Let’s Make a Deal

Are you a planner? I sure am – it’s probably one of my most annoying qualities. I can’t help it, though….I like to make the most of the time that I have (in a day, and here on earth), so I do my best to schedule things and fill it up with stuff that matters. Someone asked me recently (while scoffing at the calendar that was open on my desk and the kajillion obligations that I have coming up in the next two months) what I had planned for the next 20 years. I laughed and started to tell her that she was a jackass for mocking me – but then I stopped. Hmm. She made a good point. Where do I want to be in 20 years?

This. :-)

This. :-)

In 20 years from now, I will  be 61 years old. Holy shit. No doubt I will still be cute as hell, and my rack will still be awesome (please don’t interrupt with a dose of reality – I’m not interested). I will still be working in Education in some capacity, but hopefully at that point, I will be about 5 years from retirement. (Fun fact – if I retire at the age of 66, I will have worked in this industry for 46 years. Yikes.) My Wee One won’t be so wee anymore – she will be 28 years old, and probably working on building a life of her own. I hope that she will still want to hold hands and be best friends with me – I guess time will tell on that one. :-) I want to have made some of the trips that I have on my list (I’m looking at you, Bali!), and I want to have learned how to paint (art, not walls). I want to have learned to speak one other language, and I hope to have mastered the bagpipes by then. I know that I won’t have cured cancer or the common cold, and I know that I won’t have done something so amazing that Diane Sawyer calls for an interview, but…I’d like to have made some contribution to the world that left it a little better than I found it. I hope I can figure out what that is. :-)

I want to be living in a home that I love, one that is full of warmth, laughter, and love. Bonus points if it’s paid off by then!!! :-) I don’t want to be living alone anymore – I’ve done that, and I don’t choose to live out my days that way. I want to spend my time in the company of those that appreciate me, not tolerate me – again, I’ve done that long enough, not doing it anymore. I want to still feel well enough physically to enjoy life, and I’d really, really like it if I could finally find some relief and peace from the constant agony that is my left arm (which is hurting like a mo’fo these days). I want to not have to worry about money anymore – I don’t expect that I will be rollin’ like a rock star (although I believe in my heart that I would truly excel at that type of life), but I do want to live comfortably, and not have to worry. That would be nice. :-)

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Most of all, I want to be happy. I want to look around me and feel joy at what I see. I don’t want to feel annoyed, and I sure as hell don’t want to become one of those people that complains ALL THE DAMN TIME. I really dislike that quality in others, and I certainly don’t care to try it out myself. Ick. I’ve worked so hard in recent years to adopt an attitude of gratitude as I go about my days, and that is something that I really want to see continue. There’s a lot of great things in this world – it’s my duty to appreciate each and every one of them. :-) I have spent a fair bit of time lately focusing on doing more of the things that make me happy – I’ve not been working quite as much, I have been saying no to things I don’t want to do, and I’ve made spending time with those that I care about a real priority. I’ve met some amazing new people, and actually taken the time to live like a normal person with a social life and everything….it’s been great!! I’ve been watching all of the hockey playoff games (which you know makes this Canuck happy), and the time that I’ve spent cuddling on the couch with hockey and wine has been some of the best moments that I have had in years. See how little it actually takes to make me truly happy? :-)

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I’ve also been making plans for the summer, which I’m SO excited about! I’m really looking forward to a few weeks off work, taking a couple of trips, and spending time with the people that I love. :-) I’m also looking forward to spending an entire day in bed, and not putting pants on unless I have to go to the store for supplies (it’s good to have dreams). I want to go kayaking, sit outside and enjoy some (a lot of) wine, swim, and just be happy. It’s going to be GREAT. :-)

 

I came across this article on Lifehack today, and it made me smile – 40 Little Things in Daily Life That Bring Us True Happiness. :-)

