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Archive for the ‘Choices’ Category

A dear and longtime friend from Geneva sent me these wise words this morning.  Some of these lines make me laugh; they all make me pause and reflect. How well do I handle little frustrations and big obstacles? What can I do better; what should I do better to be my best self? 

Thanks you Suzanne for sending the email. And thanks to all my family and friends. I am grateful everyday for all of you.

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

… Maya Angelou

In case you are wondering …
I’ve learned that, as frightening as it may seem at the time, change can be more than good; it can be wonderful…and you can go home again.

But for now … I’ve got a bunch of aprons in the dryer that need to be untangled.

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What important lessons have  you learned over the years? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going. Just click on Comments below.

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Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365.

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To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

© Susan W. Nye, 2011

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, way up there with Halloween and Christmas. When I was really little we celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandmothers’ houses. They traded off Thanksgiving and Easter every year. Eventually, the big feasts got to be too much for them. We had a couple of Thanksgivings in a noisy, overcrowded restaurant until my mom took over. She refused to spend another holiday packed in like one of too many sardines at the Red Coach Grill. She cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the next twenty or so years.

After I moved to Switzerland, I continued to celebrate Thanksgiving. I created my own traditions and gathered friends together for the annual harvest feast. I love to cook and entertain and Thanksgiving dinner became one of my trademarks.

When I moved back to New Hampshire, I was delighted to host the family. For several years, at least eight, and sometimes more, Nye’s joined me around my farmhouse table for a fun and festive feast.

Last summer my dad pulled me aside for a heart to heart. My parents spend most of the winter in Florida and he was reserving their flights. He candidly confided that he couldn’t quite handle a trip north for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Between Alzheimer’s and arthritis, travel is difficult for my mother and therefore very stressful for Dad.

I didn’t like the idea of them down there alone, having dinner in an overcrowded restaurant or any restaurant for that matter. I decided to spend Thanksgiving with them on one condition. Like my mom before me, I decreed that dinner would be at home. I would cook a turkey and all the trimmings for them and some of their close friends.

We had a wonderful time. Four of their oldest, dearest friends joined us. I knew them all, most for close to a decade and one for more than forty years. I got a little fancy with a couple of side dishes but did not mess with tradition when it came to the turkey and made my mother’s stuffing.

Sitting around the table with my parents and some of their nearest and dearest, reminded me of how thankful I am for their friends. I am grateful that these wonderful people love my mother and accept her frailties. I am thankful for the love and support they give my dad.

It looks like the start of a new tradition. Yes, I’ll head south again next year. I’ll improvise in my parent’s decidedly ill-equipped kitchen, debate how long to roast the turkey with my dad and suffer bad hair days in the steamy heat. But most of all I will rejoice and celebrate the time with Mom, Dad and their dear friends.

What about you? What are you thankful for this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you.

 

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. © Susan W. Nye, 2010

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It’s All about Me

For the past year I have been coaching a woman at one of New Hampshire’s many great nonprofits. I do it because I like Jane, because as the manager of a small organization she frequently feels alone and because I can learn as much from her as she from me.

A few months ago Jane sent me a message she had received from one of her board members. It was a response to an SOS she had sent requesting help at a couple of community events. While this particular board is more hands-on than most, one of the members took offence to the request as well as the tone of the message. Jane sent me her original email as well as Carol’s response which went something like this:

“You cannot possibly be this tone deaf or self absorbed. You owe the board an apology…”

Whoa, Bucko! Back up the train.
Carol’s response seemed harsh so I reread both messages and reflected for a minute or two. My conclusion? Jane’s request was a bit cavalier, rushed and yes, self-absorbed. Carol’s response was just as cavalier and certainly lacked tact. Jane’s email offered up a coaching moment which Carol didn’t take. Instead she stooped to name calling.

For my part I took the opportunity to coach Jane but not Carol. I may be making excuses but I care more about Jane, I like her better and there are only so many hours in a day. As we talked it through, I explained that while I did not find it over top or exceedingly self-absorbed, the message was indeed “all about her.” I saw two issues. First, she had asked for help without explaining that she needed a stand-in because she was double-booked. Second, she closed with a quick “gotta run” to her son’s soccer game.

In our discussion, I learned that the double-booking was not due to lack of planning or another soccer game but the organization’s commitment to project a statewide presence. Since it was all about her, Jane just assumed her board would understand her predicament. A few more words would have explained the issue and avoided the kerfuffle. Her closing remark may seem harmless and pleasant but it’s not relevant and provides too much information. Trying to excuse her hurried and somewhat sloppy communication on a family commitment hurt her credibility. She would have been better off to spend another minute on the message or wait until morning. Besides, her board doesn’t need to know how she spends her evenings.

For whatever reason, the incident has stuck with me. Reflecting on Jane’s gaff and Carol’s mini-tantrum, I came to the conclusion that we are all pretty self-absorbed. (Okay, maybe not Gandhi or Mother Teresa.) Stop and think about it. How often have you begun a conversation with “I need you to…” or “when can I get…”? On more than one occasion I’ve caught myself and followed that rushed request with, “Oh, sorry, hello. How are you?” But I’m sure I don’t always catch myself.

