The Door and the Window

When I first learned how to cry for those who went before me I learned it from the best. My Irish family, my German family, my imbibing family. They showed me, and they insisted, that I grieve loudly and longly. To each of them I am forever indebted.

Thankfully there were many years in between the important losses. Many years when I got to be earthbound with the ones I love. But last week when my brother crossed that thin veil-between to the side without carbon forms, I found I was no longer in touch with the freedom of my tears. I had learned that my grief might cause discomfort in people around me. With adult focus I understood that perhaps everyone doesn’t agree that embracing sad is the only way to happy. Minding my manners, I found the loudness of my love happening only in the silence of my aloneness.

Then, as the universe is wont to do, a gift appeared on my doorstep. In modern times, that means my text messages. A dear friend whose circumstances – coupled with mine – got in the way of us always finding time, was suddenly there. Our love was shared through the energy of our voices over the phone, and that “it feels like just yesterday” reality bridged the decade between our conversations. I knew she had never been gone from my heart or my mind. And in the midst of the reason for the call, the catching up, and the “Oh My God I have missed you” moments, I also got to share my so-sad sibling loss with real tears and loud sobs.
And then the smiles got to come and I know they are here for the duration. It is no doubt the gift we have just received from the seeming mix-up that put us both in the bottom of the blender again at the same time.

And this time I will not let go.

Good bye Bob. Hello Tom and Denise. Thanks for trading placesf or this little time I have available to hug you with real arms.

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Play Ball!

Play Ball

My senior in high school I made a deal with my friend Diane: she would give volleyball a try and I would give basketball a try. Anyone with a bit more wisdom than the two of us would have seen immediately how this was going to work out. My friend was short and very close to the floor – actually the perfect build for a point guard. I was tall and gangly – a perfect ball striker. Or center.

She hated volleyball. I LOVED basketball. Under the tutelage of the coolest teach in school (a young handsome male teacher) we ended up finishing in the championship games, and I ended up with a basketball emblem for my letter sweater.

We both chose Seattle University for college. I went there because they gave me a scholarship – I’m not sure what Diane’s reasons were but the school is forever changed because of her. Her passion for basketball was much deeper rooted than mine, so when she found out that the university only offered an intramural basketball team for women she was outraged.   They used pennies for uniforms and dribbled the lopsided balls rejected by the men’s program. Completely unacceptable in her estimation.

Now, as luck would have it, the honors program I was in was headed by Sister Rosalie Trainer. It seems Sister Trainer was also the Head of women’s athletics. Given her advanced age of at least fifty at the time, the thought of progress seemed a bit hopeless to us. But I used my academic “connection” with her to gain an audience for Diane and I, wherein we presented our absolutely PERFECT pitch on why SU should have a varsity women’s basketball team.

Sister Trainer was a total buzz kill. She completely disagreed. First she pronounced that there weren’t enough women interested. And besides, even if there were, there was no one to coach and no money to pay for one should we dig up someone interested.

This all happened in 1975. What also happened in 1975 was the first failure of a Seattle School District levy in ages. Schools were forced to cut programs and lay off teachers. The young ones without seniority were first to go. Which left our handsome basketball coach from Ballard High School magically unemployed. Diane and I took our pitch on the road. When I imagine us making our case of how great it would be for him if he threw in with us, I’m not sure how he could have said no. He agreed to coach the SU Varsity Women’s Basketball Team. For Free.

Sister Trainer didn’t have much left to protest about, with the exception of her belief that there was no interest. We made her a deal – we would have a meeting and see if enough people showed up to make the scheme viable. If not, we would go away.

More than 60 women came. She was surprised, but kept her part of the bargain. And that’s how the Seattle University Women’s Basketball Team came into existence.

 

 

The Secret to Success?

Although I am a bit saddened to see the summer ending, I admit there is one thing the increasing darkness contributes toward making my life significantly better. When it gets dark earlier, I can go to bed earlier.

I am a night owl and always have been. It’s been a bit of a challenge in the corporate environment since companies expect for employees to have butts in seats at a time I consider early. Like 8:00 a.m.  Even as the CEO of my own company, I find it hard to throw off a couple decades of work habits. Truth be told, I feel guilty if I am not at least reading email and drinking coffee before 9:00 a.m. And not still wearing my bunny slippers.

On the flip side, I am completely able to stay up deep into the double-digit hours indulging myself in my creative pursuits. There is no guilt, and despite evidence to the contrary I can always convince myself that tomorrow won’t be that hard to get through.

So the other night, after one more experience of nodding off inappropriately in the middle of the afternoon, I made a pact that I would go to bed early that night. I did, and lo-and-behold, I found out something the next morning that surprised me. Here is my big “ah ha”. Jumping rope and boxing is MUCH EASIER when you have had enough sleep.

