Solitary Places

“Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.” – Virgina Woolf.

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We’re not always comfortable enough in our own skin to be by ourselves.  There is real value, however, in learning to be comfortable in our solitude.  I have found as I get older solitude has become more comfortable and more natural.   When I was younger, I hated being alone.

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Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, left us some nuggets of genius on the topic. He recognize the challenge of solitude when we are young.  Especially in our school years, solitude can be quite painful.  As we get older, we realize how important it is for us.  Consequently, he also commented on how man in general is at one and the same time both a solitary being and a social being.  Every day depending on how much coffee I’ve had, I vacillate between the two.  The more coffee I’ve had, the more social I am.  Some would say, when I have coffee in hand, I glow.

 

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As a mother of three kids, finding solitude has become akin to finding the holy grail. Silent contemplation is a gift of my daily commute into Broward.  Set against the backdrop of an eclectic mix of music, I look forward to my 35 minutes of solitude.   Of course a happy and productive life needs a mix of solitude and togetherness.  One can’t find happiness in either extreme.

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Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach

Last week I received an email announcing the Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach Event.  I can’t believe it is that time of the year again.  We are less than a month away from the racing (running) season in South Florida.  Since the heat index has been in the triple digits since we got back, I’ve been training on the treadmill.   It is never too early to start training as the race will be here in a jiffy.

Today I setup our team for the purple stride event happening on November 19th at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.  We will be racing under the team Deb Force Five for the third year in a row.  My goal is to be the number one team in fundraising for the second year in a row.  We are shooting for $10,500.

As I updated the information and the team’s website, I got choked up.  It hit me like semi-truck that this year would be painfully different.   August 26th will make five months since we lost Debbie, but it still feels so fresh.  Grief is awful.  Like a thief in the night, it comes out of nowhere and steals your happiness.  It pops up unexpectedly, forcefully and with so much pain.

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After I collected myself a bit, I got on the treadmill to put in my thirty minutes.  The first five minutes were tearful, but as my run continued my hope and sense of purpose returned.  I made a promise to Debbie to continue advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness and fighting for a cure.  It is a promise I cannot and will not ever break.

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In the coming months, we hope to announce the launch of a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trial that Debbie, Melissa Nicholas and I had started working on last December.   It destroyed me that we were not able to launch the clinical trial, so Debbie could benefit.  In hindsight, I think Debbie knew this since she was a pharmacist.  As a neophyte to the industry, I had hopes that we could get it started right away.

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She was a second mom to my kids and they loved her to pieces.   Her memory is never far for anyone us.  My boys insisted on lighting a candle in Debbie’s memory at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  Afterwards in the gift shop, they picked out a praying angel, for her, that watches over us from our kitchen.

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You may have seen the new shirts that were posted to the site this weekend.  My boys and I have been hard at work designing shirts and a business plan for our new store.  For all of us, the creative process and the opportunity to honor Debbie’s memory has been cathartic.   The profits from our merchandise will go towards funding the clinical trial and towards a scholarship program that helps families with the expenses for travel hockey.

For more information on Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach or to join our team click here

For more information of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network click here

Fore more information Pennies In Action click here

Fore more information on our store click here

 

Creative and Inspired

To be creative and inspired, one must be prepared to invest time in the cultivation of ideas.  There is no better way to cultivate one’s creativity than through reading. Norman Cousins, famed American political journalist once said; “A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”

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If you were to look at the habits of America’s most successful leaders, one commonality would be their passion for reading.  Reading  can help leaders improve their vocabulary, emotional intelligence, become a more adept communicator and inspire creativity. By and large their reading isn’t necessarily confined to business topics, but rather all types of literature.

I recently took over a new team in my corporate life. Therefore, one topic I have been reading a lot about is change management.  Change management done well results in great business outcomes from a KPI and employee engagement perspective.  Change management done poorly can undermine an entire business.

Here are some of my favorite reads on change management:

  1.  HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
  2.  Leading Change, by John Kotter
  3.  Change Friendly Leadership, by Roger Dean Duncan
  4.  Changemaking: Tactics and Resources for Managing Organizational Change, By Richard Bevan
  5.  The Theory and Practice of Change Management: Third Edition, By John Hayes

Reading novels is crucial to unleashing your creativity and inspiration.  Here are some of my favorites.

  1.  Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  2.  The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho
  3.  The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  4.   The Decameron,  Giovanni Boccacio
  5.  A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  6.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7.  Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
  8.  1984, George Orwell
  9.  Animal Farm, George Orwell
  10.   Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

What are some of your favorite novels?  I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorites in the comments.

 

 

 

You Being You

Loved this whimsical quote from Dr. Seuss that’s all about you being you and me being me.   The picture of my favorite carousel from Paris didn’t hurt either.  I looked high and low for pictures from our first trip to Paris.   I have a fabulous picture of Jake riding the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, but that photo album has gone ghost.  I digress.

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When we travel, we’re free to be ourselves.  Being free of other people’s expectations and perceptions, if even for a week, is completely liberating.  The truth is we have to learn to accept who we are before anyone else can accept us.  Further, and far more difficult, we have to learn to accept that not everyone will like us.

Reality is when we embrace who we are and we say what we feel those that are important to us will embrace us.  Those that don’t simply don’t matter.   Sometimes one needn’t look further than Dr. Seuss for great advice and Green Eggs and Ham.

