Top 3 Principles to Apply to Work (or Anything)

Back in 2005, I was a Catering Manager for a small hotel in Wyoming. A few months in, I was introduced to a company who threw elaborate employee events. I helped them select entrees, design the best room schematic, and even provided my recommendations for decor and entertainment (let me tell you how I much truly LOVED this job). I started off doing their holiday event, then did a couple of staff meetings and then they asked me to do their Summer Picnic.

The day of the Summer Picnic came. We had planned a scramble on our Executive Golf Course and big BBQ bash under huge canopy tents outside … and it rained.

And, I don’t mean it drizzled. It down-poured. It rained cats and dogs … and sideways. Halfway through their scramble we closed the golf course due to wind and lightening. Shortly after, power went down across town and in our hotel – which meant we had no kitchen. It was on this day that I learned the three most important lessons I know about being a professional.

1. At some point in your life, you will be the person who deals with the crap. So, suck it up and do it gracefully.

Of course, most of the time, I mean metaphorical crap. Answering the phones, working late on the holiday weekend, getting the coffee, etc. Everyone, in the early stages of their career, will have to be ‘that guy.’

However, in this instance, I mean actual crap. The hotel had these power-flush toilets that, no kidding, didn’t flush if the power was out. In addition to the guests of the summer picnic, we had the usual hotel crowd, restaurant patrons, and stranded travelers who were run off the road from the storm. It was a full house.

Turns out, the toilets did work if they were pressurized by a strong current. And so myself, and several other unfortunate employees, hauled buckets of water from the hotel pool to the bathroom and poured them down the toilets to pressurize them into flushing. It worked. And it was horrible. But, it had to be done. And at that point in my career, I was the person to roll up my sleeves and do it.

2. Even when everything is falling apart, remain calm.

The people who are most successful are not the people who never fail, but are the people who are the quickest to recover.

On the aforementioned rainy day, I couldn’t control the weather and I couldn’t control our power which meant I couldn’t get the kitchen to put out anything but our pre-made, cold food. Our event timeline was shortened because we only had so much time until the refrigerated food would be unsuitable for serving. And, of course, the sun would be setting soon.

So, we moved the whole thing inside, lit candles and served the chilled dishes. Our catering team stepped up the service and didn’t skip a beat when it came to half-empty glasses and discarded dishes. And I smiled and chatted with the company’s management team who ate cold food in the dark.

In a work or professional setting, the ability to put aside your feelings of anxiety, disappointment, and anger is key. It can be easy to let others see you panic. And, it can be easy to start barking orders out of mounting frustration and being overwhelmed. But, don’t. Take a deep breath and remain calm (you can cry in your car after).

3. Be accountable.

That day, I could have pointed fingers at the Chef and said they should have cooked the hot foods earlier. I could have complained that our back up generators weren’t functioning properly and it was the General Manager’s fault. I could have been grumpy and unhelpful because it was Mother Nature’s fault, not mine, and just cancelled the whole thing. But, I didn’t. It was my event and I was responsible for executing it no matter what.

If it’s yours, own it. Don’t point fingers (no matter how tempting or justifiable) and get the job done.

So, what happened?

One week after the soggy summer picnic in the dark, the company called and offered me a job as a full-time, in-house event planner. I stayed with them for over eight years and they helped me shape career path that I love. I recently left them (which was a tough decision) to start on a new journey but am still applying these three principles, along with the skills they gave me, to everything I take on.

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2013: One of the Best

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Well, tomorrow is the last day of 2013 and, like most, I’m reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year ahead. Unlike most, I can jog my memory for what actually happened in 2013 by reading my own blog.

And, I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the past year.

However, when I got to my New Year’s Resolution list for 2013 to see what I could cross off, I realized I didn’t make one. Gasp!

In the year that I bought a new house, vacationed in Mexico, hosted a Circus Party for my one-year old, saw Hillary Clinton speak, lost all feeling in my leg but then got it back, and then trained for and ran in the New York City Marathon, I didn’t set out to achieve anything.

I’m not really sure how to process this.

List-lover that I am, it doesn’t make sense that I accomplished anything without first writing it down. And yet, I can say that 2013 was probably one of the best year’s of my life. In fact, I really don’t know what to put on a list for 2014 because I’m not sure it can get much better.

Aside from my own achievements, this year was also the year my middle sister got married and my littlest sister got engaged. My dearest friends welcomed a new baby and we moved within a half-mile of each other. My brother moved across the country twice and is expecting a little boy next spring.

