Is This GrandDog Thing Here to Stay?

From the Urban Dictionary:
granddog
The adorable puppy your son or daughter just adopted instead of a human baby… in other words, as close to grandkids as you’re going to get for now.

Ha ha but, wow… that sure crept up on me.
I have three wonderful grown children, none of whom are envisioning families yet. The eldest is a high-powered executive with a world-class resort chain. The middle is a recent college grad trying to get some traction in a tough market. And the youngest is gritting out a STEM major at a large public University. None is ready for children and boy, am I glad that they recognize this truth and that they have the rights and responsibility to make this choice.
And I never, ever envisioned myself as the kind of mom to pressure them to date, have relationships, get married or start families; I just figured that when it was the right time for them, it would happen naturally. No problem.
But oddly, when the empty nest combined with the downsizing and relocation, something strange happened. I started to think about how nice it would be to have grandchildren. I mean, the happiest days of my life revolved around my kids when they were young and sweet and bright-eyed. I miss the days of finding pockets full of their found treasures as I was washing their tiny little jeans or baking something messy together or walking in the park among the things they were seeing for the first time. That’s why people love being grandparents, it brings back that sweet, energetic love. But I did not know how much NOT having this would make a difference to me… enter the GrandDogs.
Sadie and Mochi are my GrandDogs.  They are small dogs, both rescues, both with personalities that suit their dog parents. When they come for a visit, I love seeing them, playing with them, cuddling them, giving them presents and spoiling them with treats. When they go home, I miss them but in a way am glad that they have permanent homes to go to. I worry about them when they are sick, and I worry about how it makes my own kids’ hearts ache when they are sick. I worry about how their departures (such short lives, our canine companions) will affect my kids. No wonder they are called GrandDogs, besides a little matter of species difference, they may as well be my own.
I’m OK with this. Love is love, right? If you hear me speaking in the high-pitched baby-talk voice, I’m probably talking to a dog. Want to see some pictures?

A 4th Avenue Christmas Tale

If you are from Tucson then you are likely familiar with our peculiar little corner of town devoted to “Keeping Tucson Sh$#&y”, I speak of course of 4th Avenue. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s a loving barb, as familiar and irreverent as “Keep Portland Weird.” And after living here, right on 4th Avenue for a few months now, I am warmed to this “weird” part of my hometown.
Unlike the home in the ‘burbs, where our outdoor life took place in the walled and private back yard, life on 4th is about the front porch. The entire array of life and the comings and goings of students, visitors, residents and street-folk parade by the house every day. When the weather is fine, just sitting out front with a beverage and watching humanity come and go is more entertaining than fiction.
Which brings me to last night, Christmas Day technically, about 12:30 a.m. I awake to the sound of three gentlemen having a late night conversation just outside my bedroom window. This is not unusual mind you, most of the time on a Friday or Saturday at 2:00 a.m. the bars close and I hear the sounds of the late night revelers walking home. Besides the predictable traffic of night owl students and of course the Street Fair, there are always walkers, families, people walking dogs, older couples strolling, the homeless… so these three wise men conferring on an early Christmas morn did not alarm me at all.
I lie there listening but not trying to hear what they were saying; I could not help but pick up the occasional expletive or laugh or phrase repeated for dramatic emphasis: They sounded like they were trading war stories, perhaps shared experiences of life on the street, life before the street, Christmases past. I’m snug in my bed and having so many thoughts about humanity, luck and tragedy, about resilience and survival and gratitude.
I drifted off back to sleep, never hearing a parting between them but sure that they all were on their way to some spot for the night; there are so many human beings who sleep alone on cold nights in places where they feel safe, if even for a night.
A few minutes later I hear the familiar sound of a Fire Truck’s air brakes as a TFD truck pulls up to the corner and stops. The Fire Department and Police Department have vehicles in the neighborhood frequently, especially late at night, but they mostly whiz by, their lights and sirens full volume, but this truck stopped. I hop out of bed to take a voyeuristic peek out of my blinds and see what prompted their visit. Two Firefighters had jumped out of the truck and were speaking to a man dressed in a heavy, dirty overcoat. The man was lying prone on the sidewalk (! he must have been one of the three who just decided to rest just there after their conversation ended.) As the truck idled and another Firefighter shined a bright light on the scene, the two uniformed young men bent down to help the man. They each offered a hand to help him steady himself and rise from the cold, dirty cement.
After a bit of effort, he balanced, and I heard the young Firefighters telling him that he could not sleep on the sidewalk, he needed to walk down the street to the park. The man seemed confused, not doubt he was very intoxicated. He understood them but was unable to make the one-block walk. So the two firefighters each took an arm and began walking away into the night, toward the park. The same park where children play, and kites are flown, and picnics are eaten, this man was being led to sleep. On a Christmas Day. That was all they could do.
The emotion crashed over me like a wave and for a moment I felt myself catching my breath. This little story in my front yard; the selfless Firefighters —who I’m sure were wishing were home with their families— the old man in the filthy coat, alone and cold. It felt like a dream. In a way, this is the dream we all dream every day. Heroes, helpers, the tragic, the lost, the broken. Christmas Day and every day. Warm nights under the stars, cold nights trying to get some sleep even though your stomach aches. We are all cold and hungry sometimes and heroes sometimes. That’s the Christmas Story I was given this year.
How about you?

