Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moving my blog . . .

I'm moving my blog to:

Please join me there!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cyoot and Osom

My six-year-old daughter Yumi’s list of top ten words that describe herself include:

1. fantastic

2. prfct

3. byootiful

4. osom

5. cyoot

6. icsiting

7. loving

8. cind

9. sopr

10. sopr fun

How “osom” is that? And when do we as women begin to lose this awe for ourselves that Yumi clearly has in spades?

I belive that how we tend to view ourselves and our capabilities is profoundly influenced by our gender – particularly as we grow up. When I was in law school, I saw this first hand in looking at the applications for Supreme Court clerkships, the pinnacle of “just out of law school” achievement. Although about half of all law school students were women, less than 10% of Supreme Court clerks from our law school were women. And when we looked deeper into the application pool, we found that more than 10 times as many men applied as women. Basically, many of my male law school colleagues believed they were brilliant (despite their mediocre grades), and very few women believed they were brilliant (despite their amazing grades).

One of the things I love most about Julep is that we are a group of women helping other women to remember to feel good about themselves in ways both big and small. I especially think about this for my team – who are truly “byootiful” and “sopr fun” and “cind.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sisterhood is Happiness

I wholeheartedly agree with Deborah Tannen’s recent article in the New York Times describing how having a sister can make you happier. I love being a sister, and I love my sisters so much I feel a physical pain in my chest just thinking about them. I have been a sister longer than any other role I’ve cherished in my life – except for being a daughter (which I also love). For example, I have learned from my sisters:

· The difference bewteen “LOL” (laughing out loud), “ROFL” (rolling on floor laughing) and “BWL” (bursting with laughter) – because my sisters make me do all 3 of these.

· The secret to loose waves is owning a professional grade 1.5inch barrel curling iron – and wrapping hair around it starting 2 inches from your scalp and stopping 2 inches before the ends.

· The perfect pair of jeans can LIFT your butt. According to my sisters, I do not own any such jeans.

But most importantly, I have learned that life is long, and sisterhood, being the inescapable relationship that it is, can be frustratingly suffocating and exhiratingly freeing - often all at the same time. So thank you Jenny and Alice for being my first loves. And for saving me from saggy jeans.

(Photos: Alice, Jenny and Jane (with perms) circa 1985; Alice, Jenny and Jane in Ottawa circa 1988; Jane, Alice and Jenny at Alice's wedding, 2008)

Friday, October 22, 2010


One of the questions I am asked frequently is whether my background as a lawyer has been helpful to me in starting Julep. Although I LOVED my law school years (being the only time in my life where I have ever felt remotely close to “cool”), there’s actually not much about the study of law that is related to my day-to-day work in growing a company.

One of the rare exceptions is the concept of “BATNA”, which was introduced to me by Lee Van Der Walde in our second-year Labor and Empoyment law class. In between passing notes to Ali and Renata (my then-boyfriend, now-husband, refused to sit next to me in class because he thought I wasn’t paying sufficient attention), I learned that making the most of any bargaining situation is all about your BATNA – “best alternative to negotiated arrangement.” From what I can recall (now decades later), the principle is that your ability to get what you want in any negotiation is only as strong as your next best alternative. So if Person A wants to buy your car for $500, you have a “BATNA” of $500 when you go into your conversation with Person B. You can tell person B they need to pay you at least $500.01 or you’re walking away. You got BATNA, baby. If you walk around and create higher and higher BATNAs, you will ultimately get the best price for your car.

BATNA is everywhere. In fact, “the greatest love of all” (a-la-Whitney Houston) is really all about improving your life BATNA. Learning to love yourself is just good relationship economics. It improves the value of your “BATNR” or Best Alternative to Negotiated Relationship. Improve your BATNR, and you’ll be in great shape to negotiate what you need from any relationship.

When you feel like you have no BATNA, as my daughter Yumi must have felt when she asked me for hot chocolate first thing this morning, then a “no” means disaster. Your world feels like it is falling apart – it’s “A” or nothing and so you are powerless and destroyed when you told you can’t have “A”. (Because you are relying exclusively on largesse or inattentiveness at that point to be able to get your way, and although I often have large doses of both when it comes to my daughter, it’s still never a good starting point for a negotiation). Sometimes just asking the question, “what’s my BATNA?” can be soothing – it can remind you there are other amazing things in life and that life will still go on – even if the chocolate milk negotiation falls apart. I hope Yumi will find the strength of BATNA someday. . .

