Friday, November 30, 2007

Stop the Catalog Avalanche

Mailbox_3 Are you as tired as I am of catalogs and other junk mail in your mailbox? If so, read on!

I had an 'Aha!' moment not long ago. I was listening to organizing expert Monica Ricci's radio interview on the Vicky & Jen Show. The topic was paper clutter.

Now, I have to admit that I have paper clutter. Oh, boy, do I! But I work at minimizing it. I try to deal with my mail as soon as it arrives, handling each piece once, tossing any catalogs I won't use and shredding credit card offers, etc. But still the paper mounts.

When Monica suggested that the BEST thing to do is to stop paper from coming in the house in the first place, I had my "Aha!" moment. Could I really end the avalanche of catalogs that appears in my mailbox every day? Yes! And you can, too.

Catalog Choice is a free service that lets you opt-out of unwanted catalogs. The sign up is simple. The fun is choosing catalogs and declining to receive any more from a company.

Yippee! No more 'Plow and Hearth' or 'Harry and David' and a whole bunch of others that I have never ordered from yet they inundate me with so much paper that I'm left overwhelmed and confused. Maybe there is something in there I just can't live without? Maybe I should keep the catalog 'just in case' I want to order from them? NO!

If the catalogs don't arrive in the first place, my mail is decreased by more than half. My mailbox will now just be filled with credit card offers...and I'll tell you another day how to stop those.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Put a Little More 'NO' in Your Life

In a recent post I wrote about using a 'Commitment Diet' to take control of your time and your life. An integral part of that diet would be saying 'NO.'

It's not always easy to say 'NO.' Sometimes a request catches us off guard. Other times we just hate to turn down someone we like and respect. Still others find us confronted by people we just can't refuse, such as a boss or other co-worker.

Let's think about this for a moment and consider that there may be options in addition to the straightforward "Yes" or "No."

Business communications coach Patrick Donadio lists seven ways to say No at his web site. Here they are...with a bit of embellishment on my part:

1. Say NO...with a straightforward explanation - "No, I'm uncomfortable doing that."

2. Say NO...and give an alternative - "No, I can't do that today. How about first thing in the morning?"

3. Say NO...and clarify your reason so your position will be understood - "No. I can't help you because I made a commitment to my son to attend his basketball games."

4. Give a preface and then say NO - "Each year we choose three charities to support. I am sorry but your charitiy was not chosen this year."

Those are all quite simple and, with some practice, you should be able to come up with a valid "No" without hesitation. Hesitation is not a good thing.

Now for the tougher situations. How about the boss or co-worker who wants/needs help with a project? You really can't say, "No, I won't do that." At least not if you expect to keep your job. Perhaps the following will help:

5. Make an emphatic listening statement (let them down easy) and then say NO - "I can see this is important and I would like to help you but I am already committed to the Jones trial that is scheduled for next week."

6. Say YES BUT - YES, I can work on the Brief BUT I don't have the time to put together all the exhibits."

7. Say YES AND to give a nicer answer and to give alternatives - "YES, I will draft the Brief AND I will need you to prepare the exhibits."

In both No. 6 and 7, you have given an alternative so that you are not taking on the entire project.

Be sure to check out Patrick Donadio's website at and his blog at for more information regarding Patrick's business development training/coaching for lawyers to assist them in building their practices.

I would like to hear other ideas for saying 'NO' and any experiences any of you may have had. Please comment!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

An evening with Beth Holloway...

As I watched the news unfold about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway during her high school senior class trip to Aruba in May, 2005, I was struck by the strength, courage and determination of her mother, Beth Holloway.

It never occurred to me that one day I would be able to shake Beth Holloway's hand, look her in the eye and tell her just that. I had that opportunity this evening.

Beth Holloway is visiting the small town where I live and tonight presented her message of faith and hope during a time of incredible darkness. Beth's story is one no one should have to tell. She has lived the nightmare not one of us would want to live. She is an inspiration.

