Thursday, December 23, 2010

Article I Wrote for CWC Intranet

Envisioning A Workplace of Possibility

The holidays are approaching -- a time of wonder and delight, mistletoe and magic. Yet with the joy and delights of the season, also comes added stress and pressure, particularly here at Coldwater Creek. These darkest days of December are merely prelude to month-end, the new calendar year, fiscal year-end, performance reviews, tax season…the list goes on. With the recent downsizing, we are also faced with more work, less resources, longer hours, greater demands, and more change. Often, when pressure and demands rise, so too do stress, negativity, resentment and overwhelm. But there is another option….

What would it be like to come to work and be surrounded by individuals doing their best work, focused on what matters most and smiling?

How would it feel to enjoy the challenge of the season, connect as a team in pursuit of a common goal and laugh while working, even when mistakes are made and corrected?

What would it be like to generate in our workplace a sense of enduring optimism, a mindset of possibility and an energetic presence which conveys connection, care and compassion?

What would it feel like to be seen by others for our innate greatness and, in turn, see others for their innate greatness as well?

While it might sound somewhat na├»ve or idealistic, the workplace envisioned above is possible. It is an option we all have to create for ourselves, for all those with whom we work, for Coldwater Creek. There is no doubt that times have been hard lately. I know first hand the experience of loss and disorganization common to so many. Yet despite these challenges, a choice stands before us – the choice to be in our present reality and optimize the experience. A choice to design the culture we want to work in and envision it, create it, live it.

A sound business case supports this choice. Ample studies on mood and productivity tell us that:

• people in good moods think more positively and comprehensively during decision-making
• upbeat moods boost cooperation and teamwork
• positive environments lead to increased performance and profitability
• positive people are generally stronger, wiser, more resilient and more socially integrated

And if ever there were a time for better decision-making, teamwork, performance, wisdom, resilience and profitability, that time is now!

Shining Our Light

So, how do we make this happen? We know that not everyone is naturally inclined toward positivism (OK, I have just “out-ed” myself…). It is true; for some of us, more than others, optimism and positivity require practice. Yet whether we are born with the capacity or not, we can learn to be happier and more optimistic and this learning curve begins with intention -- our willingness to take stock, in the moment, of any given situation and choose to see a glass half-full reality. As they say, like with plants, “where we shine the light, it grows.” We can choose to shine our light on what is working, what we can do, what is available to us, and in doing so, shift our attention toward a positive view of reality.

To be clear – I am not advocating a Pollyanna, disregard of the real human experience. What I am talking about is building a capacity and willingness to create distinctions between the events in life that cause true suffering for individuals and our own, often trifling, common workplace occurrences which throw us into hyperbolic levels of irritation. Consider…

The co-worker who talks too loudly at her desk phone
The boss who asks you to come in on the weekend to finish the project
The colleague who forgets to include you on an email string
The line item on your budget which is cut
The training you were supposed to attend which gets canceled

While none of these situations is enjoyable, neither is any cause for unnecessary belaboring about how bad things are, how awful life is or how frustrated you are. In the end, these experiences, while irritating, are simply workplace reality happening to us. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the end, it is our interpretation of reality that matters most. When we interpret situations like the above examples as “things being done to us” or perceive ourselves as “victims of circumstance,” we are bound to fall prey to negativity and subsequent negative outcomes. However, when we opt for a more positive interpretation of events, we often feel better, undergo less stress and often experience more positive outcomes.

To cultivate the shift I am suggesting requires each of us to bring our best Self to work every day – our best centered, connected, forward-looking Self -- and thereby bring with it the opportunity to positively impact those around us. We must “infect” our workplace with a radiating positivity that lifts us up, allowing optimism to prevail over the tyranny of pessimism. In such a climate, everyone enjoys greater attention, greater resilience, greater problem-solving and greater focus on what matters most in every moment.

So I put out this call to all of us today: Let’s focus on what is possible and positive and begin spreading it through our workplace. Let’s take what current studies of brain science and emotional intelligence have proven -- that positive emotions are contagious – and choose to infuse our days with generative emotions which evoke more of the same – joy, gratitude, amusement, hope, pride, inspiration. By doing so, we might not only enjoy our time here more each day, but we are bound to move this organization closer to success, step by optimistic step.

