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Archive for the ‘Boundaries’ Category

Say No More Often!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Over the years I have wrestled with saying “no” to many requests.

When I was two years old, I am sure I did not have that problem. Just ask my family!

As I grew up, I think the people pleaser in me showed up, and “no” seldom found its way into my vocabulary.

As an adult, I have a distinct memory about learning how to say “no.” I was doing volunteer work at a local museum for a major fund-raising event. I was responsible to get volunteers for my committee. I still remember the woman I asked who instead of just saying “no” said, “No, I can’t help you now, but when the event takes place I’ll be glad to work.”

Gosh, that no really did not sound so much like a no.

Yes can be the right answer many times, but none of us has unlimited time available to say yes to everything. It’s knowing when to say yes or no and then how to say it that makes the difference.

The thing with say no is that you can then say yes to what is really important to either you or your business.

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Biz lessons from the dentist

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

I had a dental visit last week. I have one every six months, like many people. I don’t actually mind these because  — knock on wood — I’ve been blessed with healthy teeth.

I was thinking about what I could learn and share about business as Julie, the hygienist, was cleaning my teeth. After all, you can’t exactly carry on your end of a conversation while this is going on.

Create relationships

Julie has been a dental hygienist in this small practice for nearly 40 years, and I’ve been going for at least half that time.

While she started her job because she loved cleaning teeth, Julie told me that for her it had not been about cleaning teeth for a long time.

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Set and keep your boundaries

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018


A couple of weeks back, I had a conversation with Katie, a long-time client. We talked about boundaries, something that we have talked about over the years. She had, again, agreed to take on the program chair position at her local art guild. The guild was in a real bind since the current chair was having surgery with a long rehab period, and they really needed her, she said. That was on top of Katie’s picking up the slack for one of the moms with snacks at the kids’ soccer games. And, she also lamented a call the day before from a long-time friend who needed someone to talk with. The problem was that the friend was always in a crisis mode and she picked Katie as the go-to person on many occasions.

During our conversation, Katie admitted she was exhausted and felt like her needs, both personal and professional, were taking second place. That was true. She may have had good boundaries, but she was not guarding them. She was giving away her time and energy. What we discussed was a test for Katie to make some changes in her life.

I will admit right up front I could be a better boundary setter. Well maybe not a setter, but rather a keeper. I can set those boundaries; I just do not always stick to them. How about you?

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Are your “real” priorities in your calendar?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017


Do you ever struggle with aligning your priorities with your actions? Beth, one of my clients, was recently struggling with this. She told me that her family was her priority, yet she was barely fitting them in around her business, rather than the other way around. She was taking on more commissions and at the same time increasing her output for exhibitions at galleries.

In reality, your priorities are defined by how and where you spend your time. By that definition, family was not Beth’s number one priority.

To get clearer on your priorities, during the next few weeks develop a list of your needs, wants, and values. “What’s the difference?” you ask.

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Oh, Where Was I?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

small_3028697296This seems to crop up every once in a while in my life and those of my clients: the inability to stay focused and get done what needs to be done. It can be because you are distracted by other options, whether that’s the other stuff in the room or another great idea that is beckoning.

Yes, you, too, are infected with Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. I have been there. Sometimes in my office I get totally distracted by the projects I want to make or the books/tools that just arrived or the idea I have for a new product or all the blogs that call me to tour them. How do you get past this? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Take a break. Right now you could be overwhelmed rather than just distracted. This could be an hour or it could be a few days for yourself. The work will still be there.
  2. Remember your “why.” What is your purpose and how is what you want to accomplish leading you in that direction?
  3. Prioritize what needs to be done. Prioritize by what projects/objects will provide you with the best return on your investment, (i.e., what will bring money into your business.) This is often what it will take to focus.
  4. Write down the distraction in your planner or idea notebook. I have a notebook or journal where I track what is going on in my business and it is filled with ideas. If I write it down there, it gets it out of my mind and I can go back to focusing where I should be.
  5. Clean up your environment so the objects are not in front of you. If you are working on your computer, shut down your email and your Internet browser, so they won’t distract you.
  6. Work in a different environment. When I get ready to proofread The Professional Quilter, I do this on the porch in nice weather and the living room in colder weather. The living room does not have lots of BSOs – other than the kaleidoscope collection, which I am not sure why I can avoid it. When I suggested that one of my clients look for a spot to work without distractions, she zeroed in on her dining room and quickly got all her work done. Find the space that will work for you, whether it is a different room in your home or even the local library or coffee shop.
  7. Schedule time for BSOs. If you know you will be distracted by that blog tour in the middle of the day, schedule it for later in the day or the weekend. That way you will enjoy it, and you won’t feel guilty about not getting your work completed.

