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Surviving Blonde Moments

Disclaimer on the topic: I can say this because back in the day before grey hair and this weird dark shade that crept in around the age of 40, I was legally blonde. Some folks who knew me might totally agree on multiple levels about my blonde behavior as well. No insult to those who are blonde but we all know the altar meaning I am referring to.

It wasn’t a pretty morning. Actually, outside it was the most beautiful fall morning ever, but inside life was not so much fun. The dog, bless her cute little heart, needed a bio break at 4AM. Somehow between the back door and her “favorite spot,” she lost her collar. I swear I was watching her the entire time, still cannot figure how it disappeared.  Ever put clothes in the wash the night before that you needed in the morning and forget to put them in the dryer? Yep, change of plans on the outfit of the day. My breakfast of champions, morning PB & J (peanut butter and jelly sandwich) was not to be, no bread. I forgot to get it on the list the night before that I lost on the way to the store. Keys? Where are my keys? I was certain I put them… oh, heck. On the way to work I made a stop at Wally World. Walked inside to totally forget why I was there. Took the tour to trigger what it was I needed which took way too long. Got to work. Unloaded my techie stuff to find I left all the power plugs at home. Right now, I am feeling a few of those grey hairs sprouting. My brain totally shut down from about 9PM last night until about 11AM this morning. At 10:50, I decided I had had enough.

How to  survived those ditsy, brain fog days? Well, I should have applied these things at first notice of the blonde invasion but I am only normal and let those days sometimes get the best of me far too long.

Blonde Invasion Defense:

  1. MUSIC!! Turn on your favorite upbeat tunes to get your brain moving out of slow elevator music mode. Today’s menu for me: Pompeii by Bad Blood, Breathe of Life by Florence + the Machine, Dark Horse by Katy Perry, for starters.
  2. Hand Fidgets: Stress balls and flying frogs! Squeezing those squishy stress releasers really helps. Flying frogs, well, those are these rubbery creatures which are for shooting like rubber bands but do not go as far. I wrap them around my finger and sometimes shoot them at various things in the office when no one is looking.
  3. Fiber optics lamp toy. Best $1 find ever! This small lamp has hundreds of tiny fibers with green lights shining out. It is fun to twirl it to see if I can make it look like shapes. With my office fan going it dances about my desk which makes me happy.

These were my choices today but I have quite the list to choose from. Within about 10 minutes my mind was back out of the fog zone. I was busy cranking out meaningful work with fewer mistakes and mishaps due to the black hole of nothingness that had invaded earlier. Sometimes, it is just that simple. Playing with odd things and music helps kick-start the brain. If you bosses out there are reading this, please know employees need access to such things when stressed and out-of-sorts. You will find employees far more productive if they have go-to things to help gather their senses back. Parents, kids need these things while doing homework, too. And for anyone out there having a blonde zone day, put that phone to good use, crank up some tunes! Find a paperclip or anything you can move around in your hands until you can raid the store for hand fidgets. Oh by the way, the birthday party trinket kits are the best. Small plastic Slinkys are wonderful! Check out that section for a huge wonderland of hand fidgets.

Find your focus, get out of the fog, and get your creative productive groove back on!



Word Party

Was always a huge fan of word walls as a student. Despite what some might think there are times, mostly in school, I was at a loss for words. Word walls helped me to collect my thoughts to focus on the topic. I still use word walls. Now they say more about my feelings and direction I wish to focus on as I move forward. I metal mess cube sits upon my desk. It is filled with an assortment of magnetic words. I collect them. When I get stuck or hit a road block in thinking I start moving my words around the cube. One side might be negatives while another reflects my current state of mind yet another side filled with aspiring dreams and emotions I want to experience. There are endless possibilities of sorting through the words. It also frees my mind of actually stating the words I feel. Sometimes it is hard to say the words. It is so much easier to pick and chose them to create a visual which reflects that which I cannot admit or say out loud. There is power in the words, even unspoken onesword wall.

What would your word wall say about your thoughts?

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Address the Stress

Apple pie

Apple pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Who cannot smile after viewing this picture?

The season is upon us! Finals for the high school and college crowd, the holidays with travel and extended family events, and the ending of another year. You might think I am jumping forward a bit but it is always better to prep for the oncoming season of stressors. We cannot change some events but we can lessen the stress factor. Another reason to reduce the stress is because it is contagious. Yes, your children, your spouse, your employees, and if you teach, your students will feed off your stress. The higher the stress the more it will affect your body. You become grumpy. You lose sleep. You can become depressed. Your immune system lowers its ability to fight illnesses. Your relationships suffer. It is a never-ending cycle of downward issues which build more stress.

