Friday, February 25, 2005

Mission, Vision and Values, by Dr. Michael M. Messer

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking article written by my friend Mike Messer, a psychiatrist. I am publishing it here with his permission. I hope you are as inspired by it as I am! By the way, he would love comments.

MISSION, VISION, AND VALUES. On an individual basis, a mission, vision and values statement is a powerful tool to understand our own purpose in life. It also tends to reduce the randomness of efforts; and taken seriously, the process can yield significant results.

Let's look at each part. First, to understand your own mission the question to be answered is "Why am I here, what is my purpose for living?" Contained in this question is the belief that each life is unique and has a purpose. The question may create an existential crisis with queries such as "How is what I do any different from what other people do?" or "What value is my life to others?" For me, this took about a year and a half of wrestling with the question on and off and, for better or worse, writing to you is fulfilling part of that mission.

Vision is a trajectory question. By that, I mean that a personal vision statement is a declaration of what you see as a measure of ultimate success in your life. What is the goal or state of being that would describe ultimate success for you? In writing the values statement, it is better to have a goal that is a "stretch goal," one that takes you beyond what your own concept and capabilities can conceive of you doing today.

Let me pause here to describe one thing before we move into the development of a value statement. It is important to write out each of these statements. Why? To write them makes it much more concrete for our minds. The mission and vision statements should be succinct. They should be five words or less, and in reducing it to only a few words it will convey a richer meaning. For value statements, one to two words should suffice along with possibly an explanation of what the values mean to you. One psychologist who went through our program and developed her own mission, vision, and values said "You can't just think it, you have to ink it." Enough said.

When writing values, consider those aspects of your life that are most important, lifelong and unalterable principles that guide your life. What are these values for you? Begin by writing them down in a brainstorming process. The next step is to question the value back to its core. The way to do this is by continually asking the statement "why?," and repeatedly answering this question will lead you to core values.

Let me give you an example. One of the physicians in our program said that one of his values was that he wanted to fish more often with his family. He enjoyed fishing and he thought fishing more might be the answer to his family difficulties. Then we asked why? he wanted to fish more often and said he wanted to enjoy activities with his family. Then we asked why? he wanted to enjoy more activities with his family and he stated he wanted to have a close loving family. This became a core value for him. Interestingly, his initial statement was a potential minefield. For example, if his family did not want to fish, did that mean that he could not be close to them? Was fishing his only option to solve his desire to have a close family? To get to the core value broadens the options and produces more opportunities to live by your values.

Also in this example, the "goal" of fishing was actually changed to become a "value" of commitment to his family. Changing the goal to a value can be tricky at times but remember, values are concepts, and they are concepts that have worth in themselves, not leading to something else i.e. a goal.

The two books that I have listed are helpful in the process of understanding purpose. Leider's book and Palmer's book are very good and I would highly recommend both of them.

Pursuing purpose can be life changing. For some caregivers the process made significant changes in their life. One physician, for example, realized his calling was to be in academic medicine, another physician developed a trauma service, and another began retraining himself to be a triathelete.

The technique of using mission, vision, and values is a way to examine your life and, taken seriously, it can produce monumental changes.

The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work. Richard J Leider. Barnett-Koehler Publishers, 1977.

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. Parker Palmer. Jossey-Buss. 1999.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

My First Scrapbook Page: Baden bei Wien

My first scrapbook page, about an August 1999 trip to Baden bei Wien, Austria, with my parents. Baden used to be the vacation home of my mother's family, before the property was taken by Nazis. This one is about our arrival in Baden. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Scrapbooking Baden

I am taking a free online scrapbooking class though Barnes & Noble University. I have since started my first page. I have picked nine pictures from my trip to Austria with my parents in 1999.

We took a side trip one day to a place called Baden bei Wien, which is a resort town 26 km from Vienna. It was where my mother's family had their vacation home. It was an interesting trip because Baden was so beautiful, both the town and the forest, but the property had been taken from them by the Nazis, so the trip was bittersweet. We went to the house and tried to take pictures outside the wall, but the residents slammed the automatic iron gate on us. Strangely, my mother wasn't angered by the trip, but I was broiling. How could this property be taken and not returned after the war? The restitution my grandfather got probably didn't even cover a part of it. I asked my mother how she could be so calm, and she said, "I'm used to it by now."

