Clear. Focused. Present.

Last night I responded to an email that had been in my inbox for a few weeks. I apologized for not responding for so long, yet I have to say it is normal for me to do that. Am I horrible friend? Maybe. Or I just care about sending a focused, well thought out response? Yes, yes, yes. I feel like when I finally have quiet time to respond, I want to make sure that I truly focus on that individual. Almost as though I am sitting right across from them at a table in a coffee shop, or cozy on a couch (depending on how close you are to said individual).

I want to give their message my undivided attention. I answer their questions, check in on life, and give an update on my world. What is it that makes me do this? I care that much. Maybe it was so many years of emails in my past work life, but I think about the effort I put into a message, and I think about the person on the receiving end, hoping they feel cared for by having contact with me. Now, do not worry, I am not an angel, nor am I trying to paint a picture of goodness. I merely am sharing because I think it is a way to care for someone in this crazy, fast, digital age.

So if you write shorter emails with minimal questions you will probably hear back from me quicker. If we have a more involved conversation via email, and I do not have focused windows of time to get back to you, then you might have to wait for an answer, but you will know that when I respond to you, it will be all about you. Focused. Present.

Do you think about that when you respond to emails? Do you just try to be done and move on to your next task, or do you really focus on the other person?

Complete presence. Clear focus.

How often do you wash your hair?

Did your grandma ever wash her hair? All my life I remember my grandma going to “get her hair done.” Each Saturday at noon she would go barely a mile from her house, and have her hair “set.” She never washed her hair any of the days between. She always used a shower cap. On Saturday when she would get her hair done, she would get it washed, set in curlers, dried, combed out and then of course the massive amounts of hair spray to keep it in place for a week.

Granny Smith and me in 2002

Granny Smith and me in 2002

She went on Saturday so her hair would look best for church on Sunday and of course as the week went on it lost a bit of its oomph. Nevertheless, I am in awe that her hair was only washed once a week. I am psyched at my twice a week washing – going crazy as it gets closer to the day I wash it. How did she ever go an entire week? How did it not feel incredibly greasy? Of course she was not running the number of miles I do each day, so sweat was not a factor (especially with the air conditioning running most of the time she was indoors).

Not washing hair was how grandma grew up. It was normal to her. I do wonder today if women still get their hair set, or is that something that happens with older women? In the 1950’s, women only washed their hair once a week. As the article states you can use a dry shampoo made from cornstarch and baby powder as I do, to allow your hair to absorb extra oils, and resulting in not needing to wash your hair as often. I can attest that it works, but I know my grandma was not using cornstarch on her hair, so did it just get used to only being washed once a week?

What do you remember about your grandma? Did she wash her hair? Was it short or long? I just wonder if there is something we can learn from them in regards to our hair. Maybe we overly heat, straighten, add chemicals, and maybe we need to go natural, wash once a week and see what happens.

Screamin’

As some of you may know I am utterly addicted to my niece, Charlie. I have shared a few photos and a video or two on my blog in the past few months. I constantly ask my sister to send photos and videos since we live in different states. Charlie is just days away from being 7 months, and is a hilariously happy, smiley, precious one. I can only hope my future kid(s) are as happy as Charlie. Yesterday, I got this text from my sister:

“Charlie’s piano playing sounds like the audio of a haunted house and it makes the cats flee.”

Her text was followed by this video and photo. Apparently, Charlie had on her own (while banging on the keys) found a “Scream” setting on the keyboard. I guess she is practicing for Halloween in a month.

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IMG_3807How can you not find her so adorable? Especially at about 12 seconds in where she turns and smiles at you and then turns back and plays more. Then at around 30 seconds she crouches down as though she thinks she can get out of the barricade they have created in the living room to keep her safe and from crawling to other parts of the house. When she realizes she is not getting out, she goes back to banging on the keyboard. I know, I know you already watched it, but I had to give my play-by-play. Can you tell how addicted I am?

Say no to 1,000 things

Everything in the universe at this moment is telling me that my biggest lesson in life is about saying “NO.” Each day I find an article, read a book, have a conversation that reiterates the ongoing dilemma I have with life. What can I truly handle? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Yes, and no. It really depends. I do know that I need to figure out a way to scale back. Part of that means that I have to say “No” more and more and more. How does one do that when your modus operandi is to help others, solve problems, and to try to make the world a better place one day at a time?

I wanted to share a few of the ideas that have been bombarding my thoughts these last few days. I came across this Steve Jobs quote:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

If I could truly do what Jobs said, maybe I could have a fraction of the success he had in life. It has become a common theme for me these past few weeks and months to figure out how to scale back at work and at home and yet life feels like it is a treadmill on the highest speed, and sometimes at the highest incline. At times it feels like the buttons are inoperable and I am not able to adjust to the appropriate speed, so it means running crazy fast and then wondering how long I can sustain the speed.

There was this Fast Company article called: “The Exact Amount of Time You Should Work Every Day” that shared this idea:

Make Realistic To-Do Lists: “We often bog down our to-do lists and make them not feasible for us to accomplish [plus] we underestimate how long it’s going to take us to do something,” says Sexton.

Prioritize tasks. Choose three major tasks to focus on for the day and add other tasks as they pop up throughout the day to a separate list, readjusting your priorities throughout the day if required. It’s a lot easier to look at a list of three tasks than 30. Once you knock off the first three items, choose your next three priorities from your lengthier list.

I do not feel like I have a problem with To-Do Lists, tracking what I need to do, or prioritizing my tasks. I feel it is having too much happening at once. Too many projects to track on, too many deliverables, and not enough time or bandwidth to execute or strategize on how to make it all happen.

How have you learned to say, “No?” Teach me. I want to learn. I want to know what has worked for you.

Savor

SAVOR. I have been thinking a lot lately about the word. Memories of amazing food come to mind. Such as goat cheese ravioli from a Portland restaurant called Lucy’s Table that is no longer in operation. When we knew it was closing we went and agonized over our very last serving of their goat cheese ravioli. They closed just three years ago and there is not a day that goes by that I do not remember the amazingness of that appetizer. If only I could recreate it at home.
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I can think of a plethora of other items that I savor. French fries (gosh, am I addicted to non fast-food french fries). Eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes or on corn cakes instead of english muffins (thank you, Daily Cafe). The King’s Choice at Veritable Quandary. Yum. Apologies for all the Portland references, but I have my little addictions. Noble Rot fries + burger. Decarli’s salted caramel cheesecake. Crab Rangoon from Shing Yee in West Newton, MA. The “Bill’s Seoul Show” sandwich at Hi Rise Bakery in Cambridge, MA. Okay, I guess I will stop, I could go on.
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I love the word savor. There is something downright sassy about it. To me it is anything that you mull over in your thought, crave, or cannot wait to consume. It is not just a word I associate with food. Maybe you savor the idea of a person, a spouse, or friend, or someone who just gets your brain juices going each day. Maybe you appreciate how creative and out-of-the box a colleague is and how that ups your game. You savor a collaborative relationship.
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If only I could have a meal of goat cheese ravioli, crab Rangoon, Bill’s Seoul Show sandwich, french fries, a great drink, and salted caramel cheesecake for dessert. Just the perfect meal for my taste buds. Oh, and some time with the people I savor in life.
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