Welcome to the Card Connections blog. I hope you find the posts informative and valuable. Take a few minutes to explore the site and see what it has to offer you. Please feel free to participate in the dialogue by leaving comments and voting in the poll. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two of Diamonds

This is the time of year when people make lists.  There may be columns for who has been naughty and who has been nice.  Lists can be helpful tools for all types of activities.  Examples include grocery shopping, party planning, and gift giving.   The Two of Diamonds will be representative of  your 2-do list this week.  Let's examine how some common words or phrases that contain the word "do" can be used to remind us of certain things.

I Do - This response is commonly used during wedding ceremonies, trial witness testimony, and swearing in events.  It symbolizes commitment to an established set of criteria.  You don't have to get married, go to court, or win an election to make a promise and keep it.  When you make a vow, be aware that honoring it may require sacrifices.  You may also have to renew it periodically to remind yourself of the significance of the pledge.  Stick with it when you become discouraged and remember why the venture appealed to you in the first place.  You can try many things.  However, it is good to limit your serious pursuits so that you will have sufficient time and energy to focus on them.

Hairdo - This is the "do" that requires consideration of your thoughts and your audience. You have probably heard the expression "bad hair day".   It is used to describe what happens when you cannot get your hair to conform to the desired style.  Similarly, your ideas do not always turn out the way that you would like.  Once you have come up with a concept, it is necessary to communicate it properly (style it) so that others will understand what you are trying to accomplish.  Comb it to get the tangles out so that you have a clear message without a lot of room for snarls.  Brush it so that it will shine and attract the necessary attention and support. 

Just Do It - You may remember this old Nike slogan.  Although the company began using a different phrase in its advertisements years ago, this one is still associated with the brand.  It is a great motto to help you put your potential and plans in motion.  At some point, you have to act on what you have thought about, talked about, and written down.  That is the only way you will know what works and what needs to be changed.  You can't track and measure progress for something that has not been launched.  Get off the sidelines and join the game.  

Leave a comment and share which of these 2-do categories you will focus on first.  

This will be the last post for Card Connections.  I appreciate the support that you have shown this year.  I will be starting a new blog, Hair, Heels, and Hearts, in January.  I look forward to continuing our weekly dialogue in the new year. 

Have a safe and happy holiday season!            

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Two of Clubs

Last week was about sequels.  You were asked to think about things that you want to repeat.  This week, let's take a look at the other end of the spectrum.  What are the things that you want to discontinue or eliminate?  Maybe there is a bad habit you want to break or routine that you want to modify.  In employment situations, it is common to give two weeks notice when you plan to leave the organization.  This allows time for the transition of your responsibilities to others and gives you the opportunity to exit in a professional manner.  Since there are only two weeks remaining in the year, the Two of Clubs will represent your N.O.T.I.C.E. to those things that will not move with you into the new year.

N = Negativity and Nonsense
Look for the lesson in each disappointment and don't waste your time dealing with distractions that will only frustrate you.

O = Obscurity and Obstinacy
Step out of the shadows and showcase what you are doing.  There is a fine line between conviction and stubbornness.  Check yourself periodically to make sure you are on the right side of that line.

T = Tantrum and Tension
Display maturity and wisdom when things don't go your way.  Actively manage your stress so that it does not overwhelm you.

I = Inconsistency and Impatience
Find what works for you and stick to it.  You will encounter issues along the way.  Know that sometimes the best move is to be still.

C = Cynicism and Confusion
Don't be so quick to dismiss what is unfamiliar to you.  You may be ignoring something that can help you.  Do your homework to find out the facts and minimize the uncertainty. 

E = Excuses and Enmity
People don't want to hear why you couldn't do something.  When providing a valid reason for a delay or setback, focus on what you are doing now to deliver results.  Don't hold grudges or burn bridges.  It takes energy away from more productive activities.

 Leave a comment and share what you will give two weeks notice on before the year ends.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Two of Hearts

What did you do so well in 2010 that you wish you could do it again in 2011?  Maybe it wasn't something that happened this year.  It could be an activity or accomplishment that you want to duplicate or improve from 2000, 2005, or 2008.  The year doesn't matter.  The point is that you had success and want to repeat it.  The Two of Hearts will symbolize sequels, or second parts, this week.  Do you want to do a continuation of a comedy, drama, or action feature?

A healthy sense of humor helps you recognize opportunities for laughter.  When was the last time that you laughed so hard that you cried and your sides ached?  Duplicate the environment, participants, or timing of the occasion to enjoy the next installment of the event.  Maybe it was a holiday gathering or a phone conversation with a friend you hadn't talked with in a while.  Sometimes looking through old photos and sharing with others what was happening at the time can help you relive hilarious moments.  Everyone might have different examples, but the common denominator is the sound of laughter. 

Dramas are those experiences that incorporate the ABCs:  Anxiety, Biography, and Commentary.  When there are several unknown variables, it is natural to feel anxious about what is going to happen.  That heightens the anticipation of a favorable outcome.  Of course, you only want a sequel of a drama that taught you valuable lessons and ended well for you.  Inevitably, someone's life story, or biography, will be impacted by their interaction with you.  You are the star of your own show, but often play a supporting role for family and friends.  If they are ready for a new chapter, be prepared to help them draft it.  There will always be dialogue, or commentary, regarding what has happened, what is going on now, and what will occur in the future.  Contribute to it when you have something of substance to add.  Take from it what is applicable and of value to you.

When you think of action scenes, there is movement involved.  Somebody or something may be chased.  An explosion might remove an obstacle.  This means that you need to pursue your dreams.  Get up and do something.  Make a phone call or do some research on the web.  If your last effort blew up in your face, look through the rubble to see what can be salvaged.  Don't be distracted by the noise of people who tell you what you cannot do.   Opposition makes the action heroes fight harder in the movies.  There is usually an obvious opponent who must be defeated.  In real life, this may not be the case.  Challenges will always be present.  When you overcome one, there will be others.  That's the purpose of the sequel.  There will be new victories for you for you to celebrate.

I will end with the same question that started this post.  What did you do so well in 2010 that you wish you could do it again in 2011?  Leave a comment and share your sequel plans.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two of Spades

Are you starting to feel overwhelmed with the stress and chaos that is sometimes associated with the holiday season?  Don't get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that you forget to take time for yourself.  It is great when family and friends do nice things for you.  However, you can schedule your own rewards periodically to make you smile and focus on happy thoughts.  The Two of Spades will represent a pair of identical letters to give you some ideas.  You can eat some M&Ms getting some R&R (rest and relaxation) at a B&B (bed and breakfast). 

