I went to the New York show with the hope finding new products and inspiration and found both. However, inspiration came not from the show but visiting ABC Carpet and Home. This stores is a feast for the eyes -- and the soul. Never preachy, "In Pursuit of Magic" messages are sprinkled throughout the store and reinforced by products. ABC is not just a shopping experience. It is magic.
I'm off to New York Now in search of what's new and inspiration. Sometimes the show is disappointing but New York never is.
Creativity vs. Competition
I attended the Las Vegas Market and ran into other Principals of sales agencies in the Northwest. Some would call them my "competitors." I don't. That's not my world. I live in the world of creation -- not competition.
My perspective on the companies I represent and how I display and speak about them is my unique interpretation. How one interprets ideas or products gives them a uniqueness. I've seen high-end products relegated to dollar bins countless times. Without creating a context to showcase products, they're nothing but worthless commodities. The key is to create an environment to support and romance products. The product alone seldom carries the day.
In the world of creativity, I don't have to look over my shoulder or worry about being "ripped-off" or "knocked-off." It's liberating.
Today I March "for" and not against.
Over the last couple of months, I've kidded y business partner about requiring his "me time." We all do, but I sensed he felt guilty about taking time for himself. Rather than to say, "I need some time for myself," he withdrew emotionally ever so slightly but enough for me to notice. He's not alone in feeling guilty about taking time for ourselves. I too struggle with taking time for myself.
A few months ago I began a daily routine that includes reading, journaling, meditation and exercise. My "me time" has produced great results. It has actually given me more energy and stamina to face the challenges of work and family. A a little bit of "me" has translated to a better "we." If I'm OK, everyone in my sphere is better for it too.
Looking for Christmas
A few years ago, my husband and I spent Christmas alone. When spending Christmas with relatives, our day is usually spent stopping by the home of various family members. Without family obligations, we decided to start the day by going to mass. I was secretly hoping I would find Christmas there and I did.
The setting was perfect -- a beautifully decorated church and a choir who began mass with a spirited Joy to the World. At one point the doors of the church flew open by a strong gust of wind, toppling over several poinsettias. Was "He" announcing his arrival? Mass continued in the usual manner but with a great number of parishioners taking communion than on a non-holiday Sunday. It ended and then Christmas appeared. I saw mothers taking their children to see the nativity scene and taking care to explain who the characters represented and tell them about the birth of Christ. I also saw people in deep prayer, one man embracing a crucifix with one arm and raising the other as if reaching for God. To witness such profound love and devotion was deeply moving. On a day overrun by commercialization and materialism, I managed to find Christmas and it was a miracle.
I know someone who is relentlessly judgemental; particularly about overweight people (ironically, she too is overweight). She's exhausting to be around but she also provides a lesson.
Being critical or judging other keeps us from seeing the object of our criticism as a person. It keeps us from looking pass what we view as a flaw, to examine what may be at the root. They are reduced to a label.
The toxicity emitted is high and my encounters with this person are kept brief. However, I shudder to think about what part of me I am blind. It also reminds me that we are made into what we become. Some of it through our own choices but a lot through circumstances. Kindness begins with being kind to ourselves.
Book Review: Technology of Joy
I heard a fascinating radio interview with Jonathan Robinson, author of The Technology of Joy, and promply decided to buy his book. It's a good thing I heard the interview. If I were to judge this book by it's cover, I probably would not have bought it (the chakra colors and a smiley face in the "o" of joy won't win it any design awards).
Robinson describes 101 gadgets, apps, tools, supplements to "bring more delight in your life." With a claim like that, who could resist? His writes in a conversational style. He's unpretentious or preachy and he doesn't hesitate to admit he found some of the modalities weird at first. There are certainly some that will promptly elicit an eye roll, such as the orgone blanket. Developed by a Dr. Reich, a student of Sigmund Freud, the wool and steel wool blanket, it is said to amplify the living energy within the body. Fortunately, many "technologies" don't require a suspension of disbelief and cost little or no money.
This is the perfect time of the year to read this book. A lot of people feel blue or stressed during the holidays and out of 101 technologies, there's at least one thing we can all use to enhance our joy, energy and inner peace.
The season of eating has begun and my stomach isn't happy. Foods of the season don't agree with the uber-vegan diet I've had for the past several months. I've fallen off the food wagon enough to be reminded to go back to my diet of fruits and ;vegetables, no dairy, nuts, eggs or legumes. It may seem boring and extreme but I respond well to it and my health demands it.
