Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gone Fishin'!

Yesterday was Friday.   For some reason, it seemed like that week consisted of 14 days, not 7.  It was a chilly, dreary, rainy day.    I got up at my usual 5:00 a.m. and headed for the gym.  I love going to the gym, especially on Fridays for my QiGong class.

After the gym I stopped to see my Mom.  She had surgery a couple months ago and is still pretty much housebound so I like to stop and see her often to check up on how she is doing and just to chat. 

By the time I got back home after doing errands, it was almost noon.  I headed for my studio and picked up my “to do list”.  The usual suspects, send out weekly invoices, pay some bills, answer emails, write a blog, start the newsletter, etc. etc. and, oh yeah, design gift basket to fill the waiting orders.

It was when I looked at the orders and saw that all of them were scheduled for delivery next week, I decided what to do next.  Nothing….  That’s right, nothing….

I shut my studio door  and put the "Gone Fishin'" sign on the knob, (mentally because there is no door to my studio and I don't have a "Gone Fishin" sign), poured a glass of wine and turned the TV to On Demand.  Don’t ask me what I watched because I couldn’t tell you.  I spend the whole day, doing nothing.  Well, I did finish crocheting that baby blanket for a friend who is due in a couple of months, but that doesn’t count.

Sometimes doing nothing is exactly what you need to do to.  Mentally, I was a chilly, dreary, rainy day and even though I could have made the gift baskets I needed to fill the orders, written my blog and newsletter and have done all of the other things I do in my job, doing nothing was the better choice.

According to the weather forecast, it is going to be chilly, dreary and rainy for the next several days, but I am back to feeling like my warm, sunny self and am recharged and ready to go.  Heading for the gym this morning, stopping to see my Mom and running errands again but I’ll be back at my desk later this morning rockin’ and rollin’.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is … re-energized.


P.S.  The photo is of our Gone Fishin" gift basket.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Overwhelmed to Unperturbed in 5 Easy Steps

Every night I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. but I never hear it go off because I am always up and ready to go before it rings. I can’t wait to start my day. I love my work at Laurel Mountain Basket Co and can’t wait to see what the day has in store for me.

Today was a different story. For some reason, when I woke, I just lay there, not wanting to get out of bed. I kept thinking about what I had to do.

The list of “things” I “had to do” was overwhelming and for once I didn’t know where to start. The solution was simple. Stay in bed and do nothing.

Doing nothing is one solution, but it is short term. I needed to figure out why I was feeling so drained and what I was going to do about it.

Had I taken on too much?

Are my expectations too high?

Am I being a perfectionist and putting too much pressure on myself?

I could honestly answer yes to all of the above but changing my personality would take too long so I needed to figure out what else I could do to get back on track and get my energy and enthusiasm back.

1. The first step was to take a step back. Things are moving so fast. The whole world seems to be spinning out of control. We have instant communication with email, texting and cell phones so people expects instant results. Stepping back and taking a deep breath helped me put everything on hold for a minute.

2. Next I made a list what I thought I needed to do. Yup, it was a very, very long list.

3. Once completed, I looked at each item ONCE and made a decision on where it belonged on the list. Was the item an A,B or C priority? I actually found there were things I thought I needed to do that were probably a Y or Z on a priority list.

4. The next set was to ask for help. Okay, so I’m a bit of a control freak and delegating is not something I do easily but if I was going to regain my sanity, I needed to ask for help.

5. I needed to create some boundaries. I decided to embrace the philosophy “ Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part". And I decided I would not feel guilty hanging up on persistent telemarketers.

Now that I have a manageable plan, 5:00 a.m. can’t come soon enough.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is -- calm, cool and collected.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not Quite Feng Shui

You'd never know it but only a couple of months ago my whole house was filled with the semi useless possessions a couple manages to aquire over lifetime!  Moving a 800 square foot work space into a 1800 square foot house was definitely a challenge, but with a little de-cluttering and some downsizing of the gift basket company, it worked out well.

