What are you pouring your energy into?

Photo by Ioannis Ritos on Pexels.com

I am always struck by how much we allow our most valuable asset – out energy – to be scattered and used up in ways that ultimately don’t make us happy or move us closer to our goals. Our energy carries with it all of the most important parts of us – our focus, our talents, our time. Yet it’s extremely common to feel like it’s gone before we notice how we spent it. It can be incredibly powerful and impactful to harness and channel our energy in an intentional way.

When’s the last time you took stock of how you invest your energy? In your career, in your personal time? If you haven’t take 30 minutes and just try to map it out. Don’t even make a change yet – just observe and jot down what you see. For me this is less about minute-by-minute precise time mapping and more about the headlines – what is consuming your ENERGY and what trade-offs are we making (even if unintentionally)? How do we feel about what we see?

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

It’s not just a question of how we divide and balance our time, even within work time or within our family or personal time we have the ability to have a fundamentally different result if we are thoughtful and deliberate about what matters most and deserves our energy.

  • at work, how much of your time is reserved for those priorities that you want and need to advance vs the time consumed by satisfying other peoples requests for your time no matter your important? Have you clearly define those priorities that you personally should invest your energy into – those that you are uniquely qualified to really advance and shape and influence? Maybe
  • at home, have you allowed yourself to over schedule you family time and crowded out the ability to just BE as a family, or cook together, or play a game, or take a walk, etc. Or maybe you are holding onto a sense of perfectionism about what you life should look like and using all of your spare cycles to approximate that image … sacrificing family time you would enjoy to chase that goal?
  • have you reserved a portion of your energy for something to nourish yourself personally – whether rest or physical activity or a creative outlet? Or is that also being crowded out? in the community, are you investing even a small part of your energy in something that you care deeply about in the world?

We cannot manufacture more energy, but we can absolutely recapture wasted energy and focus it differently with huge dividends.

Are you a mile wide and only an inch deep on many things with your valuable energy scattered everywhere? And if you were to narrow and channel your energy – what deserves to rise to the top?

Very interested to hear your reflections about energy and what your experience is in this space.

Shells & Alice Walker


Yesterday afternoon we were wandering along the shoreline, playing in the surf and happening upon gorgeous shells that were strewn along the shore.  Gorgeous shells just cast about like little gems.  No matter how many times I visit this part of the Gulf Coast – Marco Island and Sanibel Island – I’m always amazed by the shells.  Amazed someone has not already scooped them all up and hauled them away.  Surprised that there are always more.   And thrilled by all of the beauty that you will just stumble upon.


As I woke up this morning and reflected on our experiences yesterday, I was reminded of this poem I love – on what we love and value.   Its a perfectly timed reminder to be present and elevate and focus on what really matters.  Thanks, Ms. Walker.


We Alone Can Devalue Gold – by Alice Walker

We alone can devalue gold

by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.


We were staying at the Sofitel right a couple blocks from the White House, and I wandered around with my camera while the family rested.  One of my favorite images was the dramatic gold of this victory statue against the deep blue sky and white clouds.  Beautiful!


Victory statue, part of the First Division Monument in front of the White House.  President’s Park, Washington DC

Wonder! Stunning Exhibit at Renwick

We were in DC a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our oldest daughter’s 21st birthday.  I was excited to fit in a visit to the Renwick Gallery to see their exhibit – Wonder!   I love that  the exhibits were large and immersive – experiences that you could take in with all of your senses.  In the exhibit they basically turned over the museum space to nine contemporary artists, who filled the space with large, immersive and stunning exhibits.    The boys and I had a great time exploring the museum.  Highly recommend!

Check out this link to take a virtual tour of the exhibit.  It’s absolutely worth a visit the next time you are in the DC area.

Wonder! at the Renwick Gallery     The building itself is gorgeous!


A few of our favorite images from the exhibit.

from the Patrick Dougherty exhibit


from the Gabriel Dawe exhibit



from the Tara Donovan exhibit



from the John Grade exhibit



from the Janet Echelman exhibit


from the Jennifer Angus exhibit



from the Chakaia Booker exhibit


from the Maya Lin exhibit




Cream Scones: simple pleasures

I love Saturday mornings.  The weekend stretches out ahead of us with so much possibility, the pace is slow and most of the house is still asleep.  I make my way downstairs to make a pot of coffee and mix up some scones.  With the most basic of ingredients and about 15 or 20 minutes I have a warm, delicious batch.  The simplicity of cream scones appeals to me some now.  Basically just some flour, butter and cream.  I like to stir up a little powdered sugar and the juice of an orange for a super-simple glaze as the finishing touch.

