Friday, December 31, 2010

My New Year's Resolution




My new year’s resolution is to do more of this. Every day.

I witnessed this way of living early on, from a beautiful, confident, independent woman, my Grandma Janet. Growing up in the same town meant my sister and I were lucky enough to get to spend lots of time with her from a very young age. The stories I hear about her from my dad and aunt and grandpa are truly entertaining and I certainly gathered some of my own.

Laugh. Everything I remember doing with her involved laughter. From watching Hee-Haw and thinking it was the funniest thing we’d ever seen, to performing our own concerts in the car to Ray Charles, to getting to make a fun mess painting ceramics, everyday was about doing something fun. New Years Eve will always belong to Grandma Janet in my mind. That is my parent’s wedding anniversary, so we spent that night with her until we were in our early teens. Every year was a party! Every year we pulled out all of her pots and pans to bang at midnight. Every year we watched New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Dick Clark and sang and danced. And every year we never made it to midnight to bang those pots and pans. But that was okay, she let us do it the next morning. Every year!

Play. Our game of choice at Grandma’s was “dress up”. She had a closet full of clothes and shoes and accessories that were ours to create whatever look we wanted. She had a jewelry box that was pretty much free reign and we got to 18 or 20’s on a regular basis (see "The Point System" to understand this reference). She had one of those mirror trays that held all of her perfume and we invented our own scents. But, the make-up drawer was the best. Filled with eye shadows, blush, mascara, dozens of lipsticks, nail polishes. Well, let’s just say we were always “dolled up” at Grandma Janet’s. We created our own looks and did shows and pretended to be characters for years. It was a creative version of play that I still enjoy to this day! The best part was that she treated it as just a normal thing. We’d get all dressed up and then she’d take us to Sonic or the drugstore or the grocery store and I’ll tell you, that is where I learned to just OWN it. I’m not sure if we didn’t think it was odd because Grandma didn’t or if we knew we were in on some sort of joke, but it was only in the past few years that we told my mom that her daughters were carted all around town in dresses, high heels, more makeup than a pageant queen, and smelling like a perfume factory. That was kind of fun in itself!

Indulge. It was always about a treat at Grandma’s. We got to have those things we didn’t get often at home. Sonic, ice cream sundaes, McDonalds, chili cheese hot dogs, popcorn at the movies, and a few times candy cigarettes. I now know that you can’t live like that. It creates a lot of problems, some of which my Grandma had. But, there is something to be said for the occasional indulgence. It evokes feelings of joy, it’s comforting, and it’s fun. And I’m glad she taught me that. Here’s raising my gin and tonic to Grandma Janet!

…QueenB Says

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stepping Up

For the past month or so I have been involved in a project at work. It’s completely outside of my realm of responsibility, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it and it has turned out great.

The gym at work is kind of a pet project of our CEO and I stepped up to the plate to get it done. Now, by stepped up to the plate I mean I sent him an email saying the new equipment was awesome and who would I talk to about some ideas I had to organize the space and clean it up some. The response was along the lines of “It would be awesome if you would do that”. When the CEO says that, you say yes (just a little career advice from QueenB).

Well, what started as a project to put the equipment in logical space and organize a grand opening turned into creating a complete workout space, organizing a number of weekly fitness classes, even running one myself, and coming up with a communication plan to keep 300 coworkers privy of what is going on. We have cardio equipment, a weight machine, free weights, bosu balls, exercise bands, a full-mirrored wall, a flat screen and DVD player, speakers for your music, an announcement board for activity in the gym and one launched on line, a personal trainer coming in once a week, a bootcamp run by me once or twice a week, another trainer lined up, and a yoga instructor. I mean, really? How awesome is that?

This is one of those things I said YES to that I had to prioritize to make work. And I am so glad I did because getting involved in something completely different showed me some lessons that I needed to be reminded of in my real day-to-day job.

     -  You need help to get big things done. And it’s all about how you ask.
     -  You have experts around you. And getting them on your team is crucial.
     -  You can’t make everyone happy. And you have to be okay with that.
     -  You may not get individual recognition. And you have to know that people notice anyway.
     -  You have to be passionate about what you are doing. And you have to let people see it.

