A Spider Monkey on Crack in a Disco Ball Factory (Daylight)

It’s official. I am channeling another being, as referenced in the title. It seems my once focused and drven panther-like self has been replaced with a “spider monkey on crack in a disco ball factory in the sunshine.” In other words, if it sparkles.. I am RUNNING to it.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see so much opportunity… “I know, I will try that….” It took me about five seconds to name my last company- it has taken me 5 months to name this one. And dear, I still do not have a name I love.
Focus.Focus.Hocus.Pocus….
(I just got really excited for a second there and thought I’d found the name of my company.. .HocusFocus… damn. The name is taken.
Today I took a break from all this namegamehoopla and took my son swimming at the Brisbane pool. I was so pleased to see all the Brisbane moms I know at the pool with their kids. I realized that this could be my life – if I could just sit with it for a second. (The pool was sparkling you see.)
I walked back up the hill in 90 degree heat schleping a toddler size airplane for my baby boy gifted to us from the street. I had to stop every tiny little shade spot to regroup and breathe. I gave Sebastian his wet t-shirt to cool off and he kept cooing each time I put it on his head. I received a call from a company wanting me to create their curriculum for training their executives. I could do that. (The cell phone was sparkling you see. Perhaps a mirage from all the blacktop heat.)
I come home to find my husband out on the deck swabbing brain cell killing wood covering on our deck. As I watched him I realized the garden needed a good weeding. I could get into that.
I just heard a noise. My little tyke is watching me type. It is time to stop – you see there is this little gleam in his eye…

Um? So What!

SO I am sitting at a stop light (in my car) waiting for the light to give me the go… along side me comes rumbling up.. a 1965 Plymouth Fury. Aaaaah. I have been looking for one of these- it was my first car and I am still in love.
Am I creating my universe or do we just get back what we focus on? Does that sentence even make sense? My point, amidst my caffeine headache, did I see 4 of these cars the past 3 weeks because I was looking for them…. were they always there and I didn’t notice… or did I manifest some parallel universe where these grand machines live in abundance.
I remember a few years ago when I traveled to Santiago Cuba my amazement of the time-stood-still vehicle time machine. So many of the vehicles are from the 50’s when Cuba could purchase America cars before the ’63 embargo. Thirty years later and the 50’s American dream cars were alive and well.
Yet, the past few weeks I was not in Cuba. I sense that I see all these ’65 machines because I am alert and looking for them. They have been going along fine in their life, all around me. And now, I see them.
What we focus on is what we see. It bothered me today. I had someone call me to interview me as a potential speech coach. I asked them their number one desire in the training. They felt they could use some basic speech training, “You know, get rid of the ‘um’s.” It seemed they had taken a Toastmasters class and each time they said um a coin was dropped in a jar. They wanted someone to help them get rid of the ums in the same way.
Um, can I be honest with you right now? I absolutely HATE Toastmasters and all they stand for. The last thing a person needs when they are embracing the joy of public speaking is some silly person dropping a coin in a jar.. letting the person know what they are doing wrong.
And who said that saying UM is bad anyway? Why as a people do we hate this word so much? People have been conditioned now to listen for it and grade the speaker based on this ridiculous litmus test. We focus on the um’s.. we get the um’s.
You can say 13 UPS (Ums per speech) and I will not care if you related to me as a person… engaged me… got me involved.
Take my advice, be careful who you accept crticism from in public speaking. Your way just may be the right way. The goal of a speech is not to be perfect.. well, it is to be perfect as YOU. Be You. Folks come to hear YOU not your words.
Do also avoid loving a car that is 40 years old, bad for the environment and gets 10 miles to the gallon….it is heartbreaking to, um, want something so ‘bad.’

