Ramblings of a Creative Mind

Thoughts on Work and the World from an Executive Mom


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Boots and Beyond

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Me and my boots, on the road again.

It was 1993. Driving eastbound on the 10, I was leaving El Paso when I saw a billboard for an outlet store and decided to stop for a few minutes. That’s when I saw them – Dan Post cowboy boots, tan, with the coolest Native American feather design stitched into the top. Never being one who can resist a great bargain, I bought them and they’ve been with me ever since. For 23 years, my boots and I have wandered around the world – to Europe, Asia and back, through countless airports, weekend errands and casual days at the office. They’re softer than slippers, battered and torn. I’ve repaired them more times than I can count, though the soles have begun to separate, and there’s a spot on the tip of my right toe where the leather has worn off. They’ve certainly seen better days, and it’s probably time for them to go (at least, that’s what people tell me lately). It’s time to get something new. Still, I can’t bear to part with them. They’re warm and familiar. They’re my go to shoe for any day and any adventure.

 

For over two decades, my Dan Posts have been my constant companions. Virtually nothing else in my life has lasted so long. Friendships and relationships have come and gone. I’ve changed hairstyles, lifestyles and loves. I’m in the middle of my midlife crisis, but still my boots are by my side. When I’m far away, they remind me of home.

It strikes me as funny how often people ask why I still wear them. I guess it’s a sign of the times. We live in an age of rapid, mass consumption. Whether it’s media, technology or fashion, we’re always on the lookout for the newest, next thing. We’re Pavlov’s dog when it comes to any device that starts with an “i”, trading up and swapping out perfectly good technology for something that barely does a little more than the last, and creating massive piles of waste here, there and everywhere. Actresses are over the hill at 40. People jump from company to company every few years, looking for the next big thing. Start-ups are exploding everywhere, revolutionizing how we interact with the world and with each other. And the old way of doing things is just “old.” It has no value. We shuffle our elders into group homes or assisted living facilities. It’s become the norm in our society. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve been struck by this deeply in the past few months. My folks live much closer than they did before. For the first time in their lives, my kids get to spend concentrated time with their grandparents. Now, my mom was a teacher for eons, and my boys go to a progressive school that teaches things in new ways. In general, it really works, but my older son learns quickly by analyzing patterns, so this new age spelling thing has been a little tough on him. The other night, my mom was working with him, and I heard her spouting off cutesy phrases – “when two vowels go walking together…” etc. Kitschy, homespun learning. It was quaint. Then, we went to his parent-teacher conference, and it was more. We learned that Jake has grown remarkably over the last 30 days in spelling. Funny. That coincides exactly with the date my mom started to work with him in her “old fashioned” way.

Yes, society evolves. Values change. Technology advances. That’s all fine and good. But moving forward and honoring experience don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Our future is built on the foundation of great thinkers who came before us. Without Ptolemy, there would be no Galileo. Without the wisdom of a parent, a child would have a much harder time finding its way. History carves the path. We glance back to see how far we’ve come. We learn and look forward to see which direction we’ll head in the future. Innovation matters. So does experience. Just because an idea is “old” doesn’t mean it isn’t good or worth considering. A winning formula from the past can still be a winning formula, as long as you keep an eye on the future. And 23-year-old cowboy boots, soft and worn, still have value.

I’m going to keep logging miles in my Dan Posts as I figure out what’s next. Where are you headed in work or in life? What’s worth exploring, and what is mandatory to keep? Don’t lose sight of what (or who) helped you succeed. Your past may be the key to your future.


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Bust a Move*

On the floor (3)I have an addiction. It’s not something that will land me on the nightly news, and while my sushi fixation may come close, that’s not it either. I’m addicted to music: not to the song itself, but rather the feeling that comes over me any time a tune has a good beat. It doesn’t matter if it’s pop, country, classic rock or EDM. It all works. If the bass is bumpin’ or the lyrics poppin’, I’m guaranteed to move.  On airplanes, it’s subtle. I rock big headphones, close my eyes and tap my feet. I’m the official Dancing Queen of the 101 freeway, discoing down the asphalt and waving as I go by. And when there’s a dancefloor, all bets are off. I’m the first one on and the last one standing. For better or for worse, I’m married to the music. I’ve just got to move.

Moving feels good, plain and simple. When the beat climbs into your bones, it’s liberating. It’s freedom. Kinetic bliss. The highest state of being. Music transcends language, culture, and age. Music unites, bringing people together when the world would tear them apart. Movement is the expression of that connection, that rapture. When we dance, we abandon “you” and “me”, “us” and “them”, and create the most amazing unit possible – WE.

