It has felt like a rough few weeks. A few days ago our water heater burst in our basement, ruining the floor, baseboards and some of the walls, and they found asbestos. Luckily we were home and not traveling, as the water heater was continuously refilling and emptying, it started in the middle of the night and we found it the next morning. We took this week off to recharge a bit, so starting Sunday morning using the wet vac to suck out the water, call plumbers for new water heaters, and the insurance company was not how I wanted to start a week of vacation. Additionally, most of Nico’s toys are downstairs and it is where we spend the most time with him.
I am not going to lie. I’ve been extremely frustrated and short. I had a plan for how we were going to spend the week. Day dates with Chris, sleeping in as much as Nico would let us, and definitely not waiting for contractors to come or sitting on the phone to find out the insurance process is extremely slow and frustrating.
And then…we take a moment and realize that the insurance company is slow and frustrating because they have been on the phone with families in California who have lost their homes. My heart goes out to those that have lost their homes and it is a startling reminder that the flooding in our basement while annoying and disruptive is not nearly as big of a deal when I think of all the families that may not have a home. Interesting how quickly things can be put in perspective.
A few weeks ago a good friend was attacked in the face by a stranger and may need to undergo reconstructive surgery to his face. It took me almost a week to process that this happened. My friend is extremely fit and definitely capable of taking care of himself and hearing about the experience made me realize how vulnerable we all are – which can be scary. As a woman I am always aware of when I am safe or not, and when I am alone at night how freaky it can be. To learn that someone I care about was hurt, and probably did not have a moment to react, makes me fearful, but also aware that we never really know what is going to happen next. If we live in fear then we are never really living. A group of friends that love him started this Go Fund Me to raise money for his recovery. Feel free to contribute if your heart desires. He is one of the really good ones, and always takes care of others.
Like I said it has been a rough few weeks (other things in addition to the water heater and my friend) but I will not bore you with the details. Instead I am hopeful that I am reminding you to look up and squeeze the hand of someone you love, give them a hug, tell your kid how much you appreciate and love them, or maybe it is a coworker that could use a little lift. We always have more than we realize even when the world throws curveballs our way. Just take a moment to see and be grateful for the little things even when they may be hardest to see.
It has been a while since I have put my fingers to the keyboard in a way that was not a means to the end. There is not enough time in the day to allow my mind to slow down and ponder life, to let the mantra in my head release and allow the clickity clack of the keys bring forth the words in my mind to share with you. There have been many days when I have written a blog in my head and when the few free moments at the end of the day graced me, my eyes melded shut while the now comfortable whoosh whoosh sound of the pump surrounds me as I drain the last milk of the day out of my boobs. That or I am finishing the necessary work to prep for my next day, because when I get home at the end of the day I want to spend every moment with my growing little boy. Did I mention that I am back in the office?
I will tell you I have missed you. I have missed my daily rants and release of ideas that I come across in the day in hopes that it brings a smile to your face, pause to your day, or a WTF moment. Last week a colleague shared an article that just got my wheels turning and I had to share. This article is about the saltbox. A bit random I know but the author just hit at so many ideas that resonate with me. Her story of the Saltbox titled: “Lessons according to salt.”
“The saltbox itself as an object is unremarkable. Alone, it communicates nothing. Says nothing about its role. Its intention. Its history as a gift born out of a romance between my maternal grandparents. Says nothing of its possibilities.
But add people, and it becomes a central iterative device. The license to change, to iterate, to test, to add, to make, to make over, to create (clearly, with food). It gives license and latitude to stray from what has been written (recipes) for those too shy to do. Therefore, it gives strength. It gives iterative powers to those not comfortable with version control. With its subtlety comes comfort in change. One might say the saltbox, and access to it, is magic.”
Later the author says:
“What separates a leader from a manager is the quality of an editor. The role of a good editor is not to be seen, in fact, but to make an author’s words come forward. A good editor dissolves into the background. It’s not unlike typography. Focus too much on the type, and you’ve lost the story. Whether as editor, director, or head of department, my role is not to be seen, but to create a space to make the stories of those I work with come forward.”
I manage a team of ten amazing souls that make it worth coming to work each day. Is it always fun? No. Is it always easy? No. But damn we have fun trying. I hope that I keep focusing on the story and that I create a space to make the stories come forward.
