Journal of Australia Trip

TRIP TO AUSTRALIA – September 28 – October 18


September 28 – I had the most difficult time ever packing for this trip – anyone who knows me well knows I NEVER travel light! 😉  We had five internal flights through the country where I could only have ONE BAG of 50 pounds.  With such different weather conditions (cool in Sydney, cold in Melbourne and Adelaide, and VERY hot in Queensland), I really struggled with what to take and how to get it all in for 50 pounds.  Thank goodness patient Frank had some extra room!;-)

Our flight to Atlanta left Sarasota late morning.  Unfortunately, we had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta before the 5 hour flight to LA; however, thankfully Frank and I are both members of the wonderful Delta Sky Club, so we always have a nice place to wait. The long 16 hour flight to Sydney began about 11:00 pm from LA, so after dinner and a couple of movies, both Frank and I got a few hours’ sleep.  Although we were in coach, we each had neck pillows and I took an ambien, so it wasn’t quite as bad as 16 hours on an airplane sounds! (The trip home, however, was another story……..)

September 29 – When we arrived in Sydney at 6:30 am after travelling through 15 time zones, we were met by a driver and taken immediately to our hotel, the Radisson Blu, which was just a few blocks from the Circular Harbor where all the action is.  Sydney is the largest and the oldest city in Australia with 4 million people and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It is a very young country with the average age being 37.  We were also intrigued that we were advised not to tip since the minimum wage is $17.40!

 The children have school all year (40 weeks), there is a national curriculum, and they all wear uniforms for equality.  Hats are compulsory any time they are out in the sun because they have the highest incidence of skin cancer.  Residents are taxed only on the land value of their homes, not the building itself – and there is no capital gains tax.  Good reasons to move there! 😉

It was raining and cool when we arrived (our only day of rain), but we decided to walk the few blocks to the Harbor and the Opera House.  Right outside the Opera House was a huge celebration from Fox News for the Sydney Cup (the super bowl of rugby which they call “football”) with all the media, players, and lots of crowds, so that was a fun orientation to the culture.  One of my dreams has always been to see something (anything!) at the Sydney Opera House.  While there, we found that there was a Beethoven performance on our last night in Sydney, so I was thrilled when we purchased tickets!

Outside the Sydney Opera House

Of course I had a to do a little bit of shopping 😉 !  I bought darling UGGs for Kinsey and soccer shirts for the grandsons while Frank purchased a Crocodlie Dundee Aussie hat for golf.  We then walked to the Royal Botanical Gardens which is a lovely area right in the middle of the city.  After returning to the hotel and unpacking a bit, we had dinner at a delightful seafood restaurant right on the water.  A fun surprise was seeing a delightful fireworks display across the water while we were eating.  We decided that we were “Florida wimps” because we asked them to put on the outside heaters, much to the chagrin of the table next to us!

September 30 – The next morning we took a Sydney City Tour by bus.  Part of the tour was a walking tour through the “Rocks”.  This area was where the convicts who first populated Australia lived and had really interesting architecture and history.  They were sent there after Great Britain lost the American colonies in 1784.  There were 10 men to every woman and the area was populated with lots of gangs called PUSH because they used socks as weapons! Most of the buildings here are made of limestone with oyster shells.  This whole coast is famous for their oysters.  (We couldn’t wait to try them!)  It is also famous for the George Street market.

 We also saw Darling Harbor which we would come back to the next day, some lovely mansions, and Bondi Beach, where my Aunt Joan, who was a model and beauty queen in Australia, met my Uncle Wayne, who was a colonel in the American Airforce there on leave.  She was sunbathing on Bondi Beach, he saw her, asked her out, and they ended up being married for over 60 years! 

Bondi Beach, Sydney, where my aunt and uncle met

There are over 35 major surf beaches in Australia, and almost every beach has a separate pool for swimming because of many sharks in the ocean.  Interestingly, before 1906 people could only swim at night, there were divided beaches for men and women, and women had to be covered from the neck to the knees.  In the 1960’s bikinis were allowed, but there had to be 3 inches of material covering the thighs.  Inspectors carried measuring tapes around with them!

The highlight of the day, however, was a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House, Australia’s most famous building.  When the project began, there was a design contest that had over 200 submissions.  The final winning submission by Jan Utson in 1956 was rejected in the first round, but when one of the judges moved to re-review all 200 submissions, the current design was selected with a $100,000 prize.  Ironically, the design was creative and ingenious, yet not being an engineer, the architect had no idea how to actually construct it! 

