Archive for the ‘love’ Tag

Little Joys

This week was marked by ups and downs both big and small, both personal to me and touching the world. When emotions are as strained as they have been this week, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal and get lost in the weeds of distraction. And when there is a huge weight of emotional burden, it is sometimes hard to see the lighter, more joyous points in life.

But, as wise ones have pointed out throughout history, taking joy in the small things, relishing the richness found in the details as well as the big picture, makes life worth living. So, as I continue on my determined path of self discovery and improvement, I make an effort to acknowledge some of the good little things that alone carry no profound weight, but in aggregate easily out mass the creeping sludge that threatens to taint every lovely thing.

Here are three good things that I’m clinging to this week that help keep darkness at bay and lets the light of the little joys shine the brighter:

  1. Yesterday began in the dark hours with more news of more senseless tragedy for the world to cope with. But, as is the dispassionate way of the universe, the planet continued to rotate and revolve. And by the time I reached my office building, the sun began to rise. The beautiful sight was a balm for a troubled heart. I hope you find it soothing, as well.
  2. Sometimes a kind word or a quietly supportive message from someone whose voice you respect can be better medicine than any treatment devised by science. A friend gave me the great gift of letting me “be real” with them, without judgement and without trying to fix me, in a moment when my spirit was at a low ebb. That kind of validation of one’s vulnerability is a precious commodity in my experience.
  3. Other times you just need a new pair of shoes. Or, in my case, boots. I ordered and received these weeks ago, but haven’t wanted to wear them in the snow and muck. But the snow is gone and today there is sunshine and birdsong and a chance to make this a good day. So I’m wearing new boots and my favorite bow tie and venturing out for coffee in the presence of other humans.

Have a happy Saturday, friends. May you find small joys to make the big moments rich.

Learning from Disappointment

Everyone gets disappointed from time to time. Sometimes it’s mild, like when you have your tastebuds all set for the remembered flavor of some particular favorite treat (such as apricot filled croissants), only to find them sold out for the day. Bummer, but you move on without true damage. Sometimes it’s so significant that it almost doesn’t count as disappointment anymore; rather it’s basically trauma.

But then there’s the middle ground, where the bulk of everything in life happens. Disappointment is no different. There’s this bulk quantity of circumstances that fall between those two extremes, the disappointment that has lasting meaning in your life. These are the ones that change your outlook on things, that make you change behavior and sometimes aspects of your personality.

Teaching moments, they’re sometimes called. Lessons that last…if you’re willing to learn. And that doesn’t have to be bitter or hard or sad. Being wiser and better equipped to deal with the same or similar circumstances in the future can still be a positive outcome.

Yet, the positive outcome doesn’t change the fact of your disappointment. The disappointment still stings. It’s initial bitterness is no less sharp before any mellowing that assimilation of the lesson may provide. This is particularly true when the disappointment comes from people close to your heart, when it’s their actions or words that deliver the blow to your hope or steal the joy from your soul.

Lessons from hopes dashed by changed circumstances or from the ugliness of the anonymous world in general can be hard and painful, sure. But there’s a special flavor of heartache when someone you love, respect and rely on (whether that love is familial, friendly, or romantic) does or says something that cuts you, disappoints your understanding of them and your shared bond, or tramples your beliefs.

I’m struggling with a string of coincidental disappointments, all from people close to me and whom I have respected and continue to respect. Working on separating my hurt feelings from the circumstances so that I can glean the lessons I believe are just under that tangled surface is proving to be very difficult. Not least because a part of me fears that the lessons will include some from of:

  1. Your original beliefs were stupid so your disappointment is deserved.
  2. Your hurt feelings are misplaced because you didn’t deserve a different experience.
  3. What you’re really disappointed about is that you didn’t do/say/act that way yourself because you are too [insert derisive descriptor of choice here].

You see, the nature of these particular disappointments feed straight into the middle of the deepest areas of insecurity lurking in my brain where the traitorous internal critic holds court: a friend who has ghosted me, a rejection from someone I hoped to get close with, a leader’s disparate treatment to the detriment of my team, and a demonstration by a respected elder that racism and misogyny live too close to me for comfort.

All these things fuel my internal critic’s loudest voice: you’re not worthy.

So untangling the lessons is a more complicated challenge than usual. I’m trying to be as objective as I can, making allowances for context I could be missing or the always-likely struggle of the other person of which I am unaware. Yet the line between making allowances and making excuses that enable the poor behavior is often too fine to detect.

So right now, the only lessons I have been able to bring into focus are: everyone has flaws, so don’t lose sight of the good despite those foibles; and just because you’re not worthy of those specific things, don’t give up on other possibilities. I’m still picking at the tangle, hopeful that one day I’ll have clarity enough to see more of the silver lining in all of it. Until then, just gotta keep trying to keep going.

