30 October 2007

Meeting in the Ladies Room - Part Deux

Living in New York City, I and many others have the challenge of finding decent public restrooms. When I say decent, of course I mean clean and not foul-smelling – don’t want to have to decide whether to sit or stand, if you know what I mean! Anyway, because we here have the problem of homelessness, clean public restrooms are a real challenge. And in the wake of 9/11, the challenge has become even greater. It was easy to duck into a hotel lobby restroom; but since 9/11, the concierge started asking to see your room key.

Still, there are several public restrooms for us out and about-ers. Any Barnes and Noble book store can accommodate your urgent needs. After you go, grab a book, purchase a latte and sit and rest. Although B&N has restrooms, there isn’t much resting going on in them; unless you rest while waiting on the line for the stall. I must say that Borders Booksellers have fabulous restrooms – clean, spacious and with foamy soap. Like B&N, you can rest with a good book once you are done.

I have become addicted to Starbucks’ Vanilla Lattes. And guess what? Yes, you guessed it – there is a public restroom. After a Grande Vanilla Latte, there had better be a restroom; though some of the smaller Starbucks don’t have public facilities. Take your own paper goods because there is rarely any toilet tissue or paper towels. But there is a toilet. So far, so good. I have noticed that not many street people use the facilities at Starbucks. They are probably put off by the price of a cup of coffee. Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s is more their style – fast, cheap and yes, a toilet.

Now, except for the bookstores, ladies don’t look for a mirror. And no resting or socializing. Starbucks is a one-person-at-a-time facility; so no groups. But when you gotta go fast, it’s convenient. And when you really gotta go, you lose the whole socializing thing anyway. As for hotels, if there are restaurants, shops, and a bank of public phones (remember those?), then there are public restrooms. These are my personal favorites. Hotels restrooms are real meeting rooms. Women can sit, rest, socialize, and have decent conversations. The restrooms in the hotels have a sitting area, the stalls, and an area to spruce up. It’s like a condo! And everything works; there are enough paper goods to last through a flood. Hot water is hot and not lukewarm. And the paper towels are the quality kind, you know, lint-free. Good for dusting and cleaning. Okay, so I take a few. What, do they want them back? But I digress….

When I counsel clients in grief, especially women, I always tell them to honor their feelings and when you need to have a meltdown, duck into a ladies room. It is socially accepted, no one is going to stop you from needing to go to the loo, and it is full of tissues (at least we pray that it is) and, there is a mirror; except Starbucks. Wonder what’s up with that? With the prices they charge they should be able to afford bathroom mirrors, don’t you think? I mean, what's a restroom without a mirror? Just a loo!

"...I'll be back real soon..."

Coach Carolyn

29 October 2007

Meeting in the Ladies Room - Prelude

Welcome to the annual Bathroom Blogfest, which runs from October 29 to November 2, during National Kitchen and Bath Month. Bloggers from around the globe write about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience with photographs of great and terrible bathrooms. Their posts come from a wide range of perspectives that include sociology, marketing, research, psychology, environmental, customer experience, and user-experience design.

To meet all the bloggers and read their posts, visit the official Bathroom Blogfest Blog. Also check out the hilarious bathroom videos. I want to thank the instigators and animators of this fest: Stephanie Weaver, Susan Abbott, and C.B. Whittemore.

C.B. asked me if I would participate this year. And just having come from France and visiting so many WC's, I said of course. So here is my kickoff. Enjoy!

In honor of the 2007 Bathroom Blogfest, I thought I would focus on the ladies room as the meeting room. Back in the day, 1986, Klymaxx, an all-female band came out with a song called, “Meeting in the Ladies Room.” The chorus went:

“I got a meeting in the ladies room,
I’ll be back real soon…”

Unofficially, women have made the ladies restrooms a gathering place not only for rest, but relaxation, refreshment and conversation. Women of all ages gathered and took their place in front of the huge mirror. And by the way, because of the lighting in most restrooms, did you notice that every flaw is magnified? What’s up with that? But I digress…

I have always been intrigued with this notion of meeting in the ladies room. Why is it that women go to the ladies room in pairs or groups? Because it is a meeting room! Yes, there is the urgent business to take care of, but then there is the real business – socializing. And you socialize while you “fix your face.” Never understood that one, but I go with the flow. When you situate yourself next to another woman in the ladies room, find one with a “normal-size” handbag. She’s got everything you need in that bag! She may even have a spare roll of tissues. She has the sprays, the fix-its, the gels, and the Krazy Glue. I cannot understand the women who carry these teeny-weeny little handbags. All you can fit in one is a lipstick and a mobile phone…. As if! But again, I digress.