Spun around and put more positively, BATNA can also be about standards. When I had kids, my home BATNA rose through the roof, my best alternative to being at work was the opportunity to kiss buttery-smelling, chubby cheeks as often as I wanted to. I couldn’t tolerate a mediocre job anymore – I had higher standards for what I wanted to do with my time.

I see entrepreneurship, and perhaps life in general, as all about creating great BATNAs - so that I can go after what I want. Anyone who has worked with me for any length of time knows that I like to have my “what I would do if I had a gun to my head today,” plan – just in case someone jumps me in the street with a firearm, demanding to know my next business decision immediately. Although this hasn’t yet happened, I am learning that often life does NOT go as planned, and in fact, start-up life seldom goes as planned. And sometimes even your backups fall apart. Increasingly, what is important to me about the idea of a BATNA is not any particular negotiated result or BATNA itself, but rather my confidence in our ability as a company to continually generate new BATNAS to help fuel forward motion. We have a plan and, you should help us achieve our plan because we have a long list of exciting alternatives to you, and won’t you feel sad and left out if you don’t jump on our bus. And by the way, we’re full of ideas and plans – you can say no to us, but you can’t take away our ability to generate BATNAs.

I love my life, and I love my BATNAs. Or maybe I love my life BECAUSE I love my BATNAs. . .

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Know, Understand, and STILL Engage

Before most of the women who work at Julep were born, I was weeping night over night (for at least four nights, anyway) over a young Australian lass who fell in love with an ambitious priest. Of course, I mean Rachel Ward and (shirtless) Richard Chamberlain in the brilliant 1983 mini-series, The Thorn Birds.

Because of my deep twelve-year-old’s knowledge of sacrifice and ever-lasting love, the mini-series spoke to me.

I’ve never seen it again, but OFTEN, by which I mean at least several times a month, I think of (shirtless) Richard Chamberlain telling me about the legend of the thorn bird, who is born to seek a thorn bush and impale itself on the longest thorn while singing the most beautiful song of its life – thus causing even God to smile. If I had the inter-web back then, I would have Googled (or “Binged”, since my beloved works at Microsoft), “thorn birds” - and realized they weren’t real.

But those were the dark ages, when it took walking to the library and physically flipping through card catalogues to access the information dirt road, and so until tonight (just minutes ago, in fact), I honestly thought thorn birds were real. I thought they were just like salmon – only even more masochistic.

I was particularly moved by Cardinal Di Bricassart (aka shirtless Richard Chamberlain)’s realization that we are ALL thorn birds – destined to impale ourselves on the longest, sharpest thorn we can find. Even worse – here’s the real “ah-ha” moment - we are KNOWING thorn birds: “we know, we understand, and we still do it.”

But here’s the uplifting part (really, there is one!). The thorn birds do what they do because of Beauty. Because we all want to belt out the best song of our lives, consequences be damned. No matter how painful, no matter how bloody, no matter what ends up happening, maybe we’re all searching for that moment where we get to channel Beauty. And it seems that these things are intertwined. Yes, death is a little severe, but if you flip the question around from "what are you willing to die for" to "what do you live for" - then it starts making sense.

The thing is, I do believe in Beauty. And finally (DECADES post-Thorn Birds), I feel happy in my middle-brow perspective that we see it and create it through acts of love and engagement.

I thought about my lesson from Richard Chamberlain again this weekend because I met this amazing woman named Mandy Hitchcock. The amazing thing she does is continue to hope.

Mandy lost her 17 month old daughter, Hudson, to meningitis earlier this year (she shares a beautiful blog at She is living the freak tragedy that I’m always discounting in my own mind as a mother, and as the CEO of a start-up. “A fever is just a fever, a slow week is just a slow week – let’s not panic.” In many ways, I’m not dispositionally capable of wrapping my brain and heart around the concept of real danger and risk. And of course I can’t imagine the loss.

