Friday, April 11, 2014

Running On - Old and New Goals

While I often focus on job or business-related themes in my blog posts, the reality is that I have radically changed the way I view work and life.

I'm approaching two years at my goal weight and have built what I hope are lifelong habits for disciplined, healthy eating and exercise.  I've relegated my career to a job that I leave at the end of the day.  I still enjoy it and try to give it a good effort, but my job no longer defines me the way it did in the past.

We are all becoming someone different, but I am becoming someone different intentionally rather than becoming someone different simply because life happens and time passes.  I am just as committed to my marriage and faith as the old me -- if not more so, but the new me is happier and more able to let go of the things I cannot control.  And the new me loves to run.

For me, running isn't always glorious but it is always worth it; All of it, from the ugly feet to the achy bits.  I don't think my joy of running is the endorphins because some runs don't feel good at all; rather I think it is the understanding that I've seen something through, despite the difficulty, that makes it worthwhile.  And then, sometimes the runs are glorious, endorphins abound and I feel unstoppable.

I've signed up for two races this year to celebrate turning 50.  I will run a 10k in September and a half-Marathon in November.  I'm excited.  I'm already easily running 7 miles so, unless I get injured, the 10k should be fine.  It is the half that is my stretch goal.  What a change that is from my old stretch goals.  This one is dependent on me; my health, my discipline, rather than on others seeing my worth.

I find it intimidating and yet, as I visualize the run and see myself finishing, with Gordy there at the finish line, it will absolutely be worth every tired, pained stride.  Because even though this post has a lot of "I," "me" and "my" in it, the fact is that my running, while accomplished alone, is a "we" activity.  My successes are "we" successes.

Throughout all of my changes, Gordy has been my constant companion and encourager, my love and best friend.  I would lose everything if, by over-committing to new goals, I were to jeopardize that first commitment to love, honor and obey (yes, I did say, "Obey,") my best friend.

Old goals - marriage, faith
New goals - 10k, half-Marathon

Bitter Fruit

 This (rather pathetic, dashed-off) poem was motivated by a series of news articles I'd read.  I don't dislike older white men but, in my industry, I've seen a disturbing trend of the top man holding on to his position well into his 70s.  Meanwhile two generations of trained and ready folks stand in the wings.  In my niche occupation, the few who have retired have been replaced by 30-something white males (with one brilliant exception).  Really, shouldn't we be having this conversation but perhaps a bit less of the actual phenomena?  Instead it seems to me that we are no longer having the conversation but the actual problem persists.

Hang on to power, old man
You fat, and white and proud
There is none who can do what you do
As well as you, for certainly
Those youthful, ambitious, fit, brown
Female, alternative-lifestyle’d
Are in-no-way able to understand
The complexities
Of leading
An organization of worth

Is it because the hiring decision for the chief staff officer in organizations like mine is made by a group of business leaders rather than a single individual or HR department (who might be more able to adhere to diversity goals)?  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Harvard Business School and Women

This article by the New York Times regarding efforts The Harvard School of Business was very interesting.  My personal experience is that appearance really matters.  After I lost weight my access to men in positions of authority both within and without my organization increased.

Early 2012 vs 2010


Summer 2012

Part of the change is internal.  I do understand that my confidence and willingness to take risks changed as I lost weight and became much more active.  But, relating back to the article, the crux of the matter is that my intellect didn't change.  My ability to contribute in a business environment didn't change.  The way people related to me definitely did.

My point then is that we need to be aware that, consciously or not, we create or remove opportunities based on appearance.  In light of that, we should compensate for that behavior even when we believe it isn't happening.

Friday, September 6, 2013

In a Moment

Have you ever had one of those moments where everything seems right, not necessarily perfect, but right?  In my head I think of them as crystalline moments and I've had a few over the course of my life.  Here are three that stand out.

We were walking Max in the DNR land off Zurfluh Road.  Our path wandered along the hilltop that overlooked the Sugar River and, as we walked, a group of Canadian Geese flew low overhead.  They were so close that Max must have thought he could catch them.  He chased them jumping into the air in big bounds.  I felt an immense rush of joy as I watched my silly dog and laughing husband.

Another moment was at a place called Terry Flats.  If you look closely at the photo, you can see a tiny blue dot.  That is Gordy, reclining against the bank as I wandered in the Aspens.  The light was golden, the air was crisp and there were leaves falling gently on and around me. In that moment I felt intense gratitude for the life I have been given.

Another crystalline moment happened last Monday, Labor Day.  Gordy and I had worked all weekend on a trim job for Gordon Miller Woodworks.  We were done for the day and, before cleaning up and starting dinner and the rest of the week's bustle, we both wandered out on the deck and just sat in the cool sunlight.  Nothing special. No grand place or event and yet, once again I felt joy and gratitude that I had been gifted with a moment so complete.

I'm aware that Gordy plays an important role in these moments and all of the other ones I can recall.  In fact, I've had wonderful moments that might have become crystalline moments but for the fact that Gordy wasn't there and I felt, slightly, less complete.  Or less joyful. Less something.

I am grateful for the life God has gifted to me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Running with Birds

Running, for me, involves disciplining myself to get out there and do it. Most runs start out with, "Grumble grumble, knee hurts... grumble grumble ear buds don't fit right... grumble grumble takes me a mile and a half to find my pace..." It seems to be my normal routine and eventually I work through the grumbles and get down to just trucking along. Last night I was just finishing up with the grumbles when I felt something hit my head. Yup. Bird poop. Grumble. Grumble.
I never thought I'd become a runner.  I ran in sports when I was younger but it was a requirement, not something I enjoyed.  Now, after the grumbles, I really enjoy running.  I hope that I'll remain healthy enough to continue running long-term.  I am extremely wary of injury but one can't plan for everything so until it becomes no longer possible I'll run.  Hopefully.  I can't predict that I'll be disciplined forever but I hope I will.

Friday, May 17, 2013

John Maeda on Leadership

John Maeda was a presenter at DigitalNow 2013 and far and away my favorite of the conference.  His discussion of STEM vs STEAM spoke to something that I knew inside but was completely unable to articulate. -- Or maybe I simply recognized that I believed what he said to be very, very true.

I'm not going to spend any time talking about who he is or what he has done. There are bios available online.  I'm focused on this post.

I love the idea that leadership involves surviving your own choices and regularly reinventing yourself.  I love the idea that effective leaders aren't simply there.  They don't get to the top of their game and stay there at the pinnacle of the people pyramid for others to gape at and admire.

Of utmost importance to me is John Maeda's statement, "...I want you to know that you are, like me, in that space of having an unknown allotment of springs left, that gets to share in George Bernard Shaw’s excitement and wonder. Of joy. And to find your own four, five, six, three, or two , or one rules to work and use as your own compass."

I'll be thinking about my own rules. I think I've expressed some of them in other posts but a bit of mulling is definitely in order.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bengazi Update

Whoa... I've forgotten to blog.  Of course it really isn't as though anyone other than me cares so I guess I won't beat myself up too much about it.

My last post was about Bengazi and boy what a difference 8 months make.  Turns out it wasn't a free speech issue at all.  That was just administrative spin that has subsequently backfired hugely.  It was terrorists.  Again. We had inklings that things were heating up around there but either didn't prioritize it or didn't fund it so people died.  Again.  The devil's bargain between controlling costs and protecting American interests worldwide is difficult and one that I can't second guess.

I still believe what I said about free speech.  I was surprised at the time how much it meant to me and, reflecting back, am certain it still ranks as a core value. I am American.