Sunday, October 27, 2013

the daily morning staff meeting

This month my company instituted a new policy: the daily morning staff meeting.  And I'm not sure why it hadn't been instituted until now.  Then again, the business is fairly new, officially only 22 months old, so there are still learning curves to be navigated while figuring out what approaches will make the business most successful and enduring.

The staff that attends the daily morning staff meeting is me, myself and I. And the location of the meeting is the Silver Lake Reservoir.  You might think, "Aha, you are disguising a workout (of sorts) as a morning meeting."  And you would be right, because it is both.

Here in Los Angeles, there's no real occasion to walk. Growing up in Brooklyn, and then living for many years in Boston, walking was a natural part of daily life.  As a kid of course I didn't drive a car, and when I was of age to do so I didn't like it and didn't want to -- and who cared because both cities were easily, giddily accessible by public transportation, walking and in very, very bad weather or late at night - by cab.

This new policy of the daily morning meeting was instituted out of necessity. You think the country is feeling the pain of sequestration? Sequestration has hit my household hard.  22 months of a new business, not to mention the previous 12 months of figuring out that I needed to start one and how, required tough economic choices.  Multiple yoga classes per week were among the first luxuries to go. Now, after all this time and meetings in coffee shops and networking meals and the late night snacking while squeezing in just a little more work before going to bed, the wardrobe was starting to feel snug. I needed a no-cost way to replace those classes that I loved and missed terribly but were fiscally irresponsible and though there's a treadmill in our home gym (ie the garage) the thought of the boredom I associate with walking the treadmill (regardless of the loving, supportive offer HE made to rig up my ipad so I could binge watch series on Netflix) almost brought me to tears.

I'm no stranger to the walk around the reservoir. Over the years that we've lived in this neighborhood, mostly motivated by guilt that my dogs don't get enough exercise going out several times a day in our enclosed backyard, I'd infrequently bundle them up into the car for a drive over to the reservoir and a trip around the "lake."  But when I think about it, that really was me going on their walk not them coming on mine. And in order for this to work, the walk had to be brisk with no distractions: stopping to "read" or do "business" or in the case of my rescued, fanny-tastic terrier Fanny, laying down in the middle of the street, just because.

So off I went at the start of the week, no dogs in tow.  And there were plenty of distractions -- but distractions of the very best kind, no way for me to be bored as I know life on the treadmill ultimately would be. The variety of routes I can take from my house to the res is as many as the settings on a treadmill but the scenery is varied and visually stimulating from the view of the Griffith Park Observatory to the architecture of the houses to the landscaping of the gardens. Then there's the people watching, not unlike when I walked from home to school, or the T station to work, or the subway to go shopping in the Village on a Saturday afternoon. People walking (or running) solo, some in twos or threes, a big person with a little dog, a little person with a big dog, you get the picture.  Today, my route ran me smack dab into a parade of professionals walking their kids to the local, tony, public elementary school -- a rush hour-like traffic jam of mini-mes -- and I probably won't be going that way at that hour again. 

What started out as need to find a way to work out for no cost offered me more opportunities than I could have ever imagined.  Committed to maintaining an awareness of my surroundings, keeping up my pace, focusing on good(!) posture and being conscious of my breathing (laboring I'll admit it a bit up the hills) the immediate feedback from these meetings were muscles who were a little angry, but grateful, for having been nudged awake. The unexpected reward, however, was a mind-opening opportunity for reflection   A walking meditation offered itself up to me as I admired the Canada Geese and Seagulls resting on the reservoir warming themselves in the morning sun..  On the surface of my experience, I could observe how long I could resist the itch to check emails on the BB that I brought along in my pocket for security. (Let's see if we can wait until we get to that lamp post at the end of the straightaway.)  What bubbled up were moments of inspiration -- an assembly of the agenda for the day;  a free-associating, silent, internal conversation with each of my clients about where we are in our work together and what needs to get done; a rumination on what lies just ahead, and a turning over of past events to see how I can improve and build upon my business; and surprise - the notion of this new blog post for my long-neglected blog.  There was even a little room to think about how can I be an even better version of the better version of myself that I want to be in the world.

From the minute I started working on this venture, all kinds of incredible experiences started to present themselves in ways I'd never have anticipated. And like the country, signs of the recovery are starting to happen.