Sunday, October 28, 2012

Passion versus Perfection

As I’ve gotten older I’ve decided that being a passionate person is far better than being a perfectionist.  

 Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence.  ~Rosalynn Carter

In my working environment perfection matters…and in the industry I work in it is a given that there are no margin for errors.  My job on the other hand is an unusual job within the industry and in the line of work that I do passion matters.   Recently I’ve been confronted with a couple of situations where a work product may have been perfect and the outcome was good, but if the task had been completed with passion the outcome would have been stupendous.  
Thank you U.S. for this beautiful photo of the passion flower - my favorite!

A few years back someone in observing me and my hobbies commented that I was a bit obsessive.  I confess that since my forties, I haven’t just gardened, I started a garden club.  I didn’t just take a ballet class, I took ballet 3 days a week, helped with a pre-school ballet class and performed in 2 recitals (odd for a woman in her 40s I know but it was fun)!  Oh there are lots more examples of my passions but In 2003 I was very lucky when our managing partner asked me to take a role with our firm leading volunteerism. Volunteering is something that I’ve always been passionate about and I’m often one of those people that just can’t watch the news and hear of catastrophic disasters without organizing a drive or an effort to support those affected.   In raising my family I made sure each of my children served as a volunteer in some way.  I’m recalling the time my daughter was excited to help with a Habitat build until she got there and realized that we were on the insulation team and it was 96 degrees that day.   All I can say is that my passion for helping others and really making a difference in my community, locally and beyond must have been obvious in the workplace as I was singled out to take on an incredible role which has changed my life in so many ways. 

As the person who organizes volunteer efforts I can tell you that passion makes a difference.  Recently we had one person passionately wanting to assist victims of human trafficking and I was able to connect him with several very meaningful opportunities. Over the course of a year he represented several clients who’d been through some horrific experiences.  This person assisted each client with an intense passion and through these experiences has since moved into an international position because of his passion for assisting victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. 

One of our volunteers loves children, even going so far as to go back to school to get a degree in early childhood education.  She serves in a number of volunteer roles working with children and last summer ultimately performed one of the most selfless acts I’ve heard of in years by actually crossing the U.S. Mexico border in an area known for conflict in an effort to help some children in distress. She ultimately won a national award for her extraordinary efforts.

As a passionate person, I’m inspired by other passionate people.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  It isn’t that perfectionist aren’t passionate people but I’ve observed that when a person pursues an issue with a passion, perfection will follow.  Passion brings with it energy, creativity, problem-tunities and often some amazing results.

As I age I’m prepared to begin to sag, droop, and potentially lose things but the one thing that I hope I can hold on to is my passion.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dreams and a WD Media Player

It's our dreams, doctor, that carry us on. They separate us from the beasts. I wouldn't want to go on living if I thought it was all just eating, and sleeping, and taking my clothes off, I mean putting them on.                                                                                 - Veta Louise Simmons, Harvey (1950)

Isn’t that a great quote from Harvey?   I love movies and by saying this I don’t mean I enjoy movies, I mean I really love them.  I keep movie passes on hand all the time so that I’ve got tickets when I need them.   We subscribe to Netflix though the selection of films to stream could be better in my opinion.  BUT I have something that I think is amazing and I’ve really been wanting to tell you about it for a while.  Well, let me tell you a story.

Over the years I started buying DVDs – all my favorites Avanti, Valley of the Dolls, Wife vs. Secretary, Random Harvest, While You Were Sleeping, That Girl, Little Women (the one with Liz Taylor and June Allison) and the list goes and as the collection grew I catalogued the films in alpha order (of course a former librarian would catalogue a library, right?).  But the dvd collection took up a lot of space. 
 Over the years when I would volunteer with the ASO Decorator Show House there would always be a media center with an amazing online media library but I’d seen the price tag on those systems which were well beyond my reach.  One day last spring I mentioned to my son that I dreamed of owning one of these systems and guess what he surprised me with for Mother’s Day?  A digital media center!   He found one by Western Digital (which was not too expensive), bought it and has since spent a lot of time converting and loading the dvds onto my media center.  It is amazing!   I now have all of my favorite movies loaded in alpha order online and the system is connected to my tv!!!  With the click of a remote control I can enjoy all of my favorite films.
 The best thing about this product is that it was not expensive.  My son would tell you that the biggest challenge is the time it takes to get everything loaded on the player but it has made me one happy movie viewer. 

I thought Veta’s quote was perfect, a dream.  My dream and my sweet son, brought me a media center and I’m one happy movie watcher.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Julie Cannon, You Will Be Missed

I'm extremely saddened to learn that Julie Cannon, a wonderful Georgia author has passed away.   You may remember me posting about a writing class that I took at the Margaret Mitchell House last year.   Julie was the teacher of this very special class.   Our small group, which started with a group of twelve, dwindled to a group of six women, plus Julie.   I think each of us in the class realized that our group was special and part of the reason was because of Julie.  She encouraged each of us to write "just 100 words a day" and to build time to write into our day.   Julie celebrated being southern - 'mater sandwiches and all, and it was wonderful to listen to how she would write about all of her day-to-day southern experiences which would eventually end up, in one form or another, in one of her books. 

