Search This Blog

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Raise a glass to Art

My Dad passed away tonight.  I knew the end was near, but I didn't think today was the day.  It came so quick.  We went in with a little Easter dinner for him to find his room being cleaned up.  His aid took us down to ICU where he was in the midst of being coded.  The doctor came out to talk to us and we told her he had a DNR in place so they stopped and let him go.  About the time he started coding we had been talking about how we hoped he would go quickly and his heart would just give out on him.  It's been so hard to see him waste away and be so helpless.  He must have told me a dozen times how he hated being in the hospital and being so weak and dependent.  Though I wouldn't have wanted him to suffer any more than he already has, I didn't expect it to be today.  I guess you never so.  So please raise a glass to Art, one of the best human beings to ever have walked this earth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I had a couple of "ahah"'s tonight while talking to Cynthia over dinner. She asked me why I wasn't doing my blog every day like I'd planned. I told her that although I try to do something every night that I enjoy, be it reading, puzzles, building my model, etc. I've found it very difficult to come up with things I can do with excellence every day. The thought occurred to me though that perhaps I'm defining "doing something with excellence" too narrowly.
I noted that one of the things that I have a gift for and love to do is have positive interactions with people. I told her about my trip to ACE hardware on Saturday because the boy at the checkout forgot to put one of my items in the bag. When I went up to him to tell him what happened, he told me he was sure he did put it in the bag. I didn't feel upset though. It was obvious to me that he was young and fairly new at the job so I just explained to him that when I got home and emptied the bags, the item wasn't there. I checked both bags and my car in case it fell out but with no luck. So he asked one of the more senior folks there what to do. This guy told me that yes, it must not have made it in the bag because he found one lying on the counter and put it back. Mystery solved. So I left my item at the counter and went to pick out a few more things I'd forgotten. When I went to ring up, the more senior kid helped me. The credit card wouldn't process and the register just seemed to hang. So I just started cracking jokes about going to the restroom, getting a cup of coffee, taking a nap and hopefully it'd be processed by the time I got back. By this time I had the senior manager there to help, and everyone laughing. We tried it again on another register with the same result, moved to a third register where I said I'd pay cash and then invited folks to lay down odds of having to go to the fourth register. By the time we were done, they were all in great humor and so appreciative of my attitude that I felt like I had 4 new best friends and several other customers as admirers.
I know that my humor and attitude likely changed their whole day. I didn't think of this as doing something with excellence. It's something I take for granted as a gift of mine with people. I love to make people smile and laugh with them. Cynthia noted that as I was telling her the story I got all lit up. Perhaps doing something with excellence means something akin to using my particular gifts and talents to their best advantage. Maybe it means being more myself in the world and less a victim of circumstance. Maybe happiness comes from being true to who you really are every day and letting your gifts out into the world where they can do the most good, make the biggest difference, or shine the brightest. Perhaps it's as simple as that and I've just been making it too complicated.
If that's true, than I've done things with excellence on a regular basis. On Monday at work, I had a meeting with an auditor who had audited one of the groups I support. He had quite a few concerns as the group didn't measure up to standards for our internal processes. Typically this leads to wrangling with the group to do even a half-hearted effort to make a show of improvement towards where they ought to be. Knowing that visible executive commitment is a cornerstone to continual improvement and process adherence, I contact the group VP to give him an informal heads up and strongly suggest he get involved. The results were remarkable. Within hours, the audit team had all sorts of cooperation and commitment to improvement. Why is this unique you may ask? Because most people don't want to rock the boat or go too high in the food chain to deliver bad news. I on the other hand, believe in open and honest communication with people no matter what their position is. Position doesn't mean much to me in terms of rank. Everyone in the company has their role to perform and has the titles and pay grade to match. A Vp's role is to ensure the successful operation and delivery of his/her business. Mine is to ensure that we do that in a way that allows us to maintain our certifications to industry standards. How is the VP supposed to ensure the success of his group if I don't let him know the information he needs to know to make the appropriate decisions for his business? It's not a rank issue. It's being a good team player and helping out your teammates, the team being Cisco. My ability to interact with people this way is what allows for the type of response and engagement I get from them. Things don't go the way they typically go because I have an ability to relate to people at all levels of the organization and appreciate the role they play. Continuing with the theme I descibed earlier, this too is excellence. It's also nothing more than acting consistent with who I am as a person and consistent with my beliefs and values. Imagine that.

