Archive for September, 2013

Timely Wisdom from Dad

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Inspired by the recommendation of Scott Belsky in the book Making Ideas Happen, I decided to organize the information in ALL of my notebooks. So yesterday I did.

I found this note:


“Every once in a while, you have the opportunity to do the right thing when it really matters.” -Dad 9/12/11

On September 12, 2011, I had quit my previous job and had neither been offered nor accepted my current job at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals. Being between AND content is not really my thing. But I knew I was making the right decisions and that everything would be OK. I knew I was in the middle of something big, and I had no idea what it was or how things would turn out. Thank you Dad.


It’s been a really good two years, you guys.

See full size image



First, Break All the Rules – 5 Stars!

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

First, Break All the Rules

What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Five Stars!


This is the first book listed in Tom McFerson’s latest list of books recommended by veterinary professionals, “24 Books to Change Your Life” in the June 2013 issue of Veterinary Economics.  This is the list that inspired me to start reviewing books again.  I counted the books I have reviewed after being inspired by this list in June – eleven.  And NONE of them were officially from this list.  Made to Stick is on the list, but I was already reading it at the recommendation of Mike Falconer.  It’s not that I can’t focus, it’s just…I like to read.  Anyways, I am now to book number one of The List.

As you know, I only review books I absolutely love.  Who wants to read a book someone says is “ok” or worse?  Besides, that is mean, and I am nice.

So…First, Break All the Rules, recommended by Dr. Jean Maixner in the article “24 Books to Change Your Life” written by Tom McFerson.  I loved it!  Five stars!

The authors interpreted survey results from 80,000 (!) managers and one million (!!!) workers interviewed by Gallup to develop this book.  Their conclusion:  Great managers break all the rules – they manage in a way completely differently than normal – average – just ok – managers.

Great managers select for talent over skill and experience, clearly communicate what outcome they need and allow team members to achieve that outcome however they do best, they focus on strengths instead of trying to improve weaknesses and they find the best fit – not necessarily the highest career ladder rung – for every team member.

I LOVE the everyone-is-doing-THIS-so-let’s-do-THAT spirit of the book.  I love the upbeat, you-can-win-and-here’s-how undercurrent of the book.

Do you know what I love MOST of all??  I love that the concept I have been mulling over for several months is so clearly articulated here – Every person is who they are, and we should be celebrating strengths, not trying to fix weaknesses.  

I say celebrating strengths is nice, and trying to fix people’s weaknesses is mean, but the authors, in a much more practical manner, and in a much better explained way, say that celebrating strengths is productive and leads to the best work by those being managed, and trying to fix people’s weaknesses is not one bit helpful, nor is it possible.

You know how sometimes it is good to read something you already believe?  That book was that for me, but instead of just my hunch I may be right about the strength/weakness concept, the authors presented a very clearly laid out, well explained book backed by TWENTY YEARS of research by Gallup itself.

Much more is covered in the book, and I enjoyed reading all of it.  The book is written for managers managing, and though that is Not Me, as always, I love a different perspective than that I would have if I were only basing my life on my own life experiences.

You will enjoy this book.  You will be challenged by its concepts.  You will find all sorts of things to apply to your own life even if you are not a manager managing or even a team member being managed.  I would love to hear what you think.

Thank you to Tom McFerson for The List, and thank you to Dr. Jean Maixner for the recommendation of First, Break All the Rules.

See full size image

“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well,

and I’ve often been told that you only can do what you know how to do well,

and that’s be you,

be what you’re like,

be like yourself.  

And so I’m having a wonderful time, but I’d rather be whistling in the dark.” 

from “Whistling in the Dark” by They Might Be Giants

See full size image

Joy the Puppy Helps with Sunday School

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Russ and I teach preschool Sunday School at Westwood Church. It is about our favorite thing ever. Last week the lesson was “God made the animals.” We brought Joy because, you know, animal. Well, anyways, it was a good excuse to bring Joy.

IMG_2962 IMG_2969 IMG_2970 IMG_2971 IMG_2979 IMG_2981 IMG_2982 IMG_2983

Did the kids wear you out Joy?


But did you have fun?


