Archive for the ‘Balance’ Category

Can’t sleep…too busy!

In Action, Balance, Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, Resistance on November 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm



2 months ago I was sitting in traffic trying to figure out WHY I was so tired and cranky. The answer?

I have:

2 kids
2 private practices
2 jobs
2 board positions

I was recently sharing my tale of “whoa” to a former housemate who replied, “Sounds like you need to be 2 people.”

And it’s true, I can’t be 2 people.

One of my favorite things to say when community building (which is always) is “One person can not run around and a community be.” And apparently this is also true for a single mom with 2 of everything (except herself).

Back to the basics.
The first step in finding balance, is to understand our limits and boundaries.

Limits are not a bad thing.
Limits signify the outer edges of our capabilities.

Whether it is our ability to tolerate abuse, bullshit or achievement, limits provide a container that helps us to maintain a sense of integrity. (And by integrity, I mean the hull of a ship) Integrity speaks to the perceived continuity of self and if we can carry ourselves throughout a variety of circumstances in a consistent way, we have a more solid base to work from.

And when we bump up against our limits, we hit that moment of resistance.

I was joking during last weeks Work101 meeting that Sheila couldn’t have any resistance because all of it had come to stay with me for a bit.

But, I have maligned resistance. It is not squatting with me. I am just too darn busy to get anything done. In fact I am too busy to even deal with resistance and this may be the point of it all- My resistance to deal with my resistance? …What?… Wait…

You know what? Fuck it.

At some point we have to accept that it doesn’t matter why things are as they are… if they are out of balance, we just have to fix it… and my experience is, that through this process, we will have a better understanding of why.

Let’s see…so that means I now have:
2 kids
2 private practices
1 job
1 board position
2 (almost) free days to work.

SO I guess this means I only have to be 1½ people…
*snark* I can do that…
In my sleep.


Mothering and theWork

In Balance, Collaboration, Entrepreneurial Lifestyle on September 28, 2010 at 5:00 am


...finding our groove...together

Recently a single mother came up to me after I had spoken on a “Women in Leadership” panel, wanting to know how I, as a single mother, balanced the needs of my children with the needs of my growing practice and work.

Well, that is a great question and one that I struggle with everyday.

How do we know?

Sometimes it feels Ike a choice, either them or us. It’s hard and difficult and pushes a lot of the shame and guilt buttons that we were raised with, both in our families and in our culture.

I think even if you have a partner in parenting, there is just nothing like being “the mother”. It is a heavy  trip indeed. Our kids look to us, as the mother, for things that others could not possibly fill.

So how do we know? How do we determine what is “too much”.

For me, the answer to this question lies with my children. But this is also tricky because I know that my children’s one alternating mission in life is to balance their need to individuate from me while simultaneously striving to make me proud of them.

Talk about balance.

Sometimes it feels Ike a tightrope- too much either one way or the other and off I go… Praying there is a net on my way down.

And you know what, there is a net.  It was developed with intention and the fiber of it is constructed by the relational space created through the process of my collaborations.

First and foremost, with my kids and then with my workgroup and then with my community and family.

I guess for me the key to this journey through motherhood and professional creation has been one of integration. Finding the groove wide enough for us all to slide through our lives, in balance, together.




In Balance, Resistance on July 6, 2010 at 10:53 pm


So I know this is a blog about work and how we approach our work as entrepreneurs, but so often our personal work is a part of this and frequently it is our personal work that gets in the way of our work101 work succeeding.

It sucks, I know, but it is true.

Even though some of us try to use our work 101 work to stay away from our personal work… it doesn’t work. (If you think it does, check in with the people who deal with you daily… you may be surprised.)

It always pops through at us at the most inopportune times.

Personal work has some serious weight and packs a hefty punch.

Self doubt=death for entrepreneurs

It is here, in the land of “What the fuck was I thinking?”, that I begin to loose my work101 work groove.

I don’t get it at first.  It comes on me slow.  I start missing work sessions with myself. I slow down in my writing. I am a bit slower to answer emails and a few extra calls go to voicemail first.

