No More Discounts

Memes. People love to hate them. So many have bad grammar and spelling (and those drive me nuts, I admit!). Some are too facile. There’s absolutely no space for nuance in a meme. Much is left unsaid for lack of space and the need for the meme to be short, sweet, and to the point.

But this one has all the nuance it needs in its one little sentence. It’s a lesson I sorely need to learn even at 56 years old. It’s one that I hope I get before I get so old I trust everyone because I don’t remember anyone or how to put on my own underwear.

Not everyone deserves a place in your life or your heart. Some people can be acquaintances. Some are only business associates. Some are friends of friends and you are cordial. Some are Facebook friends and that’s an entirely new category of “friendship”. Some people need to be standing on the outside in the cold because they truly are bad people.

Others aren’t really bad people but they still need to remain outside because they are bad for you. My friend, Robin, calls these people her “kryptonite”.  These people are dangerous to you because they appear so friendly and helpful but for whatever reason, they just tear your heart and soul to shreds. Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s just a clash of personality. Maybe it’s opposites attract.

No matter what the reason, those people demand discounts on your heart. Stop now! You are worth every single penny. Don’t give away your worth to anyone.

I’m going to start taking my own advice.

discounts

The Sand in the Oyster

oyster-1327311_1280

As you have figured out by now, the last year has been filled with grief and heartache. It is hard to maintain a smile on your face all the time when you are dealing with all these emotions. I’ve written that I feel like a stranger in a foreign land because I’ve always been so buttoned up and now I am leaking everywhere. My feelings may not be on my sleeve but they are close to the surface. I find myself crying at the slightest everything.

I’ve written that my friends keep telling me that this is how the light gets in. Of course, everything I read lately says the same thing. “Hello Universe calling!”

I’ve spent years working on myself and considered myself to be in a really good place 4 years ago. I met “the guy” at that moment and thought that life was coming together. Uh, not so fast Suzan. Apparently that road is not it.

I thought my dad would live another 15 years based upon family genetics and that I’d have a lot of time to spend with him. Uh, not so fast Suzan. Apparently that road is not it either.

While getting healthier in some respects, I seem to have caused damage in other respects. So apparently, that road is not it either.

The business “road” is mostly a smooth path and I’ve worked very hard at paving that road so I’ll stay on it for now. I am always paving this road because as I read on a sign the other day “The road to success is always under construction”. I don’t rest on my laurels.

I have obviously however, rested on my laurels in other parts of my life and it is obvious that I am being given some tremendous lessons to learn. When my friend, Mitzy, said that I am going to have some BIG job when I get to heaven, I knew she really meant it. I really wonder about what is in store for me in my future, both near and far, because I sure feel like I’m being hit hard lately.

So it was interesting to me when, the other day my friend, Androniki (hi Andi!), said that it’s the sand that gets into the oyster shell that causes the irritation that brings forth the pearl. I never thought of it that way before. Without that grit, the wondrous, beautiful pearl would never form. She told me (paraphrasing here) that while she’s sure there are people that live in such a higher state of mind they never have anything bad happen and that they are always happy, happy, happy, she’s more sure that most of us mere mortals do have bad shit happen to us and that’s how we grow. That’s how we get to higher elevations of being. Indeed, one can define “having grit” as perseverance and passion.

In a similar vein, the Japanese have a process, called Kintsugi, which means “golden journey”. The process is one in which cracks in objects, often pottery, are filled with gold. Instead of tossing damaged objects they repair the objects by filling the cracks and beautifying the object. As a philosophy Kintsugi means recognizing the beauty in broken things, our imperfections and flaws.

For me, it means recognizing that despite all the bad shit that’s happened in the last year, there is so much for me to be thankful for and to strive for.

So begins the work. Learning to forgive others. Learning even more to forgive myself. Opening to love of others but most of all opening to love of myself. Remembering where I was 4 years ago and finding that balance again without forgetting what I’ve learned the hard way the last 4 years.

Allowing the grit, the sand in the oyster, in, so that I can allow the creation of the pearl.

No Internet or Phone? Can’t Connect?We Don’t Care!!

I was away last week and for large swaths of time had no internet access. I also had even more time without any phone connectivity.

I learned a lot about this inability to connect quickly.

People don’t pay attention to what you tell them. “I have no internet or phone where I am” fell on deaf ears. When I was in range, I’d have 20 texts and emails and voice mails asking me why I wasn’t responding. “I’m away” has no bearing on others wanting your attention. How dare I not be available right NOW!

It has also taught me that I can be away from social media but it’s going to take a lot of willpower. Why you ask? Well, here it is. It has finally occurred to me what Facebook or Instagram is like. It is like one of these:

  1.  A bad car accident that you just have to look at even though you know it’ll upset you (or fill you with envy).
  2. A place to get information on friends because nobody calls (or emails) to let you know  anything anymore. Without FB, you often don’t know what is going on with anyone or anywhere — how many events will I miss if I don’t see anything on FB? Good question. Friend going out of town? Read about it on FB or Instagram .
  3. Friends like to drink. Apparently a lot.
  4. That Christmas letter you used to get once a year? Yeah, now it’s every day. Just as annoying but you get to be annoyed by how perfect their lives seem to be every – single – day.

