Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't Try to Saw Sawdust (and a temporary good-bye)

One of my Dale Carnegie mentors checked in with me this week.  In my response to him, I mentioned how I've been worrying about Tyler's transition to being a big brother.  Then it hit me... this "how to stop worrying and start living" stuff will always be a work in progress for me!  It's not really about stopping worry - it's more about managing it.  Or, at least, it is for me.  And this week is yet another principle that could serve me well.

We've heard all the cliches: don't cry over spilt milk, what's done is done, c'est la vie... Dale Carnegie says, "Let the past bury its dead. Don't try to saw sawdust."  This is tough for me because I am the classic over-analyzer.  I think about a decision long after it has been made.  "Maybe I should have done this" or "Maybe I should have done that."  Life is too short!  As Eleanor Roosevelt said,

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is mystery.
Today is a gift.

And speaking of gifts, it is time for me to take a break from this blog as I anticipate the arrival of Baby Gift in the coming days.  Please know that I will be practicing these stress and worry principles more than ever in the next few months - I just won't be formally documenting them here.  It is time for me to practice what I preach (or, in my case, teach).  One of the principles yet to come is "Rest before you get tired."  That is what I intend to do by taking a break from writing.  This blog is a source of joy for me and I want to keep it that way!  I will be focusing on my expanded family for awhile now and I plan to return to you more committed than ever.  So stay tuned, my friends!

For now, this is the Gift List signing off...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Put a "Stop-Loss" Order On Your Worries

May I start by saying that I'm really good at giving something more anxiety than it deserves. That's a definite talent of mine!  Dale Carnegie said, "Put a 'stop-loss' order on your worries. Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth - and refuse to give it anymore." I often find myself looking back on a situation and realizing that very little of what I worried about actually happened.  What a waste of energy that I could have used elsewhere! This phenomenon especially happens in the parenting side of my life...

Elizabeth Stone once said, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."  Tyler recently transitioned from the toddler room to the preschool room at his school.  I lost some sleep in the days leading up to this transition.  Tyler would be leaving behind familiar friends and teachers.  There would be new classmates, new teachers and a new schedule for Tyler.  How would he handle it?  Would he cry when we dropped him off?  Would he be exhausted when we picked him up?  Etc., etc.

One month later and it turns out that Tyler was absolutely fine; 99% of my worries were unfounded.  This experience reinforced a couple valuable lessons. 1) Children are more resilient than we give them credit for and 2) this mama worries too much!

As I prepare to enter Round 2 of parenthood (all while continuing Round 1), I plan to work on putting a stop-loss on my worries.  If successful, I know following this principle will help me enjoy parenthood - and therefore life - a little more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cooperate with the Inevitable

This week at work held a jam-packed schedule of "office visits."  In other words, we had several college students visiting our firm for second interviews.  Before the students can enjoy their visits, one big scheduling puzzle has to happen behind the scenes.  My co-worker and I spent hours personalizing each person's schedule and accomodating their individual requests.  Then, we had at least three people change their minds regarding what would work best for their schedules and we had another two "back out" due to accepting offers elsewhere.  Cooperate with the inevitable, Marisa.  You certainly cannot control the minds and behaviors of twenty-two year olds!

On the homefront, Friday morning brought Week 6 of Tyler's tumbling class at the Y. Week after week, I have taken Tyler to this class where he does not participate until the last minute and seems to enjoy himself very little.  When we arrived at the tumbling room this week, Tyler bolted out the door and down the steps of the Y.  Marisa, cooperate with the inevitable.  Tyler doesn't seem to like tumbling class - why do you care?  You know what?  I don't care!  I asked Tyler if he would like to leave and he said "yes."  So we headed to story time at the library instead and had a great time listening to stories and coloring pictures.

Dale Carnegie quotes Mother Goose:
For every ailment under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

Take a deep breath.  We can't control everything... and that's ok.  That's life!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Law That Will Outlaw Many of Your Worries

I have been blessed to travel many places in my life.  From family vacations across the country while growing up to studying abroad in Italy during grad school, I have stepped on a plane numerous times. Flying never caused me anxiety until three years ago... when I became a mom.  I experience anxiety now when I fly - I think because there is so much more at stake.

This past December I flew to Boston for a Dale Carnegie certification training.  While there, I read a newspaper headline about the fatality rate for flying in 2011.  I learned that one person in 7.1 million passengers died last year as a result of flying.  One in 7.1 million.  Those are pretty good odds for staying alive and kickin'!

Now whenever I board a plane and the anxiety starts to set in, I remember that statistic.  It's a lifesaver for my sanity!  As Dale Carnegie said, "You and I could probably eliminate nine-tenths of our worries right now if we would cease our fretting long enough to discover whether, by the law of averages, there was any real justification for our worries."

