My 2015 Favs: Books, Movies, Music and Photos

In the spirit of year end Favs, for my final blog of the year I will share with you an assortment of my FAV books, movies, music and photos of 2015. I hope you enjoy the list.



I don’t watch very much TV. Instead, on a weekend evening and when I have the time, I enjoy watching a movie. I’ve seen some clunkers and some spellbinders. A few spellbinders I saw this year were:


To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck. This 1962 movie is set in the rural south where a widowed lawyer chooses to defend a black man on trial for fabricated rape charges. This was a compelling movie as it brought to light the banality of racism and stereotyping. If you haven’t seen it, it is considered one of the top 100 films of all time.


Whiplash co-starring Golden Globe winner J.K. Simmons for his unrelenting role as the jazz ensemble’s ruthless director. This 2014 movie brought up a lot of questions for me, like: How far is too far to go in pursuing a dream? How far is too far in pushing others to their best/success? How do we disconnect from that magnetic yet harmful personality of a ruthless leader? It was a very haunting movie focused on the relationship between the director and the aspiring and talented jazz drummer played by Miles Teller. When I watched the trailers earlier in the year I thought it might be too manipulative but it wasn’t. It was haunting.


Inside Out, a 2015 Disney animation which surprisingly worked. When I first realized we were inside someone’s brain and watching their key emotions, from the inside out, I thought it was going to quickly resolve into simple and safe clichés. It didn’t. This story inside the mind of 11 year-old Ripley worked…very well. Kudos to Pete Docter, the writer, who took 4 years grappling with which emotions to develop and which to drop to get the story down just right.  I think it will be an Oscar nominee.



I have been a prolific reader for the past 7 years as I search for the books that reveal to me direction, strategy, support and information to benefit me, my work and those I serve.


Shame: The Power of Caring by Gershan Kaufman is a book about shame, how it occurs, develops and as importantly how one can disengage from it. Kaufman provided a lot of in depth descriptions and examples of how shame manifests and affects people’s lives. I found it to be an insightful and easy read.  I appreciated the depth of understanding the author had of shame. He wrote that to live with shame is to feel alienated and defeated, never quite good enough to belong. “The result of such differential shaming on identity is striking: women are left to seek their identity through relatedness and identification whereas men must continually seek their identity through power and differentiation.”


The Dhando Investor: The Low Risk Value Method to High Returns by Mohnish Pabrai. He tells us: “We have all been taught that earning high rates of return requires taking on greater risks. Dhando flips this concept around. Dhando is all about the minimization of risk while maximizing the reward.” It may sound easy but it the analysis it takes to find the investments worthy of succeeding with this strategy takes discipline, fortitude and courage. His examples were clear and relevant. He brought both the passion and the experience to back up his perspective. I like the logic in this style of investing.


Where the Red Fern Grows: The Story of Two Dogs and a Boy by Wilson Rawls. I was told this book was a great book…for 8-14 year olds. I thought, “Let me see if I can relate.” And sure enough… As I shared with others how much I enjoyed this book, I was amazed at how many adults had already read this 1961 novel and loved it. It is a story about a boy who finally is able to save the money he needs to buy himself a coon. Set in the Ozarks, Rawl takes his readers through a journey of relationships between the boy and his dogs, his grandfather, other kids, his parents, his sister and himself. It was a book about facing challenges, building confidence, and most of all a story of a boy’s love for and life with his dogs sharing adversity, triumph, life and death. This was my favorite book of the year.



Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 with Van Cliburn at the piano. When I play this concerto, I can’t help but play it over and over again. I love the time changes, I love the beginning, I love the end. I love the 15 minutes in between with its power, its softness, and its majesty.


I love melody and I love a strong female voice. When I put the two together, the genre where I find artists, because melody lives there, is country. Because I am drawn to a strong voice, I really liked Carrie Underwood’s “Something’s in the Water.” I felt she nailed that song.


I have written some tunes and one that returned to my playlist and live performances was Road to Liberation, a song I wrote in the 1980s. A line that jumps out early and I love is: “There is no forest that is too rough to clear, there is no torment that cannot be healed.”


What is on your list? Let me know. I would love to hear from you.

And as a bonus, I give you these two photos as fav photos I took this year:

raindrops at practice2013.06.02.Kirkland.Juanita Bay Park.duck042 final bvt

Happy 2016!!!!!!!










Thank You for Being Part of My Fulfilling Year



Thank you for who you are to me—people of grace and profound commitment to bringing a richer weave to the fabric of life-your own and the world around you.