Children get it. A song comes on. They smile and bounce. They raise their arms in celebration. They’re fearless. Free. Yet, things change as we age. Picture this: you’re at some event, and there’s a dancefloor. The DJ starts playing. The dancefloor stands empty. Five or six songs go by. Finally, he hits a good one and some brave souls get up (let’s face it – it’s usually all ladies). They implore and drag up a few more. A small group forms. Whether or not they knew each other before, they do now. They laugh and show off. They’re having a darn good time. Others simply stay in their seats and watch.

When you’re the one on the floor, its easy to scan the room and spot the people who want to join in. They’re smiling, perhaps moving a little with the beat. Even in conversation, their eyes keep returning to the action. Still, most never do. It makes me a little sad.

Somewhere along the way, something happened. Did someone tell them they weren’t a good dancer? Were they teased? Did a bro tell them that “real guys don’t dance,” it’s not professional, not appropriate, not, not, no? Who was that someone, and who gave them the right to take away their joy – their basic human right to music, to dance, to move?

Moving is good for you. Our bodies were made to move – not to sit still or stand on the sidelines. We were made to participate, celebrate, journey and wander. We move out, move on, and move away. We’re moved by stories. Moved into action. Moved to make life better for us and for those who will come after us. We unite in movements. Why not move to music? Why not be addicted to the beat, to dance, and to the way that strangers become friends – even if it’s just for a single song?

I’ve moved out, moved in, moved across town and around the world. I’ve moved companies and changed careers. Each move I’ve made has led to new adventures, new learnings and a new me. And, now that I’m settled, I move with the rhythm of our family and the steady drum beat of time. It’s great.

Someone told me recently that I “didn’t have an off button.” Not true. I do. I’m an introvert who needs down time to survive. Still, he was right about one thing. I don’t have an off button when it comes to the music.

We don’t always get to dance: to let down our walls and be a part of the We, or even just to BE. So I’m going to bust a move every chance I get for the rest of my time on this earth. I hope you do too.

Don’t stand on the fringe. Join the celebration. Join the moment. Just move. Meet me on the floor. After all, you never know which dance just might be your last.

 

*Props to Young MC for this hit, which won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. Yes, I know all the lyrics, and will totally challenge you to an 80’s rap battle one day if I meet you.


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My Coloring Book

imageThere’s a story my Mom loves to tell about my childhood. It was the 70’s. Mom fancied herself a new age hippie and believed that coloring books stifled kids’ creativity. In fact, she was categorically against them so we never had them in the house.

So, I show up for Kindergarten, and the evaluations begin. Do I know my letters? Check. Can I read? Check. How well do I play with other kids? Check. Can I color? OOPS.  As Mom tells it, she and Dad went in for a meeting with the teacher and were told that I’d never amount to much because I didn’t know how to color inside the lines. Now, what I’m told was conveyed was actually a bit more graphic than that, but I’m cleaning it up for the sake of all parties. Mom was mad, but as for me, I wanted to succeed, so I learned how to color the way the teacher wanted, got straight A’s, and became determined to be the kid who did no wrong: the teacher’s pet, the good kid, etc.  Throughout elementary school, junior high, high school and frankly college as well, I stayed inside the lines, between the cones. I never got in trouble.  I was Ms. Goody Two Shoes and darn proud of it.

Now though, as I look at my career and at my life, I think coloring inside the lines often does you a disservice. Think about where we are today. We’re in a constant state of evolution, innovation and change. Bill Gates said that “today the pace of innovation is moving faster than ever.” That was 2013. It might as well have been a thousand lifetimes ago. Today, we have artificial intelligence, wearables, and Crispr gene-editing technology that will basically allow us to rewrite the genetic code of anything living on this planet – you, me, Fido – you name it.  Regardless of any personal opinions, that’s pretty radical innovation.

We never would have gotten here if we colored inside the lines.

Business today demands not only ability but also agility. We’ve become adventurers. Challengers (or challenges) come at us every day, touting what’s new, better or way more awesome than what we have. They send out fancy press releases and call on our clients. It’s never going to stop nor should it.  We just have to be faster, better and more creative. We need to cultivate the ability to see past the lines and beyond next year. We’ve got to be able to tear up the page and look into the future, to anticipate not only what problems exist today but instead leap forward and gauge what may happen then. We need insight into the human condition, a deep understanding of behavior and rich foresight. We need to challenge the norm – “what we’ve always done” – and dream a little dangerously.  You can’t if you stay inside the lines.