And the greatest news of all, my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 throat and tongue cancer and beat ithe is now 100% cancer free.

Yes, 2013 was full of surprise, blessings, change, and growth. You know, my spouse always says that 13 is his lucky number. It was his soccer jersey number when he was a kid and, oddly enough, both of the houses we’ve owned have had 13 in the address. After the year we’ve had, I think he’s right.

Let’s hope my soccer jersey number from when I was young, 14, will prove to be as good to us! I have a sneaking suspicion things are going to be great in 2014…. but more on that later.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoy celebrating 2013 and have a wonderful 2014!

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GNO: We Built This City

Saturday night was a girls night out that I’ll never forget. First, celebrating with a dear friend before she packs her bags and moves to Portland, OR was incredible. (Thanks so much for inviting me, ladies!) And finally crossing Item 7: Sing Karaoke off my list was icing on the cake.

If you can’t tell by the title of the post, I chose Starship’s We Built this City. I have been practicing this song in my car while driving for a really long time (like two years).

The thing about singing karaoke is that I’ve done it in groups before. Usually, I stand towards the back or mouth the words to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun into a single mic with five other women. But, this list item was for ME to actually sing karaoke. Alone. To vulnerably put my self on a stage and, like, grow as a person or something … I don’t know why it’s on the list but it is.

And, it happened. The crew of ladies I was with did join me as back up singers and dancers on stage. But, I grabbed the mic, stood front and center, and belted out my best 80’s rock n’ roll in a world all my own.

And I was horrible.

I had visions of people cheering and dancing below me – throwing their hands up in the air as they swayed around overwhelmed by my vocal power. I thought I might possibly be discovered by a talent scout who frequents Denver dive bars. You know, all the reasonable stuff that happens in movies.

Instead, when I looked out over the crowd, I saw people just hanging out in a bar. Some were watching (but not smiling) and most were just going on with their evening (at least they weren’t booing, right?). They continued to talk and drink their PBR’s while I put my heart and soul into Marconi playing that mamba. Ah, sometimes life isn’t like the movies.

While it was definitely anti-climactic, it was also fun. And more importantly, it is crossed off the list and I never, ever have to do it again.

I’m so grateful to my dear friend for inviting to girls night out to celebrate her big move and letting me check this lingering item off the 30 Before 30 list (two years later … oops).

While I don’t have any proof because, thankfully, no one took any pictures, I’m pretty sure I looked like this (who doesn’t want to feel like Ke$ha!?):

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Did you make a fool of yourself this weekend?

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Motivation Monday: Eight Questions

Happy Monday, folks! How was your weekend? Mine was surprisingly relaxing. I feel recharged for the week!

Except I want to use my energy to play outside, decorate my dining room, or go for run. As is typical for a case of the Mondays, I’m feeling a little uninspired to work (you, too?).

So, how can we kick-start our week and get our minds all work-ified?

A list. (Of course.) But not just any list. This is a list of questions to get our minds churning and ready for desk action. But first, some credit where credit is due:

My boss reads a lot. And, he likes to send my coworkers and I helpful articles he finds on the interwebs. Last week, he sent out 10 Questions To Start Your Week to our sales team and cc’d me (it’s from the Sales Blog). Although I am not in sales (persuasion is not my thing), I found it to be incredibly helpful.

However, some of the questions don’t really apply to my job. So, I reformatted it and took a different look at the questions to be a bit more generic.

To get motivated, write down an answer to the questions below and you’ll have everything you need to start your week on the right foot. After you’ve answered each of the eight questions, just try not to be productive. I dare you.

1.  Who do you need to thank this week? Who helped with a project at work last week, who helped with a personal situation? Who referred a client, forwarded a helpful article or made a good recommendation? Tell them thanks.

2. What commitments have you made that you need to keep this week? You signed up to volunteer for something, didn’t you? Did you promise an email/call/follow up to someone?  Don’t stand them up. Keep your word.

3. What is one task you need to accomplish to work towards a bigger goal/project? Sure, your priority at work this week might be logistics for a tradeshow, but there is likely a long-term project or a big goal that there is just never enough time for. There is, isn’t there? What is one thing you can do to take a step towards it this week?

4. What have you been avoiding? Is there a task (or several) that you’ve been purposefully putting off? Get it done. At least, get it started. Crossing it off your list will feel ah-mazing.

5. Who can you help? How can you reach out and give value to someone other than yourself this week?

6. What will you do to improve yourself? It’s not always about the job or other people. How can you cultivate your own interests, expand your knowledge on an important topic, or be sure you have enough energy to tackle the day-to-day this week?