Or how about this one, have you ever begun a discussion in the middle of sentence or better yet in the middle or even at the end of a story? I know I have. If you are anything like me you have internal dialogues. I have them all the time and some, like this one, end up in print. When I have an idea, an issue or a question; my first thought is to tackle it, wrestle it to the ground, hog-tie it, formulate a conclusion and design a solution. I’m comfortable doing all that in my head. Of course I’m happy to present the final solution to you in a nice, neat package. I may even give you some, maybe all, of my reasoning. Unless it is a big or strategic issue or question, I probably don’t want a lot of input or a long discussion. Sometimes, but not always, I wouldn’t mind a few kudos or attagirls.

Why? Because it’s all about me, my agenda and my timeline. Like everyone else I’m overbooked, short on time and sometimes short tempered. I don’t have the time or inclination to revisit every problem. Especially if it’s solved! (Or at least solved to my satisfaction. Remember, it’s all about me.)

Hey, I’m happy to involve you, work the issue with you but I’m free at 4:00 today so that’s when I’m going to figure it out. I do some of my best thinking while walking around the lake and you are welcome to join me. If you’re not available or banged up you knee, well then, just back off because I’m on a roll.

What about you? When, if ever, is it all about you? I’d love to hear from you.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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When I was a teenager I wanted to be cool. The trouble was, I wasn’t really sure what cool was. Only that I wasn’t it. Like any school, mine had a group of popular kids. The popular kids might have been the football players and cheerleaders. Aren’t they always the cool ones? Or is that just the movies? Anyway, I wasn’t convinced that I had anything in common these cool kids or that I even wanted to hang out with them. Which created something of a dilemma … how could I be cool if I didn’t want hang with the popular kids?

In college I worried less about being cool, a lot less. God, I still had hang-ups; I still do. But I began to realize who I was and began to enjoy it. Since I was an art major, a few people described me as their bohemian friend. I thought that was very cool, perhaps I’d arrived? However, my friends in the art department were not fooled. They knew I was a good girl who studied hard, belonged to a sorority and drank beer at fraternity parties on the weekend.

After college I taught art for awhile. My first job was at an alternative school for bright underachievers. I don’t know if these kinds of schools exist anymore. The school was built on the premise that some smart kids underachieve because traditional education didn’t excite or motivate them. Some of the kids I taught were bright underachievers; some were not so bright underachievers. Most, but not all, were unhappy teenagers who drank a lot or did a lot of drugs or both. After a couple of years I moved on to a more traditional boarding school. Most people in conservative prep schools assume the art teacher is hip or cool. In an instant I was transformed from uptight art teacher to bohemian artist and teacher.

After a while, I got tired of teaching, changed course, went back to school and got an MBA. Rather than join any one of the hundreds of high-tech companies on Route 128, I moved to Switzerland and joined the watch industry. I worked for SWATCH and then a start-up. I was feeling pretty hip. In reality I was far from hip; I was a suit, or at least I wore one, and worried about strategy and budgets. The creative types, the truly hip, were all with the agency.

Looking back, I think that it was about that time that I realized that I didn’t care if I was cool or not. I’d grown comfortable with who I was, including that dichotomy of good girl and artsy type.

That comfort gave me confidence and for the most part has served me well. Among other things, it helped me to build and run a first rate sales team. It’s a bit ironic because that team was part of an organization which had been branded second best. Many of my colleagues were frustrated by this label but I loved that job. With my help and leadership, my team broke all records, or at least a lot of records, for growth and profitability. High growth and profitability are decidedly NOT second rate in my book.

Now that same comfort and confidence is helping me navigate my current challenge, the sometimes frightening, always interesting adventure of self-employment. I still worry and get butterflies but not about being cool. Instead, I wonder if readers will like my work and worry if I can make a living at it. I don’t worry about my next mortgage payment but sometimes worry about the one after that.

I love what I do AND I don’t have to wear a suit or high heels to work. I spend the summer in shorts and t-shirts, bare feet and Converse sneakers. The sneakers are decidedly cool, definitely cooler than a pair of plain black pumps.

 

Do you like the “you” you have become? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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With Enthusiasm

I spend a couple, sometimes three, afternoons a week with my Mom. It gives my Dad a chance to get out on the golf course. It gives Mom and me a chance to hang out. On Mondays I pick her up from an elder care program. I have a tendency to run late, to get caught up in life. For the Monday pick-up, I’ve been read the riot act. It’s been made crystal clear that I need to get there not at three o’clock. Not at three o’clock on the dot but at two-fifty-five…on the dot.

My mother and I are very much alike. Contrary to public opinion, we are both a bit shy. However, we figured out that our lives would be better, or at least more fun, if we pretended to be extroverts. If not all the time, then at least when we are out and about. I credit my Mom for being a great example on how to live life enthusiastically. I’m not sure I would have figured it out on my own.

On this particular Monday, I’m on time, two-fifty-five on the dot. I can hear Mom as a wander down the hall. When I was a teenager her booming voice embarrassed me a little, but only a little. Mostly I was in awe of her upbeat approach to life. I was always proud that she was my Mom. She was cooler than the other moms but never in an austere, aloof way. Mom was warm and funny, approachable and wonderfully human. She always had it together.