Happy Holiday

I had a really wonderful Christmas Day, spent with some of my family and supplemented with texts and calls and emails from others who couldn’t be with us in person. My brother, sister-in-law and I surprised my niece and her son by showing up after pretending we couldn’t make it. It was the first Christmas in their new home and it was fun to be a part of that celebration.

Being together, enjoying each other and the gifts of love and laughter shared was amazing.

It’s all too easy to take those things for granted and prioritize the material gifts of the holiday above those essential interpersonal blessings. I am certainly guilty of that. But seeing smiling faces, getting hugs and joy from these precious people, brought that lesson home to me this year more than in recent years past. And that’s a wonderful gift, too.

Whether you have or are celebrating any holiday this winter, my hope for you is that the rich blessings in your life be made evident and you celebrate the gifts of the loved ones in your own hearts.

Holiday Positives

I’ve been on vacation since Tuesday. It’s been a great break from the stressful routine I’ve been living for months on end. Some good things from this trip:

  1. Quick, comfortable, uneventful direct flight to Seattle and an equally peaceful drive over the mountain pass.
  2. Welcome hugs and pampering.
  3. Board games and movies and great catch-up chats.
  4. Wonderful holiday meal with family and new friends, including the best warm hugs from my beautiful new great niece and nephew who just joined our family last year.
  5. Unexpected support and validation in place of the hard questioning I expected from one person in particular. So surprised that I lost my ability to speak for a minute, but regained my composure and had a great conversation filled with gratitude and encouragement.

And because happiness is savored most when the hard bits are acknowledged and then set aside, here are a few no-context things to make the light shine brighter by their dark contrast:

  • 1 year and 20 days
  • Sleeping shouldn’t be this hard
  • Watching people you love age is both glorious and devastating

Thankful

As I get ready for a long awaited, highly anticipated vacation, I thought I’d toss up a quick post to keep the streak alive. Also, I want to try to return to my goal of positivity and gratitude. It is Thanksgiving week in the US and I have much for which to give thanks. So, here is a list of some of the many things and people in my life that I am grateful for and that I count among the best blessings I’ve received.

  1. My loved ones, beginning with my siblings and their families. My brothers, especially, have blessed me with love and kindness and examples of how to be good a leader and a good human. My sisters in law have blessed me with all these things and with tender care and an appreciation for the love that’s uniquely expressed by the labor of loving hands, whether through cooking, cleaning, sewing, art and craftswomanship, even warm hugs when I’ve needed them most. Also my beloved friends who are as chosen family, with their acceptance and validation and solidarity and encouragement. Above all, this love of wonderful people is a treasure for which I am thankful daily.
  2. Freedom. It wasn’t and isn’t free. The physical and emotional and political and psychological labor of so many, in so many capacities and across decades and centuries and in moments as recent as today, these gifts are priceless. And I’m grateful to be the beneficiary of all this work and sacrifice.
  3. Prosperity. Though I have labored hard and long in my life and earned the fruits of that work, I know that my work in isolation is meaningless. For all the work of all whose efforts have contributed, both the seen and unseen, I am thankful.
  4. Challenge. If everything was easy, I could not know the depth of satisfaction of my accomplishments nor the true cost of any achievement. To be challenged intellectually, professionally, politically, socially, even emotionally is a blessing whose worth is viewed in hindsight and measured from the steppes of maturity. I’m grateful to have overcome challenge and learned to welcome new ones.
  5. Leisure. It is a privilege and a great gift to have freedom and means to enjoy free time and the varied and wonderful opportunities for fun and relaxation. I’m grateful for a chance this week to step away from the cares and demands of my work, travel to a beautiful place, spend time with family, and enjoy time doing only things that bring us joy.

I hope there is much you can be thankful for this week and always. Enjoy your abundance, my friends and I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Conference Goodness

I’ve been in Washington DC all week for the 2018 Women, Influence and Power in Law conference. It’s been an amazing experience. Not only have I been privileged to hear women speakers from the top of their respective professions speak on risk taking, leading with authenticity, and choosing integrity over expediency, I’ve had the pleasure of being surrounded by intelligent, engaged and passionate professional women from all over the nation. And getting to spend time in substantive conversation with a few of these incredible women has definitely been a highlight to a truly great professional experience.

Topping these huge bonuses is the friend time I’ve been lucky to have this week as well. A good friend has recently moved to this area and we were able to get together for dinner and a visit to the FDR Monument in the middle of the week. Enhancing the goodness was the pleasure of meeting my friend’s lovely partner for the first time. She is a kind and beautiful person whose love for my friend glows in every interaction. I can’t be any more deliriously happy for them. I’m looking forward to a great Saturday outing with them as well.

Opportunity to travel for professional development, experiencing world-class speakers, keeping company with hundreds of amazing women, and time with a great friend…what more could I ask for in a business trip? Nothing. It’s been perfect. Heaps of very good things!