7. What lessons have you not put into action yet? Maybe you read an article with great organization ideas recently or picked up some tips to be more productive. Or perhaps you had a really awesome idea that you just haven’t put into motion yet. Think about the last couple of weeks or months and take a lesson you’ve recently learned or an idea you want to explore and apply it to your work this week.

8. Who do you have to be? What kind of person do you need to be to achieve everything you want this week? (Besides a busy one. Pssh.)

All right, look at your answers. Still feeling a case of the Mondays? Didn’t think so… go get ’em!

(Uh, if you still feel uninspired, then grab another cup of coffee and hope for a better outlook tomorrow, I guess.)

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7 Ways to Brighten Your [Mon] Day

It’s Monday. Whomp, whomp.

I think I’m coming down from being insane-busy for a couple weeks. But, not in a good way. My mind is addicted to being frantic right now and the relaxing weekend I just enjoyed left me feeling sleepy and a bit down. Makes no sense. I’m definitely struggling to find balance between busy-bee and lazy-sloth. (Can we say, “made-up problems?”)

Alas, since it’s Monday and we all have sh*t to get done, I had to turn my attitude around in a lickety-split kinda way. So, how does one purposefully choose a pleasant mood? Practice, for one. But also a few little tricks I’ve picked up over the years.

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Here’s my Seven Ways to Brighten Your Day:

1. Drink Coffee (a lot of it). But also get in plenty of H2O.

2. Blast your top five fave songs on repeat (I’m listening to Ho Hey, Wagon Wheel, I’m Yours, Everlong, and Easy).

3. Get up and move. For 15-20 minutes, move your body around by doing some office yoga or stretching or go for a walk outside (unless it’s hot as buns out there, then just walk around your office).

4. Read something hilarious (and strangely motivating).

5. Text sweet little messages to your friends. Nothing can make you smile like knowing you’ve made someone else smile.

6. Just hammer down on that ‘To Do’ list. Crossing stuff off your list will really make your day (if you’re a big ol’ list-nerd like me, that is).

7. Think of three things you’re thankful for. Mine are: new bedroom furniture, allergy medicine, and coffee … of course.

And, if all that doesn’t work, then promise yourself a bowl of ice cream and a second viewing of last night’s True Blood when this blasted day is over. (Seriously, this is the best season of TB ever. What’s going to happen with Eric and Pam?! What are they doing to Sookie!?! I can’t wait a whole week for these answers!!!)

Hope these tricks brighten up your day. Good news is, Monday is almost over.

Have a great week, folks!

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Unsolicited Wedding Advice to My Sisters

09ToddNicholsPhotographySo, a lot has been happening in my little corner of the world. I’d love to jump into all the details but there’s a bit too much to share tonight. For now, I’m sticking with the BIG news … both of my sisters are getting married!

Yup, yup. My middle sis is getting married later this month and my youngest sister just got engaged! It’s so exciting, I can’t hardly stand it!

Since my own wedding anniversary was just a couple of days ago, I can’t help but reminisce on the details of our wedding, the fun of trying on dresses, and my spouse’s sweet speech at the reception.

But, while the wedding details are all so fun to look back on, I’ve realized that our one ‘big day’ is nothing compared to the years we’ve shared since. When I think back on the hustle and bustle of planning our wedding, I see a lot of mistakes I made and feel I should give my sisters some of the advice I learned (whether they want it or not).

1. You only need three things to get married: Each other, an Officiant and a Wedding License. While it’s easy to get caught up in the details of centerpieces, floral arrangements and menus, none of it is necessary. Seriously, you’re not even required to exchange rings if you don’t want to. You aren’t required to do anything other than say, “I Do!” in front of some kind of authority. What am I getting at? When you’re crying over your dress alterations, sending your invitations back for the fourth time, or feeling as though your choice in cake flavor is somehow a major life decision with serious implications … STOP. Know you’ve already done the important work by following you heart (and saying yes!) and let the rest of the details fall into place.

2. Cold feet is a real thing. Right before you get married (or in the months leading up to it), you’ll likely get scared. Like, really really scared. The fear that settles in might cause you to think that maybe you’re making a mistake. But, I don’t think that’s the case. Think about it – how often have you made a really great, life-altering decision without your heart fluttering?? Exciting news and big changes always make our tummies flip-flop or give us goosebumps. When you experience love for others (kiddos, good friends, puppies), those emotions tickle our insides and leave us acting silly. So, when something really and truly inspires you, your soul will get a little shaken. Think of cold feet and pre-wedding jitters as your soul confirming that this is THE ONE. And, it’s just taking a moment to settle itself by cutting off circulation to your toes. (Who needs toes?)

