Ramblings of a Creative Mind

Thoughts on Work and the World from an Executive Mom


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DP Weekly Writing Challenge

As I mentioned before, inspiration can be a little hard to come by right now, but I really like the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge.  They have Haiku fever this week.

Check it out here for a little fun: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

So while writing a 17 syllable (5/7/5) poem this may be a little off topic for a work / home life blog like mine, I had to accept the challenge.  Here you go:

 

Warm bed, morning light

peeks inside.  Sleepy child rolls

deep into my arms.

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No better feeling…


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At a Loss for Words

imageI have been struggling to write the last few weeks – a cardinal sin for a blogger. I’d actually had some posts lined up to go automatically but pulled them down two weeks ago. Why?

There’s been a lot happening on the personal front. A family member is facing a serious illness, and while she is fighting it like a warrior princess, it takes a toll emotionally. When something like this is going on in the background, it makes the minutiae of every day life seem silly to talk (or blog) about. Time stops. Your energy is completely focused on the battle. You’re afraid. Angry. Scared. Spent.

It’s been just over two weeks now since everything started. Eventually, you find a place for the fear and uncertainty. You are stronger. You move through the days: the sparks of hope and the setbacks. While the ache is still fresh, there is a sense of distance as well. You still wonder, still scream, why is this happening? What lesson are you supposed to learn from this?

Balancing work and home life as a parent becomes complicated, especially for A-type, faux Superwomen.  It’s exhausting.  When you are weary, little things start to bother you. The house is a mess. The volume is too loud. Politics on TV, or annoyances at the office. Someone hurts your feelings. So you hold your anger in or let it out. You’re frustrated and complaining. You feel justified, vindicated, righteous in your fury. The minutiae becomes a mountain. And each one is a mountain you are willing to die on.

Why?

If there is one thing that I have learned over the past two weeks, it’s that these small things will pass.

Ultimately, it’s about perspective. So, the house is a mess. The commute is long. You’re not getting along with someone.

These small things will pass.

Money is tight.  Things are frustrating. The future, uncertain.

These small things will pass.

All that matters is the energy you give to the world, the people you love, your health and the time you spend together. Everything else… those are the small things.  The important ones – family, love, health – they need to be protected.  Treasured.

Life isn’t predictable, and it isn’t easy. Things won’t always go your way. It will get hard. Yet, life can’t – and doesn’t – stop when things are rough. Life keeps going. We become stronger. I hope we become wiser.  I hope I do.

I’m amazed by the strength I see in my family members.  I hope they find the same strength in me.


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1989

The End of the InnocenceIn January of 1989, my brother died.

Cancer is an evil thing.  It sneaks up on you, striking when you least expect it.  No matter how strong or young you are, cancer is often stronger.  My brother was very young and very strong.  He fought the disease for four years.  I thought he’d beaten it.  But it surprised us all, and we said goodbye very suddenly.

His death affected our family deeply, and everyone coped in different ways.

As for me, I was lost for a while.  I was in a dark place.  I was very insecure back then, and never was comfortable with myself… hating what I saw when I looked in the mirror.  I couldn’t deal with the reality of his death.  So I practiced being someone I wasn’t.

Now, I always loved the arts, and I threw myself into it even more.  It was a way to run away from the pain of his loss, the pain my family was feeling… frankly, the pain of everything.  I NEEDED to run away.

So, I did.  I was beyond excited when I got cast in a show out of town.  At that time, I lived in California, and my summer gig was up in Michigan at a beautiful place called Boyne Highlands.  This would be my first time moving away from home.  My first great adventure.  My first escape.  I packed up my Mom’s minivan and set out across the country.

I spent the summer of 1989 living in a bubble of sorts.  There we were, sixteen young adults living in paradise.  It would have been easy – even natural – to get lost in all of the beauty of Northern Michigan.  Life at a golf resort.  Learning to bartend.  The music.

Instead, in the summer of 1989, I dealt with the after effects of my brother’s death.  I met someone who helped me believe for the first time that I was beautiful.  I learned to forgive people who had hurt me long ago.  And as I laid on the greens at the 7th hole and looked at the stars, I learned to be brave.  1989 taught me that the world is not always kind, but that’s a part of life. And in the background, always on the radio, was Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence.”

The song and I met at the intersection of my youth and my adulthood.

Written by Bruce Hornsby and Henley, it went to #8 on the charts.  It is #1 in my heart.

“Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin’ by
But “happily ever after” fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly

But I know a place where we can go
That’s still untouched by men
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence…”

Whenever I hear that song, I am again lying on the cool grass in Northern Michigan… letting go of illusions, remembering my brother, remembering those people, remembering the joy.  Knowing life will never be the same again and knowing that’s okay.

In 2013, almost 25 years later, I attended a leadership event.

Who played that night?  Bruce Hornsby.

He sang “The End of the Innocence.”

I sat in the audience with tears streaming down my face, missing those I’d lost, loving them.  I gave thanks for the blessings in my life today, and knew just how fragile they are.

Here’s a link to the video from that night: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151365340347478&l=872927215193903441

These moments are fleeting.  Don’t miss them.

This blog post is part of the weekly DPChallenge.  Check it out here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/weekly-writing-challenge-music/


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Behind the Mask

SuperheroesDo you dress up at your office for Halloween?  While most companies have special events on that day – sweet treats, pot luck days or contests – not that many people seem to dress in costume for a day at the office.  Now, I’m a geek and always get into the spirit.  I think it’s fun to walk around the hallways in some kooky get up, and even more fun to conduct meetings and watch other folks try to keep a straight face and take you seriously.  Dressing up and pretending to be someone else for a day is a blast.  It’s about the thrill of it.

When I became a parent, Halloween was new again.  Then, it was about choosing the cutest costume for the boys: Tigger, a giraffe, a blue googly-eyed monster… basically, choose anything that made your heart melt.  It was about spoiling them a little… about joy.  This year was different though.

This was the first year that both boys chose their own costumes.  Mom didn’t make an executive decision.  So, I went hunting for superhero stuff, expecting this to be another year of cuteness.  It was something more though.

When the boys put on their costumes, Captain America and Spiderman began tearing around the house in heroics.  They didn’t just act like superheroes though.  They BECAME them.  Now, my youngest son is full of bravado and wants to try everything on the way to any party or activity.  But as soon as we arrive, he instantly gets shy, doesn’t want to go in or is scared to try.  But when he was Spiderman, he was bolder.  Braver.  He tried new food, led the charge when we went out trick-or-treating, and led the parade at school.   My son was brave all night long, instead of just in those fleeting moments before life happens.

And as I watched him, it occurred to be that Halloween is not about pretending to be someone else for a day.  Instead, perhaps it is about giving yourself permission to bring out a part of yourself that you keep hidden, are a little unsure of or are afraid that you’ll be judged for.

Is the costume your Captain America shield, deflecting that fear and uncertainty?

What is it about yourself that you are afraid to embrace 364 days of the year, but will gladly celebrate on that 365th day?

Who do you think will really judge you?

This year, I dressed as a powerful historic figure – a woman who took great risks, enjoyed great adventures and changed the world as we know it.  I wore that costume proudly.  So, why do I doubt myself other days?  Should I be afraid of going out on a limb, being empowered or leading forward through uncharted territory?  Facing considerable odds?  Making tough decisions?  No.

Should I only be bold when wearing a disguise?  No.

Should you?  No.