M&M - While the chocolate candies are quite tasty, the letters can also represent other ways to treat yourself.  How would you like a Manicure and Massage?  Doesn't that sound nice?  It is okay to be on the receiving end of pampering.  What about a nice Meal and Movie?  Enjoy your favorite foods and then escape for a few hours to the fantasy world of an entertaining film. 

R&R - What is the last book that you enjoyed?  Reading and Reclining are two activities that work well together.  When you curl up with a good book, it is your opportunity to take a break from the hectic activities that may be part of your normal routine.   The phrase Rinse and Repeat is used to describe the steps associated with washing hair.  However, you can apply the same philosophy to a nice soak in a bubble bath.  Put your favorite track on repeat on a CD or MP3 player, close your eyes, and enjoy the warmth of the water.

B&B - When the colors Black and Blue are used together, they are usually describing a bruise. You might also think of the colors of the sky at dusk and dawn.   As the sun goes down each evening and comes up each morning, choose the time that works for you to reflect, recharge, and regroup.  While you are striving to be among the Best and Brightest, remember to choose a path that allows you to Blossom and Benefit.

What M&M, R&R, and B&B have you done lately?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Three of Diamonds

Labels make it easier to identify things.  When you know what to call something, you have some insight into its purpose.  You can also get information regarding how to handle items from their labels.  For example, for clothes you can find out cleaning instructions.  Food containers may provide cooking or storage directions.  You have a label that describes you.  It is your name.  You may actually have three components to your name (first, middle, and last).  The Three of Diamonds will represent the symbolism of names this week.  Even if you do not have a middle name, you will still be able to identify with the discussion regarding the first and last names.

First Name - Unless you are a celebrity, you probably did not get to choose your name.  Someone else gave it to you for reasons significant to them.  Maybe you were named after a parent or other relative.  The name may have been chosen out of a book or just randomly selected because someone liked it.  Regardless of how it was assigned to you, it is yours now.  You own it and the actions, relationships, and signature attached to it.  You make a "name" for yourself by the things that you do.  When people mention your first name, do they do it with joy, pride, or dread?  Sometimes people know you by your name before they even meet you.  Make sure that things credited to your name are accurate.  Your first name may be the first impression that people get of you.

Middle Name - Your middle name is often represented by an initial.  Usually, only your family and closest friends know your middle name.  It is not common knowledge.   Of course, there are always exceptions.  In some regions of the country, people use their first and middle names together and celebrities may do it also.  Some people choose to use their middle name because they like it better than their first name.  But for most people, the middle name is a bridge between the first and the last.    It differentiates you from others who may share your name.  Jane Elizabeth Doe can be distinguished from Jane Renee Doe.  Let your unique characteristics, or hidden talents, emerge to show what is special about you.

Last Name - Your last name completes the identity formula.   It is often attached to your role, or occupation.  Dr. Black, Senator Green, and Detective White are the normal references for a physician, elected official, and police officer.  Teachers, coaches, and military personnel are other examples of jobs that utilize a person's last name when addressing them.  Your last name will be used to highlight the impact that you make.  It may be on a building, or monument, that is associated with something that you support.  For some of you, it may not be an actual brick and mortar structure.  Your last name may be attached to ideas, processes, and products that you develop.  Since you share the name with other family members and may pass it on to your children, it is important to focus on adding value to it.

Leave a comment and share the meaning of your name, http://www.meaning-of-names.com/.  You may also want to assign descriptive adjectives to your initials to create an alias.  For example, the initials T.T.P. may stand for Terrific Thoughtful Producer.  What do you want your initials to say about you?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Three of Clubs

Have you taken any pictures lately?  Maybe you will pose for some photos over the holidays.  Hopefully, they will be clear and in focus.  Professional photographers often use a 3-legged stand called a tripod to hold the camera and keep it steady in order to get good shots.  You can also use a tripod to hold a camera with a timer so that you can take self portraits.  The Three of Clubs will represent your mental tripod this week.  The way that you view situations and experiences can impact how you recall and share them with others. Three common camera settings are panoramic (wide angle), zoom, and shutter speed.

The panoramic mode will enable you to see the big picture.  It is most effective when you need to see the background and surrounding environment of  the target, or end result.  The image can often be so grand that it is intimidating.  Remember that the horizon represents limitless possibilities.  You  have plenty of space to grow and try different approaches to develop the picture that you want to display.

The zoom functionality allows you to monitor your progress from a distance.  Sometimes when you are too close to the activities needed for a successful outcome, you can lose your objectivity.  It can be good to step away periodically to reassess what has been done, what is currently underway, and what the next steps should be.  You are able to get a preview of potential problems and recognize what decisions have produced positive results.

The shutter speed needs to be adjusted to accommodate the subject being recorded.  When you are dealing with information that is unfamiliar to you, keep the shutter (analysis) open longer to allow enough time for you to understand how to best use what you have learned.  If you are able to meet regularly with an advisor or expert in your field of interest, be prepared to receive the maximum benefit from the encounter.  Increase the frequency of the shutter operation (questions and responses) so that the other person feels you are paying attention and absorbing what they are sharing with you. 

Which setting have you used lately?  Is there one that may help you this week?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Three of Hearts

This is the time of year that sports fans love.  There are so many games to watch and teams to follow.  It is that short period where multiple seasons overlap. Baseball has ended with the World Series while college and professional football are well underway.  Professional basketball and hockey are also getting started.  There are even some exhibition college basketball games being played.  Everywhere you look, there is competition.   This week the Three of Hearts will represent the Triathlon.  This is an event that consists of three races (swimming, cycling, and running).  You may not realize it, but you probably do these three activities on a regular basis. 

Swimming - There are times when you don't make a move because of indecision.  You are still evaluating scenarios and the associated risks and benefits.  That is understandable behavior.  However, there are other times when the decision has been made and you still don't move forward.  That is a different situation.  Sometimes you need to dive in and begin wading through the uncertainty and potential challenges.  Once you are in the water, use your best stroke (communication mechanism) to distribute your message to your intended audience. 

Cycling - The wheels on a bicycle are symbolic of a balanced routine.  They turn at the same rate in concert to keep the bike moving.  Your wheels are the time slots in your calendar, line entries on your budget, and items on your to do list.  There needs to be synchronization between your schedule, your money, and your completed tasks.  Don't leave things to chance.  The probability of something being done increases when there is time and money allocated to it.