Maybe it resonates with me because I write, or maybe it is because I am a new mom and I think that, much like leading a team, as a momma I really am here to love the crap out of this little bugger, but also to create the space for his stories to come to life. My role is to let him shine and be seen. Momma, manager, editor.
I encourage you to read Liz’s full article on the saltbox. Maybe it will inspire you too.
Gratitude is on the mind — and not just because tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I just finished reading “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. She spends an entire year focusing on gratitude in her life (her marriage, work, children, money, etc.) It gave me a lot to think about and was especially appropriate for this time of year, the holidays, Thanksgiving, and being at the home stretch of this pregnancy.
I thought I would share a list of things that are especially appropriate right now to me:
My husband: I wrote about him last week so you know all the good stuff, and if you did not read it take a peek at last week’s blogs. Yesterday I randomly said I do not know what I would do without you. His response was: “yes I am not sure what you would do.” So I started listing off all these things that would make my life miserable and he said: “You could just live in a hotel.” Ha. It is so much more than that my better half. So much more.
My health: It is not perfect — but I am making it through each day, and look forward to meeting this little man and taking the tests to find out how I am after delivery. If all goes well, then I look forward to getting back to my running and feeling like myself again.
My future son: I am just so excited that we have made it this far together. Your dad and I are ecstatic and cannot count the days to meet you. That and I would love my body back.
My family and friends: So grateful for each of you. Thank you for being a support to me, a listening ear, and an inspiration. I miss you mom, dad, and Granny Smith.
My team at work: You work hard and play hard, keep it fun, funny, and real. Thank you.
For all of you reading my blog I appreciate you too. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Cherish each moment.
During brunch on Sunday, the bathroom had a smell that brought me back to the bathroom in my church growing up. Strange as that might be. It reminded me of the decor, the darkness of that dank basement where we had Sunday School and other such memories. It was not an uplifting place so the memory of the bathroom did not bring me to have a smile on my face. More a reminder of memories from childhood.
It amazes me how easily a smell can bring you back to a moment in time. You can run the play-by-play of events through your thoughts, reviewing what happened when that smell is brought to your senses. I have had it when smelling a specific food, an item of clothing in my closet, linens on a bed. At times the smell brings back wonderful memories, and other times it is a reminder of a past that might better be forgotten. Sometimes a smell of certain foods is nostalgia of childhood, and then when we are able to recreate those recipes, the taste is nothing like the smell to us. We have grown up, changed, and honed our taste buds.
At times a lotion or hair product might make me think of my grandma, a type of make-up my mom, and an aftershave my dad. Even if I have not seen them for 15-25 years the smells are ingrained in my thoughts and memories and nothing can take that away. Smells trigger memories, and we are quickly jettisoned back to a moment in time as we try to recollect why the smell reminds us of something. When we do remember, it is as though we were 10 or 12 or 20 again. A smile might cross our face, or a tear fall towards the ground.
Are there smells that trigger specific memories for you?
Last week I found this quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram feed:
“Make it happen. Shock every single one of them.”
Think about it. What if we went through our day and thought how am I going to shock someone today? Much of the time we try to just make it through the day, but what if we raised the bar and made things happen? What if we went into each meeting or presentation and were completely focused and wowed folks because we pulled it off? What if we did the impossible? Or maybe it is not even impossible — maybe it is just something that left a wow factor. It could be the smallest, slightest moment that left a mark and was remembered.
The funny thing is the moments that are remembered are often the ones that are actually easy and often free to pull off. You might have made an effort to actually listen and remember key details from someone’s life. You asked about it the next time you see that individual. So easy, and just requires pure listening, and yet it has such an impact. I always notice when someone has taken the time to get to know me and then later (sometimes even months later) remembers a piece of our conversation. I try to do the same to others, but it is hard when you go from meeting to meeting all day. And yet, doing so shows true connection, relationship building, and care.
I am a get-it-done woman. I rarely let anything stand in my way. As Chris would say to me, “There is no changing your mind when you have made a decision you are going to do something.” He is right. I like to approach life with conviction, persistence, and, as I often say, by sucking the life out of each day. I want to bring that same zeal when shocking and wowing others. Think of all the times you have been wowed by amazing customer service, by friends and family who surprise you, or a stranger that does a random act of kindness. The key ingredient: someone showing you they care.