It goes for life too. Yes, there are societal norms. I’m not saying abandon them entirely: just don’t be bound by them. Don’t be afraid to try something new, perhaps a little “crazy”, just because people may judge you or “it isn’t done.” Being the teacher’s pet is fine. It works, and you’ll likely do well. But don’t you want to do a little more? Don’t you want to say you DARED? Don’t you want to have some stories to tell, some juicy nuggets or inside jokes that only a few people know, but that take you back?

Now, maybe staying inside the lines works for you. That’s awesome. More power to you. Being alive is a great thing, regardless. As for me, I want to make sure I’m not only alive, but that – at the end of my days – I did it to the max.

This world is moving at lightspeed, and innovation powers the engine. Whether you’re at work or living life, dream big. Dare bigger. Deliver outside the lines.

I think my Mom was on to something after all.


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Labels

WorkaholicI remember the day I got my first pair of Guess jeans.  They were skinny, acid-wash with zippers at the ankles: cute and a total knock off.  But at 16, that didn’t matter.  It was all about that little triangle on the pocket. You know which one I mean. Back then, I was a major geek living in the O.C., and it was all about the label.  It defined you.  Wearing Guess?  Trendy and cool.  Members Only?  Prepster with rich parents.  Listened to KROQ?  Edgy and alternative.  Labels – whether right or wrong – helped our teenage selves quickly assess a person or situation and make a judgment call.   That fake pair of “Guess” jeans was my ticket to the cool club.

Fast forward to the adult years.  As we get older, labels change. They become more about organization.  Time savings.  Streamlining.  Efficiency.  We label boxes, folders and storage drawers.  Heck, I even know a guy that labels his hangers.  Labels seem to make life easier.

But lately, I’ve been worried.  You see, my little guy has had a few tough days at school.  He’s one of the most loving and insightful kids you could ever meet, wicked smart and singularly focused. He knows he’s different, in whatever way he means. He’s also “vertically challenged.” Last night, he came to me crying because he didn’t “want to be small.” He’s begun acting out a little, trying to control the only things he can in an uncontrollable world.  And it hurts, because this is not who he truly is. We worry. What if he gets labeled as a “bad” kid, the one who misbehaves?  Things like that can follow someone for a lifetime.  We’re advocating, collaborating, documenting – doing what we need to do to make sure our son is supported, safe and happy in his own skin. We want so desperately for people to see the boy who is insecure right now, but who says the most tender things, who’s intuitive beyond his years and who gently cares for those who are sad or cannot speak for themselves.  We want them to see the real Luke.

People use labels at the office too.  There’s the top 10% who do 90% of the work.  The high performers.  The “rockstars.”  The “low hanging fruit”.  The “C players.”  These labels – these generalizations – get assigned to people, sometimes by virtue of past performance.  Sometimes not. And once assigned, they often become self-fulfilling prophesies. People begin to mold themselves to meet others’ expectations, instead of challenging the assumptions, busting down walls and kicking some *ss. The winners win more and the rest get stuck.

We label ourselves. We’re serious or a joker. Young. Old. Tomboy. Girly girl. Life of the party. Loner. Successful. Has been. Frankly, sometimes we’re downright cruel. These words play over and over inside our heads, programming our mind and beating down our soul. And sooner or later, regardless of what the truth may be, when we look in the mirror, our own labels stick. They’re no ticket to the cool club, and they don’t make life easier.  They drag you down. Those other winners win more, and you just get stuck.

It’s time to let go of your labels. Forget the voice in your head. It’s dead wrong. You are powerful. Magnificent. You’re a once in a zillion miracle who will never be again. Own that. It’s pretty freaking awesome.

If you lead people at work, they’re miracles too. Each one of them has greatness hidden inside of them. It’s up to you to help them bring it out. Get at it, figure it out or just move on. A failing department is led by a failing manager.  A leader finds the path, teaches and lights the road along the way. Then it’s up to your people to take that step.

And as for your children? Fill them with love. Yes, they may be different, but different is great. They’re once in a lifetime. Of course they are different. They may feel small, but they are giants in our hearts. They may not listen, but they will hear.

My son is an awesome, funny, creative, brilliant, mischievous, bull-headed little sprite, and no matter what happens, my husband and I will have our son’s back. I will drag his butt off the field if he misbehaves and hold him close when he realizes why I did it. I will guard his heart and his innocence as much as I can.  I will make administrators crazy, rattle cages and raise holy heck if that’s what I need to do to make sure my little guy isn’t just another label.  He’s no label. He’s so much more.

