Archive for the ‘business’ Category

The Clutter Monster – Part II

October 6, 2010

The Big CM – otherwise known as the Clutter Monster – is still lurking on tables and ottomans and beneath my bed and around bureaus and next to chairs and sofas. And I’m still irritated by its simple existence.

As I explained to you in full detail in my previous blog, “stuff” – a.k.a. the Clutter Monster a.k.a. CM – is affecting my sleep, work and peace.

I know the simple solution is to just handle it – clean it up, throw stuff away, shred paper, give away never-worn clothing. But there’s one thing necessary to make it happen that is in short supply most recently – time.

I am the queen of time management. So much so that I lecture on it… yep, that’s right. I have a full multi-slide presentation with bullet points and fantastic graphics and hilarious photos to illustrate the simple steps to being successful in the daily juggle of managing life. Time management.

One of the key points that I not only stress in my workshop, but live by, is the realistic to-do list. It’s on my computer, in my cell phone and constantly running through my mind – in order of priority. Seriously.

  • A form with a past-due deadline for the IRS related to my business’s sales and use tax: top priority, gotta happen today, no matter what.
  • Need to find a substitute teacher for our most popular class which starts in 2 hours because the teacher just sprained her ankle and I am teaching another class at the same time: top priority, gotta happen in the next 1 hour and 45 minutes, no matter what.
  • 500 word magazine article that’s both humorous and informational about acupuncture for seniors due yesterday because it’s going to print at 5:00pm today: top priority, gotta happen today, no matter what.
  • Water is leaking from the ceiling onto the hardwood floors of our studio in the middle of the youth jazz and hip hop class from three different pipes: top priority, gotta handle it NOW, no matter what.

You know, stuff like that. Forget the other small things like scheduling physicals for the kids before the registration deadline for soccer, or getting an updated passport before the international flight departure of two days from now at 7:45 am. Those are 2nd tier priority items.

But what does any of this have to do with CM all over my house? Everything.

When I wake up in the morning, I start hustling kids. I roll out the door with them and step right into the front of a class. I step out of class and put out at least 1-2 fires before I jump in the car and head to the next class or meeting. I get back in the car – nibble on a banana or grape or (more likely) a few gummi bears – and drive back to the office to attack items 1-3 on the priority list and head back home to meet child #1 and give him my undivided attention for 40 minutes before child #2 comes home and they begin to fight and argue and wrestle and break things. While they fight, I cook dinner and assist with homework simultaneously before packing them in the car/van to drop someone off somewhere and drive quickly back to the studio to teach one or more classes or workshops. There are two alternatives at this point. I either drive back home to break up a fight between the children, check homework, write checks for this trip or that year book,  become a nurse practitioner in order to sew up the gash on the ankle of some child, and listen with rapt attention to husband on phone in another time zone about something work-related; OR I dial in to catch the end of a conference call for some organization I’m an officer for, or run to an evening meeting in Yoga-attire (apologizing simultaneously for being late and being inappropriately attired), or do a quick shower and change to make it to a business networking event or charity event to promote my business. Regardless of the choice, by 10:00pm I am finally sitting still and I relish the silence. I just want to lie down. The last thing I want to do is tackle the clutter surrounding me as I sit like a zombie.

In fact, the reality that I am constantly in my car, changing clothes and shoes and accessories and bringing props and music and mats and blocks and belts and oils to and from one destination to another means the CM has followed me out of the house and into my car. My husband calls our minivan the Disaster Recovery Vehicle because it’s full of food and bottled waters and mats and blankets and… stuff.

I think that all I need is a day or two without interruption and appointments, and I think I can tackle the CM. I really do.

So as fate would have it, I got just that. Last weekend. The fairy godmother of women-who-do-too-much waved her dainty wand over my dredloc’d head and POOF… kids and husband gone (sort of) and only 1 appointment at the studio. I had a whole afternoon and evening, two days in a row, to clean my house! Yay!

Uh, no. What actually happened was… I laid on the sofa in my most comfy yoga attire and watched movies and ate oatmeal cream pies and doughnuts. For real. I’m not lying. And I had a great time, too. In fact, I didn’t really see the CM all around me. All I saw was the sun shining through the window, warming my bare toes as they wiggled off the end of the couch above a stack of utility bills and credit card statements lying on the floor where I left them next to the shredder. Bliss.

Reflection

April 15, 2010

I’m planning my 40th birthday celebration. It’s not until December, but I like to plan. Because I’ve started so early, I find myself reflecting on the last 20 years. It’s strange for me, because I don’t feel like that many years have passed. It feels like I did a whole lot of stuff in just a few years.

For most of the people I know, they become morose and depressed as they reflect on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s of their lives. When I think about my last 20 years, I smile, laugh out loud, shed a tear, and wonder – “How did I do that?”