The first thing I did was get rid of everything we hadn't used in the last 20 or so years.  I had sweaters and jeans that were older than some people I know.  Why were we holding on to the set of fireplace utensils, when we don't have a fireplace?  And as much as I loved Janice Joplin and Creedence Clearwater Revival, did we really need to keep all of those albums?

The key was to narrow my focus.  Following Lau-tzu's teachings, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step",  I set out to conquer one small section at a time.  I chose a closet or a drawer and not move on until each little job was completed.  I was surprised at how quickly I was able to de-clutter the whole house when I didn't let the size of the task paralyze me.

I have managed to acquire new clutter but it is well contained in my office space and I'm okay with that because ... "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?"  (Dr. Laurence Peters, Educator and Writer).

The view from Laurel Mountian today is .... uncluttered.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Think Small To Grow Big

Forgive me Mr. Lincoln for taking the liberty with one of your quotes when I say, “you cannot please all of the people all of the time”.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  I tried to please every customer who came into my shop.
Consumers today are accustom to having unlimited choices.  Just walk down the cereal or candy isle in any supermarket.  There have to be 50 different “cola” drinks and hundreds of different “chocolate” candies.  A small shop can’t compete and I decided that I wasn’t going to continue to try.
I’m not saying you should ignore your customers’ requests.   After all, they are the reason you are in business but, there are times when it makes more sense to forgo the sale.
Instead of expanding my business to capture more clients, like a big box store, I chose to become more specialized, like a boutique. I work more with a select group of individuals and busy professionals who appreciate the quality and convenience that my service provides and have come to trust me and rely on my expertise. Now my clients get even more personalized service and better pricing than before.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is … grow it your way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Can Do It!

You are what you eat.  Living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world it is hard to believe that many of us are suffering from malnutrition.  It’s not that we don’t have enough to eat; it’s just that we are eating the wrong foods.
Diets high in fats, sugars and refined carbohydrates don’t give the body what it needs to work properly. A steady diet of these foods can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, list is long.
The same goes for your mind.  You are what you think.  Diets high in negative self talk can lead to exhaustion, increased stress, depression, and so much more.
The way to get healthy is very simple.  Choose your food and your thoughts carefully.  Simple but it’s not necessarily easy. It takes work but being physically and emotionally healthy is definitely worth the effort.
The view from Laurel Mountain today is … live long and prosper.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Do You Say?

If you've been in the workforce for any length of time, you've probably had more than one job.  For example, once upon a time I was a real estate paralegal and once upon another time I work in a recruiting firm.

Because of my background working in law firms, I was hired as a recruiter specializing in office support personnel. One day a client called.  They needed help finding a real estate paralegal. This was a MAJOR area law firm and the paralegal would report to one of the senior partners in the firm.  Part of the unofficial job description was, "they need to walk on water".

In my search, I contacted everyone I knew in the field and when I came up empty, extended my search to law firms outside of the city.  I finally found one legal secretary who said she knew just the person.

She said the person she was thinking of had one of the best reputations in the field. She went on and on about this person and how there was no one better suited for the job I described.

She said she the individual had left the legal field a few months before and although she didn't know where she had gone or what she was doing, she did know that she could get in touch with her mother who worked at the Registry of Deeds.

I thanked her for her time, gave her my number and hung up the phone.  Then I sat there stunned.  The woman was talking about me.

That phone call made a huge impression on me.  It taught me several things including to always do and be your best because you don't know who is noticing.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is -- actions speak volumes.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Minding Your Peas and Carrots

I read everything.  Well almost everything.  I have a difficult time reading the multi page, small print stuff the credit card and phone companies send daily.

I pay particular attention to labels on foods that I buy.  I am not only concerned about what my family is consuming but also what we are putting in the gift baskets we sell.

We have many clients that prefer foods that are sugar free, organic, or gluten free.  So we choose our products carefully.

That's why I was shocked when I opened a can of peas and carrots last night and caught sight of the ingredients.  Right there along side the words peas and carrots was the word "sugar".  I didn't realize sweet peas needed sugar.