Beth has established the International Safe Travels Foundationto help people plan, travel and return home safely. The site suggests simple steps to take when making travel plans that will make every trip safer. It offers access to information and resources you will need so that you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Loving_natalee_2Beth has also authored a book titled Loving Natalee that is a candid, insipirational memoir of her harrowing ordeal.

Natalee's case remains unsolved to this day and Beth's search continues. God bless.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Announcing: Advanced Ethics Course

On Thursday, October 18, 2007, I will be presenting 'Advanced Ethics' on NALA Campus Live! sponsored by the National Association of Legal Assistants.

This course expands on the popular basic ethics course. It focuses on complex ethics issues faced by paralegals and legal assistants working in law firms, governmental agencies and corporations, with particular emphasis on the unauthorized practice of law, conflicts of interest and confidentiality. The rules, regulations and responsibilities guiding the ethical behavior of paralegal professionals are discussed, as well as case law, the ABA Model Rules, NALA's Code of Ethics and Model Standards and Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistants.

The presentation begins at 12:00 p.m. CST. For additional information and registration go to


Monday, October 8, 2007

Try a Commitment Diet...

Diet_scales_2Did you get a call this week to work on a new project, a new job, or a new committee? Did you say 'yes' and find yourself feeling overwhelmed, with more responsibilities than ever?

If so, you may suffer from 'pick-me-itis'...the dread disease that afflicts many of us: when someone asks for a volunteer, we wave our arms wildly like an enthusiastic third grader, saying "Pick me! Pick me!" And, of course, we're chosen.

If this sounds all too familiar, you may need to go on a really simple diet...a comitment diet. Here's how it works: when you make a new commitment, you give up another commitment. This only makes sense. If you are already too busy and overwhelmed, how do you think you can add another commitment? You can't. Instead, you have to give something up to make room for the new. This is the secret to keeping your life in balance.

The big pay-off comes when you give up two or three less important commitments! The result will be free time to do the things that make you happy. Remember, instead of doing more things, choose to do more important things.

I'd be interested in knowing if any of my readers are on a commitment diet? Is it working? How did you learn to say 'no' and let go of the guilt that accompanies turning someone down?


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just a Reminder

On Thursday, October 4, 2007, I will be presenting 'Time Organization Strategies and Techniques' on NALA Campus Live sponsored by the National Association of Legal Assistants.

Do you have too little time and too much to do? Do you procrastinate? Do you suffer from information overload? Has the word "no" disappeared from your vocabulary? If so, this course is for you!

The presentation begins at 12:00 p.m. CST. For additional information and registration go to

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Save Me from the Sticky Notes!

Prod_note_pads_3 Is there any one of my loyal readers who doesn't have a sticky note on their desk? The odds are good that every single one of you relies on this product invented by Art Fry with the Ws_silverfry_5assistance of a colleague at 3M, Dr. Spencer Silver. The product didn't take off when it was first available in the early 1970's. In 1979 the 3M corporation implemented a massive consumer sampling strategy that established its Post-It Notes as an essential organizing tool.

The sticky note does have a place in our quest for organization. I am actually a huge fan and have all colors and sizes on my desk. I use them to label documents, bookmark pages, flag places for signatures, and call attention Altoids_creamcheese_goodplenty_13_3 to something important. I try not to use them to make a note every time someone calls me or stops in my office to discuss a file. These little notes can multiply until they can be compared to the refrigerator magnet ... after a while they become a part of the landscape and we no longer see them, even though they cover the entire surface.

Sticky notes tend to accumulate in every nook and cranny of our offices, one on top of the other, sometimes never to be looked at again or at least until it's too late to do what you wrote the note about in the first place. Or, worse yet, you can't find the note you need when you need it. Oh, my! The frustration!

Organizing expert Monica Ricci provided this Stickytruck_6picture of a pickup truck she witnessed driving down the Georgia 400. I think this may be taking the use of sticky notes way too far, not to mention the danger. This is NOT an efficient daily planner!

Is there a solution? Yes!

All of your notes, instructions, phone numbers, etc. should be written in one place. The trick is to determine what single product will work for you.

