Winter 2022: Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a nice week, especially now that the weather feels as though an early spring is upon us. The sight of so many spring flowers – including the first blossom on a gardenia plant that I planted several years ago that I had all but given up on – brought me joy. The gardenia flower was such a welcome surprise, especially after my investment of time, energy and just a bit of hope. All the while I was entirely unsure if my efforts would ever yield a positive outcome. It reminded me of feeling hopeful in other contexts, such as trying out a new recipe, a creative endeavor, a job, or working on a relationship with someone you care about. The thing that I pondered was what makes us continue going forward on a particular endeavor, when so many things could go wrong; when we have previously failed; or when we carry the hurt of past disappointment.

Authors write books on the power of optimism, and this is for good reason. For example, I find myself drawn to people who have a more upbeat vibe. Though I occasionally tend to focus on problems in my work and personal life, I enjoy my days more when I regularly remind myself of all the things in my life that are going in a positive direction. If that doesn’t lift my mood, then I think about my list of ten things to do when I need a “perk me up.” Since it may be of use to you or others, I’ll share my top 10 list of things that make me feel better when I’m less than happy: A visit to a party supplies store; brushing my cat or dog; the smell of fresh rain; a walk on the beach; a cup of good coffee; undertaking an art project; planning a small party or social event; taking pictures of nature with my phone; gardening; and chatting or laughing with a friend or family member. Even if I’m unable to do those activities at that moment, just thinking about them can quickly improve my outlook.

Another strategy that has helped me, is to recall how I felt when I returned to the office after about 10 days away on vacation. On my first day back to the office, as I first walked in, I felt as though I had more time, and didn’t feel rushed or overwhelmed by my to-do list. The day before me felt expansive and wide-open. Since I hadn’t yet started my work, I was still on vacation mode, and took some time to chat with colleagues to see how they were doing. I gained new insights into the people and activities that were important to them. I enjoyed listening to my colleagues and catching up on their news. After that, I realized it would be nice to use that “freshly back from vacation” attitude, from time to time. Though we have multiple tasks to do each day, I notice that when I slow down and check in with someone with a cheerful attitude, I feel better.

I also recall a former co-worker who, a few times a week, would walk around the office with a cup of coffee in hand. Though he was incredibly hard working and productive, when he had his cup of coffee with him, he lounged around people’s doorways and asked what we were up to. While he strolled around, it seemed as if he had all the time in the world during his 3-minute coffee break. He would joke while he visited, or would make funny faces, and this little infusion of humor lightened the workday. He prioritized having fun and being silly, and it added to our enjoyment of our office environment.

In a similar manner, when I wish to feel more energized, I spend some time thinking about recent events or news items that I am really enthused about. The emotion of enthusiasm is closely related to optimism. Because of this, I agree with this statement: “Enthusiasm is a force more powerful than money or prestige.” This is since when someone is very enthusiastic about a project, idea, activity, or just about anything else, the feeling can be contagious. Wonderful things can result from large amounts of enthusiasm!

In my effort this year to become my more authentic self, I am prioritizing incorporating more positive energy into my daily life. I’ll report back how I’m doing – and please feel free to let me know your ideas and suggestions!

Amanda Alvarado Ford, Esq.
Executive Director