I didn’t leave college with a plan. I just did what was expected after you leave business school – I went to work for a major company in their management development program. All of my peers did the same thing, and many of them are now Directors, VPs and top executives at companies around the world. But I knew early on, it just wasn’t for me. I hate pantyhose – always have. I love to wear heels, but not the kind that are appropriate for Corporate America. I like to wear suits, but my taste is a bit more colorful, shape-showing and sometimes Bohemian. Not exactly the right fit for a Fortune 500 company. So I left the rat race – against the advice of my peers, friends and mother – and started teaching aerobics and personal training in a gym. I was happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

I didn’t have a plan for a relationship or it’s future. I just did what felt right. I continued dating my college sweetheart after graduation and between multiple long distance moves, because no one was better than he was and is. When he asked me to marry him, I was shocked because – unlike most of my college friends – I wasn’t trying to hook a man, I was partying and enjoying life. So… we got married. I was happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

When we found out I was pregnant, we – and my entire family – were completely surprised. My family was concerned because I loved to travel and get lost and end up in weird places and explore and come home whenever I felt like it. I loved to party and sleep and get up whenever I wanted to and… just be free to be me. But sure enough, along came my first son, and I fell in love immediately. And he simply traveled with me and got lost with me and explored the world with my husband and me. Having a child stifles some people. For me, it made exploring and learning even more fascinating because I experienced the wonders of life through my baby’s eyes. And I didn’t stop partying – I just got a babysitter and kept on dancing with wild abandon to drummers and house music and hip hop. I was happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

I decided to take advantage of an ad I saw in a fitness magazine for aerobic instructors to teach while traveling. So, I taught Yoga and dance and water aerobics at resorts in Jamaica for many years. I got free vacations, made wonderful friends that I still talk to and visit in Jamaica, and I feel like I have another home to go back to. I explored Jamaica with my husband and my son, and had one of the best girlfriends’ parties ever there. I was REAL happy and having LOTS of fun and that’s what life is about.

One year, I thought I could make a fitness video just like Donna Richardson. So I did. In fact, I made six of them that sell internationally. And I made a television show that aired for two years. And I hosted the fitness segment on the weekend news for over a year. And I started presenting on the fitness conference circuit. So what if I was pregnant with my second child and raising a 3-year old toddler. I did it all anyway. Why not? I was happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

Who decides to pack up their entire life – spouse, children, tv career, local fame – and move to another state and start all over again? Me. And it was the best move of my life. I spent a year getting my children settled in a new house, in new schools, and personally making new friends. Then I thought about what I hadn’t done in life and still wanted to do. I wanted to open my own fitness studio. So I did. The classes are packed, we’re hosting private exotic dance parties almost every week, I get to do Yoga every day, and I’m positively changing peoples’ lives every day. I am happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

Who thought a woman that likes to dance barefoot, water ski in a thong bikini, and knows more hip hop history than most men raised in the 80s could be a community leader? Not many people. But sure enough, I’m the president of the a local business organization, a regular fixture at the county’s Chamber of Commerce, a former representative for the school board, and very involved in local economic development. I am happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

Was it all good times and easy street and fun? No. There were – and still are – challenges, struggles, mistakes and painful endings. But those things make life interesting and colorful. They also make the good times feel so much better. They create character, empathy and understanding. They keep hypocrisy at bay. Most importantly, they offer wisdom that can only come from personal experience.

So here I am. 8 months shy of 40. I’ve done more with my life in the last 19 years than most people do in a lifetime. I have absolutely no regrets about any of my decisions in life. I’ve experienced life as a single person and a married person, a mother of a newborn and a mother of a son as tall as I am, an employee and a business owner, a face in the crowd and a leader in the community, a shy wall-flower and a party animal, a student and a teacher, a magazine reader and the cover model on a magazine, an avid reader and a popular writer. I don’t have limits. I don’t allow people to tell me what I cannot do. More importantly, I don’t allow me to tell me what I cannot do. I live every day like a new opportunity to create an adventure without restrictions. I am happy and having fun and that’s what life is about.

Business Meeting @ Chuck E. Cheese

February 18, 2010

I recently had a flashback to Fall 2002. I was living in Baltimore and my fitness outsourcing business was just beginning to grow. I had 2 corporate contracts and new companies were calling me to hire teachers for their fitness centers. There was a fantastic Pilates and dance instructor I’d been dying to bring on board, but we could never seem to get our schedules to mesh.

“Can you do 11:30 on Monday?”

“Uh, let me see… nope, my oldest has a playdate. What about 5:30?”

“Nope, soccer practice at the Y. How about Tuesday at noon?”

“Can’t. The 2-year-old has TumbleTina class. Can you do earlier at 9:30?”

“Uh-uh. Sesame Street 9-10.” (sigh)

Finally, we agreed that the only way we would be able to meet was to schedule a business playdate at the local Chuck E. Cheese. I don’t like to use the word “hate”, so I’ll say, I truly dislike attending functions at Chuck E. Cheese.

