Spring Cleaning

Today, energized by the promise of spring around the corner, I decided to clean out my garage. I fired up Pandora on my MacBook, opened the garage door and I was off to the races.

As I made progress in collapsing boxes and compiling bags of trash, my mind wandered all over the place – maybe in an effort to clean out the cobwebs, re-organize and purge the clutter bouncing around in my head too..

Here are my random thoughts that I feel like sharing:

  1. My Milli Vanilli Pandora station was the perfect choice to give me energy for my project today. When is the last time you heard New Edition, MC Hammer, Marky Mark, George Michael…or DeBarge? “Just come with me and shake your blues right away…You’ll be doing fine once the music starts…” “Girl you know it’s true!” I am certain there are more than a few of you out there that can sing every word to Bust a Move…yes that came on too. Can you believe that Marky Mark is now Mark Wahlberg? Talk about “Not Peaking Too Soon…” Anyway, my point is that if you need to channel some energy, Milli Vanilli will help. And my other point is that even if you happen to make it big early in your life, you can reinvent yourself and have more success than you ever imagined if you work at it!
  2. I really wish I had washed the salt water off of my bike the last time I used it…like 6+ months ago. That wasn’t very smart. I need to take better care of my things.
  3. There is something very energizing about throwing stuff out. Check out what my friend Greg Hart has to say about it in his blog called The Pare Down. Life is more simple with fewer things.
  4. In collapsing dozens of boxes, I quickly was reminded of how many times I have bought stuff from “Wines Til Sold Out”, and Zappos. This will not surprise anyone who knows me. It doesn’t surprise me either…but standing amidst all of the trash…it does make me ponder if I should curb some shopping habits.
  5. My bocce ball set and tennis racquet are really dusty! I need to play more!!
  6. I should recycle more.
  7. I am glad that I now remember where my 2nd fire extinguisher is. That reminds me – today is the day we are supposed to check the batteries in our fire detectors!
  8. 2012 may be the year I actually learn how to use a lawn mower. Or maybe I’ll just leave it right where it is and keep using my lawn guy.
  9. I am going to do a better job of keeping my plants alive this year. And I am going to try to actually grow some grass amidst the weeds in my front lawn.
  10. I am going to restore the dollhouse my Gramps made for me and my sister when we were kids…The dollhouse has been sitting in my various garages for the past 10 years. I am not sure what I will do with it – but it is one of the first ones he ever made, and it will be a family heirloom once it’s restored to its original glory. I know it will be worth the effort.

So all in all, it was a productive Sunday. My garage is clean, boxes are recycled, and my head is in better order!

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Don’t Peak Too Soon

This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with 4 of my childhood friends celebrating our “year” of 40th birthdays. I have known these gals since I was 8 years old; looking back over our long 30+ year friendships, I realized that we had figured out pretty early in our lives an important principle: “Don’t Peak Too Soon.”

Just like everyone else in junior high/high school, we faced the challenges of peer pressure and popularity, but through it all, we had developed an individual sense of ourselves, and seemed to “get” early on that there was a whole other world out there waiting for us to step into. We all went off to different colleges, moved to different cities, towards a combination of different goals: graduate schools, careers, marriage, motherhood…Seeing these gals at this stage in our lives, I was reaffirmed that we are all still growing and learning, and continue to propel forward in our individual journeys.

Over the course of my adult life, I have used this principle of “Don’t Peak Too Soon” to give advice. It’s not a terribly unique idea considering most of us are familiar with the story of The Ugly Duckling, and have seen a few romantic comedies with this theme. But – whatever happens to the ugly duckling after it turns into the swan? Does it meet the mate of its dreams? Does it have a mid-life crisis? Is it forced into early retirement, having to reinvent itself? The story doesn’t really end there.

At this stage in my life and my career, I find that this phrase is not just a simple piece of advice that I gave to former students or friends – it is truly one of my life principles…something that I try to life by to guide me and keep me on track. In recent years, I went through a long “plateau” in my own development – sometimes even in a bit of a “death spiral” for a short periods of time. During those times, I was just surviving – treading water, staying in one place, not growing or evolving, just spending enough energy to stay afloat.

But let me share with you something really important that I learned: when plateaus or spirals happens you have 2 very simple choices: 1. Do Something, or 2. Do Nothing.

 Here is another “a-ha”: Doing nothing is still a CHOICE that you make. And let me tell you – the energy it takes to do nothing can be exhausting, just like treading water for a long period of time. This is where resentment and victimhood can creep in and fester. Remember the wise Isaac Newton and the concept of inertia? Objects in motion stay in motion and objects at rest stay at rest. Gut check right now – are you resting, or are you in motion?

There is so much power in realizing the choices that we have in front of us. With the challenges we have had in this tough economy, I talk to a lot of people who are not happy with their careers. There are a lot of victims out there, blaming circumstances for their unhappiness. I have been there myself. If you find yourself there now – ask yourself: are you making the choice to do something or do nothing? Are you stuck in a plateau? What is holding you back? What choices are right there in front of you that you haven’t considered yet?

Figure it out – and get help from a friend, mentor, or coach – and do something to propel yourself forward.

I recommend some inspirational reading: “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Passion, Profits & Purpose” by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos.

Take charge of your journey. Grab the wheel and drive… as the song “Drive” by Incubus says: “When I drive myself, my light is found.”