Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Monsters are Real

Halloween is tonight and it always gets me thinking about scary stuff.

At Community Partners of Dallas only Vanessa, Pam and I like scary movies (27% of the staff).  I mostly like the ones like The Sixth Sense or Rosemary's Baby, but I'll go to Paranormal Activity if someone will go with me.  I think it's fun to be scared and yucky stuff doesn't stay in my head like it does for others.

NOTE:  I absolutely love scary stuff on TV.  Dexter, American Horror Story, etc.  Give me a night in and an episode or two on the dvr and I'm in heaven (or hell, of course)...

Last night I didn't watch a scary show on TV, I met people who lived one.

Every Tuesday night, CPD holds group treatment therapy for child victims of sexual abuse.  The program is called Heart and the kids and their non-offending family members meet and talk about what happened to them and how to get on with their lives.

I can't imagine ever getting over such a violation, can you?  These kids know what real terror is.  What degradation feels like.  They know what monsters look like, smell like, sound like.

And that's a movie I never want another child to see.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 5

It's Four Favs Time Again!

The regular readers of this blog (the tens and tens of you) may have noticed that I have started writing about my four favorite things about once a month.  Click here to see part 4:

If you haven't guessed, I really, really love to give advice, so telling you about my favorite products and food items is a real joy.  I'm glad that you like them too, so here goes:
  1. Andrew Weil Vitamins -- I decided early in the year (While at Miraval -- a future fav thing for sure!) to start taking vitamins regularly.  Dr. Weil's website asks you a bunch of questions about your health and then recommends the ones you should take.  They come in the mail and are packaged together according to time of day they should be taken.  I have to say that since I've been taking them, I have been healthier.  I definitely feel better and have not been as prone to illness.  Take the vitamin advisor test here:
  2. Kuby's Pimento Cheese -- Surely almost everyone in Dallas has tried this fabulous stuff, but it you haven't, get thee to Kuby's Sausage House in Snider Plaza now.  It comes in jalapeno and plain (I actually get both and mix them together for just the right spice for me) and buy their bagel chips to spread it on.  This is my go-to treat for new neighbors.  Run to Kuby's, buy the pint sized jalapeno version, the bagel chips, and put all in a cute gift bag with your personalized note card (from Paper Affair of course) and welcome them.  Be sure to give them all your phone numbers and tell them which house you live in in the note (if your notecard envelope doesn't have your address, that is).  Don't forget to buy yourself some pimento cheese too!
  3. The Hunger Games -- this book by Suzanne Collins is amazing.  If you saw the movie, I still think you would like it.  I read it at the recommendation of a friend (before I saw the film) and couldn't put it down.
  4. CPD Pens -- Our Community Partners of Dallas-branded pens are just the perfect pen for me.  They are blue ink, have a clicker (so no pen cap to keep up with), and just write really well.  We always get them for our events, so if you attend the Chick Lit Luncheon on April 5, 2013, you'll get one of your very own.  In the meantime, you can come to our office and I'll be sure that you are gifted on the spot!
What are your four favs?

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to Highland Park United Methodist Church.  They are on their way over here right now with blankets and more -- love my church!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wanting for Nothing

I just returned from a 3 day, 2 night trip to Arkansas.

Yes, Arkansas.

Have to tell you that it was great fun (went with a group of about 25 women) and we visited a lot of incredible places -- the Clinton Library, University of Arkansas (even toured the Chancellor's home with his lovely wife), the Crystal Bridges Museum, and more.

I'm really glad that I went and if you haven't been to Crystal Bridges, GO.

That being said, I'm mad at myself.

Last night when I was going through my bags, I piled up the "stuff" that I'd accumulated on the trip -- some of it I was given (Anyone want a University of Arkansas paperweight featuring the Chancellor's residence in living color?), but most of it I spent my hard-earned money on.

Here's the list of my shame:

  • 2 Blue Birds, glass, 2 inches tall
  • 1 Soap Dish, ceramic
  • 4 Presidential Quotation Books:  Jefferson (1), Roosevelt (2), Lincoln (1)
  • 1 Lamb Christmas Ornament, fabric
  • 1 Paperweight, glass, University of Arkansas Chancellor's residence pictured, in presentation box
  • 1 Print of a Piece by Wayne Thiebaud, "Supine Woman", about 10 X 14 inches (shown above)

And I wanted to buy more stuff -- I held myself back!