I am one of these women with a kidney the size of, well, a kidney bean. So I need to visit the ladies room quite often. What do I look for in a ladies room? Once upon a time, I wanted comfort and a clean smell. Today, just give me a toilet! I can manage the rest. No tissues? No worries, I travel with my own. No soap? No worries, I travel with my own. What, no water? No worries, that’s what hand sanitizers are for. Yes, I have been in many a ladies rooms, so I know lack.

My tip for the day: Always travel with a pack of tissues, a pack of soap leaves and/or a small bottle of hand sanitizer. If the ladies room has a toilet with a door, you are ahead of the game.

I got a meeting in the ladies room…
But I’ll be back real soon…

My Fellow Rockin' Bathroom Bloggers:

Kate Rutter—Adaptive Path
Laurence Helene Borel—Blog Till You Drop
Iris Shreve Garrott—checking out and checking in
Susan Abbott—Customer Experience Crossroads
Maria Palma—Customers Are Always
Becky Carroll—Customers Rock!
Toby Bloomberg—Diva Marketing
Stephanie Weaver—Experienceology
Linda Tischler—Fast Company Now
C.B. Whittemore—Flooring the Consumer
Ed Pell—K+B DeltaVee
Helene Blowers—Library Bytes
Claudia Schiepers—Life and its little pleasures
Katie Clark—Practical Katie
Sandra Renshaw—Purple Wren
Reshma Anand—Qualitative Research
Marianna Hayes—Results Revolution
Sara Cantor—The Curious Shopper
Anna Farmery—The Engaging Brand
Dee McCrorey—The Ultimate Corporate Entrepreneur
Katia S. Adams—Transcultural

Again, the round-up is at the Bathroom Blogfest Blog.

See you in the ladies room,
Coach Carolyn

24 October 2007

Choosing to Change Your Life

One of the classes I have begun teaching is called A Spirituality of Purpose. It is a mix of men and women and a very interesting mix, I must say. In listening to the introductions and why people are taking the course, I always find some common threads. When the discussions begin, I find that people want to find their purpose, they want to live a life of passion, but they just don’t want to work at making that possible. If passion and purpose could just fall into their laps, without them having to do too much, then they would be satisfied.

I find that folks want a neat little packaged answer with a carefully mapped out blueprint detailing exactly how to live and what to do. Well, I’m here to pop that little fantasy balloon and tell you that it just does not work that way. Most of the fun of living a life of purpose is in the discoveries that we continue to make. I wouldn’t like it if my life was handed to me on some platinum platter with all the answers to all the questions. Yet, this is exactly how some people live their lives. Their parents, their family members, their peers, their community, or society has imposed their life purpose on to them; and now they are following a script that was written by and for someone else.

The only person that can plan your life is you. Someone else can help finance it, but even then, there may be restrictions. Get in touch with your own authenticity – you have an authentic self, you know. When are you going to start finding out who that self is and start making her happy? Living a life of passion and purpose means living from center, your center, and honoring what is in your core. As women, we tend to take care of everyone around us, which is not a bad thing unless it is at the expense of taking care of ourselves. I always say that we cannot give away what we ourselves do not have. If our love tank is empty, how on earth do we expect to fill someone else’s?

Last week, I signed up for a women’s workshop called “Spark Your Fire.” I wanted to be at a workshop where I was being taken care of and not facilitating for a change. I went with no expectations, only wanting to connect with self and other women. Boy, did I connect with self! After the deep breathing exercises, which left me feeling as if I was melting into the floor, I felt the traumatized Carolyn and knew I needed to pamper her. Again, I am so about taking care of other women, that it is too easy to neglect my own self care. But I was so held and honored that evening; it was all about pampering me. I shared my feelings with one of the facilitators at the end, and she was so supportive and caring, hugging me and reminding me to honor my feelings.

All this to simply say, I honored myself and filled my love tank. To do the work I do with women, I must have a full tank, or I absolutely could not hold anyone sacredly or safely. I would be too toxic. And worse, I wouldn’t have the presence to shield other’s toxins. Pretty scary!