Food during the holidays is difficult to separate from tradition and family. To say "no" to a family member or friend is tough but I must insist.
I always feel a little melancholy around Thanksgiving. President Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963; just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. What followed was an enormous sense of grief throughout the country and in my home. It was as surreal as it was sad.
The sadness I experienced in 1963 often surfaces around Thanksgiving and that's OK. It puts me in a reflective mood. Somehow problems don't seem as great on Thanksgiving. Any sadness I may have felt is replaced with deep gratitude. I am thankful.
A House Divided (?)
Quoting Mark 3:25, Abraham Lincoln spoke these words in reference to slavery in what became one of this most famous speeches. Fast forward to last week and our country appears to be deeply divided. Maybe it is, but there is danger in binary thinking. It reduces each side to a set of stereotypes and leaves little room for truly understanding the other's point of view. This approach to "news" is rampant. Issues are framed as black versus whites, men versus women, urban versus rural, educated versus uneducated, undocumented versus documented -- the list goes on. This polemic way of way of thinking has infected many. Unfortunately, this way of thinking leaves no room for empathy. How can we begin to understand another person's point of view if we've reduced them to a label or stereotype?
Issues have been framed and labels have been created based on ill-defined criteria and a penchant for making the other side wrong. We kid ourselves by thinking that as long as both points of view of shared, we are being fair and balanced. But what if we're taking an entirely wrong approach? What if instead of taking a point and counter point approach we instead try to understand the each other from a cultural perspective?
I believe the root of our differences are more cultural than political. If people feel their values, religion and way of life are under siege, they will go to extremes to protect themselves. We must get away from listening to talking heads and instead work toward better understanding one another. Empathy is what is needed. With it we can all live in the same house.
Doing it All
The other day I said "no" to something I know I could have done. It was an effort to create boundaries for myself. Just because I can do something doesn't mean I should. Right? But why don't I feel better about my decision? Maybe it's because it's an unusual role for me. I'm sticking to my guns because part of me believes I did the right thing. I just wish I felt better about it.
Over 70% of adults say they will celebrate Halloween this year (up from 52% just seven years ago). This has lead some to say Halloween has been hijacked by adults. Maybe.
I think more than a culturally sanctioned opportunity to act like a kid, Halloween is an opportunity for self-expression. It's a celebration of friends. It's the passing down of a tradition within families. It's also become the second highest grossing holiday in consumer spending -- an average of $123 per person will be spent this Halloween (what recession?). Halloween, it would appear, has become a cultural phenomena. Or has it? Maybe it's a chance for our alter ego to emerge. Maybe Halloween allows us to tap into our psyche's questions about afterlife and spirits. Maybe it's the expression of the need for a friend-centric holiday. Maybe it's adults' last hurrah before the beginning of a long season of family-oriented holidays and gift giving. Maybe we really need permission to act like a kid.
Halloween is more than a day to dress up. It is a cultural expression of the needs and desires we too often suppress.
I don't understand why some people haven't yet decided whether to vote or not. I also can't understand why some have decided not to vote.
Indecision is a decision. Inaction is still an action. If for no other reason, we should vote to honor those who have died fighting for our right to vote.
Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy
There are a lot of forgotten people in this country. I'm referring to the white working class. The presidential campaign has cast a spotlight on them but has done very little to increase our understanding of their circumstances. In Hillbilly Elegy, author J.D. Vance, offers a thoughtful and compassionate look into the challenges of working class Americans. Growing up poor in Appalachia, he witnessed the poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and failing schools that too often leaves people living in those communities with a sense of despair and hopelessness.
I too grew up in a poor working class neighborhood in California's Central Valley. Many of the families came to California from the Dust Bowl in search of work during the Depression. The same people that were the subject of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Good people trying to make he best out of a very bad situation. Vance's story is my story. I join him in asking: how can we help kids break out of the hopelessness created by these conditions? This is the question that both presidential candidates need to answer.
Duty vs. Love
Leave it to Mother Teresa to break down the difference between doing something out of duty versus love. But if it's that simple, why do we find it so hard to separate the two? Why do we find ourselves doing a lot of things out of duty? Is the mountain of social and cultural programming we receive about women as caretakers to blame? Perhaps we don't need to understand it. All we need to do is ask ourselves why we're doing something. The answer is not in our heads but in our bodies -- it's in the muscle tightness, upset stomach or insomnia we experience. Our bodies never conceal the truth.