Signing off as your VP of Fitness…

...QueenB Says

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Say Yes

There is a buzz word going around my workplace these days: integrity. Our definition is that you are integrated, meaning your life is a reflection of your purpose, that you are honest, and that you will do what you say you will. In general, this is bringing out the best in people and the changes that could individually be seen as insignificant are collectively changing the way we interact at work in a very positive way.

The idea that you do what you say you will is important, especially in a line of work where it’s the efforts of dozens or even hundreds of people that must all come together, on time, to create and increase the market share of your product. By agreeing that you will do what you say, you should only agree to what you CAN do. But, there is a small undercurrent of this definition of integrity that has been somewhat troublesome to me. People are saying no to things that they could do with some extra effort or better organization or by enlisting the help of other team members or any number of other ways.

As a general approach to life, I say yes to too much. But I say yes to things because they are exciting and worthwhile and I am passionate about them!

I know that saying yes may require changes. My days are highly scheduled, busy, and I have had to reign things in a bit to be able to focus on me and have the priceless time at home with family (that I blogged about in August). So for me, the ability to say yes to things means I may have to let other things go or get more efficient at what I am already doing.

Making sure that I am clear about what I am pushing off the priority list has been my biggest challenge to this. Why? If I have said yes to it, it is because I find it important or worthwhile and telling someone that “I’m really sorry, but I’m going to have to get to this later” or “I can’t make this happen, is there someone else that can help you” or “With everything else on my plate I just can’t commit to this” or “I changed my mind”… well, telling someone that sucks. But, it’s integrity. And I’m learning to get better at it. Because the better I get at it, the more I can say YES to things that I am passionate about...

...QueenB Says

Monday, December 6, 2010

Put A Little Love In Your He-ea-art...

The past few years I have been a little bit of a Scrooge. I haven’t really decorated, reluctantly sent out Christmas cards, and have kind of just gone with the flow of what I am supposed to do this time of year. Both this year and last, the huz has asked me what is wrong, perhaps a little more bluntly than that (think “Why are you such a Scrooge?”). So, I’m going to try to answer that and do something about it.

First, let’s look at holidays I do like. I love Thanksgiving. I love Fourth of July. I love my birthday (yes, I know this isn’t officially a holiday in your world). I guess I would say I like them because of a couple of reasons:

They have less expectations and requirements. For me, a few hours of cooking is thoroughly enjoyable. Bathing suits, sun, and mixed drinks? Easy. Obviously, my birthday’s expectations are whatever I want them to be.

They all have more flexibility. Sort of the same thing, but this is about options. You can stay or go or make it big or little. Whatever. For me, these holidays have always been celebrated in different locations, with different people, and in different ways. There are fewer “traditions” you have to be beholden to, so you have freedom to make it be whatever is important to you NOW.

They all celebrate something that is clear. I know, I know, I know what Christmas celebrates, but it’s lost. It’s about parties and presents and food and schedules and balancing family commitments and travel and basically fitting several months worth of spending, mailing, socializing, and eating into one month. It is! At least it seems to me.

So, I've been thinking about how I can really enjoy this year's holiday. Here’s my plan:

1. I’m going to decorate. Tree and everything.

2. I’m going to stay home this Christmas with my husband (we planned it this way for the first time EVER).

3. I’m going to do most of my shopping online. And if I have to do it in the crowd, it will be with hot chocolate and a smile.

4. I’m going to balance out every party or busy night I have with one of nothing to do.

5. I’m going to eat chestnuts. Somehow I’ve never had them and if you see how expensive they are… well, they must be good!

6. I’m going to sit on Santa’s lap.

7. I’m going to make a snowman.

8. I’m going to watch Rudolph, Frosty, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, and Christmas Vacation (that last one is being forced on me) as I did when I was a kid.

9. I'm going to finally put a few Christmas songs on my iPod. And listen to that station in the car.

10. I am going to one of my favorite places in the world, Newcastle. But I will have less of a schedule because I’m there following all of “that”. So, I’m going to look forward to my trip back to Oklahoma, as I always do, but with even more joy!

And last, I’ll read this list every day, just to make sure I’m on track...

Mom, Carrie, Me - Just look how much I loved it then

Still remember this as one of the best gift Christmases. A house and a shopping cart. If I only knew then...

Cousins. We did this every year. I was always Mary. The lead in my mind.

With Grandma. I don't really remember this, but how cool, huh?

Carrie, Emma, Me. The kids definitely make it fun.

...QueenB Says