January, 2015

Five Fine Fitness Finds

Yesterday, Dan the Mailman dropped of a tiny package of the finest floral spandex at my door. I debated chasing him so I could give him a giddy kiss, but I was too excited to jump into my new tights and hie my hind end to Life Time.

Used to be, deliveries were from the liquor store. Another case of wine. Or from the pizza place. Another extra-large with everything. And breadsticks. With that icky cheesy dipping sauce. Getting out from under the burden of giving up on myself was daunting. I had a lot of help.

At the gym, I stopped to catch my breath between rowing and deadlifts. I caught the motivating smiles in the mirror from other folks devoted to getting it and getting fit. I thought about the top five helpers that kept me going this month:

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Leadership – The Pros & Cons of “Mystique”

I had a look, back in the day. Black suit. Hair slicked into a bun. Severe. Serious. You might think I meant business. Truly, I just didn’t have time for much more in the morning than quick rinse and a dash out the door. I had to get my hustle on, get to the office, plunk down in my maroon cube, and gear up to climb the Corporate America ladder.

Eventually, I got my big break. My big boss got the flu, and I got to sit in for her at a leadership roundtable. I bought a new black suit. I bought a plane ticket. I bought a fresh notebook, sat in the middle seat and spent two hours at 30,000 feet imagining what the big picture of leadership might look like.

The event was hosted at the headquarters of the Top Team. They put on a show, pulled out all the stops. We got fruit baskets. At the outset, I felt like an insider.

I had traveled quite a distance with the express assignment of sharing best practices, being enthusiastic and collaborative, listening, learning, and bringing back the revealed secrets of success. While Top Team Leader was taking us on a tour of her trophies, I asked, specifically, “What is the secret of your success?”

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Wellness – The Work Out / Work Win

I learned effective conflict resolution fast, confronted by a hot mess of hoppin’ mad, red faced, freaked out sales rep, one of the most consistent and biggest winners on my team. He burst into my office blinded by the temporary insanity of a big problem, holding out angry, empty, shaking hands … no solution. In that instant I could see he wasn’t going to be good at using his inside voice, so we took it outside for a walk around the block. It turned out to be a pretty big block. About two miles.

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Walking is man’s best medicine. ~ Hippocrates
Photo credit: Ardon LXXXIII

While we walked, we worked it out. He hollered a little bit, blew of some steam, regained control of his adrenaline, talked until he was able to listen, and made a space in his busy brain for reason. Together we carved out a path and created a solution. It only took a little walk around the block.

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Inspire is a Verb – Fashion Meets Poetry with Lisa Harris

My first meeting with Lisa Harris was less of a formal introduction and more of a collision, our opening salvo a mutual how-do-you-do a duet of “You look fantastic!”

We were backstage, behind a screen in a makeshift dressing room, in the midst of the Spring Fever frenzy that accompanies the KOKOON season launch. We spotted each other wearing the same hotly sought dress.

In a similar situation, a lot of women would get uppity about another gal zeroing in on her prized “back off its mine” find. Lisa saw it as an opportunity celebrate our multifarious differences, how we could each be beautifully unique, and we decided we should both rock the frock. Lisa looks at life that way. She’s genuine, and genuinely excited to see women clothed in their individual light. She’s a poet with a purpose.

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Click the pic for irresistible Lisa Harris’
inspirational Instagram feed.

A year later we reunited over decadent with-everything mochas and I interviewed her about her upcoming book where fashion meets poetry, Unveiled Beauty.

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Lessons from Opera – Passion and the High Output Life

Two nights ago, I got to hang with the cool kids. Bloggers, artists, and social media influencers. Tempo (Young Professionals Group) movers and shakers gathered to preview The Minnesota Opera’s superb new offering, The Elixir of Love. Hushed and awestruck, we were ushered backstage to witness the weeks of behind-the-scenes high output work plied by 197 people devoted to telling a story that’s captivated audiences since the 1840’s.

It’s a good story. A story of a hero with a passion so encompassing that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Wiling to tell the truth, to try new things, to play full on, to play the fool, to take a risk, to reveal the fullness of his heart. In the audience, we clicked and tweeted and laughed and opined and collectively decided: we loved it.


A moment of passion perfectly captured by Lee Blauersouth
of Studio Interrobang.

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Remember to Blink – Four Ways to Win The Week

I can type as fast as you can talk. It’s my superhero skill, particularly useful during chats with clients. Because people will say brilliant things. And I want to get every bit.

Some weeks go by in a blink. Consecutive work-till-midnight days juggling back-to-back-to-back calls and projects and meetings. Bleary-eyed early mornings checking in to make sure we got every bit. Still, we forget. We forget to make time for ourselves.