With all of the hustle and bustle of the week, baking something sort of grounds me and slows me down.  Perfect for a Saturday morning.  Try it!


This recipe is from one of my favorite sources: America’s Test Kitchen.

Cream Scones

  • Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 3 T sugar, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 5 T butter, 1 cup cream


  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse it 3 times.
  2. Sprinkle chunks of the butter over the floor and pulse about 10 more times – will look a little like sand
  3. Pour into a bowl, add cream and stir together for about 30 seconds
  4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead about 5 times and shape into a disc.  Cut the circle into 8 wedges
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes – basically bake til golden on top.
  6. Totally optional – For a little glaze, just mix a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar and add a drizzle of juice (I squeezed a tangerine into the sugar this morning.)  Super simple glaze to drizzle over your warm scones.  So good!



6×6 – Declaring Your Focus

Does your calendar fill up with demands on your time that don’t seem vital, squeezing out the time needed to advance the goals that you have to drive?  I think – by default – that’s true for most of us unless we do something very deliberate to take back control of our time and our focus.  If we are not careful, our time during the workday and workweek becomes time that others control, pushing our own priorities and goals into evenings and weekends, or not getting done at all.

But there is another way.  We can choose to be very deliberate about those things that we must invest our time and focus and energy toward.  Those things that we need to drive or contribute toward to shape the outcome.  Those priorities that require us to really personally commit ourselves and our time.

Some years ago I attended the Global Leadership Summit and picked up a small and simple technique that I have now used for many years – creating a single 6 x 6 grid.

Priority 1 Priority 2 Priority 3
Priority 4 Priority 5 Priority 6

Here’s the idea:

  • What are the 6 priorities that are going to personally pour your energy and focus into to help achieve a strong outcome over the next 6 weeks?

Sure … it could be a 4 x 4 (4 priorities over 4 weeks, etc) … make it work for you.  But I learned the 6 x 6 and come back to it regularly to check my focus, especially during more demanding times.

It’s not a list of everything you might do, or everything your team might be working on.   Just those things that require your time and attention.  Often some of these are things that no one will schedule your time for.  They require you to take an action to carve out time for thought, focus, planning.  It’s also a terrific and easy way to share your areas of focus with your manager or members of your team.

  • Maybe there is a particular member of your team you want to invest coaching time in, or
  • a critical initiative that requires some forethought on approach, or
  • something that’s not going quite right that you need to invest some focused time around to reshape the approach.

Here’s a sample 6 x 6 with some space to declare what you will try to do around your top 6 priorities.

In some ways the list is just as important for what it excludes as for what it contains.  If something does not make that list but its consuming your time, you should reconsider why your time is being spent there.  Maybe your team can handle it without your direct involvement?  Perhaps it needs to be re-prioritized behind some of the more critical areas of focus?  Maybe you just need to see meeting materials and it doesn’t require your direct participation.

People are notorious for multi-tasking on conference calls.  If you are doing that, perhaps ask whether you need to be there at all.  Either commit to be engaged, or step back if not needed.  Otherwise its just wasted effort – and time is our most valuable asset.  Invest it wisely.

No matter what action you take, I have found that the exercise of doing this forces me to get clear on my priorities and be thoughtful about where I commit my time.

Try it – see what you find.


Disruption – what does it mean to you?

I read an  HBR Article this morning that got me to thinking about disruption in our professional lives.  It’s actually a topic I come back to a lot in my life and career, thinking about how I want to grow/reinvent/shift?

It reminds me of the quote on the cover of my journal …  “Not all who wander are lost” … feels perfect for my sense of exploration and a desire to really seek out growth and new perspectives.


In industry, we think of disruptive companies or technologies as game changers, something elusive and highly sought after.  If you are the disruptor company you are leading the pack, redefining the game.  If your company and business model is disrupted, you are reacting to change, trying to figure out the new rules and quickly adapt.

But that same idea of disruption can and should apply at a person-level, too.  Sometimes we get too set in our ways and it can be good to deliberately shake things up.