1. Finding money in your pocket that you didn’t know you had.

2. Being asked by someone who cares how you are doing.

3. Climbing into bed when you have fresh sheets.

4. Taking an extra-long bath or shower when you have some free time.

5. Smiling at a child you see in public.

6. Receiving a 10 minute massage from your partner or friend.

7. Cuddling someone before you have to get up and start your day.

8. Waking up and realizing it is a sunny, beautiful day.

9. Having a long phone conversation with someone you care about and haven’t spoken to in a while.

10. Watching the rain fall when you have nowhere to be, and you can curl up on the sofa.

11. Watching children playing and laughing together, reminding you of the joy in the world.

12. Spending some time with your pets – or animals in general!

13. A stranger giving you a genuine smile.

14. Having a nice, long stretch when you first wake up to get your body moving.

15. Laughing out loud at a funny memory.

16. A gesture of kindness from someone in your life – as simple as your child helping you cook dinner.

17. A smell you love, from baked bread to a freshly mowed lawn.

18. A meaningful, long hug from somebody you care about.

19. Putting on clothes after they have been warmed on the radiator.

20. Taking a few moments alone when things get hectic.

21. Watching the sunset or the sunrise.

22. The smell outside after the rain has stopped.

23. Listening to your favorite artist or album.

24. Receiving an email or a letter from a friend.

25. The chance to be creative, from painting an old set of drawers to doodling a picture.

26. Holding hands with someone you love.

27. Eating your breakfast in bed.

28. Playing a game you used to love when you were younger.

29. Eating healthy, tasty food that makes you feel good about yourself.

30. An extra half an hour to snooze in bed.

31. Having some time to yourself to read a book you love.

32. Buying your favorite drink or snack and savoring it.

33. Receiving flowers from someone who cares about you.

34. Eating your lunch outside in the sun.

35. Trying out a new recipe and creating something delicious.

36. A gesture of support from your friends or family.

37. Listening to a song you used to love and haven’t heard in years.

38. Taking the time to help someone with their problems.

39. Spending time in your home when it is tidy and clean.

40. Achieving a small victory, like fixing the washing machine or replacing a light bulb.

 

Great list, eh? I know! There is nothing on there that’s too revolutionary, but all really sweet, wonderful things that feel good. I think that’s the kind of life that I want to have in 20 years – it’s the kind of life that I want to have NOW. I want to spend my days revelling in the sweetness of the world around me. I’ve said before that life to me is like a beautiful summer peach…let’s all bite in, and let the juice run down our chins. Good deal? :-)

xxx

 

PS: This:

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Shake Your Tailfeathers

It became apparent a long time ago that I must not be a very easy person to love. I’m not high maintenance, my heart is most decidedly not black, I am not mean, I’m not cranky….none of that kind of thing – I’m just a different kind of kitten. Part of the problem is that I am a very creative person – my mind never stops going, I’m not known for my finely-tuned logic skills, and I’m also quite averse to seriousness (which is a polite way of saying that I am a raging jackass most of the time). I came across this article recently, and I absolutely LOVED it! Entitled “20 Things to Remember if You Love A Highly Creative Person”, it’s a great read. While I’d never be so pretentious to think of myself as being highly creative, I do think there’s some very decent advice for all of us on how to deal gently with each other – and, for those who may be interested, how to deal with me. :-) Happy reading! :-)

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1. They have a mind that never slows down.

The creative mind is a non-stop machine fueled by intense curiosity. There is no pause button and no way to power it down. This can be exhausting at times but it is also the source of some crazy fun activities and conversations. This is absolutely, 110% me – my bloody mind never stops (which is probably why I suffer from insomnia), I’m always thinking…I exhaust myself. The rest of the world must find me frustating!

2. They challenge the status quo.
Two questions drive every creative person more than any others: What if? and Why not? They question what everyone else takes at face value. While uncomfortable for those around them, it’s this ability that enables creatives to redefine what’s possible. I don’t do this so much, actually….I tend to go along with things outwardly, rarely pausing to rock the boat – but you should hear the revolutions I’m starting in my head!

3. They embrace their genius even if others don’t.
Creative individuals would rather be authentic than popular. Staying true to who they are, without compromise, is how they define success even if means being misunderstood or marginalized. This is ME!!! I don’t give a whooping funt about being popular or well-liked – I care far more about being me, and being true to me. I think I’m a pretty decent person – if others don’t get me, then that is their loss. Whatevah.

4. They have difficulty staying on task.
Highly creative people are energized by taking big mental leaps and starting new things. Existing projects can turn into boring slogs when the promise of something new and exciting grabs their attention. I am natually inclined to be this way, but years of conditioning has forced me to learn to stay on task, hyper-focus and finish the job at hand. If I didn’t have to worry about keeping my job, I’d probably be loopier than a shithouse rat!!

5. They create in cycles.

Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, sometimes manic, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped just like the natural seasons are interdependent and necessary. I can definitely relate to this – sometimes, my creative juices resemble the rushing waters of Niagara Falls, and I can’t get all of the ideas whirling in my head out quickly enough. Othertimes, it’s like the friggin’ Sahara around here…dryer than hell. Ebbs and flows, friends…ebbs and flows.

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6. They need time to feed their souls.
No one can drive cross-country on a single take of gas. In the same way, creative people need to frequently renew their source of inspiration and drive. Often, this requires solitude for periods of time. I am a girl who definitely requires ‘me’ time – I need to be left alone to read my favorite websites, slide through my Twitter feed, catch up on my favorite shows on my DVR…all of these things feed my creativity, they inspire me, they get me thinking, and they make me feel good. Does anything life-shattering ever happen after I watch the week’s worth of Jimmy Fallon on Saturday mornings? No. Does it make me feel as if I’m ready to take on the world and I am going to be okay after an exhausting week? Absolutely. Bring it on. :-)