Running - You don't need special equipment or a designated site to run.  It can be done spontaneously, but is more effective when there is training and practice done in advance.  If you can successfully run, or manage, your own agenda, you gain credibility.  Once you have established a working model, or framework for your leadership process, you can help others modify it to fit their needs.  It will also allow you recognize when there are gaps in examples that are set for others and identify what is needed to complete the picture.

What is your strongest event?  Are you a swimmer, cyclist, or runner?  Leave a comment and share your triathlete accomplishments.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three of Spades

Have you seen any of the popular 3-D movies this year?  When you put on the special glasses, there is the illusion of depth to the picture.  People and objects appear to be coming out of the screen so that you feel like a part of the action.  The three dimensions commonly referenced by the term 3-D are height, width, and depth.  This week the Three of Spades will represent how you can adjust those measurements to help you get the most out of your efforts.

Height = Distance
Are you a sprinter or marathon runner?  Do you do your best work in short, intense spurts?  Or are you better with a slower, long term approach?  Competitive athletes usually specialize in one form of racing.  However, it makes sense for you to have a balance between the two categories in order to reach the finish line for your goals.  If you have to complete a task in one week, you need to sprint to get it done.  It will help to set daily milestones to help you stay on track.  Focus on what and who puts you in the best position to move quickly and confidently.  If you have 6 months to finish an assignment, shift into marathon mode.  Your strategy will be more important than your speed. 

Width = Diversity
When you go to the dentist, you may be told to open wide.  The reason for this instruction is so that the dentist can use their tools to examine your entire mouth.  They must be able to view the top, bottom, front, and back teeth.  The gums and tongue are also examined.  They may even take x-rays to provide them with the big picture.  Use this same approach for assessing your support, or partnership options.  Expand your network of contacts to include a diverse group of people who can expose you to alternatives that may not occur to you.  This will allow you to customize your toolkit to handle a variety of situations.      

Depth = Determination
Do you remember the old Timex watch slogan, "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking"?  It was indicative of the product's durability and reliability.  In the commercials, you would see the watches being subjected to all kinds of pressure and abuse.  Each time the result would be continued performance of the product.   It's a wonderful trait to be able to keep going despite setbacks and stress.  It is not always easy to do.  Make sure that you maintain enough fuel (positive thinking) to keep you moving forward.  Have a supply of reading material that can refill your optimism tank when it runs low.  Recharge your batteries (routine) periodically to make sure your responsibilities and schedule complement one another.  Recognize when priorities change and make the necessary adjustments for your process and progress to keep working in your favor.  

You can go the distance when you are determined and diversified.  Take advantage of the 3-D opportunities that are presented to you.  You will make an impression that will be remembered for its special effects.  Leave a comment and share what you feel is your strongest dimension.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Four of Diamonds

Some of the most popular television shows and movies deal with superheroes.  There is a fascination with the idea of people being able to fly, have x-ray vision, and do other extraordinary things.  What super power would you like to have?  Actually, a better question might be what super power do you currently possess?  Before you say that you do not have any, it might help to clarify what qualifies.  The Four of Diamonds will be symbolic of the Fantastic Four this week.  You may be familiar with the group from the comic books or the blockbuster movies.  The individuals exhibited body stretching, invisibility, igniting into flames and flying, and turning to stone.  You are definitely capable of displaying these powers.

Stretching - While you may not be able to contort your body like Mr. Fantastic, you can definitely stretch your mind beyond self-imposed limitations.  You may have heard the phrase "think outside of the box".  It is commonly used to get people to draw on their creativity.  However, once you have "out of the box'" ideas, how do you implement them.  That is where mental stretching is needed.  Don't be afraid to be different.  Just because something has not been done before doesn't mean it cannot be done.

Invisibility - Sometimes there is an advantage to remaining behind the scenes.  You don't always have to be front and center to make a meaningful contribution.  Be wise enough to know when less is more.  While you cannot truly make yourself invisible, you can choose to shift the attention to the value that is added by others. An important part of leadership is setting the tone and trusting the team to execute the plan in your absence.   

Flames - When you are excited and passionate about something, it can consume you.  Just be careful that you manage the fire and enthusiasm so that they don't burn out of control.  You want the blaze to warm the room so that it is inviting for others who want to work with you.  Let them feel your excitement and commitment, but don't overwhelm them. 

Stone - There will always be people who disagree with you.  They may have different ideas and not know how to express them in a courteous manner.  This is where you need the stone exterior.  Do not take the criticism personally.  Remember that people can attack what you do and how you do it without attacking who you are.  A thick skin will also help you break through the walls of rejection, exhaustion, and other obstacles that you encounter on the way to achieving your goals.

You will need to rotate your super powers to fit appropriate situations.  The mental stretching and flames of enthusiasm will be needed on a regular basis.  However, be more selective about when you exhibit invisibility and stone attributes.  They are very effective when used in moderation, but are not right for every situation.  Leave a comment and share what super powers you have displayed this week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Four of Clubs

Can you believe that there are only 10 more weeks left in this year?    Hopefully, you were productive and have tangible results to show for your efforts.  If not, there is still time for you to shine.  You may need to take some shortcuts to get to your destination.  When people text, they often use a shorthand that includes using numbers for certain words.  This week, the Four of Clubs will be symbolic of that habit.  We will use the number 4 as a prefix for some common words that normally begin with "for" or "fore".  These words will provide tips to help you recognize some of the shortcuts that can assist you in completing your to-do list before the end of the year.

4cast - This is a term used to describe the weather.  You want to know if it will be sunny, rainy, or windy.  This information will help you decide what accessories you may need.  Don't rush into a situation without determining if you will need sunglasses (clear priorities) to prevent the glare of distraction and sunscreen (an even temperament and diplomacy) to keep you from burning bridges. An umbrella (proven history of great work) can shield you from a downpour of criticism. You may need a jacket (realistic expectations) to keep you from being blown off your path.     

4word - This is the introduction at the beginning of a book that is written by someone other than the author.  It is usually a well known person whose opinion will impress potential readers. Build on the experience and expertise of others that you admire and respect.  Their advice and suggestions can save you time by helping you avoid things that will hinder your progress.