The next time you find yourself worrying, stop for a moment and really think about your odds.  Ask yourself, "What are the chances, according to the law of averages, that this event I am worrying about will ever occur?"  Hopefully you can take a deep breath and enjoy where the journey takes you that day!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Don't Let the Beetles Get You Down

Dale Carnegie shares the story of Robert Moore who looked death straight in the face when serving on a submarine during World War II.  While being attacked for 15 hours, Moore's life flashed before his eyes and he remembered all the trivial worries he experienced over the years. As Moore said, "We often face the major disasters of life bravely - and then let the trifles, the 'pains in the neck,' get us down."  If we were to use a modern-day cliche to summarize this week's principle it would definitely be "Don't sweat the small stuff."

I was blessed to marry into a family that seems to have mastered this principle.  The Gifts (all of them!) are living, breathing examples of this lesson.  Case in point: we celebrated Tyler's 3rd birthday this weekend and my mother-in-law, Marilyn, made Tyler another beautiful cake.  The cake met all of Tyler's specifications:  a train, steam, the letter "T" and the number "3."  Unfortunately, the cake was not a fan of the car trip from Des Moines.  The "beetles" of many bumps in the road got it down a little.  Marilyn, although disappointed, went right to work when she arrived at our house!  With a little bit of water and a lot of patience, she resurrected Tyler's cake to its original glory!  She didn't miss a beat and Tyler's grin says it all!

I've learned a lot from the Gifts these past five years and I know I will learn many lessons to come.  Let us all find those people in our lives who help us be better versions of ourselves.  In my case, the Gift family reminds me of Dale Carnegie's words, "Let's not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget.  Remember 'Life is too short to be little.'"  Instead, be a Gift!  :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to Crowd Worry Out of Your Mind

This week's principle doesn't qualify as "earth shattering."  It's common sense really -- but common sense that I practice far too little!  It's as simple this... stay busy to keep your worries away.   To quote Dale Carnegie, "it is utterly impossible for any human mind, no matter how brilliant, to think of more than one thing at any given time." Crowd worry out of your mind!

September is my busiest month at Lutz & Company because we are in the thick of on-campus recruiting season.  At the beginning of the week, I reviewed 125 resumes along with helping to conduct a new hire orientation and preparing for another orientation next week.  Then, I hopped on a plane for a conference in Dallas on Wednesday-Friday.  Needless to say, there wasn't much time to worry about the "before baby" to-do list or Alan's tenure process or anything else this week!

A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson recently caught my attention: "Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day."  So true! I want my life to consist of productive work and spirited play -- not stress and worries.  How about you?  Together, let's keep busy this week and crowd the worry out of our minds!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"How to Eliminate Fifty Percent of Your Business Worries"

Dale Carnegie offers us yet another process for squelching our worries this week.  This one reminds me of my husband, the scientist, for some reason.  Could it be because Alan is the king of questions?!  Ultimately though, it was my mom who helped me "see the light" regarding this week's principle:
1. What is the problem?
2. What is the cause of the problem?
3. What are all possible solutions of the problem?
4. What solution do you suggest?

The best example I have of using this process happened a couple weeks ago.  The problem and cause of the problem were simple... I was feeling completely overwhelmed by our to-do list that we need to finish before Baby arrives in mid-November (e.g., get Tyler settled into his new room, put the nursery back in place, finish our basement bedroom, etc).  As I had a meltdown (yes, even Dale Carnegie trainers have meltdowns from time to time, especially the hormonal ones!) on the phone with my mom one Saturday, she said something that struck me. "Marisa, why do you need to finish that bedroom before the baby arrives?  You can move the bed into the space, put some rugs down, and it will be absolutely fine."

My mom's comment triggered me to have a conversation with Alan about the possible solutions to the problem of being overwhelmed:
1. We could try to line up time for Alan and his family to finish the basement bedroom in the next few months (keep in mind that Alan was already back in classes, his dad was approaching harvest season, etc).
2. We could hire someone to finish the basement bedroom (a.k.a., moolah).
3. We could hold off on finishing the bedroom until next summer and just make it as nice as possible for the moment.

We opted for #3 and it is the best decision we've made in awile!  We bought a carpet remnant, moved all the furniture in, and even put a picture or two on the walls.  Granted, the room is still two-toned and the ceiling beams are exposed but it will certainly serve our guests well as we welcome the baby.

And the decision preserved my sanity... and therefore, Alan's sanity, too.

Thanks, Mom, for the suggestion!  Dale Carnegie would be proud!