I have tried to cut down on FB (I don’t use Instagram much). I have almost totally stopped posting anything very personal. I’m not posting pictures of my food (unless I’m doing a restaurant review), selfies, pictures of where I am, and other pictures that say “hey! look at me!!

I mostly enjoy those pictures and posts that are of flowers, sunsets, puppies, kitties, other cute critters, books and music.

Considering that all I seem to post lately are political posts and about reading, or puppies, kitties and other cute critters, I don’t really know why I even bother.

Hmmm. That’s a thought.

An Amazing Life

A number of years ago, there was a book out about all the things you had to do before you died. Among the items listed was running with the bulls in Pamplona. Shortly after the book came out, I was at a party and the conversation with a bunch of guys I knew turned on exactly that subject. Each one of them said that they needed to run with the bulls in Pamplona. They asked me if I was going to also.

When I said “hell no!,” I was asked why not?

Why not? Well, because I’m generally risk averse and the very idea of running away from an angry 1,500 pound beast didn’t, and still doesn’t, appeal to me in the least. But besides that, why do I have to do something just because a book said it was one of the things I needed to do in order to have a fulfilled life? Who determines what I need to do? A book? Some meme on Facebook? There is some societal idea that somehow unless you are a well-traveled (preferably on camel in the desert or maybe instead to Borneo), designer dressed, Zagat-rated restaurant fed, member of society, you have not lived and that by not living that life, you are less than.

I spent a good deal of my earlier years chasing what I thought I needed to do. The pressure to do what I should or need to do is still quite oppressive.

So when I read this quote by the author Anne Lamott, I thought “well said”.

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

I read the Lamott quote on Facebook and then took the time to read some of the replies, and when I got to this one I thought “Brava!!”

What this person wrote was “Or you had a nice, quiet life, not feeling like you had to explain yourself away with your memoir or seek out warm pools because you liked your bathtub just fine and felt ok just enjoying other peoples’ silliness and your creativity was included in letters written to friends and family. Oh, God: what if you just enjoy your simply amazing life without being judged that your life was not amazing enough.”

You see both thought patterns are correct.

Ultimately, what a person chooses to do, or not do, is enough. It has taken me a long time to realize that not everyone was going to enjoy reading what I like to read or enjoy the movies, music, or art I prefer. They were not going to like the food I enjoy. By the same token, what I enjoy reading or watching is mine, and that no, I am not going to eat snails, once was enough thank you very much. It’s not for someone else to sneer down his or her nose and question my choices either.

As long as we’re not hurting someone else, then we need to walk our own path. We may not like each other’s choices. I may prefer to have a picnic instead of bungee jumping off a bridge after a 10-mile hike, and that’s okay. You shouldn’t need to feel guilty for the path you choose. You certainly don’t have to read a book to tell you what you need to do before you die. Make your own list and be sure to review it periodically because your life path will twist and turn and it’s okay to change your mind.

cup of tea

What I think is that we are all different, like snowflakes. Run with the bulls if that makes you happy. I’ll think you’re nuts but that’s okay. I’ll be home reading a book and drinking a cup of tea and that’s okay too.

We all need to be our own snowflake wherever that leads us.

© Suzan D. Herskowitz

Prioritizing!!!

Am I the only one that has a list a mile long of things to do, things I want to do, things I need to do, things other people need me to do, things I should do, things I should stop doing, things I should do differently??????

Yeah, I thought so!

My list has a lot of moving parts – running a business (dealing with clients and administrative matters), straightening the house, cooking food, shopping for groceries, laundry, exercise at least 3 days a week (can I squeeze that 4th day in for yoga?), cleaning litter boxes, calling my parents, writing my best friend, networking, setting new goals, eating right, just to name some of the things I do daily and/or weekly. Plus, I have to sleep and work in some down time, right?

Right??

Prioritizing may just be the hardest thing I do. Squeezing everything I want to do in a 24-hour period is tough to tackle. Mike Robbins put it like this, “I think we clutter up our lives with too much “stuff”. We’re too busy, over-committed and information obsessed“.  Now and then I have to employ tough love with myself. As much as I hate to say it, getting up at 6 a.m. to exercise 3 mornings a week sometimes takes a back seat to taking that extra moment to just sit and drink some green tea, especially on those mornings I wake up and feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Not enough sleep, running on all cylinders, burning the candles at 3 ends will do that to a person.