So are you.


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Show Time

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I come from a creative family and married a creative man. We both worked in the arts for years and encourage a love of them in our boys.  Yes, we listen to show tunes and get pumped when we sing in harmony with the kids. So, a few years back, it seemed perfectly normal when we bought a piano for me, picked up my old cello, and then added DJ turntables (yes – it’s music) and a drum set for Steve – instruments we could already play. Later, we added the saxophone and a guitar, and while the extent of my guitar playing skills begin and end with one cool *ss riff, it still made sense.

Then one day, the Hubster brought home the ukelele.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The ukelele is a pretty cool instrument. There’s something quaint… perhaps intimate… about it. It’s four strings, a few chords and the hint of a warm, Pacific breeze. Steve bought a professional quality one and told me he wanted to learn to play it. Awesome idea, but hard to fit into a schedule that includes working on his Master’s Degree full-time, managing construction on the house, wrangling two unruly boys and keeping life moving while I’m traveling for work. So the ukelele has sat quietly on a shelf in the closet under a pile of sweaters, waiting for a moment in the sun.

Today, there was no sun. It actually rained in Southern California. It was heavy, thick rain – the kind that makes hills slide onto streets and freeways turn to shimmering rivers. My 59 mile commute might as well have been 5,000. When I came through the front door out of the darkness and into the light, my kids followed me around bouncing like manic little munchkins, and announced rather loudly that they had a show for me. Now, my blood sugar was subzero and the Hubster had made hot dogs for dinner. This is not generally a recipe for a successful evening. Still, our focus as a family is remembering that every moment is a gift, so I begged them for five minutes to decompress and promised them I would watch one more production (probably another Lego battle or charade thing-a-ma-bopper).  They guided me (and my hot dog) to my seat, our couch pillow thrown on the floor, and began the show.

The Hubster pulled out the ukelele, strummed a few chords, and the boys began to sing:

“I have a dream I hope will come true: that you’re here with me, and I’m here with you. I wish that the earth, sea and sky up above will send me someone to lava.”*

For four precious minutes, Steve played clumsy, sweet, tender chords on an instrument he barely knows, and the three men I love most in the world sang a song they’d just learned this evening. Their eyes were brighter than any star ever born, and the tears ran down my face heavier than tonight’s rain – as they are right now as I write these words.

There are times in your life that are amazing: your first kiss, when you say “I do”, or when your child is born. Somehow, tonight was just MORE. This was one of the most incredible nights of my life. They gave me a gift I can never explain. The love I feel for them is too much for this skin of mine to hold in. I’m so grateful, so humbled and so thankful that this incredible man fell in love with me and that, together, we’ve made people as miraculous as Jake and Luke.  And here they were tonight, singing to me.

Life is good. Love is better.

I could not ask for more.

*Lyrics are from Pixar’s animated short, “Lava”. If you have not seen it, RUN NOW. GO!  Or, grab a box of tissues, click here and enjoy. It’s worth it.


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Living in the Middle

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I’m an avid reader and have been my entire life. In elementary school, my idea of fun on Winter Break was to stack up a dozen books on my dresser, read them all and then start all over again. Total geek, I know. Every time I started a new one, I’d skim the first chapter then turn to the back and read the last few pages. I couldn’t stand the uncertainty of it all. I had to know where the story was going, and once I knew the destination, I could go back to the beginning and enjoy the ride. Same thing with Oreos, that omnipresent staple of childhood. Loved the chocolately cookies outside – the beginning and end. Couldn’t stand the sticky, sugar-fest center. I’d scrape that crud out and give it to my sister. It’s pretty much the same today on both those fronts: skip straight to the end and avoid the filling. The middle is not my thing.

Lately though, I’ve been living in the middle everywhere I turn. I’m looking at a birthday that I’d rather avoid. It’s not one of those “milestone” years with a zero at the end. Still, it feels like it’s the midpoint of my life, like I’m halfway done. I was on the way up, am on the tipping point, and in a few days, I’ll start the second half – the slow descent.

I’m in the middle at work. I love what I do and am grateful for it. Still, I am somewhere in between: in between departments, in between people, in between what I’ve done and what I will do, what I know and what I still need to learn.

At home, I’m in between my kids (and sometimes my husband) as they become little men and start to struggle for attention. We’re in the middle of construction, and the house is a wreck. We’re in transition in our family, going from our little unit of four to an extended one, and smack dab in the middle of coordinating that transition. I’m excited, overwhelmed and ready to just get on with the next chapter, the end of the this story and the beginning of the next one.