But in my life as a mom, CEO, wife, daughter, sister and girlfriend - I aspire to learn as much as I can about the dangers of heart break - and affirmatively choose to engage anyway. I am wrestling with this equation in both my personal and professional lives. The real challenge is to engage – but with eyes wide open. To know, understand, and still do it, to paraphrase a life-changing made-for-TV mini-series. And it’s so helpful to find inspiration along the way. And to seek out the "one good thing" that comes out of every challenging situation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Follow me on Twitter! What do you want to hear from me?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Post-Modern Idea of Strength

One of the wisest women I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing once told me that our weaknesses are often the flip side of our strengths (Jean Koh Peters, I think about you every day). This was a quietly radical thought for the young self-deprecating idealist I was at the time. When I first heard this advice, I was engaged in a ferocious (yet losing) battle to eradicate my many faults. I was also trying with equal fervor to catch a glimpse of the general vicinity of my strengths.

So I never fully understood this wisdom and only discovered its true force over a decade later when I was struggling with leading Julep beyond a one-parlor concept to the next step towards reaching its full potential (e.g. two parlors – then infinity and beyond!). There was a period of time in which I felt that everything that had brought me success up to that point (my ability to knock down any barrier and just GET THINGS DONE) was actually hurting me and my ability to lead our team. Suddenly, I went from being the Get-It-Done Gal to being the Get-In-The-Way-of-Getting-Things-Done Gal. But I was still doing the same things! I was still me! Trying to make decisions about water pitchers and the location of sandwiches and strategy and personnel and finance . . . It was maddening and demoralizing. For everyone concerned.

The thing is, I just couldn’t see that my world had changed. It had grown (again, RADICALLY from one parlor to two). It now included many phenomenally talented women. And we had much much more work than even the most get-it-done-est of gals can actually get done, despite the force of her will and determination. And yet I was still bringing out the same weapons, trying all the same tricks. And confused when I wasn’t getting the same result.

I wonder if any step will be as hard for me in my professional life as letting go of that first parlor – and letting go of the idea that I HAD to be the one capable of doing everything (okay almost everything – because I actually can’t do the one thing that we’re actually all about – the guest services).

But it was a tremendous relief to find out that I wasn't inherently bad for Julep. I could still be useful! I was just over-relying on my strengths because they had always worked for me before. My strengths brought out in the wrong context were making me, and those around me, pretty miserable.

I worked with a incredibly insightful and emotionally intelligent leadership coach named Kate Dale through this period (do you sense a repeating theme of amazing women making a tremendous difference to my life?). I’ve never met Kate face to face – and I would never have thought that someone could have that much of an impact via voice alone. But it was Kate who led me to the corollary to “your strengths are the flip sides of your weaknesses” rule – “your greatest strengths over-relied upon can quickly become your greatest liability.” If I knew anything about sports I might be able to make some muscular-skelatol analogy . . . but alas.

Now I think about both Jean and Kate (and many, many others) every day. It is freeing not to focus on whether I am a bad or good leader, or whether someone is a bad or good contributor – because getting a grade isn’t the point. Instead, I think about whether I am positioning others to allow their strengths to shine in a way that is helpful to the common goal. When I’m frustrated with myself or with a team member, I try to remember that the trait I’m frustrated with often has its twin in something that I treasure. The trick is timing. It’s all in there, we just have to learn what to take out when.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not my salami

So it turns out the great idea I was contemplating last night was actually Kate and Margot's idea that they shared with me but I somehow didn't really internalize it until I came up with a not-so-clever name for it and then I really fell in love with it and really thought it was my idea.

Wow - I'm such a marketer.

But now I'm sure it's a great idea!

The only thing better than coming up with something is having a colleague come up with something and being able to just sit back and agree with it.

I work with amazing women.

A possibly big idea - or just salami

I think I've had a REALLY IMPORTANT idea tonight as I'm sitting here eating salami & drinnking wine with Letterman on in the background.

I'm not sure, of course. Sometimes I think I've had a BIG IDEA only to find in the morning that what I really have is salami stomach (and salami thighs).

One of the things I love about my job is the ability to bring all of me to work - the part that cares about people and is interested in their stories, the part that loves spreadsheets, the part that loves bouncing around ideas with others and running with the ball over late night television.

If we end up moving down the path of this (possibly) BIG IDEA I will let you know what it is. For now I've just emailed it to Kate, Mike & Margot and I'm so impatient for what they have to say that I can't get to sleep.

Are we going to the moon - or just munching on salami? Or both? Or somewhere in between?