See full size image

For the same lesson, we made pumpkin play doh. We used it to make animals to remember “God made the animals,” but like using the theme as a thinly veiled excuse to hang out with Joy the Puppy, we really wanted to make pumpkin play doh. We used to make it every year, but we had not in a couple years because the girls had gotten older. Abby said that she has NOT outgrown playing with play doh, and now Olive and Charlie, our niece and nephew, are old enough to play with play doh, so maybe we will start up again. The kids loved it, and I loved the familiar fall cinnamon smell! Do you want the recipe?


God made the animals, and I made this cat out of pumpkin play doh.

Pumpkin Play Doh


3 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of salt

2 tablespoons of cream of tartar (in the spice section)

3 cups water

3 tablespoons oil

1 container of pumpkin pie spice (about one ounce)

red and yellow (or orange) food coloring


Mix dry ingredients (except pumpkin pie spice) in a big cooking pot. Blend liquids into the middle of the dry ingredients. Combine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and can be pinched without sticking (about five minutes.)

Turn onto a counter. Add the entire container of pumpkin pie spice and food coloring. Knead until smooth. Add more food coloring if needed and knead it in until it is the color you want.

Store in an airtight container. (We store ours in a baggie.)


The play doh recipe is from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. The pumpkin flair :) is from the Omaha World Herald.

See full size image

CVC 2013 – Going Down with the Ship

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Dr. Stokes talked me into going to a lecture with her at CVC.  ANY TIME Dr. Stokes suggests something, if I get to be with her I say YES.  Well, I used to.  Now I will think long and hard…and probably still say yes.  This time, I should have said NO.  By the end of the lecture, Dr. Stokes, unable to convince me to bail early, abandoned me right there, for an agonizing ten more minutes.  Before she left, she drew this:


I added the rat on the ship.  And the note under the Dr. Stokes-rat that says “I love rats,” because I do.  And really, I would probably do it all over again, because that is how much I like Dr. Stokes.

See full size image

Pictures from CVC 2013

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

More pictures from CVC 2013 – the Central Veterinary Conference – in Kansas City…


This circle art was on the side of a building in Kansas City. I don’t know what it is, but I like it.IMG_2654

Amanda and Abby outside of Crown Center Shopping CenterIMG_2658

So proud of Abby! She is taking a random picture of a random thing at the hotel.


Pretty park area between the hotel and the convention center with honeysuckle on one of the pergolasIMG_2663

Close up of the honeysuckleIMG_2664

Closer close up of the honeysuckleIMG_2666

View from our window on the fifth floor of the Marriott! See the container garden? It is on the roof of a section of the Marriott, so it must be related to the hotel somehow.  Perhaps the chef of the hotel restaurant runs out onto the roof to pick herbs?  Awesome.  We checked it every day.IMG_2667

Back of the 2013 Gentle Doctor T’s – We all wore these all week. You can see the front on some of the pictures of Amanda and Abby.IMG_2668

Sign on one of the downtown KC community bikesIMG_2669

Flowers outside our hotelIMG_2670

More flowers outside our hotelIMG_2671

I am quite certain this is a Pit Bull X Basset in downtown KC. She was so cute!

Abby counting her change at StarbucksIMG_2677

A Dad and twins at CVCIMG_2680

We found a new favorite KC eating place! Cosentino’s Market

Abby and RussIMG_2687

The Gentle Doctor team went out to dinner the first night we were all there. No one wanted their pictures taken so I had to sneak them in! Kelly was here too. Dr. Stokes was not at this dinner, but I got to spend time with her the rest of the week. Here are Dr. Kanne and Whitney.IMG_2688

Amanda and AngieIMG_2690

Whitney and Dr. BelfioreIMG_2691

Abby and RussIMG_2692


Dr. Kanne, Whitney and Dr. BelfioreIMG_2695

The outside of our hotel – The Marriott – at night – the lights changed every few minutes – it was very cool!IMG_2696

Long day!IMG_2700

Every time we go to KC I buy a new coloring book from the Crayola Store. Allison said I have to finish the pictures I start, so I finished this one…

Abby and her new friend, one of the rescue Greyhounds of MoKan Greyhound AdoptionIMG_1017

Another Greyhound of MoKan Greyhound Adoption – being irresistible can be tiring!IMG_1018

I love this shirt from DoveLewis 24 Hour Hospital!!IMG_1021

Abby and Amanda with Mark TwainIMG_2735

We crossed the border to the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association meeting where Abby made friends with this adorable Boxer X Rottie

All in all a VERY fun week!  A few more pictures to come and then the stories…

See full size image

Making Ideas Happen

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Making Ideas Happen

Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality


Scott Belsky

Five Stars!