One way to live a life of passion and purpose is to choose to want to live a life of passion and purpose. If you want to and hold that intention, then it will begin to show up for you. If you do not, then you will get a whole lot of what you do not want. First begin by choosing to live a life of purpose. If you want to change your life, then you have to work at it. The Law of Attraction includes the Law of Action. Make the conscious intention, then take the necessary steps to create the space for it to start showing up for you.

Start by choosing to change your life,
Coach Carolyn

21 October 2007

Lessons on Love and Fear

During one of my Artist Dates, I had a lovely epiphany. I want to live more in love than in fear. Brilliant, huh? Well, yeah okay, what I mean is… I want to operate my entire life, including my coaching practice, in the love realm. The more speaking engagements I do, the more workshops I conduct, the more students I teach, the more clients I coach, the same issue always comes up: what blocks your living a life of passion and purpose? FEAR.

In my leadership coaching, I teach leaders how to love those they lead. However, this should not be confined to just those in traditional leadership positions, but to anyone who is in the position to influence someone. Guess what? That’s everyone, including you! When we can focus on loving, I believe there will be no room to focus on what we fear. And as I mentioned before, fears will always be a part of our stories, but they should not be to paralyze us, but to bring us to a new awareness. Fear means that something exciting is about to happen.

So are you wondering how do I teach people how to love? So glad you asked! Four simple words: Love as a verb! We need to wrap our brains around loving as something we make a conscious choice to do. Love is not about how we feel; we need to act our way into the feeling. When we behave lovingly, the feelings will come. Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the Church Fathers, said: “Love is the effective willing of the good of the other.” Fancy, yes? Simply put, we choose to behave toward the other for their good. We want only the best for the other, acknowledging the other as other.

We can sometimes get in the habit of lumping groups of people together and classifying or labeling them; those people, that group. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, "When you label me, you negate me." (I love the Kierkster, as I affectionately call him) We must see each person as an individually-made expression of the Divine. This is part of our purpose, to recognize that we are uniquely made expressions of the Divine and live that to the fullest. When we live this, fear has no hold on us; we only operate in love.

Lovely epiphany? I think so. I look forward to your epiphanies and your comments on my epiphany. Take yourself on an Artist Date and dream. You never know what the Universe has in store for you.

Live purposely, in love,
Coach Carolyn

16 October 2007

Becoming a Confident Woman

Last evening was the first of a follow-up coaching session to The Confident Woman workshop. Most of the women returned, and a few new women joined us. It was one of the most enjoyable and fun-filled sessions I have ever facilitated. I know, I say that about all my workshops!

But this one was different, as it was not a workshop but a group coaching session. So thoughts and questions came up and the women were instrumental in tapping into their own inner spirits to discover what their own confidence blocks were and we discussed ways to break through those blocks. Again, we spoke a lot about operating in a spirit of love as opposed to operating in a spirit of fear.

One of the biggest blocks for many women is finding the time and space to get in touch with the inner spirit. Though we say we want to build a relationship with ourselves, we don’t make it a top priority. We need to schedule an appointment with ourselves to take ourselves out on an Artist Date. And we must keep the appointment as we would any other appointment.

What is an Artist Date? Well, I am so glad you asked! In her ground-breaking book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron speaks of two ways of tapping into the inner creative or inner spirit: Morning Pages and Artist Dates. Morning pages are just long hand, stream of conscious writing in a journal every morning without censorship or edit.

Then there is my favorite, the Artist Date. Take yourself out on a date, just you and perhaps your journal and just be. I love long bus rides. So I will hop on the bus and ride all the way to the final stop, with no destination in mind. I usually end up in my favorite café where I write about anything that has come up for me. Sometimes, I just go to Central Park and sit near the water and watch the ducks and the swans. Other times, I do a combination of things, all the while carrying my journal to capture any dreams, thoughts, ideas, or just musings.

If you are having a difficult time tapping into your inner spirit – the only way to really know who you are and what you want – then I suggest picking up The Artist’s Way. It is a fabulous read and I believe for any of us to really become confident in our lives, we need to know what and who is inside of us.

Another tool I shared was repetition. When I find a book, podcast, article, or any other resource that has what I need to work on, I read or listen over and over and over and over again; until it has permeated my soul. I only want my soul filled with positive energy – so I will fill it with only positive things. The negative is far to easy and in abundance.

The second follow-up session is in December. The women have some tools and techniques on living a confident life. Can’t wait to see what unfolds.

Live confidently with passion,
Coach Carolyn

15 October 2007

Living Green on Purpose...Revisited

This post is in honor of Blog Action Day!