Salami was from Salumi, by the way. YUM.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte

The girlfriends are back - we're counting down the days to the May 28 relase of Sex and The City 2. (77, to be exact).
And you'll also find Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte at Julep . . . coming soon.
Of course, these bottles were mocked up by me and Kate, sitting in our conference room pouring the sample formulas into our bottles.
Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte were pretty easy. But we had to take a poll of what color Carrie is - and everyone agreed that she was pink. So here we are - updated pastels (plus Samantha). Doesn't every group of girlfriends have a firecracker?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I don't understand a world where the Superbowl is more important than the Oscars.

My friend Michelle and I are putting on a last minute Oscar bash tomorrow night - featuring Brokeback Mountain Rack of Lamb, Julie & Julia buttery-something-or-other and Avatar Blue Tortilla Chips.

I hope Kathryn Bigelow wins Best Director and shatters another glass ceiling.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keeping it real

Even though we're a relatively small company, we are already fighting against "corporate speak" adn not having real conversations. So it's SO exciting when, as we did in yesterday's Support Center meeting, it happens - and people talk about what they are really concerned about - because then we can address it!

Finding my authentic real voice as a leader as taken a lot of time, as has finding my authentic, real voice as a mom.

In both contexts, I can't spout everything I am feeling at any particular moment, and I have to be mindful of the responsibility of the impact of my words on others.

BUT I strive to have some part of the real me shine through. For everyone who works at Julep who reads this blog - please help me with this at Julep! We are too small and it is too important for anyone to be concerned about appearances. We're not playing the role of building Julep - we are actually doing it!

Thanks Erica, Rebecca, Tamara and Monique. I'm so proud of all your work and am excited for everything we'll accomplish in 2010.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


My kindergartener brought home a list of her top 10 favorite things today, and my husband and I didn't make the list.

#9 is "yoonacarns" and "ders" come in at #10. (Maybe we were right behind nonexistent deformed hooved creatures and bambis - surely the carnations of the animal kingdom. We could have been #11 but there was just no more room left on the paper. . .).

But I'm thrilled that she is so exhuberant and excited about her writing. Before she knew letters she pretended to write them, and now she gives David Letterman a run for her money with her endless lists.

And "yoonicarns" is pretty darn good, if you ask me. It communicates the point, has internal consistency - and is a correct application of the double "o" after all. She's able to express herself in written language - how incredible. Even though millions of other children her age (and much younger) do the same thing, it's still a wonder to me.

I think we might be at the "yoonacarns" stage at Julep too. We've developed our culture and our language, and are operating with internal consistency. We are starting to figure out what we are about and are authentically yearning to connect with the world and share our ideas. How incredible. Even though millions of other companies our stage (and much earlier) do the same thing, it is still a wonder to me.

If our spelling isn't quite perfect yet, just you wait. We're on our way to capturing winged hoofed creatures with astonishingly elegant spelling.

And we installed Microsoft BPOS (affectionately called "Microsoft four-paws" by AF) today - which felt like a very grown-up thing to do.

I wonder if I will ever stop being in awe of our potential.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Women's Movement in Haiti

The devestation of the earthquake in Haiti has countless dimensions of suffering, both present and yet to come. Just one of the poignant tragedies that stays with me is the loss of three of the founders of the women's movement: Myriam Merlet, Mgalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan. Of course I did not know their names before learning that they had lost their lives. But I am thinking about what to do with the fact that I know them now.

Perfect Day

Here's my Tuesday:

- 4:30am- Wake up to Yumi having a nightmare. Great excuse to suggle her. Think sleepily to myself that I will go to 6am yoga.

- 6:30am - Oops missed 6am yoga. Check email instead. Slightly different health benefits . . .

- 7:00am - Make breakfast for kids while husband packs lunches.

- 8:15am - Drop kids off for Spanish/French before school. Great before-school care alternative to just putting them on the schoolbus to ride around for an hour, which I also strongly considered.

- 8:30am - At the office. Touch base with Kate and Amy. Pick up Board presentations, which I printed out the NIGHT BEFORE because it's January and I'm still adhering to my New Year's resolution to be more planful and prepared. Notice email from Susie that we are very close to our 1000th member at Julep.

- 9:00am - Get to see Valentine's Day "Beauty Head to Toe" package signs that will go outside our parlors. We decided last week to donate 10% of proceeds to the Red Cross for Haiti relief - we all want to participate in helping in some way.

- 9:30am - check out very tiny mention in Wall Street Journal about how we were rejected for a reality series two years ago.

- 11:00am - head to our Downtown parlor for a quick manicure and brow wax before heading to our Board meeting at Davis Wright Tremaine offices.

