Slow Travel in Style

September 30, 2009

Barcelona is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cities on the planet, thereby bumping Chicago down a notch. The pace of life matches your Barcelona 2009 032heartbeat as you stroll along the cobblestone streets. It is clean, friendly, and most importantly for a Virginia gal like me, warm.

My sister and brother-in-law joined my husband and me on a long weekend to Spain to investigate a different culture and, quite frankly, to rest from the rigors of our daily lives. It was worth every minute and penny we spent.

Back in the spring, my sister said she loved visiting us in Munich, but that she wanted to see a different part of Europe, too. So she suggested we book a flight somewhere, anywhere, warm in September. At first I hedged, standing next to the ruins of our dry-rotted porch, thinking of all the expenses our house, my business travel, and daily life required.

Then it dawned on me that the power of intention is much stronger than fear. So I smiled into the phone and said “Yes. Let’s do it!”

We visited museums, restaurants and plazas, soaking up the sun’s rays reflecting off the Mediterranean and realized what a great thing slow travelBarcelona 2009 084 can be. We took a siesta every day, resting for our late-night dinner and allowing the impressions of the day to sink in.

And when we celebrated our farewell dinner, my sister leaned in and asked “When are we doing our next power of slow trip?”

Stockholm, we said, with a blend of sauna in the woods meets city. She’s already bought the travel guides. Until then, we will dream of our next slow adventure and bask in the poetry of intention at work.

Slow en Espagnol

September 24, 2009

In a few hours we’re boarding a plane to Barcelona. The late-summer sun has kissed our skin good-bye as we enter the warmer climes of the Spanish coastline. My sister and brother-in-law are making happy suitcase zippering noises, a reminder of adventure and good food to come.

We’ll be breathing the slow Spanish air for four days and three nights. Tune in for more stories soon!

Hubby Redemption

September 23, 2009

My way or the highway won’t for a good marriage make.

So when I find myself engaging in willfulness with my husband about this thing or that, I am humbly slapped down by universal forces that show me why Nature created diversity. And husbands who refrain from ‘telling us so’.

I’ll quit beating around the bush on this, and tell you I wrongfully accused my husband of losing my cell phone in a recent post. The reason I know this is that it was never lost in the first place. In fact, I found it carefully zipped away in my eye glass case after going through the trouble of locking the phone so you can’t call out (I still haven’t received the replacement card from the phone carrier).

I swear I didn’t do it. I don’t remember putting it there. Ever. Feeling the I-told-you-so’s crawling up my chin and into my mouth, I quashed the urge to continue the accusations by smiling meekly at my hubby, whose grin revealed why the power of slow is so good for impulsives like me who sometimes mess up with such speed and alacrity as to make our inner tortoise cringe.

I hearby redeem my husband’s good name for all eternity. Or at least until it happens again!

Take five minutes to watch this incredible report by Judy Martin on the new workplace. It’s a stellar reminder of how many possibilities we have to live the power of slow in all we do with flexibility, trust and a value system in place.

The Last of All Days

September 16, 2009

Many warm thanks to my pal, Gary, for sharing this video with me. Take 4 minutes out of your day to watch it. You’ll be glad you did.

Lyrics: Brenda Russell

Singer: Marilyn Scott

Thank You, Silence

September 15, 2009

Alanis Morissette, my lovely female vocalist companion who sings for the millions of women out there without a voice (like hers), once thanked India, Providence, and dis-il-lu-sion-me-hent. Loving her extended vowels like I do, I am grateful to her swanky singer-songwriter soul and for the text she puts to the feelings we all have.

meditation silenceMy gratitude extends far beyond those that I even know (because, well, I don’t really know Alanis, but sure feel close to her truth). I share my gratitude with those who have come before me, and for those who will come after, too. When we tap into that divine delight, the inner core of our being and share it with others such that they will feel it, too, it’s the best feeling ever. That’s what Alanis does, for sure.

Today, is featuring my gratitude essay, ‘The Four Seasons’ about how I would spend the last 24 hours on earth. I am delighted to share it with you via their site. And if you’d like to read it all on another day, sign up for the site to have free access whenever you like.

The question remains: how would you spend your last 24 hours on this planet?

