Monday-ish Monday Positives

This is a very Monday-ish Monday. It’s a dark, gloomy, rainy, cold day. Started with a 6am conference call full of sales guys asking for exceptions to process because they left doing their job too late for Q1 close – ugh. One of our internal risk guys raised a false alarm on a contract because he was working from old information, and now my team gets to spend half a day fielding panicked calls and filling out forms to say there was never anything wrong – joy.  And I’m still spending way too much of my time managing outside counsel requests for information on litigation matters that should never have occurred if our customer (in one) or partner (in the other) had acted reasonably and with the integrity you’d expect from even a random teenager – fun times. 

Needless to say, I’m a little on the grumbly side today. 

But, I’m determined not to let the Mondays ruin my positivity streak. Here are a couple good things, even if they are weaker than I’d care to acknowledge right now:

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing. Even though I’ve hit my weekly posting target all of this year, so far, it’s still not the regular, ingrained habit I’d like it to be. So I’m going to try bullet journaling. After reading quite a bit about the technique, I think it’ll kickstart a habit of writing that is distinct from my writing here. My theory is that if I have a habit of recording my thoughts in a couple of different media, the mental ‘muscle memory’ should fuel the habit of creative writing that I want to develop. We’ll see. If nothing else, I’ll have a fun time doodling in a new notebook. 😅
  2. I’m struggling with my taxes this year and don’t know why. I’ve been doing them online for eons without issue. I haven’t changed anything about my life or finances that would affect how I file. So I’m at a loss. However, instead of panicking, I used my reasoning brain and did what adults do and made an appointment with a tax preparer. I feel very grown-up with this decision (which is good, considering my age) and proud of myself for not stressing out over it. 
  3. I have successfully made it through half of Monday without strangling any sales reps. I count that as a win! 😉

I hope you have a great Monday and week, and find a few good things to balance all the annoyances you encounter along the way. 


It’s All Good 

This weekly posting goal is more of a challenge than it really should be, some days. I get so caught up in the bustle of every day life that writing about it doesn’t seem to even make the to-do list. Crazy how fast life seems to move. One day you’re busting your hump to get to vacation and before you know it, vacation is over and you’re back to the grind. Days slip by so fast when you have your head down jobbin’.  Almost so fast that you don’t realize how much energy you’re spending on the parts of your life that shouldn’t matter that much and how little time you’re spending actually living. 

But, it’s all good. It’s all about personal growth and moving forward. I’m still working on it, especially that posting goal. So, to that end, here’s a list of a few good, even great, things in my life lately. 

  1. I had an epically awesome time with a good friend last week. Getting away is always a refresher, but getting away to do nothing but enjoy the company of friends, relax and breathe is the best thing ever. Bookstores and libraries and board games and amazing meals and great company – what better way to spend theee days off?
  2. While I was visiting my friend, I was blessed to experience a community where Butch visibility was everywhere and welcomed. That is extremely rare in my life. You don’t know how much impact visibility has until you realize how absent it is in your daily life. Said another way, it is astounding how meaningful it can be to have your identity and presentation validated by seeing yourself represented in the every day public. Walking down the street or into a public space and seeing yourself in others, not compromised or edited, but exactly as you are on the faces and in the forms/bodies of total strangers, is profoundly moving. 
  3. Prosciutto mozzarella pesto sandwiches are my new obsession. They are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. 😉
  4. I got my performance evaluation today and my boss rated me higher than I rated myself overall and in 4 out of 5 core competencies. He said I set the standard for my role and for a senior leader for our company. He said my leadership has a material impact on my company’s success. So, basically… I’m AWESOME! 
  5. It’s almost Spring and there has been sunshine for at least part of every day this week. Sunshine lifts my spirits and turns my eyes to the sky to appreciate the heavens. This was the sunrise this morning as I arrived at my office:

I hope you are having a great week and take a moment to appreciate the number of great and good things in your life. Keep smiling, my friends!

Dobby is freeeeeee!!

Ok, so I’m no house elf. But it still feels amazing to be free of work in the middle of the day and middle of the week. Leaving my office when the sun is still up, much less high enough in the sky to need shades, is far too rare for me. 