Last night while we played Star Wars Monopoly and waited for midnight, I asked my youngest son about what sport or hobby he wanted to pursue in 2016.  He had come to the natural end of one stage of his study in Tae Kwon Do – so I asked whether he wanted to go deeper in that, or mix things up and go in another direction.  He decided he wants to swim more.  He’s a great swimmer, but needs to learn some of the strokes and would like to be on a swim team.  This is a little disruption for his life – but one one forced on us, one that he chose.  And one that will open him up to new people, new skills, new adventures.  He can keep doing Tae Kwon Do, but is opening up a new avenue that he wants to focus on.

But in a work context, I think we often think of disruption as something that is done TO us, the reactive side of change.  Are we doing enough in our professional lives to be disruptive in how we show up- disruptive in finding new approaches, new skills and knowledge, cultivating deeper and different types of relationships, in shaping our experiences to create the reputation that we hope to have.  And that doesn’t have to mean a dramatic change of career or industry.  Disruption can be smaller but no less significant in the way we show up and the career that we build.

Perhaps, like companies, we should be scanning for the opportunity to disrupt ourselves every now and then.  if you think about the way you show up every day, the way you lead, the way you problem solve, the way to engage with others … that’s your norm. That’s your brick and mortar.  When we show up this way we are often on autopilot, and the pattern of how we approach our work – even if once great – may no longer meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.

  • Where is your most valuable asset – your time – suboptimized, and you need to make some radical changes in your approach to invest your time more wisely in 2016?
  • Where do we have strengths that – if really honed – could truly differentiate us in our ability to make an impact?  What action can you initiate to move toward that differentiation in 2016?
  • Where do we see gaps in our skills or experience that – once closed – really take our leadership to the next level?  What kind of step could help you close those gaps in 2016?
  • Where do we see the ability to give back more, to help others in their development – knowing that coaching and teaching will also develop a different dimension of our leadership.  Could you offer to coach or mentor someone in 2016?
  • Where do we need to balance out our perspective – get out of the details and challenge ourselves to think strategically, or dig into the complexity and detail to expand your strategic point of view?  What first step could you take in that direction in 2016?
  • Where do you realize you have been flying solo and need to cultivate some thought partners to help navigate complex issues?  Who might be excited to be part of this network with you in 2016 … everyone needs a few people they can bounce ideas and dilemmas off of?

If change were not just about bracing for impact but about deciding where a shift would be good  and seeking it out, then perhaps we will think of it less like an affliction and more like a door.  Sometimes we open that door ourselves, other times its opened for us.


Rather than make a resolution that might fade in a week or two, maybe think of a small disruption that could shift and enhance your perspective and career.

Christmas Decorations – Maker Style

The boys and I headed down to 757 Makerspace today after a little bit of a hiatus.  Great to be back and such a fun afternoon!

We got to use silicone molds to cast some snowflake ornaments, the customize some glass ornaments with the laser cutter.  Creative, hands-on afternoon and some really original ornaments to bring home.  Justin said we should plan to make a custom ornament every year.  Great idea!!

Here are a few pics.

We worked with the liquid plastics last year when we were first introduced to mold-making.  Last year we made this cool storm trooper using the same technique.


This year Beau had snowflake molds already made up and ready to go.


Both times we used Smooth-Case liquid plastics, mixing two part solutions that you pour into the mold, wait for it to cure, and voila!  (provided your measurements were solid) 🙂

Most times we have tried it it worked great.  Today one of my my snowflakes flopped, but we quickly mixed up another one.



While the casts were curing, a small group of us headed over to the laser cutter.  We were able to design the images and text that we wanted on our ornament, then watch as the laser cutter did its magic.


Pretty amazing that the laser cutter can hold and laser cut so many different substances – even wood, stone, and in our case glass.


