Life is Short

Life is short. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

This week officially begins a new chapter for me.Life is Short

Just a little over two years ago, I sat down to write a novel, something I’d been wanting to do for a long while. It got off to a rocky start; I ended up with three distinct beginnings to three very different stories, and there I sat: stuck. So I signed up to work with an accomplished writer and editor for eight weeks and received the kind of guidance and feedback that helped me push through. I found my story. I figured out who my main character really is, what she wants, and what she doesn’t even know she wants. I was on my way. What a relief!

However, right around that same time, (more…)

Make a Difference Monday, Week 52: Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Professional Guidance CardsWeek 52: Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

As if to put a (very appropriate) punctuation mark at the end of this 52-week odyssey, the ultimate guide to spiritual responsibility is contained in the final Professional Guidance Card  of the year: Let your conscience be your guide.

Challenges to our personal integrity present themselves every day. When a cashier gives you too much change, is that an unexpected gift from the Universe? Or a reminder to check in with your moral compass? Getting into the habit of listening to that “still small voice” within on small matters will lead to doing the right thing on other, larger issues.

And what a wonderful world it would be if we could all count on one another to consistently do the right thing in all our interactions.

I wish you a New Year filled with peace, harmony and well-being – and that you are able to pass that along to everyone you meet along the way.

This week’s intention:

I will not let the noise of a busy life and the desire for expediency overpower that still small voice within.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

Here’s more information on Make a Difference Monday

 

Make a Difference Monday, Week 51: Attitude Affects Abundance

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Professional Guidance CardsWeek 51: Attitude Affects Abundance

There’s something to be said for believing your glass is always half full. Without knowing why some people have a naturally positive attitude while others seem to always be looking for the dark cloud in front of the silver lining, what I do know is this: The first group of people are a LOT happier!

Believing in abundance – that is, that there is enough to go around, enough for everyone – is a winning philosophy. When you’re not worried that there isn’t or won’t be enough, you can enjoy what you have and you can afford to be generous with others – even when you don’t have what is generally considered “a lot” from a material standpoint.

When you give, you put something positive out into the Universe, and it tends to come back to you in other ways – feeding the cycle of abundance!

Time spent in honest introspection is never wasted. If you find you fall into that second category of people who were not necessarily born positive, it will take some work to develop an attitude of abundance, but the alternative is to continue struggling with a feeling of scarcity and fear that holds you back from giving and thus prevents so much good coming back to you.

If you want something different for yourself in the New Year, maybe that’s the place to start.

This week’s intention:

Even on the darkest days of fear and self-doubt, I will remember all I have to be grateful for – especially the many little positives in my life that can so easily be taken for granted – and know that it is enough. I will remember to be generous with others – whether it be with time or service, a kind word or sharing my worldly goods. I will always have enough of something that someone else really needs.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

Here’s more information on Make a Difference Monday

 

How Are You Doing at the Quarter-Mark?

This week marks the point at which we have experienced one-quarter of what the year 2011 has in store for us.

So, as far as 2011 goes, “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really make New Year’s Resolutions for this year, preferring instead to create intentions every week throughout the year that will help me to continually share a sense of kindness, fair play and ethics with all the people I come into contact with in my business. That came about partially because I had not followed through on using a really neat deck of cards I’d purchased over a year earlier, called “The Professional Guidance Cards,” and partially because I’d had a really unpleasant and disturbing encounter last year with someone who can only be described as unprofessional, mean-spirited and egoistic. It was not the first time in my life that I’d had to deal with someone for whom the world existed solely to revolve around their whims, of course, but it had been some time and I’d forgotten how disconcerting and disruptive a situation it could be. That experience pushed me to think – hard – about the kinds of people I want to be associated with and how to incorporate more of them into my life (and minimize contact with those who see others as somehow less worthy and who seem incapable of conceiving of a win-win scenario).

Anyway, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that a full quarter of the year had passed, had I not been publishing my “Make a Difference Monday” posts on this blog since Week 1 of 2011 (see the tab above). As long as winter was, it still doesn’t seem possible that we are a quarter way through the year already!

But here we are, and I would have to say I’m feeling more satisfied with my business and my work life because I’m finding it easier to manifest the intentions I’m setting for myself on a weekly basis. I think, too, the enhanced satisfaction has to do with the fact that my intentions are not about “making more money,” “getting new clients,” and things that relate directly to “increases” for me but, rather, they are about sharing strategies with others and leading by example to get to a place where everyone benefits.