- 1pm - 3:45pm - Our inaugural Board Meeting! So exciting to have smart thoughtful people spending so much time thinking about Julep with us. Kate and I agree that we love having more people in our boat. Thank you Emer and John. And Mike and Joe.

- 4:30pm - Regroup on email at home while Eli finishes his homework.

- 5:30pm -Take Eli out to dinner for a Mother-Daughter night - dinner and a Huskies basketball game. Yumi insists that her evening is a "date" with her father. I ask Eli if we're on a "date" and he says, "Mom, why do we have to call it anything? Why can't it just be you and me going to a basketball game?"

- 8:00ish - Run into our Parlor Managers Monique and Erica at the game! Fun to see them out.

- 8:30pm - Convince Eli to leave the game because it's a blowout - something like 90000 to 12 (or at least it feels like it).

- 9:00pm - Get home in time for NCIS Los Angeles with my husband. Great excuse to snuggle him.

Such a full, amazing day. This is probably not the kind of Carpe Diem Robin Williams' character had in mind in Dead Poet's Society but I appreciated every minute of the day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spring colors

Are finalized. And so fun. That is all I am allowed to say. . . . stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Positive Incremental Change

In many ways, 2010 is about positive, incremental change for us. This is exciting but also hard for me because it's a departure from the way I've been operating for the last 3 years, which has been about LOTS and LOTS of new ideas - new concept, new parlors, new promotions, new services, new relationships like subscription based membership. Bright and shiny is FUN.

But so is focus and stretching to improve. And actually, this is more fulfilling.

Looking at all that we've accomplished as a team, we're now focusing on doing the most important things better. How do we further delight our members? Continue to innovate on our colors? Make our manicures and pedicures last even longer? Communicate more efficiently? Offer more comprehensive training? Understand each other better as colleagues and as human beings?

I want to have my eyes open to the little things we do better every day and commit to celebrating these victories together. A few wins week we celebrated this week include:

- Taking all of our offsite learnings to date to pull together a fabulous booth at the Seattle Wedding Show for the first time with a beautiful booth (thank you Susanne, Susie and Amy S!)

- Rolling out our review process and figuring out how to take it to the next level the next time (thank you managers and vernisseurs for engaging in the process with honesty and a dedication to fulfilling our individual and collective potential)

- Launching improvements to our expense reporting and inventory management processes (thank you Amy F and Peter!)

- Finalzing our THIRD seasonal palette (thank you Kate and Amy S!)

And there are so many more. Improving is even better than beginning, because we have the luxury of confidence that it fundamentally works (whatever the "it" we're working on happens to be) - and since we know each other as a team now, we also have the luxury of confidence that we can figure things out together and make them better. I'm so grateful to be here.

I love our team. I love our guests. I love our company.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year, New Layout

Last week I rearranged the furniture in our living room in an attempt to create the illusion of more space in our chopped up house. It was not a deliberate attempt to bring misery upon my family. It was not a vindictive effort to destroy all that is good in the world. And yet.

The thing is, the passion to rearrange struck me at about 1am in the morning, after everyone else had gone to sleep. It started with wondering if I could get rid of a step chest that stuck out in a way that suddenly drove me crazy. Once that was out of the way, it became obvious that our slouchy green couch had to move. In fact, after years of great service as our first ever joint furniture purchase in a store other than Ikea, it too might have to leave. To see what that would look like, I moved it out of the way, rearranged the remaining chairs. Other minor changes ensued. Pictures were moved, and rugs were folded - just to see what a smaller rug might look like. And then suddenly it was 3am.

I was awakened the next morning by my loving spouse, who called up, “Hey, you’d better get down here, there’s a revolt going on.”

And he wasn’t joking.

Eli (age 8): “Mom, we can’t even get to the front door – and we can’t see the TV from the couch if it’s all the way over there.”

Yumi (age 5, stomping foot): “Yeah!”

Burton (age 39): (Silently: “Yeah!”)

Eli: “And we’re going to trip on this rug! Why is it folded over like this Mom?! We could get HURT!”

Yumi: “Yeah!”

Burton: (Silently: “Yeah!”)

Stumbling back after grabbing my coffee, I tried to explain.

Me: “This is just representative guys! It’s just showing how things COULD be. The rug isn’t going to stay folded like that – I just wanted to see what a smaller rug might look like. It’s nice to change things once in a while isn’t it?”