How do handle all the bright shiny objects that call you during the day? Please share your ideas below.


photo credit: tim ellis via photopin cc

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

coffee cupToday I am having lunch with one of my closest friends, something we try to do once a month. We could meet for coffee, only neither one of us drinks it. Of course, it is not about the coffee anyhow. It is about the connections. It’s about the companionship. It’s about the love.

I ran across this article again the other day. It has been circulated around the Internet for awhile now, and I don’t know its origin. It’s just a good reminder for when we think our lives are stuffed and unmanageable. When you get to that place, think about the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.


A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. “Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — God, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions. And if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your spouse. Play with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with your grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner.  Play another 18 holes.  There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”


So, when you get the chance to meet up with your friends for coffee, take the opportunity. I am always grateful I do.


Photo credit: Hailey E Herrera Art Journey via photopin cc

Are You Struggling With Burnout?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Over the weekend, I was chatting with one of our members about burnout. She felt she was on the edge of burnout and need to get a handle on it before it ruined her and her business.

What exactly is burnout? It is usually defined as an exhaustion brought about by lack of interest or motivation or by constant stress. It is a not-so-subtle message from the universe that something is not working in your life and you need to get on top of it.

People do not burn out from working too hard. They burn out from working on things they are not good at or do not feel passionately about. They burn out from working on things they do not value. They burnout when they work on things that others could do, while resenting that they cannot get to work on what they want to do. They burnout when they feel their work isn’t relevant. They burnout when they spend their time putting out fires rather than working on something that matters to them. They burnout by just doing “stuff.”

Ever notice that you can work for hours when it is something you enjoy? That is clearly the opposite of burnout and where we would like to be.

If you think you are suffering from or on the edge of burnout, here are some tips:

  1. Figure out if the time you spend contributing to your business (or life) actually contributes to you. In other words, does it fill your well? If not, look for what you can give up in your activities. You do not have to do everything, and you do not have to do everything perfectly.
  2. Take another look at your goals and priorities. Are they aligned with the values in your life? If not, look for what changes you can make.
  3. Learn to set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. I think taking on too much for others sets us up for burnout.
  4. Put “me” time in your calendar. You need to slow down, take a break, take care of yourself. This could be meditating, writing in your journal, doing art that is not business focused.
  5. Take a break from technology. Limit your time on technology. Better yet, set a time when you will totally disconnect at the end of the day. I think that too much time surfing online, particularly with social media, sets you up for comparing yourself with what others are doing. This can lead to thinking you need to be doing this, too. (Go back and read tips 1 and 2.)
  6. Since stress is a contributor, learn how to manage it. This could be the “me” time in your calendar or just avoiding the stressor.
  7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly, eat healthfully, limit your caffeine and sugar, get enough sleep. Also watch that you do not self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.
  8. Consider a visit to your doctor. What you may think of as stress may actually be a medical issue .

What strategies have you found to deal with impending burnout?


Please share your thoughts below

Boundaries: Can You Set Them? Can You Keep Them?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

I’ll admit right up front I could be a better boundary setter. Well maybe not a setter, but rather a keeper. I can set those boundaries; I just don’t always stick to them. How about you?

When several of my private coaching clients asked about boundaries, I knew it was time for a post on this. We are all tested, whether that’s in our personal lives or our business lives.

What boundaries are might be the first part of the discussion. If we own property, we understand the concept of boundaries. This is where my property begins and what I am responsible for. It’s the same with personal boundaries. It’s where you begin and your sense of responsibility begins. Your business will have boundaries, too. Here are some guidelines for setting boundaries.

  1. Become self-aware. When you get into particular situations, what happens to you? Do you become anxious, lose energy, feel unsure, flee, fight, etc. Being aware of how you respond is the first step to learning to set boundaries that work for you.
  2. Start with simple boundaries or limits. This could take the form of setting your work hours, saying no to extra commitments (or even learning how to say no), placing limits on taking rush orders, only taking personal calls at night, etc.
  3. Once you set your boundaries, you don’t need to defend your position. It just is. If someone questions you on it, you just repeat your position.
  4. Stay committed to your course. If you give in this once, you’ll find yourself giving in again and again. You end up feeling guilty if you don’t. (I think that’s a woman people-pleasing guilt issue.) People will start to ignore your needs. And, you end up back in those feelings I outlined in number 1 above.

You know I like to talk about creating systems in your business. Systems support the business and let you get more done. If you think about it, boundaries are really just systems that help you live your life the best way. They put you in charge of your life. They also help you manage your business the best way for you.

If you want to read more on boundaries, I found a wonderful little book. It’s called It’s called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

If you aren’t a boundary setter, make a commitment to start this week. Set some standards or boundaries for yourself. Just one boundary and build on that. It will make a big difference.

Please share your experiences with boundaries and what you did about them below.


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