Get started now to make this season a less stressful one. If you are a music lover, surround yourself with happy and peppy tunes. If you are a visual sort, surround yourself with color and fun pictures. Never under-estimate the power of the refrigerator gallery. Fill the space with pictures of fun memories and pictures of friends and family. Also fill your pages with doodles. Lots of fun doodles are pleasing to the eye. If you are a kinesthetic sort, have small baskets of hand fidgets to play with. Stress balls are great for such. Carry one in your purse or backpack. Other ways to reduce stress are sucking on mints, chewing gum, and revisiting the childhood favorites, lollipops. Another way is my filling your environment with wonderful smells. Aroma therapy works! Wonderful holiday smells will bring back fond memories. Fill your house will the smell of cinnamon, apple pie, or hot cocoa smells. If those aren’t appealing, go for the fresh pine or bring back the smells of summer such as fresh flowers or a nice ocean breeze. Whatever scent makes you happy, plug it in. Exercise is another wonderful way to reduce stress. Walking helps drain the stress away. Try yoga. Anyone can do it. You do not have to be able to twist and contort your body to receive the benefits of yoga. Meditation is another wonderful destressor.  There are wonderful DVDs and CDs with guided meditations. You can even download them on your phone or Kindle. Please remember to not use medication music or guided ones while driving. I have given you plenty of examples of great ways to reduce the stress.

At your workplace, add some color to enhance the visual needs. Add some calming music if you are allowed. Fill the air with fresh scents of the season. Not only will these additions help you reduce stress it will also enhance the attitudes of your employees and customers.

For kids, get them outside. A cool breeze and fresh air are good for everyone. Play is a great stress reliever. Often we over schedule children during the holiday with parties, sporting events, and family events. We forget they need down time to recoup and unwind. If a child is fussy, when was the last time there was a day when they had nothing scheduled? Find time to fit in family time. There is nothing wrong with lazy days. Not days filled with gaming but days filled with low tech moments to rest the eyes and sensory system. I am certain the universe will survive without the gamer for a day. Keep a record of the fast food meals. Too much junk food stresses the body. Make sure there are veggies and fruit each day. No, I do not care what the food folks say, ketchup is not a vegetable.

Be proactive! Get ahead of the stress by incorporating some of these strategies now instead of reacting. Try to find time for yourself to unwind. It is ok to say no. Keep the stress down so you can enjoy the season more. If you have special ways you reduce stress please share so others can benefit.

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Why are they looking at me that way?

There is nothing like a creative burst of energy. My attempt to clean the craft room/office space is never productive on the cleaning side but more so on the creative bursts of AH HA! Determined to get the place in order, I start with a plan then find something which leads to another something which never is cleaning. Thus the pattern as usual today led to not much headway in clearing a space but to an artsy moment. Not sure why I thought it would be different. Some might call it an ADD moment, I call it curiosity with a twist of imagination that gets peaked when I see a pile of stuff take on a new vision.

This got me wondering about all the sudden cases of ADHD. Are parents and teachers too quick to jump to the conclusion the impulsive and creative outburst are a negative? I was wondering what it would have been like to teach Robin Williams? Or maybe, Albert Einstein? Or how about, Mozart? You know they could not sit still for very long and often had such AH HA! moments at random when something triggered their creative minds. It is very hard to contain a great idea as an adult but as a child it just shoots out the mouth and hands at lightning speed. Then, I thought about how awesome it would have been to have had a whole class of AH HA! thinkers. The conversations and discoveries would be constant. The level of instruction would be wrapped around hands-on and discovery. What an awesome learning environment that would be! I guess Dr. Seuss dreamed of such when he started one of his last books, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! If you are a teacher or a parent of a child with ADHD I urge you to read this newly released book. I would like to thank Dr. Seuss’ wife for allowing Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith to add a few finishing touches so the story could be published. It will change the way you think about the current state of education and creativity in the classroom.

In my creative whirl wind I remembered I had to make a quick run to the store. I live in a very rural area which there is a certain protocol to life. As a rule, I do not come close to fitting in but try my best to contain my artsy ways as not to embarrass my family. While in the store I noticed I was getting some odd looks. In my twisted little mind I was thinking they hadn’t seen normal in a while. OH! that so backfired on me. Got home and had sneezing fit. Went to get tissue in the downstairs bathroom, looked up in the mirror… I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. You see, before I left I had found my glitter shimmer spray. Decided a certain mermaid needed some sparkle. I also experienced a sneezing fit shortly after grabbing tissue from the box on the craft table. One should not spray shimmer while listening to Savage Garden and dancing around the table without looking in a mirror before leaving the house. Seems the shimmer spray had gotten on the tissue which I blew my nose on. My nose was nicely coated with … if you are a Twilight fan you will understand when I say I was sporting a nice Cullen vampire shimmer when the sunlight hit my face. A mirror will be going up in the office/craft space with a huge note to please look before I escape the asylum to public places.