7. They need space to create.
Having the right environment is essential to peak creativity. It may be a studio, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of the house. Wherever it is, allow them to set the boundaries and respect them. I wish that I had a quiet space to work and think and just be, but I don’t. Instead, I set up shop on my bed most of the time (I got a new Casper mattress in December which is the friggin’ bomb of all time – seriously, it has been SUCH a game changer for me. Love it! :-) ), or I park it in the living room on the love seat, and get down to business. I used to love writing outside on my deck, but the yard is a shithole of a mess and I don’t have time nor arm power to clean it up, so…I’ve taken my show inside. :-( In other news, I’m currently holding auditions for intern yard boys/pool boys ( even though I don’t have a pool) – all interested applicants are encouraged to apply through the Comments section. 😉 PS: Shirts will be optional! 😉

8. They focus intensely.
Highly creative people tune the entire world out when they’re focused on work. They cannot multi-task effectively and it can take twenty minutes to re-focus after being interrupted, even if the interruption was only twenty seconds. This is partly me – I am a focusing fool….but I can multitask with the best of them. I think it must be the years of conditioning in the work place -plus the fact that I’m a girl. 😉

9. They feel deeply.
Creativity is about human expression and communicating deeply. It’s impossible to give what you don’t have, and you can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself. A writer once told me that an artist must scream at the page if they want a whisper to be heard. In the same way, a creative person must feel deep if they are to communicate deeply.  I can definitely relate to this one…I feel all the feels, all the time. When I get my feelings hurt, it cuts me to the core. When I care for someone, I love them with all of my heart and want to build a shrine in their honor on the regular. I spout love declarations, I sing their praises, I compose them bad love poems – the whole nine yards. When it comes to feelings, I am a believer in the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy. This probably explains why I’ve been hurt/shattered so damn many times. Oh well….nothing ventured, nothing gained.

10. They live on the edge of joy and depression.
Because they feel deeply, highly creative people often can quickly shift from joy to sadness or even depression. Their sensitive heart, while the source of their brilliance, is also the source of their suffering. I don’t suffer from depression – I get sad and bummed, of course, but I generally try to keep that in and hide it from the world. However, thankfully, my moments of melancholy are mostly few and far between. I said to someone recently, as I was pissed off and ranting and raving like a lunatic, that I work so hard all of the time at keeping my feelings between the lines, keeping everything on a real even keel…never allowing myself to swing to extremes. Why? Why do I feel that I have to do that? I suppose it’s the years of my mother telling me to tone it down, to stop every time that I showed any extreme of any sort – she still does it, in fact. I’m 41 years old…perhaps it’s time for her to realize that the ship has sailed???!  There are days when I would like to just let’er rip, show all of my feelings and emotions to everyone around me, whether they asked for it or not. I can’t imagine the carnage that I’d leave behind! 😉

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11. They think and speak in stories.
Facts will never move the human heart like storytelling can. Highly creative people, especially artists, know this and weave stories into everything they do. It takes longer for them to explain something, explaining isn’t the point. The experience is.  I don’t know if I am a good storyteller, or if people think I am boring as shit and wish I’d shut the hell up when I talk….I hope that I am interesting. :-)

12. They battle Resistance every day.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes:

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Highly creative people wake up every morning, fully aware of the need to grow and push themselves. But there is always the fear, Resistance as Pressfield calls it, that they don’t have what it takes. No matter how successful the person, that fear never goes away. They simply learn to deal with it, or not.  This is so me. Every day, I know where I want to be, the things that I want to do….but I seem to lack the knowledge of how to bridge the distance between the two. I certainly don’t lack the motivation, though…so perhaps some day I will figure it all out. :-)

13. They take their work personally.
Creative work is a raw expression of the person who created it. Often, they aren’t able to separate themselves from it, so every critique is seen either as a validation or condemnation of their self-worth. This is something that I struggle with…I take criticism very personally, which I really ought to get over. With the amount of shit and abuse I take from the world, you’d think I’d be better at it!

14. They have a hard time believing in themselves.
Even the seemingly self-confident creative person often wonders, Am I good enough? They constantly compare their work with others and fail to see their own brilliance, which may be obvious to everyone else. Amen. That’s all I’ve got to say about this one!!!

15. They are deeply intuitive.
Science still fails to explain the How and Why of creativity. Yet, creative individuals know instinctively how to flow in it time and again. They will tell you that it can’t be understood, only experienced firsthand. This is a weird thing that I go through all of the time…I get these wonky feelings about stuff, and I am usually right. I feel it in my gut, and there is little that I can do once that feeling settles in…I don’t understand. However, I am also the dimmest person in town about some things, and you damn near have to hit me over a head to catch on to them. Grr! I am maddening!!! :-(

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16. They often use procrastination as a tool.
Creatives are notorious procrastinators because many do their best work under pressure. They will subconsciously, and sometimes purposefully, delay their work until the last minute simply to experience the rush of the challenge. I’m funny about procrastination. I am SUCH a doer, 99.9% of the time – but there are a few things that I happily put off, hoping that perhaps a fairy will appear and take care of it (or the shirtless pool boy). Cleaning out my fridge is one of these things, cleaning the old toys and junk out of the upstairs of my house is another. I don’t know what the hell I’m waiting for with these two tasks, but I am clearly waiting for something!!

