Saturday, June 29, 2013

Make Yourself Important to the People who Matter to the People who Matter to You

There's real power in giving rewards, both calculated and spontaneous.  Calculated rewards are things like hearing someone say "thank you" after you've done something nice for them. 

I had to deal with calculated rewards this week - about 14 of them - as I relayed the news to each of my direct reports of their salary increases for the coming fiscal year. 

It wasn't fun.

How do you tell your top performers that they are eligible for 2 - 3% more next year, not really anything that keeps pace with inflation, but you value their 100%+ effort and especially their going above and beyond?  How you need their input, their drive, their commitment in order to stay strong and vibrant in the coming year?  The answer lies in the spontaneous rewards, explained here:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rethinking the Work Week

I'm all in favor of having Fridays off, like I have today, to work from home and regroup for the best part of the week!

I haven't unplugged completely and wonder if I can.

It's sacred, really, to have time and space, free of interruption.  We get so distracted, not just by others, but by our digital world.  That's what I like about walking, as it provides time for deep thinking and creativity.  In lazier moments, I try meditation.

Check out the Sabbath Manifesto - it has  a list of ten core principles that encourage mindfulness.  Check out their project described here:

About this Project

The Sabbath Manifesto is a creative project designed to slowdown lives in an increasingly hectic world.  Way back when, God said, “On the seventh day thou shalt rest.”  The meaning behind it was simple: Take a break. Call a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge.  Somewhere along the line, however, this mantra for living faded from modern consciousness. The idea of unplugging every seventh day now feels tragically close to impossible. Who has time to take time off? We need eight days a week to get tasks accomplished, not six.
 The ten principles:
1.  Avoid technology.
2.  Connect with loved ones.
3.  Nurture your health.
4.  Get outside.
5.  Avoid commerce.
6.  Light candles.
7.  Drink wine.
8.  Eat bread.
9.  Find silence.
10.  Give back.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Teetering on the Edge of Crazy

I miss you's been crazy busy, but I've been thinking of you...and for now, here's the best I have, a very good quote for you:


"Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Monday, June 24, 2013


When the best leader's work is done the people say, 

'We did it ourselves.' 

 Lao Tzu

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Global Mamas

Global Mamas!  Wow, just the words give me a chill.  We're all in this together and the mutual spirit of motherng is a language without words.  I learned about Global Mamas from my friend, Rebekah, whose husband just returned from a Ghana church trip.    They are a group of producers (6 women artisans back in 2004 that has grown to nearly 500 producers in many western African communities) that create hand-made products for sale online.

Go here for more information:

The next time you are looking for a gift or just want to browse through Target, consider that your purchases at Trade for Change might might just help a global mama and her family improve their living conditions, helping with their financial independence (and we all know THAT good feeling).

I don't know if the bracelets or bags will grab me, but the bulk shea butter is on my list.  See how they make it by watching this:

God Bless Global Mamas.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Two Dads

So it's a day late but that really is consistent with what I want to say about my two dads.  Both my hubby, Shawn, and my dad, Gerry, embody the same rich component, the theme that's in my head:  that it's not just a one-day event, Father's Day.  It's been said many times before about parenting, and I'm blessed to say the two guys who I've seen fathering, up close and personal, have been at, day in and day out, for years and years.  It's easy to think I could give them the same card, year after year, with the same, very basic, message:  "Thank you for doing the hard stuff, for loving me in spite of my stupidity, for showing up whenever I have needed you and even when I didn't know I needed you. Thank you for the opportunities your hard work provided.  I love you."

Thanks, dad, for the fun times (camping comes easily to mind, along with iceskating and skiing) and the many gifts and guidance.

Thanks to Shawn for stepping in and doing the job honor (excellently, incidentally).

Hope you both felt the love on Father's Day

Friday, June 14, 2013

Checking In...

This week I had the time-zapping duty to learn more about progessive discipline in the workplace.  In the process, a Gallup poll caught my eye.  Only about 30% of American workers are engaged - working to their full potential and feeling connected.  The other 70% of workers are somewhere on the spectrum between "checked out" and full outright subversiveness.  Where are you on the engagement sprectrum?  I'm feeling fine, but I will say this . . . here's to a whole new round of action plans!

The 12 Elements of Great Managing

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

God's Country

This past weekend, I went camping with my BFF at Blue Mounds State Park.  Driving to Wisconsin, I'm always quick to remark we are going to my birth state, aka God's Country.  We were supposed to meet Kate and Scott there, but a couple of days ago, Scott got word from his new employer that they needed his expertise on Saturday night:

On June 3rd a dump truck traveling northbound on I-294 crashed into the bridge that carries Balmoral Ave over the highway in Des Plaines. The crash caused severe damage to the outermost precast beam supporting the bridge and the IL Tollway has awarded the company an emergency contract to remove the hazardous portions this weekend. This Saturday night we plan to shut down I294 northbound entirely with help from the IL Tollway and State Police and will remove the damaged sections with a crane.

So we were disappointed for a few minutes and then thought . . . DOESN'T mean that WE have to cancel!!!

Everything was going well, including a birthday lunch with Joe and a 30 mile bike ride.  We arrived at the campsite a bit before 9 pm and fought the darkness to get camp set up.  Wine?  Check!  Firewood?  Check!  Tent and Tarp?  Check!  Our sweet double-wide sleeping bag?  Whoops!  I was a bit annoyed and was about to shift the blame to Shawn when I realized what a perfect day it had been and how, even in this moment, we were making memories.  I quickly decided I wouldn't change a thing.  Going to a non-electrical campsite is a great way to recharge the batteries.  The dark woods, the crackling fire, the birds finally settling down, quiet voices in the distance...deep conversation about matters of the heart.  It was a marriage retreat, unintended, important.
Buckley's with the birthday boy

One creature comfort - a glass of cab

Friday, June 7, 2013

Good Sleeper

We were together this past weekend, all seven sibs and two parents, spouses and some children.  Precious time, and our attendance confirmed that we understood that.

