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29 Days: Rest

Making progress against this nasty cold. The best thing about today has been resting in the quiet of my own home, no bustle or pressure to be “on” for anyone. That’s a great thing. 

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29 Days: Off and running 

A few days ago I posted about my desire to reboot my commitment to this blog and to finding positive motivation, joy in my life. I put myself on a month-long program to post something every day and find at least one good thing (OGT) in every day in the month of February.  

Today I begin. 

Which is appropriate, since I’m at my company’s sales kickoff for this year, which also began today. As is the way with any type of rally, spirits are running high and there’s a general feeling of opportunity and positivity and possibility. Like most people, I love that shared social high. It seems like a springboard, a big ol’ boost of energy that makes every task seem achievable, easy. 

But even if it’s not easy and achieving all the goals will take a lot of work, I am encouraged by the fact that the company recognizes the value of the mountain-top experience and invests in this event on behalf of the employees. It sets the tone for the rest of the year. And the time spent by the executives, listening and interacting, underscores the importance of this event and the messages being promoted here. 

Setting aside the hype and adrenaline of this event spectacle, the substantive information, the theme and tone and the networking opportunity that this event represents reaffirm my belief in my company’s direction. And that’s a very good thing. 

29 days, a day early 

So here goes with the positivity reboot.  I’m starting a day early because I have a really easy and totally awesome ‘one good thing’ (OGT). 

I’ve been on a business trip since Thursday, working with a big group of leaders from my company on a strategic planning exercise. It’s been a stretch for me, as I’m a fact-based, legal-minded, linear thinker and this has been more of an ideation, thought experiment exercise. Very interesting and challenging and nerve wracking. The presentation of our results to the CEO and entire executive leadership team had me on edge. But it all went well and our work was well received. 

Then last night we had a dinner with the executives as a wrap-up to the planning event (and for some of us, a segue into our annual global sales conference). Fancy restaurant, lots of networking and some nice food. Then, before dessert, the CEO turned it into a ceremony for those being promoted into the senior and executive leadership teams. 

I was one of them. The Senior Vice President promotion I’ve been working so hard for is finally official. I can’t even describe how validating and wonderful it is to be recognized in this way by my boss in front of all the senior executives of my company. It’s a huge ego boost. 

I’m walking quite a bit taller today! And that is definitely OGT for more than just today. 

Daily Prompt: Bookworms

Daily Prompt: Bookworms

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOOKS.

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This WordPress Daily Prompt from last weekend (I think, eeep!) really caught my interest. Sometimes writing just to write is hard for me. But this prompt is fun.

The 10th word in the book I grabbed was “hands”. When I Googled the word for a pic, I was immediately struck by how expressive the photos and drawings were. I think I must overlook or ignore how expressive a person’s hands can be. Because seeing all those representations of hands, and the expressions I perceive in them, was shocking to me.

It shouldn’t have been, considering how central to the human experience hands are. Heck, there are whole languages spoken only with the hands; American Sign Language is only one of several. We even pride ourselves as a species on the construction of our hands as a differentiator among other species in the Animal Kingdom: opposable thumbs.

And the variety of hand-related metaphors, idioms and adages is wide: right-hand man; left-handed compliment; on the one hand; hand out; helping hand; hand up; hands down; hand me down; behind-hand; by a hands-breadth; back handed; hand of the devil; idle hands are the devil’s playground; hand-holding (coddling); right hand to heaven; stage hand; well in hand; and a plethora of others.

The point being that hands are important to human expression.

This is true even beyond literal substitution and replication of discrete words and letters by hand gestures. Although that is certainly higher-order expression, plenty of complex messages are conveyed in the abstract or representationally by the hands. Whole images and ideas can be expressed in a single gesture.

Non-verbal expressions of emotion and connection through the use of hands abound, with different meanings in different cultures. For example, laying a hand on someone’s shoulder when addressing them in conversation can have a range of meaning and significance within cultures and across cultures, running the gamut from support, care, concern, and attraction, to attention, dominance, submission, friendship, reprimand and confrontation. All of that with a single touch of the hand in a given context.

Let’s not forget the significance of hands to personal relationships, either. Greetings, expressions of emotion, invitations of various types, and a variety of signals, all delivered with the hands, all facilitate human interaction on a level different from verbal communication. A handshake, a hug, a pat on a cheek can make a person welcome, express affection or love, happiness, sorrow and belonging (sometimes all at once). Taking a person’s hand can extend a welcome, seal a transaction, convey support, or lay down a challenge. And the number and variety of hand signals to signify assent, give direction, identify affiliation with a particular group, or emphasize a point, is astonishing.

I’m amazed at how much meaning is derived from the posture in which a hand appears. Google returned an initial result of well over 2,000 distinct images. I’ve chosen just a few that ‘spoke’ to me of expression.

What do you see in these? What do you say to others with your hands, perhaps without even realizing it?

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Small Words

I find words fascinating. There are so many words that mean almost but not quite the same thing. Subtlety, nuance in spoken and written word thrill my inner word nerd. Picking the right word and saying it in just the right way…nirvana! Rhythm, assonance, rhyme, cadence, timber and tone are all facets of verbal mastery, and I adore the chase for that perfection.

Ever since I was the pesky little sister and my older brothers found peace while babysitting by handing me a dictionary and requiring me to learn ten new words before I could ask any more questions, I’ve been hooked on words. Big or small, rare or common, words are the keys to unlock a universe of possibilities. Of course, words can create whole new worlds to explore right in the comfort of your own mind or in the pages of a favorite book. But the same words, assembled in different ways, can form a love sonnet, a letter of rejection, a pledge of allegiance, or a declaration of war. Words are versatile and powerful and…fascinating.