Fiddlenecks & No Tan Lines

Today was scary. I have endured illness, my country in a pointless war, a tough pregnancy, months of bed rest, a birth of my son, sleepless nights.. nothing prepared me for the horror of our untamed and neglected backyard. All of the rains this past year resulted in a weed emporium of epic proportions.
Michelle and I planned our new business, weedwacking with out tops, as we pulled an entire flatbed trailer full of weeds. My husband John spent 5 hours slaying the 13 foot RoseTreeDragon and tonight looks like he got thrown into a bag of rabid feral cats on crack.
What is so sad about today? My garden looked incredible this time last year. We had hired our friend Nicole to create a floral oasis only to let it be choked out by Ivy, Crabgrass, Cudweeds, Fiddlenecks and Foxtails. The neglect of our home, of what once mattered, in full polychromatic glory. Sure, we can blame it on having a new baby, a new business and those last 17 lbs of nasty pregnancy weight. Alas, it might be something else.
My favorite book is “The Little Prince.” This affection was created at a very young age, as my father read the book to us often. I think of one of the quotes in that book that fits today: “We are forever responsible for those we tame.”
Of course, this statement is about love and commitment. When we moved into this house, the garden had some rosebushes and succulents- totally low maintenance. Once we tinkered with the garden, we became responsible for its upkeep.
The same is true for me. For you. For anyone who starts down the slippery slope of self-improvement and aging. Oh if I could only go back to the days of being 20 years old and knowing everything.
Our school system does not focus on the good kids. Jim Collins wrote in his book “Good to Great,” that “…good is the enemy of great.” When we are good at something, we are often never coached to be great. We have been taught that when we are coached, we are wrong or deficient. I suppose as in the Little Prince, the committment price is high we we agree to coach top performers. This day has reinforced my belief that any training must involve some serious interactive coaching- particularly to the top performers.
My co-conspirator in the SansTop Garden Society , Michelle, is going to take a class at Berkeley Extension on Fairytales to plant some new blossoms in her head. I suppose it is time for all of us to sow and plant so we can harvest with new energy our untamed soul. Egad.. do I sound like Deepak or what? Yikes.
Clearly I have had too much sun.

The Earth is Really Made of Playdoh

Ever get the feeling you are Jamie Lee Curtis in the move Halloween? You remember the part.. she can’t find the keys and Jason is coming. Feverishly searching all the pockets of your favorite denim pants… hearing the music in the background…..“Keys… Keys… KEYS….” knowing that you made a grand mistake.

That was me this week. I had the challenge of teaching the upper-brass of a private school. This sounds a wee bit uninteresting until you hear the scary music begin to play… you see, the Board of Trustees forced the school to have the training. Okay. Cool. I have handled a tough audience before. I can do that.

Then I dropped the keys. Here is a word to the wise, when sending something in writing to a group of academics- make sure you triple check the grammar. Now, this girl is not the grammar champion. I can’t tell a dangling participle from a lexical ambiguity. When I received the pre-training surveys back, my mistakes were corrected. Most of the respondents made it clear they were not interested in the training and did not appreciate the sloppy work. Picture Jason knifing through the closet slats and cutting my arm.

I didn’t need Jason to knife me- I knifed myself. And not in the cool Hari Kari way either. No romantic notions here.

Those of you who know me- know that I am a wee bit weird. I tend to act like an 8-year old in terms of my strong need to play. I always bring toys to any training that I do. It all started, the toys I mean, at some thrift stores in 1993. I started picking up bags of fun toys and putting them all over my house. People started to tease me about all the toys and fun figures I had. The day I bought a glue gun and a hacksaw is a day that will live in stylistic infamy.

I digress, I often do, back to the toys and private schools. There is a reason I bring them to every teaching experience., allow me a paragraph or two just to give you the brief history. It all started when I was teaching a class, Dale Carnegie Human Relations, where I was asked to wear a suit and be normal. I actually spray painted my orange hair brown for one class. I kid you not. One night, on the way to teach, I threw about 20 toys in a shopping bag and put them on the chairs in the room. I didn’t say anything… just watched the reaction.

It was at that moment I realized there are different types of learners. Powerpoint is for visual learners, the speaker for audible and the toys for those who are tactile. I watched folks interact with the toys and it felt the learning was cemented.
Ever since then, I bring toys to every training I do. The more conservative the audience, the stranger the initial looks I receive. It causes a little bit of a hurdle for me in terms of being taken seriously; however, I find the benefit to the audience, and me, is worth it. What does this have to do with Jamie Lee Curtis and the private school?

I was told this group does not like silliness. When I started to put the toys out, one of the folks from the school warned me that this would not go over well. I lifted a couple of the toys and for a split second started to put them away. I stopped.

Aphorism by loose definition means to stand so solidly on principle.. to be unshakable in what we know is right. I know toys help adults learn and I had to face my grammar mistake, their belief that I was an idiot and their potential disdain for my toys.

It was an incredible training day. The people I met at this school proved to be so incredibly lovely and caring. I have yet to see any group more dedicated to the future dreams and aspirations of your people. I will always cherish the Playdoh earth presented to me at the end of the day by one of the participants.