The Karen Vignette

September 8, 2011

The return of cooler weather has stirred my appreciation of whimsy and reawakened my hope. Not abstract political hope, like “maybe things will change,” but real, true hope that comes from a hint of proof that important things are beginning to happen.

By important things, I mean, No, my brain did not bake completely in the heat wave. As the siege of heat ends, I again have room in my mind for more thoughts than just seeking shade. Yes, I can still catch the quirky moments. Maybe, just maybe, Pedro Almodóvar is directing scenes in my life again.

Standing in the slow-moving line this morning at Einstein Brothers’ Bagels, I was trying to practice ideas I’m reading in Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box. “That droopy faced, hunched over young woman in line is a person, not just an object in my way. Maybe she’s not spreading her miserable mood and seeking pity. Maybe she just feels bad today.” People, not objects. People, not objects.

Then, finally, it was time for the two objects – I mean people – in front of me to give their orders. They were a man and woman, probably a couple based on both their mutual disinterest and their familiarity with one another.

The order taker asked, “Name?” and the gentleman replied. I didn’t hear, and neither did the order taker. He looked directly at the man and hummed, “Hmm?”

“Karen,” the man responded. The look of surprise disappeared nearly immediately from the order taker’s face as he bent down to write the name on the order. The man smiled a little, pointed at his female companion, and then slowly reached out to touch her lightly on the shoulder, in a playful way, as if to say, “Today, we will be you, not me.”

Or maybe he was just gesturing to show the order taker that he was not, in fact, named Karen, but his companion was.

Several minutes later, the orders were slowly being filled by the people – not objects – behind the counter, people with perfectly good reasons for going slowly, I kept reminding myself, thinking about the self-deception book. Eventually Karen and company got their bagel sandwiches. The guy delivering them to their table asked if they had gotten their mocha cappuccino yet, and they hadn’t. He went behind the counter to make it and Karen headed across the room to get forks and napkins.

The mocha maker called out, pretty loudly, “Hey, Karen! Do you want whipped cream on your mocha?” Karen turned, looked at him, and then spun towards her companion, sitting at the table across the room, and swept her hand towards him, as if introducing him on stage. As if to say, “You wanted to be Karen today, so now you get to be Karen!”

He looked back at the mocha maker and replied, “Yes,” strongly and clearly.

I had to hold the chuckle back and only smile a little, because they were complete strangers in a public setting. Even though it was staged with three people at distant points in the restaurant, even though it resembled theater in the round, it was not meant for my amusement. At least not by the actors. I think the scriptwriter was enjoying giving the spectators a good time at their expense.

I have no idea if this scene translates well in writing. I have no idea if other people would enjoy the humor of it if they witnessed it as I did. Maybe I’m just a story nerd, enthralled by things others find mundane. But I want to capture it and share it, because in doing so I capture the whimsy that gave me hope by telling me the siege of summer is over, life is not just a heat endurance test, and there is time to relax and enjoy now that fall is on the way.

Have a great day, Karen!

Hallelujah Chorus

December 5, 2010

I haven’t experienced it, but I have heard that people gather in public in some places around Christmas to sing portions of Handel’s Messiah. That means it’s expected, with some showing up to participate and others to listen and enjoy. What happens when the singers slip in announced at a food court in a mall and start to sing?

I’m sure the people watching and listening in this video were entertained. Most probably understood how much preparation and practice it took to make this incorrectly named “flash mob” happen, and how much hard work was involved.

But what would you have thought?

Wow! That was amazing. I wish I could do something that well, but I just don’t have the talent.

~ or ~

Wow! That was amazing. I want to be part of something like that.

My hope is that you’re inspired to develop your own talents, collaborate with other talented people, and put it all together for your tribe to appreciate.

**Many thanks to my podcast co-host Francie Cooper for posting this on Twitter.

Pipe Dream?

December 4, 2010

This is my secret fear after training to be a Profiting From Your Passions™ creative career coach.

Some guy will say, “I can design and build my own instrument made of PVC pipe and I can masterfully play rock music, classical themes, and movie scores on it. How can I make money doing that?”

But after a little thought, I think I could come up with one or two ideas…

My PVC Instrument, DRS Talent Show @ Yahoo! Video

Self-Employed Job Title Dilemma

November 15, 2010

Please welcome another composite fictional character, here to illustrate a point. Her name is Tabitha, and she is struggling to explain to people what it is that she actually does.

“So, Tabitha, what do you do?”
Read more

Showtunes? Seriously?

