Eve Annunziato

Can You Relate? January 4, 2009

On our way home from our annual Christmas trip to the Smoky Mountains (started this year!) while we were singing Christmas carols for three hours at the top of our lungs, I asked my typical question: “What was your favorite part of our trip?”   I expected my daughter to say visiting the aquarium, swimming in the heated pool, attending a show, shopping at one of three outlet malls (oh, wait, that was my fave!), eating the great food, or walking through the streets amongst the sea of beautiful Christmas lights. Instead, her response was, “Being with my family!”   She proceeded to elaborate – “When I was a little kid (as if she were no longer little), I had a dream of a mommy named Eve, a daddy named Charlie, and a brother named Gentry – and they all looked like you.  When I grew-up my prayers came true!”

It occurred to me that my 4-year old daughter gets it.  Even Oharah’s teacher told us she’s often the class leader befriending everyone along the way.  She understands the key to great leadership; management via relationship – what I consider MOST IMPORTANT!  If you don’t put the people you lead before your purpose, you’re not leading to your fullest potential.  It took me a while to learn this vital lesson, after I failed, failed, and then failed some more.

When asked by a very successful businesswoman and volunteer coordinator at my recent Team Building workshop, “Why should I get to know my team members?  Aren’t I supposed to send out schedules, make reminder calls, and organize my teams, only?” This is a common misconception and a popular reaction.  We spent 20 minutes on this discussion, but to sum up my response, leaders can’t afford to get caught up in administrative tasks.  You’re most effective when you have time to encourage, support, shepherd, connect, vision-cast, and interact.  This builds trust, loyalty and community among those whom you’re leading and you.

It’s seems insignificant, maybe even unimportant, but it’s the best part of the job.  Recently, I had lunch with four of my female team leaders.  We never talked “shop.”  Instead, we had in-depth conversations about marriage, kids, faith and life’s challenges.  I want my teammates to know that I first care about them and choose to do life with them.  Completing tasks are easier when they know their existence means something to the organization and me.  Here’s great news – it’s the best part of the job.  Forced leadership is overrated; building authentic relationships is much more inspirational, rewarding and fun!

If you feel relational leadership is over-hyped because it’s too “nurturing” and “feel good” and leading shouldn’t be about popularity, than frankly, you’re missing the point.  Unbeknownst to you, without it, you may unintentionally discourage, deflate, and dispirit workers. Take time to spend time with them and let them know they’re more than just a means to an end result.  No matter how much money you earn, how much power you possess, or what job title you obtain, if you’re missing this mark, you’re not where you COULD be.

By the way, the inquisitive volunteer and Company VP recently contacted me.  She started using this philosophy in her business, enjoying the relational part of her volunteer duties most of all and feeling more “helpful and fulfilled!”  In other words, she can relate, now can you?

 

I’M MORTIFIED December 15, 2008

I’m so incredibly mortified.  Yesterday, I received a letter from Soles4Souls thanking me for a donation I made weeks ago.  I looked at the receipt and next to the amount received; it stated a whopping $5.00. Quite frankly, I’m convicted and thoroughly embarrassed to realize that I only purchased one pair of shoes in my effort to “Change the World one Pair at a Time” for people in desperate need. Seriously? I mean, what the heck was I thinking  – or what was I not thinking?!

Let me explain, since that quick on-line gift, I’ve been Christmas shopping – purchasing a ton of presents for all of my family.  In fact, I refuse to even admit how much cash I’ve spent this year buying stuff. Honestly, the amount is obscene and an outright outrage.  Just to give you an idea, I purchased each of my kids three new pairs of shoes to go under the tree. I’m saddened when I really think of what I’ve done, in spite of the fact that I said I would NEVER conform to commercialism or searching for the “must have” toys.  Sure, each year my children have to choose three Christmas gifts to donate to charity.  Sure, years ago they reluctantly gave from their own toy stash, sometimes while holding back tears.  Now, much to my delight, they look forward, appreciate and enjoy the “giving” process. Sure, we throw Jesus a big birthday bash each Christmas morning and we read the Christmas Bible story.  Sure, they know Santa is just a fun, jolly character yet the focus is the birth of Christ – all in my effort to teach them the true reason for the season.  But, let’s face it, often times a ton of presents trump meaningful tradition.

I asked myself, “Why did I spend so much money on my precious children?”  My answer, “Because I love them with all of my being and want to bring them joy, happiness, security and give them ALL the desires of their heart.”  Oh brother, WHAT a load of crap!  A sense of entitlement is overrated and unhealthy!  Since when did material items equal LOVE?  Since when did showing my deepest gratitude for my two greatest blessings mean buying them everything they wish for and more?  Ahhhhh – NEVER!  I have news for you guys; God loves each and every one of us with all of His might – REGARDLESS.  He loves every single child born into the Free World or born in the muddy shacks of the 3rd World.  God knows every hair on every head and every tear we each shed apart from our socioeconomic destiny.   He cares about every child unequivocally  – those born into privilege, and those starving to death.  Therefore, American privilege doesn’t equal God’s unconditional love nor His promise for eternal perfection.

