Author Archives: Paulette Sun Davis

A Change In Scenery

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Uplifting Moments“He decided a change of scenery would do some good.”

I see this sentence hanging on the wall of my living room as part of a stunning and colorful depiction of a shaman looking out over a scene. It doesn’t matter where I’m sitting in the living room; the shaman is always looking at me!

My husband and I had recently arrived back from Croatia. We were sitting having our morning coffee in the living room and noticed the saying at the bottom of the picture as if it were the first time.

We just had a change of scenery. Croatia was different: ancient, Roman ruins, castles, Adriatic Sea resorts, and Soviet remnants. And it was the same: friendly, good food, graffiti, families, traffic, stories, and queuing up for tickets.

The Devil’s Advocate

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um-021114-emailI have been told recently by people I love and work with that I bring out the devil’s advocate in them!

One of my closest colleagues told me the story of how the devil’s advocate came to be. When the Vatican proposed someone to sainthood, they also chose a devil’s advocate to poke holes in the candidate’s life and accomplishments, to ensure that his or her sainthood was deserved and accurately portrayed.

I never considered that when I speak about some people it sounds like I’m proposing their sainthood, but I do extol their virtues, praise their achievements, and may not look closely enough at their shortcomings.

It’s a way of being I enjoy … optimism, kindness, and love. On the other hand when you’re developing a person, team or organization, virtues need to be balanced with truth, facts, and relevance to winning the game.

No Resolutions, No Regrets

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um-010114-emailI walked by a window at the mall that stopped me in my tracks. Written boldly across the window, blocking mannequins and merchandise, was a graphic statement:

No resolutions, No regrets

I laughed out loud and kept walking, musing about the truth of that statement.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work because they’re a reaction to what we don’t want instead of a new habit we’re developing. These are just a few of the ones I’ve heard in the last few days: “I really should lose weight, change jobs, make more money, get a new place to live, stop waiting, tell the truth, exercise, stop smoking, go to school, retire, meditate, take more vacations!”

The operative word is “should.”

How To Turn 6 Awkward Moments Into 6 Uplifting Moments

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um-121813-emailDuring this time of year when we’re completing our list of what needs to be done for the holidays, family visits, and year-end strategies, it’s easy to slip into an awkward moment.

Here are six I’ve noticed!

  1. You rush into saying yes when you really meant to say no. Now you’re stuck with a commitment you don’t want to keep. Awkward!
  2. You hired someone and they’re not working out. It’s the holidays, but you still need to terminate their employment. Awkward!
  3. People ask you questions you don’t want to answer. They know you’re holding back information that’s really none of their business. Awkward!
  4. You tell your boss your great idea, and he shoots it down with facts and figures. You feel stupid because you didn’t think through possible objections. Awkward!
  5. You give someone feedback and they go ballistic. You vow never to talk to this person again, but you see them everyday. Awkward!

The Possibility Pause

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um-121313-emailI was running along a path at the beach, and my phone went off nine times in nine minutes. I’m not kidding … calls, texts and emails. This is not an unusual circumstance!

I’ve developed the ability to run and look at my phone at the same time. I answered a call, sent some texts, and even some emails. I had to pause my run for the emails and walk for the texts, but right after picked up my pace refreshed by the moment of rest.

It’s the busiest time of the year for the business I’m in. Would I choose to run or not to run, that was the question. Then I noticed the mental game of “should I or shouldn’t I” that throws a decision to less fulfilling options, and decided fulfillment doesn’t need to be put on hold just because of the holidays.

Secret Recipes

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um-112613-emailTis the season to be thankful and, very soon, jolly.

This is also the time of year when secret recipes are handed down from generation to generation. In my family it was the secret recipe for stuffing! But the secret recipe I’m handing down to my children is a delicious recipe for dealing with complaints.

The first step in the recipe is to put the complaint on a cutting board like an onion, and peel back the layers until a hidden request is unveiled. This could make you cry! But if you run it under the cold water of introspection, tears often turn into surprise.

If you look, you’ll find that the core of a frequent complaint is a persistent desire that’s not being fulfilled. You unveil the longing inside, and see it for what it is … a call to action.

Perpetual Incompletion

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um-110813-email“I can’t possibly get everything done!”

I hear this in some form or another too often not to notice the impact of perpetual incompletion on creativity, healthful activities, or just the space to consider something new.

Over the years I’ve written about goals, timelines, and completion. I’ve written about the buzz and fulfillment in accomplishment. Major goals, micro goals, unexpected goals all throw you into the pursuit of accomplishment, and also can throw you into a state of perpetual incompletion.

Who am I without a goal is a question I haven’t answered yet.

I’m a classic example of perpetual incompletion. Plans to make, problems to solve, weight to lose, bills to pay, reports to issue, friends to see, family to visit, guidance to give, vacations to take, and time to notice what’s missing, and act on it, before it becomes a breakdown at work or at home.

A Deadline Driven Life

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um-100213-emailIt was a leisurely afternoon with friends on a pontoon boat sitting under an awning to protect us from the sun. We drifted slowly across Lake Cachuma chatting about life, listening to music, and eating home made foods.

Another person and I gravitated easily to talking about business as we floated along, a subject we obviously enjoyed. I had met her once before. She runs her own specialty food company. At some point she turned to me all serious and asked, “Could you stop working?” Although she is younger than me by a few years, I guessed she is wrangling with the question for herself.

I responded yes. She then asked what not working would give me, and I surprised myself with the answer. Space.

She quickly interjected, ah yes, more time to do what you want to do. I nodded slowly but that didn’t quite capture what I was saying. Time is something I make. I make time for something because I made a commitment to do it.

Is Fear Underrated?

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um-090313-emailI went to a party! Squeezed it into my busy schedule. Drove 2 hours to get back to Santa Barbara to attend on a Monday night. I knew 2 people besides my husband, and got to meet 8 more. It was fun, light-hearted, and a celebration.

Then something different happened.

A young man asked a question at the sit down dinner around a large table that accommodated all 12 of us comfortably. It was sometime between the salad and the next course, when he asked, “What was your greatest fear, and how did you overcome it?”

Everyone shared their stories and we learned more about each other as a result. My initial hit was I’m not afraid of anything. But maybe that was the wine talking. What was more interesting to me was what happened the next morning on my commute back to Los Angeles. I thought about the question, and I received a new insight. Fear is underrated.

6 Ways To Survive Routine Thinking

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um-082013-emailRoutines are regular and habitual. Coffee in the morning is one of my favorite routines. If I asked you to name your favorite routine, it would probably be something you do that is unvarying and rote, predictable. For that is the nature of routines.

But something happened where I started to question not what I do routinely but what I think routinely.

The question came after I sat with my husband and did breathing exercises for 20 minutes and then yoga for 40 minutes.

An hour of peace, expanding our lungs, minds and bodies before we started our day. We looked in each other’s eyes and laughed knowing how easy it is to rush past the morning and get right to whatever busyness the day brings.

In a moment of clarity, I realized how often I embrace the routine of thinking I’m tired instead of the routine to build strength of body, mind and spirit.