Categories: goal setting | Tags: goal setting

If you are like me, there are a lot of things you don’t like. Thirsty kids in Africa, poverty in America, the toothpaste splatters on the mirror (yuck) and several, more personal things, like the size of my jeans. The problem with a list like this, is when complete it is overwhelming and you are often left right where you started; you don’t like it, but you live with it.

I would argue that, in fact, change is not only possible, it is healthy. I further contend that you don’t have to change everything on your list to feel better. All you have to do is choose one base element, the one that bugs you the most, work to affect change on that element and, wala, you feel better and the world is probably a better place as well. I write grants for Rotary to give children drinking water. I eat ice cream in the summer. Children with fresh water makes me feel better about my jeans.

So, what will it be? What are you going to change? Why? Who will notice?

And, as I ask in “What’s Your Excuse”, will you do it?

If your answer is yes, choose your excuse and set off. You already know you don’t like it. Now change it.

 Categories: None | Tags: Team Building
I stood knee deep in slimy muck, near tears as I pulled old tapes out of the goo. There were reel to reel tapes, 8-track tapes and video tapes, cassette tapes, and Super-8 films all combined in an anthropological layering of the march through entertainment and sentimentality of the last 80 years. I knew this was their life. Their interests, their experiences and there I stood, tasked with tossing it away. The weight of that action was overwhelming to someone who has spent much of her life helping others save their stories.

I felt a hand on my shoulder, and as I turned the homeowner I was helping to muck out after a flood said, “It’s okay, it’s a relief actually, we were drowning in stuff and things we needed to go through, to categorize and decide what to do with it. It’s done now.” With that she opened a new garbage bag and filled it with a life well lived and now completely undone.

Later in the day I watched an elderly woman turn from her task of unloading a flooded closet and sit on the seat of her walker. In her hands she held a doll, with yarn hair and nondescript clothing, which she placed, so lovingly, on a small wicker chair. She washed a bit of mud off the face, handed the whole thing to a volunteer with the request to place it on a high shelf. She directed exactly how to turn the doll and then she sighed and smiled. She said “That’s good.” A tiny bit of normal in a world of chaos.

During the day I watched her laugh as she uncovered treasures and cry as she threw some away. Before an army of volunteers (who swarmed her house like ants) arrived, she had been working for almost three weeks; just her, her walker, a gargantuan task and an attitude that said ‘move forward’. She told me how she had been in the yard one day, early in the task, when her walker got stuck in the mud. She was there for an eternity when someone she didn’t know came by, got a hose from the sump pump and “washed away my ‘stuckness’ so I could get back to work.”

It all made me think that there is a blessing in a flood, just as there is a blessing in any event that brings people together and tasks them with moving forward. We humans join hands, provide hugs, laugh and cry, and together we figure out how to wash away our ‘stuckness’ and embrace what is important. So, friend, I don’t wish for you a flood, but I do hope you can wash away your ‘stuckness.’ It is a good day to move forward.


Collaboration is such a delicate thing. You have an idea, they have an idea, combined the idea either works or it doesn’t…and you have to figure out how to deal with that fact. Collaboration takes trust, risk, confidence and grace if it is going to go well. Because Canvas Creek encourages collaboration I wanted to tell you what we just experienced.

We collaborated on a new logo. We had tired traditional logo designing. Our ideas, professional ideas, ideas from friends and still nothing resonated and made the team say “That’s it!” When you are launching a company, with a business plan that includes expansion, you need a logo. Every day we waited felt like an eternity.

So, we used an online collaboration web-site and sent our thoughts and dreams of a logo out to the wonders of the internet. Our first prototype was from Turkey, then came India, Venezuela, the US, Poland and Billings. We were able to say “We like this.” “Try this.” And finally, “That’s it!” Hundreds of ideas and thoughts went into a logo with one main function- be simple and show that we can make a team whole.

We hope you like it. And even more, we hope you get to collaborate today. It’s the best way to create.


Recently, I watched a family walk towards the door of a drug testing facility. Mom, as mom’s often do, was leading the charge while dad and son were reluctantly following along, up the slight rise of the sidewalk. I could just imagine the van ride to this office, not a word spoken but sighs and silent anger probably filled the air. I’ve not gone through a ride like this, but plenty of friends have and by the time they enter the car their words are exhausted, their emotions drained and their pride whipped.

You know no-one in this family wanted to be taking this intolerably long walk up a cement path. You know all of them had hopes for what the results would reveal. You also know that one person had to say “We are getting help.” One person had to say “Yes, we have to have help here.” and at least one person was crying during that conversation. It was all evident in their posture and the way dad and son, who I suppose was 15 or 16, kept back about ten paces. Mom kept looking over her shoulder and, as only a mom can do, screaming “Get yourselves in gear.” without a sound.

This is when I saw the most beautiful act of teamwork, the one I thought I should share with you. Mom was clearly the coach here- she had a plan- she planned the plays- she was calling the shots. As she turned forward, ready to bolt through the door whether they were with her or not, dad simply reached over, patted his sonon the shoulder, leaving his arm across his back for the slightest moment. With the pat the son looked at dad who said, as only a dad can say “We’re in this together.” silently. The son blinked an apology, with a lowering of his head.

I felt like an intruder while waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street, and yet I was glad I was there. I wanted to call out “It will be okay.” Because clearly, and above all else, they were in this together and when you are in it together it is always okay. At least that is what I hope now as I sit at my desk, comfortable in a world never tainted with drug tests. I want that family to have hope, to have joy and always, always to be a team with someone playing coach, someone making the big play and someone patting that player on the back.

Teamwork is a beautiful thing.