Digital Drama

September 14, 2009

The veiled powers of slow were at work once again today.

Actually, it started yesterday when I decided to spend the morning with a friend. Her husband had just moved to China for a six-month assignment. I thought I’d cheer her up and invite her for a power walk in the sunshine. cell phoneAfterwards, we shared a cup of coffee and lots of laughter. As I bemoaned about what a shame it was to have to spend the rest of this beautiful day indoors working on my presentation on time abundance, she replied,

“You can do it when the sun goes down!”

It seemed just the right thing to do. Why not? I’ve been so productive lately. After all, it was Sunday. In a rare moment of putting off the inevitable, I decided to live a little ‘seize the day’. Why not invite the kids on a bike ride to the local outdoor café instead?

My daughter decided to stay home so it was just the three of us.

My husband tends to take the long way around, to enjoy what he calls ‘the scenery’. Mind you, I had power-walked 7 KM just an hour before so trampling up and down steep hills on my mountain bike felt like a personal stretch.

But no matter! I had new vigor and vim. I was committed to getting fit and staying there. We took my cell phone just in case our daughter needed us.

Again, I delegated my gadget to my husband, fulling trusting he would keep it safely tucked in his pocket. We called our daughter when we got to the café, then set on our way to return an hour later. Somewhere in between calling her and coming home through the woods, the cell phone was lost.

I didn’t realize it until 1 pm today. I looked high and low for it. It was nowhere to be found. My biggest concern was the TV production company was supposed to call me tomorrow on my cell phone. So I contacted them via email to let them know they’d have to call my land line with the production details. I also called customer service to get the phone blocked. They promised to send me a new card rerouted to my old number in three days. Essentially, other than the device itself, I had only lost 72 hours. But in essence, I had won so much more.

I dug out my old cell phone that had a pre-paid card in it. It would have to do.

As I talked to the cell phone service on the phone, I realized I really never liked my newer, fancier cell phone that I had bought on eBay. Oh sure, it had all the fancy wizardry you can imagine ~ Internet, a video camera, a still-shot one, etc. But somehow, as I thumbed my old device, I realized I only used the features that the old one had, too.

My digital drama turned out to be a gift. Back to the old black and white screen of my dinosaur Nokia, I am somehow happy to be back to simpler times. Who really needs a sexy screen or rose wallpaper design? You need to call me? The Nokia will connect you, too.

And you know what? I’d take that bike ride again in a heartbeat. The presentation got done after sundown just as well. And I’m no longer as attached to the gadget that’s most certainly rusting on the forest floor as we speak.

Farewell, ye trusty gadget of yesterday. Thank you for the liberation your departure brings!

Back to Nature – for Kids

September 13, 2009

Go outside!

I shout that at least once a day. What is a pariah to my kids, is the saving grace to my mental health and, as it turns out, theirs, too.

The Ad Council and the U.S. Forest Service have created a campaign to encourage today’s youth (specifically tweens aged 8-12) and their parents to re-connect with nature by experiencing it first-hand.

There are many health benefits to kids who spend time out in nature. Time spent in nature gives kids the ability to engage in unstructured and adventurous play, improving their physical and mental health and emotional well-being. It also helps create a conservation ethic and a life-long love of nature. And did you know that the close proximity to open green space is related to reducing childhood obesity? The closer the trees, the easier they are to climb.

More fun facts:

• U.S. children spend 50% less time outdoors than 20 years ago
• Research shows, that children who play outside:

  1. play more creatively;
  2. have lower stress levels;
  3. have more active imaginations;
  4. become fitter and leaner;
  5. develop stronger immune systems;
  6. have greater respect for themselves, for
    others, and for the environment.

• Based on research conduced by Euro RSCG, 88% of tweens
like being in nature and 79% of tweens wish they could spend
more time in nature.

So go slow. Go natural. Go to the forest and breathe…

While talking with my sister on the phone yesterday, she made me laugh for a full 90 seconds. She was conveying something rather serious and power-of-slow-related about how annoyed she gets when people show up late to lunch dates.

“Your coming late by twenty minutes might mean I don’t eat.”

It struck a funny bone, and I couldn’t stop hooting about it. It was the way in which she said it. Dead-pan, and so true.