When I reflect on you,

You who have deliberately chosen to direct your lives

Purposefully and with great meaning

I see shimmering stars lighting my path

I see the beauty of persistence and determination in you.


As I think of you

I feel the essence of the freedom you feel

When enduring strength and power replace your initial fears and doubt.

I am touched by your commitment to being your best

With your Legacy, your Life and your Money



We welcome your comments

What is so Cool about Having a Mission Statement?

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily routines and activities. They only lead you so far. Eventually you get bored, move on to the next one or look for something else to fill your time. Meanwhile your core self is left out of expressing yourself and your mission can give you that extra reason for being. It begins to yearn to be known. A great way to express your core self is by declaring your mission. What exactly are you here to be and do? It is a reason for being.  Read what others have said about the value to having your own mission statement.


“Perhaps there are those who are able to go about their lives unfettered by such concerns. But for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans, chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents. There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end, as best we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm.” Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans


Mission and purpose, well understood and implemented, often provides the vest of internal audit” controls.” C. William Pollard, The Soul of the Firm


“With purpose and mission, with your behavioral goals in place, when you have your plan in place to solve the real problem, you don’t need to bring in the roller coaster of emotions.” Jim Camp, Starting with NO


“Has your soul a special mission? Yes. Your mission is in the inmost recesses of your heart, and you have to find and fulfil it there. There can be no external way for you to fulfil your mission. The deer grows musk in his own body. He smells it and becomes enchanted, and tries to locate its source. He runs and runs, but he cannot find the source. In his endless search, he loses all his energy and finally he dies. But the source he was so desperately searching for was within himself. How could he find it elsewhere? Such is the case with you. Your special mission- which is the fulfilment of your divinity- is not outside you, but within you.   Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life; The Journey Of India’s Soul


Starbucks mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” “It is our mission to make sure the world sees us through those lenses.” Their Mission Statement is found on their website. Their original mission statement was: “Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow. The following six guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions.”  Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing its Soul


“What do we value? What is our family all about? What do we stand for? What is our essential mission, our reason for being?Stephen R. Covey, Principle Centered Leadership

“Vision is the what, purpose (mission) is the why and core values answers the question: ‘How do we want to act, consistent with our mission, along the path toward achieving our vision.” Peter M. Senge,

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization


Do you have a mission statement? If so, let us know what your mission statement has given you.

5 Key Steps to Supporting your Mission Statement

When creating your personal mission statement there are 5 steps you want to follow to make it unique, lasting, significant, worth sharing and meaningful.

The first is to think about what you want to be known for. Perhaps you want to be known for your ability to build something, to lead something, to create something or to model something. Step one is to become clear on what it is you want to be known for.

Step Two is to define it more specifically so it takes on a life. Describe what it looks like, how it impacts your life and those lives you touch, who else is in the picture with you, how it makes you feel. Describe all you can about it so you can feel it in front of you as an actuality.

Step Three is to put a date to it. When do you want your mission to actualize and be something tangible and real. Once you put your date on it, ask yourself if this is a realistic timeframe or merely a random one?

Step Four will confirm your date on step Three. Check to see how it supports and forwards your values. Put action steps that need to be taken to make the mission happen in way that enhance your values.  Then determine if these action steps are doable in the time given or are they dependent on variables which could shift the time frame. Define mileposts so you can measure how you are doing. Create your action steps.

Step Five is to acknowledge your achievements. Once you have done your first action step, acknowledge yourself for moving towards living and expressing your mission. Then create the following step or two that need to be taken that will take you to your first milepost. As you near your first milepost, determine how you will celebrate reaching a milepost. This will help to enforce what you are doing and give you an opportunity to measure your progress to realizing your mission.

Leave a comment. I would love to hear how you use your mission statement if you have one, or when you will craft yours, if you haven’t already.

Shocking Headlines Take a Back Seat to One Uexpectingly Powerful Trait

In a time where headlines point unflinchingly to the shocking, there is a quiet voice emerging in research that confirms what has been known but rarely spoken of through the ages. It is the power of humility.

What is humility? Humility is a state of respect where you allow others to shine as well or better than you do. It is where you give praise where it is due, where you can trust others because there is nothing to hide or protect.

I recently came across a study that was published in the Organizational Dynamics Journal that found humility to be a critical strength for leaders. It gives a leader the ability to reflect with empathy. In other words, a humble leader can look at situations and see how their actions affect others and allow for the other’s perspective as well when determining outcomes. This is huge and this is not easy.