Always lots of great creative energy around Makerspace – and today was no exception.  🙂




Shop Small Saturday 2015

After staying home to relax on Black Friday, I am ready to get a little holiday shopping done on Small Business Saturday.  Hope you will be supporting your local small businesses today!  We are always sad to go visit a local shop that is shuttered – and we always talk with the kids about how important it is to visit and support the shops we like so they can stay in business and grow.  So lets celebrate the great local shops and businesses that make the area so unique.  FinalLoveVA_colorlogo_lge

So here’s my Saturday roundup of local faves, many repeats that are on the list every year and one or two newbies:

Gift the Give of an EXPERIENCE:  Love the idea of giving our friends and family experiences that will make memories.  Our favorite place for terrific family adventures in 2015 has been …

757 Makerspace – it’s a community workshop for creating and tinkering, with a huge array of tools and equipment and wonderful hands-on classes each Saturday.  We joined last winter and its been awesome.  Try it out this year – for just $100 you can get 12 day passes to create at makerspace.  They if you love it half as much as we half, you can join once you have used your passes up.   Here’s a link to my blog to check out some of what we have done with them.  My Maker Movement at 757 blog

Music: must visit Birdland Music!  They always have a terrific curated selection of up and coming artists, and I never leave without Barry recommending someone I have never heard of and always love.  And of course they have new and used vinyl so always an adventure to see what you will find.  Birdland Website

Books: And speaking of well curated collections – I always so happy to know that Prince Books has thrived while so many indie bookstores have gone out of business across the country.  But that only occurs because we shop there – so do.  You will love their selections, and the booksellers always have great reading recommendations.Prince Books website

Coffee:  New Entry this year!  You must visit Three Ships Coffee Roaster.  I am thrilled that my former colleague and his wife, Brad & Amy Ewing, have launched this roaster and coffee shop with so much character.  The coffees are always fantastic, and I just love the atmosphere of the place.  Who doesn’t love great coffee – gift some this holiday season!  Three Ships Coffee Website

Gifts & Crafts & Pottery: Every time I visit the Creative Wedge its like a different shop – so many new items.  They call it an ‘artisan shop’ – which is perfect because they have such an assortment of hand crafted things that I would have trouble describing it otherwise.  From pottery to artistically decorated glasses, and artwork to jewelry.   Love it!!    And if you are in Norfolk, don’t forget to visit Kitsch – fun assortment of crafts that make terrific and fun gifts.   Creative Wedge and Kitsch

Food: We adore all of the infused oils and flavored balsamics from Experience Olives and Grapes in Chesapeake.  One of our all time favorites is the Tuscan Herb infused olive oil.  The balsamics are so good you can sip them straight … I’m sort of partial to the sweet ones like Cinnamon Pear or the Honey Ginger balsamics!  Yum!!  check them out here: Experience Olives

Hope you find gifts that are fun, meaningful and make wonderful memories!


Arizona Adventures

What a wonderful little escape to the Southwest!  I had to be in Scottsdale for a conference, andBryce and the boys came along for a little Arizona adventure.  I know how much Bryce loves the southwest from his time at NMMI, and was really glad to get the boys experience a completely different landscape.   I left AZ today grateful for the adventure, but also feeling like I hadn’t done justice to everything that Phoenix and Scottsdale had to offer.  So many more things I would love to explore.  But I suppose that’s just a great reason to return.  Normally this post would be full of gorgeous images … but with my camera inadvertently left at home, I will leave some of this to your imagination.

The Landscape

the landscape was dramatic and gorgeous, and a complete change from autumn on the east coast.  the property was nestled at the foot of Mummy Mountain, looking out toward Camelback Mountain straight ahead.  The wide open spaces make the sky seem so much larger.  And the dramatic shape of the rock formations against that sky were just so beautiful in an exotic and unusual way.


Photo Credit: JW Marriott Camelback Inn

The cactus formations were fun … somehow more than I remember in prior years.  So many quirky and interesting cactus formations.  Sort of like a Rorschach ink blot test … what do you see when you see this cactus?? 🙂

photo 4-1



All around the city there were gorgeous bright desert flowers and bushes dotting the landscape.  Bright fuchsias and oranges – just gorgeous!  I wish I knew their names, will need to look them up next time.


The Property

We stayed at the Camelback Inn, which I love and was glad to return to.  Lots of things to love about the property – but I think my favorite is the way they really value and spotlight the landscape.  The property dates back to the 1930s and has so much character.  The main building has the feeling of a luxurious lodge – is open and spacious, with lots of character: wood beams and carvings,  beautiful Native American artwork.  The rooms are little ‘casitas’ scattered across the property, with beautiful walkways weaving from place to place.

The walking paths around the property wind through the neighborhoods of casitas, surrounded by the beautiful plants and flowers of the desert.  I loved the windings paths … sort of a walking meditation to meander around, not the efficient straight lines we are all accustomed to in the city.  The boys and I  enjoyed some great rides – about an 8 mile hilly circuit up and around Mummy Mountain.  Josh was riding fast and loving git!  For Justin, it was the toughest ride he had ever done – but he loved the adventure, and was ready to go again on the next couple days.