I’m taking a few days off to visit a friend. Three whole days of nothing but hanging with a pal and having fun. No hoops to jump through, no corporate nonsense, no litigation demands, no sales people demanding my time, no crises to avert. Just leisure. 

Board games, yum things to eat, a movie, Butch bro time, and new friends to meet. This is gonna be epic!

Have a great week and weekend and find time to do something just for you!

Ultra-quick Positives

3 good things:

  1. Yesterday, there was sunshine and it got above 50F for the first time in months. I left my office early enough to enjoy the last rays. It was so warm walking to my truck that I took my coat off and enjoyed the warm for a few minutes. 
  2. I got to see The Black Panther movie. It’s awesome!
  3. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m taking the day off. Going to get my hairs cut and hang out at the bookstore and go out for dinner to this really cool place in the hip part of town. Just gonna chill and enjoy the day. 

I hope you find some good things to feel happy about this week. 

Me, in 3 socks

I love socks. The wilder the better. Bonus if they clash with my outfit. It’s my tiny rebellion against all the rules I live within.  A couple years ago, I stumbled on ‘statement socks’ and my fashion life was changed forever. 

Although I don’t believe a person can be 100% encapsulated by a few glib words, whether or not they’re written on socks, I think these three do a pretty good job of describing me in three quick words:

Ok, so “Jedi” is more aspirational at this point than I like to admit, but still a part of me. “Geek Butch” is my band name and spirit animal all in one. 

The fun thing about these socks is that I’m the only one who knows when I’m wearing them and they give me this secret boost, like a super power. Underneath my sharply creased jeans or chinos and button-down shirt with bow tie, there’s this secret message, like an altar ego, like Clark Kent’s “S” on his chest. And, at the end of the day when I pull them off my feet, there’s a faint outline of the word pressed into my skin from the different weave where the letters are. For a fleeting few minutes, I not only am feeling fine in my own skin, but my own skin names me perfectly. 

So…yay for goofy socks and finding philosophical meaning in textiles no one but me gets to see. 

I hope you have a great week ahead and find a little whimsy to spice up your imagination. 

Boss Positives

Continuing my focus on good things, positive things in my life, I thought I’d share a quick list of positive things related to my boss and job. 

  1. First, a bit of an ego boost. The other day my boss unintentionally (I think) paid me a really flattering compliment. He had come into my office to vent a little, as he was stressed and frustrated. After listening and finding a way to make him laugh, I offered to help with anything he could entrust to me. He looked at me a little oddly, but didn’t have anything for me. Then, a few hours later, he asked me to take on a project that was time sensitive and that he didn’t have time for right then. Then he said that I am the only other person in the company he’d trust with this, besides himself. Coming from an A-type, high-control personality, I take it as a very high compliment to have earned that level of trust. 
  2. On a related note, I count it as a significant accomplishment that my boss feels comfortable with me and trusts my discretion to such a degree that he will use me as a sounding board and vent to me the frustration that he feels constrained to discuss with others. It tells me that not only has my personal standard of integrity and discretion translated into a trust that he relies on, but that trust makes me as much an adviser as subordinate. Feels good to be relied on. 
  3. Lastly, I am happy to note that my boss values me as a contributor. I’ve been blessed with recognition and advancement, as I’ve written about before. That’s super motivating and gratifying. Validation of hard work and accomplishment is such an important part of fostering employee engagement. But my boss has gone a step further than validation, into advocacy. On a couple of separate occasions in the last few months, I’ve come to find out about instances of my boss advocating on my behalf. From taking up my arguments for funding an additional attorney on my team, to arguing to the board of directors for changes to equity programs that will benefit me and more of my employees, he’s been working hard to support me. I’ve always felt and acknowledged his support for me as a manager. It’s nice to also see the evidence of his support of me as an an individual employee. 

I hope you are having a great week and feeling appreciated and supported in all your endeavors. 

Thanks to the lady in pink…

Quick bonus post today, because it’s both ridiculous and a tiny bit sad, but also a positive…for me, at least. Here goes…

To the lady in the salmon-pink tee shirt ahead of me in the TSA security line, thank you. I watched from four places back as some rather disengaged TSA employees talked to you tersely and subjected you to repeated pat-downs and questions. I watched as you patiently turned first this way, then that way, then lifted each knee and extended each arm, never once complaining. I watched as you obeyed every curt direction and endured each small indignity. 

