonies, class parties, prom, graduation ceremonies and parties, athletic competitions and the list goes on. If you don’t have children the groups you belong to may be winding down, finishing up activities.

Then there is the yard. If you live in the South you may be changing out the winter annual plants and replacing them with the spring/summer colorful annuals. If you live in the North you may be guarding the tender perennials that are just starting to grow. In fact, yesterday my sister told me they were expecting snow in Vermont. She was concerned that the plants that were poking their heads out of the ground might be damaged by freezing temperatures!

What to do about this feeling of having so many things to do and a finite amount of time?

First of all, BREATHE!

When I’m feeling this way, overwhelmed, I sometimes forget to take deep breathes. How about you?

Start by getting out your calendar and noting all the due dates.

Then get out a sheet of paper and write down the steps you need to take to bring each event to completion.

Some events may just be a matter of getting there on time. Others may need you to take some actions – like buying or making cookies for a class party or planning a pre-prom parent party!

Once you have broken each of these tasks down into steps get your calendar back out and schedule those steps into your planner. Take into account your regular chores and activities and be sure to allow travel time or set up and clean up time.

I know that this is something I have just done for myself as I was feeling overwhelmed by all the little tasks I have to complete in the next few weeks. I was definitely feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared. Writing everything down and breaking the tasks into their steps helped me. I hope it helps you too.

 

What Do You Model?

April 20, 2016

 

Fashion kid concept - beautiful stylish little cute girl child w

No, I’m not asking if you model clothes or if you are featured in magazines. I’m more interested in what behavior you model for the people in your life.

Oh, do I have your attention? Have you ever heard the expression “monkey see, monkey do”? Well this expression describes what often happens. Think about the people in your life who you admire. Do you copy some of the things they do or say? For instance, if someone you admire says ‘I like ….’ (you can fill in the blank) I think you might be inclined to agree with them. Also, if a person I admire says ‘I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle. So, I’m going to join a fitness club. Do you want to join with me?’ I would probably say ‘sure! I’ll give it a try!’ I’d be doing that because I like and admire the person and want to copy some of the things they do. How about you? What would you do?

Now, think about yourself. Do you have children? What do you do that they might copy? Remember children will copy the good and the not so good behaviors. They are watching you and reading your body language for clues all the time.

If you say ‘Oh, no! There’s so much dusting to do. I hate dusting.’ Then you turn around and say ‘I don’t think I’m going to do that today.’ You teach your children the language to use when they don’t feel like doing something. Conversely, if you say ‘there’s so much dusting to do! I’m going to do a little now and a little later to break it up.’ You model negotiating behavior. You let them know that there’s a lot but that it’s doable by breaking it down into more than one session dusting. The time will come when you ask them to take out the trash (or some other task) and they could say ‘I don’t feel like doing that right now’ or they could negotiate and say ‘how about if I take it out after I finish my homework’.

If you leave your clothes on the floor or draped over furniture and then tell your children to put their clothes away you are giving them the message ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

Think about the behaviors you would like to see in your children. Do you want them to become accustomed to leaving glasses and dishes in their room or do you want them to clear their dishes and glasses to the kitchen sink when they’re finished with them? Maybe even put them into the dishwasher?

Do you want them to leave their shoes laying around the house or is there a place in their closet for their shoes? What about your shoes? Do you leave them where they fall when you kick them off at the end of the day? Or do you kick them off, pick them up and carry them with you to your closet?

Think about the modeling you do now and let me know if you think you want to model some things a little differently or not.

 

 

Open Your Eyes!

March 9, 2016

Child exploring nature

Have you started your spring cleaning? Whether or not you have started this process I recommend that when you do you take the opportunity to really look at the things you are moving around. I think sometimes we are so used to our surroundings that we don’t really see what’s there. I know that I can walk through a room in my house and not really notice the space.

Before you begin your spring cleaning spend some time in the room you’re tackling. Open your eyes and take a look as if you were seeing the room or area for the first time. Evaluate the space. Do you like what you see? Does it still work for you? If it does not, could you move some furniture around to make the room better fit your current lifestyle? Maybe even move furniture from one room into another.

If you think some of your belongings no longer fit your current lifestyle consider donating them out. Some things may no longer work with your current decorating style. Face it as life goes on we change and the way we decorate or the things we use need to change along with us.

That’s the problem. In general, we are so used to having our things around us that we don’t even really see them. They are simply there.

I suggest that as you do you’re spring cleaning you throw open the curtains – figuratively and literally. Really look at every item in every room that you are tackling. Evaluate each item.

Do you use it?

Do you love it?

Do you believe it to be beautiful?

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions then donate the items out. Someone else will be able to use it.

I know sometimes I’m surprised by what I find in one of the rooms in my house when I open my eyes and really look. Spring is the perfect time of year to be doing this. The light is brighter and the days are longer. Take advantage of this and freshen up your home.

Let me know if you’re surprised by something you’ve found in a room that you didn’t know you had.

Remember – turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time!

Pack Your Patience

December 23, 2015

Are you traveling for the holidays? Maybe you are visiting family or maybe family is coming to visit you?

Perhaps you’re spending the holidays with good friends? Whatever your plans be sure to pack your patience.

Traveling at this time of year whether you are traveling by plane, train or automobile can be stressful. Lots of people are on the road. Holiday expectations are high. I know that whenever I’m traveling during the holidays I simply can’t wait to get where I’m going and for the FUN to begin. Do you ever feel that way?