His design scalloped six sections of a sphere using the metaphor of ship’s sails. Unfortunately, It took 14 years to complete- 1959-1973. The project was suspended after 6 years because of budget (it went from a projected $7 million to over $105 million dollars!) and politics, and the original architect was fired at the time of the suspension.  Unfortunately, he never came back to view the final result.  However, we heard that his son is going to be involved in some upcoming renovations of the structure.

All told, there are over 1 million individual tiles in one of seventeen shapes and 2 colors which were applied to the exterior roof of the six shells.  In all these years, only 16 tiles have had to be replaced!  The idea of this chevron design came from Utson’s wife’s swimsuit!  There are 2600 seats in the main hall made of white birch with a eucalyptus ceiling and six different venues within the building.  The acoustics are so good that they never have to use microphones,  It is the newest World Heritage site.  We were astounded with the magnificence of the whole structure, and this tour was one of the highlights of the trip for us.  That night we had glorious fresh seafood again.

October 1 – Today we did an Express Harbor Cruise from Circular Quay where we met Captain Cook 😉 .  It is a 1 ½ hour round trip cruise where you can hop on and hop off at various stops.  Our first stop was Taronga Zoo, a very large, hilly group of outdoor venues where the highlight for us was the gorillas and seeing an “elephant bathing”.  We took the Sky Safari Cable Car up and back from the harbor to the zoo which gave us a lovely view of the harbor.  It is over 120 feet deep and 1000 ships can anchor there at a time.

Bridge View on the Harbor

Our next stop was Darling Harbor, another famous area filled with restaurants and shops.  We immediately headed for the Sydney Fish Market, which is the second largest fresh seafood market in the world.  It was fascinating – dozens of stalls of all kinds of fresh seafood.  We were thrilled to find HUGE oysters for $2 each and ordered 3 dozen of them along with one pound of huge tiger shrimp.  We ended up having to stand up to eat them because it was so crowded, especially with people from Asia.  We ordered an Australian beer and gorged on our oysters, another highlight of our trip!

October 2 – This was a day of leisure for us.  We slept in and then went to the Botanical Gardens to see the Art Museum.  We smiled that one section was named “Michael Angelo”, a huge spelling mistake!  We loved the museum and especially an exhibit of Japanese art by Tashiyoshi.  All his paintings contained some version of the moon.

Japanese Exhibit of the Moon

That evening a new speaker friend, Jenny Cartright, picked us up, and she and her husband, Simon, invited us for dinner in their home along with the current president of the Australian Speaker’s Association, Peter Merett.  What a lovely evening we had and a wonderful chance to experience a real Aussie home!

October 3 – We were picked up in the morning for out flight to Melbourne which was voted “the world’s most livable city” because of its parks, wide boulevards, and the free public transportation by tram.  After we arrived, we walked across the Collins river for lunch.  Frank had the best onion soup he had ever had!  That night several new speaker friends, organized by Winston Marsh, met us for dinner at our hotel.  I am so excited to have so many new Aussie friends!

October 3 – Today was a LONG day (7:30 am to 11:30 pm), but well worth it!  We were picked up at 7:30 am to first take a Melbourne city tour by bus.  We had a photo stop at St. Patrick’s cathedral and then a visit to the lovely Fitzroy Gardens where Captain Cook’s cottage is located. 

Cook Cottage

We were intrigued with the interesting sign in the ladies’ room!  My favorite part of the morning was a tour through the alleys and arcades of the city for a brief shopping tour. I found a lovely shawl even in that few minutes! 😉  Do you know the difference between an alley and an arcade? An arcade is under a roof.  Finally, we had a (too short!) visit to the Queen Victoria Market where we tried to find leather jackets but ended up with more t-shirts for the kids because of lack of time!

Now we were off to Phillip Island for the nightly ritual of the Penguin Parade which is the most popular attraction in Australia. On the way we stopped at Churchill Island where we saw the Moto Gran Prix racetrack and the Koala Conservation Center as well as a “mob” of kangaroos, our first sightings of the famous Aussie wildlife.  We made a quick stop at the Nobbies for dinner, the southern most point of Australia.  The wind was so strong that I stayed inside while Frank went down to the shore for pictures.

It was very cold, so we all bundled up for the parade.  (We were lucky as it only started raining as we were on our way back to the bus!)  There were bleachers all along the shore where every evening at sundown the 1600 precious little blue penguins toddle out of the water up the hill to their burrows.  They are about 12 inches tall and weigh 2 pounds with a 7 year lifespan, and they mate for life.  Because they find their food by eyesight, photographs are not allowed for fear the flash might damage their sensitive eyes.   The crowd of several hundred people were completely silent as the parade began, and we were all mesmerized by this amazing natural phenomena!  Then it was a LONG bus ride home……..

A “posed” photo of the Little Blue Penguins since so pictures were allowed.