Today's Thought from Another Henry

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. -- Thoreau

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seasonal Update

We're getting ready for Halloween fun! As well, the snows have fallen on the mountain, the leaves have fallen from the trees, darkness comes early and stays late. Welcome winter!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wallowa Wowsa!

In northeast Oregon there are a set of amazing mountains and canyons called the Wallowas. Amazing long weekend marking the inaugural journey in our new Rosie! The kids and Purple Grandma were all troupers -- we camped aside the lovely river in the Lostine Canyon, enjoyed a fun morning espresso at the Blue Banana, took the steepest tram in North America to the top of Mt. Howard where we got to hike as if in the Swiss Alps, took a turn on the go-karts near Wallowa Lake, discovered Terminal Gravity IPA at the local brewery and ended up taking home a case! Many wonderful memories were made!

Blessing Atop the Peak

Considerations of a more internal kind...letting go of the recent injustices at work in order to focus on the more important things in life -- like how to be the best parent I can be, how to relinquish fear in the service of true adventure, how to articulate my "professional offer" in ways that honor the past and lead me forward. I return to Strozzi in a few weeks to begin the Advanced Leadership series -- more opportunities to practice, to learn, to invite.

Yesterday Shannon and I took the day off to go high into the mountains -- Scotchman Peak was the destination. It is called "extreme" in the guide book which I found interesting, as the hike felt not so much extreme as extremely wonderful! Steep terrain brings you up 3,700 foot gain through the tree line toward a scree-topped summit where once was an old fire lookout. Once at the top, views are spectacular of the Selkirks, Cabinets and surrounding lakes -- Idaho, Montana and Canada all in sight. We were sweaty and breathing hard most of the way which felt delicious -- it had been too long since I had been "all out" in this way.
I envisioned the perfect day on this mountain to include a noble goat, as often are reputed in these areas. I am a huge fan of the mountain goat -- strong, nimble and clear-eyed. As we hiked, I kept a look out for all things wild. Saw a few new birds, some squirrels and chipmunks and gratefully, no bears. The higher we got, the fog appeared which made the whole landscape a bit ominous, a bit magical. Then, just as I rounded the last huge rock around the base of the once-standing fire lookout, there he was...majestic, regal, connected. Ah, life. It offers such possibility and so many gifts. I felt truly blessed.

Fun Kid Updates

Hope and her friends...jazz hands!
Henry and his new bike -- pure joy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Moment

Lovely moment captured by Lara

Lopez Adventuring

Fabulous summer adventure to Lopez Island - just what was needed as a family getaway. We spent every day at some beach, eating some delicious bakery treat, having woken up in the gentle energies of the yurt. What a delight.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Friendship Question

Today's considerations...the dynamics of friendship between those who have children and those who are child-free. I have experienced some sensitivities of late feeling like a vast part of who I am today is either invisible to my child-free friends or consciously omitted by me as I relate to them. This omission stems from my concern that I will be perceived as "all-mom" and not "Diana," the once interesting, inquisitive individual who had the mental capacity to think beyond potty training and daycare woes and the physical capacity to stay up past 8:30pm...

And then there is my own envy -- that green-eyed monster that arises when I listen to the stories of world travels, romantic evenings and art shows...the yearning I have at times to run away from this parenting responsibility and enjoy the freedoms my child-free friends have...

Whether it is my friends for whom kids are not really their thing or my own feelings of identity inadequacy, the challenges are real...AND I am hoping they are surmountable.

One friend sent me some links she had found on the subject:

Interesting of course how I had believed this was my issue alone...that I would be the only one who might suffer this relational catastrophe...oy vey

So to overcome this "great divide?"

The first answer seems to be to take it in stride --"optimize reality" as I like to say. To find the spaces where my child-free friends can enjoy interacting with our kids without subjecting them to "kid overload" or even holding them hostage in their own home...(OK, so we recently spent 3 whole days/nights in the home of our dear child-free friends...)

Second is the realization that the challenges we face today raising a 2 & 4 year old will shift over time. That in time, there will be less diaper conversations, as diapers will be a thing of the past. That once regular sleep returns, I may be able to discuss the books I am reading or the recent art film I have fact I may even have completed my certification program in Somatic Coaching...So, time...patience...