Of course some of us ate too much...and drank too much...and probably said a few things we might not have said under other circumstances.

But that is just more of a compliment than anything.  We complement.  There's safety here.

So when I was asked, later in the evening after what some may say was too many margs, if I would sleep with Marco Rubio, I resounded an immediate and loud "No!"  I wasn't thinking about my happy marriage, about the fact that Mr. Rubio, too, is married, and I didn't even recognize that the hypothetical question posed to me also implied that I didn't know the US Senator very well.

My response?  "I don't sleep with conservatives."

It was my attempt at stand up, of course.  But later it got me thinking about my own biases, and the degrees of sensitivity of the two political parties in regards to the suffering of others.  How a shared world view can support a connection, and how humans naturally and unconsciously shun pain and gravitate toward pleasure.  How life is sweeter when problems and conflict can be avoided, and the comfortable feeling when your political group provides belonging, and you feel understood.  How diversity of opinion is nevertheless important - paramount, really - as is respect and tolerance.

Back at the party, we started talking politics and darts were shot at the current administration about Benghazi, and the subsequent handling of it.  I so-o considered lobbing back about WOMD and the lies and the decision to go to war and the ensuing intelligence cover ups, and also the magnitude of that decision comparatively, the thousands (100,000?) of casualties, but I saw an ugly path - a small fire only needs a bit of wind to spread.  You've got to know when to turn it off.

Later, I was thinking about scandalous behavior and the lessons of masking the truth and how it is done on both sides of the political fence and how transparency really does breed trust and credibility.  Masking and spinning create damage that sometimes is never fixed, especially when an underlying truth is intentionally covered . . . and there's a whole lot of hypocrisy that follows.  I also remembered Barb, quietly contributing with this line, taken almost entirely now out of context:  "You see what you recognize."  Such wisdom.

So, here tonight as I value my marriage and treasure my family, I can say with renewed conviction and complete sobriety, with respect for others' perspectives, I don't sleep with conservatives.
Can you see both perspectives
in this picture?  Take your time!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Happy Birthday to my baby...that handsome man we don't get to see enough because he's always working.  So many of the sweet extras in life - history, philosophy, religion, politics, economics, music, languages - I learned the details from him.  Things he knows nothing about?  Not sure - he really knows a lot about a lot.  Well, maybe cooking, although, now that I think about it, he makes a mean crêpe.

Joe . . . you will be working hard on June 5, at that place you go, earning a reputation, a bonus, another opportunity.  In fact, I know it's promising to be one of those 18+ hour days that you have grown so accustomed to grinding through because of another possible acquisition, some secret news that keeps first-year investment banking analysts like you working nearly round the clock.  I admire that you are going through the paces, with so much grace and little complaining, taking the last-minute workload surprises in stride and seeing your proverbial glass (of 5-Hour Energy) half full anyway.  Thanks for still always squeezing a minute (or ten) in for me on a daily basis.  I value those calls!  My birthday wish for you this year is that you get some discretionary time soon - to sit on the couch, to breathe in and breathe out, to run by the lake, to enjoy a coffee, a hair cut, a phone conversation, a weekend.

You bring a light to my life, our lives, as you challenge us to new ways of thinking and share vid clips and tips on authors and artists.  Twenty-four years ago I couldn't imagine the joy of you.  Now I can't live without it.  Love you JFM!

Flowers from Joe 

There's no place like home, in Milwaukee

Our shortest visit:  a Friday night when dinner plans
became a quick Starbucks trip due to unexpected extra work

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

P. Marie

Happy Birthday to my baby sister, Marie.  I hope you have an easy day and your teams - both at work and at home - wait on you and spoil you.

As the youngest of seven children, you have had a lot of "parents" watching over you.  I remember as a ten being charged with the duty to take you to the park (Webster?) and you didn't seem very interested in what I had to say as I tried to boss you around.  You were already leading yourself, charting your course, finding your way.  I've tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to emulate your no-nonsense approach, that quiet way you allow others the floor and then chime in with just the right perspective and chart our course, without turning your head and looking behind.  Whether it's deciding on a group gift or where to celebrate Christmas, you, the youngest, lead us - and we willingly follow.

You have much to brag on, and yet you don't:  your talented children, lovely modern home, involved spouse, and huge responsibilities at work.   (I remember my surprise when visiting you at work several years ago and seeing your spacious corner office with large windows overlooking downtown Minneapolis, and not a hint of arrogance in your demeanor.  I had no idea you were a big deal at work.  It made such an impression on me, as if to teach me:  my worth isn't tied to an office, a title, an accomplishment.)

Here's to another year!  Happy birthday Marie - and thanks for all the gifts.

My baby sister, Pauline Marie

Saturday, June 1, 2013

So Long Tension, Hiya Pension!

Laurie didn't start her retirement one minute before she stopped working.  But one thing I know she knows, she's not retiring from life, she's just retiring from the career she started 44 years ago. 

Laurie, you are retiring FROM: long days of travel, hotel and plane jumping, the alarm clock, the black pants, the VPN, the always-on feeling...

You are retiring TO:  waking up and not having anything to do, and now you can do that many times a day if you choose!  Watch the rest of us going off to work, knowing we will be dealing with inept jerks, endless meetings, working lunches, incomplete documentation, broken promises, extra assignments...oh, and reorganization!

Congratulations, sister, you've earned every golden moment.  Looking forward to toasting you later today.

Leisure by W.H. Davies
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Just some sisterly advice for you, Lj