My husband even remarked the other day that I was “Switzerland,” that neutral party that people call when they need someone to listen, to help or to smooth the waters between warring factions. He said I’m one of those people who isn’t always appreciated or may be taken advantage of because folks know I’ll always “handle it.” While they go on with their lives, I’m stuck on pause. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. Lately, I think being Switzerland sucks. Everywhere I turn, I’m in the middle. I’m cranky, and I’m over it.

So tonight, we’re baking Christmas cookies. The kitchen is even worse than before. I’m (semi) cool on the outside and an insecure raging maniac on the inside. I have to work tomorrow and am just trying to get this over with, so I can get on to the next thing. The clock is ticking in my head as I’m careen toward the end again. Just then, my 5 year old son started to sing along with the song streaming from my phone.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere I go.”

Jake joined in too, sort of on pitch but giving it his all. I turn around to see two sticky faces, covered in frosting, sprinkles everywhere – filled with joy and voices lifted in love. The lights on the tree were twinkling in time with the music, and my heart stopped. I almost missed it all – the Christmas season, the spirit, the moment. I was trapped in my head looking for the end, dreading the downward slide and almost missing the point of the ride.

Maybe the middle is not so bad after all. There’s still more to come. I probably give more than I get, but at the end of my days, I know that I will have made a difference. I get my share of sorrow, but I’ll also know more joy than I could ever have wished for. If I do get walked on every now and again, that’s okay. For me, it’s more important to be kind than to be right, and my kids will grow up learning the value of giving, listening, responsibility and of compassion. When I slow down, I realize that the ride is pretty darn good these days. 

Maybe I’m wrong about those Oreos. After all, the middle is the sweetest part.


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From 32,000 Feet

I’m sitting on a plane on my way home after a long week on the road, and I’m tired. Baked, fried, closed for business. Once I get to my seat, I usually want to shut down. I don’t talk to the people sitting next to me. Instead, I prefer to put on my headphones, crank up the beats, close my eyes and shut the world away.

Tonight is a little different though. I heard the mumble of the muffled pilot’s voice and would have ignored it, if it had not been for the woman next to me leaning across my lap to peer out the window. Curiosity got the best of me, so I paused the beats just in time to hear him say “Milky Way Galaxy.” Now, I’m peering out the window too, staring at the black canvas sky, littered with stars.

There are millions of them. They’re magnificent. I haven’t seen so many in years. And yet, they’re always there.

Stars don’t disappear, just because there are clouds in the sky. They’re no less brilliant, just because the lights of the city are brighter. Stars were here before, are still here now and will be around long after our short time on this earth is done. We look for them, wish on them and wonder what they really are.

To me, a star is like a dream – it’s that hope you have inside, where you’re headed, and what you believe in.

When times are tough, it may be tempting to lose hope. Your vision is clouded by trouble, emotions or fear.

When you’re caught up in the bustle of bright, city life – work, the hurrying to and fro – you may lose sight of your dream. Paying the bills or climbing that corporate ladder distracts you from what really matters.

But the dream is still alive. It was there before, is still deep inside of you, and can guide you on the road ahead. And there are millions of dreams. Yours, mine, and the one belonging to the woman sitting next to me. And together, they are magnificent.

There’s reason to hope. The stars still shine. It’s easy to see them from 32,000 feet up, but when it comes right down to it, it’s just a matter of perspective. Open your eyes. Look up. Make that wish, and believe.


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On Endings

There are some people who blaze brilliantly into the future, charging fearlessly headlong into the unknown. I’m not one of those people. I never have been, in fact. It’s not that I’m afraid or stuck in a routine, per se. On the contrary: I’ve moved across the country on a whim, and been around the world with little more than a suitcase and some sweet tunes. But I’m a nostalgic sort. Sentimental. My walls have always been covered with photographs… moments permanently suspended in frames and on my mind. I like to think that it makes me empathetic. Yet, it also makes endings particularly difficult.

Last week, we had an “ending.” It was my youngest son’s last day of pre-school. Now, he’s been there since he was 12 weeks old, as had my older son before that. In fact, our family has spent the past 6+ years of our lives immersed in – and transformed by – that school. So, it was kind of a big deal to me and to our family. I left work early, bought the pre-requisite cupcakes and met the rest of the crew to go in and celebrate the big day with the class. And it was wonderful. We spent almost an hour there, just watching the kids BE. They laughed. They were squirrely. They devoured the cupcakes, took silly pictures and then went out to play.