The penguin houses

October 5 – The next morning we were picked up for our flight to Adelaide, Australia’s wine capital.  We walked a bit, rested, and then had a nice dinner, recuperating from the long day before.

October 6 – Today we were excited for a bus tour to the Barossa wine region.  We saw many vineyards on the drive there.  The largest vineyards are Jacob’s Creek and Penfolds and the area is most famous for its shiraz.  Our first stop was TeAro Estate in Williamstown located in an 1850s heritage listed barn.  We had morning tea and a wine tasting.  We then went to Lambert Estate at Angaston, where we had a lovely gourmet lunch with wine pairings.  We both purchased wine from here for the rest of our trip.  This was followed by a stop at Mengler Hill Lookout and then Pindarie for another wine tasting.  We made it an early night because we had a VERY early pickup in the morning.

October 7 – We were picked up at 6:15 am to travel to Kangaroo Island – UGH!!!!!  However, these two days ended up being my favorite part of the whole trip, even with hating the early time. 😉  It was about a two hour bus trip to the ferry made very stressful because of traffic, and then we had a half hour ferry ride from Cape Jervis to the island.  Kangaroo is a natural habitat for native birds and animals.

Our guide, Terry, picked us up at the ferry in his SUV where we joined three other people for the day, starting with a trip through the natural bush property and a bush walk to see koalas hanging in the eucalyptus trees.  They are darling, and we also learned that koalas are NOT bears!  We also learned that the females are the aggressors and attack the males even when it is not mating season.  When the males are fed up, they simply push the females out of the trees.  If they land on their backs, the often just get up and walk away and go back to chasing the males!

 We also saw lots of mobs of kangaroos and wallabies up very close in their natural habitat and even an echidna.  We learned that Kangaroos have two stomachs and two separate sets of teats so the mother can feed two different aged joeys at the same time.  The babies somersault into and out of the pouch which we were luckily able to see.

Later we stopped for a special lunch prepared by our guide in the midst of the bush under a tent where he grilled chicken and served some delicious salads with wine.  What an incongruous place for a gourmet lunch!

One of the interesting things about the island is that there is no water, so every home has a water tank to catch rain water. Learning that Frank played golf, Terry stopped to show us a golf course there.  Because of the water issue, there are no fairways and the greens are made of fine grade asphalt!

Our favorite part of the day was the Seal Bay Conservation Park where we saw an amazing colony of endangered sea lions basking on the beach and lying on the sand dunes.  One of our favorite experiences was watching a mother and baby seal trying to climb up a dune.  The mother made it, but the baby kept falling back down again and again.  Finally, the mother turned around and gave up to be with her baby.  Sadly, the males have nothing to do with babies after they are born.  We were very fortunate because the guides said this was one of the first warmer days when they were all out on the beach.

That evening we checked into the Aurora Ozone Hotel, which was a bit like going back in time.  It was clean but sparse and seemed like the only choice on the island.  Our dinner left a lot to be desired, yet the day was extraordinary.

October 8 – The next morning we joined our guide and one other woman on a trip to the western section of the island to Flinders Chase National Park, much of which is a Wilderness Protection Area. On the way we stopped at a private wildlife reserve where I got to feed kangaroos and hold a koala, one of the most exciting things for me of the whole trip!  The koala weighed about 40 pounds and left a few little scratches on my shoulder from his claws, but I treasured every moment.  Watch for a picture on my Christmas card! 😉

Kookaburra up in the old oak tree!

The most fascinating part of the day was visiting Remarkable Rocks, spectacular huge red rocks which balance on the edge of the cliffs above the turbulent waters of the Southern Ocean.  We took many pictures of Admirals Arch, a natural geological formation carved into the granite by the forces of nature, the beautiful lighthouse, and the New Zealand fur seals in their colony on the rocks.  (We learned the difference between sea lions and seals – sea lions walk on all four feet while sea lions only have two.) We then enjoyed another delicious gourmet lunch with wine out in the bush.  We saw many more kangaroos on the open plains before we were returned to the ferry and the bus ride home.

LOVED this sign!

October 9 – This day almost killed us!  After finally arriving home at almost midnight, we had to pack and be ready to be picked up again at 6:00 am.  I only slept about an hour and ended up later in the week with a sore throat and cold.  We flew from  Adelaide back to Sydney and on to Cairns (pronounced “Cans”) where we had another hour bus trip from there to Port Douglas, a resort town close to the Great Barrier Reef.  That night we had dinner and fell into bed.