I'd love to hear your stories of excellence...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gettin Stuff Done

So I think I've changed my focus a bit to "gettin stuff done" and "doin' stuff I like". I pulled out a model airplane that I started about 10 years ago. It's been sitting in a box in my closet since. I painted the parts but never assembled it. For the past several nights I've been assembling it step by step. It's a very cool project that requires patience and the willingness to do a little bit every night til I get it all together. It feels great to start completing something that has been sitting there saying "some day" to me for so long.
I also took apart and cleaned my binoculars. I got swamped by a wave that I didn't expect to reach me last weekend. My binoculars got flooded and full of sand. I like fixing things myself. I don't need to throw them out and get a new pair or pay someone an arm and a leg to fix them for me. It's like polishing silver - a little effort gives you a lovely shiny finish and a real sense of accomplishment. ;-)
I got an awesome deal on a used canoe today. It's in great shape and came with a nearly new 5-speed motor, life jackets, paddles, a deep cell marine battery and foam seats. What a steal!! Now we can go out on the water ourselves to get great bird and wildlife shots. Reminds me of canoeing with dad when we were young. I find that very comforting and I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So here's my issue - I have all these things pulling at me that need to get done to alleviate the primary stressors in my life. If I get them done, it's a huge load off my shoulders. However, getting them done is a slow tedious process and I don't feel okay doing things I love to do when I could be doing the things I need to do to get the stress off me. So I'm not doing the things I love to do because I feel obligated to do the things I have to do. What do I do?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Gettin' a Few Things Done

So my little sick kitty is back to her old self now. Whew! I hate it when they don't feel well or they get hurt. I also love the way she wants to spend more time with us now that she feels better because we spent so much time with her taking care of her when she was sick.
I was so tired this afternoon that it was hard to focus It seems that night time is when I have the most energy. So I made the most of it tonight. I painted in the kitchen where the wall needed to be touched up. I got my plastic tarps put away that were sitting in a heap in the garage. And I got the satellite TV cable run through the walls between Cynthia's office, Jenna's bedroom and my office. Boy was that a pain! I thought it would be a quick job, but nooooo. I have to say though, it's nice not to have the cable running down the hallway anymore ;-)
Yesterday I put up my sword rack, rehung my grandfather's banjo and got all but one of my pictures hung back up in the office. It's become a nice cozy little den. Still need to get all my books back on the bookshelf. That'll be a job for tomorrow night or Saturday though.
I finished another book today. I bought a CD from someone off Ebay of 105 top classic books for the Kindle. I've decided that I want to read all of them before I buy another book. So far I've read Uncle Tom's Cabin and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Many of these I read in high school or college, but it's been so long that I'm actually looking forward to reading them again just for pleasure ;-) Next up is Through the Looking Glass. I haven't read that since I was a kid. Looking forward to it. ;-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sick Kitty

While I did go to the beach again yesterday to photograph, read, and spend time with my honey [:-)], I've spent most of the past two days worried sick about my little kitty, Megan. Usually she's very active, playful and a little beggar. But yesterday and today she was hiding out, not eating, not drinking, and not letting any of us get near her. I knew she had to go to the vet, but I couldn't catch her and I didn't want to terrorize her. I finally got her from the neighbor's back yard this afternoon and got her to the vet. She had a 105 deg temp and was dehydrated. $422 later (yikes!!) she was hydrated, pilled, injected, and on her way home. We stayed in my office with her tonight watching TV and she's now nearly back to her old self. Let's hope her checkup tomorrow morning confirms that. Whew!
As for the office, it's back to being functional and quite warm and cozy, even without the decorations up yet or power cords organized and hidden. Over the week I expect I'll have it exactly to my liking. Yay! I even managed to build a small monitor stand and a laptop cooler and stain them both cherry to match the other items in my office. Now my monitor is at the right height, my laptop is clean and it's stopped overheating! I must say, I'm quite proud of myself :-)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Painting Day!

I painted my office today and it looks great! All done, trim and all so tomorrow we can play. I figure I can put it all back together over the next several nights, no rush. I think that's a first for me. I usually have to keep driving myself til it's done and I'm exhausted. I like this intentional stuff!