Thanksgiving

A time when you leave the life you’ve created, and travel back in time with extended family to reminisce about years past and create new memories. Full of excitement, anticipation and expectations about how the day (or week) will unfold.

I had a realization this morning that in some instances, my visit with family is framed by the teachings behind ‘Crucial Conversations’: when stakes are high, there’s opposing views and strong emotions. In an environment like that, it’s easy to get thrown off course.

A family that all grew up together in (very) rural PA, we’ve ventured far and wide and all have created a different life, with different experiences and expectations for the same holiday.

I’ll be the first to admit that, being a self-proclaimed control freak, I enjoy being in control and orchestrating the days events; Thanksgiving continues to be a fantastic teaching opportunity, reminding me to slow-down, be grateful and accept and appreciate every member of my family, “just the way they are.”

Wishing you and yours a joyous, blessed and memory filled holiday!

A Pittsburgh Gem

I absolutely love visiting Independent book stores. There is something nostalgic that happens each time I grab the handle to open the door to a new paradise; it brings up fond memories of visiting book stores with my Grandma, wondering what treasures would end up in my bag, and the anticipation of the journey I was about to embark on.

I have a life goal of opening up my own Independent bookstore one day, so anytime I am on travel, I love to explore the unique stores and take an inventory of what I like of each store.

Our Thanksgiving trip this year started with a trip to Pittsburgh to celebrate ‘Friendsgiving’ with my dear friend from high school and her family. As that visit came to an end and we started our journey across Western PA for our family Thanksgiving festivities, we stopped by a quaint shop down the road from Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, The White Whale Bookstore.

A quaint, small, gallery like store, it was bursting with the excitement that surfaces in every bookstore.

We carefully perused each section, from new releases, to bestsellers, to a feature of Pittsburgh authors. My observant husband found the table of autographed books and enthusiastically browsed each one.

My kiddos quickly navigated to the simple, yet abundant kids section in the store. We have two different readers in the house: a beginning reader and a middle grade reader and the kids section appealed to both.

Oddly, my middle grade reader picked up the new release and adaptation of one of our favorites ‘My (The) Book With No Pictures’ and my beginning reader was enthralled by the graphic novel ‘Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties’; he picked it up, found a seat and looked through the pictures.

My oldest was significantly disappointed that his brother chose book 3 in the ‘Dog Man’ series and the two had a serious debate, which amused the other visitors, about why his brother should start at the beginning of the series. Ultimately, my oldest lost the debate, but not without adding the first book in the series to our pile. I was smiling on the inside, pleased with the conversation between the two, and gave myself a silent pat on the back.

As we were checking out, I looked to my left and saw a beautiful display of unique wrapping paper, draped over the rungs of a display ladder. Oh how I would love to receive books wrapped in that paper! And what a clever idea, note to self for my bookstore!

In my visits to Independent Book Stores, I love to look for unique bindings of classic books. The White Whale did not disappoint. As you walk into the store, there is a rustic, ladder bookshelf to the left and on the top shelf, I found exactly what I wanted. I originally picked up ‘Tess of the D’ubervilles’ as I am partial to the name, but opted to go with Emma, by Jane Austen. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the movie will be coming out in February.

The White Whale was a wonderful store, full of Pittsburgh nostalgia, and I was pleased to see the numerous books about Fred Rogers and ‘Mister Rogers Neighborhood’. As a kindness advocate myself, I quickly scooped up the book. I’m only a few pages in, but am loving the story of a man that shaped my childhood and nurtured a love of kindness.

After our travels “home”, I snuggled under a warm blanket (a staple for this Florida resident in frigid PA ), and fanned the pages of the book. I stopped on the following quote at the start of Part II:

“The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.” — Fred Rogers

If you happen to be in the Pittsburgh area, definitely stop in to visit this gem. And, if you have any recommendations of unique Independent Book Stores I should add to my list, please comment below! Happy Reading!!

Burstiness and Big Magic

During my last business trip (two weeks ago), my flight book was ‘No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work‘ ; I learned about the concept of ‘BURSTINESS‘ – creating a safe space for your team where everyone feels comfortable speaking up which leads to creative ideas BURSTING out of the room. This concept of ‘BURSTINESS’ was the ultimate takeaway from the book and one that I’ve tried to cultivate for the past 2 weeks.

This week’s flight book was intended for Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Talking to Strangers‘, a Next Big Idea Book Club selection, but right before I was to depart for the airport, I stopped by my (personal) library and swapped my traveling companion for ‘Big Magic‘ by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I have one word for what I experienced on that flight:

BURSTINESS!!!

From the get-go, I was consumed by Elizabeth’s easy narration and a quick story of how she experienced her ‘Big Magic’, which made me pause to think about a story I am actively working on and how several seemingly independent ideas all merged together to create the perfect plan. In fact, the ideas all independently came to me over the course of several years, but reading Liz’s ‘Amazon’ story made me realize the connectedness of those seemingly independent ideas.

It also scared the shit out of me…if I didn’t cultivate the larger concept, that the idea could leave me to find another rightful owner to bring to life.