Now much to my surprise, Luke (the graduate) couldn’t wait to leave. We took his art off the walls and cleared his cubby in record time. He was on hyper-drive, so excited to get on to the next phase of life – Pre-K. But me? I found myself lingering… making small talk with the teachers, and listening to the laughter on the wind. When I ran out of words, it was time to go. And as I hugged the ladies in the office, tears spilled from my eyes.

Last week was tough – so much tougher than I thought it would be. We’ve had a magic six years there and met incredible people. More than that, the past six years have changed the arc of our lives. My husband and I are so far from who we were before we had kids and what our life was back then. And while I treasure those memories and all of the good times, the life we’ve made with our boys, our family and these people is so much more.

And this school? Well, I don’t even know where to begin. I think the biggest reason that this ending was such a beast is that it illustrates how extremely short our time with the boys is. Everyone says that time flies when you have kids – one day, they’re little. The next, they’re headed out the door. Last Friday, it hit me how true that really is. Our first day at ONEgen is so vivid in my mind. I was so scared to walk away and leave my little baby for the day. Friday, he ran out of the center – brave, sensitive, capable, proud – and I can already see him running off through the years.

My son – both my boys actually – blaze brilliantly into the future. They fling themselves fearlessly into the unknown. Perhaps it’s youth. Perhaps it’s more. And I stand here, watching them: counting the years, months and moments I have left with them. Wishing there were more.

A lifetime ago, I was in a show up in Michigan. In it, there was one solo number which I’ve sung to my boys off and on over the years:

“Where are you going, my little one, little one?
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two.
Turn around and you’re four.
Turn around, and you’re a young man walking out of the door.”*

How true those words are.

*Lyrics are from “Turn Around” by Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene. They originally referred to a girl, but I sang them about the boys, so I changed them up for my little guys each night.

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Screeching Harpy from H-E-Double Toothpicks

There are the days when you’re the greatest mom in the world, and there are those when you’re the screeching harpy from hell. Guess who I was today…

This morning started off a little rough – waking up at zero-dark-thirty to hit the road for my hour long drive to the office, getting there bright and early at 6:30AM for a morning meeting. I was wiped out, but there was no time to waste, so I slammed down some coffee. And boy, did I rally. I was focused, energetic and pretty dang proud of myself. In fact, I powered through what was an incredibly productive and positive day. Heading home, I bopped along to freaky beats. Not even L.A. traffic could bother me. I was riding high.

Then, I walked through my front door, and it all went wrong.

My smile turned into a grimace.
I cranked up the volume and stormed around the house.
My patience, energy and happy mood drained away.
Something started spinning inside me, and it just wouldn’t stop. You know the feeling. The tension that you try to keep in, but it keeps getting bigger until you find yourself snapping at folks for no reason… harping on the kids at dinner. You know you’re wrong, but you just can’t stop it.

What happened? I was tired. The long day finally caught up with me. In the safe zone of my home, I let my defenses down. And when the walls came crashing down, the harpy from hell flew right in and took over.

When we’re at work or with friends, so often, we’re on our best behavior. We find reserves of energy, reach out and moderate our emotions. We speak thoughtfully and gently. After all, those folks only share a part of our lives… and it had better be a good part.

The folks at home know and love us for who we are: the good, the bad and the harpy. They’re the most important people in the world to us. So why do we sometimes treat them like they’re the least? When someone loves you, they invest part of their heart and soul in who you are and how you treat them. They become vulnerable. These are the folks that fill our reserves, who reach out when our arms are too weary… our kids, our spouse, our parents, even our pets. They’re the ones we should speak to with the most care… with the most love.

I love my family. My sons are young, but someday, my husband and I will be gone. They’ll only have each other. At 6 and 4, they bicker loudly and sometimes say things that aren’t that kind. Recently, I’ve found myself saying “do we talk to the people we love like they’re trash?”

Tonight, I did for a little while. I managed to do a reset and rein it in, and while I’m not proud of my behavior earlier tonight, I’m grateful for the reminder. No, we don’t talk to our loved ones like that.

I’m going to apologize and have a time out. I’m going to carry them down the hall, cover their little faces with kisses, read an extra book and tell them how amazing they are – how incredible they are – and how much I adore them. I’m going to ask for their forgiveness, and be damn grateful they give it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, stressed, upset or whatever. Hearts can be hurt, and I don’t intend on breaking the ones of the people I love.

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