S0043150_std_2 I find that a simple, inexpensive shorthand notebook kept by my telephone does the trick for me. I put the date at the top of the page. On the left side of the line, I write the name of the person I'm doing work for and on the right side of the line I make my notes. I try to always ask for the telephone number of the person I'm talking to and jot that under their name. If I'm referring to a client, I may note their file number under their name.

Every day I start a fresh page and every month I start a new book. It is easy to find a name or a category if I need to look back because they are always in the same place (the notebook) and clearly set out by themselves on the left side of the page.

Take a look at your desk. Is it time to limit the use of the sticky notes? If so, decide where you can keep your notes all in one place. Let me know what works for you!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I've been on the road....

Or perhaps I should say I've been "in the air" again....lots of airports were involved!

September was a busy month for me...hence no posts on this blog. I'm back at home now and will soon be posting more of the ideas and information I want to share with my readers.

First, a bit about my travels...

St. Louis, Missouri and the law firm of Thompson Coburn was my first stop. On my first day there, I presented Ethics for Legal Support Staff to 120 legal secretaries. There were 80 paralegals in attendance the next day when I presented Advanced Ethics for Legal Assistants and Paralegals. This program was also web cast to the paralegals in the firm's Washington, DC, Belleville, Illinois and Chicago offices.

The staff at Thompson Coburn, particularly Jacqueline O'Quinn and Patty Brokaw, made me feel right at home and I enjoyed meeting everyone. Their offices are beautiful, with expansive views of the city and the famous St. Louis Arch. The newly rennovated St. Louis Renaissance Grand Hotel on Washington Street was a perfect place to stay.

My next stop was Grand Rapids, Michigan and the beautiful Amway Grand Plaza Hotel ....

where I presented Critical Ethics Issues for Legal Assistants and Paralegals: A Case Study Approach at the State Bar of Michigan's Annual Meeting/ICLE Solo and Small Firm Institute.

While in Grand Rapids I also attended my last meeting as Chair Ex Officio of the Legal Assistants Section of the State Bar of Michigan. Serving on the Council of the Section was truly a privilege! Denise Gau,2006-08 Chair, turned over the gavel to Cheryl Nodarse. While Denise will be a tough act to follow, I know Cheryl will be an awesome leader this next year. I must also mention that Annual Meeting Chair, KathyAnn Blunck, did a great job planning this year's meeting.

My last stop was Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Fall meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Legal Assistants. I serve on the Board in my capacity as Chair of NALA's Advanced Paralegal Certification Board. I also assisted with some entertainment for the Board ... Cowboy Olympics ... designed to promote NALA's 2008 Convention to be held in Oklahoma City, July 29th through August 2nd.

Did I say it was a busy month? That would be an understatement! But it was lots of fun, too. I made new friends, re-connected with old ones, and continued to educate the legal community about the importance of ethics education for legal support staff.

Great Attendance at My NALA Basic Ethics Web Cast

Logoartblack_2 The National Association of Legal Assistants has started its fall programs presented by web cast on NALA Campus Live!

It was my pleasure to kick off the fall schedule with my ninety-minute Basic Ethics course on August 16th and I was very happy to have one of the highest numbers ever to attend a NALA web cast. There were some excellent reviews and also a few very good constructive ideas for improvements that I will incorporate when I present the course again in February 2008.

My next NALA Campus courses will be Time Organization on Thursday, October 4th and Advanced Ethics on Thursday, October 18th. Both are offered from noon to 1:30 p.m. CST.

NALA Campus Live! offers a wide range of courses varying from practice tips and certification review courses to advanced presentations on substantive law topics. Expertise needed by participants ranges from very little knowledge of the subject to extensive understanding. Click here for schedule and course descriptions for all available courses.

NALA is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. The Montana State Bar has granted NALA Approved Sponsor Status for paralegals and attorneys. The North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification has approved NALA's programs for continuing paralegal education credit and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization has approved certain programs for certification and re-certification continuing legal education for TBLS Board Certified legal Assistant/Paralegals.

The National Association of Legal Assistants is the nation's leading professional association for paralegals and legal assistants. Established in 1975, NALA represents over 19,000 paralegals through individual members and 90 state and local affiliated associations.

