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Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Swan-Song For 2005

I woke this morning in a terrible panic. We've reached the end of the calendar year 2005, and I haven't got a single memory of personal greatness that leaps out at me, screaming "This! I did this!"

My kids alternated between being dinosaurs and bickering in the living room as I curled my hands around a mug of coffee and sent my mind searching through the months. Nothing. I've got nothing.

Last New Year's Eve, I was flippant, declaring myself unfit for resolutions, and congratulatory toward myself for refusing to bow to convention. No goals for me, no way. I cheerfully rejected the notion, knowing that my pattern of set-aside goals would likely continue. I was fine with that.

Or so I thought. I bumbled and bluffed my way through the year, bodysurfing on the little waves, but careful not to end up with any sand in my bathing suit. I started and abandoned projects over and over. My year is littered with the tatters of my good intentions. Frankly, I'm disappointed in myself. Aiming low seems like a lousy idea, now.

At BlogHer 2005, I met a slew of 'ordinary' people who were doing extraordinary things. The taste of my coffee carried me back to July, when I drank endless cups of coffee as I developed countless crushes and felt myself grow inside. Did I honor that spirit this year? Did I take advantage of my personal growth?

As the caffeine got my blood percolating this morning, I envisioned myself doing a slow-motion base-jump off the swingset with my children's rainbow parachute to slow my descent. A comical, possibly earth-shaking proposition, but not the proper punctuation for my year. Not the sort of thing that you point to as your major accomplishment for the year. My kids, however, would think it was an awesome personal statement.

This is why we'll gather the kids and start a new family tradition tonight. I've got a notebook for each family member. We'll decorate the covers, and then we'll open the books and write down our resolutions. As the New Year dawns, I'll tuck my children into bed, and tuck the notebooks away, after copying down the resolutions they contain. We'll revisit these resolutions, again and again. Next New Year's Eve, when we open our notebooks and add our new resolutions, hopefully we'll have a sense of accomplishment and pride in our follow-through.

And I won't be left with a zero hour inspiration to leap off of anything.

Happy 2006!

Jenny Lauck

Crawling Out of Lurk to Wish You

I've been enjoying the random nature of 100 Bloggers, love watching the patterns form from post to post, and mostly enjoying the writing. I hope to be a regular contributor in the coming year.

I signed up because there was something I liked about being a part of something whose meaning was left loose. Like one of those poems created by writing words on slips of paper, throwing it all up in the air, and recording the words in the order they are retrieved. Chaos begets order.

I offer this by way of an introduction - I've been writing online since 1998, and have archives back to 2000. I publish a literary magazine and work for writers more often than I actually write myself (fiction that is - I blog religiously). I'm a mature pagan, meaning I've left the pentacles and heavy eyeliner in the broom closet and prefer to bewitch the world in deed rather than by spouting off about how powerful I am/my Goddess is/magick can be. I am a homebody. I love coffee. Mostly, I prefer cats to people, but I live in a house with four children and my husband (who I prefer to think of as my lover because I'm subversive that way. I love it when I refer to him as 'my partner' or 'my lover' and people assume I'm a lesbian.) I love challenging common usage. I love words.

I have no mission in posting here. Just as the site itself has no stated mission, I'm just here. Available. Resting in good company sometimes, and adding to the fray now and then.

I thank you for the opportunity.

Feith

Tiny Toys


Just a bit of fantasy writing based on a dream...

I can't help thinking what an adorable house, as I walk into our new home. Moving boxes everywhere, I think about the charm of this new home. I open a small built-in closet, admiring the long-time ago workmanship and detail.

Thinking to myself, this is a house I could bring a child into, a home I could bring joy into. I can feel the love surrounding this home. Then down on the floor, at my feet, I notice the tiny toys!

Getting down on my knees, I look closely at the tiny toys. Strewn apparently haphazardly from the closet, in a line along the wall. I notice there are painted markings on the floor, curvy lines & tiny stars swirling around the toys. I suddenly realize there is a pattern.

Crouching, I trace the swirling lines with my fingers. My heart leaps. I feel child-like. Happiness washes over me.

I lay right down on my stomach, idly tracing the lines between the tiny toys. Then I realize the swirling lines have lead me to a tiny golden egg. Hidden among the tiny toys! I continue to follow the swirling lines again, past more tiny toys. Finding yet another tiny golden egg.

The toys begin to talk to me, telling me the story of a child lost. A musical box plays a sad lullaby. I am told musical boxes were created for weary mothers. Worn out from singing love songs to their sleepy little ones.

It appears the swirling lines, stars and tiny toys continue all through the house. Leading me past tiny golden egg after tiny golden egg. Finally the swirling lines lead me to a tiny well-loved rabbit.

A tiny stuffed rabbit, with a big red felt heart, sewn onto his chest. I notice there is a crack right down the middle of his tiny heart. The little rabbit tells me that he was once loved. Once carried everywhere. Once held close at night. But now his little one has disappeared. Lost forever.

I lay there, on the floor, level with the tiny rabbit. I feel the break in his tiny heart. Lost and lonely. Just waiting. Suddenly a mother approaches from above us. I look up at the sadness and weariness surrounding her eyes.

As she spies the tiny rabbit, the corners of her mouth curve up into a sad smile. "There you are, you silly rabbit", she sighs. She picks up the tiny rabbit. Holds him close to her heart. I watch as she brushes away the tear tumbling down her cheek.

Yes, I think as I stand up, brushing the dust off my clothing. This is a house I could bring a child into, a home I could bring joy into.

Copyright © Catherine Anne ... All Rights Reserved 2005

Originally posted on Life Begins... blog

Friday, December 30, 2005

What is a Hillbilly?

Most people view a Hillbilly as an uneducated, uncultured, lazy, no account loafer. In fact, the very term Hillbilly is often used as a derogatory statement or is used as a put down. When it is used in friendly terms it is used in jest, to make fun of someone. The term Hillbilly certainly conjures up certain visiuals and stereotypes just at the mention of the word. This is not a defense of the term Hillbilly or any certain group of people. However, I am intrigued by the notion that many people are called Hillbilly or backwoods because of the way they speak or by the fact that they do not have higher degrees of education.

Here in Kentucky we use funny soundings words such as aint, preshadit, shucks, i'll be darned, and a bunch of other words that make no sense to others. I have found that this is not limited to Kentucky. I have received e-mails from around the world of people that are the equivalent to the Hillbilly. The interesting thing is, I hear how many of these downhome folks are often very successful. This is often without higher education. Don't get me wrong, I am not putting down education. I have a couple of college degrees and so does my wife. I hope with everything in me that my kids pursue a college education. But, does a degree guarantee that you will be successful? or does it just open doors of opportunity? does life experience count for much? Can you be self taught and be successful? What are the variables that equal success? I am interested in hearing some feedback from yall.

Carnival of 100 Bloggers, Issue 2

Welcome to Issue 2 of the Carnival of 100 Bloggers featuring Rosa Say, Trevor Gay, Ken Camp, Rebecca Thomas, Kirsten Johnson, Dwayne Melancon, Average Jane and Troy Worman.

As always, the new year brings with it the anticipation of limitless possibilities, but first, Kirsten Johnson reminds us to take time to celebrate the successes of 2005 in her post Celebrations Before Resolutions.

Rebecca Thomas is Rebecca Thomas. She writes, "I suspect I’ll rewrite this next month, but for now, just the mere thought is making me giddy!" Read her Starting on New Year's Resolutions.

In Rosa Say's I Want to be Thoroughly Used Up When I Die, she writes, "I’ve found myself thinking of Givens and Goals: the Givens are those things that must be more for me than resolutions; they must be ever-present. Givens are my values, my virtues, my strengths, my resolve and my mission. The Goals are still to come; they are the possibilities that are still begging to be explored. They are promise, brightness, energy, and light. "

Here is something a bit different -- Dwayne Melancon's The Coming of Summer. It doesn't sound like a new year's post, but it is. Well done, DM.