17. They are addicted to creative flow.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience reveal that “the flow state” might be the most addictive experience on earth. The mental and emotional payoff is why highly creative people will suffer through the highs and lows of creativity. It’s the staying power. In a real sense, they are addicted to the thrill of creating. I get this. I find painting to be the most thrilling activity around…and I’m NOT a good painter. However, the act of putting colorful blobs on a canvas and making something pretty makes my heart pound with excitement, and each time I do a painting class, I’m like an addict looking for another fix, checking the calendar to see when I can go back. Nutty!

18. They have difficulty finishing projects.
The initial stage of the creative process is fast moving and charged with excitement. Often, they will abandon projects that are too familiar in order to experience the initial flow that comes at the beginning. This is linked to my procrastination – I do finish things that I think are important, but…unpacking the last two boxes from when I moved in 7 years ago? Not important. Oops.

19. They connect dots better than others.
True creativity, Steve Jobs once said, is little more than connecting the dots. It’s seeing patterns before they become obvious to everyone else. This is me, I am this – I see patterns everywhere I look in the world around me. I see patterns in people’s behavior, I see connections between our actions, I see links all the time – whether they exist or not. I am a person who makes meaning from connecting to those around me…which is probably why I’m always trying to establish relationships with others.

20. They will never grow up.
Creatives long to see through the eyes of a child and never lose a sense of wonder. For them, life is about mystery, adventure, and growing young. Everything else is simply existing, and not true living. This is the essence of me…I live most days full of a childlike sense of awe and wonder, and I frequently have to stop what I’m doing to marvel at the world around me. I love to laugh, I love to have fun, and I love sharing those things with other people. I think the Wee One and I get along so well because we are very similar in our sense of glee…and I hope that never changes. Some people that I know have been OLD since they were 10 years old. I am not one of those people. I want to always feel the tingles of a new experience, and I actively combat cynicism and being jaded with all of my might. This doesn’t make me immature (much)…I think it makes me a lover of life. :-)

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Are you a creative bunny? Whether you are in love with a creative person or you are one yourself, embrace the qualities that make this kind of person so magical to be around….and try to love them in spite of these things. :-) Maybe, just maybe, you will learn to love them BECAUSE of these things – and that would be the very best of all. :-)

 

xxx

Happy Birthday! :)

Happy Birthday to my long term love William Shakespeare!! (it’s also the anniversary of his death, but….we don’t focus on the negative ’round these parts) Our love affair began with me reading “Romeo and Juliet” when I was 8 years old (and yes, naysayers, I totally understood it!)…and continues to this day. We get each other – it’s a pretty deep and real love thing. :)  To honor him, I give you some of his finest…. :)

 

 

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This this THIS :)

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Clearly Mr. Shakespeare knew some of the places I have worked over the years.... ;)

Clearly Mr. Shakespeare knew some of the places I have worked over the years…. ;)

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The wisest words of all :)

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, my love! :)

xxx

Ghost Town

Madonna released the video for her latest single ‘Ghost Town’ this week, and it’s pretty bloody stunning. Here’s a link for you to check it out….it’s beautiful. :-) ** Click on the image to see the video**

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Should you fancy a sing-along, here are the lyrics:

Maybe it was all too much
Too much for a man to take
Everything’s bound to break
Sooner or later, sooner or later

You’re all that I can trust
Facing the darkest days
Everyone ran away
We’re gonna stay here, we’re gonna stay here  

Ah, ah
I know you’re scared tonight
Ah, ah
I’ll never leave your side

When it all falls, when it all falls down
I’ll be your fire when the lights go out
When there’s no one, no one else around
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown

When the world gets cold, I’ll be your cover
Let’s just hold onto each other
When it all falls, when it all falls down
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown

Tell me how we got this far
Every man for himself
Everything’s gone to hell
We gotta stay strong, we’re gonna hold on

This world has turned to dust
All we’ve got left is love
Might as well start with us
Singing a new song, something to build on

Ah, ah
I know you’re scared tonight
Ah, ah
I’ll never leave your side

When it all falls, when it all falls down
I’ll be your fire when the lights go out
When there’s no one, no one else around
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown

When the world gets cold, I’ll be your cover
Let’s just hold onto each other
When it all falls, when it all falls down
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown

I know we’re alright
‘Cause we’ll never be alone in this mad mad, in this mad mad world
Even with no light
We’re gonna shine like gold in this mad mad, in this mad mad world

When it all falls, when it all falls down
I’ll be your fire when the lights go out
When there’s no one, no one else around
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown

When it all falls, when it all falls down
I’ll be your fire when the lights go out
When there’s no one, no one else around
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown

When the world gets cold, I’ll be your cover
Let’s just hold onto each other
When it all falls, when it all falls down
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown
When it all falls, when it all falls down
We’ll be two souls in a ghosttown


