The Blog

Back to Basics: When Checking In Means Checking Out


IMG_1828_optTo say that I’ve had a lot on my plate the last three months is a grandiose understatement.  With both of my children engaged, and their weddings within 10 weeks of each other (one down, one to go), my summer was immersed with bridal showers and wedding plans galore (times two), all while maintaining my busy client schedule. Time-management became a masterful art when challenged to schedule bridal/dress fittings, hair and make-up trials, caterer, florists and band appointments, micro-managing timelines, details upon details (too many details to detail, lol), all with a bride that was way busier than me.  I like to think about them now as happy headaches, but with consequences nonetheless. The fast pace of an overwhelming to do list resulted in a stress-induced vertigo episode that lingered for over two weeks.

Throughout the entire process, I was stressed and pressed for time.  Summer never quite felt like the relaxing summers of the past. I realized that there is a status of busy, and then there’s “I can’t breathe” busy. This kind of busy clocks you into your priorities, big time. Clearly, what had to get done, got done. Non-negotiable and timeline sensitive.  And then there was everything else.

Notwithstanding that I disregarded other routine responsibilities, I fell off social media hard.  After 5 years of routinely posting weekly blogs, dabbling in FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter, I logged into self and blogged out of the web.  Although at first, it was neither hard nor easy.  It just wasn’t even a thought.  Every day was jam-packed with a checklist and I was on a fast track mission.  It was only after several consecutive weeks of neglecting my blog that some guilt invaded. It was something I enjoyed for so long and scheduled consistently,  I felt I was breaking a good habit. Weeks turned into months and my web presence halted on a dime.  My anxiety waxed and waned more with wonder as to what my followers would think, or worse, what if no one even noticed?

It was increasingly hard to engage in FaceBook.  There was simply no time or space to keep up.  Admittedly, there were some late nights while engrossed in my wedding spreadsheets, I found myself scrolling mindlessly through my newsfeed, not feeling connected at all.  I felt somewhat like an alien.

More time has lapsed and until now, I’ve fallen off this routine completely. The distance has changed my perspective a bit. I may click here and there, but I spend significantly less time on the screen. I’ve fallen off the grid before but not for this long. Now I question how much time I really want to devote to this as I jump back in.

Having celebrated this wedding milestone in my life with so many special friends and family has re-directed me back to the basics. I want more personal connection. Perhaps it’s about living life with more intention and evaluating what really matters.  I find myself wanting to pick up the phone more to talk, connect with old friends and check in more often. Social Media can swallow you up and it can feel liberating to dial it back a little and check in with yourself.

For sure, FaceBook has its merits and connects people in ways we could have never imagined in an instant. It’s a powerful and effective platform for so many situations and relationships, both personally and professionally. But sometimes virtual connections are often too easy.  It can breed laziness and compromise personal relationships. There are so many ways we can connect and communicate. My impression is that an actual phone call will always trump a text, and a personal text trumps a FaceBook post, and a comment still beats a “like.” Always. These are revealing levels of intimacy.

As far as My Blog, I’m OK with the ebb and flow.  It is mine to have and to hold forever.  It’s a personal space that I’ve created to share my voice or catch a thought. It may not be Wednesday and it may not be weekly. These were confinements of my choosing.  I understand now that this rhythym of committment will come and go with the ever-evolving me. Aligning our priorities is an ongoing process. This honest epiphany doesn’t make me any smarter, just human 🙂

Counting down to another wedding yet to come.  The joy of witnessing both my children’s marriage in the same year is indescribable. I cannot wait to do it all over again and then alas, restore some life-balance and breathe.

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4 Things I’m Certain to Not Let Go: Old School Tools That Still Rule

pen to paperI admit, the ever-evolving world of technology makes our life easier and more efficient. But as a baby boomer I confess, (and unlike our millennial children), it’s increasingly harder to keep up with these changes. The advances are morphing at rapid speed.

I work hard to learn what my children seem to know intuitively. Without question, computers have streamlined processes in ways we could have never imagined.  The Internet makes information accessible and fast. Technology has changed everything.