It is subtle.

A slow burn.

But then.

After a minute.

I am sitting around a table looking at a notebook and 3 sets of beautiful eyes looking back at me and I am like “Why can I not be accountable to myself?”

And then I am like, “Awe shit… I need to do some personal work”

I don’t mean to imply that I am not always working in some way on myself.  I like to think that nowadays I have a pretty good balance going.

The thing is that sometimes I catch up to myself and push my  limits, and then I feel the burn…the slow burn of personal work.  The soft ache of mental muscles toeing the edges of resistance.

Nothing for it…better get to work.


MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator theWork101

Above the Forest

In Balance on March 21, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Enter a  round woman with brown hair and brown eyes, hacking away at the jungle with a machete in one hand and a computer in the other…

This has been me the last few months… hacking away at the endless tasks around me… last month I found myself swinging away, trying to forge a path that would lead me- out of this fucking place; when I stumbled upon…Sheila

Frankly, I was relieved, because I was seriously feeling lost; and I turned to her and say, “Hey man, it is good to see you… how’z it going wit you? “

And she says, “Dude, (and I am paraphrasing here) the view from down here sucks.”

“That’s no lie,” I reply. “But hey man, what are you doing down here, cuz you are seriously moving forward. Your “this” and “that” are like BOOMING and I am so impressed at the way you handled that detail.”

“HMMM, well that is true.  And you did that thing and worked out that situation and hey man that guy called you… If I am up here, then you are definitely right here too.” she says.

And it is in that moment that we are above the forest, and we can see- everything.  And it is cooler and sunnier and the trees are not so big and it all makes.  Much.  More.  Sense.  And I can breathe.

The last few months, I have been working relentlessly.


My kids have noticed it, my people have noticed it, my chores have noticed it and on I work, hacking away at my keyboard, trying to finish.  No balance.  Unable to see the work because the work to be done obscures my vision.

Fuck man, I hate it when that happens,

Whew.  I am so glad I bumped into Sheila.


MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator theWork101

Enough Trees

In Balance on March 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm


When we first started this blog, we wrote about experiences of not being able to see the forest for the trees” about how we can get lost in the long list of things we have to do, and lose sight of our larger goals, moving from tangent after tangent.  Well, I that’s where I’ve been since my last blog.

Don’t get me wrong, the forest is a groovy, very necessary place.  It’s the land of getting things done.  It’s where the logistics of Eve’s Lime’s film productions takes place, and where all the research I need for my projects happen.  We all go there.  But, it’s getting back that’s tricky.  I must give myself credit though, as this time I actually realized I was lost.  I had the 3 classic symptoms of over-exposure to the forest:

1. stress

2. anxiety

3. the complete inability to relax.

“I stopped questioning and checking in with myself, and instead continued the hectic flow of meetings, endless planning, and networking.”  Sound familiar? (see July 1, 2009, theWork101 archives).

I wanted to get un-lost.  This is a way of being that is no longer acceptable in my life. I want to get back to my goals, my ‘big picture,’ to the heart of who I am and what I want.     I want to consistently move in the direction of my goals.  This requires vigilance.  Maybe the better term is awareness, as vigilance has an air of anxiety and sense of being out of control.  Awareness is about wisdom.  And when I have wisdom, I have more calm, more confidence.

TheWork101 grounds how I approach my work.  Writing this blog is a big part of that, because to explore these issues through my writing helps me to maintain that space of awareness I need to keep myWork in balance.

My business has flowered during my visit to the forest.  And to take it to the next phase, I’ve returned.  And I invite you to join the dialogue, share your comments, and ask questions.

. . . . so good to be back!


Filmmaker, Co-Creator, The Work 101

Maybe, Distrust and Contracts?