We often get caught in the swirl of our lives, regrettably late to appointments that might mean we get to eat. Or not. 

The work-life balance poll I conducted earlier this week shows people are on the fence with the entire notion. While many said their lifestyle has improved over 2008, many say there is no such thing as work-life balance.

Dr. Susan Fletcher, a psychologist in private practice, author, CEO of 2 companies (Smart Zone Solutions being one of them), wife and mother of 3 children, is a great person to ask about work-life issues. While I myself laughterbelieve work and life are not separate and distinct, we are at our best when we live in harmony with all aspects of our lives.

 When asked how one can live powerfully in the face of today’s economic crisis, Dr. Fletcher writes:

  • Use technology to connect to people – not to disconnect. According to scientist Alvin Weinberg, “Technology makes it easier and easier to disconnect from other people, and from ourselves.” Remember that human interaction can boost your mood. Make it a rule that if an email is more than 2 paragraphs that you will pick up the phone and call instead.


  • Finish what you start. Research shows that when we are disciplined and deliberate with projects that it has an 18% positive effect on happiness. It’s not always easy to be conscientious and finish a large task – but we feel better about ourselves when we have the sense of accomplishment.


  • Share a silly moment. “Laughter may be the shortest distance between 2 brains,” says Daniel Goleman in his book Social Intelligence. Think of the immediate sense of closeness you get with someone when you share a nice hearty laugh. For that moment it’s like you are in sync with each other’s thoughts. (Editor’s Note: As a parenting humorist, I find this one to be the most powerful!) 


  • Know what makes others happy. Powerful people are attuned to the emotions of others. Try these ideas: Headed to meet with a client? When you grab yourself a cup of coffee on the way to the meeting buy one for your client also. Did you eat lunch out today? Order an extra dessert to bring back for a co-worker or neighbor. Spent a few days out of the office where your co-workers had to cover for you? Bring them back a small gift from your time away – it can just be a pen from the hotel or a whimsical trinket from the airport gift shop.


  • Smile. You can actually trick your brain’s neurotransmitters into thinking you are happy with a smile. When you smile at people they typically smile back – it’s a natural reflex to mimic the facial expressions of others. If you are in a bad rut, clench a pencil in your teeth and you will force your face into a smile. This will subtly evoke a positive feeling. Try it!


  • Don’t gripe and moan! No one wants to hang out with a whiner.  If you want to survive in today’s economy you must accept change with a smile and determine how you can contribute to making the change successful.  


  • Don’t hold on to the carpet. You’ve heard the phrase, “eye on the prize” or “begin with the end in mind.”  If you’ve ever had the carpet pulled out from underneath you then you know change can be unexpected and unwelcome.  Early in Susan’s career, her job at a hospital was eliminated due to budget cuts.  Unwelcomed and unexpected, it turned out to be one of the most important learning experiences of her life. Discomfort is a fine teacher. 

No kidding.  I’d watch out for the chewing pencil technique, though. Make sure it’s a rubber one!

Multitasking Madness

September 9, 2009

Just because you’re educated, doesn’t mean you’re smart. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the higher your education level, the higher the risk associated with cell phone use and text messaging while driving. In fact, in Matt Richtel’s New York Times article “Driver Texting Now an Issue in Back Seat,” it was reported that “48 percent of people worry about a friend or family member textingdriving unsafely. Of those people, 19 percent said the cause of their concern was multitasking behind the wheel.”

A poll taken by Nationwide Insurance of 1,500 motorists found that 48 percent of behind-the-wheel multitaskers engaged in such behavior because they felt “an urgent need to address an issue pertaining to school or work; 33 percent said they felt pressure to stay connected socially.”

Pressure to stay connected socially? For the time it takes to get from the grocery store to your house? It’s in your head, people. It really is.

The article infruriates me even more because it claims heavy multitaskers are like ‘explorers’, compelled to hunt and gather information incessantly. Does that make those of us who consciously choose to engage in safe behavior (i.e. not text while driving) somehow less inquisitive?


What did these people do before cell phones? Read novels while driving with one knee?

The jury’s not out on this one. It’s a clear case of irresponsible driving. Texting behind the wheel is dangerous.