Eli: “We hate change! We like keeping things the way they are!”

Yumi/Burton: (Same response as above).

Me: “Actually I was just thinking about letting some other family have this green couch for a while – I moved it over here to get it out of the way.”

Eli: “WHAT?!!” Smoke coming out of ears and nostrils. “Are you just trying to get rid of our favorite green couch? Our comfy couch? Why don’t you like this couch Mom? We’re only going to be happy if we can sit on this couch! Why do you hate this couch Mom? Tearing up. ( Meaning, “Why do you hate US Mom?!!” )

Burton: (Clearly pleased that his points had all been made without having to utter a word himself): “Maybe we can go eat breakfast and then ask Mom about WHY she moved things around and what she’s trying to accomplish. Then we can help her do that in a way that we are all excited about - and that KEEPS THE COUCH THAT WE ALL LOVE, right kids?”

Although our kids threatened not to eat until the furniture was put back where it had been, ultimately pancakes and bacon saved the day. I agreed to move the couch back (because although I do hate the couch, I love my family), but we did banish the step chest, move the chairs and buy a Flor shag rug in moves that were ultimately agreeable to all.

As I listened to my kids and witnessed their bewilderment, I was suddenly reminded of our poor Julep Parlor Hostesses and Vernisseurs as they arrive for what they believe will be a normal day, only to be barraged with phone calls about a last minute promotion (“Watch Twilight at Julep! $5 off!”) that appeared without warning.

I have learned from this experience. In 2010 I will try to be mindful of other people’s need to prepare and have input into change. I will try my hardest not to impose late night ideas on others the very next morning. I will try to be aware that what is just ideation and playing around with concepts for me might be rationally viewed by others as a tripping hazard. And sometimes a couch is more than a couch, it is love itself.

So thank you everyone at Julep for bearing with us as I try out different furniture configurations and move things in and out in an effort to create a better company!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Life IS a dress rehersal . . .

One of the best things about starting a company is the ability to dream - then execute - changes for the better everyday. Maybe they are little, largely unnoticed, and incremental, but as long as there is positive movement, every experience has additional, "bonus" meaning as an opportunity to learn how to do things better the next time.

This makes mistakes less frustrating - because it's not about the result in and of itself - it's about figuring out what to get out of it for next time.

The realist in me says that life is going to get harder everyday - challenges will only get bigger and more complex. So figuring things out today is a great trial run and preparation for what is to come.

As complicated as it is to be a working mom of two young children, I know that adding elder care for non-native English speakers is just around the corner. As challenging as it is to grow four parlors through The Great Recession, it's only going to be more complex when we open parlors in different cities, in different states.

This is coming out more depressing than I intend it to be - perhaps because there is bad Monday night TV on in the background. Because I'm actually excited by this - if I can do something today to be better prepared tomorrow, how amazing is that. What a luxury to have some trial runs so that I can do better next time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Loving Meryl Streep

I'm dying to see "It's Complicated" - on the heels of watching "Julie and Julia" on pay-per-view when my family was out of town.

I adore, revere, and bow down to Meryl Streep. On the cover of this month's Vanity Fair she is so joyful. Now THERE is someone who is engaged with and enjoys her work and her life.

She is NOT one of those actors who impart the sense that being an artist is such a tortured burden. That they are giving so much of themselves emotionally . . . and what about being chased by paparazzi all the time. Woe is me I make more in one day than many Americans make all year.

I'm inspired by how much fun Meryl seems to find in her life, how fearless she is in her work, and how amazing she is at her craft. I mean, here's a lady that can make ABBA sound soulful.

And she does it all while being a spouse and parenting four children.

Watching Meryl makes me excited about entering my forties, fifties, and sixties. She makes it look wickedly fun.

