Friday, December 28, 2012

Girl Time

It started with one of those emails, you know the one where you have to forward it to eight close girlfriends.

I sat in front of the computer and struggled to come up with eight names.  How sad is that? And how different from a few years ago, when my challenge would have been how to narrow it down.

So what has happened since then to impact my friendships with other women? Much of it is really part of the normal progression of life – some have moved, others are retired and we no longer share the same interests; sadly a few have died and then there’s a couple where we just fell out, and we’ve never tried to repair the damage.

Sad really. It also speaks to a busy life where much of my focus has been on running my business, being there for my family and keeping my home relatively organized.

But this whole process of naming friends has made me realize that setting aside time for girlfriends is all important and in 2013 that is just what I intend to do.  And it is not just the existing friendships, but making an effort to reach out and make new ones too.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis the season to be jolly, but not for everyone

As I busy myself getting ready for Christmas, my heart isn’t altogether in it this year.  Several friends have lost a loved one in the past two weeks and then there is the situation in Newtown where so many young, precious children and their teachers were struck down and violently murdered before their lives had hardly begun.

Christmas is so synonymous with family and friends, and for those whose loved one won’t be there it serves as a cruel reminder of their loss, of the glaring hole in their family.  It has been glibly recommended that the family start new traditions, and yes, maybe in the years ahead they might, but it seems to me that following their usual patterns for the season may actually be comforting in a world where everything has changed for them.

While I may be gathering around the fire to celebrate with my husband, children and their partners, I am only too well aware that others are not so blessed. 

My thoughts are with you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Change is vital

 Like many citizens of the world, I have been horrified at what happened last Friday at that small school in Newtown.

As a parent with two adult children I can’t even begin to imagine how the parents of the victims – both children and teachers - must be feeling.  That it all happened just before Christmas just deepens the tragedy.  How do you get over something like this?

The answer I fear is that you don’t.  As I looked at the photos of the children – they seemed so alive, active and happy.  One little guy looked like a bundle of fun and pure mischief.  How can his parents ever fill that void in their hearts where they held him so close? I grieve for the families involved and hope that with time their pain will lessen.

Perhaps because I grew up in the UK where our police officers don’t carry guns, I have to question why the rules in North America are so lax.  Anyone can get a gun, and they do.  All these shootings of late just prove that there have to be stricter rules about gun ownership.

When someone suggested that if the principal had had a gun, the outcome could have been different – I’d say yes, a lot worse.  Imagine a young child “playing” with that same gun and shooting a friend by mistake.  No.  I don’t believe having more access to guns so you can “protect yourself” is the answer.

You have to hope that both Democrats and Republicans in the States can put their differences aside, and for once, take action for the common good.  They need to come together to do something about gun control and about the mental health system. And it has to be both; doing one without the other won’t work.

There are too many people out in the community with serious mental health issues that are just like a time bomb waiting to explode.  We need affordable programs and services to identify and treat them.  And I am not sure prescribing strong anti-depressant drugs is the answer either.  Too often patients take themselves off the drugs cold turkey and the outcome can be tragic.

As parents we also have a role to play in terms of what our children watch, read and play.  Too many movies, TV shows and video games are focused on violent activities.  We have a responsibility to censor these activities; otherwise children become insensitive to the violence around them.

I remember years ago touring a social housing complex in Chicago, where the psychologist explained to us that every day someone was murdered in the complex and as a result, when children heard a gun shot, they didn’t run away but carried on with what they were doing.  It was a regular occurrence and they were desensitized to it all.

We must not get like that, where we take for granted that shootings will happen.  We need to take action now while the memory of December 14 is still with us.  Only then will there be a positive outcome from this tragedy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My word is my honour

What do you do when someone asks for a reference or a referral and you are not totally comfortable providing one?

I get asked a lot for references from speakers, suppliers and people I don’t really know and with this new endorsement program on LinkedIn, you start to feel obliged to reciprocate when people have endorsed you.

But I have actually decided with the endorsements that I am just not going to go there … for anyone.  No, the tougher ones are those who have done a so-so job or the dilemma I face right now, where the person actually owes you money and you question their ethics.

Without sounding vain, well maybe a tad, my recommendation can carry some weight and so I am reluctant to sully my own reputation by ringing the praises of someone I have reservations about or who I feel I will be condoning their bad behaviour.

I know when I worked in Human Resources and we were taking up references, it was often what was not said that was a clue to the true character of the individual being researched.

So I am keeping quiet.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Three words to live by


In 2012, instead of making New Year resolutions that I never keep, I decided to pick three words to live my life by.  What were they?   Health, acceptance and authenticity and as I reflect back on the year, I can honestly say it worked.

My choices were very much influenced by a couple of factors.  First I had started the year with some virus that lasted months and so the focus on health and getting better made sense. Frankly I had run myself ragged and needed to listen to my body.

Second, I chose acceptance because I knew, in going back to being a solopreneur, with no staff in the office, I was going to have to streamline or let go of some processes and lower my expectations of what I could achieve on my own. I have been on a steep learning curve on all things technical but have actually been impressed with what I have been able to juggle and do.

As for authenticity, much of that was influenced by my determination to be real, to be true to myself and to say “no” when I needed to.   

So given the success of this year’s three words in shaping my direction, I have decided to give it another try for 2013 and it’s interesting because I am not picking the same three words. 

No, my picks are, once again, indicative of how I am feeling and the stage I am at both professionally and personally.  So this year I am going with energy, creativity and connectivity.

Why?  After a shaky start to the year, I’ve found this fall that I’ve got my mojo back and have renewed enthusiasm and energy for what I am doing, which leads me next to creativity. I love finding new ways to bring people together, and want to facilitate more creative connections in 2013.  On a personal note, I also want to make more time for my writing and who knows, maybe I will start working on my next book.

As for connectivity, I have come to realize that I know a lot of people, but like any relationships, you have to stay in touch, stay connected. So in 2013 I want to build on those relationships, look at ways we can work together and continue to link like-minded women. 

So there you have it.  Of course, you know what I am going to ask - what three words would you choose?  Let me know.