Amazon Echo Does More Than You Think

Amazon EchoFrom the series, Life on Dog Hill

We’ve acquired a new piece of technology in our home, the Amazon Echo. It was Hubby’s idea to add another electronic device to our collection of computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Kindles. His reasoning was that the Echo, Alexa, could play more than a million songs from Amazon’s Prime music list. Everyone needs access to a million songs, right? What we never imagined, however, was that Alexa (technical diva that she is) would help us better understand our 15-month-old West Highland Terrier, Bonnie Belle.

It was noticeable immediately. Our highly-active, still-like-a-puppy-Westie was chillin’ within a few seconds of the crooning voice of French singer-composer Charles Trenet performing La Mer. Perhaps in her doggie dreams, Bonnie Belle was in the Mediterranean at the stern of a yacht (of course it’s a yacht) with the wind whistling through her lovely white coat.

For fun we started calling her Bonbon, with our best French accent. It was a big joke until we realized she refused to respond to anything else. Bonnie Belle is now official Bonbon.

Clearly, our West Highland Terrier, whose bloodline originated from Scotland and whose birth was in the state of Virginia, self-identifies as French. Being a former diversity practitioner, I understand and appreciate the importance of honoring how others show up, even when it’s different than what one might expect. And that goes for my dogs, too.

Interestingly, a little Wikipedia research revealed that early in the Westie’s history, James VI of Scotland, who reigned between 1567 and 1625, gifted a dozen Westies to the Kingdom of France. Needless to say, Bonbon must have come from the French line.

Yesterday Hubby took Bonbon to the groomers and carefully explained the delicacy of her situation.

“She now goes by Bonbon,” he said. “She’ll ignore you unless you call her name properly. The more French you can sound, the more respect she will give you.”

They looked skeptical but tried the name for practice. Bonbon’s ears perked up immediately.

“Oh, and if you want her to sit nicely while you groom her, I recommend you play French music in the background.” 

Amazon Echo

Click on the lovely Bonbon to see a video of how content she is to the sounds of French music. In this clip you hear Chantel Chamberland’s version of Bonbon’s favorite song.

That didn’t happen.

As a result, Bonbon had to be muzzled to receive a proper grooming. She was not happy when Hubby picked her up at the end of the day.

This morning Bonbon is feeling better. We began the day with Alexa playing Chantel Chamberland’s version of Bonbon’s favorite song, La Mer. See how happy our little Bonbon is in this video (much to the indignation of our min-pin)!

With more than a million songs for Alexa to choose from, we’re listening to La Mer over, and over, and over.

Well, at least the Westie is happy!

Setting Goals Make the Invisible Visible

Tony Robbins QuoteNobody says it better than the empowerment guru and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, who advocates the importance of figuring out what it is you want and then taking action. There are so many examples of how setting goals have pushed individuals to achieve great dreams. All you have to do is Google “celebrity success stories” to read one example after another about how extraordinary success came to those willing to follow their heart’s desire, no matter what anyone else thought!

As a writer, I have long been inspired by J. K. Rowling’s success story. Author of the Harry Potter books, Rowling is a perfect rags to riches testimony. Surviving on welfare and working in a cafe as a single mother, Rowling didn’t give up her dream to be a writer. Thank goodness she held firm because I have wonderful memories of standing in a bookstore line with my son Nathaniel, waiting for the midnight release of Harry Potter sequels. Up and down the line, children and parents were dressed as their favorite Harry Potter characters.

Like Rowling, following your dreams can lead you to places you never imagined, all the while helping you grow and develop into your best self.

Another example is Richard Branson’s story of how Virgin Airlines began. He was at the airport waiting for the last plane to the Virgin Islands to visit a girlfriend. When the flight was cancelled, he didn’t throw up his hands in resignation; he began thinking of possible alternatives. That led him to inquire about chartering an airplane that cost more money than he had in his pocket. Undeterred, Branson did some quick math to determine how much it would cost per seat and then went back and offered $39 seats on his chartered flight for those standing in line to rebook for the next day. Branson sold every seat.

That means that as you pursue your dreams and desires, the journey itself can inspire you in new directions. No matter where you thought you were going, you could end up on a long, curvy road only to come to a fork in the road. Either path will take you where you want to go. There is no right or wrong way, only different ways. If that’s not an adventure, I don’t know what is!

Consider that Richard Branson never entertained the idea of starting an airline until shortly after the Virgin Islands adventure. It was then that someone approached him with the idea, and he fearlessly seized the opportunity in that moment.

Goals are meant to be flexible to accommodate your growth and learning along the way. Don’t shy away from a goal because you don’t think you have the skill or expertise to achieve it. On the contrary, allow the pursuit of the goal to give you the experience and training you need along the way. And if the goal you begin with morphs into something different before you get there, that’s perfectly okay so long as you stay true to you. Branson’s original goal was to get to the Virgin Islands. Later, however, the dream expanded into something much greater.

Achievement of your goals can be even sweeter when you allow them to evolve along the way, mirroring your own growth and evolution. Flexibility, combined with a solid belief in yourself, will give you a strong foundation to succeed.

Excerpt from “The Power of Living Joyfully: Your Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals to Enrich Your Life.” Grab the ebook for just $1.99 and transform you life. Want more? Register for a free group coaching call: “Overcoming Obstacles to Create the Life You Desire.” You deserve to live the life of your dreams, so don’t let a few set-backs stand in your way. Register for this FREE coaching call and get the answers to your questions. It’s the first step to making the invisible visible in your life!

Technology Sabbatical Provides Balance, Perspective

technologyIt was so much easier than I imagined, which caught me by surprise. Like many technology-dependent-home-office-types, my virtual connection to the world is the driving force of my business. As such, my self-imposed break from all things “technology” made me feel nervous as I planned a 9-day getaway with my husband and youngest son. Little did I know that after my technology sabbatical, I would reluctantly drag myself back to my desk and keyboard.

I think there’s a message here for me.

Obviously, I needed a break. In my daily life, I was feeling consumed by too many connections; too many open-ended communications needing a response. My various social media venues needed new content. Key projects stalled while I wiffle-waffled with important considerations and decisions.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure no one even realized I had stepped away, so busy the rest of the world is with lives of constant demands and interaction. I’m also pretty sure I didn’t lose a million-dollar deal because I delayed any important decisions. And while I turned off technologically, I turned on in other areas.

I danced more.

I met and socialized with new people.

I explored my surroundings.

Most importantly, I spent quality time with family, laughing at hubby and son’s silly jokes. I listened to Benny Goodman play jitterbug music with my almost 92-year-old mother-in-law. I had heart-to-heart talks with my dad, who joined us for a few days.

When I returned home, I did so with a renewed sense of peace. I looked around and noticed how green the grass had turned. I noticed the redbuds were in full spectacular beauty, their lavender flowers lighting up the brown and grays of the woods. The dogwoods stood ready to open their tightly-clustered white bracts to add to the show.

Note to self: take more breaks. Be more than a casual observer of the natural beauty around you. Spend less time on the computer and more time in the moment.

Because my resistance to jumping back into my working world was so strong, I took an extra day off to play in the yard. I transplanted a couple of rose bushes. I cleaned and polished the serenity fountain. I played with my five dogs, all of whom made quite the fuss over me.

Yes, I’m a big proponent of goals and aspirations — after all, I’ve written a book about them! However, I’m also a proponent of stepping away when you need a break and taking an opportunity to gain a clearer perspective of the world around you.

How about you? Do you limit or restrict technology during your holidays? If so, what is your takeaway? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.