I heart good people.

It has been a good week. I have been surrounded by genuinely good people. It makes my heart flutter a bit to be reminded of the preciousness of life, of meeting new people, trying new things, and having a wonder and awe that sometimes when you go outside of your routine you are able to look at life differently.

I actually love my routine. I love the structure it provides in my life, what it allows me to do. However, we all need moments, days, and weeks in our life where we live outside the bubble we live in. Where we feel uncomfortable, do something different, and have moments where our awkwardness sheds light into a different or new view on the world. Maybe that is through a new experience or challenge, new food, or a new culture.

I am on my way back from Shanghai, China. I have been here for two weeks, and in a few hours I will be flying back home. Next week I will share some highlights from my trip. It is a fascinating city, different from Portland in so many ways. I will not tell you about that now, as I want to savor my trip and let it marinate a bit. I will tell you that I am inspired by the conversations I had this week, the different individuals I met, the new friends I made.

As I said I want to process it all, put together the story of my week, but all in all, I feel blessed to have been surrounded by good people. It makes me optimistic about the world, it inspires me, and brings a smile to my face. We like what is comfortable. So often we go to work and interact with the same people, get into our car, drive home, and do it all over again. Sure we interact at the grocery store, or Target, or with the gas station attendant, but how often do we get to meet new people and truly connect with them for an extended period of time?

Good people. We should always surround ourselves with good people.

Seize openness

Yesterday morning I had this strong intuition to be open. I went to bed late and set my alarm to wake up early so I could go for a run. When my alarm went off the last thing I wanted to do was to strap on my running shoes. When 6 am rolled around somehow I was awake enough for my brain to start to think about things. When the brain starts going through items of the day it is hard to stop it, and hard to then roll over and go back for a small snooze.

So I got up.

As I slowly dressed for my run, I kept trying to talk myself out of it. “Don’t go. You will be too tired later. You did not get much sleep last night. Stay here, get some work done. Be slow.” The thing is I was mostly dressed and by then when you basically only have to put on your running shoes, why turn back? I went and it felt great. As I was running I had such a strong sense of urgency that I needed to be “open.” While I have hindsight to look back on, there was not some amazing revelation from my day, but there was a freeness I felt. Uninhibited.

I tried some new foods today. I got to know some work colleagues more. I did not go about my normal routine. I was open for what happened, and I seized the opportunities. I still have no idea why I had that strong intuition, but know that it will stay strong with me. I will think about it so that whatever opportunity comes before me today I will look at it differently. It is freeing really. Say yes to life. Be open to the opportunities. Jump on the adventures. In tiny, small, and big ways.

Hopefully you and I can both be more open today, tomorrow, and the day after that.

Know your voice

Your voice. How do you use it? You have to know your own voice, what you believe it, what you stand for, and what matters to you. Once you know your voice, you have to find out how to make it heard. It took me until I was in my early twenties to know what my voice looked and sounded like. Even now a decade and a half later, there are times when it might be strong, but still quivers. Mostly the last ten years have been a time to hone my voice, decide when I am going to open my mouth, and when I will work harder to make it heard.

Recently I came across this article titled: “The Best Designers Bring Their Own Opinions” with such a great quote, I had to share it:

“Knowing your voice—what you believe and why you believe it—and effectively incorporating that into your work can help set you apart from everyone else. There’s very little else that can do that for you.”

What I love about this quote is that it says “effectively incorporating that into your work” – it does not say conversation or meeting, it says work. That could mean how you incorporate your voice into your project, your new product design, your app. It could mean in your artwork, your presentation, or in closing a deal. It could even mean in how you deliver bad news or how you interact with your co-workers. Your voice is a part of you and not something that you can take on or off. It lives in all you do.

At times you might be in situations where you feel like your voice is a quiet flutter and your authentic voice is not strong, loud, and bold. You might not feel comfortable to speak up and put your career on the line, or take a stand with a friend. Over time that quiet flutter will get stronger and louder and our true voice will stand strong. Be ready for it. It will happen.

A desire to connect?

As a blogger, there are a few blogs that I frequent either daily, weekly, or whenever a post is published. I find inspiration in the ideas shared, the writing style, and sometimes just like reading a memoir might jog your memory to a special moment in your past so do posts from fellow bloggers. I found Shauna Niequist’s blog last year after reading her book: “Bread & Wine.”

I then wrote a blog post sharing the Blueberry Crisp recipe from her book. I cannot count how many times we have indulged in that fine dish. I need to make sure I have more blueberries in the fridge as it is the perfect fall treat, and it has been a little while since we had it for Sunday dinner just as Niequist does.

Niequist’s post on October 13 titled: “Using Technology to Connect” hit home for me. Specifically this line:

“Because scrolling isn’t the same as connecting. And connection is what we’re longing for.”

Oh how often I feel that when late at night I peruse Facebook or Instagram and scroll, sometimes in a mind numbing and voyeuristic way. What if instead of scrolling and scrolling, I chose to contact that individual and tell them I was thinking about them? Earlier in her blog post she says:

“When I feel the impulse to scroll through images and updates about other people’s lives, what I’m finding is under that impulse to scroll is a desire to connect.”

I have to agree. Why do we get so addicted to social media? Is it to see and be seen? Is it to connect? What aspect of our lives have we lost because our first means to communicate is sometimes the most disconnected from human interaction. It is the sterile, lifeless, cold version. If we want to bring life back to our worlds and share warmth and support in a time of need then stop scrolling, pick up the phone, go next door or down the hall, and connect.

Be sure to go back and read Niequist’s post. It might just change the way you think today.

I love you, I love you, I love you…

I remember back in the day (about 12 + years ago) when Chris and I were saying our first “I love you’s.” We were both a bit timid to say it after being burned in relationships of the past. I remember the first time he said it to me over dinner in a restaurant in Boston. He said: “I think I love you.” At the time I did not know him well enough as I do today to tease him for that comment (although I tease him about it today). At that moment, I felt those tingly feelings that you feel the first time the word love spews out of someone’s mouth. I did not want to say anything that might make him take it back, because I felt the same way.

The only difference is I was not used to saying those words in my life. They were not often said in my house, and at a certain point my parents were so involved in their own life dramas of illness, poverty, and depression that whether I was told “I love you” or not did not filter into their day as top of the importance list. What I do not remember about that night in Boston is if I said it back, and Chris does not remember either. He was probably in a state of shock that he said those words to me.

Gradually we said it more and more and it became a natural part of our interaction. I think there was probably a time early on where I did not say it too much for fear of scaring him away. Eventually you get over that learning curve and realize how important it is to say what you mean so deeply. We tell each other every day, sometimes many, many times. I chuckled at the end of a work day a few weeks ago. I called Chris to tell him I was ready to be picked up (we carpool) and he said: “On my way. Love you.” I found it funny because I was going to see him only moments later, and yet he said what he was feeling in that moment. That is just the way it should be.

Call me sappy, or addicted or whooped (I am all of those things) for my husband, but I want to make sure that he never forgets how I feel, and I never take for granted that he knows. Saying “I love you” is #3 on a list in this Huffington Post article: “13 Simple Tricks To A Long And Happy Marriage.” I have to say I absolutely agree with the 12 other items on the list and that they contribute to a happy marriage. Especially being best friends, honesty, and cherishing each other.

Remember to say: “I love you” and mean it.