I challenge all of my readers to donate here today.  Join me as I head back on-line to help provide shoes for people, not so they have the perfect color and style to match their new dress in an effort to make the perfect fashion statement, rather to provide shoes to fit on their BARE FEET! Thank you Anne Jackson and the other Soles4Souls innovators for helping to keep our SOLES sturdily grounded and our SOULS truly deeply joy-filled.

 

SHUT-UP AND LISTEN December 8, 2008

Often times as a leader you need to know when to shut-up and listen – and boy, do I love to hear myself talk. But unbeknownst to most, and surprisingly to many, I love to listen even more. Well, let me rephrase, I adhere to wise, bright, sharp people with whom I respect. As for everyone else, I tend to ignore them and keep chatting…  Okay, so this is my effort to shut-up, by posting a recent blurb from my highly intelligence husband’s blog and sharing a portion of this week’s powerful message at church! I’ve been processing it all week and writing down ways in my journal to implement:

If YOU will change, EVERYTHING will change for you… – Jim Rohn

I love that quote. First of all, it reminds me that I can’t sit and wait for the world around me to change first – I have to be the one to change my life. I can’t wait for my friends, my family, my boss, the government, my doctor or anyone else to make it better – I have to do it. If I want something different today than yesterday, I have to DO something differently…

I have to THINK differently

I have to TALK differently

I have to ACT differently

I have to DECIDE differently

If I don’t, then today will be much like yesterday… This quote also reminds me that I have much more control over my life than I sometimes give credit. Life is a gift (although I know it’s hard sometimes). I need to ask myself each morning, “What am I going to do with this gift today?” Asking that question alone can change your life…

Change – I accept it, embrace it, and thrive in it; all part of my personal long road to redemption… And, in order to have sustainable revolutionary change, you need to shut-up, listen, and take action. Step one, begin to implement and execute a call to action from the message at my incredibly amazing church, where we’re being challenged to put Christ back in X-mas by accepting and implementing His way of thinking:

Everybody’s Welcome

Nobody’s Perfect

Anything’s Possible

You see, sometimes our twisted point of view looks like this:

Everybody’s Welcome (as long as you’re my close friend)

Nobody’s Perfect (except for me of course)

Anything’s Possible (thanks to my ability, gifts and talents!)

Arrogant and inappropriate – obviously. Unacceptable and delusional – of course. A deceitful lie – most certainly, but, a temptation non-the-less. So, I’m gonna shut-up and listen now, and focus on changing my way of thinking!

 

HAPPY HOLY HUDDLE November 24, 2008

As we head into our season of Thanksgiving I have the obvious attitude of gratitude: A heavenly father who loves me unconditionally in spite of my faults, my cherished family and few close friends who love me unconditionally in spite of my faults, and a lifestyle I don’t deserve yet yearn to appreciate. But this post isn’t about that stuff or my invaluable community of loved ones all of whom are quite lovable. Rather, this challenge is about those I haven’t yet met but whom I aspire to love.

The honest raw truth, I have a horrible habit of remaining in my Happy Holy Huddle. In order to keep a balanced lifestyle, I intentionally singularly invest in and surround my self with those dearest to my heart. I’m often asked, “Eve, when are you going to Twitter, or sign-up on Facebook (or Face-Space as my father often refers to it) in order to stay connected with others?” My answer, “Never!” More connected, are you kidding me?! Please, I’m most joyful and content disconnected from the outside world. I’m most comfortable circled up in my Happy Holy Huddle. But, isn’t that contrary of how we’re actually called to form authentic community?

“The goal of the Christian life is to love well. Jesus was aware that true spirituality included not only loving God, but also the skill of loving others maturely… Growing into an emotionally mature Christian person includes experiencing each individual, including myself as sacred, or as Martin Buber, great Jewish theologian put it, as a ‘Thou’ rather than an ‘It’… According to Buber, ‘We treat people as an It when we use them as means to an end or as objects. We treat people as a Thou when we recognize each person as a separate human being made in God’s image and treat them with dignity and respect.’”
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Frankly, I’ve been processing this meaningful devotion since I encountered the truth a few weeks ago during my quiet time. These words pierced my heart with a dagger of conviction. It’s my prayer this holiday season to disassemble my huddle, disconnect from my contented spirit and start loving those I haven’t yet met.

Sure, I’ll still continue to guard my heart from getting more bombarded, busier, noisier, and more indebted to the virtual Cyber World (Not judging anyone who chooses to go this route to build community, including my sweet husband, but just setting a personal boundary not intended for everyone!). I’m striving to reach out more, build deeper relationships, and experience life, with even those outside my convenient circle of familiarity. There are plenty of opportunities we encounter in order to engage and extend a gracious heart. This Happy Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for my existing relationships and my prospective interactions whilst far from my Happy Holy Huddle!

