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“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My sister and her husband are in town for the week, taking advantage of spring break by visiting Ohio. Yesterday, Dawn had planned a trip to the Columbus Zoo for the children, and I went along disguised as an adult chaperone.

Before embarking on our trip, three-year-old Chloe made the following, unprompted declarations:

Today, I will not say, “No!”
And I will be mannerly and say, “please” and “thank you.”
And I will not pee pee in my pants.

Who knew that a trip to the zoo could inspire such dramatic personal change?

Chloe is one of the funniest and charming children we know. However,  since her arrival in Ohio, the youngest member of the family has been talking non-stop, chatting about everything and anything, forgetting her manners, being bossy, and having so much fun she refuses to take time out for potty breaks. Translation:  four changes of clothing and four quite stern warnings in a single day.

Dawn and I celebrated this wonderful turn of events!

About two hours after our arrival at the park, Jack, Chloe, and I were waiting for Aunt Dawn and Summer to finish browsing at the gift shop next to the manatee exhibit.  While all the children had been exhibiting good behavior, four-year-old Summer was being rewarded for being especially mannerly and kind.

As I handed Chloe a small box of raisins to pass the time, she said, “Thank you, Aunt Deanna.” I commented on how nice it was for her to say thank you.  (Positive reinforcement had been the theme of the day.)

Chloe turned, looked me straight in the eyes, expelled a huge sigh, and said,”

“I’m running out of manners.
I’m running out of please and thank you.”

Trying to swallow a giggle, I responded, “Well, that happens to everyone now and then.”

And so it is with all of us.  Despite our own best efforts to be kind and mannerly, sometimes we’re running on empty.  People can be pushy and mean and rude, and we don’t feel like responding with tolerance, much less benevolence.

I urge you to live by a higher standard.  Don’t allow the ugliness of others to color your response.

Even if your “please and thank yous” are nearly depleted today, remember to “treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are” [Unknown].

Whatever you are, be a kind one!

Deanna

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If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience”
[George Bernard Shaw].

All in all it was a much better day than I had planned or even hoped for. I accomplished so much, and I am happy to report that most of the items on my “To Do List” now have a line through them.

But now, 10 minutes into tomorrow, I pause to look back at yesterday and I am a bit unsettled.  A big mess of unexpected landed right on my head late in the day.  In the midst of all my progress and efficiency, I was blindsided by “one of those days.”

I’ll be honest, “those days” can be somewhat difficult to foresee, but you know them when you see them — and sometimes you can see them coming down the pike from a long way off.

And somewhere toward mid-afternoon, well before I knew that “one of those days” was approaching, my sister called and invited me to get out of the house, enjoy the great weather, and join her in a walk at the park.

When I said I was much too busy to leave my work even for two hours, she said, “Well, I hope I don’t die tragically, because then you’ll be sorry.”

To which I replied, “I would be sad even if you died in a non-tragic manner.”

And she said, because she always has to have the last word, “Yeah, but when you die tragically, it’s just so . . . tragic.”

And then we had a good laugh about dying tragically. Which, in itself, when you think about it, is just weird. Nonetheless, I still couldn’t go on a walk with her.

And then, in the middle of my recounting a story to my husband about a very cool thing that happened to me earlier in the day, he interrupted me to ask if I thought his jeans were too long. Which makes no sense, because my story was very important and his — not so much.

And when I received the bit of news that turned my great day into “one of those days,” and I wanted to get discouraged because sometimes it really doesn’t seem like hard work pays off, I happened to see my latest Twitter post from this afternoon, which read — “Even if you are facing mounting disappointments or failures, now is not the time to give up hope or lower the dial on your determination!”

And I had to chuckle at how my online optimism was lifting my real-life sagging spirit.

And then, I continued writing and thinking long into the night — way past my usual bed time.  Although, come to think of it, my sleeping habits have been really messed up for a while, so I’m not sure I even have a usual bed time any longer.

I used to be “Miss Early to Bed and Early to Rise.” Now, I’m “I’ll get to bed when I can, get up when I have to, and take a nap if needed to keep going.”

And now, when I think about it,  even when you throw in the unexpected “one of those days” zingers, I had an exceedingly awesome, abundantly more than you can ask or think of kind of day. I guess it’s all how you look at it.

Kinda cool.

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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Do what you like. Like what you do.” [From Life is Good Company.]

Have you heard of the Life is Good Company?  Do you own any of their gear? The graphics are plain and cheerful. Nothing fancy or dramatic or over-the-top to get their point across.

Just the simple statement that “Life is Good.” Even their Twitter Posts are easy, breezy, and fun.  A recent one said, “Radiate good vibes. Climb mountains. Ride your bicycle. Brush your teeth.” Another suggested, “Consider yourself a lucky dog.”