4mat - It is important to establish a structure, or foundation, for what you want to accomplish.  If there is a set order to follow, you are less likely to miss steps.  Getting it right the first time means that you don't have to do it over later.  This also allows you to share your routine with others so that they do not have to go through unnecessary trial and error.

4bearance - This is another word for patience.  It is a characteristic that will serve you well.  Give your ideas, efforts, and connections time to produce the desired results.  You will actually save time when you wait to see what is really working.  This will enable you to know where you need to make changes.  It will also highlight the things that you need to keep doing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Four of Hearts

How was your week?  Did everything go the way you thought it would or were there stumbling blocks?  Despite your plans and intentions, sometimes things do not work in your favor.  One reason for this is that you can only control your actions.  While you can anticipate the moves of others, they can always surprise you with something unexpected.  How you respond, or react, to your environment and what happens in it can determine the next steps for you.

 Think of the popular game, Connect Four.  Did you play it when you were younger?  In order to win, you need to get four chips in a row of the same color.  This theory of consistency and repetition can also be applied to your personal, educational, and professional endeavors.  The Four of Hearts will represent the concept of establishing a pattern for success.

Punctuality is a good example.  If you arrive on schedule four times in a row, others who may not demonstrate that trait will need to adjust their approach in order to work with you.  On the flip side, when you are repeatedly late , you put yourself at a disadvantage.  You don't want to be in the position of trying to figure out what you missed. 

Effective communication also needs to demonstrated continually.  It is important to be able to share your vision and achievements with others.  Your ideas should match what you say.  What you say needs to match what you write.  Your written message should match what you actually do.  When those four things line up in a row, you build a solid reputation based on accountability, reliability, and trust. 

Observation is an important skill to sharpen and display.  Pay attention to what potential partners or opponents are doing and analyze how it impacts you.  You can learn a lot by simply watching and listening.  As you gather data, you can formulate the strategy that will help you be in the right place at the right time.  If you are consistently prepared for opportunities when they arise, you may be able to alter them to provide maximum benefit to you.  Eventually, you will not have to look for opportunities because they will pursue you.

Finally, remember to recharge your batteries regularly so that your energy level will be high enough to sustain your efforts.  When you are tired, you might not be alert enough to recognize the match for your last move.  Schedule breaks at designated points to review your progress and make necessary adjustments.

Have you connected four recently?  If so, leave a comment and let others know how you did it.  If not, what are you going to do differently this week?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Four of Spades

Do you perform your recommended maintenance?  Examples include annual physicals, visiting the dentist twice a year, or changing the oil in your car as directed by the dealer.  The Four of Spades will be representative of the tires on your car this week.  It is important to rotate and balance them on schedule to extend their effectiveness.  Your symbolic T.I.R.E. might include:

T = Tempo
       As you pursue your goals and dreams, it is important to pace yourself.  During part of the journey, it may be necessary to go full speed ahead.  Some things are time sensitive and you have to move fast in order not to get left behind.  Other things require more finesse so it makes sense to proceed with caution.   Monitor your tempo regularly and determine whether you need to speed up or slow down based on the approach that will yield the best results for you.

I =  Involvement
      Most people do not have the luxury of being able to dedicate all of their time to one endeavor.  You have to decide how actively you will be involved in your multiple interests.  Levels of participation will vary depending on several factors, including your schedule, support system, and benefits associated with the activities.

R = Risk
       Don't always assume that risk is a bad thing.  It is a necessary component of innovation and excellence.  Determine how much you can tolerate for each phase, or step, of your plan.  Consider the probability and consequences of the negative risk occurring and establish a strategy to address it.  Likewise, be prepared for the positive risk and how it can present advantages and shortcuts for you.

E = Endurance
       It is normal to become discouraged when you encounter multiple setbacks.  You can acknowledge the disappointment and still keep going.  Endurance is a confidence booster.  The longer you hang in there, the more you believe that your desired outcome can be achieved.  You build momentum by continuing to move.       

If you balance and rotate your tempo, involvement, risk, and endurance, you will get the maximum value out of each one of them.  Similar to the tires on your car, sometimes tempo and involvement will be in the front leading the way for you.  Risk and endurance will be in the back because they are not primary factors at the moment.  As things shift, tempo may move to the rear while endurance comes forward.  Regardless of the position, they will all work together to provide a smooth ride for you.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts on how considering tempo, involvement, risk, and endurance can influence your current or future projects.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Five of Diamonds

How do you determine the relative worth of something?  You need a baseline for comparison.  Is it better or worse than something else?  For movies, maybe you read the reviews of critics.  If you are purchasing a used car, a vehicle history report can help you assess what you will get for the money.  Restaurants, hotels, and the military use the 5-star rating to designate excellence in products, service, and performance.  Even if you are not clear on all the criteria that is evaluated to get the rating, you know that 5 stars is better than 1 star.  What will it take to make this a 5-star, or 5-diamond week for you?  What are your 5-star qualities?  What 5-star roles can you fill this week?

A chef in a 5-star restaurant needs preparation and presentation skills.  These attributes will also benefit you as you design your menu of appetizers (first impressions), main courses (team dynamics), and desserts (levels, or layers, of discovery).  Stay informed about current events and develop a hobby.  You will always have something to contribute to the small talk that is common when you meet new people.   It is important to maintain a general awareness of a variety of topics.  This will make you a more effective leader and team contributor.  It will help you balance your plate.  Portion control is a key element that applies to more than healthy eating.  A reasonable sized selection of meat (effort) paired with the correct sides, or vegetables (timing) satisfies the appetite for progress.  Garnish the display with sprigs of humor. Laughter makes things taste better.  As you approach the end of a path, take time to reflect on the steps that you have taken to that point.  Peel back the distractions that impact your attention span and cause you to miss the next scheduled turn.

A concierge in a 5-star hotel strives to provide superior service and comfort.  While your stay may be temporary, the amenities make you want to return on a regular basis.  Whether you work for yourself or  for someone else, your goal is to get repeat business.  You want people to request you and refer others to you.  You may have to step out of your comfort zone in order to become familiar with the needs of those that require your service.  When you are known for your expertise in your field and your fair treatment of people, a good reputation is established.  You may have heard the phrase, "your reputation precedes you".  This is definitely a true statement.  Word of mouth is a powerful tool for exposure and growth. 