This is the book I was inspired to read after reading Managing Your Day to Day which was recommended by my brother Dave.  I love this crazy adventure of books and bunny trails!

Making Ideas Happen is written for creatives – specifically people whose job it is to be creative, which is Not Me, but sometimes it is good to see life from a completely different angle than what you  normally would.

Creative people often are by nature unorganized – part of the wonderful package of a typical artistic type – ideas flow freely, but the follow through that is required for ideas to become reality does not always come as easily.  Which is a shame, because creative people have some great ideas.

Creative people do not need help generating ideas.  They do that day and night and do it well.  What they need help with is the follow through.  This book answers that problem amazingly well.

The author contends that three things – the action method (a specific structure developed by the author and others for setting ideas up for success), relying on others for feedback and leading the creative team well – are the keys to seeing ideas through to actual results.  The author has made it happen in his own career and personal life and helped many other creatives make it happen time and time again in their own careers and personal lives.  He also has stories about other successful creatives which are very fun to read.

I won’t be restructuring my career around the ideas in this book because, you know, I treat and prevent, which is pretty straight forward, and inherently structured and non-creative, but I do have a dash of creativity involved in other areas of my life (We all do I bet) so I was able to glean quite a bit of exciting and useful information from the book.

Some of my favorite parts…

Create action steps for every project.  I loved this whole idea – As you know if you have ever had to work with me (or live with me) I write EVERYTHING down.  If I see a cute pet, I write his name down.   If I like a candle scent, I write the scent down.  If I have a book I might want to read, a topic I might want to write about, an interesting quote I heard…The kicker is everything I write down is in sequential order based on when I heard it or thought of it in my notebooks.  I would not even be that organized if Kelly hadn’t gently taken my post-its away about two years ago and handed me a notebook.  If I were to organize everything in those (now several) notebooks by the author’s action plan suggestion…woo!  Who KNOWS what awesome things might come of it?

“Measure meetings with actions.”  “In most cases, leaving a meeting without anything actionable signifies that the meeting was just an information exchange and should have taken place over e-mail.”  (page 78)  Actually all I have done with this point is develop a snarky attitude about our latest team meeting.  I do enjoy team meetings for two reasons –

  1. As an introvert and a people lover, if I have a structured environment in which to spend time with coworkers, that is more comfortable to me than a party or dinner, so meetings are a time for me to check in with everyone and make sure everyone is doing ok.
  2. I work with less than half of the Gentle Doctor team, so if I did not see the rest at team meetings, I would not ever see them.

So even without concrete actions to carry out after every meeting, I do feel as though they have value.  The point is well taken though – a meeting should have a distinct purpose with actionable steps for team members to take afterwards.

“Reconsider your amount of ‘insecurity work.'”  Checking Twitter…checking email…checking stats.  When I write, I do this constantly!  I have made it a goal to singletask as much as I can this year.  Along those same lines, I am going to double my efforts and try to reduce my amount of insecurity work.  I say I don’t have time to write, but I could get tons written if when I did sit down to write, I singlemindedly wrote with purpose instead of wandering aimlessly through the internet!

And perhaps my favorite part of all, what I have said all along for puppy training, and have said for the last several years in interacting with people – Celebrate and encourage others’ strengths, and do not dwell on weaknesses.

In explaining this method of feedback, the author quotes Jay O’Callahan, who said, “If our eyes are always looking for weakness, we begin to lose the intuition to notice the beauty.”  I love it.

You will love this book.  Everyone has a creative streak, even the most scientific among us.  Everyone has ideas.  It is the rare person who can see their ideas through to actual products.  Scott Belsky gives us the tools to get there.

See full size image

CVC 2013 – Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center

Monday, September 16th, 2013

While we were in Kansas City for CVC – the Central Veterinary Conference – we stopped by the veterinary hospital where my friend Dr. JC Burcham is a veterinarian.  It was fun to see Dr. Burcham and meet her coworkers and see their beautiful hospital.


These are the parrots of Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center.  They are 30 and 40 years old.  Aren’t they beautiful??  Their habitat is so cool!


This is one of the two clinic cats.  She was so sweet but not as excited about getting her picture taken as Jack was!  So I just snapped this quick picture because I would NOT want you to miss out on her beauty!