Then, compassion. I realize I have gone from one who has been validated throughout my life by external achievement to now relying on more subtle measures of success (and are they even mine?) like how creative our children are or how connected they feel to a stable home environment... How to learn to be compassionate in my own valuation of myself for the acts of care and development and nurturing of our children, despite a lack of time left for pursuit of other more tangible goals...

Next gratitude. How grateful I am to even be considering this dilemma -- to have the loving friends worthy of exploring it with and the most beautiful children in the world whom I love so dearly. Would that jealousy and internal conflicts would give way to openness of heart and wonder of the amazement that surrounds us all.

And lastly, acceptance of change itself -- that friendships themselves will change over time. That experience and context will shift. I love the question at the forefront of it all: What does "friendship" mean as an adult? What is at the foundation of these connections that transcends all of the externals?

So, I am interested in hearing from others about this experience -- both from those with kids and those without. How can we create a mutually-satisfying experience on both sides? How can we serve to support and care for ourselves, each other and our friendships despite (nay, in celebration of) the individual choices we all have made...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Horsin' Around

Great fun at Henry and Hope's riding lesson on Saturday. Cowboy Chris went all-out to ensure both kids had a blast! They practiced barrel racing, capturing flags and Henry even held a steady trot (while giggling heartily the whole time!)

My only concern...will our daughter really want a pony???

Friday, June 25, 2010

All Boy!

Henry loves him some back hoe front loader!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


And more...

Henry: "Mom, I like stay-at-home days better than school days."
Diana: "How come?"
Henry: "Because we get to cuddle more."
Diana: "Why do you like cuddling?"
Henry: "Because it makes me feel connected to you."
Diana: "Yeah, me too."

It doesn't get better than this!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Faces of Joy (and Hope...)

I get so exhausted these days as full time working mom...trying to ensure everyone's needs are met. At times, I want to run off in the middle of the night to some fancy retreat center, change my name and luxuriate for a few weeks...but oh how I would miss these little faces!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Workin' Man

Henry and "Uncle" Jeff getting some things done around the house...
Check out the new gravel pit!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010


What an amazing camping adventure -- many two momma families and our kids all enjoying the amazing beauty of Icicle Creek Canyon! With hope, it will become an annual tradition!

Our Own BC Fan Club

Brandi Carlile is coming to the Sandpoint Festival this summer and we are getting psyched! In her honor, here are Henry, Hope and Gigi dancing to their favorite: Dreams!

Monday, May 10, 2010

True Fans!

Brandi is indeed coming to the Festival at Sandpoint, August 6th!
Get your tickets!!!

"Dreams, I have dreams when I'm awake when I'm asleep And you, you are in my Dreams You're underneath my skin, how am I so weak And now in my dreams, I can feel the weight, I can just come clean I keep it to myself, I know what it means I can't have you, but I have dreams How long, can you hold your breath? Can you count to ten, can you let it pass? Keep, can you keep it in? Keep it behind lashes, can you make it last? And now in my dreams, I can feel the weight I can just come clean I keep it to myself, I know what it means I can't have you, but I have dreams Oh, I have dreams, I have dreams (And then an amazing guitar solo) Mind, can you read my mind? Has it come undone, am I showin' signs? And now, in my dreams I can feel the weight, I can just come clean I keep it to myself, I know what it means I can't have you, but I have dreams I have dreams, I have, I have, I have Dreams"

Monday, May 03, 2010

Life's Simple Pleasures

Devouring a cupcake at his friend's Alek's birthday party.

Active Bunch

Diana and friends join the thousands in the 34th annual Bloomsday race. I crossed the finish at 1:04, which was much better than I expected -- Shannon was out with a pulled calf muscle -- hopefully she will be in full recovery shortly.

Hope in her element in the "pit," the nastiest and most enjoyable foam extravaganza on earth!

Our little pirate!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Favorite shot of me and Hen on the frozen lake (taken by our friend Lara). This photo reminds me of how in the front of life Henry is -- in the front of our lives -- what a love!

Spring is Upon Us

Early morning family smiles

30+ years of friendship -- thanks, Lesley!

Moms get hiking!

Sweet love

What's Your Sentence?

Today, my sentence reads...

"In her past, she learned to survive; and thereafter, to thrive with joy and optimism."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cool Pic

Lara's artsy photo with her new "toy camera" -- She is one cool cat!