If any of you attended the Basic Ethics course, please post your comments about the course that you think might interest my readers.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Cooking Class at Azienda Trinita in Mascalucia, Sicily

In a couple of my early posts, I wrote about taking a cruise on theSeabourn_spirit Seabourn Spirit from Rome to Athens. During that cruise, the Seabourn Spirit docked in Taormina, Sicily. We had two choices for excursions: a trek to the top of Mt. Aetna or a tour of an Italian farmhouse with a cooking demonstration.

Italia_sicilia_taormina_1224718_tn Mt. Aetna was steaming and looked interesting from afar. But I have had several volcano experiences, having toured the ruins of Pompeii and also ridden a bicycle from the rim of Haleakala on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Also, my friends know I'm all about food. I love to cook and I love to eat. So the choice was really quite simple.

We were driven by bus from the port in Taormina to the hills above Catania to the village of Mascalucia and Azienda Trinita, the family homestead of Baron and Baroness Bonajuto. Now I know this was billed as an Italian "farmhouse" but forget the typical US farmhouse. This was an Italian villa.

Baron and Baroness Bonajuto's "farm" dates back to 1609 and is surrounded by blooming citrus trees. They bottle their own wine and olives, among other things. True bliss.

The Baroness led the cooking demonstration, preparing a homemade meal with ingredients fresh from their garden. This included the antipasto: Carpaccio of Zucchini, followed by two entrees: pasta with pistachio and chicken breast with grapes; and a crostata brushed with their homemade lemon marmalade.

We toured the garden and dined under the shade of the fruit trees. The Baron served our lunch accompanied by their wonderful wine.

I have duplicated only one dish at home: the Carpaccio of Zucchini. Loosely translated, this is a salad of thinly sliced zucchini. Here's how it's done: cut one small to medium sized zucchini in half across; from each half, shave long, thin slices with a cheese slicer; squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the zucchini, add olive oil and coarse salt. Toss well and then (and this makes the dish) sprinkle with chopped mint leaves. There are no exact measurements except for the juice of one-half lemon to one zucchini...just do the rest to taste. This is a very delicious, healthy dish and I hope you will all try it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Clutter Control Freak

Monica Ricci is an organizing expert out of Atlanta who is a regular on HGTV, Ricci_b_thumb has her own weekly radio show, and also has a wonderful blog that is full of good information. She's also become a friend of mine over the past year and I was guest on her weekly radio show last February. Fun!

My goal is to pass along good information to my readers so I want to fill you in on Monica's latest endeaver. Since she is all about products...Monica knows how important it is to combine tools and habits to create a system...she has been asked to be an expert contributor to a blog of one of the largest and longest-standing online retailers of organizing products, Stacks and Stacks. She will join other blogger pals such as Dr. Amie Ragan, Gretchen Rubin, and Ariane Benefit, to name a few, to man Stacks and Stacks blog titled Clutter Control Freak!

Ccf_badge1_2 Do stop by Clutter Control Freak, leave a comment, get great orgnizing tips and learn about terrific products that will help simplify your life. Mel Ronick, the founder of Stacks and Stacks, is offering a $25 gift card to the first 25 people to comment on the blog. This makes it worth checking out!

Monica also quotes Bob Vila who says "having the righ tool is half the job." As Monica says, "The tool isn't magic but you do need the right products to create a sustainable organizing solution in most cases."

Be sure to check out Monica's blog, as well as Clutter Control Freak, and let me know what you think. I'd also be interested in hearing about your favorite organizing tools. Mine is the turntable (I've even been dubbed the Turntable Queen by Monica) but more about that in another post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Observing a Chipmunk: Why Do We Feel Compelled to Hoard?