Unless you have been away from the planet for awhile, I am sure you are aware of the green movement -- the effort to create a more eco-friendly environment. This movement has many different layers, from recycling to carpooling to growing things. This move was brought to a new level with An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore's award-winning documentary about global warming.

Passionate congrats to Al and IPCC for winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Living on purpose is about holistic living -- mind, body and spirit. And this involves our global home. When we do not take care of our health, parts of our bodies begin to whither. When we do not keep our minds sharp and entertained, slowly we lose our emotional and mental acumen. And so it is with our planet. Unwittingly, we are slowly destroying our global home. It is very easy to say this is not my responsibility. Ah, but you see, it is! It is ALL of our responsibility.

Some of us are complete greenies! Some of us have never heard the term. Okay, maybe I made it up, but you get my point. Ignorance does not exempt you of responsibility. So get in the know! Three little words that I have heard since I was a child: Reduce, recycle, reuse. Not difficult at all. Take one a day, like a multi-vitamin. It is like any muscle, when you do not use it, it atrophies. Frequent and constant use will strengthen and become a habit. Then it will become second nature.

Start small. Use a mug instead of Styrofoam cups. Run your dishwasher when it is full. Throw cans and bottles in proper receptacles. Use rechargeable batteries. Reuse grocery bags. We often throw things away that we think are no longer useful. Do we do that with people? Of course not. We think of other ways to be of use. Purpose has no expiration dates.

So, think of ways to reuse the things that no longer seem usable. I would be interested in your comments and ideas.

Live green on purpose,
Coach Carolyn

10 October 2007

The Confident Woman

This past weekend, I conducted a new workshop called The Confident Woman. It was a blessed experience. The women were awesome and the sharing and caring was tremendous. We shared, prayed, laughed, cried, ate, and hugged in a sacred space that made us all feel like family.

One of the stumbling blocks to being confident was fear. I have spoken quite a bit on this blog about fears and how they keep us from living a passionate and purposeful life. Fears block our confidence. Just imagine the things you would try if fears were not limiting you.

A building block to living a confident life is gratitude, again an old friend of this blog. Living in an attitude of gratitude opens the door to abundance giving you the confidence to live a life free of negativity.

I am a firm believer in visuals. Visuals create a picture in the mind that mere words cannot top. One of my dear friends and workshop participants, Kathleen bought me a beautiful perfume bottle for my last birthday. I asked the women if they would love to have this bottle. They all said they would. I then explained that it is filled with poison (not the fragrance). Now would you like to have this bottle? Of course, this time all said no. Yet, I explained, when someone offends, demeans, or insults you, you take that and ingest it – like poison. Realization! Don’t you love it?

To be a confident woman, you must make the conscious choice to not attend every pity party, anger-fest, and offensive gathering that you are invited to. Just say, “Thank you for sharing; I choose not to receive that.” And move on. No need to give further explanation; which only leads to further confrontation.

We were given an awesome power – the power to choose. Yet, sometimes we do not exercise that power wisely. Stopping is a spiritual action. When we are in the midst of a major or even a not so major decision, stop, take a breath, and then choose. And remember, making no choice, is also a choice. Make the choice to live an amazing and confident life.

Live passionately with confidence!
Coach Carolyn

05 October 2007

Forgiving on Purpose

I posted the topic of forgiveness on my leadership blog, Equip and Empower after giving a talk on leadership to a class of seminarians. The topic was a lively one and very provocative. I love purposeful, provocative conversations -- they are so filled with passion!

You can read the post I wrote over up the block, but I wanted to just bring up the topic here because it is a sticking point to living a life of passion and purpose. I wanted to bring up some points for you to perhaps meditate and journal about over the weekend.
  • Do you have an issue of unforgiveness in your life?
  • Is it upsetting your peace?
  • What would you like to do about it?

Three simple questions to meditate on and journal about. I believe an exercise worth looking at. Forgiveness is such a loaded and provocative issue that these three questions are all we need to handle at one time.

If you are so willing, please share with me what came up for your in your journaling time.

Live free and on purpose,
Coach Carolyn

Lessons in Facing Your Fears

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” ~ Anne Frank

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” ~ Marie Curie

“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears--of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words "Some Assembly Required.” ~ Dave Barry

"Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is." ~ German Proverb

"Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it." ~ Lt. John B. Putnam Jr.

Live fearlessly and passionately,
Coach Carolyn