But there are still a few ‘old school’ ways that I cling to because for me, technology can never replace them.  Here’s my short list;

1.  Pen to paper- I’m a big fan of emptying my brain onto a piece of paper.  This brain dump clears my head and makes room for new ideas and to-do’s.  I routinely make lists every evening before bed, and edit once again in the morning.  I typically add, delete, and cross off throughout the day.  This clearly can be done on my iPhone, but this process is way more satisfying to me.

2.  Making a phone call-  Our new normal is opting to text more than talk, but there’s nothing like a voice on the other end of the phone.  No misread inflections, just real conversation. Texting serves a purpose, but too often, it obliterates verbal socialization. The paradox is that the technology keeps us more connected and readily available, and yet we become more detached.

3.  Face Time- I don’t mean FaceTime or Skype. I mean face-to-face interaction. Connect in person, not just on social media platforms. Meet a friend for lunch. Sounds a bit cliche and ‘old school’ but as I recall, “reach out and touch somebody’s hand” was way more than just a great Diana Ross hit.

4.  Physical Photo albums- I might be aging myself, but I love my hard copy photo albums.  I love turning a page and touching a photo.  Scrolling through iCloud of photos or moments on timelines does not provide me with the same experience.

I might be ‘old school’, my friend, but I’m not that old. Well, let’s just say, I’m getting old-er. Anyone with me?




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Emotional Interruptions: Have You Ever Fallen Off the Grid?

get-attachment_optSocial Media is not just trendy, it’s an integral part of our culture and it is here to stay.  We all play in the same playground but perhaps in different sand boxes. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, and more, we are all broadcasting in real time, all the time. We are sharing the NOW.

Some of us use Social Media solely as an internet marketing tool for promoting business, while others consider it a viable platform in which to network, or a space to voice opinions, a place to connect with friends (both new and old), or  just an arena to share and post personal photographs of exotic vacations, celebrations & weddings, beautiful babies & grandchildren, precious pets, delectable foods, quotable quotes, breathtaking sunsets, etc.  Each of us are creating a traceable unique and personal timeline and sharing it with the universe. Everybody’s doing it, why not? It’s easy and it’s fun. Until it’s not.

One may also question, is it all real? Is everyone really that happy?  Recent studies reveal that Facebook, in fact, can cause depression.  Scrolling through people’s fabulous vacations, expensive purchases and adorable children, feelings of jealousy and resentment often emerge.   News feeds are bursting with mostly positive things in other people’s lives, and there are notably far less people publicly whining about their sad or unhappy life.

So when life got in my way, I shifted my perspective and my priorities.  Family and work were my focus.  Mid-summer, (for reasons undisclosed) I fell off the grid and flew under the radar.

In life, things happen both good and bad that can derail you, steer you off track and veer you off course. These life events were personal and private and mentioned only to emphasize that for me, Social Media had to take a back seat. My life was interrupted and consequently, my minimal interactions reflected that I was disengaged. Were you aware?  I wondered if anyone even paid attention.  Some did notice my glaring absence and lack of visibility and took the time to reach out to me.  It turns out that Facebook friends really are more than just fans. Go figure.

As an active user of many genres of Social Media,  I hadn’t the time nor the inclination to engage.  Life was too busy.  Admittedly, any kind of Social Media sucks up way too much time.  Sometimes it even feels burdensome.  As a business owner, (by choice, sans a virtual assistant who could manage and monitor my posts for me) I feel a certain responsibility to maintain a Facebook presence and to keep my blogs flowing weekly, and foremost, rich in content. What I’ve recently learned is that although I write for YOU,  I also write for ME.  It’s 100% cathartic. I take pride in sharing my authentic self so when real time trumped screen time, I took the virtual pause that I needed.

It was beginning to feel more like a second job more than something I really enjoyed doing. I always say, “you know when you know,” and so I knew it was time to take that break. There were days after work that I never even walked into my office to sit at my computer, as usual. My phone kept me connected enough, and the down time was actually quite liberating. Life without Facebook felt a lot less frenetic and free of pretense.  When it all became too much,  disconnecting was a healthy relief.

