Tuesday, September 19

Random Fun: Which Halloween Monster Are You?

Just for fun, a quick quiz to see what kind of spooky you do best.

(I got a witch... I'm okay with that. Cauldron! Bubble me up some cider!!)

: )

Monday, September 18

The Communication Skills They Didn't Teach Me in College

So, I was a business major and, as part of the curriculum, we learned all kinds of models for communication. Some, obviously, were better than others.  Recently, I ran across a new model I haven't seen before that I really liked. I haven't really tested it with other people yet, but I'm finding it a fantastic structure for sorting things out for yourself or to pair with Brene Browns SFD method.

It's the Whole Message approach, for lack of a better term, and it involves breaking down what you are trying to communicate into four parts:

(1) Facts
(2) Thoughts
(3) Emotions/Feelings
(4) Needs 

Using this framework to imagine what I'd say to someone about some situations that have happened recently has been really eye-opening. It significantly changes how I'd word things. It also provides an unexpected feeling of calm, I think because there's tremendous power in separating hard fact from how we feel about that fact. Because someone can attack 'feelings' all day long - automatically inciting defensiveness and the slippery slope that conversation usually slides down once you're there. 

It's a lot harder to argue with a fact. And once the fact is established, there's a lot less ground for someone to stand on to try to assail you from.

There's also enormous peace to be had in figuring out what you need before you have a conversation. Even if that 'need' is just "I need you to understand that this behavior is outside my boundaries" or "I need you to be aware that, because of above fact, I no longer trust what you say to me." Even if the other person doesn't like it or isn't interested in acknowledging/cooperating/changing, it's powerful to know you did everything you could, expressed things clearly and calmly, and can move on from there however you need to without guilt.

Now if only they'd taught me this in business school a decade and a half ago!!

Saturday, September 16

Bottom of the Bottle

If you know anyone who is a fan of Blue Bottle coffee, please pass along word that it's being purchased by Nestle.

Probably the only reason this is blog-worthy, for me, is one of the lines in the article linked above:

“When consumers see a brand being built by a large multinational, and they see it marketed as a craft beverage or craft product, they view those products with a heavy dose of skepticism,” he said. “But when it’s a brand that’s acquired, people can still view it as what it was before.”

Setyan agreed, saying there’s little evidence to suggest customers change their behavior after these deals.

“Most consumers don't pay enough attention to even know,” he said. [emphasis mine]
Giant conglomerates buying popular, top-quality small companies and infiltrating through the back while taking pains not to advertise or make the association obvious up front is certainly not new. On the face of it, it isn't necessarily immoral, either.

But as someone who is deeply aware of the challenges your average individual faces in sorting through the mass of marketing, misinformation, and carefully worded pseudo information that surrounds our food system, this kind of thing just aggravates me. People pay good money for 'craft' or small-business products because they've invested the time, done the research, and worked darn hard to find people and businesses they trust to produce foods and beverages that align with their personal standards - whether those are culinary, health-related, or social (i.e. conforming to certain practices/belief systems). For them to be intentionally left in the dark as much/as long as possible when conglomerates who openly admit to not knowing or caring about the same things take over the reigns is a form of defraudment and deception. And Force knows our system has enough of that already.

So, anyway, if you know anyone drinking Blue Bottle please pass thing along. If you're not currently drinking the stuff, don't start. And maybe bear in mind going forward that in our food and business communities - often and unfortunately -all is not what it seems.

Thursday, September 14

Inktober and NaNoWriMo

I wanted to make this post creative and inspirational, full of tidbits of the random facts stuffed away in my brain about exploration/experimentation, practice, how doing things we love is healthy, and about the power of feeling a part of something bigger than ourselves. But my brain's just not there at the moment, so imagine I said all those things, okay?
The NaNoWriMo badge.

In any event, the point of the post is to tell/remind everybody that October and November are great opportunities to challenge yourself or inspire a young person in your life who likes art or writing!

October is host to the Inktober Initiative: a challenge to artists all over the world to pick to do one ink drawing a day for the month. Any kind of ink, any kind of paper, any subject, any size - just draw!

November, of course, is NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Writers of all stripes commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November. Again, any topic, any style, no judgement - just write!