This doesn’t appear to be rocket science, and actually seems like an elementary conclusion. But I had been using my morning torture session at the gym as the means to wake me up by forcing a bunch of air into my lungs and extremities. I even thought it was working (since I obviously didn’t interrogate reality in any meaningful fashion). I was fully invested in the notion that a morning workout would make my mind sharper and enhance all of my pursuits of the day. And substitute for sleeping, which seemed to be interfering with my pursuits of happiness.

I tested my discovery for the next three nights. Not only did my workouts get more fun, more productive, and less painful, but my work became crisper, more focused, easier, and actually quite a bit better.

I am sold.

If you are one of those over-stressed folks that I work with every day, changing your life could be as simple as longer sessions with your favorite pillow. I know, you are all way too busy and there is  just not enough time in the day. I agree. But indulge me and try increasing your sleep for just three nights in a row. I think you may find a new normal and a new path to success.

Push-ups

Today I am celebrating my ninth month of going to the boxing gym, and I still can’t do “boy” pushups. Try as I might, one or two take me to the ground and back up.  After that it is a one or two-inch shift that mainly resembles an arm balance.

Today my coach came by during push-up torture and told me I should actually be doing bent-knee push ups. WHAT? I thought I would eventually improve on my form if I kept practicing. She said no – that by not going fully into the position I wasn’t actually building any strength.

Who knew?

So now I will proudly be the only one in the gym doing “girl” pushups, knowing that I am finally on the road to improvement. I am the perfect example that if you keep doing the same wrong thing over and over you will never achieve the right results.

 

The Girl’s can Golf

Condoleezza Rice is an amazing and accomplished woman. Although I don’t know Darla Moore I am sure the same is true of her. Their invitation to membership into Augusta National was called “A joyous occasion” by Billy Payne, Chairman of the Club. And Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations commented that it is “A milestone for women in business.”

Really?

A bunch of old guys decided it is time to let women come play golf with them. Yes, golf. It’s a game. Remember?

They didn’t open up the board room and ask that half of the seated members be women (current count around 22%). They didn’t adopted a goal that within ten years half of  the Fortune 500 companies would have women as CEO’s (current count is eighteen).. They said it is okay for women to come play golf with them.

Pardon me if I can only muster a sarcastic “Yippee” followed by an eye roll.

I understand that members at Augusta National are secretly vetted; sometimes they are “observed” for years before receiving the nod. That doesn’t seem exclusive to me – it seems kind of creepy. And the fact that this year they decided to throw womankind a bone is merely a statement about their own closed minds. Some see it as an entrance into the good-old-boy’s-club. Maybe so. But it isn’t a club that makes any difference in the structure of corporate America, and that’s where the real power is.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Condoleezzza would have laughed at the pompous ridiculousness of the whole thing and declined their offer?

The Olive Bar

The other day I decided to indulge myself in one of my favorite vices – blue cheese stuffed green olives. So I wandered up to the olive bar at my local grocery store and reached for one of the little plastic containers. Lo and behold there were none, which isn’t all that uncommon. Most times I would interpret this as a sign from the universe that I don’t really need this delicious little snack. This day I decided to ignore the sign, if indeed it was one, and head to the counter to procure a container.

The nice lady behind the counter was more than willing to help. When I told her of my need, she grabbed a whole stack of containers and handed them to me en-masse.

I was a little confused as to what I should do. It seemed I had two choices: I could be a jerk and tell her I only wanted one, or I could take the whole stack and set them on the olive bar. I chose the latter, but left scratching my head wondering how to judge the customer service component of what I had just played a part in. I certainly know how I would have reacted if she had done that in my shop.

How about you?

Eat Your Peas

He didn’t stop eating his peas for one minute. Despite the fact that his stroller had just been wheeled into a crowded elevator full of new people, he kept picking them up and moving them from tray to mouth. Obviously prepared for a walk outside, his attempts to look at his fellow riders were thwarted. When he turned his head in curiosity, he found himself looking straight at the inside of his hoodie.

Tray to mouth. Hoodie. Tray to mouth. Hoodie.

A cycle developed that was eventually noticed by one of the taller humans he had brought with him. The tall one reached out and pulled back the hood, exposing the entire panorama of stupid smiles adults can conjure up. With a gaze that was now free to roam about the car, he treated us all to a beaming smile of greetings and appreciation. Then he went back to his peas.

There are two morals to this story.

Don’t stop eating your peas no matter what the circumstances,  and Always travel with someone who will pull back your hoodie when your vision is obscured.