Vacation Deprivation

Florida. White beaches. Rolling waves. The smell of sea salt tickling your nose.

It is a beautiful place, a warm haven for ‘snow birds’ who come down from the North for a winter reprieve.

Ironically, it is also one of the places where employees take the least vacation days. According to a recent TriNet survey, folks in Sarasota, Florida took an average of only 2.9 days of paid vacation annually, followed by workers in Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona with 3.6 days of paid leave. All of these places are sunny. It makes me wonder if they are overworked or just feel no need to go anywhere because where they are already is just fine indeed.

But if that theory were true, then San Diego, California wouldn’t have an average of 10.9 vacation days taken. Perhaps it is the West Coast mentality that drives people to take more time off.

The value of vacation is indisputable. It is essential. It renews the soul. It regenerates the spirit. It is time we spend on our own well-being. As I always like to say, “A well-rested worker is a productive worker.”

If more employers were to realize the benefits of vacation, they might be a tad less stingy with their employees. And the word ‘time-off’ would no longer be whispered at the water cooler.

I’m headed to Florida for a nine-day respite myself. After life’s long winter, it is time for sun, sand, and rest.

Time invested in yourself is time well-spent. In fact, it may just be the best investment you could ever make.


‘No’ Means Next

It is a basic human need to be loved. The opposite of love is indifference, the deepest form of rejection a person can experience.

Rejection comes in other forms as well – an unreturned phone call, a missed appointment, a subtle, yet clear ‘no’ to your every suggestion.

At those things can feel like rejection. And rejection hurts.

But what if we were to see that what appears to be rejection as a redirection to a more amazing experience that, had you not been ‘shifted’, may never have come to pass?

What if absolutely everything happens just as it should — even the crappy stuff — to get you to an even more awesome place?

When I was a young kid, I helped my mom study for a real estate seminar she was taking. She had to learn positive affirmations to keep her, and her growing client base, motivated. The one saying that has stuck with me to this day has to do with failure, also a type of rejection from what you think is ‘right’:

I never see failure as failure, but as the opportunity to change the course of my direction.

I am a firm believer in all good things in good time. So when things aren’t so great, know that they will be. Rejection isn’t what you think. It is actually a gift in an ugly disguise. It is the very thing that is getting you to yes in an even bigger way in your life.

So the next time you hear ‘no’, think ‘yes!’ because you can scratch that item off your list of to-dos. ‘No’ really just means ‘next’!

The Spaces of You

Everyone has an inner sanctum, a place inside to which each of us goes when we need a break from the world. Some call it their ‘bubble’; others their internal altar. Whatever you call it, it is that True Space within that needs as much nurturing as a small child.

It is the source of our strength, resolve and determination. If left neglected, we wither. If fed, we thrive.

How we spend our time — and with whom — greatly impacts our well-being.

Like a cavern, we have hidden spaces that house our inner most secrets. If we are lucky enough, we might share some of those nooks and crannies and shadowy information with a trusted Loved One. But there are always spaces that are kept in the shadows, sometimes even from ourselves.

Life is about exploring those spaces to the end of time. How far we come in our grandiose exploration is up to us — and to the will of the Universe.

How we view the world reveals a lot about the state of our inner space. If we tend to paint the world a shade of black, it is pretty certain that our inner worlds look dark too. If we move more toward shades of yellow, our inner lives emanate the sunshine we see on the outside as well.

Relationships are based on the investigation of those inner spaces. Dwell deeply. Cherish the shared moments of connection – most of all, with yourself. It is what will sustain you and bring you to your Happy Place.

I hope to see you there.

Time Stealers

Chatting at work was considered the biggest “time waster”, according to this survey. But honestly, why wouldn’t you want people to talk to one another? It leads to team-building, a sense of connection and a deeper rootedness in the place you spend so much time every day.

Work productivity surveys tend to focus on how much time people spend, well, working. But it is equally productive to take breaks throughout the day, even if it means doing something non-work related. We are, after all, human beings, not machines.

Some of our best ideas come from the synthesis we share with others. Private conversations build trust. Trust leads to better relationships and, ultimately, more productive workers.

Yet so many employers treat their automobiles better than their employees. Cars need maintenance. People do too.

The real time stealers in this world are those who think we can function optimally for eight consecutive hours a day. For many that water cooler chatter is the most productive thing they could do.

Let’s treat each other with kindness. Praise and progress motivate much more than pressure and pain.

Here’s the accompanying info graphic, designed by a tracking software company. It’s obvious they don’t want people to connect. What do you think?


The 3 Common Time Wasters at Work - Infographic
Time Doctor – Track your time. Track your team’s time. Know EXACTLY what is REALLY going on.

In Praise of the Laze

Monday mornings have a bad reputation. It’s not Monday’s fault that it begins the work week. Yet most people would say they have a funny feeling when Monday comes around. A subtle sense of reluctance sets in.

But why? Monday is just one day out of seven.