3. It’s your celebration – you and him. Some people will say, “It’s all about the bride.” Some people will feel entitled to comment on guest lists, costs, and other details. But, in most of today’s wedding planning scenarios, those details are most likely no one’s business. And, it’s not just about the bride – it’s about both of you. The rules of who pays, who hosts and who is in charge of the big day have been thrown out the window. And, while I’d never suggest being disrespectful to others, I will say it’s impossible to please everyone (so don’t get too caught up in trying to do so). The good news: it’s not impossible to be sure that you two are happy and feel comfortable in your decision-making. Be gracious – but go with your gut. Be mindful of etiquette – but do what feels right in your heart. And be sure to say thank you for any help you get!!

4. EAT. Every bride I have ever met has said, “I’m not sure what the food tasted like at my wedding.” I’m guilty as well – pretty sure I had a bite and a half of my meal before we walked the room to greet guests, dance, take photos, etc. But, as you’re aware, it’s a BIG DAY. And you need nutrition – for body and soul. Stopping for a few brief minutes (no matter how many butterflies are flitting about inside) and talking just one-on-one with your hubby (yep, HUBBY – you’re hitched now) while you both carb-up or protein-load will prepare you for the celebration ahead. TRUST ME … Your dress won’t pop open. People aren’t watching you chew. And talking with your new spouse like you’re the only two in the room while you nibble will be a moment you’ll never forget.

5. Your wedding day is not the happiest day of your life. Your wedding day is the first of all of the happiest days of your life. While I’m not saying every day of the years ahead will all be easy, blissful or extraordinary (because they will not), time shared with your spouse will only get better and better. Don’t expect your wedding to be perfect or rely on that day as an indication of how your marriage will be. Because, although the wedding is about one day, your marriage is not. Your marriage is about your history which is likely imperfect. And it’s all about your future which holds endless possibility. If it rains on your wedding day or if you see him before the ceremony, don’t fret. Perfection is impossible and regardless of how the day turns out, your marriage will be what you two make of it.

Best wishes, sistas! I am so proud of both of you and can’t wait to see you say, “I DO!”

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5 Ways to Bring It this Week

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Monday. Ugh. I need another cup of coffee.

But, it’s a new week, friends. And I plan to really kill it this week. You, too? Here’s a little list of ways to maximize the next five days:

1. Get up 15 minutes early each day. Have you read what successful people do in the morning? Great info to get more done in the early hours of the day. But it’s hard to jump right in to morning productivity. So, start simple by getting up just 15 minutes early to give yourself extra time to eat a proper breakfast. Then get up another 15 minutes early the next day and so on. By Friday, you’ll be getting up an hour earlier than you did today. Think of all the stuff you can do in a hour  … or think of Happy Hour!

2. Drink two extra glasses of water a day. It’s Spring. The weather is crazy-town (at least it is in CO).  Mother Nature’s mood swings usually lead to dehydration. Dehydration means being tired, dry skin, lack-luster locks – none of which helps you have a super-productive week. So, make sure to stay hydrated. Two glasses ain’t all that much … one in the morning and one in the evening. Easy-peasy.

3. Get moving. Do something this week that involves physical activity. Don’t try to pack in a 2-hour workout or attempt to run 5 miles (unless you already do that). Just try to move a little more than usual. Take the stairs. Go for a walk (or two). Do ten situps and ten pushups when you wake up. You get the idea.

4. Say NO. You don’t need more stuff to do. Give yourself boundaries. Don’t commit to something you don’t want to do or something that will give you stress. Don’t take on an extra task for a lazy coworker. Don’t eat that deep-fried whatever. Say no to just one thing that you’d normally say yes to but always regret later. You’ll like how it feels.

5. Donate something. Time. Money. An article of clothing. That weird plate that doesn’t match the others – where did it even come from? Anything. Giving something away to benefit someone else will make you feel good. Do it. There is something you don’t need, some time you can use better, or a few bucks that’ll help someone far more than your Starbucks will help you.

I think that’ll do it. Let’s crush this week!

To Plum Shabby

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Happy Friday & Happy February!

Today I’ve written a guest post over at Plum Shabby! Lily is one of my favorite gals and I was extremely flattered when she asked me to post. She writes about ways to make your home beautiful with DIY tips, large-scale projects, and Saturday shopping finds.