My sister introduced me to the company a few years ago, and I now own several shirts.  My favorite is an orange tee Dawn purchased for me earlier this year.  It has a simple drawing of a bicycle on the front with the text, “Biker Chick.”

All of the Life is Good shirts hanging in my closet contain a tag near the hemline which reads, “Do what you like. Like what you do.” A great reminder that life doesn’t have to complicated to be fulfilling.

Your schedule doesn’t have to be jam-packed for you to be important.

Your vacations don’t have to be exotic to be memorable.

Your toys don’t have to be expensive for your life to be valuable.

Your title doesn’t have to be long for you to have impact.

At the end of the day, so many important things become meaningless if you don’t like what you do.

I really think the people at  Life is Good have it figured out . . .

If you Do What You Like and Like What You Do then Life is Good!

Maybe it really is just that simple.

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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So what do we do? *

Something. **

So long as we don’t just sit there. ***

If we screw it up, start over. ****

Try something else. *****

If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties,
it may be too late.” ******

~ Lee Iacocca

* Be careful what questions you are asking. Furthermore, be aware it can be dangerous to ask advice from persons unknown to you or you to them. Some people talk just to hear themselves speak. Others struggle with stringing together meaningful thoughts.  Strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues and even well-meaning family members provide advice based on their own experiences, perceptions, and prejudices. While some responses may be useful, don’t feel compelled to implement all advice that is offered. At times, listening to your heart is the way to go.

** Activity, alone, is never enough.  To be effective, it must result in meaningful productive results. See: Congress, merry-go-rounds, bumper cars. A lot of activity, going around in circles, running into each other, and stalling in the corner. Resulting in a lot of activity, going around in circles, running into each other, and stalling in the corner. Is any additional argument needed here?

*** Sometimes, just sitting “there” is actually the best course of action. Taking the time to think about where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going can be a very good use of time, energy, and resources. Downtime can actually be productive if used appropriately. Experts recommend regularly scheduling “Thinking & Planning Time” into your week in order to recharge, refocus and re-energize. [Not to be confused with a nap.]

**** Does not apply to heart surgery, childbirth, breaking the law in any way, or live television. Sometimes, you really can’t “unring” the bell.  However, neither should you allow minor setbacks, blunders, mistakes, wrong turns, or poor choices stop you from moving forward.

***** Does not apply to parenting or changing destinations in the middle of a flight. There are some choices which commit you for life (or some other long period of time). Think before you commit. Weigh the options. Calculate the risk. You hold the key to your destiny. You are responsible to change something or take action if your current course is moving you away from your goal. Measure twice, cut once.

****** Make a note that “satisfying all the uncertainties” is an impossibility. There are so many things you don’t know, don’t know you don’t know, and will never have an answer for until you experience it for yourself. Do the research. Ask the experts. Go with your gut. Enjoy the ride.

“Education is when you read the fine print.
Experience is what you get if you don’t.”
[Pete Seeger]

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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Blah, blah, blah.  Blah — blah, blah” [Ralph Waldo Emerson].

“So, what do you think of my blog?”

I asked that question recently, just to see what kind of answers I would receive. The bogus Emerson quotation I opened this post with was a verbatim response that someone shared.  Which, by the way, caused the entire lot of us to collapse in a fit of giggles.

Some people believe that all of the pondering, the wise quotes from philosophers long gone, and the positive affirmations from success gurus are fantastic.

Others think they’re okay, if you like that sort of thing.

Some days, you tell me the topic resonates, the thought inspires, and the calls to action prompt a response and strengthen your resolve.

Other days, though, it’s too much!  The ideas are vanilla, or they are too surreal, or too sugary. It’s all dessert and no protein! You need something you can sink your teeth into.

Maybe, it’s just that each one of us takes away what we need for that particular day. Today might not be an Emerson type of day, maybe what you needed was Mark Twain or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Robin Williams.

Perhaps, what you were hungry for was confidence or contentment or courage, and I served up imagination, potential or responsibility.  No worries.

Check back tomorrow to see what’s on the menu. I bet you’ll find something that will satisfy.  If not specifically for you, then something you can take away to share with someone else.

Keep reading, I’m sure you’ll find something that lights a spark. I do every single day!

“Be yourself.
Above all, let who you are,
what you are
what you believe,
shine through every sentence you write,
every piece you finish.”
~ John Jakes ~

I guess today was a John Jakes kind of day. Thanks for stopping by!

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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Work is either fun or drudgery.
It depends on your attitude.
I like fun.
[Colleen C. Barrett, Southwest Airlines]

CEO. CFO. Associate. Attorney. Volunteer. Senior Vice-President of Human Resources. Clerk. Secretary. Receptionist. Sales Representative. Manager. UGH!