I want to thank you for all that you endured, not only because you did it with such aplomb and patience, but because your ordeal saved me from enduring an equally or more egregious indignity. Because their robotic, tone-deaf, leaden-footed examination of you caused such a back-up in the line, TSA took several of us through the standard metal detector instead of the body scan, which allowed me to avoid the automatic extra pat-down and search that happens for me every time I fly. 

I feel a bit conflicted that I benefited from your discomfort and inconvenience. I don’t like to think that a total stranger suffered in my place. (Something a bit biblical in that sentiment that I’ll have to examine later.) At the same time, however, I’m exceptionally grateful not to have had to stand even longer, permitting strangers to touch me under the scrutiny of a crowd of onlookers who I imagine are critical and casting silent aspersions my way for the delay caused by this process. 

You see, my size and gender expression hit two of the top three leading indicators for the profiling of passengers that goes on, unacknowledged and even denied, in American airports. On top of that, the additional friction in the system arising from the general lethargy and disengagement of security workers (in my experience, at least) make my flying experience almost always dismally bad. 

But because you endured that in my place, my flight tonight, after a very tiring and mentally taxing two days of business meetings, has been a much better experience (so far) than I’ve had in a long time. 

So, thanks to the lady in pink, from a grateful Big Butch. 

Quick Hits

The last couple of days I’ve been in offsite meetings for my company’s customer experience steering committee. We’re planning action plans for this year. One of the buzzwords/phrases bandied about the most is “quick hit”. It’s not a new or unusual phrase; we’ve been hearing it for years. But it has stood out this week because of its association with agility and measuring success. There’s an underlying assumption that if we have rapid task completion, we show we’re winning against the goal.

I think there’s plenty of room to debate the truth or value of that approach. For example, does this prioritize optics over outcome? Speed over quality? Will the ultimate objective of improving customer experience be achieved in such shallow scoops? But wherever you land on those judgments, it’s hard to argue that the fact that there is a ‘win’ against a part of the challenge in a short sprint is a powerful motivator.

So, in that spirit, here’s a list of quick positivity hits from my life that I wanted to share with you. I think the win in this is two-fold: I post something to keep my streak alive, and by focusing on positive things, we all get a morale boost. So here’s 5 good things for which I’m grateful:

1. I’m over the plague and feel so much better! Freedom of breathing is nothing to take for granted.

2. Friends and colleagues who show you in tangible ways that they care about you are such a spirit-lifter. Over the past month, I’ve been blessed to have these spontaneous reminders of support in some really delightful ways. Simple things like a catch-up lunch with a friend, a text to just say hi or express thanks for some small kindness, an email from a colleague to check on you when you’re absent, a smile and a pat on the back to acknowledge your effort. These gestures are so easy and usually costless, but have such a big impact on the recipient. I’ve had all of these lately and am so grateful and humbled by the care expressed.

3. Sunshine is also powerful medicine for the soul. I got a welcome few minutes of bright sun, blue skies and a tasty meal yesterday at lunch. Having left 3+ inches of snow and single-digit temps at home, the 70 degree lunch on a patio by the bay was a real treat.

4. A kind compliment on my style (bow tie and button-up with jeans and boots) from three separate random strangers in the space of a week has me feeling really confident and good in my gender presentation. That’s a novel experience for me, one I’m grateful for.

5. I’m looking forward to a visit with a good friend in a couple weeks. A few days of just hanging with a pal is a rare treat. Can’t wait!

I hope you are having a great week and finding comfort and inspiration in the positive little things in your life.

Faith Vindicated 

I started writing a post this morning after reading a particularly troubling exchange on a chat group I’m a part of. I was heavy-hearted and disappointed, believing I was going to have to quit the group. I titled it “Naivity Disappointed”. My premise focused on what I called my naive optimism and how it had been proven false by the misbehavior of a few members, and the indifference of the moderators. I covered how I had let myself believe that the warm welcome and support I initially experienced when joining this group was universal among its members and would be lasting. Then I described how that naive belief was disappointed in the space of a few insensitive member posts and a single, crushingly dismissive response by the moderator. 