NOTE:  As I type this post, I am looking at another recent acquisition from Dallas -- a Big Tex bobble head purchased one week ago today, obviously in the middle of a corny dog coma.

Why do I do this? 

For me, a lot of it is being caught up in the frenzy of other women who are purchasing.  Also, things look so much better when you see lots of them in a group (Alas, 2 blue birds do not a flock make...), so I make decisions that bite me later.

What makes me mad is that I had stopped buying stupid stuff -- I really had.  The last time that I went on one of these trips (JLD trip to NOLA), the only thing I bought were 12 sterling iced tea spoon sippers -- and I had always wanted some and love them every time I use them.

I want to stop this needless waste and use the money to do something for good.  The children at Community Partners of Dallas need more than a glass blue bird, and it is truly needed.

Now, I'm all for beauty and sentiment and I want you to buy souvenirs and love them.  I think that it is part of the joy of life.

I just want to remember the CPD kids at the next gift shop I enter.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5 Secrets to Success at Your Next Annual Review

It's that time of year again -- time for the annual review -- the time I jokingly refer to as "Defending My Life".

NOTE:  I really, really love the movie Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  If you haven't seen it, you must.

I know that annual reviews vary so much depending on the type of business, it's size, company culture -- hell, even the preferences of the individual bosses doing the reviews; but there are a few secrets that apply across the board. 

  1. If your company has a form that you fill out prior to your review, spend some time on it.  Don't wait until the day or night before it is due.  I promise that if you give yourself some extra time to start it, put it away, then go back to it, your documentation will be more complete.
  2. Be honest about your accomplishments, but make yourself shine.  Go through your emails, your calendar, everything to trigger your brain to remember all of the great things you did for the agency.
  3. Use numbers if you can.  "My redo of the donor database helped the 2012 event raise 15% more money than in 2011."  Most bosses are all about the bottom line.
  4. Raises are based upon performance at CPD (and at most businesses I know).  While your boss may sympathize with your need to make more money because your husband was laid off, that is your problem, not the company's.  Don't even mention it.
  5. Sleep well the night before and wear something that you love for the review.  My mom loves the expression "fake it until you make it" -- looking and feeling your best can't hurt you and it will help you to shine and be on your toes.

Of course, since I work for a small non-profit agency, those of you in the corporate world may not relate.  I'm sorry.  But don't judge -- as the CEO of a non-profit agency, my "boss" is 28 volunteers -- our board of trustees.  Defending my life can be tough!

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to The Wilkinson Center.  They help put people to work!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I learned something from Barack Obama.

A few weeks ago I saw this dude on The Today Show who had shadowed President Obama for an extended period of time and wrote an article about it.  I read the article too (I think it was in Vanity Fair, but don’t bet the farm on that…), but the thing that I found most interesting was when Matt Lauer asked about Obama’s decision-making process.

According to the author, the President told him that by the time a decision gets to him, it is a really important decision – otherwise it would have been made at a lower level.  Decisions that get all the way up to the President are also difficult – decisions that are 50% one way, 50% another way – that is why they get to him.  What pressure – yikes.

Anyway, the thing that the author said next is what has really stayed with me.  Because the President has to make these really big decisions A LOT, he has removed little decisions from his life. 

He only has blue or gray suits.  Someone else always decides what he is going to eat. 

NOTE:  As long as someone would choose cheese puffs, sushi, and ranch dip for me at least once a week, I think I could get on that bandwagon.  Wearing the same clothes everyday – uh, no.

Then Matt Lauer and the author talked about decision making and how tiring it is – just think about this the next time you get home from a trip to Sam’s Club or Costco – it makes me tired just thinking about it!

I am lucky to have wonderful and accomplished co-workers who make lots of decisions for me and I let them.  My style is to hire good people and let them do their jobs and make decisions.  No (or at least not much) micro-managing for me.  And maybe all US Presidents do this kind of paring down “dumb” decisions to save their energy for big ones, but Obama is the first one I have heard about.  So, I started thinking about more decisions I could give up and I’m working on it.

The other thing I thought about was how we at CPD take some of these sorts of “dumb” decisions out of the lives of CPS caseworkers in Dallas County.  When they can turn over the holiday wish list to us, they save their own decision making and keep it for big decisions like saving kids’ lives.

 And sometimes the decisions they are making are more important than those President Obama makes.

P.S.  I'm giving my #FundraisingFriday gift to Community Partners of Dallas' Change is Good event.  Come see us Sunday afternoon and bring your change too!