Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Insecurity

Yesterday afternoon I was driving home, talking with a good friend of mine. He noted that it really didn't feel like Christmas and I mentioned that I had heard that from at least a couple of dozen people already. We agreed that it was mostly due to the economy, as the weather was the most wintry that we've had in years.

I thought about this overnight and that much of this insecurity is obviously fear-based. We fear what we know, what we don't know, what the economy is going to do, how it's going to affect us and finally, will we be prepared to handle it. Having heard some of these conversations, one can quickly become overwhelmed by the 'what-ifs' that they contemplate. And I found those that had already experienced difficulty...seemed to be handling the situations better than those who were simply fearing things that could happen in the future.

I sure don't have the answers and God knows my thoughts and plans have changed with the addition of two young children. But I try to follow a few practices that always makes me feel blessed, no matter what gloom is looming across the community.

The easiest...and something that produces the most immediate, positive impact is a simple gratitude list. I started doing this after being introduced to it in an entrepreneurial coaching class. If you simply take out a piece of paper and list all the things that come to your mind that you are grateful for, you'll surprise yourself with both the quantity and the speed with which they come to your mind. And you might wonder how you could feel anything but being blessed when you read over your list.

Another easy opportunity to lift your spirits is to help others less fortunate. There are absolute tear-jerker' stories of families in need, often through no fault of their own. With the Internet and our vast not for profit organizations, it is super easy and convenient to get involved and help out. The impact is immediate...you feel so good and appreciative of all that you have.

Family. Spending time...extra time...with your family can be pure magic. Save for a memorial this weekend, I spent every minute of this weekend with my family and I feel like I've had a vacation. It's been so busy up to now and with the brutal cold this weekend, we spent hour after hour just playing and reading and learning about Christmas. Terry just turned three and has hundreds of questions about Santa. Again today he was on his hands and knees looking up the fireplace and wondering out loud how Santa was going to fit down the chimney:). I'll simply treasure these moments forever.

Faith. No matter what it is, relying on one's faith enhances confidence and hence, can decrease anxiety and stress. Lots of studies have shown a variety of other complimentary outcomes of those who regularly practice their faith. For me, just watching Terry fixated on the choir is priceless and worth every minute.

So, while there are a number of clouds overhead as well as on the horizon, there are a tremendous amount of things that each of us can no doubt be thankful for. Try to dedicate some time each day to reflect what you're grateful for and see if it doesn't lift your spirits and make you feel more cheerful. And a cup of great, Specialty Coffee or an espresso will work wonders, too:).


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You never forget your first...

During lunch with a friend yesterday I mentioned how the older I get, the more fascinated...and interested, I am in time...the concept of time, the passing of time, the wasting of time, etc. Each year around this time I'm taken right back to the founding of The Roasterie in 1993. It was about this time that I secured our first customer and of course, I was scared to death that I'd never make it.

Fifteen years later I can almost recall every day during those first couple of months. At times it seems almost weird...like it was a lifetime ago. Then it seems like only a short time ago, and then this makes me nervous 'cause I think if the next fifteen years pass by that quickly, I'm in trouble!

My wife thinks I'm morbid but I just don't want to waste time anymore, especially since our kids were born (3 year old son Terry and 5 month old Sophia). Now I'm tending to 'vet' things that come across my desk, or meetings that I'm at, and I find myself thinking "This is going to keep me from being home with my kids; is it worth it?" I have a new set of criteria to judge value that I didn't have even a few years ago. So far, I think it's healthy.

Last month I took Terry and Normy, our green coffee buyer, to my 25Th class reunion in Costa Rica. I was a foreign exchange student there during my senior year of high school and received an email that we were having a reunion. My first reaction, of course, was "I don't have time." But I thought about it for a few minutes and just knew that I needed to go, and that Terry needed to go with me. We hadn't really travelled anywhere without mom so it was going to be a bit of an adventure. It would be his 3rd time there so he was totally ready to jump on the plane.

Which leads me to time; my host sister went with us to our old school and we visited our classroom. Terry sat in my old desk...everything looks just like it did while I was there! It was so surreal...he was sitting there so cute, loving it, and I could almost see myself sitting there; it is hard to describe but the memories were almost like watching a movie. I could see myself...then Terry and my host sister. Very good stuff but scary in that the time just went by so quickly.

I have shared this with some of the young folks that we've hired lately to encourage them to really follow their passion. There are so many awesome people, so many great things happening, life is simply too short to drink nasty coffee or to waste time. It's definitely too short to waste time in careers in which you are not passionate.

And now, I have run out of time. I have one of my big lunkin letters getting ready to spill out and I'll post it soon. Tchau for now.