But things weren’t all bad, there was plenty of good too.  The greatest parts of summer were that the weather was stellar and my business was soaring! 🙂 (Hmm…caused me to rethink if Social Media is over-rated anyway)

But the very BEST part of this summer was that it ended with my daughter’s engagement!!  I’m over the moon with excitement! She’s marrying her best friend and soul mate and I couldn’t be happier.  Planning and preparing for this wedding has already begun to shift my perspective once again.

I’m back on course now, flying higher for sure.  Enthusiastic and passionate…just a wee bit more insightful.  Stay-tuned until the next blog.  I’m back on the radar.


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Syncing or Sinking with your Busy Life? Is Technology Your Friend or Foe?

914512389_optManaging our “busy” is a daily challenge for most of us, and how we approach it changes from day-to-day.  Some days it feels like all the stars are aligned and we navigate through our day with seamless effort, right?  Our calendars are synced to our phones, we get to our appointments on time, and our schedules are running according to plan. We are in sync. Our phones are “smart” and life is good.

Living in a high-tech world is the new normal. We’re able to access social media while on the go with no worries. We can receive all of our e-mails, glance at Facebook, and connect with anyone (anywhere) with a simple click, tweet, or “like.”  But if things go awry and in the event that we lose Internet service, battery life, or even the actual phone, we stand to lose more than just a connection.  We are likely to feel off kilter and out of control.

Sometimes the techy world becomes all too consuming and can overwhelm our lives.  The foe rears its ugly head.  Because we are virtually “available ” 24/7, it can invade our personal spaces. We can easily drown in the social media pool, sinking ever so slowly, without realizing that it is robbing us of our leisure time. In a recent blog, I shared my experience of “disconnecting” while on vacation, “The Rules of Disengagement: My Quest for the Ultimate Get-away Vacation.” Imposing a social media break was extremely elevating and eye-opening.

Technology makes our world both simple and complicated. Indeed, it is a double-edged sword. Some of us depend on the cell phone for just about everything, and highly regard it as an alternate brain. Hence, in the event that it’s lost or misplaced, it can be catastrophic.  I can remember a time that a phone was just a phone, not our life GPS, computer, radio, TV, camera or bank.

Managing our busy with the help from our technology works perfectly…until it doesn’t.  We are at its mercy.  When our devices have glitches, we freak out.

I often think about how scary it is to be so dependent on technology that I have implemented certain practices to foster a little more self-sufficiency.  I  love having a smart phone, but I still want to feel smart and in control. Here’s what works for me.

    • Back-up– I’m NOT talking about the obvious virtual back-up onto your pc or the cloud. (Besides, the computer can potentially have a meltdown when you need to access info in that moment) I’m referring to backing up my appointments on paper. I’m old school, and I love paper calendars.  Although I might also sync my schedule with my phone,  I refer to a wall calendar for my personal social life.  I rely on my purse-size calendar to reflect my day-to-day and work schedule.  I take comfort in having a physical hard copy and can edit, without worry of powering up or accidentally deleting (yes, I still use an old-fashioned pencil and erase). I feel in control.


    • Memorize important phone #’s–  The phone #’s of the most important people in my life have always been embedded in my memory. Granted, using  the “speed dial” feature for key contacts is so easy, fast, and efficient, but how many of us can recall their numbers by memory? Ask yourself if you lost your phone, how would you recover the contacts?


    • Write it down- I’m a huge advocate of writing everything down so having a physical hard copy of important phone #’s, vital documents, passwords, and personal info, is a comfortable habit for me. I store them in a secure location but it is always retrievable.


    • Discriminate the data – Personally, I discriminate and limit what personal/private data I send to the cloud. I choose not to relinquish all control to multiple devices.


    • Print and preserve photos- It’s super convenient to save photos to your phone and share them when you’re out socializing, but I still prefer having a physical space to capture my memories.  I have always kept organized photo albums and still love turning a page and thumbing through the good times in a photo book, and sharing it together at a family gathering.  I’m so grateful to have them. We can trace our lives through these photos.  It is our timeline.  They rekindle the memories and compel us to retell the stories. For me,  scrolling through hundreds of images on a camera roll is not the same experience.  But that’s just me.


So how about you? Have you completely succumbed to technology? Are you 100% in?  Do tell.

