Frenchie Champions, Chick-fil-A Leadercast, and a home office makeover.

So, excellent weekend. So much so that I decided to make it into a three day one. Hence, my Tuesday is my Monday.

Friday was the Chick-fil-A Leadercast event at Crossroads. If you are living in the west end of the GTA, Crossroads makes a really excellent hangout. Some people seem to think I work there since I’m a fixture at so many of their events. I had class in the afternoon so I could only stay for the first session but I got to hear Andy Stanley speak, which was the main reason I’d signed up for the event (after reading about Stanley on CNN’s Belief page back in November, I wanted to find out more.) I always have a lot of respect for people who carve out their own path in spite of being handed a legacy (Andy is Charles Stanley’s son.) His talk was terrific. For those who have never attended the event, the Chick-fil-A Leadercast is a day-long event designed for leaders of organizations. The speakers are located in Atlanta and then there are a number of satellite locations livestreaming the event. Although the event attracts a number of Christian leaders, the talks are not religious (Jack Welch was one of the speakers, for example.)

Stanley spoke about the idea of making leadership simple. He said he leads by asking himself and his team answer three key questions whenever they start feeling stuck:

What are we doing?
Why are we doing it?
Where do I fit in?

Stanley urged the viewers to come up with a one sentence job description answering the above questions to serve as a mission statement. He cited the one sentence description for the bellhops, cleaners and cooks at the Ritz Carleton chain: We are ladies and gentleman serving ladies and gentleman. Whenever you are in a new situation and don’t know what to do, this sentence will act as your compass. Stanley’s one sentence statement for his North Point Ministries is: We create churches that un-churched people love to attend. 

I thought a lot about the decorating business I’m launching. There are a zillion people out there who can tell you what pillow looks best with the curtains. So what am I doing that’s unique? For me, decorating was what healed me during a very traumatic time: saved by pillows. I believe that rearranging your space in a way that provides you comfort is just as important a part of moving forward as therapy, talking with friends, or medication. Organizing your space can be an amazing counter to the chaos in the rest of you life. Making your space beautiful can make up for some of the ugliness in the world. So my one line job description and mission statement for Jen Lawrence Design boils down to the following:

We create spaces that restore joy to people. 

I also heard executive coach David Allen speak. He is the author of Getting Things Done, which sounds like it’s about time management, but is so much more than that. He spoke about how the real barrier to creativity and productivity is not a lack of time, but a lack of psychic bandwidth. You could have knocked me over with a feather, for in five minutes he explained the last four years of my life. Immediately after my divorce, I involved myself with all sorts of distractions that took up time, money and energy. I have very little to show for the last four years except a decent tennis serve, a fine golf swing, and – as everyone I’ve come to know tells me – one heck of a screenplay for a Lifetime movie of the week (speaking of MOWs, has anyone read this month’s article in Psychology Today on Confessions of a Sociopath? Yikes. ) Since January, when I made a new vision board and said “enough!” I’ve started school, incorporated a business, finished the book on critical thinking, started blogging again, taken up photography and drawing, done some freelance work, joined two committees at the club, become a french bulldog fancier, and started teaching Sunday School. And yes, I still parent my kids and play tennis. If you are not creative or productive, Allen urges you to look at all of the draws on your psyche – bad relationships, financial worries, health worries. If you can fix these things, do so, and your energy will flood back to you.

Friday afternoon I played the class grandma in art class. On the positive side, I think I’ve found an illustrator for the book! Plus my kids are just pleased as punch that they can help me with my homework.

It was the National Specialty show for French Bulldogs on Saturday in Arnprior near Ottawa. Serena’s relatives were all going to be there (including her mother!) and I thought it would make for a fun family adventure. I have never been a fan of the long car trip, so we stayed at the cottage overnight to break up the drive. There was still a lot of driving however, including some side trips to find a Walmart for a change of clothes. (When a germaphobic mother discovers that her son has stepped in poop just behind the locked-until -May-15th washrooms at the provincially operated roadside stop and suddenly realizes that no-one would be encouraging their dog to poop behind the washrooms just out of view of the traffic, said mother will immediately throw away his shoes and socks and the car floormats and wipe down every surface and person with antibacterial wipes while feverishly trying to remember when the kids’ last hepatitis shot was administered.) Thankfully, we all arrived in one piece and Serena got to visit with her family. (The kids were so thrilled to meet 4 generations of french bulldogs!)

Her granddaughter Vivianne won Best of Breed and her son Pudge won Best of Opposite. Her mom, Cashmere, won Best Veteran.

Serena won a lovely print in the silent auction. (She did not compete this year.)

Auction, schmauction. Next year, I’m calling in sick to work so I can go win myself a trophy.

Finally, Sunday – Mother’s Day – was lovely. All three generations (of people, not bulldogs) gathered for brunch at the club. The kids presented me with handmade gifts. I bought my mother some amazing handmade chocolates from the lovely Sweet Nadine. I’m going to be having a stern word with Nadine about profit margin at some point, so you might wish to order from her before I encourage a price increase. The pecan caramel clusters and rum truffles are to die for.

This week is a busy one. I’ve moved my office to a downstairs hallway so there is a room for a drafting table and all my supplies. I had to rearrange a bunch of furniture to maximize the amount of natural light and I really love the way the house has come together. It just goes to show that you do not need a large space to have a functional home and office. (Or to buy a bunch of new furniture: A night-table became a desk, a TV stand became a sketchpad shelf.) Plus, I learned yesterday that the new setup is able to withstand an impromptu indoor badminton game. I’ll photograph it and show it off over the next week.

Now I have no excuses not to do my homework, so I’d better get to it!

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