Long Weekend Spectacular

Oh, my! I just had the best holiday weekend I’ve had in recent memory. And though I’m facing a particularly stressful few weeks at work, beginning tomorrow, I’m happy, replete with relaxation and fun memories.

Here are some highlights, all of which count high on the “good thing” index:

1. Hours of meaningful conversation with a good friend. We’ve known each other for several years and share similar identities and some life experiences and I never cease to be amazed by her positivity and friendly kindness. This weekend allowed us to catch up on some big life events happening for her and share some moments of real connection that I’ve desperately needed of late.

2. New acquaintances. New friends include a delightful family and the most adorable couple, all friends of my friend. We had lovely meals and incredible conversations with each of them, covering a spectrum of topics that included faith, acceptance, identity, gender, and everything in between. Laughing with these new friends was pure joy and I’m so glad I had that opportunity.

3. Food adventures galore! My friend has a lot of experience living outside of the US, so has an appreciation for a broad array of cuisines. Mediterranean and Persian top the list and I’ve enjoyed trying shawarma, falafel, kubideh, knafeh (a creamy confection topped with something like crispy shredded wheat), and something I believe is called shouiebieh (a sweet, filled pancake-like pastry). We also had amazing, authentic Italian food, and a superb charcuterie board at an amazing art museum. But perhaps the most out-there food experience and the one I enjoyed the most for the fun, relaxed atmosphere, was at the most amazing coffee shop I’ve ever visited. Not only did I get a huge caffeine buzz from something called pembertino, a drink consisting of a Mexican Coke mixed with cold espresso and vanilla – sublime – but I also had gourmet toast with amazing hand-crafted cream cheese with a Hungarian red pepper spread, and another with pimento cheese spread unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. All of that amazing goodness was served with the warmest smiles from some of the friendliest baristas I’ve ever encountered.

4. Life-affirming and identity-validating attention from a community of people that welcomed me immediately and treated me so well it was hard to leave. The experience was beyond my vocabulary to describe, but warm, caring, fun, frivolous, deep, meaningful, compassionate, and flattering to the point of embarrassment at times, feature prominently among the words I’d use if I tried to recreate what I felt. And despite my deep and immediate embarrassment, I cannot deny that the singular and most flattering experience of being called a silver fox by a beautiful femme who was, innocently, trying (successfully) to make me blush, was an instant ego-boost.

5. A reconnection with faith. Although I was skeptical, I agreed to be open-minded and went with my friend to church on Sunday. It was a non-sectarian denomination I’d never heard of before, but was assured was bible-based and inclusive. Their message and mission, as stated on their website, was encouraging and I’ve been wanting to get back to faith for a long time. The sermon, together with the warm welcome and the obvious love that the preacher and congregation had for God and for each other, went a long way toward helping me find the courage to explore that part of my heart again. I’m not going to put any pressure or expectations on myself about this. But I’m going to think about what I heard this Sunday and keep an open mind about doing more work in this area.

6. Bonus: Table top games & Chewbacca and the Droids I Was Looking For! I love games so much and we played a couple that I’d never tried before. And, wonder of wonders, I actually won a couple!! Woot! And, also, plus! We went to this amazing exhibit of Star Wars costumes at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Incredible experience! Costumes from most of the movies and many of the most interesting characters, including R2D2, C3PO, BB-8 and Chewbacca, my faves!

It’s back to work tomorrow and I’ll no-doubt be under the gun almost immediately. But this last few days was a bucket-load of blessing that has recharged my spirit so much that I’m confident I can float through the rest of the week on the emotional energy…and caffeine…that this holiday weekend provided.

Epic Day!

Not only is this the first Saturday of Summer (unofficially, I guess) and it was suitably hot and sunny, but today was the culmination of a 6+ month long labor of love that ended in an incredibly awesome experience. 

This year marks my brother and sister-in-law’s 40th wedding anniversary. They are two of the most amazing people I know. Generous, kind and hard-working are words that only describe some of their best qualities. They’re not perfect, but they work hard at being good people and loving of their family and friends. 

Because they’re so dear to us all, our family (our older brother and his wife, my nephew and his wife and daughter, my niece and her son, and me)  surprised them with the gift of a motorhome. It’s been a dream of theirs for decades. We thought this a fitting gift for commemorating their forty years together and honoring their loving kindness to all of us. And it’s just in time for their summer road trip to see the grandkids.

The surprise was epic! At first they thought the RV with a bow on it parked next to our house was part of the massive graduation party going on next door. But when my brother asked if it was mine, and I said “Nope, it’s yours”, the stunned surprise on their faces was priceless! It was so fun to watch them explore it, exclaiming over all the fun little features and neat gadgets it contains. Though it is not brand new and will likely take effort to learn to operate it well, they love it!

I’m bursting with happiness that we were able to do something so delightful for people who have worked so hard and loved us all so well. 
Be happy, my friends! 

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!

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.

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