And here is Jack.  What a character!  I KNOW there are a lot of pictures of him.  Can you even see ONE I should not have included?  Me neither – he is so cute!!IMG_2719 IMG_2720 IMG_2721 IMG_2722

IMG_2726 IMG_2725

Jack and Amanda

The outside of Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center – beautiful inside and out!

THANK YOU Dr. Burcham for letting our whole family come see you and your hospital on such a busy morning!  It was very fun to see you and meet your team – human and pet!

See full size image


Wisdom from Ann at Flowerama

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

We stepped into the Flowerama near the home where I grew up and where my parents still live. It is our go-to store in a sad situation. We always find exactly what we need. Always before we had gone to buy flowers or plants for families who had lost human family members.

One of the familiar, kind women came up and asked what we were looking for. “Flowers,” I said with my usual verbal aplomb. She laughed and asked what the occasion was.

I hesitated, sighed and decided the world can’t be changed if I never open my mouth…”My friend, a client, well, her Beagle passed away, and he was really sweet, and she’s really sad, and well…I just need to get her flowers.” I smiled with my teeth gritted thinking, “Don’t judge me. Please just sell me flowers.”

Here is what she said:
“You know, losing a pet can be as difficult as losing a person. They’ve not done one thing to hurt us, and even the people we love the most have, which can complicate our grief. When we lose our animal friends it tends to be just a straightforward sadness.”

Ann, I am sorry I doubted you. I was wrong in thinking the whole world needs to be changed. From right here, today, in the middle of your store surrounded by beautiful things and with your words echoing in my heart, the world looks just wonderful.


Kar Sim After Hours

Friday, September 13th, 2013

As the hospital was closing and the weekend was starting, a driver from Kar Sim – a wonderful group that among other things handles after death pet care for many of the veterinary hospitals in Omaha – was on his way to the hospital to pick up a deceased patient.  I did not want the pet – though he was no longer with us – alone at the hospital through the weekend.  Kar Sim is on our way home, so I called them to say that we would come by there.  They were still staying open for us, but at least they could be done with pick ups for the day.

We drove our truck up a long, winding road.  Buildings got fewer and farther between and then disappeared all together.  The pavement ended, and a bumpy dirt road began.  The sky grew darker.  Garden gnomes and raccoon statues stared at us from the side of the road.  We came to a sign that said – I am not making this up – “Dead End.”

Up the hill and around the corner was a small building.  Inside sat a young man on a stool behind a counter reading The Dark Tower:  The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King.  On the counter was a huge, gorgeous (live) orange cat.  Urns filled the shelves against the back wall.  The shelves reached the ceiling.  Norman looked up from his book and smiled a calm, kind smile.

Kar Sims Cat

He set his book on the counter and came outside to help us with the patient.  Back inside, I petted the cat and stared wide eyed at Norman – quite rudely I am sure – while he and Russ chatted about the Dark Tower series.

As we drove down the hill on our way home, I asked Russ if we could come back some night to photograph the gnomes and raccoons.  He said no.

It is one of my best memories as a vet.

See full size image

Crush It! 5 Stars!

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Crush It


Gary Vaynerchuk

5 Stars!


This book was written in 2009 before The Thank You Economy, but I read this one second.  Still great even out of order.

Crush It is about making a living out of doing what you love, which is kind of my thing.

I am SUCH a laid back person compared to the author that I sort of felt like a slacker slouching in bed reading this great book.  In many other ways, we are very similar, and I found myself relating to much of what he said.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 9.

The advice about caring deeply about your subject and people and how to build a business around what you care most about is timeless, but I also enjoyed Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on communicating online in 2009.  The internet is so much different now four years later, but you will be surprised about how almost all of what he said pertaining to the internet is still completely on target.

If you loved The Thank You Economy, you will love Crush It.  If you have not read either, start with one and I guarantee you will want to read the other next.

Read my review of The Thank You Economy here on Riley and James or on Dr. Rebecca Tudor’s blog Catalyst Vets on which it was posted as a guest blog last week.  Same post!  But be sure to check out Dr. Tudor’s excellent blog either way!

Read what Gary Vaynerchuk said after I posted the review of The Thank You Economy here:


Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 8.41.17 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 8.41.34 PM

Next Up!
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook, How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World by Gary Vaynerchuck
That one comes out at the end of November so I should be able to fit in reading and reviewing a few books from the Veterinary Economics 24 Books to Change Your Life” list before then!