Ken Camp vows to simplify in 2006...and not say anthing bad about Microsoft. Read his Resolutions for 2006 .

Average Jane faces the new year with enthusiasm, but first, reflects on 2005. Reas Average Jane Faces the New Year.

And then there is Trevor Gay's Time to Reflect. Simplicity at its best.

And finally, me.

Happy New Year from 100 Bloggers!

...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Weeping through a children's movie

It doesn't seem real that I just returned home from seeing Cheaper By the Dozen 2 with my eight-year-old daughter after sobbing through half of the movie. That's because: 1) It's a kid's movie. 2.) It's a comedy. 3) Steve Martin's in the lead role.

And I'm crying like a baby in the front row of the main seating area, pulling Kleenex from my purse after using all the popcorn napkins?

I'm not saying I'm proud. I'm just saying.

Movies aren't so simple, seeing them I mean. Because we bring our context with us through the tunstyle. Our popcorn and gummy bears and the way we've made meaning of our lives so far.

My context sits right next to me, her face blushing when Tom Baker's tomboyish teenage daughter likes a boy for the first time and goes to the movies with him.

My context chomps popcorn and guzzles rootbeer when the parents grapple with three kids leaving nest and moving away.

My context blinks and sighs at the new grandchild, whose sweet face ushers the parents into the beginning of their final era of life.

It's a story of parenting and of letting go when you can't quite find the muscles that let your fingers release the precious lives you--by some magic or grace--have been allowed to guide so far. A story of releasing in progress, little by little, then more and more, which is what good parents do--or so I hear it's in the job description.

And I also know that the context for the grief I hit in that theater tonight was as much about letting go of my own daughter as about being a daughter and having to separate, having to force that separation, and the horrible pain in the severing, the surgery of undoing.

About every loss, every abandonment, every challenge to uncurl my own tight grasp, to let some air between my hands and hers.

And afterwards, in the car home, there's my context again, giggling in the backseat - "Mom, Mom--was that so funny when the dad was upside down!?"

And I'm laughing so hard the tears start again.


The time has come

Memories of Us by Michael Joseph Robinsmith

And so my friends
The time draws near
When we must all
Bid adieu.
Another year grows old
Another year begins.
So many memories
We have shared.
The little lives began,
The older ones moved on,
To Heaven's gate.
But time like us
Keeps marching on.
New days await us,
Fresh memories to create.
Love and laughter
Sadness and tears.
But through it all,
We'll always have,
Friends like you
To hold and cherish.

All songs and words © Michael Joseph Robinsmith ... All Rights Reserved 2005

Originally posted on Joe Cools - Songs of My Heart blog

Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Twas the blog before Christmas


'Twas the blog before Christmas, when all through the house
No blogger was stirring, no hand moved the mouse.
The postings were stacked by the tag cloud with care,
In hopes that more readers soon would be there;

The users were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of updates danced in their heads;
And me with my podcast, downloaded like that,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out from my laptop there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the portal I flew like a flash,
Tore open the reader and refreshed the cache.

The enclosure attached soon gave me to know
That new entries were here, more news I should know.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a raft of new updates, eight headlines so clear,

With a quick Wiki update, who could it be?
Our investor, of course, a leading VC.
More rapid than eagles his portfolio came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Blogspot! Now Feedster! now, Movable Type!
On, FeedBurner, FeedBlitz! (On Marketing Hype!)
To the top of the feed! To the top of them all!
Now blog away! blog away! blog away all!"

As valuations that before the wild bubble do fly,
When they meet with a fund, mount up to the sky,
So up to the top of the investments they flew,
With RSS data, and named it Web 2.

And then, with a twinkling, I read in my news
Each notable posting, contrary views.
As I drew back my hand, and was turning around,
Down to my trackback he came with a bound.

His comments were brief, what was ado?
Were adwords OK? Did users click through?
A bundle of mashups he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

Our AJAX - how it twinkled! Our tagging - how merry!
We socially networked to his brand new BlackBerry!
Our RSS valid, we were well syndicated,
We subscribed to the feeds that we loved (and we hated);

The stump of our web site held tight in our teeth,
The hyperbole encircled his head like a wreath;
We tagged Technorati, we blogged with the best,
On Feedster we surged and made the A-list.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And marked us on Frappr, and Flickr he searched.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
Updated his blog, up our OPML rose;

He sprang to his feed, gave his investments a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!"

**

With best wishes from FeedBlitz to everyone this holiday season!

(c) www.feedblitz.com 2005
Full reproduction permitted only with full attribution and links intact.

Technorati:


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Do you ever do something because you can't think of a good reason not to?

Here I am, Blogger # who-knows-what on this 100 bloggers project.

Do I have a good reason to be here? Not really. I have nine other blogs I could be blogging on right this very minute. Seriously. But Troy invited me along for this undefined ride, and I noticed no one had yet posted today, and I thought "why not?" And I didn't have an answer.

The question is: what do you discover via randomness?

If I start this post with little in my mind to say will I come upon some pearls of wisdom? A big aspect of blogging is following where your mind takes you in response to other people's posts. Would the blogosphere exist if we didn't link to one another? I doubt it.

I confess that I am impossible to please. On the one hand I am not particularly inspired by bloggers who act merely as ringleaders or highway signs telling me where to exit. I want context. I want pithy insights. Conversely, I follow some bloggers who post only long, incredibly detailed and thoughtful musings...often even about topics in which I'm interested...and yet I cannot make it to the end of their posts. My mind wants to move on to the next, to the next, to the next.

I have written everything from the short, sweet, "go read this interesting link" post to the long (and dare I admit, sometimes even rambly) philosophical post. But I have never just started a post without knowing where it was going to go, as I started this post. It was an experiment in randomness, and I have discovered this:

My mind likes a little order. I like to bring my posts full circle. I do not excel at random.

But if you do want random, I've got a list for you: here are a group of British Bloggers who self-identify their blogs as "random."

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Holidays and Loss

"Our grief always brings a gift. It's the gift of greater sensitivity and compassion for others. We learn to rise above our own grief by reaching out and lessening the grief of others".
-author unknown

For those who are grieving the holidays can be a especially difficult time.
And all to often , grieving people are isolated because of our fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. Even if you say the "wrong thing", more likely than not the grieving person will only remember that you cared and you were there. The words, in the end, are often inconsequential as long as your intention is from the kindness of your heart.

Please remember grief has no time frame.
If you don't know what to say, simply say ''I'm sorry.''
The words themselves are not important, but convey a sense that you know and care. Remember that love never dies, and the pain will never totally disappear.

I have used many ways to cope since my daughter died, I reach out to others in pain, I volunteer, I give of myself.
I speak her name when I share stories, I remember what a challenge she could be.
I keep photo's of her on my desk, I simply love her still. She is gone, but will never be forgotten.

Don't neglect those suffering in grief this year because your uncomfortable.
Reach out, be the iniatior, take a moment and listen.

Deirdre Lewin, in this newsday article says: "Holidays are supposed to be joyful times, and the comparison between these external trappings of joy and togetherness and the internal feelings of not feeling joyful intensifies the grief and the isolation and the loneliness terribly."

Coping with the holidays link resource

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Carnival of 100 Bloggers, Issue 1

Welcome to Issue 1 of the Carnival of 100 Bloggers featuring Rosa Say, Trevor Gay, Pet Campbell, Ken Camp, Rebecca Thomas and Troy Worman.

Virtue is not a word we hear very often, but what better time to reacquaint ourselves with it? Read Rosa Say's Aloha Virtue List.

Trevor Gay has a passion to increase awareness and support of informal carers. These are family members or friends who provide care to someone suffering from an illness or disability. Click here to read Trevor’s Carers Wish List.

