Affirmations and accountability

If you ask people who know me to list 5 adjectives that describe me, more likely than not they all would say, among other things, reliable, accountable, and hard working. I think that comes with birth order, I am a pretty typical eldest child. Yet, one can always be more reliable, more accountable, more hard working. One can also always have a bigger vision, and work more effectively to make that vision a realits. In the last two weeks, I put in place two new systems in my life: affirmations and an accountability partner.

My husband thinks I have taken things to a whole new level of crazy, but I am enjoying it. For both of these new initiatives, I have to thank my girlfriend Anne, who is an inspiration and role model, and who taught me about these two systems.

First – affirmations. My Mom used to tell me when I was grumpy: “Force a smile, if you force it long enough it will become reality.” I think affirmations somehow follow the same concept  – say it out loud and it will become true. Affirmations are statements that either represent a current reality that needs reinforcement, or a future aspiration. Saying these affirmations out loud every morning somehow makes the statements truer, the goals more attainable, and generally shifts the energy in the Universe so that I behave more easily according to these statements. I have 18 affirmations. I wrote them down on small white notecards a week ago today, and I say them out loud (not too loud, I am still shy about them) every morning. They range from business, to family, to personal, and encompass goals (for example, “Alchimie is on the Inc 500 List”) as well as behaviors I want to live every day (for example “I am grateful for what I have.”).

Second – an accountability partner. We all have goals. My friend Heidi has 137 goals, broken down in annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly milestones. I am not quite there yet, but working towards it. Goals are great. Goals are even if you make sure that every week you work to achieve these goals. Sometimes, life takes over, better and sometimes on a Sunday evening I find myself wondering what I accomplished all week that really mattered to me, to my family, or to the business – what have I done to reach closer to my goals? Now, I have Kassie, my accountability partner.  We have a weekly call every Friday morning, and a Google Goals Excel sheet that needs to be updated regularly. Every Friday, we discuss our past week’s goals, go down our lists, and have to explain to each other why certain things didn’t get accomplished. And every week, we discuss our goals for next week, and how we are going to accomplish them. Now, as accountable as I am to myself, it’s a whole lot harder to make excuses to another person… not wanting to have to explain to Kassie why I didn’t do something means that amazingly, this system has enabled me to accomplish a couple projects that have weighed on me for a long time.

Crazy? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. Fun? Of course. I encourage you to try both systems, and be amazed at the difference they make. Thank you Anne.

 

Happy Mardi Gras!

It is 9:40 am and I just drove two hours from NYC to Delaware for a sales meeting with a fabulous beauty boutique. I love my work, and I love Alchimie for more than I can ever say – but today, I wish I was in New Orleans. Case in point, while at Cosi sipping on a large coffee (my third of the day), I just got a call from my husband who is walking around the French Quarter in a blond mullet wig sipping on a bloody mary. What? Well, of course, it’s Mardi Gras. Over the last three years, I have learned to love Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras season, Mardi Gras week-end (which I am still recuperating from), and Mardi Gras Day. In my heart and soul, I am in New Orleans today.

Driving south on the New Jersey turnpike, listening to whatever local radio station was on, I learned a few factoids about Mardi Gras (hopefully up here in the “North” they know what they are talking about when discussing Mardi Gras truths versus fiction). I already knew that the two words are French for “Fat Tuesday.” I also already knew that Mardi Gras represents the last day of Carnival season, the last day for fat foods and alcohol before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent (I am giving up diet coke for Lent this year). I also already knew that the three Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold (notice how purple and green are also Alchimie Forever corporate colors?). I did not know however that it was the krewe of Rex that made these three colors the official Mardi Gras colors. I did not know that the word krewe was first used by the Comus organization in 1857 (apparently this group of six New Orleaneans saved Mardi Gras, which was considered dangerous). I most surprising to me, I learned that Mardi Gras started in Mobile, Alabama.

Last night, the Mayor of New Orleans turned over the keys of the city to King Zulu, who is in charge until midnight tonight. New Orleans, are you ready? To all New Orleaneans out there, born or adopted, happy Mardi Gras. Happy costuming. Happy parade watching. Happy King Cake (we have some in the Alchimie Forever showroom today, so stop by for a bite). And of course, happy drinking. Brandy milk punch for me please!

 

 

Working on my art collection

One of my New Year’s goals for 2011 is to work on my art collection. I can’t remember the exact moment I fell in love with art – maybe it was when my parents took my sisters and I to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston when I was 6. Maybe it was when my parents opened our very own Analix Forever gallery in 1991 (amazing that the gallery is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!). Maybe it was when I took my first history of art class sophomore year at Harvard.