How about you? Did you set yearly goals, or something broken down into smaller “chunks”? I’d be interested to hear what’s working for you, how you set it up to give yourself the best chance of success, and what you’ve got cooking for the next quarter of the year …

Make a Difference Monday

Welcome to Make a Difference Monday!

After the upheaval of the past several years, 2011 seemed to me like a very good time to take stock of how individuals could restore their sense of power over their circumstances, their personal honor, and their faith in their own ability to create the workplace, life, and world they desire.

The losses suffered – of jobs, money, and equity; of faith in our government; of trust in our financial institutions – have affected us all, to one degree or another. Many of us have felt a sense of helplessness during these challenging times. Gandhi’s words come back to remind us that it is up to us to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Over a year ago, I was introduced to a wonderfully inspirational and motivational resource, and after reading through the materials, I resolved that I was going to make use of it to help inform my business decisions and my dealings with prospects, clients, and colleagues. Well, about 18 months have gone by, and I have to confess I haven’t done anything concrete to implement my resolution. (Please tell me you’ve been there, too, so I’m not alone in my embarrassment!)

Let me be clear: It’s not that I feel I haven’t been behaving in a decent and ethical manner but rather that I discovered a wonderful resource that I believe can improve my interactions with people – especially in difficult or confrontational situations – and I haven’t put it into “plan” form. So, until now, it’s been a good read and a nice thought but, regrettably, underused as a tool in my business.

The resource I’m talking about is a deck of 52 cards by Michael H. Gluck called Professional Guidance Cards – “a card deck that helps promote contemplation and ethical decision-making during your workday.” The deck comes with a Guide Book, and I read through all 52 Cards and the Guide Book when I first purchased my set. Anyway, I re-read the Cards and Guide Book during the last week of the year – during my annual “hiatus” from all things work-related – and was reminded how very impressive this set really is. The depth of thought that went into creating this resource, as well as how easy it is to put to use, makes me wonder why it took me so long to act on my resolution.

So, this is the year I will do something concrete with the cards. Like most people, however, I find I am much more committed when I have an accountability partner to help keep me on track, so here’s my plan: Every Monday throughout this year, I’m going to be posting my weekly card pick, along with some thoughts I want to keep in mind as I go through my week, and my thoughts on how I might put its guidance into practice. I’m inviting you – Facebook friends and fans, Twitter and blog followers, eNewsletter subscribers, family, friends and business colleagues – to join me in this journey, if you also feel it’s time to be the change you wish to see in the world.

You can learn more about the cards or order your own deck (this is not an affiliate link – I have nothing financial to gain, should you decide to purchase). Or, you can just follow my postings here and perhaps decide to join in, making your own commitment to creating a work life that is more in sync with your personal beliefs and code of honor. I’d be honored to be your accountability partner, if you’d like.

You’re invited to comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last December 11, I posted an entry in this blog in which I announced Tim’s and my plans to pick up stakes and live a life of freedom and travel and writing and photography – and work from wherever life happened to take us. The reality – as is almost always the case – turned out to be just a bit different than what I originally had in mind. But 2010 has been a year of self-discovery and dream fulfillment, nonetheless.

In retrospect, despite the planning and logistics involved, it all seems to have happened while in a walking dream. Would it be a cliche to use the word “surreal”??

We did, of course, sell our home in New Jersey – in 32 days! – almost record time, based on the economic realities of the day. And with just five weeks between signed contract and scheduled closing, we did manage to find a place to live – 600 miles away – in just five days flat, and sell / donate / give away a lot of our excess “stuff” before packing up the moving truck and heading Downeast.

I know … it all sounds so easy, right?

But here’s the previously “untold story” of the big move …

I don’t mind admitting that I had a near meltdown on the actual day of moving. I was so exhausted, and although it LOOKED and FELT like we had been making outstanding progress during those five weeks, the reality of June 2nd was that “WE ARE NEVER GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE!” (<<< That’s me wailing at 12 Noon)

Our “leaving the driveway” time had been set for 8 AM and somehow we found ourselves still emptying our Master Bedroom closets and packing up my jewelry in mid-afternoon (how could we have forgotten our clothes and my jewelry???) …

Felix, my traveling companionThe cat had been sedated since 10 AM (we still had hopes of leaving before noon, at that point), and I was casting sidewise glances at his pill bottle myself by 2 o’clock.