Do you have a holiday plan? Read this from Pet Campbell. She is not a happy holiday person, but she is a Merry Christmas person.

Next, Ken Camp offers a holiday wish list and bewares for the naughty, while Rebecca Thomas writes about something truly wonderful that happened in her office.

And E.M. Sky pens a Note to self... for Christmas shopping in 2006.

Finally, I offer this: Stress, Eating and the Holidays.

It's the holidays! Surround yourself with family and friends, rid you mind of guilt and destructive self-deprecating thoughts, and fill the void with self love and affirmation.

Happy holidays from 100 Bloggers!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Review: Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Almost two years ago, someone strongly advised my wife, Imbi and I to read Good to Great to better understand this person's leadership style. We were very impressed with the book and subsequently read Jim Collins earlier book, Built to Last. (Which is the order that Collins now recommends they be read.) There was much in these two books that seemed applicable to non-profit or NGO leadership but there were some things that particularly did not fit - how to measure the success of non-profit organizations in terms other than money, as well as governance issues - a CEO of a for profit company plays a different role than the leader of a non-profit.

Collins begins his new thirty-six page addendum to G2G, Good to Great and the Social Sectors:

We must reject the idea—well-intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become “more like a business.” Most businesses—like most of anything else in life—fall somewhere between mediocre and good. Few are great. When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness. So, then, why would we want to import the practices of mediocrity into the social sectors? [Pg 1, G2G&TSS]

Level 5 leadership is Collins' pinnacle on the successful leadership pyramid, described by Collins as:

...somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves. [link]

But Level 5 Leadership is different in the social sector:

Level 5 Leadership - Getting Things Done Within A Diffuse Power Structure
When Frances Hesselbein became CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, a New York Times columnist asked what it felt like to be on top of such a large organization. With patience, like a teacher pausing to impart an important lesson, Hesselbein proceeded to rearrange the lunch table, creating a set of concentric circles radiating outward - plates, cups, saucers - connected by knives, forks and spoons. Hesselbein pointed to a glass in the middle of the table. "I'm here," she said. Hesselbein may have the title of Chief Executive Officer, but her message was clear;
I'm not on top of anything. [Pg 9, G2G&TSS]

On page 12, Collins quotes George MacGregor Burns from his book, Leadership who says; "the practice of leadership is not the same as the exercise of power." To this Collins adds,

If I put a loaded gun to your head, I can get you to do things you might not otherwise do, but I've not practiced leadership; I've exercised power. True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to. [Pg 12 & 13, G2G&TSS]
Collins suggests that this style of leadership, of which successful social sector organizations practice, has much to teach the business world. It is the pattern for future success of all organizations.

The G2G framework does apply in the four stages of building great organizations for both the business and social sectors. Stage Four stands out:

Clock Building, Not Time Telling. Truly great organizations prosper through multiple generations of leaders, the exact oppostie of being built around a single great leader, great idea or specific program. Leaders in great organizations build catalytic mechanisms to stimulate progress, and do not depend upon having a charismatic personality to get things done; indeed, many had a "charisma bypass." [Pg 35, G2G&TSS]

A friend recently told me of being at a church leadership conference a couple of years ago, where the Senior Pastor of the host megachurch was describing his leadership principals and systems techniques to a room of assembled pastors - in a session on how he grew the team and the size of his church. Much of what he said appeared to line up with Collins until he added, "but don't get me wrong, if I left tomorrow this place would crumble." He was a time teller, not a clock builder.

Collins speaks to this earlier in the book:

...building a great organization requires a shift to "clock building" - shaping a strong, self-sustaining organization that can prosper beyond any single programmatic idea or visionary leader...to make the greatest impact on society requires first and foremost a great organization, not a single great program.
[Pg 24 & 25, G2GTSS]

I've worked with a number of charismatic leaders, people who are capable of exciting those under them - visionary, compelling, strong-willed - but at the end of the day, much like the leader my friend described - when they are gone, so will be what they've built. It's been about them, not what they've been a part of building.

See this post of mine from back in April, So You Want to Be a Star.
If you want to read more about and from Frances Hesselbein, go here.
And if you're interest in reading about leadership cults, read this.


Where have all the TypePads gone?

At dustbury.com, CHill writes:
Okay, what's the deal with TypePad? Every TP site I've looked at today has been reset to Saturday morning.

The most likely explanation would seem to be that they crashed big-time and the latest backup they had was from the 10th, but that can't be it, can it?
As one of those TypePad bloggers - you will recognize all of us as the ones hopelessly sitting at our keyboards dazed and wondering - I certainly hope not.

I am taking advantage of Troy's generous hospitality here at 100 bloggers to offer the answer to CHill and anyone else who is wondering ... Here's the official word from our TypePad dashboards:

TypePad is currently unavailable for maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience. During this time, your weblog is available for reading and viewing, but you won't be able to log in to TypePad to post, and visitors will not be able to comment on weblogs.

For updates, take a look at the Six Apart Status Weblog.

Six Apart

It's been about 12 hours now, and that picture of us TypePadders at our keyboards is getting kinda ugly. I think Six Apart needs some coaching with their bedside manner, although I guess they're taking care of their own panic-striken techies right now.

I need more coffee.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The “I Want Now” Generation?

Also Posted at Let's Get Going!!! Blog

In this week's Carnival of the Vanities , Retire at 30 posted a very controversial piece about entitlement, work, delayed gratification, and today's young adults.
"Everybody would like $1 Million tomorrow, but how many people look at the world around them and ask what problems they could fix to create $1 Million in value? Instead many of us in our 20s are going out running up $200 bar bills (guilty myself on occasion) and racking up huge credit card debts. We have developed as a generation a convenient approach to financial planning: don't. We don't plan because we're going to get a great job, a killer raise, our stock options are going to be worth $1,000,000 alone, the $1,000 a year we do manage to save is going to return 35% a year like it did in the late 90's, we'll be the next brad pit(t), we're going to write the great American novel, our blog is going to bring in 6 figures a year (laughing). We don't have to work for it, no. It is our birthright."

I disagree!! It may be true that the symptoms- unhealthy visions of grandeur, racking up bad debt, or a strong denial mechanism with regards to their finances- are present in today's young adults. However, I think the disease is mis-diagnosed as laziness and entitlement. My clients, friends, and colleagues that are in their 20s and 30s are not in denial about work. I've not met one person in my life as a coach that has been unwilling to work at what they want. They realize that life is a work of art and as such requires effort.

Instead, I interpret the sense of entitlement and the 'longing-for without a real plan of battle' to be symptoms of the disease of estrangement. Many young adults are disillusioned by their lives, careers, relationships and seek solace in consumption. Instead of tapping into their talents, desires, joys, they linger; stuck in a place that doesn't fulfill them. Along the way they may pick up destructive habits like over spending, drinking too much, or eating unhealthily.

The cornerstones of success in life and in finances are the same. Planning, passion, satisfaction, creativity- these are the hallmarks of success in every facet of life. When a young adult is feeling stuck, all of these traits may be shed in search of simple pleasures. Alienation, disillusionment, loss of hope- these suck away at life energy and cloud the mind's native intelligence. The only cure is to look inward and to ask: What do I want? What do I really want in life, career, finance, relationships, etc.? Bringing light to our fundamental needs and desires and then manifesting them will lead to health in all life areas.


Hayden Shumsky, Let's Get Going!!! Blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Man Down!

(Originally posted on my blog on 12-13.)


Ow ow ow ow ow ow OWW!There's something that happened last Thursday, but I've been too busy posting other stuff to mention it.

Besides, I was hoping to see how it would all shake out before talking about it.

Well, today was Shake Day.

See, last Thursday was when we had our mini-ice-storm, so most of us went in late, especially those of us with a zillion miles to drive.

