3251172888_04e77fe910_nTwice this week I’ve been asked questions about “it” – referring to my work.

Monday’s question: “Is it worth it?”

My response, “Yes. Unequivocally yes.”

Today’s question: “Aren’t you tired of it by now?”

My initial response, in the form of a question, “What do you mean?”

“You know. The non-profit thing.”

My response, “Ooooh… (long pause) The non-profit thing. No. I’m not tired of the non-profit thing. The non-profit thing – it’s exhilarating. It’s an honor. No, I’m definitely not tired of it.”

Whether your “it” is a for-profit or non-profit thing, as long as your perfectly, perfect light is shining brightly, your work will always be worth it. And while you may become tired, your passion will ensure you never get tired of it.

It’s unequivocal!


photo credit: <a href=”″>LA Blurred</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

Bakery allure

Early in my career I was advised, “Have a role at a meeting. Don’t just eat a roll.”

419441765_94482367fbThis is advice I often savor, whether or not I’m attending a meeting. What value can I add to a project? How can I best support the idea? Am I the right person for this initiative – am I just taking a seat at the table so I can eat a roll?

The next time you’re invited to a meeting or project, ask yourself what’s motivating your participation.

Is it the bountiful tray of pastries and rolls that will most certainly be in the center of the table – especially appealing since you missed breakfast? Or, is it the appetite and passion you have for the role?

Relish the role that only perfectly, perfect you can deliver!


photo credit: Brooklyn’s specialty via photopin (license)

The sludgey undertow

It’s easy to get accustomed to doing things the way you’ve always done them especially when those ways are producing results.

Adapting and maybe even jettisoning a long-time business model to meet the changing needs, changing populations and changing demographics can be especially challenging.

12751864993_8e4a2ec6e6When it’s time for your business or your project to evolve, the way forward may seem overwhelming and impossible. That way forward becomes clouded by enthusiastic finger pointing. Soliloquies full of fervor and disdain for individuals and management crash through meeting rooms and hallways creating a sludge-like undertow. Meanwhile all rational thought slips out the emergency exit.

So what’s the magic awesome sauce needed to avoid a poke in the eye and the sludgey undertow?

Getting back to your roots. Getting back to you.

The way forward is simply not that daunting – it’s a place you know and where your perfectly perfect, brilliant, energetic self thrives.  It’s the same place where your business or project thrives.

The way forward is rooted where your business or project got started in the first place: endless hard work, unflagging determination, infectious passion, collaboration, teamwork, the willingness to take risks, try, test, learn, implement and then do it all again. That’s how you built where you are today and that’s how you’ll continue to evolve and adapt to a changing environment.

Whether it’s plugging in your computer, covering the walls with giant post-its or scribbling on cocktail napkins, it’s time to initiate forward motion for your project – today.

It’s time to get back to your roots. It’s time to get back to you and the extraordinary ways you make important work happen.

It’s time. Go.

photo credit: <a href=”″>Blue Mud Spring (6 August 2013) 04</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;

250 – 500 words

As the snow swirled in the Midwest today and I lamented having not gone to the grocery store yesterday, we hunkered down researching summer pre-college programs for our high schooler in between foraging an empty refrigerator and pantry.

Not surprisingly, each of the applications for the summer programs requires a response to a similar type statement that reads something like,

“In 250 – 500 words, tell us what you are passionate about and what you hope to learn during this summer program.”

This statement, requiring a response in application after application, got me thinking about my own work. I realized it is an excellent statement to respond to even if you’re not looking to enroll in a summer pre-college program.

FullSizeRender-43Just think, in 250 – 500 words you have the opportunity to quickly deduce if your perfectly, perfect self is passionate about the path you are on. In just 250 – 500 words you can ascertain if you are being pushed to new heights that spark new ideas, new thoughts, new learnings. In about a half-page of words typed in an 11 point Times New Roman font, you will reveal quite a bit about whether or not your path is the one that fills your heart, spirit and mind.

What will your 250 – 500 words reveal about your path?

Words matter

Identifying the most absolutely perfect word or group of words creatively strung together that evokes positive emotion can make the difference between an ad that produces poor sales versus the ad that creates extraordinary sales.

Or the writers who crafted memorable movie lines using the exact right words. Memorable words that have become part of everyday vernacular:

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore.”

“Show me the money.”

“You can’t handle the truth.”

Or the brilliant and beautiful writer Gary Hollander whom I believe lovingly and carefully selects each and every word as he writes his husband’s elegy. Words to honor Paul’s life, words to celebrate Paul’s life, words to savor memories. Words that Gary has used to write a poignant and moving story about life, living and the power of love.

What words will you write on the note you tuck into your child’s lunch? What words will you say to the disgruntled customer to ease their frustration? What words will you share with a friend who has lost the long-time love of their life?

Words. Important, powerful, life-changing. Words to inspire ourselves and others to be the change we want for the world.  What words will you choose?

Art Kids

An objective of Voices of Pearls is to feature voices who are making a difference in the world. The perfectly, perfect brilliant voices that surround us each and every day. Sometimes we just have to take a pause, engage and listen to the voices that are right here, right now.