A 5-star general is a high ranking military official responsible for leadership and defense strategy.  Once you have shared your vision and mission with others, some of them may enlist to help you achieve a successful outcome.  When someone is following you, there must be clear demonstration and direction related to the path that leads to the desired destination.  It is not always apparent that others are listening to and observing you.  Be mindful of how your words and actions may be perceived.  Protect your borders by forming alliances with people whose strengths complement your weak areas.  When possible, negotiate peace treaties with those who are working against your purpose.  However, if you must go to battle, train and mobilize your troops so that they will be in a position to conquer the opposition and emerge victorious.  You are a winner, so think and behave like one. 


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Five of Clubs

 Have you attended a wedding recently?  Who got married?  Was it a family member, co-worker, or friend?  What gift did you give the lucky couple?  I like to get something from the bridal registry so that I know it is something the couple will want.  The 5 piece place setting is often a popular choice.  It can be displayed and provide some insight into the couple's style (traditional vs. contemporary, casual vs. formal, etc.).  Typically, a 5 piece place setting consists of a dinner plate, salad plate, cup, saucer, and bread and butter plate (or bowl).  Each item is designated for a specific function.  The Five of Clubs will be symbolic of the dishes that you need to display the best representation of you.

The Cup - It is not as wide as the other items, but is has depth to hold warm liquids.   What you pour into or out of it makes an impression.  Your accessories are small and may be delicate, but they can make a big statement.  For ladies, pearls can add elegance to an outfit.  For men, the tie clip or cuff links might be the accents that set a suit apart from others.  They keep loose articles from flapping and distracting you from your purpose.  You may not have the physical items, but you can still display the attributes.  Are you familiar with the phrase "pearls of wisdom"?  Turn your cup up to receive wisdom and drink it for mental nourishment.  Use the wisdom to hold things together with style and grace. 
The Saucer - It catches any overflow from the cup and serves as a holder for it.  The saucer is a buffer that absorbs the heat from the cup.  It prevents stains and burns.  Scarves and neckties perform a similar role for your wardrobe.  They provide a splash of color, protect your windpipe, and lay over your chest.  A breath of fresh air is good thing.  Don't let anyone or anything choke, or block, your access to new ideas and opportunities.    

The Bread and Butter Plate - Bread is filling and serves as a perfect companion for other parts of the meal.  This dish holds the roll, slice, or pastry and the creamy topping to spread over it.   It can be compared to the perfect bag that is the right size, right color, and right style for you.  That is also a description for a best friend.  Hopefully, you have a go to person that looks out for your best interests.  Equally important, make sure you fulfill that role for someone.  The phrase "bread and butter" refers to something or someone that you can rely on to provide for you.

The Salad Plate - Leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and tasty dressing are a delicious combination to open the meal.  You may have a garden, Caesar, or some other type of salad before your entree arrives.  There are several varieties with different ingredients, but the common denominator is the frame, or base, of greens.  Prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses are the accessories that use frames.  The lenses improve your vision or protect your eyes from the sun.  However, observers do not notice your lenses.  The frames draw their attention.  There are different shapes (round, square, pointed, etc.), sizes, materials, and colors.  One size does not fit all.  Another important frame is your frame of mind.  Select one that accents your personality, interests, and positive characteristics. 

The Dinner Plate - This is the dish for your entree.  It has more room and can hold the meat, vegetables, and garnish that make up the main course.  It reminds me of a belt or suspenders that you can adjust to help your pants fit your waist.  These items may not be seen, but their contribution to the overall appearance of your clothes is significant.  Likewise, the tough times that you survived may not be apparent to others, but they taught you lessons and techniques for overcoming adversity.  You can fit your strengths and experiences to any situation in order to tailor it to your benefit.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Five of Hearts

Have you ever taken the time to notice the patterns, connections, and symbols that govern your regular routines?  Some of them are obvious - alarm clocks, routes to work, paying bills, exercising, and doing household chores.  What about the ones that may not be as apparent?  You may be subconsciously blocking the process for your growth and success.  Do you read something educational or motivational each week and take some type of action as a result?  Do you visit a new place each month to expose yourself to new environments?  Do you listen to feedback from all age groups: children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged people, and senior citizens?  Do you write something at least quarterly to record significant plans, milestones, and impact analyses.  The Five of Hearts this week will represent the five Olympic rings to show the relationship between your various ambitions and endeavors.

The five loops were originally designed to be symbolic of the various parts of the world that participate in the competition.  The colors come from the various flags of the countries that participate in the games.  You can borrow the logo as a framework for your integrated structure of tents and forts.  You need your intent, effort, content, fortitude, and tentacles to overlap in order for you to consistently perform at a high level.  They are required variables in the equation for optimal results.

Your intent houses the thoughts and plans for your next move.  When it intersects with your effort, there is activity that produces evidence, or content, of your vision.  There will be adjustments and detours along the way, so you will need fortitude to keep trying when things are not going your way.  Use your tentacles to embrace a variety of ideas and approaches to reach the finish line. 

 Athletes train for years to compete in Olympic events.  They stay in shape even during the off season.  Even if it seems like things are not happening for you right now, be prepared to get on your mark, get set, and go at a moment's notice.  You are always in medal contention.

Aim + Attempt + Analysis+ Ambition + Association = Appealing Avenues

Friday, September 10, 2010

Five of Spades

As we approach the end of the Summer and the beginning of Fall, we can sense the change of seasons.  There are the familiar signs of shorter days, cooler weather, changing leaves, and other indicators.  Which time of year do you prefer?  Do you like the sun and fun atmosphere of summer?  Or are the harvests and holiday gatherings of the fall more appealing to you?  You may appreciate both of them.  The Five of Spades will be symbolic of your five senses this week.  Let's examine how what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch impacts your ability to navigate through the different seasons in your life. 
Seeing - What tools do you use to help you see?  Your eyes perform the actual function, but there are instruments that can enhance their ability.  Microscopes and binoculars allow you to view objects in different ways.  You can enlarge them or bring them closer.  If you are experiencing a setback, even a small glimmer of hope can help if it is magnified.  Place alternatives under a comparison microscope to evaluate their pros and cons.  Sometimes your next move is not right in front of you.  You many need binoculars to examine what you may encounter further down the road.  Expand your horizon and look beyond your familiar environment.      
Hearing - When you listen attentively, you can often determine what is important by noting what is not being said.  You may be familiar with the phrase, "reading between the lines".  You can also "listen between the lines".  Pay attention to context, body language, voice inflections, and facial expressions.  These tags may fill in the blanks for you when you think something is missing.  Be sensitive to the sounds around you.  They often provide clues regarding what direction you should take.  When you hear ringing, check the identity of people who always have news or a message for you.  Screen your calls to separate distractions from contractions.   Distractions take your focus away from productive pursuits.  Contractions encourage you to push forward and find shorter routes to your destination.  