So about 11:00, when I was five miles or so from work, I decided that the smart thing to do would be to stop into Whataburger and pick up some lunch, so I wouldn't have to take what was left of the day to go back out later for lunch.

So on the sidewalk into the restaurant, I paused to reflect that suddenly my feet were up even with my face.

I didn't have much time to ponder the significance of this turn of events, since my thoughts were interrupted by my right elbow slamming to the ground, and the weight of my upper body jamming my shoulder down onto my upper arm.

The next thing I knew, I was rolling around in the icy Whataburger drive-through lane with a non-functional right arm, and people were hurrying over to pick me up.

Long story short: My arm hurt like holy heck all day, but I figured it was just muscle strain and would go away soon.

Now it's five days later, and the major components of the pain have not in fact gone away. It got to the point that last night I was concerned that maybe there was a fracture in the bone somehwhere, a fracture that was causing the immense pain I was having whenever I reached for anything, or exerted any pressure at all.

All night long my fitful dreams were of full-arm casts and painful bone resetting.

In recent years I've noticed that I never go to the doctor for any given condition until that condition starts depriving me of my sleep.

Once you've messed with my Sleepy Time, you've crossed over into the territory in which I am motivated to take action.

So, after a quick call to my insurance company, I called my chiropractor's office to make an appointment. I called her instead of my regular doctor because it's easier to get a quick appointment, plus the regular doc would send me deep into a neighboring medical complex to get the x-raying done, whereas my chiropractor has her own equipment.

And anyway, the only real difference is that the regular doctor could prescribe pain pills and the chiropractor can't, but no doctor has ever given me any of the good pain pills I keep hearing about; they probably all suspect that I would enjoy them too much. When I had my carpal tunnel syndrome three years ago, all he gave me was that stupid Vioxx, which did a big fat diddly-squat for the pain, and upset my stomach, and now it's being shown that there are health risks associated with the drug.

Oh yeah, thanks, Doc; please sir may I have another?

And besides that, after sending me all over Hades and back to get x-rayed, I had to call his office four times to get the results, and when I did get to talk to one of his office people, she said, "Okay, your x-rays came back okay, so you're good to go!"

"Um ... I'm good to go?"

"That's right!"

I said, "Okay ... then WHY DOES MY WRIST STILL FEEL LIKE IT WAS STABBED WITH A LARGE RUSTY FARM IMPLEMENT?"

"Uh ... I'll have to get back to you on that one."

So I finally talked to the doctor, and he told me that I did NOT have carpal tunnel syndrome, even though my wrist was aching like a mother-duck, which is a chief symptom of CTS, which afflicts people who sit at computer keyboards for ten or more hours a day, which describes me just dandy.

He still didn't know what I DID have, but it wasn't carpal syndrome.

Then he wrote me that prescription for Visuxx, and couldn't figure out why I wasn't satisfied.

BUT I DIGRESS:

Anyway, long story long, I got in to see the chiropractor, and she put me through some range of motion exercises and determined that there was probably not a fracture involved, and a couple of x-rays confirmed the opinion.

The other doctor would have taken a week to tell me that, once I finally got in to see him, and then he would prescribe some semi-poisonous placebo.

Anyway, Dr. Smith (my chiropractor, not the guy on Lost in Space) did an adjustment of the problem areas, as well as some of my long term problem areas, and hopefully we'll see an improvement.

As for the whole injury experience, I'm at a point in my life where I see these little mini-disasters as God's way of nudging us one way or the other.

In this case, maybe He's saying that it wouldn't be a good idea to ditch it all and become a lumberjack.

Another dream deferred ...
=================================================

Mark Bryant
brykMantra.com
brykMantra.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holidays or Holy Days

Well, I've seen it now on a church sign, on numerous blogs, and a newspaper editorial. Holiday or Holy Day. An epidemic, uprising if you will, a protest against the commercialism of the season.

Yet, the shopping frenzy continues. People lining up year after year to purchase ever bigger gifts. It's become almost a game of one upmanship. No longer content to merely keep up with the proverbial Jones' on a yearly basis, now people have to have a bigger plasma TV, bigger Ipod, faster computer, small cars.

Where does it all lead? To more heart attacks, higher stress levels, higher suicide rates. And for what? To make the multi-national companies profits bigger?

It really is time to take back this Holiday and every other Feast day. These were originally celebrations of the pagans for major seasonal changes, that were adopted by the Church to fit into their own celebrations.

The season belongs to two parts now. As a Holy day of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and also as a day for young children to celebrate the joy of giving. NOT receiving, but giving.

My own children have learned this from early on, that it is more important to give than to receive. We have made it part of the celebration to ensure that those in need are looked after as much as we are able to give. For He gave his Son to us and so too we can give of ourselves to those in need.

Happy Holy Day and a Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Random Question; Why doesn't Seth Godin allow comments on his blog?

It's not a big deal, but I've been bugged the last few weeks by the inability to comment on Seth Godin's blog. Seth is a very smart marketer and a keen observer of Web 2.0's participatory ethos. So I'm confused by his decision to not permit comments. Perhaps someone out there can explain it to me...I'm eager to understand his choice.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Random Laughter

I was listening in, yes shamelessly easedropping, actually at a meeting during a break.Two women were talking about their terrible shopping experiences.Playing one up man ship on each other about the worst experience..
I sort of let my gaze drift over them as I listened and started to giggle. Then you know how this happens I was laughing OUT LOUD ,the person across from me got the giggles, then it was like a epidemic, laughter everywhere. It was wonderful.
My boss asked me if I wanted to share what was so funny, which made me start laughing again, small flash of grade school and teachers. I said I was just thinking about practicing random acts of kindnessthat instead of getting all mad eyed, I would have practiced kindness which usually stops people in their tracks, and makes a much more rewarding shopping experience.
Do you remember the last kind thing you did for no reason?I do, its Something I try to do often.The clerk that cannot get it right, no matter what, don't get mad, smile and say gosh, I hope you can get a break, heres five bucks, get a coffee on me.
What? Reward someone who has cost me time, aggravated me to no end. And is probably ( you fill in the blank ).
Yes and remember to smile, while you practice.Trust me it gets easier, and better yet, it feels good.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Don't Grow Up to Be a Loser

Ed Brenegar strikes a chord with me about the power of dreams. In August, I was among 18 men who through SAR Adventures went to Colorado to grasp manhood. Men who were in their mid 20's, men in their late 50's, and all in between were among the group.
The rat race, pressures of family, and the rut of life were chains that held us back. They dulled our senses and blurred the dreams of old. We went to recapture those dreams of old.

Tom Grady showed different film clips to help us process the thoughts going through our minds. In one clip, he showed The Kid. Young Rusty is sent forward in time to face himself as a grownup. Now Russ, the professional image consultant grown up, is faced with a troubling fact given by the juvenile Rusty:
"So, I'm forty, I'm not married, I don't fight jets, and I don't have a dog? I grow up to be a loser."
Everything young Rusty dreamed about, everything that was important, he failed to achieve. He certainly made a lot of money, drove a nice car and was very powerful, but what his heart had longed for went unfulfilled.

We also fight constantly to keep our dreams alive. But fight we must. I have chosen to fight through blogging. It allows me to express my dreams. Expression is the first step to my dreams becoming reality. And they are refined and improved by everyone via comments and feedback.

Posting is not for the weak at heart. The weak at heart will not live their dreams. They will be swallowed by the world we live in and lost in the rat race of life. But one day, they will regret that they never really lived. What they longed for went unfulfilled.

Consider William Wallace in Braveheart:
"Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take away our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!"
Blog! Holding on to your dreams will be much easier.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

If it's not an Absolute Yes, it's an Absolute No

Phil posted quite rightly about how we should stop doing the kinds of things that don’t add value to our lives.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that many people have never learned how to stop doing the things that no longer serve them. In fact, I suspect many of them don't even know that they're doing things they could stop, enhancing their lives in doing so.