She doesn’t have it together anymore. She has Alzheimer’s.

As I walk down the hall, I can hear her voice. Most important, I can hear the smile in her voice. She makes me smile. Not wanting to disturb the session I lurk in the doorway. It’s clear that in spite of all she’s lost, she still brings cheer and energy into the room. Eventually I peek around the corner. I don’t need to look to know that Mom is being, well, Mom. She is still the life of the party.

Even now, when she can’t remember names and has trouble remembering faces, Mom spreads good cheer. Like a charming guest or gracious hostess; she continues to connect with people. She might forget the response as soon as it’s uttered, but she is always willing to ask a question or fill an awkward, empty pause. She has not turned inward, withdrawn or rejected the world around her. I can see that it’s not always easy, that it takes an enormous amount of energy for her to live with the confusion and chaos of Alzheimer’s.

I am still in awe of Mom, her strength and courage. Every day she gets up and participates in life, with enthusiasm.

Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? I’d like to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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For anyone who missed last night’s 15th Birthday Celebration with The New Hampshire Women’s Business Center’s … here are my opening remarks:

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Like many here today, I am a corporate dropout. Seven years ago I gave up a career in international sales and marketing for the fun, flexibility and … yes, the fear of self employment. I have come to realize that for all practical purposes the world is made up of two kinds of people: entrepreneurs and those who wish they were entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial women play a critical role in our economy –

From A to Z …

We are accountants, analysts and advisors,
Bakers, builders and bookkeepers
Consultants, cooks and candlestickmakers
Dog walkers, designers and DJ’s
Engineers, environmentalists,
Franchisees, florists and freelancers.

We are good at what we do.

We are hairdressers,
Ice cream makers,
Jewelers, jugglers and journalists.

We are kindred spirits, killer saleswomen … we are the whole kit and kaboodle.

We are lawyers,
Moms, marketing gurus, massage therapists and manicurists.

And we ain’t nobody’s fool.

It goes without saying;
we are optimistic and passionate about our businesses,
the quintessential queens of our domains.

We are retailers and radio show hosts,
Strategists, software experts and scientists,
Technicians,T-shirt designers and tutors.

We are undeniably very, very good at what we do because
We are wise & wonderful, xceptional Yaa Yaas with a zest for life and maybe just a little bit zany.

I guess we have to be – to do what we do.

Best Happy Birthday wishes to the WBC and women entrepreneurs throughout New Hampshire!

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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The deer ate most of my tulips last spring. Even though I adore them, when it came time to plant new bulbs, I surrendered to common sense. I skipped the tulips and concentrated on the already beautiful beds of daffodils. Tulips only live for a year or two but daffodils last forever, multiply on their own and the deer, squirrels and chipmunks leave them alone.

A few weeks ago I looked out my kitchen window to admire a sea of cheery yellow and creamy white. It was a spectacular sight. But on this particular morning, one vibrant, red tulip had sprouted up amongst the daffodils. If only for a minute, it took my breath away.

It struck me like the proverbial ton of bricks, “That’s me. I’m that tulip!” For most of my life I have felt like I didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the world. Kind of like that one tulip surrounded by a sea of daffodils or the kid in the Sesame Street song One of These Things Is Not Like the Others .

I don’t know when it began, maybe junior high or high school. Long legs and long straight hair were in fashion and I had neither. I was bookish, not particularly confident and a bit shy. I lived in a conservative, Republican town and was interested in liberal politics and causes. But then again what teenager doesn’t suffer from some degree of awkwardness, rebellion and angst?

Looking back I realize I’ve had and continue to have a particular knack of making different choices, for taking the road less traveled. No, I didn’t choose to have wild and wooly, thick curly hair or short legs but I did choose to be a feminist at fifteen. I studied art in college which doesn’t seem so strange. Nor was my decision to teach. In those days, lots of women became teachers. For some it was a stop-gap before marriage but for me it turned out to be a stop-gap before business school. I’m pretty sure I was the only ex-art teacher in my MBA class.

After graduation most of my classmates joined one of the technology firms on Route 128. Not me, I moved to Switzerland and joined the Swiss watch industry. I still remember walking into the management Christmas party a few months after I started. There were about 200 people in the room, a sea of mostly middle aged men. Except for the CEO’s assistant who was there to ensure the party ran smoothly, I was the only woman in the room. And the only American.

After a couple of years I left the watch industry. I stayed in Geneva and went to work for a large computer company.  At my new firm, I wasn’t just the only woman manager in my group, I was the only non-engineer! Slowly, eventually, a few more women made their way into management. When I returned to the US, it was a bit different. The marketing and HR departments were packed with women,  in fact they were  the majority. However, executive management, sales and engineering were still, for the most part, a boys’ club.

A few years ago, I dropped out of the corporate rat race and began to write. Sitting at my keyboard, I’m not just the only woman in the room; I’m the only person. Which begs the question; am I still a tulip?

 

Are you a tulip, daffodil, dandelion or daisy; maybe you’re a tiger lily? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

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Tulips by Alison Vernon

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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