Tonight I did just that. As an almost weekly volunteer at a local high school’s art department, I am fortunate to be surrounded by the brilliant voices of the young women and men who identify as “art kids.”

Meet Maddie – a 17-year old artist who is brimming with wisdom and inspiration driven by her desire to use art as her voice in the world. I’m excited to share Maddie’s powerful voice with you and some of the topics we discussed this evening.

Maddie with her art

Maddie sitting amongst her art; her newest piece reflecting freedom of expression sits on the floor – très bien Molly!

Maddie’s most recent art piece

At the core of her newest piece (see photo) is the power of stories and how they are expressed. Maddie shared that the magazine wrapped pencils create stories about people – from healthcare workers battling Ebola, to marchers in Ferguson to celebrity. The pencils also represent how quickly important stories are erased from public consciousness and awareness. At the same time Maddie cautioned that we can become chained to our stories. She believes that these chained stories hold us back from reaching our greatest potential. Chained stories become the ones that define and prevent us from continually stretching ourselves to write our very own best life story.

Thoughts about her big dream

Maddie wants to inspire others through art while also teaching about the power of art. She shared that words can be hard. Art, however, provides the medium in which she can authentically express and represent her ideas, opinions and values.

Thoughts about the change she wants to be for the world

To inspire and encourage others to accept where they are in life, embrace it and understand that you don’t have to live in a box that someone else gives you.

Best advice

Don’t be impulsive. Think about your actions because they affect yourself and others.

What she’s listening to

Take Me to Church by Hozier

Maddie’s closing thought

I’m just a girl trying to find my way in the world.


Thank you perfectly, perfect Maddie for sharing your inspired voice. Keep on creating, keep on being you, keep on making a difference!


Je Suis Charlie

Charting passion along a spectrum, you might expect to see such elements as:

  • Mind
  • Commitment
  • Strength
  • Energy
  • Soul
  • Heart
  • Altruism

How deep and how far along the spectrum does your passion extend for your work, your projects and the things you value in the face of adversity and opposition?  Êtes-vous Charlie?

Vive la France.

Me First!

“Ooh, ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me!”

“Me first, me first, me first.”

“Pleeeassse, pleeeassse, pleeeassse!”

Remember what it was like to move to the edge of your seat, with your bottom barely attached to your child-sized chair? Your arm waving wildly and your mouth moving even faster to get your teacher’s attention?

Remember what it was like to want to be picked first, even when you didn’t know the answer?

Remember when you did get picked first and you didn’t have the answer? You’d put your little hand down for a red-hot second before it shot back up in the air with re-energized pleas for the teacher to pick you even though you still didn’t know the answer.

Remember what it was like to go first? There was no hesitancy. Just the pure, unbridled thrill of jumping-in.

At some point that incredible thrill of jumping-in begins to wane and sometimes even wax. Our bottoms become a little more glued to our adult-sized chairs. We begin to question whether our idea or our response is the right one. We begin to worry that if we jump-in it will be with a belly flop and not the perfectly timed flying forward one-and-a-half somersaults pike off the high dive (and it’s extra tragic to think about belly flopping wearing an out-of-season suit that you found on the triple mark-down clearance rack three seasons ago!).

Here’s what I know. Going first takes guts. Going first takes courage. Going first takes willingness to belly flop over and over and over. Going first takes the belief that in every thrilling belly flop lives the perfectly timed flying forward one-and-a-half somersaults pike off the high dive.

Who better to go first than perfectly, perfect you? Jump in!

Oh, I insist!

Insistence – a determination. Digging in. Dogged. Relentless. Intent. Passionate. Vocal.

What do you insist upon?

What do you stand-up for?

What do you kneel in front of?

What do you get noisy about?

What do you insist upon when it’s uncomfortable, messy and people are watching?

Insistence.  When fueled by who you are at your core and your own north star, electrifying, radiant things evolve when you insist.  You find yourself taking a risk.  You find yourself making a difference in the world.  You find yourself advocating.

Give it a whirl.  Try it on.  I insist!

Arrested Voices

Wisconsin’s state capitol.  12 noon.  Monday – Friday.  Everyday. Since Friday, March 11, 2011.  The Solidarity Sing Along.  A gathering of peaceful voices singing for change.

BFF's summer 2011 field trip

BFF’s summer 2011 field trip

I’ve been fortunate enough to lend my voice to the Solidarity Sing Along on a number of occasions.  An experience so powerful that it eventually evolved into a summer field trip for my daughter and her BFF so they could unite in song and witness democracy.

Rebecca Kemble, a reporter for The Progressive Magazine, wrote today about the Solidarity Sing Along.  What is unusual about Rebecca’s article is that her parents are the center piece of her reporting.  They have been lending their voices to this peaceful gathering designed to create conversation and change.  Rebecca’s parents’ advocacy, passion and voices for change were upended today.  Beneath the majestic rotunda of the people’s house, Rebecca’s parents were arrested – for singing.

As I read what Rebecca had written about her parents and their peaceful advocacy, I wondered what it would be like to see your elderly parents arrested and their hands cuffed behind their backs for singing their truth.  It also has me wondering if I have the strength of my convictions to sing my truth and risk being an arrested voice.  How about you?

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