For those who know, I offer one way to bring about that sort of change. For nearly ten years, I've been doing it in my life, and have seen fabulous results. It's an exercise taught to me by my dear friend, Cheryl Richardson (the same person Phil quotes in his post). She calls it the Absolute Yes list.

The premise behind it is that we each make choices all day, every day. Every time we say "yes" to one thing, we are very naturally saying "no" to another (and vice versa). The key is to choose wisely, and consistently—and that’s where the list comes in.

Here's how to do it:

On a piece of paper, make a list of one to five things you’re going to commit to (say “yes” to) to the exclusion of all others, for the next 90 days. It’s often not easy to choose a max of five—but that’s why this exercise is so powerful. In causing you to think deeply about what matters most to you right now, you also get clear about what doesn't. Those are the things you'll say "no" to.

Post the list somewhere where you can easily see it during your day, or even in more than one place for ease of use. When I do the exercise, I make several copies and post them around the house; on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, right above my monitor in my home office, on the dashboard of my car, and I even make a mini version that I can carry in my wallet. You can't use the list effectively if you can't access the list items. If you have the sort of brain that can hold the list and access it for every decision you're called to make, more power to ya...have at it and forget the paper lists.

To give you an example, on my current list are:
When it comes to the lists I do, there's always something having to do with my well being. At first, I used to list, "my health," but found I wasn't really taking any action at all because the category was simply too broad for me. By focusing on one aspect at a time, I've been able to bring about more positive changes in my life. If you choose to be specific, make sure you're not being too narrow in your focus, or committing to something you know you aren't able to do. Action matters here... not the words.

You’ll also notice that my items aren’t numbered. Numbering sends a signal to my brain that there’s an order of importance, and in this exercise, when I make #1 more important than #4, I tend to choose #1 more often—which isn’t my want. I want to focus on all of my list items, and the way that works best for me is when I look at them as each being equally weighty. YMMV, so order them, or not, as feels best to you.

With your list in hand, you have a guide for making choices over the next 90 days. When an opportunity presents itself, you hold it up to, and verify it against, your Absolute Yes list. If it’s not an easy fit for an item on the list, then it’s automatically an Absolute No. Simple.

*Note: This doesn’t include things like eating, bathing, working as prescribed by an employer, etc. We all have things that must be done in order to stay alive, pay bills, etc. The list helps you quickly and easily decide about all the other stuff that shows up in your life.

For instance, if a pal calls and asks me to take an intermediate level ASL class with him, I’d look at my list, see that doing the class wouldn’t be about (or contribute to) any of the things on my list, and I’d then easily be able to make it an Absolute No for me. If the class were a creative writing class, though, it could be an Absolute Yes. On the other hand, if Dawn (a member of my family) asked me to take ASL with her, it would be an Absolute Yes because it would be a valuable experience for the two of us to have together, and would nurture our relationship.

Obviously, needs and wants change over time, and so will your list. Make a note on your calendar to review the list in 90 days and see if you want to make changes. You don't have to make changes, of course, but checking in will let you know whether it's time to, or time to recommit to the things already there for another 90 days.

By consciously committing to a small number of things to the exclusion of others, you do what you do every day (make choices about what does or doesn’t get your attention), but you do it in a far more mindful way, and generally end up with far more valuable results, on both sides of your experience.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Company of Leaders, A Community of Leadership

There are very few people I know who self-consciously identify themselves as leaders. Even people who are the senior managers of their organizations often do not see themselves in this light. This is unfortunate because many if not most of these people function in a leadership capacity everyday. The problem is conceptual on two levels.

Most of what we hear and read about leadership is about styles and techniques. In this sense, leadership is a subset of management. However, to echo Peter Drucker's famous statement, "Leaders lead people, not organizations." I agree, and would like to suggest that leadership and management are different things. One needs the other as you will see. But they are not the same. So, the first conceptual shift we need to make is to see that leadership is about leading people, not primariy about organization of activities, tasks, the allocation of resources and the establishment of goals and priorities.

The second conceputual shift that we must make is that leadership is not primarily a positional thing. It is clear that organizations need their senior people to lead. But, I'd like to suggest that at every level, from every individual, that leadership is expected and needed. It all depends on what leadership is. Here is how I understand leadership.

The Path of Leadership: Excellence, Initiative and Impact
EXCELLENCE
Leadership is first and foremost a quality of an individual. In ancient times, this quality was described as arete or excellence. It was a quality of life lived. It was exhibited in what has come to be known as the cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, justice, courage and moderation. It was realized in the individual as eudaimonia or happiness or fulfillment. When the individual leader is functioning at this high level of human experience, it positively affects their ability to lead.

So, the first step along the path to leadership is to recognize that leadership is a product of character and competence, not just skills and techniques of style.

INITIATIVE
The second path of leadership is focused upon the action of the leader. Leadership requires actions. Without action there is no leadership, and yet to often the "leader" does not act, and his passivity stands in contrast to the other members of the organization.

Leadership action is most clearly defined in the personal initiative that a leader must make. This action takes place in three areas - with people, through ideas, in organizational structures.

People: A leader initiates toward people to establish collaborative relationships that allow for the same leadership initiative to develop in the other. The character of the relationship is marked by honesty, respect and trust. This is the fundamental basis for communication. The collaborative nature of the relationship develops when both individuals recognize that there is a mutuality or sharedness to their relationship. In other words, when people see that not only do they have common beliefs, values and goals, but that there is a mutual benefit to be realized from the relationship, then the relationship goes to a more significant depth of relating. The ultimate level is when the relationship transcends trust and mutuality, and each individual commits to acting in such a way to honor the other person. Ordinarily, this is what happens when one person memorializes another who has died. The highest level of relationship is when one person willingly sacrifices their own benefit in order to honor or secure the benefit of the other. This type of relationship is rare, and is a mark of the highest character of excellence.

Ideas: A leader initiates toward people using ideas as a tool for not only communicating, but for establishing purpose, focus and a vision for the relationships. Individual and organizational purpose are traditionally found in mission statements or visionary plans. These statements are intended to conceptualize the focus of action. A vision describes the impact of a mission statement. A plan conceptualizes how a vision moves from ideas to action. It is the leader's responsibility to initiate the conversation that establishes a common understanding of what the purpose and goals of the organization are. And it is the leader's responsibility to act as a interpreter of the vision. Ideas without communication are dead, and communication that does not lead to action is self-indulgent. As a result, the initiative that a leader takes is to constantly move from the abstract to the concrete, from the conceptual to the practice, from the idea to action.

Organizational Structure: A leader initiates within an organizational structure or setting. The purpose of this structure is not organizational perpetuation, though sustainability is a by-product. Organizational structures exist as a vehicle for enhancement and fulfillment of the collaborative nature of human relationships. The structure serves the relationships, not the other way around. Whatever the mission or purpose of an organization, the structure exists as a system for translating the talent and commitment of individuals into action that produces a desired outcome. It is the leader's responsibility to initiate the process that formulates a goverance structure, establishes a strategic plan and manages the outcome of the collaborative work of its members.

In essence, the leader is the person who initiates to move forward relationships, vision and the organization of the work that follows.

IMPACT
The focal point of leadership is impact. In other words, leaders focus on creating change so that individual and organizational purpose can be fulfilled. However, if that impact is not clearly understood, then the organization turns in on itself, and exists to perpetual its existence.

Just as the character and competence of the leader determines the quality of the individual in the role, so also the organization. Organizations are a reflection of their people. If they lack the character of excellence, so will the organization. Therefore clearly and compellingly articulating a vision for impact is essential for building the relationships needed to achieve it.