This song is just gorgeous…and a beautiful sentiment as well. It’s kind of the musical equivalent of relationship goals, eh? Think about it – when things go bad, I will be your fire when the lights go out; when it’s cold out I will be your cover, let’s just hold on to each other…when there is nobody else around, we will be two souls together. I LOVE it. :-) It’s amazing. :-)

I was asked recently what I thought relationships should be – my answer was not words (for a change), but this image:

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This is really it, isn’t it? Someone who wants your company, thinks you’re the best, and wants to shag only you. Sounds pretty straightforward – and great – to me. :-) I was listening to an acquaintance describe a man that we know in common, and he described him in the most elegant and tragic way – he said that he was a “seeker of lost souls”. I can’t stop thinking about that sentence….because I think that is me. I have always been drawn to strays (animals and humans), those that are down on their luck, those that are unavailable, those that are inappopriate choices….the whole nine yards. It seems like I purposely and deliberately go out of my way to choose the most difficult options in life, and make things hard on myself. I suppose that part of it is that I have always believed greatly in the power of the underdog, because I have felt like an underdog myself. I have always wanted to teach in the prison system, because I believe with every ounce of my being that when we know better we do better, and education has the power to transform lives – and I wanted in on that. Sadly, that opportunity hasn’t come my way yet, but hopefully it will some day. I think I could do some good things. :-) That wide-eyed optimism is the same way that I approach my interactions with other people…and, while this attitude has got me in trouble far more times than I’d care to admit (there are too damn many cruel people out there, my friends), it’s the only attitude that I have. Thinking the best in people, regardless of how lost their soul may be, is all I’ve got. My soul is probably lost as well, you know…and I’m just looking for someone to seek me. :-)

 

xxx

Come On Get Happy

On January 1st, I embarked on a journey to celebrate things that made me happy. I started posting a minimum of 1 picture a day to my Instagram (@leannaerin, if you’re interested in joining in the fun) of something that made me smile and feel happy – and I labelled it with the hashtag #100HappyDays. I had technical difficulties a couple of times that prevented me posting before midnight, but I did fix them right away, and I made it all the way through…my 100th day will be this Friday, which is, ironically, my birthday. :-)

You can find out about this project on their website – and I strongly recommend you give it a look. It’s a great idea – I put a reminder on my phone for every evening at 8:00pm, just to be sure that I wouldn’t forget. Some days, I had so many happy things to post that I blew up my Instagram (sorry about that, following friends – my very large night out in Austin last Friday must have been a beast for you!)…other days, I had to dig pretty bloody deep to find anything to feel happy about. The thing is, though, that I did it, I did find things to feel optimistic and happy about….which is always a great thing. :-)

Here are some highlights for me:

My love :-)

My love :-)

The truth!

The truth!

Hahaha :-)

Hahaha :-)

Sage life advice :-)

Sage life advice :-)

My new short 'do!

My new short ‘do!

I have said these to people....much hilarity ensued ;-)

I have said this to people….much hilarity ensued ;-)

It happens ;-)

It happens ;-)

Amen!

Amen!

If you don't do this, then you're a liar.....EVERYONE does. :-)

If you don’t do this, then you’re a liar…..EVERYONE does. :-)

:-)

:-)

 

According to their website, people have found the following when they have done this project:People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:

– Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
– Be in a better mood every day;
– Start receiving more compliments from other people;
– Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
– Become more optimistic;
– Fall in love during the challenge

 

This is what I found: I looked at the world around me differently, constantly keeping my eyes open for things that made my heart super-happy, and took a picture….just to be sure that I remembered the feelings that I had in that moment. I didn’t receive more compliments from people, sadly – however, this is totally fine, as the project was done for me, not for anyone else. I believe that my optimism level improved, which is quite the thing as my optimism is already pretty darn high! As for the last point up there…I think that I fell more in love with myself, with my surroundings, and with this life that I lead – mixed up, chaotic, confusing, and difficult though it may be….it’s MY life, and most days, it’s pretty damn magical. :-)

 

xxx

Done

It has come to my attention recently that people that I thought I was close to, that I had developed friendships with, and that I felt I could trust were, in fact, shitty, shady people who were simply playing me to try to get something from me. I am extremely frustrated by this news, and SO angry at myself….I’m smarter than this. Yet, somehow, in my stupid bloody desperation to have friends and a social life, I believe all of the lies, and open myself up to the possibilities…and then this happens. Again. I’m done.

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Why can’t people just be who they say they are? Is it really that difficult to have integrity? I don’t get it. I have done a lot of reflecting over the weekend, trying to figure out if something I had done could have possibly led these people to believe that this kind of behavior was okay – and I got nothing. Nada. I’m trying to tell myself that their shitty behavior says nothing about me and everything about them, but….it’s hard. If you are finding that this can be an issue for you, here are five signs that you might be in trouble when it comes to integrity:

1. It’s all about you. Selfish people harm their organizations, families and friends. If it’s all about you, you won’t go the distance. Or you will, but you’ll hurt a lot of people in the process and you’ll never know what could have happened if you made it about others.

