Ping Pong Professionalism

Last weekend I read an interesting article in the Baltimore Sun Business Section on the Ping Pong Culture. In the 90’s there were many instances when I visited clients, there was a ping pong table either in a break room and sometimes out in the open. The idea was for employees to take breaks and play a game of ping pong. I loved the idea and thought it was innovative.

As time went on through the 2000’s I saw more and more creative games showing up in work places. It was common place for a company employed with Generation X’ers often had some type of interesting tool for employees to blow off steam. I loved it and always wished for an office space large enough to house a ping pong table or something cool.

Here I am in 2015 with the space to have it yet I can’t tell you that my employees will be happier people or give better customer service after they played a few games of ping pong. I’m fascinated by these types of offerings within companies yet I think people want to be heard, to be respected and to be acknowledged for good work as well as receiving constructive feedback that could inspire them to make a difference.

I thought I was behind the times or maybe not big enough of a company to have games on site. My newest idea is a 1950’s juke box with a variety of music that everyone would like. That’s the plan in 2016. I think getting people together outside of work to do interesting things really makes a difference, taking an interest in employees and showing them that they matter still can be a lost art. That’s the art I really like. Bringing heart centered leadership goes much farther than a ping pong match, I think. Maybe I’m wrong.

There were times we did cool stuff over the years but all it took was a toxic person on the team and no matter what we did, the elephant never left the room. Thank God those days are over because even now when we sit having interesting conversation over Starbucks, the fact that we have a no-toxicity workplace, every one of us is very balanced and very happy. Our team thrives and we take care of each other while doing our best. While that’s not a ping pong table or a pinball machine, it’s a slice of peace.

Be Good To The Living

My father often used a phrase “be good to the living because when you’re dead, you’re dead!!” My mother often referred to this phrase as I was growing up and still today, at 91, she reminds me to look at life this way. I get it, treat those we love and everyone for that matter well because once we cross over to another life, you can’t press rewind on how you spent time with that person.

Having lost 2 brothers within the past 5 years, I have experienced in myself and heard from others often where “I wish I did this differently, I wish I spent more time with…… or I wish I said this to……”. As I see my mom age, I know that one day she will move on to eternal life. When I drive to New Jersey to see her, my time with her is more mindful, more thoughtful and filled with questions about her life. I write journal our conversations and sometimes record her answers. As we are talking I really look into her eyes to see the color. I did this with my grandmother a few years before she passed away and saw that her eyes were milk chocolate brown. You know, I always remember that moment when I consciously told myself to look deeply into her eyes as we were chatting. That pleasant memory is forever ingrained in my soul.

I wish I could ingrain this in the younger generation that when our elders are gone, they are gone. We have lost a piece of history whether that is from our family history or long term friendships. We cry at our loved ones funerals yet I can’t wrap my head around those who have so many chances to be fully present with loved ones when they are alive yet don’t make the time. Why put yourself through the regrets or the guilt when you can give them an incredible gift of your attention right now?

We can’t rewrite time, we can only live in the present and be here now. What could be more important than spending some or even a little quality time with our elders? There are days that they wait for us, hoping we’ll show up and never really asking for us to visit because they know we are raising families, immersed in busy careers and tending to household responsibilities. But that is what we do every day. When I go visit my mom and I see other senior citizens sitting by themselves, my heart is heavy because I rarely see any activity in their rooms. What a difference it would make if a loved one showed up and just sat with them. My mom and I talk and then there is silence as I see her pick up her newspaper, flip on Fox News (oh that Fox News) and sometimes I catch her looking over at me and I see a sense of peace and security on her face. She will often walk over to the dining room where I set up my work space when I visit and sit with me. She looks at what I’m working on and asks questions. Mom always asks about my employees so I pull up pictures and tell her about them. These are treasured moments with her.

I have also learned to put boundaries in place with people who are toxic and take me away from spending time with treasured relationships. These are hard choices that we have to make but necessary in order to live a healthy life. As the saying says, “be good to the living” which means WE are part of the living. Over the past 5 years I have stepped back from a couple of relationships and what that did is open up the space for childhood friends to step in as well as give me the time to be with people who had less of me because of the time I was giving to a small few of toxic relationships. Today, my life is filled with more love than ever, so joyful and focused on the moments that matter. Thanks to my mom and dad for passing down that phrase……I get it!!

The Salt Trap

This weekend we were reading the newspaper and clipping coupons. We came across several offerings for desserts that are “salted chocolate this” and “salted caramel that”. I just shook my head in horror at the madness that we have created in food choices especially for our kids. Everywhere you look is something processed that is being marketed as the next best thing? Yes, it is the next best thing to pouring cement into our arteries. Have we all gone blind that we can’t see the problem with obesity in adults and now our children? We are indirectly killing off the next generation when we feed them these crappy choices in food. That is a tragedy.

Since when did we put salt on our chocolate? The thought of salt in my ice cream makes my stomach turn. If you tell me that I just have to try it, my response would be why would I want to now make my occasional coveted dessert into a time bomb for my heart? I think Americans think it tastes so good because food in general is over salted. When I go to a fine restaurant, many times a meal comes out too salty. Well, they just ruined a very expensive meal which is why we chose to eat at home often. We prepare mouth watering dishes that are so healthy.

