Your Day is What You Make It

Mooooooorrrrning!

It’s a rainy, yucky morning here – do you look out and see the gloom or the valuable water we need? Both are out there if you want to find them, it’s all in how YOU react to what is available. That goes for everything in your day: the alarm going off, bad hair days (including whether you still have any), traffic, meetings, email, Q, phone calls, firedrills, lunch…… and I’m only at your midday. :)

Me? I do my best to shake off the sucky part of my day. Some days it works and other days I need y’all to help me do it.

For example, I had a really cruddy couple of days last week and I was feeling like a deflated balloon Friday. Then one of y’all sent me an email connecting me with an old friend. I met her shortly after I joined PacBell but had lost touch in all the moves and her retirement. Guess what lifted me back up? I picked up the phone and called her and we had a fabulous conversation. In 30 short minutes, I was back to feeling like I could power through ehhhnyyytheeeeng. Absolutely anything. Whoot!

The moral of the story? Your day is what you make it. Your loved ones help you shake off the stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Appreciating all you have takes us back to the beginning – your day is what YOU make it.

Have a fabulous day and a stupendous week!

Love You Dodo

Love in the age of electronics means being able to laugh at yourself. Seriously. Haven’t you ever sent something by accident – either to the wrong person or typed badly or gotten help from spellcheck? Of course you have. It’s not the mistake that matters, it’s how we react to it that counts. Like wrinkles, it’s our reactions that give us character. They become the evidence of a life well lived.

When I send a text to my husband, I often sign off with an “xoxo”. This is so automatic that I frequently send it to coworkers. Usually, this is when I’m doing too many things at once. (Uhh, that would be anytime I’m doing more than one thing at a time….) Fortunately, it’s a loving mistake. They reply with things like, “love you too, boo” or “awww, that’s sweet”. I even get, “bet you were sending this to Martin” (that’s Dear Husband or DH).

So, now it’s the day before Valentine’s Day and I’m sending a text. I’ve got the recipient right – DH – but not focusing on the keyboard or the blasted spell check. DH is running an errand for me and I meant to send him, “xoxo” By the time I notice “xoxo” has become “dodo”, the text is gone. Poof. Sent and forever in the ether.

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One of the best parts of our relationship is that we laugh. A lot. Fortunately, this is now just another one of those moments. He knew what I meant and he could guess how it happened. Will he forget it? Of course not. Years from now, he’ll be sending me texts like “Love you dodo”. It’ll be an inside joke. It’ll give our relationship a little more depth, another line that defines us, evidence of a love well lived. <3

How much do you love me?

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Before

 

I was thinking a lot about forgiveness this weekend, after I had a discussion with a retired minister. The conversation started with us discussing something my husband, Martin, did. A couple of weeks ago, when I came home, Martin greeted me with, “How much do you love me?”

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Before

 

Hmmmmmm. As a conversation starter, what does that inspire in you? My reaction was A) What did you buy? or B) What did you do? In this case, it was B; he’d seriously messed up one of my finished pieces (y’all know I knit, right?). It was a gorgeous wool vest that shouldn’t be machine washed because it shrinks – seriously shrinks, as in, fits-a-child-shrinks.

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After, compared to another version that is original size.

 

Anywhoways, the point is, hubby did something and was worried about my reaction. Sweet, right? I couldn’t get mad; it actually made me laugh to look at it. (It also made a bunch of my fiber friends laugh…) And therein lies the point of the discussion with the minister.

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After. Definitely after.

 

She (yes, she; bet y’all thought it would be a he…), she said that this was very forgiving of me, as if it cost me something to not get mad about the ruined vest. I thought differently – it would cost me wayyyyy more to get mad. Here’s why: First, I appreciated that he felt bad (after all, he did ruin it) but I also felt bad that he felt bad. People make mistakes and we need to give each other room to do so without judgment; empathizing with them is part of this and judging others degrades your relationship in my view. And really, what’s more important to you, the relationship or the mistake? Getting angry about it would put the emphasis on the mistake and not on him. Since he’s so much more important to me than any object, it makes sense, right? It also helped that it made me laugh (one reason I married him) and that he didn’t mind when I shared a picture of it with some friends and we laughed ourselves silly. I ask you, did forgiveness cost me or benefit me?

 

Our friend Patrick models the new-and-improved vest, errr, hat.  Whaddaya think?

Our friend Patrick modeling the after version as a hat.         Whaddaya think?

Why this topic, this day? Because today is when we honor the Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior. He’s famous for many things; one of my favorite quotes on forgiveness is his:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Junior.

Not every instance of forgiveness is easy. It’s usually quite difficult but that’s beside the point. Forgiveness is often more about how we think of the world and forgiveness, or a lack of it, affects how we act and how we influence others. If you get a moment today, think about forgiveness. It’s one way to honor Reverend King’s legacy.

It’s All Good

Happy Friday! Get down, get Funky! I usually send out a note to my coworkers on Fridays with a Funky Friday theme. We started out with watching old Soul Train videos and it expanded from there.