October 10 – We were so exhausted that we decided to take a day off and reschedule our tour for the next day.  We were so excited that at this hotel, we were given the owner’s suite, and we had a washing machine and even a dishwasher in our room!  We slept late, did some laundry, then spent a leisurely day walking around the town (of course I did a little shopping, and had a fun lunch outside.  That evening we enjoyed a spectacular dinner of Coral Trout at On the Dock on the water right where they bring the fish in.  Interestingly, we learned that Queensland is known for mining (lithium, iron ore, copper, and opals), tourism, and sugar cane.

October 11 – Our guide picked us up for the scenic drive to the Daintree Rain Forest, World Heritage listed tropical rain forest, 230 million years old supposedly the oldest in the world. After a tea break, we took a short river cruise to spot crocodiles.  However, we were disappointed to see only one called “Old  ______.”. 

Two interesting things we learned about the wildlife here are that the male Cassawary, a huge bird that can be 6 feet high and can kill you with its feet, takes care of the eggs and the baby birds until they are 12 months old.  HOORAY for male help! 😉  Also, the barramundi, one of my favorite fish, changes sex from male to female.  She finds at least four males to mate with and  the last one is the caretaker of the babies. Fascinating facts…….;-)

We walked along the National Park Boardwalk and experienced a view of the tropical rain forest merging with the Coral Sea.  We stopped for a barbeque lunch where I had a most delightful experience. At lunch I ordered an Aussie beer. When I went to pay, neither of my credit cards would work, they would not take US money, and I had no Aussie cash AND had taken a drink of the beer while I was waiting……so now what was I to do???? Just then the lady behind me from Sydney said,” Let me buy your beer.” I was overwhelmed! Later that afternoon the bus stopped for homemade ice cream. Again, we found out it was cash only, so as we were leaving the line, she came over and gave Frank enough cash to get us the treat. Of course I will send her something from the US, yet her generosity is something I will never forget about the Australian people!

We then drove to Cape Tribulation Point, named because of all the problems Captain Cook had at this point in his journey. At Cape Tribulation Beach, two World Heritage sites intersect, one land and one marine.  Afterwards I swam in Emmagen Creek.  Unfortunately, they are in a drought, so the water was only about waist level.  We enjoyed Billy Tea and damper and some rare and interesting tropical fruits.  Finally, on the way back to the hotel we stopped for homemade ice cream from the native tropical fruits, a highlight of the day!

October 12 – Today we took a Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Cruise.  I thought we were going to be on a small boat, but it was a huge catamaran and held about 300 people.  It was a 90 minute trip to a section of the reef they had cordoned off, and there everyone was allowed to snorkel.  It was a big disappointment for me after snorkeling in Fiji, but at least we can say we DID snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef.  The reef is about 1800 miles long with about 600 species of fish and about 40 miles offshore from the mainland.  The reef is suffering from “bleaching”, coral dying due to the extraction tailings from various mining industries, so environmentalists are very concerned and trying to save it.

October 13 – We flew today to Townesville where we rented a car to spend three days with my niece, Katie, and her husband, Ashley.  I was blessed to attend their wedding two years ago in Fiji.  They live on a large acreage outside of town and are both marine biologists.  We are excited that Katie is expecting their first baby in December.  She met us at the airport and we followed her to the Aquarium where Ashley is doing shark research. After a tour, we drove to their home where we had fish tacos for dinner.  We loved that they have four wallabies they have raised who live in their yard and come up every morning and evening to be fed.  Katie says if they live their sliding glass doors open, they just come right in the house!

October 14 – The next day Frank and I were so exhausted that we slept until 1:00 pm!  (Frank is usually up at 6:00 am, so you can see how tired we were ;-).)  That afternoon Katie took us on a tour of the town, and we treated them to a fun seafood dinner on the water.  It was so good to find out all about their lives in Aussie.

October 15 – Today we joined several couples of the kids’ friends to have a picnic and attend an outdoor air show celebrating the 150th anniversary of the town of Townesville. They flew WWII airplanes and the Roulettes did a spectacular 6 plane show with P-38 Mustangs.  Afterwards we watched the most amazing fireworks we have ever seen for 45 minutes.  What a delightful day!

October 16 – Today we had another flight back to Sydney where we picked up our extra bags when we checked back into the Raddison Blu.  We repacked, took a walk, had dinner, and an early night.

October 17 – We got up today and then headed back to the fish market for more fresh oysters!  That afternoon three new speaker friends, Phil, Yvonne, and Ross, met us in the hotel lobby for wine and fun conversation.  At 5:30 we left for my most favorite experience (besides the koala) of the whole trip – “Heroic Beethoven” at the Sydney Opera House.  We were in Row X (only 24 rows in the whole theatre), and the acoustics were absolutely perfect – with no amplification. We had earlier had dinner at the Opera House restaurant which was lovely but expensive! 😉  What a fabulous ending to an amazing three weeks!