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Wisdom Wednesdays

Wisdom Wednesdays are back and today our quote comes from famous 19th century, Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen.  Two hundred years later, his words have not lost their veracity.  As you go about your Wednesday, remember our actions will always speak louder than our words.

Tether Ball

I remember playing tether ball as a kid and being pretty awful at it.   It was a lot of fun, but if you got distracted for even a second there was a good chance you were going to get smacked in the face by that ball.  Now as an adult, we all have days like that.  Days that smack us upside the head like a tether ball.

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Thening.  Our daily routines, can set us up for how we handle the stressors of our day.  In a perfect world, I’d start each and every day with at least 20 minutes of yoga.  My snooze button – a very stubborn thing – keeps getting in the way.  Another practice that helps during the day is taking regular walks throughout the day.  If you can’t get away from your desk for multiple walks, set aside at least one fifteen minute break to take a walk outside.

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The events of our day, much like our life, don’t define us.  Rather it is our reactions to these events, both good and bad, that define who we are.  Setting yourself up each day for a calm reaction will go a long way to ending the tether ball feeling.  Being mindful about how we react to other people and to our stress is an important skill needed to be successful.  With a little practice, some breathing exercises and a few walks, one can find balance in even the craziest day.

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The Last Mooring

Shiny New Toy

What is it about human nature that when something newer comes along, we tend to abandon our older toys or belongings in favor of the newer, shinier toy?  It would be okay if this was limited to inanimate objects, but this behavior is most egregiously displayed between people.  Sophocles paints a much more eloquent picture of this phenomenon in his play Women of Trachis writing “the eyes of men love to pluck the blossoms, from the faded flowers they turn away.” How is that we’re so quick to turn on those that have been loyal in favor of people that are new to our lives or our organization?  And does it have to be this way?

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The obvious, but not so easy answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we learned anything from the movie Toy Story, and I think we all did, it is that the new and old can co-exist peacefully and productively. When a new person comes into our organization or lives, we want them to feel integrated and a part of the team. In hiring a new person, it is important to hire someone that can integrate into your team as this will alleviate many potential problems.

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In the corporate world, solving this issue comes down to leadership.  Leaders can integrate new members into the team making them feel important without neglecting or negating the accomplishments of existing team members.  One easy to do this is by highlighting the special skillsets and expertise each team member brings to the table and while clearly defining each party’s role in the organization.  This will help ensure new team members can integrate into the team without causing existing team members to think their being replaced.

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In our personal lives, the onus is on us to make sure we do not neglect our friendships.  Life gets busy and relationships evolve, but we can always make time to nurture our friendships be it a call, a text, a Facebook message just to say hi.  There may be finite room in your house to store stuff, but there is no cap on many people we can have in our lives.

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Winds of Change

One of my favorite songs growing up was the Scorpions Winds of Change, this power ballad by a rock band best known for heavy rock anthems became the soundtrack for the end of the Cold War and the reunification of East and West Germany.  The song is inextricably linked to that seismic shift in our world, but I think of it often when a major change is coming down the pike.  After all, the only constant in life is constant change.

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Change is tough, even when it is a change for the better. In order to be effective at change management, you need to embrace that change is inevitable and change is good.    One of the things that is toughest about change is that you cannot control it.  You can, however, control your reaction to change.  I love the Thomas Monson quote of controlling the wind.   You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

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Ultimately, if the winds change course and you refuse to adjust your sails, you will be blown off your course.  If, however, you adjust your sails to the changes in winds, you can maintain your course.  Be flexible in your path and understand that change and obstacles are a part of the journey.  Focus on your end game, set sail, adjust your sails when needed and you will find success.

Mad Dash

Life during the school year, known as hockey season in our house, is a barrage of mad dash days strung together by weekends on the road and tournament weekends out of state.  It is a ridiculously busy time from the time we leave the house in the morning until we finally get home 14 hours later.  Our careers, the kids’ schooling and their activities leave us dashing from place to place nine months out of the year.

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For the last eight years, the boys have spent the summers in Minnesota with their grandparents giving mom and dad a much needed respite from the madness.  This summer, however, is different.  There is no respite.  Since we’re taking a big family trip, they’re staying in FL for the summer, so again no rest for the weary.     Okay, I can’t complain to voraciously as we’re taking a once in a life time trip to retrace our roots.  It is a trip that I cannot wait to share with my kids, my husband, my parents and the rest of our family.

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It is an odd dynamic getting used to the craziness in the summer.  While my summer days and nights were once quite quiet, they are now loud and filled with silliness. I know get emergency calls at work from the boys for such emergencies as:

  • Can we bathe the guinea pig?
  • Why isn’t the Wi-Fi working?
  • Are you bringing home McDonalds for lunch?
  • Are you on your way home yet?
  • Where’s the Roku remote?
  • Why do I have to read?
  • Why can’t The Mayor do the dishes?
  • Why can’t Goalielocks vacuum the floor?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have them home. It’s just that it has thrown me off my summer routine, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Plus when they are gone for months every summer, I miss them terribly.   They’ll be back in Minny next summer to spend time with the family and enjoy sometime away from mom and dad and I’ll enjoy my brief respite from life’s mad dash.

P.S.  Tonight’s mad dash comprised of a quick run upstairs to watch the SpaceX rocket launch that was scrubbed for the second night in a row.