On another personal note, congratulations to my loving husband and favorite weatherman! He was just awarded two Television Emmy nominations: an honor he’s most humble and grateful to receive. I’m quite excited for my already two-time Emmy award winner and am thrilled about these recent Emmy nods! Good luck, and I’m so very proud of you, baby!

 

FROM THE HEART November 7, 2008

This is what I pondered during my morning Yoga:

“Right now, and in every now moment, you are either closing or opening.  You are either stressfully waiting for something – more money, security, affection, or you are living from your deep heart, opening to the entire moment, and growing what you most deeply desire to give, without waiting.  If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love, without holding back, then you will suffer.  Every moment is the most important moment of your life.  No future time is better than now to let down your guard and love.  Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone.  Your posture can shine your heart, or transmit anxiety.  Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression.  Your glance can awaken joy.  Your words can inspire freedom.  Your every act can open hearts and minds.  Opening from the heart to all, you live as a gift to all. ”    By David Deida

Wow, I love this.  It does always come down to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it?  It reminds me of what my Meteorologist husband, Charlie, likes to call, “The Vortex Rule.”  You see, when a storm becomes destructive, like a tornado, it not only affects areas directly in its path, but also an area around the immediate path.

It’s clear, The Vortex Rule, is also true for us.  When we’re living a hectic and imbalanced life, the resulting unhappiness and stress doesn’t just affect us, it affects those around us.  Oftentimes, THOSE WE LOVE THE MOST.  How many times has the mood of the whole room changed when you entered it angry?  A bad day for you can quickly turn into a bad day for your whole family, your co-workers, or your friends.

So, let’s create a healthy environment in which real JOY is possible both in our home and in our workplace, whether you lead your family, staff, volunteers or all the above.    We’re just one beat away from bringing down the room and sucking out the energy from everyone in it.  Do a pulse check and remember it’s the spirit of your heart that matters to you and the others around you.

 

A JOB WELL DONE! November 2, 2008

Do you have your dream job? This is a great question and we’re tackling this challenge over the next several weeks at my church. I know these two guys do their occupation with purpose and passion and brilliance. They also have immense talent and approach their line of work with excellence. So, when you couple my husband’s and my pastor’s charisma and chutzpah, with a creative genius producer, you receive this special gift. Take a look and listen for yourselves:


Dream Job_Week 1_Weatherman from Matthew Singleton on Vimeo.”>

 

LET IT GO ALREADY! October 16, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking...,relationships — Eve Annunziato @ 1:44 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Okay, I’m sitting in bed all covered up and toasty about to dive into a great book while Chuck, my sweet husband is doing bath, book and bed with the kids (God bless that boy!).  Yet, something weighs heavy on my heart – I keep hearing the words, LET IT GO ALREADY!  Did you ever feel like some people around you just need to hear that!  Okay, maybe not just “some people,” perhaps your own spirit, maybe my own soul.

Recently, Charlie and I returned from what we both agreed was one of our best vacations, ever.  I feel somewhat guilty admitting that, since it was just the two of us.  No kids, no family, no other friends.  Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the above  – spending invaluable time with our priceless loved ones.  It’s special, it’s a blast, and I appreciate quality time with friends and family.  However, there’s nothing better than connecting with my best friend in the whole wide world.  And, he loves me  (that’s a miracle in itself!).  We had five blissful days of non-scheduled time filled with indulgences of seafood, hot tubing, shopping and lots more ;-).  We got along swimmingly while enjoying our beautiful condo on the beach overlooking the picturesque Gulf located just above an amazing pool that served drinks with umbrellas!  One night, we decided to go surfing with the dolphins amidst a sunset cruise. I know, I’m a hopeless romantic – I can’t help it, but it sounded breathtaking.  And, it was truly amazing as we marveled over these entertaining dolphins joining us for the journey while riding our wake.  These precious mammals are known for their need for affection, love for attention (no wonder I relate!) coupled with great senses of humor and people-pleasing instincts (again, my esteem for these adorable guys is all making sense now!).

The most memorable part of the cruise was the profound words from our philosophical captain, the point of this post.  As the sun was setting, he encouraged us to hold on to our spouse, enjoy the moment, clear our minds, take a deep breath, appreciate the picture, live in the present and then said these exact words:

“As the sun is setting from the west above the gleaming ocean and as it disappears from our sight remember, this day will never return.  It’s gone forever.  Therefore, forget any negative feelings you harbor in your heart.  Let your fears, anger, bitterness, sadness, disappointments, failures, and regrets disappear with this very sunset.”

“Amen,” I exclaimed from the top deck. Sure, I got some looks, but his words inspired me – enough to journal this exact moment.   After all, like the sunset, all past circumstances are out of our control – evaporated into the night vanished onto the bottom of the ocean floor.   I’ll always view every sunset in this light.  Try it guys  – with every completion to the day, let it go.  A much needed reminder, following the conclusion of today.  Let it go already, and if not for you for the others around you!