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Lights On! A Reflective Journey

LightsOn Book by Claire Knowles"Here's a quick peek at the Table of Contents" of this exciting new book! Women in Leadership...focus your attention to Chapter 10 especially!

Sample Chapter - "Sometimes we all need a little push."

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Lights On! Why a Summer Reading List? Because…

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Choice, Empowerment, Lights On!

You are lounging at the beach, or you’re swinging in the backyard hammock, or just relaxing on the porch….The sun is shining….The scents of summer surround you. You’re on your second glass of your favorite beverage. All you want is a book that doesn’t make you work too hard. Or really, at all. You want one of those books that if you put it down, you can easily pick it back up again.

There are few things that go together as well as a relaxing day and a good read. It is in the summer time that I find myself most able to enjoyably devour books. I don’t know if it’s my inner child coming out and telling me it’s time to pursue that summer reading list (remember those from middle school?). But the summertime is definitely the time of the year when I read the most.

Who doesn’t want to lose herself in a good book then? And why is it important to pick the right book for relaxation? The key difference for summer reading is the word, “relaxation.” That’s the word that delineates summer light reading from heavier novels, mystery thrillers, or heart-pounding adventure sagas. Themed short-story collections, romance, art/gardening, and positive motivational books tend to fill summer reading lists.

So what type of books fit that “relax in the summer” description for you? If you haven’t decided yet, I’ll share my list—certainly not as extensive as Oprah’s, but definitely sufficient to bring me joy. And therein is the key…what are the summer reading books that just want to jump off the shelves and find their way into your hands and heart?

I’m re-reading (again) Rosamunde Pilcher’s “Flowers in the Rain” and “The Blue Bedroom”…(short story collections). Beatriz William’s fast-paced love story, “A Hundred Summers” is on my list. Paula McLain’s “The Paris Wife” of Ernest Hemingway’s days, should prove to be an intriguing historical novel. “Monet’s Passion”—Ideas, Inspirations and Insights from the Painter’s Gardens, by Elizabeth Murray will stay on my porch side-table all summer.  As part of my health focus, I have “The Complete Guide to Women’s Heart Health” (American Heart Association) as a new protocol read, and in my continued pursuit for a meaningful life, I’ve added “And Never Stop Dancing” by Gordon Livingston to the list…which may go to the front of the line! It is important to continually hone my consulting skills, so books on “Influencing with Integrity”, “Coping with Difficult People” and “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” round out my reading list!

I would be remiss if I did not bring up my own best-selling book, “Lights On! A Reflective Journey…Illuminations to Move Your Life Forward with Ease” as a suggested “positive lifting read” for your summer list. It meets the criteria: Wisdom-filled Vignettes, Heart-warming stories, Reflections on Everyday Life, Bursts of Positivity, and Guidance for women and women in business leadership roles…all of which are intended to propel you forward with your Lights On!. It became an Amazon best-seller 18 months ago. I’m pleased to share that “Lights On!” has been recommended for summer reading by the On-Line Healing Circle/The Heart Speaks (Atlanta, GA), specifically because it is a compendium of positive, self-help, articles that propel you forward. How neat is that?

I grew up in the country – on a farm in Western New York. My parents were dairy farmers. And our summers were busy. We had one of those big old farm houses with a wrap-around porch. And when my siblings and I were not working—fulfilling those assigned and demanding chores and being responsible…guess where we were? And what we were doing?
Yes, we were on the front porch. And if that front porch could talk, it would share stories of many pitchers of lemonade, comfy chairs and always, always, good books to read!

A wonderful memory I have of my Dad was that he always asked us, when we finished a book, to tell him about the most important piece of the book—specifically how and in what way did it speak to us? In modern day language, that means, “what did we take away from the book.” I think of Summer reading books, as those books that generally “lift us up a bit”—are gentle like the breeze, bring smiles and sunshine—positivity in to our lives, or transport us to those emotional levels of joy, peace, tranquility, and comfort.
Perhaps there is something about “summer” being not just a season, but also a metaphor for light, warmth, and sunshine…..and soft breezes. (Unlike the harshness of winter, or the renewal of spring, or the readiness of Fall. Summer is about our softer, gentler side of rejuvenation. )

Lastly, there’s another great reason for light reading in the summer for relaxation. And this is to stimulate deep, abdominal breathing. Yes, if you nod off , while relaxing and reading on the hammock or the chaises lounge, did you know that having a small book on your stomach, actually helps to make visible the rise and fall of one’s diaphragm…and the more the diaphragm works with our breathing, the deeper our breathing becomes—a practiced relaxation technique. (Shallow breathing…be gone! Bring on the diaphragm expansion technique! After all, It’s summer!) Lights On!

Valuable Lights On! Teaching for the New Year

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Choice, Courage to Become, Lights On!

132387017There is an Eastern teaching that the instruction that an acorn receives that tells it to begin to grow—is actually evoked by the future tree! It is the future that calls the seed into growth, into the shape and form that it will become!

What is 2014 (future) calling you to become? To be? More focused? Kinder? Productive? Honest? Positive? Successful? To accomplish specific goals? Remember the Attitude that you have is impactful and contagious. It impacts those around you. Your attitude impacts whether or not the seeds being nurtured within you…wanting to become your future…will blossom or not. Are you open to becoming the best you can be? You choose your attitude….a negative one begets negativity and wears off on others around you. Negativity tears down. It hinders growth. A positive attitude is contagious too…but in good ways! An attitude that is positive builds up (yourself and others). Attitude is a big thing…(capability, competence, confidence)  that makes the difference whether your 2014 will unfold with the same greatness as that which calls the acorn forth to become the mighty oak! And guess what? You are being called forth to become in 2014…are you listening?  Is your attitude open to the future that’s calling you forth? You get to choose!

