Category Archives: Reflections

The Zen of Making Lists

listsTrue confession. I’m a compulsive list maker. Every morning over the first cup of coffee, I transfer all of the must-dos, want-to-dos and don’t-want-to-dos from my head to a clean, dated sheet of paper in the spiral bound notepad that accompanies me everywhere. This ritual, which began early in my healthcare marketing career, serves to control the excess noise that sabotages personal productivity.

Once every exhaustive action is out of my brain and on paper, focus kicks in and the course of thinking, conferring, learning, creating and decision-making finds its natural flow.

This morning, even my list has lists – subcategories of activities needed to navigate work, home and holidays during this zany month of December. I gave up on the concept of “work-life balance” a long time ago. If you want to understand balance, You Tube Nik Wallenda’s high wire walk across the Grand Canyon or Chicago skyscrapers. It’s spellbinding – and nerve racking – to watch him balance life and death on a straight, thin wire perched somewhere between the heavens and a long fall to earth.

In real life, how does one create equilibrium between “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?” Where balance is more about keeping the roller-coaster wheels on track than walking a tightrope? For me, making that daily list – and checking it off – is track maintenance.

So, one of the tasks on today’s docket is figuring out how to pack a single carry-on suitcase with the clothes and accessories needed to careen from work and leisure in chilly New York City to a family funeral in Virginia followed by a return trip to NYC and off to client work in sunny southern Florida – all in the next six days.

Balance? Only in my dreams. But I wouldn’t trade this wonderful, crazy life.

Counting my blessings

Dearest readers,

I’ve been on a hiatus these past few months to focus on some urgent and unexpected family matters.

In September, my brother-in-law, Bill Cowherd, suffered a massive stroke. Unfortunately, he was alone when it happened and wasn’t discoveWilliam F Cowherd II Memorialred until six days after the ischemic attack.  Paramedics found him alive, but severely dehydrated, paralyzed on one side and unable to move or communicate.  He was hospitalized for three weeks, during which time he came around enough to recognize, even talk with the family and friends who traveled to be by his side.  The trauma, however, proved to be too much and Bill passed away on Sunday, October 5, 2014.

As families do, we came together to be with each other in our grief and to celebrate Bill’s time on this earth. His legacy lives on in his three accomplished and loving children, daughters-in-law, son-in-law, grandchildren, brother (my husband), sister and many life-long friends and co-workers.  We acutely feel his loss and will, I suspect, for some time to come.

The doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who took care of Bill showed great compassion for him and his grieving family. While they could not save his life, they helped him live his last weeks in comfort and dignity. Their caring nature so impressed Bill’s young adult children, that they established memorial contributions in the caregivers’ honor to benefit The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a wonderful organization dedicated to “strengthening the human connection at the heart of care.”

Somewhere in the tangle of this past month, I also caught a bug that morphed into pneumonia; God’s proverbial “two by four” – a mandate to stop, slow down and recuperate.

This is my first week back on the road. Back to normal, I’m tempted to say, but “normal” is not an appropriate descriptive term for these crazy, wonderful lives we lead. Our lives are not normal; they are extraordinary. Not in terms of fame or wealth or accomplishments, but in the precious moments and unexpected events that shape us.

Loss is one of those events. It changes us.  Humbles us.  Strengthens us. Reminds us that we are blessed with loving families and treasured friends.