256pxtamiasrufus001_2 A very cute chipmunk has taken up residence in my flower garden. I thought this was OK but friends have told me he will damage my plants so I will be on the lookout for that. As I write this, though, I'm enjoying watching the little guy scurry around the yard. He's everywhere! He darts under the large bird feeder to fill his cheeks with sunflower seeds and then he runs off either to eat them or store them for the winter he knows will be here all too soon. Then he scampers under the thistle seed feeder to feast on those fine tiny morsels. Again, he'll eat a few and then store the rest. This goes on and on...under the porch, through the day lillies, among the daisies...gathering and storing all day long. Except for time out to hide under a flower pot from our cat, Cookie, this is how he spends his time. He doesn't even seem to rest! Where is he putting it all and, more important, how on earth will he find it when the snow flies?

"My goodness," I think. "That chipmunk reminds me of myself when there's a sale on canned goods at the grocery store or when I make a trip to Sam's Club. Perhaps I have the same instinct to hoard for the future as that little chipmunk!"

Preparing is a good thing. Saving money is a good thing. Buying so much we'll never use it before it goes bad is NOT good. Buying things and forgetting we have them is NOT good.

Header_products2 Think about your own shopping habits. Do you really need to buy so much...will you really use a dozen cans of artichokes? Do you have enough space to store what you are buying...or will you be sleeping with cans of chicken noodle soup under your bed?

Chipmunks can't stop hoarding. It is an instinct. We humans walk a fine line here. We also have the instinct to hoard. However, we can control that instinct and make wise choices.

I'd love to hear from my readers. How do you control the impulse to hoard?

Monday, July 30, 2007

NALA's 32nd Annual Convention - New Orleans

Logoartblack The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) held its 32nd annual convention July 10-14 in New Orleans. Three institutes, three educational tracks and one very special leadership program = Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! The Convention was fabulous, to say the least.

I serve on NALA's Board of Directors as Chair of its Advanced Paralegal Certification Board so of course that was the primary reason I was there. However, even if I didn't serve on the APC Board, missing Convention would be out of the question! It seems that every year this event gets bigger and better and I just love attending. True, Convention is all about education and leadership training but it also offers an opportunity to re-connect with old friends and to make new friends. This year was no exception.


While the entire Convention was spectacular, there were two outstanding events that I believe deserve to be highlighted. Both events demonstrate that NALA is all about "vision." First, NALA President Tita A. Brewster, ACP, announced NALA's Leapwebwindow brand new LEAP Program that will focus on leadership training. LEAP is an acronym for "Leadership Enhancement And Preparation" and is a new training program coordinated by NALA's Professional Development Committee. LEAP is designed to explore various facets of leadership and prepare volunteers for the challenges of national leadership roles with NALA. Since I am Past President of NALA, I realize the value and importance of training future leaders.

As if that were not enough, the Membership forum featured nationallyLevin_tif_2 recognized professional speaker, Mark Levin, CAE, whose very entertaining audience participation session was available to all convention registrants at no charge. What a benefit! Mr. Levin stressed that effective leaders not only have the ability to do things, they also have the ability to get things done... but they must be able to influence others to work with them.

Mr. Levin's interactive session covered: identifying the biggest challenges to leaders; determining what it takes to be a successful leader; bridging the generation gap; getting others to do their part; and planning for success. He is truly a gifted speaker who has the ability to combine laughter and learning.

Just one more comment about the LEAP Program. Fifteen NALA members from across the country were chosen to participate in the first LEAP class. It is my pleasure to mentor Lorena Shingleton, ACP, of Charleston, West Virginia during this year-long program. Congratulations to all who were chosen for this first class. I urge my readers to acquaint themselves with this program and consider participating next year.

And, last, congratulations to NALA President, Tita Brewster, ACP and all the NALA staff, particularly Executive Director, Marge Dover, CAE on an another outstanding Convention. See you all next year in Oklahoma City!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NALA Convention - New Orleans LA

The 32nd Annual Convention of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) is now history. It was held in New Orleans, LA...and what a grand convention it was...a great time to learn, network, re-connect with old friends and make new friends.

There will be more about the Convention in my next post. First, I have to rave about New Orleans. The city is back in business and, as their banners proclaim, they're "jazzed" to have visitors. While I must admit my exposure to the city was limited to being transported from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal Street and then the walking I did in the French Quarter, I have to say I saw a city open for business and anxious to please.