October 18 – We were picked up at 8:00 am for our flight home.  This was a MUCH harder trip for us since we were leaving in the morning so could not sleep on the 15 hour flight to LA.  When we arrived there (after LOTS of movies and food!), it was 6:30 in the morning, so everyone was up and ready to go!  We did sleep a couple of hours on the flight to Atlanta, but the hardest thing was that when we FINALLY got to Atlanta, we had a 3 ½ hour layover before we could get our flight to Sarasota.  It took both Frank and me over a week to sleep well and get our energy back again…….but  would not change a thing about our wonderful trip.

We loved the country, the people, and the culture.  I especially noticed how well dressed the people in the cities were and especially how respectful they were at the airport.  People WAITED for their turns to board rather then crowding around the gate like they do in America.  I truly could live in Australia!


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The Game of Life

“The Game of Life”


Over the Christmas holidays in Portland, Oregon, one day I played “The Game of Life” with my precious nine year old grandson, Simon, for five hours. Not only did we have a delightful sharing time, but it also got me to thinking about the REAL game of life.

Like the board game, our lives are a journey with lots of choices along the way and special “paydays” as well as obstacles to overcome. However, when the board game ends, as John Ortberg wrote, “It all goes back in the box!” Not so with our lives, yet we can always have a new beginning whether it be each moment, each day, or especially each new year. Since this is the beginning of a new year, I have been pondering my “game” and how I want to “play” it this new season.


First of all, I always choose a theme for my year. This year I have decided my theme will be SIMPLIFY. Not only am I feeling bombarded with communications and media, but my home is overflowing with paper and “stuff.” I am struggling to find quiet time, exercise each day, and eat right. And I find I am spending so much time on things like email and sorting piles that I am neglecting relationships that enrich my life and uplift my soul. I need to change the rules of the game!


One of my books a few years ago is titled, “Balancing Acts – More Than 250 Guiltfree, Creative Ideas to BLEND your Work and your Life.” In it I talk about my belief that we will never in our lives be in perfect balance, so we need to let go of the guilt and think about ways we can blend areas of our lives into the place we may find ourselves at the moment.


Think about these six areas of your life: Work, Family, Friends, Health, Spirit and Service. Where are you spending the bulk of your time and energy today? For most of us, it is on our work, so how can we find ways to “blend” other areas into our work lives. And for me, at the same time, to SIMPLIFY my life so that I have time to enjoy each moment of the game.


Here is my game plan which I hope might encourage you, too:


WORK – I am going to do email ONLY three times a day and I am going to unsubscribe to most of the ongoing emails I receive daily. I am also going to commit to sorting one pile of papers each day for 15 minutes.


FAMILY – I am going to schedule a weekly facetime call with each of my children and grandchildren. Sometimes our calls are sporadic and I feel out of touch with their daily lives.


FRIENDS – I am going to call one person each day whom I miss or whom I would like to know better. These can be either work or personal relationships.


HEALTH – I am committing to forgoing wine with dinner ( at least until I lose 10 pounds! ;-), not eating things that taste good but are unhealthy, and at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.


SPIRIT – I am scheduling a quiet time each day, either morning or evening, and renewing my meditation practice to find more focus and peace in my life.


SERVICE – I am going to begin to sing in my church choir as well as writing one encouraging note or card to someone at least three times a week.


In the meantime, I am committed to giving many things away, books, clothes, knickknacks, and other things that have brought me joy so that someone else may have that experience, too.


Please wish me well with this project of simplifying as I am a very sentimental person, so letting go is hard for me. Yet I know the PEACE it will bring to my life when I do not feel burdened by things around me and time spent on frivolous pastimes. Truly, relationships are the most important gift we have in this precious game of life before it all REALLY goes back in the box.




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Christmas Letter 2016


Xmas collage 2016

Dear Friends,

It has been a year filled with high highs and low lows, yet God has been good and faithful through it all. After a very difficult holiday season last year, Frank and I have been together again since February and have shared some lovely experiences. I am grateful to have him in my life!

The most difficult of all this year, however, was when my precious grand daughter, Kinsey, age 15, was diagnosed with leukemia in July. The treatment is an intense two year process, so she will miss her entire sophomore year in high school, yet the good news is that the cure rate is very high. We are so grateful for all the prayer, cards and gifts of encouragement she and her family have received. This experience is a reminder of the fragility of life and the blessing of each day on this earth.

