January 2010

That’s a theme lately – stepping out of the box. I’m meeting new people. Different environments are okay. I’m allowing a fresh list of options to surface. I’m excited about some of these options!

Though I’m not sure where I’m headed, I’m clear that there is a shift in perception and activity level. I’m ready for adventure.

Look at the stepping-stones I found!



Musings – contemplations or reflections (www.dictionary.com). Also considered thoughts, especially when aimless or unsystematic (http://encarta.msn.com).

I have some unsystematic reflections to offer today…

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Swimming in 17 degree weather – oxymoronic, to say the least. Yet, that’s what I did today. No, I didn’t take a dip in Lake Erie. Clad in my down coat, clumpy snow boots and warm gloves, I drove to the indoor pool. As I entered the locker room, the sauna/steam heat hit me and I couldn’t wait to change into the suit and swim. So there I was swimming indoors as if it was summer. Between the relaxing laps and the whirlpool, I completely forgot the 17 degree weather. What a great break!

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It’s not often that my alma mater, Boston University, makes national news about something other than hockey. Yet, that’s what happened on Thursday. I happened to tune in just in time to hear a radio show discussing Prof. Howard Zinn’s passing. How could he pass away? Professors don’t die. They just get old. His dynamic personality, challenging the status quo, got us to think. Much of the world knows Prof. Zinn for his seminal work, A People’s History of the United States. Although I wasn’t an American History and American Political Science major, I did make sure I took one class with Prof. Zinn.

I don’t recall most of my professors from my BU years. I do recall Professor Zinn. He challenged us to think. He shocked us into opening our minds. And we learned.

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Birthday celebrations. I like them and want to keep having them. Some years, it’s a work day and a co-worker surprises me with a card or a balloon. On a recent milestone year (OK, so it wasn’t so recent), my co-workers treated me to a birthday luncheon. And some years, it’s nice to just “be” – go through the day easily and enjoyably. Like this year: I went out to lunch, swam, met a friend for coffee, and treated myself to a new book. Simple. Enjoyable. Yet, I was in for a surprise: family members sent me a purple floral arrangement.

I’m grateful for all the good I’ve been granted!

I learned a great deal about eliciting and gathering business requirements at last night’s IIBA meeting (International Institute of Business Analysis). Ellen Gottesdiener presented clear, informative facts with wonderful illustrations and great humor! No mean feat in a webinar.

Ellen outlined the two main paths to obtain requirements – traditional and agile. Regardless of what path we follow, we need to be mindful of team factors (the heart) and product factors (the mind) within a project. And we often make adjustments based on these factors and the path we take. Our requirements and the process to elicit them are based on the shared vision of the product or end result.

Admittedly, my mind wandered to the larger picture. While Ellen was speaking about business requirements, I heard her message as a metaphor for living.

  • Vision. We need to define the what, why, and who we are. What are we creating? Who do we want to be? Why are we doing a certain activity? And, just where are we going? We need a vision statement (or, as Ellen suggests, a visual). If we start with a vision, then we know where we want to go.
  • Traditional path. We research what already exists. Perhaps we interview others to elicit their guidance. We might even participate in small group meetings, such as support groups, to learn from several like-minded people.
  • Agile path. This method is more informal than the traditional path. We create likely (and unlikely) scenarios or rely on stories to outline what we’re trying to do. We use more visual elements, such as pictures, storyboards, or collages.
  • Prioritize requirements. What is the most important piece to accomplish first? Or, are there small tasks that may not be key components, however we can complete those quickly? Are there extraneous activities that we can eliminate?
  • Track status. This can be through informal, using spreadsheets or journals. Or we can document each step and change using a complex system.

What happens if something comes up that threatens to derail us from our vision? Regroup and reprioritize. With a business project, this item may be shelved or placed in a future release of the product. We can do the same thing in our life path.

Let’s say our vision is to land our dream career. Then we have an unplanned, life-changing event. We may choose to shelve our original vision for a time while we regroup. Or, we may choose to keep moving forward with that vision, and ignore the event (unlikely, however that’s a choice). Another option is to work on our vision at a slower pace (that doesn’t work in the business world with tight deadlines, however can work in our personal world!).

They key point is to keep the vision in front of us – preferably with a visual representation.

Do you have a path you’ve used to live your vision? Please share it with us!

That’s the goal – create a balanced routine. The schedule includes work, play, and rest. My calendar includes swim and yoga times, networking events, career search activities, and some socializing.

Then I do add in some “must haves” such as paying bills and medical appointments. These are not so much fun, however, they very necessary. Fortunately, I balance these “must haves” with the socializing. My reward for “taking care of business!”

Strive for balance!

During the last two months, I have not had a set routine. I’ve allowed myself to move forward based on “to do” lists. That’s fine. Being a creature of habit, it is refreshing to work without a set schedule. I learned that I can get up early, write, create, cook, shop, network – in general, lead a productive life. Bravo!

However, I also noticed that I do not accomplish some activities that are either “nice to haves” or “would like to-dos.” For example, exercising some how dropped off the map. Oh, and housework…hmm – where did that go? What ever happened to those freelance articles I was working on?

Solution: enter activities and times on my calendar. Attempt a routine.

Once in a while, I’ll sit with family and enjoy a video. Tonight we watched a sequel to “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” After this episode, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will never seem the same to me!

Teddy Roosevelt volunteered his definition of happiness – and I’ll paraphrase: “Happiness is loving what you do and doing that activity with people you love.”

Enough said!

When I change the scenery around me, I can change my mood. Even when I alter the scenery slightly, I can feel lighter. Add a new color pillow to the living room decor and I brighten up. Move the photos around, or add new photos – what a difference the small changes can make.

And of course, traveling to a different locale can really lift me up. I don’t need to travel far. Drive about 20 minutes east of Cleveland Heights and I’m in beautiful countryside. Come to think of it – even within 10 or so minutes from the house, I am at Shaker Lakes. They are stunning in the snow!

Change the scenery – internal or external – and I truly feel brighter and lighter.

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