I will just claim a DIFFENDOOFER DAY! in the craft room and laugh this one off. Maybe, I should call it a Patch Adams sort of day. I do believe a shimmery nose is more fitting for me than a  big red clown nose. Despite a brief embarrassing moment I was unaware of at the time, I feel certain someone who saw me needed a laugh. Someone might have needed something to take their mind off a bad situation, and just maybe it inspired someone to have a creative moment of their own with a reminder to check a mirror before they head out in public view. Being impulsive has down moments but then again it has some magnificent ones.

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Workplace microwave, an indicatorof employee morale

Break Room Revolt

Break Room Revolt (Photo credit: catatronic)

If you want to know how your employees’ attitudes are when you are not out and about, check the break room microwave. My former job had me traveling to many locations. During this time I noticed a trend in the break room. Watching people warm coffee or their lunch I became aware of a situation that appeared to mark the attitude of those users, the microwave.

Have you ever used the workplace microwave? What was your first reaction when you opened it? Was it clean or was it ready for the condemned notice? Have you ever watched who was using it and how they left it? During your break, sit back and watch what happens when people use the microwave.

My observations:

  • If employees are happy and respect each other, the microwave is clean. The area around it is clean as well as supplies provided.
  • If there are hostile employees, they never clean the microwave for the next person. They even slam the door when the food isn’t warm to their liking.
  • The workplace filled with gossip will have a dirty microwave. People are in a rush to get back to the group. The inside has lots of beverage spills from grabbing mugs on the run.
  • The burnt microwave… if employees do not feel safe to be open and honest, there will be a burnt mess. No one there wants to own up to anything though the office smells the results. People will also sneak to use the microwave in fear of being blamed for the mess.
  • Food left in the microwave is a sign of stressed employees. They are so busy running around often they forget they put something in to warm. Employers need to check this situation because constant stressed employees make mistakes and burnout. Everyone needs a break during a push or rush time without feeling guilty.
  • Lots of people hanging around a dirty microwave is a sign of an unproductive office. People caught up in the workplace scandals will find ways to hang out at the microwave to catch up on who is backstabbing who. It is often a means of survival if the environment is hostile and harassing.
  • In a supportive work environment one might often find encouraging post-it notes on the microwave. This workplace knows that people visit the microwave often. It is a resource to inspire and encourage via nice sayings and personal praises all can see.
  • In a happy, friendly, and very productive workplace, the microwave area will have goodies. Identifying the likes and trends of fellow employees is noted by the  variety of creamers, special treats, and accessories such as extra plates and cups. This environment lets the observer know that no matter what these people have each others backs in a crisis as well as celebrating the uniqueness of each other in ways that keep even the worse of days filled with moments of smiles and warm thoughts.

I will offer a disclaimer on judging the workplace microwave. Some companies have policies about the break room and how it is kept. Some businesses have people who clean and maintain the areas in a set way. And sometimes, there is one employee who values  the microwave and will clean it daily. My observations are based upon areas employees keep up the break areas.

How is your workplace morale based upon the break room microwave? Do you think people would notice if the area changed? I urge you to take a moment to watch the dynamics of the employee/microwave connections to see if there is a correlation between the two. I would love to hear if my theory rings true in your workplace. Please send comments so we can compare.

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Pecking order in the hen house

Now listen up, Ladies!

Sometimes you just snap a photo that reminds you of your daily life. Seems I have been here before. If you have a bit of a background in the “Rules and Order of the Hen House,” I think you will find the humor without much said. Behavioral scientist have noted there is a relationship between the “pecking order” in chickens and human behavior. Notice which hen has the fullest feathers and you will find the highest in the order. She is allowed to peck at any hen without retaliation. As you look about, notice who has the least amount of feathers. Wonder who “took the feather out of her cap?” Those with the best perches and nesting boxes are generally located the furthermost from the possible entry of a predator. (Where is your roost/nesting box/cubical?) Removing a hen from the flock for just one day and the “pecking order” must be reestablished. Yes, ladies, the fight for the top starts all over. Is your office a chicken coop? Where are you on the “pecking order?” Do you really want your office place to resemble a hen-house?

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Focus like a SHARK – Get the image

Creative Tidal Wave Muse

What’s the difference between a plain fish bowl and an aquarium? COLOR and lots of movement!! Another helpful hint to staying alert is to increase the visuals. For many of us out there we need some color and movement to keep our attention. If you look around an office space full of cubicles, the most productive sorts have well decorated spaces. Classrooms with colorful boards and mobiles attract more attention from students, parents, and administrators, as well.

Fill your space with solar bobble heads that move or other items that are changing such as small digital picture frames. Bright cheerful colors will help perk your mood. Fill your space with visual delights to keep from drifting off. When planning meetings, review the Powerpoints and handouts. Make them visually interesting instead of dull and plain.

For those who are in hyper mind mode and need to focus, try pastel colors. Blues and greens, with floral or landscapes can help you find your focus.

Play around with the color schemes and themes to find your visual boosters.

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