I am this…

On the Sunday of May long weekend, seven of us girls piled into my SUV and headed over to Black Bond Book Warehouse. I’m not sure what other families do, but we are readers. In no time we all had piles of books. My sister decided that another person could add a book to your pile, giving you a reading challenge. That puts an interesting twist into things!

I had to admit that I was a reading baby. Even a book a month was a challenge. My Aunt was astonished. I think she reads one a week. Which is why she makes good use of the library. I often have to renew a novel from the library, once or twice!

But this day we were on a mission. Grab an armful of books and get back to the sunny patio. Not only could we more carefully look at our own purchases, but we had the added bonus of looking through the balance of the loot.

I am a sucker for books which are part self-help, part productivity, part management, maybe slanted toward business. That is why I came to own the latest addition to my collection titled, “Do More Great Work“, by Michael Bungay Stanier. What I didn’t realize when I bought this book is, it’s a workbook. Which is a huge added bonus for me. There are so few of these kind of books on the market, it was almost like finding treasure. In fact, the activities are called “maps”. Who doesn’t love to pour over a good map?

The first map was easy. I breezed through it so quickly, I thought I might just make it through the whole book in a weekend. (Given my track record, who knows why I thought that!) Anyway, turn the page to map two and that is where I came to a dead halt. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to complete the assignment. 6 days later, I dug down and pulled out the wisdom I needed.

That was today. Things were going so well, I went on to map three. This was equally tough to complete. These exercises require some serious soul searching. But the results are so worth it. OK, now I am gong to be very vulnerable and share this map. So be kind.

The first word describes what I am when I am doing great work. The kind of work that I love. The place where I loose track of time and when I’m in the zone. The second word is not necessarily bad, or the opposite, but it represents, at best good work, at worst bad work.

  • Visionary not task master
  • Analytical not routine
  • Earnest not complacent
  • Comprehensive not lists of half formed ideas
  • Organized not winging it
  • Knowledge seeking not taking it at face value
  • Engrossed not simply covering the bases
  • At ease not cautious
  • Mindful not quiet
  • Dedication not just 9 to 5

I think this is a pretty powerful list of words. The book advises you to keep a copy near your desk and have a laminated version to travel with. I’ll admit, before I completed this map, I immediately dismissed the notion of laminating. But, now that it is done, and I see it here in print, maybe I’ll pop over to Staples and create that hard copy.

The idea behind this list is to steer to the left. Staying on the left is where great work can occur. Tendency is to veer right. Although good work is still good, it is with great work that I feel most alive and vital.

 

Epiphany

Holiday or feeling? How about both? Depends on what you believe.

Down here in Mexico and in many other countries around the world, January 6 is a celebration day. It marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas which begins on the 25th. El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings) is the name of the day and the 3 Kings were thought to have brought presents to baby Jesus. Children will typically get presents and the family celebrations will include sweet wine and the 3 Kings Bread, which is also sweet and filled with dried fruits.

The term epiphany means a “vision of God” and this day is a Christian feast celebration to honour the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.

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Epiphany is also used to describe an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.

I can’t say that I have this kind of feeling on a regular basis. But, I do think back on accomplishments and get a sense of all the little pieces coming together. Everything fell into place accordingly. The realizations happened slowly.

Until today.

I’ve been mulling over a few ideas for quite some time, (years actually) and have not been able to make sense of them. I knew they had to be connected in some fashion, but the framework and structure has eluded me. Like a waft of morning dew, I could sometimes get a clear sense of it, but as I moved closer, the spark of understanding would be just beyond my reach and then disappear altogether.

It is a fantastically energizing experience to suddenly have a crystal clear series of thoughts, which have eluded you for so long, sitting right there. It was all I could do to quickly grab a pencil and paper and get everything down.

With this roadmap sitting right beside me on the table, all my thoughts have changed. It allows me to think of problems as opportunities, take negative ideas and turn them around to positive, quite amazing really.

To quote the 1980’s one hit wonder by Timbuk3. “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

Breakfast in bed

Life is not what you see in the movies. I wonder if the actor’s playing these roles sometimes marvel at the lack of reality they are forced into. In any case, breakfast in bed is one of those movie inspired moments that we all want to recreate.

Yesterday my husband brought me breakfast in bed. But unlike the movies, we don’t own a special tray that holds everything you need. (We had one once, but after it was loaded up with everything and placed on top of you, you were pinned down. You needed help to be extracted.) Luckily my computer tray can double as a breakfast holder, but that is just for the plate. My meal had an egg mixture on toast that needed to be cut and not dropped everywhere while trying to eat. Again, not the glamor you build up in your mind.

Our house is really small and the master bedroom is about 6 feet away from the kitchen, straight shot with the door open. So when you have ‘breakfast in bed’, you are actually just sitting a distance away from everyone else and we are all raising our voices to be heard. Not at all like the movies. (I have designed that movie house with a glorious master bedroom and gourmet kitchen – in my mind).

After it was all said and done, my husband asked what I would like for breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, he thought about making omelettes. I agreed, that would be nice.

Then this morning rolled around and he was not jumping out of bed. I started to wonder if I really wanted another balance-on-my-lap breakfast? I got up, made coffee, my husband still wasn’t up, (I even ran the coffee grinder!) I started to make a grocery list for next week by perusing through a cookbook. Then I found a recipe that I would love to eat and had the ingredients at had. I considered dragging him out of bed to make it for me, but kindness prevailed. That is no way to start the day, for any of us.

So I made it for myself, a Mother’s Day gift to me. And it was wonderful.

Creamy Spinach & Pancetta Eggs

  • 4 slices pancetta
  • 100g spinach, (half a bag)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • S&P
  • Butter
  • Lemon zest
  • Buttered toast

In a medium fry pan, cook pancetta until crispy, set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Add spinach and cook down until wilted, set aside. Wipe out pan. Whisk together eggs, cream and S&P. But a big dollop of butter into the pan to melt. Add eggs and move around until set. Fold through the spinach mixture and serve. Serves 2.