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The Rules of Disengagement: My Quest for the Ultimate “Get-Away” Vacation

IMG_2232_optI was up for the challenge.  A vacation “truth or dare.”  I made a choice to live a week without engaging in all Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.).  So as engines revved, wheels went up, so began my quest for real vacation. As I departed, I detached, i.e. from my virtual world.  I did this, I got away.  I took the dare and discovered some eye-opening truths.

Everyone needs a vacation of some sort.  Whether we opt to stay home or travel to take that break, we all yearn for a respite from the mundane. But vacations are personal.  For some, it’s kept private, and yet others opt to post their travel experiences publicly on the Internet in real-time (myself included). As one who’s very active on Social Media both personally and professionally, I was curious about how this experiment would impact me.

Prior to take-off,  I glanced at my last e-mails, FB news feed, tweets, texts, and “shut down. ”  When I landed and turned my phone back on, the buzzing notifications of incoming e-mails, voice mails, and texts were manic. It was already interfering in my day. My initial impulse was to read and respond to all.  As I looked around waiting for my baggage,  I noticed everyone else’s heads down and glued to their phones.  No surprise there.

It was in that moment that I had a significant shift in thinking.  Other than my personal texts, it could all wait, couldn’t it?  It occurred to me that if I were to resume my activity as if I weren’t on vacation, what was the point of getting away in the first place?  Other than a change of scenery, would I really feel like I was on vacation?

As for my professional web presence, I could have automatically scheduled consistent posts to “appear” as if I were still in the office, but I was committed to an out of office status.  Fighting off the demons of job spill, I chose to be “invisible.”

I’m not going to lie, early on during this exercise, I suffered from a little FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  So I confess to a quick and curious scroll (now and then), to my FB news feed, checking my e-mail senders, and opting not to interact.  But that was the precise moment that both the challenges arose and epiphanies were revealed.  I caught myself automatically wanted to “like” a post or a pic, but I resisted the urge and the tug to connect. I knew that with one simple click, I could be lured back into a habitual interaction.

Stepping away and removing myself from my virtual reality provided me with a different perspective.  On the outside looking in, my familiar newsfeed felt estranged.  I had distanced myself from my fans, friends, colleagues, and followers.  I disconnected.  I let go. At first, I felt compelled to keep up with the 24/7 broadcasts, but as the days wore on, it became increasingly irrelevant to read older posts from days earlier.  Personally, not having to update my own postings, blogs, or interact with others felt very liberating. I was on vacation and it felt great!

It reminded me that there was a time and life before Facebook. Like old school, I wasn’t distracted with what other people were doing and went about my days visiting with family and friends.  I limited my text messages and made real phone calls to anyone I wanted to contact. While I took one week out of my life to “get away,” I acknowledge it was only a week, and not a life-altering decision.  It was my virtual cleanse, if you will.  My claim is not to undermine the phenomenon or value of any social media.  Above all, I don’t mean to appear hypocritical.  I understood that I would jump right back in upon my return.

But I have to say that this imposed “time-out” was a clarifying experience. The consequences of my disengagement poked these questions;

    • Did I really miss out on anything?
    • Did anyone even notice my absence?
    • Does it matter?
    • Have I regarded Social Media too high a priority in my daily life?
    • Did the vacation feel different?


While the answers may seem obvious, asking the questions was very enlightening for me.

The most interesting part of this experiment was not immediately sharing a very exciting moment in my life.  While golfing with a foursome of friends, I got a hole-in-one! We were jumping up and down and screaming with disbelief. After taking the pics, my first instinct was to post to Facebook and share with the universe. But I realized that this too, could wait.  It will be no less relevant or exciting if I posted it when I returned home.  This will be memorable forever.

Now back home, I’m back, both physically and virtually.  I’m blogging, posting, tweeting and liking it, lol.  I just needed the break. Can you do it?  Truth or Dare?


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Are you a Candy Crush Addict? Hands Up: Time to Arrest Your Time Robbers


If you’re considering checking into Candy Crush Rehab (there’s a waiting list, lol), then this blog is meant for you.