So, the slightest delay can put me on edge. It could be traffic related, or the plane is delayed or maybe my checked bag is slow to arrive on the baggage belt. I’ve learned over the years to breathe a little more deeply and to smile. This is where I pull patience out of my pocket. I know I will get to my destination eventually and I can hop right into the holiday fun upon my arrival.

If you’re staying with someone else try not to let your expectations get in the way of the actual plans. The expression: go with the flow comes to mind. Hopefully whoever you’re visiting has given you a heads up about the plans for the holiday. Letting you know about any parties, church activities, and other activities so that you have a sense of the schedule.

If you are the host consider posting a schedule of the events for the time they’re staying with you. Think about including some ideas of things to do in the area – sights to see – if they’ve never been to your home before. This will let your guests know what to expect and how they can participate.

A little knowledge is a powerful tool. It’s so helpful to know even the little things like how to start the coffee pot and where to find the extra roll of toilet paper!

Whatever your plans I hope you have a marvelous, relaxing, fun-filled and safe holiday!

Celebrate!

December 16, 2014

I know it’s the holiday season and parties are being planned and happening. How much fun! I believe (I know you’ve heard this before) that everyday can be a celebration.

There’s a young man who works at my local grocery store. When someone says “Hello, How are you?” to him he always replies “I woke up today. It is a good day.” I love this attitude.

Celebrate everyday. We tend to celebrate our large successes but what about the everyday small steps that we take toward completion of that large project? Get in the habit of celebrating those, too.

Celebrate when you do something that’s been hard for you to do a little more easily. For instance, if it’s hard for you to donate clothes that are too small, that you’re hoping to get back into, but in reality you probably won’t want them – even if they do fit you again and you successfully put together a donation bag of these clothes, CELEBRATE!

Celebrate when you get to an appointment on time or a little bit early – particularly if managing your time is a struggle for you.

I think you get the idea. Celebrate life as you’re living it. Of course, we want to get together and celebrate holidays. That’s extra special. Think about celebrating as you go along. I think it will make you pay closer attention to the things you actually accomplish in a day instead of the things you haven’t done.

Manners?

June 10, 2014

I was reading the June 2014 issue of Real Simple magazine this week. I love this magazine and always read it cover to cover. I find their articles informative, fun and often thought provoking. I was very interested in their article on manners. Actually, I was intrigued that they started out by talking about the word “Etiquette”. I have a book coming out later this summer and the final chapter in my book is titled “Etiquette and You: Why it Matters”.

Does the word “etiquette” fill you with fear? If you have read the article in Real Simple, you know that it’s not at all scary – or shouldn’t be. Etiquette is more about following socially acceptable conventions. For instance, remembering to thank someone when they’ve given you a gift, or let you stay at their home for the weekend, or even granted you an interview. Yes, I am talking about a handwritten pen and paper note sent via the United States Postal Service with a stamp. I have more about exactly how to write a really good personal and business thank you note in my book.

Other points the article raised were about when to use or not to use a cell phone. I was so happy to read that the authors of the article and I agree that the dinner table is no place for a cell phone. Conversation is a wonderful thing! Enjoy the time you’re spending with the person or people and don’t even think about checking your phone. Any message (phone or text) will be waiting for you when the meal is over. Be truly present at the table, turn your phone off and put it away. I believe you’ll find that you relax better and enjoy the food and camaraderie more when you are unplugged.

The article also talks about the place setting. Have you ever been asked or have you ever asked the question – Is this my water? I put an illustration of a place setting in my book because I get asked that question often. I know which is my water and you should, too. In case you’re wondering it is the glass on the right-hand side of the place setting, above your knife.

There’s lots more to this article, just as I cover lots more in my chapter. This is a good start. Are you curious? Next time you see newsstand carrying Real Simple magazine pick one up. You won’t be disappointed!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on etiquette. What does this word mean to you?

Thank you cards?

July 10, 2013

Do you write ‘Thank You’ cards? As I was driving along yesterday listening to the radio I was so surprised when an ad came on and the person speaking asked ‘Do you write Thank You notes?’ The person in the ad went on to say that his mother taught him to write a Thank You note when he was given something. Listening to this ad I was wondering where it was going? Have you heard this ad? Anyway, the person in the ad continued by saying he wanted to thank McDonalds. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention to the rest of the ad. I wish I had because I don’t know what he was thanking McDonalds for. I was so taken with the idea that the advertising industry thought to include the notion of writing a ‘Thank You’ note.

I believe in writing ‘Thank You’ notes. So much so that in the second edition of my book I have added a section on how to write a good ‘Thank You’ note as well as why you should write them.

So, back to my original question… do you write ‘Thank You’ notes? If you do, is it because you feel obliged to write the note or is it because you really want to convey your gratitude to the person (or business) who gave you something?

Oprah refers to expressing gratitude in her magazine often. I can remember first hearing her talk about a gratitude journal. I thought it was a great idea to everyday, at the end of the day, write down three things for which you are thankful. I’ll be honest, I did not go out and buy a journal but hearing that idea did prompt me to everyday list in my mind some of the things, the blessings, I have in my life for which I am eternally grateful.

Writing a ‘Thank You’ note is such a small task. Yet, it can give someone a boost in their day to know that the recipient of a gift acknowledges the gift and is appreciative of the donor’s thoughtfulness. Why not take a few minutes, put pen to paper, and write someone today to let them know you are thankful for whatever it is they have given you?