And then…BURSTINESS! In the margins of the book, I mapped out all of the ideas, connecting them together to form a perfectly imperfect project plan (I’m a program manager by trade, so having a plan is key to getting anything done!)

It also reminded me of a conversation I had recently with my mentor. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll have met the wondrous PJ. During our last discussion, I looked at her and said “I just don’t know what to do…I have a children’s book, an early reader, a leadership & spiritual book – ALL IN MY HEAD waiting to come out. My blog even, I don’t know what to do or where to start!”

And her advice:

“Oh, just pick one and go! You’re getting in your own way!”

We then proceeded to finish dinner and made our way around Disney Springs looking for the infamous Micky Ears. PJ is a fan of the color orange, so we looked and looked, seeking out those specific orange ears. Then, all of a sudden, we passed a rack of ‘donut ears’ and one was on the hook backwards, and the color: ORANGE!

We flipped the front teal bow from back to front, and voila, orange Micky Ears.

We paused, snapped a pic and made our last stop at Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company. While ordering, one of the Joffrey’s pins caught PJ’s eye, a sparkly donut pin, so she purchased and handed to me and thus “donut stand in your way” was born.

So you see, things are connected, if you let them come to you and stop resisting – the independent ideas that merged together over the years as well as me feeling completely overwhelmed, not knowing where to start on my writing journey or how to make any progress. PJs guidance to ‘pick one idea and move, looking for mickey ears which happened to be donuts, to the pin and my new mantra for writing: ‘donut stand in your way‘.

That my friends is…

BIG MAGIC!

Leadership: The Power of Connections

In early January 2015, I received a call from a long time friend who had just returned from our corporate training center.  “You have to meet her. She reminds me so much of you. High energy. She’s great.” 

In his typical style, he promptly sent a follow up email stating how he enjoyed working with PJ over the past week and introduced me, asking a favor to set up a mentoring call (the power of your network!)  Now the ball was in my court to follow up. And I didn’t. I let the email sit for weeks, months and finally in March, something at work triggered a ‘moment’ and I quickly scanned through my email. “Hi PJ, Sorry for taking so long to follow up.  Do you think we could set up a mentoring call?” 

Fast forward a few weeks later to what may be, to this day, the best mentoring session I ever had.  From the moment we started talking, I knew there was a connection.  She understood what I was saying, that I wanted something more, that I felt that I had more in me to give back. And everything she talked about, I had in my head.  The connection was unbelievable. 

She didn’t give me the typical mentoring advice.  She talked about ‘Bliss’ – finding your spot in the universe.  And how the hardest part in finding it was slowing down, releasing quiet, getting rid of expectations.  She gave me a lot to think about during our call, one of the most powerful was “What do you want people to see, to think about, when your gone?”

On our next call, she asked me if I tried meditating.  I thought for a moment and I said, “Well, I pray, does that count?”  Yes, it does.  But, praying is us talking to God, meditating is listening to the universe.  And that’s how I found out about Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day meditation challenge (there’s a new one coming up – Creating Peace from the Inside Out: https://chopracentermeditation.com).

Over the course of the 21 days, I became less focused on the outside world, more on the inside.  Life started to present signs that this was the right path and it was interesting how it was like unwrapping a Christmas gift, anticipating what was under all of the wrapping paper. The idea of a peaceful, purposeful, good news community to spread light was born during that 21 day meditation, and I’m still ‘unwrapping’ as I’ve embarked on the launch of the blogging world and community. 

Fast forward to New Years 2016 and the time to make those wonderful ‘New Years Resolutions.’  My focus for the year – “Body, Mind, Spirit’ and I used a dry erase marker to write on my bathroom mirror so I could see the focus every day.  Is it tough to stay focused? Absolutely! Especially as you are juggling a career, the household, meal planning, laundry, extra-curricular activities for the kiddos and often, when a free minute surfaces, you long for a 10 minute nap or a 10 minute uninterrupted conversation with they hubby vs. a 10 minute meditation.  It’s tough but, without the focus, you slowly get into a routine, “Groundhog’s Day” (though I’ve never seen the move, it’s a good analogy for doing the same thing over and over and over).   

So take the time, commit to yourself 10 minutes to sit quietly, reflect on your thoughts, your dreams, your focus because, in the words of PJ, “You can’t be the best you, until you invest in you.” 

Update: I wrote this post three years ago, and since then I’ve had such tremendous growth on my path to becoming an aspiring writer.  My connections and insights from PJ contined and in fact, if you read the last blog post on the Morning Ritual, you’ll see that she continues to provide influence into my life, sharing nuggets that help me on my journey.  So I ask you, what nuggets are you emparting on others? Are you paying it forward? And if not, why not? I guarentee you will learn more from yourself, and you will help pave the way for others to come after you.  

The Makings of a Morning Ritual

After five years of virtually connecting with my mentor, I was thrilled when she told me she was coming to Orlando for a conference and wanted to get together. We would finally get to meet in person. YAY! I could hardly contain my excitement. She pulled into the parking lot, I got out of my car, ran over to her and we embraced in a hug, swaying back and forth, both giddy with excitement. After the initial shock and excitement, it was as though we were two lifelong friends and the shock of meeting each other for the first time quickly wore off.