As an example of the power of humility I want to introduce you to Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, the largest Japanese consumer electronics company and known as the ’god of management.’

Panasonic opened its doors in 1918 and with hope, exuberance, fear and excitement. Matsushita asked his employees to adopt and apply the value of humility as they conducted their business with and on behalf of Panasonic. With the spirit of humility, he did what most companies don’t do. He shared the company’s “secrets” with all his employees. He wanted Panasonic, even as it grew to thousands of employees, to be focused on being an inclusive team and he knew that the best way to form this type of team was through humility rather than through coercion or elitist ideology. He traded the air of superiority he easily could have perpetuated through the company with humility because he wanted his employees to feel part of his success rather than laborers of it. As a result he was revered by his employees, by the Japanese government who awarded him with many great honors and by other business owners who hired him to help them become more humble business people.

Humility, as in the case of Mr. Matsushita, included having a moderate self- regard, with a strong vision and voice so that his struggling company could become a giant both in the tech world and in the world of business management.

How do you foster humility in yourself? Do you notice a difference in your communications and connections with others when you use humility? Write a comment, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

The 3 Indispensable Tools To Give You a Life that Matters

Living a life that matters is a choice that some people conscientiously make. Some come by this choice due to an event or situation that made them stop and evaluate what exactly they are here to do and be. Others come by this choice because they feel disconnected from something they can’t put their finger on but feel is waiting for them to “find.”

But once they have this revelation or go on their search, how do they build their purpose?

This is a good question with a simple but perhaps not so easy to implement, answer. They just need the right tools to help them bring into focus their which truly matters to them.

And what kind of tools are these? They are the tools which, rather than needing to be internalized because they come from an external source, are found internally and then manifested externally.

The first tool to use is the tool of inquiry. The place to start with this inquiry is to ask yourself: “What is really important to me?” Go beyond the stuff you want to accumulate and go to the principles and values you hold dear, values like: love, balance, freedom, responsibility, patience, humor…. Discover and then articulate what is truly important to you.

The second tool to use is commitment. With your values in front of you, determine the commitment you will make to have them take center stage in your life. How you will let these values guide you in your day to day life. Say, for instance that your number one value is Balance. Determine each day, before you let the day unfold, how you will use balance to lead your day. It may have to do with the way you interact with others. It may be in choices you make in your life with eating, exercise or work. However you want to have balance guide your life, commit each day to how you will use what really matters to you. In the evening, before you go to sleep, review that value was expressed.

The third tool to use is your personal mission statement. With your values as your starting point, write down your first draft of your mission in life, that which your values will lead you to be and do. Review what you have written, put it aside for a day or two, then revisit and tweak it until it feels pretty good to you. Now place it somewhere where you have to look at it daily. Although you might not “see” it every day, you will on occasion and it is those occasions that will realign you to your mission.

Let me know your experience with living a meaningful life with these 3 tools: articulate your values, commit to expressing them and having a personal mission. I would love to hear from you.

Courage and Fulfillment Have a Story for You

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”  Aristotle

I remember when I was a competitive tennis player. As I climbed the regional and national rankings, I was excited and proud. I wanted more. Before I even know what happened I was focused on climbing higher. It worked for a while. Then it stopped working. I wasn’t climbing any higher. I practiced more, and I panicked more. Instead of playing tennis I was looking to win; preserve my rankings and win matches. When I didn’t win, I was miserable. As a byproduct of this misery, my game suffered.

It took a special coach to turn my life around. Before Tom, I had coaches who were great on teaching me form and technique. I learned the American Twist Serve had the dreaded drop shot down. My forehand was strong, and my backhand was consistent. I had the shots but I was losing matches, matches I should have won. My ranking was slipping. My confidence was slipping along with it.

That was when coach Tom showed up. Instead of having me hit 500 extra overheads, Tom sat me by the side of the court and said: “Your tennis technique and form are fine. You are a good player. You are not losing because of these elements. You are losing because you have lost sight of what you are playing this game for. “I was stunned.  It was obvious wasn’t it? “I was playing to win.” I replied. Tom countered: “No, you’re not, because if you were playing to win, you’d win. We need to find out why you are playing and once you get that back, you’ll start winning.” I didn’t believe him. I thought he had no idea what he was talking about. I thought that summer would be ruined. I was wrong.

We would do the drills, I would continue to enter as many tournaments as I could get someone to drive me to, and I kept losing where I could have won. Tom kept asking me: what was I playing for? And I kept insisting I was playing to win.