My work has been slower this year, but I have been blessed with some wonderful new clients and some amazing travel experiences. I treasure the privilege I have of sharing a message of hope with my audiences. I continue my work on the boards of Guideposts and Lead Like Jesus as well as being a part of a monthly book group, a monthly luncheon, and a Home Fellowship group which all help fill my emotional bank account and bring me lots of deep relationships and much joy.

Travel this year has been one of the greatest blessings, and in August I flew my MILLIONTH MILE with Delta! In February I was able to visit Garrett’s family in Seattle, and my good friend Shannon and my Aunt Joan and cousins in the San Diego area. Joan is 93 and in the last two years has gone both white water rafting and zip lining. She is my role model and heroine! In March Gretchen, Randy, Owen and Simon came for a week’s visit. As always. they love coming to the beach. Then Frank took me to Disneyworld in April for a long weekend where we both felt like kids again!

May was my first adventure for the year. My travel buddy. Nancy, and I spent two weeks on a tour of the Dalmatian Isles, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Venice. We visited the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik and saw where “Game of Thrones” was filmed, and on to Korula, Hvar (named one of the world’s top 10 islands), Split, the Plitvice Lakes, Opatja, Ljubliana, and Bled Island with its gorgeous castle. The scenery was spectacular, the people were gracious, and I even got to dance on my birthday!. At one point the guide stopped the bus on the border of Slovenia and Bosnia so I could speak in two countries at the same time

Later in May Frank took me to the elegant Boca Raton Resort for three days for my birthday. In June I spoke to the Canadian Speakers chapter in Toronto and spent a special day with my dear friend, Laurie Flasko. June was also the annual Society for Human Resource Management convention where I presented two sessions for my 19th year in a row. I LOVE speaking to HR folks as they are the heart of any organization! Later that month I received a very special distinguished alumnae award called the “Pink Carnation Award” from my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, in Atlanta. I was honored to speak to over 1000 young women.

In early July Garrett and his family came for several days. Then Frank took me for a fun few days to the Breakers in Palm Springs, a famous elegant old resort. I also attended the National Speakers Association convention in Phoenix where it was a delight to connect with speaker friends from around the world.

In August Frank took me to Las Vegas where we saw two shows and enjoyed wonderful shopping and dining. The end of the month we attended the Veteran Speakers Retreat in Washington, DC. One of the highlights for Frank was to go to the new Air and Space Museum and see John Glenn’s space capsule whose engine he worked on at the beginning of the space race

I spent a week in September in Portland visiting Gretchen’s family, and then Frank and I traveled to Australia for three wonderful weeks from September 28 to October 18. We visited Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Cairns and Port Douglas as well as visiting my niece and her husband in Townesville. I got to hold a koala and feed kangaroos, we snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, saw the Penguin Parade in Melbourne, and got to hear Beethoven at the Sydney Opera House. In each city we connected with some new speaker friends and even had dinner in one of their homes. We LOVED the people and the country!

In October we celebrated Frank’s birthday at his daughter’s in Atlanta with all his family. November was busy with the CSP/CPAE Summit at High Point University in High Point, NC, followed by Guideposts Board meetings in Scottsdale and a visit to Seattle to see Kinsey. Then Erin came for a week for Thanksgiving.

In December I will spend three days in New York City with a girlfriend, speak in Oklahoma City, and then spend Christmas in Portland and Seattle with all my family. How blessed I feel to have such great kids and grand kids!

GRETCHEN and Randy are still in Portland where Gretchen is operations manager for two boutiques and Randy does freelance website design. Owen is 11 and Simon is 9, and both are involved in soccer, skateboarding, Legos and Minecraft. They have a new puppy named Peanut. ERIN continues in fashion design in Portland and is a HUGE Timbers soccer fan. She adores her kitty, Cricket. GARRETT’s team at Microsoft in Redmond was dissolved, so he is currently job searching. Ashley is busy with their horse, and Gavin is in community college studying business and delivering pizzas while Kinsey is bravely fighting her battle with cancer. They love their new puppy named Tank.

I feel so blessed to have a deep faith, a beautiful family, a wonderful man in my life, many precious friends worldwide, clients that I love, good health and the opportunity to experience the beauty of our world. May God bless you in 2017.


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Customer Service in Croatia

I recently was blessed to experience an amazing trip to Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and the Dalmation Coast.  I will eventually write a journal on this trip; however, one of the most impressive experiences for me occurred in Split, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, the third-century “retirement home” of the Roman Emperor, sits on the waterfront .

Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia

Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia


We had toured the ruins and then had some free time to shop which, of course, is one of my favorite things to do as I always want to bring back gifts for everyone.  I have never liked backpacks because I always think they make you look “nerdy,” but my purse had gotten so heavy to carry that it was making my shoulder ache (and the strap eventually even broke), so I decided it was time to give in and find a backpack I could live with.  Actually, my body ached so much I was desperate!