In Balance, signature work style, Success on September 5, 2009 at 12:25 am


I believe in putting it in writing.  I am the master of the “letter of agreement”.  It’s an informal, but legal option that allows me to use everyday language to address real needs, concerns, and set boundaries.  It can be comprehended without consulting a lawyer to interpret the legal-speak – most times – and it can help create, for me, a level of trust vs. formality.  Formality can create a false sense of safety – that same energy that oozes from a corporate environment and the traditional workplace.  I’ve seen formality backfire and create a breeding ground for distrust.  So my intent is to remain flexible and do what works best.

I recently created a contract for a freelancer who joined my company.  As we sat to review what many know as a standard legal form, she questioned certain elements that I would have as well – in her position.  While the reason for the contract remained quite necessary, was this particular document the only way to do it?  I needed something that reflected the nature of our unique collaboration, not a one-size fits all document.  And I knew that nothing good could come from a contract that we both could not feel good about.  I believe that a good contract should be a cause for celebration, not discomfort and distrust.

The “Undocumented Contract”

I’ve been burned on contracts one too many times.  And I didn’t get burned because of the letter of the contract.  All the ‘hurt’ was because of all that was said and done or what I like to call, the “undocumented version of the contract.”

The undocumented version is everything that has transpired between you and the other person participating in the contract – both business and personal.  All of the phone conversations, personal sharing, work sessions – and it even includes a few things that did not happen, when you involve yourself with people who lie, as I learned in court.  When the undocumented version of the contract is different from what’s on paper, and there’s a dispute, the shit hits the fan.  Because no matter what is signed, people want that “undocumented version of the contract” to be upheld.

Actions and Words > Contracts

I’ve been around long enough to have been both foolish and wise with contracts.  And even had one instance in which the person who insisted on the contract was the very one who could not be trusted.   Consulting a great attorney is my best advice for contracts on paper.  But the truth is the real contracts are not on paper, they are spoken and acted out between people.  For me, it’s all about the balance between trusting my intuition, and doing business in a way that is respectful of the contributions of others, protects the integrity of myWork, and who I am.

Without trust, theWork is always at risk.  The goal is to ensure we get it right; that the expectations from the written and the undocumented version are one in the same.  The contract ultimately is between words and deeds.  The trust is a natural bi-product when I do business with a level of transparency, clarity, and accountability, that ultimately weeds out the fakers and shakers – and creates an environment for truly collaborative  relationships to appear and to thrive.


Filmmaker, Co-Creator, The Work 101

Balance Anyone?

In Balance on July 17, 2009 at 9:13 pm



Sometimes when I am running 3 steps behind myself, I forget that I am in balance. Between my children, community and Work, I often lose sight of myself in the flurry. I am exhausted and cranky and the chatter in my head is deafening. It is usually about this time that someone close to me (or for that matter the checker at the local Ralphs) says, “ Man Dena, You need to get some balance.”

Actually. I am in balance.
Perfect balance,
and that is exactly the problem.

My life, and my experience with it, is a perfect reflection of my choices and circumstances. My actions are weighted against my experience.

I am in perfect balance?
but my balance sucks.

So then the questions becomes one of harm reduction. What can I do to shift my balance and change my experience to one where I am not some fanatical work zombie feverishly trying to catch the tip end of the tail of my to do list?

Ok, drama aside, and in all seriousness, this is a central and key way that the Work101 groups have helped me to learn how to shift my balance. The collaboration of the group has created a unique space. It allows me a laboratory of sorts, to experiment, to try different things, until I can find the approach that gets me the effect I desire.

When I began my work with the group I quickly realized that I needed to know what I was working towards. What was my vision? So I sat down to figure it out. What came from this exercise was a picture of me…in balance. physical health and financial independence: family, community and self; feeling thinking and being: I want my sense of satisfaction to balance my sense of desire. I want to be able to appreciate the things in my life. I want to feel that I can stop and smell my roses.

Looking back at that picture I can now see that it is a reflection of my doing, my work for myself. For me an important piece of this whole balance issue has been to constantly remind myself that I am not defined by my work, it is an aspect of who I am. But when I forget this piece, I begin to work for the work, instead of working for my vision of myself.