It isn’t always easy to say “no” when a friend asks to go out mid-week for drinks after work but some days I have to say it – nicely – NO. “I’m sorry, I have other plans.” That plan may be going home to drink a cup of tea and read. It may sound disingenuous to say that but if a friend won’t take no for an answer, you do what you have to do. It’s not lying. It’s prioritizing your own health and well-being as first priority. If next week is better, I just say, “not this week, how about next Tuesday?” It’s better to be honest with your friend and yourself instead of silently fuming that you got roped into an afterhours drink. Besides, your friend didn’t rope you in. YOU roped you in. Even Mahatma Gandhi knew this when he said, ““A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”

You can’t chair every committee you’re asked to chair. Heck, you can’t even be on every committee you’re asked to participate on. When do you get the rest of your life done if you do that?

prioritizing

That brings up the big point. I need to be honest with myself. We all strive to be Wonder Woman (or Wonder Man) but we are all human. There really are only 24 hours in a day and while most of the women (and men) I know are indeed super women (and men), all of us need to prioritize or we look more like Wile E. Coyote after being hit by the Acme anvil. None of us need that. According to Mike Robbins, “we may not know what’s most important to us or at least have some internal conflict about what “should” be. Whether it’s our lack of clarity or it’s this phenomenon of “should-ing” (or maybe a bit of both), focusing on what truly matters to us can be trickier than it seems on the surface.”

I decided to look up what some time management, life coach type people had to say about prioritizing. One of my favorites is Marie Forleo (#MarieForleo) at Marie TV. I highly recommend the video on this page of her website, www.marieforleo.com/2015/01/prioritize, which I found only after I wrote most of this blog post. Don’t you love when the Universe aligns with your intention?

My take on this, when all is said and done, is that some days you just need to relax and breathe. Do what is important to you and do your best to not let other things suck away your very precious time.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Steven Pressfield, which I learned about from watching Marie Forleo’s video. “The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

[Welcome Top of Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Valley Business Women!!!]

© 2016 Suzan D. Herskowitz

Reading for Enlightenment & Empowerment

Anyone that knows me knows I read all the time. Many people know that I have a book with me all the time as well, usually in the form of my Kindle in my handbag. I’m also not above carrying a hardcover or softcover book in a very large handbag.

In addition to fiction, I enjoy mind-expanding and thought provoking non-fiction. I tend to read non-fiction slower than fiction. It’s usually denser than a murder mystery page-turner, plus I tend to underline, mark-up and re-read various passages, not to mention re-copy them into my little note book I keep for those quotes and ideas that interest me. I’m sure I’m not the only one that does this.

Here’s a list of books in my pile (e-Reader and books with covers) that I plan on tackling over the next few months for enlightenment and empowerment (in no particular order).

Won’t you join me in the discussion of what we can do to better ourselves? What books are you reading?

  1. Womenomics — Katy Kay and Claire Shipman
  2. Confidence Code — Katy Kay and Claire Shipman
  3. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze — Deepak Malhotra
  5. The Gifts of Imperfection — Brene Brown
  6. Wake Up Women — Dorri C. Scott
  7. Rising Strong – Brene Brown

© Suzan D. Herskowitz

 

The 80/20 Rule and Swindoll’s 90/10 Rule Converge

The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input. It suggests then that the goal we all should implement is to maximize that 20% and stop wasting our time on the majority of the tasks we do on a daily basis because they do not assist us in achieving the best outcomes.

Comparably, Charles R. Swindoll said that “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”

I’ve been thinking about the convergence of these two principles and how to harness them to maximize satisfactory results, whether that is in work, home, relationships, health or spirit.

Of course, sometimes you need to perform low input tasks in order to become more proficient; so the 80/20 rule cannot always be applied. It stands to reason however that the better you become at doing those tasks that are less effective, at some point, you will be doing more of those things that yield the highest results. If you cannot gain the skill needed for a task, you either don’t continue with that task (if you can get away without doing it without harming yourself, your business or others) or delegate to someone who can. For example, I maybe a good bookkeeper but I hate doing it, so I delegate it to someone who does it easily. Freeing up time from what is a chore for me allows me the opportunity to perform activities with a high output. It is financially more rewarding to me and a lot less stressful.

Pareto Principle picture

Sometimes however, you can’t get away from the stress. That’s where I think Swindoll’s 90/10 principle comes into play. I believe that this is really a balancing act. When I was younger, for example, I operated on the principle that if the money was green, I would perform the tasks. I had demanding and unreasonable clients and I was spending an excessive amount of time placating them. Now, I am learning to ask myself whether it’s worth the high output, if my reaction to it, in terms of stress, lack of sleep, physical health symptoms, and lack of free time is having an overall deleterious effect on my health and wellbeing. Sometimes, the answer is still yes but I am more aware that I am making the choice to react in that manner. Sometimes, the answer is that the stress is just not worth the trouble and I refuse the work in favor of other work which is just as high output but much lower input on both the Pareto and Swindoll scales.

What choices do you make to maximize your life output and reduce your input? Please share!

 

© Suzan D. Herskowitz