Let’s face it, one thing that we all can’t seem to get enough of is time. We cannot freeze it, it is unfortunately fleeting. We cannot control the sweep of time but we can indeed manage it. Perhaps if we can identify our time robbers, we can reclaim some of it back.

The biggest culprit without a doubt, is technology.  Our PC’s, laptops, tablets, and smart phones are eating up most of our time.

Whether it be professionally or personally, just managing our e-mails is challenging enough. Sorting our inbox of relevant content from silly viral jokes can be super time-consuming. But the biggest time robber by far, is Social Media.

It all began with Facebook. Now with the phenomenon of Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and virtual/smart phone games, there is increasingly more opportunity to get lost in the digital world.

My latest guilty pleasure is Candy Crush.  It is the most popular app on Facebook and the highest-grossing app in the Apple and Google app stores.  Candy Crush Saga has about 6.7 million active users and earns revenue of $633,000 per day. Yes, admittedly, I play it. I play it a lot.

Initially, I was reluctant to jump in when I first noticed the ads on Facebook in 2012, but as the manic activity increased on my newsfeed, my curiosity was piqued.  I knew a lot of smart people whom I respected that were playing and began to wonder what all the fuss was about. And so with a simple click, I entered level 1.

So here I am, Professional Organizer (A.K.A. time-management expert), and I’m hooked on this stupid game. I started playing at bedtime, thought it would be relaxing to decompress from my busy day. Wrong. This game is far from relaxing, in fact it both stimulates me and increases my anxiety before sleep!  The most disturbing realization is that I have been neglecting my Kindle more and reading much less!

As for the time-management component, the one redeeming feature of this compulsive game is that it times you out after 5 attempts to complete the level. You can also get 5 more lives if you play the game on another device, or bother your FB friends to send you another life, but eventually you have to wait for a new game to reset. And of course, you always have the option to “buy” more lives or boosters, but that’s where I draw the line. The game’s over when the game is over.  It can suck some of my time, but not money.

Now that I’ve learned that they keep adding more levels (now 485 is the highest), I’m re-assessing how much time I want to invest in this endless quest.  Fortunately, this game has not robbed me of my daily productivity, but it surely has impeded on my “down” time. I’m thinking that there are other enjoyable things I could be doing. From here on in, I’m going to “play” more wisely and prioritize.

Chances are, if you see me waiting in a Dr.’s waiting room, I’ll be playing Candy Crush.

How about you? What are your time robbers?

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The Social Phenomenon That Can Impede on Your Vacation

man-plugged-in-on-beach-300x199_optAre you one of those?  You know, the ones that can never disconnect from their cell phones, blackberries, laptops, or iPad?  The operative word is never.  The social phenomenon of being connected to our personal and professional worlds, 24/7, is part of our pop culture.

The job spill dilemma is the most challenging of all. If your’e always connected, you can never really disengage when you’re on vacation or relaxing on a beach somewhere.  Isn’t the point of a vacation to enjoy a “get-a-way?”  Can you resist the pull and self-impose a disconnect? The job will be there upon your return, so make the most of your time away from it.  Stay in that moment while it lasts.

If you really want to get the greatest benefit from your vacation, try reading a great novel, engage in any physical activity that you don’t normally do, or take a nap. Defy the temptation to hook up with your work-related life.  Don’t be a victim just because the hot spots are there because you know then you’ll feel compelled to connect.  It is the ultimate exercise in self-control.  It’s difficult to ignore the lure of the Internet, but it will still be there when you get home and so will Face Book, Twitter, your Inbox, etc.

How we manage our leisure time correlates to how we balance our lives.  Social media may be an addicting phenomenon, but we can control it by making choices.  This is the ultimate exercise in time-management. Maybe connect once a day, or check e-mails every other, or not at all.  You choose. We all like to think that we are indispensable, but life still goes on in our absence.

Focus on reducing the brain clutter, re-direct the barrage of thoughts spiraling through your brain. Allow yourself to slow down, drift off, and feel the calm.

It’s hard to remember a time when weren’t connected to our technology.  I can remember when leaving the office really meant leaving the work behind.  Ahhh….vacation.   Take it and run.  Let go. Relax. Escape. Disconnect.  Can you do it?

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