We chatted about EVERYTHING. From home, to work, career, my writing (which at that time was still swirling in my head trying to decide WHICH direction I wanted to go, paralyzing me from taking any direction at all)…and then she asked me the question:

“How often do you and your hubby talk?”

Silly question, I thought. We talk all the time. “No. Really talk…sit and talk, not about the kids or schedules, or where you have to be tomorrow, but just talk?” Hmmmmmm…..I knew the answer: we are so challenged by our schedule and activities that our conversation time was practically at a screeching halt!

In a serious voice, and some what in a stern motherly tone she leaned in and said “You need to find a way to connect. What about morning tea?” He’ll never go for it, I thought. I’m a morning person, he’s a night owl. We’re two opposite ends of the spectrum. I tried staying up at night to talk with him, and could barely function the next day. So, about a week after meeting with my mentor, I gathered up my courage and asked the dear hubby: “What do you think about getting up for coffee/tea in the morning and sitting on our front porch? Ground rules: no schedule talk, no cell phones.” His response: “Sure, sounds great!”

And so, the morning ritual started. Sure, I have to get up early to get in my morning bike or yoga, but we both know, and the kids know, that from 6:00 – 6:30, we’ll be on the front porch, drinking our tea or coffee. Sometimes we talk a lot, sometimes we talk very little, but that is our dedicated morning time and so far, so good!

So on this Sunday, my advice to you is to stop and pause, and truly think about the connections you have in your life. How can you make them better?

Children’s Book: Maybe

I always love a journey to a bookstore, but most of all, independent bookstores. One of my favorite local bookstores recently moved locations, so I was ecstatic when I finally had time to visit on Friday. I was giddy with excitement when I saw the awning of the new location; I stepped up to the door and instantly recognized the exquisite doorknob. It was lower than I was used to, about at the location of my hips and as I firmly grasped the handle, I noticed the expansive knob, barely able to grip around completely. “What a FABULOUS door knob!” I exclaimed. My friend chimed in with her sarcastic tone, “I’m sure that’s what they were going for, let’s move locations and focus on the door knob.”

We walked in and simultaneously closed our eyes and took a deep breath. After a moment, we came back to reality with a pleasing high of the book store smell. It is like no other. “They should bottle this smell! Incredible!” The new location was light and airy, with simple book displays lining the walls filled with incredible stories, waiting to be picked.

To the left of the door, I noticed a stand with INSPIRATIONAL books, and the book “Maybe” by Kobi Yamada caught my eye. Bingo! I picked up a copy and secretly welcomed it to its new home…our kiddo’s bookshelf. I am a fan of the other books like “What Do. You Do With An Idea?” and was anxious to break out the new story for bedtime that night.

Review: A simple, yet exquisite book full of amazing, life like illustrations. Each page provides a stunning visual and questions to prompt deep discussions with you and your little one. The cute little piggy metaphor of ‘when pigs fly’ comes to life at the end of the story and provides just the motivation you need to inspire you and your loved ones. Highly recommend!

Welcome!

Welcome to Ginny Dandy! After eleven years of on again, off again blogging and daily reminders from “The Universe” to ‘write, write, write’, I’ve birthed yet another blogging platform which will hopefully be ‘The One’ to house my random thoughts on three areas that comprise the majority of my life: motherhood, leadership and books. 

Why the name ‘Ginny Dandy’? I’m a believer that everyone has role models. It starts when you are young; you see someone you admire and you try to imitate their characteristics, to be more like them. Those role models turn to mentors in the professional world, as you climb the corporate ladder in all that you aspire to be. I realized that early on, I had two distinguished role models, my Grandmothers: Jenny and Ginny (pronounced Jenny). I spent the majority of my time with my grandmother Jenny. I was born on her birthday. We shared a bond that is indescribable and even though she is singing in Heaven’s Choir, I’ve never truly felt that she’s been gone from this Earth, or me. She has shaped my life in so many ways, in ways that I hope to give back and to inspire others. My grandmother Ginny was a beautiful, refined woman. She was an entrepreneur, running my Grandfather’s Coal Mining business (a woman in a man’s world!), and was always put together, head to foot. She was loving, but firm. Refined. Sophisticated. 

So, ‘Ginny’ comes from my two Grandmothers and their influence; the hope that their influence shines through allowing you to take a nugget or two to help you in life’s journey. 

‘Dandy’ comes from my philosophy on life. Definition (noun): a (wo)man devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance; an excellent thing of its kind. Life is DANDY!

When you launch a blog, one of the first “rules of thumb” is to define who your audience is… my audience is me and others who are like me:

A Mama. A Working Mother. A Leader. A woman with ambition. An aspiring writer. A woman who wants to change the world.

This life is an illusion and we control how we live it. You have the power to make your life what you want, you just need to step out onto the path you create. –PJ Jackson”

Welcome to #ginnydandy! xoxo