2. Your self esteem rises and falls with the opinion of others. A secure leader can see the right way and lead people there through tough conditions. An insecure leader will bend with every change in public opinion. Which means you’re not actually leading anyone, not even yourself.

3. You’re hiding things. You shouldn’t be telling everyone everything (that’s not healthy) – but someone needs to know everything. If you’re keeping secrets, you’re heading for a fall.

4. You fail to do what you said you were going to do. This isn’t just about keeping promises; it’s about keeping your word in everything. Better to say nothing and surprise someone by delivering than blurt out an intention you can’t fulfil. Ultimately, people lose confidence in you when you fail to deliver. It’s a trust issue. A fairly easy way to address this is to say less and deliver more. A great follow up system also helps (sometimes a lack of integrity isn’t even a moral issue – just an awareness and organization issue).

5. You make too many compromises. Leadership is not about getting everyone to like you or about finding the easiest path. It’s about discerning the best way forward. It’s about getting people to go where they wouldn’t go if it wasn’t for leadership. If you make too many decisional compromises or even a handful of personal compromises, your effectiveness will be–you guessed it– compromised.

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Those points really make sense to me, how about you? The real question is, though – what do we do about it? Here are some tips to do this better, to be a better person, and less of an arsehole:

Meet your commitments. As an entrepreneur, when you are late with a committed business plan or meeting with an investor, you lose integrity. As a company, if your customer feels you did not meet your product quality commitment, your company loses integrity. Your view or reason doesn’t matter.

Honest to a fault. This term is usually used to mean honest as seen by other people. Some think honesty is only related to what is said, but not telling the whole truth is dishonest, even in court. If you can’t deliver a service because of your company’s mistake, integrity suggests that you include the real reason in your apology.

Strong and consistent moral code. The target here is to meet the receiver’s moral code expectation. If your product or process is marginal or worse, you will lose that customer. If you are trying to find an investor for your new gambling site, you probably will be disappointed.

Treat everyone with respect. No one likes to be dis-respected (from their perspective). Respect is difficult to define in the abstract, but quick to be recognized by the receiver. Be courteous and considerate to all on cultural differences, positions, races, ages, or any other types of distinctions.

Build and maintain trust. Trust is a reliance relationship built on character, strength, and ability. It usually takes several good acts to build, and one bad act to lose. To build company trust, you need to personalize your company. People do business with people. Even internationally known brands are judged daily by the quality of their people.

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While these tips are meant to be taken into consideration in the business world, I don’t see why they wouldn’t apply to our personal relationships as well. We as a society need to treat those around us more carefully, and stop being so reckless with the feelings and emotions of others. We need to be more deliberate in our actions and our words, and we need to be more thoughtful of our fellow man. It seems that more people than ever before are all about themselves these days – gone is the time when we did unto others….we need to bring that kind of thinking back.

 

xxx

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

Some folks operate on a completely different frequency from most everyone else around them, they just don’t connect with the masses…and I believe that I am one of those people. I don’t think like most others do, I don’t do the same kinds of things as other people are inclined to do…I’m just basically an odd duck. I have tried to do a better job of fitting in with the world around me, but the results of these efforts have been bloody disastrous, not to mention more than a lot comical. I guess I was just born to stand out – and not fit in.

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I have come to accept this, and most of the time I revel in my weirdness. I am flattered when someone comments on the odd uniqueness of me, and if I was to be called boring, I would probably weep real tears. However, I have come to realize that while I may think this is an awesome way to be, it is not awesome even a smidge to have to try to deal with me. The people around me have had to put up with a lot of shit from me over the years,  and….well, that’s probably not fair. I’m not entirely sure why this has come to my attention recently, but it has. I feel like I should contact everyone I’ve ever known, everyone I’ve ever dated (now there’s a list), everyone I’ve ever worked with, and try to make amends, AA-style. I need to somehow tell them that I’m sorry that I’ve been strange, odd, and difficult to tolerate. I need to apologize and acknowledge that my quest to find my best self has interfered/wreaked havoc on their existence…and I need to say sorry for that. I don’t really know the way to fix all of this, but believe me, I would sure like to. I know some very kind people, it seems….and they all put up with me. Angels, every single one of them – thank goodness I found them at just the right time.