My scrapbook will tell the story of our trip to Baden and also some information about Baden itself. I have a picture of the gate.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

My House

This is my house. We've been invited to be on a house tour in June. After very little cogitation, and some encouragement from my mother-in-law, I decided to do it. It is good incentive to work on the house. This will keep me very busy until June! Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 05, 2005


My friend John's cat Whiskers had to be put down yesterday. Whiskers was 18 years old. He will be sorely missed. Posted by Hello

Antiquing in St. Louis

I went antiquing in St. Louis last weekend with my mother-in-law. Did we ever hit the shops! We looked at dishes, linens, and antique needlework tools. There was a set of tools in a small kit and I could kick myself for not buying it. It was only $30. I might ask her to go back and get it for me. We did find a wonderful set of 12 damask dinner napkins. They are large -- 22" -- and have probably never been used. When we got back to the house, she gave me a tablecloth from her stash to match. I didn't care for any of the dishes. Those I am going to have to buy on my own.

Sunday night we are having a family dinner. Daniel is going to cook something special and I might make some soup in the crock pot. We are going to use the tablecloth and napkins for the first time. I just have to think of a nice centerpiece of the table.

The Quilting Class

My quilting class starts Monday, and I went out to buy my materials today. I got a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, thread and fabric. I still have to buy some rulers and a few odds and ends. It was an expensive venture at Hobby Lobby.

The fabric I got is really cool. It is African safari theme fabric -- tiger spots, a matching golden brown plain color, and for the border, a safari scene with lots of animals. I'm really excited about it.

I got my sewing machine back from the shop yesterday, and I got a 1/4" foot and a walking foot for it. The man who owns the shop said to me, "Somebody is going to do some quilting." I said, "I am taking my first class on Monday." It was quite an investment for one quilting class, but there are more classes coming up, and I am going to keep going with it until I have it under my fingers.

Current Projects

I am currently working on Millennium Cats for a round robin at RoundRobinCrazy. I have most of one kitty done and am going to work on the second kitty tomorrow. Millennium Cats is a freebie by Pamela Kellogg. It can be found at There are twelve kitties for each month plus a birthday kitty. There are six people in the RR and each one is stitching two kitties for each round.

I am doing the Millennium Cats on Silkweaver Tutti Fruitie. I am using 14 ct Aida. I have set them up two kitties across, six down. The month of December is going to be the birthday kitty because my daughter Camille's birthday is December 27. When Millennium Cats is done, it is going in her bedroom.

I counted 110 colors for the set -- I had most of them but had to go out and buy a few anyway. There are a lot of color changes and confetti stitches. Some of the neighboring colors are really difficult to tell apart when stitching. At least I am having somewhat of a hard time with it. But it's a fun stitch. I really enjoy it because it's interesting. All the color changes keep my mind busy!

I am also in a Margaret Sherry round robin, and I have decided to do the Cat Coasters as a single piece, three across, two down. There are six people in this RR, and each person will do one cat. I have until April 11 to set up my piece for this round robin and stitch the first cat. I haven't decided on my fabric yet.

In the meantime, Valerie, Eva and I are going to do a SAL (stitch-along) on Dragon Dreams' Why Hoard Chocolate. This project has a lot of Anchor Marlitt rayon thread so it should be interesting. I've never stitched with rayon thread, and I understand it is more slippery than regular DMC. I have already gotten my fabric -- Silkweaver's Inferno (one of the Expressions). I am doing it on 28 ct cashel linen. Silkweaver describes Inferno as "vibrant reds and corals reminiscent of smoldering embers." I thought that would be really cool behind a dragon! Besides, the colors look really great against it. Valerie, Eva and I are going to submit all three of ours to the Silkweaver competition when we're done. If we start this one mid-February I'll be done with it in time to work on the RRs.

I've also got a bookmark SAL set up for the Mike Vickery Cross Stitch Group. This is going to start in April. I don't know what bookmark I'm going to stitch for it. I'm probably going to pick an easy one since I have so much other stuff to do.

I've been stitching a lot and have speeded up my stitching, so I don't think any of this is going to be a problem, except maybe getting the bookmark squeezed in there. I think April is going to be really busy!