A Company of Leaders, A Community of Leadership
I hope you see that this conception of leadership is much more than the management of processes and resources. At the most basic level, it is the formation of a team of people who do not wait passively to be told what to do. They are a team of quality people who take initiative who do what must be done to acheive excellence as a team and as an organization. In this sense they are a Company of Leaders.

At a more profound level it is the formation of more than a team, more than a company, but a community of people whose relationships serve to provide a stronger motivation to live lives of excellence. It is in this sense that leadership is fulfilled in becoming a Community of Leadership.

What was that about?

What an ignoble experience I have undergone. I hesitate to mention it. It's positively cringe-worthy.

Have you seen this large man dressed in fake fur and exclaiming loudly in a shopping center near you? The link has a picture of him that may help to jog your memory and identify this fellow.

The fur of my chin is real, unlike his beard. I really don't know how to take it. I'm not a fan of being flashed, nor catnapped generally but at least this time I was not taken to an antiseptic room

I was herded over to see him in my crate. To see two of him actually. The first man was for short two-legged people only, no pets. The second accepted people of all sorts. Both were in the same mall with squirming human kittens on his lap. Whatever wad that about anyway?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Thoughful Twisting

Symbolic nostalgia,
Whispering flakes of snow,
Noses cold dripping,
Black eyes of coal,
Orange flames licking icy mittens,
Marshmellow floats on chocolate dreams,
Twinkling light colors floating slow,
Glass pane frosted diamonds,
Glow candle Glow.

Take one down, pass it around...

one less bottle of beer on the wall. And one less person here I'm afraid. With some recent commitments that have come up, I have to accept that if I post here twice in the next year, it'll be a suprise. My time will all be spent in other places where I've made commitments. I need to withdraw from the centennial list and make space for someone who'll use the spot. Have fun folks.

7 Easy Creative Rituals to Spark Your Creativity and Inspire Your Soul

by Nancy Marmolejo, Comadre Coaching

Creativity is a mysterious force that visits us with great ideas, new ways of seeing the world, and the courage to do things differently. Revitalizing your creative talents will help you in the most unexpectedly wonderful ways: a new business idea, a renewed commitment to self-care, an appreciation for the beauty that lies all around us.

Finding a small bit of time each day to feed this force will not only reward you with increased creativity, but also give you an expanded sense of appreciation and gratitude for the creative process.

The following list highlights simple yet powerful actions you can take to spark your creative energy from the inside out.

1. Keep a Daily Journal
Use a journal to jot down the meandering thoughts of your mind. Write, draw, doodle, paste collages together. Stuck among your great ideas are random thoughts, mental notes, and menial observations. Use your journal as a place to deposit these thoughts, keeping your creative mental workspace clear. Think of it as feng shui for the mind, a way of keeping the creative juices flowing.

2. Create Sacred Space
Find a place in your home to keep inspiring, motivating, and spiritually significant objects. Remind yourself that creativity flows like water and wind, that it is steadfast like earth and powerful like fire. Collect objects from nature to remind you of this. Include things that awe and inspire you, projects you’re most proud of, and photos of people who support and encourage your creative action.

3. Reflection
Reflection can be a minute of appreciating someone or something, or it can be a day of meditation and writing. Find ways to incorporate reflection into your daily routine, noting how experiences and interactions help you grow as a creative person. Use this time to survey what inspires you and what blocks you, what attracts you and what doesn’t.

4. Get Away
If you can, find some time to sneak away and enjoy a creative pleasure. It can be an hour wandering through a craft store, window shopping, a hike in nature, or a visit to a special place. If you have kids and can’t get away alone, don’t worry. Enjoy the outing and reflect on it together. There are no rules to creative getaways. It’s whatever touches you at that moment.

5. Do Something Loca
What’s something crazy you’ve always dreamed of doing but didn’t because of insecurity, fear, or intimidation? Make a pact with yourself to get to know your Inner Loca (or loco for you guys reading this), and find ways to let her out to play every day.

6. See the World Through a Child’s Eyes
Children have the amazing ability to be open to the possibilities of just about anything. Give yourself playtime to see the world with the eyes of a child. Sometimes it can be simply sitting on the floor and looking at a room from a new angle, or it may be giving yourself permission to laugh and have fun.

7. Chart Your Course
It’s one thing to dream of creative things, and it’s another thing to make them happen. Look at all the wonderful ideas you have and choose one to act on. Make a commitment to do at least one daily action to support this idea. Doing the footwork to make your dream a reality will show you how easy it really is to turn ideas into action.

A ritual is a series of repeated acts. By incorporating creative ritual in your life, you will increase your innovation and creativity in ways that will surprise and delight you. Try at least one of these actions, and feel your creativity grow!


Nancy Marmolejo helps creative and entrepreneurial women hone in on their core strengths to turn ideas into action. She helps both the wildly creative and the mildly creative launch innovative ideas, enter new markets, and build on natural talents.
Visit Nancy Marmolejo on the web at www.ComadreCoaching.com to receive a free copy of Get Creative Now! Four Simple Tools to Boost Your Creativity from the Inside Out and the award winning newsletter The Pocket Comadre.

Entrepreneurs Juggling Act

October and November are blurs--sixty jam-packed days of juggling more things than I'd like to admit to--business and personal commitments stuck to me like Velcro on plush pile.

My year end swan song when I attempt to squeeze every last to-do item off my checklist, promising to be nicer to myself next year.

A big part of my problem is that I'm capable of juggling and managing multiple commitments. In fact, meditation to me isn't sitting cross-legged on the floor, but more like focusing on only one thing at a time.

But just because I can handle more, the question becomes should I?

There isn't an entrepreneur I know who isn't adept at juggling more than a few balls in the air at once. Then I ran across an article from the Microsoft Momentum Site that says multitasking might not be as creatively productive as many of us thought.

I don't have a problem setting healthy boundaries - and saying no - to projects that don't give me a creative buzz or working with clients where the spark of rapport doesn't exist. I've discovered over time that to ignore either results in my feeling like I'm doing, well, work.

So, my real problem is maintaining healthy boundaries when I love what I do?

Is this the plight of the entrepreneur, micropreneur, or solopreneur? Does anyone have ideas for doing it better?

Three Little Words

I asked in one of my own posts on my site for commenters to give me three words, phrase or random, and that I would then include those in a poem. I am now one year strong after a bitter divorce that ended a 20 year marriage. The poetry that flowed in the beginning was full of pain and heartache. I had a number of dates during that time that generated little lovey poems. Then I fell head over heels, soul-mate connection type of love and the poetry has flowed full of love. But I wanted to experiment with a random poem. So what better way to do that, than to get input from those who read it. So, here it is. There is one condition though. After you've read it, if you could leave me three words in your comment and also, there is a request at the bottom. Sort of a spread the joy and friendship of the blog world request. Thanks

Three Little Words by Michael Joseph Robinsmith

I was hoping for a miracle
Looking for you all night
What were you hoping for
I had to do what's right.

There was something in your eye,
Sparkling through the illusion.
That was speaking to my heart
Like that ray of hope and emotion.

Flooding into my soul,
I remember those words today
I'll never let them go
When you said, make my day.

Standing out on that beach
Watching the thunderstorm and clouds
Washing away the pain
For another's eternity to which I bowed.

Why would you walk away,
What we had was so intense
There really was nothing so deep,
It always felt so elegant.

There really was no passion
Nothing that was worth these tears
I'd have sacrificed everything
Just to keep you close and near.

Remember sitting by that river bank
With that breeze blowing on our skin
Blossoming like the flowers
Our souls refreshing way back then.

What kind of love is this
Our souls connected as one
Sharing the future is all we want
The beauty of us shines like the sun.