Get ready for 2016 while enjoying your holiday

The last couple weeks of the year are always eventful. Among the holiday celebrations, family gatherings, wonderful meals and traditions is the dawn of the New Year. On December 21—the Winter Solstice—the earth begins to tilt back to the coming of spring in the northern hemisphere. On January 1, our calendars mark a brand new start.

How do you feel about the New Year? Is it a new beginning? A fresh slate of possibilities? Do you make resolutions? Is there that one thing you always tell yourself you will do THIS YEAR but never really do? The ubiquitous pledge to lose ten pounds is clearly leveraged by every gym and weight loss product; January is their profit season!

Some see January as the time to get the taxes in order, for the tax professionals, it’s time to lay in supplies for a long slog to April. For others, when the calendar flips, it represents a good time to make a real plan for the new year and create some strategies to help you stick to that plan.

My hope for you is that you will identify the top two or three things that you have always wanted to get accomplished and just never have, and simply a) abandon that idea, or, b) get someone to help you finally get it done.

Don’t feel like abandoning some goals is always wrong. As time goes on, some of our preconceived notions about what is necessary or what will make us feel happy or fulfilled simply lose their meaning. When we leave these things on our To-Do list year after year, they become like chains we carry around. Simply unlock the key and drop that weight!

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For those things that you might want to get done by your rugged self (but truly, need some help with…) consider enlisting the help of an experienced friend or mentor. Or devote yourself to get, and finish, the right kind of training. In some cases, you will need to reach out to a consultant who is offering a way for you to get the help you need by providing a service for which they are uniquely qualified. (why else would they be a consultant?)

As organized as I am, it seemed to me that the one thing I could never manage to tackle was the cleaning of the closet. What is it about that old shirt that you just can’t get rid of even though, really, you have not worn the thing in years? I’m sure some scientist is studying this phenomenon… Finally, THANKFULLY, my 20-year-old daughter stepped in. “OK Mom, get everything out, we are going through each piece you own!” Well, the “hopelessly dated and NEVER coming back articles”— GONE! The “favorite but really impossibly worn or stained”— GONE! The “this fit you when I was born but… not so much anymore”— GONE! Pretty soon, my closet was much lighter, I knew what outfits I could put together and what I needed to shop for to freshen my look. Now THAT is a good consultant.

Wishing you and yours a happy warm safe lovely holiday and a prosperous 2016!

Helping C-level Admins Avoid Squirrel Syndrome

The beauty of the information sharing age is that we can all get as much information as we want or need, anytime, and we can get a LOT of in-depth knowledge.

The problem with the information sharing age is that we can all get as much information as we want or need, anytime, and we can get a LOT of in-depth knowledge.

The reason it sometimes becomes a problem—especially for owners of small businesses and non-profits—is that we all KNOW what needs to be done to keep up with marketing, but who has the time or resources to implement the plan?

I call this squirrel syndrome (maybe you do too… from Dug the Dog in “UP”? He’s trying to focus but is easily distracted by every squirrel who runs by.) Small business and Non-Profit leaders do the same thing. Their focus should be on sales/recruitment, development, improving their product or service, and growing and empowering their staff. But too often—since they know all about marketing from reading about it on the internet—they get distracted by “marketing squirrels.”  It can be overwhelming to try to figure out what you need to do first, email marketing? SEO? Analytics? Pay Per Click? Inbound? HOW does a leader find a manageable way to get the marketing done without spending all their time doing it?

If you find yourself with a bad case of Squirrel Syndrome, it may be a good time to look for a consultant to take a look at your plan and just get it out of your own head for a while. A good consultant can offer a step-by-step plan strategize and implement; they act like a squirrel repellent and you can finally focus on what is important— your organization.