Smelling - Aromas serve as triggers for your other senses. When you smell something appetizing, your taste buds are stimulated and your mouth waters.  If the odor is not very pleasant, your eyes may close involuntarily as your nostrils shrink in reaction.  However, in order to clear the air you may have to handle whatever is causing the stink.  You might be able to wash it to achieve a fresher scent or you might have to remove it from your presence. The point is when something stinks, it needs to be addressed.  If you ignore it, the smell only gets worse.

Tasting - Your taste buds distinguish between five categories: salty (humor), sour (caution), sweet (compassion), bitter (disappointment), and savory (contentment).  These are unique flavors that provide balance when incorporated together in the right proportions.   Don't be afraid to sample new dishes that can broaden your palate.  Feed your appetite for discovery.

Touching -  When you make actual physical contact with something, you get an idea of the texture and stability of the object.  If you are touching something rough or hot, use gloves to protect your hands. This also applies when you find yourself in tense situations.  Limit your exposure to risk by covering your participation with focus on the solution rather than the problem. An item may need to be handled with care if it is fragile. Follow guidelines and use designated tools to assist you so that you don't break anything.  Patience and understanding are key traits for success. 

What sense have you used the most in recent weeks?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.          

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Six of Diamonds

Do you have a favorite insect?  That may seem like an odd question if you are older than 10.  If adults see them in the house, they either kill them or capture them and put them outside.  When we see them outside, we avoid them and don't want them to crawl or land on us.  However, some of them are quite pretty when observed from afar.  A common characteristic of insects is that they have six legs.  We will use the Six of Diamonds this week to represent their legs and mobility.  The honeybee has six legs and lives in a honeycomb which is composed of multiple six-sided units.  Let's see what we can learn from the honeybee and honeycomb.

Honeybees use their legs for collecting pollen, storing pollen, and cleaning their antennae.  Your legs can be used for similar functions.  They are your main source of mobility, but you limit yourself when you only use them for walking and standing.  While you only have 2 legs and not 6 like the honeybee, you can also collect, store, and clean with them.  When you walk, you collect data and images as you move.  This collection can be used later for reference to help you convince others to take a similar journey.  When you stand, you rise above distractions and elevate your point of view.  Remember, or store, how the upright position gives you a preview of where you may want to go. When you kick your legs, you clear the space around you. This helps to cleanse your environment and sharpen your awareness of what is going on around you.

The honeycomb is any interesting structure.  It serves as a storage facility for honey (wisdom) and pollen (thread).   The honeybee builds the waxy, hexagon shaped unit in its nest and uses the compartments to store the things that it values.  What do you construct to house your wisdom and thread?  Some people keep journals to record their thoughts, experiences, and plans.  When things are written down, it is possible to share them with others.  You can also track your growth and identify strengths and areas for improvement.  Wisdom is made up of all these things.

You are aware of the thread that holds your clothes together.  It is hidden from view, but you can see where it joins the material if you turn it inside out to reveal cuffs, hems, and seams.  What may be less visible to you are the threads that run through the fabric of your aspirations.  They might be dispensed from the spool of the media.  If you see, hear, or read examples of success, you can do research to determine the pattern needed to make a similar garment to fit you.  Common threads are perseverance, willingness to take risks, and enthusiasm.  Make sure that you have skilled seamstresses around you to help design and sew the right wardrobe of support for you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Six of Clubs

Let's continue our discussion from last week.  We covered a half dozen eggs with the Six of Hearts.  Now, we will examine the remaining half dozen with the Six of Clubs.  The different ways to prepare eggs was the primary analogy for ways to handle common scenarios that we might encounter as we take steps toward our goals.  You won't have to worry about these eggs being recalled.

Handle your eggs with care until you are ready to use them for a meal.  Once they are cracked, you need to assign the contents to the proper function as soon as possible for maximum expression, efficiency, and effectiveness.  The following are examples of some tasty dishes that have eggs as a main ingredient.

  1. Omelette - How do you fold in new building blocks to your foundation in order to build a stronger, layered structure?  Do you chop onions (instructions), mushrooms (constructive feedback), peppers (marketing), and bacon or ham (funding) into smaller, manageable pieces?  A tasty omelette is an example of successful product development.  Whether your product is you or something that you create, make sure that it has the right combination for distribution to others.
  2. Eggs Benedict - We talked about poached eggs last week.  If you put them on top of ham or bacon on half of an English muffin and pour on hollandaise sauce, you get eggs benedict.  These are interesting textures and flavors to combine.  Don't be afraid to be different.  It sets you apart from the competition.  
  3. Egg Whites -  What do souffles, meringues, and mousses have in common?  Their fluffy, light tops are due to whipped egg whites.  The whisk breaks the bonds that hold the structure together.  This allows the whites to rise and be molded into peaks or caps.  You have the capability to behave like an egg white.  When you feel like you have been beaten and stretched to the breaking point, prepare to rise to a new levels of endurance and resilience.  You deserve the sweet tastes of triumph and celebration. 
  4. Quiche - This is a dish usually cooked in a pie pan and served in slices.  Sometimes dealing with smaller portion sizes helps with digestion (comprehension).  It can be exciting to look at the big picture and see the prize at the end of the finish line.  However, you are less likely to miss key steps if you divide the tasks into short term assignments.  Also, if your ideas are fully baked, they are more appetizing to others.   
  5. Egg Roll - This a familiar appetizer or side dish that has a crispy crust on the outside with vegetables rolled inside.  The outside is brushed with an egg wash and deep fried.  The egg coating is responsible for the golden brown color.  It is important to develop a strong exterior that can withstand the inevitable bumps and bruises that are part of everyday life.  While appearance is not everything, it is important.  Look like you are having fun and believe in what you are doing. 
  6. Egg Salad - Instead of slicing and dicing ingredients to be included with the egg mixture for an omelette, you actually cut up the egg itself for the salad.  We need the hard boiled egg (processes, communication skills, and people skills) from last week.  Sometimes it is necessary to peel away the process and focus on getting others to understand and share your vision.  Use mayonnaise (relationships) to get everyone on the same page.  Season the team with salt (verbal appreciation) and pepper (written recognition). 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Six of Hearts

   When are you reading this post? Is it early in the morning before you head to work or school? Are you looking for a midday boost during your lunch break? Maybe it is the end of day and you are unwinding from stress. Whenever you take time out of your busy schedule for this blog, I hope that you get something positive from it. I know that there are at least a dozen other things you could be doing instead of reading this right now.  The Six of Hearts will represent a half dozen benefits that you can get from each post.  We will finish the list next week.  Let's use eggs as a symbol for the since they are commonly sold by the dozen.