Is it work related? No, not at all. But… it gets us up and dancing and brings a common grin to everybody on my email. Shared experiences bring us together and, for a national team, it’s a challenge to accomplish this. We don’t get to see each other in the halls or go to lunch. We’re on conference calls nonstop and it’s too easy to miss the personal connection. What to do then? Inject a little humor (have you seen the hair on those Soul Train vids? Priceless!) and a little musical inspiration and you have something that gets us up out of our chairs. Totally worth the few minutes of distraction…

Today’s song is one of my favorites – its retro funk sound is not only perfect for my Booty Shaker playlist, it’s also got really good lyrics. Basically, its message is that it doesn’t matter about our differences –

Hollywood, or in the hood, it don’t matter…

Tight fade, or long braids, it don’t matter…

East coast or west coast, it don’t matter…

Either way, it’s all good.”

This is Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That. Time for a little chair dancing!

Making Time

mindfulness-en-movementI write a mini blog for my day job, almost daily. But I haven’t been posting it here. Why? It’s usually pertinent but, well, because I haven’t made time to do so. This morning, my mini blog was about this very topic so I decided to make a change in my daily routine…. here’s today’s post. Before I go any further, I’ll emphasize this site is not a reflection on my employer. Instead, it’s simply thoughts I have on being a better person, leader, wife, mother, employee. Read on for my thoughts on making time….

Hi Y’all!

Monday flew by really fast didn’t it? Do you ever find yourself saying, “Sorry, I didn’t have time to do it”? Did you really mean that you didn’t make time for it, either intentionally or unintentionally? I’ve had several conversations the last few days where this came up and I thought it might be good to take a moment (uhh, make time for it). Does this sound familiar?

“I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Louis Boone (courtesy of Brainy Quote) 

Louis E. Boone was a business professor at the University of South Alabama. While his comment is funny, his point is this – we make time for what we find important. The key is to be mindful of what is important and try (!) to get the less important things out of the way. Look at your calendar, what do you see that is not your highest priority? Does it really need to be done or to be done by you? Should something else be on there? By the way, making time to relax can be as important as your must-do-for-the-boss items. If you’re not able to relax your brain and body, you’re not going to be at your best. It’s not all about go-go-go (I know, that’s rich coming from me…). As a former boss used to tell me, “sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.” Not sure if that’s original or what but it’s been immensely helpful.

What a great reminder, then, about making time – here’s to not saying “I didn’t have time to call” or “I didn’t get around to it.” Instead, let’s be clear about priorities and making time to call those important to us and accomplish the critical things, whether that’s paying the bill or taking time to crash on the couch for a little bit. Join me in being mindful, won’t you?

Groundhog Day

I work in corporate America, where large meetings are common. If you’ve worked in this environment for any amount of time, you likely know your fellow meeting attendees well. But sometimes you find yourselves in a room large enough and full enough of near strangers that the organizer requires you participate in an icebreaker. I can hear y’all groaning. Yeah, sometimes they’re superficial and boring. But sometimes you get great insight into people. This particular one made me think about my marriage differently and several people came up to me afterward and said they could never have imagined what a romantic I was. (Xena, Warrior Princess is warmer and fuzzier.) Here’s the icebreaker question and my answer.

Question: If you had a chance to do over one day in your life (a la Groundhog Day), what day would it be?

My answer:

I’ve already had my do-over. It was Memorial Day weekend, 1986. I was  working two jobs at the time, daytime in an office and nighttime, cocktail waitressing in a sports bar. I had student loans and in those days, you could actually pay them off if you took a parttime job. These days, not so much, right?

Anyway, back to my story. It was Friday night and I was working my tables. Sitting at the bar was a very good looking guy. Of course, all I could do was watch since he wasn’t in my section. The joint was jumping but I managed to keep an eye on him and was so, so disappointed to see that he appeared to be on a date. She was really cute and they looked like they were having a great time given how often they laughed. By the time the bar closed, they were gone. It might have ended there except for Mr. Good Looking’s interest in soccer.

The next afternoon, I was back at work. It was a gorgeous May Saturday and if I could have stayed by the pool, I would have. Imagine how happy I was to get to work and see Mr. Good Looking back in the bar. This time, though, he wasn’t AT the bar, he was at one of MY tables. Even if he was taken, there was no harm talking to him, right? He was nice, he was funny, he was charming. He said he’d come back  because he was looking for a place to watch the upcoming World Cup games. (This was back in the day before ginormous big screens and a gazillion sports channels, so you had to go to a bar to watch.) Oh, and, come to find out, his ‘date’ the night before was his sister-in-law. And he’d come back because he’d seen me waiting tables the night before.

He spent the afternoon, watching sports and talking to me; I had the early shift and I didn’t have to close. We had our first date that night and have been best friends ever since.

So now you know my Groundhog story. Martin & I were married about two years later (April 1, 1988 – yeah, April Fool’s Day – warned ya about my missing romance gene). We have two beautiful boys and 27 years of memories.

What day would you want to do over?

Curveballs

Curveball: Slang Something that is unexpected or designed to trick or deceive.