Cafe_du_monde The Cafe du Monde still serves the best coffee and those fabulous beignet's...square pieces of dough fried and and drenched in powdered sugar. There's nothing like heading

down Decatur street as the sun is Cafe_du_monde_3_12rising to join other early risers enjoying the coffee with chicory and devouring the heavenly beignet's. I did my best to bring several beignet's home on my hips ... they're worth every calorie.Hurricane_4 While most of my day was spent in meetings at the Sheraton, there was still time to sample some of New Orlean's finest restaurants in the evening: The mandatory Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's located at St. Peter and Bourbon Street; a fabulous filet mignon at Arnaud's at 813 Rue Bienville; and succulent Red Fish at Emeril's Delmonico.

The only downside to the trip was that it was too brief. There was not time for any tours and my list of restaurants to try is still long. This is definitely a city that merits a return visit. Do any of you have suggestions for places to visit/restaurants to try when I'm there again?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Organizing for Safe Travel

At exactly 4:00 p.m. this afternoon I stood before the water dispenser in the kitchen at my office, filling a Styrofoam cup with hot water as I dunked a Red Rose Tea bag up and down until the water was a color of my liking. I would be sipping my tea and munching on a Girl Scout cookie.

Seabourn_spirit_3 Something was terribly wrong! Where was our wonderful, white-gloved server, Anna? Where were the exotic teas, delicate cucumber sandwiches, tender scones, and sweet pastries? Alas...High Tea was taking place somewhere in the Ionian Sea aboard the Seabourn Spirit and I was back to real life in Charlevoix, Michigan. Sigh!

When I told my clever friend Suzanne Dalton, Suzanne_dalton(clever because not only is she talented, but she's found a way to spend part of the year in Italy teaching English and the remainder of the year in her beautiful studio and garden in Northern Michigan) that I'd be visiting Italy, she had one bit of advice, "Don't wear a fanny pack!" There were two reasons: petty thievery is rampant there with the fanny packs being easy prey AND they make you look like a genuine tourist! 9518_2

I found a terrific bag at the on-line vendor Travel Smith: the PacSafe bag has four anti-theft deterrents: indestructible cabled straps; slash proof sides and bottom panels;tamper-proof zipper clip; and snatch-proof shoulder strap that can be secured on your chair arm or other fixture. I loved this bag and it turned out to be perfect for the trip.


I also purchased some nice new white walking shoes, as well as a pair of Keen sandals. I never wore the walking shoes. The Keen sandals were so comfortable that I even wore them on that death march up the Acropolis with no problem.

These are my recommendations for your next trip, whether you're going to Italy or staying closer to home. If you happen to have High Tea with Anna, give her my regards!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tom and Melody's Wine Blog

Tom and Melody in 2000In the first post on this blog, I mentioned my friend and fellow blogger, Melody Reifel Werner.  Unfortunately, the link I posted was incorrect.  It should be  This is a charming site where Melody and her husband, Tom, diary their wine selections and offer easy to understand information about down-to-earth, affordable varieties of wine.  They include information about wine from all over the world, including our fine Michigan wines.  When Tom and Melody sip their wine, they know that "...the nose is of black currants and black cherries...the tannins are powerful and the finish is lingering and satisfying."  Since I learned almost everything I know about wine from the movie Sideways, I am aware wine tasting is an educated art that combines experience, knowledge and the cultured use of the senses of sight, smell and taste.  Apparently my senses are not highly developed.  When I have a glass of wine, I know that I either like it or I don't like it.  Nothing more.  That's why I need the information on Tom and Melody's blog.  As always, I get by with a little help from my friends!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Organizing to Increase Billable Hours

Ff_may_07_3 "Does Your Daily Planner Need an Intervention?" was the title of an article I wrote for the May issue of Facts & Findings, the quarterly journal for paralegals and legal assistants published by the National Association of Legal Assistants. That article generated a lot of interest and I heard from paralegals from all over the country. One e-mail was from my new cyber-friend, Susan, who requested additional time organization tips. Her message was my impetus for establishing this blog. Susan’s most pressing issue actually was e-mail. How could she NOT let e-mail messages control her day? We worked on that problem together and she seems to have this concern under control. Then she shared another predicament: “…I’ve been having trouble making myself keep track of my time for billing purposes. I just get going and don’t write stuff down, and then I'm trying to re-create and I know I'm losing time I could bill. I think it's just a question of self-discipline, making myself write it down while I'm working, but I'm really struggling with it!" Oh, my…didn’t THAT strike a familiar chord!