Anyway, Chuck E. Cheese it was on a weekday around 11:45 am. Our 4-year olds chased each other in the jungle gym, while her 2-year old tossed colored balls into the mesh netting enclosing the ball bath. We each held a child, nursing, to our breast as we wrote quickly into our Franklin Planners and notebooks (yes, I was still doing Franklin Planner in 2002. I’d had a bad experience in 2000 when my Palm Pilot died unexpectedly and I didn’t know when or where I was going and couldn’t find numbers to call anyone to find out. It was 3 years of fear and mourning before I could return to electronic scheduling).

An hour and a half later, our meeting was done, the kids had all been fed, and a playdate had been knocked out all at once. Triumph.

Fast forward to 2010. A contact from the Chamber of Commerce called me and indicated we needed to meet immediately. Both of our schedules were booked solid with meetings, luncheons, and presentations. We both sounded fatigued and stressed as we scanned our Blackberry and Outlook calendars, trying to find any open 2-hour slot in the next few days.

Suddenly an idea came to me. Jeju Spa. The Korean bath house located only minutes from both our homes. Jeju is not your typical American spa. Yes, it has saunas, whirlpools, steam rooms and massage. But it also has wifi, CNN on plasmas, and computer work stations tucked quietly behind gigantic saunas Jeju refers to as “igloos.”

“Can you meet me at Jeju tomorrow morning? I have a window of time between kids leaving for school and my first presentation at 11:45am.”

“Perfect. If we meet at 8:30, I can fit in accupressure and still make my 11:00 meeting at the Chamber.”

When I combine relaxing barefoot on a heated marble floor with closing a business deal as the scent of jasmine and sage float in the air… bliss is the only word that comes to mind. The spa is my golf course, and it’s definitely a step up from Chuck E. Cheese.

The Adventures of Mommypreneur!

January 21, 2010

The last thing I did before going to bed last night was mentally go through my schedule of activities for the following day:

7:45am Attend Governmental Business Meeting
11:00am Conference Call w West Coast
12:00pm Teach Corporate Yoga Class
2:00pm Conduct Audition & Interview for New Studio Instructor
3:30pm Get Younger Son from Bus & Mommy-Time
4:30pm Older Son Home & Mommy-Time
7:30pm Lead Meditation Discussion Group at the Studio

Here’s what actually happened:

6:45am Younger Son Vomiting & Diarrhea

7:00am Older Son Disgusted & Concerned at the Same Time

8:00am Washing Younger Sick Son’s Soiled clothing and Linen

9:00am Consoling Sick Son, Cleaning Poop Off Floor & Arranging Doctor’s Appointment

9:30am Paying Bills Online, Typing Newsletter, and Responding to Business Emails

10:30am Rushing Sick Son out of Bathroom to Make Doctor’s Appointment on Time

10:45am Late for Doctor’s Appointment & Stuck Behind Slow-Moving Cement Truck

11:30am Still Sitting in Dr. Waiting Room While Sick People Cough Around Me (Ew)

11:45am Using My Cell Phone in the No-Cell Phone Zone in Dr. Waiting Room To Find A Sub For My Yoga Class

11:46am Staring Down Angry, Coughing Man That’s Staring At Me For Using My Cell Phone in the No-Cell Phone Zone

12:00pm Soothing Crying Sick Son While Dr. Flanges His Ears and Swabs His Throat

12:30pm Dropping Off Sick Son’s Prescription @ Drugstore

12:45pm Enjoying Chinese Food with Sick Son Who’s Not So Sick Anymore

1:30pm Rescheduling 2:00 Audition, Writing a Magazine Article, and Folding Laundry

2:30pm Returning Missed Phone Calls, Preparing Notes for Meditation Class, and Entertaining Sick-Not-So-Sick-Anymore Son

4:30pm Discussing Why Preteen Girls Need to Work Their Triceps in PE with Older Son

5:30pm Cleaning Kitchen, Cooking Dinner, Responding to Emails, Updating My Company’s Facebook Twitter LinkedIN YouTube SlideShare Blogger and WordPress Accounts

6:30pm Kissing Husband, Asking Him About His Day, and Smiling As I Listen Attentively

6:45pm Printing Handout for Meditation Discussion Group

7:30pm Using my Soothing Voice to Lead 12 People Through Breath and Visualization Exercises in the Dark

8:45pm Discussing My Favorite Topic, Mind/Body Connections, With Meditation Class Members

9:00pm Listening to Mom Chastise Me For Letting Her Grandson Get Sick

9:30pm Walking Around in Circle in Kitchen Confused About Where I Should Be and What I Should Be Doing

10:30pm Looking With Dismay At The Mess of Papers and Bills and Crap I Left On My Bed at 9:30am

10:31pm Leaving Bedroom Because I Cannot Handle the Mess and Clutter Right Now

11:00pm Blogging About Today Because I Can’t Get In My Bed To Go To Sleep