After one tournament, seeded #2, meaning I was expected to get to the finals, I lost in the first round. I was devastated and embarrassed. I wanted to quit. I went back to the courts, told Tom I wanted to quit and he asked me to describe what courage meant to me. I was confused as this didn’t seem to have anything to do with tennis.  Uncomfortable with the seeming irrelevant question, I attempted to brush it off. Tom wouldn’t let go. And because he kept asking me until I responded, that became a pivotal point in my life. He asked again what courage meant to me. I had to respond.

Tom’s question changed my life because that question played a part in driving me to who I am today. In Tom’s question he wanted to know who I was, what was important to me and finally, did I have the courage to be that person? Tom brought me to a place of understanding the nature of my core, where, when years later I was introduced to the principle of values, I recognized my values as words that articulate my core. Tom brought me closer to my core by having me look at it. And I did look at it. And I did uncover the reason I played tennis, to strategize, to respond bravely and with intention in tense situations, and to respond appropriately to other’s actions on me. I was finally home, home to what was most important to me and why.

Perhaps this is where Aristotle can be a guide in his words: “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”

To those of you who are on the journey to a meaningful and purposed driven life, I encourage you to determine how courage can assist you in becoming the you that comes from your core. Let courage fuel you to look inside and examine your most honorable why you are here. It could, like it did me, take you home.

Leave me a comment and tell me how courage has helped you “come home.” I’d love to hear from you.

To Change the Habit, Change the Trigger

I am aware of my food choices. I am careful about the foods I choose to eat. If it is sugar, I look for cane sugar rather than white sugar, chemical sugars or even chemically produced stevia. I use honey as a medicine and molasses as a source of iron. I like cookies so I make them myself knowing I can control the kind of sugar, the kind of flour and the amount in the cookies I bake.

In the long and cold January and February nights I like to have a small cookie or two to give me a nice boost. And I bring some to work so that when I am working late, I can have one as a reward for getting things done. At least this is my plan, one to which I commit to every time I put it into action.

But sometimes the plan goes awry. I am sitting at my desk at work. It’s Monday, I feel an energy dip and I now have a choice to make. What am I going to do? It’s winter and rainy or cold so I “can’t” go outside. I know, that’s the first excuse. I look into my food bin and I see them: my cookies for the week. I’ll just have a small snack-warning number two-“small” snack. It’s amazing how easily and without even pausing to consider the impact to my goal of losing 8-10 pounds this will have. I eat 4 of those small tasty treats. I know better and still I go for those tasty treats.

This is annoying. After the second one, I don’t really want more, I just eat them all because they are there.  So I stop bringing the cookies to work. This works for a couple of weeks and then I quietly talk myself into some dark chocolate…just a little. I go to the store and rationalize my purchase of two bars by seeing the 2 for 1 Theo sale.  I have the same intention-eating the 65% dark chocolate bar with cane sugar over the week.

But no; I unfold the wrapping and before I know it I have eaten half the bar. If I weren’t annoyed I’d have to be impressed with my lack of respect to my own objectives.

And I even have oranges in my food basket at work. I like oranges, but the same 4 big, juicy oranges are sitting in the same place they have been for the last 10 days while I have gone for the chocolate.

I know the trigger is the feeling I experience of an energetic lull and wanting to quickly assuage it. I quickly, silently and almost automatically talk myself into the value of the sugar as brain enriching glucose. Really?! Apparently it is good enough a rationale for me to go for the sweet. And they are so much less fuss than the orange. After all I have to peel the orange and it may get runny. How messy! The orange is not a piece of chocolate I can feel melt so delightfully on my tongue. No, it’s just an orange.

The trigger is the self-talk on needing the energy boost to which I easily and agreeably offer myself the great solution of a cookie or chocolate.  You may not think this is so bad, but when I am trying to lose the 4 pounds I gained from not exercising for a week over the holidays while drinking hot chocolate, it’s not helpful.

So I have changed my trigger. When I hear the trigger of “time for energy boost” I pause and say what for: if it is “you’re tired, I say okay, let’s take a desk nap.  If my body then says I’m not really that tired, but I need an energy lift, I say great, me too. Let’s have that orange. With reluctance I bypass the cookie and the chocolate and the energy bar that’s been there for a month, peel the orange. And am grateful. I have lost 2.5 pounds since the holidays.

Changing the trigger changed my habit.  I still make my cookies and still have two each weekend evening. I have satisfied my craving mind.