To kick off the month of hugs and kisses I’ve written a February List, 14 Ways to Say I Love You, to share some special ways to treat your sweetie from now until Valentine’s Day.

Show Lily some love by stopping by, leave a comment, and enter her Target gift card contest!

Have a great weekend!

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Sick Lists

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That was me all weekend.

Except I was under a bright purple slanket (Snuggie to those of you who don’t love Liz Lemon). And the couch was covered in dog hair. And a baby was poking me in the eye. Also, I only got to actually lie like that in between running regular weekend errands and chasing a surprisingly fast rug-rat. But, basically, the picture above describes how my days ‘off’ went down.

Being sick is the pits. I was grumpy and achy and just plain miserable.

And isn’t it always when you’re sick that suddenly you feel the need to do everything in the world? While sick, I looked up half-marathons I wanted to run, admired charities that other people have recently started, planned every little detail of the baby’s first birthday party, and pinned all sorts of home improvement tweaks and decor ideas. It’s like as soon as I know I can do nothing but sniffle and sneeze, suddenly I want to do it all. And it makes being sick so much worse. (Insert world’s tiniest violin.)

Of course, now that I’m in the foggy aftermath of Nyquil – walking that fine line between under-the-weather and feeling grrrreeaat! – I can feel reality settling in. My long list of ‘When I get better I’m gonna …’ is quickly losing it’s appeal. Meh.

I’m hoping to hang on to a shred of motivation to do a few of the things I planned, but for now I’m just happy that I can breath with my mouth closed.

How about you … do dream big when you’re sick?

Image via ebb & flow via Patterson Maker.

Thankful Thursday: Achievement

It’s the first Thankful Thursday of 2013!

Excited? I am.

Today, I am thankful for the 2012 resolutions that I made last year and, surprisingly, achieved! I am thankful for the flutter of excitement I get when I cross items off a to do list. It’s SO fulfilling. Don’t you agree, list-nerds? Ooo … I have goosebumps.

Honestly, I was kind of dreading a 2012 resolution recap because I wasn’t entirely sure that I achieved anything I set out to do this year. But, when I pulled out the 12 in 2012 (isn’t number alliteration great?… do you think that’s what that’s called, number alliteration? we call it that), I was delighted to see that I had finished up several things I’d set out to do this year!

2012 Physical Goals

1. Lose the ‘baby weight’ by end of year + 6 pounds. Check++. Baby keeps mama moving.

2. Run the Bolder Boulder in May. Boom. Slowest 10k of my life but I did it.

3. Run a half-marathon in the fall.  Fail. Didn’t even get close. I went to the race … and then did the 5k instead. Epic.Fail.

2012 Financial Goals

4. Put 10% of salary into savings. Half-successful. Kind of underestimated how much hospital bills and diapers would be.

5. Execute 2012 plan and exceed goals at work. Partially achieved. I did most of what I set out to do this year (including a full re-branding) but have a few work goals that I can’t cross off the list just yet.

6. Explore freelance writing projects. Failed with a twist. I didn’t get paid to write anything this year but I did write for and submit my work to a few blogs other than my own.

2012 Spiritual Goals

7. Spend five minutes a day praying/meditating. As a new mom, do I even need to say I failed at securing 5 quiet minutes a day? I’m sure its obvious that I wrote this goal before I had a child.

8. Continue to volunteer as a lector at church. Done-diddly-done. Once a month and sometimes more.

9. Limit volunteer commitments to those that truly resonate with my values. Check! Interested in joining the Junior League of Fort Collins? Email me!

2012 Emotional Goals

10. Read two books a month. Found a loophole. If you count books like On the Night You Were Born and Baby Animal Touch and Feel, I have blown this goal out of the water.

11. Enter a writing contest (re-resoluted from 2011). Fail. If chickening out of entering writing contests is cool, consider me Miles Davis.

12. Spend more quality time with friends and family. Check! Shocked a little by this one. I thought being a new mom would make maintaining other relationships difficult but I feel that I’ve actually made more friends and become even closer with many people this year. I think its my tiny man … he’s a chic magnet.

So there we have it. Only a couple of absolute failures, lots of progress, and several pats on my own back. I have to say I’m surprised by and extremely thankful for the twelve of 2012. Kind of the icing on the cake to pretty spectacular year!

Happy Thankful Thursday!! What are you thankful for today?

Want more list love? Check out my 2011 resolutions.