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"When you become quiet, it dawns on you" - Thomas Edison

I am a 41 and I've been called an entrepreneur, mother, friend, sister, sister-in-law, boss, athlete, artist, mathmatician, tutor, teammate and coach. I bet if you're interested in reading this, you are many of these things as well. In the midst of all these roles and all my productivity and achievement, I've realized the last two years have been a blur... I bought a business parter out, hired and fired more than a few people and clients, moved my family here and said good bye when they moved on, lost 3 grandparents and an uncle, received some awards, had a miscarriage, went to Nationals and two sectional tennis tournaments with less than 3 years of playing the game, moved some moutains with my clients, helped some people change their lives. But what I didn't do is remember to just be be quiet...I forgot or more like ignored the golden rule of coaching and serving- You can't support others effectively, if you don't take care of yourself.

Two months ago, I made some very difficult decisons and completely restructured and redirected my business and LET GO of so many ideas, people, responsibilities that were getting in the way of what I truely value- my relationships. In redesigning my website and re-exploring how I can reset and restart, I found this article I wrote 7 years ago and it brought me to tears. Seven is a magical number for me and always has been. It's not lost on me that I wrote this seven years ago just before another major life transition in deciding to go out on my own and start a business... yet it resonates today.

I began this blog with a quote about "being quiet".... which to me means listening. I've been listening for two months now and each day I have found hope, opportunity, connection and peace. I haven't done this alone- I've had some mentoring, some coaching, some friendship, some challenge- but that's what it takes right? It takes listening and learning from all those things to move, to evolve, to improve. Last week I bought 2 gallons of enamel and 4 canvases in an effort to be productive and then I found this article... I think I will Stop and Smell the Paint.

Published in Amarillo Magazine

Oct. 2011

I am the mother of two daughters, Taea and Tylar Burns, ages 5 and 2 respectively, and married to Daniel Burns. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I have amazingly supportive parents, Laurie and David Hock, both entrepreneurs, and two younger sisters, one of whom is a veterinarian in Houston, and the other a Division I Volleyball Coach in South Carolina. I moved to the Amarillo area in 1998 and am proud to call Amarillo home. I enjoy painting, athletics and a variety of other hobbies, but, most of all, using my creativity to help others. I have played and coached competitive volleyball for over 15 years, and love developing values in young women through athletics and team sports. I graduated with an MBA in Marketing from West Texas A&M University and hold professional a coaching certification from Coach U, Inc. I have consulted and coached entrepreneurial companies through strategic planning and growth for more than 11 years. I am very blessed to have so many opportunities for personal and professional growth and achievement.

Stop and smell the paint!

Like many people, I often think that my life is whizzing by. Mentally, I can instantly step back 30 years in time and recall the scent I smelled when my dad came in the office after a hard day’s work, the color of my first bike, the name of the boy who sat next to me on my first day in a new school in the third grade, and even the first time I saw one of my now best friends in an accounting class at college. Now, however, it seems that most days I can’t remember what happened just last week. In fact, one of my most valued talents for years was my almost photographic memory. I have always had an uncanny ability to remember something about anyone I ever met and some small detail about all of my experiences and interactions with them. My memory and the use of that amazing memory as a tool served me well throughout my school years, in relationships, and in my career. Yet, just last week, I caught myself asking my husband the same question three times in one night!

I coach people every day about tools that will help them work more efficiently and become more effective. I use all the latest technological tools for lists and reminders, and have perfected the skill of multi-tasking. As a business coach and marketing specialist, I’ve come across many sensory studies related to how people process sensory experiences differently and how that affects our memories, relationships and interactions. I say all this to point out that intellectually I have known these facts for years. I have always highly valued productivity, efficiency, and performance. Until recently that is- when it took my five-year-old daughter’s little nose to remind me to slow down and stop to smell the paint.

To know me very well is to know that most people consider me a little neurotic about cleaning, painting, and decorating my home. As the daughter of an entrepreneur who just happened to own a commercial paint contracting company, our family’s way of cleaning has always included repainting and repurposing on a regular basis. I don’t think we ever lived in a house that lacked good paint brushes, paint and of course a can of lacquer thinner that was handy at any given time. It’s been the running joke (and sometimes a frustration) that you can expect to smell the noticeable scent of enamel at any family gathering or event that we host.

A few days ago, I was touching up my own house, continuing my extremely productive week on a Saturday morning- when my five year old daughter woke up, came in and said “Mommy, it smells like grandpa’s house. It smells so good. I miss them.” At first, I thought wow, that’s ironic and a little hilarious that my daughter finds the smell of enamel as comforting as I do and that it reminds her of her grandpa’s house. Most children think of fresh baked cookies or flowers, but of course, being my daughter, she would naturally love the smell of paint.” Then I took a few minutes to smile and consider the experience that she brought to my attention. The experience I almost missed while I was being so productive.

There are some things in life and families that are always consistent, things that we hold dear in our hearts and that create memories and habits for a lifetime- but we don’t always slow down to think consciously about how those memories or habits are created. Luckily, in an odd way, I am comforted and delighted that my daughter loves the smell of enamel, because it symbolizes hard work, attention to detail and a love for creativity and purpose, all of which she now associates with her grandpa and her mom. It was inspiring and jolting to see a smaller version of myself so clearly, and realize that life moves so fast that we sometime miss the powerful symbols of continuity and love all around us. Sometimes you miss the familiar smells of home and family, because you don’t take the time to create them.

So I began to look at all the little nuances that consistently define my family- all the various ways relationships are formed, family bonds are strengthened and values are created. I reflected on all the things we do in our productive lives that reinforce what is important or not important. It seems the smallest things that happen year-after-year and day-after-day often inform how we strengthen a marriage, empower a child or just demonstrate our love. I realized at that moment that I was doing so much more than being creative or productive- I was creating a memory. I was emphasizing a skill that is so much more important than a straight baseboard line or a clean wall. I was creating values and connections that are demonstrated rather than spoken. So because of a 5-year-old’s little nose, I am reclaiming my focus and my memories. I’ve decided to take a little more time to stop and smell the paint.

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