Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Tag

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. 

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. 

IRL Friends Rock

I may have indicated in prior posts that I don’t have a lot of friends in my daily life (“in real life” or IRL). Tons of friends online (whom I’ve sadly neglected since quitting social media after the Dark Day In November better known as the US Presidential Election of 2016), but only a scarce few whom I see day to day. So IRL encounters with my (mostly) online friends are rare and special. 

Last week, while traveling on business, I was lucky to get to spend time with a couple who have been wonderful friends to me, especially in their support during my coming out. Not only did we have a great meal at a cool place in the community, supporting an LGBT local business, but the sheer delight in seeing their smiling faces, hearing their news and sharing real experiences together was truly enriching. 
Then, later in the week, they graciously welcomed me into their home to be a part of a fun cultural experience. It was Robert Burns Night and I was privileged to partake in my friends’ first Burns Night supper hosted in their new home. Yes folks, I ate “haggis, neeps, and tatties” and enjoyed it very much. I also listened to two Burns poems recited in an authentic Scottish brogue by a genuine Scotswoman, geeking out appropriately. The food was delicious. The company was outstanding in their gracious hospitality and festive spirit. The experience was a once-in-a-lifetime joy that will bolster my spirits through the rest of this dreary, cold winter. 

In a setting as lovely as Southern California in January, and with the kindness of friends with whom to share part of the week, I could not fail to have thoroughly enjoyed my trip. In addition to these festivities, I found time every day to sit outside and soak up a little sunshine, storing it away for those grey, chilly winter days to come. The sunshine and friend-time made an otherwise tedious business trip, filled with demanding sales people, bearable. 

Here’s to IRL friends and stolen moments in the sunshine!

Vanity, thy name is Butch

Ok, here’s a quick one…

I believe the old adage that confession is good for the soul –  it builds character to admit to weaknesses and foibles. So here’s my confession:  I froze my head today out of sheer vanity. 

The middle of January in the American Midwest means it’s coooooold outside. Not just chilly. Frigid. The kind of cold that goes bone-deep and stays there. Windy, cutting, painful cold. That’s why I normally bundle up, with a hat, scarf, gloves and leather coat. 

But I had a great hair day today! Most days the best I get is just ok hair. But today I had stylish, shapely, awesome, quintessentially butch hair. Paired with a crisply pressed dress shirt and a rockin’ bow tie and Levi’s that are just the right shade of blue and new leather boots…I had the rare experience of feeling truly dapper, authentically Butch. 

I just couldn’t bring myself to crush that great hair with my stocking cap. So my head and ears froze and ached most of the day. But, man! I totally nailed the dapper thing, so it was worth it. 

I’ll wear the vanity label if it means I get a chance at another great hair day. 😎

Lightbulb Moments

 Today’s list-y post (because I’m slammed at work but determined to post something to my neglected blog before this year ends) is slightly different. Instead of a few quick things I want you to know, I’m sharing a few things that I guess I’ve just fully realized. They’re things I think I’ve known or have taken for granted, but am now conscious of and actively trying to assimilate into my waking experience. You could say the lightbulb has finally lit in my brain on a couple things. 
1. Life’s not fair. So, so obvious. Yet my fairness bone, that deeply ingrained impulse to equity and fair play, still screams at me and ignites a flame of indignation in my chest when unfair, unjust things happen. Fairness is very real in my mind and soul. So the lightbulb moment here is not that life’s not fair, but that fairness isn’t a requirement for life to go on. I’m working on finding ways to stay true to the belief that fair, just, and equitable treatment is possible and something to strive for, while accepting that injustice and just plain crappy things happen and we have to do what we can to cope with that reality. 

2. No one likes a whiner. Yet everyone expects you to listen to their whining. It’s a corollary to #1 above. (So much in life comes back to that lesson, I’m discovering.) But the secret is that you get to choose whether to let them make their problem your problem. Will you be a sounding board and sympathetic ear, smile (if appropriate) and just let them vent before sending them on their way? Or will you be a “sin-eater”, the sacrificial soul who takes on the burden of the confessor and strives to solve the difficulties of those who complain? Lightbulb: you have the agency to choose either role at any time. 

3. Guilt is a very poor guidance counselor. Many cultures have what I think of as a guilt ethic, an emotional engine that drives progress or obedience or any number of aspirational outcomes through inculcated guilt disassociated with wrongdoing. Indeed, the key to this ‘tool’ is evoking a sense of guilt about thoughts, actions, decisions that are good or right or appropriate for the do-er, but viewed as either selfish or harsh or less-than-optimally compassionate. The idea being that doing the “right” thing never has negative consequences for anyone outside of yourself. In this context, guilt is a lie. My lightbulb moment in this arena is this: negative reinforcement, tough-love, proportionate consequences, and hard-knock lessons are real and have a place in life, and this reality is not inconsistent with, nor mutually exclusive to, altruism, selflessness, or virtue. Neither is self-care a sin for which guilt is appropriate. You can be both helpful and say no. You can choose to to let the consequences of others’ poor choices, the sting of the small failure, happen so that the big, crushing failure won’t happen later on. None of that makes you a monster. 

Best wishes for the end of this hard year and sincere hopes that the new year brings all good things to you and yours. Thanks for reading. 

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