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Speaking of time….so much of life and your success in it comes from timing. I have notoriously BAD timing….no joke. If there was to be a super-great life opportunity about to happen, I would show up when it was over…not because I’m not punctual (because I totally am), but because that is just me. My timing is almost never right. I have struck gold with this issue the odd time – I had my daughter at the perfect point in my life, and she has been the most beautiful gift every day of her nearly 9 years. I happened to be at exactly the right place (working next door to my dream school) at exactly the right time, and I fell into this AMAZING position that I am in now. That was really fantastic timing….but that is the exception, not the rule. I’m the kind of person that meets someone that they can really connect with, and maybe have some sort of a kick-ass relationship and life with…..when the person is either married to someone else or freshly out of a previous relationship and is rebounding more than a bloody basketball. I hate that kind of stuff, and wish that I could do something different to change it, but…I really don’t know that any of us can change circumstance and chance, can we? I have really worked hard on adopting an attitude of gratitude, and embracing the idea that at least something really great came along….even if the timing wasn’t quite there. I’m grateful for the opportunity. :-)

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My outlook on things is kind of weird, too. I was talking with someone recently, and an interesting idea came up – I made the statement that if someone said that they didn’t want me, I would leave and go away, and never bother them again. The person that I was speaking to called me cold, and heartless…and I can certainly understand that perception. However, I see it in a completely different way – I went on to explain that I absolutely will not stay somewhere that I am not wanted, and that I have way too much self-respect to consider begging someone to stay with me, so…I will move on, comfortable in the knowledge that they will be damn sorry to have lost me. My conversation companion continued to stare at me like I had grown a second head (which would be super-cool, btw) – I asked if I had said something wrong, and was told that I hadn’t, but that I possessed a very different way of looking at things. This is not the first time I’ve heard that, and it won’t be the last, I’m sure. I often wonder what it’d be like to see the world the way everyone else does. It’d be easier, of this I have no doubt….

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How do you see the world, my friends? Is your glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is generally half-full…with plenty of room for more vodka! 😉 I talk about this idea of being different with my little one all the time…she fluctuates between wanting to fit in with the masses in her elementary school, marching to the beat of her own drum, and letting her tiny freak flag fly any old time she pleases. I’ve worked in Education long enough to know the vital importance of acceptance from one’s peers during the tumultuous adolescent years, but I so hope that she holds on to some of that uniqueness, that vibrant personality that is coursing through her veins. Those are the things that make her sparkle…and what could be better than that? :-)

 

xxx

 

Wise Up

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Have you been watching HBO’s “Girls” this season? I have (of course), and I really liked the direction the show has taken this year – and last night’s season finale was an absolute gem. I don’t want to ruin your day with spoilers, but I have to point out a few highlights for me: three cheers for Hannah for not saying YES to a reconciliation with Adam (although I loved them together and wish they could have somehow found their way back to each other)…her ability to say no to him when he says he wants her back was so strong, so powerful – I doubt I could have done that. Adam has always been a magical, powerful force in Hannah’s life, and for her to realize that he was not good for her, and that them being together was destructive….well, that was just awesome. Three cheers for Hannah – our little girl is growing up. :-)

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I have always been a huge fan of the character of Ray – I think that he might just be the one of the realest characters on television today. Over the years, he has made some speeches that have pretty much brought me to my knees with their raw emotion (seriously – whoever is writing the lines that Ray speaks is my friggin’ hero and I want to share a pizza with them and talk over beer), and last night was no exception. He ripped the Jackass Desi a new one, letting him know that he wasn’t good enough to be with Marnie (so.true)…and he said this: “I also know that you absolutely do not deserve her. Even remotely….She is a beautiful, fully-formed woman, dazzling in her complexity, maddening in her mystery. And you underestimate her, every fucking day.” Isn’t that just brilliant?? I was so blown away by that speech that he made, so full of love and admiration, that I paused the TV, hit rewind, and kept watching it over and over again…just to be sure that the full power of those words seeped into my soul. Amazing. Who doesn’t want to be described that way??! I sure as hell do! Love Ray! :-)

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The final thing that I loved most from last night’s episode was the stuff involving Shoshanna – that girl is everything that I imagine I was when I was her age…I just hid my eccentricities a whole lot better than she does. Her wide-eyed optimism is a standout for me on that show, and I loved the scene between she and Colin Quinn, when she is sharing that she’d been offered a job in Tokyo, but wasn’t sure about leaving the new guy she was dating to take the position. Colin Quinn started ranting about reading the most excellent Sheryl Sandberg book ‘Lean In’, and told her, “Grab a seat at the table and lean the fuck in. And if this guy’s worth his salt, he’ll be waiting for you.” Mind. Blown. What I wouldn’t give to have someone have cared enough about me to have given me that advice at various points in my life, when I have made eggregiously stupid decisions based upon the men that I thought were going to be there for me – and they weren’t. And I let opportunities go. Like an idiot. Grr. Oh well….live and learn, eh? :-)

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I know that I am not the target demographic of this show (by about 15 years or so), but I love it with all my heart and think the wisdom of the writing is mind-blowing, regardless of what age you are. Take this line of Hannah’s, for example:

So am I, Hannah...so am I.

So am I, Hannah…so am I.