Four years of studying Latin gave me an appreciation for the roots of the English language and an ability to decipher linguistic patterns and puzzles. I’ve been fortunate to build a broad and varied vocabulary through study at all levels of my education, as well as through observation in daily life. Learning and using new words or learning to use old words in new ways is almost a sport for me.

Law school was both a pleasure and torturous when it came to my love of words. It was a joy to learn amazing new terms and unique and specialized uses for old stand-by words. But law professors delight in squeezing every ounce of literary and linguistic creativity out of you, forcing you to write and speak in the simplest and fewest words possible. It was a valuable, yet painfully paradoxical, lesson in communication.

Part of that ‘less-is-more’ mind-set still lingers. I may stray into the verbose, using complex sentences in this blog. (It is, after all, my special spot to park all the thoughts boiling in my brain.) But I still appreciate simple words and short sentences. Clear communication is always my goal. That’s part of why I’ve developed a love of small words.

Oh, it’s definitely fun to use complex, multi-syllable words…they’re great tools for wow-ing some, confusing others and confounding foe and friend alike. But there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to say exactly what you mean, using simple, plain words.

Small words have big impact, big power. Some of the most powerful word combinations I have ever experienced are short, plain sentences of only a few small words:

I love you.
I wish you were here.
You are strong.
Please help me.
Be still.
You matter.
It gets better.
I’m here for you.
We can do it together.
You are right.
I miss you.
I need you.
You make me smile.
I was wrong.
I’m sorry.

One of the reasons I’ve taken such a liking to Twitter is that the 140-character limit forces me to express myself succinctly. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a new-found appreciation for micro-poetry, for much the same reason. Simple direct communication is a gift. Speaking your thoughts, sharing your feelings in plain words is a powerful form of intimacy. People respond to pure expression. I love that!

So, join me…let’s go use some small words to say some big things.

Saturday Quick Hit

So, I’ve been belly-aching about working too hard and long days. And I’m a believer of not complaining if you aren’t gonna do something about it. For me, a good solution to over-work is a little play time. Today seemed a good time for that mental break.

I spent some time with my sister-in-law and a few of our art friends, having a creativity day. What a great time! Good conversation, lots of laughs and good-natured ribbing. But no drama, no negativity, and tons of creative sharing. Lots of variety, too. A couple people worked on torches creating lampworked glass beads. I worked with wire. Another did clean-up/finish work on some fused glass projects she had started previously. Lots of really amazing talent among my friends and family. I’m blessed to get to watch them in action.

My projects for today were two wire-wrapped pendants. One is a moss agate stone wrapped in copper wire. The other is picture jasper wrapped in silver wire. I had a lot of fun making them. And the best part was the seven hours of down-time with fun people and not a single thought about my job. 😉

Here’s hoping your Saturday was a blast!

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Annoyed

I was tweeting about this earlier and wanted to explore it just a bit. I’ve been in management training this week. Now, I admit that being unable to keep up with my regular work load, on top of having to listen to the touchy–feely consultant-speak all week, predisposes me to crankiness. Add to that the bone tiredness I talked about in yesterday’s post, and I’m a little on the prickly side. I acknowledge this. So perhaps my story today is slightly colored by this pre-existing grumpiness.

Still, I was hella annoyed during class today.

A dozen professionals from different organizations within my company, all trying to lift up managerial skill. We’re all veterans of the company and experienced pros. So you’d think we could all sit through the seminars, participate appropriately and do everything we can to get to the end as quickly as we can.

But no, there’s always one who has to stink up the works. Today’s gem is a self-satisfied, middle-aged middle manager. He has been increasingly talkative all week, but today was an order of magnitude worse. Dude would NOT shut up! And no one else could say or do anything that was correct to him. He was right about everything and everyone else needed to benefit from his expertise. Healthy debate is great, but this guy argued just to hear the sound of his own voice.

I’m not proud that by 3pm I had given up all pretense of civility and just let the snark flow. I wasn’t alone. Still, his annoying existence isn’t an excuse for my rudeness. I know this. I’m disappointed that I fell to his level. Yet, I’m still tweaked about the whole thing.

What I’m struggling to parse out is why. It’s normal to be pissed off when someone is rude. But you get over it after grinding your teeth for a minute and move on. That’s my normal pattern. In this case, though, hours have passed and his condescending, sneering voice is still in my head.

What bugs me the most is that he’s succeeded after the fact in what he was unable to do during class: silence my response. In class, I refused to let him stifle me; even if mine wasn’t the last word, I always made my point despite his obstructionism. But now, his arrogant and ignorant assertions are rattling around inside my head, where I can’t refute or silence them with informed disagreement. Ugh, it’s frustrating! Even worse is that I know that only I can let someone get under my skin–no one can ‘make’ me feel a certain way. So, not only has he poisoned my peace of mind, he’s co-opted my own inner voice to do it. Geez!

Ah well, I’ll get over it, eventually. It just irks me that a jerk can get inside my head and affect my mood, even though he’s not even in my presence. Grrr!

Yes, yes I am!

OMG, you guys!! I tweeted a bit earlier, but I’m so excited I just have to share.

So, first a tiny bit of back-story: I’ve been with my company for quite a few years and have, for all of that time, had to lead from the back. Seriously, my managers (3 so far, plus two,step-managers) have all been slackers to varying degrees. But, last year I was given a shot at managing a big team for the first time. I’ve done a good job and been recognized for it along the way.

But today, it got soooooooo much better!! My CLO (chief legal officer) called out my accomplishments in a hugely complimentary & public way. Not only a big pat on the back, but also a huge opportunity for much more responsibility & advancement. He removed the last hurdle between me and an executive leadership position!!! Now it’s up to me. My professional destiny is now 100% in my own hands.

Ahh, validation of all my hard work! Sweet!

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