Yes, job titles are important. They describe what we do, how we do it, the way we interact with others, and our scope of authority.

But why do they have to be so BORING? Is it because our jobs are dull & lifeless? Where is the FUN? What happened to the inspiration? (Why are we still using “Receptionist” when “Wizard of First Impressions” is available?)

Perhaps the more appropriate question to consider is this one: What would happen if we had super cool, intriguing, or”just plain fun titles”? What possibilities might be created if our identity reflected inventiveness, brilliance and worth?

All of this thinking about titles came about as a result of several really cool ones crossing my path recently.

  • Mark Henson is the “Chief Imagination Officer” at sparkspace. When I offered to help Mark out one afternoon, the title he printed on my name badge read “Volunteer Super Hero.” (Not just volunteer, I was officially a “super hero.” I was important. Oh, the pride and joy!)
  • My husband was recently handed the business card of an attorney. Beneath the man’s name, his title was listed as “Problem Solver.” (How very resourceful!)
  • I received an email from a district manager for a health care company last week. I was delighted to read her unofficial title was “High Priestess of Fun.” (Sounds like a corporate culture I would love!)
  • The Tech Team Leader at a local church, the person responsible for the lighting, sound, and ensuring all visual effects run smoothly, proudly wears the title of “Master Chief of Atmosphere Coolness.” The Master Chief recently bestowed new titles on all her volunteers. For example, former backstage workers are now called “Shadow Jumpers.” (Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this team?)
  • Disney refers to its employees as “cast members.” (A simple yet effective reminder that everyone is responsible for providing an “out of this world” performance for park visitors.)

See what I mean about a title changing a perspective, lifting an attitude, and opening the mind to what could be? (Or what currently is, but no one has ever noticed?)

So, what about you? If you could transform and super-charge your title into something cool, interesting, or exciting, what would it be? I dare you to give it a try and see how much fun it is.

If you are aware of any inspirational job titles floating around, I’d love to hear those, too!

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right” [Bob Basso].

Why not inject a little fun into your day? Look for opportunities to turn the mundane, boring, or ordinary into a reason to laugh, share a giggle, and have a good time?

A while back, I worked in an office that had a kitchen area with a large Formica countertop. Even though we had purchased a cutting board, it was apparent that not everyone felt compelled to use it when slicing their bagels in the morning or their fruit at lunch. Long pale gashes marked the dark laminate. What to do?

We would have loved to install a hidden camera to catch the offenders, but, alas, our small budget barely covered the cost of a cutting board. There was no way we could justify an “eye in the sky.”

After some heated debate during our monthly staff meeting, and several options being discussed and tossed, we decided to post a sign to remind folks of their thoughtless, lazy, and damaging behavior. For whatever reason, I was elected to take lead on creating the sign. (Could it have been my keen wit that propelled me to project manager?) Regardless, here is the sign that appeared in the kitchen later that day:Be Responsible.

We made our point, without forcing the issue, creating ridiculous rules, or initiating a ton of unnecessary communication to announce the problem, outline the issue, detail the consequences, and threaten action.

We had some fun with the absurdity of employee behavior, and the countertop abuse stopped.

Problem solved.

I recently found another great example of someone having fun while creating a perfunctory document. The following text appears on a form employees sign when they are given keys to the office. It reads:

  • I will not loan the key(s) to anyone.
  • I will not use the key(s) as a toy.
  • I will not let my children or pets play with the key(s).
  • I will not lose the key(s).
  • I will not use the key(s) as a screwdriver, chisel, or lever.
  • I promise to guard the key(s) with my very life.

If I fall short on any of the above, the Company may lay claim to any of my children, pets, or prized possessions, (but only one from only one category).

Obviously, someone with a sense of humor took the time to craft a document that took a “by-the-book-legal-said-we-must-have-this-form-on-file” into something that was entertaining and humorous. Don’t you want to be associated with an organization that looks for ways to manufacture fun? I know I do! Why not make a commitment to create that kind of culture — at work and at home.

We’re all so busy with the deadlines and details and corporate dysfunction that organizations breed, we often convince ourselves that there is absolutely NO TIME FOR FUN. Are you serious? Don’t take your boring attitude to work one more day! Today’s the day to break open the can of good times you were saving for your birthday, or the weekend, or the next holiday, or whatever, and use it all up!

Isn’t it time you shared a funny story, turned boring into fun, and mundane into hysterical? Look for the humorous, play a practical joke, post a comic in the break room, mix some merriment into your day. “If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good” [Dr. Seuss].

Do you know what time it is? It’s time to put the fun back into dysfunctional [Mary Engelbreit].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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