Regardless of when my passion for contemporary art started, art has been an integral part of my life for many years. I realized last fall that I had not paid this passion of mine any significant attention lately, however. I realized that I missed it. Hence my New Year’s goal. So, working on my art collection – what does that mean? It means paying more attention to the pieces I currently have (I have been re-framing and hanging pieces for the last two weeks). It also means paying more attention to the art world in general (I have gone to a Phillips Collection event and have subscribed to ArtForum in the last month). It means aligning my personal interest in art with my business’s corporate responsibility (Alchimie Forever now supports various art institutions including the Corcoran Gallery of Art and more). And, of course it means acquiring a couple new pieces. The timing is perfect, as there are two exciting artistic events coming up in the next two weeks. First, my mother Barbara is organizing on Thursday March 3rd an auction of drawings by various Analix Forever artists. I have already emailed the auction master a list of pieces I want, along with my highest possible bid price. Take a look, and place your bids – everyone needs a little more art, and part of the proceeds are going to a good cause, namely the Fondation Prim’Enfance, whose mission is to help eradicate diseases that affect infants and young children. Then, on March 12th, the Washington Projects for the Arts is holding its annual fundraiser and auction gala. Last year was the first time I attended, and I went home with a gorgeous piece by Maryland artist Clarke Bedford. This year, who knows what I will go home with…  Sometimes, it really is fun to turn New Year’s goals into realities!

My 12 must-haves

It has been almost three weeks since my last blog entry, please forgive my silence. I have been lacking in both time and inspiration, and the winter weather is apparently taking its toll on my creativity. A number of months ago (11.12.10 to be exact… where does the time go?) my girlfriend Noelle suggested I blog about my “must-haves.” She got the idea from the “12 must-haves” monthly feature in Elle Décor. Love love love the idea – so here are my 12 must-haves (right now, this list is forever evolving…):

Love, loss, family, and friends

This past Saturday was a day of incredible joyous emotions. After a private wedding on 1.1.11, my close DC friends (minus BFF adopted sister who was of course tending to her husband) gathered Saturday afternoon to celebrate my husband and I, share laughs, share marriage advice, and above all share cocktails. For a few hours, my Alchimie Forever showroom was transformed into a cocktail venue, with a fabulous bartender, Robert, mixing up classic New Orleans cocktails (where my husband is from) and champagne cocktails (always my drink of choice). Every single person who came made me feel so special, so loved, it was truly magical.

Yesterday afternoon my father called me to let me know my grandmother had just passed away. While she had been ill for the last year, and hospitalized for the last month, this still came as a surprise. Does it ever not? This past week-end, her brother and sister came to Geneva from Italy to bid their last farewells. My great-aunt and great-uncle left Sunday evening, and a few hours later my Nona slipped into a coma. She held on until my father could make it back to her side Monday evening, knowing how so very much he wanted to be there when she decided her time had come. She was 92. She had a great life, getting to see her eldest son go to college and then medical school (two firsts in her family), getting so see many grandkids grow up, and even getting to meet one great-grand-daughter. None of that means that I was ready to see her go. She worked harder than anyone else I have ever met in my life, as a farmer and a factory worker. Her hands showed years of manual labor. Her ways of relaxing were to make rugs and clean and scrub her house. She was grateful for all of the little things in life, her motto always being “you have to take life the way it comes.” The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, always with a smile and with a good attitude. I so miss her already. I still had so much to learn from her.

These events reminded me that time with loved ones, time with family, is sacred above all else. These events put things in perspective. My to-do list will be here tomorrow. The world will not end because I have to cancel a meeting to make it home for my grandma’s funeral. I remember when my grandfather passed away I was a sophomore in college, and it was during finals. I told my parents I couldn’t make it home to the funeral because of exams. I hadn’t even checked with the Dean to see what arrangements could be made – I just felt like there was nothing more important than getting my As. My parents, being who they are, left that decision entirely up to me. I don’t regret many things in my life, but that decision I regret every time I think of my Nono, that is one decision I wish I could go back and undo, and remake. Not this time. I will make time to go visit by BFF, no matter what plans have to be canceled. And I will go home for the funeral on Monday. In a way, I am doing just what my friends did on Saturday when they came to be with me on my special occasion: I am making time for the ones I love. Love, family, and friendship above all else. Always. In case I had forgotten, now I remember.

New year's goals

It is about mid-day January 5th, and I feel a bit behind already – the start of 2011 has been amazingly fun, but not as productive as usual. Case in point, I just wrote down my personal 2011 goals. (The business ones were taken care of the last week of December at least). I like to write them on the first page of my planner (yes, I still like paper planners), so that I can take a look at them on a regular basis and make sure I am making appropriate progress. I can’t help myself but do this every January… it must be because growing up, when I still spent New Year’s Eve dinner with my parents and sisters, we each had to take turns and say what we accomplished over the past year, and list our goals for the coming year.