Note: Claire Knowles ( www.ClaireEKnowles.com ) is the Amazon best-selling author of Lights On! A Reflective Journey (for women) and also of the Amazon best-seller “Can You See Them Now? Elephants in our Midst!”….written for HR Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders. Besides authorship, Claire’s work encompasses Speaking engagements, Leadership Consulting and Coaching—-helping Leaders to be the best that they can be, and their teams/organizations/businesses to be the most effective at what they came together to do in the first place!

To Go? Or Not To Go?…The Holiday Office Party

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Choice, Lights On!

imagesIt’s an age-old story….one that is written about each holiday season!  Yes, that Office holiday party can be an enjoyable boost to your career…or it can be a destructive career bomb!  You don’t want to be part of the fall-out.

What makes it so intriguing? The holiday office party wouldn’t create such a stir if it didn’t have the potential to cripple one’s career.  So, it makes good sense to understand what is at stake!  Think it through…naughty or nice!  It is those “missteps” that happen that office gossips love to remember.  The holiday party event presents the wonder-fodder for who will prove to be the foolish loser (this year)?  So here are some Do’s and Don’ts!

Do…Keep a level-headed approach…look at it as an opportunity to develop and increase your office networks to further streamline and improve workplace relationships across all levels of the organization.  Maturity is the watchword!

Do…Recognize that many businesses no longer have office holiday parties for economic  and liability reasons.  There are numerous warnings put out by legal groups and HR Departments about the legal implications and dangers of holiday parties.  While there are fewer and fewer gatherings, note that if there is a scheduled office party, do go!  Recognize it for the networking opportunity it presents.  Respect that your employer has invested time, money and energy in this gathering.  It can provide you with good exposure, networking opportunities and important visibility…if you play it smart.

If your company doesn’t have a scheduled office party, consider an alternative, holiday gathering…like a Happy Hour…organized by someone in the office, with an extended offering of inclusion to all—thus making it fully optional and non-obligatory—Dutch treat, buy-your-own; self-liable.  And play it smart there too.

Don’t… overindulge.  Holiday party missteps can frequently be traced to misuse of alcohol—over-imbibing, which in turn, makes you the subject of gossip, the target of ridicule and can potentially lead to lasting career negatives.  Boozing and schmoozing often leads to smooching…and then to shenanigans.  Innocent “nice” can quickly turn “naughty.”

Do….Remember that you are being watched.  Everyone is a subordinate to someone at the office gathering—remember that business fact of life. Someone is watching you and your behavior. The holiday office party is your chance to remind your supervisory chain and your coworkers why you were hired—not what you’re suited for after hours…and after a few drinks.  If you consider how hard you worked at presenting the best image possible during your original hiring interview, and how much you really wanted the job/career, you can better put this post-hire experience into perspective. Its still business!

Do…Arrive on time or even 10 minutes early. Punctuality is important…and the least stressful time to introduce yourself to your senior staff is before festivities get started. Remember these leaders make the decisions—key decisions about your future—be smart and don’t monopolize them.  Again, maturity is the watchword.

Do…Realize that this is a business event. It may be called a holiday party but it is still not a party-party.  It is a business event—albeit it is one that is taking place in an enjoyable venue and with a more relaxed ambience. So wear proper attire.  The quirky Christmas tree sweater with the blinking lights, the reindeer nose, or the Santa Honey outfit will undoubtedly be remembered but most likely not in a good way.

Do…Meet new people…but don’t talk all business-business….this is a chance for you to grow your network…to meet people you may not always work with…finding out about peoples lives and interests outside of work…and this can help you to strengthen those relationships, connections and goodwill.  Make sure you have your conversation starters ready.  Review beforehand some networking savvy pointers.  Be professional.

Don’t… Troll for affection at the company event.  This is not the place for flirting. It only erodes reputation, can damage your work relationships, hurt your career. Consider cooling your hormones; you don’t want to have to deal with sexual harassment potentialities.  And always remember that women have keen intuitiveness—including higher ups’ spouses/significant others.  You are being watched!

Don’t… Hook up. Holiday party hook ups are typically anything but a good idea….too much fun, too much booze, too loose tongues, too much skin, too little sense. The next day you’re left with a hangover, a tarnished reputation and even a job on the line.  You don’t want the tale-tellers to be repeating  or exaggerating what you and so and so did…(made worse if you’ve forgotten you’re married). So if you’re crushing on somebody, don’t use the holiday party as your excuse to make a move. The function is, at is core, a business gathering. Hook up with your desired hot flame…another time.  As wisely written in an HR column a few years ago: The special person you are going home with after the party…should probably be your cab driver!

Do…Consider the company newsletter…Be totally aware of pictures being taken. You don’t want to be captured in a compromised position, doing the lowest of the limbos or have two cocktail glasses in your hand….you don’t want to be captured inappropriately…so be aware….because those pics will live long after the company newsletter meets the web.  Prepare for a calm and collected pose.

Don’t…Call in sick the next day…because, definitely, no one will believe you! Do… Come out looking like a winner…because you went in as a winner and maintained your maturity throughout.

Do…Enjoy!

Lights On!

Note:  Claire Knowles ( www.ClaireEKnowles.com ) is the Amazon best-selling author of Lights On! A Reflective Journey (for women) and also of the Amazon best-seller “Can You See Them Now? Elephants in our Midst!”….written for HR Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders. Besides authorship, Claire’s work encompasses Speaking engagements, Leadership Consulting and Coaching—-helping Leaders to be the best that they can be, and their teams/organizations/businesses to be the most effective at what they came together to do in the first place!