That draft post was a lament, a cry to the universe at the injustice I felt I was suffering. I wanted to express how painful it is to realize that all the hard work I’ve done to maintain a soft heart and a true faith in the basic goodness of my fellow humans through a lifetime of difficult experiences is worthless. 

Then I went to work and spent the day focusing on doing hard, important, substantive work. It felt good, especially because I’ve been down with the plague (bad cold), and took my mind off the bitter disappointment. So I didn’t see the follow-up exchange that happened in the chat group this afternoon until I got home. 

I try always to acknowledge when I’ve made a mistake, so that’s what I’m doing. I was mistaken about the moderator’s motives and indifference. I misjudged him and have personally apologized to him for it, even though he had no way of knowing what was still only in my head. 

Here’s what happened: 

A few days ago, a member of the chat group used “gay” as a slur in a group chat. It was more than the run of the mill, yet still wrong, use of the term as a substitute for stupid or less-than. It was an epithet, a weaponized, white-hot, buzz word flung with malice and intent to wound. I called foul by very politely and professionally asking the person to stop using that word to erase and invalidate the identity of an entire population of people for the sake of a weak punchline. I also suggested that a thesaurus might come in handy, if they couldn’t think of another way to express disfavor. The person flaired up defensively, justifying his remarks as joking sarcasm that should be transparent to everyone in the group. The mod then made some comments that seemed, at first, to support my request, but ended in an apathetic shrug of a comment that included the phrase “if you don’t like it, leave”. I misinterpreted that last bit as directed at both me and the other poster. 

I have been stewing a little over that comment ever since. This group is otherwise pretty neat. It’s a chat group focused on a new hobby I wrote about last year: begleri. (It’s a skill toy, two beads and a string, used to keep the hands busy.) Because this is still a relatively unknown skill toy, the community of “slingers” is pretty sparse. When I stumbled on this group, I was ecstatic that there were so many involved. Most of the discussion has been extremely interesting and helpful for those with lesser experience, like me. There are a lot of really talented players and they’ve all been really free with their tips and tricks. So, when I felt that the moderator was dismissive of a serious display of bigotry and insensitivity, I thought I’d have to give up the group. That made me both angry and sad. 

Then this morning’s exchange among a few of the members rehashed the earlier discussion and made some very unkind, derogatory comments about me and trashed the whole subject as some kind of “liberal bulls***”, suggesting that anyone offended by the gay slur should f-off and…you get the gist. I’ll admit to being hurt by it all, not least because not a single moderator jumped in to attempt any kind of discipline. 

So I started my draft post and then went to work. But when I got home, intending to finish my rant and then post it in anger, I decided to check back on the conversation. 

I’m so glad I did. My faith in the basic decency of people has been vindicated. I shouldn’t have given in to despair. 

The very moderator whom I had judged dismissive had walked into the conversation during the day. He started with a mild reminder of the community rules and a request to stop the abusive language. When that was ignored, he blazed! Jumped in with both feet and delivered a civics lesson in text form that my Sociology professor would have been proud of. Ending with a commitment to ban anyone who continued to use abusive slurs, he reminded everyone that the gay and trans members of the chat community have as much right to participate (without fear of abuse) as any others. I was never so happy to be wrong about someone as I was today. 

Mr. Moderator, as I’ve told you separately, I was wrong and I misjudged you. Thank you for supporting true inclusion and restoring my faith in humanity, even those who are just online strangers. 

The Plague

I don’t know why I’m the least bit surprised. It happens every year. Go to Global Kickoff, come back with the plague. It’s binary. Expected. 

Only this year, I loaded up on AirBorne and vitamins, drank all the water and was well rested before I went. Even took the rarest of rare direct flights going and coming. This year, I was gonna avoid the plague. 
Nope. No such luck. It just lay in wait to ambush me in the middle of the week. It waited until I felt safe, until I believed I had won. Then…BAM! Laid low by the common cold. 

No voice, fire in my throat, banging headache, freezing and wheezing, I’m a mess. So I’m posting this self-indulgence of a post to keep the streak going, before going back to bed. 

I hope your February is starting better than mine and that you avoid the plague this winter. 

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