I travel for business about two weeks a month. Sometimes I luck out and it’s fun, like when I got to go to South Beach. I may not get to do anything besides work but I get good pictures like this one from my hotel window in May 2013.

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Sometimes I luck out and the travel itself goes smoothly, getting there and back with no delays, no lost luggage. Smooth. As. Glass.

Sometimes life reflects perfectly, like on calm water. If your day started like this, it’s hard to believe it could go wrong. (photo courtesy of the internet, couldn’t find the photographer’s name)

Sometimes, though, life throws you a curveball or two. Recently I had one of those trips. Several of us flew to Denver, had a good meeting and then headed to the airport. I was flying home to San Antonio via Dallas (DFW) and had a very tight layover. On the way into the airport, I was already thinking ahead to how I was going to manage it. I have the FlightTracker app on my iPhone and it gives you all kinds of flight info, including gate numbers. I know DFW well and was all ready to map out my layover.

You know when you have plans, you assume life will play along? Silly you. To borrow from another saying, plans are made to be broken. It takes a lot of strength to realize that the plan is not reality. That afternoon, I had to dig deep for it. I was tired and, thanks to some chronic health problems, very close to a physical crash. The delays on my last trip were so severe that I needed a wheelchair.  The prospect of more delays was stressful, beyond what many can imagine.

My first flight was delayed and making the connection wasn’t looking good. Mini-melt down time.

“But wait,” you say, “aren’t there other flights? Can’t you just get them to re-book you?”

“Of course,” I respond. “I should have thought of that.” Seriously. So I take a deep breath and tell the ticket agent I’m panicking over missing my connection. She’s not terribly friendly but I’m calmer just for having said it. She gets me on a later flight from DFW to home and I’m on my way. I’m not thrilled but it’s no big deal. I figure I’ll park myself at my gate, do some email, read a book. Except we’d used my phone for navigation to around Denver and the battery was low.

“No problem!” you say. “Just plug into an outlet.”

“I’m on it,” I respond, looking around. “Huh. No outlets in sight.”

“How can Denver’s airport not have outlets?” You look at me as if I should try harder.

“Wait,” I yell, “there’s some over there!” I point at a bank of pay phones. Yeah, you read that right – it’s 2013 and the outlets are at a bank of payphones.

But, hold on. There are no chairs next to the payphones. And I’m in a dress. “Blerg!” It may seem unladylike but that’s the least of my concerns. I drop my bags, park myself on the floor and try to act like it’s perfectly normal for a businesswoman in a dress to sit on the floor. Thank goodness for stretch! (Uhh, fabrics. I know guys don’t care, but girls do.)

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Finally, our plane arrives. By now, I’m frustrated because the airline can’t seem to predict when the flight will actually take off. Uncertainty is itself a stressor. My new layover time is shrinking by the minute but it looks like I’ll have just enough time. Passengers line up and I can tell in one sniff that many have passed the time in the airport bar.

I find my seat and learn quickly that my seatmate is not just frustrated, he’s passed into the zone of being pissed. Pissed as in he’s very, very unhappy. He’s also more than mildly inebriated (pissed means drunk in UK slang). His lack of inhibitions and his frustration nearly end up getting him thrown off the plane for not turning off his phone. After a face down with the flight attendants, he quiets down and we finally (!) take off.  It’s only two hours to DFW. We’ll be off the plane soon enough.

We land in Dallas and the entire plane is now in a frenzy to get to their next gate. Thanks to my iPhone app, I already know my next flight is delayed. It’s late – after 10 pm – and the terminal is surreally empty except for us.

A funky sculpture in DFW's newest terminal.

A funky sculpture in DFW’s newest terminal.

It's late, I'm tired and yeah, the escalator made me dizzy, too.

It’s late, I’m tired and yeah, the escalator made me dizzy, too.

I ride the Skylink to my next gate, where, sure enough, the flight is delayed. We have a plane but no crew. Since the delays are not weather related, I know the airline will do nearly anything to get us home – they won’t want to pay for lodging. Now, after delays, drunken passengers and being a seriously tired puppy, I am in my happy place. I park myself on the floor again, open my book and zone out.

Once the crew arrives, the passengers crowd the gate agent like they think there aren’t enough seats for all of us. We finally get  on board, the attendants give the turn-your-electronics-off speech and…we continue to sit at the gate. The pilot informs us we’re waiting for a passenger who has “gotten turned around” in the airport.  It seems my day could have been worse, I could be worried about missing the final flight home. Isn’t it nice of the crew to wait for a passenger who is likely panicking as she runs to catch the plane? I wonder if she knows this? I wonder if she realizes how all of us (well, most of us) are happy to take a few minutes and make sure she gets to the plane.

So what’s the moral of the story? Life throws curveballs at you. How you react is up to you. There may be lots of justifiable reasons for you to lose it. Do you think, though, that my drunken seat mate made it easier for himself? I’ll bet he walked away from that day that thinking everyone was a jerk. We, of course, thought he was the jerk.

Having a plan is good, being prepared for curveballs is better. Equip yourself by working with what you got. Be grateful for what works, let go of what doesn’t. Curveballs come and plans go but your peace of mind goes with you everywhere.