For many people, it implies the beginning of a seemingly endless cycle of discontent and stress. Work, after all, is no fun. At least a lot of people think that way. But what if we were to spend time on the things we truly enjoy? What if work equalled play? And that we spent most of our time truly loving what we do?

It is possible.

Anything is possible.

One of the main reasons Monday morning gets a bad wrap is that we spend our weekends making up for what we don’t experience during the week. An imbalance sets in as we cram in a ton of activities to ensure we have some kind of fun before the work week begins again. But what if we spent a part of each day in a state of laze — that is, rest? If we were to pace ourselves to match what we were capable of that day instead of pushing harder and ending each Friday exhausted, depleted and completely worn out?

It is a goal worth setting.

After an incredibly fun weekend of rest and play, I awoke this morning with a feeling of hope, not despair. It is Monday morning. I get to play in a different way today – connecting with people, telling stories and sharing my clients’ dreams with the media.

Laze each day – if only for a moment. Our brains need a rest just as much as the rest of our bodies do. And then Monday morning becomes just as beautiful as the rest of our lives.

It is possible. It truly is.



The Joy Factor

What brings you joy? Do you ever ask yourself that question?

I don’t know about you, but somehow I get the sense that we place a cap on our joy, as if we aren’t allowed to be too joyful in case something goes wrong. As if we’d be hogging the joy pool or something and that we’d be cheating someone else if we had too much of it.

An innate optimist, I tend to find joy in most anything – the chirping of a bird, the smile of a French garbageman, the beam of sunlight straining through the clouds. I see joy in the howling wind (how impressive you are!) and the gleam of a freshly mopped kitchen floor.

And yet there are moments when I wonder if all this joy is rightfully mine, as if there is a finite amount of it somewhere that only a few can have at a time.

Am I overthinking this?

Whenever I share these thoughts with my German friends, they remind me that most people are envious. I hadn’t really ever thought about envy much until I moved here. It is a culturally based explanation for why most people don’t smile in the streetcar. But envious of what? That they haven’t found their own inner joy? That they think joy is reserved for someone ‘better off’? And what does being ‘better off’ really mean?

Attitude determines your altitude. Joy is free and can be found everywhere. It starts with each of us.

So let’s form an infinity pool of joy for everyone to en-joy.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – for those of you who celebrate it, spread the love. And for those of you who don’t, spread the love anyway.

The world could use it. Now more than ever.


The Phases of Our Days

Just when you think it will never be over, it is.

Those difficult phases in your life when you think things will always be this way. As a young mom with two babies, I was once asked what I wanted for my birthday.

“Eight hours of consecutive sleep,” was my response.

I was serious.

It makes me laugh today, as I can get that pretty much any time I want now. But back then, sleep was as precious as gold.

We all go through phases — anyone who has observed the growth of a child knows how rapidly those phases come and go. Later we get set in our ways and change seems less inevitable. Yet change is a part of our lives – every day. No matter our age, things change. And we are often shocked by it.

Fashion is a great example of how what we used to think was cool is now just embarrassing. Shoulder pads and thick eyebrows are just two things that the 1980s celebrated. Big hair and blue eyeshadow were other must-haves. Today the thought makes me cringe.

Yes, we all go through phases, obsessing about things that mean so much today, but that will soon fade into a distant memory tomorrow.

My friend recently suggested that one day a computer chip will be implanted in our brains so we can remember absolutely everything.

“Remember everything?” I asked. “There are some things I am very happy to forget.”

Imagine being able to relive every phase, including the era of Big Hair and Chinos? Some things are indeed best forgotten!

Each phase builds on the next one, creating the masterpiece that is our lives.

Celebrate the day and the moment you are in. It is exactly where you need to be.

Besides, like the sand flowing through an hour glass, it really is just a phase. This too shall pass.


A Wrinkle in Time

When I was in the fourth grade, Madeleine L’Engle captured my imagination with her children’s book A Wrinkle in Time .

I couldn’t tell you what it is about, but I do remember how it made me feel — as if time itself were bendable, relative, not really linear as we believe it to be. Listening to stories such as hers helped build my writer’s mind, allowing me to create stories that only existed once I told them. Characters came to life. Ideas were born and situations formed – in black and white.

Eons later I explored the meaning of time for us all and came to discover that how we treat time says a lot about how we live our lives. Time became the protagonist in the stories I told. As fictitious as the characters in Ms. L’Engle’s books, I learned that time itself does not exist but in the minds that behold it.

Yet time, this made-up character in the story of our lives, leaves traces everywhere. It burrows lines in our faces. It frames life events. Based on mutual agreement of the clock, time gets us to where we are going – whether by train, plane or automobile.

Time gives our lives meaning, as meaningless as time itself is. We live our lives as if it is real. But like the figures in children’s book, time is no more real than the Easter Bunny.

If that is true, then only this moment is real. Past and future are but interpretations of what may or may not have happened. Most of it is our story anyway.

We are the authors of our lives. It would serve us well to write a good story — with heroes and heroines and adventures that take us places and allow us, if only for a moment, to dance with ebullience on that wrinkle we call time.