Nine Seconds

That is all it took.  Nine seconds.  My mother is critically ill.  In a period of nine seconds her heart performed in a pattern that catapulted her care in an entirely new direction.  Those nine seconds offered a framework from which to proceed.  Up until that moment there had been only isolated symptoms.  All concerning.  Independent.  Nothing to bind them together.   In that zone we were pursuing conclusions.  Some aggressive.  Ones we believed were supported by a data set.  Thanks to nine seconds, all wrong.   Nine seconds…..nine spectacular seconds.  Continue reading

Painful redirects

It is easier this late in my transition.  Reframing that is.  Earlier this week I had an interview for a professional opportunity.  It wasn’t my finest hour.   At the end of the day I am disappointed in myself.   Transition is full of learnings – successes and failures.  I thought today I might share a little about how I’ve learned to reconcile the less than stellar events along the way….

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At this moment I am frustrated with myself for not doing better.  The rich data and conclusions that I had to share barely came out.   In the moments since I have comforted myself with a continuous stream of negative self-talk.  Ever been there?  How could I have blown it?  In a spectacular fashion I might add…..

In my book I talk about techniques to help us reframe a situation.   Re-framing  contributes in two ways;  it acknowledges that there will be hits and misses during transition, and it embraces perspective – an incredible gift.  In transition we need to learn from the misses but not get stalled by them.

In my book I introduce a technique called externalizing.  It helps you bring objectivity to an experience.  It asks women to change adjectives to nouns.  By adopting this approach I would say, “you are not the problem. The problem is the problem.”   For example a friend of mine is very angry about her transition’s length.  The anger is a mix of many emotions – including shame and a real fear that she’ll never be able to get the job she desires.   She is very connected to how it might look – this extended job search.

For her this technique would ask her to change an adjective – like being angry – to a noun.  Instead of saying, “I am so angry,” the woman would talk about “How long the anger had been influencing her.”  The technique challenges my friend to redirect her energy away from negative self-talk and towards more positive activities.  It puts separation between her and her emotions.

Nelson Mandela in his Long Walk to Freedom said, “do not judge me by my success.  Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

I find that my stumble earlier in the week was a gift.  It helped me recalibrate – at a critical time.  It brought me back to reality.  I had been a bit untethered.

Why?

A week or so ago my publisher asked me for a list of people who could possibly write a forward for my book.  Not all books get forwards.  The mere question sent me into the stratosphere.  It was a sign –  a good sign – she and her publishing house really believe in my project.

The gap between these two experiences was sobering.  The gift is that it has helped me hunker down on finishing the book.  It reminded me of the importance of bringing honesty to the experience of transition.  An honesty that from my viewpoint know one has cared to do before.   Yes there are painful days – even those days when the pain is self-inflicted.

Your transition will be characterized by wins and losses.  I hope that you have the presence of mind to bring objectivity and grace to your worst moments.   Within each is a gift – waiting for an appropriate frame.

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A Simple Direction

Three of us had lunch.  We got together because one of our crew was embroiled in a complex issue at work.  We listened to facts.  We agreed.  We disagreed.  We offered opinions.  Two minutes before parting the two of us not in the spotlight that day gave quick updates.  I told the story about my editor’s pre-Holiday remark, “I am finally hearing YOUR voice.”  She said it to me after patiently reviewing draft upon draft of my book.   Out of the blue a note arrived a few days after our lunch…. Continue reading

The start….

“It was who he was, not what he did,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo of his late father in a eulogy earlier this week.   Mario Cuomo, himself governor of New York from 1983-1994, died on January 1st.  I have long been an admirer of Mario Cuomo’s.  Not so much because of his politics or any specific cause he trumpeted.  I loved hearing him speak.   He was one of the best orator’s I’ve ever heard.  If you aren’t familiar with him he is a guy who spoke of gun violence not with statistics but a heartfelt lament.  “Too many children hear the sound of gunfire before ever hearing the sound of a symphony.” (DNC 1992)   Andrew was right, there was no separation between what he did and who he was.  You could just tell – his gift served as a mouthpiece for his soul. Continue reading

Your gift….

Passion.  These days I think the word is grossly overused.  Society has toggled on  its meaning for me over the past decades.   When I was a kid I was first introduced to the word though Catholicism as it was used to describe the experience of Christ in the days between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, as in the passion of Christ.  Later passion was linked to intimacy.  And more recently passion is referenced everywhere as the expression of our heart’s truest voice.  Our bliss. Continue reading

Reframing

A torn little scrap of paper. Hot pink if you must know. It was once a post it note. The adhesive is long gone. I found it in the rubble that constitutes the contents of my day bag.  In spite of its humble origins and slightly dog-eared presentment it was a life saver.   A simple gift. Continue reading

A special gift….

Yesterday we froze while sitting at Gillette Stadium for the MIAA State Championship game between Holliston and Wahconah.   There were six games being played, all match-ups of division rivals of winning Massachusetts High School teams.   We were there to see my nephew, a sophomore, who played in the final minutes of the game.  While I am sure it was thrilling for him to be down on the field where the Patriots play my take on the game happened on an entirely different level.   I was focused on the contributions of one of his teammates whose efforts seemed extraordinary.  Almost magical. Continue reading

Walking with thanks…

“Thank you,” I wrote in an email last Friday.  The recipient was one of a group of women who have graciously offered to read early drafts of my book.   I complete chapters and ship them off for review and critique.   I wait on pins and needles to hear their response.  What comes back always requires me to do a lot of re-work.  While humbling this couldn’t be a more energizing experience.   In the moment that I wrote that email I realized just how inadequate the phrase ‘thank you’ seemed.  Thank you. Continue reading

Time and Transition

Where do you invest your time?  Seems like an overly simplistic question doesn’t it?   Time.  I am in a zone where every minute matters so I am regularly thinking about time.  Does your time allocation say anything about where you are in your transition? Continue reading

In search of voice

Voice.  To me voice represents the means by which we communicate what we care about to others.  It might best be described as the framework we offer to others about ourselves.   While oral…it also has significant non-verbal components.  How do you think about voice? Continue reading