What do you do when you hear that trigger you don’t want speak to you? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Part 2 is the Will, but Part 1 is Often Overlooked to Dire Consequences

Jennifer and Lily were sisters. When they were young they played dolls together as so many sisters do. Of course, their brothers, Peter and Tom would not join their sisters in doll play. They were out in their forts taking sides against the enemy and sometimes, each other.

Years later the girls stayed connected to each other; only now it was around the goings on in their families; their dolls had been put away a long time ago. Their brothers, on the other hand, who went into the family business, talked shop most of the time.  They vetted their frustration with their autocratic dad who would forget to include them in important business decisions and directions. Just the other week he signed an agreement with an offshore distributor, about expanding into Asia at a time the business was losing market share in their core markets.  The brothers were now in their late thirties and early forties. Wasn’t it time to bring them in to conversations that their Dad reserved for his two golfing buddies and his business attorney?

Nothing changed until one day, in his office, their Dad suddenly had a fatal heart attack.  Neither the two brothers nor their sisters were prepared for this. Their parents had divorced years earlier and although their Mom was devastated by the news, she would not be part of the instructions in the will.   Any thoughts, wishes, pleas or understandings were of no use now as the brothers and sisters gathered in shock.

The will was distributed to each adult child. The siblings seemed satisfied at what they read. The two daughters, to their relief, were given cash while the two sons were given merely the struggling business in equal shares…to their dismay. They knew how to talk about Dad together but not how to manage a business together; plus, given this business with its precarious financial state, they wondered if they really received anything of benefit.

Fast forward five years later; the brothers who initially thought about selling the business, were able to stabilize the company and then watch it rise back up to a positon of strength. They now had a business of value and with a bright future. Their sisters, those with the cash, $1 million each, were out of money. They spent their inheritance on cars, family trips, clothes and things they don’t even remember purchasing. It didn’t matter. Their money was gone.  Now, they were thinking of suing their brothers for part of the estate they never received-the business.

Let’s take a look at this situation. This family was ripped apart by an idea that sounded good on paper: money to one set, the business to another but in all reality, this good paper idea turned into a point of contention. The sisters and their brothers, who grew up together under the same roof, found themselves with different inheritances.

The will was well crafted by outstanding attorneys who knew the Dad well. But documents cannot serve a bigger purpose than what they state. If documents are meant to serve a bigger purpose, the conversations of purpose and intention need to happen between the will maker and the beneficiaries, the parties who will be served by the functionality of the will. When this doesn’t happen the probability of squandering, spending, or squabbling over the assets is high, very high.  The brothers weren’t prepared to inherit a business. The sisters were not prepared to receive cash.

Are you paying more attention to the passing of the assets or the passing of purpose and responsibilities to your family? Think about it, it’s an important question to ask yourself.

Leave me your thoughts. I would like to hear from you about this important topic.

What Matters?

Values, a seemingly ephemeral element to our lives, have huge implications in and to our life.

Peter Block, in his book, The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters said this: “Values are a deeper statement of what really matters to us. They are also what most profoundly connect us to one another and to the world we have created.” They come from our deepest sense of uniqueness and our deepest sense of truly connecting with others.

When do we go beyond the how of our lives and think of the why to our lives?

As we constantly focus on getting things done, and racing through all that’s put in front of us, we risk losing, and often sacrifice, focusing on what truly matters to us and its impact to living rich lives.

When we lose the practice of focusing on what matters, we replace it with the ease of expediency.  When we lose the practice of focusing on what matters, we lose touch with what really matters. We trade what matters for what can be done now. We trade sensitivity for expediency. Life becomes a constant emergency rather than a nurtured and protected environment.

Often, we are not aware of the quiet voice inside us that takes into account what really matters to us. Instead we look for the quick answers, regardless of the consequences and impacts. Consider a time in your life when that voice talked to you and you shunned it. What were the consequences of doing so? What about when you listened to it, what was the benefit for you to listen to it?

To see the value of what matters, I suggest this simple exercise. You could do it at a Thanksgiving dinner. You can see the importance of what matters to someone’s life by asking them this series of questions:

  • What one obstacle or challenge have you faced in your life that you successfully overcame?
  • What did you learn about yourself that you have come to admire about yourself as a result of overcoming that challenge?
  • Where else have you applied that discovery in your life?

Asking these questions will give you an opportunity to hear others talk about what is important to them, rather than their most recent activities. You will feel more connected to them because you will know them better.

Before we leave today, I ask you:

  • What challenge have you faced in the last year or two?
  • What did you learn about yourself that you have come to admire as a result?
  • Where are you using that discovery to benefit another area of your life?

Share with me what matters to you by leaving me a comment. I would love to hear from you.