In the midst of last week’s dizzying rush, I found an unexpected oasis of calm during a conference call to shape a FISH! Philosophy event. The client spoke with a joyful lilt about what she wanted to create in the room and I was carried away by our shared objective: To mix business needs with personal connections.

“It’s like my eye doctor said,” she said. “Because sometimes I stare at the computer too long, and my eyes get dry. Remember to blink.”

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Oh Shut Up – a note to naysayers

“I hate this.”
Last week a, friend and fine thinker posted an article with the above terse comment. He’s the kind of man who doesn’t hate much. He revels in beauty, thinks expansively, and explores life vividly. Of course, I clicked. I had to see what had raised his hackles.

It was basically a list. A “mean girl” list. A litany of things women beyond a certain age (that age being 30) shouldn’t wear. No hoop earrings, no blue eye shadow, no leopard print. Blah blah blah. I blew a raspberry at it. “Pfft! Don’t you tell me what I can’t do!” 


A lifetime leopard-print devotee,
this was the giddy day I got my first DVF wrap dress.
At age 48. Thank you very much.

“Confidence. If you have it, you can make anything look good.”
~ Diane von Furstenberg

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Inspire is a Verb – Esprit de She

I just got another secret note.
“Shh….don’t tell anyone…but I absolutely must tell someone…you think I can, so I think I can, so I’m doing a crazy fitnessy thing…YAY!”
It’s the third note this week.

I get it. When I decided to get my fit together, the first steps of my journey were super-secret too. Slinking downstairs to the apartment complex gym at odd hours, when people were less likely to catch me leaping around in my grotty track suit. Shaking my groove thing to Moves Like Jagger and Sexyback, because I desperately wanted my sexy back. Hauling my carcass back upstairs and collapsing on my pleather couch in an exhausted nap during which I’d dream that, if I could keep going, little by little I’d stack up enough tiny victories to make a mountain.

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We keep going because we keep going.
from #47ThingsILearned

Those first steps were 3 years, 42 weeks, and 5 days ago. Umpteen jump-squats ago. At least a few sizes ago. A lifetime ago.  Read more →

Make More Memories

One week into the New Year, and many of us have hit our rhythm. We’re back from vacation, back at work. We’re bold enough to open the first round of bills and sick enough to hide or eat or re-gift the last of the holiday cookies (or throw them in the yard in a fit of pique). We’ve put away the decorations and put on our gym shoes, arrayed in a sense of renewed “what’s next?”…

At the gym we high-five each other. We sweat a little harder, check our new heart rate monitor, jog an extra mile. In the hallways and locker room we joke about our resolutions and bucket lists. Want to lose a few pounds. Want to bag the big project. Want to earn more money. Want. Want. Want.


There’s an invisible man at the gym. He’s the guy with the bucket. The guy with the rags. The guy with the spring in his step and the smile on his face as he sanitizes the sweat from the treadmills in between users. He sees us. He sees us recognize each other and wave soundlessly as our headphones blare playlists. He hears us. He hears our complaints about our jobs and our weight and our big project and our paycheck. He notices everything about us, but we don’t notice much about him. We’re watching ourselves in the mirror, worrying about how long it will take to forget our resolutions and wreck the things we want.

He wants us to notice him. He wants me to notice him. Because I have in the past. We collide at the water fountain. Where he’s sought me out. Read more →

Drawing Dragons

I sat staring at a blank page of paper on and off for days, trying to decide what to pen as my resolution for 2015. I needed it to be precise and concise and confine my fantastic plans to few words.

Full of nothing and in need of inspiration, I called on a Ninja. Jen said yes – Ninjas are like that – and we met for supper.

“I’m stuck,” I said, one hand hovering over the bowl of corn chips, the other gesturing wildly at the universe. “I have so much to finish and I don’t know where to start. Super stuck. I can’t even write my stupid New Year’s Resolution.”

“Draw a dragon.” Jen nodded at me with wisdom and surety.


“Every time Jonah asks me what he should draw, I say ‘Draw a dragon.’ And then he says ‘No, I can’t draw a dragon, I don’t know where to start or what it will finish like.’”

Jonah is Jen’s kid. He’s an excellent example of 10-year-old boy. He likes treasure and zombies. And he likes to draw. Once he drew me a Fridge Ninja. It’s on my fridge.

“Finally I told him, ‘Just start. Just start drawing dragons and by the time you finish, you’ll know how to draw dragons. Then you can draw dragons anytime you like. Like right now. Because your mamma wants a dragon. Draw me a dragon.’ And he did.”

“How was it?” I asked, enraptured.

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Jonah’s first dragon. Perfect.
I’m pretty sure that’s a Ninja riding it. Also perfect.

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