Throughout the afternoon, I was still running back-and-forth to our next door neighbor’s house to beg and borrow more boxes (the thousand I bought at Lowe’s not having been sufficient … don’t ask), and I was finally reduced to stuffing the remainder of our things into big green Glad trash bags. If stress were measured on a thermometer, my temperature would have been 212 degrees.

At one point, I begged Tim to just throw the mattress down on the living room floor and “Let’s just leave tomorrow morning!” Cooler heads (OK, Tim’s) prevailed, and we pushed on. I don’t think I’ve ever been more physically and mentally fatigued, although Tim had to be suffering more than I, as he did the lion’s share of the physical labor, in 90+ degree heat and humidity, no less.

Finally pulling away at 4 PM – Felix and me in the Eos and Tim piloting the can’t-fit-so-much-as-another-paperclip-in-here U-Haul – off we went to meet our future. I didn’t cry … OK, well, maybe just a little … but it was all over before we hit the New Jersey Turnpike. And no one knew (until now) except Felix, and he’s the most loyal cat in the world. (You never heard any of this from him, right?)

Owing to the late start, the original plan of a straight drive through was now out of the question. On the third check-in attempt (since the original plan did not include a stopover, I never looked up “pet-friendly hotels”), I decided it would be easiest to just sneak the cat into the motel, which we did. The next morning, he refused to eat the drugged food (loyal AND smart!), so we proceeded undrugged and uneventfully on to Bar Harbor. Well, except for the rain. Thankfully, I had gone ahead and hired people to unload the truck at our new place, after watching Tim struggle through loading a 17-foot moving truck virtually by himself for two full days. Those people were a Godsend, because by the time we arrived, we were just spent – the wind had gone completely out of our sails.

So, after dreaming about it for 21 years and putting every last waking moment of five weeks’ time into moving, we were home, and the main thought in my head was, “Oh my gosh … this is REAL!”

SeinfeldDespite the stutter-step of a 12-days-delayed closing and the very real threat that it would never happen at all (yes, AFTER we were already all settled in Bar Harbor! – but all’s well that ends well, I suppose), the hubs enjoyed (to paraphrase George Costanza), “The Summer of Tim” (c’mon, Seinfeld fans, you know what I’m talking about). This I happily participated in, since it entailed a lot of soaking up the bright sunshine and basking in seaspray along the rocky coast, living mostly like tourists in our new hometown, pursuing our shared interest in photography, and me with my laptop, hard(?) at work in the Adirondack chair on the front porch – every so often glancing up at the peak of Cadillac Mountain and pinching myself to see if it was all real. Yes, it was an idyllic existence that, quite literally, combined business and pleasure – with a decided emphasis on pleasure.

Fall brought on the inevitable realization that I needed to bring “break time” to an end and return to business in a serious way. Luckily, my part-time siesta did no long-term damage to my business or my professional reputation – on the contrary, this entire odyssey seems to have rekindled interest among some of my earliest clients while garnering new supporters, followers, and fans. This whole “following my dreams” and “living life on my own terms” thing seems to be resonating with a lot of people! In my heart of hearts, I think I knew it would.

Lately, however, the uncertainties of renting vs. owning have been weighing on us. Having been homeowners for our entire marriage, we’re finding it a bit disconcerting to have the end of a lease hanging over our heads. And a year goes by a lot faster when you’re counting down the months to potential homelessness. So, now we’re trying to decide: longer term lease or purchase a property here as a home base?

We still plan to travel some, hopefully beginning next year. The transformation of my business to being totally portable is complete, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve taken on several new clients and secured a couple of contracts with previous clients since moving here, and the new business model is working really well for all concerned. So, in that sense, I am “living a life untethered,” as I originally planned. But what a long strange trip it’s been!

Horseback on BeachAs I look back on this year, my wish is that those who may be inspired by my crazy, ongoing story decide to grab the reins of their own life and ride on!

Yes, it’s a leap of faith, but if you don’t have faith in your ability to make your dreams come true, who can do it for you?