Both challenges are open to all age groups and both websites have tools, resources, and links for connecting with other participants if you're interested. Fall can be a busy, hectic time for sure, but it's also one of the most important times to invest in yourself and to open yourself up to new possibilities. Even if these aren't for you, please consider passing them along to anyone who might be interested - the world can always use new Makers!!

Wednesday, September 13

Something to Chew On

Clicked on this TED talk on a whim this morning... and now I want every church everywhere to watch it. (Not out of condemnation, but because of what both the author and Brene Brown both preach: when people know better, they do better.) Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 12

An Unsought (But Critical) Opportunity

Photo Credit
It's not a secret that America's infrastructure has been borderline abysmal for an embarrassingly long time. (We earned a dismal D+ on The American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 2017 Infrastructure Report Card!)

These infrastructure failings have been equally rampant on the public (bridges, roadways, water/sewer/electric lines) and private (individual homes/property) fronts. How many people do you know who've bought a house - not even a particularly old one - and found themselves having to deal with the stress and expense of ancient appliances, inefficient and shoddily installed wiring/insulation/windows, or a dozen other things that somehow were never made it into the list of priorities monitored by code? Shall I tell you about the number of the grants I worked on related to public infrastructure that were requesting money to redo or replace projects funded by State/Federal money in the last twenty or thirty years?

With all that in mind, I can't help but think (as I watch the headlines scream about the destruction in the Caribbean, Houston, and throughout Florida) that we, as a nation, have a rare opportunity about to land in our laps. It's not something we'd ever have sought, but that's not an excuse for not rising to meet it.

If we're going to have to rebuild anyway, now is the time to do it RIGHT. 

 Put in the money now - on both the public and private levels - to lay down the infrastructure we want and will need in the future. Don't just replace what was lost - consciously choose to put something better in its place. Insurance companies and strategic tax law can make it not only possible but the easier, more attractive choice for homeowners to upgrade. Get Energy Star appliances, windows, insulation. Go solar. Put safe, affordable, Universal Design housing where there used to be McMansions or trailers. Communities overhauling public assets with taxpayer money should be required to justify their proposed investments with hard numbers demonstrating that they've chosen the option that will best serve the public moving forward over the long-term. Is it the most efficient they can get? The most durable? The most fortified against future disasters? Does it align with applicable best practices? If the answer isn't yes to every one of those questions, they need to head straight back to the drawing board or find private funding.

Do I have any faith that our government will do anything this logical or in the best interest of the nation and the public? Of course not. But I sincerely wish that for every person who looks at this mess and says "we need to talk about climate change" there would be another championing a serious national discussion on infrastructure. Because, honestly, there's a heck of a lot more we can do to improve the latter than the former... and one of the best roads to the kinds of changes climate change proponents want to see is through infrastructure changes in the first place!!

So no, we didn't want this - any of this. But since it's fallen into our laps anyway, let's at least be smart about it, okay?

Sunday, September 10

Protect The Asset

Just a brief thought to share from Greg McEown's book Essentialism this crisp Sunday morning as we head into the thrall of autumn:

Protect the asset. The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we under-invest in ourselves – and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits – we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution.”

Fall can be a wonderful time of year - full of rich smells, vibrant colors, seasonal adventures, cozy sweaters, and steaming mugs of delicious things - but it can also be hectic and stressful. There are new habits/schedules to adapt to, fresh rounds of the plague going around to avoid or weather, and the inexorable count-down to the holiday crunch. (Especially with all the chaos and upheaval going on down south right now, weather-wise!)

Can you carve out a minute (or five) this morning or this week to make sure you're "protecting the asset" that is you? Maybe:
  • Get a few coffee dates with friends on the books before your calendars fill up
  • Stock up on your favorite tea or seasonally flavored coffee to enjoy when you can steal a few quiet moments to yourself 
  • Write a short bucket list for Fall - everything you loved most last year, or wanted to do and couldn't - and find a place for them in your calendar between now and December
  • Buy something small and shiny that makes you happy and put it somewhere you'll see it every day
  • Defer, delegate or drop one project, responsibility, or activity/commitment to open up some breathing room in your schedule
  • Give yourself time and permission to get a full night's sleep as often as possible (and extra when you can! (Remember: sleep deprivation causes the same or higher levels of physical/mental/emotional impairment as consuming alcohol!!) 
How can you take better care of yourself this Fall?