Just behind the castle we found a local outdoor market where they had all kinds of merchandise.  In one of the first blocks of booths I saw a backpack with butterflies on it, so of course, that was the one!  I had just gone to an ATM that morning and still was unfamiliar with Kunas and the exchange rate, so when the vendor told me it would be 100 kuna, I dutifully counted out five 20 dollar kunas.

I gathered up the backpack and began to walk down the street when the vendor came running out and shouted in broken English, “Miss, too much!  Too much!”  He showed me that instead of five 20 dollar kunas, I had given him five 200 dollar kunas!  Oh, my, I had paid him TEN TIMES what the backpack cost!

I was astounded at his honesty.  I thanked him profusely and gave him a tip, but I couldn’t help but think what might have happened in America.  I had left, was walking away and probably could never have found that same booth again, there were no witnesses who saw how much I had given him, and it was, literally, my word, a foreign tourist, against his, a local small business owner.  Sorry to say, but in most places in the world, I think I would have been the loser big time.

I left Croatia with a deep respect for the people, the culture, and their attitude about serving.

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Oklahoma University Medical Systems Employees Appreciate One Another!

Several months ago I was privileged to speak to all the leaders of the Oklahoma University Medical Systems in Oklahoma City.   Jed Liuzza,  Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at OUMS, recently sent me a copy of an email  he shared with the leaders about a special way to appreciate one another:

Good afternoon everyone!

It’s a beautiful day and the sun is shining which reminded me about how we might bring some sunshine into the lives of our team.

We all know there’s always something happening here at OUMS…like saving lives…and we have a great team of individuals who are committed to doing that each and every day. It’s never too late to express how much you appreciate your team or individuals on your team. In fact, as leaders, we should practice showing appreciation every day.

So to help you, I thought I’d share an idea from Barbara Glanz’s book, “180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm.” I hope you have found it helpful with so many great ideas on showing appreciation.

The idea I selected was one that spreads appreciation among all of your team members. The idea, as stated in the book, says, “Post a large poster page next to everyone’s office or cubicle door for a week. Ask other employees during the week to stop by and write something they appreciate about that person.”

Now for those of you already saying this won’t work because most or all of your employees don’t have an office or cubicle, I’d like to suggest that maybe you use your employee break room. For those of you with a very large number of employees, maybe do several employees a week over a period of time or group the posters by types of employees (i.e., administrative, clinical, support).

Let your team decide what the poster would look like – let them get creative!

Have a wonderful day everyone and know we appreciate the work you do for your teams and our patients!


It is so precious to me to see a client taking an idea and making it happen in their workplaces.  Every one of us needs more appreciation, and this idea will work anywhere.  If Jed and OUMS can do it, so can you and your team!

Another friend shared this photo with me from Illinois Toolworks.  People are finding many creative ways to appreciate one another.

Another way to appreciate one another!

Another way to appreciate one another!

For more creative ideas on how to make your workplace more caring, creative, appreciative, and fun, go to

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Are You Kind?

Next week I have been asked to be part of an interview on the subject of Kindness, so I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be kind. In my work in customer service, I use a three column chart model that has a minus column (-), a zero column (0) and a plus column (+). Below, it says “Your Choice in Any Interaction.”

It refers to the impact we have on each person we meet. We can either discount them and make them feel invisible or less important than us or our organization (-). we can simply do the work at hand (0), or we can make what I call a human level connection (+), seeing them as a unique and special person in the midst of that interaction.


These interactions do not have to be long or involved. We can focus on another person simply by asking and remembering their name, giving them a compliment, asking something personal about them, or just sincerely thanking them for being there. I tell my audiences that I want them to leave with this simple 3 column model in their heads so that connecting with people on this level becomes part of their daily life. This, to me, is what kindness is all about!

I recently realized how much a part of my life this practice has become when Jed Liuzza, one of my clients, introduced me as the opening keynote speaker for the Oklahoma University Medical Systems Leadership Symposium this fall. After my formal introduction, he shared what had impressed him most was that I LIVED what I was going to talk to them about. He said the minute he picked me up for dinner the night before, I had begun asking him questions about his family, his goals, and his interests, focusing on him as a human being.

Then, when we entered the restaurant, there was a couple with a baby, and he noticed I stopped and talked to the little one and told the parents how blessed they were. Then, he shared, I immediately asked the server her name and gave her a compliment. Finally, when I was introduced to the rest of the team, I asked during dinner to have each of them tell about someone who had greatly impacted their lives. They all told touching stories, and this allowed for a much deeper level of sharing the rest of the meal. What he said he noticed most, however, was how each person simply “came alive” when someone truly connected with them.


