Joy

Let’s start the week with a little joy – watch this video of a woman enjoying the snow. I dare you not to smile at her pleasure.

Let’s list a few things that she could complain about, if she chose to:

  1. it’s cold
  2. she’s getting wet
  3. she has no gloves
  4. she might fall

These are all good reasons to stay in the car, right? I’ll bet it’s warm and dry inside and she could watch the snow falling just fine. What does she choose to do instead? She gets out of her comfort zone and she plays in the snow. I love her giggles and I love that her son (behind the video) is laughing along with her.

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May your day be full of joy, even when you’re cold and uncomfortable.

May you have someone to share your joy. ❤

 

Press Play

Hey there, it’s Friday! How did you do this week? Did you get everything done? Did you enjoy it?

What’s the point in getting through the week if you don’t make the most of your experience? After all, it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey.

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When I saw The Piano Guys Can’t Stop the Feeling – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching, I couldn’t help myself. I grinned, big. Here were all of these folks, Walmarting, getting their tasks done. Were they thinking, “this is gonna be FUN!”? How about you, when you watch, do you really expect these folks to break into a dance just because a boombox is waiting for them to press play?   I love that the shoppers defied the norm and showed us some spirit, sweet, sassy, and joyful.

What about the Walmart team? I love that they hosted the making of this video, it shows some spirit behind the corporate logo.

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I love that The Piano Guys delivered their message this way – we can only imagine how much fun they had, too. They got their job done (promoting their new album) and did it with style. They brightened someone’s day.

May your weekend be fabulous, may you spread a little joy, may you rise above the mundane and have some fun along the way.

Caryn

Can’t Stop the Feeling

Happy September, Happy Friday!

Before y’all go running off to a 3-day weekend, let’s remember a couple of things:

  1. Monday’s holiday is to celebrate Labor Day, a tribute to our nation’s workers and their social and economic achievements that have contributed to our country’s well-being.
  2. Many will ironically work at least part of this weekend, so if you have it off, join me in being thankful for the time we have to spend with family and friends. It is because of the Labor Movement that we have standards for time off (5 day work week, paid vacation, etc) as well as health benefits.

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For this Friday’s jam, I’m borrowing a song from Trolls – JT’s Can’t Stop the Feeling – I somehow get the feeling that they got the dancers in the video from random people on the street, the laundromat, the grocery store. Next time you’re out and about, try to imagine the person in line ahead of you dancing. 😉

Like Pharrell’s Happy, how do you resist the joy in Can’t Stop the Feeling? Is it a coincidence that both of these songs were associated with ‘kids’ movies (Troll for JT and Despicable Me for Pharrell)? There’s no age limit on joy. 😀

 

Enjoy your weekend, enjoy the festivities!

Caryn

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. ❤

Wag more. Bark less.

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Fierce protectors, resting after a long day defending the palace.

All right, I think I’ve found my favorite slogan ever: “Wag more. Bark less.” Isn’t that awesome? We’ve got two large dogs so I may be biased about this obviously dog oriented philosophy. Our Weimaraners are good natured girls but they think they need to guard us from the hordes overrunning the back fence. What may look like an innocent rock, leaf or squirrel to you is, in reality, the next invasion of barbarians. Are dogs innately suspicious? Is it that simple? Or do they have justification for suspecting all kinds of nefarious things in our idyllic backyard?

You’ve probably heard the parable about two travelers coming upon a farmer on the outskirts of town. When the first traveler asks the farmer what kind of people live in the town, the farmer turns the question back on the traveler and asks what kind of townfolk lived in the traveler’s previous town. “A bad lot”, the first traveler answers. The farmer then advises this traveler that they will likely find what they have before. When a second traveler approaches and asks the same question, the farmer again responds with a question. This time, the traveler says they were good people and that he will miss them. Guess what the farmer says? OK, I know. Y’all have heard this before. Then you totally understand the relationship between my dogs and those travelers. The farmer tells the second traveler that he will likely find the same kind of people in the town, just like where he came from.  Like my dogs, the travelers see the same things and interpret them differently, one sees the negative, the other one sees the positive. In the case of the travelers, it is the type of people. In the case of my girls, it’s rocks and leaves masquerading as danger.

Some of you are mumbling (as the mother of a teenage boy, I have supersensitive hearing, the better to hear mumbles with….), “If it walks like a duck, talks, like a duck….” Well, I’ll give you that one. Sometimes people are bad and rocks are dangerous. But you have to think about the big picture – are all the people in your life bad? Is every rock a menace? If so, to paraphrase the farmer, maybe it’s you, not them. This brings me back to the simple joy of “Wag more. Bark less.” I think that’s a GREAT motto to live by. I’d rather see the joy in things. Yeah, so once in a while, I’ll get a nasty surprise. Does that mean I should always be looking for it from perfectly nice people? I’d like to have more faith than that. I’d like to wag more and bark less.

On the Hunt

On the hunt for barbarians, they could be anywhere, maybe even up in that tree.

References

 “Wag More Bark Less” is the slogan of Buddy Biscuits dog treats – http://www.cloudstar.com//prodcat/Wag-More-Bark-Less-Treats.asp

For more on the travelers and the farmer, see this excellent telling of the parable (scroll down to The Two Travelers and the Farmer): http://www.wisdomcommons.org/virtue/151-optimism/parables

You Say Toe-may-toe, I Say Toe-mah-toe

Do you ever feel like you’re talking to someone but not really communicating? We have to remember that we all see things differently. I hope you find the following true story a funny reminder of this.