Work is a process. It is action. It is doing. A process that has a purpose. For me this purpose is the being.
Doing is balanced by Being
My Work is balance

Dena Plotkin

MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator THE WORK 101

What Would Sim-Kaye Do?

In Balance on July 16, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Has it ever felt like your to-do list just turned into an avalanche?

So there I am, my to-do list suddenly triples in the space of an afternoon: A business to run, research conduct and organize, groups to schedule/facilitate, a consulting gig for LA-CAMFT, my PAX Mastery &
Leadership Program to keep up with, a wedding to shop for, a possible party to organize, camping plans, costuming and choreography for a fire-performance in front of some 45,000 people to learn by the end of August, and a boyfriend talking about some pear tree.

Ok, I’m kidding on the pear tree.. but not the rest of it.

Sitting there, freaking out about how overwhelmed I saw myself getting, had no idea what to do, or how I was going to get anything accomplished. In the midst of it all, I remembered this Sims game where you have these little people you build lives for.  You feed them, sleep them, and interact them with other little “Sim” people. You find them work, and you organize their little lives.

But if these Sim lives start to get off-balance, you get upset Sims. Their happiness drops, they start to act out, and they start to have little Sim temper-tantrums. Kinda like the one I felt coming on. Here I was getting tense; not having eaten or taken a break since 11am and if I didn’t change my ways – soon I was not going to be NOT-fine. Just like my Sims.

So you can imagine how I had to laugh when I suddenly had to ask my self,  “So, what would Sim-Kaye need??” Because apparently, I give my Sims better balance than I give myself. Apparently, I needed a 15 minute break and with that answer, I took a break and got back to work MUCH happier and more productive.

Good luck!


Professional Speaker & Educator, Co-Creator of THE WORK 101

Battle for Balance

In Balance on July 13, 2009 at 8:34 pm


When we first started this group, my to-do lists would be so long. Some weeks, the group member logging my goals would have to expand my list into the margins to fit everything I believed I should be able to accomplish in 3-5 days onto that page. I’ve always been good at moving through my to-do lists. But the result of my marathon work weeks would ultimately come to a screeching halt, with minor illnesses, exhaustion or the sudden inability to focus. Being a part of my WORK101 group helped me to see the repeating cycle of hard work and burn-out that had been signature throughout my career.

I became an entrepreneur because I want to have “control” and enjoy my work. I love to work hard – absolutely love it!!! But, in true Gemini fashion, as if someone turned off a light switch, I want to play to. So I decided to actively take responsibility for creating balance in my life and work – the two can no longer be looked upon separately. My list is still on the long side, but now includes things like, “30 minutes silent meditation, take a walk, break every 45 minutes, yoga, a soak at the spa.”

“To believe you can do anything is to bring your life into harmony.”

-Buddhist Philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda

This quote reminds me that my life is a manifestation of my beliefs. When I’m in hyper-work-mode, I don’t believe I get to have any down time, I don’t believe I get to play until all the work is done. Well after my last bout of illness, I finally came to my senses and realized the work will never be done. In fact, the work will still be here when I’m dead and gone. What I have to control is the flow of the work – how much, how long, when to stop.

At last week’s coffeeWork101 at the Insomnia Café, we talked about how many of us bring habits and ideas from the traditional work world and try to use it as a framework for our work – the result of which is frustration and dissatisfaction. But entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, a way of being – not an obligation that ends at 5PM. In order to maintain your total well-being and be successful, you must find your own way, your own signature live-work style.

I keep this quote on my email signature because I feel a sense of peace when I read it, that I want to share with others. And I want to remind my self that ultimately, I am in control. Isn’t that what balance is all about – peace, the satisfaction of a space of equilibrium, of feeling in control, capable, “being” centered. This quote reminds me that my life is a manifestation of what I believe, which means the battle for balance is not with external forces – or as we like to call them, “obstacles.” The battle is within – which means that with a change in attitude/beliefs, I can stop the madness any time I want  and simply flow, in total balance.


Filmmaker, Co-Creator, The Work 101