Now one little request to go along with this poem. Visit three of the links contained within, tell them you are visiting from the Three Words Poem done by Cowboy Joe. Don't cheat and look at the status bar to see where you are going, just randomly choose three of the highlighted words that speak to your soul. In this case, let them also know that this is the one posted here at 100 bloggers. Thanks ya'll. Keep smiling.

Three Ways to Make Holiday Flying - and Life -More Enjoyable


Are you planning to fly this holiday season? I learn a lot by watching people in an airport. Watching someone take a trip is like watching a condensed version of life.

Going Against the Wind.
Watch people grip the armrests on takeoff. Yes, it can get bumpy - but the plane climbing against the wind. Without the wind, it wouldn't get up in the air. However, the plane goes against the wind to gain altitude. Next time you feel life is going against the wind, life your head up and gain altitude.

Turbulence Along the Way.
Life has its share of turbulence. Too many of us will look for a fresh start, a change of scenery, anything but the turbulence we're facing. Don’t go back to the airport and start over. Alter the course a little, but maintain a focus on your destination.

Get To the Airport Early.
I don’t see people smiling when they are running through airports, trying to catch flight. Filled with stress, not knowing if the airline has changed the gate number or if they have can get their bags checked on time. I see the same with business people who delay working on some projects until the last minute. Filled with stress, unsure if parameters have changed or if they can get the job turned in on time. Just get things done earlier.

Are there other likenesses between airline travel and life?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Blog Business Cards

Back in June I wrote a post referring to an article about using business cards to publicize your blog. Though I have business cards, up until now I haven't followed my own advice -- sort of. I do have labels with one of my business blog URLs on it and put that on the back of my regular business card.

However, I recently started a new personal blog about weight loss, diet, healthy eating and fitness. Since this doesn't fall into my business category and I still want to drive traffic to it, I decided to print up some business cards with info about the blog. I used a standard template at VistaPrint.com, waited until they had one of their frequent sales, and got 250 cards printed free + $5 shipping. Not bad, and they look good.

My plan is to carry these cards with me and to give them to people who express interest in the subject matter. I have left a stack at my gym and sent or given a bunch to people in my network who will also give them away. The blog has been live for about 2 weeks and I'm currently getting about 100 visitors per week. I'm hoping that my business card promotion tactic will attract new people to the blog.

This is a low cost offline promotion tool and I'm not sure how I'm going to measure this other than by watching my stats and seeing if more people start participating. I can't really spend a lot of time on promoting this blog, so I figure if I have something to give people when I meet them at the gym or pilates studio, that will work for me.

Do you have a low cost marketing tactic? Click on the Comment link and share!

Rosa's rant, continued...

Rosa Say recently added a post here entitled, "Be forwarned, another e-mail rant coming on..." and I'm afraid it's "gotten me started," so to speak. I'm not usually one for ranting, but this particular "automated response" phenomenon happens to be a pet peeve of mine as well. And while I don't appreciate these e-mail systems, I hate the phone systems even more.

You know what I'm talking about - the automated voice system that tries to make you feel as though you've reached a person when you are quite obviously talking to a machine. (Really, do corporations think people are idiots? People ARE still RUNNING corporations, aren't they? Or have we devolved into some Blade Runner nightmare reality that I don't know about?)

A particular airline (that shall for the moment remain nameless) has installed my absolute least favorite of these systems. It's about as friendly (and sincere) as that assistant who only has one response to phone calls: "I'm sorry, she's in a meeting."

The system is designed to try to get information from you about what you want before connecting you to a human being. If it can help you without the human being, of course, it will be happy to do so. But if you really do need a human being, you're going to have to convince the computer to let you out of the system. And that's about as easy as convincing a python to let go of your pet hamster.

Before you can talk to a real human being, the computer is determined to learn everything it can about you. Ostensibly, this is so that the computer can pass the information on to the poor human being who will actually get stuck answering the phone. (Horror of horrors.) The problem is that most of the time, my information isn't that definite. I want the cheapest flight I can find within a given week or two. So giving the machine specific dates is only going to slow things up for me.

(I've tried it, the person picks up and says, "I'mlookingthosedatesupforyoupleasehold" and then disappears again before you can say, "Waitaminutethere'smoretoitpleasewait!")

Instead, I use my favorite trick to bypass these automated systems. From the moment I hear that automated tone, I just cut it off with the magic words: "customer representative." God bless the corporations that have programmed this instant escape routine into their automated telephone systems. Usually the computer will stop messing with you as quickly as if you had said, "I am the richest woman in the universe and I want to pay you an exorbitant amount of money for just five minutes of your time right now."

The computer usually puts you straight through to a real human being without batting an eye. Unfortunately, this particular airline has apparently invented the most stubborn computer on the face of the planet.

The first time you say, "customer representative," it responds in a bland tone something to the effect of, "Ok. First let me get some information from you." Then it proceeds with its rambling, automated script as though you never said anything at all.

The second time you say the magic words, it says, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that," and it launches back into its scripted monotony. When you hear that litany drone on and on, you feel as though you have just entered the Twilight Zone. "WHAT!!! THEY DIDN'T PROGRAM IN THE MAGIC WORDS??? GOD HELP ME!!! THEY DIDN'T POGRAM IN THE MAGIC WORDS!!!"

You're trapped in automated hell.

Flustered, you try the magic words again. "Customer representative."

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand that."

As stubborn as the computer, you repeat the magical incantation for the fourth time. "Customer representative."

At this point, you're considering going Harry Potter on its butt (CUSTOMERO RESPRESENTATUS!) when you finally break through. "I'm sorry I'm having so much trouble understanding you. Let me connect you to a customer representative."

Brilliant. It finally gives you a person, not because you had asked for one four times, but because apparently it has decided that you must be speaking Swahili.

So to all those corporations out there that don't program the magical override into their automated voice response systems, shame on you. Life is too short to spend it talking to a machine. Don't make me set Harrison Ford on your computer butt. Just play nice and fix it. Please?

- EM Sky

Almost Time

It was the first frost today in This Small Town, Florida.
It's the kind of day that makes me think about snow.
Lots of snow, as in CowboyHeaven, Montana
kind of snow.
Sking, snow angels, snowball fights.
Steaming cups of cocoa, with marshmellows.
But in This Small Town Florida, it doesnt snow,
it is likely to rain, but no snow.
I am planning our annual caroling fiasko,
which entails a hay wagon, christmas lights, straw bales, a planned route
and friends, family and sore throats.And the pickup.

This year I have the sheet music in folders, lantrens with extra batteries,
thermos's dug out.
We will meet in the center of This Small Town, and we will
argue over the route, and fight loudly over the cookies and pastries we are given as we stop and carol.
People will peek out in disbelief, and then join in as we sing.
Favorites will be requested, words will be made up.
Hearts will be softened for a moment,memories of other years and other places will drift thru my mind and I will go home, being thankful I did it again.

Just STOP doing it!

A high quality life has a lot more to do with what you remove from your life than what you add to it." -Cheryl Richardson

Think about that for just a bit...a high quality life has a lot more to do with what you remove from your life than what you add to it. So instead of doing more, do less and remove the junk from your life that is getting in your way.

Put in easily understandable terms, what are you doing right now that isn't adding value to your life? Lots of things probably. So why are you doing them? Stop doing these low value, time wasting activities RIGHT NOW! Don't add 1 more useless log to the fire of your life, until you can take off some of the wet, soggy logs that are putting out your fire.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to fix my fire right now.

Make every day a Great Day!
Phil

Phil Gerbyshak challenges you to "Stop having a nice day...Make it Great!" His blog at
http://MakeItGreat.org is updated many days with thoughts about how you can take control of your life and stop letting it take control of you!

Visit with Santa

Hi Santa!!

You don't mind if I pass on the whole sitting on your lap thing, do you?

Good, cuz after all I am a big girl now.

Ok, well, not that big, but I am grown up now.

How about if I just sit next to you on that stool? Ok?