I was deeply touched by his words as all of these things I had done unconsciously, simply wanting to acknowledge each person as a precious human being.

One of my beliefs is that every person who comes into our lives is a gift. We have the choice to either open that gift or pass it by. Sometimes, depending on time and circumstances, we may only be able to untie the ribbon, but other times we can dig down deeper to the true gift inside. However, if we ignore that gift, it is a loss for both us AND the other person.

Being kind to me is noticing and loving all those persons with whom you interact, and that day I realized I was modeling the message I was going to be sharing without even knowing it!

Mother Teresa said, “Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier.” In this new year, we all have the choice to make this our philosophy of life. I hope you will choose KINDNESS.

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Barbara Glanz Christmas Letter 2015

Dear Friends,

(This is long, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy! 😉


It seems like the older we get, the faster the year goes by, yet what a BLESSING it is to be alive! I realized I have lived 10 years longer than my father, 4 years longer than my precious husband, Charlie, and 3 years longer than my grandfather……AND I am still am not feeling old! 😉

I so love writing these letters – it’s like reliving my year in review, yet the most special thing of all is feeling such love for so many wonderful people in my life like all of you. How very grateful I am for friends, family, and clients all over the world! I truly believe life is all about relationships and the people we love.

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Pay It Forward

I want to share with all of you a wonderful email newsletter article I received from Derek Mills in the UK. These are his ideas of many simple ways to “Pay it Forward” which is a wonderful message for this holiday season. Some of these are so easy and take no time at all but could make all the difference to someone’s life.

Top 50 Easy “Pay it Forward opportunities, today.

Image of "LOVE" courtesy of Nutdanai Apilhomboonwaroot at Free Digital

Image of “LOVE” courtesy of Nutdanai Apilhomboonwaroot at Free Digital

1. Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
2. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
3. Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
4. Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighbourhood, office, school, etc.
5. Tell someone they dropped a pound/dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give it to them.
6. Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
7. Say hi to the person next to you in the elevator.
8. Surprise a neighbour with freshly baked cookies or treats!
9. Let someone go in front of you in line at the supermarket who only has a few items.
10. Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.

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What is YOUR “White-Hot Why?”

What is your “White-Hot Why?”

Two weeks ago I went to the annual Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Church in Illinois. Throughout the two days of presentations from top level leadership gurus, the most prevalent message was the critical importance of finding purpose and meaning in one’s work.


An organization with a sense of purpose!

Bill Hybels, the lead pastor of this mega church, discussed the intangibles of leadership as the following:
• Grit
• Self-Awareness
• Resourcefulness
• Self-Sacrificing Love
• Sense of Meaning

He used the term, finding your “White-Hot Why.” Instead of thinking about WHAT you do and HOW you do it, start with WHY you do it. He even suggested leaders should have the title of “Chief Meaning Officers!” He referenced Bob Buford who writes about moving from Success to Significance, finding a sense of purpose or mission in your work beyond making money.

Jim Collins described an Engaged Culture as having three elements: First, a sense of Service to a cause or purpose; second, a list of BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals), and third, Communal Success (all succeed by helping others succeed).

Horst Schulze says, “Don’t come to work just to work. Come to work to be proud of a purpose.”


Dan Pink tells us that purpose is one of the three big motivators for knowledge workers, along with autonomy and mastery. He writes:

“Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people–not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied–hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.” (“Drive,” pg. 131)

Do you feel a PURPOSE in your work? Does your organization adhere to a cause larger than you or them? If not, what can you find in the work you do every day that inspires you and makes you feel as if you are making a difference? What is YOUR “white-hot why?”

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Gus, the Singing Butcher!

I had the most delightful customer service experience at Publix this week. As I was waiting to get my sockeye salmon which was on special, I saw one of the regular butchers who always is happy and greets everyone with a smile and usually a joke. Since I rarely eat meat anymore, I had not seen him for some time on my grocery visits. But there he was –with a little display in the aisle sharing a new service Publix is offering for seafood.

I greeted him, learned his name, and told him how much I always appreciated his good humor when I saw him. Then this is what happened next:

I was so tickled that I asked him if I could videotape his “performance,” and he responded by telling me that he had several videos from customers on YouTube and one even from a customer from Brazil, and that, as a result, Publix was going to do a story about him in their company newsletter.

Not only is Gus a very good singer, but just like Johnny the Bagger®, he has definitely added HIS personal signature to his work!

Publix is lucky to have so many employees who care about their customers and use their special gifts to add more joy to the customers’ visits.

To learn more about Johnny the Bagger® and how he added his personal signature to his work, go to click here.

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