Americans need to wake up, put healthy food into their mouths and get off the couch and move!! What possibly are you learning by sitting in front of the TV for hours on end? What are your kids learning by being glued to technology for hours? We now have too much salt and too little conversation. Why are we choosing to shorten our lives? And why are we not caring enough about our kids to feed them healthy meals? When I see an overweight child, my heart aches. I bet a kid would much rather be running around a playground then watching TV, climbing a tree than playing a video game, riding a bicycle than eating a big bag of potato chips and playing in the waves than glued to a computer. When I was a kid we watched TV and ran around outside, climbed trees and played board games, rode bikes and ate a small bag of chips and played in the waves and went to the movies. We did it all and grew up healthy without obesity.

I just don’t understand how we continue to encourage adding more salt to an already over-salted society. Why are people not paying attention to this? We are consistently poisoning our bodies with toxic foods and beverages? I am not saying to give it all up; I am saying there is a time and place for everything and to practice moderation. Just slow down and use food preparation as meditation time. Use this as a time to pray if you are not getting your time in the morning. Use food prep as an art and make it fun. Experiment with new flavors but whatever you do, a dash of salt is more than enough. There are amazing spices that create incredible flavors much better than salt. We just need to take the time to discover what is available. Aren’t we all worth it?

When we are healthy our workplaces are healthy. Funny how that works and it really is a simple step to make our work lives feel better.

It’s The Law!!!

When a directive is on the books as “Law” we are told to follow that law or be arrested with jail time. So last week when Kim Davis refused to issue same sex marriage certificates, she was sent to jail, rightfully so. She broke the law!! Here is where church and state have no business getting into each other’s matters.

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. I still go back to the fact that God does not judge, we do and many times wrongfully so. What on earth does the LGBT community do that is so terrible that people shun us from enjoying the same rights as everyone else in the United States? Why are we laughed at, we are held back professionally, families turn their back on us, we are physically and emotionally abused because of living life freely as ourselves with 99.9% of the time, not bothering a soul. I bet the statistics for successful same-sex marriages/relationships is higher than heterosexual. Why? Because we don’t even need a piece of paper to hold our relationships at the high regard that they deserve. The piece of paper has now become the icing on the cake after a long journey of ridicule. We have WON and that’s why people are so defiant.

This is what passionately drives me to advocate and protect diverse populations. It’s not fair people; stop acting like God and dictating you own commandments on us. We have done NOTHING to harm you, NOTHING to harm your family and certainly NOTHING to harm humanity. Anyone who waves their flag on denigrating us as a community is harmful and toxic.

Politicians leave us alone and go spend time on fixing the problems that you cause because of your ego and greed. We have done NOTHING to you. Our hard work gives you a paycheck and benefits that you don’t deserve. You aren’t working hard for us or anyone else for that matter except your own greedy agenda. And now you circle around a person like Kim Davis as though you are her savior. If it weren’t election season, you wouldn’t even show up Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee. I bet if someone from the LGBT community said they would fund your campaign, you would take every penny. And Kim Davis, the power of acceptance is getting stronger with each passing day so eventually your actions and name will fade away into the sunset.

We have WON and no one will take away that right; THE LAW!!

Surrendering To the Universe

I will happily admit that I like to have control over my environment and path. The past few years have definitely taught me that only God has the ultimate control over life and death. There is only so much we can do to control and while there are times that I can be “white knuckled” to have control, the sense of peace happens when I surrender.

Surrender does not mean to not take any action and let everything pass you by; it is the ability to accept the things you can’t change. If you use the Serenity Prayer as a form of meditation you will see that Surrender often leads to Serenity: “God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. “ Once you arrive at that place of wisdom, you can surrender. Then the feeling of serenity closely follows.

As life evolves, many of us are faced with taking care of aging parents; changes in our marriages, kids leaving the nest and feeling the physical changes as we hopefully are gracefully aging. I want to be 23 again yet at times I really feel some of the aches and pains. So rather than complaining, I surrender and take the steps to take care of my well being by eating right, getting good exercise and only having 1 vice of my daily Starbucks Chai Latte. Once I let go of the other vices, my life became so joyful.

Aging parents are a big focus for many of us in my generation. My mom is 91 and while she can still have a very spirited conversation about politics or world events, her orthopedic issues make it harder for her to be mobile. I want her to be stronger and want her to be the woman towering over me when she was in her 40’s but that is just not what I have today. No matter how much I pray to God, the facts are she is 91 and though she is a strong woman who loves her independence, she has to adjust to a new path in her life. Again, I have to surrender.

When we can get to a state of surrender, we can really appreciate the present because we are not clouded with the need for control. That sure takes a lot of energy. While challenges come our way, God has a way of sending us these little gifts of gratitude that are all around when we take the time to pay attention to the moment.

So for this week, let’s practice surrender so we can find serenity. There is such pure beauty in those moments.