 Here is a link to Julie's books in case you want to enjoy some southern stories.  Julie, you will truly be missed.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Edith Head, Stacy London & A Dressing Room

I am by no means a fashionista and most of my life I’ve had a terrible time dressing for special occasions and having the right thing to wear when I need it.   In trying to build a wardrobe I’ve always tried to buy classic pieces that might work well together but when the time comes to get dressed I never seem to have the vision for an outfit that works.   Some mornings even when I try to think through what to wear to work the night before somehow when I get dressed the look appears more “patchwork” than pulled together. 

Over the summer someone listed Edith Head’s book on their blog and I’m so glad they did (I can’t remember the blogger or I would write them a thank you note).  The book caught my eye because the illustrations were so cute so I bought the book and I have to say not only did I enjoy the book, I was inspired to do something with my wardrobe.

Over Labor Day weekend I felt a little like I was going off to college as I tried on outfits, sorted, threw things out and moved items from closet to closet.  In fact, my bedroom was a bit upside down but it was fun getting a fall wardrobe organized. 

Shortly after cleaning and organizing my closet I read that Stacy London was coming to town so I bought a ticket and this week I went to her lecture.  She was so inspiring.   As a woman in her mid-fifties with many working years ahead of me and a workforce that just keeps getting younger (and cuter!) Stacy’s message was great for me to hear.  The bottom line - be authentic and get comfortable with where you are and with the body shape that you have instead of beating yourself up because of what you wish you were.  While she was quite witty with her presentation her message was passionate and honest and she addressed many questions that were no laughing matter.  I really appreciated hearing about her personal struggles (weight gain, scarring and more) and why she wrote her latest book. 

There were two messages that served as my personal takeaways – “yes, and….” And this question - why is it that as women age, instead of striving for cuteness, just accept being elegant? There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who ages gracefully. Even if you don’t buy her book you might enjoy reading this NPR interview.

I’m still reading The Truth About Style  and I know that I will continue to work on my wardrobe but now I feel like I need to work on my closet and I would like a dressing room.   I hope my friend Heather doesn’t mind if I share her recent closet/dressing room renovation.   It is beautiful (and so is she)!!!  Heather knocked out a wall in her walk-in closet so that it opened up into a spare bedroom and voila!   She now has a dressing room!!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

For those of you who know me you know that I've always got too much going on and generally speaking I like it that way.   In the next several weeks I may be testing even my juggling abilities, but I'm excited to try.  

I've been dying to tell you about something but it has taken me a while to share it for fear that it wouldn't be happening but the date keeps getting closer so I'm going to share my news.  To start with my job is  amazing.  I have the joy of being able to help people with my company engage in volunteering.  Together, we work to make communities better - to make a difference in our community. 

For over a year now I've been the President of the Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta.  The CVC as it is called is one of the most wonderful organizations that I've ever been involved with and the friendships I've made through this involvement means so very much to me.  Because of my involvement with the CVC, this summer an incredible opportunity crossed my path.   The CVC was invited to travel to Zimbabwe to participate in a conference on corporate social responsibility and so, I'm going. 

If you've read this far and thinking "wow," let me just say that I am too but I've been "wowed" for a couple of months but for a different reason.  

When I was perhaps seven years old a missionary from Rhodesia came to my church.  As a child I listened to him share stories about the country and the people and from then on I was convinced that I would be a missionary in Africa - not just Africa, Rhodesia.  Until the age of twelve or so, deep inside I knew what my future looked like though I kept that small nugget tucked deep inside my heart.  As a G.A. (stands for Girls Auxiliary, later Girls in Action), every week I would keep the missionaries in Rhodesia in my prayers.  But teenage years got in the way and I adjusted my career goals.  And so as an adult I began to study French and decided that when I finally retired I would join the Peace Corp so that I could fulfill my childhood dream of working somewhere in Africa.  The French seemed like a great way to learn the language and be able to combine my dream with a new goal.   There are plenty of French-speaking African countries.   Who would have ever imagine that 50 years later an opportunity to go to the place I dreamed of would come to me?  To me this is nothing short of a miracle.

I've cried several times since the email arrived asking for someone from the CVC to come and help with the seminar.   The people making the request have no idea that their request was, for me at least, a dream come true. 

There will be more about this journey I'm sure but for now I had to write to say  that you shouldn't give up on your dreams.  Dreams do come true and while they may come in a different form, they can also end up being better than anything you would have ever imagined.