Merry Christmas!

© Prescott09 | Dreamstime.com - Nativity Scene. Stained Glass Window Photo

© Prescott09 | Dreamstime.com – Nativity Scene. Stained Glass Window Photo

Merry Christmas everyone!

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very Happy Holiday season!

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Happy Halloween!

“ All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of the mind that walk in darkness; and though he had seen many specters in his time, and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes, in his lonely pre-ambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and he would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was – a woman.”
Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Jeździec bez głowy na tle cmentarnej bramy

Summer of rediscovering and making memories.

DSC03978So, I haven’t written in a while and felt a brief update was due. 2014 has been fabulous to date and with any luck it will continue to be. I chose to really focus on the last leg of my History BA for the early half of the year. That paid great dividends as it allowed me to graduate Summa Cum Laude in May. While achieving such a fantastic goal left me feeling exhilarated, it also caused some academic and writing burn out to take root. To ensure my creative spirit returned and I could answer the call of the muses in the future, I decided to truly take a summer off for the first time in years. DSC04011

For the past two months, I reconnected with friends, spent time with the family, did some roughing out of an idea for a second book, revisited a language I studied as a little girl, and began fencing again. I am fortunate in being able to take that much down time.  We don’t always have that luxury once we are grown ups.

The best part of this summer was learning to see life through the eyes of a child again. My son opted to stay home versus going into a summer day camp program so we spent a lot of time together. He is 10 and very high energy. His decision led to water balloon fights in the backyard, Nerf gun wars, exploring Texas, and many interesting discussions about topics ranging from politics to MineCraft. He also asked if he could learn to fence sabre. I was happy to accommodate that request for two reasons. One, it is a sport he really has a passion for. Two, it gives he and I a unique activity to do together. I really enjoyed watching him progress each week in his lessons. He learns things very quickly. Fencing with him at the club and at home I can see how much he has improved from June until now. The picture below is from his first lesson of the summer. D is in the white and the gentleman in the black is my friend and fencing coach, Curtis Hardy. IMG_2819 The pics scattered in this update are from our adventures locally and in Houston. If you haven’t been to Houston, it is a fun place to visit. I will save a run down on Houston for a future blog entry so this one doesn’t become too long.

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Clock at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Photo by Caterina, Aug. 2014

Unfortunately, summer has flown by and we are zooming into the fall. Fall means D and I lose our afternoons of fun and lazy mornings of lounging around the house once again due to going back to school. In less than a week, I begin the next monster goal on my Dematurity plan – obtaining my Masters. My Public History Program holds the promise of new challenges and knowledge both of which I am anxious and hungry for again. I am already beginning to read required texts. One text really knocked the rust off the mental wheels and has them turning. It inspired brainstorming for future blog posts, added two potential new thesis topics to those already floating around in my head, and helped wake a refreshed writer from a much-needed nap.

I hope all of you that follow were able to take time to relax, recharge, be a kid again, play in the warm sunshine, and spend time with those important in your lives as well.

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Chinese Crocodile Lizard Photo by Caterina Aug 2014

Wishing everyone a fantastic end of summer!

Caterina

Dematurity Plan and 2014 Strategic Priorities

Fireworks DisplayWoohoo!  A fantastic year is ending and a new one that I hope will be just as remarkable is beginning.  The theme I’ve chosen for 2014 is “Taking Risks and Making Dreams Reality.”

This means that shortly, I will call together the board of me, (consisting of myself, a glass of vino, a pen and paper), and begin my annual strategic planning conference to determine 2014 Strategic Goals and review / update the Dematurity Plan.  I bet a bunch of you are wondering what a Dematurity plan is and why is  Caterina having a strategic planning conference with herself?

The Dematurity Plan is the easiest thing to explain.  It is similar to a bucket list, except it has a shorter period in which to execute.  I want to do these things while I am relatively young versus waiting until my golden years.  I set a goal of achieving all items within 5 years of adding them to the list.  They can be anything and everything.  They are whatever tickles your fancy!  They can be travel, random goals, and wild things you want to try.  It includes whatever you want to do, as long as they energize you and keep you young at heart.  Hence the name: Dematurity plan.

No doubt, you are thinking that the Dematurity Plan sounds fun. It’s dorky in a way, but fun.  Now, what about these strategic priorities?  It sounds a little too businessesque and not too much fun for a person.  Truthfully, that was my initial reaction as well.  After all, New Years resolutions were made to be broken, right?  I sure as hell couldn’t manage to keep mine for one reason or another.  Obviously, simply making a resolution doesn’t work for me.  I need to commit to whatever I state and see it in front of me to bring it to life.

A wise woman once told me that resolutions weren’t actionable.  She actually said that same thing many times to me, along with the other leaders in the department I worked in, when building out goals and priorities for our teams.  When she was assigned as my professional mentor, she suggested I start applying the same principles to my personal goals since I backslid on them all of the time for a hundred and one different reasons.  I thought she was crazy!  Who in the hell does that with their personal life?!  That is really way too much work for personal goals.

Being the smart woman she is, she reminded me that I did this professionally every year and it had served me well.  Why not do it personally too?  If it didn’t work, I could walk away from it.  She also identified early that my work/life balance was way out of whack and I needed to put it back in balance if I was going to deliver every day at work and at home.  So I trusted her, bit the bullet, and dreamed about what I could accomplish for myself personally in a year.  None of what I am about to share is rocket science and many business minded folks do it every single day at work.  A handful will also do it at home.

My annual plan consists of 5-10 items depending on what is top of mind when I find a quiet moment to really think through what would be amazing to accomplish that year.  I pick 3-4 heavy hitters.  That way I can make them actionable and not take on more than I can really handle.  I have a tendency to do that.  I also have trouble saying “no” to myself and others if an interesting project surfaces.  After brainstorming the big goals, I pick a few lower priority items that I would like to do as well.  The world won’t end if I don’t finish them or merely make little progress.  These are also nice if you need to see something accomplished every now and then to stay motivated.  Lastly, I set rough target dates and outline actions I need to take each step of the way to move towards the end goal.

Every quarter, I schedule time to sit down and review the goals against my progress in achieving them, and adapt them as needed.  I celebrate each one I accomplish, especially the stretch goals.  Additionally, I celebrate my failures.  This is important as we learn from failing as much as we do from succeeding.  When I fail, I take the time to ask myself why and what I learned.  Is it something I want to attempt again now that I know where things went wrong?  Or is it better to walk away and fight another day or another battle?

For whatever reason, the above works for me.  If you find yourself wanting to set goals, but can’t seem to make progress towards achieving them, try a Dematurity or Strategic Priority plan.  Some folks, even non-OCD ones like me, need a little more structure to be successful.  Most of all, have fun!  The journey to completing the goal is where we really grow and triumph, not when we cross the finish line.

Oh, one more important thing!  Share the goals with someone who can help keep you on track or put them some place you can see them everyday.   I leverage both and have yet to miss a major goal in three years.

I would love to hear what you are striving to do in 2014 and what helps keep you on track with your goals and dreams!

Happy New Year to all of you!