How's this? Yes, I am comfy, thanks for asking. No, it's not too hard, I'm fine. No, I really don't want to sit on your lap, you old flirt.

Santa, I really wanted to ask you something this year.

Well, do you think this year, if I close my eyes real tight and wish real hard that I could, just once, get something I really want?

Because well, you know, I've been pretty good this year, well kind of. Hey, I tried, ok?

It's not easy being good, ya know.

Ok, sorry Santa, for the attitude, I'll work on it, OK?

Yeah, but anyway, this something that I want means a whole lot to me, and you know me, I really don't ask for much for myself, but this year I would like this one little teeny eeny thing. Well, ok, it's not so teeny, it's a good size, but you don't even have to wrap it, just a bow will do.

What? Oh, I didn't tell you what it was, did I?

Well, um, how about I whisper it in your ear.

Psss, psss, pssssss.

Ok, got it? Good. You'll think about it?

Sheesh, I guess I should work harder on being good, huh? But I really want this really bad, Santa, so if you can just make an exception just for this year, it would make me real happy.

And I promise, I won't ask for anything next year, not even a piece of coal.

And I will make you cookies.

Ok, I'll shut up now, Santa.

What? Oh, you still want cookies even if you don't give me what I want?

Well, I know they are the best, but this doesn't seem quite fair here.

Hmm, well Santa, I guess I will have to think about it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Smiles: real or fake?

Want to try a fun experiment on how well you read others? From the BBC's science page, can you spot the real vs. the fake smiles?

If you want to cut to the chase, I don't think it's cheating to give you their summary that appears after the quiz of how to tell the difference:
Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles. One possible explanation for this is that it may be easier for people to get along if they don't always know what others are really feeling.
Although fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles, they are actually slightly different, because they are brought about by different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain.

Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract. These are the muscles that pull the corners of the mouth outwards.

Genuine smiles, on the other hand, are generated by the unconscious brain, so are automatic. When people feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion. As well as making the mouth muscles move, the muscles that raise the cheeks – the orbicularis oculi and the pars orbitalis – also contract, making the eyes crease up, and the eyebrows dip slightly.

Lines around the eyes do sometimes appear in intense fake smiles, and the cheeks may bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting and the smile is genuine. But there are a few key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones. For example, when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.
Is it really easier to get along if we don't know what others are really feeling? It makes me think about what other cues do we get in life, but perhaps don't always pay attention to, that help us figure out what's real, and what's fake?
Thanks to Carol Ross for the link (and check out her blog, Ordinary Life Extraordinary Living).

Be Yourself

Check out this thought-provoking post by our friend Felix!

Be yourself. That's all we ask. Everything else will take care of itself.

We are branded continuously by our actions. If we are conscious of this, as Goffman asserts, and we act to censor ourselves, then we are continuously branding ourselves.

It sounds like a lot of effort and it is if one is trying to project something other than one's essence. Some are better at this than others. We call these people bullshit artists.

When two or more people have synergy, this overhead, this self-censorship, is less necessary, possibly unnecessary.

When we are ourselves, when we act with integrity, when we are transparent, the branding effort, the development of our reputation, is more natural, and with others, the forming and storming and norming of the team flows.

This is the stuff of synergy. Synergy and flow at base, in brief, is begot by character.

...

Day 72

Today is Day 72!

8 new bloggers have joined the fray in the past 48 hours, but we are going to need a lot of activity from them and others in the next 28 days to reach our goal of 100 posts by 100 bloggers in 100 days.

Please send your recommendations for participants to 100bloggers@gmail.com!

...

Post Thanksgiving Gluttony

Still thinking about all that food. Led me to The International Federation of Competitive Eating website. Here's just a sampling of current IFOE records:

and, of course,

Don't know about you, but I'm trying real hard to NOT think about what the subesequent 5-7 minutes were like for the recordsetters!

Ah screw it. Time for lunch.


by way of introduction

Forgot to introduce myself. Barry Zweibel, here, life coach, executive coach, leadership consultant, and founder of GottaGettaCoach!, Inc. My regular blog is named GottaGettaBlog!

Happy to be here. Thanks for the invite.

TV Commercials on Mute

[My first post at 100.bloggers.]

Try this: Turn off the sound during television commercials and, based on what you see, name two different products or services that the ad could be selling. A sports drink ... or financial advice? A new car ... or viagra? Until they pop their logo on-screen it's really hard to tell a lot of the times.

[/My first post at 100.bloggers.]

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Death of Candor, Life of Optimism

Okay, maybe I'm just an anomaly. Maybe I'm a weird hybrid of European and American. Maybe it's even just a symptom of me being a "creative" (albeit with MBA) dealing in the world of "suits"...

But, why is "passion" regarded with such disdain in board rooms? And truth, too? Why are folks who care so obviously about their companies and their products ALLOWED to be regarded as strange artifacts when they bring up the uncomfortable or the plainly obvious or the tremendously optimistic (which are often one and the same)?

Be forewarned, another email rant coming on…

I’m all for the wizardry of electronic communications and convenience, however I am getting increasingly bothered by the way it is destroying courteous service and common sense.

Have you noticed how the bigger, more successful, and more techno-savvy a business gets, the harder it is to do business with them? Of course you have.

First automated voice systems made it nearly impossible to ever call a company and get a human voice on the phone. If you did, they usually weren’t able to help you, for they couldn’t circumvent what their fancy electronics did either.

Now we can handle a myriad of business online — but only if what we need done has already been programmed into some data base first. Heaven help us if we need some assistance a programmer hasn’t already predetermined a self-help path of pull-down menus and mouse clicks for.

This is my most recent pet peeve, and its frequency is getting frightening. It’s no longer the exception to the rule; it is the norm. It is the automated email response.

This is the scenario: Your transaction with a company somehow goes wrong, and you use their email link to customer service, describing your situation in great detail, and providing them with every possible bit of could-be-pertinent information you can. This is what you get back:

******PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL*******

Greetings from _____

Blah Blah Blah

I.E. one of our standard responses for a situation similar to yours which ignores all the other information you gave us in your email.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:

http://www.ifyesclickhere. (I changed these and they don’t work)

If not, click here:

http://www.ifnoclickhere. (but you get the idea.)

Best regards,

Member Services


Why don’t they just write back what this really says to us?

“We will provide you with an email address to customer service, but you have to play by our rules. We are very protective of whatever overburdened real people we may employ in Customer Service, so if we don’t fix your problem on the first try, we’ll have to make sure you can’t email us back with your evidence documented in the same email string. If we happen to make you angry about that, well sorry, we just have to take that chance. We’re a big company, we don’t really need to make problem children customers happy anyway.”
Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. I am already plotting your downfall.


Dirt Roads

I've posted this a couple of times in the past on my blog. Every now and then something happens ro remind me to appreciate one of the finest things there is in life - simplicity. I thnk lately it's the fact that they're building a new housing development nearby that grates on my nerves. When I moved here, it was a quiet area on the outskirts sort of. But in the last year and a half, 300 new homes have turned this into suburbia and I'm thinking I'm going to have to move a bit farther out to recapture the simplicity of living out on a dirt road...

Dirt Roads

What’s mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved.

There’s not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency that wouldn’t be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.

People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride.

That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, if at the end is home…a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.

We wouldn’t have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along.

There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.

Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they’d be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun.

And there were no drive by shootings.

Our values were better when our roads were worse!

People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn’t tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust & bust your windshield with rocks.

Dirt Roads taught patience.

Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly, you didn’t hop in your car for a quart of milk you walked to the barn for your milk.

For your mail, you walked to the mail box.

What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony rode on Daddy’s shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.

At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.

Most paved roads lead to trouble, Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole.

At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn’t some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out.

Usually you got a dollar…always you got a new friend…at the end of a Dirt Road!


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