  1. Scrambled Eggs - If you are not making measurable progress toward something that you want, you may need to change the approach.  Break the core (yolk) that anchors your routine (whites).  Stir everything together, apply heat (deadlines), and continue to manipulate the mixture (plan) until it's golden (productive) with a fluffy texture (results).    

  2. Poached Eggs - When you take the plunge into unfamiliar territory, it may take some time to get acclimated to your surroundings.  When an egg is poached, it is submerged (without the shell) in warm water until the white is firm and the yolk is still soft.  Sometimes our first reaction to getting wet is to seek shelter and try to get dry.  The water is part of your process.  Stay in it until the return on your investment starts to materialize and your purpose starts to seep into everything that you do. 

  3. Eggs Used In Recipes - Many recipes use eggs as a binding agent. They join and hold the other ingredients together.  Develop and enhance that characteristic in order to solve problems and foster collaboration with and among others.       

  4. Fried Eggs - Flatten the competition with preparation, practice, and persistence.  Potential problems will bubble up periodically.  Use the lessons learned from previous successes to flip things in your favor. 

  5. Hard Boiled Eggs - If you have big plans for your future, you will probably need a good team to help you.  Look for people who respond to hot water (problems) with solutions while operating with a solid set of processes (shells), communication skills (yolks) and people skills (whites).
  6. Deviled Eggs - Sometimes you have to smash barriers that are in your way.  It is not always possible to remove or go around them.  However, don't automatically dispose of the rubble.  It may help to go through it and pick out remnants that may be useful to you.  Season your newly cleared path with signs and guard rails.  They will help you make the right turns and not veer off on unnecessary detours.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Six of Spades

Have you taken your summer vacation yet?  I hope you have taken a break from work and your everyday routine for some fun and carefree activities.  Maybe you did something at the start of the summer, but want to end the season with a quick getaway.  Popular destinations include beaches, mountains, spas, and amusement parks.  Let's focus on the last category.  The Six of Spades will represent the Six Flags theme park this week.  There are multiple locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  Do you have favorite rides or attractions?  You can count on seeing roller coasters, water rides, and concert spaces. 

What comes to mind when you think of roller coasters?  They are fast, have ups and downs, and people make a lot of noise on them.  Those same characteristics can be used to describe unexpected opportunities.  Sometimes they appear and go by so quickly that you will miss them if you aren't willing to take calculated risks.  Be aware that you won't always have a lot of time to determine the pros and cons of certain situations.  Any worthwhile experience will have peaks and valleys.  Remember that both extremes are temporary and something new is around the next bend.  You have probably heard the phrase "opportunity knocks".   If it is knocking, there is noise involved.  You hear something to alert you to the possibility of an open door.  When you encounter chaos, don't become so distracted that you miss the chance to make a noticeable impact.

Water rides can offer refreshing relief from the heat of the day.  They allow you to experience a brief splash that will alter your appearance and cause some momentary discomfort.  Once the ride ends, you are usually drenched with your hair and clothes plastered to your body.  While everything may dry out quickly, you have to walk around for a little while with wet shoes.  The sun dries everything eventually.  The same principle applies to encounters that you have with disagreeable people.  You may want to pull out your hair and scream at the top of your lungs.  Just as the sun literally dries up the effects from the water ride, humor can ease the tension caused by a frustrating interaction.  You can roar with laughter instead of yelling in anger. 

Concert spaces provide a stage for performers and seating or standing room for an audience.  While the pavilions are clearly labeled in a theme park, that is not always the case in your everyday life.  If you are not observant and able to adjust to change, you may miss the chance to display your talent.  Think outside of the box and be prepared to work your show at a moment's notice.  There are people who go to the amusement park only for the rides.  They have no interest in the live entertainment.  However, since they are already there, they decide to check it out and attend the show.  You may be surprised at who is in your audience.  If you are versatile, you will have a diverse following that will increase your exposure.  You may not be the main attraction, but you can still generate enough interest for encore requests. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Seven of Diamonds

Have you ever had a 7-Up drink?  It has a tart, tangy flavor.  Several years ago, there was an advertising campaign that branded 7-Up as the un-cola.  The commercials wanted to highlight that the product was different from other soft drinks on the market.  While the spots don't air anymore, the slogan is still relevant as a description of something that is in its own class.  Let's use the Seven of Diamonds to represent a 7-Up with an emphasis on refreshing points of view and characteristics that make us special and unique.

What are the 7 ups that you can identify and use to your advantage this week?

  1. Hiccup = An involuntary, momentary interruption in the normal flow of activities.  When something doesn't go as planned, your first reaction may be annoyance or disappointment.  That is an understandable response.  However, move on to the next phase in a timely manner and determine how the pause can work in your favor.
  2. Supper = The last meal of the day.  Are you cooking at home or going to a restaurant?  Try to have a balance between the two options.  This advice applies to eating as well as other pursuits.  Take advantage of available resources that can help you reach your designated finish line.  It is great to be able to do things for yourself, but sometimes it may save you time, money, and frustration to have someone else handle certain tasks.
  3. Sit-Up = An abdominal crunch that targets the torso muscles.  It takes discipline to do sit-ups.  They are necessary to strengthen your middle, or core.  What serves as the center, or foundation, of the end result that you wish to achieve?  That should be your focus this week.  Do you need to concentrate on building more strategic and effective relationships?  Are there skills that you need to enhance with training or partnerships?  Do you provide a service or product that needs more exposure?  Identify the area that needs to be toned and work on it.
  4. Nuptials = Marriage.  Wedding vows contain phrases like "for richer or poorer" and "in sickness and in health".  You need to have the same type of bond with the tasks, activities, and deliverables that are  part of your master plan to accomplish your goals.  If you encounter budgetary challenges, explore free or less expensive alternatives.  Don't get discouraged and lose sight of what you are trying to do.
  5. Muppet = A fictional, furry children's character.  Which Muppet will benefit you the most this week?  Should you be Big Bird with a gentle and feathery demeanor?  Or will Elmo's happy and playful attitude serve you better?  Most people don't consider the Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch as role models, but their persistence and attention to detail are useful qualities.
  6. Supply = The amount of inventory available for use.  It is important to replenish the supplies that you use.  If you do not restock on a regular basis, you run the risk of something not being available when you need it.  You may often run low on energy.  Recharge by eating well and getting enough rest.  It helps to have a reliable source of encouragement.  I hope this blog provides a consistent supplies you with motivation and confidence.
  7. Tupperware = Plastic storage containers for food.   Your mind functions like Tupperware when it keeps your ideas and plans fresh.  Timing is key to everything that you need to do to be successful.  Sometimes things may have to be postponed due to circumstances beyond your control.  Just because something doesn't work the first time, don't give up and throw away the effort and output.  You may be able to use it later and achieve better results. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Seven of Clubs