This is a problem for many paralegals. Susan is on the right track, though. She knows she must exercise self-discipline. In addition, she has to establish a routine for entering her time. We will establish a routine that works for her. Whatever the routine, it must feel natural and happen almost automatically. During the month of July, I will be coaching Susan as she establishes good habits for recording her time and increasing her billable hours. Stay tuned as I post about our progress over the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What to do with that broken platter?

Seabourn_spirit_2While on our cruise on the fabulous Seabourn Spirit we went ashore at the Greek village of Fiskardo Kef_fiskon the island of Kefalonia where I bought a small ceramic platter made by a local artist. I had vowed to bring home only useful clutter! The platter qualified as a useful souvenir because it would be perfect for serving Greek olives at my next dinner party and a nice reminder of our trip. I toted it around Greece, back on the airplane, and gently placed in on the sideboard by our front door when I got home. A few days after our return, I was telling our friend, Nick Aninos (how Greek is that!), about the trip and learned that his grandfather grew up on the island of Kefalonia. I knew I just couldn't keep the platter for myself but must give it to Nick. I wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it in a bag, but as I was heading out the door, the bag slipped and bounced on the tile floor. You can guess the result: the platter broke in two large pieces and some small shards. It is now sitting on my diningroom table. I really want to fix it but, in reality, I know that can't be done and it will never be in any shape to give to our friend. My treasure has been reduced to clutter. to the trash it goes. This is a reminder that while we may discard things, the memories stay with us forever. It is this knowledge that allows me to get rid of the clutter in my life. And I will never forget the beautiful, sunny afternoon in that charming, colorful village. Nick...I'm sure your grandfather loved Kefalonia!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

It Was a HOT Day in Athens!

57_3 One week ago today I was hiking up the trail to the top of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. To say I was grateful to be there is an understatement. However, it was 110 degrees, and, as you can imagine, it was all stone and no shade! What a fascinating experience, though, and I totally enjoyed learning more about the Acropolis from our knowledgeable guide, Dorothy, who explained that it is the most significant reference point of ancient Greek culture, as well as the symbol of the city of Athens itself because it represents the apogee (highest point) of artistic development in the 5th century BC. During Perikles' Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architectural masterpieces of the period were erected on its ground.

Templeofzeus01sm_3After the tour of the Acropolis, we proceeded to the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, and the Olympic Stadium. Later in the afternoon, still reeling from the incredible heat, we checked into our hotel, the Athens Hilton. The hotel is what I would call Swedish/Modern design and sort of out of place in Athens. However, it was air conditioned and the view of the Acropolis from our room was unforgettable! It was way past lunchtime by then and we were starving so we set out with friends to find a restaurant with Greek cuisine rather than Hilton cuisine. Fortunately, we stumbled upon the Agora Restaurant where I had the best sandwich: wonderful bread filled with fresh tomato, crisp cucumber, a thick slab of feta cheese, capers and Greek olives, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a dash of vinegar. What’s not to like? Coupled with the restaurant’s wonderful house wine and our jovial friends, I can say the entire meal was very memorable. It is interesting, though, that of all the memories of the day, being so darned hot on that hike of the Acropolis is what I remember most!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Themes and Things

One of my favorite bloggers, Melody Reifel Werner, assured me that setting up a blog would be easy. When I started the process, I had no idea how many decisions I would have to make. How many columns? What color? What is my theme? That's a tough one! I have so many interests: speaking, writing, ethics for legal support staff, time organization, reading legal mysteries and writing murder mystery games, cooking, entertaining ... so I imagine the theme will also evolve. But getting any project up and running is simply a matter of getting started in the first place. So here's my start. Now I will keep on starting until this becomes the blog I want it to be.