I hope she beats herself and wins a Golden Globe.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sparkly Sausage

So my family has already departed for North Carolina in Park-Davis Holiday Travel Wave I, and I've been:
  • Nursing my torn cornea, the result of constantly forgetting to go buy contact lense solution and not being able to order it from Amazon fresh because of new minimum purchase requirements. It's been a great medical excuse to go to bed early every night - so I'm excited to arrive in North Carolina with energy for celebrating with my family. Wikipedia says it will heal in 24-48 hours, I believe I am making great progress.
  • Going to hot yoga, afterwhich everything seems more cool, dude. Can't believe it's totally legal. And way to go Natalie - your inversions are awesome.
  • Holiday shopping - with Sandy downtown yesterday, and at Top Ten Toys in Ballard, which is my favorite toy store in the whole world.
  • Delivering holiday treats to my team in Gig Harbor and Downtown yesterday, to University District and Bellevue today. I love the Julep team! I love our guests! I love our company!
  • Procrastinating writing holiday cards.
  • Eating buttery things.
  • Eating McDonalds-y things.
  • Writing and rewriting all the lists of everythign I need to get done before boarding a plane at 8:30am tomorrow.
  • Looking for a Secret Santa gift for my bookgroup get together tonight.
  • Shipping stuff to my parents that they left behind (glasses, phone, etc.).

All of these things will get done much more stylishly now that I've donned my sequined dress (over black cords and under a cardigan, to mitigate some of the sparkliness for daytime). But the McDonalds-ing and butter-fest-ing (see above) have taken their tole - the dress does not go on as smoothly as it has in previous seasons.

So I feel like a sparkly saugsage, but those are two of my favorite things so I guess I am pretty lucky.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Being Present

I've been working on being present and focused in both my work and home lives - trying not to answer my cell phone in meetings and trying not to be on my laptop when my kids are around.

This morning I realized that it's just as important in emailing. Even (especially) in sending out a form email asking for signatures on a legal document. I needed to find some quiet space and wakeful time to focus on each person and figure out what I wanted to communicate.

In the end, the emails were mostly the same, but I did stop to think about each person individually, and hopefully some small part of my effort to be present came across.

It's actually easier NOT to make the effort when there is someone right in front of you because of the illusion of presence physical proximity can create.

I had to consciously focus on my emails, and it made me realize that I should apply myself more devotedly to the people who are right in front of me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Best of Times

Last Friday, a new investor said to me, "Remember to have fun! These are the best of times."

The only other time anyone has said that to me was when I had my first baby. These are the best of times?!! Not sleeping more than 3 hours at a stretch, wearing the same clothes for weeks on end and going through my reserve of antepartum percoset while riding the ups and downs of a high speed emotional roller coaster??!!

At least this time I don't smell like throw-up (to the best of my challenged olfactory senses) . . . but then again I'm out of percoset.

But I do have to admit that I often wish I hadn't been as crazy my first year as a mom. I wish I had been able to accept the changes in my life -and I wish I hadn't felt like I had to take my "time off" to organize a decade's worth of photos and suddenly begin cooking every meal from scratch (a habit that died as suddenly as it appeared). Why didn't I just pause to breathe and enjoy?

I'm trying to think about what the Julep equivalent is of the kissable chubby cheeks I miss - what should I be stopping to savor?

My first thought is that I cherish my connections with guests and employees who have been part of starting Julep. I need to be sure to enjoy these special relationships that are grounded in this unique moment in time that will never happen again.

And keep stopping by Trader Joe's for pre-made dinners.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Is it worth it vs. Is it painless

Leading Julep is by far the most engaging job I've ever had. It is also the most joyful, painful, fun, stressful, exciting, and draining. Like every significant relationship in my life, the central question to me is, "Is it worth it?" Answering "YES" to this question is very powerful.

Because the avoidance of pain is NOT why one would decide to start-up a high-end retail start-up in the worst economic times in a half-century. There are mainly more painless options in the world.

What makes Julep worth it for me is:

  • Awesome guests who come in with their moms, daughters, sisters, and colleagues - just the way we dreamed
  • Amazing colleagues I learn from everyday
  • Stretching and learning everyday

There is nowhere else I'd rather be.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My sister is in town

My sister Alice is visiting us in Seattle with her husband Jeremy on a post-Thanksgiving weekend trip. There is nothing in the world like a sister. I have such a feeling of relief and being HOME.

I've been busier, and more tired than even usual - and so last night I just snuggled up next to her and snoozed while everyone watched the Christian Bale/ Maggie Gyllenthal version of Batman.

She and Jeremy played with the kids, read to them, and put them to bed.

I felt reenrgized this morning - waking up to run the Seattle Family Marathon (only one mile!) with my kids. So exciting to run into the stadium and across the finish line. Yumi had an enormous smile on her face. Who knew it would be such a thrill. Especially thrilling to only have to run a mile to get to cross the threshold and be handed a space blanket.

I've never felt more athletic in my life than walking up Queen Anne Ave with my space blanket.