Isn’t that pretty much what we all are doing? It’s funny….I will be 41 years old in a couple of weeks, and I still feel as if I’m waiting to grow up. There are days when I look around me and see this beautiful life that I’ve crafted for myself, one that is full of responsibilities, events, a maddeningly busy calendar, tasks to be done, places to go…and I wonder how it is that I managed to fall smack into the middle of someone else’s existence, because all of this grown-up stuff can’t possibly belong to me. But it does. I don’t know how it happened. I think I will always feel like Hannah, working hard to try to become who I am. I wonder when I will finally wake up and realize that I’ve been me all along?

xxx

 

Only The Good Die Young

I received some rotten news this evening – a dear friend from home has passed away. This news absolutely knocked the wind out of me, and has left me feeling very, very sad… I want to tell you about my friend, if you don’t mind.

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Keith and I went to Kindergarten together – he was the cutest boy in the class. By a mile. All of us girls spent every recess chasing him around the playground, hoping we’d be able to catch him and smother him with kisses. Damn Lisa H was one of the fastest runners in the class and tended to get most of the kisses….the rest of us were bummed. He was such a doll. He was also super-duper smart, which was my favorite part about him. Throughout our elementary school time together, we would pretend to compete academically in school, but our competitions were pretty lame. I wished him nothing but the best, and I believe he always wanted the same for me. That’s an awesome friend. :-)

His sense of humor was LEGENDARY – while one of the smartest, most brilliant people I have ever known, he also had one of the very grossest vocabularies and senses of humor ever. I loved it! This humor followed him in his adult years – a few years ago on his birthday, we exchanged emails and I asked him what he had planned…his response was that he was going to stay home, masturbate all day, watch porn, and eat Cheetos – and he hoped that nothing turned orange. Hahahaha! :-) Keith knew everything there was to know about wrestling, and did a Macho Man Randy Savage impresonation that was SO spot on that it was almost creepy. He loved to laugh, knew a TON about hockey and football, and pretty much any other topic you could possibly come up with. His was truly a beautiful, though thoroughly warped in the best possible way, mind. :-)

While we were in high school, we were in the band together – he played saxophone, and I played whatever instrument was needed that particular year (I played flute, trumpet, percussion, and a bit of saxophone over the years). We spent about a zillion hours on the bus to band performances together, discussing every single thing under the sun…including what we wanted to be when we grew up. I told him that I was planning to go in to Education (which I did); at that time, he wanted to become a doctor (a dream he ended up having to abandon following a serious hand injury). I asked what specialization he was interested in – and, of course, he responded Gynecology….he had to see the goods somehow! 😉

On May 18, 1996, we sat together at my BFFs wedding – as the evening wore on and we got more intoxicated, we cooked up a plan: if we weren’t married to other people by the time we were 25, we would marry each other. We sealed the deal with an exchange of rings (those little silver metal rings that went around the wedding program scrolls) – I still have mine in a box upstairs. As we neared 25, we changed the age to 30….then 35…. then 40 – it got to be a running joke. However, we always referred to the situation as ‘the Back Up Plan B’ , and we talked about it as recently as a couple of years ago, still laughing about our plan and how hilarious it would be to execute: he who loved wrestling and all things boy trying to coexist with me, the ultimate in girlie stuff. It was a recipe for disaster! :-)

The last message I received from him read like this:

Hey – it’s Keith and Donny, we are drinking in Lundar. Why aren’t you drinking beer with us in Lundar? We are in some kind of temporal vortex where nothing changes. Don’t you want to be in 1992 as well? If we drink long enough we can get breakfast at Sportsman’s. Oh wait, they burned everything, including the building. When are you going to visit so we can dust off the Love Shack? Why has our age group not had a reunion? I have to pee and smoke so Donny can type for awhile.

Now it is me typing can you tell the differance. I was at someone’s little guys b-day today and he got a little corvette that he can drive around. It was so funny to watch. Then I started to think that one day I really have to think about the fact that I will have to raise a kid here knowing about all the things that can be done in this little berg. Any who Keith is back from his peesmoke, its a medical conditon that he is under treatment for now.

Ahh, nicotine addiction and bladder release, an orgasmic combination. Anyhow, I hope this has given you enough nostalgic moments to think of coming home and giving us a hug. Smell ya later.

 

Awesome, eh? I know. These are the words of people who probably know me better than I know myself…and they still love me anyway. There is something so beautiful and so comforting about this – and it makes my heart absolutely ache for my home town, full of the very best people you could ever hope to meet. What I wouldn’t give to be there now. For a small town, we’ve lost far too many people from our little group…and I feel like we are just too young to be having this happen. These friends of mine from home are the ones that I want to be surrounded by when I’m 80 years old and recreating the Golden Girls….I need them to stay around.

Thanks for listening to me talk about Keith – I will never find the words to explain what a lifetime of friendship with this unique, kind, intelligent, FUNNY,  beautiful spirit was like…but please trust me, it was a gift from above. To his family – I am  beyond sorry for your loss. You are the people who raised and nurtured this magical soul – and what a job you have done. He loved you all so much. And, in words that only he could get away with saying (his last name was Lavallee)….. You’ve never been loved until you’ve been Lavved. :-)

 

Rest in peace, my friend – you will always be my first choice for my plan B. I lav you. Smell ya later.

 

xxx