November 13, 2010

I’m throwing out the blog post I was writing and starting over. In the spirit of the many posts I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook recently by people struggling with commitments to writing, I want to be your rowdy role model. Once you give yourself permission to throw out writing that just doesn’t work, getting started gets a lot easier.

I can’t really get the lead-up story in place for some reason. So forget it. I’m going directly to the message.
Read more


October 26, 2010

While recording our podcast “en vivo” at a park today, my colleague and cool friend Francie Cooper and I were distracted by the playground, especially the swings. At the end of the podcast we had appointments and calls to get to. We had planning we needed to do.

But the swings were calling!

You can listen to the podcast that started all this by clicking here.

What Do I Do?

September 30, 2010

Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz posted a challenge to readers to write up and publish what we do. Not in a formal or detailed way, but just as responses to some simple questions.

I bit!

Not only was it fun, but doing it reminded me that the way we get more clear about what we do and how to describe it is by… well… doing it and describing it on a regular basis.

Are you up for it? Here are Naomi’s instructions, her questions, and my answers.

How To Play

Go find a cup or glass. Fill it with something.
It’s late, so just water for me.
Copy the questions below into some kind of document.
Check. I do most things in Word. Because it’s there.
Stare vacantly into the distance for a while. Check Twitter a couple times. No, thanks. Already did, nothing new.
Take the laundry out of the washing machine before it starts getting moldy. Put it in the dryer before I sat down.
Answer the questions and put them onto your blog with some kind of introductory information. Check
Click publish. If you’re reading this…
Eat some cake. Love this idea, but out of cake. And it’s really late so I’m not going to the store. But if I DID go to the store I could get some ice cream…

The questions:

What’s your game? What do you do?

I help people reclaim their productivity and their creativity so their work can be aligned with their natural gifts and talents and enrich the rest of their lives. I mentor, I teach, I coach, I push, and I cultivate people. I also train people to lead through mentorship.

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

I do it because it’s who I am. I found out it’s the thing I do without even trying. I get jazzed about people getting out of their comfort zones, stretching themselves to take on new challenges, and shining some light on the hidden and undeveloped parts of themselves. I think of this as a great movement, liberating people from drudgery and misery.

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

My people have been wearing off-the-rack jobs and off-the-rack lives for as long as they can remember. They keep trying to stuff themselves into other people’s boxes and cubicles, but they don’t fit. They physically feel the life draining out of their souls when they think about staying on the same path the rest of their lives. They want the freedom to be themselves, authentically and uniquely.

What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

I get so excited about helping you nurture your core self and watching you discover your gifts and talents and develop them into your full potential that it’s pretty close to impossible to stay stuck when I get involved. You have to have your heels dug in. You have to be up to your ankles in concrete. No, make that up to your knees in steel.

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

I’m developing a format for a weekly podcast with a fellow coach, Francie Cooper, and I’m working on a manuscript for a training product called Anything But Marketing! Immediate next thing is the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree.

Now it’s your turn!

Particle Physics Humor

September 9, 2010

From a wonderful thread on a friend’s Facebook page. Enjoy!

Two atoms are walking down the street one day, and one of them says to the other:
“Hey, wait up a second. I think I lost an electron.”
The first atom replies, “Are you sure?”
The second atom exclaims…

“Yes, I’m positive!”

A proton, neutron, and electron went out to dinner one night. After a luxurious meal, the waiter brought the check to the proton and the electron. The neutron was perplexed as to why the waiter didn’t bring him his check. So, he summoned the waiter to the table and asked him about it.

The waiter explained to the neutron, “For you, there’s no charge!”

A neutrino walks into a bar. The bartender yells, “We’re closed!” The neutrino says, “Sorry, just passing through!”

Anyone have more? Please post in the comments.

They’re Taunting Me!

September 7, 2010

Lately I find myself in the ironic position of teaching my eleven-year-old son that his thoughts control his perceptions and his feelings. You know, when he starts teasing someone and gets teased back and suddenly he’s really upset. Or nobody is teasing him but he thinks they are and he gets really upset. That sort of thing.

His reaction is to get indignant and see himself as a victim and feel really hurt. Then he tries to find someone to make the other person stop teasing or taunting.

I’ve been explaining we can’t control what the nearly 7 billion people on the planet say, but each of us can choose our own thoughts. We don’t have to let something bother us. We don’t have to give our power away.

We don’t have to freak out when those idiots whip right in front of us on the freeway and we almost hit them.

[wince] No, I don’t say that. I just think about it.

That’s why this is more than ironic. I think the universe is taunting me. That’s a downright smartass thing to do!