The Art

I love cites that really embrace art and find ways to design it into their urban spaces.  Phoenix and Scottsdale do that so well- tucking little touches of art and beauty all around the city!  From the sculptures that we saw all around the city, to the Phoenix mural project, the western charm of old town Scottsdale, and even artistic touches along streets and highways.

We visited the Heard Museum and spent so much time exploring their Mercado Del Las Artes that we hardly saw the museum at all!   We also missed the Museum of the West so that’s definitely on the return trip itinerary.    So much history to explore that I am sorry we missed it this trip.





The Hospitality

Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport declared itself the Friendliest Airport – and we agree!  I cannot say enough about the phenomenal service we received.


Just one of several examples:  an airport employee headed to a meeting (not someone we would typically think of as customer-facing), dropped what she was doing for not less than 10 minutes to find us a wheelchair for Bryce and guide us through the very long construction walkway twists and turns to the proper terminal, not leaving us until we were in the hands of a ticketing agent.  She was friendly and cheerful and helpful –  and didn’t think twice about changing her plans of the moment to make sure that we had a great experience.  And the same was true for almost all of our encounters this trip.

Excited to get back to the Southwest next year sometime with the family for a more extended visit.  (with my camera this time!)

Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned, electronics-free fun!  So what could be better than an afternoon at a local farm

  • exploring the pumpkin patches,
  • getting lost in the corn maze,
  • wandering through the field of sunflowers,
  • taking a hay ride on the tractor around the farm
  • eating apple cider donuts, and
  • watching the kids come up with simple and silly games involving hay bales and dried ears of corn.

Triple the fun by visiting your local farm with a couple other families because the more the merrier!  (Plus –  I wouldn’t dare venture into a corn maze alone … bit of a scaredy cat!) 🙂

Here are a few pics from our weekend adventure at Cullipher Farms here in Virginia Beach.

Best buddies on the top of the world – making it rain corn!

love the dots of orange all across the pumpkin patch

they made a track out of hay bales – which they were our size

they even had a sunflower maze!

one of the sites from our hayride

added bonus – got to spend a beautiful fall afternoon with a couple of my favorite gals!

Tackling Sugar Pumpkins

They look so darn cute, that for years I just bought them as decorations.   Somehow I think some of you might have done the same??  But this year I decided to try to roast them and use fresh pumpkin instead of canned for our pumpkin bread.  And as a little bonus, we made some toasted pumpkin seeds to boot!  So I recruited Justin to help me.

Now I will admit – the skin of these little sugar pumpkins were stubborn!  But once we got past the first step, it was easy sailing.  And I’m excited to see how my pumpkin bread recipe will be different from fresh pumpkin – fingers crossed on that.


Our first sugar pumpkin – from Farm Chicks Produce CSA.


Justin was ready to help remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half … til we realized that it seemed to be made of titanium and would require a little more elbow grease than he had.


So first we removed the step and top section of the pumkin


Then we cut it in half and scoped the seeds and fleshy center into a bowl – for toasted pumpkin seeds later.  Definitely save the seeds!


We placed in a 350 degree oven, covered in foil, and roasted for about an hour.  Depends on the size of your pumpkin.  You know its ready when the pumpkin flesh can be scooped with a spoon or fork.  (the instructions I used online said the skin would be very soft now – mine was not, but the pumpkin was still soft and ready.)


Ta-da!  Freshly roasted sugar pumpkin.  You can then use it in recipes … pumpkin bread for breakfast tomorrow.

Now for a little bonus, we whipped up the toasted pumpkin seeds.  Justin made these – though he thought it was pretty gross to have to separate the seeds from the stringy pulp in the center.  I think he washed his hands 10 times during this part 🙂  All you do is:

(1) separate the seeds from the stringy, fleshy center

(2) rinse in a colander and drip dry (don’t use a paper towel – the seeds will stick)

(3) place the seeds on a greased cookie sheet and toss with olive oil and spices (we did garlic olive oil and several herbs … so many possibilities.)

(4) bake in the same oven as the pumpkin you are roasting, but only for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

(5) yum!

Lifting up and celebrating women's lives – leadership development, family, creativity