San Antonio is very bicultural, with a seemingly even split between native Spanish speakers and native English speakers. Other cities, like Miami, are probably the same. A few years back, my Assistant was a woman named Yolanda, who was raised in a Spanish speaking home. Her family emphasized English and she easily thinks in both languages. Myself, I was raised with English and therefore read and think in it. I have a decent ear for language, though, and can speak Spanish with a good accent. There are a fair number of words that sound very different in the two languages and there are also names that are common in the Hispanic community that are not so common in the Anglo community, like Hector or Jesus.

Like much of Texas, San Antonio is a very religious town, with references to our Lord, Jesus Christ, being fairly common in conversations. (Can you guess where this is going?)

When Yoli and I worked together, there was a mobile jewelry salesman from Mexico City, Jesus (Hay-soos for those of you who aren’t familiar with Spanish pronunciation). Yoli & I knew Jesus, the salesman, pretty well; we almost always talked about him and rarely wrote his name down. In my head, he was (and still is) Hay-soos. For me, Jesus (Gee-zus) is a different person entirely. When Jesus the jewelry salesman would visit, Yoli and I made it a point to go see all his sparkly doodads. He would usually call one of his regulars and then she would pass the word through email and Yoli would tell me.

One day, he called Yoli to tell her he’d be in the lobby with some new trinkets. She then emailed me: “Jesus is coming today.” Not thinking of jewelry, I assumed she was telling me Jesus Christ was coming.

I don’t know about you but I wasn’t expecting His return to Earth to be announced via email and in such a calm fashion.. I would think that Yoli would at least have burst into my office with some sense of drama! She’s kind of excitable that way.

Trying to be cool about the whole thing, I calmly replied, (still in email) “Really, how do you know?” I also offered to pray with her, thinking a quick prayer couldn’t hurt. She then told me that He’d called her. I immediately realized that Yoli must have been the most special of humans to have gotten a call from our Lord, Himself. I was just about awestruck. We went back and forth in email a couple more times before she came giggling into my office to tell me that I was crazy and asking if I wanted to go see our friend from Mexico City and his sparklies…..

The moral of the story is that two people can be saying the exact same thing but in two different languages, carrying two different meanings. Also, we listen and see differently. Remember the next time you’re in an argument to listen for the difference.

How do you play?

 

We’re re-watching the Sopranos right now, old school style on DVD. In one of the episodes from the second season, Livia Soprano (Tony’s mum) asks, “Why does everything have to have a purpose?” The overachiever in me wants to claim that everything DOES have a purpose but, really, I totally agree with Livia, that we are not always purposeful nor should we be. If you’re Type A, you probably disagree. I would have been in your camp a decade ago but these days I realize that some of the best times and best ideas come from playing. It doesn’t matter what you play, only that you enjoy yourself.

Sometimes the value of play is in taking a moment to rest your mind, taking a breather from the stress we all carry. When I play, I lose myself in what I’m doing. I often laugh and I’m never cranky. Isn’t that a gift? Even better, when I play, I’m encouraging others to do so, too. This means we connect with each other, even if we’re strangers. Southwest airlines gets this, why else would they encourage their employees’ to show their senses of humor? (Go to http://tinyurl.com/oo3sdu6 for an example of their funny approach to life.) Southwest is recognized for its leadership practices, which rely heavily on relationships between its employees, between its business units, between leadership and front line and between their employees and customers. This has put them on top in a very competitive industry. For more on Southwest management practices, see Jody Gittel’s book, The Southwest Airlines Way (reference info below).

Play can be powerful when you’re trying to innovate. It is inherently creative as you are using your imagination to make something, to see beyond what is and into what could be. Jay Silver recently gave a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design, “ideas worth spreading”) talk on his method for inventing. He said, “Sometimes what we know gets in the way of what could be. We think we already know how it works so we don’t see how else it could be.” Watch his video at http://www.ted.com/talks/jay_silver_hack_a_banana_make_a_keyboard.html; it will make you laugh and look at pencils, pizza and bananas differently.  Doesn’t it make you want to play?

Further evidence of how what we know gets in the way of what could be is in the art world. My first drawing teacher had us turn pictures upside down so that we wouldn’t interpret the lines into something familiar. When we try to draw something we recognize, our brain gets in the way. By making it even a little bit unfamiliar, we disrupt the assumptions our brain makes and we see things more clearly. I don’t have my textbook from this class and I’ve long since forgotten her name but I’ve included a reference below about this.

I play at home – I love to write, photograph, paint and knit (that’s being a ‘textile artist’ for you who think knitting is an old lady skill and I’ve been doing it since I could read). I also play at work. This includes writing but my favorite work activity is playing with data. I know, I know, you imagine someone hunched over a computer who hasn’t seen daylight for weeks and you can’t imagine it as play. However, in playing with data, we find patterns or anomalies that provoke us to think about our business and what’s happening. This leads to investigation and oftentimes, to a change in our strategy or tactics. I think this is why we have beaten our sales targets for four years running. I tell my team, “this is what we do well, we study the data and it tells us what to do next.”

Play keeps us fresh. By seeing things with an open mind, I learn something new every day and I spend every day joyfully. I sometimes create but I always enjoy. How do you play?

The water plays at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. I imagine a water engineer somewhere is smiling at all the oohs and ahhs when the fountain runs. (April 2013)

The water plays at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. I imagine a water engineer somewhere is smiling at all the oohs and ahhs when the fountain runs. (April 2013)

References

Chase, D. (Producer) (2000). Do not resuscitate [Television series episode]. In Chase, D. (Executive Producer), The Sopranos. HBO.

Free, D. (21, Augus 2006). Have you tried turning it upside down?. Retrieved from http://seedsofgrowth.com/have-you-tried-turning-it-upside-down

Gittell, J. (2002). The southwest airlines way. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Silver, J. (Artist). (2013, April ). Jay Silver: Hack a banana, make a keyboard [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/jay_silver_hack_a_banana_make_a_keyboard.html