Is there something that your pursue with enthusiasm on a regular basis?  Are you skipping along and singing with glee on your way to work or school?  I hope that you are.  However, I know that it may be something unrelated to those destinations that makes you approach it with anticipation and excitement.  Maybe it is a hobby or dream that has you optimistic and hopeful.  I am reminded of the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  If you recall, these guys were happy and singing as they came home from the mines each day.  The Seven of Clubs this week will be symbolic of the dwarfs and their collective cheer.

Heigh-Ho    Heigh-Ho    Heigh-Ho    Heigh-Ho

One reason the fellows might have been so upbeat is that they had tools, pickaxes and lanterns.  They knew that they needed to use the correct equipment to help them make significant progress toward their deliverables.  It is important to break your big picture into smaller pieces in order to make it more manageable.  Do you have the proper things in your toolkit?  You may need a business plan, business cards, web site, mentor, or additional certifications.  When you are adequately prepared, you are more relaxed and able to execute your agenda effectively and efficiently.

The dwarfs may have also been happy because Snow White made them lunch each day.  Nothing can run on empty.  People, cars, and cell phones are just a few examples of things that need fuel, or power, to make them function.   We have mentioned a few items that you might need in your toolbox.  What should be in your lunchbox?  A balanced meal is important.  Make sure that you have some protein (energy), fiber (flexibility), fruits (contingency plan), and vegetables (clear purpose).  What you eat affects your ability to function at your highest level.  Digest details with your ears in order to identify gaps that your service or product can fill.  Taste problems with your tongue so that you can communicate potential solutions that will satisfy multiple stakeholders.  Your lunchbox should be insulated to protect the contents from fluctuating temperatures.  Surround yourself with people who deal with highs and lows in a productive manner that helps you to succeed.

Another way that Snow White helped the guys was by cleaning the house.   It's a great feeling when things have been taken care of and put in their proper place.  Dust off ideas and plans that you abandoned too early and give them another try.  Sometimes we spend so much time trying to come up with something new that we forget to review items that we already started.  Polish your current presentation to make sure it accurately reflects your message.  Update the resume, practice your skills, and seek constructive feedback from reliable sources.  Mop up spills in a timely fashion so that you don't slip and fall.  Acknowledge mistakes, but do not let them stop you.  Use a sponge to absorb the knowledge and experience you need to exceed expectations.

What tools, foods, and cleaning assignments will you use this week?  Leave a comment and share with others how the Seven of Clubs applies to you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Seven of Hearts

The sights, smells, and sounds of the summer season are here.  You can see kites flying high and painted toes in sandals.  The mouth watering aroma of food being grilled outdoors is in the air.  There is the daily hum of lawnmowers in action and the familiar music of the ice cream truck.  One of the most beautiful things seen during the summer is the rainbow.  The seven colors of a rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  The Seven of Hearts this week will represent the colorful bands to help us examine the arcs that we project to others.

There are layers to each person and situation.  As they are peeled away, questions are answered and lessons are learned.  Using the rainbow as a guide, think about the different lines and how they apply to you.  After a downpour of obstacles or opportunities, look up and identify your colors.  You may be familiar with the expression "seeing red".  It usually means that someone is really angry.  Let's add layers to the phrase for our purpose this week.  The red band is the outside one in the rainbow and provides a cover for the remaining arcs.  So, when you see red, look through the anger to recognize that it is only the first level, or response.  Remember that there are other reaction options beneath it.  Downgrade the anger to annoyance and reclaim your peace of mind.

Orange is the second color, or layer.  Like a cantaloupe, you have to get past the outer rind, or shell, to reach the sweet, inner fruit.  Have you seen people in the supermarket knocking on the melons?  What are they listening or feeling for when they do this?  They are trying to determine if the fruit is ripe.  You cannot go around knocking on people's heads.  That would not be very productive.  What you can do instead is listen to what they say and watch what they do to determine if their output is hollow.  Assess the maturity of ideas, plans, and activities before offering your support or endorsement.  Likewise, make sure that when you are requesting assistance from others that you have a solid foundation upon which to build.  This leads into the next level, the yellow band.  Be prepared to do your canary impersonation.  Sing, or broadcast, what you want to share in a melodic tone so that it captures the attention of your audience and causes them to pause and listen.  You don't have to literally sing but be able to communicate your message and engage others to participate in and contribute to your vision.

When you see the green layer, consider the ingredients for a nice, healthy salad.  You usually start with some type of leafy green (iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, etc.).    Other green contributions might include cucumbers, broccoli, and peppers.  You want them them to be fresh and crisp.  We won't worry about the other colored items for this example.  When you go to a salad bar, you can create a dish that is unique to your tastes.  Then you pour on the dressing to complete the dish.  This process can be applied to other things.  If you feel like you're in a rut, shake things up by changing your routine, surroundings, or habits.  It can be as small as changing the time you get up or changing where you shop.  Bigger changes might involve your education, career, transportation, living arrangements, or relationships.  These things are your salad ingredients.  The frequency of and commitment to the fresh, crisp changes serves as the dressing. 

The last 3 bands are shades of blue and purple.  That color combination is beautiful on the ground as well as in the air.  Pansies can be a striking addition to a landscape project or garden.  As you build relationships, try to plant seeds that will yield a diverse harvest of good will, patience, and  benevolence.  Don't keep your blooms in your yard.  Pick them and arrange them in bouquets so that you can share them with others who may need a mood booster.