For the record, we rarely eat canned veggies, especially in the summer when we have access to fresh produce from local farms, but the dog was chomping grass and we didn't have any fresh carrots in the house.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is .... remember the details.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Elusive Hole In One

I played in the local Chamber of Commerce golf tournament on Friday.  I love playing golf.  The other members of my team and I aren't professional  golfers and we weren't out to "win" the tournament but simply to play a good game and enjoy a day out with friends.

Yes, when you play golf you are competing "against" other golfers but, most golfers will tell you, what they are really trying to "beat" is their own personal best.

I love golf because it is a game (exercise) that constantly challenges ones skills, mentally and physically.  I also love golf because I know that no matter how well I play, I can always improve.  There is no perfection in golf.

I approach my job the same way.  My job constantly challenges my skills, both mentally and physically.  Yes, there are thousands of other gift basket companies in the world and although Laurel Mountain Basket Co is Nationally recognized for our unique designs, there are some companies that are more "successful" than ours.

As in golf, I know I will never be one of the top 3, but I am determined to bring  my "A" game every day and give my clients the best I can.  I will also keep improving toward perfection, knowing achieving it is impossible.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is ...  understanding perfection.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raise Your Heels

I am in fairly good physical condition.  I exercise regularly and pay particular attention to strengthening my core.  Therefore, couldn't understand why I was having such a difficult time with a certain QuGong exercise that required coming up on tip toes.  I just couldn't keep my balance.

After class, another member of the group suggested I stop trying to stand on my toes, but rather try to raise my heels.  I did and I was able to perform the move perfectly.

Some times all it takes to solve a problem is to approach it from a different perspective.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is - changing perspective.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Stitch in Time

I love old sayings. For example, "A stitch in time may save nine" is one of my favorites.  Such great advice in just seven simple words.

No, it doesn't have anything to do with sewing but rather it teaches us that acknowledging and working toward a solution to a problem immediately will save a great deal of time and effort in the long run.

So the next time you see something starting to unravel, like a good relationship with a client, take the bull by the horns, bite the bullet and remember that a stitch in time may save nine.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is... proactive


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

So You Want To Be The Boss

I started my work life when I was very young.  Back in the dark ages, children were allowed to work on farms as long as they had a work permit.  In my community children started picking cucumbers when they were 10 or 11 years old and at the age of 14 graduated to working on the area tobacco farms.  The boys did the outside work and the girls did the inside work, if you consider working in a tobacco curing barn "inside".  The work was hot and dirty and we had fun!

I learned to drive a tractor at age 10, and a standard transmission truck way before I would be old enough for a drivers license.  I don't remember exactly what we were paid but whatever it was, it seemed like a fortune.  All of my friends worked too and we developed friendships with kids from surrounding towns and with kids from out of state who came from the hot cities to spend the summers with relatives.

I got my first "real job" when I was 16.  I started working in the largest supermarket in our area.  It was very prestigious.  The store was huge and everyone shopped there.  I LOVED that job.  The owners and managers were terrific and I learned so much.

I worked summer vacations while in college and even worked a part time job one semester.  Got a job just days after graduation in 1971 and worked full time in various offices until eleven years ago when I opened my own business.  That's when I learned that work weeks have more than 40 hours and there are few weekends, sick days or paid vacations.

Those of you who own your own businesses know what I'm talking about. There are still deadlines to meet, paperwork to be done and clients to deal with but  they are your deadlines, your paperwork and your clients.  YOU get to make the decisions about who, what, when and where.  It's heady stuff and worth giving 110%.

I could be sitting in a pretty air conditioned office right now, wearing a designer suit and heels.   Instead, I'm sitting in my home office, looking out on a beautiful mountain view.  My dog is asleep at my feet, which are bare and I'm wearing shorts and a tee shirt.

I write several blogs related to my business.  I decided to start this blog for those who want to start their own business or who are in business for them self and want a place to learn and grow and share experiences. 

If you are thinking about being your own boss or if you already are, stay tuned.  Maybe we can help each other by sharing some of our successes and pointing out some of the pitfalls of being your own boss.

The view from Laurel Mountain today is -- It doesn't get much better than this.

Marie Lisewski